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 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 villupuram l saturday l November 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l city EDITION ■ Cases have leapfrogged 11% over the past week Risk factor: Under assessment) 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 ■ 3 Belgium has become the first EU country to detect a case 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 markets `4.5 lakh cr 3.3% Investors’ wealth eroded 1,688 Points shed by Sensex shed 3% 510 Fall in BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty 9,119 10,549 10,264 9,868 396 488 tamil nadu Nov 25 Nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 739 764 17 10% Drop in Brent Crude to trade around $73.34 Shed by Nifty NATIONWIDE Nov 25 Nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Fall in London’s benchmark 746 759 11 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 More November rain: Coastal districts get red alert biggest threat to democracy: Modi E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Theni/Virudhunagar/ Tiruchy /Chennai/Thoothukudi 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 or the Opposition.” P9 With heavy rains battering Tamil Nadu, the State on Friday recorded 4cm of showers, the highest average rainfall received in TN in 24 hours in the last three years. With more rains in store, Indian Meteorological Department issued a red alert for all coastal districts, including Chennai, for the next two days and an or- A submerged Kurukkuthurai Murugan Temple in Tirunelveli as rains battered the ange alert for the adjoining district on Friday| V KARTHIKALAGU districts. Thunderstorms with heavy Norther n TN, including However, it was Thoothukuto very heavy rain are expected Chennai, received just 2-4 cm di that bore the brunt of the over Tirunelveli, Thoothuku- of rain through Friday. Even current weather system with di, Tenkasi, Chennai, Tiruval- this caused havoc in the capi- Kayalpattinam in the district lur, Kancheepuram and Chen- tal, with waterlogging in sev- recording the highest rainfall galpattu d i s t r i c t s . eral areas disrupting traffic. with 31 cm in the 24 hours endThunderstorms with scattered Several arterial roads were ing 8.30 am on Friday The con. heavy rain are expected over blocked as commuters were tinuous heavy rainfall subKanniyakumari, Ramanath- forced to take diversions to merged hundreds of acres of apuram, Tiruchy Karur, Coim- avoid potholes and waterlogged agricultural fields. Virudhuna, batore and Nilgiris districts. streets. T Nagar once again gar and Theni also received Between October 1 and Novem- faced heavy inundation while heavy rainfall, leaving dams ber 26, TN received 58 cm of in parts of KK Nagar, residents brimming. Tiruchy saw heavy rain, 70 per cent more than the complained that sewage-mixed waterlogging following rains average rainfall received in rain water had entered houses. over the past few days. Farmthis period. Chennai, Tiruval- Chief Minister MK Stalin vis- ers complained that crops lur, Kancheepuram and Chen- ited Puliyanthope, one of the planted last month and meant galpattu received 60 per cent worst affected, to inspect storm for harvesting in January are more rainfall than usual. water drains in the locality . ruined by the recent rains. P5 Edu institutions closed today Holidays have been declared for educational institutions, including schools and colleges, on Saturday in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur, Puducherry, Karaikal Tiruchy, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Cuddalore, Villupuram Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram and Tenkasi as heavy rains are expected to lash the State. dam level Vaigai Mullaiperiyar Mettur Level: 69.65 (71)feet Capacity:5915 Mcft Outflow: 3905cusec Level: 141.65 (142)ft Capacity: 7,572Mcft Outflow: 2,300 cusec Level: 120.100 feet, Storage: 93630 Mcft, Outflow:25500 cusec Thenpennai’s fury at their doorstep, 100 families fret K r i t h i ka S r i n i vasa n @ Villupuram A three-year-old government higher secondary school building is all that stands between 100 families and the fury of the Thenpennai River in Villupuram. After the sluice gates of the newly-constructed, `25 crore-Thalavanur check dam collapsed, the river has now become a nightmare for the people residing on its banks, the run-off having heavily eroded 1st Test express read Three female elephants dragged by train, killed bright start by nz openers after Shreyas’ ton Coimbatore: Three female elephants, including two calves, were killed after a speeding train knocked them down at Mavuthampathy village late Friday night. The jumbos, aged between 12 and 25 years, were dragged by the MangaluruChennai Express (12686), for about a few metres along the old track in Mahindramedu around 9.05 pm on Friday. ENS New Zealand’s Will Young and Tom Latham put on 129 runs, first century partnership by a visiting team openers since 2016. Young is unbeaten on 75 and Latham 50. Shreyas Iyer completed his century on debut with a knock of 105 as India managed 345. NZ pacer Tim Southee finished with five wickets for 69 runs at Kanpur | P13 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 | P9 connect 2021 Stalin unveils policy aimed at making TN India’s data centre hub E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Chennai In a bid to develop Tamil Nadu as the number one destination for data centres in the country , Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday unveiled the State’s Data Centre Policy . Aiming to create a pool of skilled manpower in this sector and help attract investors, the State government will be working with ICT Academy, an initiative of the Union government in collaboration with States and industries, to design and conduct courses specific to Chief Minister MK Stalin delivers his inaugural address at Connect 2021, an international conference, in Chennai on Friday | Ashwin Prasath the river bunds. On Friday, the floodwater inched closer to the school, which faces the risk of collapse. If the school falls, 100 families living behind the building are at risk. A 40-year-old resident living there said, “Measures were taken by officials to prevent the run-off water from eroding the banks but in vain. No proper relief materials were provided. If the river breaches the banks, we will be flooded. We have nowhere to go.” P3 data centre operations. Delivering his inaugural address at Connect, the flagship event of Confederation of Indian Industry, Stalin emphasised on human resources and skill development. With a pointed reference to emerging deep technologies, he urged the industry to train students and make them employable in these fields. Tamil Nadu has been attracting data centres from across the world after Singapore put a freeze on the sector due to a power crisis. Data centres consume extensive power to re- main in operation. The TN policy aims to capitalise on the opportunity as the State has the second highest number of submarine cable landing stations in India housing over 30 per cent of India’s subsea cables which connect to 264 landing stations globally . The policy will be applicable for all data centres incorporated from April 1, 2021 and for units/parks incorporated until March 31, 2026. It also focuses on encouraging industries to collaborate with colleges and create Centres of Excellence. The government is looking at tailor-made building regulations through the creation of a separate category for data centres under the TN Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019. Similarly the State , is also taking measures to ensure there is adequate power supply for data centres. The government is encouraging the use of renewable energy for operations of data centres. Incentives are being offered to projects with an investment above `500 crore and those who meet at least 30 per cent of their energy consumption from renewable energy sources. P4 Putin in India on Dec 6 for annual summit New Delhi: Russia President Vladimir Putin will visit India on December 6 for the 21st annual summit between the leaders of the two countries. Narendra Modi and Putin are likely to touch upon a number of issues, with specific outcomes expected in expanding ties in the areas of defence, trade and energy. The summit was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic | P9 Serum resumes export of AstraZeneca shots New Delhi: Serum Institute of India on Friday said it has resumed exports of Covishield vaccine to low- and middleincome countries with the first batch of consignment leaving Pune under the Covax initiative. SII has cumulatively produced 1.25 billion doses so far and is likely to include Novavax Inc’s inoculation under its portfolio sometime in future
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