Polls done and dusted, fuel gets pricey Fuel prices are creeping up though economic activity is sliding due to Covid second wave 18 days since the last price revision. Oil companies froze rate revisions during electioneering possibly to soften the blow in poll-bound states like West Bengal City Mumbai Chennai New Delhi Kolkata bhubaneswar l wednesday l may 05, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late CITY EDITION O d i s h a t a l l y - M AY 4 New cases (last 24 hours) 8,216 Recoveries 6,164 Total caseload 4,79,752 Recovered 4,10,227 Death toll 2,088 Active 67,384 Total tests 1,02,71,003 Deaths Tests 15 43,682 TPR 18.8% Vaccination Stock Total doses administered so far 59,29,525 Covishield (GoI) 1,09,570 First dose 49,08,777 Second dose 10,20,748 Covaxin (GoI) 3,09,050 Covaxin (Odisha) 1,35,840 Huge crowd blocks a road ahead of lockdown in Cuttack on Tuesday evening | Express Petrol (`) 96.95 (+0.12) 92.55 (+0.12) 90.55 (+0.15) 90.76 (+0.14) Diesel (`) 87.98 (+0.17) 85.90 (+0.15) 80.91 (+0.18) 83.78 (+0.17) 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 ■ ■ N440K alert: Odisha tightens the reins on Andhra border E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar With emergence of a new and more virulent strain (N440K) of coronavirus in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Odisha government on Tuesday imposed stricter measures in the bordering districts to monitor flow of people from both the states. Anyone coming to Odisha from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by personal or hired vehicle, trains and flights will have to undergo mandatory institutional quarantine for 14 days in cluster temporary medical centres (TMCs). The government asked the collectors of all border districts to erect check posts on all inter-state roads along Andhra Pradesh and Telangana with immediate effect Administrations of these districts will ensure tracking of all the major and minor entry points, national highway, state highways and local roads for people coming in from these two states PK Jena, SRC and keep track of all those entering Odisha. The districts include Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabarangpur. Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena said administrations of these districts will ensure tracking of all the major and minor entry points, national highway, state highways and local roads for people coming in from these two states. Adequate police arrangements should be made for such tracking. The TMCs to provide quarantine facilities to entrants will be managed by the block development officers (BDOs) in rural areas and executive officers of urban bodies. The SRC said the district administrations will ensure appropriate facilities and logistic support to the cluster TMCs. However, people travelling from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to other states through Odisha will be allowed without disembarking from their vehicles. The SRC said sarpanchs, ward members and volunteers will be mobilised to create awareness in their areas and report to BDOs, police stations and local authorities about persons coming in from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana who are not quarantined in institutional facilities. CONTINUED ON: P5 Highest single-day spike in fatalities in Odisha Bhubaneswar: As the novel coronavirus continues to rage across the country, Odisha recorded 8,216 more new Covid-19 cases from all 30 districts in last 24 hours pushing the active case tally close to 60,000 in just one week. The disease also claimed 15 lives, the highest in a single day this year, taking the death toll to 2,088. Maximum five patients from Khurda and three from Rayagada succumbed to the virus | P2 India Inc largely in favour of complete national shutdown but health experts are divided, as they feel it should have been done during the onset of the wave India lockdown chorus gets louder Delhi HC says it will not do an O2 ostrich E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E Rohit Poddar, MD, Poddar Housing and Development Ltd the government should strike a A day after CII president Uday balance between a full lockKotak called for a national down and allowing business lockdown to break the chain of operations. transmission of coronavirus, Ashish Mishra, CEO of advimany corporate leaders came sory firm, Unnault, said the forward to support the idea Centre should take steps and saying it is all right to take an push people to stay at home. economic hit to save lives. HowAmerica’s top public health ever, health experts are divided expert and White House Chief over the effectiveness of such a Medical Adviser Dr Anthony move at this stage. Fauci, too, recently said India Many CII members includ- must impose a nationwide ing Tata Consultancy Services, lockdown for a few weeks. Infosys, Maruti Suzuki, Hero However, experts in India MotoCorp, Mahindra & Mahi- are not convinced of the need ndra, JCB and Kotak Mahindra for lockdown when the infecBank have already taken ac- tion is already rampant. tion on their own Dr Oommen John keeping the safety of Maha cases of the George Instiemployees in mind. tute for Global Health coming While services sector India pointed out that down