YK MYK AFGHANISTAN PULLOUT: US DECISION PUTS INDIA ON BACKFOOT OPINION Rs. 3 KOLKATA TUESDAY, 20 APRIL, 2021 PG-12, YEAR—7, ISSUE—332 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) WEATHER TODAY MAX 37 C MIN 27 C Sky will be clear. AT A GLANCE UK PM CANCELS INDIA VISIT DUE TO CURRENT COVID-19 SITUATION NEW DELHI : United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his upcoming India visit due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. The information about his cancellation of the India trip was shared by the Ministry of External Affairs through an official statement. "In view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week. The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year," said Arindam Bagchi, the official MEA Spokesperson in a response to media queries on the upcoming visit of Johnson to India. MANMOHAN SINGH ADMITTED TO AIIMS AFTER TESTING COVID POSITIVE NEW DELHI : Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was admitted to the AIIMS for treatment after testing Covid positive on Monday. He has been admitted to the Trauma Centre, said sources. Wishes came in as the news spread. "Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh Ji, Wishing you a speedy recovery. India needs your guidance and advice in this difficult time," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a tweet, said: "Just got the news that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Ji has tested positive for COVID. Sir, our thoughts and prayers for a speedy and full recovery." "My prayers for the speedy recovery and good health of Former Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh who has tested positive for #Covid19. May he get well soon and continue to guide us all with his experience and wisdom,." CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 15,101,700 TOTAL DEATH: 178,943 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 142,178,254 TOTAL DEATH: 3,035,609 IPL: CHAHAR VS ASHWIN KEY BATTLE IN MI-DC CLASH SPORTS Morning India Everyone above 18 eligible for anti-Covid vax from May 1 NEW DELHI : The Union Government on Monday announced that everyone above the age of 18 will be eligible to get a vaccine against Covid-19 from May 1. The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi said that the government has been working hard for over a year to ensure that maximum numbers of Indians are able to get the vaccine in the shortest possible time. "India is vaccinating people at world record pace and we will continue this with even greater momentum." The third phase of vaccination, which will start on May 1, aims at liberalised vaccine pricing and scaling up of vaccine coverage. Private Vaccination providers have to transparently declare their self-set vaccination price and the eligibility through Centre nod for credit support for SII, Bharat Biotech NEW DELHI : In a bid to boost vaccine production amid rising Covid cases, the Centre has given in-principle approval for credit to vaccinemakers, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, it was announced on Monday. The Finance Ministry has approved sanction of Rs 3,000 crore credit for the Serum Institute and Rs 1,500 crore to Bharat Biotech, and the credit will be disbursed at the earliest. Earlier, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, had suggested that the company would require around Rs 3,000 crore to increase production of Covid-19 vaccines. Industry body FICCI also recently suggested that the government should provide incentives to vaccine manufacturers to increase the production of Covid-19 vaccines in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with the Representatives from Pharma Industry, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI Photo) this channel would be opened up to all adults everyone above the age of 18. Vaccine manufacturers are empowered to release up to 50 per cent of their supply to state Governments and in the open market at a pre-declared price. On the other hand, states are empowered to procure additional vaccine doses directly from the manufacturers, as well as open up vaccination to any category of people above the age of 18 for the same. Vaccination will be provided free of cost to the eligible population as defined. COVID-19: INDIA LOGS RECORD SURGE OF 2,73,810 NEW CASES, 1,619 FATALITIES NEW DELHI : India's total tally of COVID19 cases crossed the 1.50-crore mark with around 25 lakh cases being added in just 15 days,?while active cases surpassed the 19-lakh mark,?according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday The nationwide tally of COVID-19 cases mounted to 1,50,61,919?with?a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 coronavirus infections The death toll increased to?1,78,769?with a record 1,619 daily new fatalities,?the data updated at 8 am showed.?? The country's total COVID-19 infections had surpassed the? one-crore mark on December 19 after which it took 107 days to?cross?the 1.25 crore?on April 5. However, it only took 15 days for the cases to cross the 1.50-crore mark.?? Registering a steady increase for the 40th day in a row, the active cases increased to 19,29,329,?comprising 12.81?per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has dropped to 86 per cent The?number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,29,53,821?and the case fatality rate has further dropped to 1.19 per cent. 6-day lockdown Mamata directs officials to gear in Delhi, says up to deal with nCoV surge Arvind Kejriwal MI NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI : In the wake of the unabated resurgence of new Covid-19 cases in the national capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday declared a six-day lockdown starting from 10 p.m. Monday till 6 a.m. on April 26. He made the announcement during a televised address in which he said the fourth wave of the pandemic in Delhi has brought healthcare services to the brink of collapse. "In order to prevent a total collapse, LG Anil Baijal and I took this decision. And in this duration, essential services will be allowed and more beds will also be set up," the Chief Minister added. As the city logged around 23,000 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, Kejriwal and Baijal held a meeting earlier in the day to discuss the overall situation. "I won't say our health system has collapsed but it is at an alarming stage due to the resurgence," Kejriwal further said, adding the overall situation in the city was critical. The Chief Minister's announcement came after an emergency meeting with Lt. Governor Anil Baijal to review Covid-19 situation. "Curfew on movement of individuals (except for exemption given) in the territory of NCT of Delhi with effect from 10 p.m. on April 19 (Monday) to 5 a.m. on April 26 (Monday). In case any person is found violating DDMA instructions, the defaulting person shall be proceeded against as per the provisions of section 51 to 60 of Disaster Management Act2005," a fresh order issued by DDMA read. The DDMA order stated that government and private offices will remain closed except those involved in essential services. "All judicial officers/officials staff members of all Courts of Delhi (Supreme Court Of India, High Court of Delhi, District Courts/ Tribunals will be allowed with production of valid Identity Card, Service ID card/ Photo entry passes/permission letter issued by the Court administration," DDMA said. On Sunday, Delhi recorded the biggest jump in its daily Covid tally with 25,462 fresh cases and a positivity rate of nearly 30 per cent, which meant that almost every third sample being tested in the city was positive. The Delhi Government had earlier imposed night curfew between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. which is still in operation. On Friday, the state government imposed the weekend curfew, but the surge in Covid-19 cases continued in Delhi as around 23,500 new cases were reported on Monday. KOLKATA: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has directed all the top officials to make elaborate arrangements and step up their efforts at every level to deal with the deteriorating COVID-19 situation in the State. Taking to Twitter, Banerjee said that the Chief Secretary along with key officials held a press conference at 2 pm to discuss the details of the plan to deal with the COVID-19 situation. "With the massive surge in #COVID19 cases across India, GoWB is taking all necessary steps to protect its people. I've reached out to PM to help us with additional medicines and vaccines required," she tweeted. "I have also directed all the top officials to make elaborate arrangements and step up their efforts at every level to deal with #COVID19 situation in WB. The Chief Secretary along with key officials will be doing a Press conference at 2PM to discuss the details of the plan," the Chief Minister said in another tweet. Poll-bound Bengal reported 8,419 fresh COVID19 cases and 28 deaths on Sunday, the State Health Department informed on Sunday. "There are 49,638 active COVID-19 cases in Bengal, while with 28 new deaths the death toll in the State has gone up to 10,568," the Health Department said. The Bengal Chief Minister, Sunday, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting supply of 5.4 crores more of vaccine doses, steady supply of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab medicines and supply of oxygen in the poll-bound State as soon as possible. "We have to vaccinate around 2.7 crore and we need 5.4 crore doses. We request for your urgent intervention to ensure that the State gets its requirement of vaccine doses fulfillment at the earliest," the letter said. In the letter, Mamata requested a steady supply of oxygen in the State. Amid a record spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Election Commission on Friday had decided to curtail the timings of campaigns for the remaining phases and extended the silence period to 72 hours for each of the phases. TMC had earlier requested to phase the remaining three phases of Bengal polls, out of eight, to club into one phase but EC Chief Secy briefs Guv on nCoV situation (SC) MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: Bengal Chief Secretary Alapan Bando padhyay on Monday briefed Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on the COVID-19 situation in the State, which has witnessed an alarming rise in infections over the past few weeks. Dhankhar, following a meeting with Bandopadhyay and Health Secretary N S Nigam, said the Centre and the State Government must act in tandem to combat "this menace to humanity". "Impressed upon them to take all affirmative steps to secure full participation of people," Dhankhar said in a tweet. Bengal on Sunday registered its highest singleday spike of 8,419 fresh cases and at least 28 fatalities. Summer vacation in schools to begin today (SC) MI News Service, Kolkata: The Bengal government on Monday said summer vacation in schools will begin from as early as Tuesday in view of rising COVID-19 cases in the State. The summer break usually starts from the first week of May. "Classes for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th standard had resumed from midFebruary (in State-aided and State-run schools). "But, due to the present COVID-19 situation, we are forced to prepone the summer