SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 20 SEPTEMBER 2020 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 | `5.00 |LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR ‘SAVING A BUSINESS MORE IMPORTANT THAN RECOVERY’ ICONIC US SC JUSTICE, WOMAN’S RIGHTS CHAMPION NO MORE P10 PAK BOARD LEFT BRISTLING AS HAQ MEETS KHAN ‘FARM BILLS UNDERMINE FOOD SECURITY SYSTEM’ P8 P5 P12 RAINFALL: NIL RELATIVE HUMIDITY Rising Covid threat to Single-day recoveries exceed fresh cases as cut short Parl session record 95.8K cured Max.93% PRESS TRUST OF INDIA WEATHER Generally cloudy sky. Thundershower towards evening. Temperature will be in the range of 33-28 degrees Celsius. TEMPERATURE Final decision will be taken by Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs Min. 61% Max: 35.3°C (3) Min: 27.3°C (1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:25 hrs 17:36 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 07:07 hrs 19:15 hrs Moon first quarter on 24 September THUMBNAILS President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurates the Visitors’ Conference on Implementation of National Education Policy 2020 in higher education, virtually. In the Capital on Saturday. PIB RS passes amendments to insolvency law: Rajya Sabha on Saturday passed amendments to the insolvency law for suspension of fresh insolvency proceedings for at least six months starting 25 March amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying a decision on extending the suspension of relevant provisions will be taken next week. In the wake of the Covid-19 situation, the government decided to suspend the provisions starting from 25 March for six months by promulgating an ordinance in June. Rs 1350 crore package for J&K: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha announced a Rs 1,350-crore economic package for the Union Territory on Saturday to give a boost to tourism and other sectors hit by the economic slowdown caused due to the COVID19 pandemic and the security scenario. As a part of the package, the government has also decided to provide 50 per cent waiver of fixed charges for one year with respect to electricity P4 and water which would cost Rs 105 crore. Oxford vaccine phase-III trials to start next week PUNE, 19 SEPTEMBER The phase-III human clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) will begin at the Sassoon General Hospital in Pune next week, Dean of the state-run Sassoon General Hospital Dr Muralidhar Tambe said on Saturday. “The phase-III trial of ‘Covishield’ vaccine likely to start on Monday. Some volunteers have already come forward for the trial. Around 150 to 200 volunteers will be administered the vaccine candidate dose,” he said. The SII has partnered with British-Swedish pharma company AstraZeneca for manufacturing the Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by the University of Oxford. Earlier this month, the SII had paused the clinical trials of the vaccine candidate in the country. PTI PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 19 SEPTEMBER he ongoing monsoon session of Parliament is likely to be curtailed and may end by the middle of next week in view of the threat of the Covid-19 spread among parliamentarians, official sources said on Saturday. At a meeting of the business advisory committee of Lok Sabha, which has floor leaders of all parties besides the government representatives and is chaired by the Speaker, most political parties favoured curtailment of the session, which started on 14 September and was scheduled to conclude on 1 October. A final decision will be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. The Lok Sabha has so far passed three Bills to replace agriculture sector related ordinances. Also, both the Houses have cleared a Bill to replace an ordinance for cutting by 30 per cent the salaries of MPs to ramp up funds in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. After some Members of Parliament, including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Prahlad Patel, tested positive for Covid-19 during the session, some Opposition parties had conveyed to the government that conducting the full 18-day session could be a risky affair, sources said. The government then started thinking in that direction, the sources said. Several MPs had also tested positive for Covid-19 around the time the session began and they were T Govt, Opposition trade fire on PM CARES Fund in LS NEW DELHI, 19 SEPTEMBER Opposition parties like the Congress, DMK and the TMC on Saturday opposed in Lok Sabha the setting up of the PM CARES Fund, saying it lacked transparency, a charge rejected by the government with Union Minister Anurag Thakur hitting back at Congress over alleged donations from government departments to trusts run by the Gandhi family members when the party was in power. They were participating in the debate on a bill to give effect to various