MONDAY ‘NATURAL’ DELIBERATIONS 29 The expert appraisal committee (EAC) considered 837 project proposals in 2020 and approved 439. The maximum projects approved were in Gujarat, followed by Delhi and Maharashtra MARCH, 2021 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard Year Projects approved Rejected EAC proposal deliberated 2018 436 9 798 twitter.com/TheMornStandard 2019 466 3 822 2020 439 1 837 IN THE NEWS T O D AY INDIA Prez okays NCTD Bill New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday gave his assent to the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that accords primacy to lieutenant-governor over the elected government. The Central government announced about the presidential assent to the bill through a gazette notification. Parliament passed the bill last week — the Lok Sabha on March 22 and the Rajya Sabha on March 24 — amid fierce protests by the opposition. BJP ousts 7 in Assam Guwahati: BJP has expelled seven leaders in Assam from the party’s primary membership for six years for contesting as independent candidates after being denied tickets. State BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass expelled the seven with immediate effect. On March 18, Assam BJP had expelled 15 leaders, including former deputy speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, for six years for joining the Assembly election fray as Independents after being denied tickets. Protest at CM house Chandigarh: Punjab BJP leaders staged a sit-in outside the residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday to protest the attack on a party MLA in Muktsar district. BJP MLA from Abohar in Fazilka district, Arun Narang, was thrashed and his clothes were ripped off by a group of protesting farmers in Muktsar’s Malout on Saturday. Governor VP Singh Badnore condemned the attack and sought a report from the government. He called up the CM, who holds the home portfolio, and conveyed his concern. Earlier, a delegation of Punjab BJP submitted a memorandum to the governor. Indo-US naval drill New Delhi: India and the US on Sunday kicked off a two-day naval exercise in the eastern Indian Ocean Region, reflecting the growing congruence in their defence and military partnership. The Indian Navy deployed its warship Shivalik and long-range maritime patrol aircraft P8I in the PASSEX exercise while the US Navy was represented by the USS Theodore Rosevelt carrier strike group, which is a mega naval fleet comprising an aircraft carrier, accompanied by a large number of destroyers, frigates and other ships. INTERNATIONAL Unrest in B’desh Dhaka: Bangladesh security forces opened fire and used tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of protesters who were enforcing a nationwide general strike to denounce violence at a previous protest over a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At least one man was shot after the protesters, mostly students from Islamic schools, blocked a highway connecting Dhaka with Chattogram. Myanmar boiling Yangon: Mourners flocked to the funerals of the 114 persons killed in a crackdown on protests of last month’s coup in Myanmar, as demonstrators returned to the streets to press their demands for a return to democracy. A large crowd chanted democracy slogans and raised the three-finger salute that has come to symbolize resistance to the military takeover. P9 December October PAGES 12 August 31 July J8.00 40 40 29 28 May April NEW DELHI 31 7 March January A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS February 29 52 November Total 38 Our office will remain closed on account of Holi. There will be no issue of the paper on Tuesday 439 60 54 September MONTH-WISE NOD IN 2020 June The Morning Standard Wishes its readers a Limited Maha lockdown coming CM directs officials to prepare detailed plan that will have minimum impact on economy EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Mumbai/New Delhi WITH Maharashtra’s Covid-19 positive cases continuing to grow exponentially Chief Min, ister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday directed the state’s health task force to prepare a detailed lockdown plan that would have minimum impact on the economy . Minister Nawab Malik confirmed plans for a limited lockdown without major impact on economic activities. “Industries where large number of people gather, which could increase the virus spread, may have to follow stringent guidelines while manufacturing units will function without any impact,” Malik added. GALLOPING RATE Maharashtra Chhattisgarh Karnataka Punjab Gujarat Madhya Pradesh Tamil Nadu Kerala Cases in last 24 hours ending Sunday morning 35,726 3,162 2,886 2,805 2,276 2,142 2,089 2,055 62,714 Fresh Covid positive cases registered in India in a day The meeting convened by the CM was attended among others by the health minister, health secretary and members of the health task force. Apparently, current measures like restricted mobility in public areas and places of work as also night curfews, have not slowed down the pace of infections. 