BHUBANESWAR l wednesday l march 17, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late CITY EDITION sreeshankar takes giant leap to book olympic berth Long jumper M Sreeshankar’s cleared 8.26m for the Games cut, TN’s Dhanalakshmi stuns Dutee Chand Sreeshankar dhanalakshmi too hogs limelight Tamil Nadu’s S Dhanalakshmi stunned the Asian Games medallist and national record holder Dutee Chand to win the 100m event at the Federation Cup. It was also the 22-year-old’s maiden title at the nationals. In the much-anticipated sprint final, Hima Das was shown the red card for a false start ■ 8.26 new national record en route tokyo ■ The 21-year-old from Kerala bettered his own national record in Patiala. Not a part of the jumps national camp, Sreeshankar is training separately under his father S Murali in Palakkad Five race walkers, two javelin throwers and the mixed 4x400m relay team have earlier qualified for the Olympics | P11 sreeshankar improved on his own National mark of 8.20m 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 Double mutation variant detected in Maharashtra Its role in second Covid wave under study; 20% of Maha samples had the mutations S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Scientific institutes tasked with genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in the country have alerted the Centre on a virus variant with double mutation in Maharashtra, whose possible role in the surge in cases is being probed, this newspaper has gathered. The institutes working on a project under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have alerted the Union health ministry to label the variant with the double mutation as a likely variant of concern (VOC). VOCs have potential public health implications like the ones in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Sources working on the project said so far 7,000 virus samples have been sequenced, of which 200 were lifted from parts of Maharashtra, which has been hit the hardest with the fresh rise in cases. “Of the samples from Maharashtra, about 20% have two mutations, E484Q and L452R,” said a source. “While it is difficult to conclusively say that the variant is behind the surge, it has been established elsewhere that E484Q can escape antibody neutralisation and L452R is known to increase infectivity and has been linked to large pockets in the US.” The Centre in December had formed a genomic surveillance consortium — INSACOG — of 10 institutes under the NCDC to work on genome sequencing of virus samples from various parts of the country amid concern over detection of the UK variant in India. A team sent by the health ministry to Maharashtra had also pointed to a possible role of the variant virus causing the second wave of infections in the state. Officials said an epidemiological investigation being undertaken by the NCDC, will involve probing whether variants are causing the disease to spread in clusters and whether they are more infectious. Epidemiologists will also examine whether there is significant digression in clinical outcomes in patients, found positive with the variant and whether people with previous history of infection are also being found re-infected with the mutant virus. The government has earlier categorically denied the role of the virus with E484Q or any other mutation in the surge, but this mutation appearing with L452R in a region with a massive surge of infections has triggered fresh worries. Trends and the big picture n MP govt to impose night curfew in Bhopal and Indore from Wednesday (10 pm to 6 am). Also, shops ordered to close at 10 pm in eight other cities n Gujarat to increase night curfew timings by two hours in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot from 10 pm to 6 am n India recorded 24,492 new COVID-19 cases, going past 20,000 for the sixth day in a row. Total cases in the country stood at 1,14,09,831 n 5.86 crore doses of Made in India Covid vaccines provided to 71 countries both as grant as well as commercial sales as of Monday n Amid concern over adverse effects of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, the European regulator said there was no indication the shot was responsible for blood clots, adding benefits outweigh risks FinMin under pressure as RBI wants complete ban on Bitcoin A n u r a d h a Sh u k l a @ New Delhi The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry are at loggerheads over cryptocurrency . While the RBI is pushing for a blanket ban on cryptocurrency, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman prefers to keep all options open, sources said. “RBI has strongly communicated its reservation against cryptocurrency and has recommended a blanket ban,” said a senior finane ministry official, adding that this was communicated to the government during an informal meeting last week. “From our side, we are not shutting all options off,” Sitharaman said recently This had given some . hope to the cryptocurrecy industry , which was fighting for acceptance in the country . However, if RBI and the government are not on the same page, then the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021, slated to be taken up in