YK MYK TWO YEARS OF NDA 2.0: MODI GOVT MADE BUMPY ROAD SMOOTH OPINION Rs. 3 KOLKATA FRIDAY, 28 MAY, 2021 PG-08, YEAR—8, ISSUE—13 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) WEATHER TODAY MAX 33 C MIN 27 C 24 STATES REPORTED DECLINE IN ACTIVE COVID-19 CASES NATION Morning India Bengal CM pegs losses due to 'Yaas' at Rs 15k crore, announces scheme for affected people MI NEWS SERVICE Sky will be partly cloudy. AT A GLANCE R&AW CHIEF, IB DIRECTOR GET ONE-YEAR EXTENSION NEW DELHI: The Centre on Thursday extended the tenures of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) Chief, Samant Kumar Goel, and Intelligence Bureau Director, Arvind Kumar, by oner year. Both Goel and Kumar are 1984batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, who were to retire on June 30 this year. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the extension in service of both Goel and Kumar for a period of one year beyond their present tenure ending June 30. PAYTM PLANS $3 BILLION-WORTH INITIAL PUBLIC OFFER NEW DELHI: Digital payments giant Paytm is planning to come out with an initial public offer worth USD 3 billion later this year, according to sources. The proposed Initial Public Offer (IPO), if successful, would be the largest such offer. Coal India's Rs 15,200 crore-IPO in 2010 is the country's largest one till date. The SoftBank and Alibaba-backed company is looking at raising about USD 3 billion (over Rs 21,700 crore) at a valuation of over USD 25 billion, the sources said. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 2,74,03,246 TOTAL DEATH: 3,15,636 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 169,214,005 TOTAL DEATH: 3,514,788 KOLKATA: A day after Cyclone 'Yaas' wreaked havoc in Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that the State has faced losses to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore, and announced the launch of her Duare-Traan (relief at doorstep) scheme next month, primarily aimed at reaching out to the affected people. Banerjee also allotted Rs 1,000 crore for relief work to be undertaken in the cyclone-hit areas, and said that more funds would be doled out if necessary. "Going by the initial reports, we have found out that Bengal has incurred a total loss of around Rs 15,000 crore. It will probably go up. "We need to conduct field survey which is still not possible as most of the places lay inundated. It will take some time (to get a final estimate)," she said. The CM further said that all calculations were done, taking into account the population density and concentration of agricultural fields in a region. "The Government will run the 'Duare Traan' scheme at the panchayat and block level to help those genuinely affected by the cyclone. The process will start from June 3 once the water recedes," she pointed out. The scheme will be run Chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee conducting a press conference regarding cyclone 'Yaas' and lockdown at State Secretariat Nabanna on Thursday. by those who had steered the 'Duare Sarkar' scheme, the CM said at the State Secretariat. "Applications for the 'Duare Traan' scheme will be accepted from June 3 to June 18 by officers operating the camps during this period," she explained. The TMC supremo also underlined that all applica- bank accounts of beneficiaries, starting July 1, and the entire process is expected to be completed by July 8, the CM said. "We will not carry out the process in haste to make sure that eligible people get due benefits. The verification will take 15 days," she said. Referring to the ravages caused by Super Cyclone Amphan last year, Banerjee alleged that the Centre did not provide any financial aid, despite the administration submitting reports to Union Government, pointing out that State incurred losses of Rs 37,000-crore. "We had to bear huge expenses last year after cyclone Amphan struck. We had given an estimate of Rs 37,000 crore to the Centre but got practically nothing. Later, we sought Rs 7,000 crore, and that request, too, went unheeded. What little the Centre gave us was our money (the money the State was supposed to get), and not something extra," she said. Notably, the Central Government had provided Rs 1,000 crore in advance to Russian FM to take Cyclone Yass impact: PM to part in BRICS foreign visit Odisha, Bengal today ministers meet in June MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will take part in a Stand-alone Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations via video conferencing on June 1, being held under the Chairmanship of India. "The Foreign Ministers are expected to discuss important issues on the international agenda, including ways to strengthen international institutions, regional conflicts, efforts to counter new challenges and threats including COVID-19, and cooperation between the five BRICS