KOTTAYAM l FRIDAY l JUNE 05, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l CITY EDITION INDIA, AUSTRALIA SIGN LANDMARK DEFENCE DEAL India and Australia on Thursday signed seven agreements including a deal for reciprocal access to military bases MODI, MORRISON HOLD VIRTUAL SUMMIT The pacts were signed during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) will allow Indian and Australian militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation ■ NSG ANTI-CHINA QUAD GETS MORE POWER ■ ■ India has similar agreements with the US, France and Singapore The pact assumes significance as it increases the operational value of the Quad comprising India, Australia, Japan and the US India and Australia also decided to elevate their ties from comprehensive to strategic comprehensive partnership AUSTRALIA HAS STRONGLY SUPPORTED INDIA’s NSG MEMBERSHIP BID 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 3 die of Covid, 94 more Kerala model? Kin shun elderly returnees fearing Covid test positive; CM denies rumours of fudging data A B H I L A S H C H A N D R A N @ Kottayam E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram KERALA CASE DIARY 94 cases reported on Thursday 884 under treatment 690 have recovered so far 1,588 cases have been confirmed so far 14 DEATHS KERALA’S Covid death toll has risen to 14 with three more people dying of coronavirus infection – one each in Kollam, Malappuram and Palakkad. Thursday also marked the state’s biggest singleday spike in case count as 94 more people tested positive, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 1,588. Thirty-nine people recovered from the illness on the day while the number of active cases stood at 884. The deceased were identified as Meenakshiammal, 73, of Palakkad, Shabnas, 27, of Malappuram and Xavier, 65, of Kollam. Though they died on separate days, their test results returned positive on Thursday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his daily briefing. While two of them suffered from acute respiratory infections, the Kollam native was brought dead to the hospital and his samples were sent for testing on the instruction of the medical board. On the allegations that the state government is suppressing facts about the spread of the pandemic, the CM said that such rumours were being circulated by those forces who want to show the state’s Covid-19 control and prevention programmes in a bad light. He also said misconceptions may have led to protests while the mortal remains of Fr K G Varghese, who died in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday of Covid-19, were taken for burial. Of the 94 new cases, 84 were returnees and seven contracted the infection locally through contact. The returnees include 47 from abroad and 37 from other ● More on P6 states. 50% seating capacity allowed in restaurants, food courts With the opening of religious places, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants outside containment zones from June 8, the Union health ministry allowed dine-ins with 50% seating capacity. Here’s all you need to know HOTELS ALONG WITH MASKS, STAFF SHOULD WEAR GLOVES AND TAKE OTHER REQUIRED PRECAUTIONS Details of the guest (travel history, medical condition etc.) along with ID and self-declaration form must be provided by the guest at the reception Adopt contactless processes like QR code, online forms, digital payments like e-wallet etc, for both checkin and check-out LUGGAGE SHOULD BE DISINFECTED BEFORE SENDING TO ROOMS Guests should be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zone SHOPPING MALLS In food courts and restaurants, max 50 per cent seating capacity permitted Gaming arcades, children play areas and cinema halls inside shopping malls shall remain closed Not more than 50% of seating capacity permitted RESTAURANTS Takeaways to be encouraged, instead of dine-in. Food delivery personnel should leave the packet at customer’s door HOME DELIVERY STAFF TO SCREENED THERMALLY BY RESTAURANT RELIGIOUS PLACES l Shoes/footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle. If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual / family by the persons themselves l Need to avoid physical contact while greeting each other l Touching of statues/idols/holy books etc, not allowed l Common prayer mats should be avoided. Devotees should bring their own prayer mat l Due to threat of spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed l No physical offerings like prasad/distribution or sprinkling of holy water etc, to be allowed COMMON ADVISORY Entrance to have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitiser dispenser) and thermal screening provisions Only asymptomatic visitors allowed; face mask mandatory Staggering of visitors to be done, if possible Proper crowd management within outside premises like parking lots. Proper disinfection of steering, door handles, keys, etc. of vehicles should be done TWO WEEKS ago, Kanjirappally tahsildar G Ajithkumar got a call from his colleagues, informing him that an elderly couple was seeking help after returning from New Delhi. The couple