WEDNESDAY DATA SHOW OMICRON SPREAD WILL END PANDEMIC: EXPERT 19 If you were wondering how long will the coronavirus pandemic go on, you won’t have to wait much longer, says a UK virologist JANUARY, 2022 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard COVID PROTOCOL TEST FOR TB IF COUGH PERSISTS Revised guidelines spell out conditions for mild, moderate & severe infection A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 7 MERCY DELAY Sisters’ death commuted to life sentence S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai TWENTY-ONE years after conviction, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentence of sisters Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit to life imprisonment. The duo was convicted for kidnapping 13 children and killing some of them between 1990 and 1996. They used the children as cover to snatch purses and chains. The division bench of the Bombay High Court headed by Sarang V Kotwal and Nitin Jamadar observed that state machinery showed “laxity and indifference” in deciding their mercy plea of the duo. The sisters were arrested in November 1996 while their mother Anjana, a co-accused, died of illness in 1998. They were convicted by the sessions court in June 2001 and the high court had upheld their conviction in September 2004. In 2006, the apex court had confirmed their death sentence for five murders. In August 2014, the President of India rejected t h e i r m e r cy plea, after which, the sisters moved to the High Court seeking judicial review of the President’s decision and sought a reduction in sentence. The warrant to execute the death sentence of the petitioners, which was not given effect during the pendency and hearing of this petition, was cancelled and set aside by the HC. The court stated that the position of law related to the commutation of sentence had always held the field when the mercy petitions by and on behalf of the petitioners were made. The high court said, “Despite this legal position – wholly due to the casual approach of the officers of the respondent, the state – the mercy petitions were not decided for over seven years. Though the procedure for deciding the mercy petitions mandates speed and expediency, the state machinery showed laxity and indifference at each stage of processing the files.” NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 SOME of the proposals in the environment ministry’s draft amendment to the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, have invited criticism from experts who have argued against provisions which they claim would allow commercial trade in live elephants and will render state wildlife boards defunct. The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill, 2021, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha recently and sent to the parliamentary standing committee. In its comments shared with the committee, the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) said the draft calls to insert a new section allowing the State Board for Wild Life (SBWL) to constitute a Standing Committee to exercise powers and perform duties as may be delegated to it by the Board. The NCF said SBWLs would be rendered defunct due to the amendment suggested. “This has already happened with the TOO EARLY TO CALL IT: FAUCI Not all experts are optimistic. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the US president, says it’s too early to say if Omicron will mark the end of the pandemic. “It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination everyone is hoping for,” he said | P7 ED raids Punjab CM Channi’s nephew Seizes `6 crore cash and property documents in connection with 2018 illegal sand mining case EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chandigarh / New Delhi THE Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday conducted raids at multiple places in Punjab, including the residence of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh alias Honey, in connection with an illegal sand mining case in the poll-bound border state. The searches covered a dozen locations including Chandigarh, Mohali, Ludhiana and Pathankot. ED sleuths recovered cash worth `6 crore, including `4 crore from premises linked to Channi’s nephew, and some property documents during the searches, sources said adding that the central agency will take action under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The raids were related to an illegal sand mining case registered by Punjab police in 2018. Later, charges of cheating were added to the FIR and subsequently the ED took over the investigation. The name of one Kudratdeep Singh surfaced during preliminary probe. During detailed interrogation, he revealed that Bhupinder Singh was the main facilitator, sources said. The ED is now probing if the chief minister’s name was used to facilitate illegal mining, they added. Reacting sharply to the raids, KEJRIWAL TAKES AIM Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said, “Our leader Raghav Chadha had even shown how illegal sand mining was taking place in Channi’s assembly constituency but