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 ■ ■ tirupati l friday l march 12, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l anantapur EDITION Maharashtra The state recorded 14,317 new cases on Thursday, the highest one-day spike this year. The active case tally stood at 1,06,070, thrice the number in Kerala, which came second with 33,785. As many as 57 deaths were reported, three more than Wednesday Harsh lockdown measures back as Covid climbs States like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat and MP could be at tipping point Madhya Pradesh @ Mumbai/New Delhi/Chennai With the fresh Covid case count continuing to climb in Maharashtra, worried Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday announced total lockdown in some districts of North Maharashtra and Vidarbha, including Nagpur. Stricter measures will be taken if the situation does not improve, he said. Senior officials at the Centre shared his concern, as Ma- andhra: Spike in daily Covid cases Gujarat Four deaths and 530 new cases were reported on Thursday. The active case tally stood at 4,094. No fresh case was reported in nine of the total 52 districts in the state during the day E x p r ess N e w s S e r v i c e A health worker collecting the swab samples of a woman in Mumbai | PTI The State added 710 cases to its active tally, taking the number to 4,788 while 451 recovered. No death was reported in 24 hours. Its recovery rate was down to 97.03% from 97.36% last week harashtra is witnessing the most intense second wave of infections. Also, states like Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh could be at the tipping point, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan warned. “We are very worried about Maharashtra,” said V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force. “This is a serious matter. It has two lessons — don’t take the virus for granted; and if ■ New Covid-19 infections witnessed a sharp spike in the past 24 hours ending Thursday 9 am when compared to the past one week. The State has seen an increase in Covid cases in the past one week and the per day tally was between 100 and 130. On Thursday, the positive cases surged to 174 | P3 we have to remain Covid free, then, we need to follow Covid appropriate behaviour, containment strategy and vaccination,” Paul said. ICMR director general Balram Bhargava, while ruling out the role of mutant virus in the surge in the cases, put the blame on slackness on the part of the administration and the people. “Maharashtra has shown a worrisome trend. The mutant strain has not been found incriminating in this surge in cases. It is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing and Covid inappropriate behaviour and large congregations,” he said. Rajesh Bhushan pointed out that while the active Covid-19 cases have almost halved in Kerala, they have more than doubled in Maharashtra. After taking his first jab at J J Hospital in Mumbai, Thackeray sought to dispel apprehension in people’s minds, saying it has no after-effects. “Since the vaccine is available now, everyone should take it. 2,56,85,011 People vaccinated across india as on Thursday Equally important is the need to wear a mask, wash hands from time to time and maintaining social distance,” Thackeray said. Tamil Nadu too ramped up its measures to contain the new wave, by deciding to post flying squads at all public places, including railway stations, to enforce Covid-appropriate discipline. Strict monitoring would happen at election meetings and rallies as well, state health secretary J Radhakrishnan said. Mamata drops conspiracy angle, says crowd push caused accident Time for single NEET again, won’t be online VSP unions show ‘Real Steel’, serve notice to go on strike in a fortnight P r o n a b M o n da l @ Kolkata E x p r ess N e w s S e r v i c e E x p r ess N e w s S e r v i c e The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test would be conducted only once this year and it would be a pen-and-paper affair. An earlier proposal to hold an online test twice for admissions to medical and dental colleges would not be implemented this year. The decision follows a meeting between officials of the health ministry and the National Testing Agency the nod, al body tasked with conducting NEET, on Wednesday last. An official said: “An online test may also prove disadvantageous for the students from rural areas.” The NTA would release the schedule in twothree days after a final date is decided. The test is likely to be held either in late June or July . The Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, which has been spearheading the agitation against the privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, served a notice on Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, to go on strike on or after March 25 against the move to privatise the steel plant. Committee representatives led by Mantri Rajasekhar, J Ayodhya Ram and Ch Narasinga Rao served the notice on the Chairman and Managing Director, RINL, at the plant