organisations have it will be difficult to India’s worst moved to the work ensure that people Covid-hit state from home model, s t ay w i t h i n t h e i r Maharashtra manufacturing firms homes in densely pophave halted produc- reported 51,880 ulated urban contexts. tion and advanced cases on Tuesday. “At the current stage The state has their maintenance of the pandemic, unbeen able to schedules. restricted access to dibring down fresh agnostic tests is criti“Saving lives is cases to a more important than cal,” he said. manageable producing steel. ProA senior virologist range after it duction can suffer as based in Delhi said long as the country is imposed a state- lockdown is most efwide lockdown in need of any refective when enforced last month source available with just when the infecthe company,” said tions begin to surge. Sajjan Jindal, managing direc- “Scientifically speaking, I am tor of JSW Group, which sup- not sure how much can be plies liquid oxygen to hospi- achieved by a widespread natals. Another corporate leader, tional lockdown considering who did not wish to be named, the unique challenges we have said India’s healthcare system in our country, especially in is stretched to its limits. “Sus- high density population areas pending non-essential business such as slums where people activities and a complete lock- share toilets and water taps.” down for two weeks is the only Having faced widespread way out,” he said. criticism last year for imposHowever, real estate tycoon ing a nationwide lockdown Niranjan Hiranandani called without warning, the Centre for a balanced approach. “A this time is not in favour of complete economic lockdown shutting down the economy On . will cast a dark shadow on April 8, Prime Minister Nareneconomy and lead to more fa- dra Modi told states to manage talities due to increased unem- the Covid situation without imP7 ployment,” he said. posing a lockdown. @ New Delhi K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi People waiting to refill oxygen at Babbar Gas Plant in Kanpur, UP on Tuesday | PTI NATIONWIDE may 3 MAY 4 Fresh cases 3,68,147 3,57,229 Recoveries 3,00,732 3,20,289 3,417 3,449 Deaths Jab-o-meter May 3 Take your shot May 4 16.5 lakh doses 11,49,009 doses Total: 16,04,18,105 The Delhi High Court on Tuesday put the Centre on notice over hauling it up for contempt of court for failing to comply with its May 1 order to provide Delhi 490 MT oxygen immediately for Covid patients and a subsequent Supreme Court order to bridge the city’s deficit. In sharp comments, a bench comprising justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the Centre, “You can bury your head in the sand like ostrich, we won’t.” Criticising the Centre for poor execution, the bench sug g ested: “You should hand over the distribution of oxygen tankers to an IIT or an IIM. They will do a much better job... The point is Supreme Court has said Delhi must get 700 MT, so it must get it. It’s your responsibility .” While the Centre raised its supply to 433 MT on Monday night, the Delhi government said it is not enough. “Even with 420 MT people are dying,” the Delhi government represented by senior advocate Rahul Mehra said. But when the Centre tried to dismiss it as rhetoric, the bench shot back: “How can you be so insensitive? Is this merely rhetoric? How can you say this? It’s highly unfortunate.” The Centre also informed the court that 12 oxygen tankers are on their way to Delhi, adding it will file a compliance affidavit in the SC. But the bench retorted, “We fail to understand what good a compliance affidavit will do when the required oxygen is not being brought to Delhi.” The bench also sought to know about the Centre’s plans to deploy the Army to deal with the acute Covid-19 crisis. “Nobody is doubting that you are doing everything. But sometimes you need to act on ideas that are being presented. If you’re not agreeable to deploying the Army, then please spell out the reasons,” the court told the Centre. O2 shortage kills 18 more in Karnataka, AP E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Chennai/B’luru/T’Puram/Anantapur At least 18 Covid-19 patients died on Tuesday in hospitals in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka allegedly due to oxygen shortages, in a grim sign of the worsening coronavirus situation in southern states. Patients in a super-speciality hospital in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, experienced a sudden disruption in oxygen supply around 8 pm, and some of them fell off their beds. Before the patients could be moved to a different hospital unit, four of them died. In Karnataka, at least 14 Covid-19 deaths, allegedly due to a lack of oxygen, were reported in many parts of the state on Tuesday, though offi- cials in two districts, Kalaburagi and Hubballi, denied the oxygen link. These deaths come on the heels of 24 fatalities caused by oxygen shortage in Chamarajanagar. Besides, the Kar nataka High Court gave the central government till Wednesday to take a call on increasing the state’s quota of remdesivir and oxygen, telling the Centre to expedite its decision. Meanwhile, a new scam has been unearthed in Bengaluru, where officials are blocking beds for pay even as needy patients struggle for beds. In Tamil Nadu and Kerala, too, the hospital situation is starting to worsen, with the latter seeing near-full occupancy of ICU beds in at several major hospitals. IPL suspended after Covid-19 cases in bubble E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Chennai The inevitable has happened. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) postponed the Indian Premier League indefinitely. Just over a week ago this newspaper had suspended its coverage of the IPL due to the pandemic and the devastation it has been causing in the country. It had said, the timing of the tournament was not right. And over the past week, ever since the teams moved from Chennai and Mumbai, there has been anxiety among the players and support staff. It even led to players’ pull-out and even Ravichandran Ashwin took a break to be with his family who had the infection. But after two players in Kolkata Knight Riders and two support staff in Chennai Super Kings tested positive, the BCCI was still looking at shifting the IPL to Mumbai. But after Wriddhiman Saha testing positive for Covid-19 at the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s camp the board was forced to suspend it indefinitely. “These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times,” the IPL said in a statement. While England, South Africa and New Zealand players and support-staff will take charter flights soon, Australian contingent is left stranded because of stringent policy of their government for those who return from India. Some Indian players have left for home. 14 dead in turf fight after Bengal verdict HC quashes school merger plan P r a n a b M o n d a l @ Kolkata Hours after trends showed Trinamool Congress’ landslide victory in West Bengal on Sunday, the state convulsed under post-poll violence wave — from Sitalkuchi in the north to Sonarpur in South 24 Parganas — that left at least 14 people dead, including two women. While the BJP claimed seven of the victims were its supporters, the Trinamool counted six of the diseased as its workers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and inquired about the situation. BJP president J P Nadda met the families of the victims to express solidarity . BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya alleged that houses over 4,000 houses were ransacked and at least 100 shops were looted. The party also alleged that two of its booth agents were gang-raped, but there was no confirmation from the police. Trinamool spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said in most of the cases, the deaths were a result of the BJP’s factionalism between old workers and turncoats. “In some places, the BJP’s provocation triggered public anger,” he claimed. A worker of the Indian Secular Force, a partner of the Left Front, was killed in Bhangar, BJP national president J P Nadda meets kin of victims in Sonarpur | PTI South 24 Parganas. In Kolkata’s Kankurgachi, slain BJP worker Abhijit Sarkar’s mother alleged her son was beaten to death by Trinamool supporters. Shovarani Mondal, a woman in her mid-60s, was allegedly killed at Jagaddal in North 24 Parganas, when she tried to protect her BJP worker son from being dragged away. In Sitalkuchi, 19-year-old Manik Baidya was shot dead by alleged Trinamool supporters. The Trinamool alleged two of their supporters Saju Khan and Bivas Bag were beaten to death by BJP supporters in Jamalpur, East Burdwan, for shouting Jay Bangla. In Hooghly, Trinamool worker Debu Pramanik was hacked to death at his home. Another party man Ganesh Mandal was killed at Raina, East Burdwan. P8 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Cuttack The Orissa High Court on Tuesday quashed the notification issued by the School and Mass Education department for merger of schools on March 11, 2020. The judgment comes at a time when around 4,500 schools from among the nearly 16,000 identified for amalgamation have already been merged. The single judge bench of Justice BR Sarangi quashed the March 11, 2020 notification while allowing a batch of 168 petitions. Justice Sarangi directed the department to restore the position of the schools in question as before and provide necessary infrastructure for smooth running of the same. “Instead of finding the reasons for decreasing roll strength, merger of school will not serve the purpose. It is just like without finding the cause of disease, treatment has been started. There are innumerable reasons for decreasing of roll strength. Instead of eradicating the ground difficulties, merger has taken place due to decision taken at higher level without realising the ground level reality”, Justice Sarangi observed. Faced with the huge setback, official sources said the department will move the Supreme Court against the judgment. The ruling came on petitions that had challenged the merger notification on the ground that it violated the Odisha Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010. The petitioners had pointed out that clause (a) of sub-rule 1 of Rule-6 prescribed that a school teaching students of Class I to V has to be established within a walking distance of 1 km of the neighbourhood. CONTINUED ON: P5
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