KOZHIKODE l THURSDAY l FEBRUARY 20, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l CITY EDITION BIRLA, MITTAL MEET FM TO UNTANGLE TELECOM MESS A day after he met telecom secretary, Vodafone boss K M Birla met FM Nirmala Sitharaman along with Airtel’s Sunil Mittal KUMAR MANGALAM BIRLA SUNIL MITTAL ‘SECTOR UNDER STRESS, GOVT MUST HELP’ MARKETS HOPEFUL, VODA STOCK UP Mittal also met the telecom secretary on Wednesday, before going to the FinMin. The meeting with FM comes at a time when telcos are struggling to meet DoT’s adjusted gross revenue demand running into thousands of crores, though Mittal said the payment issue wasn’t discussed. He said the sector is under stress and the government must focus on its sustainability ■ ■ Echoing the same sentiments, former Dept of Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said the telecom industry is in dire straits with Vodafone Idea on the edge of bankruptcy Vodafone Idea’s shares surged 38% on Wednesday on reports that govt won’t invoke the firm’s bank guarantees for now | P13 A53,000 cr IS WHAT DoT EXPECTS FROM VODA, OF WHICH L2,500 CRORE HAS BEEN PAID 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 VHP gets charge of Ram temple trust Temple to be as visualised 30 years ago, says trust gen secy; planning to start construction in April Pune seer appointed treasurer IT’S ZOOTHING George, a tiger in the Thiruvananthapuram zoo, seems to be relieved after authorities provided him with a fan to escape from the searing heat. With mercury level going up, the zoo is keeping the animals cool also with water sprinklers and cold showers | B P DEEPU Lawyer protest over Delhi HC judge transfer In 24 hours, probe gives police, Behera clean chit EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi @ T’Puram THE Supreme Court collegium has recommended the transfer of three high court judges, including the third in seniority in the Delhi High Court, Justice S Muralidhar. But the proposed transfer of Justice Muralidhar to the Punjab and Haryana High Court drew strong reactions from the Delhi High Court Bar Association, which expressed shock and decided to abstain from work on Thursday . “Such transfers are not only detrimental to our noble institution, but tend to erode and dislodge the faith of common litigant in the justice dispensation system,” a resolution adopted by the Bar body read. Justice Muralidhar is set to retire in 2023 and is known for his bold decisions. He is also among the few judges who have done away with the convention of being addressed as ‘My Lord’ or ‘Your Lordship’. His transfer was discussed within the collegium twice earlier but not ordered as several top court judges spoke against it. IT had taken more than a year for the Comptroller and Auditor General to prepare its latest report in which it had pointed out some major irregularities and levelled serious charges against the state Police Department, particularly with regard to procurement. But the additional chief secretary (home), who was asked by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to probe the allegations, submitted the report in less than 24 hours, in what appeared to be a clear attempt to whitewash the Police Department. In a hastily put-together report, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Vishwas Mehta justified the Police Department on every single charge, from covering up missing bullets to fixing purchases mentioned in the report. He also gave a clean chit to State Police Chief Loknath Behera, who has been under fire, ever since the CAG report was tabled in the assembly on February 12. ‘Remove Mehta’ Congress MLA P T Thomas demands the removal of Vishwas Mehta from the post of additional chief secretary Crime Branch confiscates a metallic emblem at SAP Battalion in the capital. BJP state president K Surendran seeks probe by a central agency Mehta’s report justified the purchase of bullet-resistant vehicles done without following norms, terming the CAG report findings as impractical. About the diversion of funds meant for constructing staff quarters, Mehta said it was done as the fund was not adequate for staff quarters. Going one step further, Mehta flayed the CAG for naming DGP Behera in the report. Meanwhile, Congress MLA P T Thomas, who had raised corruption allegations against the police in the assembly a day before the CAG came out with adverse findings against the force and the state police chief, has demanded Mehta should be removed from his post as he has committed a serious violation of service rules. The CAG finalises a report after a hectic and lengthy process which includes audit, preliminary observations, seeking reply from departments concerned, consolidating the same, exit meeting and sending final draft report to the gover nment and the departments. EXPRESS READ 12,000 pairs SIT to probe deaths of six kids in Tirur Malappuram: A special investigation team was formed on Wednesday to conduct detailed investigation into the deaths of six children of a family within a span of nine years in Tirur. The team seized medical records and documents related to the treatment of all