administrative office here on Thursday The latest move is to . mount pressure on the government to reverse its decision. Speaking to TNIE, Ayodhya Ram and Rajasekhar said the A day after alleging attack by political opponents in Nandigram, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said her leg injury was caused by an accident. In a video message from SSKM Hospital, where she is under treatment, Mamata said she was waving supporters from the footboard of her car and got sandwiched between the door and the front seat due to pressure from the crowd. Urging TMC workers to stay calm and not do anything that will inconvenience the public, Mamata said she would use a wheelchair and resume her activities in two-three days. Mamata’s medical examination at the hospital revealed cracks on her feet and ankle and injuries on her elbow and shoulder. She complained of chest pain and headache but ECG and MRI reports found no injury She also underwent CT . scan on Thursday The doctors . treating the CM advised her rest for 10 days. “It is a fact that I was badly hurt. I received injuries on my leg, elbow and shoulder. There were bone and ligament injuries. I suffered chest pain. I was greeting people from the car and the crowd moved forward. @ New Delhi West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s left leg in a plaster of paris cast at the SSKM hospital in Kolkata on Wednesday | PTI The entire pressure was on me and I got sandwiched. I was given medicine that was with me and taken to Kolkata,” she said in her video message. Preliminary investigation by the police, too, revealed the incident was an accident. Senior police officials visited the spot and recorded statements of eyewitnesses. TMC sources said the CM’s initial reaction alleging conspiracy and attack might have been made in a fit of rage. “She might have later realised the conspiracy allegation could hurt her own supporters who wanted to have a glimpse of the CM,” said a TMC leader. Meanwhile, the Election Commission reacted sharply to the TMC’s memorandum asking the poll body to take responsibility for the “attack”. “It is incorrect to suggest the Commission has taken over the law and order machinery in the state in the name of conducting elections and appropriated the whole governance structure,” the EC said. jagan @Shivaratri fete Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy offers prayers on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri festival at the NTR Municipal Stadium in Gudivada, Krishna district on Thursday | express @ Visakhapatnam K M a d h u S u d h a k a r @ Kurnool With the announcement that the High Court will come up at Jagannatha Gattu on the outskirts of the city, the number of enquiries being made for purchase of lands or plots in nearby villages has witnessed a sudden surge. Within hours of the announcement by Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy that 250 acres has been identified at Jagannatha Gattu for setting up the High Court, those in the real estate business have been getting a good number of calls about availability of plots at Jagannatha Gattu and nearby villages. “Within 24 hours of the announcement, I received at least 10 phone calls from prospective buyers enquiring about the availability of land or plots,’’ a real estate agent G Maddaiah told TNIE. The buyers are enquiring about the land prices. People are now looking towards Jagannatha Gattu and nearby villages as once the works of High Court buildings commence after getting all the permissions and approvals, the land prices might skyrocket, he said. Jagannatha Gattu is located on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru National Highway and is also near the KurnoolChennai Highway . Raghavendra, an employee in a real estate business company, which has been dealing with open plots adjacent to the outer ring road for the last 10 years, predicted that the prices would escalate fast. Two killed, four injured in EG chemical factory blast @ Kakinada Two supervisors of a private bulk drug chemical industry at Autonagar near Sarpavaram village were killed and four others suffered injuries when a chemical tanker exploded reportedly due to excessive heat, on Thursday afternoon. The blast took place in Tyche bulk drug chemical industry on the outskirts of Kakinada. According to Kakinada DSP V Bhima Rao, the workers were doing maintenance works at the chemical tanker having 2,500 litres capacity when it exploded. The blast ripped off the walls and the victims flung into air. The explosion created panic among the people of neighbouring residential areas. In the preliminary inquiry, officials said Nitro Pheronite, a mixture of nitric acid and N Hydrate, was stored in the tank and it might have exploded due to excessive heat. It is alleged that the industry management tried to shift the bodies without informing the police but locals alerted the cops. Sarpavaram police along with fire services personnel rushed to the spot and inspected the area. “There was no fire and it was just a blast. Our fire