FRIDAY FINMIN ASKS BANKS TO FOOT ‘INTEREST ON INTEREST’ BILL 23 The Union finance ministry has informally asked banks to reimburse or adjust the compound interest charged during the loan moratorium period APRIL, 2021 RISING COVID CASES TO HIT RECOVERY: RBI epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard SPECIAL SCREENING JUNE 2-4 NEXT MEETING OF THE RESERVE BANK OF INDIA’S MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE TASK FORCE IN JAMMU & KASHMIR GOVT IN NO MOOD TO SHARE K8,000-CR BURDEN Govt employees to be monitored for anti-national activities A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 No reason to appoint Salve: Dave NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Banks had approached the finance ministry for help in settling the compound interest waiver, estimated at around H8,000 crore, but the Centre has denied support. The SC had ruled that banks have to pay back interest-on-interest collected during the moratorium. Toll hits new peak, Sisodia seeks forces to stop ‘jungle raj’ Let HCs hear matter: SC Bar body “There is no reason why Mr Harish Salve should again and again be appointed by Chief Justice Bobde as amicus curiae. He has been a non-resident and living in London for a long time. He does not know the realities of India,” says Dushyant Dave “High Courts appear to be best suited to deal with the situation, hence it would be proper to allow the Hon’ble High Courts to continue dealing with the present issue,” the Supreme Court Bar Association’s intervention petition before the top court S I D D H A N TA M I S H R A @ New Delhi Six high courts hearing Covid cases creating some confusion and diversion of resources, says bench; experts want HCs to stay in play K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the health emergency caused by Covid-19 pandemic though a clutch of high courts are already seized of the matter, a decision that was panned by a section of senior lawyers. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde took note of the fact that high courts of Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Calcutta and Allahabad were dealing with issues related to Covid and asked the Centre to present a national plan to face the health crisis. “The situation in various parts of the country is grim. There seems to be a sudden surge in the number of covid patients and mortality Nonetheless it seems that a . certain amount of panic has been generated and people have Scrutiny of invoked the jurisdicfour points tion of several high The court said it courts in the country wanted to take up seeking relief,” the orsupply of oxygen der read. and essential “They (HCs) are exdrugs, method and ercising jurisdiction in manner of best interest. But it is vaccination and creating confusion and the power to diversion of resourcdeclare lockdown. es,” the bench ob“We want the served, adding, “We power to clear are almost in a nationlockdown to be al emergency .” with states and it “The high courts should not be a have passed certain orjudicial decision,” ders which may have the CJI said the effect of accelerating and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise,” the detailed order stated. The bench said it intended to transfer to itself some of the related issues pending in various high courts. But senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi later said he completely disagreed with the view of the Supreme Court. “High Courts are competent to deal with the issue as it unfolds in the concerned state... It’s a retrograde step. High Court will become redundant now,” he reasoned. Appointing senior advocate Harish Salve as amicus curiae to assist it, the bench issued notice to the Centre and posted the matter for Friday the last working day of , CJI Bobde. Justice N V Ramana will take over as the next CJI on Saturday . During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the bench, “Do we respond to high courts now or we respond here?” “We will issue notice to the Centre and then we will issue notice to high courts and eventually we will bring some issues here. All we want is a national plan on these issues,” the CJI said. The bench told Mehta it didn’t intend to supersede any orP9 der of the high courts as of now. INSIDE AT 3.14 LAKH, HIGHEST-EVER SINGLE-DAY SPIKE IN ANY COUNTRY Active cases now at 22,91,428 comprising 14.38% of the total infections NATIONWIDE APRIL 21 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 2,95,041 1,67,457 2,023 APRIL 22 3,14,835 1,78,841 2,104 27,27,05,103 Samples tested up to April 21 Uttar Pradesh: Long queues at cremation centres in Agra as bodies pile up 16,51,711 Of the samples tested on Wednesday New Delhi: Centre urges corporates to consider converting their vacant office buildings into temporary Covid care facilities UAE, Oman, Australia and Israel latest nations to issue travel curbs on India amid Covid upsurge Modi calls off election rally Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off his proposed rally in West Bengal on Friday, saying he would be tied up with importane Covid meetings. He, however, would address voters virtually at 5 pm on Friday, the state BJP unit leadership