YK MYK OUR VISION TO ENSURE TOP QUALITY DEVELOPMENT IN BENGAL: PM NATION Rs. 3 KOLKATA MONDAY, 22 FEB, 2021 PG-12, YEAR—7, ISSUE—277 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) WEATHER TODAY MAX 31 C MIN 18 C Sky will be clear. AT A GLANCE SONIA DEMANDS ROLLBACK OF FUEL PRICES NEW DELHI : Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey "every citizen's anguish and deep distress regarding the spiralling fuel and gas prices." Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Gandhi in the letter alleged that in distressing time, the central government is making a profit from people's misery and suffering. She termed the rise in fuel prices as "short of extortion to cover up economic mismanagement" and urged the Prime Minister to follow 'Raj Dharma' and reduce fuel prices by partially rolling back excise duty. "On one hand, India is witnessing systematic erosion of jobs, wages and household income. The middle class and those at the margins of our society are struggling. These challenges have been compounded by runaway inflation and an unprecedented rise in the price of almost all household items and essential commodities. Sadly, in these distressing times, the Government has chosen to profiteer off people's misery and suffering," she said. She termed the rise in fuel prices as a "brazen act of profiteering". "Fuel prices are at a historic and unsustainable high. In fact, petrol has breached the Rs 100/litre mark in many parts of the country. The surging price of diesel has added to the escalating woes of millions of farmers. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 10,996,636 TOTAL DEATH: 156,365 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 4,105,675 TOTAL DEATH: 120,365 KAREENA, SAIF WELCOME BABY BOY SCREEN & CINEMA Morning India Centre asks states to increase RT-PCR tests, surveillance NEW DELHI : In view of resurgence of Covid infections in as many as six Indian states, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday has advised all the states and union territories to improve RT-PCR testing while putting refocus on surveillance and containment measures as well. The states and UTs have been advised to work on five major areas: * Improve the overall testing numbers by focusing on increasing the proportion of RT-PCR tests * All negative Rapid Antigen Test results to be mandatorily followed by RTPCR test and no such negative persons are to be missed * Refocus on strict and comprehensive surveillance as well as stringent containment in selected districts * Regular monitoring of the mutant strains through testing followed by Genome Sequencing, as well as monitoring of the emerging cluster of cases * Focusing on clinical management in districts reporting higher deaths India has been witnessing a rise in the active caseload over the past few days which pegged at 1,45,634 on Sunday consisting of 1.32 per cent of the total positive cases. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed that more than 74 per cent of the active cases are in Kerala and Maharashtra while it is on rise in four more states and UT. "Of late it is seen that there has been a spike in the daily cases in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh also. Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir too are witnessing a surge in daily new cases," it said. Meanwhile, in the last four weeks in Kerala, the average weekly cases have fluctuated between a high of 42,000 to a low of 34,800. Similarly, in the last four weeks, the weekly positivity in Kerala has ranged from 13.9 per cent to 8.9 per cent. The ministry also said that in Kerala, Alappuzha district is a cause of special concern where the weekly positivity rate has increased to 10.7 per cent and weekly cases have risen to 2,833. In Maharashtra, in the last four weeks, the weekly cases have shown a rising KOLKATA: The West Bengal Government on Sunday announced a reduction of tax by Rs 1 per litre on petrol and diesel, which will be applicable from midnight. In a statement following a virtual press conference, State Finance Minister Amit Mitra said that the State Government decided Re 1 cut in prices of petrol and diesel would be applicable from midnight. "The State Government believes that this will provide some respite to the people. The Central Government levies Rs 32.90 as tax + cess on one litre of petrol," he said. Ahead of Assembly polls in the State, Mitra challenged Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a virtual debate on the increase of cess on fuel prices. "However, it is significant to mention that when Modi Government came to power, total aggregated cess was 8 per cent of the gross tax collected and now it has increased to 14.5 per cent. This is why the CAG has also questioned the Central West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra Government on why they are increasing cess and not tax? This is a direct attack on the federal structure. I have also written to the Finance Minister of India highlighting the same," Mitra stated. The prices of petrol and diesel have been increasing continuously for more than 10 days and in some States, the price of petrol has even crossed Rs 100. Opposition parties also held protests in different parts of the country over the rise of prices of diesel and petrol. CBI team summons Abhishek Fraudulent