WEDNESDAY INDIA SKIPS VOTE ON UNHRC RESOLUTION ON SRI LANKA 24 However, the resolution was adopted at the UN body as it garnered the support of 22 of the 47 member states MARCH, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard IN THE NEWS I N D I A A S KS L A N K A T O E M P OW E R TA M I L S T O D AY 11 members voted against the resolution tabled by the Core Group on Sri Lanka consisting of countries like the UK, Canada. India reiterated demand to devolve political power to Tamils including holding early polls to provincial councils. The resolution calls upon the Sri Lankan government to ensure thorough and impartial investigation on all its alleged war crimes. A scathing report released by the UN rights watchdog in January had warned that Colombo’s lack of accountability increased the risk of war crimes Modi wishes Imran Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan to convey his wishes for Pakistan Day. The letter, dated March 22, says that as a neighbouring country, India desires cordial relations with Pakistan. “For this, an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative,” Modi wrote. He also conveyed his best wishes to the people of Pakistan for dealing with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the second time in a week that the prime minister has written to Khan. The letter also comes at a time when India and Pakistan have agreed to strictly follow the 2003 ceasefire agreement Deshmukh meets CM Under fire over former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh’s allegation of directing police officers to collect `100 crore per month from pubs and bars, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday met Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at his residence. The NCP leader has denied the allegations and his party, NCP, is publically backing him, but demands have been raised within the party and the MVA for his ouster amid opposition pressure. On Tuesday, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis alleged large scale corruption in police transfers and postings. P8 13 die in MP accident Thirteen persons were killed after the auto-rickshaw they were travelling in collided with a speeding bus in Old Chawni area of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday morning. The accident happened when the women were returning home after cooking food at an Anganwadi centre on the district’s outskirts. All the 12 women passengers in the overcrowded auto and the driver died in the mishap. The auto driver and five of the deceased women were the lone earning members of their family. The state government has announced `2 lakh each for the kin of the deceased. The PM expressed grief. A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 SC ends moratorium interest riddle Rules compound interest during grace period be waived, asks banks to refund amounts collected EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE THE Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that compound interest on loans of all borrowers between March and August 2020 will be fully waived. This is nothing but a fiscal stimulus bearing an SC imprint and is, strangely, effective retrospectively It may also be . the first time interest-on-interest is being waived uniformly which , will cost the exchequer `15,000 crore. Of this, the Centre had presumably spent `5,500 crore. Hearing a batch of petitions, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan refused to allow a complete waiver of interest on loans, which the government pegged at `6 lakh crore. Such a sum could charge the earth and seriously impact the financial health of a string of banks. The SC also refused ‘FISCAL POLICIES NOT AMENABLE TO JUDICIAL REVIEW’ Noting that policy decisions are better left to the government and regulators, the bench said economic policies are not amenable to judicial review and court can’t interfere unless there are malafides and arbitrariness AIIMS ASSAULT Court upholds AAP MLA’s two-year prison sentence EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi AAM Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Somnath Bharti has been senetnced to two years in jail for assaulting a security staff at AIIMS in 2016. A magistrate court had in January sentenced him to two years in prison, against which he had appealed. Special Judge Vikas Dhull on Tuesday par tly dismissed Bharti’s appeal and convicted him for the offences under Sections 147 (rioting) read with 149 (unlawful assembly) of IPC and under Section 3 (mischief causing damage to public property) of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The court set aside his conviction under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 353 (assault/use of criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty) read with section 149 of IPC. According to the prosecution, to extend the moratorium period beyond August 2020 Last October, the Centre agreed to waive interest-on-interest component for retail and small business loans up to `2 crore for six months. The benefit was extended to MSMEs, education loans, housing loans, loans on September 9, 2016, Bharti, along with nearly 300 others, brought down the fence of a boundary wall at AIIMS with a JCB operator. The court said in its order that the evidence of eye witnesses was consistent to the effect that a gathering of around 200-300 people along with Bharti were present near the boundary wall of AIIMS and they were trying to break the wall and the fence. In his appeal, Bharti claimed the previous order was based on false story of the prosecution. The public prosecutor said there was no illegality or infirmity in the judgment for conviction and sentencing order of the magistrate court and the judgment has been delivered based upon the reliable evidence which has come on record. Co-accused Jagat Saini, Dileep Jha, Sandeep Sonu and Rakesh Pandey were acquitted. There was a lack of evidence against them. DEADLY BLAST CLAIMS FIVE Security personnel at the site of a bomb blast, allegedly triggered by Maoist rebels, which killed five policemen in Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday. The bus they were travelling in was destroyed and 13 policemen sustained injuries | PTI for consumer durables, credit card dues, auto loans, personal and professional loans and consumption loans. The waiver will now be extended to all borrowers, including large industries. Any amount collected as compound interest shall be adjusted to the next instalments payable. The SC also lifted asset standstill on loans. This means, banks are now free to classify loans as bad if they deemed so and make recoveries. It is estimated the NPAs will swell by `1.3 lakh to P10 `8.5 lakh crore. Vaccination for 45-plus from April 1 81% of Punjab samples show UK variant, CM pleads drive expansion S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday approved Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens above 45 years of age in the country beginning April 1, in a major expansion of the ongoing immunisation drive against coronavirus. This means an additional 18-19 crore people will become eligible for the shots starting next month. The vaccines can be taken free of cost in government hospitals and by paying `250 per dose in private facilities, as it is available now. “I appeal to every citizen who is 45 or above to register for vaccination,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announced, following the cabinet meeting. “This decision has