KOCHI l SATURDAY l FEBRUARY 15, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 20 l LATE CITY EDITION EXPORTS DOWN BY 1.66% IN JAN, SIXTH DIP IN A ROW IMPORTS SHRINK, TRADE DEFICIT WIDENS India’s exports contracted to $25.97 billion last month, trade data released by the commerce ministry on Friday showed WHOLESALE INFLATION AT 10-MONTH HIGH The country’s imports, too, registered a $41.14 billion dip (0.75%) in January, leaving a $15.17 billion trade deficit for the month. During the April 2019-January 2020 period, India’s total exports declined by 1.93% to $265.26 billion, while imports slipped 8.12% to $398.53 billion, leaving the trade deficit at $133.27 billion for the six-month period ■ ■ Meanwhile, the wholesale price index-based inflation surged to a 10-month high of 3.1% in January, thanks to a rise in the price of food items, particularly onion and potato Govt data released earlier this week showed retail inflation for January soared to a six-year high of 7.59% 293% JUMP IN ONION PRICES WHILE JANUARY VEGETABLE INFLATION STOOD AT 52.72% CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Pay L1.5 L cr on the DoT by midnight, govt warns telcos after SC’s sniping Better scrap SC if telecom dept desk officer has the audacity to stay order, says judge WHO OWES WHAT ance Jio complied with the SC direction on time, paying `190 crore dues. ALL hopes of judicial relief “We have dismissed review turned to ashes for India’s incum- plea in adjusted gross revenue bent telecom majors on Friday in case, but still not a single penny the face of the Supreme Court’s has been deposited… Is this not fiery indignation over non-com- about money power?” thundered pliance of its orders in the adjust- Mishra. The SC’s anger was died gross revenue (AGR) case. rected in large part toward the Heading a three-judge bench, DoT’s order asking officials Ju s t i c e A r u n M i s h r a not to take any coercive aclaunched into a furious tition against non-complirade pulling up both the ant telcos. companies and the De“A desk officer is sitpartment of Telecom ting in appeal over our (DoT) for violating its ororders!... If a desk officer der mandating January has the audacity to stay 23 as the deadline for pay- Airtel to pay a Supreme Court order, ment of `1.47 lakh crore L10,000 cr by then let’s wind up the in AGR dues. February 20 Supreme Court!” said The SC’s anger saw the Mishra. DoT hastily reverse a pre- Bharti Airtel has The officer’s “temeriwritten to the vious order asking offity” in passing the order cials not to take “coercive DoT promising to was “nothing but a deaction” against non-com- pay up J10,000 vice to scuttle” the SC’s pliant telcos and direct- crore by February direction, the bench ob20 and the rest ing the telcos to clear served. “Who is sponby the next their dues by 11.59 pm on soring all this? At whose hearing on March Friday . behest he did this? 17, sources said AGR is the basis on Should we say this ofwhich levies like licence ficer was hand in gloves fees and spectrum usage charges with those who didn’t want to are calculated and the SC had pay?” Mishra asked. ruled last year this should inThe hearing culminated in the clude proceeds from licence-hold- SC drawing up contempt of court ers’ non-telecom businesses, too. proceedings against the DoT ofPetitioners Bharti Airtel, Voda- ficer and directing the directors fone Idea and Tata Teleservices of non-compliant telcos to show collectively owe over `1 lakh cause by the next hearing on crore to the government, accord- March 17 as to why similar action ing to DoT estimates. Only Reli- should not be taken against them. J O N AT H A N A N A N D A & K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi IN SPOTLIGHT Netraprasad Sharma Bengal youth is the lead character in Rowling’s next P R A N A B M O N D A L @ Kolkata NETRAPRASAD Sharma, a Class-X dropout from Pampu bustee in West Bengal’s Buxa Tiger Reserve Forest, received an international call, a few days ago. He could hardly believe himself when the caller identified herself as J K Rowling, the British author of the popular Harry Potter series. Rowling told Sharma, who works as a tour guide in the reserve forest zone, that she wanted to feature him as the main character in her upcoming novel. She then sent Sharma a 272-page draft of the novel with a request to meet her in California to discuss the finer details about his life and work. “She helped me to get a passport and my visa application approved. I am California bound this July said Sharma. ,’’ The seed of Sharma’s journey from Buxa to California was sown a year ago when a group of six US students visited the tiger reserve. They were impressed by Sharma’s knowledge of the wildlife including his ability to track the locations of wild animals. After the tour ended, the students interviewed him for more than an hour. During the interview he narrated his plight. 