YK MYK CHINA'S GROWING PRESENCE IN CENTRAL ASIA WORRY OLD ALLIES OPINION Rs. 3 KOLKATA TUESDAY, 4 JANUARY, 2022 PG- 8, YEAR— 8, ISSUE— 224 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) AT A GLANCE MAYOR’S OSD AND KMC COMMISSIONER TEST COVID POSITIVE KOLKATA: The Mayor of Kolkata Firhad Hakim's official has tested positive for Coronavirus. Mayor Firhad Hakim's Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Kalicharan Bandyopadhyay and his family have tested positive for Coronavirus. Five members of Bandhyopadhyay's family have been reported to have tested for COVID19. At the same time, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation's (KMC) Commissioner Vinod Kumar also tested positive for the virus. According to municipal sources, he is the only one in his family who is affected by Coronavirus. Everyone in the OSD family is living in isolation at their home. Municipal sources also said that the Commissioner is also living in seclusion. The condition of all virus-affected are reported to be stable. GOVT CURRENCY PSU MINTS RS 240 CRORE DIVIDEND AMID COVID-19 NEW DELHI: Businesses around the world were struggling to cope up with running losses amid the pandemic, but the government mint was able to pay Rs 240 crore dividend to the government, an official statement said on Monday. During the fiscal year 2020-21, the government mint, the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd, produced 828.8 crore bank notes, 275.7 crore circulating coins, 6,870 metric tons of security paper, and 600.42 metric tons of security inks, a Finance Ministry statement said CHHATTISGARH COURT REJECTS BAIL PLEA OF KALICHARAN RAIPUR: A sessions court in Raipur in Chhattisgarh on Monday rejected the bail plea of self-styled religious leader Kalicharan Maharaj, who was arrested in connection with his alleged derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi. MOHAMMAD HAFEEZ ENDS INTERNATIONAL CRICKET CAREER SPORTS Morning India Bengal municipal polls State Election Commission re-affirms polling date after meeting Secys MI NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA: Amidst the impending danger of the third wave of Coronavirus, four State municipal corporations will go to polls on the pre-determined day of January 22. This was reaffirmed by the State Election Commission after a meeting with the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary on Monday. However, every political party has to abide by the COVID protocol while campaigning. Understanding the situation of COVID-19 in Siliguri, Asansol, Chandannagore and Bidhannagar, the guidelines may be tightened further. According to West Bengal Municipal Act, there are pro- visions to fix all the issues relating to municipal polls. In that case, the decision is taken by the State Election Commission in consultation with the representative of the State government. It was informed after the meeting on Monday, that despite the increase in the number of COVID infections in the State, there is no need to postpone the elections for the time being. Because the level of infection is relatively low in the four corporations going to the polls compared to Kolkata. The Chief Secretary was told that the report of Coronavirus situation in those four municipalities should be sent to the State Election Commission on behalf of the Health Department. There will also be multiple restrictions on the campaign trail. Earlier, the Commission had issued guidelines stating that no more than five vehicles could be kept in the convoy during the campaign. A maximum of five people will be allowed for door-todoor campaigning. However, understanding the situation the guidelines will be tightened further. Emphasis may be placed on virtual campaigning. Only small gatherings will be allowed while campaigning. All the guidelines will be set only after consulting the local administration. Along with managers appointed by the Commission to monitor the polls, adminis- trative officials will have to keep an eye on the COVID situation. Monday was the last day of submitting the nomination papers. It has also been directed to ensure that no gathering is held on the day of submission of nomination papers. Besides, the State Election Commission will hold discussions with the concerned District Magistrates (DMs) and SPs again on Tuesday, to review the whole process. Meanwhile, under nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for age group 15-18, Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim on Monday informed that they are approaching all schools to participate in the vaccination campaign. All women MPs should be allowed to testify: Sushmita Dev to parliamentary panel on marriage age MI NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI: The only woman member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports Sushmita Dev on Monday wrote to the Committee Chairperson Vinay Sahayabuddhe to invoke Rule 84 (1) to enable women MPs to testify before Committee examining the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021. In her letter to the Committee Chairperson, the TMC MP said, "The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports is currently in the process of examining the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which proposes to raise the marriageable age for women to 21 years. These Standing Committees were reconstituted a few months ago, and presently, I am the sole woman member in a committee of 31 members." "In ref- erence to this, and under Rules 84(3) and 275 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), I wish to propose that any woman member of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha be empowered to testify either in writing or in person before the Committee on this issue," the letter stated. "The Rajya Sabha has 29 women members, and the Lok Sabha has 81 women members, and I am sure all my honourable female colleagues will have much to contribute to the discussion on this issue. I