THRISSUR l THURSDAY l JUNE 04, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION CYCLONE NISARG BATTERS KONKAN, SPARES MUMBAI The cyclone made landfall in Maharashtra’s Raigad district around 1 pm on Wednesday bringing winds of up to 120 kph FALLING TREES DAMAGE HOUSES, CARS HEAVY RAINS LASH MUMBAI, PUNE The cyclone uprooted trees and electricity poles causing widespread damages to private property in the worst-hit Raigad district where a 58-year-old man was killed, when a power transformer, knocked down by strong winds, fell over him. Falling trees blocked roads and caused damages to houses and cars in others districts along the Konkan coast ■ ■ By evening, Nisarg weakened into a cyclonic storm and headed to Maharashtra’s north-east. It may weaken further by midnight Although spared the cyclone’s full fury, Mumbai and Pune were lashed by heavy rains, that caused waterlogging in many areas. Gujarat, which evacuated thousands, reported no big damages 18,887 PEOPLE MOVED TO 30 TEMPORARY SHELTERS IN MUMBAI 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 Farmers finally freed from mandi stranglehold State laws restricted to mandi perimeter alone; ad-hocism on stocking, export of produce ends; green light to contract farming M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi Dodgy data behind dissing HCQ? A supposedly path breaking study on the harmful effects of administering anti-viral hydroxychloroquine, published by respected medical journal The Lancet on May 22, was possibly based on suspect data. A look The Lancet study was based on data from Surgisphere, an Illinois-based company, on 96,032 PATIENTS LONG-AWAITED agrarian marketing reforms got a decisive push in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved three Ordinances to unshackle far mers from restrictive state laws on mandis (APMC Act) and price fluctuations (Essential Commodities Act), besides allowing unhindered contract farming. The Centre took the Ordinance route after all persua- sion to prod states on agricultural marketing reforms failed. Freeing farmers from compulsions to sell their produce only to registered licensee traders of state governments under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC), the Cabinet gave the nod to “The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.” No state law will affect sell-purchase of agricultural produce outside the mandi perimeter. Buyers would just need to have PAN cards, rules for which will be framed by the Centre, said Union minister for agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar after the Cabinet meeting. Doing away with policy ad-hocism through stock-holding limits and banning exports to curb price rise, the Cabinet approved the second Ordinance to amend the Essential Commodities Act to take cereals, onions, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds and potatoes out of its purview. The the law Last week, over 140 scientists wrote an open letter challenging the validity of the study, sought full access to raw data Based on its alarming claims, the World Health Organization had suspended its global solidarity test for HCQ’s randomised clinical trials A N U J A S U S A N V A R G H E S E @ Kochi The Indian Council for Medical Research, however, stood by HCQ, saying it may be working in preventing Covid-19 when used a prophylaxis for healthcare workers and close contacts of positive patients Ramavatar Singh (in blue shirt) helps a woman take away sand dug out from an MGNREGA work site The Lancet has now opened its probe into the report and issued an ‘Expression of Concern’ over its quality SACKED TEACHERS, GRADS TURN TO MANUAL LABOUR MEANWHILE, INDIA CROSSED 2 LAKH POSITIVE CASES ON WEDNESDAY. ITS LATEST COUNT IS 2,07,615 THE COUNTRY ADDED 1 LAKH CASES IN 15 DAYS Govt eases travel curbs on foreign businessmen E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE ministry of home affairs on Wednesday excluded businessmen and healthcare professionals from the travel restrictions imposed on foreigners in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they’ll have to obtain a fresh visa before flying in. As per the order, relaxation of curbs will apply to foreign businessmen seeking to visit India on a business visa (other than on B3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial chartered flights. Healthcare professionals, health researchers and technicians required to carry out technical work in India’s healthcare facilities will also be allowed to VISA come in. But, a fresh visa will be issued to them only if they have a letter of invitation from a recognised authority . Specialists wanting to visit India to work for foreign companies—including manufacturing, IT and financial sector companies— operating in the country have also been excluded from travel curbs. All foreigners will have to obtain a fresh business or employment visa. Those holding a valid multipleentry business visa (other than B-3 visa) would have to get it re-validated at an Indian mission in their country . RAJESH ASNANI, RAGHOTTAM KOPPAR, S RAJA REDDY, A AMRUTH RAO, ANTHONY FERNANDO & MUKESH RANJAN @ Jaipur / Gadag / Adilabad / Mahabubnagar / Nagapattinam / Ranchi RAMAVATAR Singh, 35, stands out as the odd one out among the 100-plus labourers working on a well under an unrelenting summer sun in Jobner, 70 km from Jaipur. While the other labourers comprising mainly women and a handful of men appear