transactions of Rs Banerjee's wife in alleged coal scam 6,182 crore in DHFL unearthed Banerjee says he has 'full faith in the law of the land' KOLKATA: A team of officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation on Sunday visited Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's nephew and Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee's residence in Kolkata to issue summons in the alleged coal smuggling case. This came after the central agency conducted raids at 13 locations in four districts of West Bengal on February 19. The Central agency team served the notice to his wife Rujira Banerjee Naroola to join the inquiry. "At 2 pm today, the CBI served a notice in the name of my wife," Abhishek Banerjee tweeted. "We have full faith in the law of the land. However, if they think they can use these ploys to intimidate us, they are mistaken. We are not The Central agency team served the notice to his wife Rujira Banerjee Naroola to join the inquiry. the ones who would ever be cowed down." The case pertains to illegal mining and theft of coal from leasehold mines of Eastern Coalfield Limited in Kunustoria and Kajora areas, and involves embezzlement of thousands of crores of rupees. It has been alleged that this smuggled coal was sold in the black market over a number of years by a racket operating in the western parts of the state. The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that the kickbacks reached the Trinamool Congress MP through party leader Vinay Mishra. The saffron party's leaders have also claimed that Abhishek Banerjee channelled these funds into the Trinamool Congress. Minister of State Firhad Hakim has criticized the incident as unjust. Firhad Hakim said, "We do politics. Do not drag the women of the house into it. But now the women of the house are being dragged, which should not be. But that is what is happening. In the previous election, the issue of Saradha and Narada was raised. A group of those whose names were in it have now joined the BJP. I am asking the BJP to fight politically." NEW DELHI : Transaction auditor Grant Thornton, in a report shared with the Administrator of DHFL, has found certain transactions which are undervalued, fraudulent and preferential in nature, putting the newly-discovered fraud at Rs 6,182 crore. The Administrator of Dewan Housing Finance Company Ltd, appointed under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 to carry out the duties under it, obtained assistance from reputed professional agency, Grant Thornton to conduct investigation of the affairs of the company in respect of transactions qualified under sections 43 to 51, and sections 65 and 66 of the Code. Accordingly, the Administrator of the there is a limited supply, policies of initially vaccinating more people with a single dose may provide greater immediate population protection than vaccinating half the number of people with 2 doses," said lead author Andrew Pollard from the University of Oxford, UK. "In the long term, a second dose should ensure long-lived immunity, and so we encourage everyone who has had their first vaccine to ensure they receive both dose," Pollard added.A For the study, the team combined data from randomised controlled trials in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa, including more than 17,000 people. Participants either received two standard doses of the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine (8,597 participants) or a control vaccine/saline placebo (8,581).A Looking at the interval between two standard doses and its impact on efficacy, participants who were given their doses 12 or more weeks apart had greater protection (81 per cent, based on 8/1,293 cases in the Covid-19 vaccine group vs 45/1,356 cases in the control group), than people given their two doses less than 6 weeks apart (55 per cent, based on 35/3,890 cases in the Covid-19 vaccine group vs 76/3,856 cases in Company received an initial report from the professional agency appointed as the transaction auditor, indicating that there are certain transactions which are undervalued, fraudulent and preferential in nature, falling under the aforesaid sections of the Code, as per a filing. On basis of the investigation and observations of the transaction auditor, the Administrator has filed an application before the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under Section 45, Section 60(5) and Section 66 of the Code on February 20, 2021 in respect of disbursement made to certain entities as other large project loans (OLPL), against Kapil Wadhawan, Dheeraj Wadhawan, Creatoz Builders Pvt Ltd, Ikshudip Fincap Pvt Ltd, Rite Developers Pvt Ltd and certain other entities. It is to be noted that further filings may be undertaken, in due course. The nature of fraud is in relation to irregularities in disbursement of OLPL loans by the company in the past. As per the transaction auditor report shared with the Administrator, the monetary impact of the above transactions covered under the application amounts to Rs 5,381.90 crore towards outstanding principal, Rs 589.36 crore towards accrued interest and Rs 210.85 crore towards notional loss of interest on account of charging lower rate of interest. India, China disengagement process in eastern Ladakh complete: Rajnath SALEM : Asserting that the