PTI KOCHI l saturday l may 22, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 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 Roped in villagers to save forests 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 ■ ■ 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 5,000 km 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 State extends lockdown till May 30 Triple lockdown only in Malappuram; rise in death toll to continue, says CM; Kerala plans to produce vax locally know the New set of relaxations Textbook distribution for the next school year to be included in essential services State to make arrangements for those who require vaccination to go abroad for jobs or study Saraswati, a housemaid from Bengaluru, is out on a street in Kalamassery to sell facemasks to make a living. She and her husband, a daily wage worker, lost their jobs because of lockdown. Saraswati put her other two children in an ashram at Chowara near Aluva | A Sanesh No restrictions on construction works in containment zones; shops selling construction materials allowed to open State to make arrangements for starting new crop season; those who go for farm work should carry a self-attested affidavit Chief minister takes over minority welfare portfolio, Church welcomes decision S O V I V IDYADHARAN @ T’Puram In a deft move aimed at winning over the Christian community that has been crying foul over ‘imbalance’ in disbursal of minority welfare funds, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has taken over the minority welfare portfolio. Minister V Abdurahiman was widely tipped to handle the portfolio along with Wakf and Hajj pilgrimage. But Pinarayi saw the swearing-in of a new cabinet and fresh allocation of portfolios as the right time to reach out to the Christian community that was peeved at losing out a major chunk of the minority welfare funds. During UDF government’s stint from 2011-16, Minority Welfare evolved as a full-fledged ministry and was helmed by Muslim League leader Manjalamkuzhy Ali. In the previous LDF government, the portfolio was handled by K T Jaleel. The change of guard has been welcomed by the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC), the apex body of bishops of various Catholic rites. “It was a long-pending demand of a major section among the minority communities that the chief minister should han- CHANGE OF GUARD Minority welfare evolved as proper portfolio during UDF’s last term Manjalamkuzhy Ali handled it in UDF govt, K T Jaleel was in charge last term Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council welcomes the change of guard in ministry Chief minister says he took over due to general opinion dle the minority welfare portfolio. We welcome the new decision and express our gratitude to the chief minister,” KCBC spokesperson Fr Jacob Palackapilly said. However, Pinarayi clarified that he took over the portfolio due to the general opinion that it was better if the department was handled by the chief minister himself. Asked about the Muslim League’s opposition towards the move, Pinarayi said portfolio allocation was not that party’s prerogative. “As far as the Muslim community is concerned, they have trust in me and this government,” he ● More on P4 said. E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i ce @ T’Puram WITH the Covid spread remaining untamed, the state government has decided to extend the lockdown till May 30. While the triple lockdown clamped in T hir uvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur will be lifted from Saturday, it will remain in force in Malappuram due to the high test positivity rate (TPR) in the district. Addressing media on Friday , Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the TPR in the state has started coming down except in Malappuram where it is still above 25%. The average TPR in the state for the past three days was 23.3 per cent and it dropped to 23.18% on STATEWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 20 30,491 44,369 128 MAY 21 29,673 41,032 142 Friday The transmission rate . has not come down in Malappuram where the police force has to be more vigilant. The ADGP (law and order) would review the situation in Malappuram by visiting the place and the police IG would lead the triple lockdown enforcement measures, he said. Though there was a drop in the number of new cases, Friday recorded the highest single-day death toll of 142. Covid-19 was confirmed in 29,673 more people in the state on Friday when 1,33,558 samples were tested, taking the total number of active cases to 3,06,346. The number of recoveries was 41.038. According to experts, the rise in death toll would continue in the coming weeks as well, as the highest number of Covid cases in the second wave, 43,529, was recorded on May 12. “The persons whose deaths are confirmed as due to Covid now might have been infected two to three weeks back. Hence, the daily death toll will continue to increase even if the new cases drop,” the chief minister said. “The next three weeks would be crucial for the state as dengue fever cases which used to rise significantly in a gap of three-four years are expected to be high this ● More on P4 year,” he said. Breather to UP as SC stays HC’s ‘Ram Bharose’ order K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi 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 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 General Tushar Mehta, that UP has 97,000 villages and an order of this magnitude was impossible to implement within the HC’s deadline. “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 bench said. It added that the high court’s May 17 order can be treated as advice and not directives. The Allahabad HC 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 are 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 HC chief justice. 