Thu, 04 June 2020
2 more Covid cases at Rail Bhavan; count 11

Timeline  Refresh

23:51   2 more Covid cases at Rail Bhavan; count 11
The Rail Bhavan on Thursday reported two more coronavirus cases, taking the tally of those infected at the railway headquarters to 11, officials said.

The two cases were reported in less than 24 hours, they said.

The Rail Bhavan has already been sealed twice last month.

The latest case is that of an official working in the office of Chairman, Railway Board, V K Yadav.

The official last attended office on May 21 and was found COVID-19 positive on June 3.

The other official works on the third floor of the building. He attended office till June 1.

All those who came in contact with these two officials have been sent for home quarantine for 14 days.

While many are not attending office as the railways is following a staggered attendance policy, the rising number of cases has scared the officials who are contemplating to apply for long leaves, sources said.

The latest cases follow a long list of railway officials who have tested positive for the pandemic, including two senior women officers, a contractual worker who drives out 'langoor' from the building and several mid-level staffers.  -- PTI
22:45   Temporary COVID-19 hospital at BKC can pull through monsoon, says MMRDA
Town planning authority MMRDA on Thursday said the temporary COVID-19 hospital at BKC was not built keeping in mind natural calamities like thunderstorm or cyclone but yet it weathered the cyclone Nisarga and can also pull through the monsoon.

The clarification from the authority comes at a time when senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have claimed that the makeshift COVID-19 hospital set up at MMRDA grounds has been severely damaged and is unsafe for patients.

Cyclone Nisarga, which made landfall in Alibaug on Maharashtra's coast on June 3 passed through districts like Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Pune, causing considerable damage to the power supply network, roads, houses and trees in these regions.

"The temporary COVID-19 hospital is designed considering the weather conditions of Mumbai and not keeping in mind natural calamities like thunderstorms or cyclones. And therefore, even we were sceptical about the sturdiness of the structure when we came to know about the cyclone. However, we immediately took necessary steps to further strengthen its base and there has been no damage to the hospital at all," MMRDA commissioner RA Rajeev told reporters in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, in a letter to state chief secretary Ajoy Mehta, has sought a detailed inquiry into the construction of this project and demanded action on contractors, while claiming that there were leakages in the structure which posed safety threats to the patients and the medical staff deployed at the facility.

On June 3, BJP MLA Nitesh Rane had also tweeted videos allegedly showing damage caused to the makeshift hospital and had demanded a probe.    

According to the MMRDA, on June 2, as a precautionary measure, civic local body BMC had shifted more than 150 patients, who were taking treatment at the facility, to another location.

"Moving patients was only a precautionary measure. The structure is strong enough to bear wind speed of up to 80 km per hour. Since the speed was estimated higher than that, the decision was taken by the Corporation. Now that it has withstood the cyclone, the facility shall certainly pull through the monsoon season. The patients will start returning soon," he added.

Rajeev further said that the work on the second phase of the hospital housing 1,000 beds is already under construction and will be completed soon.  -- PTI
22:09   Entry of MPs' personal staff to Parl restricted
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entry of the personal staff of MPs inside the Parliament House was restricted by the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Thursday.

The presence of over 800 personal assistants (PAs) of members of Parliament (MPs), when the House will be in session, will make the situation vulnerable, Lok Sabha Secretary General Snehlata Shrivastava said in an order.

"In compliance with the social-distancing norms, it is decided to restrict the entry of PAs of MPs inside Parliament till further orders," the order said.

Besides, the Lok Sabha Secretariat, which is the nodal authority of the Parliament complex, also restricted the entry of retired officers, personal guests and visitors of officers below the joint-secretary level.

The measures were taken after more than four officers posted at Parliament tested positive for COVID-19 after Parliament resumed operations on May 3.

Two floors of the Parliament Annexe building were sealed and re-opened after the entire complex was sanitised.  -- PTI
22:03   Man lodged in Odisha quarantine centre dies
A 30-year-old man, who was lodged in a quarantine centre in Odishas Balasore district, died on Thursday, police said.

The man and his elder brother had arrived at Bhadrak on May 29 from Mumbai and were sent to a quarantine centre at Jaleswar nodal school under Khaira police station, they said.

The deceased, identified as Bipin Bihari Mallick of Jalada village, complained of severe chest pain on Wednesday and was taken to Soro hospital where he died on Thursday, a police officer said.

Dr Satyaranjan Nayak of Soro hospital said the man could not survive despite all possible efforts by doctors.

He died on Thursday morning.

Police have registered a case and investigation into the matter is in progress.   -- PTI
21:14   Maha registers highest spike of 2,933 cases
Maharashtra on Thursday registered the highest single-day spike of 2,933 COVID-19 cases, which took the tally of patients in the state to 77,793, the state health department said.

As 123 coronavirus positive patients died during the day, the death toll increased to 2,710, it said.

The number of discharged patients in the state rose to 33,681 as 1,352 patients were sent back home after recovery, the health department said in a statement.

Of the 123 deaths, 68 were reported in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The department said that 30 of these deaths occurred in the last two days, while the rest were from the period between April 30 and June 1.

The number of active cases is 41,402, it said, adding that as many as 5,10,176 people have been tested so far.

There are 3,804 containment zones in the state.

As many as 5,10,176 people have been tested so far.

Currently 5,60,303 people are in home quarantine and 30,623 are in institutional quarantine, it said.

The state's COVID-19 recovery rate is 43.29 per cent, while the fatality rate is 3.48 per cent, it added.

Of the total positive cases recorded so far, 58,878 are in the MMR area, where 1,810 patients have succumbed to the infection.

Malegaon city in Nashik district has so far recorded 762 cases and 58 deaths, Pune city has reported 7,700 cases and 351 deaths, Solapur city 1,065 cases and 86 deaths, Aurangabad city 1,668 cases and 87 deaths, Akola city 633 cases and 27 deaths, while Nagpur city has reported 619 cases and 11 deaths.

Maharashtra's COVID tally is as follows: Positive cases: 77,793, deaths: 2,710, recovered: 33,681, active cases: 41,402, people tested so far: 5,10,176.   -- PTI
21:07   Vande Bharat Mission: Over 1 lakh brought back to India
Over 1.07 lakh stranded Indians have returned to the country from abroad since the government launched the 'Vande Bharat' evacuation mission on May 7, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

It said the government has started preparation for the third phase of the mission after completion of the second phase of the evacuation on June 13.

"Around 38,000 persons are expected to be repatriated under this phase in 337 international flights from 31 countries," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

In the first phase of the mission from May 7 to 15, the government evacuated around 15,000 people from 12 countries.

The second phase of the evacuation mission was scheduled from May 17 to 22.

However, the government has extended it till June 13.

Air India has operated 103 flights under the second phase to bring back stranded Indian nationals from abroad, Srivastava said, adding the Indian Navy has also made sorties to bring back Indians from Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

"After the commencement of the Vande Bharat mission on May 7, a total of 454 flights, including foreign carriers, have brought back stranded Indians. As of date, 1,07,123 Indians have returned," he said.

Those who have returned to India included 17,485 migrant workers, 11,511 students and 8,633 professionals.

