bhubaneswar l friday l december 03, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l jeypore EDITION 164 proposals on appointing HC judges in consideration Law minister informs Parliament about the judge-selection process conducted by the Supreme Court collegium and govt 406 judge vacancies in high courts Huge Case backlog in lower judiciary A total of 164 proposals on appointing high court judges are at different stages of consideration, Kiren Rijiju said in response to a Rajya Sabha question. High courts have a vacancy of 406 judges while the apex court has one. This year, nine apex court judges and 118 high court judges were appointed. Currently, no high court has a woman Chief Justice | P7 ■ ■ Of the proposals to appoint HC judges, 55 have been either remitted or returned on SC collegium’s advice to HCs this year While 70,038 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, 56,42,858 are pending in the various high courts. In the lower judiciary, a staggering 3,79,42,466 cases are pending, according to Rijiju 1,098 combined Sanctioned strength of judges in 25 high courts 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 First cases of Omicron found in India 380 foreign returnees asked to undergo what we know 1 2 medical practitioner, 46, from Bengaluru with no history of travel tested positive on November 22 Was in home isolation after complaining of tiredness, body ache, mild fever Govt traced his 13 primary and 205 secondary contacts and found that five of them tested positive South African man, 66, tested positive on November 20 at the the Bengaluru International Airport He had been isolated in a hotel and his symptoms were not severe, authorities said Contact-tracing done. His 24 primary and 240 secondary contacts tested negative. He flew out for Dubai later that month Both men were doubly vaccinated 373 cases of Omicron found in 29 nations so far The variant also has three mutations in the furin cleavage site, which increases SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. However, it is still unclear whether Omicron is more transmissible than other variants Both detected in Bengaluru after genome sequencing; mask up, but don’t panic, says govt; concern over community transmission Ch e tana B e l a g e r e @ Bengaluru India’s first Omicron cases were recorded in Karnataka on Thursday, and one of the two cases is a local from Bengaluru with no international travel history . Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, said the 46-yearold doctor, the local case of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, is a doctor residing in Bengaluru. The doctor was in home isolation for the first two days and, on November 25, was admitted to a private hospital. After three days of treatment, he was discharged on November 27. Authorities in the state have expressed fears of community spread of the variant as the doctor had no travel history and five of his contacts have also tested positive for Covid-19. Their genome sequencing reports are awaited. The announcement of the two Omicron cases was made by the Union Health Ministry at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Health, called for calm and strict surveillance. “There is no reason to panic, but we need to be monitoring the situation and follow Covidappropriate behaviour.” Meanwhile, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahangara Palike (BBMP) has tested 13 of the doctor’s primary contacts, mostly his family and health care workers, and 205 secondary contacts. It has found that two of the primary contacts and three secondary contacts have tested positive for Covid-19. The other case was a South African national, who left India on November 27 for Dubai. He arrived at Kempegowda International Airport from Dubai on November 20 with a RT-PCR negative report from South Africa and was screened and tested at KIA on arrival. He had checked into a hotel and his test reports had come positive. He was found to be asymptomatic and advised to self isolate at the hotel. On November 22, his samples were sent for genome sequencing through the BBMP The pa. tient took another test at a private lab on November 23 and his report was negative. His 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts are asymptomatic and negative. 7-day home isolation H e m an t K u m ar R o u t @ Bhubaneswar Passengers arrive from Singapore at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on Thursday | PTI symptoms different from that of Delta? Extreme tiredness and body pain No loss of smell or taste While WHO says the symptoms of Omicron are not different, South African doctors say most Omicron patients have mild issues, such as extreme tiredness, body pain, besides sore throat, dry coughs and fever. Loss of taste or smell & low oxygen was typical of Delta With commodity prices showing no signs of abating, year 2022 is going two be costlier on many fronts — especially if you were planning to buy a new car or a house. India’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki on Thursday said it would increase vehicle prices from January to offset the impact of the rise in raw material costs. It is a common practice for automakers to go for a price hike of 2-4% in January every year. However this year, buyers will feel the pinch more as most leading automakers have gone for at least three price hikes in the past one year. For example, Maruti had increased the pric- Cement price to touch `400 per bag: Crisil The retail price of cement, which has risen `10-15 per bag panIndia since August, is likely to swell by another `15-20 over the next few months, ratings agency Crisil said in a report on Thursday. The price could touch an all-time high of `400 per bag this fiscal due to costly inputs such as coal and diesel, it added es of its vehicles by 1.4% in January 2021, 1.6% in April and then again in September by 1.9% — taking the total quantum of increase to 4.9%. Sources said Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai will issue similar announcements soon. Luxury automakers Mercedes Benz and Audi have already announced price hikes of 2% and 3%, re- Solution to pollution in Delhi: SC sets 24-hr deadline for Centre K an u S arda @ New Delhi Hinting that it might create a task force to monitor pollution control measures, the Supreme Court on Thursday gave 24 hours to the Centre to take action to check the rising air pollution in Delhi-NCR. “We are giving you 24 hours’ time. We want you to take a hard look at this and come up with a solution with seriousness. We will take this up tomorrow morning. You update us about the steps, otherwise we will pass directions,” a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. “In an emergency situation, you have to work in emergent ways. Suppose the temperature goes up in fever, what can be done to control it?” the CJI said. Mehta said he will respond after speaking with the minister. “We are not averse to this and the highest functionaries are equally worried,” he said. The bench, which has been very critical of the bureaucracy for its lack of planning to deal with the air pollution, said: “You have to take steps. We can’t infuse creativity in your bureaucracy .” The SC also pulled up the Delhi government for reopening schools and exposing children to air pollution. “You have implemented work from home for adults. So, parents work from home, but children have to go to school. What is this?” asked the bench, which also comprised judges D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant. “We are looking at this aggressively. You told us schools are closed but it is not so. Three-to-four-year-old children are being made to go to school. If you want orders, we will appoint someone,” the bench said. spectively from January 2022. , MSIL’s senior executive director (marketing and sales) Shashank Srivastava had recently said the firm would be forced to hike vehicle prices with steel, aluminium, copper, plastic and precious metals becoming costlier. Steel prices, which stood at `38 per kg last April-May, shot up to `77 a kg this year. Similarly aluminium , NATIONWIDE dec 01 dec 02 odisha Dec 01 71,55,049 doses Dec 02 66,21,382 doses Fresh cases 8,954 9,765 Recoveries 10,204 8,548 Deaths 267 477 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Total: 1,25,65,96,957 which was available for $1,7001,800 a tonne last year, now costs $2,700-2,800 per tonne. If unchecked, this surge in metal prices, along with a surge in cement prices, is going to jack up property prices as well. “Housing developers’ profit margins are already wafer-thin and the rising inflationary trend of basic input costs such as cement, steel and labour is a real challenge… Future price hikes seem inevitable,” said Prashant Thakur, director & head of research at Anarock Group. Real estate industry body Credai had recently estimated housing prices to jump 10-15% in view of rising costs of construction raw materials. PM chairs meet, directs safe evacuation of people New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reviewed the preparedness to deal with the situation arising out of the likely formation of cyclone Jawad that is expected to hit the North Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast. Chairing a high-level meeting, Modi directed officials to take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated. Maintenance of all essential services such as power, telecommunications, health, drinking water, etc., should be ensured and re- Dhenkanal: In yet another cluster outbreak of Covid-19 cases in an educational institution of Odisha, 56 students of a private residential college at Kunjakanta in the district have tested positive for the virus | P4 Jab-o-meter Take your shot Brace for a bumpy year ahead as cars, houses to cost a lot more in 2022 A R S H A D K H A N @ New Delhi Residential college in Covid grip, 56 students test +ve stored immediately in the event of any disruption, the Prime Minister’s Of fice (PMO) said in a statement. Modi further asked officials to ensure adequate storage of essential medicines and supplies. He also directed for 24x7 functioning of control rooms. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is also reviewing the situation 24x7. The MHA has already released the first installment of the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) in advance to all the states, PTI the statement said. dec 01 dec 02 237 186 02 252 276 02 ODISHA government on Thursday made seven-day home isolation mandatory for all 380 foreign returnees who had landed in the State before November 30 amidst detection of Omicron variant in Karnataka. All the returnees from nine districts of the State were from ‘at risk’ countries flagged by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry The Centre has put . 