DAILY FROM: AHMEDABAD, CHANDIGARH, DELHI, JAIPUR, KOLKATA, LUCKNOW, MUMBAI, NAGPUR, PUNE, VADODARA ● REG.NO. MCS/067/2018 - 20 RNI REGN. NO. 1543/57 JOURNALISM OF COURAGE WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2021, MUMBAI, LATE CITY, 16 PAGES `5.00, 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 Amravati sees another KAUNAIN SHERIFF M NEW DELHI, MAY 18 AROUND200districtshavebeen reporting a decline in cases for thelasttwoweeksand,afterconsistently increasing for the past 13 weeks, the country’s overall case positivity has registered a decline over the past sevendays, thegovernmentsaidonTuesday. 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. According to Health Ministry data, 18.45 lakh tests were done everydayonaveragebetweenMay 11 and May 17, which returned a weekly positivity of 16.9 per cent. This was the first seven-day period since February 16-22 that CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 YOGESH NAIK & KARUNJIT SINGH 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 criticismoveracripplingshortage ofCovidvaccines,UnionMinister Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday that moredomesticcompaniesshould be given the licence to manufacture these vaccines and life-savingdrugstotacklethepandemic. He also sought “better arrangements” for cremations and expressed dismay over the CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 Three dead in firing on protest, villagers dig heels in at Sukma camp GARGI VERMA SILGER, MAY 18 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. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 PAGE 1 ANCHOR The three children (from left) of one of those killed. Gargi Verma protesting outside the camp. “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 CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 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- TAUKTAE LIKELY TO BE FIRST SUCH CYCLONE TO COME CLOSE TO MUMBAI COAST IN 130 YEARS REPORTS ON PAGE 4 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 ves- Cong cracks surface, Pilot camp MLA quits LIZ MATHEW & MANOJ C G A CONGRESS MLA from Barmer inRajasthan,whoisseenasclose to former deputy chief minister SachinPilot,onTuesdaysubmitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker C P Joshi. Hemaram Choudhary, who represents Gudamalani in the Assembly, said he will give the reasononcehisresignationisaccepted. The development is being seen as a sign of another political storm in the state Congress. House spokesperson Lokesh Chandra Sharma said that as per NEW DELHI, MAY 18 THEBJPonTuesdayreleasedwhat itcalleda“toolkit”bytheCongress to tarnish Prime Minister NarendraModiandtheCentreoverthe handling of the Covid pandemic. WhileBJPpresidentJPNaddafirst talked about the Congress’s ‘ToolkitModels’inatweet,theallegation was subsequently taken upbyUnionministerSmritiIrani, BJPgeneralsecretaryBLSanthosh, and spokesperson Sambit Patra, 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 HAMZA KHAN JAIPUR, MAY 18 BUSINESS AS USUAL BY UNNY CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 No seat for Shailaja in Pinarayi’s all-new team, disquiet in Delhi CPM E 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 Shailaja after a meeting of the party on Tuesday. Express CPI(M) ministers from the previous government who won in the Assembly elections butwere keptoutof Vijayan’s21-member Cabinet. The decision raised eyebrows within party circles, 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. P11 especially among the central leadership, since it was widely CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 THE WORLD WOMAN JOURNALIST HELD OVER SECRECY LAW IN BANGLADESH PAGE 14 Rajasthan alert: 1 in 2 cases from villages SHIVNARAYAN RAJPUROHIT BIKANER, MAY 18 AS COVID sweeps rural Rajasthan, every second case in the state is now being reported from villages. A recent door-todoor survey by the state government detected 7 lakh people with ILI (influenza-like illness) symptoms among the 7.25 crore people surveyed (comprising 92% of the state population). An analysis shows that Rajasthan's 26 rural districts accounted for 51.26% of its Covid cases in the week ending May 8 and43.01%of thedeaths.Incom- Lockdown conditions, like these at Jarasar in Churu, have helped bring down active cases. Express sels—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 BJP alleges a Cong Covid toolkit, Cong says it’s fake E X P L A I NE D Covid: Delhi to give ex gratia for death; relief for orphaned 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 MUMBAI, NEW DELHI, MAY 18 INSIDE parison, in the week ending November 28 last year, the peak of the first wave, these districts accountedfor45.06%of thecases and 37.5% of the deaths. Only seven of Rajasthan's 33 districts are categorised as urbanised as per the state Economic Survey. Three-fourths of the population lives in rural areas. Given the situation, described as "unprecedented" by officials, the Ashok Gehlot government has shifted focus from tracingcontactsinthefirstwave, to door-to-door survey to identify ILI patients. They are put throughRapidAntigenTestsand handed over medical kits (containing azithromycin, paraceta- mol,levocetirizine,zincsulphate andvitaminCtablets).Therehas been some relief since May 10, with a decline in active cases from 2.03 lakh to 1.76 lakh Monday, amidst a lockdown. In a recent interview to The Indian Express, Health Minister Raghu Sharma had said the situation was under control and community health centres (CHCs)werebeingstrengthened to handle Covid. On Monday, the government said oxygen concentrators and cylinders had been provided to turn 350 of the 571CHCsintoCovidcarecentres. In Bundi district's Devji Ka Thana panchayat, comprising CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 Hemaram Choudhary said he will explain his reason later information from the Assembly Secretariat, the resignation letter has been received on email and “action will be taken as per rules.” Choudhary was among 19 MLAs, led by former Deputy CM Pilot, who had rebelled against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot last year. Discontent is said to be brewing in the Pilot camp again, CONTINUED ON PAGE 8 surge, over 80% Covid cases in rural areas TABASSUM BARNAGARWALA MUMBAI, MAY 18 AMRAVATI DISTRICT has shown a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases forasecondtimethisyearevenas the rest of Maharashtra is showing a downward trend. Amravati was one of the first districtsinMaharashtratoreport a second wave in February this year. Following a 10-day lockdown in March, it noted a dip in cases. But state data shows it has again seen a rise in average daily cases by 148 per cent from April 9-15, when 426 new cases were recordeddaily,toMay8-14when 1,060 daily new cases were reported. In the same period, Maharashtra has noted a fall in dailynewcasesfromover65,000 to 40,900. On April 16 the state implementedalockdown."Thereare19 districtsthathaveshownarisein activecasessince.Butourconcern is Amravati, Buldhana, Yavatmal in Vidarbha region. They have shownsignificantsurgedespitea lockdown. Nagpur has shown a decline,"saidstateepidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate. Awate said that laxity in controlmeasurescouldcauseerratic riseincasesbutthehealthdepartment is studying data of contact tracing and sending more samples for genome sequencing to understand the pattern. Yavatmal and Buldhana too haverecordedarisetowardsApril endandMaybeginning,although both districts have shown a declining trend since the last one week.ThestateheldavideoconferencewithdistrictsonMonday toassesswhysomedistrictshave noted a surge and why some are showingasuddendrop-Nanded reported 81 and Mumbai 77 per cent drop in daily cases between pre-lockdown and now. In Amravati, rural areas CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 INSIDE BMC EXTENDS VACCINE TENDER DEADLINE, GETS 3 RESPONSES PAGE 3 1 IN 5 IN STATE EXPOSED TO VIRUS OR VACCINATED, DATA SHOWS PAGE 5
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.