kannur l thursday l june 03, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Big move to monetise rental housing market The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the Model Tenancy Act, which offers legal protection to both owners and tenants States Can adapt it by amending laws Will unlock over 1 cr vacant houses Under the Act, separate rent authorities, courts and tribunals will be set up in districts. House owners can seek a maximum two months’ rent as security deposit from tenants, while it is six months’ rent for commercial property. States and Union territories can adapt the Act by enacting fresh legislation or amending their existing rental laws suitably ■ ■ Written Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said there are ‘1.1 crore vacant houses available for rent in the country, according to the Census 2011 The Act is expected to encourage owners to rent out their property Rental agreements to be submitted to district ‘rent authority’ without the fear that tenants won’t vacate it later | P8, 10 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 Shadow over Centre’s 55-cr Covaxin target S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi THE Centre’s ambitious target of having 55 crore doses of Covaxin by December appears hard to achieve as Mumbai-based Haffkine Biopharma, one of the three companies Bharat Biotech has roped in to ramp up Covid vaccine manufacturing, will not be able to start production before February next year. The company is looking at a time line of eight months to roll out the first batch of Covaxin, said Sandeep Rathod, managing director of Haffkine BioPharma, a Maharashtra government undertaking. Sources told TNIE that a formal MoU between Bharat Biotech and Haffkine is still in the process of being signed. Haffkine has received `64 crore grant from the Centre and `94 crore from the Maharashtra government for the vaccine production. According to a government release, production will take place at the Parel complex of the company where a biosafety , level 3 lab will be set up with a capacity to produce 22.8 crore doses of Covaxin. The two other firms that Bharat Biotech has signed pacts with are central undertakings BIBCOL and Indian Immunologicals. Continued on: P8 NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths june 1 june 2 1,27,510 1,32,788 2,55,287 2,31,456 2,795 3.207 June 1 22,08,941 doses June 2 22,45,112 doses Total doses: 22,08,62,449 Jab-o-meter Take your shot statewide Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths june 1 june 2 19,760 24,117 194 19,661 29,708 213 strong SC dose to centre Calls vax policy prima facie arbitrary; seeks details on its evolution, including file noting K a n u S a r d a @ New Delhi Terming the Centre’s vaccination policy as prima facie arbitrary and irrational, the Supreme Court in its written order sought all details on its formulation. The court directed the Centre to place on record all relevant documents and file not- ings reflecting its thinking while evolving the policy and , the purchase history of Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V so far. It also asked all states and Union Territories to specify their stand on providing free jabs. It saw a policy skew in allowing free vaccination for the vulnerable groups — those above 60 and the 45-plus with comorbidities — while enforcing a paid system for the rest. The order was part of the detailed hearing of Monday which was made avail, able on Wednesday . Countering the Centre’s pitch not to interfere in policy matters, particularly as the pan- sharp observations by Appears irrational Due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy for facilitating free vaccination for vulnerable groups under the first two phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by state/UT governments and private hospitals for the 18-44 age group is, prima facie arbitrary and irrational. Under the liberalised vaccine policy that came into effect on May 1, the Centre is paying for the vaccines of the 60+ and people above the age of 45 with comorbidities. For the rest, the states can buy up to 50% of their vaccine requirements from manufacturers but they are paying a much higher price than the Centre. Private hospitals are paying even more. Addressing the Urban, rural digital divide The court asked the Centre to provide data on the percentage of population that has been vaccinated with one or both doses, as against eligible persons in the demic situation was dynamic, the bench led by Justice D Y Chandrachud said it does not intend to second-guess the wisdom of the Executive, but will determine “if the chosen policy conforms to the standards of reasonableness, militates against manifest arbitrariness and protects the right to life of all persons”. three-member bench first three phases of the vaccination drive. The data should include percentage of rural and urban population so far vaccinated. Ramping up Vaccine production doable? While the Centre is confident of vaccinating everyone in the targeted age group by this December-end, the court sought full details as to how production of such high volume will be achieved. It also asked for an outline on how and when the Centre expects to vaccinate the remaining population. Pricing, dates of procurement Regarding the pricing of vaccines, the bench asking the Centre to submit a cost comparison of the shots available in India as against their international price. “If `35,000 crore has been allocated for vaccine, why it cannot be used for vaccinating the 18-44 age group?” the court questioned and directed the Centre to produce the entire file on its vaccine purchase history till date. It also sought the dates of procurement orders of all vaccines — Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik V the number of doses ordered and , the projected date of supply . Can’t be silent spectators The Indian Constitution does not envisage courts to be silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies. Judicial review and soliciting constitutional justification for policies formulated by the Executive is an essential function, which the courts are entrusted to perform, the bench observed. It said across the globe, the Executive has been given a wider margin in enacting measures, which ordinarily may have violated the liberty of individuals, but are now incumbent to curb the panP7 demic. Why not give priority to state: HC to Centre E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Kochi The Kerala High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre why it cannot give priority to the state government when private hospitals and industrial establishments can obtain the vaccines from the nonCentral government quota. “The state government is not getting the vaccine, but the private players are getting it. This is the reality,” a division bench comprising Justice A Muhammed Mustaque and Jus- tice Kauser Edappagath observed orally and added that , the poor people are not able to get inoculated due to nonavailability . “Many are making money out of it (the situation),” said the court and pointed out that a hotelier had given an advertisement offering stay and vaccination for a certain amount. The state government’s