MADURAI FRIDAY APRIL 16, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 12 LATE CITY EDITION WPI INFLATION SHOOTS UP TO 8-YEAR HIGH OF 7.39% IN MARCH Rising crude oil and metal prices pushed up the wholesale price index (WPI)-based inflation in March, government data showed on Thursday LOW BASE CONTRIBUTES TO SPIKE WPI inflation was 4.17% in February 2021 and 0.42% in March 2020. The low base of March last year, when the data was computed with a low response rate due to the Covid lockdown, contributed to the spike in March 2021. This is the third straight month of increase in the WPI. The last time WPI showed such a high level was in October 2012, when inflation was 7.4% ■ 32.1% DRIVEN BY OIL, METALS, CHEMICALS ■ Inflation in the fuel and power basket was 10.25% in March, against 0.58% in February on higher fuel prices Icra Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said the jump in WPI-inflation was driven by metals, textiles, chemicals, rubber, etc as many of them recorded large price increases globally in recent months | P9 INFLATION OF CRUDE PETROLEUM AND NATURAL GAS IN MARCH 2021 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 OXYGEN SCARCITY CONTINUES; DELHI OVERTAKES MUMBAI’S SINGLE-DAY PEAK; KUMBH MELA MAY END SOON, AKHADA PARISHAD TO TAKE FINAL CALL Didi wants rest of phases clubbed, EC isn’t willing MUMBAI CHENNAI EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi REJECTING rumours that the remaining phases of elections in West Bengal would be clubbed in view of the rising Covid cases, the Election Commission said on Thursday that there is no such plan. Later in the day, Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee urged the Election Commission to consider conducting the remain polls at one go. “Amid an ongoing pandemic, we firmly opposed @ECISVEEP’s decision to conduct WB polls in 8 phases. Now, in view of the huge surge in #COVID19 cases, I urge the ECI to consider holding the remaining phases in ONE go,” she tweeted. Ex-chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said the law doesn’t allow shortening the campaign period from the prescribed 14 days but postponing or extending by a few days is possible. “Clubbing with the last phase is doable,” he said. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi NEW DELHI THE daily fresh Covid case count in the country shot past the 2-lakh mark on Thursday morning for the first time, amid reports of acute oxygen scarcity from various states. To get a sense of the unprecedented public health emergency staring India in the face, the country took just 10 days to double its active cases from 1 lakh to 2 lakh, while the US had taken more than 20 days in doubling to 2 lakh. And daily fatalities have crossed 1,000 since the last two days. Many experts fear the current trend may push daily infections up for many days to come and the country may even surpass the highest daily infections of over 3 lakh registered in the US in early January . Amid all the anxiety about the ongoing Maha Kumbh in Uttarakhand becoming a super spreader, there was some selfregulation as the Shri Panchayati Niranjani Akhada, one of the 13 participating akhadas, announced the conclusion of the mega event on April 17 instead of the scheduled May 8 in view of the pandemic. A final call will be taken by the apex body of 13 akhadas, the Akhada Parishad. As many as 2,269 Covid positive cases have been detected so far in the mela area. With Delhi overtaking Mum- LUCKNOW Clockwise from above: A family member after performing cremation of a Covid-19 victim at the Nigambodh Ghat; Gateway of India wears a deserted look; A health worker taking swab samples at a railway yard at Egmore, Chennai; The Bhaisakund crematorium in Lucknow being covered with blue tin sheets after videos showing many dead bodies burning went viral; A Covid-19 patient is given an oxygen supply mask inside an ambulance, outside the the Government Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad; People without masks at the Heritage Street, Amritsar | PTI AHMEDABAD RUSH AT CREMATION GROUNDS GETTING DIFFICULT TO HANDLE N A M I TA B A J PA I , R A J E S H KUMAR THAKUR AND ANURAAG S I N G H @ Lucknow/Patna/Bhopal BODIES of Covid patients piling up at cremation grounds have become a nightmare for the authorities. While Bihar is getting defunct electric crematoriums restarted in state capital Patna, in Uttar Pradesh the authorities in Lucknow came up with another solution: to cover up the cremation ground at Bhainsakund with tin sheets. The cover (see pic) was built a day after videos showing a large number of burning pyres went viral amid allega- STATE WIDE tions of the fatality count being under-reported. The Lucknow