MADURAI FRIDAY APRIL 23, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 12 LATE CITY EDITION ` FINMIN ASKS BANKS TO FOOT ‘INTEREST ON INTEREST’ BILL The Union finance ministry has informally asked banks to reimburse or adjust the compound interest charged during the loan moratorium period GOVT IN NO MOOD TO SHARE `8,000-CR BURDEN RISING COVID CASES TO HIT RECOVERY: RBI Banks had approached the finance ministry for help in settling the compound interest waiver, estimated at around `8,000 crore but the government is in no mood to compensate lenders. The Supreme Court had on March 23 ruled banks cannot charge interest on interest for accounts that sought a moratorium last year and that the amount must be refunded ■ ■ The uncertainty due to the surge in Covid cases and localised lockdowns prompted RBI to vote for status quo in interest rates, as per minutes of the MPC meeting released on Thursday Covid-19 is the single biggest factor blocking the path to economic recovery, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said in the meeting | P10 June 2-4 NEXT MEETING OF THE RESERVE BANK OF INDIA’S MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE 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 No reason to appoint Salve: Dave State to give free vax to all above 18 Let HCs hear matter: SC Bar body “There is no reason why Mr Harish Salve should again and again be appointed by Chief Justice Bobde as amicus curiae. He has been a non-resident and living in London for a long time. He does not know the realities of India,” says Dushyant Dave “High Courts appear to be best suited to deal with the situation, hence it would be proper to allow the Hon’ble High Courts to continue dealing with the present issue,” the Supreme Court Bar Association’s intervention petition before the top court EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai Six high courts hearing Covid cases is creating some confusion and diversion of resources, says bench; experts want HCs to stay in play K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the health emergency caused by Covid-19 pandemic though a clutch of high courts are already seized of the matter, a decision that was panned by a section of senior lawyers. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde took note of the fact that high courts of Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Calcutta and Allahabad were dealing with issues related to Covid and asked the Centre to present a national plan to face the health crisis. “The situation in various parts of the country is grim. There seems to be a sudden surge in the number of covid patients and mortality Nonetheless it seems that a . certain amount of panic has been generated and people have Scrutiny of invoked the jurisdicfour points tion of several high The court said it courts in the country wanted to take up seeking relief,” the orsupply of oxygen der read. and essential “They (HCs) are exdrugs, method and ercising jurisdiction in manner of best interest. But it is vaccination and creating confusion and the power to diversion of resourcdeclare lockdown. es,” the bench ob“We want the served, adding, “We power to clear are almost in a nationlockdown to be al emergency .” with states and it “The high courts should not be a have passed certain orjudicial decision,” ders which may have the CJI said the effect of accelerating and prioritizing the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise,” the detailed order stated. The bench said it intended to transfer to itself some of the related issues pending in various high courts. But senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi later said he completely disagreed with the view of the Supreme Court. “High Courts are competent to deal with the issue as it unfolds in the concerned state... It’s a retrograde step. High Court will become redundant now,” he reasoned. Appointing senior advocate Harish Salve as amicus curiae to assist it, the bench issued notice to the Centre and posted the matter for Friday the last working day of , CJI Bobde. Justice N V Ramana will take over as the next CJI on Saturday . During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the bench, “Do we respond to high courts now or we respond here?” “We will issue notice to the Centre and then we will issue notice to high courts and eventually we will bring some issues here. All we want is a national plan on these issues,” the CJI said. The bench told Mehta it didn’t intend to supersede any order of the high courts as of now. AT 3.14 LAKH, HIGHEST-EVER SINGLE-DAY SPIKE IN ANY COUNTRY Active cases now at 22,91,428 comprising 14.38% of the total infections NATIONWIDE APRIL 21 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 2,95,041 1,67,457 2,023 APRIL 22 3,14,835 1,78,841 2,104 27,27,05,103 Samples tested up to April 21 Uttar Pradesh: Long queues at cremation centres in Agra as bodies pile up 16,51,711 Of the samples tested on Wednesday New Delhi: Centre urges corporates to consider converting their vacant office buildings into temporary Covid care facilities Jerusalam: Israel issues travel warning for India and six other countries Modi calls off rally in Bengal Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off his proposed rally in West Bengal on Friday, saying he