COIMBATORE FRIDAY MARCH 17, 2023 `9.00 PAGES 14 LATE CITY EDITION CENTRE WRITES TO SIX STATES OVER SPIKE IN COVID-19 CASES INFECTION SEEMS LOCALISED: HEALTH MINISTRY The Centre on Thursday asked Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka to contain the recent spurt in cases “There are a few states which are reporting higher numbers of cases indicating possible localised spread of infection,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to the six states. Bhushan advised them to examine the situation at the micro-level and implement necessary measures for prompt and effective management of the disease 3,264 FOCUS ON TESTING, GENOME SEQUENCING ■ Bhushan advised genomic sequencing for samples of international passengers and collection of samples from local clusters of cases ■ He said Karnataka reported a positivity rate of 2.77%, Kerala 2.64%, Tamil Nadu 1.99%, Maharashtra 1.92%, Gujarat 1.11% and Telangana 0.31% in the week ending March 15, against the national rate of 0.61% TOTAL NO. OF CASES IN THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 15, UP FROM 2,082 A WEEK AGO 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 2 dead as Army chopper crashes in Arunachal Test of democracy, says Rahul on right to respond in House EXPRESS EXCLUSIVE E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Guwahati TWO pilots on board Indian Army’s Cheetah helicopter were killed after their copter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Thursday . The helicopter was on an operational sortie from Missamari in Assam’s Sonitpur district to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. However, it encountered inclement weather in West Kameng district and was returning to Missamari when the mishap occurred. The deceased have been identified as Lt Colonel V V B Reddy and co-pilot Major Jayanth A. Guwahati-based defence spokesman Lt Col Mahendra Rawat said that five search parties of Indian Army, SSB and ITBP were immediately pressed into service and the wreckage of the aircraft was found near Banglajaap village, east of Mandala in West Kameng district. A Court of Inquiry has also been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident. West Kameng Superintendent of Police B Bharat Reddy said they got information about the crash at around 12.30 pm. Arunachal has a history of aircraft crashes. Thursday’s crash is the 16th such incident since 1995. Over 100 lives have been lost in the incidents. The wreckage of the helicopter | EXPRESS Several acres of the marshland are being reclaimed by realtors at the Pallikaranai Ramsar Site. Tonnes of rubble and debris are being dumped in the water-logged areas | ASHWIN PRASATH REALTORS DUMP DEBRIS TO ‘RECLAIM’ RAMSAR SITE SV K R I S H N A C H A I TA N YA @ Chennai AROUND 10 acres of the Pallikaranai marshland, that received the coveted title of a Ramsar Site in 2022, have become the dumping ground for tonnes of rubble and construction debris in the last couple of weeks. The laying of a 40-feet gravel road and construction of houses in patches is impinging upon the ecological balance of the wetland, which boasts of a multitude of bird and wildlife species. Of the total 1,247.54 hectares falling under the Ramsar Site, only 698 hectares are protected and maintained by the forest department. As per the Ramsar Convention, no part of the wetland is supposed to be used for other purposes. TNIE visited the area earlier this week and saw several lorries bringing in and dumping debris on the wetland, already inhabited by birds. K Geethanjali, Conservator of Forests (Chennai Circle), told TNIE: “Though the area belongs to private parties, the original status of the land is that of a water body and thus, no land filling is allowed. There is an order from the National Green Tribunal regarding the same.” Locals claim that the area in question is located in Pallikaranai village and spans 36 acres. As per documents from 1966, this area is known by the names Periyamutharamman Nagar and Beula Nagar. “There are over 200 patta holders. The perennial water in the marshland is the discharge from Perungudi sewage treatment plant. There is no place for the water to drain due to the Perungudi dumpyard,” said R Kumar, who has patta to a piece of land here and is president of Periyamutharamman and Beula Nagar Welfare Association. After no-show, Kavitha gets fresh ED summons A M I T M U K H E R J E E @ New Delhi THE Directorate of Enforcement issued fresh summons to K Kavitha, BRS lawmaker and daughter of the Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, to appear before it on Monday (March 20) for questioning in the Delhi excise policy scam, hours after she failed to turn up on Thursday, citing her petition pending before the Supreme Court on the matter. Kavita, who had appeared in person on March 11, sent