dharmapuri l wednesday l February 24, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l city EDITION Facebook kisses and makes up with Australian govt Last-minute face-saving compromise The social media giant said talks were held with the Australian government to amend the proposed media bargaining laws According to reports, the face-saving compromise will see Facebook as well as internet search giant Google plunge tens of millions of dollars into the struggling local news sector. In return, the US digital firms will not be subjected to mandatory payments that could cost them vastly more and create what they see as an alarming global precedent ■ $28 bn New law likely to be passed this week ■ ■ Facebook had blocked news feed in Australia last week following dispute on paying news organisations for sharing content Inadvertently, some government pages and announcements on Covid-19 were blocked too, drawing backlash Australian Parliament is expected to pass the law this week Facebook’s revenue in the October-december 2020 quarter 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 Proof sketchy, court shows the bail Disha Says people can’t be arrested just because they disagree with govt policies; invoking sedition to massage egos not done A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to 22-year-old climate change activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in connection with the toolkit case, citing scanty and sketchy investigation. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana said, “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.” The 18-page bail order said, “Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right.” Shortly after bail was granted, another judge, Pankaj Sharma, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Patiala House Court, disposed of a Delhi Police application seeking Disha’s extended Cong swept out by BJP in Guj local body polls der Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, it gave the BJP a scare, scoring 87 as against the BJP’s 96 in a 182-member Assembly. Subsequent defections weakened the party and reduced it to 61. The Gujarat blow comes a day after the Congress lost power in Puducherry According to . an analyst, consecutive Congress losses in all major elections has forced people to look for an alternative. “In 2017, peo- S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i BJP workers celebrate after winning civic body elections in Ahmedabad | PTI Grand and grandeur The gigantic Motera stadium is all set to host its first international match after renovation when India face England in 3rd Test from Wednesday No floodlights but LED lights fitted on the roof will illuminate the stadium 63 acres The total area in which the Sardar Patel Stadium has been built 1,10,000 capacity makes it the largest cricket stadium in the world six four Number of indoor practice pitches Dressing rooms with modern facilities 3 Outdoor practice fields Third Test live on Hotstar/Star Sports: 2.30pm `4.85 lakh crore expected debt burden by March 2021. It is expected to go up to `5.70 lakh crore by March 2022, but is within norms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 55.67 lakh BPL families eligible for insurance coverage of `2L in case of natural death of breadwinner; `4L for accidental death, and up to `2L for permanent incapacitation record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-yearold young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society and send her to jail.” , He also said the police are in the process of collecting more evidence and so they cannot be allowed to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations. “The resistance to bail plea seems to be more ornamental in nature,” said the judge. | P9 `1,700 crore to be spent on stormwater drain project at Pallikaranai marshland FinTech City being developed by TIDCO at Kavanoor near Chennai Govt to formulate Urban Wage Employment programme Interim Budget highlights State’s rise while the country faces a negative growth rate of 7.7% ‘TN to grow at 2.02%’ drain project for Pallikaranai marshland. The government seeks A few days ahead of the expected to tap the rapidly growing fintech announcement of poll schedule, space that is largely used in moDeputy Chief Minister O Pan- bile banking, insurance and inneerselvam flashed a positive vestment applications. growth rate expectation of 2.02% “The pandemic and other reafor Tamil Nadu for the fiscal year sons caused a sharp dip in reve2020-2021. Presenting the Interim nue, but expenditure had to be Budget for 2021-2022 on Tuesday enhanced to protect people’s wel, Panneerselvam, who also holds fare. Hence, the government had the finance portfolio, told the to borrow, resulting in a higher State Assembly this positive rate fiscal deficit. The government juwas in contrast to the country diciously borrowed based on the facing a 7.7% negative growth Government of India’s authorisarate in the current fiscal. tion for enhanced borrowing of But the State’s debt burden is up to 2% of the