KOZHIKODE l Thursday l December 02, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Heavy rainfall TO CONTINUE in southern states till Feb WARMER WINTER LIKELY IN nORTH iNDIA The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal rainfall between December and February in most southern states The weather department said coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka, inner Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will continue to get abundant showers. In its winter forecast released on Wednesday, the IMD predicted normal or above normal (warmer) minimum temperature over north Indian states during the 3-month period ■ 169% La nina conditions may play out: IMD ■ However, below normal minimum temperature is most likely over some parts of north-interior peninsula that comprises north Karnataka, parts of Telangana and Marathwada, the IMD said La Nina conditions are likely to strengthen and peak to moderate conditions during the upcoming winter season, it added Excess rainfall in andhra, Tamil nadu, Kerala & interior k’taka in november 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 Periya case: Police’s prosecution witnesses turn murder accused in CBI probe G e o r g e P o i k ay i l @ Kasaragod The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested five more men, all linked to the CPM, in connection with the murder of Youth Congress workers Kripesh, 19, and Sarath Lal P K, 24, on February 17, 2019. The arrests ripped apart the investigation by the police as they had named three of the five accused as ‘prosecution witnesses’ in their chargesheet. The CBI identified the arrested persons as CPM Echiladukkam branch secretary Rajesh, 38, popularly known as Raju; Reji Varghese, 44, of Echiladukkam; Surendran, 47, alias Vishnu Sura, who is a friend of first accused A Peethambaran; Sastha Madhu, 40, paternal uncle of fifth accused Gijin; and Hariprasad M, 31, also from Echiladukkam and who recently got a job in CPM-run cooperative bank at Periya Bazaar. They will be produced in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Ernakulam on Thursday, said CBI deputy superintendent of police (DySP) T P Ananthakrishnan. The officer said they were di- Slain Kripesh and Sarath Lal rectly involved in the double murder and conspiracy “They . arranged the weapons and vehicles and kept trailing the victims and communicated their whereabouts to other assailants,” he said. The Crime Branch had named CPM branch secretary Rajesh, Hariprasad and Reji Varghese as ‘prosecution witness’ in its chargesheet submitted in May 2019. Back then, Kripesh and Sarath Lal’s families said they were baffled by the list of prosecution witnesses because 40% of the 229 persons named as prosecution witnesses were affiliated to the CPM or linked to the crime. “They had no evidentiary value to help prosecute the accused. We stand vindicated today,” said M K Baburaj, a lawyer and friend of Sarath Lal’s father Sathyanarayanan. Sources privy to the CBI investigation said the premier agency was likely to arrest five more persons before submitting its chargesheet. The CBI took over the investigation on December 14 last year. The Crime Branch had earlier arrested 14 CPM supporters and members, including CPM leader and Kanhangad block panchayat president K Manikandan, in connection w i t h t h e c a s e. I t a l s o concluded the CPM workers, led by the first accused Peethambaran, killed the two YC workers because of person● More on P4 al enmity . turn of events Feb 17, 2019: Sarath Lal P K and Kripesh hacked to death Sept 30: HC quashes charge-sheet, transfers case to CBI Sept 12: State govt moves SC against division bench order Feb 19: A Peethambaran, the main accused, arrested Oct 26: State govt moves the division bench of HC against CBI probe Dec 1: SC dismisses state government’s petition Feb 21: Investigation handed over to Crime Branch Oct 29: HC refuses to stay Single Bench order, but govt refuses to hand over case diary to CBI Dec 14: CBI begins investigation May 20: CB submits chargesheet, names 14 accused, all linked to CPM Aug 25, 2020: Division Bench upholds single bench order transferring probe to CBI Aug 5, 2021: HC directs CBI to submit chargesheet in four months Dec 1, 2021: CBI arrests five persons Suspended since March ’20 to deal with second Covid wave; special flights, however, operating since July last year International flights back UPA is over, says Mamata after on hold to handle Omicron meeting Pawar K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi Arriving passengers leave a terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Wednesday | AFP Covid-19 patients are airlifted to get them to ICUs in Germany amid a surge in cases 16 02 12 2021 Thursday vellore l l Mapping the oMicron footprint HealtH india Positive cases Where cases of the variaNt have beeN fouNd, either detected iN a traveller or locally traNsmitted Sweden Germany Canada Italy Britain Belguim Israel Portugal Spain extreme measures T478K Japan S Ara S Korea bia Nigeria Hong kong Oman Ghana Japan, Israel and Morocco have suspended all foreign travel in a desperate bid to stop Omicron, despite the WHO and health experts warning against such bans. In fact, Japan told airlines to not take reservations until the end of December Brazil Botswana australia Reunion 209 Confirmed cases of Omicron reported globally thus far South Africa L452R E484A S477N spiKe protein 156-157 R158G T547K T478K K417N Q493R T19R P681R D950N N764K N856K Q954H 3-D renderings show the positions of mutations (red) delta To know how Omicron attacks cells, researchers need to build an arsenal of spike proteins 69-70 A67V T95| ins214EPE 211/L212| D614G H655Y P681H N679K D796Y omiCron FACT OF THE MATTER How fungi can researchers need about two weeks time G4965 Q498R Y505H G4465 N501Y N440K S375F S373P S371L G339D G142D/143-145 L981F N969K Endangered