He said over 32,000 Indians have returned through land border checkpoints from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

A total of 3,48,565 people registered requests with Indian missions for repatriation to India on compelling grounds.

As per the government's policy for evacuation, Indians having 'compelling reasons' to return like pregnant women, elderly people, students and those facing the prospect of deportation are being brought back home.

The MEA spokesperson said the third phase will cover more sectors and will create additional hubs in remote regions. -- PTI
20:29   Nisarga caused Rs 5,000-cr damage: Raigad MP
Cyclone Nisarga has caused roughly Rs 5,000 crore worth of damage in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, Nationalist Congress Party MP Sunil Tatkare said on Thursday and asked the state government to announce a special economic package for the coastal region.

Tatkare made the appeal for financial assistance to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his deputy Ajit Pawar, who belongs to the NCP.

The Lok Sabha MP from Raigad submitted a memorandum in this regard to NCP president Sharad Pawar too, a statement said.

The Parliamentarian said the cyclone made landfall in Murud in Raigad and caused large-scale damage to properties in the district, besides Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

As per initial information, losses of around Rs 5,000 crore have been caused.

Hence, the government should carry out a survey and declare a special economic package for the affected people from the region, the NCP leader demanded.

The cyclone has damaged homes of people, orchards, crops, fishermen's boats, vehicles and snapped electricity wires, among others, said the former Maharashtra minister, whose party is a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led government in the state.

The cyclone, which made landfall on Wednesday afternoon, has gradually weakened into a depression.   -- PTI
19:52   Babri trial: Katiyar, others appear before court
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vinay Katiyar, former MP Ram Vilas Vedanti and four other accused appeared before a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in the Babri demolition case in Lucknow on Thursday.

The court, however, recorded the statement of only Vijay Bahadur Singh for want of time and asked the rest to appear before it on Friday.

Others who appeared before the court were Pawan Pandey, Santosh Dubey and Gandhi Yadav.

Special Judge S K Yadav also directed them to furnish in writing the defence evidence, if any, after the recording of their statement.

32 people, including former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, ex-deputy prime minister L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharti, Vinay Katiyar, Sadhvi Rithambara and Sakshi Maharaj, are facing trial in the case.

L K Advani, M M Joshi and Uma Bharti have been exempted from personal appearance till further orders.

This stage of the trial is also meant to explain to the accused the evidence gathered against them by the prosecuting agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Babri Masjid was demolished in December 1992 by 'karsevaks' who claimed that the mosque in Ayodhya was built on the site of an ancient Ram temple.

The prosecution had wrapped up the examination of its witnesses by March 6 and the court asked some of the accused to appear before it on March 24 for recording their statements under Section 313 of the CrPC.

But the proceedings did not take place as the court in Lucknow closed due to the coronavirus crisis.

When the proceedings resumed on May 18, the defense counsel moved an application to summon three prosecution witnesses in order to cross examine them.

This was allowed. On April 19, 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the special judge to conduct a day-to-day trial, concluding it in two years.

Calling the demolition of the disputed structure a crime which shook the 'secular fabric of the Constitution', it allowed the CBI plea on restoration of criminal conspiracy charge against the VIP accused.

The court had termed the Allahabad high court's February 12, 2001 verdict dropping conspiracy charge against Advani and others as 'erroneous'.

On May 8 this year, the top court set a new deadline for the special judge, asking him to deliver the verdict by August 31.

Before the 2017 verdict of the apex court, there were two sets of cases relating to the demolition, going on in Lucknow and Rae Bareli.

The first case involving unnamed 'karsevaks' proceeded in a Lucknow court and the second set of cases relating to eight VIPs was being heard in a Rae Bareli.

The cases were then clubbed. Last year, another bench of the Supreme settled the land dispute over the site where the mosque stood.

The SC allowed the construction of a Ram temple at the site and ordered the allocation of a separate plot in Ayodhya for building a mosque.  -- PTI
19:36   PMO official appointed to World Bank post
Senior bureaucrat Rajeev Topno, private secretary to the prime minister, has been appointed as senior advisor to the executive director, World Bank, in Washington, a personnel ministry order said on Thursday.

Topno, a 1996 batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, will have a three-year tenure, it said.  
19:28   Ola is now available all over Tamil Nadu
Ride-hailing platform Ola on Thursday said it has resumed services across Tamil Nadu including Chennai in adherence to the guidelines issued by the state government.      

The company had earlier offered services in cities like Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Salem.      

In Chennai, the company said it resumed operations and customers would be able to book auto-rickshaws and cabs for their needs, Ola said in a statement.
19:04   LIVE! SC rejects CBI plea against Chidambaram's bail
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a review plea filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation against the bail granted to former finance minister P Chidambaram in the INX media case.   

A bench of Justices R Banumathi, A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said they have 'perused the Review Petition and the connected papers carefully and are convinced that the order, of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed'.
18:42   Ravi Kishan demands death penalty for those behind elephant's death in Kerala
Gorakhpur MP Ravi Kishan on Thursday condemned the incident of a pregnant wild elephant being fed firecrackers-filled pineapple in Kerala leading to its death, and demanded death sentence for the guilty. 
"It is a brutal murder of an innocent animal who cannot even tell about her offenders. It is inhuman, brutal and disgusting. How can a person do such a thing with an innocent animal? he said.

I am an animal lover and elephants are worshipped in Hindu religion. I demand the Kerala government to arrest and hang the criminal who killed the elephant in such a brutal way, the actor-politician said.  

The elephant succumbed to an act of human cruelty after a pineapple filled with powerful crackers offered allegedly by locals exploded in her mouth. The elephant died at Valliyar River on May 27.

According to sources, the post-mortem report revealed that the elephant was pregnant and her jaw was broken. 
She was unable to eat after she chewed the pineapple and it exploded in her mouth, they said. 

-- PTI
18:28   Bajaj no COVID-19 expert: BJP slams bizman
The central government went for a lockdown to avoid any large-scale fatality due to COVID-19 as its priority was to save people's lives and build health infrastructure during the period to deal with the pandemic, the BJP asserted on Thursday.
The party played down industrialist Rajiv Bajaj's remarks, which were critical of the government's handling of the pandemic for its huge adverse impact on the economy, in his conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, saying he "is not an expert" on the health crisis.

BJP spokesperson on economic affairs Gopal Krishna Agarwal said Gandhi used Bajaj as a "bouncing wall" for his ideas during the conversation in which the opposition leader did "most" of the talking.

"Everybody has a right to have an opinion but Rajiv Bajaj is not an expert on COVID-19 and how to deal with it," he said.

BJP's Amit Malviya had a dig at the industrialist, noting that he "hailed" Sweden's strategy of not imposing a lockdown to deal with the pandemic, even as the country's chief epidemiologist has admitted that this approach was a mistake, causing a high rate of fatality.

Agarwal added that many countries have "failed" in their approach to the pandemic, and there is no one fixed pattern.

Lockdown is not a cure to the coronavirus, that everybody knows, he said.

