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 ■ ■ File picture of Indian High Commission officials Dwimu Brahma (R) and Selvadhas Paul who returned home from Pakistan | AFP KOZHIKODE l WEDNESDAY l JUNE 24, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION CUT MISSION STRENGTH BY 50%, INDIA TELLS PAK AMID DIPLOMATIC ROW EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi BILATERAL relations with Pakistan dipped sharply on Tuesday with India directing it to reduce the strength of its High Commission in New Delhi by half, holding it responsible for cross-border violence and terrorism. 100+ CASES AGAIN State has serious situation at hand, says CM Pinarayi E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram WITH 100-plus cases reported for the fifth straight day and a rising number of patients with unknown sources of infection pointing at a possible community transmission, Kerala is staring at an alarming situation. While the escalating asymptomatic cases could be an indication of silent spread, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur and Malappuram have increasing cases of infection due to local contact, which too is a cause for concern. On Tuesday, Kerala reported 141 new cases and one death, taking the active cases to 1,620. Summing up the situation, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state was expecting a worst-case scenario. “For the past five days, fresh cases have crossed the 100-mark. Tuesday saw the highest single-day spike. The presence of asymptomatic patients and cases with unknown sources of infection are the most worrying things. The state has a serious situation at hand,” Pinarayi said during his daily press briefing. The healthcare experts, however, want the government to stop pondering whether community transmission or not and instead take steps assuming that it indeed has happened in the state. Pinarayi said that though there is not too much to worry about asymptomatic cases as the rate of virus transmission caused by them are comparatively low against those with symptoms, increasing cases with the unknown sources of infection are a concern. The CM said that around two per cent of the cases reported in the state falls under that category whereas the national average is more than 40 per ● More on P4 cent. Vasanthakumar, a 68-year-old from Mayyanad in Kollam, died of Covid-19, taking the death toll to 22. He was undergoing treatment at the Medical College Hospital in Parippally. TRUMP GAMBIT Citing virus job losses, US suspends H-1B PUSHKAR BANAKAR AND B I S M A H M A L I K @ New Delhi US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order enabling the suspension of green cards and non-immigrant work visas such as the H-1B till December, a move that is likely to affect thousands of Indians. The order said existing H-1B visa holders will not be impacted. The White House said the visa system will undergo a permanent overhaul in future making it merit based as opposed to the current lottery system. The categories that have been suspended include H-4 (spouse for H-1B workers), H-2B (low-skilled workers), J (cultural and education workers) and L-1 (intra-company transfer). The Trump administration claims that the freezing of visas was done due to the economic impact of the coronavirus lockdowns and to give priority to Americans in the wake of record unemployment levels. According to a statement from the ministry of external affairs, Pakistan’s charge d’affaires Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the ministry and informed about the decision. “Shah was told India will reciprocally reduce its diplomatic presence in Islamabad by the same proportion within a week,” the ministry said. More often than not, the treatment of diplomats in the Capital is a mirror image of the bilateral relationship. “They have been engaged in acts of espionage and maintained dealings with terrorist organisations. The activities of the two officials caught red-handed and expelled on 31 May was one example in that regard,” the statement said. The decision to reduce the strength of the Pakistan High Commission by half comes a week after two Pakistan High Commission officials were arrested on charges of espionage Disengage decision biggest takeaway Will take a long time before both sides actually pull back from all friction points; Army Chief visits Leh broad agreement. “There will now be meetings between Division Commanders of both sides to work out INDIA and China decided to disen- the specifics.” Sector Commanders gage from their stand-off positions in will then get involved to firm up the Eastern Ladakh during the mara- nuts and bolts of the actual pullback. thon Corps Commander-level talks The retreat of soldiers will be in on Monday, but it will take a long phases, the officer added. time before forces actually At the diplomatic level, move back on the ground. India took a veiled dig at “Modalities for disengageChina with External Afment from all friction arefairs Minister S Jaisas were discussed and will hankar saying the world’s be taken forward by both leading voices should act sides,” a highly placed in an exemplary manner source confirmed. by respecting internationThe decision was taken al law and recognising the at the second meeting of interests of partners. And Jaishankar Corps Commanders in on the political front, Inraps China Moldo on the Chinese side dia was more explicit, as “Recognising the of the Line of Actual ConDefence Minister Rajnath legitimate interests trol (LAC), which was held Singh refused to meet his of partners, in a ‘cordial, positive and Chinese counterpart, who supporting constructive atmosphere’. sought to make himself multilateralism and But their first meeting on available in Russia for a promoting common June 6 had similar soundone-on-one. good are the