BHUBANESWAR l wednesday l february 10, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l JEYPORE EDITION w.h.o. probe into origins of coronavirus a dud Leak of virus from the Wuhan lab unlikely, claims team, inconclusive on the origin and human transmission; aligns itself with China’s line transmission from intermediary species WHO’s foreign expert Ben Embarek feels human transmission happened through an intermediary species, but identifying the actual host would require a detailed probe. Comprising experts from 10 countries, the mission landed in China on Jan 14 after being earlier stonewalled by Beijing, which had provoked the WHO’s China-friendly chief to issue a rare public rebuke 2.3 mn strict chinese monitoring ■ The run-up to the probe was marked by the US and China trading charges. China relented to host the team amid increasing global pressure, but kept the probe’s progress under strict monitoring ■ Incidentally, the Wuhan whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang’s first death anniversary was commemorated earlier this week deaths caused across the globe by the virus since december 2019 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 Race against time Rescuers trying to reach 37 workers trapped deep within the tunnel; 32 bodies found so far at various places V i neet U pa d h yay @ Dehradun (Clockwise from left) An aerial view of the Tapovan barrage two days after the flash floods; rescuers try to reach the tunnel from another end; and a recovered body | Shekhar Yadav Rescue effort Over 100 personnel from ITBP, SDRF and NDRF part of the rescue team. In all, over 800 personnel are on the site. 700 personnel are on standby Two excavator/JCB machines have excavated over 6,700 tonnes of slush from the tunnel. They have reached 130 m into the 30 ft high, 25 ft wide tunnel. But muck removal is taking time, reducing the cleared part to 90 m A drone is being used to look inside the tunnel to find possible entry points through the slush/muck With the toll in the Uttarakhand disaster climbing to 32, rescue workers raced against time on Tuesday to save the 37 workers trapped deep inside the Tapovan tunnel since Sunday’s flash floods that choked it with loads of slush. The 37 are part of the 174 others who are still missing. Officials from the Army Medical Corps (AMC) said the trapped workers are not just without food and water, night time temperature within the tunnel could go down to as low as 20C. “They don’t have food, water and additional amenities to shield themselves from the cold. Time indeed is running out for them,” an AMC official agreed.” But officials associated with the project said workers have enough clothing to give them some protection from the freezing temperature. Rakesh Dimri, an official from NTPC said, “The workers have war m clothes, boots, helmet with headlight, a torch, a rope, a knife and other items. I hope they will be rescued.” The key to survival is the availabliity of air vents, said medical experts. Dr Vipul Kandwal, a medical practitioner in Dehradun, said, “If they are not drowned, air passage would act as a lifesaver. The problem with sludge is it blocks almost everything, including oxygen.” Dr Adarsh Singh concurred. “Time is not on their side, as a human can survive without food or water or both for a week or so under such conditions.” However, they do not rule out the possibility of a miracle. “We have witnessed miracles and I am certain that our forces will save all those men. Whole nation’s prayers and wishes are with them,” said Dr Singh. Meanwhile, officials have deployed heli-bound Laser and Electromagnetic Pulse Imager to look for air pockets in the 1.9 km long tunnel network at the hydropower project site. Manjunath P C, commandant of Indian Reserve Battalion said, “This Kappan, others chargesheeted for money laundering Cabinet nod for farm ordinance to open up markets for farmers T O B Y A N T O N Y @ Kochi E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e will act as a multiplier in our efforts to save the trapped workers.” Meanwhile, six bodies were found at different locations on Tuesday, including Raini village, Tapovan, Nandprayag, Karnpyarag and Haridwar, taking the total body count to 32. From within the tunnel, nine dismembered body parts were found. Also five vehicles that were swept into the tunnel have been recovered. They include a Scorpio and a JCB. Naval divers have been deployed to search for bodies at various locations, including in the vicinity of the Tapovan project as more than 100 workers were at the site when tragedy struck. Aparna Kumar, deputy-inspector general, ITBP, Dehradun sector said, “No stone has been left unturned to save those men. We have reached beyond 100 metres into the 180-metre stretch of the tunnel where the men are trapped.” Many feel at this pace the operation to reach them could take threefour more days. The Enforcement Directorate has filed a chargesheet against Campus Front of India (CFI) leader Rauf Sherif, Keralite journalist Sidhique Kappan and three others at a Special Court for Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases in Lucknow. In the chargesheet, ED claimed that Rauf and other Popular Front of India (PFI) and CFI members raised funds overseas and allegedly used them for anti-CAA protests and Delhi riots. The chargesheet named Athikur