THIRUVANANTHAPURAM l Sunday l march 26, 2023 l `12.00 l PAGES 24 l LATE city edition states, UTs told to step up Covid testing as cases rise Nationwide Covid readiness drill in april The Centre warned that more testing is needed as there has been a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in the country Covid-19 cases hit five-month high The states and Union Territories must increase testing to the level prescribed by the WHO — 140 tests per million people per day. Also, the Centre is planning to hold a nationwide mock drill on April 10 and 11 to check the readiness of hospitals, the joint letter by the Union health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research said ■ India recorded a single-day rise of 1,590 coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest in 146 days, and an increase of 562% over the 240 fresh cases reported on March 1. Active cases stand at 8,601 ■ The letter also asked states and UTs to keep a close watch on Influenza-like illness, especially H1N1 and H3N2, and Severe Active Respiratory Illness 48% Covid cases reported from two states — Kerala and Maharashtra 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 Pic: Parveen Negi Of loans and unpaid leave An unforgettable moment for Nitu, who won it in front of boxing icon Vijender Singh, someone who had inspired her to take up the gloves. She really had to struggle while growing up. Her father had to take loans and was on unpaid leave for over three years to help her train Defiant Rahul says his fight will continue Nitu , Saweety strike gold Nitu Ghanghas (R) capped off a superb campaign at the IBA Women’s World Championship with a gold medal on Saturday. Nitu beat Mongolia’s Lutsaikhan Atlansetseg 5-0 in the 48kg category final. Saweety Boora ensured India second gold after beating Wang Lina of China in 81kg Experience matters Up against the Chinese boxer, Saweety was the aggressor and let her experience count as she traded punches against her taller opponent with real intent. Saweety Boora This is her 2nd worlds medal Preetha Nair, Ramashankar a n d P r a s a n ta M a z u m d a r @ New Delhi/Patna/Guwahati Windfall The winners get richer by $1,00,000 (J82 lakh) each report on: P11 Fractured mandate will hurt state’s progress, Modi warns in Karnataka G S u b h a s h C h a n d r a @ Davangere Calling the people of Karnataka to give a clear majority to BJP in the 2023 state assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told them that a fractured mandate would not help the state’s progress. Addressing a large gathering at the concluding ceremony of BJP’s Vijaya Sankalpa Yatra at GMIT grounds on the outskirts of Davangere, Modi while referring to the Congress-JDS coalition government of 2018 before the BJP came to power in 2019, asked the party workers and the people of Karnataka to look back at what hap- pened earlier due to a fractured mandate. PM Modi took a dig at the 2018 Congress-JD(S) coalition government which did not support the Kissan Samman Yojana during their regime and said they lacked the subsequent development and take-off provided by the double engine BJP government from 2019. He urged the party workers to work hard for the next three months and reach out to the nook and corner of their neighbourhood. “If you people want me to serve in every village, town and city of this state, then you have to in- stall a strong BJP government,” he said. Attacking the Congress, the PM said, “Congress says Modi teri qabr khudegi (Modi, your grave will be dug) but they don’t know people of Karnataka have a dream which is Modi tera kamal khilega (Modi, your lotus will bloom).” Praising the BJP government’s record in the state, Modi said, “The entire world is looking towards India, and India is looking towards Karnataka, as we have given a good government during the last three-and-a-half years.” Rest easy transgenders, 1st hostel for you on the cards AISH W ARYA P RA B HAKARA N @Kochi Transgender community members can put to rest worries about getting suitable accommodation in Kochi. The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), in its budget presented on Saturday announced the plan , to build Kerala's first-ever transgender hostel. Christened ‘Rainbow Home’, the hostel will be built on 6.73 cents of GCDA land near Ambedkar stadium at an estimated cost of `3 crore. The hostel will be built in association with Kudumbashree Mission. “As per the 2011 census, India has over 4.8 lakh transgenders of whom 3,902 are in Kerala,” said p4 GCDA chairman K Chandran Pillai. He said the number would be higher now. As per the social justice department, a majority of transgenders in the state still live on the streets for want of shelter. Pillai said they include those who have been disowned by their families. “For transgenders, finding proper accommodation in Kochi is difficult and they are forced to live on the streets,” he said. “Kudumbashree officials told us that they had funds to build a hostel but no land. Since we too were planning to develop an infrastructure for the community, we decided to join hands with Kudumbashree,” Pillai said. ● More on P5 ‘Kerala a glass house. Looks nice and bright from outside, but nothing inside’ Day after disqualification as MP, Rahul rules out apology for Modi surname slur, says he will keep questioning PM-Adani relationship A day after his disqualification from Parliament, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the ruling BJP saying he will continue to raise questions on the relationship between the Modi government and business tycoon Adani and fight for truth. Rahul also ruled out the possibility of an apology over his remarks on the Modi surname in 2019, which a Surat court found defamatory, saying “My name is not Savarkar. My name is Gandhi. I won’t apologise.” “I have been disqualified because the prime minister is scared of my next speech,” Rahul charged. He claimed the trouble started after he raised specific questions on the relationship between the PM and the Adani group, which