kochi l Sunday l may 23, 2021 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l late city edition Yaas may turn into a very severe cyclonic storm: IMD It is likely to reach north Bay of Bengal near West Bengal and the north Odisha and Bangladesh coasts by May 26 morning wind speeds up to 165 kmph, heavy rains Days after Tauktae pummeled the west coast and wreaked havoc, Yass’ formation sent the National Crisis Management Committee into a huddle on Saturday. Attending the meeting, the IMD said the cyclone will pack wind speeds up to 155-165 kmph, accompanied by heavy rainfall and storm surges in the coastal districts and recommended large scale evacuations ■ 6th 85 ndrf teams, army, ships on stand-by ■ ■ While the NDRF will deploy 85 teams, the army, navy and coast guard, along with ships and aircraft, will also chip in for rescue Covid-appropriate shelters set up, with adequate stocks of food grains, drinking water, medicines and other essential supplies Works on to ensure uninterrupted oxygen and medicine supplies named by oman, it is the 6th storm over north Indian ocean this year 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 Congress takes cue from Left front, Worst yet to come for names Satheesan as Oppn leader developing nations: IMF Rahul Gandhi and K C Venugopal heed the demand and sentiments of youth leaders; Mullappally, Hassan to be shown door; Cong to revamp organisational committees Interview C y n t h i a C h a n d r a n @ T’Puram FOLLOWING the demoralising setback suffered by the Congress in the recent assembly elections, the party’s national leadership made its intentions of overhauling the Kerala unit clear by appointing V D Satheesan as the Opposition leader on Saturday. Despite some intense lobbying and pressure tactics employed by incumbent Ramesh Chennithala and ex-chief minister Oommen Chandy in favour of the former, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and the party’s national general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal heeded the demand and sentiments of the young leaders, who called for a change. The Congress leadership also took into account the change of political environment triggered by the revolutionary steps taken by the CPM and CPI to replace an entire generation of political leaders with fresh faces. It is learnt that the numerous e-mails received by the high command from the youth leaders in Kerala highlighted how the CPM had successfully engineered a generational shift and how the Congress would find it tough to take on the vigorous new leadership of the CPM at the grassroots level. The decision on the Congress legislature party (CLP) leader was conveyed by Mallikarjun Kharge, the central observer who was assigned to oversee the CLP leader selection, to state Congress president Mullappally Ramachandran who subsequently announced the ‘Priority to end communalism’ V D Satheesan, who has to shoulder the tough task of reviving the factionalism-ridden Congress, tells Arun M in an exclusive interview that the first priority is to destroy both majority and minority communalism in Kerala that has been dividing its people. He said the UDF will take a strong stand against divisive forces. Satheesan added his biggest challenge is to instill confidence in the minds of the party’s rank and file and to rebuild the UDF as a decisive force. FACT FILE Name V D Satheesan Date of birth 31-05-1964 Place of birth Paravoor Constituency Paravoor Educational Degree in sociology qualifications and law Profession Advocate, Kerala High Court Previously served as MG University union chairman, National Students Union secretary, AICC secretary in charge of TN, Congress state vice-president, chairman of public accounts committee, chairman of public estimates committee and MLA for five times from 2001 Being in the Opposition does not mean that we should oppose each and every decision of the government. We will strive to change the conventional style of functioning and transform the UDF into a vibrant Opposition — V D Satheesan decision. When the first session of the 15th assembly starts on Monday, Mullappally will give a letter to Pro-tem Speaker, P T A Rahim, informing him of the Congress party’s decision on the CLP leader. It is learnt that Satheesan’s appointment is only the beginning and the Congress high command will appoint new leaders in other key posts and revamp all organisational committees so that the UDF can perform well in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. A new state Congress chief and a new UDF convenor will also be appointed in the coming days. Close on the heels of Satheesan’s appointment, Mullappally has conveyed his willingness to quit to the high ● More on P4 command. V D Satheesan Opposition Leader Q&A: p4 NEW STATE CHIEF, UDF CONVENoR LINED UP A new KPCC president and new UDF convenor will also be appointed in the coming days. Close on the heels of Satheesan’s appointment, state Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran has conveyed his willingness to quit to the high command. P4 VENUGOPAL EMERGES