THIRUVANANTHAPURAM l tuesday l February 09, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION Tesla’S $1.5BN PUSH SENDS bitcoin VALUE BEYOND `32l Bitcoin rises 16% to $44,795 after Tesla Inc pumps in money, signals its intent to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment lends legitimacy to cryptocurrency fears of market manipulation The California-based manufacturer said on Monday that it made the bet after updating its investment policy to allow it to invest in digital assets as well as bullion and gold exchange-traded funds. The massive investment lends increased legitimacy to electronic currencies, fast becoming a mainstream asset, despite skepticism in various quarters ■ In India, the bullish run is unlikely to trigger a ‘buy’ spree because a Crypto Bill is in the pipeline, as is a govt’s digital currency plan ■ Tesla’s massive fund infusion raises concerns of market manipulation. Prior to pumping in the money, its CEO maverick Elon Musk had been teasing the market with tweets on Bitcoin 35% Surge in Bitcoin since the start of 2021 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 Give reforms a chance, 20 bodies found, 202 missing resume talks: PM Modi How 12 got chamoli calamity V i n e e t U pa d h yay @ Raini A massive operation was launched on Monday to save 37 labourers trapped in a tunnel following a flash flood that devastated the Tapovan area in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district a day earlier. So far, 20 bodies have been found and 202 are still missing. Armed forces and disaster response units are involved in rescue work. A team of scientists from Delhi reached the spot to find out the cause of the disaster. Joint teams of Indo-Ti- betan Border Police, Indian Army National Disaster , Response Force, State Disaster Response Force and others had a tough time making their way through a sea of mud and debris. They also recovered dismembered body parts. The missing include 188 labourers (mostly from eastern UP, Bihar and Jharkhand), 11 locals and two police personnel. “We are doing everything we can to save them. We rescued 15 men trapped in the other end of this tunnel yesterday,” said Aparna Kumar, DIG of ITBP. The force of water was enormous and bodies were swept around 160 km downhill, to places like Srina g ar (Uttarakhand), Rudraprayag, Kaleshwar and Karnprayag. The rescuers have progressed about 100 metres into the 180-metre tunnel of the 520 MW power project on Dhauliganga that was swept away by the flood. The other unit damaged is the 13.2 MW project on Rishiganga. Both sites are still under heavy slush. Rescue operations under way at the Tapovan tunnel of a power project, a day after flash floods wreaked havoc in Uttarakhand, on Monday | Shekhar Yadav 2 mins face off over 6 hydel projects R i c h a S h a r m a @ New Delhi Given the fragile nature of the Uttarakhand ecosystem, should hydel power projects be permitted in the region? The question became m ore acute after the 2013 Kedarnath tragedy that killed over 4,000 people. However, two ministries at the Centre are banging their heads unable to take a call on the way forward. The latest face-off between the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoE- express read Mehta’s CIC posting likely to be delayed T’Puram: The appointment of outgoing Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta as the chief information commissioner is likely to be a long-drawn affair if Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala insists he would not sign the minutes of the selection committee meeting. Chennithala has said he could not register his opinion on the selection. Chennithala has already given a letter to the CM registering his dissent. P3 18 pages, including 4 pages of THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Express FCC) and Jal Shakti ministry is over a draft policy framework drafted by the former over the impact of hydel projects in the state. While the Jal ministry has categorically said it is not in favour of any hydel projects in the region, the MoEFCC draft has not cleared the air on six projects sanctioned by it before 2013, where 50% investment has already been made. Their promoters are THDC India Ltd., NHPC Limited, NTPC Limited, GMR Group (1 each ) and Super Hydro Electric Power Ltd (2). “The draft is vague. It says six projects will be allowed, but has not clarified their impact. They also circulated the power ministry comments supporting the projects,” a top official of the Jal ministry said. Given the differences, a joint affidavit is yet to be filed before the Supreme Court. The draft was prepared based on the SC’s order to review the impact of approved hydel projects. the kiss of life from mobile network V i n e e t U pa d h yay @ Raini Trapped in a tunnel filled with water for nearly six hours, he thought it was going to be the end of his life. K Sriniwas Reddy , a geologist from Hyderabad, couldn’t think of anything else after hearing a deafening noise followed by a sudden gush of water. But when all seemed over, the mobile network on a colleague’s phone saved their lives. Reddy is one of the lucky 12 rescued on Sunday . “I thought we are not going to survive this,” said Reddy who found himself , locked in a tunnel which is part of the Tapovan hydel power project. “We tried frantically to reach the mouth of the tunnel and then realised that it was blocked. But there was light coming through a small opening and a colleague of ours had signal on his phone. I feel blessed as I am safe now.” It was local worker Birendra Kumar, whose call made the difference between life and death. “We were panicking and suddenly, I felt my phone vibrate. I called up my boss to say we were inside the tunnel. He informed authorities and the men in uniform saved our lives. We thank them. They are our gods,” said Kumar, a resident of Dhak village in Chamoli. “We were cautious about using heavy machinery which could have hurt them,” said Sanjay Kumar, P9 ITBP officer. Close