was accused of stock manipulation by New York-based Hindenburg. “`20,000 crores came into the shell companies owned by Adani. Adani could not have generated this amount of money He . is in the infrastructure business. Where did this money come from and whose money is it?” he wondered. Rahul added that no threats or prison sentence can dissuade him from pursuing his tapasya (penance). “I am here defending the democratic voice of In- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a press conference at the AICC HQ in New Delhi on Saturday | Parveen Negi I am here defending the democratic voice of Indian people. I am not scared of threats, disqualifications or prison sentences Rahul Gandhi dian people. I am not scared of threats, disqualifications or prison sentences.” The Congress leader also thanked Opposition leaders for extending support to him and said all parties will work together. In his pushback, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad charged that the Congress did not seek immediate stay on Rahul’s conviction so as to milk it in Karnataka assembly polls. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recalled that Rahul himself had trashed a UPA ordinance in 2013 against the immediate disqualification of lawmakers. “If karma strikes him back, what’s our f ault?” the BJP stalwar t quipped. toxic or not? Agri ministry’s flip-flop on banning pesticides J i t e n d r a C h o u b e y @ New Delhi Three years after the ministry of agriculture banned 27 pesticides following recommendations by experts, the Centre recently lifted its bar on 24 of them, raising concern among environmentalists. The ministry had formed a committee headed by scientist Dr Anupam Varma in August 2013 to examine whether they were safe for use. Later, another 66 pesticides were added to the list. The Varma panel, in its report in December 2015, recommended a ban on 13 of the 66. The report recommended the use of 18 pesticides while citing insufficient data on 27 others. “If I remember correct, our committee didn’t find data to take any call on 27 pesticides. We asked the government to provide field use data by 2017,” Varma told TNIE. Predictably the , pesticides industry association raised objections. In 2017, the government formed another panel led by Dr S K Malhotra, which recommended banning all 27 pesticides. Another sub-committee was later formed, this time led by Dr SK Khurana. Based on the panel’s report, the ministry issued a draft notification to ban all 27 in May 2020. The industry then moved the Rajasthan High Court and got a stay on the ban. Yet another panel under Dr T P Rajendran formed in 2021 recommended banning three and changing the labels of eight others, based on which the ban on 24 was lifted. “It is a story of panel after panel submitting reports and the industry’s delaying tactics,” says Vinay Saini, a pesticide expert. w e dd i n g b e l l s Band Baaja Baaraat in AAP’s Punjab camp H a r p r e e t B a jw a @ Chandigarh Cupid appears to have struck the AAP’s corridors of power. We have seen Raghav Chadha, Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab, and actor Parineeti Chopra dining together in high-end Mumbai eateries, putting enough on the plates of gossip columnists. Some others in the party in Punjab have taken their relationship to its logical trajectory. On Saturday, Education Minister Harjot Singh Bains got married to young IPS officer Dr Jyoti Yadav at a ceremony near Nangal in Rupnagar district. But why single out AAP for such trysts and espousal? Among 92 AAP MLAs in Punjab, the party also has 11 legislators below the age of 36 years – the largest youngest group in the House. You guessed it right: many of them could be planning marriage. Bains is the second minister after Chief Minister Bhag- want Mann to marry while in office after the AAP came to power last year. Not only Bains and Mann, three ruling party MLAs, too, have got married in a year. Bains’s marriage was solemnised at Bibhor Sahib gurdwara near Nangal. The couple got engaged a few weeks ago. Dr Jyoti Yadav is a 2019-batch IPS officer of Punjab cadre. In July last year, Mann got married to Dr Gurpreet Kaur, who hails from Haryana. It was Mann’s second marriage as he got divorced in 2015. In October last, party MLA from Sangrur, Narinder Kaur Bharaj (29) got married to party leader Mandeep Singh Lakhewal. In January party MLA from Fa, zilka Narinderpal Singh Sawna married his schoolmate Khushboo Sawansukha. Same month, Ferozepur (Urban) MLA Ranbir Singh Bhullar (62) got married to Amandeep Kaur. 7 absentee Cong MPs invite ire of leadership C y n t h i a C h a n d r a n @T’Puram They left before the climax and are now being projected as villains of the piece. Seven Congress MPs from Kerala, who were conspicuous by their absence when fellow leaders courted arrest against Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification by the Lok Sabha secretariat on Friday, have drawn the ire of the high command. Shashi Tharoor, M K Raghavan, Benny Behanan, Hibi Eden, T N Prathapan and Dean Kuriakose were all part of the march to Vijay Chowk, in Delhi, but left early to catch the flight back home. Adoor Prakash, who is in Attingal making pre parations for the Vaikom Satyagraha centenary celebration rally was not even , in town. The MPs, however, claimed that the official confirmation of Rahul's disqualification hadn’t been made at the time of their leaving. Notably even CPM MPs had , stayed back and were arrested. According to unconfirmed reports, the high command has sought an explanation from the seven legislators, who maintained they have not received any notice from the leadership. At a time when the Congress is looking to regroup in preparation for a major offensive against the BJP, the supposedly lackadaisical attitude of the seven MPs has snowballed into a major embarrass● More on P5 ment. Matter of Fact PLUS 12 PAGES WITH THIS ISSUE
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26-03-2023 of The New Indian Express-Thiruvananthapuram