24 crore+ Tests for Covid-19 conducted across India so far 4.97% Cumulative positivity rate so far The health secretary informed the CM that there is shortage of beds and ventilators in some parts of the state. Last year on September 17, there were three lakh active patients and 31,351 deaths. But now, as of Saturday, there are 3.30 lakh active patients and the cumulative toll is 54,073. “The task force said the toll could climb, especially due to delay in hospitalisation without timely testing and non-compliance of the home isolation protocol. On March 27, as many as 35,726 patients with infections were detected and this number might touch 40,000 in the next 24 hours,” the health department said. Amid the spike, officials in Pune and Chennai plan to assess whether people with a history of infection are getting reinfected. In the first such exercise in India, they have decided to look for igG antibodies in newly infected people. The antibody igG typically appears nearly 14 days after exposure to the virus and lasts for several P7 months. Agricultural modernisation is need of the hour, says PM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi AS farmers continue their protest over the contentious farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday said modernisation in the agriculture sector was the need of the hour and was imperative for creating more employment in the field. “It is already late. We have already lost a lot of time. Adopting new alternatives and innovations, along with traditional farming, are equally important to create new opportunities for employment in the agriculture sector and to increase the income of farmers. The country has experienced it during the white revolution,” the PM said during the 75th edition of his monthly radio broadcast, Mann Ki Baat. Modi also cited the examples of Banaskantha in Gujarat and Yamunanagar in Haryana, where farmers have taken to bee farming and increased their income. The call comes as farmers have been sitting on protest at Delhi borders since November demanding withdrawal of the three farm laws. During several rounds of talks with farmer leaders, the Centre has claimed that the new laws will boost farmers’ income by creating one national market and bringing investments. The PM also hailed the “world’s largest vaccination programme” being carried out in India against Covid-19 and reiterated his “dawai bhi, kadai bhi” mantra. He also mentioned the lockdown imposed last year March 25 and referred to the taalithaali campaign during the Janata Curfew as an inspiration for ‘corona warriors’. “Janata Curfew became a bewilderment to the entire world. It was an unprecedented example of discipline; generations to come will certainly feel proud about that. Similarly expressing hon, our and respect for our corona warriors, people beat thaalis and lit lamps! You cannot imagine how much it had touched the hearts of corona warriors and that is the very reason they resolutely held on the whole year, without tiring, without halting,” he added. 120 STATES WITH HIGHEST PROJECT APPROVALS 100 80 64 60 45 40 20 Gujarat Maharashtra Delhi 34 Karnataka 30 Rajasthan APPRAISAL OF INFRA PROJECTS HIGHEST IN 3 YRS R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi WIN INDIA BEAT ENGLAND 2-1 IN ODI SERIES Sam Curran keeps visitors in hunt against odds before Kohli & Co regroup and snatch narrow victory in decider in Pune PAGE 11 `6,000 farmers’ dole to apply to fisherfolk too E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @T’Puram DEFENCE Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said the Centre will provide an assistance of `6,000 per year to fishermen on the lines of the aid currently given to farmers under the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. The BJP’s manifestos in Bengal and Puducherry have promised to replicate the annual assistance of `6,000 given to farmers for fishermen as well if it comes to power. “Under the scheme, our government is transferring `6,000 per year to accounts of farmers across the country. We will transfer `6,000 to the accounts of fishermen and effectively implement the C e n t r a l scheme,” said Rajnath, who was in Thiruv a n a n thapuram as part of the NDA’s election campaign. Last year, the fisheries minister had urged the PM to extend the benefits of the scheme to an estimated 20 million fishermen in the country . He said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been demanding a separate Union ministry for fisheries, is unaware that the Prime Minister constituted such a ministry in 2019. Later, he termed the Kerala government’s decision to institute a judicial inquiry against Central agencies probing gold smuggling and related cases as ‘unconstitutional’ and said it was a challenge to India’s federal structure. 