The lockdown gave India time to ramp up the country's poor health infrastructure to deal with the pandemic, he said, adding that India had no manufacturing capacity for PPE or face masks and depended on their import when the lockdown began on March 25.

Now infrastructure has been built, he added.

The economy was bound to suffer even if there was no lockdown due to the pandemic's severity, Agarwal said.

"Government had an option to go for large-scale fatalities... or going for a slowing down of economy. It went for protection of people. That was priority," he said.

Bajaj has said India implemented a "draconian" lockdown that was porous and ended up with the "worst of both worlds" as it resulted in decimating its economy and flattening the GDP curve instead of that of the coronavirus infections.

He said it is a herculean task to reopen the economy and called for taking fear out of people's minds through a "very clear, aligned narrative" from none other than the prime minister.

-- PTI
18:14   Britain's Prince Charles says he feels lucky after coronavirus recovery
Britain's Prince Charles opened up about his COVID-19 diagnosis and said he felt lucky to have suffered only mild symptoms of the coronavirus as he launched a new Great Reset agenda for the environment.

The 71-year-old heir to the British throne, who tested positive for coronavirus at the end of March before going into self-isolation at his Birkhall home on Queen Elizabeth II's Scotland estate, said his illness had made him even more determined to push and shout for a rebuild of the planet.

I was lucky in my case and got away with it quite lightly, he told Sky News'.

But I've had it, and I can so understand what other people have gone through But in order to prevent this happening to so many more people, I'm so determined to find a way out of this, he said.

Addressing an online conference with the World Economic Forum, the royal launched a five-point plan to avoid future disasters, including capturing the imagination and will of humanity to change, then use the global economic recovery to set us on a new trajectory of sustainable employment, of livelihoods and economic growth. 

Further, he called for a redesign of systems and pathways to advance net zero transitions globally and reinvigorate science, technology and innovation to find solutions. 

Finally, he said we must rebalance investment, with the private sector at the heart of the key to how we do this in a better and more sustainable way.     
-- PTI
17:49   UK flags legal issue in Mallya's extradition
Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon with the UK government on Thursday saying that there is a legal issue that needs to be resolved before his extradition can be arranged.
Last month, Mallya lost his appeals in the UK Supreme Court against his extradition to India to face money laundering and fraud charges.

A spokesperson in the UK High Commission said the issue is "confidential" and added: "we cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve."

"Vijay Mallya last month lost his appeal against extradition, and was refused leave to appeal further to the UK Supreme Court. However, there is a further legal issue that needs resolving before Mr Mallya's extradition can be arranged," the spokesperson said.

"Under United Kingdom law, extradition cannot take place until it is resolved. The issue is confidential and we cannot go into any detail. We cannot estimate how long this issue will take to resolve. We are seeking to deal with this as quickly as possible," the official added.

On May 21, the spokesperson in the external affairs ministry said India was in touch with the British government over Mallya's extradition after he exhausted all legal options against New Delhi's request to the UK to extradite him. 

The UK top court's decision marked a major setback to the 64-year-old businessman as it came weeks after he lost his high court appeal in April against an extradition order to India.

Mallya has been based in the UK since March 2016 and remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.

The high court verdict in April upheld the 2018 ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at the end of a year-long extradition trial in December 2018 that the former Kingfisher Airlines boss had a "case to answer" in the Indian courts. 

-- PTI
17:12   Immediate cause of death of Kerala elephant was drowning, reveals post-mortem
The preliminary post-mortem report of a female wild elephant at Mannarkkad Forest Division says that the immediate cause of the death of the animal was drowning followed by inhalation of water leading to lung failure.

"Drowning, followed by inhalation of water leading to lung failure, is the immediate cause of death of the elephant," the post-mortem report read. 

However, the report also confirmed that the elephant had suffered incapacitating wounds in its oral cavity following an explosive blast in the mouth after which it took shelter in the Velliyar river.

The elephant had died in Palakkad district on May 27 after it ate a pineapple stuffed with crackers and forest officials said that it died standing in river Velliyar after it suffered an injury in its lower jaw.

The elephant was seen standing in the river with its mouth and trunk in the water for some relief from the pain after the explosive-filled fruit exploded in its mouth.

-- ANI
16:43   960 Tablighis banned from India for 10 years
The Centre has banned 960 foreign nationals for 10 years from travelling to India for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities. 

These foreign nationals had attended the Markaz at Nizamuddin in national capital by violating visa conditions, indulging in missionary activities illegally and violating government guidelines, issued in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

In April, COVID-19 cases across the country spiked after hundreds of many Tablighi Jamaat members, who had attended the religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz event, tested positive.

At least 9,000 people, including the foreign nationals participated in the religious congregation in Nizamuddin. Later, many of the attendees travelled to various parts of the country.

According to police, these foreign nationals had entered India on tourist visa and had participated in the gathering at Markaz illegally.
16:33   France's Bastille Day military parade replaced by ceremony in Paris
France's Bastille Day military parade marking its national day will be replaced by a ceremony on the Place de la Concorde square in central Paris, President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Thursday.

The ceremony, which will include the traditional fly-over by the French air force, will honour the military's participation in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic as well as frontline health care workers, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
16:11   Inter-district travel in Mumbai region allowed
The Maharashtra government today allowed inter-district movement of people within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

With 56,794 COVID-19 cases and 1,742 deaths so far, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which includes Mumbai city, Mumbai suburban, Thane, Palghar and part of Raigad district, is the worst affected by COVID-19 in the state.

In revised guidelines issued on Thursday, the state government said inter-district movement of people in MMR shall be allowed.

It also said that the inter-district movement elsewhere in the state as well as inter-state movement will
continue to be regulated.

Movement of stranded labourers, migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists will continue to be regulated as per the standard operating procedures, it said.

Gardens and open air gym equipment will not be allowed to operate as part of outdoor physical activities, it said.

The state government on May 31 allowed some outdoor physical activities as part of the first phase of its 'Mission BeginAgain'.

A revised order on Thursday said no garden, open air gym, and play area equipment will be allowed to operate.