been taken by the cabinet on the basis of the advice of the coronavirus task force and experts,” he said, adding that there is enough supply of vaccines to ensure immunisation of all eligible beneficiaries. The expansion of the vaccination drive, that started in midJanuary, comes in the backdrop of what looks like a second wave of the pandemic as several states are seeing a fresh and massive surge of infections after weeks of swift decline in new cases. This prompted many chief ministers, including those of Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab, to ask the Centre to open the vaccination for all above 40 or 45 years of age. As of now, only healthcare and frontline workers, people above 60 and those between 45-59 with specified comorbidities are eligible for jabs against Covid19 in I n d i a — w h o s e c u m u l a t iv e number is about 20 crores. With the additional 18-19 crore turning into beneficiaries beginning April 1, about 30 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion population can expect a shield against Covid-19. So far nearly 4.85 crore across these categories have taken shots against the disease. About 80 lakh people have completed the two-dose regimen. Meanwhile, on the Centre’s letter to states on Monday to increase the gap between two doses of the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine, originally developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca to 4-8 weeks, Javadekar said doctors would prescribe the right P8 time for the second dose. H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh 40,715 new Covid-19 cases reported in a span of 24 hours in the country on Tuesday 80.90% share in the total count was collectively contributed by Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu 1,101 Covid-19 cases reported in Delhi on Tuesday, highest since Dec 19 A whopping 81 per cent of the latest 401 samples sent by Punjab for genome sequencing have been found to be positive for the new UK Covid-19 variant, prompting Chief Minister Amarinedr Singh to appeal to the Centre to expand the vaccination drive to cover the under-60 population and to “expedite the process”. It is essential to vaccinate more and more people to break the chain of transmission, the CM said. The state health department had sent 478 Covid-positive samples for genome sequencing to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Institute of Biologicals (NIB) and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB). The results of 90 samples were received and of these, two showed presence of the N440K variant. Subsequently, a team from Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare visited the state to review the increase in positivity and was informed about the pending results of genome sequencing. Thereafter, 401 more samples, collected between January 1 and March 10, were sent to NCDC for genome sequencing. The results of these samples were worrying as they showed presence of the UK variant B.1.1.7 in 326 samples, said Dr KK Talwar chief of the state government’s Covid-19 expert committee. The CM said he was informed by Talwar that though this UK variant is more infectious, it is not more virulent. Further, the Oxford (Covishield) vaccine is equally effective against this new UK variant. Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the samples that tested positive for the UK variant were taken from a cross section of the population, which indicates that this strain has spread in a big way “which , is a serious concern for us as transmission rate of this strain is quite high”. The CM has appealed to the people to get vaccinated and strictly adhere to all Covid safety protocols. The government would be forced to impose more curbs if people do not follow the Covid guidelines appropriately Amarinder warned. , No Holi in public, orders Delhi govt UP TO TEST PASSENGERS Ahead of Holi and panchayat elections, the UP government on Tuesday ordered testing of people coming from other states seeing a spurt in cases. Tests will be mandatory at railway stations, bus stations and airports. A directive issued by the chief secretary said no procession or public programme would be allowed without administrative permission EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi WITH the daily Covid-19 count in the national capital showing a consistently upward trend, reporting a jump of 200-plus cases on Tuesday the Delhi gov, ernment on Tuesday banned public celebrations of Holi and other upcoming festivals. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued a direction saying celebrations and gatherings/congregations shall not be allowed in public places during upcoming festi- vals like Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Navaratri etc. District magistrates, deputy commissioners of police and other authorities have been asked to ensure that public celebrations and gatherings are not allowed in open grounds, parks, markets, religious places and other places. The Delhi government has also directed random testing of people entering the city from states reporting high number of cases. Tests will be done at railway stations, airports, ISBTs. Ten days’ isolation will be mandatory for those positive. GARDEN OF COLOURS Carpet of tulips to greet visitors in Srinagar from tomorrow F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar FROM Thursday Srinagar’s Dal , Lake area will surprise you with colours and fragrance unique to Kashmir: A flower carpet of about 15 lakh tulips in a variety of hues is set to greet you at Asia’s largest Tulip Garden spread over 30 hectares on the banks of the lake as it opens for public on March 25. There’s more: Tulip Festival awaits you in the first week of April. Farooq Ahmad Rather, Director, Floriculture, told this news- paper that a record number of 15 lakh tulips of various colours will bloom in the garden this year. The tulip bloom is expected to last till end-April. Rather said his department has planted early, mid, mid-late and late varieties of the flower to ensure that the garden remains open for a month. “We have planted 62 varieties of tulips, which will give a new and even more picturesque look to the garden,” said an official. Hardly any tourist witnessed the tulip bloom last year and the gardeners’ hard work remained unnoticed and unappreciated as the garden remained closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather said adequate measures have been taken to ensure that Covid protocols are followed this year. “We won’t allow anybody to enter without wearing a mask. Thermal scanners will also be put up and the visitors will be requested to follow social distancing within the garden premises,” he said. Hand sanitisers will also be available. The director said he hopes a large number of local, domestic and foreign travellers will turn up at the garden, which was thrown open in 2007 by then Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. “We expect VIPs to visit the garden during the Tulip festival, which will lead to a boost in tourist arrivals in the Valley Overall, . all tourism stakeholders — hoteliers, house boat owners, shikara wallas, ponywalas, shopkeepers — all of them will benefit because of the Tulip festival,” said an official in the know. POLLS RIVALS UP ANTE AS CAMPAIGNING HITS FEVER PITCH Amit Shah says West Bengal cyclone relief miscreants will go to jail, CM Mamata Banerjee calls BJP party of dacoits and monsters PAGE 7
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.