KOTTAYAM l TUESDAY l JULY 07, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l CITY EDITION REVENUES UNDER STRESS DUE TO PANDEMIC: FINMIN Govt revenues were hit hard due to disruption in economic activities in April and May, says a new finance ministry report INCOME TAX MOP-UP JUST 5% OF ESTIMATE GREEN SHOOTS VISIBLE IN SOME AREAS According to the Macroeconomic Report for June 2020 released by Department of Economic Affairs under the Finance Ministry, revenue receipts declined by 68.9%, led by contraction in personal income tax, indirect taxes and non-tax revenue. “Personal income tax stood at 5.6% of Budget Estimate compared to 10.6% till May 2019,” said the report ■ ■ ■ However, corporate tax grew 1,408.1% over May 2019, it said According to the report, early green shoots of economic revival could been seen in May and June in select real activity indicators These are electricity and fuel consumption, inter and intra-state movement of goods, retail financial transaction | P10 -4.5% ESTIMATED GROWTH OF INDIA’S GDP IN 2020, ACCORDING TO THE REPORT 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 Smuggling: Key suspect’s PARTIAL CHINESE PULLBACK AT LAC link puts CM office in spot M AYA N K S I N G H A N D P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi Swapna Suresh on the run, customs dept arrests operation’s mastermind; Cong and BJP point fingers at IT secretary EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ T’Puram Swapna Suresh WHAT THEY SAID The CM can’t run away from the responsibility after his office tried to help the culprit go in hiding. How did Swapna (Suresh) get a job with the IT department, especially when she was facing a Crime Branch probe? Ramesh Chennithala, Oppn leader Swapna was ousted from the UAE Consulate yet she managed to grab a job at the CMO with the support of bigwigs. Though Special Branch had warned about her, the chief minister ignored it K Surendran, BJP state president The accused will be brought before the law. Whenever something happens, there’s a deliberate move to drag the chief minister and CMO into it Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister THE Kerala chief minister’s office (CMO) came under intense scrutiny on Monday after it came to light that Swapna Suresh, the prime suspect in the attempt to smuggle 30kg gold in a diplomatic consignment bound for UAE Consulate General through the Thiruvananthapuram airport, was employed in Space Park that comes under the IT department. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan handles the IT portfolio and IT secretary M Sivasankar’s role in her appointment as the liaison officer of the park even when she was facing a Crime Branch probe in a fake complaint case has come into question. The state government removed Swapna, a former executive secretary at the UAE consulate, from her Space Park post on Monday saying her job was on a contract basis. The opposition launched a scathing attack on the CM. While Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala described Pinarayi’s office as the epicentre of scams, BJP state president K Surendran said the CMO and the IT secretary exerted pressure on customs to hush the role of Swapna. The customs officials revealed that Swapna is on the run while Sarith, a former consulate PRO, was arrested. ‘GOLD SMUGGLED 15 TIMES IN SIMILAR OPs’ T’Puram: The probe into gold smuggling through diplomatic channels has revealed that the racket, whose member Sarith Kumar was picked up by the Customs department on Sunday, had brought in large quantities of gold in 15 similar operations in the past. Gold was smuggled in through Thiruvananthapuram airport eight times, while the rest of the operations were carried out via Kochi airport, highly-placed sources revealed. 8 lakh Indians on exit route as Kuwait approves quota bill P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi AS many as eight lakh Indians could be affected as Kuwait parliament’s legal and legislative committee on Monday cleared a draft resolution that seeks to limit the number of foreign workers in the country. The draft expat quota bill will soon be put to vote in the AsTop sembly. At present, there remittance are about 14.5 lakh Indisource ans in Kuwait, which Kuwait has has a total population of been one of about 43 lakh. The bill seeks to rethe top remittance strict the number of Insources for dians residing in the India. Last year, country to 15% of the about $4.58 national population— billion worth of that works up to 6.45 remittances lakh. In that cases, about flew in to India eight lakh Indians would from this Gulf have to leave the councountry try. Last month, Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah proposed reducing the number of expats from 70 per cent to 30 per cent of the population. Assembly Speaker Marzouq AlGhanem justified the proposal saying, Kuwait has a problem in its population structure. What’s more serious? About 13 lakh of the 30 lakh foreigners “are either illiterate or can merely read’’. Sarith was taken to the customs office in Kochi after he confessed to the crime. It is suspected that though Sarith was expelled from the Consulate, he maintained a strong relationship with some of the officials there and also Swapna. Since he knew that the diplomatic baggage would not be subject to detailed scrutiny he , used the channel to smuggle in gold worth `13.5 crore. Swapna also allegedly used her connections in the Consulate to get things cleared. A senior customs officer told TNIE that Sarith is the mastermind