GSDP,” said Panexpected to touch `4.85 lakh neerselvam, defending the incrore by March this year, creased debt burden. and is likely to be around “The primary sector A DU B N `5.70 lakh crore by witnessed the strongMarch 2022. While atest performance, of tributing this burden 5.23%, driven by the to the pandemic year livestock and fisherslump and other reaies sectors. The sec2 2 sons, he stressed that ondary sector’s growth 02 1- 2 0 2 the debt was well within is 1.25%, and that of the the norms of the Fiscal services sector is 1.64%. Responsibility Act. This is significantly better Panneerselvam nearly stuck to than the expected growth perthe convention of not announcing formance in 2020-21 due to the new initiatives in the Interim State government’s expeditious Budget, but he did make a few an- and effective methods of tackling nouncements — hiking the insur- the pandemic. I have no doubt the ance cover for below-poverty-line growth will be even stronger in (BPL) families, introducing com- 2021-22,” the Deputy Chief Minputer science subject for Classes 6 ister stated. to 10 in government schools, a speOn the way forward, he said, cial project, RIGHTS, for the dif- “The reform agenda we adopted ferently-abled, with an outlay of to improve the tax-GSDP ratio, to `1,700 crore, finalising a FinTech raise additional revenue to conPolicy to develop Chennai as a glo- tain losses of large PSUs and find bal hub for firms that use technol- adequate resources for growthogy to automate financial servic- enhancing expenditure, will need es, and a `816.80 crore stormwater to continue.” Continued on P4 T MURU G ANANDHAM @ Chennai | P13 The pandemic and other reasons caused a sharp dip in revenue, but expenditure had to be enhanced to protect people’s welfare - O Panneerselvam, Deputy Chief Minister Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam arrive at the Assembly to present the Budget in Chennai on Tuesday | P Jawahar COmputer science for Class 6 onwards Metro from airport to Kilambakkam soon Computer Science, which was so far taught as a separate subject in Classes 11 and 12, will now be introduced for Classes 6 to 10 in all Government High and Higher Secondary Schools. This comes after the State government set up hi-tech labs at 6,029 government high and higher secondary schools Work on the 15.3 km Metro Rail stretch from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam is set to begin this year. It will have 13 stations, and connect Chromepet, MEPZ, Tambaram and Vandalur. A detailed feasibility report is being prepared for the VelacheryTambaram stretch express read Kovai turns fortress for Modi visit Chennai: About 80 per cent of government buses in the State are expected to remain off the roads from February 25 as transport unions have announced an indefinite strike. Among the demands of the workers are clearance of provident fund and other retired-workers’ dues, covering transport corporation losses in the budget, and a revision of wages. ENS Coimbatore: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on Thursday, Coimbatore is turning into a fortress. Sources said more than 3,000 cops would be deployed, and 17 officials of the rank of SP, 38 ASPs and 48 DSPs would monitor the proceedings. Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel on Tuesday visited Codissia Ground, where Modi will address a public meeting | P3 Blow to Oli as Nepal SC revives House In a major setback for Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, the country’s Supreme Court has reinstated Parliament, which was dissolved in December last year. In a landmark ruling on Tuesday A five-member Constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher annulled the Oli government’s ‘unconstitutional’ decision to dissolve the 275-member lower house of Parliament. The court also ordered the government to summon the House session within the next 13 days. Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Dev Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of PM Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party . In his letter recommending House dissolution, Oli said he controlled 64% majority in the House and the country needed a fresh mandate of the people to ensure stability . Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party . As many as 13 writ petitions including the one by the ruling party’s Chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung were filed in the apex court seeking the restoration of the lower house parliament. Covid pushed up debt burden, but it’s within norms Though the State’s debt burden is expected to touch `4.85 lakh crore by March, and is likely to be around `5.70 lakh crore by March 2022, it is well within the norms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam said. He attributed the high debt burden to Covid and other factors ‘State not minting money from high cost of fuel’ “As per the Finance Commission’s recommendation, the Centre should transfer 41% of tax revenue to States. But the Centre need not share revenue from cess and surcharge. The