vacation. The education department has issued necessary notifications," Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said. The TMC leader said he would also urge private schools to follow suit. The decision comes amid reports of many teachers in schools testing positive in the past two months. has denied the request. The first five phases were held on March 27, April 1, April 6, April 10 and April 17 respectively. The counting of votes will take place on May 2. Govt has formed nCoV task force' Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged people not to panic over the worsening COVID-19 situation as the State Government is taking "every possible measure" to check the spread of the disease. Banerjee, while addressing a press meet, stressed that night curfew may not be a solution in Bengal, where "political pollution" needs to be checked first. The CM, however, did not explain what exactly she was referring to as "political pollution". Listing out the steps taken by the State Government to tackle the situation, such as increase in the number of COVID beds in hospitals, she requested. Campaigning ends for sixth phase polls KOLKATA: Curtains came down at 6.30 pm on Monday on campaigning for 43 Assembly constituencies of Bengal which will go to polls on April 22 in the sixth phase of elections. In view of the rising cases of COVID-19 in the State, the Election Commission (EC) has extended the silence period from 48 hours to 72 hours in each of the remaining three phases of the Assembly polls to be held on April 22, 26 and 29. Polling will be held between 7 am and 6.30 pm at 14,480 polling stations in 17 constituencies in North 24-Parganas district. Migrants once again queue up at bus stands to head home NEW DELHI : After the Delhi government announced a week long lockdown from Monday 10 p.m. to arrest the spike of Covid cases, Anand Vihar and Kaushambi bus stands of Delhi and UP are once again abuzz with migrant labourers, who are fleeing from the city fearing that the shutdown of the public transport may force them to walk hundreds of kilometers, a scene reminiscent of the last year. Hundreds of people including children and elderly queued up at these bus stations on Monday with their belongings to head home leaving their jobs and employment back in the city. Sweating in the scorching son, they were seen waiting for the transport for their destination. Losing bread seems easier for these migrants than the fear of walking hundreds of kilometers. Manoj, a migrant labourer waiting for a bus at the bus stand, told IANS, "I am going to the village due to the lockdown, how can the poor man give room rent without job? The company will be closed. From where will I earn money to feed my family? Last year I paid 4 months rent from my own pocket. i have small children, I will not come back now." Prem Sagar, another migrant labourer told IANS, "I am going to my village. After the lockdown, work will be stopped, then how will I earn? I will come back after the lockdown is over and work starts." Like them, many others from various parts of Delhi and Ghaziabad are heading to the bus stands from where they will catch a bus to their villages. To save Great Indian Bustard SC recommends underground powerlines, divertors NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Monday directed formation of committee to evaluate feasibility of underground powerlines to save the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) from extinction. A bench comprising Justices S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian noted that the laying of high-voltage underground power line would require expertise to assess its feasibility, and appointed a three-member committee comprising scientist Dr Rahul Rawat, Wildlife Institute of India's Dr Sutirtha Dutta, and Deputy Director of the Corbett Foundation Dr. Devesh Gadhavi. "Irrespective of the cost factor the priority shall be to save the near extinct birds", said the bench. The bench noted that existence of overhead power lines has become a hazard due to which Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican on collision are getting killed. The Committee's primary focus would be to assess the feasibility of laying high-volt- age powerlines underground. "keeping in view, the sustainable development concept and on striking a balance the protection of the rare species of birds is essentially to be made, the effort being to save every bird while at the same time allowing transmission of power in an appropriate manner", noted the bench. The top court said the areas where existing overhead powerlines are located, authorities should take steps forthwith to install divertors. The top court added for installation of transmission lines in future, a study should be undertaken on the feasibility of laying underground lines. "In all cases where the overhead powerlines exist as on today in the priority and potential GIB area the respondents shall take steps forthwith to install divertors pending consideration of the conversion of the overhead cables into underground powerlines", said the top court. The bench further added that in cases where it is found feasible to convert the overhead cables into underground powerlines it should be completed within a period of one year and till such time the divertors shall be hung from the existing powerlines. The top court order came on a public interest plea seeking to protect two species of birds GIB and the Lesser Florican, which is on the verge of extinction. The plea contended the existence of overhead power lines is stated to have become a hazard due to which the said species of birds on collision are getting killed.