New variant and old fears Many European countries have pressed the panic button even as the WHO is yet to make its assessment of the variant with high number of mutations public Variant: B.1.1.529 Why’s Europe worried? Found in: Botswana and Hong Kong 1 Cases have leapfrogged 11% over the past week Risk factor: Under assessment) 2 WHO’s grim prediction that the winter toll may cross 7,00,000 (in travellers from South Africa) WHO meeting: Friday’s emergency discussions focus on variant’s possible effects and giving it a Greek alphabet denomination tirupati l saturday l november 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION 3 Belgium has become the first EU country to detect a case 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 ■ ■ Countries South Africa Lesotho Botswana Zimbabwe in focus Mozambique Namibia Eswatini Uncertainty returns as new mutant spreads Equity markets crash, oil prices tumble A r s h a d K h a n & R a ke s h K u m a r @ New Delhi Reports of a heavily mutated Covid-19 variant on Friday sent global and domestic equity markets into a tizzy In. dian equity markets saw `4.5 lakh crore worth of investors’ wealth getting eroded as both the benchmark indices – BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty – fell by around 3%. US stocks opened lower while London’s benchmark fell by 3.3% at the opening. Tokyo, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Hong Kong also fell. The tremors were also felt in the global oil market as Brent Crude shed over 10% to trade around $73.34 a barrel on Friday India’s equity mar. ket saw its biggest single day fall in recent times on Friday . The Sensex shed 1,688 points or 2.87% to close at 57,107, and the Nifty was down 510 points or 2.91% to 17,027. Friday’s bloodbath was caused by discovery of a new mutation of c o r o n av i r u s i n A f r i c a (B.1.1529), which poses another set of challenges to global economic recovery . Amit Gupta, Fund Manager – PMS, ICICI Securities, said, “Nervousness on the new variant and expectations of US increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness. This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely .” Apart from the discovery of the new Covid variant, the over-10% drop in crude prices is also attributed to the release of crude reserves by the United States and other countries leading to increase in global supply surplus. Recently the US made a re, quest to some of the world’s largest oil-consuming nations including China, India and Japan to release oil from their strategic reserves to check the skyrocketing prices. India and the US decided to release 5 million and 50 million barrels of oil, respectively, from their stockpile. According to the findings of a panel of experts that advises ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), such release is likely to perk up supplies in the coming months. Therefore, OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, are set to meet on December 2 to weigh their policy options. FLIGHT PLAN Category Capacity At risk with bubble agreement At risk without bubble agreement 75% of pre-Covid operations 50% bilateral capacity arrangements Full capacity under bilateral agreements Not at risk Bloodbath in market `4.5 lakh cr 3.3% Investors’ wealth eroded 1,688 3% Fall in BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty Points shed by Sensex shed 510 Shed by Nifty NATIONWIDE Nov 25 Nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Fall in London’s benchmark 9,119 10,549 10,264 9,868 396 488 statewide Nov 25 nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Samples tested 183 184 163 214 1 1 39,863 29,731 10% Drop in Brent Crude to trade around $73.34 a barrel Jab-o-meter Take your shot November 25 74,59,819 doses November 26 65,23,396 doses Total doses 120,96,90,961 Regular int’l flights to resume on Dec 15 K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi The Ministry of civil Aviation on Friday announced the resumption of scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15. The ministry, however, said certain restrictions would apply to countries based on their risk assessment and airbubble deals. Countries categorised as at-risk and having air bubble agreement with India would resume 75% of pre-Covid scheduled international flights or a minimum of seven frequencies a week, whichever is higher. Countries under the at-risk category include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Hong Kong. An order issued by the civil aviation ministry said the decision was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Resumption of international passenger services wo u l d i m p l y r eve r s i o n to bilaterally-agreed capacity and termination of the air bubble arrangements. Countries identified as not ‘at-risk’ by the Health Ministry would get full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements. For a country identified as ‘atrisk’ and not having an airbubble agreement, only 50% of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50% of pre-Covid operations, whichever is higher, would be permitted. Bilateral air service agreements are signed