countries in the multilateral fora," said Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova on Wednesday. The five countries plan to review the status of and prospects for cooperation during this year of India's BRICS Chairship on three main areas - policy and security, economy and finance, culture and humanitarian contacts, the spokesperson said. Zakharova further said, "We support the priorities of the Indian BRICS Chairship under the motto "BRICS @15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation and Consensus", including strengthening the multilateral system.” COVID restrictions extended in Bengal KOLKATA: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday extended the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions till June 15, saying that the curbs have helped ease the pandemic situation a little. The Bengal Government had announced the existing restrictions for 15 days from May 16 following a huge surge in the number of Coronavirus cases. The announcement for extension of the curbs came three days before they were scheduled to come to an end."The Covid-19 restrictions in the State will continue till June 15. This is not a lockdown or a curfew. We will strictly follow the restrictions. Covid vax trials on children in India to begin soon: Govt NEW DELHI: The Central government on Thursday announced that Covid-19 vaccine trials on children in the country would begin soon. Member (Health) in NITI Aayog and the chair of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), Dr Vinod K. Paul, made the announcement on behalf of the government while clearing several myths on India's Covid-19 vaccination programme doing the rounds. Clarifying one such myth that "Centre is not taking any step to vaccinate children", Paul said: "As of now, no country in the world is tions would be "thoroughly verified" between June 18 and 30 to ensure no one misuses the scheme. "Only genuine cases will be entertained. We do not want anybody to get victimised. Doles would be distributed to people, irrespective of their religion, caste," Banerjee said. The compensation would be deposited in the NATION about safety of vaccines in 24 states reported in COVID-19 MYTHAayog, clearsREALITY declinehealthactive children, which have been VS cloud around vaccination process cases since ministry last week, says Dr VK Paul, member NITI encouraging. "Trials in children in India are also going to begin soon. However, vaccinating children should not be decided on the basis of panic in WhatsApp groups and because some politicians want to play politics," Paul said. Paul further said that the decision in this regard is taken by our scientists after adequate data is available Black fungus treatment: Delhi HC allows Railways delivers 1,195MT oxygen in 24 based on trials. He also PAGE 7 hrs, highest in a day made it clear that the Centre giving vaccines to children. is allotting enough vaccines Also, WHO has no recomto the states in a transparent mendation on vaccinating manner as per agreed guidechildren." lines and they are also being Paul, however, said that informed in advance of the there have been studies vaccine availability. 07 Ranchi, Friday 28 May 2021 NEW DELHI: Chair of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) and Member (Health) in NiTi Aayog, Dr Vinod K Paul on Thursday addressed seven myths on India's Covid-19 vaccination program. In an official release, NiTi Aayog said these myths are arising due to distorted statements, half-truths, and blatant lies. achieved good coverage of healthcare workers and frontline workers in three months wanted to open up the process of vaccination and wanted more decentralisation," he said. Dr paul noted that health is a state subject and the liberalised vaccine policy was a result of the incessant requests being made by the states to give states more power. "The fact that global tenders have not given any results only reaffirms what we have been telling the states from day one that vaccines are in short supply in the world and it is not easy to procure them at short notice," he added. MYTH 1: CENTRE IS NOT DOING ENOUGH TO BUY VACCINES FROM ABROAD. Busting the myth, Dr Paul said the Central government has remained engaged continuously with all the major international vaccine manufacturers right from mid-2020. "Multiple rounds of discussions have happened with Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna. The government offered all assistance to have them supply and manufacture their vaccines in India. However, it is not that their vaccines are available in free supply. We need to understand that buying vaccines internationally is not similar to buying 'off the shelf' items," he said. The NiTi Aayog member further said the vaccines are in limited supply globally, and companies have their own priorities, game plans, and compulsions in allocating