Rahman, Masud Alam and Mohammad Alam, besides Rauf and Kappan. The agency is probing the money laundering aspect in the case registered by the Uttar Pradesh police against Kappan and three others for the alleged attempt to disrupt social and communal harmony after the Hathras gang-rape incident. The ED had arrested Rauf last December from the Thiruvananthapuram airport while Kappan was arrested by the UP police en route to Hathras from Delhi in October. The chargesheet stated that Rauf, a native of Anchal, was involved in criminal conspiracy, along with PFI and CFI members settled overseas, to fraudulently remit funds raised through bogus transactions to acquire the proceeds of crime. The chargesheet also said that Athikur, Masud, Kappan and Alam were travelling to Hathras to utilise the proceeds of crime. Interestingly, the ED finding is that the `5,000 transferred to the account of Athikur’s account by Ahamed Shibili, an associate of Rauf, is part of the proceeds of crime. “Though Rauf was remanded by the PMLA court in Ernakulam, we decided to file the chargesheet at Lucknow court as the incident took place in UP. It was filed on Saturday,” an ED official said. @ Bhubaneswar Even as farmers’ protests against the contentious farm acts continue to go strong, the Odisha government on Tuesday decided to promulgate an ordinance in the name of Agricultural Products and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation), on the lines of the Central laws, seeking to remove all barriers for marketing of agricultural produce in the State. The ordinance, approved by the State Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, aims to abolish fragmentation of markets within the State by removing the concept of notified market area and open up the field for farmers to sell as per their choice. It will bring in a more competitive marketing environment that can ensure optimum value return for farmers’ produce and realize enhanced income for them, a govern- It will bring in a more competitive marketing environment that can ensure optimum value return for farmers’ produce and realize enhanced income for them Government ment release stated. The ordinance proposes creation of a conducive environment for setting up and operating private market yards, far mer consumer market yards and sub-market yard to enhance competition among the different markets and market players for the farmers’ produce. Besides, it envisages to declare the entire State as one enforcement area. It will also remove geographical restrictions on sale of agricultural produce and allow producers to sell their produce anywhere within the State. It proposes to promote single point levy of market fee across the State and Statewide single trading license to realise cost-effective transactions. The ordinance will replace the Odisha Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1956 (OAPM Act) which was in force in the State since 1957. The draft ordinance, having similar provisions as the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 of the Centre, will be promulgated for the third time in the State. Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra told mediapersons that the ordinance was not approved by the Cabinet earlier. “The ordinance has now been approved by the Cabinet and extended,” he said. Sources maintained that the State government is likely to bring a Bill in the ensuing Budget session of the Assembly to replace the ordinance. The government, though, had not brought the Bill during the last session P5 of the Assembly . express read State Cabinet approves proposal to amend BPUT Act Bhubanerswar: The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal for amendment of the Biju Patnaik University of Technology Act, 2002 to ensure smooth functioning and academic excellence. The Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved 27 | P3 SC stays arrest of Tharoor, six journalists New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the arrest of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and six journalists in criminal cases pending against them over their tweets on the death of a Sikh man during a tractor rally on January 26 in New Delhi that turned violent | P8 ‘Main instigator’ of Red Fort riots Deep Sidhu arrested E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi A special team of the Delhi Police nabbed Punjabi film actoractivist Deep Sidhu from his hideout in Haryana’s Karnal on Monday night. Sidhu carried a reward of `1 lakh after being named one of the main conspirators in the Red Fort violence during the tractor rally on Republic Day . A team of the southwestern range of Special Cell led by DCP Sanjeev Yadav made the arrest around 10.30 pm in Karnal, where he had been hiding for the past 15 days. However, he kept releasing provocative videos to instigate Punjab and Haryana youth, police said. Sidhu was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate at the Tis Hazari Court on Tuesday and was remanded for seven days. Crime branch officials claimed that the actor had instigated the mob to break the barricades with tractors and deviate from the police-approved route. DCP Special Cell Yadav said Sidhu had been changing his location to evade arrest. “We have evidence on how he instigated and provoked the youngsters on January 25 and 26,” he said. Five-six