PTI tiruchy l saturday l may 22, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION Chipko movement pioneer Sunderlal Bahuguna dead The 94-year-old environmentalist died of Covid-19 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh on Friday Sunderlal Bahuguna 9 January 1927 21 May 2021 Cremated with full state honours Bahuguna had been undergoing treatment in the hospital since May 8. He was cremated with full state honours at the Poornanand Ghat. He, along with other environmentalists launched Chipko in 1973 in Uttarakhand (then part of UP) as a nonviolent social and ecological movement of villagers to protect trees slated for government-backed logging | P7 5,000 km Roped in villagers to save forests ■ ■ Chipko means to embrace. The activists, mostly led by village women, would hug the trees and stay put often chaining themselves to the trunks so that loggers could not cut them. Such protests not only slowed down forest destruction but also brought the issue of deforestation to the public’s attention Bahuguna led a protest march across Himalayas during 1981-1983 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 Breather to UP as SC stays HC’s ‘Ram Bharose’ order Direction to provide two ambulances each in 97,000 villages with ICU beds impossible to implement within a month, agrees bench K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi A doctor treats a patient infected with mucormycosis at the NSCB Medical College and Hospital in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, on Friday | PTI Black fungus spurt needs study: Docs S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi At the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) in Sevagram in Wardha, a major tertiary care centre in rural Maharashtra, nearly 4,000 Covid-19 patients had undergone treatment before March this year. None developed mucor mycosis, a deadly fungal disease that is posing a fresh challenge to the healthcare system in India. Beginning April through the first week of May, when nearly 1,000 Covid patients were treated at MGIMS, 20 of them went on to develop mucormycosis, which has a reported fatality rate of nearly 50%. At present, the hospital has at least 15 patients of black fungus, in which a group of molds infect sinuses, lungs and the brain. Raymond Savio, a critical care expert from Chennai, explains that there are multiple reasons for this fungus to infect those with Covid-19. “It’s a combination of the virus, nature of treatment, steroid and other immune-suppressants, nature of body’s response to Covid infection (ferritin level), uncontrolled blood sugar and humidification systems for oxygen that makes it appropriate for Need thorough study A senior doctor at AIIMS, Delhi said she has been treating autoimmune disease patients with steroids for years but mucormycosis cases were rare. “Something has changed now. Whether it is the use of industrial oxygen or the way oxygen has been instituted in health facilities, I am not sure. That is for researchers to find out.” the spores to infect patients,” he said. The sudden and unprecedented rise in mucormycosis cases, however, has prompted S P Kalantri, a senior doctor and medical researcher at MGIMS, like many others in different parts of India, to question whether the popular perception that indiscriminate use of steroids, suppressed immunity his, tory of diabetes and unhygienic conditions in ICUs may be triggering this spurt in cases. “It’s my assumption and I may be completely wrong but maybe Covid-19 virus and mucor are now hunting together. Something about the Covid-19 virus has changed over the months,” he said adding that more research is required to understand the rise in the disease. Continued on: P8 A Supreme Court bench on Friday stayed a bunch of orders on Covid management issued by the Allahabad High Court to the Uttar Pradesh government recently, agreeing they were impossible to implement. It also advised high courts dealing with Covid cases to refrain from dealing with issues that have trans-national and inter national ramifications, since the top court itself is seized of pan-India matters. The Allahabad High Court had on May 17 ordered the UP government to upgrade its health facilities on a war footing, specifically directing it to provide two ambulances with ICU facilities to each village within a month. But a Supreme Court bench comprising justices Vineet Saran and Bhushan Gavai agreed with the state’s position, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, that UP has 97,000 villages and an order of this magnitude was impossible to implement within the HC’s deadline. THE Reserve Bank of India on Friday sprang a pleasant surprise for the Centre, announcing a handsome dividend of `99,122 crore for FY22. Constituting 0.5% of the GDP this is , more than double the Budget estimate of `45,000 crore and comes as a major relief for the gover nment reeling under strained public finances owing to the pandemic. The surplus transfer will help the Centre provide more pandemic relief measures. However, RBI’s generosity