TUESDAY STRANDED ROHINGYA VESSEL DRIFTS INTO INDIAN WATERS 23 The boat left Bangladesh shores days ago and has been adrift for a week after its engine broke down, according to the UNHCR FEBRUARY, 2021 Refugees have run out of food and water epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard UNHCR director for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Ratwatte, said the refugees on board the vessel ran out of food and water several days ago. “Many are in a highly vulnerable condition and are apparently suffering from extreme dehydration... A number of refugees have already lost their lives, and that fatalities have risen over the past 24 hours,” he added twitter.com/TheMornStandard ON POLL DRIVE MODI UPS ANTE AGAINST MAMATA Accuses Bengal CM of ruining cultural heritage; TMC says he’s lying A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi TRUST VOTE Nominated MLAs topple Pondy govt, allies cry foul D E B J A N I D U T TA @ Puducherry PUDUCHERRY created history on Monday with an elected government being toppled by nominated legislators, who were allowed to participate in the trust vote. With a number of legislators jumping ship, the floor strength of ruling Congress-DMK combine fell to 12 on Monday The . Opposition had 11 votes of elected members, which went up to 14 when the three nominated MLAs — all from BJP — were considered. Shortly after the confidence motion, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy resigned. The Opposition has also decided not to stake claim to form the government, which means the Union Territory is headed for President’s rule. The Congress and DMK termed the development as a murder of democracy Naray. anasamy accused Speaker VP Sivakolunthu of flouting guidelines by letting nominated legislators vote. After the CM moved the motion, government whip RKR Anantharaman asked the Speaker whether the three nominated members had the right to vote. The whip pointed out that as nominated members could not vote in Presidential polls, they couldn’t take part in the trust vote. As the Speaker did not respond, the CM said he would go to Raj Nivas and resign, and the ruling MLAs walked out of the House. However, as they walked out, the Speaker announced that the confidence motion was defeated. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi CURVE CONCERN Numbers have been worrisome over the last 10 days across the country TOTAL ACTIVE CASES OVER LAST 10 DAYS All negative rapid antigen test results to be mandatorily followed by RT-PCR tests and no such negative persons are to be missed Refocus on strict & comprehensive surveillance, stringent containment in selected districts Regular monitoring of the mutant strains through testing followed by genome sequencing, as well as monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases Increase vaccination days and sessions DAILY NEW CASES OVER LAST 10 DAYS 9,353 12,137 12,198 11,706 9,086 11,592 12,862 13,237 13,916 13,919 14,278 FRESH INSTRUCTIONS FROM CENTRE TO STATES AS CASES ON A RISE AGAIN 1,33,079 1,33,750 1,34,734 1,36,843 1,34,032 1,33,683 1,34,403 1,36,612 1,40,202 1,42,688 1,47,156 Police penalise a commuter for not wearing mask in Mumbai on Monday | PTI In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, weekly cases have increased from 18,200 to 21,300. Weekly positivity has gone up from 4.7 per cent to 8 per cent. Some experts felt it would be “naïve” to think India will escape the second wave. “Look at the surges in Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Uttarakhand. There may even be a new Indian variant about which not much is known. Surges are likely to hit the rest of the country said Arvinder Singh Soin, ,” senior herpetologist in Medanta Hospital in Gurugram. Vinod Scaria, scientist with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology who is involved in genome sequencing of SARS CoV-2 in Kerala, said while there is no evidence of mutant virus triggering the spike, data from other states need to be studied.P5,7 GROWTH IN ACTIVE CASES @ Mumbai THE Bombay High Court on Monday granted six-month bail on medical grounds to 81-yearold Hyderabad-based poet and activist Dr PV Varavara Rao, who is an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case. He was arrested two-anda-half years ago. The court observed it was a “genuine and fit” case for granting relief in view of Rao’s advanced age, given the inadequate facilities at Taloja Central Jail hospital in Navi Mumbai. The bail was set at a personla bond of `50,000 and two solvent sureties. The bench said if it denies relief, it will be abdicating its constitutional duties as a protector of human rights and right to health covered under Article 21 of the Constitution. Merely because he is an accused in cases pertaining to se- Varavara Rao being produced in court in Pune on Monday | PTI rious offences, his health condition cannot be ignored, the bench added. It directed Rao to remain in Mumbai. Rejecting NIA’s request for staying Rao’s release, the court said: “We are of the opinion that adopting a humanitarian approach in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case is warranted.” Rao’s counsel Indira Jaising later said the most important thing about the judgment is that it recognises the fundamental rights of all prisoners to health, life and liberty . A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale said after six months, Rao should either surrender or apply for extension of bail. The bench imposed a condition that Rao should not make public statements related to the proceedings and not establish contact with the co-accused. They further said that Rao has to remain within the jurisdiction of Special NIA Court, Mumbai. The bench observed that allowing Rao to go back to Hyderabad is “fraught with risk”. The bench also directed Rao to provide his contact number and the numbers of his relatives residing with him. He must attend the court as and when he is summoned. He can, however, apply for exemption. tronics and power sectors. SAIC, which started selling cars in India in 2019 under its British brand MG Motor, has already invested $400 million in India and wants to bring in more investment bolster its production capacity . Great Wall plans to invest $1 bn in India over the next few years. “There are about 45 proposals in the pipeline awaiting approvals. The aggregate value of these proposals is `20,000 crore. Now that talks have resumed and tension has eased, those deals are likely to go ahead,” said a commerce ministry official. Officials clarified that it is not just Chinese companies RBI urges Centre & states to cut indirect taxes on petrol, diesel @ New Delhi Six-month bail for Rao on medical ground after over two years in jail EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE WITH border tensions with China appearing to be ebbing, the Centre has decided to clear as many as 45 Chinese investment proposals worth over `20,000 crore. Confir ming the development, officials in the finance and commerce ministries told TMS that these FDI proposals include high-profile ones that have been stuck due to tensions between the two countries. These include the proposal by Chinese auto giant Great Wall Motors to manufacture electric vehicles in India. Other notable proposals include the one by SAIC Motor Corp and projects in the elec- EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Focusing on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths Feb 11 -6,354 Feb 12 671 984 Feb 13 2,109 Feb 14 -2,811 Feb 15 -349 Feb 16 720 Feb 17 2,209 Feb 18 3,590 Feb 19 2,486 Feb 20 4,486 Feb 21 ACTIVE Covid-19 cases in India have been growing dramatically over for the last five days, reversing the pattern of decline that started in November-end. But, in the absence of data from the genomic surveillance exercise that began two months back, it remains a mystery whether the pandemic’s reemergence in several states is simply due to human factors such as life getting back to ‘near normal’ or because of new strains of SARS CoV-2. India had 1,33,079 active cases on February 11 — the lowest since June 9, 2020 — which has grown to 1,47,156 on February 21, marking an increase of over 10.5 per cent within 10 days. Even more worryingly India , registered a growth of 4,486 active cases on Sunday over the previous day — the highest since November 25. As on Monday active cases are growing at , 0.8 per cent after registering negative growth on most days over the last 10 weeks. According to data, while over 74% of the active cases are in Kerala and Maharashtra, there has been a spike in daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, too. Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir are also witnessing a surge in daily new cases, show figures. Five states have a weekly positivity rate higher than the national average of 1.79 per cent. In Kerala, average weekly cases have fluctuated between 42,000 and 34,800, while weekly test positivity rate has ranged from 13.9 per cent to 8.9 per cent. 90 ESTIMATED NO. OF REFUGEES, INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN, IN THE BOAT Chinese investments set to flow in again as border cools Alarm bells ring as active Covid cases rise in 10 days Kerala & Maharashtra account for 74%, upward trend in more states PAGES 12 REPRESENTATIVE PICTURE WITH fuel prices touching historic highs, the Reserve Bank of India has urged both the Centre and state governments to reduce indirect taxes on petrol and diesel. Taxes levied by the Centre and local governments make up for 60 per cent of the retail cost of petrol while it is 54 per cent in the case of diesel. “Calibrated unwinding” of taxes is needed to reduce price pressures in the economy RBI , Governor Shaktikanta Das said in the Monetary Policy Committee meeting that concluded on February 6, its minutes released on Monday showed. “CPI inflation, excluding food and fuel remained elevated at 5.5 per cent in December, due to inflationary impact of rising crude oil prices and high indirect tax rates on petrol and diesel, and pick-up in inflation of key goods and services, particularly in transport and health categories. Govt’s cash cow The Centre collected `2.36 lakh crore in excise duties on petrol and diesel in the first nine months of FY21. For the full year, it expects to collect `3.61 lakh crore — `94,000 crore more than the Budget Estimate of `2.67 lakh crore Proactive supply-side measures, particularly in enabling a calibrated unwinding of high indirect taxes on petrol and diesel, are critical to contain further build-up of costpressures,” said Das. In January, Goldman Sachs had estimated Brent crude oil price to reach $65 a barrel by the middle of 2021. As international crude prices