kottayam l tuesday l march 02, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION lpg cost up by `25; whopping `125 rise since february Fluctuations in international price and dollar exchange rates behind the sharp rise. New rates kick in on March 1 sixth hike since december 2020 petrol, diesel prices stable for 2nd day In Delhi, a cylinder will now cost D819; in Kolkata, D845; in Mumbai, D819 and in Chennai, D835. LPG prices were hiked across all categories by D25 per cylinder on February 4; D50 on February 15; and D25 on February 25. Prices have been climbing since December. There were indications that the prices would possibly cool in a few weeks as state elections are due ■ ■ Petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged for the second day in a row after hitting an all-time high. Branded, premium or additive mixed petrol, however, crossed D100 mark on Saturday The rates of regular petrol had last month crossed `100-mark at a few places in Rajasthan and MP, which levy the highest VAT A3,663 per kilolitre hike in aviation turbine fuel 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 LIFE haunts govt: Hackers attacked power grid to coerce India at LAC? Unitac proxy firm, CBI to apex court Pushkar Banakar and Sudhir S u r ya w a n s h i @ New Delhi/Mumbai State-sponsored Chinese hackers may have targeted Indian power grids and ports with malware even as tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) escalated, The New York Times said quoting a US cybersecurity firm’s study, leading to doubts over the cause of the Oct o b e r 1 2 g r i d f a i l u re i n Mumbai. Says by receiving funds through firm, CAG audit, formalities & FCRA rigours avoided T o b y A n t o n y @ Kochi The LDF government has once again been caught on a sticky wicket a month ahead of the assembly elections as the CBI has informed the Supreme Court that Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures were proxy firms for receiving foreign funds for the LIFE Mission project. This was stated in an affidavit submitted at the apex court on Monday to counter the state government’s appeal against the Kerala High Court decision allowing CBI to continue its probe into the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violation in the LIFE Mission project. The affidavit was filed before a bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice R Subhash Reddy . The LDF and state government have always been saying there was no corruption involved in the Wadakkanchery project and Congress MLA Anil Akkara, by giving the petition seeking a CBI probe in the High Court, has blocked the families rendered homeless in the flood from getting safe homes. According to CBI, the MoU between LIFE Mission and UAE Red Crescent was signed on July 11, 2019, to pump in 10 million UAE dirhams (AED) (approximately `20.4 crore) of which AED 7 million (`14.3 crore) was agreed to be spent on CORRUPTION & CONSPIRACY Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based company, found a spike in malware in Indian government, defence and public sector organisations in the build up to the clashes along the LAC since May last year. According to it, the cyber attacks began in May and continued throughout the year. Recorded Future claims the intrusions have now come down. Apart from Recorded Future, cybersecurity firm Cyfirma LDF and state govt have said there was no corruption involved in the Wadakkanchery project 1 Cong MLA Anil Akkara had moved the High Court seeking CBI probe 2 CBI says Unitac MD Santhosh Eapen conspired with unidentified officials of LIFE Mission 3 S u m i S u k a n ya D u tta @ New Delhi The evidence reveals that Unitac is a proxy firm of LIFE Mission used for receiving foreign contribution from the UAE on behalf of the LIFE Mission project — CBI PM Narendra Modi, sporting an Assam gamucha, being administered Covaxin by a nurse from Puducherry, as Rosamma Anil watches on Monday. constructing homes for the homeless and the remaining AED 3 million (`6.1 crore) on building a health centre at Wadakkanchery. The MoU did not mention Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures as the contractors of the project. Later, first accused Santhosh Eapen, managing partner of Unitac Builders, conspired with unidentified officials of LIFE Mission and entered into two contractual agreements on July 31, 2019 with the UAE consul-general in Thiruvananthapuram for building the apartment tower and hospital building. The fund was transferred to Unitac Builders, of which `4.5 crore was given as ● More on P5 kickbacks. Happiest moment, says Keralite nurse Rosamma Rosamma Anil, the Malayali nurse who was among the two nurses at AIIMS to administer Covaxin to PM Narendra Modi on Monday, said it was one of the happiest moments of her life. “The