wednesDAY Sreeshankar takes giant leap to book olympic berth 17 Long jumper M Sreeshankar’s clears 8.26m to make the cut, Tamil Nadu’s Dhanalakshmi stuns Dutee Chand march, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in new national record en route tokyo facebook.com/TheMorningStandard The 21-year-old from Kerala bettered his own national record in Patiala. Not a part of the jumps national camp, Sreeshankar is training separately under his father S Murali in Palakkad. Five race walkers, two javelin throwers and the mixed 4x400m relay team had earlier qualified for the Olympics twitter.com/TheMornStandard rajasthan uproar over phone tapping BJP demands list of names, Congress refuses as ruckus erupts in Assembly Page 8 dhanalakshmi too hogs limelight A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS l New Delhi Double mutation variant detected in Maharashtra Its role in second Covid wave under study; 20% of Maha samples had the mutations S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Scientific institutes tasked with genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in the country have alerted the Centre on a virus variant with double mutation in Maharashtra, whose possible role in the surge in cases is being probed, this newspaper has gathered. The institutes working on a project under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have alerted the Union health ministry to label the variant with the double mutation as a likely variant of concern (VOC). VOCs have potential public health implications like the ones in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Sources working on the project said so far 7,000 virus samples have been sequenced, of which 200 were lifted from parts of Maharashtra, which has been hit the hardest with the fresh rise in cases. “Of the samples from Maharashtra, about 20% have two mutations, E484Q and L452R,” said a source. “While it is difficult to conclusively say that the variant is behind the surge, it has been established elsewhere that E484Q can escape antibody neutralisation and L452R is known to increase infectivity Andhra CID summons Naidu over land scam Express News Service @ Vijayawada The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID), which filed an FIR against former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the alleged Amaravati land scam, served a notice on him at his Jubilee Hills residence in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Naidu has been directed to appear in person before the Investigating Officer at the CID regional office in Vijayawada on March 23. “Failure to attend or comply with the terms of the notice, you will be liable for arrest under Section 41 (3) and (4) of CrPC,” the notice warned. On Tuesday this newspaper , broke the story of the CID’s FIR against Naidu for allegedly facilitating alienation of assigned lands in violation of the law. The notice served by investigating officer A Lakshmi Narayana Rao identified Naidu as Accused No.1 and said it was necessary to examine him to “ascertain facts which are within your exclusive knowledge.” A similar notice was served on TDP leader Ponguru Narayana Rao, who was the minister for municipal administration and urban development during the TDP regime. The notices were served under Section 41 (A) of the CrPC. The FIR was registered based on a complaint by Mangalagiri MLA and YSRC leader Alla Ramakrishna Reddy The CID reg. istered cases under Sections 166, 167, 217 and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) r/w 34, 35, 36 and 37 of the IPC and Section 3(1) (f) and (g) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and Section 3 of the Assigned Land Act 1977. Continued on P8 and has been linked to large pockets in the US.” The Centre in December had formed a genomic surveillance consortium — INSACOG — of 10 institutes under the NCDC to work on genome sequencing of virus samples from various parts of the country amid concern over detection of the UK variant in India. A team sent by the health ministry to Maharashtra had also pointed to a possible role of the variant virus causing the second wave of infections in the state. Officials said an epidemiological investigation being undertaken by the NCDC, will involve probing whether variants are causing the disease to spread in clusters and whether they are more infectious. Epidemiologists will also examine whether there is significant digression in clinical outcomes in patients, found positive with the variant and whether people with previous history of infection are also being found re-infected with the mutant virus. The government has earlier categorically denied the role of the virus with E484Q or any other mutation in the surge, but this mutation appearing with L452R in a region with a massive surge of infections has triggered fresh worries. Trends and the big picture n MP govt to impose night curfew in Bhopal and Indore from Wednesday (10 pm to 6 am). Also, shops ordered to close at 10 pm in eight other cities n Gujarat to increase night curfew timings by two hours in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot from 10 pm to 6 am n India recorded 24,492 new COVID-19 cases, going past 20,000 for the sixth day in a row. Total cases in the country