26 countries in the ‘at risk’ bracket where the new highly contagious variant has been detected. “As per protocol set by the Centre, all returnees should have undergone tests at the landing airports. Since we are not sure whether they underwent RT-PCR tests, districts have been asked to ensure that the returnees are home quarantined for a week,” said a senior health official. The State government has, so far, received a list of 380 travellers who returned from overseas between November 28 and 29. While 224 returnees arrived here on November 28, the rest 156 persons landed on November 29. The Health and Family Welfare department shared the list of international travellers with the districts after receiving their details from the Centre and asked to designate district public health officers and urban public health officers as nodal officers for Omicron surveillance. The Collectors and Municipal Commissioners have been directed to track the returnees and check their test details by Friday . The department has also issued a fresh guideline for air passengers mandating quarantine, tests and genome sequencing of positive cases. Director of Public Health Dr Niranjan Mishra said, the returnees will be traced by a designated team and the district rapid response team will follow up with each international passenger, collect RT-PCR negative report and report to the State Surveillance Unit. “If any passenger is found not tested at the time of arrival, then immediate step will be taken for collection of sample and RT-PCR test. If passengers are tested negative, they will be home quarantined for seven days and asked to undergo RT-PCR test on eighth day If found posi. tive, he/she will be hospitalised and self-observation for another seven days if found negative,” CONTINUED ON: P5 he added. Impending storm’s path keeps weathermen on toes Ahead of the cyclonic storm, Odisha Fire Services personnel ready their equipment for rescue and relief work in Bhubaneswar on Thursday I Express A s i sh M e h ta @ Bhubaneswar POST-MONSOON season’s maiden system has kept weathermen on tenterhooks as its path and intensity remained unclear even after it intensified into a depression on Thursday evening. Brewing over the Bay of Bengal, the system is expected to turn into a cyclonic storm and re-curve north-northeastwards after reaching north Andhra Pradesh-south Odisha c o a s t a r o u n d S a t u r d ay morning. “The depression formed over south-east Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm in next 24 hours. Analysis is underway to ascertain whether the storm will recurve after reaching north APsouth Odisha coast or prior to hitting the coasts of either of the two States,” said Director, Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, HR Biswas. The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) forecast indicated that the system is likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm but as of now its possibility is low. The first projected path of the system issued by the national forecaster showed the system will intensify into a cyclonic storm on Friday and upgrade into a severe cyclonic storm over the next 24 hours. Then, it may downgrade into a cyclonic storm. All this while, it would be over the sea, brushing the Odisha coast. Meanwhile, anticipating the storm, the State government has kept in readiness 60 units of Odisha Disaster Rapid Ac- tion Force, 17 NDRF and 171 fire services teams for deployment to carry out relief and rescue operations. Special relief commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena who reviewed preparedness with 17 Collectors and discussed deployment of teams in vulnerable areas told mediapersons that districts have been asked to shift those living close to the coast and strictly follow Covid-19 norms at cyclone shelters. The Fisheries and Animal Resources Development department has imposed fishing ban in the sea and Chilika lake from December 3 to 5, he said. Districts have been asked to make people of coastal villages to remain watchful for storm surge. Biswas said wind reaching a speed of 45 km-55 km per hour and gusting up to 65 km is likely to commence Friday midnight and increase gradually to 70 km to 80 km per hour. It may gust up to 90 km from Saturday morning for subsequent 12 hours. Irrespective of intensity and position of landfall, the cyclonic storm is expected to trigger heavy to very heavy rainfall across south, interior, and north coastal districts of Odisha in the next three days. Ganjam and Gajapati districts apart, district including Koraput, Rayagada, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara will receive heavy showers. Gloves off, knives out as Congress hits back at Mamata R i c ha S har m a @ New Delhi With West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making pointed attacks on the Congress, the latter began giving it back in equal measure, with the charge led by its young leaders to start with. From calling Congress incompetent to saying there is no UPA, Mamata has been vocal in her criticism so as to wrest the Opposition leadership space. At her recent meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar in Mumbai, she is learnt to have floated the idea of regional parties forming an Opposition alliance and making seat arrangements for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, while bringing the Congress to the table after the polls, sources said. Separately, her strategist Prashant Kishor took a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, calling for democratically electing the Opposition leadership, adding it was not the “divine right of an individual”. Congress leaders this newspaper spoke to said the party will drop its restraint and taken on the Trinamool based on facts, though seniors would stay out for now. The counterattack has already begun with party MPs Manickam Tagore, Sayeed Naeer Hussain and others saying Mamata has no business commenting on the UPA. A senior leader said the Con- gress is the principal opposition party with around 20% vote share in the 2019 elections. “The Trinamool Congress is limited to Bengal. They went chest thumping in Tripura but we saw the results in the local body polls. Goa Assembly results would further clear the air,” the leader said.
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