MONDAY DELTA VARIANT IS 40% MORE INFECTIOUS THAN ALPHA: UK 07 British authorities said the Delta strain is 40% more virulent and leads to twice the number of hospitalisations than Alpha JUNE, 2021 DATA SHOWS VACCINATED ARE PROTECTED epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard MODEL VILLAGES NO ENTRY FOR COVID In several rural pockets of India, adherence to guidelines working wonders A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 7 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Many would have been spared the sight of floating corpses had all 33 ghats come up in Bihar & Uttar Pradesh DELAY IN GANGA MISSION HIT CREMATORIUM PLAN R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi HUNDREDS of Covid-19 victims whose bodies were thrown into the river Ganga or were buried in the river banks could have got a dignified final farewell if only the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) had finished constructing crematoriums along the serpentine river in time. The NMCG was sanctioned to construct 33 ghats and crematoriums at a cost of `833 crore in Bihar and UP under the Centre’s ambitious Namami Gange Programme. A majority of these projects were sanctioned between 2016 and 2019 with a target to complete them by March 2021. But an analysis of the progress data available with the NMCG shows that just over 51% of the projects have been completed. In the rest, work is either still in progress or tenders are being floated for identifying the contractors. Of the 33 projects, 17 have been completed, 13 are under progress, two are in the tendering stage while one is yet to be tendered. Eighteen of the ghats and crematoriums are in UP and 15 in Bihar. Last month, bodies of suspected Covid patients were found floating in the Ganga. The decomposed bodies were first found in Bihar’s Buxar but later more were discovered in UP districts also. Although an inquiry is still under way to ascertain the cause, it is suspected that the existing crematoriums in Bihar and UP could not take the load of the pandemic victims and the bodies had to be thrown into the river. Days after the bodies washed ashore, hundreds of bodies were found loosely buried in the river banks in Unnao and Badohi districts of UP, begging the question that had the ghats and crematoriums been completed, would the suspected Covid victims be insulted in death. The bodies were found in six districts of UP — Mirzapur, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Ballia and Ghazipur — and three of Bihar: Buxar, Saran and Patna. AMID the ongoing face-off between the Centre and social media platforms, legal experts opined that the latter would not be liable directly for messages posted by users on their websites, in view of Section 79 of the Information and Technology Act, 2000. Microblogging site Twitter was on Saturday served a final notice to comply with the new IT rules that mandate the platform to appoint Indiabased compliance and grievance officers among other clauses, failing which it will face consequences. But Supreme Court advocate K V Dhananjay said, “If we assume that Twitter loses protection under Section 79, even then it does not automatically suffer because user A posts a message that user B thinks is defamatory to him. User B simply cannot rush to a criminal court against Twitter on the ground of criminal defamation.” He reasoned that “if Twitter cannot be shown to be specifically aware of such content on its website, it cannot be imputed with criminal intent. Unless a criminal court is prima facie satisfied with Twitter intentionally hosting the content in question, it cannot issue summons to Twitter to stand trial, as police investigations do not happen in criminal defamation cases. So, Twitter losing intermediary status only plays out slowly and the consequences may not be visible for quite some time.” Domain expert and lawyer Akur Raheja said, “Though the government is right now concentrating on giant social Granting cover Section 79 of the IT Act protects intermediaries when they unknowingly host illegal or unlawful content. When they are alerted to the hosting of such content, they are expected to remove it EXPRESS READ Tikait leads demand to free arrested farmers Imam appeals to PM for Jama Masjid repair Tohana (Haryana): A large number of farmers led by BKU leader Rakesh Tikait stayed put outside Sadar police station in Fatehabad on Sunday, demanding the release of two farmers arrested for allegedly trying to gherao Jannayak Janata Party MLA Devendra Singh Babli’s residence last week. The protesters also sought the withdrawal of the criminal case against the two. New Delhi: The Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to carry out repair works at the mosque. Bukhari said the internationally renowned mosque is in dire need of care and pointed out that its repairs have been carried out from time to time by ASI since 