teams of the Special Cell had conducted multiple raids in Punjab and Harya- na to nab Sidhu. A team was also sent to Jharkhand and Bihar. Sources claimed Sidhu’s friends had refused him accommodation and help. He had been wearing the same pair of dress for last five days. Sidhu managed to get in touch with an associate, who offered him a vehicle in Karnal. Sources said that Sidhu was in touch with a California-based woman friend, who helped him upload the provo c a t ive v i d e o s t h r o u g h Facebook. Centre to bring bill on cryptocurrency soon: FM The Centre on Tuesday said that the Interministerial panel on cryptocurrecy has submitted its report and that a bill to regulate cryptocurrency is being finalised. This bill is likely to be sent to the Union Cabinet for approval soon | P10 Lower Suktel’s fate tied to Mahanadi river tribunal award! E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Balangir IS the fate of Lower Suktel Irrigation Project tied to the award of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal? That is exactly what the Central Water Commission’s reply to an RTI query suggests even as the Odisha government claims that construction work for the dam would start soon. For the last two year and half, construction work of the dam project has been in a limbo over protests and non-resolution of rehabilitation and resettlement issues. Recently, the State government made a push by appointing senior officers for the project and announcing that construction work of the irrigation project would start soon. A high-level team led by Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra also visited the site. However, the reply CWC furnished to Balangir-based RTI activist Hemant Panda indicates that the Commission had returned the proposal of Lower Suktel project to the State Government in 2019. “The proposal of Lower Suktel irrigation project was returned to the State government vide letter T-28036/1/2019PA-N dated October 3, 2019 with a request to submit the proposal afresh based on the award of Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal,” said the PIO of CWC. Panda claims that the state government has not sent any fresh proposal as yet and hence, construction works for the project may not start. In a letter to Chief Engineer, Project Planning, Formulation and Investigation, the CWC had cited four projects - Lower Suktel (2nd RCE DPR), Tel Integrated Multipurpose Project, Khadaga Barrage Project and Telijore Irrigation Project - for which the State government had submitted proposals for in-principal clearance for preparation of the DPR.The CWC letter says that all four projects were at various stages of appraisal in CWC and pending due to “resolution of the inter-state matters.” Inter-state meetings of co-basin states were scheduled to discuss the issues but could not materialise. “The State of Chhattisgarh had observed that convening of inter-state meetings under the chairmanship of CWC chairman to resolve the inter-state issues of entire Mahanadi River Basin is in contravention of the orders of the Apex Court,” the letter said. Hence, CWC was requested to defer the meetings. The Commission said that since appraising units and directorates observed that appraisal of the Mahanadi Basin projects may not proceed till water availability from the river to each state is finalised. All four proposals were returned to the State with a request to submit fresh ones based on the Mahanadi water disputes tribunal’s award. Draft THE Union Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel on Tuesday said that only draft bylaws for Srimandir have been withdrawn and the same for Ananta Vasudev and Brahmeswar temples continue to remain in force | P2 bylaws for Ananta Vasudev, Brahmeswar still in effect Proud to be Hindustani Muslim, says Azad after PM’s teary farewell speech E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi An emotional Prime Minister Narendra Modi bade a tearful farewell to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, whose close to three-decade career as an MP ends on February 15. Azad signed off with a poignant speech that drew parallel between the lives of Muslims in India and Pakistan, and said he prided himself in being a Hindustani Muslim. Asserting that India was untainted by the evil practices prevalent in countries like Pakistan, Azad said, “If any Muslim in the world should be proud, it should be the Hindustani Muslims. I am among those who have never been to Pakistan, but when I read about the evils that exist in Pakistani society, I think Hindustani Muslims should be proud.” Meanwhile, in a speech interspersed by many breaks to soothe his choked voice, Modi called Azad his true friend. “His work will inspire generations of MPs to come. Posts come, high offices come, power comes, but one must learn from Ghulam Nabi Azadji how to handle these,” teary-eyed Modi said. Recalling the 2007 terror attack in Kashmir, where a grenade was lobbed at a bus carrying Gujrat pilgrims, Modi said, “Nabiji was constantly fo l l ow i n g u p. H e sounded concerned like those stuck there were his own family. Nabiji was the first person to call me. During that call, he could not stop crying,” Modi said, adding that he would always expect Azad to share his inputs with him.
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