later said A Covid-19 patient waits for admission outside the Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital in New Delhi on Thursday | SHEKHAR YADAV EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Centre on Thursday continued to draw brickbats from the Delhi High Court on the acute paucity of hospital beds and the Bombay High Court on the slashing of Maharashtra’s oxygen quota. A division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli while hearing the plea filed by Saroj Speciality Hospital, Rohini citing shortage of oxygen supply said, “Forget the common man on the street, even if I were to ask for a bed, it would not be available right now.” Justice Sanghi added, “We hope and expect that Centre will look into the requirements of Covid beds and work to enhance availability .” The Delhi government said oxygen plants in Durgapur, Rourkela and Kalinganagar (in In view of the surge in oxygen demand due to an exponential rise in the No. of Covid patients admitted in hospitals, the Centre has raised the quota of oxygen for states APRIL 21 Positive cases Recovery Active cases Deaths Containment zones Tests Positivity rate AMID reports of acute shortage of oxygen in some states and instances of some private hospitals moving court for urgent directions to ensure timely supply of the life-saving gas, the Centre on Thursday said it is giving 6,822 MT of liquid medical oxygen per day to 20 states against a demand of 6,785 MT/day . The announcement came after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take stock of the situation. In the review meeting, the PM stressed on increasing production of oxygen, raising the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. He also said that states should come down heavily on hoarding. According to the Centre, availability of liquid medical oxygen has been raised by 3,300 MT per day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries. Modi also said there is a need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction and also asked ministries to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen. VAX REGISTRATION BEGINS ON APRIL 28 BOMBAY HC COMES TO RESCUE OF PATIENTS efforts after four years of withdrawal under former president Donald Trump. America believes its ambitious new plan will encourage other polluting majors such as China to take impactful steps. However, experts think the US may not be able to achieve the long-term target given the constantly shifting political environment. Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of IndiaUS Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to mobilise investments and enable green collaborations. “In its new nationally determined contribution, the US has set an economy-wide target of Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and biodiversity. That’s why we are among the few countries whose indices are 2-degree Celsius compatible —Prime Minister Narendra Modi Commission for not implementing Covid norms during the Assembly elections. A bench said issuing circulars and holding meetings on Covid safety were not enough and sought a report on the proposed action by Friday. Hours later, the Election Commission of India banned all roadshows, processions and bike rallies in the state citing violation of Covid protocols. It also put a cap of 500 participants at public meetings. DELHI COVID WATCH P7 US to halve emissions, India to go green by 2030 US President Joe Biden on Thursday said America will cut its carbon emissions by up to 52% by the end of this decade, to bring them down to the levels in year 2005. In his address to the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by the US, Biden said the US and other big economies have an obligation to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement marks the US’ return to global climate Odisha) will deliver oxygen to hospitals in Delhi but it will take two days to transport it. As for the Bombay High Court, its Nagpur bench directed restoring the Maharashtra’s oxygen quota, saying the reduction was like a bolt from blue. The Centre had cut Maharashtra’s supply from 110 metric tonnes (MT) to 60 MT from Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai plant. In West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court rapped the Election E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi States’ O2 quota raised ACCUSING Uttar Pradesh and Haryana of “jungle raj”, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday demanded that paramilitary force be deployed for hasslefree movement of oxygen tankers into the national capital. Delhi is dependent on oxygen plants based in the neighbourhood. On Thursday, the city witnessed a record 306 deaths, the highest, and another 26,169 Covid cases. Sisodia wrote a letter to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan complaining about this issue and informed the Centre about its fast depleting stock of oxygen. “Police and senior officials of the administration in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are stalling tankers carrying oxygen, delaying the tankers from reaching Delhi hospitals on time. I urge you ensure that the oxygen