request you to use the powers of your office to open the meetings of the Committee on this issue to testimonials from any of the honourable women members, and request you to allot time accordingly," it added. The parliamentary panel headed by BJP's Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahastrabuddhe, to which the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill that seeks to raise the legal age of marriage for women from 18 to 21 has been referred to, will start its deliberations soon. The 31-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports has lone woman Rajya Sabha MP from All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC) Sushmita Dev. A meeting has been scheduled on January 5 of the Parliamentary standing committee on 'Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports' to hear the views of Secretary, Ministry of Culture on the subject "Reforms in the Education of Performing and Fine Arts" and to decide the future course of action of the Committee. The Zoological Garden at Alipore closed for the public due to the surge in COVID cases, in Kolkata on Monday Maha sees fresh spurt in Covid, Omicron cases MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Monday notched a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases and of its variant Omicron with Mumbai continuing to bear the maximum caseload, health officials said. For the sixth consecutive day, the state reported a massive spike in Covid-19 infections and suspect cases whose samples have been sent for genome sequencing. The state Covid-19 count shot up again from 11,877 on Sunday to 12,160 now, and fatalities also increased from nine a day earlier to 11, while the mortality rate remained steady at 2.01 per cent. After recording 50 Omicron infections on Sunday, the state logged 68 more cases of the variant, taking up the state tally from 510 to 578, with Mumbai again getting the highest fresh cases. Of the Omicron cases, 40 are from Mumbai, 17 from Pune, four each in Raigad and Nagpur, and one each from Thane, Kolhapur, and Satara. Intensive surveillance of passengers arriving at the three international airports - Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur - is currently underway since December 1. A total of 32,705 travellers have landed here from the "high risk" countries of which 302 have tested positive and 188 from other countries, with all their reports sent for genomic sequencing to confirm if they are afflicted by Omicron. How India is vaccinating teenagers amid Omicron spread SKM TO MEET ON JAN 15, TIKAIT SAYS ITS TIME GOVT ACTS ON MSP NEW DELHI: Amid rising Omicron cases, the Centre on Monday rolled out Covid vaccination for children aged 15-18. Over 4.5 lakh teenagers have, received their first jab against the infectious disease so far. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that Covid-19 vaccination for children between 15-18 years of age will be rolled out from January 3. According to official estimates, there are approximately 10 crore children in this age group. On January 1, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had requested people to register eligible children in their families. Taking to Twitter, he said: "On the occasion of New Year, registra- NEW DELHI: Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who was one of the main faces of the farmers movement, said that the issue of Minimum Support Price (MSP) is pending for a long time, and it is time that the government takes early decision on it. In an exclusive chat with IANS, Tikait said that a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) will be held on January 15 in which further strategy on MSP will be decided. He said all political parties are hungry for votes and they don't care about the welfare of farmers. Questioning the overnment's intention, he said that it has not taken any steps to resolve the issue of MSP, nor has there been any discussion with farm leaders on the issue. Also, cases registered against the farmers have not yet been withdrawn, while the farmers who died during the agitation have also not been compensated. Stressing that farmers' agitation has been unprecedented and is being discussed everywhere, he said farmers will take out tractor rallies in their own villages and will hoist the flag on the tractor. A student takes a group selfie as she stands in a queue to get vaccinated in Patna on Monday. ANI tion is being started on the CoWIN portal for immunisation of children against Covid-19 in the age group of 15 to 18 years from today. I request the family members to register the eligible children for vacci- nation." Over 8,00,000 children have already registered for their dose in the past few days. According to the guidelines, children can self-register online through an existing account on CoWIN or can also register by creating a new account through a unique mobile number or using their parent's accounts. Children can also get registered onsite by verifier or vaccinator; and they can walk in to take their shots. Out of the 10 crore children eligible for the Covid vaccination, over 4.5 lakh teenagers have already received their first shots. The vaccine used for inoculating children is Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, according to a set of new guidelines issued by the Union health ministry. On December 24, the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI), granted emergency use authorisation to the indigenously-developed Covaxin for children above 12 years of age. Most of the schools and other educational institutions are being used as inoculation centres as well. To avoid mixing-up of Covid vaccines for children and adults during administration, Mandaviya has also advised states and Union territories to make separate Covid vaccination centres (CVCs), separate session sites, separate queue (if adult vaccination is going on at the same centre) and separate immunisation team (if at same session site) for adults and children.