a letter and her legal team with documents to the ED office this time on her advocates’ advice. When she moved the SC on Wednesday, the court listed it for March 24 without giving her any interim relief. In the wake of her skipping the summons, a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court extended the such serious subjects,” Prasad said. The BJP, he added, will continue to campaign against Rahul till he tenUNDER fire for his ‘democracy in dan- ders his apology The Congress, how. ger’ remarks in London, Congress ever, flatly rejected the demand. leader Rahul Gandhi on Though Rahul attended the Thursday said the real quesafternoon session of the Lok tion is whether he will be alSabha for the first time since lowed to respond to the allethe controversy broke out, gations raised against him by the House was adjourned four BJP MPs in Parliament. within minutes after protests. “It’s my democratic right Parliament has been in turto speak in Parliament. What moil over Rahul’s remarks in you are seeing is a test of dethe UK ever since the second mocracy If Indian democra. part of the Budget session be‘Speaker just gan on Monday. cy is functioning, I would smiled’ have been able to say my “I went to Parliament this Rahul met Lok piece in Parliament,” he said morning with the idea of Sabha Speaker at a press meet here after reputting what I feel on the Om Birla with a turning from London. floor of the House... Within “After four BJP leaders request to allow one minute of my coming to him to speak in made an allegation against a the House, they adjourned the House. “He member of Parliament, will it,” he said. that mamber get the same only smiled, the The Wayanad MP alleged Speaker was space in the House or is he gothat the government is runing to be told to shut up?” Ra- non-committal,” ning away from questions on Rahul said hul wondered. the relationship between the The BJP was quick in its PM and industrialist Gautam pushback with party leader Ravi Adani, who has been accused of stock Shankar Prasad describing Rahul as a manipulation and fraud by Hindennovice in foreign policy “Rahul should burg Research. Congress leader . brush up his information about In- Jairam Ramesh said all opposition dia’s foreign policy and strategic secu- parties barring a few are together and rity before passing any comment on believe that what Rahul said is right. PREETHA NAIR AND RAJESH KUMAR T H A K U R @ New Delhi custodial remand of Arun Ramachandran Pillai, a key accused alleged to be closely associated with Kavitha in the scam. The ED was to confront her with Pillai among other accused and witnesses in custody . Besides, the ED custody of Delhi’s ex-deputy CM Manish Sisodia ends on Friday . In her letter, Kavitha said she was not physically confronted with any of the arrested accused when she appeared on March 11 despite the ED categorically assuring that was the purpose for her summoning. Pillai was the frontman of the South Group cartel that allegedly included Kavitha. The cartel was the direct beneficiary of the Delhi scam. Pillai is the 32.5% owner of an entity that benefitted from the excise scam. He claimed Kavitha was a major stakeholder in that entity . HC barred non-forest activity in ’21 In 2021, the Madras HC ordered authorities to identify and cancel pattas obtained illegally and prohibited any sort of nonforest activity in Pallikaranai marshland Blackwinged Stilts, Terns, Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Little Stints, and migratory subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon REOPENING STRATEGIC PASS Border Roads Organisation personnel clear snow from the Razdan Pass in the Gurez Valley, in Bandipora, Jammu & Kashmir, on Thursday to reopen road connectivity along the Line of Control | PTI E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ Dharmapuri TWO women were killed and a man was injured at an explosion at a firecracker unit at Nagadasampatti village near Papparapatti on Thursday morning. The deceased, identified as K Muniammal (65) and B Palaniammal (50), were among the 20 employees at the unit owned by R Saravanan. The staff at the licensed unit were responsible for mixing gunpowder and creating fireworks using paper. On Thursday, Muniammal, Palaniammal, and P Sivalingam (52) arrived at work early Soon after, how. ever, the explosion occurred, killing the two women and leaving Sivalin- gam grievously injured. This was the first such incident of an explosion in the area. Indur Police and the Pennagaram fire department recovered the re- A year after reviving the Namakku Naame Thittam (selfsufficiency) and Varumun Kappom (preventive healthcare) programmes, first introduced by former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in 1997 and 2006 respectively, the state government has decided to give a boost