as per preliminary findings, but the woman was also actively involved in smuggling. “We assume this is not the first time they used the diplomatic channel to smuggle gold into the state. We’re in the process of extracting the details of their previous attempts,” he said. The UAE Consulate said neither the office nor its staff has any role in the alleged smuggling. “A private person has misused his diplomatic facility and the Consulate strongly condemned the act,” it said. Meanwhile, in a hurriedly convened press conference, Surendran said: “You just need to check the telephone call records of the CMO and IT secretary to find their involvement in the case.” ● More on P4 IN a major breakthrough along the Eastern Ladakh border, partial disengagement of Chinese troops began in the Galwan Valley area along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday . The process was set rolling after a video call between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi — the two special representatives on border issues — late on Sunday night. “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been seen removing tents and structures at Patrolling Point 14,” government sources said. According to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, the two leaders agreed on expeditious and total disengagement. “They agreed that it was necessary to ensure at the earliest complete disengagement of the troops along the LAC and deescalation from India-China border areas for full restoration of peace and tranquillity . In this regard they further agreed that both sides should complete the ongoing disengagement process along the LAC expeditiously,” the statement read. The disengagement began at various locations as per terms agreed in the Corps Commanders’ meeting on June 30. “Rearward movement of PLA vehicles has been seen in general 17 new local spread cases, Kochi stares at lockdown 193 cases reported on Monday Lockdown in T’Puram may be extended MORE SKELETONS TUMBLE OUT T’Puram: Swapna Suresh, one of the key suspects in the gold smuggling case, is facing a crime branch probe for framing an Air India official in a sexual harassment case. L S Sibu, working in Apron, ground service department, Air India, in Hyderabad, told TNIE that he had to suffer a lot on account of Swapna’s fraudulent activity. He had to stay away from work for two years to prove his innocence, Sibu said. An India Air Force helicopter on a sortie in Ladakh’s Leh region, on Monday | PTI One-week lockdown imposed in T’Puram city could be extended The one-week long lockdown imposed in Ponnani taluk, where 10 contracted Covid through local transmission, lifted A N U J A S U S A N V A R G H E S E @ Kochi ERNAKULAM is staring down the lockdown barrel after 17 of the 25 new Covid cases reported in the district on Monday were identified as due to local transmission. The figure marked the highest single-day spike of local contact cases in the district. While acknowledging the price the district and its residents would have to pay in case of a complete lockdown, experts say it is inevitable to keep community transmission in check. To contain the coronavirus spread, the district administration has marked nine areas in the district as containment zones. Only one in seven shops will be allowed to function from Tuesday in shopping complexes within such zones. “The situation in Ernakulam is very serious. But we are not declaring a triple lockdown yet,” said Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar. Six of the local transmission cases are part of the contact list of a 54-year-old Vennala native who tested positive on Saturday Three . others are among the contacts of a 64-year-old Chellanam native while three persons from Kalloorkad are the contacts of a Paingattoor native, with both the primary cases having ● More on P4 been reported on July 3. Green light to univs for final semester exams EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi FINAL semester exams in universities and other educational institutions pending since March due to Covid-19 can now be held after the Union home ministry gave its green light on Monday . “The final term examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC guidelines and academic calendar for the Universities and as per the Standard Operating Procedure approved by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the ministry wrote to the higher education secretary . The ministry’s advisory came on a d ay a c o m m i t t e e formed by the UGC recommended that exams be conducted in universities and colleges across India. Following the submission of the suggestions by Haryana university vice-chancellor R C Kuhad, the UGC called an emergency meeting on Monday evening and decided to write to the unive r s i t i e s a t t h e earliest. The decision has been taken in the academic interest of the students, said sources adding a fresh academic calendar will soon be issued and universities will be asked to conduct exams by September-end. The UGC has also decided to recommend that the final year examinations be held in online, offline or in mix mode, whichever is appropriate. Apart from final semester exams, universities can also conduct pending exams for other semesters. PLA yet to pull out of Finger-4, Depsang The stand-off locations include Finger-4 along the Northern Flank of Pangong Tso, Gogra Post (Patrolling Point 17A), Patrolling Points 14 and 15 in Galwan Valley and Y-Junction in Depsang Partial pullback in Galwan and Gogra, not elsewhere JUNE STATS India