compliance relief measures for taxpayers, including extending time limits for filing returns, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and tax benefits for donations to PM CARES Fund. The opposition members targeted the government on the issue of Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emeradvised not to attend proceedings. In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within the parlia- ‘Arrested scribe was passing intel to China’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 19 SEPTEMBER The Delhi Police on Saturday said arrested freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma was allegedly passing sensitive information about India’s border strategy and Army’s deployment and procurement to Chinese intelligence agencies. At a Press conference, Special Cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that police are investigating what information Sharma had allegedly passed on to Chinese intelligence officers through his social media accounts and email ID. Based on Sharma’s statement during interrogation, a Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate were arrested on Saturday morning. “Both the Chinese woman and her associate were directors of shell companies in Delhi’s Mahipalpur area and they would export medicines to China and in return, would get huge money which they gave to their agents here,” Yadav said. Sharma was allegedly contacted by Chinese intelligence officer Michael in 2016 and the scribe allegedly shared sensitive information with him till 2018, the DCP said. He came in contact with Michael through a social media platform and later, also visited China where lucrative offers were made, the police officer said, adding Sharma allegedly started giving sensitive defence information to Chinese intelligence. Michael had also borne all expenses on Sharma’s visit to China, police claimed. Sharma was working as a freelance for China’s Global Times newspaper and some Indian media organisations, Yadav said. gency Situations (PMCARES) Fund, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March so that people can contribute and help in the government's fight against the coronavirus. “I can't understand the logic to have a separate fund. What is the difference between the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and the PM CARES Fund,” said N K Premachandran (RSP), who initiated the debate on The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020. He alleged the PM CARES Fund “lacks transparency as it is not audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Further RTI is also not applicable”. “The question of transparency and accountability is the main issue I want to highlight,” he said. PTI ment complex, reporters and parliamentary staff entering the premises now have to undergo the rapid RS passes Bill to punish those attacking healthcare workers:The Rajya Sabha on Saturday passed a legislation that provides for up to seven years in jail for those attacking doctors and healthcare workers fighting the Covid-19 outbreak or during any situation akin to the current pandemic. The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was introduced by Health minister Harsh Vardhan in the Upper House on Saturday. The Bill was supported by the members across party lines, however, some suggested to add in its purview hospital sanitary staff, ASHA (accredited social health activist) workers and Corona warriors’ in emergency services such as police and personnel from other departments. PTI antigen test mandatorily on a daily basis, according to a new protocol put in place. Besides, members of both Houses are undergoing RTPCR tests on regular intervals on a voluntary basis, said a senior Parliament official. A member of Parliament can undergo the RT-PCR test as many times he or she likes. Journalists covering the monsoon session from Press galleries of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha also have the option to undergo the RTPCR test, which is valid for 72 hours. The Budget Session was short-terminated in March after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. NEW DELHI, 19 SEPTEMBER The number of single-day recoveries from Covid-19 in the country outstripped the number of new infections as nearly 96,000 people recuperated from the novel coronavirus, even as the total caseload went past 53 lakh, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday. The figures released at 8 a.m. showed that while 95,880 people recovered from Covid-19 in a span of 24 hours, 93,337 new infections were recorded during the period. With the latest inclusions, the total number of cases mounted to 53,08,014 and the recoveries to 42,08,431, pushing the recovery rate to 79.28 per cent. The death toll, meanwhile, climbed to 85,619 with the virus claiming 1,247 lives in a span of 24 hours, the updated data showed. The Covid-19 case fatality rate has further dropped at 1.61 per cent, the data showed. There are 10,13,964 active cases of Covid-19 in the country, which constitute 19.10 per cent of the total caseload, the data showed. The country’s Covid19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on 7 August, the 30-lakh mark on 23 August, 40 lakh on 5 September, and it went past 50 lakh on September 16. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, a cumulative 6,24,54,254 Covid-19 samples have been tested up to 18 September ~ 8,81,911 of them on Friday. The Cabinet secretary, meanwhile, expressed concern over Covid19 fatality rates in some states being higher than the national average, and urged 12 states and UTs to analyse mortalities district and hospital-wise to identify critical areas KOLKATA/THIRU’PURAM 19 SEPTEMBER The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested nine persons it said were recruits of the Al Qaida terror group in overnight raids in Kerala and West Bengal. Six Al Qaida terrorists were nabbed in raids conducted by the NIA in Bengal’s Murshidabad early on Saturday morning. Three others were arrested by the NIA after raids in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. NIA sources identified the six arrested from Murshidabad as Najmus Sakib, Abu Sufiyan, Mainul Mondal, Leu Yean Ahmed, Al Mamun Kamal and Atitur Rehman. The three arrested from Kerala are Murshid Hasan, Iyakub Biswas and Mosaraf Hosse. Hasan was leading KOLKATA, 19 SEPTEMBER West Bengal recorded 3,188 fresh Covid cases and 56 deaths due to the infection with Kolkata and North-24 Parganas registering above 500 cases each. The city, which had been recording less than 500 cases consecutively for the last few days, registered 543 cases and neighbouring district of North 24-Parganas 501 cases. Both Kolkata and TERROR-NET Six Al Qaida terrorists were nabbed in raids conducted by the NIA in Bengal’s Murshidabad early on Saturday morning. Three others were arrested by the NIA after raids in Kerala’s Ernakulam district The three arrested from Kerala are originally residents of West Bengal, an NIA spokesperson said The arrested men are said to have been planning to launch attacks in Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru and Mumbai around Diwali the gang and those arrested from Kerala are originally residents of West Bengal, an NIA spokesperson said in New Delhi. While Iyakub Biswas and Mosaraf Hosse were arrested from Perumbavoor, Murshid Hasan was taken into custody from Pathalam near Kalamassery in Ernakulam district. The NIA took them into custody in raids conducted at their residences with the help of Kerala police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. North 24-Parganas recorded 15 deaths each in the last 24 hours. South 24-Parganas recorded 216 cases and five deaths, Howrah 187 cases and two deaths and Hooghly 166 cases and four cases. Till now, 2,21,960 people have been detected positive for Covid-19, 4,298 have died and 1,93,014 have recovered of which 2,993 patients were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 It has been reported that all three are originally residents of West Bengal. The trio was working at various institutions and also went for manual work in the Perumbavoor area in Ernakulam district. The NIA is verifying their nationalities to check whether they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The arrest of three AlQaida terrorists from Kerala came days after the Central government acknowledged the presence of terrorists in Kerala and other southern states. The arrested Al-Qaida men were reportedly planning to launch attacks in Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru and Mumbai during Diwali season. Sources hinted that the terrorists had planned to attack the Navy headquarters and the shipyard, in Kochi. The NIA officials have seized digital devices, documents, jihadi literature, sharp weapons, country-made firearms, locally fabricated body armour and literature used for making home-made explosive from their possession. The module was also trying to set up an al-Qaida network in many regions, including the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, on the instructions of their Pakistan-based handlers. More on Page 3 ‘Floating town’ Viraatsets sail on final voyage, to be dismantled PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MUMBAI, 19 SEPTEMBER Indian Navy’s decommissioned aircraft carrier Viraat on Saturday set sail for the last time, on way to Alang in Gujarat, where it will be broken down and sold as scrap. For Navy veterans who watched the huge vessel being towed away by a tug boat, it was an emotional moment as they stood near the Gateway of India, waving at the once ‘floating town’, aboard which they spent the best years of their career. As Viraat began its final journey from the Naval dockyard, a Navy helicopter circling overhead provided a majes- tic backdrop