-- PTI
15:57   30 Maharashtra cops died of COVID-19 so far
At least 30 police personnel,  including an officer, have so far died due to COVID-19 in Maharashtra, while over 2,500 have tested positive for the disease, an official said on Thursday.
Nearly 18 of the total 30 victims were working in the Mumbai Police force and contracted the deadly infection while implementing the lockdown orders, he said.
"Till now, over 2,500 state police personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus and 30 of them, including an officer, have died," the official said.
As of now, the number of active cases in the police force stands at 1,510, including 191 officers, he said.
Since the lockdown, the Maharashtra Police registered 1,22,484 offences under Indian Penal Code Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and arrested 28,820 people in this connection, he said.
More than one lakh calls were handled by various police control rooms across the state in connection with queries and complaints related to COVID-19 during the lockdown, he said.
Besides, the police seized 77,435 vehicles, which were found moving on roads in violation of the lockdown norms.
The police also collected fine worth Rs 6.38 crore for various offences during the lockdown, the official said. -- PTI
15:45   Ashok Chavan recovers from COVID-19, discharged
Maharashtra PWD minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who tested positive for coronavirus last month, was discharged from a Mumbai hospital on Thursday after recovering from the disease.
After being discharged, the former chief minister reached his home to a warm welcome from his family members.
Chavan was admitted to a private hospital in Mumbai on May 25 after his test report came out positive for coronavirus.
The minister was discharged on Thursday after recovering from the disease, his office said.
He was in Nanded when he tested positive for the infection last month and was brought to Mumbai for treatment.
Chavan is an MLA from Bhokar constituency in Nanded district.
Earlier, state housing minister and NCP leader Jitendra Awhad also tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalised for some days.
He was later discharged after recovery.
Till Wednesday, the state reported 74,860 COVID-19 cases and 2,587 deaths due to the disease.
So far, 32,329 patients in the state have been discharged after recovery, as per official figures. --  PTI
15:27   After cyclone, Mumbai's air quality improves
Cyclone Nisarga and its accompanying rains seem to have had a positive impact on Mumbais overall air quality index, which improved to 17 on Thursday, the best reading for this year as of now, an official said.
Mumbai continued to receive rainfall on Thursday, a day after the cyclone made landfall near Alibaug in neighbouring Raigad district.
The current air quality of Mumbai recorded at noon falls in the good category, that poses little or no health risk, according to the official website of the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research.
The concentration of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter which can enter deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream, was recorded at 15 (good).
"This is the best record of the year till now. It is due to the combination of high-speed winds and accompanying rains that the air quality index has improved," SAFAR director Dr Gufran Beig said.
The overall air quality index (AQI) of the megapolis is likely to be 15 on Friday, SAFAR said.
An AQI from 0 and 50 is considered as good, 51 to 100 satisfactory and 101 to 200 as moderate.
An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301 to 400 'very poor' and 401 to 500 'severe', while the AQI above 500 falls in the severe plus category.
Cyclone Nisarga, which spared Mumbai after it made landfall near adjoining Alibaug on Wednesday, is now a depression over west Vidarbha region in Maharashtra and will weaken further, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
The cyclone made landfall near Alibaug, about 110 km from Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon, sparing India's financial centre which is already reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic. -- PTI
15:10   Basu Chatterjee's works touched people's hearts: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday condoled the death of veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, saying his works touched people's hearts.
Chatterjee (93), known for his relatable, light as souffl brand of cinema with films such as Rajnigandha and Chitchor, died on Thursday following age-related health issues.
"Sad to hear of the demise of Shri Basu Chatterjee. His works are brilliant and sensitive. It touched people's hearts and represented the simple and complex emotions, as well as struggles of people," Modi wrote on Twitter.
Extending condolences to Chatterjee's family and innumerable fans, the prime minister wrote, "Om Shanti." 
15:05   India loses 750 tigers in last 8 yrs; MP, Maha report maximum casualties
As many as 750 tigers have died in the country in the last eight years due to poaching and other causes, with Madhya Pradesh reporting the highest casualties at 173, according to an official data.
Of these total tiger mortalities, 369 were due to natural causes, 168 due to poaching, 70 deaths are under scrutiny and 42 due to unnatural reasons, including accident or conflicts events, it said.
There was also seizure of 101 big cats during the eight year period between 2012 and 2019 by different authorities across the country, the National Tiger Conservation Authority said in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI correspondent.
The NTCA was asked to share the details of tiger deaths between 2010 and May 2020. However, it provided data only for the eight years beginning 2012.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar had in December said that tiger population in the country has increased by 750 in the last four years from 2,226 to 2,976.
"Now the tiger count is 2,976. We must be proud of our whole ecological system. Tigers have increased by 750 in last four years," Javadekar had said in Rajya Sabha in reply to a supplementary question.
Of the highest of 173 deaths reported by Madhya Pradesh during this period, 38 were due to poaching, 94 natural deaths, 19 under scrutiny, six due to the unnatural causes and 16 seizures, the data said.
Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of 526 tigers in the country.
Maharashtra has reported second highest deaths, as it lost 125 big cats during this period followed by 111 in Karnataka, 88 in Uttarakhand, 54 each in Tamil Nadu and Assam, 35 each in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, 17 in Rajasthan, 11 in Bihar and West Bengal and 10 in Chhattisgarh, it said.
Seven each such deaths were reported in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, five in Telangana, two each in Delhi and Nagaland, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat, the NTCA said.
Giving details of tiger deaths due to poaching, it said Maharashtra and Karnataka lost 28 tigers each due to poaching, 17 in Assam, 14 in Uttarakhand, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in Tamil Nadu, six in Kerala and three in Rajasthan, among others.
The NTCA did not provide the details of action taken in these tiger death cases in response to the RTI application.
When asked about the details of missing tigers in the country, it said the information was not available with it and suggested the applicant to contact Chief Wildlife Warden of 18 states having tiger reserves to get the desired information. 
Wildlife activists have expressed concerns over 750 tiger deaths between 2012 and 2019 and supported stricter wildlife provisions to punish the guilty. -- PTI
15:01   Sorry: US envoy on desecration of Gandhi statue
United States ambassador to India Ken Juster on Thursday apologised for desecration of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside the Indian embassy in Washington.
Unknown miscreants vandalised the statue with graffiti and by spraying paint, prompting the Indian embassy officials to register a complaint with the local law enforcement agencies.
The incident is reported to have taken place on the intervening night of June 2 and 3.
"So sorry to see the desecration of the Gandhi statue in Wash, DC. Please accept our sincere apologies. Appalled as well by the horrific death of George Floyd & the awful violence & vandalism. We stand against prejudice & discrimination of any type. We will recover & be better," Juster tweeted.
The vandalism of the statue of Gandhi took place in the midst of the nationwide protests in the US against the killing of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Several of the protests have turned violent which many times has resulted in damage of some prestigious and sacred monuments.
In Washington DC, protesters this week burnt a historic church and damaged some of the prime properties and historic places like the national monument and Lincoln Memorial. -- PTI 
14:38   LIVE! See Rajinikanth's letter thanking Pokhriyal
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has welcomed the appointment of Prof R Chandrasekharan as the first director of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil.   

In a handwritten letter in English to Union Human Resources Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', Rajinikanth writes, 'Thank you for your efforts and commitment to the promotion of Tamil language and for appointing Prof R Chandrasekharan as the first director of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil in Chennai.'

You can see Rajinikanth's letter alongside. And we must say this is the first time we have seen the superstar's handwriting and signature!
14:04   PIL in Delhi HC seeks directions for PM-CARES Fund
A Public Interest Litigation has been moved in the Delhi High court seeking transparency in PM-CARES Fund and a direction to reveal information under the Right Information Act, 2005.

The plea stated PM-CARES is a 'public authority' within the ambit of Section 2(h) of the said that the Act and a direction to the trust to display on its website the details of the money received and for what purposes it has been utilised.

The PIL was filed by SS Hooda through Advocate Aditya Hooda seeking transparency in PM-CARES Fund, and to display details of money received and for which purposes the amount has been used in its website.In the plea, Hooda said that anybody that is "owned", "controlled" or "substantially financed" by the Government qualifies as a public authority under the RTI Act.