rhinos shifted s travel restrictions to check omicron spread broken down by country Source: Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium With prior variants such as Delta, mutations were few, hence scientists had to make only a handful of changes to a previously-built spike version Omicron has about 30 mutations (Delta has nine) in its spike alone (see images on left). So, a lab has to start from scratch to make the gene in a DNA synthesis machine Compiled by: aravindakshan s understanding new guidelines What kind of rT-PCr tests 1 have been approved by ICMr for use at airports? Open system RTPCR; TrueNat; GeneXpert; RTLAMP; CRISPR/ TATAMD CHECK/FELUDA; Abbott ID Now; Accula by Thermofisher; Rapid RTPCR; CoviDx DirectPlex (airports to facilitate testing) should travellers 2 excluding from those countries “at risk”* need to wait at airports till their postarrival test result is declared? Travellers may give the sample and leave. Random sampling, self-paid, would be limited to 2%. Airlines may check with state govt officials to select the passengers If travellers from countries 3 excluding those “at risk” are transiting through airports of countries “at risk”, but staying within airports, can they be exempted from the post-arrival testing? Yes after submission of sample for post-arrival test at the point of arrival, travellers will be required to wait for results before taking a connecting flight? 4 After negative results are in, the passengers can take connecting flights to reach their destinations Source: Ministry of Civil Aviation w US FDA nod for Merck pill expected Fliers from “at risk”* countries should carry negative RT-PCR test reports and they will be tested again upon arrival at an Indian airport. Passengers who tested negative will have to undergo home isolation for seven days, followed by repeat testing on the eight day of arrival, followed by seven days of selfmonitoring. For fliers from not “at risk” countries, two per cent of passengers in each flight will be tested randomly CHina The Chinese mainland is not imposing any new travel curbs, but Hong Kong has barred foreigners who have been in eight African nations, Japan, Portugal and Sweden for the past 22 days. Hong Kong residents travelling from those countries will have a 7-day quarantine at a government facility with daily testing and monitoring by health professionals. After seven days, they will be quarantined for 14 days in a hotel Britain Ban on foreigners travelling from six southern African nations. Ten-day quarantine and testing for citizens united states Restrictions on foreigners travelling from eight southern African nations australia Flights from nine African nations suspended for at least 14 days and foreigners with a travel history to those locations barred from entering. Two-week quarantine still in place uae Restrictions on travel for fliers from or transiting through eight African nations saudi araBia Flights from seven southern African nations banned, as is anyone who has been in those countries in the last 14 days. Five-day quarantine for citizens returning from that region Kuwait Commercial flights from nine southern African nations suspended. Seven-day quarantine for citizens travelling from those countries, while non-Kuwaitis would be barred from entering within 14 days of visiting the countries oman Flights from seven southern African nations suspended, ban on entry for anyone who has been there singapore Tight restrictions on travel from seven southern African nations. No entry or transit through for non-nationals who have been in that region. Ten-day quarantine for citizens and residents Canada Any foreigner who has been in seven southern African nations barred from entering. Canadian citizens need to test prior to departure and post-arrival, followed by 14-day home quarantine sri lanKa Ban on foreigners who have been in six southern African nations in the last 14 days. Two-week quarantine for citizens returning from those countries indonesia Ban on any foreigner who has been in eight southern African nations in the last 14 days. Two-week quarantine for citizens flying in from those countries maldives Tourists who travelled to or transited for more than 12 hours through seven southern African nations within 14 days will be denied entry paKistan Travel banned from five southern African nations and Hong Kong. Citizens returning from those countries need to negative for Covid-19 and be vaccinated russia Ban on non-Russians travelling from nine southern African nations. Citizens only need to undergo testing argentina Fliers who have been anywhere in Africa in last 14 days to be quarantined after landing. Full vaccination proof and negative RT-PCR test needed, as well as an antigen test, upon arrival *At-risk nations are European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel New species of snail named afr Djokovic An easy guide to track Omicron spread and how countries are tackling it researCH mediCine WASHINGTON: A panel of US health experts have voted to recommend Merck’s Covid pill for high-risk adults -- a new form of treatment that is easy to administer and could prove better able to withstand variants, including Omicron. Molnupiravir, already author- ized in Britain, has been shown to reduce the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people at high risk of developing severe Covid, when it is taken within five days of symptom onset. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which convened Tuesday’s meeting, is now expected to grant an emergency use authorization for the treatment. The independent scientists appointed by the FDA voted 13 in favor and 10 against authorization -- a narrow win that reflected some concerns over a recent downgrading of the treatment’s efficacy results, as well as misgivings over potential side-effects. Conservation S T cientists from the United States and Europe announced plans Tuesday to create the biggest map of underground fungal networks, arguing they are an important but overlooked piece in the puzzle of how to tackle climate change. By working with local communities around the world the researchers said they will collect 10,000 DNA samples to determine how the vast networks that fungi create in the soil are changing as a result of human activity — including global warming. “Fungi are invisible ecosystem engineers, and their loss has gone largely unnoticed by the public,” said Toby Kiers, a professor of evolutionary biology at Amsterdam’s Free University and cofounder of the non-profit Society for Protection of Underground Networks. hirty endangered white rhinos ar rived in Rwanda on Monday after a long journey from South Africa in a Boeing 747, conservationists said, hailing it as the largest single transfer of the species ever undertaken. The majestic animals, which can weigh up to two tonnes, travelled some 3,400 km from South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve as part of a programme to replenish the species’ population, decimated by poaching since the 1970s. Once plentiful across sub-Saharan Africa, white rhino suffered first from hunting by European settlers, and later a poaching epidemic which largely wiped them out. The rhinos began their 40-hour journey to Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda following months of preparation. Renewable energy and net zero Climate G lobal growth in renewable electricity production is set to accelerate but needs to speed up even more to meet targets to reach net zero carbon emission targets, the IEA said on Wednesday. In its latest report on the sector, the International Energy Agency said that the installation of new renewable electricity generation capacity is expected to hit a record 290 gigawatts (GW) this year. Over the next five years, renewable capacity is expected to be added at a rate 50 percent higher than in the 2015-2020 period. In five years time global renewable electricity capacity is expected to have increased by 60 percent from 2020 levels to 4,800 GW, the IEA said. For comparison, this is the equivalent to the current total global 2% random sampling Norms for travellers vary widely around the world. We list the new rules, many of which went into effect on Wednesday, for select countries. Governments could of course change these rules at a moment’s notice File Just when the world was getting comfortable with managing the Covid-19 outbreak, a completely new variant called Omicron emerged out of nowhere and disturbed ambitious plans of opening up economies and learning to live with the virus. Just a few days after first cropping up on the radar of South African scientists, the variant has now been detected in travellers in at least 20 countries (see map). Here’s an overview of how countries are trying to protect themselves from the variant. We also present a list of frequently asked questions to clear some doubts on new guidelines for fliers travelling to India Page 12 Colour-Coded Fest A reveller covered in turmeric powder rejoicing the festivities during the Bisket Jatra Festival at Thimi in Bhaktapur district on the outskirts of Kathmandu in Nepal on Thursday | afp oddity CANBERRA: A cutomer thought he was watching a huge wor m writhing in plasticwrapped lettuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked. “I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around,” Alex White said on Thursday It was a ven. omous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-km journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with lettuce. The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an innercity AlDI supermarket on Monday. White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigations are underway to find outtion and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigationd let- tuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked. “I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around,” Alex White said on Thursday It was a ven. omous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-km journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with lettuce. The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an innercity AlDI supermarket on Monday. White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigations are underway to find outtion and a snake handler took th Never seeN before Coolest dino ever? Critter fought off predators with bladed tail palaeontology FOSSIlS found in Chile are from a strange-looking dogsized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported. Some dinosaurs had spiked tails they could use as stabbing weapons and others had tails with clubs. The new species, described in a study in the journal Nature, has something never seen before on any animal: seven pairs of “blades” laid out sideways like a slicing weapon used by ancient Aztec warriors, said lead author Alex Vargas. “It’s a really unusual weapon,” said Vargas, a University of Chile paleontologist. “Books on prehistoric animals for kids need to update and put this weird tail in there. ... It just looks crazy .” The plant-eating critter had a combination of traits from different species that initially sent paleontologists down the wrong path. The back end, including its tail weapon, seemed similar to a stegosaurus, so the researchers named it stegouros elengassen. After Vargas and his team examined the pieces of skull and Jab-o-meter did five different DNA analyses, they concluded it was only distantly related to the stegosaurus. Instead, it was a rare southern hemisphere member of the tank-like ankylosaur family of dinosaurs. (Though the stegouros name stuck and can be easily confused with the well-known stegosaurus.) Vargas called it “the lost family branch of the ankylosaur.” The fossil is from