CHENNAI WEDNESDAY JANUARY 06, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 20 LATE CITY EDITION PARLIAMENT SESSION FROM JANUARY 29, BUDGET ON FEB 1 The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on Tuesday recommended convening of the Budget session from Jan 29 FILE PICTURE SECOND HALF LIKELY FROM MARCH 8 TO APRIL 8 The first part of the Budget session will run till February 15. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 1, as usual. The second half of the Budget session will commence after a recess and be held from March 8 till April 8. The Economic Survey will be presented in both Houses of Parliament on January 31 ■ 2021-22 OPPOSITION LIKELY TO RAISE FARM LAWS ■ ■ The Opposition is likely to put pressure on govt over farm laws The govt had earlier decided against convening the winter session of Parliament citing the pandemic, for which it drew flak The monsoon session of Parliament, too, had been adjourned prematurely after many MPs tested positive for Covid-19 | P9,13 BUDGET EXPECTED TO HAVE MEASURES TO REVIVE INDIA’S COVID-HIT ECONOMY 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 Minutes show expert panel’s Covaxin somersault It wasn’t satisfied with phase 1, 2 results alone in first two meets; changed mind in the third S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi A bare reading of the minutes of the three meetings the drug regulator’s expert panel held over the past week to consider accelerated licenses to coronavirus vaccines, indicates what was suspected all along — that the committee perhaps changed its mind on Covaxin overnight due to government pressure to clear a homegrown jab. After three meetings spread over four days, the subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation on Covid-19 recommended restricted emergency use for Covishield by Serum Institute of India and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech-ICMR. The approval to Covaxin, whose phase 3 trial on about 26,000 volunteers is still underway, however, led to a massive outcry in the scientific community as its efficacy is yet to be established. The minutes of the SEC’s meetings on December 30 and January 1 show it was not satisfied with Covaxin’s phase 1 and 2 trial data alone, but changed its mind on January 2. December 30’s minutes say that “after detailed deliberation, the com- mittee recommended that the firm should update and present immunogenicity safety and ef, ficacy data for further consideration.” On January 1, it recommended that Bharat Biotech expedite the recruitment of volunteers and perform interim efficacy analysis for further consideration. In the same meeting, the panel recommended Covishield’s approval. BORIS JOHNSON CANCELS R-DAY VISIT New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday cancelled his proposed visit to India citing the raging coronavirus crisis at home, aggravated by an infectious strain of the virus. He was scheduled to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade here on January 26 | P7 However, the very next day when an unscheduled meeting was held purportedly under pressure to clear the indigenous vaccine, Bharat Biotech presented further data and notably “requested for consideration of their proposal in the wake of incidence of new mutated coronavirus infection”. Introducing the protection angle against the infectious UK virus strain perhaps gave the SEC legroom for its somersault. The minutes show the committee echoed Bharat Biotech, as it observed that Covaxin has the “potential to target mutated coronavirus strains”. CONTINUED ON: P7 FIRST JAB BY JANUARY 13? EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Union health ministry on Tuesday said the government is prepared to roll out vaccines against Covid-19 within 10 days of granting emergency use authorisation. Since regulatory approval came on January 3, the first jabs could be administered by January 13. “The government is ready to introduce Covid-19 vaccine within 10 days from date of emergency use authorisation,” said Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary . Describing the vaccine delivery management plan using the specially designed CoWin platform, he said healthcare and frontline workers need not register themselves on it as beneficiaries, as their data has been pre-populated on the portal. “There are four primary vaccine stores called GMSD in Karnal, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 37 vaccine stores. They store vaccines in bulk and distribute them further,” he said. Automated session allocation, SMS in 12 languages, 24x7 helpline, chat box with pattern recognition to help navigate the portal, digital locker for integrated data retrieval and storing vaccine data are some of the salient features of CoWIN. 