Parliament in the current session, could be delayed Sources say RBI’s strong position in last week’s meeting has forced the ministry to soften its stance. Mumbai Police chief faces axe over Waze S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai After the embarrassing arrest of police officer Sachin Waze by the National Investigation Agency, Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh is likely to by replaced soon. In the talks Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had with NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Monday over the mishandling of the bomb scare attempt outside Mukesh Ambani’s residence and the death of Thane businessman Mansukh Hiren, both leaders agreed on sacking Singh. The meeting went on for were not also kept in the loop. more than an hour at the chief In sum, Singh was peddling his minister’s official residence. own agenda and not working A senior minister said it has for the government. In fact, he now come to light that had slowed down work Waze had stage-manin politically sensitive aged the bomb scare on cases,” he said requestthe instructions of ing anonymity . Singh. The alleged aim For instance, the secwas to show that even ond chargesheet in the India’s richest man’s TRP scam has to be family is not safe from filed. “But the Mumbai Sachin Waze threats to their lives Police crime branch and need Z-plus security ur- team that was investigating it, gently “But the plan went awry has been dragging its feet. The . because of multiple loopholes. second chargesheet has more Also, top leaders of the state incriminating details, but the Govt seeks NEET exam centres in all districts n China makes it mandatory for people from India and 19 other nations to get Chinese-made vaccines if they want to visit the country Express News Service @ Bhubaneswar 62% people in Cuttack rural have antibodies Hemant Kumar Rout @ Bhubaneswar Amid concerns over second wave of Covid-19 in the country, the latest sero-survey in two rural pockets of Cuttack district has revealed that as high as 61.73 per cent (pc) of the population already has antibodies against the disease. The sero-survey conducted in Tigiria and Athagarh blocks last month has indicated antibody presence in the population to the tune of 63.2 pc and 60.2 pc respectively . The first sero-prevalence survey done in the two blocks to measure prevalence of antibod- sero-prevalence Athagarh - 60.2 pc Tigiria - 63.2 pc Samples tested - 1,772 Antibody found - 1,094 Survey conducted between February 23 and 27 ies in order to ascertain the cumulative population immunity had used 1,772 samples of which 1,094 were found to have developed antibodies. The survey was conducted from February 23 to 27 by the Regional Medical Research Centre in col- Cabinet NOD FOR d.f.i. TO FUND INFRA PROJECTS Nirmala Sitharaman said. The DFI will get tax benefits for 10 years. The governThe Union Cabinet on Tues- ment will also amend the day cleared the proposal to Indian Stamp Act to attract set up a Development Fi- global pension funds and nance Institution (DFI), sovereign funds. which seeks to fix the financ“The Union government ing woes of long-term infra- is also planning to issue structure projects. some securities to the DevelAs announced in the opment Finance Institution, Budget, the governby which cost of ment will initially funds will come infuse `20,000 crore down. All this will in the DFI and raise help DFI leverage up to `3 lakh crore initial capital and in the next few draw funds from years. While DFI various sources; it will start off as will also have a pos100% government itive impact on the owned, the Centre bond market in Inwill bring down its dia,” Sitharaman stake gradually to Nirmala Sitharaman said. 26%. Allaying fears “Past attempts to have al- that DFI could face the same ternative investment funds fate of similar infrastrucwere taken up, but for vari- ture finance companies in ous reasons, we ended up the past, the FM said DFI with no bank which could will have a 100% professiontake up long-term risk and ally managed board with at fund development. Follow- least 50% of them being noning this, the Union Cabinet official directors. The board has cleared the setting up of will also have persons of a DFI,” Finance Minister eminence, she added. Express news service @ New Delhi laboration with the Health department and district administration Sources said a majority of the sampled persons did not have any symptoms. Interestingly, women and people below 40-year-old had a significantly higher antibodyprevalence, the survey found. Health experts stated that the high-level of antibody prevalence is a welcome sign as such people become a protective layer between the infected and the unaffected persons and help break the chain of viral transmission. Cuttack district has recorded 29,245 confirmed cases and 142 deaths so far. CONTINUED ON: P5 police claimed they were under pressure from Delhi to stall the process. This has annoyed the political leadership, which is another reason why Singh is expected to be axed,” said a highly placed source. A couple of names for appointment as the new Mumbai Police commissioner are doing