chennai l thursday l june 23, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 16 l late city EDITION Biden calls for 3-month suspension of fuel tax US President Joe Biden has also called on states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief, the White House said Consumers to save 3.6% at the pump Move to salvage prez’s low ratings The federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents-a-gallon, while it is 24.4 cents on diesel. In his speech to Congress on Wednesday, Biden will suggest suspending fuel tax till September, the White House said. If the benefits are fully passed on to consumers, it will translate into 3.6% saving at the pump. Biden also called on energy firms to accept lower profit margins to raise oil production ■ White House had been considering a gas tax holiday for months, but held off till now over concerns how Congress will take it. The latest move comes at a time when Biden’s ratings have taken a battering as inflation soared to its highest level since the 1980s and the national average gas price has reached $5 per gallon $10 billion Estimated cost of the three-month tax freeze to the federal government 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 Shinde rejects Uddhav’s CMship offer Pawar tries to play peacemaker; chief minister issues emotional appeal to the rebels; vacates official residence Rebels ‘elect’ him Sena legislative party leader S u d h ir S u r ya w a ns h i @ Mumbai Locals inspect the damages caused by the earthquake Paktika on Wednesday | pti 1,000 dead in deadly Af quake 1,500 people have been injured and many villages destroyed in the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in more than two decades The 6.1-magnitude quake struck around 1.30 am local time, catching many in their sleep Its epicentre was in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan, not very far from the Pak border Tremors were felt in Pakistan and India as well The toll may rise as many people are still trapped beneath the debris and rescue works are hampered by a lack of machinery Experts blame poor building quality and high population density for the high toll | P9 CBI books Wadhawan bros in `34,615 cr fraud EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE Central Bureau of Investigation has registered a case against Dewan Housing Finance Corporation promoters Kapil Wadhawan, Dheeraj Wadhawan and others for defrauding a consortium of 17 banks to the tune of `34,615 crore, making it the biggest banking fraud probed by the agency. Following registration of the case on June 20, the CBI on Wednesday carried out coordinated searches on 12 properties of the accused in Mumbai. “Searches were conducted at 12 locations in Mumbai at the premises of accused, which led to recovery of incriminating documents,” the CBI said. The CBI action follows a complaint from the Union Bank of India, leader of the 17-member consortium which had extended credit facilities to the tune of `42,871 crore between 2010 and 2018. The complaint alleged that the Wadhawan brothers and DFL director Sudhakar Shetty along with other accused entered into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the banks. The FIR also names Amaryllis Realtors LLP Gulmarg Realtors , Jab-o-meter Take your shot June 21 10,50,571 doses June 22 30,20,119 doses Total: 112,91,49,871 LLP, Skylark Buildcon, Darshan Developers, Sigtia Constructions, Creator Builders, Township Developers, Shishir Realty, Sunblink Real Estate and other unknown persons including public servants. The accused allegedly cheated the consortium by siphoning off loans after creating shell companies. The audit of DHFL account books showed With the Uddhav Thackerayled government in Maharashtra wobbling following a massive revolt in the Shiv Sena, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Wednesday tried to save it by suggesting rebel leader Eknath Shinde be made the new chief minister to contain the haemorrhage, but the latter promptly rejected the offer. With the writing on the wall, Uddhav vacated Varsha, his official residence in south Mumbai, and left for his family’s Matoshree bungalow in Bandra. Pawar, the chief architect of the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi, called on Uddhav along with Supriya Sule and housing minister Jitendra Ahwad and proposed that the chief ministership be offered to Shinde while Uddhav stays as party president. His logic was the CM post is part of Shiv Sena’s quota and must stay that way . But Shinde, whose rebel group has numerical majority among lawmakers in the Shiv Sena, rejected the offer, saying his action was in the larger interests of the party, adding there will be compromise with the Hindutva ideology . Earlier in the day, Uddhav made an emotional webcast ap- CM Uddhav Thackeray after vacating his official residence on Wednesday | pti peal saying he was ready to resign as both CM and party head if the rebels meet him face to face and ask him to do so. But after the speech, Sena leader Sanjay Raut tweeted that they will fight till the last moment. Uddhav admitted that during the pandemic and due to his spinal surgery he could not in, teract with party lawmakers earlier, but was now meeting them. He lauded Pawar and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, with whose party the Sena is in an alliance, saying they were very cooperative and kind. “I am ready to resign as the CM. Our rebelling MLAs should choose a CM from amongst themselves. The CM should be from Shiv Sena... Why speak from Surat and Guwahati, please come to Mumbai and talk to me. If you do not want to AIADMK GC: HC holds Retired worker late-night hearing NATIONWIDE June 21 June 22 tamil nadu June 21 June 