1956 as a special case. P4 33 Total ghats & crematorium projects in UP, Bihar sanctioned H833 cr FUNDS ALLOCATED FOR THE PROJECT PROGRESS OF PROJECTS UP Bihar Fully completed 13 4 75-99% work done 1 3 50-75% work done 1 1 25-50% work done - 3 Less than 25% work 1 3 Tendering process on for 2 others; not even that for one project STATE-WISE BREAK-UP OF GHATS & CREMATORIUMS IN FIVE GANGA STATES Work in State Total Completed progress Tendering process Bihar 15 4 10 1 UP 18 13 3 2 West Bengal 29 24 5 Jharkhand 4 3 1 Uttarakhand 13 11 1 1 DALIT PARTYTELLS A TALE BLUES SORRY STATE OF BSP IN UP In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, Dalit political outfits struggle to remain relevant as membership numbers dwindle & people opt for other parties | P7 DELHI media companies only, the scope of new intermediary guidelines is wide enough to bring in its preview many small and medium enterprises as well like domain/ hosting or other small online companies. Many of them could be unaware of the compliance requirements right now.” Another Supreme Court lawyer D K Mahant cited messaging platform Telegram’s case, which he fought before the Delhi High Court. “There have been various litigation against Telegram, including a copyright lawsuit, which I fought before the Delhi High Court this January. Telegram undertook before the high court to not only remove the identified content but also any future content within 48 hours of Telegram being informed of the copyright infringement. Hence, in my view the provisions are working, the intermediaries are following them,” he added. Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths JUNE 5 414 1,683 60 >50% Of England’s population has been fully vaccinated DECISION ON UNLOCK ON JUNE 14 The Delta variant would figure on top of the June 14 Cabinet meeting to decide on unlock. The Alpha variant was estimated to be 40-80% more infectious than the Covid samples collected in November last year. GB Pant Hospital nixes gag order on Malayalam S O M R I TA G H O S H @ New Delhi CONTINUED ON P8 New IT rules: Legal cover remains for Twitter, say experts K A N U SA R DA @ New Delhi STATUS CHECK While Delta was first found in India, Alpha preceded it and was detected in UK initially. Health secretary Matt Hancock said of the 9,427 cases in hospital due to Delta in the last two days, only seven (0.07%) were from the fully vaccinated group. However, Britain’s former health advisor Neil Ferguson pegged the Delta strain’s virulence at 60% higher than Alpha JUNE 6 381 1,189 34 June 5 31,20,451 doses June 6 33,53,539 doses TOTAL DOSES: 23,13,22,417 JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT A day after its offensive circular directing Keralite nursing staff not to speak in Malayalam at work created an uproar, the Delhi governmentrun GB Pant Institute of PG Medical Education and Research Hospital on Sunday revoked the order and launched a probe to contain the damage. Shortly after the order was revoked, the Delhi Malayali Nurses Committee called off its proposed agitation. Saturday’s order had barred Kerala nurses from speaking in Malayalam at work, citing the inconvenience caused to patients who could not understand the language. The order had advised the nurses to stick to only Hindi and English or face serious action. Nullifying the order, medical director R Anil Kumar said: “It was issued by the Nursing Superintendent without knowledge of the hospital administration and the Delhi government.” Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter to slam the or- COVID HERO Muslim youth helps families by carrying out final rituals F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar PROTEST ON Junior doctors continue their strike demanding a hike in salaries at Bhopal’s Gandhi Medical College on Sunday | PTI | P7 Announce sector-specific relief packages, says SJM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, on Sunday urged the Centre to announce relief packages for sectors facing stress due to the pandemic. In a resolution at its two-day national council meeting, the SJM also expressed concern at the astronomical cost of cost of medicare at private hospitals. Private healthcare providers should realise this is not the time for making profits, and ensure treatment with minimum cost, the outfit said. Incentives for MSMEs The SJM also sought a package for employment linked incentives to strengthen the MSME sector, adding the RBI should announce need-based moratorium to suit every sector and direct the banks for liberal monetary support Its resolution also sought enhanced fund allocation for the rural jobs scheme, called the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which was conceived during the UPA regime and mocked at initially by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The outfit also demanded that the government come out with specific packages for varous sectors