21042021-TT-01.qxd 4/20/2021 11:07 PM Page 1 13 chandigarh | gurugram | jalandhar | bathinda | vol.141 no.109 | 14 pages | ~5.00 | regd.no.chd/0006/2021-2023 established in 1881 himachal pradesh PAK BOWS TO RADICALS OVER FRENCH ENVOY ROW WORLD /thetribunechd SECOND WAVE: INDIA INC BETTER PREPARED, BUT PESSIMISTIC BUSINESS L-G APPEALS TO MIGRANTS NOT TO FLEE DELHI BACK PAGE /thetribunechd www.tribuneindia.com wednesday | 21 april 2021 Lockdown should be last resort: PM USmayeasevaccine Tells states to check migrant exodus | Nation left to fend for itself, says Cong raw material curbs Aditi Tandon Sandeep Dikshit US WARNS AGAINST TRAVEL TO INDIA Tribune News Service New Delhi, April 20 Acknowledging that the second Covid wave had hit the country with fury, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said a lockdown should be the last resort for state governments and urged people to ensure 100 per cent compliance with safety protocols even as the Opposition Congress alleged people had been left on their own. As India logged over 2.50 lakh daily cases for the third day in a row, the Prime Minister sought the help of children to enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour, urging them to make sure that family members did not step out of homes without reason or need. He asked the states to convince migrant workers to stay put at their places of work with a guarantee for their lives and livelihood. “In today’s situation, we have to save the country from a lockdown. If we follow Covid discipline, states will not need to set up containment zones or impose curfews and lockdown will be out of the question. I also urge the states to use lockdowns as the last resort. Continued on page 11 EDITs: vaccine for all adults Stop migrants’ exodus 2.0 IN BRIEF UGC-NET put off due to pandemic NEW DELHI: The Union Grants Commission (UGC) has postponed the National Eligibility Test (NET) examination-2021 scheduled to be held in May due to Covid pandemic. The announcement to this effect was made by Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal. — TNS ICSE Class X board exams cancelled NEW DELHI: The ICSE Class X board exams have been cancelled in view of the worsening Covid-19 situation and the option for students to appear later has been withdrawn. Last week, the board had postponed both Classes X and XII exams. — PTI DSGMC elections postponed NEW DELHI: Following a Covid surge, the April 25 elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) have been postponed. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal took the decision on Tuesday and sent the proposal to the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. — TNS As the Covid-19 cases in India spurt to unprecedented levels, the US has asked its citizens to avoid travelling to India, saying even fully vaccinated travellers were at a greater risk. VAX WASTAGE CRIMINAL, SAYS DELHI HIGH COURT The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said wastage of even a single shot of Covid-19 vaccine was a “criminal waste” and directed the Centre to vaccinate whomsoever it could. IMPORT DUTY ON REMDESIVIR WAIVED A doctor drags an oxygen cylinder at the Covid centre in CWG village, New Delhi, on Tuesday. PTI The government on Tuesday waived import duty on Remdesiviranditsactive pharmaceutical ingredients. Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted: “The move willl increase supply and reduce cost.” Oxygen crisis worsens in Delhi hospitals Tribune News Service Kejri’s SOS: Covid centres left with few hours of supply New Delhi, April 20 The surging Covid-19 pandemic left Delhi’s health systems in the lurch with the state government on Tuesday evening pressing alarm bells about most hospitals being left with few hours of oxygen supply. “Serious oxygen crisis persists in Delhi. I again urge the Centre with folded hands to NEXT THREE WEEKS CRUCIAL The next three weeks are very crucial. At a meeting, the UTs were advised to augment hospital infrastructure, ramp up testing, set up containment zones and enforce Covid behaviour. Harsh Vardhan, HEALTH MINISTER ❝ urgently provide oxygen to Delhi. Hospitals are left with few hours of supply,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter today to send an SOS hours after the government said at a meeting with UTs that the next three weeks were crucial in the fight against the pandemic. “The next three weeks are very crucial. At a meeting today the UTs were advised to augment hospital infrastructure, ramp up testing, set up containment zones and enforce Covid behaviour,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said. Continued on page 11 Tribune News Service New Delhi, April 20 India’s vaccine production remains at suboptimal levels despite a conversation between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We have taken up the issue very strongly with the US authorities,” said sources, adding that they were expecting a resolution of the US ban on export of raw material for vaccines that has hit their manufacturing in India. The White House skirted questions on the request by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to lift the export ban on certain raw materials needed for ramping