cess and surcharge, which stood at 10%, has now become 20%, which means the transfer of tax revenue to States has gone down,” said Finance Secretary S Krishnan Transport strike from tomorrow E x p r ess n e w s S e r v i c e `816.80 crore outlay to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities DG E T ple of Gujarat wanted to vote out BJP but the Congress failed , to capitalise on it. Continuingnfighting in its Gujarat unit, too, is a factor in the poor performance,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the verdict. “Thank you Gujarat! Results... clearly show the unwavering faith people have towards politics of development and good governance,” he tweeted. | P9 custody. The police had sought four more days of custody . While citing a couplet from Rig Veda, which says ‘let noble thoughts come to me from all directions,’ the judge said, “Difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter even disapprobation, are recognised legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies. An aware and assertive citizenry , in contradistinction with an indifferent or docile citizenry, is indisputably a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy .” Expressing concern over the sketchy probe, th court said, “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on U A listless Congress found itself whipped by the electorate in Gujarat, as results of the local body polls came in on Tuesday . While there was no surprise in the BJP sweeping the municipal corporation elections, the Congress was forced to cede a part of its opposition space to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and to a lesser extent to Asaduddin Owasi’s Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen. Of the six municipal corporations that went to polls, the Congress drew a blank in Surat and trailed way behind the BJP in the other five. In contrast, the AAP won 27 seats in Surat while the BJP got 93 of the 120 that were up for grabs. In the Ahmadabad Municipal Corporation, out of 192 seats, the BJP was way ahead of the Congress, while MIM opened account with 7 seats. In the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, the BJP won 50 while Congress got 11 and the BSP 3. In Bhavnagar, Vadodara and Rajkot municipal corporations, the Congress could not even reach double figures, winning 8, 7 and 4 respectively as against , the BJP’s 44, 69 and 68. The Congress has been out of power in the Gujarat for 25 years. In the 2017 state polls un- Disha Ravi (C) arrives at Patiala House Court, in Delhi on Tuesday | Shekhar Yadav T A MI L K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi Temples may no longer be allowed to own elephants E XPR E S S N E W S S E RVIC E @ Chennai Aiming to end the exploitation of elephants by their owners, the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the State to frame a policy to prohibit private ownership of elephants by individuals and temples. The first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, observed that people who exploit elephants should be dealt with as mercilessly as they treat the animals. The court made this observation while a hearing submission on a petition filed by Rangarajan Narasimhan, a devotee of Srirangam temple. Continued on P2 Entire session to be boycotted by Oppn parties Most Opposition parties have decided to boycott the entire Budget session. DMK’s deputy floor leader Durai Murugan said the State had been crippled under a heavy debt of `5.70 lakh crore, and despite this, no development work was done. To highlight the State’s failure in finance management, DMK will boycott the entire session, he said Surge in cases not due to new Covid variants: Govt S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi The Centre on Tuesday clarified that the recent spurt in Covid-19 cases in some states is not due to the mutated versions of the coronavirus. “Based on information available to us, yes these variants are there but there’s no reason to believe that these are responsible for the upsurge of the outbreak in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala,” said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog. Paul, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force, added two variants of SARS CoV 2 — N440K and E484K — have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana. Kerala has 38% of the total active cases of the country while Maharashtra has 37%. The other states showing an upward trend in daily Covid19 cases are Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. So far, 200 cases of the UK variant, six cases of the South African variant and one case of Brazilian variant of SARS CoV 2 have been found out of the 3,500-genome sequencing carried out in India since December. At least five states in India have reported a gradual rise in active Covid cases over the past several days. The active coronavirus cases in the country have crawled up to over 1.5 lakh after touching a low of 1.3 lakh cases earlier this month.
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