stood at 1,14,09,831 n 5.86 crore doses of Made in India Covid vaccines provided to 71 countries both as grant as well as commercial sales as of Monday n Amid concern over adverse effects of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the European regulator said there was no indication the shot was responsible for blood clots, adding benefits outweigh risks n China makes it mandatory for people from India and 19 other nations to get Chinese-made vaccines if they want to visit the country l J8.00 Tamil Nadu’s S Dhanalakshmi stunned the Asian Games medallist and national record holder Dutee Chand to win the 100m event at the Federation Cup. It was also the 22-year-old’s maiden title at the nationals. In the much-anticipated sprint final, Hima Das was shown the red card for a false start | P11 PAGES 12 l FinMin under pressure as RBI wants complete ban on Bitcoin A n u r a d h a S h u k l a @ New Delhi The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry are at loggerheads over cryptocurrency . While the RBI is pushing for a blanket ban on cryptocurrency, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prefers to keep all options open, sources said. “RBI has strongly communicated its reservation against cryptocurrency and has recommended a blanket ban,” said a senior finane ministry official, adding that this was communicated to the government during an informal meeting last week. “From our side, we are not shutting all options off,” Sitharaman said recently This had given some . hope to the cryptocurrecy industry , which was fighting for acceptance in the country . However, if RBI and the government are not on the same page, then the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, slated to be taken up in Parliament in the current session, could be delayed Sources say RBI’s strong position in last week’s meeting has forced the ministry to soften its stance. AAP approaching parties to stall NCT Act in Rajya Sabha express news service @ New Delhi A year after the Aam Aadmi Party was re-elected for the third time, the slugfest over the administrative control of the UT has again taken the centrestage in Delhi. To counter the Centre’s move to amend the NCT Act, AAP is approaching various opposition parties seeking their support to pre-empt the bill’s passage in the Rajya Sabha. The party has got support from a section of the Opposition since the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. Sources said AAP MP Sanjay Singh and cabinet minister Gopal Rai have been told by CM Arvind Kejriwal to build a consensus against the BJP in Parliament. “We are in talks with opposition parties as this ‘backdoor politics’ of BJP will not remain limited to Delhi,” said Rai, AAP’s executive committee member. Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav, RLD’s vice-president Jayant Chaud- hary, Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P.Chidambaram and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah have already termed the Bill as unconstitutional. CPIM’s Sitaram Yechury has called the measure “draconian”. The AAP plans to hold a protest rally at Jantar Mantar where Kejriwal will be joined by his cabinet and MLAs. The ruling party has accused the Centre of taking away powers of the elected government and has said that it is exploring legal options as well. caught off guard UP govt officials to show cause for not taking calls n a m i ta b a j pa i @ Lucknow The Yogi gover nment is sprucing up the response system of the administration. Over two dozen district magistrates and five divisional commissioners who failed to respond to the calls, especially on the CUG (closed user group) number in the CM’s office, have been given showcause notices. The CM has clearly instructed district and division officers to respond to the calls promptly by personally picking their CUG numbers. Sources said the CM’s office recently ran a reality check by randomly calling up DMs, commissioners and senior police officers on their CUG numbers during working hours. The calls were made on the directions of CM Yogi Adityanath. A number of officers, including some from state capital, failed the test. Sources said on the basis of the CM office’s report, the appointment and personnel department has initiated the process of sending show- cause notices to around 25 DMs and five divisional commissioners, asking them to explain the defiance. The divisional commissioners of Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Aligarh and Lucknow failed to respond to the phone calls. And the calls to commissioners of Ag ra, Meerut and Azamgarh could not be connected. The CUG number of Kanpur divisional commissioner was picked up by his PRO. Similarly , DMs of 25 districts did not respond to the calls, PROs of another 16 picked up the calls from CM office while the DMs of Rae Bareli, Lakhimpur Kheri and Sitapur called back. Around 20 district police chiefs also failed the reality check. Notices to the district police chiefs will be sent by the home department seeking their explanation. “When officers are not prompt to respond to calls from the CM office, how will they connect with the public? It was an exercise done to see if the officers were following the CM’s directives,” said a government