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 ■ ■ MADURAI l friday l March 12, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l LATE CITY EDITION 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 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 e s s Ne w s Se r v i c e @ 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- 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 Mamata drops conspiracy angle, says crowd push caused accident Time for single NEET again, won’t be online P r o n a b M o n da l @ Kolkata E x p r e s s Ne w s Se r v i c e 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. express read ‘If irregularities found...’ Court warns Tangedco Chennai: After initially refusing to interfere in the `1,330 crore tender floated by Tangedco — to import 20 lakh tonnes of coal — the Madras High Court on Thursday warned the power corporation it would review it’s previous ‘no stay’ order if irregularities are found in the tender process 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 Union health ministry and the National Testing Agency the nod, al body tasked with conducting NEET, on Wednesday last. Stating that the decision not to tinker with the test pattern was taken to ease the pressure off students reeling under the pandemic, an official said: “An online test may also prove disadvantageous for the students from rural areas.” The NTA would release the examination schedule and brochure in two-three days after a final date is decided. The test is likely to be held either in late June or July . Earlier, after deciding to hold the Joint Entrance Examination (Main) for engineering admissions four times this year, officials had proposed to conduct NEET twice for the first time to ease the pressure to perform their best in one attempt off students. The proposal was approved by the medical education department of the health ministry but now may be implemented starting next year. ■ ■ The State reported 685 fresh cases and five deaths on Thursday, taking the case tally to 8,57,602 and the death toll to 12,535 Preventive measures have been strengthened, with flying squads mounting vigil. The Nilgiris has warned of six-month jail to those not wearing masks; 12,06,164 people have been vaccinated so far 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 E X P R E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Puducherry a night of spirituality Mahashivaratri celebrations at Isha Foundation began with a grand display of music and dance in front of the Adiyogi statue on Thursday night. Isha Foundation’s Jaggi Vasudev at the event | P5 | u rakesh kumar The Puducherry administration on Thursday declared an ‘all pass’ for students of classes 1 to 9 in all regions of the UT. An official release from Raj Nivas said that students of classes 10 and 11, studying in Puducherry and Karaikal regions, would be declared pass as per the guidelines of the Tamil Nadu Board. Meanwhile, those students (of classes 10 and 11) studying in Mahe and S K u m a r e s a n @ Chennai THE Congress and BJP will fight face-to-face in five Assembly constituencies of Tamil Nadu in the upcoming polls, apart from Kanniyakumari parliamentary by-elections. This became clear on Thursday after Congress finalised the seats it will be contesting from within the DMK front. The direct contest between the nationallevel rivals will be in Cola c h e l , Vi l av a n g o d e, Coimbatore (South), Udhagamandalam and Karaikudi. The last time when both these national parties contested as part of either of the Dravidian major’s alliance was in 2001. Interestingly, that time, BJP was in the DMK combine and Congress, and its splinter group TMC, in the AIADMK camp. The BJP faced Congress or TMC in nine seats in that elections, of which it won only one — Karaikudi. A lot has changed since then, including the alliance combinations. What, however, has remained a constant is the preference of national parties among vot- 25 surprise move AMMK’s TTV Dhinakaran will contest elections from Kovilpatti | P4 Yanam regions will follow the guidelines of Kerala and AP Boards, respectively . The release further stated that schools shall function five days a week, and weekends will be declared holidays. Classes will be held till the end of this month for students in classes 1 to 9, and summer vacation shall commence from April 1, 2021. However, for standards 10, 11, and 12, classes will be conducted as per the schedule of examinations of the respective State Boards. no bills, please! Teachers fear defacing of school walls with poll posters E X P R E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Coimbatore With government schools set to turn polling booths, teachers in Coimbatore are worried the colourful walls will be ruined by Election Commission posters. These posters — bearing candidates’ names, photos and party symbols — will undo the hard work done to spruce up the walls, they fear. “We initially spent our own money to buy paint and brushes to make the walls attractive. The