six. P6 of wayside toilets in state soon T’Puram: The state will soon construct 12,000 pairs of public toilets along the national and state highways. The Cabinet directed the local bodies to identify suitable land for building them. Local self-government institutions should identify three cents of government land. P6 Pressure on Vigilance not to arrest Kunju Kochi: The Vigilance and AntiCorruption Bureau will again question former PWD minister V K Ebrahim Kunju in the Palarivattom flyover case. But the probe team is under pressure not to arrest the IUML leader even though he will be arraigned as an accused. P6 AFTER TWIST IN TESTS India’s 1st COVID-19 patient recovers, may go home soon E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Thrissur INDIA’S first novel coronavirus-confirmed patient in Thrissur has been on the path to recovery and her two consecutive swab tests have come back as negative. A decision on discharging the 23-year-old student from the isolation ward of Thrissur Medical College Hospital is likely to be taken on Thursday She was not discharged . earlier because one set of her swab samples had tested positive in between two negative results. According to DMO K J Reena, “The meeting of the medical board consisting of expert doctors and district offic- ers will be convened soon to decide on the release of the girl from the hospital.” The swab samples of the 23-year-old girl which were sent on February 6 had come back as negative. However, the test result of the next set of samples had come back as positive which led to the delay in releasing the girl from isolation, sources said. Two consecutive samples should be tested negative for confirming complete recovery from COVID-19. That is why the other two confirmed patients, one in Alappuzha and the other in Kasaragod, were discharged ● More on P5 earlier. Malayali chef relieved, will be back home soon Kochi: Bitta Kuruvilla is a relieved man, finally. And he is happy that he will be joining his family in Kerala soon. Bitta is one of the four Malayali crew members aboard cruise ship MS Westerdam, which is docked at Sihanoukville in Cambodia after four other countries turned it away suspecting it to carry passengers affected with COVID-19. P5 Swami Govinddev Giri of Pune was appointed Trust treasurer. He received a cheque of J5 lakh from the Swami Vishwa Prasannatheerth of Pejawar Math in Udupi, who is also a member of the new Trust The intent is to start the construction in April. We will soon choose a construction company for doing the job Avinash Awasthy, Additional Chief Secretary, UP S A N A S H A K I L @ New Delhi THE Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday got a firm hold over the new Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, as its senior members got to occupy the top two positions on the Trust. While Ram Janambhoomi Nyas head Mahant Nritya Gopal Das was named president, VHP vice-president Champat Rai became the general secretary of the Trust after their formal induction at its first meeting here. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s former aide Nirpendra Mishra was named chairman of the temple construction committee. Both Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and Champat Rai are facing cases at a special CBI court in Lucknow in connection with demolition of the Babri Masjid. While no firm date was decided for beginning construction, the intent is to start it in April. Also, the Some side-show There was some drama as Mahant Dharamdas of Hanumangarhi criticised the Trust. As head of the Nirvani Ani of Vaishnava Vairagi Akharas, he wanted a seat on the Trust, but was not accommodated. “Instead of people with ability, they have picked 80- and 90-year-olds,” he said Trust will follow the model proposed by the VHP 30 years ago. Rai told reporters that 60 per cent of granite stones meant for the temple’s construction, have already been carved. “The Ram temple will be based on the model that was visualised 30 years ago. The pictures of the model have reached nearly 10 crore homes and hearts of many more. And 60 per cent stones for that model have been carved. We won’t spent another 20 years on carving stones,” Rai said. Narendra Modi Donald Trump J&K off the table, Modi-Don meet strictly business EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi BILATERAL issues will dominate the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on February 25, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Wednesday. Defence, security, counter-terrorism and trade are among the issues the two leaders will discuss, he added. While the foreign secretary did not specifically rule out Jammu and Kashmir being raised during the meeting, he said India does not expect it to be a major factor as the US State department said it was an issue that needs to be resolved bilaterally . “Changing laws is India’s internal matter. Our sense is that these issues are behind them (US),” said a source, adding there have been two trips by foreign envoys to the region to assess the ground situation.
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