He said that the government-controlled as well as substantially financed the PM-CARES Fund.According to the petition, the Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of PM-CARES fund while the ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance are its ex-officio trustees. The Chairman and trustees of the fund further have the power to appoint three additional trustees. 

The Rules/criteria for spending the funds of the trust shall be formulated by the Prime Minister and the three ministers aforementioned.

"The petitioner COVID-19 victims have a "right to know" about the fund collected and being expended or is planned to be expended."It also said that the victims of COVID-19 who desperately need the money to fight the deadly virus are not in a position to enforce their fundamental right of being treated and financially supported, by the use of funds collected in the PM-CARES fund. The COVID-19 victims are not able to enforce their fundamental right to get medical treatment," he stated. -- PTI
13:58   Restoration work begins in Raigad post Nisarga
The National Disaster Response Force and local authorities in Maharashtra's Raigad district have started restoration work in the region that bore the brunt of cyclonic storm 'Nisarga', an official said on Thursday. 

The cyclone made landfall near Shrivardhan in the district on Wednesday afternoon and lashed the coastal areas of Alibaug, Revdanda, Revas, Murud, Mhasala and Roha with strong winds and heavy rains. 

Several kutcha houses, temporary shades were destroyed, trees and electrical poles were uprooted and roofs of some structures were blown away by the storm, the official said. 

Once the storm abated on Wednesday evening, personnel from the NDRF and district administration assessed the damages and began restoration activities, he said.

NDRF teams helped people repair their homes in Alibaug, Revdanda and other tehsils, which were severely hit, he said. Among 20 teams of NDRF deployed in state, seven were already stationed in Raigad district to tackle emergencies and more personnel reached the district on Thursday morning, the official added. 

Taking to Twitter director general of NDRF Satya Narayan Pradhan said, "More teams of #TEAMNDRFINDIA moved to Raigad for #PostNisargaRestoration work. Total 20 teams deployed across Maharashtra state. 7 teams each in Raigad & Mumbai for restoration work."
13:33   'Foolish': Ex-law minister on idea of renaming India as 'Bharat'
Senior Congress leader and former Union law minister M Veerappa Moily on Thursday dubbed the idea of renaming India as 'Bharat' or 'Hindustan' as "foolish" and one with "nuisance value."

Karnataka BJP too said such a proposal is "neither the wish nor the will" of the party.
The renaming suggestion also earned a thumbs down from former Solicitor General of India and retired Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde, who cautioned that the move may give rise to unwanted misunderstanding "within other groups" in the country.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that a plea, seeking direction to the Centre to amend the Constitution and replace the word India with "Bharat" or "Hindustan," be treated as a representation by the authority concerned.
"The present petition is directed to be treated as a representation and may be considered by the appropriate ministries," a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said in its order.
The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, disposed of the plea which claimed that such an amendment will "ensure the citizens of this country get over the colonial past".
The plea, filed by a Delhi-based man, has contended that replacing the word India with "Bharat" or "Hindustan" will "instill a sense of pride in our own nationality".
"Foolish," Moily, a former Karnataka chief minister, told P T I when asked for his views on renaming. "Why unnecessarily? We have already lived through our democracy for so many years. People definitely have sentimental values for present name. It (the renaming idea) only has nuisance value."
He said architects of India's Constitution have found 'India' to be as "the most suitable name with sentiments attached to it," adding, renaming will not solve the problems that India is facing.
Hegde, a former Karnataka Lokayukta, said he is not in favour of name change. "Now merely because of some sentiments, changing the name for me doesn't look correct."
"There is no constitutional, legal right for anybody to ask for a change. Obviously, that is why Supreme Court has sent it as a representation to the Government. Of course, government may have the power. But the question is what is it that you gain from it, except some emotional benefit with some people. It may even give rise to unwanted misunderstanding within other groups in the country also," Hegde said.
G Madhusudana, a spokesperson for Karnataka BJP, said renaming India is a "very old demand of many of the citizens" of this country.
"This word Hindustan is quite old. In fact this word Hindustan has got roots in 'Vishnupuran', this country is called Hindustan since many thousand years. Britishers could not pronounce, that's why it became India. This has been there in everybody's mind," Madhusudana said.
"It (renaming) is neither the wish nor will of the BJP. The BJP is not serious about these things at all when we are fighting COVID-19, unemployment, world crisis, GDP and economy. This is not a priority for BJP at all. BJP has not resolved to take up this issue in any forum," he added. -- PTI 
13:26   Ahead of RS polls, 2 Gujarat Congress MLAs resign
Two Gujarat Congress MLAs have tendered their resignations ahead of the June 19 Rajya Sabha polls for four seats from the state.
Gujarat assembly speaker Rajendra Trivedi said Congress MLAs Akshay Patel and Jitu Chaudhary met him on Wednesday and handed over their resignations.
"I have accepted their resignations. They now cease to be legislators," Trivedi told reporters in Gandhinagar on Thursday.
Patel represented Karjan seat of Vadodara, while Chaudhary had won from Kaprada seat of Valsad.
Earlier, in March also, five MLAs of the Congress had resigned.
In the 182-member state assembly, the ruling BJP has 103 MLAs and the opposition Congress now has 66 legislators.
Names of five candidates -- three from the BJP and two from the Congress -- were recently announced for elections to four Rajya Sabha seats from the state.
The BJP has fielded Abhay Bhardwaj, Ramila Bara and Narhari Amin, while the Congress has fielded senior leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Bharatsinh Solanki for the polls. -- PTI  
13:10   SC seeks finance ministry's reply on waiver of interest on loans during moratorium period
The Supreme Court today sought finance ministry's reply on waiver of interest on loans during the moratorium period after the RBI said it would not be prudent to go for a "forced waiver of interest" risking financial viability of the banks.
The top court said there are two aspects under consideration in this matter -- no interest payment on loans during the moratorium period and no interest to be charged on interest.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah said that these are challenging times and it is a serious issue as on one hand moratorium is granted and on other hand interest is charged on loans.
The bench was hearing a plea, filed by Gajendra Sharma, in which he has sought a direction to declare the portion of RBI's March 27 notification "as ultra vires to the extent it charges interest on the loan amount during the moratorium period, which create hardship to the petitioner being borrower and creates hindrance and obstruction in 'right to life' guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India".
Sharma, a resident of Agra, has also sought a direction to the government and the Reserve Bank of India to provide relief in re-payment of loan by not charging interest during the moratorium period.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that he would like to file the reply of finance ministry on the issue and sought time.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dutta, appearing for petitioner Gajendra Sharma, said that now the cat is out of the bag as RBI is saying profitability of the banks is primary.
He referred to the recent order of the apex court in the Air India matter on booking of middle seats on the non-scheduled flights to bring the stranded Indians from abroad. The court had said that economic interest is not higher than the health of people.
Dutta said that by the submission of the RBI, it means that only banks should earn profit while rest of the country goes down during the pandemic. 
He said the petitioner would like to file a rejoinder to the reply filed by the RBI. 
Mehta said he would consult the finance ministry and try to find out a solution to both the questions asked by the bench and file a response to them.
The top court asked the Solicitor General to file the response by June 12 and allowed the petitioner and other parties to file rejoinder by then.
At the outset, the top court took note of the fact that RBI's reply was leaked to the media before the matter was taken up before the court. "Is RBI filing the reply first in media and then in court?"
Dutta said this was a move to sensationalise the issue.
The bench said that it highly deprecates this practice and this should not happen again. 
On May 26, the top court had asked the Centre and the RBI to respond to the plea challenging levy of interest on loans during the moratorium period.
The RBI in its reply has told the top court that it is taking all possible measures to provide relief with regard to debt repayments on account of the fallout of Covid-19 but it does not consider it prudent to go for a "forced waiver of interest, risking the financial viability of the banks it is mandated to regulate, and putting the interests of the depositors in jeopardy".
In its reply, to the plea the RBI said that regulatory package is, in its essence, in the nature of a moratorium/deferment and "cannot be construed to be a waiver". -- PTI
13:08   PCI member B R Gupta resigns, cites deep crisis in media
Press Council of India member B R Gupta has resigned from his post, saying he was unable to work individually or collectively for the media, which is in a "deep crisis".
"I have tendered my resignation as a Press Council of India member," Gupta told PTI. 
He said the PCI had the responsibility to encourage media and media professionals constantly. 
"But everyone now realises that the media scenario is in a deep crisis. The motto for which the council was created was not being fulfilled and I felt I was not doing anything remarkable for the freedom of media," Gupta said.
He claimed that the PCI was not a wholly representative body for the media. 
"Then how can we come out of the crisis being faced by the media and mediapersons? It is a big challenge for us. I have quit as I have not been able to work individually or collectively being a PCI member," Gupta added.
Referring to salary cuts and job losses, he said media and mediapersons were struggling for social, political and economic justice.
When contacted, PCI chairman Justice C K Prasad said Gupta's resignation has not been accepted yet.
"I have received it (the resignation). I have not gone through it. It has not been accepted," Prasad told PTI.
Gupta was appointed as a PCI member for a three-year term on May 30, 2018. 
He said liberty is one of the basic features of the preamble to the Constitution that continues to inspire people and the media. 
"It is difficult (for me) to fulfil the unbiased role and responsibility to help citizens and the media for making democracy stronger," Gupta said. -- PTI 
12:51   We flattened GDP curve instead of Covid: Bajaj
India implemented a "draconian" lockdown that was porous and has ended up decimating its economy and flattening the GDP curve instead of that of the novel coronavirus infections, industrialist Rajiv Bajaj said on Thursday.
He said it is a herculean task to open up the economy and called for taking fear out of people's minds through a "very clear, aligned narrative" from none other than the prime minister.
"We tried to implement a hard lockdown which was still porous. So I think we have ended up with the worst of both worlds," he said.
The managing director of Bajaj Auto was in a dialogue with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, as part of a series on India's COVID-19 response and the lockdown initiated by the Congress and aired on the party's social media platforms.
The industrialist said, "We are not seeing a smooth, concerted, rhythmic movement towards unlocking."
"On one hand a porous lockdown makes sure that the virus will still exist and as you said, it is still waiting to hit you when you will unlock. So you have not solved that problem.
"But you have definitely decimated the economy. You flattened the wrong curve. It is not the infection curve, it is the GDP curve. This is what we have ended (up) with, the worst of both worlds," Bajaj said. 
He said, "Unfortunately, India not only looked west, it went to the wild west. I think we stayed more towards the impervious side."
Asked by Gandhi about an "atmosphere of fear" in the country, Bajaj said that in terms of being tolerant and sensitive, India needs to mend a couple of things. -- PTI 
12:22   Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee passes away
Veteran filmmaker Basu Chatterjee, known for  his middle-of-the-road cinema and films such as Chhoti Si Baat and Rajnigandha, died on Thursday from age related health issues. He was 93. 
Basu died in his sleep at his Santacruz residence. 
"He passed away peacefully in his sleep in the morning. He wasn't keeping well for quite some time due to old age and died at his residence. It's a great loss to the film industry," Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film & Television Directors' Association, told PTI.
Pandit said the filmmaker's last rites will be performed at Santacruz crematorium.
Some of his best known works are Us Paar, Chitchor, Piya Ka Ghar, Khatta Meetha and Baton Baton Mein
12:19   40 students, teachers stabbed in primary school in China
About 40 students and staff members of a primary school in China were stabbed by a security guard, official media reported on Thursday.
The incident happened at the school in Guangxi province, state-run China Daily said in a brief report.
Further details about the attack are awaited.
Knife attacks by disgruntled people have been taking place in different parts of China in the past few years.
The attackers targeted mainly kindergarten and primary schools besides public transport to vent their anger. -- PTI 
12:15   Snapchat to stop boosting Trump after controversial posts
Snapchat on Wednesday said that it will stop promoting US President Donald Trump's account on its platform in the wake of comments made by him about the ongoing protests in the United States.

