BHUBANESWAR l thursday l april 15, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION British PM Boris Johnson to cut short India visit Defence, security pacts likely to be inked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reduced the length of his trip to India later this month because of the Covid situation in the country 1st major visit by u.k. p.m. After brexit “The PM has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Wednesday. The highlight of the trip will be high-level discussions with the Indian government and business leaders, he said, adding that bulk of the programme would now take place on April 26. Some defence and security pacts are likely to be finalised during the visit ■ ■ Johnson was expected to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year. However, the visit was called off as the UK went through one of its worst pandemic phases This will be the UK prime minister’s first major foreign visit after Britain’s exit from the European Union `5.31 lakh cr market value of the u.k.’s fdi in India as of March 2020, according to rbi data 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 Hospitals struggle, oxygen a pain point Covid cancels CBSE X boards, XII call in June E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Mumbai/Bhopal/Lucknow/Raipur Decision taken at meeting chaired by Modi; exams were to begin on May 4 E x p r e s s N e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi In view of the soaring Covid-19 cases across the country, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday cancelled Class 10 exams and postponed Class 12 exams. The decision was taken at a highlevel meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Union education minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank and other senior officials on Wednesday . The examinations were scheduled to begin on May 4 but students, parents and many state governments were demanding the tests be deferred in view of the raging pandemic. “The results of Class Xth Board will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the Board,” education ministry said in a statement shortly after the meeting was over. “Any candidate who is not satisfied with the marks allocated to him or her on this basis will be given an opportunity to sit in an exam as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the Odisha yet to take a call on HSC, Plus II exams Even as the second wave of Covid-19 forced the Centre on Wednesday to cancel the CBSE board Class X exams and postpone Class XII, the Odisha government is yet to take a call on Class 10 and Plus II to be conducted by the State. The HSC and CHSE exams are scheduled to start from May 3 and May 18 respectively | P2 exams.” As for the Class 12 exams, the government will review the situation on June 1 to decide fresh dates and make an announcement at least 15 days before the start of the exam. The decision comes after around two lakh students signed petitions urging the government to either cancel the board exams scheduled to be held in May or conduct them in online mode. The hashtag “cancelboardexams” was trending on Twitter for a week. Officials, however, have made it clear that given the nature of the tests, it may not be possible to hold the class XII examination in online mode and it will be more practical to organise it when the Covid situation is under control. Many state governments had also supported students’ demand to cancel the exams. On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to reconsider the exam schedule. A few days ago, Maharashtra had made a similar demand. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, too, had appealed to minister Nishank to intervene and direct the CBSE to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the board examinations in May despite the “massive and uncontrolled” rise in Covid-19 cases. In her letter to the education minister, Priyanka said lakhs of students and their parents have expressed “fears and apprehensions” about assembling at examination centres amid a pandemic. Last year, the board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled and results announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme. Pipili bypoll postponed after Cong candidate dies of Covid E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar The Pipili bypoll, which was scheduled on April 17, has been postponed after the demise of Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj due to Covid-19 on Wednesday . Three days ahead of the by-election to Pipili Assembly constituency, Mangaraj (53) passed away while undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital here. He was admitted in a critical condition on April 9 after testing positive. Mangaraj was renominated for the bypoll by the Congress despite forfeiting his deposit in the 2019 election. The returning officer and Puri additional district magistrate (ADM) Pradip Kumar Sahoo announced the deferment of the election soon after getting the news of the candidate’s demise. “According to Section 52 of Representation of People’s Act 1951, if the candidate of a recognised national party or State party dies, the poll is adjourned. On this basis, the Pipili by-election has been deferred,” said the ADM. The order has been passed and a copy sent to the Election Commission of India and the Chief Electoral Officer, Odisha. The Chief Electoral Officer Sushil Lohani had earlier told the media that after the district returning officer submits a report regarding the demise of Congress candidate, it will be sent to Election Commission, which will announce a fresh date for the bypoll. The death of Mangaraj was condoled by Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, president of Pradesh Congress Committee Niranjan Patnaik and several leaders cutting across political parties. Union ministers Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi, AICC secretary G Rudra Raju, several MLAs and leaders of Congress and many well wishers of Mangaraj visited the hospital and paid their last respect. Access to professional edu govt’s duty: SC Express News Service @ New Delhi The government has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to professional education, the Supreme Court said. “While the right to pursue