disengagement process by India and China in eastern Ladakh has been 'completed' after nine rounds of diplomatic and military level talks between the two countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday hit out at Congress for 'doubting' the bravery and valor of Indian soldiers. Addressing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) convention here, Singh said, "After nine Interval between Oxford Covid doses can be safely extended to 3 months: Lancet LONDON : three-month interval between doses of the Oxford UniversityAstraZeneca vaccine resulted in higher vaccine efficacy than a six-week interval, reveals The Lancet study. According to the findings from a phase 3 randomised controlled trial, the first dose offered 76 per cent protection in the three months between doses. The interval between doses can be safely extended to three months given the protection a single dose offers, which may allow countries to vaccinate a larger proportion of the population more rapidly, the researchers said. "Where trend and have increased from 18,200 to 21,300, while the weekly positivity has also increased from 4.7 per cent to 8 per cent, the ministry informed. "The areas of concern are the Mumbai Suburban areas where the weekly cases have risen by 19 per cent. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal the weekly cases have increased by 33, 47, 23, 55 and 48 per cent, respectively," it added. Meanwhile, Punjab is rapidly assuming a critical dimension in respect of the spread of Covid-19 infection. In the last four weeks, the weekly positivity rate in the state has increased from 1.4 per cent to 1.6 per cent, while the weekly cases in the last four weeks have seen a rise from 1,300 to 1,682. The ministry also said that in the Punjab district of SBS Nagar alone, the weekly positivity rate has become 4.9 per cent from 3.5 per cent and the weekly cases have more than doubled from 165 to 364. Bengal reduces tax on petrol, diesel the control group).A Efficacy results were supported by immune response results in 18-55 year olds, which found that binding antibody responses were more than two-fold higher in the group having their two vaccines with a longer delay.Following a single standard vaccine dose, vaccine efficacy from 22 days to 3 months after vaccination was 76 per cent (based on 17/9,257 cases in the Covid-19 vaccine group vs 71/9,237 cases in the control group), and modelling indicated that this protection did not reduce over the 3 months. rounds of dialogue at military and diplomatic levels, a part has been resolved but Congress tries to malign our image, saying we ceded land. I want to assure you that no one can occupy an inch of India's land till I am alive." "After nine rounds of military and diplomatic dialogue, the disengagement process is complete. But unfortunately, Congress is doubting the Indian army's bravery and courage. I want to ask isn't Congress party insulting to the soldiers who did the supreme sacrifice in Galwan valley," he added. 20 Indian soldiers had laid their lives and unspecified numbers of Chinese soldiers were killed in the Galwan Valley in June last year. India and China are in a standoff in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), following aggressive border skirmishes by the Chinese army. Defence Minister said that the country will not allow any "unilateral action" on its border and "will pay any cost to thwart such attempts. Asthmatics no higher risk of dying from Covid: Study SYDNEY : Asthma may not increase the risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19, a new study suggests. The review of studies on 587,000 people showed that people with asthma had a 14 per cent lower risk of getting Covid-19 and were significantly less likely to be hospitalised with the virus. "While we showed that people with asthma do not seem to have a higher risk of infection with Covid-19 compared to those without asthma and have similar outcomes, we need further research to better understand how the virus affects those with asthma," said lead author Anthony Sunjaya from the University of New South Wales in Australia. For the study, published in the peer- reviewed Journal of Asthma, the team analysed data from 57 studies with an overall sample size of 587,280. Almost 350,000 people in the pool had been infected with Covid-19 from Asia, Europe, and North and South America and found they had similar proportions of asthma to the general population. The results showed that just over seven in every 100 people who tested positive for Covid19 also had asthma, compared to just over eight in 100 in the general population having the condition.A Previous findings have shown that people with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma were reported to be at greater risk during the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, caused by a virus with a similar structure. "Respiratory infections like those caused by coronaviruses can exacerbate asthma symptoms and corticosteroid treatment may increase susceptibility to Covid-19 infection and its severity," Sunjaya said. However this study using the best evidence available on the risk of infection, severe illness -- requiring admission to ICU and/or ventilator use -and death from Covid-19 in people with asthma finds "no significant difference" .