would be tied up with importane Covid meetings. He, however, would address voters virtually at 5 pm on Friday, the state BJP unit leadership later said A Covid-19 patient waits for admission outside the Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital in New Delhi on Thursday | SHEKHAR YADAV HCs keep up pressure; EC forced to act in Bengal EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Centre on Thursday continued to draw brickbats from the Delhi High Court on the acute paucity of hospital beds and the Bombay High Court on the slashing of Maharashtra’s oxygen quota. A division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli while hearing the plea filed by Saroj Speciality Hospital, Rohini citing shortage of oxygen supply said, “Forget the common man on the street, even if I were to ask for a bed, it would not be available right now.” Justice Sanghi added, “We hope and expect that Centre will look into the requirements of Covid beds and work to enhance availability .” The Delhi government said oxygen plants in Durgapur, Rourkela and Kalinganagar (in In view of the surge in oxygen demand due to an exponential rise in the No. of Covid patients admitted in hospitals, the Centre has raised the quota of oxygen for states AMID reports of acute shortage of oxygen in some states and instances of some private hospitals moving court for urgent directions to ensure timely supply of the life-saving gas, the Centre on Thursday said it is giving 6,822 MT of liquid medical oxygen per day to 20 states against a demand of 6,785 MT/day . The announcement came after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take stock of the situation. In the review meeting, the PM stressed on increasing production of oxygen, raising the speed of distribution and using innovative ways to provide oxygen support to health facilities. He also said that states should come down heavily on hoarding. According to the Centre, availability of liquid medical oxygen has been raised by 3,300 MT per day with contributions from private and public steel plants, industries, oxygen manufacturers as well as through prohibition of supply of oxygen for non-essential industries. Modi also said there is a need to fix responsibility with the local administration in cases of obstruction and also asked ministries to explore various innovative ways to increase production and supply of oxygen. US President Joe Biden on Thursday said America will cut its carbon emissions by up to 52% by the end of this decade, to bring them down to the levels in year 2005. In his address to the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, hosted by the US, Biden said the US and other big economies have an obligation to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement marks the US’ return to global climate efforts after four years of withdrawal under former president Donald Trump. America believes its ambitious new plan will encourage other polluting majors such as China to take impactful steps. However, experts think the US may not be able to achieve the long-term target given the constantly shifting political environment. Addressing the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of IndiaUS Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to mobilise investments and enable green collaborations. “In its new nationally determined contribution, the US has set an economy-wide target of Despite our development challenges, we have taken many bold steps on clean energy, energy efficiency, afforestation and biodiversity. That’s why we are among the few countries whose indices are 2-degree Celsius compatible - Prime Minister Narendra Modi reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels in 2030. As part of its climate mitigation efforts, India has set a target of installing 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030... Through this collaboration, India and the SU aim to demonstrate how the world can align swift climate action with inclusive and resilient economic development, taking into account national circumstances and sustainable development priorities,” a joint statement read. Commission for not implementing Covid norms during the Assembly elections. A bench said issuing circulars and holding meetings on Covid safety were not enough and sought a report on the proposed action by Friday. Hours later, the Election Commission of India banned all roadshows, processions and bike rallies in the state citing violation of Covid protocols. It also put a cap of 500 participants at public meetings. TN COVID TRACKER 89,428 99,219 active cases more got the jab CHENNAI 3,789 new cases 24 deaths 30,401 active cases E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi US to halve emissions, India to go green by 2030 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Odisha) will deliver oxygen to hospitals in Delhi but it will take two days to transport it. As for the Bombay High Court, its Nagpur bench directed restoring the Maharashtra’s oxygen quota, saying the reduction was like a bolt from blue. The Centre had cut Maharashtra’s supply from 110 metric tonnes (MT) to 60 MT from Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai plant. In West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court rapped the Election Have ensured