KOLLAM l friday l November 26, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Virus variant with unusually high mutation count found B.1.1.529 has been found in South Africa, Botswana & Hong Kong; the Centre has asked states to test travellers from these places Unfamiliar mutations spark concern The new coronavirus variant has at least 32 spike mutations, compared to 16 for Delta. It may not just spread more efficiently, but might be able to get around parts of the immune system, said researcher Richard Lessells. Some of the mutations are also unfamiliar to scientists. So far the variant has been seen spreading especially among young people, reports said 100 origins in untreated HIV patient? ■ ■ The variant could have evolved during the chronic infection of a person with compromised immunity, which can prolong infection The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, as per authorities. World Health Organization officials have met to discuss B.1.1.529 | P12 Cases linked to the variant detected in South Africa 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 NEET counselling deferred, `8L EWS cap to be revisited E x p r e s s n e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it is ready to revisit the `8 lakh annual income criteria for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation category . The government assured the apex court Bench, led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG) counselling would be deferred for four weeks till a decision was taken on the EWS quota. The submission came in a case filed by NEET aspirants challenging a July 29 notification announcing 27% quota for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10% reservation for EWS in the All India Quota (AIQ) category . Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for the petitioners (students), suggested that the implementation of the EWS could be postponed to next academic year, as the admissions for this year are already delayed. The Bench, which also comprised Justices Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath, asked the Solicitor General if the implementation of the constitutional amendment could be pushed to he next academic year. “What happens is that we are at the end of November. Suppose you complete it by the end of De- cember and then implementation etc and then the terms would begin only sometime in February-March. Two months, the students are losing the time. This is something you may want to consider,” Justice DY Chandrachud questioned Mehta. He replied that it might be a difficult proposition as the Government wants to take steps as per the constitutional amendment providing for No potential deferment for OBC quota While a possible deferment of the EWS quota is being discussed, Advocate Shashank Ratnoo, appearing on behalf of some OBC candidates, requested that the application of reservation to OBC students should not be deferred as the Centre is planning to revisit the EWS criteria. The Bench said that it has not said anything on OBC students and is not disposing of the petition Congress becomes pawn in TMC’s pan-India plans Political observers point out that by upstaging the grand old party in Meghalaya, the Trinamool Congress is indirectly helping the BJP P r a s a n ta M a z um d a r @ Guwahati With 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC) overnight, the grand old party appears to have become the biggest victim of the Mamata Banerjee-led party’s ambition of becoming a pan-India rival to the Bharatiya Janata Party . After its hard-fought victory in West Bengal early this year, the TMC is on an acquisition spree to draw disgruntled leaders from other parties, mostly Congress. By doing so, it is virtually hijacking the political space hitherto occupied by the grand old party . The TMC had already set its sights on BJP-ruled Tripura and Goa to expand its base outside Bengal. Meghalaya is the latest addition to the list. The late-night coup in Shillong relegated the Congress to a smaller party and effectively made the TMC the state’s main opposition party. The development comes 14 months ahead of the ‘Congress failed as Oppn’ On Thursday, former CM Mukul Sangma justified his decision to switch sides saying the Congress was failing as an opposition party and that TMC could be the panIndia alternative to the BJP. “We looked at available options and reached out to people and friends,” he told reporters Assembly polls in Meghalaya, which is ruled by a coalition of parties headed by the National People’s Party a BJP ally , . Infighting in the Congress, especially after Shillong MP Vincent H Pala took over as the state unit chief two months ago, is said to have triggered the dramatic developments on Wednesday night. Former chief Furious over bad roads, court says engineers should be made to quit E x p r e s s Ne w s Se r v i c e @ Kochi Coming down heavily on the authorities over the poor condition of roads in the state, the Kerala High Court observed that if engineers can’t build or repair roads that withstand monsoon, then