NEW POWER CENTRE The Congress’ move to make V D Satheesan the Opposition leader indicates the changing power equation in the grand old party in Kerala, with K C Venugopal emerging stronger. Venugopal made smart behind-the-scene moves to checkmate the Oommen Chandy-Ramesh Chennithala axis. P4 3 BJP leaders questioned in Kodakara hawala case E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Thrissur A PROBE team led by Thrissur Range DIG A Akbar questioned three BJP leaders in connection with the Kodakara hawala money laundering case here on on Saturday . BJP district secretary K R Hari, treasurer Sujay Senan and Ayyanthole area secretary G Kasinathan were quizzed for nearly an hour. Police officials said state leaders of BJP and RSS may also be questioned soon. It all started when Dharmaraj and Shamjudeen lodged a complaint with the Kodakara police station saying that they were waylaid by a gang on the Kodakara flyover on April 3 and took away `25 lakh they were carrying from Kozhikode to Kochi. The complaint was filed only on April 7. As per Dhar maraj’s statement, former Yuva Morcha treasurer Sunil Naik handed over the money to him. Naik said he had only business relations with Dharmaraj. The probe led by Rural SP G Poonkuzhali revealed that the actual amount was more than `25 lakh and it was a hawala transaction. So far, hawala money amounting to `50 lakh has been recovered by the police. They officials say the actual amount could be about `3.5 crore. The CPM alleged the money was meant for the BJP’s assembly election campaigning, but the latter denied it. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE India’s second Covid wave is a warning for things to come in low- and middle-income countries that have escaped the pandemic till now, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The ongoing catastrophic second wave in India, following a terrible wave in Brazil, is a sign the worst may be yet to come in the developing world,” said a report co-authored by IMF’s Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and economist Ruchir Agarwal. In the first wave, India’s healthcare system held up fairly well but this time, the country’s medical infrastructure might be crumbling under the case load, May 21 13,83,358 doses May 22 15,52,126 doses Total doses: 19,49,51,603 Jab-o-meter Take your shot State cancels SSLC practical exam, HSE’s from June 21 E xp r ess News S e r v i ce @ T’Puram THE state government has decided to do away with SSLC IT practical exam owing to the Covid situation. The aggregate of practical examinations conducted earlier will be used to evaluate SSLC candidates, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said. The Higher Secondary and Vocational Higher Secondary practical exams will be held from June 21 to July 7. While valuation camps for Higher Secondary and Vocational Higher Secondary exams will be held from June 1 to June 19, the valuation of SSLC answer sheets has been scheduled from June 7 to June 25. Teachers attending valuation camps will be vaccinated. The government will also discuss the option of issuing PSC advise online. ramdev misled people: IMA SEEING RED A farmer picks up red spinach from his farm Kakkamoola,Thiruvananthapuram, which was destroyed in the heavy rain triggered by depression formed in the Bay of Bengal. The downpour has added to the worry of the farmers, who have been reeling under Covid and lockdown | Vincent Pulickal It urged the Centre to take action against the Yoga guru for making unscientific statements against modern medicine | P7 ‘ co n f r o n t e d d e a t h m a n y t i m e s ’ He jumped off sinking barge, spent 15 hrs in sea A j i t h K a n n a n @ Kozhikode Agnel V Varkey, 25, believes he is still alive only because of God’s mercy. After jumping into the Arabian Sea from the ill-fated barge off Mumbai coast on May 17, he was praying mostly during his 15-hour ordeal in the sea. A native of Chembanoda, Kozhikode, he was among the 186 people rescued by the Indian Navy after the barge, P-305, was caught in Cyclone Tauktae and sank around 70km off coast. “I confronted death many times in the rough sea. Though I had reached near the INS’s rescue ship more than six times, huge waves swept me away. I stayed afloat in the rough sea for one entire night and the following morning. I’m alive only because of Jesus who heeded the voice of my prayer all the while I was in the sea,” said Agnel. The youth, who works as a planning engineer with ONGC, said the group on the barge waited till the last minute for Indian Navy’s rescue team to arrive before jumping into the sea as the barge had almost sunk by then,” he said. “We saw a few who jumped before us dying in front of us after their life boats broke. Some others lost lives after Agnel V Varkey they hit their heads on the walls of the barge while jumping. Our team head Suresh Krishnan kept motivating us until the last minute and he advised us to jump into the sea before the barge fully sank. The last anchor of the barge too had got detached, he said. He also advised us to swim