about 72 million to 75 million years ago and appears to be an adult based on the way bones are fused, Vargas said. It was found with its front end flat on its belly and Take your shot Nov 30 72,49,189 doses Dec 01 71,55,049 doses Total: 1,24,86,09,652 Further revising its advisory, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday said only 2% of passengers from non ‘at-risk’ countries will be subject to random sampling for Covid as against 5% earlier All such passengers will be permitted to leave the airport after giving the samples, the ministry explained in a set of Frequently Asked Questions | P12 the back end angled down to a lower level, almost as if caught in quicksand, Vargas said. From bird-like snout to tail tip, stegouros stretched six feet but would only come up to the thighs of humans. The tail was probably for defense against large predators, which were also likely turned off by armor-like bones jutting out that made ste gouros “chewy,” Vargas said. Not only is this “a really bizarre tail,” but it is from far southern Chile, a region that hasn’t yielded these types of animals before, an expert said. NATIONWIDE nov 30 dec 01 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 6,990 8,954 10,116 10,204 190 267 2nd highest GST collections zoom to `1.31L cr in November E x p r e ss n e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi Signalling India’s gradual economic recovery, Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections grew 25% year-on-year to `1,31,526 crore in November, surpassing October’s `1.30 lakh crore mop-up. Tax collections from import of goods also contributed to the numbers, which were 43% higher, while revenues from domestic transactions, including import of services, were 20% higher compared to November 2020, government data showed. According to the government, rising demand and better compliance by taxpayers contributed to the growth in GST collection. Officials claimed the numbers will be even better in the coming months. November’s GST mop-up is the second largest on record. The highest was in April this year, at `1.40 lakh crore. Experts say GST collection will maintain healthy momentum for the rest of the fiscal. “We expect Central GST collections to rise to `5.8 lakh crore in FY22, exceeding the BE by `50,000 crore,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist at ICRA. Another data set released on Wednesday, IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), bolstered the argument that economic recovery is gathering pace. The PMI survey showed manufacturing zoomed to a 10-month high in November on high domestic demand. STATEWIDE nov 30 DEC 01 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 4,723 5,370 19 5,405 4,538 96 Days after announcing resumption of international commercial flights from December 15, the Centre on Wednesday indefinitely put it off in the wake of concerns over the spread of the newly detected Omicron strain of Covid globally . “In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. The decision came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked officials to review plans to ease international travel restrictions by factoring in the Omicron outbreak in countries labeled at-risk. The at-risk na- tions are: Europe, UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. International commercial flights have been suspended for as many as 21 months since March 2020. However, special passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements with around 28 countries. Many state gover nments have already urged Modi not to resume flights from ‘at risk’ countries for now. Maharash- Six positive cases from at-risk countries Six Covid positive cases were reported on Wednesday after screening 3,476 passengers from 11 flights that arrived in India from ‘at-risk’ countries. Their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing, the health ministry said tra went much further and directed all international arrivals to take mandatory RT-PCR tests and 14 days of home quarantine, even if they are not from at-risk nations, prompting a rebuke from the Centre. It directed the Uddhav government to align itself with the guidelines already issued by the Union health ministry . Maharashtra had also made it mandatory for those from at risk countries to be placed in institutional quarantine of seven days, during which they had to take three RT-PCR tests (on the second, fourth and seventh days after arrival). A positive test during this period would land them in hospital. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s missive said the state’s order is in divergence with the Cnetre’s SoPs. “I would, therefore, urge you to align the orders issued by the state with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, Government of India,” he said. Brave teen catches harasser, hands him over to police E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @Kozhikode A Plus One student caught hold of a man who tried to harass her while she was returning from the tuition class and handed him over to the police. The incident took place in Kozhikode city on Wednesday . Biju Kalathil, 30, a resident of Palayam, was arrested by Kasaba police. “Lakshmi Sajith and her friend were going to the bus stop from the tuition centre near Sreekanteshwaram temple. Biju touched Lakshmi inappropriately near Mananchira Square. He walked I could gather the courage to nab him because of my taekwondo training. I wish other girl students also learn martial arts for selfdefence — Lakshmi away before she could react,” said Prajeesh N, SHO, Kasaba police station. Lakshmi got enraged on seeing Biju misbehaving with another girl in the same manner. She ran and grabbed Biju by his shirt’s collar. When he tried to escape, Lakshmi, who is a taekwundo student, gave a kick on Biju’s back. Then, she grabbed his hands and neck together