TIRUCHY THURSDAY MARCH 18, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 14 LATE CITY EDITION KOO BECOMES 100% DESI AS CHINESE INVESTOR EXITS START-UP A-LISTERS BUY OUT SHUNWEI STAKE A bunch of Indians, including ex-cricketer Javagal Srinath, buy out Shunwei Capital’s stake in Koo, India’s answer to Twitter TRACTION AFTER GOVT-TWITTER TUSSLE Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, BookMyShow founder Ashish Hemrajani, Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar and Zerodha founder Nikhil Kamat were the others who bought out Shunwei’s 9% stake in Bombinate Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs Koo. The homegrown microblogging platform has not revealed the financial details of the latest deal | P12 ■ ■ ■ Koo has so far raised around $4.1 million from investors including 3one4 Capital, Kalaari Capital, and Blume Ventures Koo first caught public attention after Centre’s tussle with Twitter over the removal of inflammatory contents It is available in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati & Marathi 4 million PEOPLE HAVE DOWNLOADED KOO SO FAR. ONE MILLION OF THEM ARE ACTIVE USERS 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 MODI FLAGS VAX WASTAGE, SEEKS CORRECTIVE STEPS LOSING PRECIOUS DROPS EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Himachal Pradesh Uttarakhand Tripura Tamil Nadu Bihar West Bengal Gujarat Ladakh Assam Rajasthan Jammu & Kashmir Karnataka Uttar Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Telangana 17.6 11.6 9.4 6.9 6.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.3 4.8 4.0 3.7 2.2 1.6 1.4 INDIA AVERAGE 6.5% (Vaccine wastage in %) Claims of short supply baseless Officials dismissed claims by some states of vaccines being in short supply. “Since the beginning of the drive, 7.54 crore doses have been sent to the states. Just half of it has been administered so far, so the charges are baseless,” said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan @ New Delhi The issue of humongous Covid-19 vaccine wastage by a few states figured prominently in a meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with chief ministers on Wednesday . While 6.5% of vaccine doses are getting wasted in the country on an average, peak wastage is at Telangana. Modi advised the states to immediately introduce correctives in planning and governance at the local level. “It should be reviewed in states as to why is the vaccine wastage happening. Monitoring must be done every evening and people should be contacted proactively (for correctives) so that there’s no wastage,” he stressed. Later in the day, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan shared data on states where vaccine wastage is more than the national average (see graphic). They are J&K (6.6%), Karnataka (6.9%), UP (9.4%), Andhra Pradesh (11.6%) and Telangana (17.6%). On the flip side, Himachal Pradesh, at 1.4%, is the best performing state. “In the current scenario, Covid-19 vaccine doses are like elixir and should be used very judiciously,” said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog in the briefing. Talking to this newspaper, sources in the health ministry explained that the wastage is happening more in Covaxin, as compared to Covishield. “There are two reasons. One, Covaxin has more doses (20) per vial than Covishield (10). As all doses have to be administered within four hours of a vial being opened, it naturally means that doses that are not used within the time frame get wasted,” said an official. “Second, before the efficacy data for Covaxin was announced, fewer people turned up at centres for this vaccine, resulting in wastage,” the official pointed out. The coronavirus spurt is likely to be in smaller towns this time; PM urges states to take proactive measures IT’S OFFICIAL, SECOND PEAK COMING S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi INDIA is headed towards a second peak of coronavirus, the government confirmed on Wednesday. The difference this time is that it will not be the metros but tier-2 and tier-3 cities closer to the rural areas that will be the worst hit. “We are seeing an emerging second peak,” said Dr V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog, who also heads the na33,000 28,000 tional task force on Covid-19. Over the past two weeks, small towns across 70 districts have seen a steep rise of over 150% in new cases, with Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh) recording a shocking 500% spike. Fifty-five districts in 17 states have seen a 100-150% spike in the same time period. The alarming statistics also came up during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with chief ministers on Wednesday The PM urged the . WORRISOME UPTICK IN DAILY CASES CMs to stop the ‘emerging second peak’ with decisive steps including strict enforcement of Covid protocols. “Wherever necessary micro-containment , zones should be declared without hesitation,” he said, adding, “If we don’t stop Covid right now, there could be a nationwide outbreak.” According to the details shared by the Union health ministry, India now has over 2.34 lakh active Covid-19 cases. Over the past two