workers took precautions wearing gas masks and entered the premises,’’ district fire officer Ch Ratna Babu said. Two supervisors — Kakarla Subrahmanyam (31) of Patavala village in Tallarevu mandal and Thotakura Venkata Ramana (37) of AK Mallavaram village in Gollaprolu mandal — died instantly. Four others were injured and rushed to a nearby private hospital for P4 treatment. A delegation of Vizag steel plant employees will be on a three-day visit to New Delhi from March 15 to seek the support of floor leaders of all parties for steel plant agitation committee demanded repeal of the approval accorded by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for 100 per cent strategic sale of RINL, scrapping the inter-secretaries group constituted to study strategic sale. They said they also demanded scrapping of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed with South Korean steel giant POSCO for a joint venture for construction of an integrated steel plant. He said they will not al- scramble for land begins near Jagannatha Gattu company booked E x p r ess N e w s S e r v i c e Three-day Delhi visit for all-party support “Jagannatha Gattu is very suitable for constructing apartments and high-rises due to its hard soil. Moreover, it is near the Orvakal airport which will be operational by this month-end,’’ he said. Several ventures have already come up in the agriculture lands and house site plots, which were divided into 2.45 cents, three, four and five cents and even more, are currently being sold at `5 lakh to `10 lakh per cent, in these villages. Real estate developers are now looking to develop their ventures on the lands on the outskirts of these villages. However, CREDAI chairman Somisetty Venkata Ramaiah said Jagannatha Gattu does not have any private lands and it has only government lands. “Real estate developers are not looking to develop any ventures around Jagannatha Gattu. With respect to lands near Jagannatha Gattu, plots have already been laid and sold,’’ he explained. express read Nine more shot dead in Myanmar crackdown Amid mounting diplomatic pressure against the February 1 coup, the junta on Thursday shot dead nine protesters in Myanmar. The violent crackdown comes a day after the UN condemned the junta’s action, which has seen more than 60 killed and 2,000 arrested, with even China calling for “de-escalation” and talks | P9 Ksheerabhishekam to KTR’s portrait Visakhapatnam: Hailing the support extended by TS IT Minister KT Rama Rao to the agitation against VSP privatision, the Visakhapatnam Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee members performed ‘ksheerabhishekam’ to the portrait of KTR on Thursday. Kollu Ravindra arrested, released on bail Vijayawada: Former minister and TDP leader Kollu Ravindra was arrested on Thursday on charge of obstructing police personnel on election duty. Later, he was released on bail. Ravindra entered into an argument with the policemen at a polling booth in Machilipatnam on Wednesday. Regret letting women enter Sabari temple: Kerala Devaswom Min Express News Service @ T’Puram The blast that claimed two lives at Tyche bulk drug chemical industry at Autonagar near Sarpavaram village in East Godavari district on Thursday | Express low the sale of even an inch of surplus land in RINL . The committee also demanded permanent jobs for all Rcard (rehabilitation card) holders and suspension of the recent MoU with National Buildings Construction Company (NBCC) on redevelopment and monetisation of land parcels at Maddilapalem. Announcing the future course of agitation, Rajasekhar said they would hold maha dharna again at the administrative block on March 15. “The committee also decided to hold ‘Karmika Garjana’ on March 20 at the Trishna Grounds where trade union leaders will address the gathering. A delegation of the steel plant employees will be on a three-day visit to Delhi from March 15 to seek the support of floor leaders of all parties for P4 steel plant agitation.” Expressing regret for the first time over facilitating entry of women in the proscribed age group to the Sabarimala temple in 2018, Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Thursday said it was a mistake. “The incident was saddening to all of us. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. The minister’s comments ahead of the Assembly elections are viewed as an attempt by the LDF to prevent a repeat of the backlash it faced in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The minister said his government’s future course of action on the issue will be decided in consultation with believers. “The government has stated its stance. The case is under the consideration of a larger bench of the Supreme Court. I repeat, whatever be the verdict, the government will take a decision after consultations with devotees, parties and the general public,” he said. After the controversial entry of two young women to the shrine, Kadakampally had remarked Sabarimala was no place for activism.
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