bhubaneswar l friday l march 17, 2023 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l jeypore EDITION Centre writes to six states over spike in Covid-19 cases The Centre on Thursday asked Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka to contain the recent spurt in cases Infection seems localised: Health ministry Focus on testing, genome sequencing “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 ■ 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% 3,264 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 EX P RE SS NEWS S ERV I CE @ 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 P r e e t h a N a i r a n d RA J E S H K UMAR T H A K UR @ New Delhi Long queues witnessed at a petrol pump in Rasulgarh in Bhubaneswar as people line up to stock fuel fearing shortage due to the drivers’ protest, which entered its second day, on Thursday | DEBADATTA MALLICK Govt moves to assuage drivers as crisis worsens Chief secy meets drivers, assures to resolve all issues in 3 months E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e Speaker asks minister to make statement today With the drivers strike entering its second day on Thursday and threatening to spiral out of control as movement of essential commodities and fuel was completely stalled, the state government finally made a move to negotiate with the agitators and resolve the issue. Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena convened a meeting with a delegation of Driver’s Ekata Maha Mancha in presence of senior officers and assured the association that the government was actively considering their demands and would resolve the pending issues appropriately within three months. Though the drivers’ association indicated to cooperate and consider the assurance after the Bhubaneswar: Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukha directed Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu to make a statement in the House on the drivers strike. The speaker said that the minister should hold discussion with the agitating drivers and make a statement in the House P3 on Friday @ Bhubaneswar/Cuttack meeting, there was no formal intimation about the withdrawal of the strike till the last report came in. Meanwhile, movement and supply of essential commodities, vegetables, fuel and gas were badly affected across Odisha for the second consecutive day due to the strike. More than 400 truckloads of perishable food items, including vegetables, fish and eggs were stranded at different locations, sources said. Several vegetable mandis including Chhatra Bazar in Cuttack, the biggest vegetable and fruit wholesale market of the state, have gone out of fresh vegetables and fruits due to non arrival of commodities. The Unit-I market and Aiginia that cater to the demands of the state capital were under similar stress. Sources said more than 300 trucks transport vegetables, fruits and other essential commodities from outside states to Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Balasore everyday Though . few vehicles carrying vegetables and fruits had reached on Tuesday night, movement has come to a halt, both from in and outside of the state, since Wednesday Continued on P5 . Under fire for his ‘democracy in danger’ remarks in London, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the real question is whether he will be allowed to respond to the allegations raised against him by four BJP MPs in Parliament. “It’s my democratic right to speak in Parliament. What you are seeing is a test of democracy. If Indian democracy is functioning, I would have been able to say my piece in Parliament,” he said at a press meet here after returning from London. “After four BJP leaders made an allegation against a member of Parliament, will that mamber get the same space in the House or is he going to be told to shut up?” Rahul wondered. The BJP was quick in its pushback with party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad describing Rahul as a novice in foreign policy. “Rahul should brush up his information about India’s foreign policy and strategic security before passing any comment on such serious subjects,” Prasad said. The BJP, he added, will continue to campaign against Rahul till he tenders his apology. The Congress, however, flatly rejected the demand. Though Rahul attended the afternoon session of the Lok Sabha for the first time since the controversy broke out, the House was ad- After no-show, Kavitha Odisha reports 11 new Covid gets fresh ED summons cases in a day after 4 months AM I T MU K H ER J EE @ 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 custodial remand of Arun Ramachandran Pillai, a key accused alleged to be closely associated with Kavitha in the the day when the Centre issued instructions to six states -MaharashODISHA has recorded 11 new Cov- tra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, id-19 cases in last 24 hours. The per- Karnataka and Gujarat, which have sons tested positive for SARS-CoV2 been reporting higher numbers of are in the 18-years plus age group. cases for last few weeks. This is the highest single day spike Apart from the Covid-19 cases, in Covid infection in last H3N2 influenza cases has four months. also gone up to 61 in the Amid the rise in H3N2 instate. Two fresh H3N2 posifluenza cases across the tive cases have been detectcountry, the spurt in Coved from 62 samples tested People with flu id-19 cases has come as a this month. Earlier, 59 posisymptoms to concern for the health adtive cases were found immediately go ministration. The state had for Covid test and among 225 samples. been reporting cases in sinHealth exper ts have isolate gle digits since December urged the state government themselves to with zero cases on several prevent further to follow a risk assessmentspread of days in January, February based approach and moniinfection. they and March. tor if there is any cluster of should not take According to the Covid cases to prevent and condashboard, with the 11 new the illness lightly tain Covid-19 without loscases, the active cases in ing the gains made so far in Dr Niranjan Mishra, the state climbed to 32. Only Director, public health t h e f i g h t a g a i n s t t h e six patients recovered on pandemic. the day. Sources said most Director of public health of the fresh Covid cases were from Dr Niranjan Mishra advised people Khurda and Cuttack. As many as with flu symptoms to immediately 5,050 samples were tested during the go for Covid test and isolate themperiod. selves to prevent further spread of Continued on P5 The rise in Covid-19 cases came on infection. H e m a n t K u m a r R o u t @ Bhubaneswar 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 . defence Krithivasan TCS’s next CEO, Gopinathan quits 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 | P7 E x p r e ss N e ws S e r v i c e @ New Delhi 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 global 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 February 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. Rajesh Gopinathan K Krithivasan express read SC reserves order on Maha political imbroglio ‘Speaker just smiled’ Rahul met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a request to allow him to speak in the House. “He only smiled, the Speaker was non-committal,” Rahul said journed within minutes after protests. Parliament has been in turmoil over Rahul’s remarks in the UK ever since the second part of the Budget session began on Monday . “I went to Parliament this morning with the idea of putting what I feel on the floor of the House... Within one minute of my coming to the House, they adjourned it,” he said. The Wayanad MP alleged that the government is running away from questions on the relationship between the PM and industrialist Gautam Adani, who has been accused of stock manipulation and fraud by Hindenburg Research. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said all opposition parties barring a few are together and believe that what Rahul said is right. New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench on Thursday raised the question as to how the court can reinstate the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra when the chief minister had put in his papers even before facing the floor test The apex court reserved its order after a nine-day hearing | P7 Release pending MDM funds, Odisha to Centre Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Thursday urged Union Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan to release the pending PM-POSHAN funds for provision of mid-day meals (MDM) in the state. School and Mass Education minister Samir Ranjan Dash sought release of funds to the tune of `30,895 lakh | P2 Tejashwi to appear before CBI on Mar 25 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 landfor-jobs scam | P7
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