BHUBANESWAR l sunday l june 19, 2022 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l JEYPORE EDITION Two dead as blasts tear through Kabul Gurdwara Explosive-laden truck stopped A series of explosions was followed by gunfights between terrorists and Taliban fighters, a Taliban spokesperson said without divulging any details about the attackers. Afghanistan’s interior ministry said a bigger tragedy was thwarted as secuirty personnel stopped an explosive-laden vehicle from reaching the Gurdwara. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack At least seven persons were also injured in the latest attack to target the Sikh community in war-torn Afghanistan a centre of Afghan hindus, sikhs ■ ■ The early-morning attack killed a devotee and a secuirty guard. It happened in an area with a sizable Hindu and Sikh population Reacting sharply to the incident, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said, “The cowardly attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan should be condemned in the strongest terms by all” 30 people were inside the gurdwara at the time of attack 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 Odisha exposes pan-India jumbo smuggling racket S i b a M o h a n t y @ Bhubaneswar IN what could be of huge ramification, the Forest department of Odisha has blown the lid off a pan-India illegal elephant trafficking racket which attempted to use forged no objection certificates (NOCs) to smuggle captive jumbos through the State to Gujarat. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) has alerted its counterparts in other states and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) so that applications relating to transportation of elephants and their movement across the country can be closely It seems that a big racket is operating in illegal trafficking. As this is having interstate ramification, it is requested to issue advisory from the Ministry to all CWLWs to closely scrutinize all the cases Chief Wildlife Warden, Odisha monitored. The matter assumes significance in view of a proposed amendment by Centre to the Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) which seeks to commercialise the Schedule - I species. There already exists a huge nexus between capture of wild elephants and their demand by temples, religious insti- tutions and even political parties. lier received an application for Ill-treatment of the gentle giants transportation of a captive jumbo is another grim story. from the Northeastern state to KoAt least, eight such cases have raput district. Upon verification come to fore last month. The by the divisional forest officer, it CWLW of Odisha found racket- was found that the requisites were eers tried to fake NOCs by using not met and the application was forged signatures. In rejected. all cases, the attempt When a fake NOC press w a s t o a l l e g e d ly clusive reached the Assam smuggle elephants CWLW, it sought clarfrom Assam. Seven ification from its Odiof these cases saw bids made to sha counterpart and the first case transport elephants to Gujarat’s was detected. However, the CWLW Jamnagar for a temple trust, reli- office was perplexed when it reable sources told The New Indian ceived queries from its Gujarat Express. The first case related to counterpart about seven NOCs altrafficking of a jumbo to Odisha legedly issued by the former for from Assam. Interestingly, the t r a n s p o r t a t i o n o f c a p t ive CONTINUED ON: P5 CWLW office in the State had ear- elephants. Ten per cent vacancies in Central Armed Police Forces, Assam Rifles and Indian Coast Guard to be reserved for recruits under the scheme Govt set to go ahead with Agnipath, lists more sops CHAN D AN NAN D Y & M AYAN K S IN G H @ New Delhi express read India’s Russian coal buy jumps 6-fold: report New Delhi: India’s purchases of Russian coal have spiked despite global sanctions on Moscow, as traders offer discounts of up to 30%, according to Reuters. India’s purchases of coal and related products rose six-fold in the 20 days through Wednesday from the same period a year earlier to $331.17 million, it said Punjab celebs rush for bullet-proof cars Chandigarh: After Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala was shot dead in his car, many celebrities and politicians in the state are scurrying to make their vehicles bullet-proof and add safety features such as run-flat tire technology. According to industry sources, It will cost `10-25 lakh to bulletproof a vehicle Bitcoin drops below $20,000 amid sell-off London: The price of bitcoin fell below $20,000 for the first time since late 2020 on Saturday, in a fresh sign that the selloff in cryptocurrencies is deepening. