TUESDAY AFTER FINLAND, NOW SWEDEN CONFIRMS BID TO JOIN NATO 17 Citing threats from Russia, Sweden said on Monday it will seek to join NATO, reversing two centuries of military non-alignment MAY, 2022 Best thing for our security: Swedish PM epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said NATO membership is “the best thing for Sweden’s security”, a day after neighbouring Finland confirmed its plan to seek a berth in the alliance. The historic shift in Stockholm’s security policy comes amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has led to a rise in public support in Sweden for joining NATO twitter.com/TheMornStandard SILVERLINE KERALA GOVT BACKS OFF K-Rail told to identify sites for social impact assessment study by geo-tagging method PAGE 5 SOARING HIGH Pricey fuel set to make flights costly A R S H A D K H A N @ New Delhi AIRFARES are likely to soar further as the government has hiked jet fuel prices by 5.29%, its 10th hike in the year so far. Fares have already shot up by 25-40% this year. The latest jump would only make flying costlier. Jet fuel rates account for about 40% of an airline’s running cost. Fares in many sectors have nearly doubled in the last two years or so. A quick search on any travel portal shows that a one-way flight in the busy Delhi-Mumbai sector is priced between `6,550-7,850 (May 23, non-stop, economy) while in the Delhi-Bengaluru sector it is `8,400-9,850. In the early 2020s, before Covid struck, a one-way DelhiMumbai economy class flight booked a week in advance was priced roughly at `3,500. For the Delhi-Bengaluru sector at that point in time, it was about `5,000. Multiple ticketing agents this newspaper spoke to said airfares in 2022 alone have shot up by up to 40% for tickets booked for flights that would take-off in 15 days, while it went up by up to 2530% if booked after 15 days. Rajiv Mehra, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators, told this newspaper, “5-10% hike is absorbable but when the fares go up by 30-40%, it dents the tourism sector. After the pandemic we were now hoping for good tourists’ arrival but these high fares have poured water on all our hopes.” The price of jet fuel, also called aviation turbine fuel, was increased by `6,188.25 per kilolitre, or 5.29%, to `1,23,039.71 per kl (`123 per litre) in Delhi. The fuel cost has been raised by a cumulative 61.7% from January to May 16 this year. DELHI Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 15 613 784 04 MAY 16 377 910 01 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Sweden’s PM Magdalena Andersson Putin warns of consequences President Vladimir Putin warned that the expansion of NATO military assets to these countries will provoke a Russian response. It may take about a year for 30 NATO members to ratify Sweden’s application. NATO has assured Sweden of support in case it faces Russian aggression in the meantime | P9 Shivalinga? Gyanvapi area sealed Supreme Court to hear plea today challenging a Varanasi court-mandated survey of the mosque N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Lucknow THE controversial court-mandated videography of the Gyanvapi mosque complex on Monday took a dramatic turn with a Varanasi court ordering the sealing of a pond after claims of having spotted a ‘Shivalinga’ in it, though the other side said it was just a defunct fountain. The pond is used by Muslim devotees for wuzu or purification rituals before offering namaz. The ongoing drama will shift to the Supreme Court on Tuesday where a bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and P S Narasimha will hear a plea filed by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid that manages the affairs of the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the courtmandated survey . The Varanasi court’s order came even as the videography was on, as one lawyer Harishankar Jain, representing a plaintiff, left the survey team midway and filed an court application about the ‘Shivalinga’. “As it is a very important piece of evidence, the area should be sealed immediately for its safety,” he Policemen stand guard during the third and last day of the controversial videographic survey at the Gyanvapi mosque complex, in Varanasi on Monday | PTI Report to be out today Varanasi District Magistrate Kushal Raj Sharma and courtappointed Advocate General Ajay Kumar Mishra neither confirmed nor denied the presence of the Shivalinga, saying it might be someone’s personal claim. Having concluded the three-day survey on Monday, they said the report will be submitted to the court on Tuesday said in his application. Jain also sought a ban on the entry of Muslims in that area besides allowing not more than 20 people to offer namaz at any given time. Judge Ravi Kumar Diwakar, while directing the district administration to seal the area of the wuzu pond, ordered