Jab-o-meter Take your shot April 26 19,67,717 doses April 27 17,28,894 doses Total doses 1,88,38,30,835 NATIONWIDE apr 26 apr 27 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 2,483 1,970 1,399 2,927 2,252 32 tamil nadu apr 26 apr 27 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths chennai l thursday l april 28, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION Vaccinating all eligible kids is top priority: Modi Schools will need to launch special campaigns to inoculate all eligible children at the earliest, PM Narendra Modi said Covid threat is not over yet, says PM Stopping infection at beginning is key Speaking at an interaction with chief ministers on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said Covid still poses threat. Noting that schools have opened after a long time and parents are worried over the recent spike in infections in some states, Modi said vaccination is the best way to protect against the virus. But there was no word on the timeframe of the inoculation drive ■ ■ “Stopping the infection at the very beginning has been our priority and it should remain the same even today,” the PM said His remarks come a day after India’s drug regulator granted restricted emergency use authorisation for Corbevax and Covaxin for children between 5 and 12 years | P9 72 30 0 77 34 0 1 crore Children in 12-14 age group have been administered 1st dose of covid vaccine CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Apex med body officials face the sack over cash-for-clearance charges S h a h i d Fa r i d i @ New Delhi THE CBI has initiated a probe into cash-for-clearance allegations against top officials of the National Medical Commission, the apex body that regulates medical education and medical professionals in India. Sources said the officials will soon be asked to put in their papers. The CBI probe was initiated after Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya ordered a cleanup in the process of granting approvals to private medical colleges. Sources said the minister received multiple complaints about rampant corruption involving officials of NMC and Medical Assessment and Rating Board. The medical education sector has been mired in corruption for long. The government had to disband the earlier avatar of NMC, the Medical Council of India, due to endemic corruption. But it appears that brokers continue to operate brazenly in this sector. The health ministry had earlier this month conducted surprise checks in private medical colleges across five states. During the raids it was found that colleges were stage-managing inspections and getting approvals without having proper infrastructure, faculty and other facilities required to run a medical college and hospital. In one case, the raiding team was shocked to find the college did not have even the facilities for MBBS (undergraduate) courses while it was given the go-ahead to run PG courses. Another college was doing business for the past 18 years without basic facilities. One of the colleges was allowed to operate in such violation of norms that the Supreme Court imposed `2 crore fine on it. Explaining the modus operandi of corrupt officials working in tandem with brokers, sources said: “First an inspection date is generated on a com- puter. This date is shared by officials with the brokers, who alert the college management. The inspection team is sent after a deal is struck with the college, and the college is given time to arrange for the required facilities just for the day of inspection. This business has been going on forever and hundreds of crores of rupees change hands every year.” Major Fire at chennai hospital, no casualties ‘Oxygen cylinders exploded’ (From left) The ‘sapparam’ (temple chariot) before and after the incident at Kalimedu village in Thanjavur on Wednesday | MK Ashok Kumar 11 electrocuted during TN procession Tragedy in Thanjavur as temple chariot comes in contact with overhead live wire while making a turn in the wee hours; at least 17 injured; Prez, PM express grief Eleven people, including three children, died of electrocution and 17 others were injured when a temple chariot (sapparam) came in contact with a high-tension overhead power line at Kalimedu village on Thanjavur-Budalur main road early on Wednesday . According to sources, the accident occurred when the chariot was being taken in a procession during the 94th sathaya vizha of Tirunavukkarasar, one of the four saivite saints. The decorated car with wooden base was pulled through the streets of the village from around Tuesday midnight. The procession reached the eastern end of the village around 3.10 am on Wednesday. After this, when people tried to turn the direction of the chariot to take it back to its stand near the temple (Appar Mutt), the top of the chariot touched the power line. Six people died on the spot. At least 22 other injured were rushed to Thanjavur medical college hospital. Five of them later died. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Governor R N Ravi, and Chief Minister M K Stalin expressed shock and grief over the deaths. Modi announced `2 lakh each from Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of those who lost their lives, and `50,000 to those injured. According to some locals, the height of the Thanjavur-Budalur road went up after it was relaid recently. “There were no processions in the last two years due to Covid-19. Though Final hearing on sedition law on May 5, says SC Oppn pushback after Modi urges them to cut tax on fuel E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ Thanjavur E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Wednesday listed the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Section 124A (sedition) in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for final hearing without adjournment on May 5. When Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, sought some time for filing the counter, a threejudge bench led by Chief Justice N V Ramana granted him four days. The SC was hearing pleas by the Editors Guild of India and former Army officer Major General S G Vombatkere challenging the sedition law. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the petitioners. When a couple of advocates mentioned similar petitions pending with the SC against sedition saying they had not been listed, the CJI asked if it was necessary to multiply petitions on the same point of law and delay the matter. While issuing notice in 2021 on the petitions, Justice Ramana had remarked, “The enormous power of this section can be compared to a carpenter being given a saw to make an item, uses it to cut the entire forest instead of a tree.” E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday took Opposition chief ministers by surprise at a Covid review meeting by attacking them for not reducing taxes to contain fuel prices, triggering a volley of angry retorts from them. Calling it injustice, he urged them to reduce value added tax (VAT) on fuel in their states in national interest to ease the burden on the common man. A big part of his concluding remarks during the meeting was on fuel prices. But since all others participants were muted, the fuming Opposition later accused Modi of playing politics and passing the buck. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the interaction was one-sided and misleading. “Facts shared by him were wrong. We have been providing a subsidy of `1 on every litre of petrol and diesel for the last three years.” Telangana minister K T Rama Rao was caustic. “Name-calling states for not reducing VAT even though the base of the car was made of wood, the decorated portion consisted of iron angles,” a villager said. “The top portion of the car, which is foldable, was not folded while passing through the road with overhead lines,” another villager said. District Collector Dinesh Ponraj Oliver, Cent r a l Re g i o n I G V Balakrishnan, Thanjavur SP G Ravali Priya visited the accident spot and hospital. MP S S Palanimanickam and mayor S Ramanathan visited the hospital and consoled the relatives of the dead and injured. School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi visited the hospital and laid wreaths before the victims’ bodies were taken to the village. The minister also visited the injured at the hospital. P4 we never increased it; is this the co-operative federalism... #Telangana hasn’t increased VAT on fuel since 2014 & rounded off only once,” he said. Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan ruled out any VAT relief saying, “It is neither fair nor feasible for the state government to further reduce taxes.” Kerala’s Finance Minister K N Balagopal said the increase in petrol and diesel rates was due to the cess and surcharge levied by the Centre, adding Kerala has not increased fuel tax since the last six years. His predecessor Thomas Issac was sarcastic in his tweet. “Elementary sir, we didn’t raise our tax rate as you did,” he quipped. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the Centre owed `26,500 crore to the state and accused it of a step-motherly treatment, adding his government was not responsible for the rise in prices of petrol and diesel. Congress media incharge R S Surjewala sought an account of the `27 lakh crore collected by the BJP government from tax on petrol and diesel. Stalin orders solatium of `5 lakh Chief Minister M K Stalin visited the houses of the 11 deceased persons and ordered a solatium of `5 lakh each to the 11 bereaved families. He also handed over a cheque of `2 lakh to each family on behalf of the DMK GST payout Joining issue with CMs complaining of pending GST compensation, the Centre said in all `2.78 lakh cr compensation was released to states for 202021 and that nothing was pending for FY21. As for 2021-22, `7.35 lakh crore has been released under that head. Compensation of `78,704 crore alone is pending for FY22, it said I am not criticising anyone but am praying to you for the welfare of people of your states...I urge you to reduce VAT now even after a delay of six months to benefit people Narendra Modi About 14 fire and rescue service vehicles and around 10 water tankers were called in. Fire personnel struggled for over four hours to bring the blaze under control. One of the rescue personnel said two oxygen cylinders in the storeroom exploded while they were trying to douse the fire S i n d uja Ja ne @ Chennai A major fire broke out at the Bradfield Surgical Block in the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai on Wednesday morning. Around 128 patients, who were in the block which is over 100 years old, were safely evacuated to nearby buildings by firemen, doctors, nurses, and members of the public. As many as 15 people including six postgraduate doctors and four staff nurses, have been admitted to the hospital’s Intermediate Care Unit (ICMU) after inhaling the thick smoke that engulfed the premises, the hospital’s dean Dr E Theranirajan said. A patient being rescued by fire and rescue personnel | Ashwin Prasath “Twelve have been discharged. The condition of the other three is stable,” he said. Many bystanders on the campus too complained of eye irritation. The fire is suspected to have been caused by a short circuit. According to Theranirajan, it was a surgical store officer who alerted him of smoke coming out of a store room at the block. P2 30 years in jail Why not release Perarivalan, SC questions Centre E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi THE Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to clarify its position on releasing AG Perarivalan, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case who had spent more than 30 years in jail. The court would hear the case on May 4. “Why don’t you just agree to have him released? People who have served over 20 years are released... Why don’t you release him...? Why should he be caught in the middle of who has the authority Pres, ident or Governor, to decide,” asked Justice L Nageswara Rao. Questioning Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj, appearing for the Centre, on power of Governor to refer the State’s decision to the President, the SC said, “…This is a bizarre argument. Under what provision of the Constitution has the Governor referred the case to the President? What is the source of power? What you are arguing has wider ramifications...” P5
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