finite stocks. "They also give preference to countries of their origin just as our own vaccine makers have done unhesitatingly for us. As soon as Pfizer indicated vaccine availability, Central Government and the company are working together for the earliest possible import of the vaccine. As a result of the Government of India's (GoI) efforts, Sputnik vaccine trials got accelerated and with timely approval, Russia has already sent two tranches of vaccines and accomplished tech-transfer to our companies that would start manufacturing very soon. We reiterate our request to all international vaccine makers to come and make in India - for India and for the world," he added. MYTH 2: CENTRE HAS NOT APPROVED VACCINES AVAILABLE GLOBALLY Contrary to the myth, Dr Paul informed the Central government has proactively eased the entry of vaccines approved by US FDA, EMA, the UK's MHRA and Japan's PMDA, and WHO's Emergency Use Listing into India in April. "These vaccines will not need to MYTH 6: CENTRE IS NOT GIVING ENOUGH VACCINES TO THE STATES MEMBER OF NITI AAYOG DR. VK PAUL. undergo prior bridging trials. The provision has now been further amended to waive off the trial requirement altogether for the well-established vaccines manufactured in other countries. No application of any foreign manufacturer for approval is pending with the drugs controller," he said. MYTH 3: CENTRE IS NOT DOING ENOUGH TO RAMP UP DOMESTIC PRODUCTION OF VACCINES Listing the facts, the NiTi Aayog member said the Central Government is playing the role of an effective facilitator to enable more companies to produce vaccines from early 2020. "There is only 1 Indian company (Bharat Biotech) that has the IP (intellectual property). GoI has ensured that three other companies/plants will start production of Covaxin apart from enhancing Bharat Biotech's own plants, which have increased from one to four. Covaxin production by Bharat Biotech is being increased from under 1 Cr per month to 10 Cr month by October. Additionally, the three PSUs will together aim to produce up to 4.0 Cr doses by December," he said. Dr Paul informed that with the constant encouragement of the government, Serum Institute is ramping up Covishield production of 6.5 crore doses per month to 11.0 crore doses per month, and GoI is also ensuring in partnership with Russia that Sputnik will be manufactured by 6 companies coordinated by Dr Reddy's. "The Union Government is supporting efforts of Zydus Cadila, BioE as well Gennova for their respective indigenous vaccines through liberal funding under Covid Suraksha scheme as also the technical support at national laboratories. The development of Bharat Biotech's single-dose intranasal vaccine is proceeding well with GoI funding, and it could be a game-changer for the world. The estimate of production of over 200 crore doses by our vaccine industry by the end of 2021 is the result of such efforts and unstinted support and partnership. How many countries can even dream of such an enormous capacity, and that too across conventional as well as cutting-edge DNA and mRNA platforms? GoI and vaccine manufacturers have worked as one Team India in this mission with seamless engagement on daily basis," he added. MYTH 4: CENTRE SHOULD INVOKE COMPULSORY LICENSING NEGVAC chair said the Compulsory Licensing is not a very attractive option since it is not a 'formula' that matters, but an active partnership, training of human resources, sourcing of raw materials, and highest levels of biosafety labs which are required. "Tech transfer is the key and that remains in the hands of the company that has carried out research and development. In fact, we have gone one step ahead of Compulsory Licensing and are ensuring active partnership between Bharat Biotech and three other entities to enhance the production of Covaxin. A similar mechanism is being followed for Sputnik," he said. He asked people to think about the fact that Moderna had said in October 2020 that it will not sue any company which makes its vaccines, but still, not one company has done it. He said that this shows licensing is the least of the issues. "If vaccine-making was so easy, why would even the developed world be so short of vaccine doses?" he asked. MYTH 5: CENTRE HAS ABDICATED ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO THE STATES NiTi Aayog member said the Central Government is doing all the heavy-lifting, from funding vaccine manufacturers to giving them quick approvals to ramping up production to bringing foreign vaccines to India. "The vaccine procured by the Centre is supplied wholly to the states for free administration to people. All this is very much in the knowledge of the states. GoI has merely enabled states to try procuring vaccines on their own, on their explicit requests. The states very well knew the production capacity in the country and what the difficulties