restricted entry of people into that part of the mosque premises, but did not put a figure to it. The judge, however, made the state chief secretary and director general of police responsible for the supervision of the sealing process and the work done by the district magistrate, commissioner of police and the CRPF for the execution of the order. The Muslim side was shocked that the court ordered the sealing without hearing it. “The other side is misguiding the nation by calling a defunct fountain a Shivalinga,” said Raees Ahmad Ansari, the lawyer of Anjuman Intenzamia Masjid. Abhay Nath Yadav, representing the Muslim side, said everyone should wait for the submission of the survey report and subsequent court verdict without jumping to conclusions. District Magistrate Kushal Raj Sharma said after receiving the order, the wuzu pond area was isolated and sealed, adding alternative arrangements for wuzu were being made to ensure that Muslims did not face any problem in offering namaz. Other lawyers accompanying the court commission during the survey termed it a ‘historic day’ saying the evidence they collected would play a key role in all cases related to Gyanvapi in different courts. PM USES BUDDHISM THREAD Hardik to announce TO STRENGTHEN NEPAL TIES move after Rahul meet E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Ahmedabad Y E S H I S E L I @ New Delhi CONNECTED by the noble thread of Buddhism, India and Nepal are deepening ties in many spheres, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a day-long visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. “Today’s meeting with PM @ SherBDeuba was excellent. We discussed the full range of relations between India and Nepal,” Modi tweeted. He also laid the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage besides visiting the famous Mayadevi temple along with his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba. Both sides signed six pacts. Modi’s visit as cheered up Tibetans, many of whom hope it will help reduce China’s influence in Nepal. “China uses Buddhism for political reasons. We are glad that India and Nepal ties are strengthening again. Nepalese leaders need to be mindful of Chinese political manoeuvres,” said Tenzin Lekshay spokesperson for the Central Ti- Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering on the 2566th Buddha Jayanti and Lumbini Day 2022 in Lumbini | PTI betan Administration. For long China has sought to develop Lumbini and recently offered $3 billion to make it a World Peace City through the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation. But China’s interest in Nepal through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is making people wary . “I have always told my friends in Nepal that you are second in line after Tibet to be occupied by China. Nepal seems to have understood China’s objective and has pushed back in India’s favour,” Lekshay said. Sister city pact India and Nepal on Monday agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar that are among the holiest sites of Buddhism, a statement by the MEA said CRASH COURSE Mangled remains of a vehicle after an accident near Akshardham temple in New Delhi on Monday | PTI EXPRESS READ India slams OIC’s J&K comments MP schools on conversion watch New Delhi: India on Monday slammed the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for its “unwarranted” comments on the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir and asked it to refrain from carrying out its “communal agenda” at the behest of one country, in an oblique reference to Pakistan. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India “categorically rejected” the OIC’s comments criticising New Delhi over the delimitation exercise in J&K. P7 Bhopal: The intelligence unit of Madhya Pradesh Police has a new task in hand — to keep an eye on Christian missionary schools across the state for possible religious conversion, MP’s Home Minister Narottam Mishra said on Monday. On Sunday, the police in Bhopal had booked five persons, including two women, for attempted religious conversion in Christ Memorial School. While four accused were taken in custody on Sunday, the school head was arrested on Monday. HARDIK Patel is expected to let the Congress know where he is headed in a day or two. The working president of Gujarat Congress said that Rahul Gandhi has called him to meet him in a couple of days. “I will announce my decision after meeting him,” he said. Hardik said he didn’t have detailed talks with Rahul Gandhi when he was in Gujarat early this month. The maverick Patidar leader has been miffed with state party leaders over his role in the move to strengthen the local organisation in the run-up to the Assembly polls due later this year. In the face of Hardik’s implacable attitude, some Congress leaders in the state said it was