affected by the pandemic, including construction, fishing and horticulture. “The SJM firmly believes that the mayhem caused by the pandemic can be overcome only by concerted efforts of every section of the society In . this unprecedented difficult situation of the country, the SJM suggests to consider and extend fiscal support to the vulnerable sections of the society in addition to free food grains, besides substantially increasing the fund allocation for MGNREGA to support rural employment,” it said. INITIATIVE Govt facility locked, Bihar villagers set up ‘Atmanirbhar’ Covid care centre R A J E S H K U M A R T H A K U R @Patna Oxygen concentrators and other equipment are provided at the centre | EXPRESS SARISAB and Pahi villages in Bihar’s Madhubani district are now the talk of the town. And for a good reason. As the pandemic ravaged the rural hinterland, locals as well as those living outside came together to set up a makeshift Atmanirbhar covid care community centre. Launched four days ago, two beds replete with oxygen concentrators and other basic pri- der. While Rahul called for stopping language discrimination, Tharoor said the order was ‘crude, offensive’. According to one of the senior nurses at the hospital, the order was issued after two staffers spoke in Malayalam about a therapy in the presence of another nurse, who could not follow them. “This is not the first time this has happened in GB Pant, even in Lok Nayak it is a common problem faced by others. We have no objection to who is speaking in which language during personal gatherings but while on duty , it becomes very difficult to communicate,” said a staff member who didn’t wish to be named. But the nurses from outside refute the claim. “We only talk to other people from Kerala in Malayalam at the hospital. This is the first time such order had come up, never heard of it earlier. We have never been stopped from talking in Malayalam. I cannot say about all hospitals but this was first of a kind order,” said Jeemol Shaji, who is the general secretary of the nurses’ union in LNJP Hospital, the largest Delhi government-run hospital. mary healthcare essentials are now ready. A good number of non-resident villagers contributed with medical equipment. Six villages are covered under the initiative, so far. “We have a government-run PHC but it remains locked even during this crisis hour. So, we made this arrangement to save the lives of our folks,” says Sarisab-Pahi (west) panchayat mukhiya Ram Bahadur Choudhary . The plan was discussed at a virtual meeting involving locals and non-resident villagers. Vicky Kumar Mandal of the Ayachi Nagar Yuva Sangathan, along with Ram Bahadur Chaudhary and dozens of youths then took over to set up the centre at the flood relief building. Doctors have volunteered to provide both online consultations and offline services depending upon the situation. Electricity connection is not erratic, but villagers arranged a generator set for the centre to deal with power trips especially during heavy rains. “Our youths are also involved in an awareness-cum-assistance campaign daily in which they wear PPE kits and travel in a group of five to monitor families, motivate them to get vaccines and familiarise them with Covid safety protocols,” says Mandal. A ‘chowkidar’ of a cremation ground in Srinagar is going beyond his brief to help grieving non-Muslim families in completing the final rituals of their beloved ones who succumbed to Covid-19. Working in place of his father in the pandemic, Shabir Ahmed, 24, says he has done 60-70 cremations in the last nine months. “I have been working at my father’s place and my job is 24x7. My job is to keep watch of the cremation ground,” said Ahmed. “Some of the bodies were of non-locals, who had no family members in the Valley and were brought by the police.” Some of the Covid victims were also security personnel, mostly CRPF constables, who hailed from other parts of the country “The government is . making arrangements to bring family members of such victims to Srinagar for attending their last rites.” There are two more staff — both pujaris (priests) — in the cremation ground at the cremation ground managed by Sanathan Dharam Trust in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area. “I make arrangements of firewood and other items. I am doing it on humanitarian grounds as we need to be with each other in this testing time when Covid is snatching our loved ones,” said Ahmed who is yet to get PPE kits. Asked whether there was opposition from his family Ahmed said, , “No. In fact, many families praise my services and tell me that ‘I am doing punya ka kaam’ (charity work).” “As doctors and frontline health workers have been working round the clock since last year to save precious lives, I am doing my bit in fighting the coronavirus with my efforts,” he added.
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