adequate oxygen supply to states, says Centre States’ O2 quota raised THE Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced that it will offer free Covid-19 vaccines at government hospitals to everyone above the age of 18. People in this age group will be eligible for the vaccine from May 1. The announcement came on a day the State touched a new high of 12,652 fresh Covid cases and 59 deaths. The government said free vaccination camps will be conducted on a priority basis for construction workers, migrant labourers, those working in markets, those who run small businesses, transport corporation staff, government staff, school and college teachers, and auto and taxi drivers. Other industries, private firms, hotels and restaurants will be “encouraged” to tie up with private hospitals to get their staff vaccinated, a release from the government said. The vaccine won’t be administered free of charge at private institutions. So far, 13 per cent of people between the ages of 45 and 59, and 18 per cent of those above 60, have NEW 906 Chengalpet CASES 689 Coimbatore 510 Tiruvallur 392 Kanchi STATEWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 10,37,711 tally APRIL 21 APRIL 22 11,681 7,071 53 12,652 7,526 59 13,317 toll 11% 1.15L Test positivity rate New samples tested Oxygen to be produced at Sterlite? SC to decide EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Thoothukudi AT a time when the country is facing an acute shortage of oxygen to treat Covid patients, mining firm Vedanta on Thursday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to reopen its Thoothukudi copper smelter plant to manufacture oxygen. The unit in Thoothukudi has two plants that can produce a total of 1,050 tonnes of medical oxygen per day . Appearing for Vedanta, senior advocate Harish Salve said that if the Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi is allowed to restart, it can save lives. “We want this permission only to start the oxygen plant. And we will supply it free of cost. Give us the permission today and we can start producing it in 5-6 days,” Salve said. Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, who represented the State government, said there was a trust deficit with Vedanta and added that the violations for which the plant was shut cannot be ignored. The State government opposed any urgent hearing of Vedanta’s plea. According to Sterlite authorities, the firm’s oxygen plants were operational till March 25, 2018, and their present condition could not be ascertained as the court had restricted technical experts from entering the premises. The oxygen plants were used to support combustion in the smelter process. The plant will need a thorough check and overhaul before being commissioned for any operations, which may take a few weeks, P4 the authorities said. been vaccinated, the government said. The free vaccination drive for people in these age groups will continue, with a focus on districts with a large number of cases. The government also appealed to the public to make use of the vaccination drive and help the State achieve herd immunity . Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu’s overall tally stands at 10,37,711 and the toll, at 13,317. Fortyfour per cent of the new cases are from Chennai and its neighbouring districts. A total of 1,15,653 samples were tested on the day . According to a media bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health, among the deceased, eight did not have comorbid conditions. Among those who succumbed was a 102-year-woman from Nagapattinam who had comorbid conCONTINUED ON P4 ditions. CRIME FILE Man killed in caste clash at Tirunelveli prison; 3 hurt EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Tirunelveli AN inmate died and three others sustained injuries in an alleged caste clash among prisoners at the Central Prison in Palayamkottai here on Thursday evening. The deceased has been identified as Muthu Mano (27), and the three undergoing treatment at the prison hospital are Chandrasekar (22), Kannan (23) and Madhavan (19). Sources said that the four had been arrested by the Kalakkad police on April 11 for attempting to kill a youngster who belongs to a different caste. “After producing them before the judicial magistrate, the police lodged them at the Srivaikundam Sub Jail. When they were shifted to the Central Prison in Palayamkottai, a few inmates attacked them with stones,” they said. All of them were admitted to the hospital inside the prison premises. Mano, who sustained severe injuries in the attack, was taken to Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital, but did not respond to treatment, and succumbed after a while. The police said he had many pending cases, including those of murder and attempt to murder. Meanwhile, after coming to know about the incident, a few villagers of Moondaradaippu blocked the Tirunelveli-Kanniyakumari National Highway They dispersed after Su. perintendent of Police Manivannan intervened. Police personnel have been deployed in the conflict-prone areas of the region. Had been arrested for attempt to murder Sources said that the four had been arrested by the Kalakkad police on April 11 for attempting to kill a youngster who belongs to a different caste
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