rustic, under-fed, sporting rubber slippers and lungis, Singh is tall, well built, clad in a shirt and trouser and clearly not village-bred. Singh led a rather comfortable life, earning `15,000 a month as a private school teacher in Jobner. That is, until Covid-19 struck and a lockdown was ordered on March 25. A postgraduate in political science, he was sacked from his job and has been unpaid since. At first, Singh managed with the meagre savings he had, but when the cash dried up and there was no one to borrow money from, he enrolled himself as a worker under the MGNREGA. “After the lockdown, the school authorities refused to pay salary and dismissed me. With all factories and markets closed, I had no choice but to work under the MGNREGA to earn money he said. ,” Singh is not the only qualified worker forced into manual labour to make both ends meet. From Rajasthan and Jharkhand to Karnataka and Telangana, there are many like Singh toiling as labourers constructing roads, bridges, check dams and tilling land. Lumping their pride, they have no qualms about doing manual work to feed their hungry families. As the MGNREGA guarantees everyone holding a job card 100 days of work, the rural job scheme has come as a godsend for the newly-unemployed. Workers are paid `202 a day, up from `182 before the Covid19 lockdown. Giving Singh company is Sita Verma, a 30-year-old arts graduate whose postgraduate husband Shanker Lal was a school teacher. Lal lost his job and the desperate couple had no income. Sita finally turned to MGNREGA on May 16 to feed her little children. “I am doing such manual labour for the first time in my life, that too in this heat. As my husband has not been paid since March, I had no choice but to get a job card made,” she said. A few kilometres away at Aasalpur village is Sakaram Jat, 36, a double MA. He used to teach school students up to Class X but has been not been since March. He, too, has been reduced to becoming a manual labourer at an MGNREGA site. “I have no other source of income as the school where I worked has not paid me a penny for three months,” he said. Sadanand Mukkannavar in Karnataka’s Gadag district was a maintenance engineer in Bengaluru, earning `50,000 a month. When the virus struck, his company showed him the door, asking him to return only after the disease abates. Sadanand now works at a farm in the Kadadi gram panchayat limits under the MGNREGA. “I cannot sit idle so I started working on a daily wage basis. It may take 4-5 months to rejoin duty so something is better than nothing,” he said. S Thangapandiyan, 40, in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district was a sales representativecum-supervisor at a popular textile shop in Tiruvarur. He was laid off when the shop closed on March 25. With a wife and two children to feed, he has turned to MGNREGA work to keep the home fires burning. “I am educated up to Class X. I worked in a textile shop for over 20 years. My company terminated me recently citing loss of business due to the lockdown. I have a wife and two children to take care of so I have come for wages under the MGNREGA,” he said. EXPRESS READ Collection agent immolates self inside co-op bank Kollam: A woman immolated herself inside a bank at Poothakulam, Paravur, in Kollam district on Wednesday. The deceased is Satyavathi, a local resident who was working as a temporary collection agent at the Poothakulam Service Co-operative Bank. Two workers killed in landslip at a quarry near Piravom Kochi: In a freak incident, two workers were killed after a landslip occurred at a quarry near Maneedu, Piravom on Wednesday. Sasi, 49, hailing from Maneedu and Deepak Natra, 31, a native of West Bengal are the deceased. P5 does not mean leasing of land, said Tomar, adding that in the event of crop failure, only advance paid to them by the buyers could be recovered. Payments to farmers must be made by buyers within three days of delivery of the produce, while dispute resolution will first be through mediation at the sub-divisional magistrate level and the final award by the district magistrate. NITI Aayog’s proposal in 2015 to reform state farm laws had drawn a tepid response. Ordinance route taken The Cabinet decided on ordinances because states refused to introduce reforms. There was vested interest in mandis as their managers have political clout since they are money spinners ‘Treat patients with mild or no symptom at home’ in 671 hospitals across six continents. Of them, 10,698 had died in hospital by April 21 But The Guardian found Surgisphere’s employees had little or no data or scientific background. One of its six employees appears to be a science fiction author and another is an adult model. How did it process the huge volume of raw data? can be changed only in the event of war or excessive price rise, added Tomar. To promote the concept of ‘one nation, one agricultural market’, the Cabinet through the third Ordinance allowed farmers and bulk buyers to enter into contracts at guaranteed prices, adding no state laws will affect such transactions. Farmers will also be able to get part of the additional value at the time of delivery of the produce. It Kottayam murder: Probe team gets info on man who took car Kottayam: In a major breakthrough in the investigation into the elderly woman’s murder at Parappadam near Kottayam, the probe team is learnt to have received vital information on the man who had made away with a car from victim’s house. The probe team on Wednesday took a Chengalam native purportedly having close links with crime or the assailants, according to the sources. CONTINUED ON: P7 WITH the number of coronavirus cases going up steadily in the state — 168 in the last two days alone — and thousands of NRKs set to return, one worrying question could be ‘Are our Covid hospitals going to be full soon?’ And experts say ‘Yes’. They find the spike worrying and fear that, at the present rate, things could lead to a situation where serious patients may have to be turned away from hospitals. They want the state to adopt a strategy to treat those patients who are asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms by isolating t h e m i n t h e i r ow n homes. Kerala reported 82 cases on Wednesday — 53 of whom returned from abroad and 19 from other states and the rest through contact — taking the total number of infected persons so far to 1,494. More alarmingly from 16 , active cases on May 7, the patients’ number has increased to 832 now. Going by the current rate of infection, the number may touch 2,000 by the end of this month. Experts believe it is time the state gover nment ‘Aadujeevitham’ crew member tests Covid +ve Kozhikode: One of the crew members of the Pritviraj-starrer Aadujeevitham tested positive for Covid on Wednesday. An Arabic teacher, the 58-year-old Pandikkad native had joined the shooting in Jordan as a translator. After returning to Kochi in a special evacuation flight on May 22, he was under observation at a Covid care centre at Changaramkulam. After testing positive, he was shifted to the Manjeri Medical College Hospital. thought of revising its treatment policy . Dr Joseph K, Consultant, Internal Medicine and Diabetology at VPS Lakeshore, said: “There is no need to panic in the present situation as all confirmed cases are being treated at Covid hospitals in the state. But the situation can change soon with the number of cases going up. As of now, private hospitals are not being utilised by the government. Once that option also gets exhausted with patients filling their facilities to capacity, the Health Department will have to reconsider its policy ● More on P4 . KERALA CASE DIARY 82 cases reported on Wednesday 832 under treatment 651 have recovered so far 1,494 cases have been confirmed so far 11 DEATHS Online classes: HC restrains school from levying addl fee E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Kochi OBSERVING that it is disheartening to learn that a student ended her life allegedly due to lack of access to internet to attend virtual classes, the Kerala High Court in its interim order on Wednesday restrained schools from levying additional fees for holding online classes. Passing the order, single bench judge C S Dias said right to education was sacrosanct in the Constitution and was mandated under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. He referred the petition to a Di- vision Bench “in view of the substantial public interest.” The petition was filed by Sreelekshmi S and Dhanvin M Pillai, Class III and LKG students, respectively, of the CBSE-affiliated Sree Budha Central School, Karunagapally, Kollam, who said they were charged additional fees for the online/virtual classes. The petitioners contended that some state governments and Union Territories had formulated guidelines for conducting online classes and had ordered that students should not be denied education for want of payment of fees during the pandemic. A mom’s plea: Stop telecast A mother of two students in Kasaragod filed a petition before the High Court seeking a directive to the state government and KITE to stop telecasting online classes till all students get the facilities PUBLIC OUTCRY GROWS Forest, police spread net for culprit, register cases C Y N T H I A C H A N D R A N @T’Puram CRIMINAL cases. Online petitions. Monetary rewards for informers. The public outcry over the tragic circumstances leading to the death of a pregnant elephant in Malappuram has left the culprit with little room to manoeuvre. After Additional Chief Secretary (Forests and Wildlife) Asha Thomas asked officials to take separate police and forest cases, Mannarkkad DFO K K Sunil Kumar has registered a case under the Wildlife Protection Act which prescribes a prison term of seven years for killing a Schedule I animal. People, including those representing animal welfare groups, took to the social media and other platforms condemning the elephant’s death and demanding stringent punishment to the culprit. The elephant had chewed on a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers and died while standing in a river with a burnt mouth on May 27. TNIE was the first to reported the gruesome incident on Tuesday, with forest officials belonging to the Mannarkkad range searching for the offender over the past four days. Sunil Kumar said that the 15-year-old pregnant elephant had strayed into the areas near NSS Estate at Uppukulam in Mannarkkad on May 20 or May 21, while it was healthy . The injury is estimated to have happened on May 23 at the Ambalappara outpost. By May 25, it entered the Velliyar river ● More on P5 to ease its pain. Centre seeks report Kochi: Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday sought a report on the incident. “Stern action will be taken against the culprits,” the minister said.
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