they should be asked to resign and go. There are a lot of other engineers available who can replace them, the court observed. It said as usual after the monsoon, complaints regarding bad roads have started flowing to the court again. Justice Devan Ramachandran observed that it is a real tragedy as in the judgment delivered in 2019, the high court had issued specific directives about repairing roads and it now appears that all of them have been forgotten. “However, the court cannot allow the administrators and stakeholders to be so forgetful and if they are so, then measures will have to be taken to make them remember about their statutory and constitutional duties, the court said. The HC had fixed the primary responsibility, to ensure that repair works are carried out properly and that future maintenance done without de- Innovative techniques The court also said the authorities cannot say that they had no technology to repair and during monsoon season. In fact, they should find out innovative techniques, it said. lay on the engineers of the de, partments concerned. When a case regarding the bad condition of the roads in Kochi city came up for hearing, the amicus curiae informed the court that the exasperating situation is that the same roads that were repaired by the corporation and other authorities last year, have fallen again into disrepair within a few months. The issue has to be taken up with the seriousness that it deserved as this state cannot afford to carry out road repair every year or every six months, which appears to be the norm. The court directed the Public Works Department, Kochi corporation, Cochin Smart Mission Ltd and the directors of urban affairs and panchayats respectively, to immediately take stock of the various roads in the state and adopt measures to ensure that they are brought back in shape. minister Mukul Sangma was the sole contender for the CM post in case the Congress returns to power in 2023 and he felt threatened by Pala’s appointment a PCC chief. Congress insiders in the state admitted the TMC had dealt a body blow to the party facing a depleting popularity ever since the BJP’s emergence as a powerhouse nationwide in 2014. Political observers, however, pointed out that by targeting the Congress, the TMC is indirectly helping the BJP . As regards Goa, the TMC’s entry would hurt only the Congress as the BJP has its vote bank intact. Similarly the TMC , is trying to make inroads into Tripura at the expense of the Congress and the Left parties. Thursday’s civic election in the state was its launch pad. Mamata’s much-hyped meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and her not calling on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is to be seen in the above context. Mumbai’s former top cop surfaces after absconding Su d h i r Su r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai Mumbai’s for mer police chief Param Bir Singh, who faces at least five charges of extortion and corruption in Maharashtra and had been missing for months, appeared at the city police’s Crime Branch Unit 11 office on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, Maharashtra police DGP Sanjay Pandey has moved a report on suspending Singh, who holds the DG, Home Guard post. The report has been submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray . At the Crime Branch office, Singh was grilled for seven hours and his statement was recorded in an extortion case registered against him at the Goregaon police station in Mumbai. “As per direction by the Supreme court, I will extend all co-operation to the investigation agencies,” Singh told reporters on Thursday after flying in from Chandigarh. On Monday the SC granted Singh , protection from arrest. Singh has not reported to work since May following his transfer from the post of Mumbai p o l i c e commissioner. economic reservation. Justice Kant said, “The EWS quota is a very enabling and progressive kind of reservation and all States should support the Centre in its endeavour”. The Bench said that the only question is that determination of the category should be in a scientific manner and it appreciates that the Centre has taken a decision to revisit the criteria earlier fixed In a previous hearing, the apex court had expressed its annoyance at the government for not filing an affidavit explaining how it reached the `8 lakh figure to identify the EWS category for grant of reservation. Tears rolled as I walked out of CM’s office: Harassed cop recalls meeting EXPRESS READ ‘No action against Shiju Khan’ T’Puram: CPM Thiruvananthapuram district secretary Anavoor Nagappan said the Child Welfare Committee and the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare (KSCCW) made no mistakes in the adoption case of Anupama S Chandran’s child. Till the allegations against KSCCW general secretary J S Shiju Khan were proved, there will be no action against him. UP getting its due, says Modi Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh is finally getting what it always deserved courtesy the double