he did not take action and tried to justify it.” the Congress accused the Centre of trying to defame Punjab, adding that such acts will not hurt the ruling party’s electoral prospects in the state. Channi alleged the Centre is using the federal agency to target political opponents. He said actions of the central probe agencies have become predictable as they follow the same pattern during every poll season. After quitting the Congress, former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh had publicly alleged that many Congress leaders were involved in illegal sand mining. Bhagwant is AAP’s chosen Mann in Punjab H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh INS Ranvir was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1986 | PTI Blast on navy ship kills 3 personnel EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/ Mumbai AN explosion onboard a Navy ship at the Mumbai port killed three personnel and left 11 others injured. The blast happened in an inter nal compartment of INS Ranvir. “In an unfortunate incident on Monday at Naval Dockyard Mumbai, three naval personnel succumbed to injuries caused by an explosion in an internal compartment onboard INS Ranvir,” the Navy said in a statement. However, there was no major material damage, the statement added. The ship’s crew brought the situation under control quickly . INS Ranvir was on cross coast operational deployment from the Eastern Naval Command from November 2021 and was due to return to its base port shortly. A Board of Inquiry was ordered to investigate the cause. “The explosion was not due to malfunction of any weapon or ammunition. However, it could have happened because of machinery failure. The official probe will determine the exact cause,” sources said requesting anonymity The injured personnel are sta. ble and are admitted in INS Ashwini hospital in Mumbai. A Rajput Class Destroyer, INS Ranvir was built in the former Soviet Union and inducted in the Indian Navy in 1986. It is deployed for anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare. It can also take on cruise missiles. Earlier, too, several untoward incidents involving the Navy have happened off Mumbai coast. The then Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi had resigned in 2014 after two officers were killed and seven other sailors were injured when a fire erupted onboard submarine INS Sindhuratna off Mumbai coast. In August 2013, explosions onboard INS Sindhurakshak had claimed the lives of 18 sailors and caused the submarine to sink in the Mumbai harbour. BHAGWANT Mann was unanimously chosen by the public as the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate for the Punjab elections, party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal announced on Tuesday . While it requited a thumping 93% of respondents voting in a phone line survey to get the official stamp, Mann’s candidature was a mere formality as his name had been okayed by the party’s top leadership ast month. ‘‘As many as 21,59,437 people had expressed their opinion on the helpline released by AAP on January 13. 93.3% respondents elected Bhagwant Mann as their choice to be Punjab’s CM and now party officially declares him as its CM candidate too. Navjot Singh Sidhu came out as second choice with 3.6% votes. Every Punjabi is proud of my younger brother,” Kejriwal said. “Traditionally, parties often hand over the power to their immediate family members and relatives. If I had declared him as the chief ministerial candidate on my own, people would have said that I’ve chosen my brother... ARMY LT-GEN PANDE TO BE VICE-CHIEF Currently, he is the head of the Eastern Command that looks after the LAC along Sikkim and Arunachal PAGE 7 Draft amendments in Wild Life Protection Act face flak from experts R I C H A S H A R M A @ New Delhi ‘IN 2022, LIFE CAN BE LIKE IT WAS BEFORE COVID’ Year 2022 will mark the end of the pandemic, says Prof Julian Hiscox, chairman in infection and global health at University of Liverpool. With Omicron, there will be ‘natural immunity’ on top of vaccination, which will lead to a scenario of endemicity. Endemicity means though virus spread will continue, its severity will come down to easily manageable levels. National Board for Wildlife. This is not desirable as this will dilute the scrutiny evaluation and , assessment that proposed projects are given,” it said. Criticising another proposal, Initiative for Forest and Environment said “an exception has been carved out by excluding from the general prohibition contained in section 43”, thereby implying that slae and purchase of elephants will no longer be legally prohibited. The draft also calls for inclusion of invasive alien species in the Act, but another comment submitted to the parliament panel said it was unclear as to what process will be followed in how species will be listed and whether both plants and animals will be included. “There needs to be a well-considered scientific and transparent process for proposing, evaluating, listing and delisting invasive alien species, along with enabling provisions directing the formulation