120 had considered 822 and 798 projects in 2019 and 2018. It WHEN the country was approved 466 and 436, while locked down last year, the three and nine were rejected environment ministry’s ex- in those years, respectively . pert appraisal committee Responding to a question (EAC) worked overtime to in the Rajya Sabha if the consider infrastructure clearances were conducted projects. It deliberated on virtually without site visits 837 proposals for approval, and inspections during lockthe highest in three years. down, the ministry clarified According to data collated that site visits were carried by the Ministry of Environ- out by sub-committees and ment, Forests and Climate if required, by the EAC. But Change (MoEFCC), the com- it did not provide any data mittee considered 837 project on number of projects where proposals in 2020 and ap- site visits were conducted proved 439. One before they were was rejected. The recommended. Approval maximum projects In 2020, the minpolicy approved were in istry had issued a Gujarat, followed The ministry said directive mandatb y D e l h i a n d EAC holds detailed ing the EAC to discussions on the meet “at least twice Maharashtra. proposals and Keeping in view every month to cut project the pandemic, EAC down the time for proponents are meetings were held environment clearvirtually from last required to submit ances”. Environall requisite Ap r i l . B y M ay, ment experts also clarification/ around 200 projects questioned the were considered explanation to the ministry on apsatisfaction of the pointment of EAC and some panel members remarked committee before members in therapproval that the time given mal power, hydroto them to scrutielectric and coal nise the projects was less mining sectors, as some than adequate. members either had conflict In April, the EAC on infra- of interest or not enough exstructure cleared the pro- pertise in the field. posal for construction of the The ministry said projects new Parliament building. are approved on the basis of New terms of reference for appraisal of documents (Enthe Centre’s ambitious vironment Impact Assess`13,450 crore Central Vista ment and Environment project were approved last Management Plan reports) year. Also approved were and detailed presentation at several policy decisions to EAC meetings and that docexpedite project clearances. uments are prepared by The EAC in mining, infra- project proponents on the structure, thermal power, basis of professional advice, hydroelectric and projects information from field study in coastal regulation zones and public consultation. ‘NEP IS LIKE KHICHDI’ COLOUR OF CARELESSNESS People forget Covid-19 protocols and celebrate Holi near Shri Durgiana temple in Amritsar on Sunday | PTI The new National Education Policy is like a khichidi, said Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy on the third day of the ThinkEdu Conclave 2021. Though it tried to do a lot to correct the colonial hangover, it didn’t quite make it, he added | P8 MELTING POT S Assam politics revolves around competing identities HYAMAL Biswas, not his real name, walks briskly into his sparse, customerless hotel in Bonda Colony , Kamrup district, to engage in an animated discussion with his wife and petite daughter. Moments later he comes out with a cup of tea and rather proudly declares that he had just got his first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. His free vaccination was not without hiccup, though. “The girl there said my name is not in the list but when I told her that I have been sent by a BJP leader, she checked and gave me the shot,” the loquacious Biswas said. “My age is different in all my documents,” he said, fishing out his election identity card from his pocket where he is aged 46 and PAN card where he is 66. “The teachers who carried out the survey for these documents goofed up, they are useless,” he declared. Bonda Colony, a town of a few hundred households just outside Guwahati, is inhabited mainly by Bengali Hindus, like ASSAM POLLS H KHOGEN SINGH @ Guwahati/Goalpara/Kokrajhar Biswas. Locals said they are mainly settlers from Bangladesh who have over the years acquired documents that give them the right to claim they belong here. Documents are often got illegally, which explains the discrepancy in Biswas’s age. The Bengali Hindus mostly support BJP. In return, the saffron party gives them government benefits, like the vaccine Biswas got which he was perhaps not entitled to yet. “Why shouldn’t the Hindus be given citizenship in India, where else will they go,” he said of the Citizenship Amendment Act as the conversation traversed from small talk to politically-loaded, highly emotive issues, inviting surrepti- tious glances from a motor mechanic next door. About 100 kms away in Dhanubanga near Dudhnoi towards Bangladesh, shop owner Sundar Kumar Rabha has different political priorities. Belonging to the Rabha tribe, an Indo-Tibetan community who are among the first settlers of Assam and considered as indigenous people, Sundar said the Rabha Autonomous Council should be included in the Sixth Schedule of the constitution. CONTINUED ON P7
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