as a group so that the rescue team could save us easily. Unfortunately, a huge wave took me away from the group soon after I jumped. I tried to rejoin the group or get near the INS ship, but failed every time,” he said. It was around 5.30pm that Agnel jumped into the sea. He got sight of the INS ship at least three times and called for help but they failed to notice him. He somehow saw off the night and spent the entire night in cold water. ● More on P4 the discussion paper noted. According to the note, the vaccine coverage in India is expected to remain under 35% of the population by the end of 2021. To get to 60% coverage, India will need to immediately place vaccine orders of about 1 billion doses through contracts that incentivise investment in additional capacity and augmentation of the supply chain, it added. “In this context, the recently announced financing of about $600 million to the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech to boost production capacity in the near term is a welcome step,” the report said, adding that authorities estimate two billion doses will be available by the end of 2021. “India is a warning of possiNATIONWIDE MAY 21 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 22 2,59,551 2,57,299 3,57,295 3,57,630 4,209 4,194 ble events in other low- and middle-income countries that so far have seemingly escaped the pandemic, including in Africa,” the report said. For India, current bilateral purchases of vaccine plus coverage from Covax will cover about 25% of its population by the first half of 2022. Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, or Covax, is a worldwide initiative for equitable access to Covid vaccines. The IMF report said India continues to face vaccine production bottlenecks, including due to ongoing shortages of critical raw materials. According to IMF, urgent steps should be taken to eliminate constraints on cross-border exports of critical raw materials and finished vaccines. statewide MAY 21 MAY 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 29,673 41,032 142 28,514 45,400 176 Centre says steroid overuse sparked black fungus cases E xp r ess News S e r v i ce @ New Delhi The Centre on Saturday released a national list of mucormycosis (black fungus) infection case count among the convalescing Covid patients, placing the number at 8,848. It blamed uncontrolled and irrational use of steroids as part of Covid-19 treatment regimen for the infection, but said it was not an outbreak. Admitting that the supply of Amphotericin B, a drug used to treat the infection, was limited, it said efforts were on to ramp up the production capacity . “Amphotericin B’s availability and supply is being raised. The department of Pharma is coordinating with the Ministry of Health to provide license to five additional manufacturers. The existing manufacturers are working towards increasing their production capacity,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary of the health ministry . Meanwhile, stating that Covid was not responsible for black fungus cases, Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog’s member (health), said: “Steroids are wonder drugs that help save lives, but when irrational doses are given, they have a negative impact. One of them is black fungus.” Stating that the infection existed even during pre-Covid times, he said: “It is an uncommon illness that primarily affects the diabetic, but it has not spread in the form of an outbreak.” As per official data, 23,000 vials of Amphotericin B have been sent to the worsthit states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra and Telangana, among others. Fin Ministry asks PSUs to ramp up capital spending A n u r a d h a S h u k l a @ New Delhi Encouraged by the morethan-expected dividend handout from the Reserve Bank of India, the finance ministry has asked Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) to exceed their capital expenditure (capex) target by 20-25% than what was originally given in the budget and use reserve to increase dividend. The ministry has sent an internal note to the top management of CPSEs in this regard, a senior official told TNIE. “Last year, many CPSEs failed to increase their capex in the first half. It was only after the FM nudged them to do so in several meetings. Learning from the lessons from the first wave, they have been asked to be prompt and scale up so that it will help economic recovery, the official said. Last year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her meetings with CPSE heads constantly followed up to increase capital spending to make u p fo r t h e c u r b i n expenditure. It worked. CPSEs in the oil and gas sector alone recorded a capex of `5,610 crore in April, higher than what they had spent the previous year. As the government is likely to miss the divestment target, it is banking on extra dividend. On Friday, RBI had said it would transfer `99,122 crore as surplus to the Centre. WITH THIS ISSUE The Unscrupulous Indian PLUS 12 PAGES
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