THIRUVANANTHAPURAM l wednesday l december 23, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION ‘Air pollution killed 1.7 Lakh Indians in 2019’ 1.4% GDP lost due to poor air quality As much as 18% of the total deaths last year were due to air pollution, says a new paper published in Lancet Planetary Health According to the paper, air pollution shrank India’s GDP by 1.4%. However, the study found household air pollution decreased in India, resulting in 64% drop in the death rate attributable to it between 1990 and 2019. ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava attributed this to govt schemes such as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana’ and ‘Unnat Chulha Abhiyan’ ■ A2.6L cr Northern states biggest losers ■ The scientific paper noted that the economic loss due to air pollution as a percentage of the state GDP was higher in the northern and central India states, with the highest in Uttar Pradesh (2.2% of the GDP) and Bihar (2% of the GDP) Delhi had the highest per-capita economic loss at $62 Loss to Economy as premature deaths shrank India’s productivity 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 Priest, nun killed Abhaya, but it took 28 yrs to prove Special CBI court in state capital to announce punishment for Fr Thomas Kottoor, Sr Sephy today; justice has been done, says prosecutor; priest says not afraid, god is with him A thief brings god’s servants to their knees E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram After 28 years, justice finally prevailed in the Sister Abhaya murder case with the special CBI court here pronouncing Fr Thomas Kottoor and Sr Sephy guilty. Special court judge K Sanil Kumar will announce the sentence on Wednesday . In a case that has been eagerly watched by the entire country the court on Tuesday took , less than five minutes to pronounce its verdict. Apart from murder (IPC 302), the two were also found guilty of destroying evidence (IPC 201) while Kottoor had another charge of house trespassing (IPC 449) proven against him. Kottoor and Sephy were taken for medical examination after which they were shifted to Poojappura Central Prison and Attakkulang ara Women’s Prison, respectively . When the verdict was read out, Sephy broke down and had to be consoled by fellow nuns while Kottoor stood straightfaced. Later, Kottoor told the press that he was innocent and added that he was not afraid as God was with him. Abhaya, a 19-year-old Knanaya Catholic nun and member of the St Joseph’s Congregation, was found dead in the well of Pius X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. The local police and the Crime Branch had termed the death as suicide, but the probe headed by then CBI Kochi unit E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Kottayam Sr Sephy Fr Thomas Kottoor SUICIDE TURNS COLD-BLOODED MURDER! She was found dead in the well of Pius X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. 1 19-yr-old Abhaya was a Knanaya Catholic nun & St Joseph’s Congregation member Local police and the Crime Branch had termed it as suicide, but CBI probe revealed it was a cold-blooded murder 2 DySP Nandakumar Nair revealed that it was a cold-blooded murder. The CBI finding was that Abhaya had gone to the kitchen of the convent for fetching water and happened to see Fr Kottoor, Fr Jose Poothrikkayil and Sr Sephy in a compromising position. Fearing for their reputation, Sephy bludgeoned Abhaya with an axe and threw her Gupkar group scores big in local body polls F aya z W a n i @ Srinagar In the first major electoral exercise after Article 370 revocation, the Gupkar Alliance on Tuesday emerged the single largest group in the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu & Kashmir. Notably the BJP made in, roads and won three seats in Muslim-majority Kashmir — in Srinagar, Bandipora and Pulwama. In the 280 DDC seats, elections for which was held in eight phases, People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration comprising NC, PDP, PC, ANC, JKPM, CPI and CPI(M) was ahead in 116 seats (93 won and leading in 23 seats). The BJP has emerged the single largest party. It was ahead in 73 seats, having won 65 seats and leading in eight. But the BJP can run and have DDC chairman only in six out of 20 districts in J&K. It will have its DDC chairman in Jammu, Doda, Reasi, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur. Independents were ahead in 55 seats (36 won, 19 leading). Top leaders of Gupkar Alliance, which was formed in October to fight for Article 370 restoration, had stayed away from the poll campaign and let the second-rung leaders lead the campaigning. PDP leader Waheed Para, arrested by NIA last month in militancy-related case, won the polls even without campaigning from his hometown Pulwama seat. However, the Gupkar Alli- Party positions JAMMU Results declared 107 BJP 63 NC18 Congress 11 Ind 11 Apni Party 2 JKNPP 1 BSP 1 Apart from murder (IPC 302), Kottoor and Sephy were also found guilty of destroying evidence (IPC 201) while Kottoor had another charge of house trespassing (IPC 449) proven against him. into the well with the help of the two priests. It’s this CBI charge that has now got the court’s stamp of approval. The CBI court had earlier discharged Jose for want of evidence. Hailing the verdict, prosecutor M Navas said justice has been done to Abhaya. “There is no better way to describe the judgment,” he said. ● More on P4 e x p