to another signature DMK ini- across the state at present. However, the fare for mini buses has not been revised since 1997, and bus operators have been arbitrarily hiking fares, charging `10 to `30 per ticket on most of the routes. Now, the MK Stalin government aims to provide mini-bus connectivity to more villages and regularise the existing services. The state transport New Delhi: The CBI on Thursday assured the Delhi High Court it will not arrest Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav this month, after which the politician agreed to appear before the probe agency on March 25 for questioning in connection with a case related to the alleged land-for-jobs scam | P9 The firecracker unit that exploded at Nagadasampatti village on Thursday | EXPRESS mains of the women and sent them to the Pennagaram Government Headquarters Hospital for postmortem. Sivalingam was rushed to the Dharmapuri Medical College Hospital. His condition remains critical. Sources at the fire department said that it is likely that Palaniammal and Muniammal were the closest to site of explosion. “We believe there was an accident while they were mixing the chemicals. We are investigating the matter,” they said. Police also said a probe is on. Chief Minister MK Stalin condoled the deaths and announced a solatium of `3 lakh each to Muniammal and Palaniammal’s families, and `1 lakh aid to Sivalingam. Mini buses in TN: Govt to revise fares, offer incentives to bus operators tiative: the mini bus scheme for rural areas scheme. The scheme, which was first launched in 1997 and expanded in 1999 when Karunanidhi was CM, is touted as a key DMK significant contribution to rural advancement as it introduced mini buses to remote villages deprived of bus services for decades. There are 4,092 mini buses permitted to operate Drizzle controls Kodaikanal wildﬁre 2 dead, 1 hurt in cracker unit explosion KARUNA’S INITIATIVE B A N B U S E LVA N @ Chennai Tenkasi: Two persons of a three-member gang were arrested on Thursday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in Tenkasi on Tuesday night. Police said the victim and one of those arrested, an auto driver were acquaintances | P4 Tejashwi to appear before CBI on Mar 25 Krithivasan TCS’s next CEO, Gopinathan quits RAJESH Gopinathan, MD and CEO of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has resigned four years ahead of the end of his tenure. He will be replaced by another company veteran K Krithivasan, who has been nominated CEO-designate. Gopinathan, who has been at the helm of TCS for six years, is leaving “to pursue his other interests”, the company said on Thursday. He will continue till September 15 to provide transition and support to his successor Krithivasan, who is now the gloRajesh Gopinathan bal head of the BFSI vertical. Gopinathan had taken the reins of India’s largest software exporter in February 2017 from N Chandrasekaran, who took over as Tata Sons chairman. TCS shareholders had in April 2022 approved Gopinathan’s appointment for five years till FebK Krithivasan ruary 20, 2027. This is the second major leadership change in the Indian IT sector within a week. Last week, Infosys president Mohit Joshi had quit the firm to join Tech Mahindra as MD and CEO-designate to take over the charge from C P Gurnani, who will retire in December. Auto-driver, friend held for raping teen Dindigul: The wildfire at Kodaikanal is under control owing to slight drizzle, said District Forest Officer and Wildlife Warden PK Dileep. Sources said the fire is not yet fully doused at Dolphin nose areas, affecting residents and road users. Tourists have been barred from visiting the area until further notice Birds that visit the marshland E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi EXPRESS READ REPRESENTATIVE PICTURE department recently framed a new mini-bus service scheme, according to which bus fares for mini buses are to be revised, said official sources. “A bus fare revision mechanism for mini buses will be rolled out soon. Incentives will be provided to bus operators for running buses to remote villages,” said an official. As per the transport depart- ment’s regulations, issued in 1999, private individuals may operate mini buses in rural areas over a distance of 20 km, with a 4-km overlap on serviced routes. This implies that 16 km of the bus route should cover un-served (remote) areas. “Mini bus operators have demanded an increase of overlapping (served route) distance up P5 to 8 km.” DEFENCE DEALS WORTH `70,000 CR CLEARED The Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday cleared capital acquisition of indigenously developed BrahMos missiles, marine diesel engine, artillery gun system, electronic warfare suits and utility helicopters worth `70,584 crore | P9
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