"We are not currently promoting the President's content on Snapchat's Discover platform. We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover," Rachel Racusen, a spokesperson for Snap, Snapchat's parent company, was quoted as saying by CNN.

"Racial violence and injustice have no place in our society and we stand together with all who seek peace, love, equality, and justice in America," Racusen added.

Earlier, American microblogging and social networking service Twitter had added a warning to Trump's handle, warning users that the post "glorifies violence."

The message was added to a tweet in which President Trump seemed to have threatened Minneapolis protesters raising their voices against the death of Geroge Floyd in custody.

"This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible," the message attached on the Twitter account of the US President read. -- ANI
12:11   PM Modi holds virtual summit with Australian PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison held an online summit on Thursday focussing on ways to further broadbase bilateral ties in a range of areas like healthcare, trade and defence.
In his opening remarks, Modi said he believed that it is the "perfect time and perfect opportunity" to further strengthen the relationship between India and Australia.
"We have immense possibilities to make our friendship stronger," Modi said, adding: "How our relations become a 'factor of stability' for our region and for the world, how we work together for global good, all these aspects need to be considered."
The prime minister said India was committed to expand its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace, noting that it is important not only for the two countries, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
"The role of our comprehensive strategic partnership will be more important in this period of global epidemic. The world needs a coordinated and collaborative approach to get out of the economic and social side effects of this epidemic," he said.
It is the first time that Modi held a "bilateral" virtual summit with a foreign leader.
Relationship between the two nations was upgraded to a 'Strategic Partnership' level in 2009. Since then, both countries have expanded their cooperation in a range of key areas.
In its White Paper on Foreign Policy un 2017, Australia recognised India as the "pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries" and a "front-rank partner of Australia". 
The bilateral economic engagement too has been on an upswing in the last few years. According to official data, the trade between the two countries was around USD 21 billion in 2018-19. 
Australia's cumulative investment in India is about USD 10.74 billion whereas India's total investment in Australia is USD 10.45 billion. Australian Super Pension Fund has invested USD 1 billion in India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. 
In the last few years, both the countries have been focusing on expanding maritime cooperation. -- PTI
Representational image
Representational image
11:19   Wuhan 2.0: Mass testing in 2nd Chinese city
A Chinese city close to the Russian border has ordered the COVID-19 tests for all 2.8 million residents, becoming the second city in the country after Wuhan, the first virus epicentre, conducted mass testing of its entire population, state-media reported on Thursday. 