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 9,923 12,249 7,293 9,862 17 13 737 322 0 771 459 0 changes in AIADMK bylaws to anoint the party’s joint coordinator as its single leader, A two-judge division bench following majority support of Justices M Duraisamy f r o m A I A D M K o f f i c e and Sundar Mohan of the bearers. Madras High Court started It’s not clear whether parhearing an appeal around ty coordinator O Panneersel1.30 am on Thursvam and a few of ‘OPS too day against a single his supporters, injudge’s order refus- must attend cluding R Vaithilinmeeting’ ing to stay the AIg am, JCD PrabADMK General hakar and Manoj Stating that Council (GC) meetPandian, will atPaneerselvam ing scheduled to be tend the council has been held in Chennai on meeting. Earlier in committing Thursday. Justice the day, in another mistake after Krishnan Ramasa- mistake, former setback for Panmy’s order, late on neerselvam, Avadi minister D Wednesday, could Jayakumar said Police Commissionhave cleared the er declined to enterhe too must w ay fo r fo r m e r tain his petition attend the GC chief minister and meet and accept asking police to party joint coordideny permission to the decisions nator Edappadi K the GC meeting. taken there Pa l a n i sw a m i t o Justice Ramasatake over the reins of the AI- my in his verdict said the ADMK as its single leader. court cannot prejudge what The court’s observation could transpire at the GC that it cannot stop a party meeting and refused to interfrom amending its bylaws fere with the internal affairs had come as a shot in the of amending rules, regulaarm for the Palaniswami tions or bylaws of the party . camp as it seeks to bring in Continued on: P4 R S iv a k u m a r & T M u r u g a n a n d h a m @ Chennai To Lanka, from TN the company allegedly committed financial irregularities, diverted funds, fabricated books, round tripped funds to “create assets for Kapil and Dheeraj Wadhawan” using public money Both are in judicial custody . in connection with previous fraud cases. The DHFL loan accounts were declared NPAs at different points of time by the lenders. meet me, at least call and convey your thoughts,” he said. Rebutting Shinde’s charge on compromising with Hindutva, Uddhav said: “Aditya Thackeray recently went to Ayodhya with Shinde. Hindutva is part of Shiv Sena. I may be the first Maharashtra CM who spoke on Hindutva in the state Assembly . I am not a person who will stick to the CM’s chair. I have already written the resignation letter,” said Uddhav adding that he would not like anyone voting from his party against him in the floor test. Uddhav said he was pained that his own people were saying he should not be the CM. He claimed he was not worried about the numbers. “Numbers are not important, people are,” he said trying to tug at the rebels’ heartstrings. P8 Chennai mishap Bandra Books DHFL allegedly maintained as many as 1,81,664 ghost retail loan accounts having liability of over `14,000 crore, which were kept in a parallel set of accounts database known as ‘Bandra Books’, officials said rebels sought to paint the Uddhav government as corrupt, A day after the Shiv Sena sacked pointing to the serious allegarebel leader Eknath Shinde as tions against jailed Aghadi the head of the party in the Ma- leaders Anil Deshmukh and Naharashtra Assembly, his loyal- wab Malik. “The Congress and ists appointed him as the par- the NCP are using their office ty’s legislative party leader and and power to undermine the named a new party base and foundation whip. Four more our Shiv Sena cadre,” After shifting the 34 in Guwahati the resolution alleged. rebel MLAs to Guwa“The Sena is a party Another hati from Surat overwith strong ideology night, Shinde sought to chartered plane and was formed for consolidate his posi- with four Sena fighting for the rights tion, as the party brass MLAs arrived in the Marathi manoos. Guwahati on in Mumbai called a legSince the last two-andislative party meeting Wednesday to a-half years, our party join the rebel and threatened to inand its leadership comShiv Sena voke the anti-defection promised on its princilaw. Shinde’s group ap- legislators who ples. Severing the allipointed Bharat Goga- reached the city ance with the BJP has wale as the new party earlier, sources had a tremendous negsaid whip replacing Sunil ative impact on the votPrabhu. ers and party cadre at Shinde claimed he had sup- large,” the resolution read. port of 40 Sena MLAs and that It added that the party’s leadnumbers will go up by and by If . ers were facing tremendous Shinde can prove he has 37 of pressure from their electorate. them with him, then they will “We have been subjected to lot escape the defection law. of criticism for being part of A resolution adopted by the this corrupt government.” E xpress N ews S ervice @ Mumbai Amid the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the Tamil Nadu government dispatched a second consignment of relief materials, worth `67.70 crore, from the Thoothukudi port on Wednesday. The consignment contains 14,712 tonnes of rice, 250 tonnes of milk powder, and life-saving drugs. “Let’s hail humanity since love is a way of life,” CM MK Stalin tweeted. The first consignment was sent on May 18 | Express e x p r e ss r e a d Mekedatu: TN delegation meets Union min in Delhi Smart ration cards to be door-delivered for `25 Chennai: A delegation of leaders of legislature parties in TN led by Water Resources Minister Durai Murugan on Wednesday met Union Jal Sakthi Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in New Delhi and registered their protest over the CWMA’s decision to discuss the Mekedatu project | P4 Chennai: The Civil Supplies Department will soon start delivering new smart ration cards at