to the vessel’s last voyage. A Defence spokesperson said Viraat was to leave for Alang on Friday, but its departure was delayed by a day. The aircraft carrier served the Indian Navy for 29 years before being decommissioned in March 2017. It had served in the UK’s Royal Navy as HMS Hermes and was named INSViraatafter being inducted in the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987 at Plymouth in the United Kingdom. There were attempts to convert Viraat into a museum or a restaurant, but none of the plans fructified. Alang-based Shree Ram group bought it for Rs 38.54 Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier INS Viraat (now decommissioned) starts on its swansong voyage to Alang port in Gujarat, from Mumbai on Saturday. IANS crore at an auction. Viraat will be dismantled at the Alang ship breaking yard, said company chairman Mukesh Patel. “The vessel will likely reach Alang by 21 September if weather conditions remain favourable,” he added. The ship will be scrapped in 9 to 12 months, he said. Under the Indian flag, Viraat played a crucial role in military operations such as Operation Jupiter, Operation Parakram and Operation Vijay. For the Indian Navy, Operation Jupiter in July 1989 was Viraat’s first major opera- 10,13,964 93,337 95,880 85,619 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 08.00 A.M. SATURDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2020 of intervention. “About 80 per cent of the Covid-19 caseload in the country is concentrated in these states and Union Territories,” a Union health ministry statement said. City again records 500 plus new cases in a day NIA arrests nine Al-Qaida terrorists from Bengal, Kerala after night raids STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 53,08,014 tion, as part of the Indian Peace Keeping operations in Sri Lanka in the wake of the breakdown of the Indo-Sri Lankan accord of 1986. Viraat also saw action during Operation Parakram in 2001-2002, post the terror attack on Parliament. The last operational deployment of the ship was the participation in International Fleet Review at Vishakhapatanam on February 2016. The ship also participated in various international joint exercises like Malabar (with US Navy), Varuna (with French Navy), Naseem-Al-Bahr (with Oman Navy) and was an integral element of annual Theater Level Operational Exer- cise (TROPEX). Viraat is the second aircraft carrier to be broken down in India. In 2014, Vikrantwas broken down in Mumbai. Four officers who served on board Viraat when it was operational, went on to become Indian Navy chiefs. Nicknamed the Grand Old Lady, Viraat could carry a contingent of over 1,500 crew and officers. “She was like a floating city, a piece of our country wherever we went,” a former Navy officer said. Viraat was at sea for a whopping 2,258 days, covering 5,90,000 nautical miles, and 22622 hours of flying operations, a Defence official said. hours, taking the discharge rate to 86.96 per cent. Currently, there are 24,648 active Covid cases in the state. Samples of 45,563 people being tested for the virus today. The current testing positivity rate is 8.09 per cent. The Covid bed occupancy rate is 33.84 per cent while 2,465 people are in government quarantine centres, 75,201 in home quarantine and 1,605 SNS safe homes. Govt proposes allowing cos with 300-plus workers to fire staff without nod NEW DELHI, 19 SEPTEMBER Companies having not less than 300 workers will soon be allowed to hire and fire workers without seeking prior government permission, with the labour ministry proposing changes to rules in a bill introduced in the Lok Sabha on Saturday. The proposal, which was the bone of contention between the ministry and trade unions, is part of the Industrial Relation Code Bill 2020. Currently, only those industrial establishments with less than 100 employees are permitted to hire and fire their staff without permission of the government. The bill was introduced by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar amid opposition from Congress and few other parties. The Industrial Relation Code Bill 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha last year and subsequently sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour. This bill was withdrawn on Saturday. An earlier draft bill circulated by the labour ministry for discussion had also proposed the criteria that companies having not less than 300 employees can hire and fire without the government's permission. However, this provision faced stiff opposition from trade unions and was not included in the 2019 bill. Earlier this year, the Parliamentary committee also made a case of allowing companies having less than 300 workers to go for retrenchment of staff or closure without government permission. States like Rajasthan have already increased the threshPTI old to 300 workers.
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