FRIDAY www.thestatesman.com 23 APRIL 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5|LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR P5 WEATHER Partly cloudy sky with very light rain/thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 35 and 20 degrees Celsius respectively. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max: 73% P6 SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 22 APRIL THUMBNAILS Workers refill cylinders with medical oxygen for supply to hospitals for Covid-19 patients at Shakti Oxygen Refill Plant, in Jalandhar on Thursday. AGENCIES PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 22 APRIL Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrives in a helicopter for an election campaign rally in South Dinajpur, on Thursday. AGENCIES India-US 'clean energy' partnership: India and U the United States are launching a clean energy partnership initiative to mobilise investments and enable green collaborations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Thursday, as he pitched for concrete action at a “high speed and on a large scale” globally to combat climate change while addressing a US-hosted virtual climate summit, attended by 40 global leaders. P4 India joins Indonesia's hunt for submarine: The Indian Navy on Thursday deployed a deep submergence rescue vessel to support the Indonesian Navy's hunt for an attack submarine that went missing with 53 people on board. According to Indonesian authorities, the KRI Nanggala-402, a German-made submarine, went missing during a military exercise P9 around the Bali Strait on Wednesday. Maha orders inquiry against Param Bir Singh: The Maharashtra Home Department has ordered an inquiry against former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh in connection with the allegations of corruption levelled against him by an inspector, sources said on Thursday. As per the orders, Maharashtra DGP Sanjay Pandey has been asked to probe the allegations against Singh, they said. T aking note of the grim situation created by the massive surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it expects the Centre to come out with a national plan to deal with proper distribution of oxygen and essential drugs for the patients. Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be an essential part of treatment, the apex court said it seems that a certain amount of panic has been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking reliefs related to the prevailing situation. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde, which took suo motu cognisance on the issue of distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic, said prima facie it is of the view that the distribution must be done in an even handed manner according to the advice of health authorities. In these circumstances, we direct that notices be issued to the Union Gov- ernment, the State Governments /Union Territories and the parties, who appeared to have approached the high courts to show cause why uniform orders be not passed by this court in relation to: a) supply of oxygen; b) supply of essential drugs; c) method and manner of vaccination and d) declaration of lockdown, said the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat. The top court said it is of the opinion that the Centre should respond, including on report on existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of the above resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned states and union territories). It said the Centre should respond on considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the above articles as essential commodities in relation to Covdi and also on coordination of logistical support for inter-state and intrastate transportation and distribution of the above resources. India has registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highestever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965. According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday, a total of 3,14,835 fresh infections were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 1,84,657 with a record 2,104 new fatalities. The national Covid-19 recovery rate fell below 85 per cent. Current active cases now stand at 22,91,428 comprising 14.38 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid19 recovery rate has dropped to 84.46 per cent. Delhi sees 306 Covid deaths, highest so far: Many Delhi hospitals treating Covid patients continued to reel under a The situation in various parts of the country is grim. It noted that drugs, oxygen and vaccination availability and distribution are being carried out by the governments and the Centre. Nonetheless, it seems that a certain amount of panic has been generated and people have invoked the jurisdiction of several high courts in the country seeking various reliefs such as Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, MP, Calcutta, Allahabad and Gujarat, it said. The bench said the high courts have passed certain orders which may have the effect of accelerating Didi: Centre’s vaccine plan anti-people After HC rap over Covid-19 norms, EC bans roadshows, bike rallies in Bengal KOLKATA 22 APRIL SNS & PTI KOLKATA, 22 APRIL Terming the Centre’s new vaccination strategy as “highly discriminatory and antipeople”, chief minister Mamata Banerjee today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to ensure everyone gets free vaccinations for the coronavirus. Miss Banerjee alleged that there is “a bias in favour of the market against the interest of common people.” In her letter today, Miss Banerjee has also questioned the Central government’s decision to supply the vaccines to states at different rates than those procured by the Centre. “Why should the prices of vaccines be different in cases of state governments? GOI gets the vaccines from manufacturers at Rs 150 per dose, while you have fixed for us, the states, a price of Rs 400 per dose! States need to pay 167% extra over and above the rates that the GOI has fixed for itself,” she wrote. Miss Banerjee said that such a peculiar differentiation of rates is unheard of in Indian history and this is “anti-federal”, “anti-poor” and “anti-youth”. Serum Institute of India had on Wednesday announced that its Covishield vaccine will cost private hospitals Rs 600 per dose and state governments Rs 400, a rate which will also apply to central government procurement once the existing contract for Rs 150 a dose SNS ends. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE 3.14L new cases: Highest ever 1-day spike in world Min: 18.7°C (-4) SUN SETS 18:52 hrs MOON SETS 04:01 hrs Regretting that Covid safety norms were being flouted in West Bengal during campaigning, the Election Commission of India banned road shows and vehicle rallies in the state with immediate effect and said no public meeting having more than 500 people would be allowed. The order said the commission has noted “with anguish” that many political parties and candidates are still not adhering to the prescribed safety norms during the public gatherings. The orders will come into The ECI has full power, but the EC totally failed to implement the Covid guidelines on the voting day and during campaigning time CALCUTTA HIGH COURT force from 7 pm on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Calcutta High Court had come down heavily on the Election Commission for not taking proper action over not following of Covid-19 guidelines on the voting day and during campaigning time. Hearing three public interest litigations (PILs) seeking enforcement of Covid protocol during the elections, a divi- sion bench presided by Chief Justice T B N Radhakrishnan said issuance of circulars and holding meetings on Covid safety were not enough and sought an affidavit by Friday on steps taken to enforce the norms. The court observed that ECI has full power, but it failed to do this. The PILs expressed concern that people participating in the ongoing election campaigns were not adhering to Covid norms which may result in a serious spike in Covid-19 cases in Bengal. But the EC totally failed to implement the Covid-19 guidelines, the court observed. P12 Centre invokes DM Act to streamline supply of oxygen SC seeks plan for proper oxygen distribution, essential drugs to patients Min: 38% AFTER KOLKATA KNIGHTS RODE FOR A FALL P10 ‘Centre must release national Covid plan’ TEMPERATURE Max: 34.0°C (-4) SUN RISES 05:47 hrs MOON RISES 14: 49 hrs CW REPORT: RACISM AGAINST INDIAN WWI MARTYRS BLACK LIVES MATTER ‘VACCINE POLICY DISCRIMINATORY’ 1,59,30,965 22,91,428 3,14,835 1,78,841 1,84,657 NEW DELHI, 22 APRIL Amidst the Delhi-Haryana feud over medical oxygen supply during the current Covid-19 peak, the Centre today said for the second time in less than a week that states cannot impose any restrictions on the free movement of life-saving medical oxygen required by Covid patients. In a fresh order, after his communication to state chief secretaries on 16 April, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked the states to ensure the free movement of oxygen, and said the District Magistrates, SSPs and SPs “will be personally liable for implementation” of the order. The order said the supply of oxygen for industrial purposes, except O2 DEMAND States cannot impose any restrictions on the free movement of lifesaving medical oxygen required by Covid patients Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, exercising powers under the Disaster Management Act, asked the states to ensure the free movement of oxygen The District Magistrates, SSPs and SPs “will be personally liable for implementation” of the order those exempted by the government, was prohibited from today. Exercising powers under the Disaster Management Act as Chairperson, National Executive Modi chairs high-level meet on oxygen supply UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. THURSDAY 22 APRIL 2021 grave medical oxygen crisis, even as the city continued to be inundated by a ferocious Covid wave. Delhi today recorded 26,169 fresh coronavirus cases and 306 deaths. SEE P 2 and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups. The bench further said, Prima facie, we are inclined to take the view that the distribution of these essential services and supplies must be done in an even handed manner according to the advice of the health authorities. We expect the Central Government to place before this court a national plan for dealing with the above services and supplies during pandemic, it said. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 22 APRIL Chairing a high-level meeting to review oxygen supply across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked top officials to work rapidly on increasing its production, boosting the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. PM also said that states must act against any hoarding of oxygen and directed officials to ensure that the oxygen supply to various states happens in a smooth, unhindered manner and called for fixing responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction. In the meeting that also discussed ways and means to boost oxygen availability, Modi was told that the supply of lifesaving gas to states has been steadily increasing. Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/day of liquid medical oxygen, the Centre has from 21 April allocated 6,822 MT/day to these states. It was noted that in the last few days, the availability of liquid medical oxygen has been increased by about 3,300 MT/day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for nonessential industries. PM calls off WB cam paigning: PM Modi will not be visiting Bengal on Friday to address poll meetings as he will be chairing high-level meetings in New Delhi to review Covid situation, he tweeted. ‘Delhi Covid situation precarious’ PRESS TRUST OF INDIA NEW DELHI, 22 APRIL The Delhi High Court on Thursday observed that the Covid-19 situation in the national capital has turned precarious with many hospitals running out of oxygen and directed the Centre to ensure the gas is supplied to the city as per the planned allocation and without any hindrances. “We all know that this country is being run by god,” observed an anguished bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli which was of the view that all measures should be taken for removing obstructions in the transportation of oxygen. If the government wants it can do anything and The Delhi High Court directed the Centre to ensure the gas is supplied to the city as per the planned allocation and without any hindrances We all know that this country is being run by god,” observed an anguish bench can even make heaven meet earth, it said. The high court directed