increase, petrol-diesel prices will continue to rise if tax rates don’t change. Fuel prices directly affect household budgets as prices of essential items invariably go up in tandem with petrol and diesel prices. EXPRESS READ BJP, RLD supporters clash in UP’s Muzaffarnagar Lucknow: A clash broke out between BJP and RLD supporters in Muzaffarnagar’s Soram on Monday when Union minister Sanjeev Balyan visited the village. Three people were injured. “Now farmers will have to tolerate hooliganism of government representatives who are telling pros of the new laws,” RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary tweeted. Balyan alleged he was there to pay homage to a deceased local when RLD men “started misbehaving and hurling abuses”| P7 ONE MORE PERSON ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH R-DAY VIOLENCE A 29-year-old man identified as Jaspreet Singh, who allegedly climbed one of the tombs of Red Fort during the violence on Republic Day, was nabbed by cops | P5 but several proposals by Hong Kong and Singapore-based companies were also stuck in the process, including a large bunch of private equity investors which were looking to invest in the Indian startups. “There are about one dozen start-up deals which are stuck, because of want of security clearance. Once it is done, it will bring a big relief for startups which were looking for liquidity in the post Covid period,” said an official. India had tightened the rules for FDI proposals from China amid standoff between the two armies. India had also banned a numbers of Chinese apps citing security concerns. TOOLKIT CASE One-day police custody for Disha, bail hearing today E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi A Delhi court on Monday sent student-activist Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with the farmer protest ‘toolkit’ probe, to one-day police custody The 21-year-old was pro. duced before Chief Metropolitan Ma gistrate Pankaj Sharma on expiry of her three-day judicial custody . Delhi Police sought five-day remand saying Disha had tried to shift blame on the coaccused — Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk — during questioning and needed to be confronted with them. The court granted one day for custodial interrogation. Opposing the police plea, Disha’s lawyer Siddharth Agarwal said, “The police have a right to interrogate the accused even in the jail. Why do you require her custody?” He pointed out that an order on her bail plea is expected on Tuesday Besides, he contend. ed, why should Disha be in police custody while the two co-accused are out on bail. Police said Jacob and Muluk may be arrested in future. The two had earlier secured pre-arrest transit bail from Bombay High Court. They joined the probe and was questioned at Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell office on Monday . They are being quizzed about their role in the case and their connection with the pro-Khalistani outfit Poetic Justice Foundation, Pieter Frederich and ISI agent BS Bhinder, said a source. An officer said the IP address and locations provided by Google on request show the toolkit was uploaded from Karnataka and Maharashtra. SEMBLANCE Tourists return to Valley, Gulmarg hotels booked until end of April FAYA Z WA N I @ Srinagar IT seems the good days are back again. Tourists are returning to the militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir. The Valley’s famed ski resort of Gulmarg is sold out, as all hotels are booked till the end of April. With heavy snowfall this year, the tourist resort of Gulmarg at an altitude of 8,000 feet has been a major attraction this winter and witnessed 100 per cent occupancy on Christmas and New Year eve. Mushtaq Shah, spokesman of Gulmarg Hoteliers Club, said all hotels are booked. “Over 900 hotel rooms including J&K Tourism Department huts in Gulmarg are booked till April-end. All classes of tourists including high-spending tourists and budget tourists are coming to Gulmarg,” he said. Gulmarg was always a fourseason destination but in the the last few years, it witnessed lesser footfall in the winters. According to Shah, after the Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg last year, the national skiers got first-hand informa- Heavy snowfall this season has added to the attraction of Gulmarg | PTI tion about the place and its beauty “It sent a positive mes. sage and players and people realised that Gulmarg has got the infrastructure that is available in other parts of the world.” He said since people can’t visit foreign countries due to Covid-19, Indian travellers are coming to Gulmarg in bigger numbers. The second edition of Khelo India National Winter Games will be held in Gulmarg from February 26 to March 2 and hoteliers are hopeful it will be an additional boost for the tourism sector. “It sends a message that Kashmir is a safe tourist destination. And it had always been a cheaper option compared to other parts of the world,” said another hotelier. Director of Tourism Kashmir, GN Itoo said packed hotels is a positive development. “Gulmarg used to be a winter tourism destination and after snowfall, footfall to the ski resort would drop considerably. But due to Khelo India, publicity programmes and roadshows, Gulmarg is agian emerging as a favourite tourism destination,” he said.
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