the rounds, including that of Rajnish Seth, who is currently serving as Director General of the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Interestingly, Seth met Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday . Lockdown returns Burdi flyover wears a deserted look as all public movement is halted due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, in Nagpur on Tuesday | PTI The State gover nment has urged the National Testing Agency (NTA) to set up examination centres at all the 30 district headquarter towns in Odisha for the convenience of examinees in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Additional Chief Secretary of Health department PK Mohapatra has written to NTA DG Vineet Joshi requesting him to set up examination centres for NEET UG 2021 in each district. The NTA has proposed to set up examination centres at Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Balasore and Angul. Mohapatra said Odisha has vast tribal pockets which are inaccessible and far away from urban centres due to which students often are unable to appear the examination. CID summons Naidu over land scam Pipili bypoll on April 17, Express News Service @ Vijayawada The Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID), which filed an FIR against former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in connection with the alleged Amaravati land scam, served a notice on him at his Jubilee Hills residence in Hyderabad on Tuesday Naidu has been direct. ed to appear in person before the Investigating Officer at the CID regional office in Vijaya- ‘India’s commitment to democratic values a reality’ Inter Parliament Union president Duarte Pacheco on Tuesday said India’s commitment to the democratic values is a reality. In his address in the Central Hall of Parliament, Pacheco hailed PM Narendra Modi for his leadership | P8 wada on March 23. “Failure to attend or comply with the terms of the notice, you will be liable for arrest under Section 41 (3) and (4) of CrPC,” the notice warned. On Tuesday, TNIE broke the story of the CID’s FIR a g ainst Naidu for allegedly facilitating alienation of assigned lands in violation of the law. The notice served by investigating of ficer A Lakshmi Narayana Rao identified Naidu as Accused No.1 and said it was necessary to examine him to “ascertain facts which are within your exclusive knowledge.” A similar notice was served on TDP leader Ponguru Narayana Rao, who was the minister for municipal administration and urban development during the TDP regime. The notices were served under Section 41 (A) of the CrPC. continued on: P5 express read Cops in a fix as kids, women stay put in police station for 20 hours Rourkela: Protest against pollution caused by coal transportation in Sundargarh turned into a massive headache for police after 19 children and several women forcefully stayed on the police station premises for nearly 20 hours demanding their arrest | P4 Regulator backs Astra vax, to probe blood clots Brussels: With coronavirus cases rising in many places, governments faced the grimmest of dilemmas Tuesday, either to push on with a vaccine that is known to save lives or suspend use of AstraZeneca over reports of dangerous blood clots in a few recipients, even as the European regulator said there was “no indication” the shot was responsible | P12 lobbying starts for tickets Express News Service @ Bhubaneswar THE bypoll to the Pipili Assembly constituency will be held on April 17 along with two Lok Sabha and 14 Assembly seats in other states, the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced on Tuesday . According to the schedule, the gazette notification for the bypoll will be published on March 23. Filing of nomination papers will be done from March 23 to March 30. The last date of withdrawal of nomination papers will be April 3. Counting of votes and announcement of results will be on May 2. Hectic lobbying has already started in the ruling BJD for ticket for the by-poll though it is assumed that a member from the family of former minister Pradeep Maharathy is likely to be nominated. Pratibha Maharathy wife of Maharathy and his , son, Rudra Pratap Maharathy are strong contenders for the ticket. Several senior leaders of the party including Minister of State for School and Mass Education Sameer Ranjan Dash have urged the party leadership to select a Maharathy family member as the BJD candidate. However, the BJP and Congress have reportedly finalised their candidates and await the approval of the central leadership for announcement of the names. BJP’s Ashrit Patnaik, who contested against Maharathy in the last Assembly elections and lost the polls by a margin of about 9,000 votes, is likely to be nominated by the BJP. Three aspirants, party s p o ke s p e r s o n N i s h i k a n t Mishra, former block chairman of Pipili Purna Chandra Swain and president of the Puri District Congress Committee Ajit Mangaraj are in the race for Congress ticket. The by-election to Pipili constituency was necessitated after the death of the sitting BJD MLA and former minister Pradeep Maharathy on October 4 last year.
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