all the authorities concerned, which are bound by the order passed under the Disaster Management Act, to ensure strict compliance of the Centre’s direction that there shall be no restriction on interState and intra-State movement of persons and goods, including medical oxygen. The bench made it clear that non-compliance of the order will be viewed seriously since it is going to result in grave loss of lives and will invite criminal action. We also direct the Central Government to ensure allocation of oxygen takes place as planned and transportation of the tankers takes place unhindered, the bench said and added that they shudder to think what will be the condition in other states. It also directed that adequate security be provided to lorries transporting oxygen so that they move without obstructions and dedicated corridors be made for transportation of oxygen to hospitals. Committee, Bhalla said the states would instruct the transport authorities to ensure free inter-State movement of oxygen carrying vehicles. “No restrictions shall be imposed on oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to limit the supplies only to the hospitals of the State/UT in which they are located,” the order said. There shall be free movement of oxygen carrying vehicles into the cities, without any restrictions of timings, while also enabling inter-city supply without any restriction, the order said. States shall strictly abide by the supply plan of medical oxygen prepared by the Empowered Group II, which is mandated to coordinate klogistics like the supply of medical oxygen. Covid shadow over country The family of a Covid patient rest outside a governmentrun hospital, in Kolkata Odisha offers to help other states Amid shortage of medical oxygen for treatment of Covid19 patients in different parts of the country, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and offered all cooperation including ramping up of oxygen production to assist the needy states. “It is a war like situation and Odisha will extend all cooperation in the fight against Covid-19 at the national level including ramping up oxygen production to assist other states in this emergency situation,” Patnaik told the PM. Yechury’s son dies of Covid CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s son Ashish died of Covid-19 at a Gurgaon hospital on Thursday. Ashish was recovering well at Gurgaon’s Medanta Hospital, people close to the family added, describing his sudden death as a shock. UAE bans travel from India The UAE has banned travel from India for 10 days from Sunday due to the worsening Covid19 situation in the country. The travel ban will come into effect from 11.59 pm on Saturday, 24 April. Clashes, bombings mar sixth phase ; 79.09 per cent turnout STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 22 APRIL Incidents of clashes between rival political groups and allegations of bomb explosions were reported in some parts of the 43 Assembly constituencies where voting was held during the sixth phase of polling today that recorded an overall voter turnout of 79.09 per cent till 5 p.m. The CEO will hold a video conference with the Election Commission of India tomorrow to deliberate on whether the remaining last two phases of polls on 26 and 29 April can be clubbed together or not. A total of 587 people were arrested today of which 392 were preventive arrests and remaining arrests were for violating various sections of the IPC. In this phase, the commission received a total of 1,992 complaints. North 24-Parganas recorded the maximum incidents of violence. In Bagda, there was an incident of police opening fire following an attack from a crowd that had gathered at the premises of a polling station. Initially, an altercation had ensued when police tried to disperse the crowd and later the crowd attacked police. As a last resort, police fired three rounds. A section officer and a constable have sustained injuries. Seven people were arrested in this connection. The highest polling percentage was recorded in Nadia VOTING PERCENTAGE NADIA 82.67 EAST BURDWAN 82.15 NORTH DINAJPUR 77.76 NORTH 24-PGNS 75.94 People queue up to cast their votes at a polling station, during the 6th phase of Assembly elections at Krishnanagar. AGENCIES (82.67) followed by East Burdwan (82.15), North Dinajpur (77.76) and North 24 Parganas (75.94). Voters complained of EVM malfunctioning in many booths of Tehatta in Nadia and Habra in North 24-Parganas during the first few hours of voting. Clashes broke out in Ashoknagar between TMC and BJP activists, in which bombs were reportedly hurled and a vehicle carrying Central secu- rity forces was also vandalised. The Trinamul Congress alleged that Central forces posted outside booth number 79 in Tangra area opened fire, leaving two of their activists injured after a few party workers protested against BJP candidate Tanuja Chakraborty’s visit to the area. The ECI however dismissed allegations. Violence was also reported from the Bijpur constituency in North 24-Parganas, where TMC and BJP supporters clashed outside polling booths. Both the parties accused each other of trying to rig votes. Several incidents of crude bombs exploding were reported in the Barrackpore industrial belt and two persons were arrested. Incidents of clashes between rival party workers and ransacking of camp offices were recorded in Kanchrapara and Khardah. In the Halisahar area of Naihati constituency in the district, BJP activists alleged that bombs were hurled at the residence of a local BJP leader, whose mother and younger brother are known to have suffered injuries. In the Titagarh area of Barrackpore constituency, clashes broke out between the Trinamul and the BJP supporters, following which bombs were hurled at each other, leading to severe injuries to five BJP activists. Film director-turned-TMC candidate Raj Chakraborty was gheraoed in the Barrackpore constituency by BJP supporters, who accused him of influencing voters. Chakraborty however denied the allegations. In the Amdanga, country-made crude bombs were recovered by police personnel. Barring some sporadic incidents, polling in the sixth phase was peaceful in all the nine Assembly constituencies in North Dinajpur district. As many as 1,071 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure fair polling.
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.