official. AAP MPs Sanjay Singh, Sushil Gupta and ND Gupta protest against new NCT Delhi Bill at Parliament on Tuesday in New Delhi | Pti step-down Pm Modi’s principal advisor resigns PK Sinha has resigned on personal grounds. Earlier, the PM’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra had resigned after LS elections in 2019 express read 2 shot dead in Myanmar as violence continues Yangon: At least two people protesting last month’s military coup were reported shot and killed by security forces on Tuesday after a morning of peaceful marches in parts of Myanmar. Violence was reported in Yangon, where casualties have been the highest. Police fired rubber bullets and one man was reported killed. Another killing was reported in Kawlin city in the northwestern Sagaing Region. | P9 Over 1.4L cases pending in Assam Foreigners’ Tribunal e x p r e ss n e ws s e r v i c e @ New Delhi more than 1.4 lakh cases of doubtful nationality are pending before Assam’s Foreigners Tribunals, the Union Home Ministry disclosed at the Lok Sabha on Tuesday . Union Minister of State for Home, G Kishan Reddy said that at the moment, foreigners’ tribunals are existing only in Assam and the state government has informed that a total of 300 foreigners’ tribu- nals have been constituted in the state for determining the nationality of suspects. The Ministry of Home Affairs has conveyed in-principle approval for constitution of another 200 foreigners’ tribunals to the government of Assam, Kishan Reddy said. “A total of 1,40,050 cases were pending before such tribunals till the month of December, 2020,” Reddy said in a written reply. He was responding to questions posed by his party colleague Vishnu Dayal Ram, who also asked if the Central government was providing financial and legal assistance to the persons filing appeals in the foreigners’ tribunals. In response, Reddy said there is provision. “There is provision of legal aid to the needy people. Legal aid to them and the poor is provided through the Assam State Legal Services Authority under the Legal Services Authorities Act of 1987. Officials of the District Legal Services Authorities have also been constituted.” bosses decide Mumbai Police chief faces axe in Waze episode S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai After the arrest of police officer Sachin Waze by the National Investigation Agency, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh is likely to by replaced soon. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had a talk with NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday over the mishandling of the bomb scare outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence and the death of businessman Mansukh Hiren. Both leaders agreed to sack Singh. The meeting went on for more than an hour at the chief minister’s official residence. A minister said it has come to light that Waze stage-managed the bomb scare on the instructions of Singh. The alleged aim was to show that even India’s richest man amnd his family are not safe from threats to their lives and need Z-plus security “But the plan . went awry because of multiple loopholes. Also, top leaders of the state were not kept in the loop. Singh was peddling his own agenda and not working for the government. In fact, he had slowed down work in politically sensitive cases,” said the minister, who did not wish to be identified. A couple of names for the new Mumbai Police Commissioner are doing the rounds. The list includes Rajnish Seth, who is currently serving as Director General of the AntiCorruption Bureau. Interestingly, Seth met Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday . Cabinet NOD FOR d.f.i. TO FUND INFRA PROJECTS Nirmala Sitharaman said. The DFI will get tax benefits for 10 years. The governThe Union Cabinet on Tues- ment will also amend the day cleared the proposal to Indian Stamp Act to attract set up a Development Fi- global pension funds and nance Institution (DFI), sovereign funds. which seeks to fix the financ“The Union government ing woes of long-term infra- is also planning to issue structure projects. some securities to the DevelAs announced in the opment Finance Institution, Budget, the governby which cost of ment will initially funds will come infuse `20,000 crore down. All this will in the DFI and raise help DFI leverage up to `3 lakh crore initial capital and in the next few draw funds from years. While DFI various sources; it will start off as will also have a pos100% government Nirmala Sitharaman itive impact on the owned, the Centre bond market in Inwill bring down its stake dia,” Sitharaman said. gradually to 26%. Allaying fears that DFI “Past attempts to have al- could face the same fate of ternative investment funds similar infrastructure fiwere taken up, but for vari- nance companies in the past, ous reasons, we ended up the FM said DFI will have a with no bank which could 100% professionally mantake up long-term risk and aged board with at least 50% fund development. Follow- of them being non-official ing this, the Union Cabinet directors. The board will has cleared the setting up of also have persons of emia DFI,” Finance Minister nence, she added. Express news service @ New Delhi
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