municipal authorities on Thursday got the tin sheets put up around the cremation g round’s boundary to block its view from outside. The step was taken keeping in mind people’s safety since it’s a Covidaffected area, they claimed. Given the huge rush of bodies, people are forced to wait for hours to cremate their dear ones. The Lucknow municipal corporation has decided to open more electric crematoriums and also to keep about 50 pyres ready daily to handle the next day’s rush. In Patna, too, there is a big queue every day, with exhausted cremation ground workers saying they are not even getting time to have food. The Bihar government has instructed that corona patients must be cremated in electric furnaces alone. At Bansghat, where the city’s only electric crematorium was operational, Alok Kumar, a worker, said: “About 20-25 bodies are being brought daily.” One body takes 45-60 mins to burn. “25-plus bodies being brought every day means we hardly get any break,” said Niru, 35, another Bansghat worker. ‘AIM IS TO VACCINATE 2 LAKH PEOPLE DAILY’ APRIL 14 APRIL 15 Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan on Thursday said the State’s target should be to vaccinate 2 lakh people daily. “Despite the increase in cases, our mortality rate is only around 1.3 per cent... Only 10 per cent of hospital beds are filled by Covid patients in TN, while around 20 per cent are filled in Chennai,” he observed | P4 AMRITSAR TIKA UTSAV 1.28 crore vax doses administered during 4-day Tika Utsav. But four days prior to that, 1.45 crore vaccine doses were administered PRACTICALS FOR STATE BOARD TODAY Tamil Nadu had 58,097 known active cases on Thursday, the highest so far. The previous record was 57,968 cases, last year The Madras High Court has stayed a single-judge order directing the Chennai Corporation to exhume the body of Dr Simon Hercules, who died of Covid-19 in April 2020, from a burial ground at Velangadu and rebury it at a cemetery in Kilpauk | P4 The practical examinations for Class 12 students will begin on Friday. Students who have Covid will be allowed to take the exams later, along with those who are sent back from the exam centres for showing symptoms such as cough, cold and fever. Each student is to get a space of 4 sq m to conduct experiments | P4 CASES DEATHS VACCINATED Fresh cases Active cases Deaths 7,819 54,315 25 7,987 58,097 29 HIGHEST-EVER COUNT OF ACTIVE CASES 7,819 6,984 6,618 6,711 HC STAYS ORDER TO EXHUME DOCTOR’S BODY 29 7,986 23 5,989 23 TESTS 22 87,505 Apr 9 87,767 1,63,935 93,995 82,202 18 Apr 15 96,513 25 19 5,441 Apr 9 83,895 Apr 15 Apr 9 @ New Delhi EXPRESSING concern over the Centre’s inordinate delay in responding to the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendations for appointment of judges, the apex court on Thursday sought a ‘reasonable time frame’ from the government for a decision. It pointed out that 10 names recommended by the Collegium were pending with the government for a year-and-half. Attorney General K K Venugopal said the government will take a decision within three months. While reserving the order on a plea filed by NGO Lok Prahari seeking appointment of additional judges in high courts under Article 224A of the Constitution to reduce the pendency of cases, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde also flagged the rise in false complaints against judges. The bench said judg es should not be made to feel insecure because of that and there should be clarity about their tenure. The bench favoured fixing the tenure of two or more years for ad-hoc judges if they are appointed in high courts. “The 1,27,558 2,17,666 1,55,325 1,18,271 82,236 Apr 15 Decide on Collegium’s recommendations in a ‘reasonable timeframe’, SC tells govt EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Daily case count crosses two lakh, doubles in 10 days position of judge has to be made secure. We have seen allegations against judges which are shockingly false. You can easily knock out a judge if there is no security. There has to be security of tenure for ad-hoc judges,” the CJI said. Meanwhile, while hearing another plea filed by SC Women Lawyers Association seeking appointment of meritorious women advocates as judges in high courts, the CJI said many women lawyers have declined judgeship citing domestic responsibilities. 