tiruchy 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 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 The Centre warned that more testing is needed as there has been a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases in the country ■ 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 Defiant Rahul says his fight will continue 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 footage From patiala shows fugitive amritpal A new CCTV footage emerged on Saturday purportedly showing the radical preacher Amritpal Singh wearing a jacket and trousers and speaking on phone. The footage, circulating on social media, is said to be from Patiala Matter of Fact 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 Ada- WITH THIS ISSUE Pic: Parveen Negi S S e n t h i l K u m a r @ Coimbatore ni. 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 Indian 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 immediate disqualification of lawmakers. “If karma strikes him back, what’s our fault?” the BJP stalwart quipped. express read ISRO to launch heaviest payload rocket today Eric Garcetti sworn in as US Ambassador to India Chennai: ISRO will launch its heaviest payload rocket LVM3, previously known as GSLV Mk-3, with 36 commercial satellites onboard from Sriharikota on Sunday morning | P4 PLUS 12 PAGES Washington: Eric Garcetti was on Saturday sworn in as the US Ambassador to India by Vice President Kamala Harris, ending two years of delay to fill one of most critical diplomatic posts | P9 Elderly tribals in TN trek 10 km to get `1K pension rics and initiate the transfer. Only about 280 pensioners, out EVERY month, over 2,000 senior of 2,500 in the taluk, receive their citizens, belonging to scheduled stipend through the post office. tribes, in Anaikattu taluk in Vel- The others have to make a round lore embark on a treacherous trip of around 10 km, often on trek of around 5km to acmud roads, with somecess the `1,000 pension to times dangerous results. which they are entitled. Take 75-year-old V The reason for this long, Muthamma. Two years often dangerous journey l was abandoned ago, she slipped and fell , with a relatively meagre and so depend while on the way to colreward? The 76 hamlets, on the pension. I lect her pension and sufsuch as Pinchamandhai, walk 6km from fered a fracture. my home with Palampattu and Jhard“That day was a big bare feet and han Kollai, are on a hill tragedy for me. I have come back. I contiguous with the Ja- don’t have any been bedridden ever wadhu Hills and lack mo- other means of since,” she said. She now bile signals which are esgets her pension via the support sential to for disbursal of post office with help of K Chinna Ponnu the state government’s her relatives. monthly pension. Another elderly perSince 2012, when disbursal son, Rajammal, recently slipped started being made to bank ac- on the mud road and fractured counts, two bank coordinators her finger while making the trip arrive at a hairpin bend on the while a senior citizen named hill on the 15th of each month to Kulli, was hit by cattle on her check the beneficiaries’ biomet- way to collect the money . P5 RAJALAKSHMI SAM PATH @ Vellore Nitu Ghanghas (R) capped off her superb campaign at the IBA Women’s World Championship with a gold-medal show 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 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 Experience matters 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 Windfall The winners get richer by $100,000 (`82 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- 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 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 this newspaper. 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. Band Baaja Baaraat in AAP’s Punjab camp 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- Nitu , Saweety strike gold 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 wedding bells H a r p r e e t B a j w a @ Chandigarh Kovai tusker electrocuted; 5th such jumbo death in March 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 2019batch 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. stall a strong BJP government,” he said. Attacking the Congress, the PM said, “Congress says Modi Teri Qabr Khude gi (Modi, your grave will be dug) but they don’t know people of Karnataka have a dream which is Modi Teri Qabr Khudegi (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.” IN the fifth such incident in west Tamil Nadu this month, a tusker aged 20-25 years died of electrocution near Kuruvamma temple in Poochiyur, 1km from Periyanaikenpalayam forest range in Coimbatore in the early hours of Saturday Coim. batore collector Kranthi Kumar Pati convened a meeting with Tangedco (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation) and forest department officials to prevent such deaths. Forest officials said the incident occurred on private land, which is not under cultivation, when the animal rubbed against the cement electric post, causing the pole and overhead live wire to fall and electrocute the jumbo. TK Ashok Kumar, district forest officer of Coimbatore division said the Kuruvamma temple priest informed them of the animal’s death at 7.30 am. “It could have died a few hours before. We noticed marks on its trunk and body he said. ,” After meeting with Tangedco’s superintending engineers for North and South Coimbatore, Ashok Kumar and Superintendent of Police PV Badri Narayanan, the collector said Tangedco will start correcting low-lying cables and replace damaged electric posts in a radius of up to 5km from forest boundaries. “Instructions have been given to continue joint inspections by Tangedco and forest officials to check for illegal electric fences and to fence electric posts and use only insulated cables to prevent elephant deaths in the long-term,” he said. P5
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