had a total of 2,20,478 active cases by the end of June, up from 97,008 on June 1 On June 1, the total number of cases was 1,98,371, but on June 30 it shot up to cases 5,85,792 India’s active cases more than doubled at the rate of 104.48% by the end of June Total cases registered 195% growth rate by June-end compared to the beginning of June As on June 30, the 10 states with the highest infections accounted for 80% of total cases. These states included Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat By June 1, India had 95,744 recoveries, 5,606 deaths and it had tested 39,66,075 By June 30, 3,47,839 people recovered, 17,409 died and 88,26,585 people were tested % INCREASE FROM JUNE 1 TO JUNE 30 area of Galwan, Hot Springs and Gogra,” sources said. How far deep has the PLA pulled back will be determined after due verification, an Army officer said. The Army is understandably wary and will watch the situation for at least 72 hours, since the PLA in the past did not comply with disengagement agreements. However, “there is no movement at Finger-4 and the Chinese troops are staying put at the stand-off position at YJunction in Depsang bulge,” confirmed another source. China acknowledged the limited disengagement, with foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying progress had been made by the two militaries to disengage and reduce tensions along the LAC. “There is progress made on frontline troops taking effective measures to disengage and ease the tensions. Chinese and Indian troops held a commander-level talk on June 30. The two sides continue to work to implement the consensus reached at the two previous rounds of talks,” he said. Unlock-1 sees 60% of all Covid deaths S A N A S H A K I L & K U M A R V I K R A M @ New Delhi TWO-thirds of all Covid-19 deaths from March up to June-end were registered last month itself when the government eased most of the lockdown restrictions and rolled out Unlock-1.0 on June 1, an analysis by TNIE has revealed. From March 13, when the first novel coronavirus-related fatality was registered in the country to May-end, around , 5,500 deaths due to the pandemic were recorded. But in June, when unlock started, there was a surge. On June 1, the total deaths stood at 5,606, but by the end of the month, 11,803 more persons had died of Covid-19, taking the fatalities to 17,409. It wasn’t fatalities alone that registered a sharp rise. Several other indicators showed that during Unlock-1.0, the curve went through the roof. On June 1, there were 97,008 active cases. By the end of the month, that figure climbed to 2,20,478. If one looks at the figure of confirmed Covid-19 cases in June, comparing it with the total confirmed cases since March when lockdown was first announced, June alone contributed 65% of the total cases. “The high numbers show the epidemic is now growing rapidly. All our control measures seem to have been, at best, only partially-successful, probably only delayed rather than averted the effect of the epidemic,” said epidemiologist Jammi N Rao, who has worked with the Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, and was a public health consultant with the UK National Health Service. The month of May is an important landmark in India’s fight against the virus. Fatality rate, which reached a peak of 3.42% on May 5, was brought down by the month-end to 2.83%. This happened through a combination of increased testCONTINUED ON: P7 ing and isolation. Recovery Fatality Testing 263.30% 210.54% 122.53% SOUL-SOOTHING EXPERIENCE Don’t want to go back: US man moves court to settle down in Kerala P R A M D A S @ Kochi My aspiration is to show a viable business model and get a five-year business visa. The easiest way to become a resident is to marry an Indian, but I am 74 and probably passed all that Johnny Paul Pierce FOREIGNERS stranded in India due to travel restrictions are desperate to get back to their countries. But the fivemonth stay in Kerala has been a soul-soothing experience for 74-year-old US citizen Johnny Paul Pierce who now wants to spend the rest of his life in the God’s Own Country Pierce has . approached the Kerala High Court seeking to convert his tourist visa into a business visa. “My aspiration is to show a viable business model and get a five-year business visa. The easiest way to become a resident is to marry an Indian, but I am 74 and probably past that option,” he said. Johnny is planning to set up a centre for foreigners and explore the tourism potential in Kerala. “I would recruit residents from the USA. Those who could afford to stay long term are generally the retired folks who are at the risk of contracting the virus in the U S A , ” s ay s Pierce. Johnny Paul Pierce “I am ab- solutely safe in Kerala where the entire state has only reported 25 deaths (sic),” Pierce told TNIE. Pierce approached the court through advocate Saju S Nair and his petition will be considered on Tuesday . He sought a directive to the government to permit him to apply for conversion of his tourist visa into a business visa without having to leave the country . He came to India on February 26 on a tourist visa, which is valid up to January 26, 2025. He is staying at Kandanadu in Ernakulam and, after the lockdown was imposed, he got stranded there. This is his fifth visit to India as a tourist. The guidelines of the Indian government permit continuous stay for only 180 days for foreigners on tourist visas. His 180 days is going to expire on ● More on P4 August 24.
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