may not be enough. In FY22, the government expenditure is set at `34.83 lakh crore. Reve- Big transfer Dividend (J cr) FY14 33,010 FY15 52,679 FY16 65,876 FY17 65,876 FY18 30,659 FY19 50,000 FY20 1,75,987 FY21 57,128 FY22 99,122* Year *RBI is transitioning to April-March accounting year (earlier July-June). Hence, FY22 is a 9-month year (July ’20- March ’21) Source: RBI nues may come in at `16.5 lakh crore. So, the government will still have to raise `1.75 lakh crore via disinvestments to pursue its FY22 fiscal deficit target of 6.8% of the GDP . RBI’s surprise handout may have been driven by higher re- No stay on further proceedings “We are staying the order but we are not staying the proceedings before the Allahabad High Court. The matter be listed on July 14,” the Supreme Court bench said while appointing senior advocate Nidesh Gupta as amicus curiae to assist in the matter bench said. It added that the high court’s May 17 order can be treated as advice and not directives. The Allahabad High Court has been scathing in its observations of the state government’s handling of the pandemic, going to the extent of saying that the state’s healthcare system is Ram Bharose (at God’s mercy). Mehta also sought a direction from the bench to transfer all Covid-19 related matters pending in various high courts to benches headed by their respective chief justices. “In Allahabad High Court, there are other PILs which is listed before other benches in which notice has been issued. Similar cases in other high courts too. But let such matters be placed before only Chief Justice-led benches,” he urged. However, the court said it could not pass such sweeping orders as the constitution of benches was the prerogative of the chief justice of the high court. “We cannot demoralise the high courts,” it said. At this, Mehta said, “Health infrastructure can never be ignored. But these directions are impossible to comply with...we understand the anxiety of the court. But this is a matter of concern. Courts should also have some judicial restraint and not pass orders which are difficult to implement.” From May 1 (Numbers in %) 26.5 25 25 23.6 20.5 21 22.8 23.6 22.2 21.5 24.1 21.2 21.7 22.5 21.1 21.1 20.4 Chennai Test positivity rate 23.2 21.7 21.3 19.4 20 15 May 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 May 20 Source: TN Health department, Chennai Corporation Chennai TPR dips below 20% for 1st time in 3 weeks OM J ASVI N MD @ Chennai Chennai’s daily Covid test positivity rate (TPR) has dipped below 20 per cent for the first time in the last three weeks. On Thursday, the city recorded a TPR of 19.4 per cent, a steep decline from 26 per cent on May 10, and 21.15 per cent on May 16. According to experts, a TPR of five or below indicates that the spread has been contained. The number of daily positive cases in the city has also decreased from 7,149 on May 10 to 5,913 on Friday Chennai . at present has an active case rate of 10 per cent and the Royapuram zone alone has an active case rate lesser than 10 per cent. While Royapuram tamil nadu MAY 20 MAY 21 recorded 7 per cent, Thiruvottiyur and Manali tops the Fresh cases 35,579 36,184 list with percentages of 16 . Recoveries 25,368 24,778 and 15 respectively Officials of Chennai CorDeaths 397 467 poration said that more number of oxygen beds are being readied at Covid Care Centres. “We have also enhanced our triage protocols. Patients now get screened at their doorsteps or through phone. Such measures ensure patients early access to treatment,” an official said and added that since hospitals are the number one source of infection, the move to prevent entry of attendees inside the wards will help minimise the contagion. Corporation sources also said that as many as 7,647 patients have used the special ambulance services inaugurated last week to reach screening centre. The city’s Covid case growth, too, is on the decline: from 3.8 per cent on May 10, it dipped to 1.8 per cent on May 18. in the war room Inside scenes of the State government’s technology-driven war room that leads the Covid-19 battle in Tamil Nadu | P4 Wedding ride A newly married couple cross the Hooghly on a boat during Covid-induced lockdown, in Bengal’s Nadia district on Friday | PTI RBI hands out generous dividend amounting to 0.5% of GDP to govt Se sa Sen @ New Delhi “We are of the opinion that high courts should normally consider the possibility of execution of their directions. If such directions cannot be implemented, then such orders may not be passed. The doctrine of impossibility is equally applicable to courts,” the 30 turns from domestic assets. “RBI recently allowed itself to book profits on its forex transactions from a weighted average cost perspective. This move could have helped the central bank boost yields on its foreign asset holdings. Increased holdings of domestic government securities likely further amplified RBI’s income,” said Rahul Bajoria, Chief India Economist, Barkclays. According to Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA, the higher transfer will offer a buffer to