engine governments at the state and the Centre, PM Narendra Modi said on Thursday while laying the foundation of Noida International Airport project at Jewar. Modi said UP was now leading the country in infrastructure development and leaving its mark at the international level. M a n o j V i s w a n at h a n @ Kochi Former IPS officer K Radhakrishnan, who was allegedly harassed and denied retirement benefits for not toeing the CPM line in a murder case, claimed that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan behaved in a rude manner when he pleaded for mercy . “I met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in his chamber seeking to revoke my suspension in August 2018. I told him that all my resources have dried up as the gover nment has blocked my salary and there is no other option for me but to commit suicide along with the family His response was ‘ennal . angane avatte’ (Then let it be so). I was shocked. I walked out of the CM’s chamber with a heavy heart. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I collapsed on a chair in the corridors as I felt giddy he reminisced. ,” TNIE had on Thursday reported the plight of the retired I told him that all my resources have dried up as the government has blocked my salary and there is no other option for me but to commit suicide along with the family. His response was ‘ennal angane avatte’ (then let it be so) K Radhakrishnan officer who is now working as a security officer at a private company in a neighbouring state to support his family Rad. hakrishnan alleged that in 2016, he was suspended from service for four-and-a-half years, tortured mentally and physically and was denied retirement and pension benefits as he refused to accept the narrative of the CPM as the investigation officer in the 2006 Muhammad Fazal murder case. According to him, he was re- moved from the investigation, falsely implicated in a case and suspended for two years in 2006. “People from my community (Scheduled Caste) rarely get to such key posts and my ordeal proves that the scourge of untouchability continues in society People prefer to keep us out . of the corridors of power,” said Radhakrishnan, a native of Thalayolaparambu in Kottayam district. Radhakrishnan was again suspended in 2016 based on a complaint filed by a Joint Excise Commissioner that he submitted a false report against the officer before the High Court. He had to fight the case from the Central Administrative Tribunal to the Supreme Court to get his suspension revoked. Even after the Supreme Court ordered to reinstate him, Radhakrishnan had to file a contempt petition to get a favourable order from the gov● More on P4 ernment. India score 258 for four on Day 1 Kanpur: Debutant Shreyas Iyer was guts, aggression and flair rolled into one during an unbeaten knock of 75 as India ended on 258 for four on the first day of the opening Test against New Zealand on Thursday. He hit seven boundaries and two sixes. Drenched in protest Police using water cannons to disperse Congress workers who took out a protest march to the Ernakulam Rural SP office on Thursday demanding the suspension of Aluva East SHO C L Sudheer, following the suicide of law student Mofiya Parveen | A Sanesh Kerala 2nd in Covid death toll, only Maha in front U n n i k r i s h n a n S @T’Puram nationWIDE Nov 24 Nov 25 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 9,283 9,119 10,949 10,264 437 396 stateWIDE Nov 24 Nov 25 Fresh cases 4,280 5,987 Recoveries 5,379 5,094 Deaths 35 56 KERALA has surpassed its neighbouring states to become the second in the country in terms of Covid deaths. A low case fatality ratio (CFR — the ratio of deaths among the total positive cases detected) of around 0.4% was the hallmark of the Kerala model of Covid management. But it suffered a beating after the state started adding deaths previously not included in the official death list, since October. The steady climb of CFR to 0.74% saw the state (38,353 deaths) surpass Karnataka (38,185) and Tamil Nadu (36,415) on Wednesday . Casualties (till November 24) State Cases Deaths Maharashtra 66.3L 1.41L Kerala 51.1L 38,353 Karnataka 29.9L 38,185 Tamil Nadu 27.2L 36,415 Andhra Pradesh 20.7L 14,430 Kerala is far behind Maharashtra which has so far recorded 1.41 lakh deaths. But the state is unlikely to be replaced by the neighbouring states soon. When Karnataka and Tamil Nadu added 3 and 14 new deaths on Wednesday, Kerala added 308. The state reported 384 deaths on Thursday taking , the total toll to 38,737. The troubles before the state are manifold as it continues to report the highest daily death count along with the addition of deaths previously not accounted for. The reconciliation efforts made by the government in setting right the underreporting of deaths have revealed the true picture of the Covid casualties, even when the health activists accuse the government of distorting the records. As many as 9,598 deaths have been added in this manner since Oc● More on P4 tober 22.
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