request should be considered on a par with that of the private hospitals and other enti- ties. There should be some yardsticks for the supply of vaccines under the non-governmental quota, the bench observed orally while consid, ering petitions filed by Mathew Nevin Thomas and others against the Centre’s vaccine policy . Santhosh Mathew, counsel for Nevin Thomas, said a lot of private hospitals in Kerala are buying vaccines directly . Other than the supply received from the Centre, the state government has placed orders directly with the com● More on P4 panies. Consider GIVING full name of Covishield in NRI docs The High Court has directed the Centre to consider the plea to include the complete name of the Covishield vaccine -- Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine -- as well as the passport number as an ID number in the vaccination certificates of non-resident Indians. P2 Central government promoting ‘black marketing’ of vaccine: Kerala to HC | P4 State under-reports Covid deaths for image, says Oppn; Min shoots back cutting corners A barber from Cheruvannur in Kozhikode, who has lost considerable income during the last one-and-a-half years due to lockdown and Covid restrictions, is now making a living by cutting the hair of his neighbours. Barbers across the state are hit hard by the pandemic as there is a general reluctance among people to go to salons | T P Sooraj E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram two-jumbo logo & name Anavandi Kerala beats K’taka legally, wins right to use acronym KSRTC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @T’Puram After the long drawn-out battle over intellectual property rights, the Kerala Road Transport Corporation has got the legal right to its trademarks -acronym KSRTC, the logo of two elephants and the name Anavandi -- associated with the state-run transport corporation. The Controller General of Patents Design and Trade Marks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry approved Kerala’s claim on Wednesday. The registration will make Kerala RTC the sole custodian of the trademarks. All buses of the corporation will proudly display KSRTC with the mark to indicate the registration (R). The Kerala RTC and Karnataka State Transport Corporation have been fighting over the custody of the acronym ‘KSRTC’ for the last seven years. Even now, buses and websites of both RTCs use KSRTC. The decision is likely to end the confusion among passengers to know which one is the real KSRTC. “The history of KSRTC is intertwined with the lives of people of the state. It is not just a transport service, but has left the legacy of public transport in our cultural life including films and literature. It is not something that can be erased so easily. It is a pleasure to know that the Trade Mark Registry recognised the state’s claim. It is a victory for KSRTC and I congratulate all officials involved in the effort,” said Transport Minister Antony ● More on P4 Raju. THE assembly witnessed the first test of fire for the new government and Health Minister Veena George on Wednesday when the Opposition UDF took strong exception to the criticism made by the minister against them while replying to a notice seeking leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the under-reporting of Covid deaths in the state. Veena deviated from the issue in question and alleged that the Opposition was trying to depict state’s healthcare workers on Covid duty in poor light. The Opposition alleged in the House that the state was under-reporting Covid fatalities to keep its image intact. TNIE had published reports, quoting health department insiders, about the large-scale under-reporting of Covid fatalities. Though UDF registered its objection to the remarks of the minister, they listened to her explanations and refrained from walkout even though Speaker M B Rajesh denied permission for the adjournment motion. While moving the notice, M K Muneer of the IUML said it is yet to be identified which coronavirus variant has caused more deaths in the state.”There has been an attempt to under-report the Covid deaths in Kerala. The state should not under-report Covid fatalities to take credit for the best containment measures followed by a state in the country he said. ,” Muneer suggested: “Paediatric ICUs and ventilators should be kept ready as children would be the worst-hit during the ● More on P4 third wave.” p ost o f o f f i c e at t e n da n t Panel asked govt to redeploy excess staff but mins ‘preferred’ freshers M S VIDYA N A N DA N @ T’Puram DURING the tenure of the first Pinarayi Vijayan Government, the 19 ministers had directly recruited 72 persons to the post of office attendant. Around `2.5 crore was spent as their annual salary when hundreds of office attendants were idling away in the state secretariat. The new government has also initiated steps to recruit personal staff in lower ranks and it is learnt the number would be almost the same. The penchant for recruiting office attendants and drivers is rampant among ministers as even with qualification of class 10, a person can be recruited in the lower rungs. Major political parties use these posts as a reward for grass-roots level party workers, who have been holding their parPart - II ty flags high. Cost to The fresh recruitment of attendants was done in parallel to the study of the expert committee, appointed by the same government, on rationalising revenue expenditure. The committee headed by Centre for Development Studies director Sunil Mani had reported that 554 posts of attendants in the secretariat were no longer required with the implementation of e-office and that the personnel be redeployed in other departments. The report also called for redeployment of 204 computer assistants at the secretariat. It may appear paradoxical; the ministers had directly appointed eight computer assistants during the time, spending `36 lakh per year for their salary . According to the report, a large number of posts of supporting staff in various departments are available for redeployment. Three of such departments named in the report together had 255 such ● More on P4 posts. exche uer Even PSC-recruited government employees after 2013 had to settle for contributory pension. The personal staffers are getting an assured pension benefit just like a legislator except for the quantum B A Prakash, economist B2.5 cr was spent as annual salary of office assistants when hundreds of similar staffers were idling away in the secretariat The committee headed by CDS director Sunil Mani had reported that 554 posts of attendants in the secretariat were no longer required The report also called for redeployment of 204 computer assistants at the secretariat express read Scholarship ratio: All-party meet tomorrow T’Puram: Finding itself in a spot following the High Court order cancelling the 80:20 division of merit-cum-means scholarship for Muslim and Christian communities, the state government has begun efforts to arrive at an amicable solution. As part of this, CM Pinarayi Vijayan has called an all-party meeting at 3.30pm on Friday to discuss the current scenario based on the verdict and further proceedings.
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