paintings are on various themes, including environment protection, healthy habits, and cartoons,” says S Santhosh Kumar, coordinator of Pattampoochikal, an organisation teachers in Tirupur formed to beautify school walls. Since 2016, the organisation has given a fresh look to the walls of nearly 70 schools in rural areas, Kumar points out. “As per EC norms, posters will be pasted on the walls of classrooms. When we take them down after the polls, the paint will also come off, making the walls look ugly. Headmasters would have to spend nearly `45,000 to buy paint and brush- es again for each school.” He does have a solution though: “Instead of pasting posters, EC workers should erect a banner in front of the school, mentioning all the necessary information.” Education officers in Coimbatore, too, say posters shouldn’t be pasted on school walls. “We spent two months painting 295 schools in Coimbatore. It would be such a waste of our effort and money if they paste posters. The EC should come up with an alternative plan,” said a Samagra Shiksha official on condition of anonymity . 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. Congress to cross swords with BJP in 5 Assembly seats After TN, Puducherry declares students of classes 1 to 9 as ‘pass’ 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 | P11 tamil nadu: 685 fresh cases Gujarat inside Maharashtra CM Edappadi K Palaniswami being administered the vaccine in Chennai Poll posters pasted over the painted walls of a government school. (File Picture) ers of certain regions, especially in southern TN. Four constituencies allotted to Congress fall in the Kanniyakumari parliamentary segment. Three constituencies where BJP and Congress will fight each other are in southern part of the State — Colachel, Vilavancode and Karaikudi. But Congress will be facing a tough fight in Udumalpet as it will take on the Animal Husbandry Minister Udumalai Radha Krishnan, a locally popular face. Meanwhile, after a delay of two days, DMK sources said the party will release its candidates list on Friday morning. The outcome of the talks DAyS the party is having TO GO with DMDK is still not clear. Meanwhile, the AIADMK has allotted six seats to GK Vasan’s Tamil Maanila Congress, and one to another local outfit. All these seven seats’ representatives will fight on AIADMK’s Two Leaves symbol. With today’s allocations, AIADMK, eyeing a third record term, would face the polls from 189 of the 234 seats while two more are yet to be allotted. PROTEST ACROSS TN Discontentment was widespread among aspirants who failed to get a ticket | P4 Cong to contest 15, DMK 13 in Puducherry E X P R E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Puducherry AFTER much negotiations, it has been decided that Congress will contest in 15 seats in Puducherry while allocating 13 to its ally DMK. Two remaining seats will be assigned to smaller allies in the combine. Former Puducherry Chief Minister Narayanasamy who is participating in , the seat-sharing talks with the Dravidian party in Chennai, said that an agreement has been reached between the two parties. The remaining two seats would be handed over to allies after discussions. At present, both the parties are engaged in identifying constituencies based on their strengths and ground presence, said Narayansamy. This is the largest number of seats that the DMK would contest in the alliance with Congress. However, with the exit of seven MLAs, from the party just ahead of the polls, the Congress is clearly at a disadvantage in fielding candidates with winning chances. Even on Thursday, E Valsaraj, a four-time minister opted out from contesting the Mahe seat on a Congress ticket. Regret letting women enter Sabari: Minister Express News Service @ T’Puram 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 on it after consultations with devotees, believers’ community political , parties and the general public,” he told reporters. After the controversial entry of two young women to the shrine, Kadakampally had remarked Sabarimala was no place for activism. But he had to change his stance after he faced criticism from the party . However, after the defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the CPM softened its stand on the issue. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said the comments were nothing but an attempt to deceive believers and asked whether Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan would publicly admit his The incidents that took place in Sabarimala in 2018 was something which had pained all of us.It should never have happened. It has pained everyone...it has pained me also Kadakampally Surendran stance was wrong. BJP state president K Surendran said the minister was shedding crocodile tears with an eye on the polls. Meanwhile, the Nair Service Society demanded the minister to show his sincerity by submitting a fresh affidavit in the Supreme Court against permitting young women into the hill shrine.
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