51 cold-storage facilities ready in TN: Health Secy EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai AS the Centre gears up to roll out Covid vaccination, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan on Tuesday inspected the coldstorage facility located at the DMS campus, to ensure all arrangements are in place. The facility can store 1.17 crore vaccine doses. As many as 51 coldstorage facilities have been kept ready across the State as per the instructions of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, said Radhakrishnan. Combined, they have the capacity to store nearly 2.5 crore doses. The State also has 2,880 secondary cold-storage facilities, which will be kept ready apart from the cold-storage boxes. P2 BIRD FLU SCARE 6 TN districts bordering Kerala put on high alert The right to development, as discussed...is a basic human right and no organ of the State is expected to become an impediment in the process of development as long as the government proceeds in accordance with law B A N B U S E LV A N @ Chennai NEW year, new problems. With the outbreak of a fresh bird flu episode in the neighbouring State of Kerala, the State government on Tuesday tightened vigil to prevent any poultry transport through its checkposts. All the vehicles coming from the two infected Kerala districts — Alappuzha and Kottayam — would be disinfected at the State border, said officials. The government has also requested the railways to not transport any feed ingredients for birds and other poultry products from Kerala by trains. “As many as 26 check posts, have been opened in Tenkasi, Kanniyakumari, Theni, Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiri districts, to monitor vehicle movement from Kerala, round the clock,” A Gnanasekaran, Director of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, said. He added, directions were issued to all stakeholders, including district-level authorities, the Egg Coordination Committee, the Broiler Coordination Committee, and poultry farmers, to take up the required bio-infection control measures. The influenza is caused by a virus in birds and it can be transmitted to human beings. The sudden spread among ducks in Kerala has put Tamil Nadu on high alert. The protocol issued by the government also restricts entry of visitors from other States into the poultry farms. Workers at the farms have also been asked to cover their faces using masks while feeding the READ MORE: P2 chicks. Gates of the Red Hills reservoir were opened on Tuesday after the water reached 97 per cent of its capacity, following incessant rains, on Tuesday | DEBADATTA MALLICK Chennai reservoirs fill up as rains lash city EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai DARK skies, incessant rains, and waterlogged neighbourhoods — it was an action replay altogether for the capital city since Monday night, with over 30 mm rainfall being recorded in the catchment areas of Chembarambakkam and Red Hills. Water was released yet again, from both the reservoirs after it received close to 500 cusecs inflow. “The same amount of water has been released to avoid flood- ing. If the rains continue, more water may be released,” said an official from the Public Works Department. People residing in low-lying areas near the lakes, including Sirukalathur, Kavanur, Kundrathur, Thirumudivakkam, Thiruneermalai and Adyar, were issued flood alert. The water level at the Red Hills reservoir was at 3,206 mcft (97 per cent) against its capacity of 3,300, while at Chembarambakkam, it was at 3,364 mcft (92 per cent) as against its capacity of 3,645 mcft. The water outflow from the latter was in- creased later in the day. Although officials did not confirm the exact quantity being let out, sources said, over 2,000 cusecs of water was being released. Meanwhile, other low-lying HIGHEST RAINFALL IN A CENTURY Chennai: This is one of the highest rainfall the city has experienced in the last 100 years, said Tamil Nadu Weatherman Pradeep John on his blog. A 145 mm rainfall was recorded in a 15-hour window on Monday-Tuesday areas in Velachery, Broadway, Virugambakkam, Perungudi and Madipakkam, and parts of KK Nagar, T Nagar, and the GST Road saw water-logging. According to Corporation data, water stagnation was reported in 24 areas across all 15 zones. All of them have been cleared. For the 150-odd families living in makeshift tents built using banners and sheets in Gandhi Nagar, the night turned a nightmare as their tents collapsed in the rains. In a desperate bid to escape, they knocked doors in other settlements seeking shelter, at least for the children and elderly . Farmers gear up for R-Day showdown, to hold ‘rehearsal’ tractor rally on Thursday H A R P R E E T B A J W A @ Chandigarh A day after the seventh round of talks between the Centre and farmer union leaders over the three contentious farm laws ended in a deadlock, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha on Tuesday said it would take out a tractor rally on January 7, day before the next meeting. The tractor march would he held on eastern and western expressways around Delhi, said Yogendra Yadav, a member of the coordination committee of the morcha, an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions. “It will be a rehearsal for our tractor march on January 26. Farmers from Kundli, Ghazipur and Rewasan will climb atop both expressways from their respective sides. After meeting at midway point, they will return to their respective positions. We will approach from Kundli and Tikri borders on the eastern side, will march from Rewasan and Ghazipur,” Yadav added. Meanwhile, Punjab BJP leaders Surjit Kumar Jyani and and Harjit Singh Grewal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence in Delhi. Jyani is the chairman of kisan coordination committee of the party which is interacting with farmers while Grewal is a member of the panel. After the meeting, Grewal said the PM is aware of the ground reality but refused to divulge more details. Al-Ula: Gulf Arab leaders on Tuesday signed a declaration to ease a rift with Qatar, following Saudi Arabia’s decision to end a three-year embargo of the tiny energy-rich country. Saudi announced restoration of full diplomatic relations with Qatar. Saudi Arabia along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt had cut ties with Qatar in 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism — a charge vehemently denied by the tiny nation. The