TUESDAY CONGRESS VETERAN TARUN GOGOI PASSES AWAY AT 84 24 The three-time chief minister of Assam was undergoing treatment for post-Covid complications in Guwahati NOVEMBER, 2020 ‘NO PROBLEM’ WAS HIS FAVOURITE ONE-LINER epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard Gogoi, who saw himself among a tough breed of politicians who do not dither while making decisions, often told his team that his guiding mantra in all that he did was: “no problem” | P7 twitter.com/TheMornStandard BREAK-UP CONG SNAPS TIES WITH PAGD BROUGHT ULFA TO THE TALKS TABLE Facing BJP fire, it has ended seat-sharing pact for DDC polls with Gupkar alliance A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 TARUN GOGOI APRIL 1, 1936 NOVEMBER 23, 2020 Gogoi is widely credited for pulling the state from the edge of bankruptcy. The 6-time MP will also be remembered for bringing various militant outfits, including ULFA, to negotiation table. Rajan roasts corporate bank idea Former RBI boss, ex-deputy guv Viral Acharya appalled at plan to let borrowers become lenders E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi AAP MLA and Chairperson of Environment Committee of Delhi Assembly Atishi along with other members arrives to meet the Air Quality Commission chairperson regarding stubble burning at Paryavaran Bhavan | SHEKHAR YADAV FORMER Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan on Monday ripped apart the banking regulator’s latest proposal to allow large business houses to float banks, saying chances of misuse is very high because of ‘self-lending opportunities’. “Industrial houses need financing, and they can get it easily, with no questions asked, if they have an in-house bank. The history of such connected lending is invariably disastrous — how can the bank make good loans when it is owned by the borrower?” he asked in a note written jointly with RBI’s former deputy gover- nor Viral Acharya. The note, titled ‘Do we really need Indian corporations in banking’ and published on LinkedIn, warned that such a move will “further exacerbate the concentration of economic (and political) power in certain business houses”. RBI has till now been opposed to letting business houses run banks given India’s history of the 1950s and 1960s when a number of banks run by big industrial houses went under after a spate of connected loans were doled out. A major private-sector lender ICICI Bank is facing probe over loans given out to connected parties. RBI recently ordered the merger of the struggling private Raghuram Rajan Viral Acharya Why now? Have we learnt something that allows us to override all the prior cautions on allowing industrial houses into banking? sector lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank with DBS Bank. Rajan and Acharya said the latest proposal by RBI gives undue advantage to large business hous- ‘Act against CMs of Punjab, Haryana for Delhi pollution’ INDIA’S BEST SHOT AT COVID VACCINE HAS 70% EFFICACY E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Delhi Assembly’s Environment Committee members on Monday demanded action against Haryana and Punjab chief ministers for failing to check stubble burning, leading to suffocating air pollution in the national capital. The strident remarks of the members came as they interacted with the centrally-appointed 20-member Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi. Delhi’s environment panel chairperson and AAP MLA Atishi demanded an FIR against the Punjab & Haryana CMs. The AAP members held them responsible for failing to stop stubble burning in their states, which has led to toxic air in the entire northern belt. Addressing the media after the meeting, Atishi said two main issues were raised — the two state governments must TESTING STATUS 18,046 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted 58,53,278 Total tests done so far 3,08,067 DELHI COVID WATCH implement the Pusa Institute and Delhi government’s solution to stubble burning and that strict action must be taken if they don’t comply . “We have requested them to take stringent action against the CMs of Punjab and Haryana,” said Atishi. “The Air Quality Commission is empowered to take legal action and can send offenders to jail.” Constituted earlier this month by the Central government, the Commission for Air Quality Management in the national capital and adjoining area is headed by former chief secretary of Delhi M M Kutty . At a time when Covid-19 cases are steeply rising, the toxic air is aiding the spike making the situation worse, the government had said earlier. “The increase in the death rate in Delhi was because of pollution due to stubble bur ning in other states,” said Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain. STATUS OF CASES Today Cumulative RECOVERED 7,216 4,88,476 DEATH 121 8,512 ACTIVE CASES -37,329 TOTAL +VE CASES 4,454 5,34,317 PATIENT MANAGEMENT Total beds Occupied Vacant HOSPITAL 17,553 9,464 8,089 CARE CENTRE 8,217 527 7,509* HEALTH CENTRE 562 184 378 22,700 HOME ISOLATION *181 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights Tests per million Source: Delhi health bulletin | November 23 NATIONWIDE ACTIVE CASES DISCHARGED DEATHS 4,43,486 85,62,641 1,33,738 We have requested them (Air Quality Commission) to take stringent action