THURSDAY CORE SECTOR OUTPUT RISES IN MAY DUE TO LOW BASE EFFECT JULY, 2021 Output of eight core sectors grew 16.8% in May against 21.4% contraction in the year-ago month, government data showed 01 epaper.morningstandard.in STEEL PRODUCTION UP 59%, NATURAL GAS 20% According to commerce ministry, production of steel rose by 59.3% in May 2021 (-40.4% in May 2020), natural gas 20.1% (-16.8%), refinery products 15.3% (-21.3%), cement 7.9% (-21.4%) and electricity 7.3% (-14.8%) in May 2021. Coal output, too, rose 6.9% during the month under review against a negative growth of 14% in the same month a year ago facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard POLL ANALYSIS BJP BLAME GAME IN WEST BENGAL Central leaders hold state unit responsible for poor show, locals say not quite PAGE 8 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI SC rejects Centre’s contention, Covid victims to get ex gratia Court lets National Disaster Management Authority decide quantum of relief J8.00 PAGES 12 LOPSIDED SITUATION Jab purchase by private hospitals well below quota HARPREET BAJWA, PRANAB MONDAL, SUDHIR SURYAWASHI & VINEET UPADHYAY @ Chandigarh/Kolkata/Mumbai/Dehradun E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the Centre’s contention that it cannot pay ex-gratia to Covid-19 victims and directed the government to frame guidelines specifying the relief amount within six weeks. The court held that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) failed to perform its duty by not recommending minimum standards of relief to be provided to the families of those who had died of Covid-19. A two-judge bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah directed the NDMA to frame guidelines for ex-gratia but left the amount to the discretion of the national authority The bench . refused to accede to the request of the petitioner to provide `4 lakh as ex-gratia compensation, saying it was beyond judicial review. “The impact and effect of the present pandemic/disaster would be different from the other disasters/natural disasters for which ex-gratia assistance is provided. There shall not be any justification to provide for the same/similar amount by way of ex-gratia assistance as provided in the case of other disasters/natural disaster, i.e., `4 lacs,” Can’t afford `4L, said Centre The Centre had stated that states would not be able to afford ex-gratia of `4 lakh as their finances are under severe strain due to low tax revenues and increase in Covid healthcare expenses Germany relents, other EU states told to OK India vax P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi WITH the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate or Green Pass coming into effect from July 1, India on Wednesday urged all member states to individually grant exemption to those who have taken Indian vaccines. Germany was the first to get on board, with its Ambassador to India Walter J Lindner confirming recognition to Covishield. “Confirming that a double shot of Covishield is fully recognized by GER as valid proof of antiCOVID vaccination (this does nevertheless not modify existing travel or visa restrictions for travelers from areas of concern/virus variants areas),” he tweeted. Sources said it has also been conveyed to EU member states that India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the Green Pass. “Upon notification of Covishield and Covaxin for inclusion in the EU Digital Covid Certificate and recognition of Indian CoWIN vaccination certificates, Indian health authorities would reciprocally exempt the concerned EU member state from mandatory quarantine of all those carrying the EU Digital Covid Certificate,” they said. “We have requested EU member states to individually consider extending similar exemption to those persons who have taken Covid-19 vaccines in India, i.e., Covishield and Covaxin, and accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal. The genuineness of such vaccination certification can be authenticated on the CoWIN portal,” sources said. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s regulatory body had , approved four vaccine products — manufactured by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and at AstraZeneca’s Europe plant — and allowed people who have taken either of those jabs to travel within the bloc for tourist and business purposes. The Serum Institute of India’s Covishield was not on JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT June 29 33,79,525 doses June 30 25,14,153 doses TOTAL DOSES: 33,54,69,340 the list though it is manufacturing AstraZeneca’s vaccine under licence. However, the EMA gave its member states the freedom to amend the rule and allow entry of persons who had not taken any of the four vaccines. The matter figured in the talks External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU, on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Italy . the court held. It also directed the authorities concerned to issue simplified guidelines for issuance of death certificates/official documents stating the exact cause of death, that is ‘Death due to Covid-19’ for enabling dependents to get benefits of welfare schemes. There will be also facility for correcting the cause of death if the family is not satisfied, the court added. Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act, which deals with minimum standards of relief to the affected persons, says it shall include ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life. The Centre sought to interpret the word ‘shall’ as ‘may’, but the court read it as mandatory since Covid is already a ‘notified disaster’. Capital sizzling, a week more for rain and relief EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi RESIDENTS of the national capital will have to wait a week longer to welcome monsoon showers in the city Ac. cording to the India Meteorological Department, a severe heat wave swept Delhi on Wednesday Mercury soared . to 43.5 degrees Celsius, the highest recorded this year so far. By July 7, conditions are predicted to become favourable for the monsoon to advance into the region, according to the MeT office. The maximum temperature recorded at Safdarjung Observatory on Wednesday was seven notches above normal. Most of the monitoring stations recorded severe heat waves, with maximum temperature at least 7 degrees above the average temperature. The capital’s peak power demand soared to 6,921 MW on Wednesday the , highest so far this summer. According to the Delhi State Load