of specific management measures,” it said. SAVIOURS Army personnel trying to rescue 30 civilians stuck in an avalanche in Kupwara, J&K | PTI The dream of turning Punjab into Punjab again, of giving jobs to the youth and saving them from drugs and of turning farming into a remunerative profession does not let us sleep Bhagwant Mann, AAP Started political innings in 2011 AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann in Mohali on Tuesday | PTI That’s why we started a new democratic tradition to elect the CM candidate. For the first time in the history of India, the people of Punjab have chosen their chief minister candidate.” Thanking people for choosing him, Mann asserted that he would fulfil every responsibility that was bestowed upon him by the party as well as the people of Punjab. “It is an important day for him and party My responsi. bility has doubled.” The two-time MP reiterated that the AAP’s agenda of eradicating drugs from Punjab and of providing employment and quality education would be on top of his list. ‘‘My dream is to make Punjab drug-free, to provide sufficient employment, best and free education) and make agriculture and farmers prosperous.” Born in Satoj village, Bhagwant Mann’s political career began in 2011 when the satirist-comedian joined Manpreet Singh Badal-led People’s Party of Punjab in 2011. He lost in the 2012 Assembly polls. Two years on, he joined the Aam Aadmi Party and was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 against Akali heavyweight S S Dhindsa from Sangrur and again in 2019. Covid-19 deaths in capital see a jump; health dept says backlog added to toll A N K I TA U PA D H YAY @ New Delhi FRESH Covid-19 cases and positivity rate recorded further dip in Delhi on Tuesday While the city . saw 38 deaths, a sharp jump from 24 fatalities on Monday daily cas, es declined to 11,684 with a positivity rate of 22.47%, as against Monday’s figures of 12,527 and 27.99%, respectively . A total of 52,002 tests were conducted on Tuesday The number . of tests conducted has come down after the ICMR guidelines which stated that only symptomatic patients will be tested. According to an official in the state health department, the number of fatalities saw a rise as death audit committee has added previously uncounted deaths in Tuesday’s bulletin. “The death audit committee first evaluates each death and the reason behind it and after that it adds to the tally. In Tuesday’s death numbers, some backlog has also been add- ed,” the official said. He added that the high number of deaths is also the result of the peak that was witnessed on January 13, when the highest number of fresh cases was recorded. However, a senior doctor working with a government hospital said the audit committee prepares death on an everyday basis. “These are the latest number of deaths. While there is no valid reason behind this fluctuation, we have observed that these are the patients who had comorbid conditions,” the doctor added. Interestingly as per the health , bulletin, the number of patients on ICU beds and ventilators has also been steadily increasing. According to Dr Ritu Saxena, the number of new patients coming for admissions at Lok Nayak Hospital has not declined despite the tally of fresh cases going down. “Earlier we admitted 30-40 patients and the number is still P4 the same,” she said. JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT Jan 17 68,95,050 doses Jan 18 65,85,945 doses TOTAL DOSES 1,58,74,38,750 NATIONWIDE JAN 17 JAN 18 Fresh cases 2,58,089 2,38,018 Recoveries 1,51,740 1,57,421 Deaths 385 310 DELHI JAN 17 JAN 18 Fresh cases 12,527 11,684 Recoveries 18,340 17,516 Deaths 24 38 INNOVATION ‘Smart wings’ for free & green movement of differently-abled D I L I P S I N G H K S H AT R I YA @ Ahmedabad A Gandhinagar-based professor has developed a tri-wheel e-vehicle named as ‘Smartwings’ for physically challenged people. Dr Kaushal Jani, assistant professor at National Forensic Science University, has created the electronic vehicle that can be driven in off-road conditions. “I reviewed all vehicles specially designed for physically challenged people that are there in the market. But there is still no vehicle that emerges from the factory wheelchair-ready So I de. cided to develop something that helps such people move with their wheelchair. This is the first vehicle of its kind in India,” said Dr Jani. “It is difficult for persons who are more than 45% disabled to move around. They need a wheelchair for mobility and are dependent on support systems. So, I took on this project,” he added. This vehicle contains an elec- tric hydraulic slope so that a physically challenged person can easily climb with a wheelchair and drive the vehicle. The vehicle is powered by solar batteries. Fiber plastic, aluminium, iron and polycarbonate sheet materials are largely used. The cost of the product is low so that further development of the project is easy and everyone can afford it. This vehicle runs at a maximum speed of 30 kmph and two persons can be seated at a time.
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