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, fell below the psychologically important threshold, dropping as much as 9% to less than $19,000 Undeterred by the violent protests against the Agnipath scheme, the Centre on Saturday indicated it will go ahead with the recruitment as it announced a slew of new concessions for Agniveer aspirants. While the Union home ministry announced that 10% vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles would be reserved for Agniveers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a similar proposal for the new recruits once they complete their four-year tenure in the armed forces. The newly announced reservation will be applicable for the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts and all 16 defence public sector undertakings. The reservation for Agniveers will be in addition to existing quota for ex-servicemen. In a statement, the defence ministry said “necessary age relaxation provision will also be made” to effect this change. The fresh announcements follow the government’s one-time relaxation in the upper age limit for joining the armed forces this year, raising it from 21 to 23, in view of the freeze in recruitment drive in the past two years due to the pandemic. According to the Agnipath scheme announced on June 14, those between 17.5 and 21 years of age can apply to be Agniveers for four years. The Ministry of Home Affairs also decided to give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment to CAPFs and Assam Rifles. For the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit. In addition to the two ministries, the states of Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam have announced preference to Agniveers in state police recruitment. “The state police forces will greatly benefit from the training and discipline inculcated to Agniveers by the armed forces and their capabilities in tackling insurgency, Naxalism and natural disasters will be hugely augmented.” said the government in a press release. According to the government, several corporate houses and industry bodies have welcomed the new and transformative recruitment process for the armed forces. “The well trained, disciplined and technologically savvy youth who finish their service in the armed forces will be a valuable asset to their organisations, they said. Apart from customised certificates, a bachelor’s programme by the Indira Gandhi National Open University has also been planned for the Agniveers. The government is hopeful that financial institutions will also extend support. To identify the ways in which banks can support Agniveers on completion of their tenure of duty Secretary Department of Financial Services , , held a meeting with the heads of public-sector banks, public-sector insurance companies and financial institutions. In the meeting, it was decided that banks and financial institutions will explore employment opportunities for Agniveers in suitable capacities based on their educaP7 tional qualifications and skills. your shot Total: 196,13,24,182 NATIONWIDE June 17 June 18 Fresh cases 12,847 13,216 Recoveries 7,985 8,148 Deaths 14 23 odisha Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths June 17 June 18 25 21 0 38 14 0 Rajnath Singh, defence minister Police arrest key instigator behind Secunderabad protests Andhra Pradesh police have arrested one of the alleged key instigators of Friday’s violent protests at the Secunderabad Railway Station. The accused, identified as A Subba Rao, runs a coaching centre that trains aspirants of defence services. He allegedly instigated the aspirants to protest against the Agnipath scheme. He told the police that if the Centre goes ahead with the scheme, his coaching business will take a hit Roll back Agnipath scheme, TN CM Stalin urges Centre RA J E S H K U M AR THA K UR @ New Delhi national Conference chief and former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday declined the invite to be the Opposition’s candidate for President, dealing a blow to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to propose a consensus name. Thanking Mamata for the offer, Abdullah said he wants to remain in active politics as he has a lot more to contribute to the country. “I withdraw my name from consideration as a possible joint opposition candidate for the President of India. I believe that Jammu and Kashmir is passing through a critical juncture and my efforts are required to help navigate these uncertain times,” he said. Russia putting world in danger of famine: EU Russia is putting the world at risk of famine through its blockade of Ukraine’s shipments of grains and restrictions on its own exports, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Saturday | P9 Chennai: Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday urged the Union Government to immediately roll back the Agnipath scheme. In a statement, the CM said: “You can’t expect a man who is joining the army for just four years on contract service to be committed to the extent that he can lay down his life for the country.” 10 W I T H T H I S I SSU E In Bihar, which has seen some of the worst protests against the Agnipath scheme, the Centre has accorded VIP security cover to 10 BJP legislators in view of threats posed to them The Great Indian Job Race PLUS 12 PAGES CM to share Odisha’s food security mantra with WFP E x p r ess Ne w s S e r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar Jab-o-meter June 17 13,14,094 doses Take June 18 11,61,176 doses It is bringing revolutionary changes in the recruitment process in the armed forces. Some people are spreading misunderstanding about it Farooq bows out of Prez poll race Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday left for Delhi ahead of his international visits starting Monday . Naveen is leading a high-level delegation comprising Chief Secretary Suresh Mahapatra, Secretary to