CHENNAI FRIDAY OCTOBER 23, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 40 LATE CITY EDITION WOMEN ARE SYMBOL OF DURGA, MUST BE RESPECTED: PM MODI Invoking Goddess Durga, the prime minister on Thursday reaffirmed his govt’s commitment to women’s empowerment WITH AN EYE ON BENGAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS Addressing the people of West Bengal at the start of Durga puja, Modi said the Goddess is also worshipped as a daughter in the state, and emphasised that women must be respected. In his address, ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, Modi also highlighted the Centre’s various schemes for the state and the initiatives taken for women empowerment ■ 78,000 LOW FOOTFALLS AT PUJA PANDALS ■ Due to Covid-19 restrictions, Kolkata’s streets were bereft of the crowd of revellers normally seen on Mahasasthi, which marks the beginning of the five-day Durga puja festivities In many big-ticket pandals, only a handful of organisers and locals were allowed due to the curbs imposed by Calcutta HC P10 POLLING BOOTHS ACROSS WEST BENGAL TELEVISED THE PM’S ADDRESS 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 Whenever available, the doses would be given to all states at a nominal cost. It’s up to the chief ministers to decide how it would be administered, as healthcare is a state subject, says BJP POLITICS OF VACCINE Outrage as Bihar BJP plays the free shot for all card to keep mandate nounced India’s Covid access strategy Kindly refer to the state. wise election schedule to know IN what was read as the politics of when you will get it, along with a vaccine, the BJP’s manifesto in hoard of false promises.” Bihar promised to provide free RJD’s chief ministerial candiCovid-19 shots to all people in the date Tejashwi Yadav hit out at the state if it retains power in the BJP for playing politics in the forthcoming Assembly elections. time of pandemic by asking the The party perhaps saw people to vote for the as it as a trump card, as $7 BILLION vaccine. Access to a vacthe universal free vacSET ASIDE cine is the fundamental cine in the state was the FOR INDIA’S right of every citizen of first promise on its poll VACCINATION India and making it a manifesto released by vote issue is electoral A Bloomberg Finance Minister Nirblackmail, he said. report quoting mala Sitharaman. Leaders from other unnamed sources “As soon as the vacnon-NDA parties also said the Centre has cine is available for prolashed out at the “blaalready set aside duction at a mass scale, tant populism” and acabout $7 billion for every person in Bihar cused the BJP of exploitCovid vaccination will get free vaccination. ing Covid-19 fears for across the country. This is the first promise electoral mileage. Each person needs mentioned in our poll The BJP defended its two injections, manifesto,” she emphaannouncement with with each shot sised, adding: “Bihar is party general secretary costing $2. The a politically sensitive Bhupender Yadav sayestimated cost per state. Here people caning the promise has been person, including not be fobbed off with made as part of its pubinfrastructure and empty promises.” lic policy. The BJP’s IT storage, is $6-7, the Amid a barrage of department head Amit report said criticism, the BJP Malviya said the Centre sought to justify the anwould provide the vacnouncement saying, the vaccine cine to all states at a nominal cost. would be made available at a nom- “It will be up to the state governinal cost and it’s up to the state ments to decide the distribution governments to decide on provid- of the vaccines.” ing it to the people free of cost, Meanwhile, activist Saket since health is a state subject. Gokhale filed a complaint with In a tweet dripping with sar- the Election Commission, saying casm, Congress leader Rahul Gan- the announcement violated the P10 dhi said: “Government just an- model code of conduct. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Patna India restores all existing visas AMIT BANDRE FREE COVID VACCINE FOR ALL PEOPLE: EPS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Pudukkottai THE BJP kicked off a vaccine-populism of sorts in its manifesto released for the poll-bound Bihar. Hours later, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh followed suit by promising free universal vaccination drive against the Covid pandemic. “The Tamil Nadu government will bear the entire cost of the vaccination drive,” Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced on Thursday after reviewing , the Covid preparedness measures in Pudukkottai. Palaniswami added that the downward trend seen in fresh Covid cases is because of the extensive measures being implemented by the State government. He applauded the work of officials and ground staff in this regard. Compared to other South Indian States, Tamil Nadu has managed to contain the pandemic much more effectively , he said. Despite the pandemic and relief work, Palaniswami said, the State government managed to continue attracting investments. “TN received foreign investments to the tune of `40,000 crore in this period, which will create jobs for 74,000 people,” he said after inaugurating an integrated consumer goods manufacturing and logistics facility of FMCG major ITC Limited at Viralimalai. ITC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the `1,150-crore plant at the Global Investors Meet (GIM) held in 2015. Palaniswami inaugurated Phase I of the two-phase project coming up on 55 acres. The first phase produces food products, including Aashirvaad Atta, and generates jobs for 2,200 people. The Chief Minister also unveiled a bronze Jallikkattu statue at P4 Kamaraj Nagar in Viralimalai. U.S. HOPES FOR UNIVERSAL IMMUNISATION BY JUNE If the claim of US Operation Warp Speed’s chief adviser Dr Moncef Slaoui is anything to go by, most Americans could be immunised for Covid-19 by June next. “It’s not a certainty, but the plan... should make it such that by June, everybody could have been immunised in the US,” Slaoui told ABC News | P12 Not in sync with govt’s policy of vaccine prioritisation S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE promise of a free Covid-19 vaccine for every individual in Bihar in the BJP’s poll manifesto is not in line with the Centre’s own stated vaccine policy so far. Top functionaries