COIMBATORE TUESDAY MARCH 02, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 12 LATE CITY EDITION LPG COST UP BY `25; WHOPPING `125 RISE SINCE FEBRUARY Fluctuations in international price and Dollar exchange rates behind the sharp rise. New rates kick into force on March 1 SIXTH HIKE SINCE DECEMBER 2020 In Delhi, a cylinder will now cost `819; in Kolkata, `845; in Mumbai, `819 and in Chennai, `835. LPG prices were hiked across all categories by `25 per cylinder on February 4; `50 on February 15; and `25 on February 25. Prices have been climbing since December. There were indications that the prices would possibly cool in a few weeks as state elections are due ■ `3,663 PETROL, DIESEL PRICE STABLE FOR 2ND DAY ■ Petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged for the second day in a row after hitting an all-time high. Branded, premium or additive mixed petrol, however, crossed `100 mark on Saturday The rates of regular petrol had last month crossed `100-mark at a few places in Rajasthan and MP, which levy the highest VAT PER KILO-LITRE HIKE IN AVIATION TURBINE FUEL CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Hackers attacked power grid to coerce India at LAC? PUSHKAR BANAKAR AND SUDHIR S U R YA W A N S H I @ New Delhi/Mumbai Prime Minister Narendra Modi sporting an Assam gamucha, being administered Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin by a nurse who hails from Puducherry, as a Keralite nurse watches on, in New Delhi on Monday. Both states and the UT go to polls in April | PTI Modi dispels vax hesitancy, pain point is enrolling Software glitches make registration difficult, govt asks people to use the CoWIN website instead of the app to book appointments S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE first day of Covid-19 vaccination for senior citizens and people above 45 with co-morbidities saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi becoming the first beneficiary but was marred with reports of technical glitches in the technological platform driving the initiative. A vast majority of people from across the country complained of unavailability of slots for inoculation and the glitches they experienced while registering on the CoWIN platform that has been specially created for administering immunisation against coronavirus. An online poll by community social media platform LocalCircle found that nearly 92% of over 6,800 people surveyed had failed to get a vaccination slot on the first day of the second phase of Covid-19 vaccination. While 13% said they had failed to access the site app, 50% said they did not get any OTP or SMS, after entering their details in the portal while 29% said that they managed to register but the site did not show appointments. Complaints by citizens on various social media sites meanwhile prompted the Un- EXPRESS READ AIMIM will contest elections in Tamil Nadu Hyderabad: The All India Majlise-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) will contest in the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, party chief Asaduddin Owaisi announced on Monday. The elections will be held on April 6. Owaisi also questioned the effectiveness of Covishield, and quoting the German government, said it is not “as effective” for people aged 64 and above | P4 ion health ministry to clarify that the registration and booking for an appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine are to be done through the CoWIN portal, while the app is only for government administrators. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan also promised that the glitches in the system will be streamlined in the days to come. “A certain number of people can walk-in at the centres. There are many people in the country who couldn’t access or faced difficulty in booking. All these systems will be streamlined within one week,” he said. Some experts meanwhile pointed out that the platform is experiencing the same problems that were seen during Phase 1 of the vaccination when only healthcare and frontline workers were allowed to get inoculated. “As of now, less than 1% of India’s population has been vaccinated and in order to vaccinate the targeted 30 crore population over the next few months, it is important to urgently upgrade CoWIN’s infrastructure, too,” said a public health expert. The Indian Medical Association, in a statement, said the CoWIN platform needs to be more people friendly . STATE-sponsored Chinese hackers may have targeted Indian power grids and ports with malware even as tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) escalated, The New York Times said quoting a US cybersecurity firm’s study, leading to doubts over the cause of the October 12 grid failure in Mumbai. Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based company found , a spike in malware in Indian government, defence and public sector organisations in the build up to the clashes along the LAC since May last year. According to it, the cyber attacks began in May and continued throughout the year. Recorded Future claims the intrusions have now significantly come down. Apart from Recorded Future, cybersecurity firm Cyfirma claimed state-sponsored Chinese hackers had targeted IT systems of two Indian Covid vaccine manufacturers — Se- rum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. According to Cyfirma, Chinese group APT10, also known as Stone Panda, identified vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure and supply chain software of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India (SII). Cyfirma Chief Executive told media that the real motive Beijing calls US firm’s report irresponsible The Chinese foreign ministry termed the report irresponsible. “Speculation and fabrication have no role to play on the issue of cyber attacks. It is irresponsible to accuse a particular party when there is no sufficient evidence,” foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said HC to oversee ‘Why have such a big gap CB-CID probe between polling & results?’ against top police official E X P R ESS N E WS S E RV I C E @ Chennai H A R I S H M U RA L I @ Chennai THE Madras High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of the recent complaint of sexual harassment made by a woman IPS of ficer against a top police official. Though the case was widely reported, and even a Government Order named the accused, the High Court has restrained the Press from naming him. It warned of initiating contempt proceedings if the accused or complainant is named. The court said it would monitor the investigations conducted by the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), which has registered an FIR in the case. The State government had also ordered a probe by a committee headed by a senior IAS officer. Justice N Anand Venkatesh noted, “Considering the sensitivity of the issue and the ensuing elections... No statements must be given by such parties in the media, touching upon the merits of this case.” The court also emphasised, “The name of the victim officer, the accused person and the witnesses shall not be used or exchanged through any media, pending investigation in this case..” THE gap between polling and counting in Tamil Nadu is too long, many political parties told Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Satyabrata Sahoo on Monday, and sought for the election dates