Chief Minister and 5T department VK Pandian, Principal Secretary in the Food and Civil Supplies department VV Yadav, Principal Secretary in the Industries department Hemant Shar ma and Resident Commissioner in New Delhi Ravi Kant to Rome and Dubai. According to the Chief Minister’s Office, the WFP has extended an invitation to Naveen to visit its headquarters in Rome and share the transformative initiatives of Odisha in the field of food security and disaster management. He will narrate how from being a fooddependent State, Odisha has transformed itself into a food surplus State adding to the country’s public distribution system. Naveen will meet executive director of WFP David Beasley and its senior leadership. He will discuss Odisha’s partnership with WFP and future projects for ensuring food security in a sustainable manner. The Chief Minister will also meet the Odia diaspora from various parts of Europe at Rome. He is also scheduled to meet Pope Francis in Vatican, the CMO release stated. On his way back, Naveen will meet investors from the Middle East and adjoining regions in Dubai. He will extend an invitation to the potential investors to come and invest in Odisha. He will also have one-on-one meetings with some big investors from the region. Earlier, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, too, had declined the offer to be the Opposition’s consensus candidate for President. Apart from Pawar and Abdullah, Mamata-led Opposition meet on June 15 had also suggested former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as the third choice. According to sources, both Pawar and Abdullah rejected the invite due to the Opposition’s weak electoral strength for Presidential polls. “Now, Gopalkrishna Gandhi is the only name in the race but he is yet say yes or no,” remarked a senior Congress leader. The next meeting of Opposition parties on Presidential polls may take place on June 20 or 21 in Mumbai or Delhi. “The final decision may come at this meeting. But, Abdullah’s refusal to be the joint consensus candidate for the Presidential of India has given a jolt to Didi’s effort being made to put a united face against the BJP-led NDA face of President”, remarked an opposition leader. The process to elect a new President began on June 15. The last date of filing of nominations is June 29. The election, if necessary will be held , on July 18 and and the counting on July 21. surprising move State to reduce Infra, Manpower despite covid rise Hem a n t K u m a r R o u t @Bhubaneswar Even as new Covid-19 cases in Odisha are on an upward spiral matching the national trend, the State government’s decision to reduce manpower engaged in pandemic containment and de-hire infrastructure has left the health experts perplexed. A day after a marginal drop, infections rose again with the State reporting 38 cases in last 24 hours and pushing the active cases over 200, the highest since April 5. As many as 41 cases were detected on June 16, the maximum daily tally in one month. Amid the rising Covid graph, the government has decided to reduce manpower deployed in containment measures, including surveillance, testing, tracking and treatment. An order issued by the Health and Family Welfare department on June 17 stated, “Whereas there is a declining trend of Covid positive cases in the State, districts and medical colleges will follow the guidelines issued on March 29 and reduce manpower accordingly .” For Covid surveillance and testing, the order stated, one vehicle will be allowed for each district having six blocks or less and two vehicles for each district having more than six blocks. If more vehicles had been hired, that should be immediately dehired. Experts working in collaboration with the Health department for containment of Covid pandemic for last two years wondered how could the dis- tricts and urban local bodies function without the required manpower at a time when there is every possibility of a resurgence given the situation in the country . “Directors of different health wings have been stressing on intensified surveillance and mobilisation of resources for testing and vaccination for the last one week as the State is seeing a steady rise in new cases. How and who will do surveillance and testing if human resources are to be reduced and surveillance vehicles de-hired apart from other required infrastructure,” they questioned. The order is confusing as at one point it has asked to reduce resources and at the other directed districts to make Covid testing available in all health facilities and RT-PCR swab collection in all CHCs besides continuing the Covid death audit as usual until further notice. Though the State government has stressed on maintaining adequate testing level as per the ICMR guidelines and SARI/ILI surveillance to predict an early upsurge, the districts are yet to act on it. The number of testing has come down from a range of 20,000 last month to 10,000 now. While Director of Public Health Dr Niranjan Mishra did not respond to the calls, a senior official on the request of anonymity said the order has been issued as per the decision taken earlier. “A highlevel meeting has been called in June last week to take further decisions on the rising trend,” he said.
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