DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA JOURNALISM OF COURAGE WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2021, NEW DELHI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `6.00 (`8 BIHAR & RAIPUR, `12 SRINAGAR) WWW.INDIANEXPRESS.COM SINCE 1932 R-VALUE FALLS, PANDEMIC SHRINKING: GOVT A glimmer: positivity declines, new cases down in 200 districts ‘Pandemic curve stabilising, but no scope for lowering guard’ INS Kolkata, which is part of the rescue operations, finds a life raft of vessel Vara Prabha. ANI Tauktae: 637 rescued; over 80 ONGC off-shore op staff missing No seat for Shailaja in NEW DELHI, MAY 18 AROUND200districtshavebeen reporting a decline in cases for the last two weeks and, after consistently increasing for the past 13 weeks, the country’s overall case positivity has registered a decline over the past sevendays,thegovernmentsaid on Tuesday. The “pandemic curve is stabilising”, and the reproduction number (R) has now fallen below 1, Dr V K Paul, head of India’s Covid-19 Task Force, said. “This means the pandemic is shrinking overall,” he said. AccordingtoHealthMinistry data, 18.45 lakh tests were done every day on average between May 11 and May 17, which returnedaweeklypositivityof 16.9 per cent. This was the first seven-day periodsinceFebruary16-22that CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Covid: Delhi to give ex gratia for death; relief for orphaned EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, MAY 18 EVERY FAMILY in Delhi that has lost a member to Covid will be awarded ex gratia of Rs 50,000, and those who lost earning members or breadwinners will get an additional Rs 2,500 per month as pension, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday. “We cannot compensate for the loss but we can help you in these difficult times,” Kejriwal said. “If the husband dies, the pensionwillbegiventothewife. If the wife dies, it will be given to the husband. If an unmarried person dies, the pension will be given to his or her parents.” Governmentofficialssaidthe Rs 50,000 ex gratia is for each death, so a family that has lost two members will be entitled to Rs 1 lakh. The ex gratia will be paid to all families irrespective of their income, the officials said. According to the Delhi government’s health bulletin, 22,111 people have died of Covid in the national capital so far. Deaths from the disease are declared by an audit committee, and there has always been a difference between the Delhi government’s official figures and the number of bodies for which last rites are carried out as per the Covid protocol at crematoriums and burial grounds — the latter being higher. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE CITY PROF WHO SOUGHT BED OVER TWITTER DIESOF COVID PAGE 5 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY A queue for Covid-19 vaccination in Shimla on Tuesday. Himachal Pradesh reported 63 more deaths. PTI Gadkari: More firms should get licences for vaccines AVISHEK G DASTIDAR NEW DELHI, MAY 18 WITH THE Government facing criticism over a crippling shortage of Covid vaccines, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday that more domestic companies should be given the licence to manufacture these vaccines and life-saving drugs to tackle the pandemic. He also sought “better arrangements” for cremations and expressed dismay over the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PM PROMISES BIG BOOST IN SUPPLIES SERUM OVERSEAS SUPPLY BY YEAR END PAGE 6 NEW DELHI, MAY 18 THE BJP on Tuesday released what it called a “toolkit” by the Congress to tarnish Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Centre over the handling of the Covidpandemic.WhileBJPpresident J P Nadda first talked about the Congress’s ‘Toolkit Models’ in a tweet, the allegation was subsequently taken up by Union minister Smriti Irani, BJP general MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, MAY 18 IN ONE of the biggest off-shore search and rescue operations mountedbytheCoastGuardand Navy, 637 men have been rescued from their vessels that went adrift in gale-force winds and high waves in the Arabian Sea during Monday’s Cyclone Tauktae, but the search is still on foratleast80moremenwhoare missing, officials said. In all, one oil rig and four vessels servicing ONGC’s off-shore operations, and an unrelated freight ship, were caught in the cyclone as it barrelled its way past Mumbai on Tuesday. The men who were stranded on the oil rig and in the four vessels—threeof thembarges—are maintenance staff working on ONGC off-shore sites, hired by contractors and sub-contractors for the oil PSU’s rigs and platforms in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast. Of the men rescued, 180 were from barge P305 but 81 remain missing from this vessel. The barge sank on Monday at 7 pm.Thereisnoofficialconfirmation of casualties yet. Defence spokesperson Commander Mehul Karnik said, "We have rescued 180 persons from P305 which sank on CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 AT LEAST 25 DEAD IN WAKE OF CYCLONE PAGE 9 3 dead in firing on protest, villagers dig heels in at Sukma security camp GARGI VERMA BJP alleges a Cong Covid toolkit, Cong says it’s fake LIZ MATHEW & MANOJ C G YOGESH NAIK & KARUNJIT SINGH secretary B L Santhosh, and spokespersonSambitPatra,with BJP leaders sharing a document seemingly printed on the letterhead of the ‘AICC Research Department’. The Congress trashed the document — that laid out instructionsonhowto“destroyhis (Modi’s) image and erode his popularity” and advised that the new coronavirus mutant be dubbed the “India strain” or “Modi strain” — as “forgery” and CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 SILGER, MAY 18 ON THE road leading out of a newly established CRPF security camp near Silger village in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district are signs of Monday’s clash: strewn stones, charred tree trunks, embers, and the dented windshield of a bulletproof antilandmine vehicle. On Monday, three people were killed here and several injured as police opened fire on a group of tribals protesting againsttheCRPFcampthatcame up on May 12. Over the last four days, tribals from over 30 villages of Sukma and Bijapur have been protesting outside the camp. The three children (from left) of one of those killed. Gargi Verma “We had been camping here for four days and were running out of ration. So we thought we would hand over a memorandum against the camp, and maybe return a few days later if they still don’t remove the camp,” said Korsa Somaru, 65, one of the protesters. But now, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Pinarayi’s all-new team, disquiet in Delhi CPM SHAJU PHILIP & MANOJ C G THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, NEW DELHI, MAY 18 MORE THAN two weeks after leadingtheLeftFronttoahistoric repeat win in Kerala, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan stampedhisauthorityonthenew government by standing firm on his pre-election line and picking an all-new Cabinet — even if it meant keeping out previous HealthMinisterKKShailaja,who was praised globally for her handling of the Covid crisis. Shailaja was among five CPI(M) ministers from the previous government who won in theAssemblyelectionsbutwere keptoutof Vijayan’s21-member Cabinet. The decision raised eyebrows within party circles, especially among the central leadership, since it was widely believedintherun-uptogovernment formation that she CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Shailaja after a meeting of the party on Tuesday. Express E E X P L A I NE D KAUNAIN SHERIFF M Whyno spacefor ● Shailaja THE CPM decision not to give a second term to any minister from previous government is a line drawn by Pinarayi Vijayan. It showcases in turn his supremacy and unquestioned clout in the party and government now. PAGE13 INSIDE ARRESTED TMC LEADERS IN HOSPITAL, COURT HEARING TODAY PAGE 8 MOSQUE RAZED IN BARABANKI, WAQF BOARD SAYS HC ORDER VIOLATED PAGE 9
Indian Express Limited is an Indian news media publishing company. It publishes several widely circulated dailies, including The Indian Express and The Financial Express in English, the Loksatta in Marathi and the Jansatta in Hindi.