20 PAGES, INCLUDING 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS 15 entities owe the govt a total of J1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues. Here are some of the top defaulters A53,000 crore Vodafone Idea Airtel J35,586 cr RCom J21,140 cr Tata Tele J13,823 cr Aircel J10,229.77 cr BSNL+MTNL J8,112.34 cr In the absence of recapitalisation from promoters, it is unlikely that VIL will be able to pay in one go Sr telecom analyst @ New Delhi THE European Union on Friday took note of the “positive steps” taken by New Delhi to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, but urged the Centre to lift the remaining restrictions as soon as possible. “The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy Some re. strictions remain, notably on internet access and mobile services, and some po- litical leaders are still in detention. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly,” the statement from EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Virgin- INDIA’’s telecom sector is just a stone’s throw away from becoming a duopoly after the Supreme Court dismissed last-ditch pleas for relief from telcos on Friday The move places a question mark over the sur. vival of Vodafone Idea (VIL), which repeatedly warned that it may not be able to continue as a going concern in the absence of relief. VIL did not respond to requests for comment. If VIL exits, it will leave just Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio in effective competition, since state-run BSNL-MTNL remains in the doldrums. Analysts say VIL’s cash flow and balances indicate that it will not be able to meet its liabilities of `53,000 crore in one-go. “Our ability to continue as a going concern is dependent on the positive outcome of the modification application filed in the apex court and the subsequent agreement with DoT for payment in instalments after some moratorium and other reliefs,” VIL had said just a day earlier, announcing a net loss of `6,439 crore for the quarter ended December 2019. Vodafone Idea’s promoter groups — Vodafone Plc and the Aditya Birla Group — have also effectively ruled out any further capital infusion in the Indian company . EXPRESS READ Gokulam 1st from state to win nat’l women’s league The ruling CPM in the state has come to a decision that it will downplay the raging controversy over the CAG report which pointed to major irregularities and lapses on the part of the police. The CPM secretariat, which met here on Friday, observed that the allegations that came up following the CAG report are ‘politically motivated’ in nature. P5 The CAG report is made public after tabling it in the assembly. But it’s suspected that the information in the report was leaked — Tom Jose, Chief Secy Tom Jose CHIEF SECY PEEVED In an unprecedented move, Chief Secretary Tom Jose on Friday responded to the CAG findings stating that character assassination of an officer in the name of a report was a bad precedent. His comments came after the report that raised allegations against State Police Chief Loknath Behera put the government in a spot. Kochi: Gokulam Kerala FC became the first team from the state to win the Indian Women’s League on Friday. In the final of the fourth edition held at Bengaluru, Gokulam defeated Manipuri side Kryphsa FC 3-2 to triumph unscathed. Kamala Devi, Prameshwori Devi and Sabitra Bhandari scored for the winners. P15 TREES HC ASKS OFFICIAL TO PLANT 100 TREES A single bench asked the top government official to plant them in a forest area as punishment for the laxity in implementing a court order. P6 FOR HOSPITALS & EDUCATION In 19 yrs since husband’s death, she donated `17 cr for charity. As he wished in 2019-2020. “She has been our do- she answered herself. nor for the past 10 years, contribAt the end of the presentation, ON January 31, a Friday when the uting `80 lakh to the institute,” Sudha announced an endowment , bustling Bengaluru was getting said Dr Saravu R Narahari, the fund of `20 lakh in memory of her ready for the weekend with pay- dermatologist who set up IAD in late husband and ace chartered accheques in hand, Sudha