allocated for Delhi by the Centre reaches us without any delay to save lives of the patients,” Sisodia’s letter said. HCs keep up pressure; EC forced to act in Bengal Have ensured adequate oxygen supply to states, says Centre 100 TEST POSITIVE AFTER PILGRIMAGE EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE The uncertainty due to the surge in Covid cases and localised lockdowns prompted RBI to vote for status quo in interest rates, as per minutes of the MPC meeting released on Thursday. Covid-19 is the single biggest factor blocking the path to economic recovery, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said in the meeting | P10 reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels in 2030. As part of its climate mitigation efforts, India has set a target of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030... Through this collaboration, India and the SU aim to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities,” a joint P11 statement read. APRIL 22 24,638 24,600 85,364 249 19,624 78,768 31.28% 26,169 19,609 91,618 306 22,000 72,208 36.24% Nearly 300 flyers skip mandatory test, Assam to initiate legal action P R A S A N TA M A Z U M D A R @ Ranch AROUND 300 passeng ers jumped Covid-19 tests at the Kumbhirgram airport in Cachar district of Assam on Wednesday. Authorities have begun the legwork to register cases against them. Keeping in mind the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases all over the country the state gov, er nment of Assam had made it mandatory for inbound air and train passengers to undergo RT-PCR tests on arrival. However, the 300 air passengers in question avoided the tests, which are conducted at the nearby Tikol Model Hospital. Official sources said that 690 passengers from six of the seven flights, which had landed at the airport on Wednesday, deboarded. Altogether, 189 passengers underwent the tests and six were found positive. Around 200 passengers, who were travelling to other states of the Northeast, were allowed to go. The passengers are taken to the Tikol Model Hospital in buses provided by the Cachar district administration. Those who have vehicles can go on their own, but by giving an undertaking and furnishing the necessary details. There were just four police personnel deployed at the hospital on Wednesday Taking ad. vantage of the inadequate security ar rangements, the passengers defied the guideline on mandatory testing. “We are compiling a list of the passengers, who evaded the test. We will trace them and take necessary legal action,” Cachar Additional Deputy Commissioner (Additional DM), Sumit Sattawan said. The passengers, who avoided the tests, are mainly from Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi — the three districts of the Barak Valley . Covid measures have been heightened in Assam after the rapid spread. Passengers have to undergo tests on arrival. Those testing positive are sent to institutional and home quarantine in the state. Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Nodal Minister for Covid-19, said officials of these states are indulging in “hoarding” of medical oxygen for their own states and not letting the legitimate supply of Delhi reach its hospitals. “The way UP and Haryana governments are trying to monopolise and hoard oxygen, they have created a jungle raj which is very dangerous for everyone. The matter is becoming difficult for Delhi and in some time, without adequate oxygen supply, it may become difficult for Delhi hospitals to save lives of patients stricken with COVID-19” stated the minister. HARYANA Covid vaccine doses stolen, returned the next day H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh AS many as 1,710 Covid doses were stolen from a government hospital in Haryana’s Jind town on Wednesday night, but were returned the next day by the thieves who also left behind a note of apology . Police sources said 1,270 doses of Covishield and 440 of Covaxin were stolen from the PPP Centre at Jind’s General Hospital after thieves broke open four locks of a storeroom with a deep freezer where the vaccines were stored. The theft came to light on Thursday morning when the hospital’s cleaner went to the storeroom and saw the broken locks. He then informed the nursing staff. The district is now left with no vaccines, hospital sources said. Sources said the thieves took away only the vaccine doses and did not touch anything else, including medicines and vaccines for polio besides Rs 50,000 cash and a laptop lying in the storeroom. “There was no CCTV camera nor was a guard posted there. A case has been registered against unidentified persons by the police,” said an official. Sources said the state police recovered the stolen vials of the vaccines a few hours after re gistering the case. The thieves apparently left the doses at a tea stall outside Jind Civil Lines Police Station. They also reportedly left behind a note expressing “regret” that they did not know the stuff they had lifted contained Covid vaccines. VOTE SPORADIC VIOLENCE IN PHASE 6 BENGAL POLLS EC says police fired three rounds, no news of casualties PAGE 8
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