weeks, there DAILY NEW CASES 7-DAY MOVING AVERAGE OF DAILY NEW CASES NEW CASES (As on March 17, 2021) has been a 43% week-on-week increase in cases and 37% rise in deaths. Data show that Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu continue to report a high number of daily new cases. Together, these states accounted for 71.10% of the 28,903 new cases reported on Tuesday. Overall, there are eight states where the pandemic graph is on a rising trajectory . Nearly 28,902 NEW DEATHS Nearly 43% 37% 23,000 18,000 week-on-week incease 18,855 week-on-week incease 17,407 10,050 14,264 9,110 13,000 8,000 Jan 19 EXPRESS READ EC transfers South Zone I-G, 9 other cops Madurai: Election Commission of India has ordered the transfer of I-G (South Zone), Dr S Murugan, to a non election-related post. This after allegations of easy flow of money/gift to bribe voters, and a woman officer’s sexual harassment complaint came to the ECI’s notice. Nine other officers were also transferred by the ECI. ENS Nixing 3 crore ration cards ‘serious’: SC New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday termed the cancellation of around three crore ration cards by the Centre due to non-linking with Aadhaar card as ‘too serious’, and sought response from the Central and state governments on the issue. The bench said the matter will be put up for final hearing after four weeks IAF pilot killed in Mig-21 Bison crash New Delhi: An Indian Air Force pilot was killed in an accident involving a Mig-21 Bison aircraft in Gwalior on Wednesday morning, officials said. The pilot has been identified as Group Captain A Gupta. The accident took place at around 10:50 am, when the aircraft was taking off for a combat training mission, the officials said Jan 29 Feb 9 Feb 21 Mar 4 Mar 16 FRESH CASES IN TN BREACH 900-MARK; COVID CENTRES TO BE ON STAND-BY Chennai: With the number of fresh Covid cases in the State going on an upward trajectory, all District Collectors have been instructed to keep Covid Care Centres ready as a preparatory measure. This as Tamil Nadu recorded 945 new cases and eight deaths on Wednesday, taking the total caseload to 8,62,374 and the toll to 12,564. Chennai alone reported 395 cases. The State had last reported 900-plus cases on January 2, and ever since it had been decreasing steadily. Meanwhile, the Health Department opened up an additional 120-bed ward in Tower-III of the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai. Speaking to the press after inspecting the ward, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, said that the Covid Care Centre in Athipattu, with a capacity of around 4,000 to 5,000 beds, is being maintained for Chennai | P5 TMC manifesto offers universal basic income P R A N A B M O N D A L @ Kolkata THE Trinamool Congress, which is bracing for a tough fight with the BJP in the Assembly polls, on Wednesday released its manifesto promising universal basic income, financial grant to women family heads, credit card for students pursuing higher education, home deliery of ration and five lakh new jobs every year. “This is not a political manifesto. It is a manifesto for development. We will fulfil all our goals mentioned in the manifesto,” said TMC supremo and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee while re- Mamata releasing TMC manifesto in Kolkata on Wednesday | BIBHASH LODH leasing the 66-page document on Wednesday . The manifesto promises a monthly income support of I-T raids across TN: `400 cr undisclosed income detected EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai THE Income Tax department has detected an undisclosed income of around `400 crore after it carried out search operations at 20 premises in Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem, Virudhunagar and Theni on Wednesday The raids were carried out . on March 11, in a case pertaining to a group of individuals involved in handling huge amounts of cash and routing unaccounted money through foreign entities and bank accounts. The searches have revealed that cash deposits of over `100 crore were made through various entities in the guise of sale and purchase of agricultural commodities, whereas no such activity exists and no stock was found. “The invoices were found to be fabricated by their employees,” said a Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) MORE ON P2 spokesperson. `500 for households in the general category and `1,000 for SC/ST. The amount would be directly deposited to the bank accounts of 1.6 crore female heads of the families. Sources said the budget outlay for the scheme would be `12,900 crore annually . “This is a smart announcement to win the support of women voters who comprise 50% of the state’s total electorates,” said a TMC leader. However, the income support will not be available to households that have a taxpaying member or own more than two hectares of land. Another notable promise is that the poor and underprivileged don’t have to go to ration shops if the TMC retains power in Bengal. “Dedicated personnel will deliver food grains at the door-step of 1.5 crore households,” Mamata said. Eyeing young electorates pursuing higher education, the party offered