against the CMs of Punjab and Haryana Atishi, AAP leader ‘Desired steps to be taken’ The Commission for Air Quality Management said it will take steps, including formulation of appropriate policies and strategies, to control stubble burning after consultation with stakeholders on a priority basis ‘Solution now available’ Earlier it was said there is no solution to stubble burning but now a solution has come and should be implemented, Atishi said, referring to Pusa Institute’s bio-decomposer that can turn crop residue into manure in 15-20 days and stop stubble burning Maha firewall for passengers from four states EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi OF all the big Covid vaccine efficacy reports, the one India was keen to hear about has just arrived. Swedish-British biotech firm AstraZeneca on Monday announced that Covishield, its vaccine candidate developed along with the University of Oxford, showed an average efficacy of 70% in two study segments in early phase 3 of testing. Though the performance percentage is lower than that of its three competitors — US pharma majors Pfizer and Moderna, and Russia’s Sputnik V claimed 90+% efficacy — the Oxford vaccine scores over the rest for India as it can be stored at a comfortable 2-80C; the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is already manufacturing it; proced around `200 per dose to the government, it’s cost effective; and it is possibly the first Covid-19 vaccine India can lay its hands on. Of the 11,636 volunteers in Astra’s initial test, 131 developed coronavirus, but did not need hospitalisation. “This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of the company . The first dosing regimen given to 2,741 volunteers showed 90% efficacy when administered as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. The second dosing regimen given to 8,895 individuals showed S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai Oxford shot rate for govt around `200 While the cost of the Oxford vaccine is expected to be about `220 per dose under the government’s national immunisation programme, its market price could be higher, Serum Institute of India chief Adar Poonawala has already indicated 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart. Both regimens put together showed an average efficacy of 70%. SII CEO Adar Poonawala had already said the company will seek emergency use authorisation from the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation in India as soon as the initial data from the trial is out. For India, the company has pledged 35 million doses per month. Overall, the Oxford vaccine is being tested in about 60,000 volunteers across multiple countries including the US, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and India. Government dilutes norms to expedite green clearance to infrastructure projects R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi IN what is being read as an attempt to steamroll infrastructure project clearances, the Union environment ministry has decided to dilute assessment procedures to study possible environmental damages and their social impact. Projects seeking environment clearances come to ministry’s expert appraisal committees (EAC), where they take humongous time for final approval — from 83-220 days in 2015-16 to 176-336 days in 20192020. To resolve this bottleneck, “all projects, placed in the agenda, should be considered by the EAC notwithstanding the nonattendance of the Project Proponent or his consultant in the EAC meeting to make a presentation,” said an Office Memorandum issued by the ministry last week. All EAC meetings shall be held at least twice a month to cut down the period of Environmental Clearance (EC) approval, it added. All fresh EC proposals submitted 10 days before an EAC meet shall be taken up at its meeting. The Project Proponent shall be asked to submit the presentation also along with the EC application & other documents, it said and added that any queries or issues the division may have should be raised during the EAC meeting itself. It is pushing the EACs to take hasty decisions that are eventually not in favour of business or the environment Kanchi Kohli, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program Cutting the approval time All EAC meetings shall be held at least twice a month to cut down the period of EC approval and all the fresh EC proposals submitted up to 10 days before EAC meeting shall be taken up in the meeting. “Member Secretary ought to ensure that the relevant queries of the division are also pointed out at the time of EAC meetings itself so as to avoid occasion for such queries before and after the examination by EAC,” it further said. However, Kanchi Kohli, Legal Research Director, CPR-Namati Environment Justice Program, said the directive visualises environmental appraisals to straight-jacketed, linear and bureaucratic processes. “It is pushing the EACs to take hasty decisions that are eventually not in favour of business or the environment,” she said. The ministry’s directive further says that in case a Project Proponent or his consultant did not attend the meeting or does not reply to the queries raised for more than six month, the member secretary should write to the Regional Office of