According to the China's National Health Commission, one imported case was reported in Guangdong Province on Wednesday. Also, four new asymptomatic cases were reported in the country. In all, 326 asymptomatic cases, including 245 in Wuhan were under quarantine, it said. As of Wednesday, the overall confirmed cases in the country reached 83,022. Among the total, 69 patients were still being treated, 78,319 had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 people died of the disease, the report said. 

Meanwhile, Mudanjiang city in China's Heilongjiang province bordering Russia has ordered the coronavirus tests for its 2.8 million people, official media reported. 

Some of the cities in the province registered clusters of coronavirus infections in April and May following an influx of Chinese nationals returning from Russia through the land border. Mudanjiang opted for mass testing after 15 asymptomatic COVID-19 patients reported there last week, state-run CGTN reported. Municipal health authorities have determined to further expand their nucleic acid testing team, consisting of 1,196 people from over 20 medical institutions that had been trained and prepared for the testing. 

Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged in December last year has just completed testing of about 10 million of its 11.2 million population at a cost USD 126 million following recurring asymptomatic cases. During the testing, regarded as a major success, no new confirmed coronavirus cases were detected. 

However, about 300 asymptomatic cases were registered during the mass testing in Wuhan. Authorities said the investigation outcome suggested that the proportion of asymptomatic infections in Wuhan is very low, which proves that the city is safe. -- PTI
10:56   Health ministry advises staff to follow precautionary measures
With several of its officers having tested positive for COVID-19, the Union health ministry has issued an office memorandum advising all staff members to "strictly" follow precautionary measures to contain the spread of the disease.
The memorandum issued on Wednesday stated that it has been noticed that at times, social distancing is not being maintained in office premises (Nirman Bhawan).
"...the number of COVID-19 positive cases is going up steadily and many officers of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have tested COVID-19 positive. It has been noted that at times, social distancing is not being maintained in the office premises," the memorandum said.  
Listing a series of precautionary measures to be followed, the ministry said wearing of masks is mandatory for all employees, only asymptomatic persons shall be allowed to attend office and the staff should maintain social distancing mandatorily.
Meetings and conferences should not be conducted physically and may be organised through video-conferencing, and work from home should be facilitated in case of an emergent situation, it said. 
All the JSs and EAs concerned shall ensure that their officers and staff attend office at staggered working hours as per a DoPT office memorandum, it stated.
According to the office memorandum, the entire premises of the health ministry, including the washrooms, elevators and staircases, will be closed for a thorough sanitation on June 6-7.
The ministry advised discouraging the entry of visitors into the office complex and sanctioning leave whenever a request for self-quarantine is received.
It also advised against using each other's phones, desks and other work tools and equipment, loitering and crowding in corridors, and urged the staff to maintain respiratory etiquettes.
"Gathering of five or more persons at any place in the office is strictly prohibited," the memorandum said, adding that social distancing of at least one metre should strictly be followed while walking, seating or queuing up for entry and inside the office building.
"All employees should try and use the stairs as far as possible except those who may have problems using the staircase. The movement of physical receipt/file should be discouraged so as to avoid the infection through frequent touching of papers," it read.
"All officials are advised to take care of their own health and look out for symptoms such as fever, respiratory problems and, if feeling unwell, should leave the workplace immediately after informing their reporting officers," it stated. -- PTI 
10:54   Not Indian culture: Govt on elephant's killing in Kerala
Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday informed that the Centre has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Kerala and also assured an investigation into the incident to nab the culprits.

"Central Government has taken a very serious note of the killing of an elephant in Mallapuram, #Kerala. We will not leave any stone unturned to investigate properly and nab the culprit(s). This is not an Indian culture to feed fire crackers and kill," Javadekar tweeted.

Earlier, Kerala forest minister K Raju assured that strict action will be taken against those involved in the killing of the pregnant elephant in the state and also clarified that the incident had taken place in Palakkad, and not Malappuram.

The elephant had died on May 27 after she ate the pineapple stuffed with crackers and forest officials said that it died standing in river Velliyar after it suffered an injury in its lower jaw.

The elephant was seen standing in the river with her mouth and trunk in the water for some relief from the pain after the explosive-filled fruit exploded in her mouth. -- ANI
10:17   Heavy rains, winds pound Mumbai
Heavy rains have been lashing Mumbai and its suburbs since Thursday morning, in the aftermath of cyclone Nisarga which made landfall near Alibaug yesterday.

The cyclone is now a depression over west Vidarbha region in Maharashtra and will  weaken further, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
10:03   George Floyd tested +ve for COVID-19 in April
George Floyd, the African-American, who died in police custody last month, had tested positive for the coronavirus in April, according to the medical examiner's report.
A report in The New York Times cited the full autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner and said that the 46-year-old had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 3.
The county's top medical examiner Andrew Baker said that the Minnesota Department of Health had swabbed Floyd's nose after his death and he had tested positive for the virus, the NYT report said.
The positive result at the time of his death was likely a lasting positive result from his previous infection, it said.
The report added that there is no indication that the virus played any role in his death.
Protests across New York and the US intensified as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding an end to police brutality after Floyd was killed when a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he lay handcuffed and pinned to the ground gasping for breath on May 25.
"Please, I can't breathe," were Floyd's last words and have become a clarion call for the protesters demanding action against police brutality.
Former New York City medical examiner Michael Baden, who was among two doctors who conducted a private autopsy for Floyd's family last week, said county officials did not tell him that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19.
"The funeral director wasn't told, and we weren't told, and now a lot of people are running around trying to get tested," Baden said.

"If you do the autopsy and it's positive for the coronavirus, it's usual to tell everyone who is going to be in touch with the body. There would have been more care," he said.
Baden has said that the four police officers who arrested Floyd should also get tested for COVID-19 as should some of the witnesses.
"I'm not angry," he said in the NYT report. "But there would have been more care." -- PTI
09:34   India records new 1-day spike with 9,304 cases
India registered its highest single-day spike of COVID-19 cases on Thursday with 9,304 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country's tally to 2,16,919, while the death toll rose to 6,075, according to the Union health ministry.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stood to 1,06,737, while 1,04,107 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said. 
09:27   Cyclone turns into depression over Vidarbha, to weaken further
Cyclone Nisarga which spared Mumbai after it made landfall near adjoining Alibaug is now a depression over west Vidarbha region in Maharashtra and will weaken further, the India Meteorological Department said
on Thursday.
Cyclone Nisarga made landfall near Alibaug, about 110 km from Mumbai on Wednesday, sparing India's financial centre which is already reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Deep Depression weakened into a Depression over west Vidarbha (Maharashtra) at 0530 IST of 4th June, to move east-northeastwards and weaken into a Well Marked Low Pressure Area (WML) by today evening," the department tweeted.
The cyclone had the coastal districts of Maharashtra from Arabian Sea with wind speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour (kmph) on Wednesday afternoon. 