between countries to operate scheduled passenger flights. This determines the number of airlines, ports of entries and total flights weekly that can be allowed. Under air bubble agreements, airlines of two countries operate special flights under certain restrictions. “The seats under air bubble arrangement that have already been sold by airlines, which are more than the capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021,” the aviation ministry said, adding such airlines would restrict their operations to capacity entitlements enter bilateral air service agreements with effect from December 15. Dynastic politics Abnormal rains caused floods, priority to relief: CM biggest threat to democracy: Modi E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Vijayawada PM targets Congress as 14 opposition parties boycott Constitution Day event in Parliament E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi With 14 opposition parties including the Congress, the TMC, the DMK and the Left parties boycotting the Constitution Day event in the Central Hall of Parliament on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tore into family-run parties calling them a danger to democracy . Noting that dynastic parties are a matter of concern to people committed to the Constitution, Modi said, “More than one person from a family joining the party on the basis of merit does not make the party dynastic. Problems arise when a party is run by the same family, generation after generation.” Targeting the Opposition parties that boycotted the event, Modi said the country will not listen to those who turn their back to an important event to respect the Constitution, which has the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar attached to it. “When a political party loses its own democratic character, how can it protect democracy? Today from Kashmir to Kanya, kumari, look at every corner of India, the country is moving towards a crisis that should worry every individual who respects the Constitution and that comes from dynastic parties. This is against the principles of the Constitution,” the PM said. Elaborating on the spirit behind celebrating the Constitution Day Modi said it was initi, ated in 2015. Modi recalled how faced resistance when the idea to dedicate a day in the name of the Constitution was mooted. ‘Boycott to protest authoritarian govt’ Justifying its decision to boycott the Constitution Day event in Parliament, the Congress said it was to register its protest against the authoritarian functioning of the Narendra Modi-led government “I remember when I was addressing the House in 2015 on B R Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary and making this announcement, even then there was resistance. Why are you doing this? What was the need?” he said. Speaking on the occasion, the President Ramnath Kovind said, “All Members of Parliament are defenders of the dignity of Parliament, whether they represent the ruling party P7 or the Opposition.” Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said unprecedented heavy rains from November 16, led to flooding and devastation of Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur and Nellore districts. Making a statement on heavy rains and extent of devastation in the State Assembly on Friday he said 44 people died and , 16 went missing in floods. As many as 1,990 villages in 199 mandals of the four districts were badly affected. Lambasting Opposition Leader N Chandrababu Naidu for criticising him for not visiting the flood-affected areas, Jagan said he has been closely monitoring relief operations after conducting an aerial survey of the rain-hit districts. “What is more important? Immediate rescue and relief operations in flood affected districts or my visit to those places? As the first is most important, we have focused on it,” he asserted. Jagan said though he wanted to visit the affected districts, senior officials advised him against it as it could hamper What is more important? Immediate rescue and relief operations in floodaffected districts or my visit to those places? As the first is most important, we have focused on it YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Chief Minister relief and rescue operations. “For me, every village is important and Kadapa being my native district is even more. However, to ensure that relief measures continue without a hitch and the official machinery does not shift its focus due to my visit, I have postponed my visit to the flood affected areas,” he explained. Unlike Naidu, who exploited every opportunity for publicity even at the cost of obstruction to relief and rescue operations during Hudhud and Titli cyclones, Jagan said he restrained himself from visiting the flood-affected places in Rayalaseema. “Have you ever seen Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, which faces cyclones and floods frequently, rushing to the calamity-hit areas? He does not, so as to allow officials to effectively implement rescue and relief operations,” he observed. Responding to the TDP chief ’s reported remarks that the ‘CM will come in the air and go in the air,’ Jagan stated that it is not sensible to make such harsh statements for a leader with vast political experience. Explaining reasons that led to deluge in Rajampet mandal, the Chief Minister said the Pincha project was receiving inflows of just 3,845 cusecs at 8.30 am on November 18, which abnormally increased to 90,464 cusecs by 8.30 pm on the same day In 24 hours (from 8 am on . Thursday), 51 mandals received an average rainfall of P4 10.7 cm. Amarnath Reddy at their collapsed house at Ramachandrapuram village in Rajampeta mandal of Kadapa district | Express Family ready for wedding, mourns missing granny now Ramachandrapuram in Thogurupeta panchayat. Chintha Savithramma had It was after reaching the temmade it to safety along with her ple that she remembered the `8 family and several lakh cash and gold, other villagers, but worth `15 lakh, kept her attempt to save at home for her valuables ke pt at 26-year-old grandson home cost her life. Ground report Amar nath Reddy’s The woman in her wedding. Ignoring late 70s was among others’ warnings, she others who had taken refuge in rushed back to secure the cash Dasallamma temple before the and valuables, only to be swept water from the breached An- away by the floodwaters that P4 namayya project gushed into devastated the village. S r i K r i s h n a K u m m a r a @ Kadapa audit report AP 20th CAG red-flags State’s fiscal deficit, debt in poverty Index with 12.31% of poor The Niti Aayog released the Poverty Index based on the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16). Kurnool topped the list in AP | P4 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e ts no to @ Vijayawada lorries carrying paddy from ap Telangana police stopped lorries carrying paddy from AP into the State by setting up barricades at the interstate checkpost in Kurnool dist | P4 a year of protests Farmers chanting slogans during a rally to mark one year of their anti-farm law protests at Singhu border | Parveen Negi | P7 heavy rain forecast Officials breach Peruru tank to avert flooding in temple town of Tirupati E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Tirupati / Nellore / Vijayawada In the wake of heavy rain forecast, Peruru tank on the outskirts of Tirupati was breached by officials on Friday to avert flooding of low-lying areas in the temple town as it was already full to the brim. Consequently, water entered Gollapalli and Pathakaluva villages, disrupting vehicular movement in the area. Water from Peruru tank, located 3 km away from Tiurpati, flows into Swarnamukhi near Ramanujapalli. Generally over, An aerial view of overflowing Peruru tank in Tirupati on Friday | Express flowing Peruru tank inundates several low-lying areas in the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Tirupati. Minor leaks developed in the bund of Rayalacheruvu were plugged. Meanwhile, locals found another leakage on the other side of Rayalacheruvu bund and alerted officials. After inspecting Rayalacheruvu, Chittoor District Collector M Harinarayanan allayed the fears of locals over the safety of its bund. Experts are closely monitoring the water level in Rayalacheruvu and people need not panic, he said. Meanwhile, a gate of Somasila south canal was washed away which led to overflowing , of Kaluvoya tank in Nellore district. A team of officials from irrigation, revenue, Panchayat Raj and other departments rushed to the spot and studied the situation. The Somasila south canal was breached to divert surplus water into Penna. Sand-bags were dumped in place of the gate, which was washed away to control the water flow. Heavy rainfall is likely at isolated places over south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema on Saturday and heavy to very heavy rains may occur on subsequent days under the influence of low pressure area brewing in the Andaman Sea. According to IMD forecast, a low-pressure area is likely to form over south Andaman Sea around November 29. It is likely to become more marked and move west-northwestwards during subsequent 48 hours. Light to moderate rains are likely to occur at a few places on Saturday and at several places on Sunday and Monday in south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pointed out lapses, both constitutional and procedural, in financial management by the State government. The audit report for the financial year 2019-20 was tabled in the State Legislature on Friday . Some of the prominent issues red flagged by the CAG are: a) non-disclosure of offbudget borrowings r u n ning up to `26,096.98 crore in budget documents; b) transfer of `1,100 crore related to the State Disaster Relief F u n d to personal deposit account in violation of rules; c) 80% of borrowings utilised to balance revenue accounts affecting asset creation; d) “unacceptable” argument to amend the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Act in December 2020 to reset targets relating to the five-year period from 201516 to 2019-20; and e) effective capital expenditure amounted to just 0.72% of the GSDP and finally unsustainable level of , P4 debt to GSDP ratio.
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