r e ss r e a d Notification for SSLC, Plus Two exams issued T’Puram: The formal notification for SSLC and second year Higher Secondary examinations, slated to be held from March 17 to 30, was released. SSLC exams will begin at 1.40pm from Monday to Thursday and 2.40pm on Friday. P7 Migrant labourer shot dead in Idukki estate Results awaited: 33 DDC seats in Jammu region: 140 Idukki: A man inferred to be a migrant labourer was shot dead in an estate belonging to a Ponkunnam native near Chittampara. The estate manager has been taken into custody. P5 KASHMIR Farmer unions to decide on offer for talks today Results declared 126 NC37 Ind 29 PDP 25 Cong 9 Apni Party 8 PC 6 CPM 5 BJP 3 JKPM 3 PDF 1 Results awaited: 14 DDC seats in Kashmir region: 140 ance suffered a major setback in Srinagar, where it could manage to get only three seats. Independents emerged a dominant force here with seven seats followed by J&K Apni Party with thee and BJP one. While the PAGD contested the polls on the plank to demand restoration of Article 370 and statehood, BJP fought the polls on the plank of development and asserted that Article 370 had gone forever and cannot be restored. The Congress, which initially aligned with PAGD but later ended its alliance with PAGD under pressure from the BJP, was ahead in 25 seats (20 won and leading in five). New Delhi: Farmer unions deferred a decision on the Centre’s offer for talks to Wednesday, while Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed hope the impasse will be resolved soon. 18 pages, including 4 pages of THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Express A priest, a nun and a corrupt criminal justice system fell to their knees before the will power of a ‘petty thief ’ on Tuesday , with the Thiruvananthapuram Special CBI Court pronouncing the accused guilty in the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case. In the wee hours of March 27, 1992, Adakka Raju had broken into the compound of Pius X Convent to steal the copper plate connected to the lightning arrester installed on the terrace. As he sat perched on a cocoa tree waiting to scale the wall, he spotted two priests climbing the stairway on the rear side of the convent. Years later, he identified one of them from the newspapers -- Fr Thomas Kottoor, accused of murdering a young nun on the fateful night in which he had gone to the convent. When Raju approached the investigating officers with his account of events, he was not prepared for what was to ● More on P4 come. FACE-OFF What is the urgency in convening a special session of the assembly when it is slated to be convened soon for budget session? - Governor Arif Mohammed Khan asked state govt It is regrettable that a recommendation coming from an elected govt for discussing an issue of nat’l importance has not been acceded to. - Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister Guv confronts govt, refuses to call house to discuss farm laws against the farm bills. Meanwhile, the government reacted strongly to the goverIN an unprecedented move, nor’s move. Chief Minister PiGovernor Arif Mohammed narayi Vijayan shot off a letter Khan has rejected a recom- to Khan pointing out that his mendation of the state cabinet decision was against constituto convene a special one-day tional scheme. session of the legislative as“It is regrettable that a recsembly on Wednesday to dis- ommendation coming from an cuss Centre’s new elected gover nfarm laws. resolution in ment for discussThe governor’s ing an emergent jan session action has set the issue of national The government has tone for another importance has now decided to major confrontanot been acceded tion between the introduce the resolution to by the Hon’ble against the farm laws LDF government Gover nor, espea n d t h e R a j on January 8 when the cially when the assembly convenes for power to summon Bhavan. the budget session. Khan rejected a session of the the cabinet recom- Agriculture Minster V S Legislative AssemSunil Kumar said the mendation using bly clearly falls state will not his ‘discretionary outside his discreimplement the farm power’ as the countionary power,” reform laws. cil of ministers wrote Pinarayi. could not give a The government convincing explanation to his has now decided to introduce query on the urgency in con- the resolution against the farm vening such a special session. laws on January 8. The governor said that the asAgriculture Minister V S Susembly was anyway going to be nil Kumar said the state would convened on January 8 as part not implement the farm reof the budget session. form laws and would enact alA c c o rd i n g t o s o u rc e s, ternative legislation. He also the governor realised that the accused the governor of misreal objective of the special using his official powers and session was to pass a resolu- added political reasons might tion in the assembly, with the have prompted him to take the ● More on P7 support of Opposition UDF decision. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram 20 fliers from UK positive, nov 25 start date for scan S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi With at least 20 fliers from the UK testing positive for Covid-19 upon their arrival in India on Tuesday, the government tightened its screening protocol a day after announcing a temporary flight ban, as a new variant of the virus in Britain is creating havoc. To do so, the Centre opened the window for tracking incoming fliers from November 25 by sharing with all states the full list of international arrivals from the UK since that date. The list includes those who transited via Britain as well. Fliers who arrived between November 25 and December 8 need to be contacted by the district surveillance officers and advised to self-monitor their health. Those with symptoms must be administered the RT-PCR test and if they test positive, their genetic sequencing must be done, the standard operating procedure said. As for those who arrived between December 9 and 23, district surveillance officers have to track them daily till 14 days after their arrival in India. The new variant is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control to be more transmissible and affecting the younger population, the SOP pointed out. The variant has a set of 17 changes or mutations. The ban on flights from the UK comes into effect from Wednesday and will continue till December 31. Fliers arriving from the UK on Monday-Tuesday will be mandatorily subjected to RT- PCR tests and those testing positive quarantined institutionally . Samples collected from positive patients will be subjected to spike gene-based RT-PCR tests in appropriate labs to assess whether they carry the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 identified in the UK. If anyone has the new variant, the patient will remain in a separate isolation unit. All others will follow the nor mal treatment protocol, the advisory said. Those who contract the new variant, too, will get treatment as per the existing protocol. They will take a repeat test on the 14th day after the initial positive test. In the sample is still positive, further samples may be taken until two consecutive samples take n 2 4 h o u r s ap a r t t e s t negative. After snub, CM schools guv on his duties E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram After the government’s plea to convene a special assembly session was rejected for the second time, CM Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter saying the right to do so falls outside governor’s discretionary power. “Summoning and proroguing sessions of the legislative assembly have to be in accordance with the advice of the Council of Ministers,” Pinarayi said. He added the decision of the governor was contrary to the constitutional scheme. “It was proposed to summon the Legislative Assembly to discuss an emergent issue of public interest concerning the state. Here, discretionary power cannot be exercised by the governor,” the CM said. “The checks and balances determine the powers and duties of the constitutional authorities. Abiding by them is the essential prerequisite for the smooth functioning of a constitutional governance system,” Pinarayi said. CBSE exams won’t be held before Feb E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi CentRal Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) examinations for Classes 10 and 12 will not be held until February 2021, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said on Tuesday . “I received a lot of requests from students and teachers to postpone the CBSE exams for Classes 10 and 12,” the minister tweeted. He said the board exams would be held later, but did not specify dates saying it would be announced soon. Unlike classes, the exams would not be held online since “many schools are in rural areas”, the minister said. “Board exams will be conducted on a reduced syllabus,” the minister said, adding that 30% of the total syllabus for the exams has been scrapped. Swift hit Cyber fraudsters dupe Thrissur-based architect of `20 lakh E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Thrissur CYBER fraudsters have struck again in the state. P K Sreenivasan, an architect and son-in-law of writer Sarah Joseph, became the latest victim of the fraud after he lost `20.25 lakh from his account last week. As per the complaint Sreenivasan lodged before the Cyber Cell here, the fraudsters took `20,25,000 from his account with the West Palace branch of Canara Bank in Thrissur. The crime was committed by procuring a SIM card in his name using fake documents. The money was transferred in five unauthorised transactions between 5am and 7am on December 19 to the savings bank accounts of two unidentified per- sons with ICICI Bank in West Bengal. A sum of `5.5 lakh was withdrawn in the first transaction, said the police. In his complaint, Sreenivasan said he did not receive any alert from the bank. It was only after one of the employees of Vasthukam, his architecture firm, went to the bank to pay GST that the fraud came to light. Sreenivasan soon lodged complaints before the police and bank authorities. He has been maintaining the account for the past 20 years. “Sreenivasan’s BSNL SIM card became dysfunctional last week and he apprised the BSNL office in Thrissur of the matter. They directed him to apply for a new card. However, this SIM card was also found to be not working when he tried calling his driver and me when he had to leave for Taliparamba (Kannur),” said Sarah. “Meanwhile, we came to know that a duplicate SIM card was issued from the Aluva BSNL office after the fraudster produced a fake Aadhaar Card of Sreenivasan. The photo was of another person, but the address was the same,” she ● More on P3 said.
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23-12-2020 of The New Indian Express-Thiruvananthapuram