of the government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had thus far said once the vaccine is available, it will be prioritised and be given to the most vulnerable groups first. The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration has already recommended a serosurveyassisted vaccine policy, which means leaving out those with antibodies. The group has chalked out a plan to make the vaccine available to 30-40 crore people in the first phase, covering healthcare workers, frontline workers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities. Earlier this month, Vardhan had said the government is hoping and planning to receive and utilise 400 to 500 million doses covering approximately 25 crore people by July 2021. Experts meanwhile pointed out that vaccines should not be a poll issue. “I think vaccines should be free for everyone and part of universal health coverage,” said Dr Gagandeep Kang, a senior medical scientist. “For SARS-COV2 vaccines, since supply will be limited, they should be provided to those at highest need of protection using an open transparent allocation strategy .” Chennai’s wettest day this year, 65 mm rain in 2 hrs E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai Intense showers which lashed the city for a couple of hours on Thursday afternoon flooded several arterial roads. A scene at Mahalingapuram | MARTIN LOUIS IN an intense bout, Chennai witnessed its highest single-day rainfall in the year on Thursday A substantial 65 mm rainfall was recorded, . most of which was received within a couple of hours in the afternoon, accompanied by heavy thunder and lightning. Caught by surprise, the city roads came to a standstill for a short while as water flowed freely on arterial roads. Rain and thunderstorms are likely to continue for the next 2-3 days in North Tamil Nadu, said N Puviarasan, director of the Area Cyclone Warning Centre at Regional Meteorological Centre. “Unlike on previous occasions, Chennai was the ‘hotspot’ for intense rainfall on Thursday,” said weather blogger Pradeep John. Similar P3 rains can be expected on Friday and Saturday too, he added. SAVING THE SCAVENGER Mudumalai will house a vulture breeding centre S V K R I S H N A C H A I TA N YA @ Chennai IN a bid to save endangered species of vultures from extinction, the National Board for Wildlife has approved a new plan that proposes setting up Vulture Conservation Breeding Centres in some States, including Tamil Nadu. Accordong to the revised plan, a captive breeding centre would come up at the Sigur Reserve Forest Range in the buffer zone of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The move is crucial for Tamil Nadu as estimates peg the vulture count in the State at a mere 200, predominantly in the Moyar Val- US weighs crackdown on B-1 visas for H-1B jobs ley under which Sigur Reserve Forest falls. About 180 Oriential White-backed Vultures, a critically endangered species, are found here. The numbers of Long-billed Vultures, Red-headed Vultures and Egyptian Vultures have dwindled to double and single digits. The Action Plan for Vulture Conservation 2020-25 is a revision of the one released in 2006 to be executed over three years. It was revised after identifying the priority action points and based on inputs given by experts. A vital features is preventing misuse of veterinary non-steroidal anti-inP4 flammatory drugs. The Centre on Thursday restored all existing Indian visas suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. The home ministry announced it’s giving permission to all Overseas Citizen of India and Person of Indian Origin card holders and all other foreign nationals to visit India for any purpose except on a tourist visa, electronic visa and medical visa | P9 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE US State Department on Thursday proposed to halt the issuing of temporary business visas (B-1) for H-1B specialty occupation. If implemented, the proposed plan could affect thousands of Indian IT workers and their employers. Temporary business visas have allowed IT companies to send professionals to the US for a short stay to complete on-site work. “The proposal, if finalised, will eliminate any misconception that the B-1 in lieu of H policy provides an alternative avenue for foreign professionals to enter the US for skilled labour,” the State Department said in a statement. It noted that issuing of temporary business visas “potentially encourages the workers and their employers, to circumvent the restrictions and requirements relating to the H non-immigrant classification, established by the US Congress to protect American workers.” “The resulting transparency would reduce the impact on the US workforce of aliens performing activities in a specialty occupation without the procedural protections attendant to the H-1B classification,” the State Department added. Last December, California attorney general announced a settlement with Infosys in a lawsuit that involved allegations of 500 of its employees working in the US on B-1 visa rather than the H1-B visa. The proposal comes just two weeks ahead of the presidential election in the US with President Donald Trump eager to present himself as the protector of American jobs. TRADITIONAL TOUCH Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami inaugurating a bronze statue depicting Jallikattu, installed at Kamaraj Nagar in Viralimalai in Pudukkottai district on Thursday | EXPRESS EXPRESS READ TODAY’S IPL MATCH 33 Indians held hostage in Somalia MUMBAI VS CHENNAI New Delhi: The Indian High Commission in Kenya said on Thursday it is in touch with the Somalian government to rescue 33 Indian labourers kept hostage by a company in Mogadishu. They have been held by the company for the past eight months CHENNAI’S BEST WEEKEND GUIDE The Super Kings are facing an early exit for the first time in IPL history. They need to win their remaining four matches to give themselves a mathematical chance of qualifying for play-offs. In a must-win match, they face defending champs Mumbai Indians, who are currently third in the table with 12 points. ODDS : MUMBAI 5/8 | CHENNAI 11/8 L I V E : S TA R S P O R T S 1/ H O T S TA R @ 7. 30 P M 40 PAGES, INCLUDING 24 OF INDULGE (TABLOID)
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