from Manimala, who had been to their elder son’s house in Delhi to look after his children, had returned by the first train after the restrictions were relaxed. Their younger son, however, refused to take them home fearing that they might be infected. The tahsildar had to arrange them accommodation at a tourist centre in Kanjirappally . Former Kottayam district collector P K Sudheer Babu, who retired on May 31, had to intervene and put a Dubai-returned couple, both in 80s, from Manganam near Kottayam in a Covid isolation centre after their grandson refused to allow them into his house. It didn’t matter to him that the couple was returning after visiting his father. On Tuesday, an 82-yearold man, who returned from Dubai along with his wife, 80, after visiting their son, tested positive while undergoing home quarantine in Kangazha. Covid war room members soon contacted their other two children, living in Thiruvanan- We get many calls seeking institutional quarantine for returnees. Sadly, the family members are not even considering their age — A health official thapuram and Thrissur, to take care of the aged mother who tested negative. But both were reluctant and asked the officials to shift her to an institutional quarantine centre. The response put the officials in a fix as shifting an aged person to isolation centre could be difficult. After long deliberation, the relatives agreed to opt for paid quarantine and the elderly woman was shifted to a KTDC hotel in Changanassery . THE INCIDENTS, though isolated, indicate the social stigma attached Covid-19 and how SC questions moratorium interest RBI’s stance against interest waiver under the lens; FinMin told to file reply by June 12 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday took strong exception to banks charging interest during the moratorium period enforced due to the Covid-19 lockdown, terming it ‘detrimental’ to borrowers. The court’s observation came while hearing a petition filed by Agra-based Gajendra Sharma against the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s March 27 circular allowing banks to grant moratorium to borrowers on payment of instalments for three months but without offering any relief to consumers as it permitted interest on the loan amount to accrue. A subsequent RBI order on May 22 raised the moratorium period to six months. In its affidavit filed before the SC, RBI said it was against a forced waiver of interest by banks as the same would not only affect the financial health of banks but also jeopardise depositors’ interests. During the hearing, a threejudge bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said, “Economic aspect should not be higher than health of people.” Senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, appearing for the petitioner, said, “Cat is out of bag. They (RBI) are saying profitability of banks is prime. So only banks should earn and rest of the country go down under?” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to take instructions from RBI and the finance ministry The SC gave . him time till June 12 to file a comprehensive response. “We want you to give your stand on two issues — one, no interest during moratorium, and second, on the issue of levying no interest on the interest,” Justice Bhushan told Mehta. Adding to it, Justice M R Shah said, “The RBI circular was detrimental to a borrower. While on one end you are granting moratorium, but on the other nothing on interest. This is more detrimental.” Justice Kaul said the government must consider the petitioner’s case in view of the current situation as these are not normal times. “Moratorium came after discussing all aspects and what was best suited for all. We cannot give relief to one entity at the cost of another,” said a finance ministry official. JUMBO DEATH Bad loans to soar, affect banks’ profitability: Icra ly `25,000-48,300 crore capital during FY21-FY22 to maintain higher capital ratios and mitiBAD loans of Indian banks are gate rising asset quality stress. expected to rise to 11.3-11.6% Borrowers’ ability to repay this fiscal and `45,000-82,500 loans has been severely hit due crore capital might be required to the lockdown and the pace of to overcome the rising asset economic revival will deterquality pressures, accordmine the final impact on ing to Icra Ratings. It asset quality. Subseadded banks’ profitabilquently, Icra notes that ity could be under even if 10-20% of the stress, while the overborrowers default, the all credit growth is proslippage rate for banks jected at a dismal could rise to 3-8% of 3-4% in FY21. loans. Private banks, For FY20, NPAs are “The RBI moratotoo, will be hit pegged at 8.6% and rium to borrowers Icra expects the considering the unexwas extended by anprofitability of pected rise in bad other three months private sector loans in FY21, capital till August 31, 2020, needs of banks shot banks to moderate and we expect the aswith return on up from Icra’s earlier set quality stress is equity falling to estimate of `10,000likely to reflect only 3.5-5.1% in FY21 20,000 crore. in Q3 FY2021 and Q4 against 10-12% “The uncertainty FY2021 results,” said projected earlier on the asset quality Anil Gupta, sector of banks remains head - financial sector high with almost 30-40% of ratings, ICRA Ratings, in the loan book across various banks statement. under moratorium announced He added credit provisions by the Reserve bank of India will continue to exceed the op(RBI),” ICRA said. erating profits for the public Besides state-run banks, pri- sector banks (PSBs) during vate lenders, too, need and are FY2021, translating in a sixth expected to raise approximate- consecutive year of loss. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Hyderabad ` EXPRESS READ Youth held for killing woman in Kottayam Kottayam: The accused behind the brutal murder of a 60-yearold woman at Parappadam near Kottayam was arrested by the investigation team on Wednesday night. The arrested has been identified as Muhammed Bilal, 23. P5 KSRTC MD quits a week after service extension T’Puram: A week after getting a one-year extension in service, KSRTC Chairman and Managing Director M P Dinesh has resigned from the post over differences with Transport Minister A K Saseendran, it is learnt. P7 family values and relationships have become a casualty in these trying times. Not just relatives, but even children and grandchildren are turning apathetic and shutting the doors on the elderly retur nees from abroad and other states. “Though it’s the obligation of the children and relatives to take care of them, many are trying to shirk their responsibilities. We get many calls seeking institutional quarantine for returnees. Sadly, the family members are not even considering their age,” said a health official. ● More on P6 A PICTURE OF IRONY It’s another World Environment Day, but this image of a tanker carrying drinking water under a sky with rain clouds in the monsoon season in Kochi tells how human beings have failed in conserving water and other elements of planet | ALBIN MATHEW File picture of the injured pregnant elephant that died on May 27 3 PICKED UP AS PROBE BEGINS; CENTRE SENDS IN OWN TEAM EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Palakkad A JOINT investigation team of police and forest department personnel took three persons into custody on Thursday for questioning in connection with the death of a 15-year-old pregnant elephant, which died after chewing on a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers at Ambalapara near Thiruvazhamkunnu a week ago. Two of them were released in the evening. Palakkad Superintendent of Police G Sivavikram said an FIR has been registered at the Mannarkkad police station and separate cases have been registered under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Explosives Act, 1984. Mannarkkad Divisional Forest Officer K K Sunil Kumar submitted a report on the incident to the Conservator of Forests (Eastern circle) on Thursday. He told TNIE that the forest department has started combing operations within 50km radius of the buffer zone of the forest using teams of eight to ten personnel each to check whether any explosives have been planted to kill wild animals. Meanwhile, Union Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar deputed a central team, comprising officials of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), to conduct a parallel investiga● More on P5 tion. CYCLE PIONEER Atlas Shrugged! It finally pedals its way into history N A M I TA B A J PA I , A N U R A D H A SHUKLA, RAJKUMARI TA N K H A & S O M R I TA G H O S H @ Lucknow/New Delhi AMONG the hundreds of artefacts that adorn the walls of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, is a black-coloured bicycle hanging from an iron rod. “That’s no ordinary bicycle,” the curator of the museum told a group of Indian journalists in December last year, just before Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee, who shared the economics Nobel for 2019 with Esther Duflo and Michael Cremer, was presented the award. The bicycle, made by Atlas, belonged to another wellknown son of India, economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. The 1998 Nobel winner used to cycle on it during his field work in West Bengal, studying poverty and inequality in the impoverished regions. Sen could not be reached for comment but he will surely rue the fact that Atlas Cycles Haryana Ltd, the makers of the iconic cycle brand, the pioneers of the cycling revolution in India and the first cycle of almost every child, is now history . A journey that started in 1951 from a modest tin shed in Sone- Atlas Cycles employees protesting the shutting down of its unit at Sahibabad in Ghaziabad | ANIL SHAKYA pat, Haryana, about 40 km from Delhi, has ended. The company shut its last factory in Sahibabad, just outside the national capital on June 3. A notice pasted on the gates reads: “We are facing difficulty in arranging funds for our dayto-day operations. We are also unable to buy raw material. In these conditions, the management is not in a position to operate the factory .”
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