PM came in the morning. He greeted us saying ‘Vanakkam’. He asked which state we were from. I said I’m from Kerala,” said the Thodupuzha native. E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ Kochi AIMING to woo the Christian voters in the state, BJP state president K Surendran and Kar nataka Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan on Monday paid a visit to Cardinal Mar Alencherry the , head of Syro-Malabar Church and the president of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council. The meeting took place at the Pastoral Orientation Centre in Palarivattom. With assembly elections only a month away the meet, ing assumes significance but Surendran told mediapersons that it was just a courtesy call and had nothing to do with polls or politics. “We didn’t discuss election-related issues with the Cardinal. It was a private meeting,” he said. Surendran said BJP has a friendly relationship with everyone in Kerala and that he met the Cardinal as he was in Kochi as part of his Vijaya ● More on P5 Yatra. The first day of Covid vaccination for senior citizens and people above 45 with co-morbidities saw PM Narendra Modi becoming the first beneficiary but was marred with reports of technical glitches in the technological platform driving the initiative. A vast majority of people from across the country complained of unavailability of slots for inoculation and the glitches they experienced while registering on the CoWIN platform that has been E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ T’Puram PASSENGER buses, autorickshaws, taxis and goods carriages will stay off the roads on Tuesday as various trade unions and owners’ associations in the transport sector have decided to stage a dawn-to-dusk motor vehicle strike in protest against the rising fuel prices. Trade unions such as CITU, AITUC, INTUC, STU, HMS, UTUC, TUCI and Janata Trade Union and associations of stage carrier, lorry tanker lor, ry and parcel service owners are supporting the strike. All trade unions in KSRTC, except BMS, will participate in the strike. Ambulances and vehicles used for marriage pur- of 75.44% over last January . “There has been a significant inThe spike in petrol prices and in- crease in liquor sales after the reocreased tax revenue from liquor pening of bars and beer parlours sale are turning out to be a big re- on December 22,” said an official lief to the cash-strapped Kerala in the Taxes Department. “The government. sales through Bevco outlets also The tax collection from the sale rose,” he said. of liquor and petrol, together, While the government gets between November 2020 the scheduled tax revenue and January this year saw in full for liquor sales an increase of `916 crore, through Bevco outlets, the jump in revenue compared to the correearnings from sales at from fuel tax in sponding period of the bars and beer parlours are January previous year. much lesser since they pay Revenue from liquor sales turnover tax on sales value at crossed the `1,000-crore mark in 10%. December 2020 and this January The spike in petrol prices has after the bars and beer parlours also helped the state government. were reopened in December. After February 2020, tax collecWhile the state collected `1,100 tion from petrol sales showed a crore in tax in December 2020, an year-over-year (YOY) growth of increase of 38% compared to De- 3% in November, and it rose to cember 2019, it rose to `1,107 crore 7.4% in December and 12.9% in ● More on P5 in January this year, an increase January this year. 13% poses, election work and distribution of newspaper and milk will be exempted from the strike. Shops will remain open though the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti has extended its moral support to the strike. In view of the strike, various exams scheduled for the day have been postponed. ● More on P5 express read Actor abduction: SC grants 6 more months to finish trial Kochi: The Supreme Court on Monday granted six more months to the Additional Special Sessions Court, Kochi, to complete the trial in the actor abduction case. The earlier deadline set for the case ended on February 4. RaGa arrives in capital city on unscheduled visit T’Puram: Rahul Gandhi, MP, arrived here on an unscheduled three-hour stopover on Monday. The decisions taken in the talks between Rahul and KPCC leadership will be discussed at the election panel meet on Tuesday. Director Ranjith may be fielded as LDF candidate Kozhikode: Film director Ranjith’s name is making the rounds as the CPM candidate in Kozhikode North seat. Though there is no official confirmation, sources in CPM have said that he is being considered. a n t ici p a t o r y b a il p le a SC asks alleged rapist if he’ll marry victim E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ New Delhi In a shocking statement, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Monday asked a 23-year-old government servant whether he was ready to marry the woman who has accused him of rape. The observation came while the court was hearing a case against Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician in the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company Ltd, who was accused of raping a minor girl in 201415. He was alle gedly 17-18-years-old then, and the girl was his distant specially created for administering immunisation. An online poll by community social media platform LocalCircle found that nearly 92% of over 6,800 people surveyed had failed to get a vaccination slot on the first day of the second phase of Covid-19 vaccination. While 13% said they had failed to access the site app, 50% said they did not get any OTP or SMS, after entering their details in the portal while 29% said that they managed to register but t h e s i t e d i d n o t s h ow appointments. Motor vehicle strike today, shops to open in state M S V i d ya n a n d a n @ T’Puram Surendran, K’taka Dy CM call on Alencherry (SII). Cyfirma Chief Executive said the real motive of the group was to exfiltrate IP addresses and gain a competitive edge over Indian pharmaceutical firms. The NYT report also claims that Indian authorities were alerted about the increase in deployment of malware and given technical details. Responding to the report, the Power Ministry on Monday said an email was received from CERTIn on November 19, 2020, on the threat of malware called Shadow Pad at some control centres of POSOCO. Action was taken to address the threats. “NCIIPC informed through mail on February 12 about a state-sponsored Chinese hacker group Red Echo targeting Indian Power sector’s Regional Load Dispatch Centres along with State Load Dispatch CenP7 tres,” the ministry said. PM dispels vax hesitancy, Day 1: Higher than expected enrolment a pain point spectrum bids Petrol price & liquor: State bags `916 cr more in 3 mths Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan gives a bouquet to Cardinal Mar Alencherry claimed state-sponsored Chinese hackers had targeted IT systems of two Indian Covid vaccine manufacturers — Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. According to Cyfirma, Chinese g roup APT10, also known as Stone Panda, identified vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure and supply chain software of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India relative and a student of Class 9 at the time. Last month, the Bombay High Court had cancelled the anticipatory bail granted to Chavan by a lower court, on an application filed by the girl. He had then challenged this order in the Supreme Court. During the hearing, CJI Bobde asked Chavan’s lawyer, “Will you marry her?” “You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You knew you are a government servant. We are not forcing you to marry Let us know if you will, oth. erwise you will say we are forcing you to marry her,” the CJI said. The lawyer consulted Chavan and then told the court that he initially wanted to marry her but the girl refused. “Now I cannot as I am already married.” The bench granted him interim protection from arrest for four weeks Reneged on agreement to marry the victim When her family found out about the relationship, the accused’s mother offered to get the two married once she turned 18. The families also signed an agreement. However, when the girl turned 18, the accused refused to marry her WHAT’S OFF Passenger buses Autorickshaws Taxis Goods carriages Exams postponed EXEMPTED Ambulances Vehicles used for marriage purposes, election work and distribution of newspaper and milk Shops to open E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ New Delhi Day one of India’s first spectrum auction in five years saw substantially higher competition than expected, with the government receiving bids worth `77,146 crore. Analysts had expected the auctions to fetch only around `45,000-50,000 crore. However, while all three major telcos — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea — participated in the bidding, the premium 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands remained entirely without suitors. The 700 MHz band had remained untouched during the last auctions also held in 2016, with the industry finding the pricing rather expensive. The gover nment consequently brought the reserve price down to `6,568 crore per MHz for this round from `11,485 crore in 2016, but industry sources say telcos consider the new prices inflated, too. And since one-third of the 2308.80 megahertz of airwaves being auctioned this round are in the 700 MHz band.
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