to be revised. They also raised other issues, such as giving up the idea of postal ballot facilities for voters above the age of 80, and enforcing stringent measures to check bribery of voters. Expressing his views at an all-party meeting convened by the CEO, the AIADMK’s Pollachi V Jayaraman said the Election Commission (EC) should explain how it will ensure people above the age of 80 don’t vote twice — from home and from polling booths. If changes are made in nomination forms, Form A or Form B, political parties should be intimated, he said, adding that the CEO promised to con- duct a two-day special campaign to issue ID cards to new voters. The CEO also said voters can download their ID cards from the internet. DMK’s RS Bharathi felt stringent action isn’t being taken against those who indulge in malpractice. “During the last Assembly election, `570 crore was seized from container lorries. A CBI inquiry was ordered but nothing has been found so far. Similarly no action was tak, en regarding the distribution of `89 crore in the RK Nagar by-election.” He also alleged officials were being appointed and transferred through back-dated orders. “In Bihar, postal ballots were misused to capture power. Here, DMK MLA R Appavu was defeated through postal ballots, and the case is still pending in court. The postal ballot system has shortcomings, so it should not be introduced,” he said. P2 SARKOZY CONVICTED OF GRAFT, JAILED The 66-year-old, who was president of France from 2007 to 2012, was convicted of trying to bribe a magistrate for details about a case in which he was implicated | P9 ‘Wanted’: Heavyweights for Cong in Pondy D E BJA N I D U T TA @ Puducherry CONGRESS was always known to be a top-heavy party, with intense infighting being witnessed for seats in elections. This time around in Puducherry the grand old party is , desperate enough to hang a “wanted” board outside its office, for most of its popular leaders have jumped ship. Analysts say Congress might end up doing what it did the last time around — give a red-carpet welcome to Opposition’s candidates who fail to get tickets. Among the prominent MLAs who ditched the Congress for the BJP and its allies are former PWD minister P Namassivayam, A Jo h n Ku m a r, E T h e e painthan, and K Lakshminarayan, who’s slated to join the NR Congress. Even VP Sivakozhunthu, who stepped down as Speaker on Sunday is a confidante of the BJP , . His brother and son have joined the party. The Congress’ ally DMK could solve the problem in certain constituencies but not all. The Opposition is also facing a crisis of equal measure. Now, it has too many leaders, but only a certain number of constituencies. Worried about getting a sufficient number, NR Congress leader N Rangasamy has left on a spiritual tour, even while mulling the possibility of leaving the alliance and contesting alone. CONTINUED ON P2 ANTICIPATORY BAIL PLEA Shocker as SC asks alleged rapist if he’ll marry victim E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi IN a shocking statement, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Monday asked a 23-year-old government servant whether he was ready to marry the woman who has accused him of rape. The observation came while the court was hearing a case against Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician in the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company Ltd, who was accused of raping a minor girl in 201415. He was allegedly 17- 18-years-old then, and the girl was his distant relative and a student of Class 9 at the time. Last month, the Bombay High Court had cancelled the anticipatory bail granted to Chavan by a lower court, on an application filed by the girl. He had then challenged this order in the Supreme Court. During the hearing, CJI Bobde asked Chavan’s lawyer, “Will you marry her?” “You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You knew you are a government servant. We are not forcing you to marry Let us know if you . will, otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry her,” the CJI said. The lawyer consulted Chavan and then told the court that he initially wanted to marry her but Reneged on agreement to marry the victim When her family found out about the relationship, the accused’s mother offered to get the two married once she turned 18. The families also signed an agreement. However, when the girl turned 18, the accused refused to marry her of the group was to exfiltrate IP addresses and gain a competitive advantage over Indian pharmaceutical firms. The NYT report also claims that Indian authorities were alerted about the increase in deployment of malware and given technical details. Responding to the report, the Power Ministry on Monday the girl refused. “Now I cannot as I am already married.” The bench granted him interim protection from arrest for four weeks, allowing him time to file for regular bail. According to the FIR, the girl was in Class 9 when the accused star ted following her home from school and then one day he forcibly entered her house and raped her. In her complaint, the girl also alleged that he threatened to throw acid on her and kill her brother if she did not consent to a sexual relationship with him. said an email was received from CERT-In on November 19, 2020, on the threat of malware called Shadow Pad at some control centres of POSOCO. Accordingly, action was taken to address the threats. “NCIIPC informed through mail on February 12 about a state-sponsored Chinese hacker group Red Echo targeting Indian Power sector’s Regional Load Dispatch Centres along with State Load Dispatch Centres,” the ministry said, adding that all systems in control centres were scanned and cleaned P7 by an anti-virus tool. HIGHER THAN EXPECTED SPECTRUM BIDS ON DAY-1 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi DAY one of India’s first spectrum auction in five years saw substantially higher competition than expected, with the government receiving bids worth `77,146 crore. Analysts had expected the auctions to fetch only around `45,00050,000 crore. However, while all three major telcos — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea — participated in the bidding, the premium 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands remained entirely No takers then and now without suitors. The 700 MHz band had remained unThe 700 MHz band touched during the last auctions also had remained held in 2016, with the industry finding untouched also the pricing rather expensive. The govduring the last ernment consequently brought the reauctions held in serve price down to `6,568 crore per 2016, with the MHz for this round from `11,485 crore in industry finding 2016, but industry sources say telcos the pricing rather consider the new prices inflated, too. expensive And since one-third of the 2308.80 megahertz of airwaves being auctioned this round are in the 700 MHz band, the higher-than-expected bids received for the other bands still only account for a fraction of the `3.92 lakh crore worth assets on offer. The Ministry of Communications said, “There have been bids for 849.20 MHz so far. Excluding spectrum in 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands, this is almost 60% of the spectrum put to auction,” Telecom ministry said, adding that the bidding will continue on Tuesday .
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