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 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 mucormycosis, a deadly fungal disease that is posing a fresh challenge to the healthcare system in India. B e g i n n i n g Ap r i l 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 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.” 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 the spores to infect patients,” he said. The sudden and unprecedented rise in mucormycosis cases, however, has prompted S P Kalantri, medical researcher at MGIMS, to question whether the popular perception that indiscriminate use of steroids, history of diabetes and unhygienic conditions in ICUs may be triggering this P8 spurt in cases. O P P N LEADE R P OS T Chennithala seeks nat’l leaders’ support C y n t h i a C h a n d r a n @ T’Puram E X P R ESS R EAD Death of 3 more Keralites confirmed The number of Keralites who lost their lives in the Mumbai barge capsize rose to five as the ONGC confirmed three more deaths on Friday. Arjun, a native of Thrissur, Antony Edwin of Kollam and Sumesh of Wayanad are the three people whose deaths were confirmed on Friday. There were 30 Keralites on P 305, the barge that sank mid-sea. 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express A doctor treats a patient infected with mucormycosis at the NSCB Medical College and Hospital in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, on Friday | PTI Wedding ride A newly married couple crosses the Hooghly on a boat during Covid-induced lockdown in Bengal’s Nadia district | PTI CONFUSION prevailed over the selection of the Congress legislative party (CLP) leader as the party’s high command has delayed the announcement again, allegedly owing to pressure tactics employed by leaders of different factions in the state. While a section of Congress MPs have demanded for a generational shift, it is learnt incumbent Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala has asked central leaders close to party president Sonia Gandhi to support him as the opposition leader. Sources said Chennithala has sent missives to Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kamal Nath, P Chidambaram and Mukul Wasnik. It is also reliably learnt that Congress working committee leader A K Antony has favoured neither Chennithala nor senior Congress MLA V D Satheesan as the CLP leader. Satheesan, who has claimed the support of 12 of the 21 MLAs, also has the backing of K C Venugopal, national general secretary (organisation). ● More on P4 RBI hands out generous dividend Denying child’s love to parent mental cruelty: HC amounting to 0.5% of GDP to govt one’s own flesh and blood E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i ce @ Kochi The Kerala High Court has said that a parent denying a child’s love and affection to the other parent by alienating the child amounts to mental cruelty . “Nothing can be more painful than one’s own flesh and blood rejecting him/her. The acts of the mother of the child wilfully alienating the child from the father, no doubt, constitute mental cruelty,” the court said. A division bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath issued the order while allowing a petition filed by Prabin Gopan of Thrissur against his wife for divorce on the ground of cruelty The Family Court . in Thrissur had dismissed his plea. Their marriage was solemnised in 2009 and a daughter was born after two years. There were regular instances of outrage and resentment, causing him serious mental agony and pain, Prabin argued. He alleged that he was informed about the delivery of his own child through his family friends. Though he rushed to Nothing can be more painful than one’s own flesh and blood rejecting him/her. The acts of the mother of the child wilfully alienating the child from the father, no doubt, constitute mental cruelty — HC the hospital, he was not permitted to see the child and was obstructed from entering the hospital by the relatives of the wife. It was also alleged that he and his parents were completely isolated from the child and the wife even refused to send a photo of the child. It was only after the intervention of the District Legal Services Authority that they could see the child. He was deprived of his parental right to be loved by the child, Prabin sub● More on P4 mitted. S esa S e n @ New Delhi 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 government reeling under strained public finances owing to the pandemic. The surplus transfer will help the Centre provide more Big transfer Year 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* *RBI is transitioning to April-March accounting year (earlier July-June). Hence, FY22 is a 9-month year (July ’20- March ’21) Source: RBI pandemic relief measures. However, RBI’s generosity may not be enough. In FY22, the gov- ernment expenditure is set at `34.83 lakh crore. Revenues 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. Experts say the handout could have been driven by high returns from domestic assets. “RBI recently allowed itself to book profits on its forex transactions from a weighted average cost perspective,” said Rahul Bajoria, Chief India Economist, Barclays.
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