down schools, says IMA; other health experts disagree U n n i k r i s h n a n S @ T’Puram CITING the mass spread of Covid-19 at two schools in Malappuram as a case of laxity, the state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene urgently and shut schools until the beginning of examinations. A section of health experts, however, believe the situation is manageable while the government has decided to enforce guidelines far more stringently on and near the school campuses. As many as 187 students and 78 staff of Maranchery Government HSS and Vannery HSS tested positive on Sunday . “Cases spiked across the world whenever people crowded in large numbers. In the US, 80 per cent spike was reported when churches were opened. Reopening of schools here is similar to that,” said IMA state secretary Dr Gopikumar P . “Though I’m not against relaxation of restrictions, the spread at Malappuram schools prove the Covid protocol has not been followed properly. That is why we demanded that academic year should be completed by holding only the exams in strict adherence to the protocol.” ● More on P4 under the cover of darkness KSRTC bus goes missing from depot E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Kollam KSRTC is now used to theft and graft, yet the officials and other employees at the Kottarakkara depot were in for a shock on Monday morning when they realised that a bus itself had been ‘stolen’ from right under their noses. The police launched an investigation but, in the meantime, depot officials received the information that the bus lay abandoned on a ground A police officer walks past the Venad bus which was stolen from the Kottarakkara depot | Express 26km away at Parippally . The bus was brought back to the depot, but the police are yet to get a clue about who took it away and what the intention was. The Venad bus (RAC 354 - KL 15/7508) had completed its Sunday trips by 10.30pm and underwent the necessary service at the depot garage before being parked by a mechanic opposite the Kottarakkara municipal office. Due to a lack of space on the depot premises, the practice has been to park some of the buses on the roadside. When the driver assigned to operate the bus came searching on Monday morning, he could not find the bus. For a moment, he thought one of his colleagues might have taken it inside but he was proved wrong. He alerted the depot incharge who contacted other drivers on duty, but nobody knew where it had gone. The officer eventually lodged a complaint with the Kottarakkara po● More on P4 lice station. Promises farmers MSP mechanism will continue; cites Manmohan Singh’s push for agri sector reforms Rise above partisan lines: Modi to Oppn On a conciliatory note to the opposition, Modi said the issues miring agriculture should be solved and invited all to move forward for the welfare of farmers by rising above partisan lines Kisans ready for fresh dialogue Farmers’ leaders said they have never shied away from talks and would resume discussions once the Centre sends a fresh proposal and fixes the date and time. President of Krantikari Kisan Union Punjab Dr Darshan Pal said they have had 11 rounds of talks with three Union ministers, and were ready to continue engaging with the Centre. E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged the farmers to give agri reforms a chance even as he reiterated that the minimum support price (MSP) mechan i s m wo u l d c o n t i nu e. Urging the farmers to call off their protest, the prime minister said the gover nment was open to changes in the law. “Let us sit together and talk,” he said. In his reply to the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in Rajya Sabha, the prime minister said MSP was, is being, and would continue to be provided. He wanted the farmers to be open minded about the reforms that aim to modernise the mandi system all the while ensuring continued availability of affordable ration to the poor. “The laws are aimed at empowering the small and marginal farmers, who make up for more than two-thirds of the farming community but cannot avail of scheme benefits,” he added. Claiming that some protestors and foreign players were misleading the agitators, he lashed out at the opposition for its U-turn from advocating reforms during its rule to bashing it now. Reading excerpts from a statement issued by former prime minister Manmohan Singh on the need for farm reforms and one national market, Modi said, “I am implementing what he (Manmohan Singh) wanted, you should appreciate this. At least, you (opposition) listen to him,” he said. Alluding to tweets by pop star Rihanna and Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, Modi said, “I see that a new FDI has come. We have to protect the nation from this FDI” he said. He cautioned against forces trying to destabilise India. “India is very proud of the contribution of Sikhs,” he said. P10 Amid defiance, customs sifts bags of former UAE diplomat E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @Kochi Dramatic scenes unfolded at the Air Cargo Complex in Thiruvananthapuram airport on Monday when customs officials insisted on checking former UAE consul-general Jamal Hussain Al Zaabi’s baggage which was being sent to the Gulf country. An official of the UAE Consulate objected to the checking, citing diplomatic immunity . Customs officials said as Al Zaabi is a suspect in four cases related to gold smuggling through the diplomatic baggage, it was decided to check the bags that were brought by a UAE diplomat to the cargo complex to be sent on a flight to Dubai. Last week, the former consul-general wrote to customs authorities on sending his belongings which he had left behind in Thiruvananthapuram. “When the former consulgeneral sought the permission, we had clarified that the ba g g a g e would be checked as he is a suspect in four cases,” a customs offi● More on P4 cial said.
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09-02-2021 of The New Indian Express-Thiruvananthapuram