the Centre to absorb the losses in indirect tax revenues that are anticipated in May-June 2021 due to the localised lockdowns. EXPRESS READ Insolvency code Promoters liable for their companies’ debt, rules SC E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi IN what may make high-profile corporate honchos such as Anil Ambani personally liable for the loans their companies have taken but not repaid, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the constitutional validity of the Centre’s November 15, 2019 circular that brought personal guarantors of corporate loans under the ambit of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. The verdict has come as a major boost for banks, which can now seek recovery of dues from the promoter guarantors even while bankruptcy processes against the companies are pending. The order came on a plea by industrialists Anil Ambani, Kapil Wadhawan, Sanjay Singhal, and Venugopal Dhoot – whose firms are facing insolvency proceedings – challenging the 2019 notification. According to the promoters, the Centre targeted them though the law was for individuals, corporate guarantors as well as partnership firms. The SC held that the government’s intent was to implement the provisions of the IBC in a phased manner. Continued on: P10 Tarun Tejpal acquited in 2013 sexual assault case Twitter told to drop manipulated media tag Panaji: A sessions court in Goa on Friday acquitted journalist Tarun Tejpal of sexually assaulting a woman colleague. Tejpal, Tehelka’s ex-editor-in-chief, was accused of sexually assaulting her at a Goa hotel in 2013 | P8 New Delhi: The Centre objected to Twitter using manipulated media tag for tweets on an alleged Congress toolkit and asked it to remove it. It also made it clear that the platform cannot pass judgment on sub judice issues | P7 Pvt lab licence cancelled over false test reports Chennai: In a major move, the Health Department on Friday cancelled the licence of Medall Laboratory in Guindy after it was found to be issuing false Covid test reports. The lab had received 4,000 RT PCR samples test reports from Kolkata, all of which were negative. However, it fudged the data to make it look like these samples were collected from Kallakurichi in Tamil Nadu, and changed the negative results to positive. These fake positive cases were pushing up the TPR and the overall case load of the State | ENS May 20 14,56,088 doses May 21 13,83,358 doses Total doses: 19,32,97,222 Jab-o-meter Take your shot NATIONWIDE MAY 20 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 21 2,76,110 2,59,551 3,69,077 3,57,295 3,874 4,209 TN withdraws cases against persons who Provide self-assessed meter reading to Tangedco took part in protests against Sterlite Copper power sharin g Express News Service @ Chennai The State Electricity Board has decided to accept ‘self-assessed’ meter reading by Low Tension (LT) consumers for bills below `30,000. Consumers can send the self-assessment readings through Whatsapp, SMS, letter or e-mail to area engineers (AE) or junior engineers (JE). Based on this read- ing, the section officer will raise bill for May 2021, and delete previous month consumption (PMC) bill. Following the onset of the pandemic second wave, the Tangedco had instructed its staff to provisionally adopt previous month billing (amount based on May 2019 or March 2021 readings) cycle. Several consumers made representations to the board noting that the bill amount was higher than their actual consumption value. Subsequently, on Thursday, the Tangedco through a circular instructed officers to scrap the PMC bills and consider actual readings. Until recently, the area engineer us- ing the LT billing software could delete bills only up to assessment value of `5,000. Now, the AEs have the power to delete PMC bills to the value of `30,000, according to the circular assessed by Express. The authority to relax bills above `30,000 rests with the Deputy Financial Controller, and the relaxation is valid till May 31, 2021, the circular added. Express News Service @ Thoothukudi IN a landmark move, the State gover nment on Friday announced the withdrawal of cases filed against members of the public who participated in the agitation against Sterlite Copper. The announcement, coming on the eve of the third anniversary of the Thoothuku- di violence, has taken many by surprise. All cases filed before and after the May 22 mayhem – except for the ones under CBI probe, at the Supreme Court, and relating to damage of public property – have been withdrawn. Based on the recommendations of the Aruna Jegadeesan commission, the government also announced a relief assistance of `1 lakh each to 93 persons who were allegedly tortured by police. The government has provided a solatium of `2 lakh to the 72-yearold mother of a victim who died in Tirunelveli Prison. It was an emotional moment for those who had been fighting for relief. Rajkumar of Therku Veerapandiapuram, who was booked in 134 cases, told Express that he felt vindicated. P2
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