truce follows negotiations led by Kuwait and US to end the standoff. On Monday, Saudi had announced opening its airspace and borders to Qatar, the first step toward ending the embargo | P12 Villagers attempt to set officials on ﬁre, booked Ramanathapuram: Thirty villagers from Oruvanenthal were on Tuesday booked by the police for attempting to set a Village Administrative Officer and a woman police constable on fire, by pouring kerosene on them. The villagers resorted to violence after the duo attempted to reseal a broken lock on a statue of Muthuramalinga Thevar | P4 EPS DECLARES GOVT HOLIDAY ON JANUARY 28 Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said that a holiday was declared for the festival, which falls on January 28 this year, considering demand from the people | P4 Project to develop Central Vista gets 2:1 SC green light Justice Dinesh Maheshwari Dissenting verdict K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi Justice Sanjiv Khanna A Supreme Court bench on Tuesday greenlighted the mega Central Vista project by 2:1 majority, saying there were no infirmities in clearances granted to it. Justice A M Khanwilkar, writing for himself and Justice Dinesh Maheswari, however, said authorities executing the project will have to get clearance from the Heritage Conservation Committee, rejecting the Centre’s stand that the approval was to be taken subsequently . The two judges found the process to change the land use at the project site legal and valid. They also found all notifications issued for the project as also the approval granted by the environmental committee valid. The majority verdict directed the Union ministry of environment to set up smog towers as an integral part of the Central Vista project and ordered use of environment-friendly construction material. On the issue of award of contract to a Gujarat-based firm, the court held it was just and proper. While agreeing with the other two judges on “the aspects of Notice inviting Bid, award of consultancy and the order of the Urban Arts Commission,” Justice Sanjiv Khanna in his dissenting verdict faulted the Centre for not following due procedure. “There is no intelligible disclosure of public participation and no prior approval of Heritage Conservation Committee,” Justice Khanna said. “I have sent the issue to Heritage Conservation Committee. We have not gone into the merits of matter,” he said, adding prior approval of the Heritage Conservation Committee was necessary for such projects. The government had defended the project, arguing that the current British-era Parliament House, opened in 1927, had less space, no fire safety norms or earthquake proofing. It had also contended that all Central ministries need to be bunched together in one place to improve efficiency . Adequate notice not given to stakeholders of the development plan Tender notices do not suggest the project envisaged extensive change, though it was for complete redevelopment of Central Vista Fatal flaw in following procedure; Centre did not apply its mind to inputs from the public Lack of reasonable time prevented those who had filed objections and given suggestions to appear orally and state their point of view Premeditated effort to ensure approval without the presence and participation of representatives of professional bodies No approval from Heritage Conservation Committee Environmental clearance for the project mechanical, invalid STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS READ Saudi, allies restore diplomatic ties with Qatar THAI POOSAM Justice AM Khanwilkar Even primary objectives of NaMo’s DeMo never met: Pranab EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE intent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation was good but its primary objectives were not met even after years of its implementation, according to former president Pranab Mukherjee. The PM did not give him the heads-up and he came to know about the note ban through TV like the rest of the country re, vealed Mukherjee, who passed away on August 31, 2020. The fourth volume of his autobiography The Presidential Years: 2012-2017 was released on Tuesday by publisher Rupa Publications. “It is difficult to assess the exact impact of demonetisation, close to four years after it was implemented. But perhaps one thing can be stated with- out fear of contradiction: the multiple objectives of the decision of demonetisation... to bring back black money , paralyse the operation of the black economy and facilitate a cashless society, etc, have not been met,” he wrote. Terming the decision was in line with Modi’s style of making dramati c a n n o u n c e m e n t s, Mukherjee said the criticism that followed was only natural. “Demonetisation could not have been done with prior consultation because the suddenness and surprise, necessary for such announcements, would have been lost after such a process, ” he wrote. Mukherjee also noted that in the early 1970s, he had proposed demonetisation after the successful implementation of the Voluntary Disclosure of Income and Wealth Ordinance, 1975 but the then PM Indira Gandhi turned it down. “Indira Gandhi did not accept my suggestion, pointing out that a large part of the economy was not yet fully monetised and that a substantial part of it was in the informal sector. She argued it would be imprudent to shake the faith of people in currency notes. After all, currency notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India represent the commitment of a sovereign government,” he added in his memoirs.
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