time to remove him from the party “What’s awaited is his . meeting with Rahul Gandhi,” said a senior party leader from the state. P8 IndiGo in soup over treatment of spl child E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi WITHIN 10 days of setting up a three-member fact-finding team to investigate the incident wherein a specially-abled teenager was denied boarding by IndiGo staffers at Ranchi airport, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has said the airline handled the boy “inappropriately”. A show-cause notice has been issued to the airline over “non-conformances” with regulations, asking it to respond by May 26.] “A fact finding enquiry was ordered by DGCA into the unfortunate event of denied boarding to a special child along with his parents in Ranchi on May 7. The committee has submitted a report,” the DGCA said. The proceedings of the committee were partly held in open and partly in-camera as per the request of the affected family . “The findings of the committee prima facie indicate inappropriate handling of passengers by the IndiGo staff thereby resulting in certain non-conformances with the applicable regulations. In view of this, it has been decided to issue a show cause notice to the concerned airline through its authorised representative to explain as to why suitable enforcement action should not be taken against them for the non-conformance,” the aviation regulator said. The airline has been given an opportunity for personal hearing as well as for making written submissions in the next 10 days. “After hearing the submissions, appropriate action as per the law would be taken,’’ DGCA added. Slight relief from blistering heat as temperatures to fall by 50 C E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi FOR the residents of Delhi-NCR and the entire north and central India baking in the brutal heat wave, with mercury soaring almost touching the half-centurymark in several areas, there’s a small relief in sight. The Met department has predicted that the prevailing heat wave will subside from Tuesday , with maximum temperatures in central and northern parts of the country set to drop by up to 5 degree Celsius. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Sunday’s heat wave was the most severe so far with mercury crossing 49 degrees in some parts of Delhi and in other north Indian regions. While the severity of it will slightly reduced for next fourfive 5 days, the heat wave conditions in isolated pockets are very likely over northeast Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, south Uttar Pradesh, Vidarbha and north Madhya Pradesh on May 16 and over Bihar and Jharkhand on May 16 and 17. Residents of Delhi-NCR felt a relief as overcast temperatures and dusty winds brought the temperatures down by a notch. The IMD also had good news for other parts of the country It . said the Southwest Monsoon advanced into the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Monday, six days in advance, signalling the start of the four-month seasonal rains. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands and adjoining areas have been experiencing rainfall PARVEEN NEGI SMALL COMFORT DELHI’S TEMPERATURE Sunday: 45.60 C Monday: 42.40 C HOTTEST SPOT IN CAPITAL Sunday: Mungeshpur 49.20 C Monday: Najafgarh 44.70 C GURUGRAM Sunday: 48.10 C Monday: 44.70 C due to strengthening south-westerly winds in the lower tropospheric levels. “Conditions are favourable for further advance of the Southwest Monsoon into some more parts of south Bay of Bengal, entire Andaman Sea and Andaman Islands and some parts of eastcentral Bay of Bengal during next two-three days,” an IMD statement said. The presence of cyclonic circulations over Lakshadweep and northern Tamil Nadu coast are expected to bring fairly widespread rainfall with isolated thunderstorm/lightning/gusty winds with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Kerala, coastal and south interior Karnataka during the next five days, the weatherman predicted. IMAGE BY NASA SHOWS HEAT ISLANDS IN AND AROUND DELHI The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of US space agency NASA recently shared an image showing “heat islands” in and around Delhi. The temperature in these urban “heat islands” and neighbouring villages reached 39 degree Celsius while surrounding areas were nearly 5 degrees colder. The image was taken shortly before midnight on May 5. MEASURING TEMPERATURES ON GROUND FROM THE SPACES The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has deployed a satellite instrument called Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment On Space Station, which measures temperatures of the ground from space. The space agency’s image shows urban areas and agricultural lands northwest of Delhi covering 4,800 sq miles.
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