Mumbai was on edge as it braced for the cyclone after a gap of 72 years.
The neighbouring coastal districts of Raigad and Palghar bore the brunt of the storm experiencing strong winds, heavy rainfall and raging sea surge. 

Tidal waves measuring up to 6-8 feet lashed parts of the coastal areas.
Tin roofs erected on the terraces of residential apartments flew away in some places and several trees and electricity poles were also uprooted.
A 58-year-old man died after a power transformer fell on him while he was rushing home to escape the cyclone fury in Raigad district, while s 65-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man died in house collapse after the tin sheets on the roof were blown in separate incidents in Pune district, officials said.
Mumbaikars heaved a sigh of relief as the cyclone's damage appeared limited to uprooting of trees in some areas that led to vehicles being crushed. -- PTI 
09:04   Mahatma Gandhi's statue in US vandalised during protest
Mahatma Gandhi's statue outside the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. desecrated by unruly elements involved in the ongoing protests in the United States. 

Sources told ANI that United States Park Police have launched an investigation into the matter.

The locals in the area told ANI that some unruly elements of the Black Lives Matters protests graffitied Gandhi's statue with profanities. 

The status was later covered up and an investigation launched by the local Park Police in charge of protection of monuments in the area. 

The statue was graffitied with spray paint.

However, further details into the matter are awaited. -- ANI
08:54   7-day home quarantine mandatory for people arriving in Delhi
Partially modifying its earlier order, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority has made home quarantine of seven days, instead of the earlier period of two weeks, mandatory for "all asymptomatic passengers who enter/deboard in the NCT of Delhi."

According to an order issued by the DDMA on Wednesday, the concerned airport, railway, transport authorities "shall provide passenger manifest to the Office of Private Secretary (Revenue)-cum-Divisional Commissioner, GNCTD on a daily basis.

The Office of Private Secretary (Revenue)-cum-Divisional Commissioner, GNCTD will forward the passenger manifest to the respective District Magistrates under whose jurisdiction the passenger stays.

The DMs will then ensure that those entering the national capital remain in home quarantine for seven days. -- ANI
08:48   Trump administration to block Chinese airlines from flying into US
The United States on Wednesday said it will block Chinese airlines from flying into or out of the United States starting on June 16, The New York Times reported.

This comes after the Chinese government prevented US airlines from resuming service between the two countries.

A US Transportation Department order said that Chinese aviation authorities have failed to permit US air carriers to operate the routes they previously flew.

"The department will continue to engage our Chinese counterparts so both US and Chinese carriers can fully exercise their bilateral rights," the department said in a statement.

"In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours," it added.

On March 26, Chinese aviation regulators announced limited foreign carriers to one flight per week based on the flight schedules they had in place earlier that month.

But all American airlines that fly between China and the US had stopped service to the country by then because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The March decision became a problem only in recent weeks, as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines had hoped to resume flights to China starting this month. Both carriers appealed to the Civil Aviation Authority of China but did not receive a response.

The US officials also pressed Chinese officials to change their position during the call of May 14. Washington contended that China was in violation of a 1980 agreement that governs flights between the two countries and aims to ensure that rules "equally apply to all domestic and foreign carriers" in both countries.

Tensions between the US and China have escalated sharply in recent weeks as the countries scuffle over the origin of the pandemic and Beijing's recent move to tighten its authority over Hong Kong. -- ANI
08:12   Defence secretary tests positive for COVID-19
India's defence secretary Ajay Kumar tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, following which the defence ministry carried out a massive contact-tracing exercise, official sources said.
Kumar's condition is stable and he is currently under home-quarantine, they said. 
At least 35 officials working at the ministry's headquarters in South Block in the Raisina Hills have been sent on home quarantine after reports of Kumar testing positive for the infection emerged on Wednesday morning.
There was no official comment on Kumar's health condition. 

The defence ministry spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.
It is learnt that defence minister Rajnath Singh did not attend office as part of a precautionary measure.
The offices of the defence minister, the defence secretary, the Army Chief and the Navy Chief are on the first floor of the South Block.
The sources said all laid down protocols on contact-tracing and quarantining of people are being scrupulously followed. -- PTI 
02:16   Distinct trait found in coronavirus in India
Scientists at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad have identified a distinct trait in the coronavirus found in the people infected in the country, mostly in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

They have named this unique cluster of virus population as 'Clade A3i' found in 41 per cent of the genome sequenced in India.

The researchers sequenced 64 genomes.

'Here is a fresh preprint on genome analysis of SARS-CoV2 spread in India. The results show a distinct cluster of virus population, uncharacterised thus far, which is prevalent in India - called the Clade A3i,' the CCMB tweeted.

'This cluster seems to have originated from an outbreak in February 2020, and spread through India. This comprises 41 per cent of all SARS-CoV2 genomes from Indian samples, and 3.5 of global genomes submitted into public domain,' it said.

The CCMB is a laboratory under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Epidemiological assessments suggest that the common ancestor emerged in February and possibly resulted in an outbreak followed by a countrywide spread, as evidenced by the low divergence of the genomes from across the country, the paper stated.

Rakesh Mishra, the director of CCMB and co-author of the paper, said most of the samples from Telangana and Tamil Nadu were similar to 'Clade A3i'.

Most of the samples are from the early days when the outbreak started in India, Mishra said.

There were little similarities in the samples found in Delhi, but none in samples from Maharashtra and Gujarat, he said.

The trait is also similar to the ones detected in Singapore and the Philippines, Mishra added.

He also said that genome sequencing of more samples will be done in the coming days that will help in knowing more on the subject.

The paper is yet to be peer-reviewed, Mishra said, but added that the development will help in understanding the virus better.

'To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study characterising the distinct and predominant cluster of SARS-CoV-2 in India,' the paper stated.  -- PTI
01:55   Nisarga may enter MP; Indore, Ujjain on alert
Authorities in Indore and Ujjain divisions in the western part of Madhya Pradesh have been asked to be prepared to deal with the impact of Cyclone 'Nisarga', which is likely to hit the state on Thursday, an IMD official said.

The cyclonic storm is likely to enter Khandwa, Khargone and Burhanpur districts in the state between 7 am and 11 am on Thursday, the official said.

Rains have already been reported from some places of the state due to the impact of the cyclonic storm, he said.

The weather condition is likely to affect Indore and Ujjain divisions for the next two to three days, he said, adding that some places may witness thunderstorms with heavy rains and lightning during this period.

Strong winds ranging from 50 to 60 kmph are expected in some areas in the western part of the state, the official said.

Meanwhile, officials in Indore and Ujjain divisions have been asked to be prepared and alert citizens about the storm through public announcement systems and social media.

The government procurement of wheat and gram from the farmers is currently underway at some centres in both the divisions and authorities have been instructed to store the purchased grains at safe places.

Meanwhile, Indore collector Manish Singh said in a meeting that according to the IMD, the cyclonic storm is likely to hit the district between 11 am and 1 pm on Thursday.

The collector appealed to the citizens to stay indoors as a precaution during this period.

A control room has also been set up by the Indore Municipal Corporation to deal with effects of cyclonic storm, it was stated.   -- PTI