47,205 73,633 Apr 9 Apr 15 bai’s single-day peak (11,163 on April 4) by recording over 17,000 fresh cases, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a weekend curfew and the closure of malls, gymnasiums and auditoriums till April 30 as part of sweeping restrictions to break the chain. Maharashtra stayed on top of the Covid chart with 61,695 fresh cases and 349 fatalities. As many as 36 lakh patients in the state are on home quarantine while 27,273 are under institutional quarantine. With Uttar Pradesh recording 22,439 new cases and staying at second highest on the NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 14 1,84,372 82,339 1,027 APRIL 15 2,01,386 1,05,837 1,047 national list, the government decided to incremnetally increase the time of night curfew across the state. Also to handle the incoming migrant rush, the UP government has directed all district magistrates to open quarantine centres and kitchens for thom. With the demand for medical oxygen shooting in states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, the Centre will import 50,000 metric tonnes of medical oxygen, while its sources and production capacity has been mapped to match the current requirement NEET PG EXAM National Eligibility-CumEntrance Test for PG courses scheduled to be held on April 18 postponed TRAIN SERVICES UP The Railways has pushed its train operations to 70% of pre-Covid level to handle the rush of migrant workers trying to return home Russian citizen, 12 others test positive for Covid at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Tirunelveli AS many as 13 people, including a Russian citizen, tested positive for the coronavirus at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) here on Thursday. Twelve of them are being treated at an isolation ward in the Anu Vijay township, where they stay, while the other person, who is from a private outsourced company, has been hospitalised in Nagercoil. “Health officials decided to conduct a special camp to screen people living in Anu Vijay township and working at KKNPP The administration of . the power plant has instructed employees to strictly follow the Covid guidelines and wear protective gear,” sources said. Besides these 13 staff, about 20 residents of Kudankulam and its surrounding villages are being treated for Covid at the Government Hospital, Kudankulam. The KKNPP authorities did not respond to phone calls from Express. Last year, contract labourers from North India, who were working at the KKNPP, staged a protest, demanding to return to their hometowns. They alleged they were made to live in unhygienic conditions. The Kudankulam police then registered a case against them. Many of the workers tested positive for Covid, and were treated at the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital. Eventually, the district administration organised special trains for them to return home. Due to the shortage of workers, construction of the KKNPP’s units 3 and 4 had to be stopped. CBI to probe cops who framed Nambi EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday accepted Justice D K Jain Committee’s report on the lapses of Kerala Police officers in the ISRO spying case and asked the Centre to hand it over to the CBI for further probe. A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar asked the CBI to submit its report within three months and made it clear that the panel’s report can’t be made public or shared with anyone, including former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan. The court also clarified that the copies of the report can’t be given even to officials named Nambi Narayanan ‘EXPOSE CONSPIRACY’ Welcoming the verdict, Nambi Narayanan said all those who were part of the conspiracy should be brought to light. He said the ISRO spy case was fabricated and that he spent 50 days in custody / jail in it or in the petition. The bench directed the CBI to treat the Jain panel report as a preliminary inquiry report and proceed further. Two-and-a-half-years after it was asked to look into the lapses on the part of the Kerala Police officers in wrongfully arresting Nambi Narayanan in 1994, the Jain Committee recently submitted its report to the SC in a sealed cover. The panel probed the roles of police officers Siby Mathews, K K Joshua and S Vijayan in framing Narayanan. The Supreme Court had on September 14, 2018, ordered the Kerala government to pay a compensation of `50 Lakh to the former ISRO scientist. “There can be no scintilla of doubt that the appellant, a successful scientist having national reputation, has been compelled to undergo immense humiliation. The lackadaisical attitude of the state police to arrest anyone and put him in police custody has made the appellant suffer the ignominy,” the court had observed. “The dignity of a person gets shocked when psycho-pathological treatment is meted out to him. A human being cries for justice when he feels the insensible act has crucified his self-respect. That warrants grant of compensation under the public law remedy .”
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