JaMadhur gram panchayat in countant Sadhu Janardhan. It was nardhan, an unassuming 1999. his ideals that drew Sudha all the 66-year-old woman boardIn 2018-2019, Sudha’s do- way to IAD in Kasaragod. ed a train to Kasaragod, 12 nation of `15 lakh helped The IAD put Madhur — otherhours away, in the northtreat 236 patients free of wise famous for the Madanern tip of Kerala. cost in IAD. In the 10 andeswara Sidhivinayaka Temple By 10am the next day she , months in 2019-2020, 193 pa- — on the world map of medicine was sitting in a small low- Sudha Janardhan tients were treated from by developing an integrated treatceiling seminar hall, her donation of `16 lakh. ment protocol for elephantiasis or crammed with cushioned chairs. “I’m curious to know why did lymphatic filariasis by combining She was the only audience in the the number of beneficiaries fall Ayurveda, yoga and allopathic hall of the Institute of Applied this year,” asked Sudha on seeing drugs. The World Health OrganiDermatology (IAD). the sponsorship analysis. “Must sation (WHO) has termed lymA team of seven officials and be the inflation and difference in phatic filariasis as a neglected dis● More on P6 doctors was waiting for her, ready the type of treatment protocols,” ease of the poor. with a PowerPoint presentation I’ve done only what Sadhu (Janardhan) asked me to do before he died. He on how her sponsorship was used to invest the bulk of his earnings in charity, keeping for the family just spent. enough to lead a middle-class life — Sudha Janardhan Sudha donated `16 lakh to IAD ie Battu-Henriksson read. The statement came a day after 25 foreign envoys, including one from the EU, wrapped up their two-day visit to the Union Territory to assess the ground realities, six months after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and bifurcate the erstwhile state into two union territories. The EU statement assumes significance as it comes weeks after the European Parliament debated a resolution on CAA. Did Isaac jump the gun? State not nCoV-free yet J O N AT H A N A N A N D A @ New Delhi CPM TO PLAY DOWN ROW G E O R G E P O I K AY I L @ Kasaragod EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Is it the end of the road for Idea of Vodafone? Gunman accused in bullet-missing case T’Puram: Sanilkumar, who works as a gunman with Tourism and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, has been accused in the bullet missing case that came out with the tabling of the CAG report on Wednesday. EU pats Centre’s back on Kashmir, but wants restrictions to be lifted E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Kochi THIRD INDIAN CREW ON CRUISE SHIP INFECTED New Delhi: A third Indian crew member on board a cruise ship quarantined off Japan has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the Indian Embassy in Tokyo said on Friday. “1 more Indian crew member on #DiamondPrincess tested positive for #COVID19 and hospitalized for treatment. Earlier, 2 more Indian nationals had tested positive. @ IndianEmbTokyo is in contact with all 3,” the Embassy tweeted. Across India, about 15,991 people are under house observation. CONFUSION prevailed on Friday when Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac said on microblogging site Twitter that all three patients who have been under treatment for coronavirus in the state have fully recovered, while neither the state health minister nor the health department made any official announcement. “Just as in the case of Nipah, Kerala has won battle with Corona Virus. All the 3 patients identified have been confirmed by Central authorities to have fully recovered. No case of secondary spread. Number under quarantine observation drastically coming down. Cong rats Health Dept,” Isaac tweeted. But, the situation on the ground was different. While the medical student in Alappuzha was discharged on Thursday after the medical student’s swab samples tested negative, the patients in Thrissur and Kasaragod have not been discharged on Friday as they await the results of the swab tests from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Alappuzha and Pune. Authorities said they are yet to receive the final test results and the two patients are still at the isolation wards of Thrissur Medical College and Kasaragod District Hospital. The results of the samples sent for tests on February 8, 10, 12 and 15 to NIV for the Thrissur patient have not been received ● More on P6 yet, they said.
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