up production of Covid-19 vaccine. Readouts by both foreign offices show the subject was discussed by Jaishankar and JAISHANKAR, BLINKEN HOLD DIALOGUE ■ The subject was discussed by Jaishankar and Blinken ■ The US State Department, however, made only a passing reference to it ■ S Jaishankar said he was pushing other countries to keep raw material flowing ANTONY BLINKEN Blinken. But the US State Department made a passing reference to it, along with climate change and “other global issues”. Jaishankar said he “also discussed issues pertaining to our health cooperation”. Hours later, Jaishankar said he was pushing other countries, particularly “some big ones”, to keep raw material flowing for vaccines. Cong for uniform pricing of vax New Delhi, April 20 The Congress today questioned the government's new liberalised Covid vaccine policy for all adults from May 1. Party leader Jairam Ramesh said, “This government keeps talking about ‘one nation, one election’, ‘one nation, one ration card’. Why not ‘one nation, one price’ for Covid vaccines? There should be uniform pricing for all segments.” — TNS SC stays HC order on UP lockdown Tribune News Service New Delhi, April 20 A day after the Allahabad High Court imposed lockdown (till April 26) in five cities of Uttar Pradesh by a judicial order in view of a sudden spike in Covid-19 Govt clamps weekend curfew in entire state cases, the Supreme Court today stayed the decision. A Bench led by CJI SA Bobde asked the UP Govern- ment to report back to the high court on the steps taken by it to deal with the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Yogi government imposed till further orders a weekend curfew in the entire state and a night curfew on weekdays in all districts with over 500 cases. HP caps weddings at All defence PSUs told to produce oxygen 50, 5-day wk in offices Tribune News Service Shimla, April 20 Announcing stricter curbs amid the surge in Covid cases, the Himachal Pradesh Government today capped at 50 the attendance at weddings, funerals and other social, religious and political gatherings from April 22. It imposed a five-day workweek in government offices and ordered the public transport, including inter-state and intra-state buses, to ply at 50 per cent capacity with immediate effect till May 1. The temples will remain out of bounds for the general public from April 23. The decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur here. “In view of the sharp rise in Covid cases and fatalities, we have decided to limit the attendance at weddings, funerals, social, religious, sports, cultural and political gatherings at 50,” he said. The earlier limit was 50 for indoor and 200 for outdoor gatherings. Barring shops selling essentials, all commercial estab- STRICTER CURBS ■ Public transport to ply at 50% capacity till May 1 ■ Temples to remain shut from April 23 onwards ■ Shops, malls, sports complexes to remain shut on weekends lishments like shops, malls, markets, gyms, sports complexes and swimming pools will remain closed on weekends. There will be a five-day week for employees of all government offices, autonomous bodies and PSUs and 50 per cent attendance on the other five days till May 1. Though a sharp rise in infections and fatalities had been witnessed in the state over the past few days, the Chief Minister ruled out a lockdown for now. He said they would first focus on micro-containment. Thakur said no reports of exodus of migrant workers in view of lockdown fears had been received from the hill state. — TNS New Delhi, April 20 All companies and factories under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have been told to immediately buy oxygen producing machines and provide extra beds to civil administration and state governments to combat the Covid crisis. The decision was announced following an TEJAS TECHNOLOGY FOR PVT INDUSTRY ■ MoD has offered to the private industry a technology developed for oxygen generation onboard Tejas jet ■ 1,000 litres of oxygen can be generated per hour; can cater to hospital needs emergency virtual meeting chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday. ■ A DRDO tech for maintaining blood oxygen level in troops at extreme high altitudes will be used for Covid patients There are nine public sector undertakings (PSUs) under the MoD. Also, the Ordnance Factory Board has 41 factories while the Defence Research and Development Organisation has multiple units and labs working on dual use technology — military and civil. The Defence Minister asked the armed forces to be in close contact with state governments and use emergency powers to procure goods needed to fulfil critical medical requirements. 