YK MYK LIVES AND LIVELIHOODS ARE STILL AT BIG RISK FROM THIRD COVID WAVE OPINION Rs. 3 KOLKATA SUNDAY, 9 JANUARY, 2022 PG- 8, YEAR— 8, ISSUE— 229 (RNI NO: WBENG / 2014 / 56803) HOW CHOCOLATE FROM ASSAM REACHED MYANMAR MARKETS! NATION Morning India Voting in Punjab, Goa, U’khand on Feb 14, UP MHA restores FCRA to go for 7-phase; Manipur for 2-phase poll registration of Mother NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Saturday announced poll dates for five states with Uttar Pradesh going for seven-phase assembly election from February 10, Manipur to go for twophase election from February 27 and Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand to face elections on Februrary 14. The counting of votes in all states will take place on March 10. The poll dates were announced by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra at a press conference here. With the announcement of poll dates, the model code of conduct has come into force. The seven-phase election in Uttar Pradesh will be held on February 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. "There is equitable distribution of seats for Uttar Pradesh in seven phases. Voting phases move West-toEast in terms of state's geographic spread," he said. Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will go for polls on February 14 along with second phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh. The polling in Manipur on February 27 and March 3 will coincide with the fifth and sixth phase of Uttar Pradesh election. Sushil Chandra also announced the COVID-19 norms concerning AT A GLANCE CM SOREN’S WIFE, KIDS FOUND COVID POSITIVE RANCHI: Jharkhand Chief Minister (CM) Hemant Soren’s wife Kalpana Soren, her two kids, her sister and a bodyguards have been found Covid positive. All of them were tested after emergence of mild symptoms. A team from district hospital had taken samples of 11 persons including that of CM out of which five have already been found positive. CORONA METER INDIA TOTAL CASES: 35,368,372 TOTAL DEATHS: 483,463 WORLD TOTAL CASES: 304,031,568 TOTAL DEATHS: 5,499,418 RESULTS ON MARCH 10 Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity A total of 690 Assembly constituencies in Goa, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab will go to polls this time. CEC Sushil Chandra with Election Commissioners Rajiv Kumar (L) and Anup Chandra Pandey (R) briefing media over Assembly polls scheduled for Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, in New Delhi on Saturday. the elections. In the wake of the COVID-19 surge, the Election Commission of India on Saturday directed that no physical political rallies and roadshows will be allowed till January 15, however, further rallies and election campaign meetings will be allowed only in earmarked places and with prior permissions of district administration. In the revised guidelines the ECI said, "No roadshow, Pad-yatra, cycle, bike, vehicle rally and procession shall be allowed till 15 January 2022. The commission shall subsequently review the situation and issue further instructions accordingly. No roadshow, Pad-yatra, cycle, bike, vehicle rally and procession shall be allowed till 15 January 2022. The commission shall subsequently review the situation and issue further instructions accordingly. Further, rallies and meetings shall be allowed only in earmarked places and with prior permissions of district administration." SAFTA is an agreement between eight south Asian countries. Afghanistan and India are members of SAFTA and hence, do not impose duty on certain imports from each other. While Iran is not part of SAFTA, apples from that country reach India via Afghanistan, bypassing import duties. The result is that while a box of Kashmir apples of good quality costs Rs 1,200 in the terminal markets, its The first date of issuing of notification will start on January 14 in Uttar Pradesh. The date of polling for the first phase in the state is February 10. Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa will be held in single phase on February 14. Issuing of notification will be on January 21. Manipur will go for polling in two phases. First phase on Feb 27 and second on Mar 3. The results of all seven states will be announced on March 10. A total of 18.34 crore electors will take part in this election. MORE ON PG 7 ‘Covaxin booster dose trial shows long-term safety’ NEW DELHI: Hyderabadbased vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech said on Saturday that its trials for Covaxin booster dose have shown 'long-term safety with no serious adverse events'. Bharat Biotech said that 90 per cent of the recipients of the booster dose had a "detectable neutralising antibody response" against the wild-type strain, six months after the second Covid dose. "The analysis showed that six months after a two-dose BBV152 vaccination series, cell-mediated immunity and neutralising antibodies to both homologous (D614G) and heterologous strains (Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Delta plus) persisted above baseline, although the magnitude of the responses had declined," the vaccine manufacturer said in a statement. It added that the neutralising antibodies against homologous and heterologous SARS-CoV-2 variants increased 19 to 265-fold after a third vaccination. "Booster BBV152 vaccination is safe and may be necessary to ensure persistent immunity to prevent breakthrough infections," said the vaccine manufacturer. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director at Bharat Biotech, said, "These Further, rallies and meetings shall be allowed only in earmarked places and with prior permissions of district administration." The election commission further said that all the parties or candidates have to furnish an undertaking in the application and allocation of public spaces will be done using the Suvidha app. However, physical rallies during the campaign period, as and when permitted after the decision of the Commission shall be conducted subject to adherence to extant COVID-19 guidelines. CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC trial results provide a strong foundation towards our goal to provide Covaxin as a booster dose. Our goals of developing a global vaccine against Covid-19 have been achieved. Covaxin is now indicated for adults, children, 2-dose primary and booster doses. This enables the use of Covaxin as a universal vaccine." Based on emerging data, Bharat Biotech believes that a third dose may be beneficial to maintain the highest levels of protection, he added. Meanwhile, With the spike in COVID-19 cases, India is witnessing a third wave of the pandemic which is said to be driven by the Omicron variant and experts are continuously warning that it is highly contagious and cannot be taken lightly. SEE PAGE 5 INDIA REPORTS 1,41,986 NEW COVID-19 CASES, OMICRON TALLY REACHES 3,071 NEW DELHI: India reported 1,41,986 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 9.28 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday. With this, the country's COVID-19 case tally has gone up to 3,53,68,372. According to Health Ministry, the country has so far reported 3,071 cases of Omicron of which 1,203 have been recovered. Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of Omicron cases (876), followed by Delhi (513) and Karnataka (333). The Ministry informed that India's active caseload presently is at 4,72,169. It accounts for 1.34 per cent of the country's total cases. The weekly positivity rate is at 5.66 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 9.28 per cent. With the recovery of 40,895 patients in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients, since the beginning of the pandemic, now stands at 3,44,12,740. Iranian apple imports sound death knell for Kashmir apple industry SRINAGAR: Threatened by an impending disaster to the centuries-old apple industry in Kashmir, local fruit growers have sought intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop "illegal entry" of Iranian apples into the Indian markets. Iranian apples flooding the Indian markets are 'disguised' and routed via Afghanistan to avail zero duty under the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) pact. KEY HIGHLIGHTS Iranian counterpart costs just Rs 700 per box. Kashmiri fruit growers have said in their communication to the Prime Minister: "We would like to bring to your kind notice that several fruit traders import and dump Iranian apples arriving via Afghanistan/Dubai in our country and this situation has put the whole of our fruit industry both in J&K (UT) and Himachal Pradesh in a very precarious situation as it has eaten away our share in the market. "This illegal and unlawful dumping of Iranian apples in our country is not only disastrous for small and marginal growers of J&K (UT)/ Himachal Pradesh but also results in huge losses to the State Exchequer. We request your goodself to impose a ban to restrict the arrival of Iranian apple via Afghanistan/Dubai in our country in order to save the Horticulture Industry of UT of J&K and Himachal Pradesh as well". JHARKHAND HEALTH MINISTER AGAIN TESTS COVID POSITIVE RANCHI: Jharkhand Health Minister Banna Gupta on Saturday tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time, following which he went into home isolation. He had contracted the disease in August 2020 after a cabinet meeting, following which the council of ministers of Chief Minister Hemant Soren went into isolation. MI NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has restored the registration of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration after it "submitted necessary documents" needed to avail the Centre's facility. "Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic religious congregation set up by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, was restored on January 7," said MHA sources on Saturday. On December 25 last year, the MHA refused to renew the FCRA licence of Mother Teresa NGO's due to some "adverse inputs". After the MHA rejected Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity request for licence renewal on December 25, the NGO secured a place among those 5,789 entities who lost their registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) on the ground of their failure in submitting a renewal application to enjoy the facility despite several reminders from the government. After the political uproar for rejecting the FCRA licence of Missionaries of Charity, the MHA then issued a statement mentioning that "the renewal application under FCRA of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) was refused on December 25 for not meeting the eligibility conditions under FCRA 2010 and Foreign Contribution Regulation Rules (FCRR) 2011". "No request or revision application has been received ED Joint director takes VRS, likely to contest on BJP ticket ATUL KRISHAN NEW DELHI: The VRS request of Joint Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED), Rajeshwar Singh, has been accepted by the department. Singh is now likely to contest upcoming UP Assembly elections. In August last year, Singh, who was posted in Lucknow, had applied for the VRS. Six months after his request, the concerned department took cognisance of the matter and allowed his move. There are possibilities that he might contest election from Shahibabad. As of now Singh has not made any official statement regarding his joining BJP and about his VRS. So far he is keeping mum on the matter. During his long tenure in ED, he probed most sensitive cases i.e 2G spectrum allocation case. He was also given case of alleged irregularities in 2010 Common Wealth Games. PMLA cases lodged against former Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda were also probed by him. In 2018, Singh got into controversy after he received a suspicious call from Dubai. This call was detected by the intelligence agencies who informed the apex court regarding this. Karnail Singh, the then ED director had said that he (Rajeshwar Singh) was a responsible official. Singh is holding a B.Tech degree and did his PhD in police, human rights and social justice subject. He became 1996 batch PPS official of UP and was a UP Police official. In 2009 he joined the ED. He was permanently absorbed into the ED cadre in 2015. Abha Singh, his sister who is a practicing lawyer in Mumbai has lauded his likely move saying country needed him. Rajeshwar Singh is married to IPS Luxmi Singh. from MoC for review of this refusal of renewal," the statement read. The MoC was registered "under FCRA vide Registration No 147120001 and its registration was valid up to October 31, 2021. The validity was subsequently extended up-to December 31, 2021, along with other FCRA Associations whose renewal applications were pending renewal". "However, while considering the MoC's renewal application, some adverse inputs were noticed. In consideration of these inputs on record, the renewal application of MoC was not approved. MHA did not freeze any accounts of MoC. State Bank of India has informed that MoC itself sent a request to SBI to freeze its accounts," the MHA statement then mentioned. PAK OPPN SLAMS ‘INCOMPETENT GOVT WHICH CAN'T EVEN HANDLE TRAFFIC SITUATION’ NEW DELHI: Leaders from Pakistans opposition parties, Shehbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maryam Nawaz and others, have lambasted the Imran Khanled government for the Murree disaster, blaming it for what they called "criminal negligence", Samaa TV reported. At least 21 people died of severe cold after they were stranded in their cars during the snowstorm in Murree on Friday night. The hill station was crowded after tourists headed there to witness snowfall. The opposition leaders expressed grief over the deaths of tourists in Murree, and criticised the government for victim-blaming. Shehbaz Sharif said the incident was an act of "criminal negligence" on the part of the government, which has exposed the incompetent government that cannot even handle a traffic situation, the report said. The PML-N President questioned why the government did not make arrangements to protect the people, knowing that such heavy snowfall would hit the area.