the Ministry to carry out a site inspection so as to check if construction/operation of the project has started. WITH a fresh wave of Covid building on the horizon, Maharashtra sought to raise its firewall, mandating travellers from the most-affected states of Delhi and NCR, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to show a Covid-19 negative certificate on arrival by rail, road and air from Wednesday . As per a Standard Operating Procedure issued by the state government on Monday, all flyres must undergo an RT-PCR test within 72 hours of the scheduled landing time in Maharashtra. “The passengers not having the negative test report will have to undertake a Covid-19 test at their own cost. The airport authority will arrange the testing centres and charge the passengers directly stated the notification. ,” In case of journey by trains, the collection of RT-PCR samples should have been done within 96 hours before the scheduled arrival. There will be mandatory screening at border check posts for people coming by road. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar warned people not to ignore the pandemic guidelines. “The Covid-19 cases have been increasing every day ... This is a very deadly and unpredictable virus. The danger is not over yet,” he said. es that already have the initial capital that has to be put up. “Moreover, highly indebted and politically connected business houses will have the greatest incentive and ability to push for (banking) licences. That will increase the importance of money power yet more in our politics, and make us more likely to succumb to authoritarian cronyism,” they warned. The duo’s caution came on a day when S&P Global Ratings also ter med RBI’s proposal “fraught with risk”. Non-performing assets within the corporate sector stood at a high 13% as of March this year, S&P said in its report. PUT ON ICE Kerala U-turn on police law after uproar E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram UNDER fire from various corners including national-level leaders and Left sympathisers, the CPMled Kerala government on Monday said it would not enforce the controversial provisions in the Kerala Police Act amendment ordinance, signed by Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Saturday . Section 118 (A), which has been incorporated in the Kerala Police Act, mandates jail term for offensive social media posts. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said any further action would be taken only after discussing it in the Assembly and collecting feedback from the public. “Apprehensions were aired by those who support the LDF and defend democracy. Hence, the state government will not go ahead with implementing the amendment,” said the CM. The announcement came after CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury publicly said the amendment should be reviewed. Having put the amendment on hold, the government will now have to officially withdraw it. Sources said it may either bring in another ordinance or request the governor to withdraw the same as per Article 213 (2)(b). Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting is expected to take a call on the next course of action. The gover nment had earlier said it brought the amendment ordinance to check cyberbullying. Choosing partner without religion bar is a right: HC E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi PMSPEAK 16TH TO 18TH LOK SABHA A CRUCIAL PERIOD FOR OUR YOUNG DEMOCRACY As the ages of 16, 17 and 18 are very important for the youth, so is the time between the 16th and the 18th Lok Sabha for India, PM Modi said while digitally inaugurating 76 flats in Delhi for MPs PAGE 7 DISPOSING of an interfaith marriage case, a division bench of the Allahabad High Court recently observed that the right to live with a person of his/her choice irrespective of religion professed by them, is intrinsic to right to life and personal liberty . Critiquing an earlier verdict of the same court, which claimed “conversion just for the purpose of marriage is unacceptable,” the bench said it had not laid good law. A bench of justices Pankaj Naqvi and Vivek Agarwal said: “We fail to understand that if the law permits two persons even of the same sex to live together peacefully then neither any individual nor a family nor even the state can have an objection to the relationship of two major individuals who out of their own free will are living together.” The observation came on petitions filed by Salamat Ansari and Priyanka Kharwar seeking a direction not to arrest them and for quashing an FIR filed on her father’s complaint under Sections 363, 366, 352, 506 IPC and Section 7/8 POCSO Act, which was filed on behest of girl’s father. The couple in its petition stated that as they both had attained the age of majority and were competent to contract a marriage, they performed Nikah on August 19, 2019, after Priyanka Kharwar embraced Islam. “We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grownup individuals who out of their own free will and choice are living together peacefully and happily over a year.... Interference in a personal relationship, would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two,” the HC said.
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