higher (professional) education has not been spelt out as a fundamental right in the Constitution... access to professional education is not a governmental largesse. Instead, the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels,” a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said. The SC was hearing petitions by two students for directions to facilitate them to be admitted at Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and the Maulana Azad Medical College, respectively, as per the Centre’s policy on allocation of Ladakh Central Pool Seats in MBBS/BDS courses for 2020-21. The court directed that the petitioners be granted admission to the respective colleges and admission formalities be completed within a CONTINUED ON: P5 week. Rahul enters WB maidan, attacks Didi & BJP E X p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Kolkata DEBUTING his campaign in Bengal on Wednesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tore into TMC and BJP. Taking potshots at TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, he claimed the Cong ress has never compromised on its ideology to gain power but the state’s ruling party has a history of joining hands with the saffron camp. “Has the Congress party ever compromised with the BJP? Has it ever allied with the BJP? No. But Mamataji has done so,” Rahul said, adding that for his party the fight , with the BJP is ideological, not just political. “Their (BJP’s) ideology murdered our biggest leader Gandhiji. We will die but not back down against this ideology. But for Mamataji, it is just a political bat- tle,” said Gandhi, while addressing a rally at Goalpokhar in North Dinajpur. He urged the electorates to vote for the Congress-Left Front-Indian Secular Force alliance as neither the BJP nor the TMC can be trusted. Referring to the TMC’s previous alliance with the BJP, the former Congress president said Prime Minister Narendra Modi often talked about a Congressmukt Bharat but he never said TMC-mukt Bharat. “The TMC is fine for them (BJP),” he noted. “Their (BJP’s) battle is with the Congress’s ideology. They know Rahul Gandhi will never back down. I am not scared of them. In fact, they are scared of Rahul Gandhi. This is a fight for the future of Bengal. To save Bengal, you have to stop BJP’s advent.” Hitting out at Mamata’s governance, Rahul alleged that it is the only state where the poor people have to pay ‘cut money’ to get jobs. Taking a jibe at the Khela Hobe (Game On) slogan coined by Mamata, he said: “You are talking about a game on the street. I am talking about a game (students’ politics) in university and college campuses which you will not allow,’’ said Rahul. Accusing the BJP of trying to divide Bengal, he said the saffron party wants to implement the same practice that they followed in Assam and Tamil Nadu. ‘’I have come here not to give a political speech. I have come here to save Bengal’s future,’’ he said. P8 Ambulances carrying bodies of people who died of Covid-19 parked outside the Jahagirpura Crematorium for their last rites in Surat, Gujarat, on Wednesday | PTI Gujarat: Ambulances queue up with Covid patients outside civil hospital in Ahmedabad, as state struggles to manage inflow Madhya Pradesh: Crematoriums and burial grounds in Bhopal find it tough to manage as Covid deaths mount. Space crunch adds to hassle Uttar Pradesh: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tests positive; had taken first dose of Covaxin on April 5 Rajasthan: State education board suspends exams for classes 10 & 12 Delhi: Top coaches among 21 test positive at women’s national boxing camp Uttarakhand: Lakhs ignore Covid worries to take holy dip at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar during the third Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths ODISHA Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths April 13 1,61,736 76,481 879 April 13 1,784 523 2 April 14 1,84,372 82,339 1,027 April 14 2,265 610 3 Images of a long, snaking queue of ambulances with Covid-19 patients waiting for admission at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad and another long line of vehicles with Covid fatalities outside the Jahagirpura Crematorium in Surat captured the grim overall situation in Gujarat on Wednesday . While the state government sought to explain away the recurring ambulence queue outside the hospital over the past week, attributing it to following the pandemic protocol, the fact Gujarat reported 6,690 fresh cases and 67 fatalities in a day showed the disease burden it is grappling with. Surat is now the Covid epicentre in Gujarat. While the state health department claimed 22 fatalities in Surat on Wednesday local offi, cials and sources said the actual number was higher. Maharashtra stayed on top of the national chart, registering 60,212 fresh positive cases and 281 deaths, which is why it began its fortnight long janta curfew at 8 pm. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked government officials to focus on setting up jumbo Covid-19 treatment centre, scale up oxygen production and break the chain of the virus to flatten the curve. Except for essential services, all activities will stay shut till May 1. Madhya Pradesh recorded 8,998 fresh cases in a day with 28 of its 52 districts logging in three-digit single-day spikes. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the Remdesivir situation was comfortable as 31,000 vials have already been procured, while 12,000 more will arrive by Thursday. Remdesivir is administered to severely ill patients, but its efficacy is uncertain. A state helicopter has been placed on standby to fly injections to all needy districts, Chouhan said, while admitting that the supply of oxygen is a big challenge. He has sought Railway minister Piyush Goyal’s to help to transport oxygen from Bhilai and Rourkela. As for Uttar Pradesh’s graph, it kept climbing with 17,963 fresh cases, including that of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Four districts — Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Kanpur City — accounted for over 45% of all new cases. Chhattisgarh was third on the national table with 15,121 new infections in a day and a case positivity rate of a P7 whopping 28.6%.
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