Dispatch Centre’s real-time data, peak power demand reached 6,921 MW at 3:10 PM. A severe heat wave gripped Lodhi Road (43.7 degrees Celsius), Ayanagar (44.2), Ridge (44), Mungeshpur (44.3), Najafgarh (44.4), Pitampura (44.3) and Narela (43.7), officials said. For the plains, a “heat wave” is declared when the maximum temperature is more than 40 degrees Celsius, and at least 4.5 notches above normal. A “severe heat wave” is declared if departure from normal temperature is more than 6.5 degrees Celsius. DURBAR NOT TO MOVE Curtains down on nearly 150-year-old bi-annual shifting of J&K secretariat F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar THE nearly 150-year-old practice of biannual Durbar Move in Jammu and Kashmir has come to an end. The J&K administration on Wednesday ordered cancellation of residential accommodations of Durbar Move employees — officers from Srinagar stationed at Jammu and those from Jammu stationed at Srinagar — and directed them to vacate the government quarters within three weeks. The order comes after Lt-Governor Manoj Sinha on June 20 said the administration had completely transitioned to e-office. “Now, both Jammu and Srinagar secretariats can function normally for twelve months,” Sinha said. The move will save the government `200 crore every year which will be used for the welfare of the deprived sections, he added. Over 10,000 government employees and thousands of official files and equipment used to be shifted in trucks and buses twice every year as Civil Secretariat and government offices moved from Srinagar to Jammu in winters and back to the summer capital after six months. From May to October, government offices used to function from Srinagar and while winter capital Jammu remained the seat of administration for the other six months. An employee associated with Durbar Move was annually paid an additional `74,000 - `50,000 as Move Travel Allowance and `24,000 as Temporary Movement Allowance. The estates de- partment has 4,678 dwelling units, comprising 3,200 units in Jammu and 1,478 units in Srinagar. Many employees have private accommodation provided by the government. Officers and officials have to vacate their government-allotted residential accommodation within 21 days. The practice of Darbar Move was started in 1872 by then Dogra ruler Maharaja Gulab Singh to escape the extreme weather conditions of Kashmir in winter and Jammu in summer. It not only put a burden on the State exchequer but also left people of the two regions at the mercy of the district administration and divisional commissioner. Over the years, there have been calls to abandon the Durbar Move. In 1987, then J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah had briefly stopped the practice, but had to withdraw his order after a hue and cry in Jammu and pressure from the Central government. TRADITION SINCE 1872, WITH BRIEF BREAK IN 1987 The practice dates back to 1872, when the capital shifted to Kashmir in summer and to Jammu in winter. It was stopped in 1987, but that was changed on public demand PRIVATE hospitals in at least four states are buying well below their quota of Covid-19 vaccines. Information gathered by this newspaper reveals the stock is going unused in some places. Private Covid Vaccination Centres (PCVC) in Punjab had a quota of 5.5 lakh doses in June, but they bought only 50,000. In West Bengal, these entities were entitled to nearly 20 lakh, but they procured around 2.5 lakh. In Maharashtra, of the 58 lakh procured by them this month, around 34.2 lakh were used. Uttarakhand had a quota of 2.5 lakh for private hospitals, of which 65,000 were purchased. Under the current vaccination policy 75% of shots produced and avail, able in the country — Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Covishield by Serum Institute of India and the Russian vaccine Sputnik V — is bought by the Centre and distributed to the states. The states administer these free of cost. The remaining 25% is for the PCVCs to buy at `650 per dose. They can charge `150 per shot from the beneficiaries. In several states, only a handful of private hospitals are taking part in the vaccination drive. In Bengal, 176 of the 2,013 establishments are part of the process. Of 800 registered private hospitals in Madhya Pradesh, vaccination is going on in around 20odd. CONTINUED ON: P7 EXPRESS READ Brazil suspends $324 mn Covaxin deal New Delhi: The health ministry of Brazil on Wednesday temporarily suspended a $324 mn deal with Bharat Biotech for the procurement of 20 million doses of Covaxin, days after a whistleblower from the Brazilian health ministry claimed President Jair Bolsonaro hurriedly signed the deal, even when cheaper options were available | P7 CPI FOR INDUSTRIAL WORKERS UP Retail inflation for industrial workers rose to 5.24% in May 2021 from 5.14% in April due to increase in prices of certain food items. Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers is calculated on the basis of retail prices collected from 317 markets spread over 88 industrially important centres in the country | P10 Dust off inertia: Modi’s message to his ministers M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday presided over a marathon meeting with his Council of Ministers, dropping hints that a Cabinet reshuffle is round the corner and that non-performers may be eased out. While the PM asked his ministerial colleagues to make the vaccination drive a resounding success, it is reliably learnt the ministers were told some of them were not seen doing enough in their respective spheres. The meeting was seen part of the exercise at the level of the PM to review the performances of the ministries with his senior Cabinet colleagues during which BJP chief J P Nadda was present. It is also learnt that the ministers were asked for better coordination with the BJP with a , few leaders singling out lack of team work for the “excessive negative buildup of perception against the government during the pandemic”. “The meeting also gave a sense that Modi wants the governance to be seen in tune with business as usual after a long spell of the Covid9 shadow. The government is confident of the success of the vaccination drive, but the focus also needs to return on other aspects of the governance,” a source added. That the PM is holding a number of review meetings point to the urgency at the top level for return to normalcy in governance for setting the mood ahead of the 2024 polls, sources added.
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