and shouted. By then, people gathered and a Pink police team that was on town patrolling reached the spot. The Pink police handed over Biju to Kasaba police station. “Biju was arrested after recording Lakshmi’s statement. He was charged under Pocso Act. He was produced before the court after a medical examination and remanded,” said Prajeesh. Lakshmi said: “I could gather the courage to nab him because of my taekwondo training. I have got red black belt now after four years of training. I wish other girl students also learn martial arts for selfdefence.” S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who is aggressively pushing the idea of a non-Congress opposition front against the BJP said on Wednesday that , regional parties must come together as the Congress-led UPA is defunct. “There is no UPA now,” she told reporters after meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar at residence in Mumbai on Wednesday. “UPA is over. Now, the regional parties who are opposed to the BJP must come together and put up a joint fight,” she added. Earlier in the day Mamata , held a meeting with activists and civil society members. Taking a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, she said one can’t do politics in India by staying in a foreign country. “If a person wants to stay in a foreign country most of the time, how will it work in politics? If you are not on the ground, the BJP will defeat you,” she said. While extending support to Mamata, Pawar asked NCP ministers to meet her to boost their fight against the BJP in Maharashtra. On who will lead the anti-BJP front, Pawar said it will be sorted out after the polls through consensus. Meanwhile, the Congress pooh-poohed Mamata’s political moves. “Thinking that anybody can defeat the BJP without the Congress is merely a dream,” said party General Secretary K C Venugopal. Maharashtra PCC chief Nana Patole said only the Congress can give a strong alternative to BJP . On Tuesday, Mamata had met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. She could not meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as he was hospitalised for a surgery . Fat Pay Cheque Puzzle From April to September, this year, state government has spent over I40,000 cr for disbursing salary and pension. Periodic revision of salary and pension has added to the stress on state’s finances. P2 NCP president Sharad Pawar with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after their meeting at his residence in Mumbai on Wednesday | PTI KEL-EML set for inauguration E X P R E SS R E A D Story of a PSU revival: Promised `77 crore, released `0 Sudha Bharadwaj granted default bail reOpening likely on December 10 State government took over KEL-Electrical Machines Ltd from BHEL on September 8 Chief minister had announced the D77-crore package for revival and modernisation of the unit It was initially slated to be reopened on November 1 According to principal secretary of the Department of Industries, the reopening of the unit has been tentatively fixed on December 10 G e o r g e P o i k ay i l @ Kasaragod Kasaragod is likely to see another sham inauguration of a government establishment on December 10. After cutting the ribbons for incomplete hospital buildings, now the state government has decided to inaugurate KEL-Electrical Machines Ltd — which it took over from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) three months ago — without even servicing the machines that had been lying idle for more than 20 months or fixing the asbestos roof of the factory in Mogral Puthur panchayat. The slow progress of work is because the government had not yet released a single rupee from the `77-crore revival package announced by the chief minister on September 8. But these details will not deter the government from reopening the defunct factory which used to make alternators for electric trains and the defence sector. “The reopening of the unit has been tentatively fixed on December 10. The minister (for industries P Rajeeve) will be in Kasaragod that day said ,” A P M Mohammed Hanish, principal secretary of the Department of Industries. He said the machinery is being overhauled, repaired and serviced. However, the trade unions dismissed it as half-truths. The minister has called for a “final round” of meeting with the four major trade unions — STU, INTUC, CITU and BMS — to finalise the guidelines for the functioning of the unit on December 2, the principal secretary said. The government is also likely to press the unions to sign an MoU, which will include the guidelines and the new retirement age, and details on clearing the salary dues. The trade unions said the government has not shared the agenda of the meeting with them. “And we don’t know if it is the final round of talks,” said K P Mohammed Ashraf, leader of the Swatantra Trade Union affiliated with the IUML. The unions are sceptical about the reopening, which was initially slated for November 1. “If the government reopens the unit on December 10, it will be another eyewash,” said A Vasudevan, general secretary of a trade union affiliated to the Congress’ INTUC. “Since the government’s takeover of the unit, it has not released a single rupee from the revival package,” he said. ● More on P4 Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted default bail to activist Sudha Bharadwaj who has been under arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case since August 2018. However, it refused bail to eight other accused. Bharadwaj will now be produced before the Special Court, NIA, Mumbai on December 6 to define the terms and conditions for her bail. A default bail is granted when the probe agency fails to file chargesheet within 90 days of arrest. The eight other accused who sought bail were Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira.
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