student credit cards with low interest. “Students pursuing graduation and post-graduation shall be eligible to receive the credit card with a limit up to `10 lakh at a subsidised rate of 4% interest. The scheme will benefit more than 1.5 crore students in the next five years,” Mamata announced. Police chief of Mumbai shunted to limit damage brought back as a Mumbai CP ,” he added. MAHARASHTRA Chief Minis“Singh was NCP chief Sharter Uddhav Thackeray on ad Pawar’s choice as Mumbai Wednesday began a damage CP. But later Singh moved out limitation exercise, shunting of his orbit and refused to folout Mumbai Police Commis- low orders of home minister sioner Parambir Singh and re- Anil Deshmukh despite repeatplacing him with Heed calls in several casmant Nagrale in the es. He also stalled wake of the arrest of probes on politically controversial police ofsignificant cases citficer Sachin Waze. Till ing pressure from now, Nagrale was holdDelhi,” the source ing additional charge said requesting of the state Director anonymity . General of Police. Singh and Waze This newspaper was started acting on Hemant Nagrale the first to report that their own and even Singh’s job was on the allegedly set up an Hails from line. The transfers extortion racket. “PaChandrapur war is no-nonsense were part of a big poNagrale, a 1987 lice department shake politician. He lost inup. Rajnish Seth, direc- batch IPS officer, terest in Singh after hails from tor general at the Antithe latter started Chandrapur in Corruption Bureau, playing games,” said Vidarbha region has been given addia senior officer reof Maharashtra tional charge of direcquesting anonymity . tor general of the state With its tail up, the police. Singh is now director BJP demanded the resignation general of home guard. of Deshmukh and asked why Sources said Rajnish Seth was Waze reinstated despite was the frontrunner for Mum- him being suspended by the bai CP but most of the senior Bombay High Court in 2004. ministers in ruling Maha Vikas The National Investigation Aghadi insisted on naming a Agency that seized Waze’s lapMarathi instead. “So, Nagrale, top, will send it to the forensic who was otherwise senior in department to retrieve data, as rank to the Mumbai CP, was most of it was found deleted. S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai ELECTION EXTRAVAGANZA Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami greeting supporters during an election campaign in Thanjavur district on Wednesday | EXPRESS | READ ON P4 HC upholds EC order on voting through postal ballot EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai THE Madras High Court on Wednesday ruled in favour of the order of the Election Commission of India (ECI) on voting through postal ballots for those aged above 80 years, persons with disabilities, and those infected or suspected to be infected by Covid-19, in the upcoming Assembly election. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy passed the order while dismissing a plea moved by the DMK, challenging the ECI notification. The court also 19 observed that the experience gained in implementing the new system by the ECI will aid the authorities in refining it in the future elections. According to the DMK, the provision in Section 60(c) of the Representation of the People’s Act violates the secrecy in voting guaranteed in direct elections. The DMK also contended that the Section allows DAYS TO GO the executive to name anyone to be entitled to postal ballots, who can skip visiting polling booths and political parties’ audit. Such an unbridled power is antithesis and arbitrary to law, and is liable to be quashed. FIGHTING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH This CPI candidate has no money to refill his LPG K E Z H I L A R A S A N @ Tiruvarur AMID candidates declaring luxury cars, mansions, and crores worth of assets — in the run up to Tamil Nadu Assembly elections — is 49-year-old K Marimuthu, who does not even have a concrete roof over his head. Marimuthu has been in political life since 1994, but his family still uses an earthen stove because they cannot afford to refill gas. Marimuthu’s candidature from Marimuthu’s hut in Kaduvakudi village in Tiruvarur | EXPRESS Thiruthuraipoondi, a reserved constituency, is part of the Communist Party of India’s idea to put the proletariat in power. Marimuthu lives in a tiny hut in the village of Kaduvakudi. The roof of his hut was battered during the Gaja cyclone. That was a good two years ago, but Marimuthu has not been able to save up enough to get it fixed. He manages the situation by covering the damaged roof with a tar paulin sheet. It keeps his family safe from monsoon rains and summer sun. Marimuthu’s wife Jayasudha is a farm worker. She has been cooking on firewood as their LPG supply got over a few days back. Marimuthu’s mother is also a farm hand. She neither understands the post for which her son is now contesting nor its gravitas. Speaking to Express she recalls how she and her dead husband spent a lifetime toiling under the sun to raise their five children — four daughters and one son. CONTINUED ON P6
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