only ing protocols, yet there At the military level, way of building a was a bloody face-off at Army Chief General M M durable world order,” Galwan Valley on June 15, Naravane visited Ladakh’s foreign minister S where 20 Indian jawans capital Leh to take stock Jaishankar said died in action. So, the Inof the situation. without naming dian side is understandaSinologist B R Deepak China, while speaking bly wary . described the decision to at the RIC meet | P7 “We must wait till the disengage as a expression retreat of the Chinese solof intent. diers actually begins on the ground,” “It’s not clear as yet, I think it is a a source said. India has clearly reiter- statement of intent the way they ated its position that status quo ante made it on June 6 followed by a series must be restored in the areas of of meetings at both military and dipstand-off. lomatic levels,” said Deepak, who A senior officer aware of the situa- heads the Centre for Chinese and tion said the entire process will take South Asian Studies at the Jawahartime as what was clinched was a lal Nehru University . M AYA N K S I N G H & P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi DUMPING DUTY ON CHINESE STEEL New Delhi: The Department of Revenue has imposed anti-dumping duty on flat rolled zinc/aluminium coated steel originating or exported from China, Korea and Vietnam for five years. The notification said after complaints of many steelmakers, including Jindal Steels, the Directorate-General of Trade Remedies came to the conclusion that steel produced from these countries are exported to India below their normal subjected value and thus amount to dumping. The decision came after countrywide protest to ban products from China. Parallelly, the Centre tweaked rules to make it mandatory for all foreign firms registering fresh products for sale in India to mention the country of origin in the Government e-Marketplace. It will be mandatory for existing products too. and sent back. In what was seen as a tit-for-tat, Pakistani authorities arrested two Indian High Commission staffers for their alleged involvement in a hit-and-run case. They were later released and are back in India. According to sources, the current strength of the Pakistan high commission is 110. However, both missions are not functioning at full strength after Islamabad drastically downgraded ties in August last year following the Centre’s decision to scrap Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. They even refused to send a high commissioner. Both missions are headed by deputy high commissioners. This is, however, not the first time that Pakistan has been asked to reduce its strength in the High Commission. A similar decision was taken following the 13 December 2001 attack on Parliament. New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based terror organisations for carrying out the attack. NO TALKS AT DEF-MIN LEVEL, CHINA TOLD Homes will be moved to make way for Silverline M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi K I R A N N A R AYA N A N @ Kochi IN a clear snub to Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, New Delhi on Tuesday rubbished any possibility of his holding talks with his visiting Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in Moscow. Both are expected to attend the World War II Victory Day Parade in Russia on Wednesday . Shortly after Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times did kite flying on bilateral talks, defence ministry spokesperson A Bharat Bhushan Babu denied it. “Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is expected to attend Russia’s Victory Day parade in Moscow on Wednesday and since In, dian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is also attending the event, the two will very likely meet in Moscow over border tensions between the two countries,” wrote Global Times. THE Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod semi high-speed rail corridor, the final alignment of which was approved by the state cabinet a fortnight ago, will displace many families and pass through the lands of several farmers. But the Kerala Rail Development Corporation (KRail), which is in charge of executing the project, also known as Silverline, said they can breathe easy . K-Rail plans to move the houses to nearby plots without disturbing the structure and opt for elevated rail wherever it has to pass through paddy fields to minimise the environmental impact. “Many houses were moved to a higher plane after the 2018 floods to protect them from calamities in the future. We too plan to move the houses that lie along the final alignment using modern technology. Nearly 10,000 houses are situated on the route and half of them can be saved by moving them by one to five metres,” K-Rail managing director V Ajith Kumar told TNIE. As per the current plan, an elevat- ELEVATED RAIL K-Rail plans to opt for elevated rail wherever it has to pass through paddy fields to minimise the environmental impact H11,535 cr has been earmarked as cost for compensation ed path will be used for 88km and the cut-and-cover tunnel method for 22km. Cut-and-cover construction, to be used on stretches with 9-20 metre-deep cuttings, involves the use of excavation equipment to dig a large trench or rectangular hole in the ground which is then covered by a concrete deck. “There are lots of complaints about paddy fields getting filled up (for the project). We’ll build elevated paths in such locations. The aim is to minimise the environmental and social impact as much as possible,” he said. Silverline track will be laid parallel to the existing railway track bet we e n K a s a r a g o d a n d T i r u r (220.6km), and will take a different path between Tirur and Thiruvananthapuram (310km). ● More on P4
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