KOCHI l thursday l march 18, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l 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, Oppn leader raises a seeks corrective steps stink: CPM adding Losing Precious drops E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e 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 SU M I SUK A N YA DUTTA @ New Delhi India is headed for a second peak of coronavirus, the gover nment confir med 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 increase 18,855 week-on-week increase 17,407 10,050 14,264 9,110 13,000 8,000 Jan 19 Jan 29 Feb 9 Feb 21 Mar 4 Mar 16 Kerala case diary 2,098 contracted coronavirus on Wednesday 3.49% was the day’s test positivity rate 25,394 under treatment Call for continued vigil in state as vaccinated can contract Covid-19 T’Puram: The state has witnessed more instances of Covid-19 infection among people who have received both doses of vaccine at a time the immunisation drive has progressed to the second phase. According to health experts, the vaccine beneficiaries should continue to maintain vigil as no vaccine available offers 100 per cent immunity to Covid. However, according to Indian Medical Association state secretary Dr Gopikumar P, the infection among those who have developed immunity through vaccination would not result in ICU admission or death. Unnikrishnan S reports. P6 TMC manifesto offers universal basic income “This is a smart announcement to win the support of the Trinamool Congress, women voters who comprise which is bracing for a tough 50% of the state’s total electorfight with the BJP in the assem- ates,” said a TMC leader. bly polls, on Wednesday reHowever, the income support leased its manifesto promising will not be available to houseuniversal basic income, finan- holds that have a tax-paying cial grant to women family member or own more than two heads, credit card for students hectares of land. pursuing higher education, Another notable promise is home deliery of rathat the poor and untion and five lakh derprivileged won’t new jobs every year. have to go to ration “This is not a poshops if the TMC relitical manifesto. It is tains power in Bena manifesto for degal. “Dedicated pervelopment. We will sonnel will deliver fulfil all our goals food grains at the mentioned in the door-step of 1.5 crore m a n i f e s t o, ” s a i d households,” MamaTMC supremo and ta said. West Beng al CM Eyeing young elecMamata Banerjee Mamata releasing TMC to rat es pu r s u i n g while releasing the manifesto in Kolkata on higher education, the 66-page document. Wednesday | Bibhash Lodh party offered ‘student The manifesto credit cards’ with low promises a monthly income interest. support of `500 for households “Students pursuing graduain the general category and tion and post-graduation shall `1,000 for SC/ST. The amount be eligible to receive the credit would be directly deposited in card with a limit up to `10 lakh the bank accounts of 1.6 crore at a subsidised rate of 4% interfemale heads of the families. est. The scheme will benefit Sources said the budget out- more than 1.5 crore students in lay for the scheme would be the next five years,” Mamata `12,900 crore annually . announced. P r ana b M o n d a l @ Kolkata This is not a political manifesto. It is a manifesto for development. We will fulfil all our goals mentioned in the manifesto — Mamata Banerjee , TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister height OF DEVOTION Blood trickles down the face of an oracle after she cut her head with a sword as a sacrificial offering during Aswathy Kaavutheendal at Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple in Kodungallur on Wednesday as part of the Bharani fest | A Sanesh fake voters at will E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday alleged widespread irregularities in the voters’ list published for the assembly elections in the state. The CPM has been including thousands of fake voters in the list in every constituency, he said. The Congress workers have detected 4,506 fake voters in Kazhakootam constituency, 2,534 in Kollam, 1,434 in Trikaripur, 4,611 in Koyilandy, 6,171 in Nadapuram, 3,525 in Koothuparamba, and 4,570 in Ambalappuzha, he alleged at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram. But soon after the alleEC seeks gation, he landed in a soup report as one of the persons he Chief Electoral named in the press conferOfficer Teeka ence, Kumari, came forRam Meena ward saying her name was asked collectors included in the list by local and returning Congress workers and that officers of five she and her family were districts to file Congress sympathisers. reports within Chennithala had said six Saturday identity cards were provided by a voter named Kumari at booth 164 in Udma, Kasaragod, for duplicating her name in the voters’ list. Her name was in the list four or five times. Similarly, thousands of fake voters were included in the list in each constituency. If those who died or out of station had cast votes in the previous elections, electoral fraud is being committed by persons with four or five voter identity cards now, he said. “The Opposition will urge the election panel to strike out the duplicate names that crept into the voters’ list. A comprehensive inquiry has to be initiated and the officials responsible punished,” he said. ● More on P7 27,351 fake names were added in seven constituencies, alleges Chennithala In many cases, the same address and photo were used to include fake voters and this cannot be done without the help of officials, says Chennithala Udma native Kumari comes forward saying her name was included in the list by local Congress workers The Opposition will urge the election panel to strike out the duplicate names that crept into the voters’ list. A comprehensive inquiry has to be initiated and the officials responsible punished Ramesh Chennithala Yechury defends govt’s Sabari action; Oppn calls it double standard E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram OPPOSITION UDF and BJP have reacted sharply to CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s defence of the state government’s action, facilitating young women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple following the Supreme Court verdict in 2018. Yechury’s comments have come nearly a week after Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran expressed regret over the incidents that happened at the hill shrine following the court order. While Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said the party has insulted the devotees yet again, BJP state chief K Surendran said Yechury’s statement has exposed the CPM’s double standard. The CPM leaders in the state have been staying clear of the Sabarimala discussions, with only three weeks remaining for the assembly elections. Yechury said the state government was duty-bound to implement the court order. In Kazhakoottam, shrine to take centre stage T’Puram: With senior BJP leader Sobha Surendran entering the fray in Kazhakoottam, it is clear the Sabarimala issue will take centre-stage in the constituency where Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran is seeking a fresh mandate. P4 “I don’t know in what context he (Kadakampally) said it. The party’s stance on the matter remains the same. It was the apex court which pronounced a verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the hill shrine. The state government was dutybound to implement the verdict,” Yechury told a television channel in New Delhi on ● More on P7 Wednesday . Reverse merger Party having 2 MLAs merges with one with none done deal P C Thomas quits the NDA and joins the UDF Joseph overcomes election symbol issue Joseph faction has two MLAs, Thomas has none E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Kottayam In the corporate world, there is a concept of reverse merger, where an unlisted privatelyheld company is merged into a stock exchange-listed shell or smaller outfit so that it does not have to go through the hassles associated with initial public offerings. On Wednesday, in a reverse merger of sorts, the P J Josephled Kerala Congress faction joined P C Thomas’ Kerala Congress, in a move to tide over issues related to election symbol after the Supreme Court rejected Joseph’s plea for the ‘two-leaves’ symbol on Monday . Following the merger, Thomas, who was dissatisfied with the NDA which denied his party an assembly seat, quit the BJP-led coalition and joined the UDF. After the ‘two-leaves’ symbol went to Jose K Mani’s Kerala Congress (M), Joseph was facing a real prospect of contesting the upcoming elections on different symbols. But the merger with Thomas’ Kerala Congress, a registered outfit, would mean the party will be allotted a single symbol for all its candidates, sources said. As per the agreement, Joseph will become the Kerala Congress chairman while Thomas will be the sole deputy chairman — the party’s second-most powerful position. ● More on P7 SUDHAKARAN to take on pinarayi in Dharmadom? State Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran says they have proposed to the high command to consider party state working president for Dharmadom. A decision is expected by Thursday. P5 18 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express
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