applicants’ doorsteps upon paying a delivery fee of `25. A GO to this effect was issued recently. For the first time, the department will also allow revision of addresses on smart cards | P4 brahma kumaris jumbo feat Murmu’s spiritual calling at Mt Abu Meet the new boss of 44 elephants R a j es h Asn a ni @ Jaipur A wave of excitement swept across the normally sedate Brahma Kumari spiritual fraternity after learning that Droupadi Murmu was set to be the country’s new President. For, Murmu has been a follower and a regular visitor of the Prajapita Brahma Kumari Spiritual University at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. The meditation technique she learnt from them helped her overcome grave personal tragedies in her life, as she unfortunately lost both her sons and husband in a span of five years. Murmu’s life has been full of struggles, hail as she does from the Santhal tribal community in Odisha. When one of her sons, Laxman, died in an acci- File photo of Droupadi Murmu (C) at the Brahma Kumari HQ in Rajasthan dent in 2009, she went into depression. That was when she went to the Brahma Kumari headquarters to learn Raja Yoga meditation from the sisters there, informed the executive secretary of the institute, B K Mrityunjay . He said Murmu was able to somehow come out of the shock, but then in 2013, her second son, too, died in an acci- dent. And a year later, she lost her husband. “These tragic accidents brought an earthquake in her life, but she held the strings of spirituality so tightly that she got the strength to bear the adversities. She has a deep connection with spirituality and is constantly in touch with the headquarters of our institute,” Mrityunjay said. During an event at the Mt Abu centre, Murmu said, “I come here because brothers and sisters are very dear and I take their positivity and vibrations because the atmosphere here is different.” Many at Mt Abu recall her as saying that “when people change by taking advantage of the value-based education of this institution, then India will rise again”. E xpress N ews service @ Kochi Guruvaryur temple’s famous elephant camp, Punnathur Kotta, has got its first woman manager in its 47-year history C R Lejumol, who took . charge on Wednesday, will be responsible for the upkeep of 44 elephants, which were donated by devotees at different periods of time. Born into a family of mahouts, she is no stranger to elephants. On her new role, Lejumol says it is a blessing from Lord Guruvayurappan. “She will have to coordinate the 150 staffers including the mahouts and ensure the wellbeing of elephants,” said temple administrator K P Vinayan. Lejumol’s father Ravindran Nair and father-inlaw Sankara Narayanan had retired after years of service as mahouts. Her husband Prasad, too, was a mahout. Lejumol, who joined the Guruvayur Devaswom as a lower division clerk in 1996, was an assistant manager in the works department before taking charge of the Kotta. Punnathur Kotta was a fort owned by a local ruler, which was purchased by the Devaswom in 1975 to keep temple elephants. The camp is a sprawling green area spread across 10 acres. “It is a great privilege to look after Lord Guruvayurappan’s elephants in such an official capacity We . have 44 ele- phants here and 150 employees including mahouts. The Devaswom has given contract for the supply of palm leaves, grass and banana stem for the elephants. The quantity of food for each elephant is fixed by veterinarians. Next month, we will have an ayurveda rejuvenation treatment for elephants,” said Lejumol. “My duty includes ensuring deployment of elephants for daily rituals at the temple. During festival season, we send around 20 elephants to other temples. When elephants are in ‘musth’, we have to give them rest and select other elephants after conducting medical checkup,” she said. Lejumol’s sons Akshay Krishnan and Ananthakrishnan are also thrilled over their mother’s new job. called to repair power line dies of electrocution Sa h aya N ovinsto n Lo b o @ Chennai A 62-year-old retired employee of the State power corporation was electrocuted while repairing a faulty line allegedly at the behest of local officials in Chennai on Tuesday. Though he retired in 2019, his family said he was sometimes called for work due to a shortage of manpower in the corporation. The deceased, S Radhakrishnan, a resident of Solaiappan Street in Old Washermenpet, lived with his wife and two sons, and had served as a line inspector at the Nammalwarpet unit of Kilpauk division, police said. His son R Rajesh Kumar (24) told TNIE Radhakrishnan got a call from officials in Kilpauk division around 10 am, and went to AK Swamy Nagar near Purasawalkam to check the faulty line. “My brother and I had gone to work, so my father only informed my mother and left. By 2 pm, my younger brother David Prakash got a call from the Secretariat Colony police saying my father was electrocuted,” Kumar said. He alleged the assistant engineer (AE), foreman, and two others were initially with his father, but then left him to work alone. “There were young ablebodied men who could have climbed the transformer. But the officials must have forced my father to do it,” said Kumar. The Secretariat Colony police registered a case under Section 304(a) of the IPC. No officials were named in the FIR, but it is mentioned that an AE, foreman, and other staff were responsible. Radhakrishnan’s body was taken to Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital for a post-mortem examination, and his relatives, refusing to receive it, shouted slogans against TANGEDCO. After police officers intervened, the family received the body on Wednesday evening. P5
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