25 Punjabis held in Canada drug racket Jupinderjit Singh Tribune News Service Chandigarh, April 20 The Canada police, after an almost yearlong operation, have busted an international drug racket by arresting more than 30 persons, 25 of them of Punjab origin. As per media reports from Canada, the police with the help of some international agencies began working on a special operation codenamed Project Cheetah to break the back of an international drug network in Canada. The police action on ground Inputs on trafficking came from Punjab Police, NCB PROJECT CHEETAH ■ Police action began on April 8 ■ By April 19, cops in Ontario, BC and California seized $2.3 million worth of drugs, besides currency and 48 highly sophisticated firearms ■ The drug haul included 10 kg cocaine, 8 kg ketamine, 3 kg heroin and 2.5 kg opium began on April 8 and by April 19, the police in Ontario, British Columbia and Cali- fornia had carried out more than 50 search warrants and seized about $2.3 million worth of drugs, including heroin and ketamine, and 48 highly sophisticated firearms, besides $730,000 in Canadian currency. The drug haul included 10 kg of cocaine, 8 kg of ketamine, 3 kg of heroin and 2.5 kg of opium. The big success against the drug cartel has excited Indian security agencies, especially Punjab Police and the Narcotics Control Bureau, whose officials had shared vital inputs with Canada and USA in the last two years over Continued on page 11 Rahul, Anand test positive Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday tested positive for Covid-19. “After experiencing mild symptoms, I’ve just tested positive for Covid. All those who’ve been in contact with me recently, please follow all safety protocols and stay safe,” Gandhi tweeted. Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma also tested positive for Covid-19. — TNS Khattar rules out lockdown in Hry Chandigarh, April 20 Putting an end to the ongoing lockdown rumours, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today said that no lockdown would be imposed in the state. The Chief Minister urged the labourers and workers to remain relaxed and keep doing their work. There is no need to panic, he said. INSIDE After harvesting, Punjab farmers start returning to Tikri border SC deadline for Centre Ravinder Saini Tribune News Service Jhajjar, April 20 A day after the Samyukt Kisan Morcha announced ‘Phir Delhi Chalo’ campaign to bolster numbers at the protest sites, farmers and labourers from Punjab have started returning to Tikri to join the agitation against the central farm laws. The protesters put up an impressive show of strength in Tikri today to mark the birth anniversary of farmer leader Dhanna Bhagat. The crowds had been steadily thinning at the protest sites in Tikri, Singhu and Ghaziabad over the past few weeks. UNIONS DIVIDED OVER TESTING BY HRY GOVT Farm leaders camping at Singhu and Tikri borders are learnt to be divided over the Haryana Government’s offer of sending medical teams for conducting Covid tests and vaccinating the protesters. A few leaders alleged it was a plot by the BJP government to quell their agitation. Farmers at a protest in Tikri on Tuesday against the central farm laws. PHOTO: SUMIT THARAN While the SKM, a joint forum of farm unions, said the farmers had returned home temporarily for wheat har- vesting, some alleged the protesters were unhappy with the top union leadership for campaigning in poll-bound states at the cost of the farm stir. “Around 3,000 farmers from Punjab have returned to Tikri after completing their rabi harvest. Many more are likely to reach here in the coming days,” claimed Purushottam Singh Gill, a BKU (Lakhowal) leader. He said the count of local farmers too was growing. Pargat Singh, a BKU (Rajewal) leader, said farmers and labourers were arriving by trains, buses and in their personal vehicles as tractors were still required for agricultural tasks. “The numbers will keep rising now as farmers will be free for over a month after selling their produce,” he claimed. The SKM has appealed to the migrants returning to their native places not to panic and join their protest. “We will make all arrangements for food and shelter. They must join the common struggle against the Centre,” said SKM leader Darshan Pal. on judges’ appointment Tribune News Service New Delhi, April 20 The Supreme Court on Tuesday set deadlines for the Centre and Intelligence Bureau (IB) to clear the names recommended by the Collegium for appointment as judges of high courts, saying it would “facilitate timely appointments”. “The IB should submit its report/inputs within 4 to 6 weeks from the date of recommendation of the High Court Collegium, to the Central Government. It would be desirable that the Centre for- IB directed to submit inputs in 4-6 weeks wards the file(s)/recommendations to the Supreme Court within 8 to 12 weeks from the date of receipt of views from the state government and the report/input from the IB,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said. “It would be for the government to thereafter proceed to make the appointment Continued on page 11
The Tribune, now published from Chandigarh, started publication on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising four eminent persons as trustees.
The Tribune, the largest selling daily in North India, publishes news and views without any bias or prejudice of any kind. Restraint and moderation, rather than agitational language and partisanship, are the hallmarks of the paper. It is an independent newspaper in the real sense of the term.
The English edition apart, the 133-year-old Tribune has two sister publications, Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi) and Dainik Tribune (in Hindi).