are in procuring vaccines directly from abroad. In fact, GoI ran the entire vaccine program from January to April and it was quite well-administrated compared to the situation in May. But states, that had not even The Center is allotting enough vaccines to the states in a transparent manner as per agreed guidelines, informed Dr Paul. "In fact, states are also being informed in advance of the vaccine availability. Vaccine availability is going to increase in near future and much more supply would be possible. In the non-GoI channel, states are getting 25 per cent of the doses and private hospitals are getting 25 per cent doses. However the hiccups and issues faced by the people in the administration of these 25 per cent doses by the states leave a lot to be desired," he said. "The behaviour of some of our leaders, who in spite of full knowledge of the facts on vaccine supply, appear on TV daily and create panic among the people is very unfortunate. This is not the time to play politics. We need everyone to unite in this fight," NiTi Aayog member added. MYTH 7: CENTRE IS NOT TAKING ANY STEP TO VACCINATE CHILDREN Dr Paul said as of now, no country in the world is giving vaccines to children and added that the WHO has no recommendation on vaccinating children. "There have been studies about the safety of vaccines in children, which have been encouraging. Trials in children in India are also going to begin soon. However, vaccinating children should not be decided on the basis of panic in Whatsapp groups and because some politicians want to play politics. It has to be a decision taken by our scientists after adequate data is available based on trials," he said. NEW DELHI : Health Ministr informed that the 24 states have r active cor since last week and asser that the national r rate touching 90 per cent is a positive indication. Speaking at a pr ing, Lav Agar Secretar Ministr have r active cases since last week. There ar 1,000-5,000 cases have been reported ever 13 states less than 1,000 cases have been r while 24 states have r ed a continued decline in active cases since last week." "Overall r exceeding the number of cases being r daily basis. The r rate has incr per cent to 90 per cent now it's a positive indication," he said. Agar decline in cor COVID-19 may cause longterm lung damage: Study NEW DELHI: identified persistent damage in the lungs of COVID-19 patients at least thr months after they wer charged fr for some patients even longer. This damage was not detected by r and clinical tests, and the patients would consequently normally be told their lungs are nor resear ties of Shef the UK. The study the jour shows that patients not hos pitalised with COVID-19 but who experience long-ter breathlessness may have similar damage in their lungs. However said a lar to confir They noted that hyperpo larised xenon MRI (XeMRI) scans had found abnor ties in the lungs of some COVID-19 patients mor three months -- and in some cases, nine months -- after leaving hospital, when other clinical measur normal. "The findings of the study are ver Professor Jim W University of Shef The 129Xe MRI is pin NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Odisha and West Bengal on Friday to review the impact of Cyclone Yaas, which has now weakened into a "deep depression". Sources said that the Prime Minister will first land in Bhubaneswar where he will hold a review meeting. Later, he will proceed for an aerial survey of the affected areas of Odisha's Balsore, and Bhadrak, and West Bengal's East Medinipur. The Prime Minister has also planned to hold a review meeting in West Bengal. Yaas, which made landfall between Dhamra and Balasore in Odisha on early Wednesday, lay centred at 11.30 p.m. on May 26 over south Jharkhand and adjoining north interior Odisha near latitude 22.4 degree north and longitude 85.8 degree east, about 60 km west-southwest of Jamshedpur and 110 km south south-east of Ranchi in Jharkhand, said the National Weather Forecasting Centre of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The cyclone is very likely to move further northwestwards and weaken gradually into a depression during next 12 hours. As per the IMD's 2.30 a.m. report, the last hourly bulletin regarding 'Yaas', the cyclone had intensified near the centre with windspeeds of about 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph. It moved north-northwestwards with a speed of about 13 kmph during past six hours. As per the IMD forecast, the wind speed of the storm will decrease gradually becoming 40-50 kmph. gusting to 60 kmph during three hours over south Jharkhand. Bengal to deal with the devastation caused by Super Cyclone Amphan last May. The TMC Government had last year received flak for alleged misappropriation of funds that were allotted for Cyclone Amphan-hit people. Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay, on his part, said a total of 1.16 lakh hectare of agricultural . 'Will hold review meeting on cyclone devastation with PM' KOLKATA: Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that she would be holding a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the cyclone-led devastation, during his visit to the State on Friday. Banerjee said that the meeting will be held at Kalaikunda in Paschim Medinipur district on Friday. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming here after conducting a survey of cycloneaffected areas in Orissa. He will reach Kalaikunda via Digha, and take his flight to Delhi from there. The PM will hold a review meeting with me at Kalaikunda," Banerjee told reporters at the State Secretariat. The Bengal CM, along with Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, is scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of the cyclone-hit areas in Purba Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas on Friday. Meanwhile, Bengal will hold the Class 12 board examinations in the last week of July, while the tests for Class 10 will take place in mid-August, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday. The dates will be announced later by the respective boards, she said. "We have decided to hold the Secondary (Madhyamik) and Higher Secondary (Uccho Madhyamik) examinations... adhering to all COVID-19 safety protocols," Banerjee told reporters at the State Secretariat. Both the board examinations will be held at home centres and only for compulsory subjects, she added. Narada case hearing to continue in Calcutta HC today MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday adjourned till Friday hearing in the Narada sting tape case, in which two senior Bengal Ministers, an MLA and a former Kolkata Mayor were arrested by the CBI. All the four accused Ministers Subrata Mukherjee and Firhad Hakim, Trinamool Congress MLA Madan Mitra and former Mayor Sovan Chatterjee - are currently under house arrest as per the High Court's order. A five-judge bench said that on Friday, it will first hear the recall applications by the four on the stay granted by a division bench on bail to them. It will then hear the CBI's prayer for transfer of the case to itself alleging mob pressure on the Special CBI court that granted bail to the four politicians on May 17, hours after their arrest. During the day, the bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and justices I P Mukerji, Harish Tandon, Soumen Sen and Arijit Banerjee heard submissions by the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta representing the CBI and senior counsels appearing for the accused persons. During the hearing that continued for two hours, Mehta submitted that the proceedings before the special CBI court be nullified, claiming that the process was affected by a dharna by the State's Chief Minister at the CBI office and the presence of the State Law Minister on the premises of the court which heard the bail applications by the four. Appearing for the accused, senior counsels Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sidharth Luthra and Kalyan Banerjee prayed that the recalling applications be heard, maintaining that it concerns the liberty of those arrested. The CBI had on Tuesday moved a special leave petition (SLP) in connection with the High Court's order of May 21 that modified its earlier order of judicial remand to house arrest of the four, but later withdrew it. The four leaders were arrested on the morning of May 17 by the CBI, which is investigating the Narada sting tape case on a 2017 order of the Calcutta High Court. A special CBI court had granted interim bail to the four accused on May 17, but a division bench of the High Court -- comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee -- stayed the decision later that day, following which the leaders were sent to judicial custody. Differing on the application by the four accused for recall of the stay order, Justice Arijit Banerjee on May 21 favoured granting of bail to the four, while Acting Chief Justice Bindal wanted that they be sent to house arrest. The division bench then passed an order sending the four accused to house arrest, modifying its earlier order that stayed their bail. In view of the difference of opinion, the bench decided to refer the matter to a fivejudge bench, which took up hearing of the matter on May 24.The Narada sting operation was conducted by journalist Mathew Samuel of Narada News, a web portal, in 2014 wherein some people resembling TMC Ministers, MPs and MLAs were seen receiving money from representatives of a fictitious company in lieu of favours. At that time, the four arrested politicians were Ministers in the Mamata Banerjee Government. The sting operation was made public ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections in Bengal.