Wed, 05 May 2021
UK variant dominates north India: NCDC

Timeline  Refresh

23:10   UK variant dominates north India: NCDC
The United Kingdom strain of coronavirus is currently dominating parts of north India while the double mutant variant is found mostly in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Sujeet Singh said on Wednesday.

He, however, added that the B1.1.7 lineage of SARS CoV-2 (UK variant) is declining in proportion across the country in the last month and a half.

Addressing a press conference, he said the B.1.1.7 (UK strain) is dominating parts of north India including Punjab (482 samples), Delhi (516), followed by Telangana (192), Maharashtra (83) and Karnataka (82).

10 top government laboratories and institutions have been sequencing the genomes of coronavirus since December, Singh said, adding 18,053 samples have been sequenced so far.

He said the information on genome sequencing has been shared with the states twice in February, four times in March and again four times in April.

Singh said in the video-conferencing with states, the health ministry also informed about the current status of variants of concern and new mutants and it stressed on increased and stringent public health interventions.

The double mutant variant, also known as B.1.617, is mostly dominating Maharashtra (761), West Bengal (124), Delhi (107) and Gujarat (102).

The South African variant, also known as B.1.315, was predominantly found in Telangana and Delhi.

The Brazilian variant (P1) was only found in Maharashtra in a negligible proportion.

Singh said there is a frequent written communication on the variants by the Health ministry and NCDC to all states and union territories.

He advised states and union territories to keep strict surveillance in the districts reporting new variants of concern where they can take up stringent public health measures including contact tracing, genome sequencing of positive samples of persons having history of international travel.  -- PTI
22:58   BJP worker's family goes into hiding, mother's body lies in morgue
Kakali Kshetrapal, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader's mother, was killed in post-poll clashes in West Bengal's Purba Bardhaman but her body has been lying in the morgue for two days as her family members went into hiding after police started a hunt for them in connection with the murder of two TMC workers.

Clashes broke out in Nabagram in the Jamalpur police station area between the supporters of the Trinamool Congress and BJP on Monday, a day after the election results were announced.

Kakali, 47, the mother of BJP's Nabagram area chief Ashish Kshetrapal, was allegedly killed in the clashes.

TMC workers Shajahan Shah, 30, and Bibhash Bagh, 27, were also allegedly killed, police said.

Soon after the incident, central forces were deployed in the area and police started a manhunt, following which Kakali's family members along with several local BJP leaders went into hiding.

Police said on Wednesday that they have arrested 11 people in connection with the incident based on the complaints filed by both the parties.

Even as Kakali's body was lying in Jamalpur Hospital for a long time on Monday none of the BJP leaders went there, local party workers said.

Later, police took the body to Jamalpur police station.

On Tuesday, the body was sent to the police morgue in Burdwan Medical College and Hospital for post-mortem and it has been lying there ever since.

Venting frustration, local BJP workers said that none of the party's leaders went to the hospital even for once.

On the other side, several TMC leaders visited the village after the clashes and were through out with the family members of the two party workers killed.

They even took part in their last rites. Sub-divisional Police Officer (Burdwan South) Aminul Islam confirmed that Kakali's body was still at the morgue as no one was available to take it.

The BJP's Jamalpur assembly constituency convenor Jiten Dakal said that he could not visit the hospital but had asked the party's mandal presidents repeatedly to do the needful.

"If they don't go, what can I do?" he said.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Samar Ghosh said Kakali was a member of his party and they have been trying to get her body from the morgue.

Police sources said they are trying to contact Kakali's daughter and son-in-law, who live in the Hooghly district, for handing over the body and completing the other formalities.   -- PTI
22:21   Submit report on violence, Centre warns Bengal
The home ministry dispatched a terse reminder to the West Bengal government on Wednesday to submit a detailed report on the post-poll violence in the state, warning it that the matter will be taken 'seriously' in case it fails to do so, and asked it to take necessary measures to stop such incidents 'without any loss of time', officials said.

In a letter dispatched on Wednesday, the home ministry reminded the West Bengal chief secretary that on May 3, it had sought an immediate a report on the post-poll violence in the state.

However, the West Bengal government is yet to send the report, the officials said.

According to latest inputs, the violence has not stopped in West Bengal and this means that effective measures were not taken by the state government to control it, the letter said.

Therefore, necessary steps should be taken to prevent these incidents without any loss of time, it added.

A detailed report should be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) immediately, it said.

In case the report is not sent by the state government, the matter will be taken seriously, the letter said.   -- PTI
21:38   Covid situation: EC defers 3 LS, 8 state bypolls
The Election Commission Wednesday decided to defer proposed by-polls to three Lok Sabha and eight assembly seats in view of the prevailing coronavirus situation in the country.

The poll panel said it would not be appropriate to hold the electoral exercise till the pandemic situation improves significantly.

The Commission said vacancies have been notified in three parliamentary constituencies of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Khandwa (Madhya Pradesh) and Mandi (Himachal Pradesh).

Also, there are eight vacancies in state assemblies -- Kalka and Ellenabad in Haryana; Vallabhnagar in Rajasthan; Sindgi in Karnataka; Rajabala and Mawryngkneng in Meghalaya, Fatehpur in Himachal Pradesh and Badvel in Andhra Pradesh.

The poll panel had so far not announced schedule of the proposed bypolls.

There are few more vacancies for which reports and notifications are awaited, the panel said.

'The Commission has reviewed the matter today (Wednesday) and has decided that due to outbreak of the second wave of Covid-19 in the country it would not be appropriate to hold by-elections till the pandemic situation significantly improves and conditions become conducive to hold these by-elections,' it said.   

The EC said it will take further decisions in the matter at an appropriate time after taking inputs from the states concerned and assessing the pandemic situation from mandated authorities such as the national and state disaster management authorities.

It noted that as per the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, the vacancies are required to be filled through by-elections within six months from the date of occurrence of vacancy, provided that the remainder of the term in relation to the vacancy is one year or more.   -- PTI
21:14   Mumbai reports 3,879 new Covid cases, 77 deaths
Mumbai on Wednesday reported 3,879 new coronavirus cases and 77 fatalities, taking the count of infections in the city to 6,65,299 and the death toll to 13,547, an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

After a dip for two consecutive days, Mumbai's daily infections rose by over 1,300, while daily fatalities went up by 15.

The day before the financial capital of the country had witnessed 2,554 cases and 62 deaths.

Notably, less than 30,000 coronavirus tests had been conducted every day in the last three days, while 35,377 swab samples were tested in the last 24 hours.

It took the total of tests conducted so far in the city to 55,78,236.

The count of recoveries in the city rose to 5,98,545 after 3,686 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, the BMC official said, adding that Mumbai's recovery rate now stands at 90 per cent.

Mumbai currently has 51,472 active cases.

In good news, the average growth rate of COVID-19 cases went down to 0.54 per cent between April 28 to May 4, while the doubling rate improved to 123 days.

After a dip for a brief period, the number of containment zones in slums and chawls again crossed 100.

The city currently has 102 containment zones in slums and chawls while 728 buildings have been sealed after coronavirus patients were detected there.

Mumbai had reported the highest 11,163 COVID-19 cases in a day on April 4, after which the cases began to decline.  -- PTI
20:38   DRDO Covid hospital opens in Lucknow
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Covid Hospital, set up by Defence Research and Development Organisation in Lucknow, has been made functional, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The hospital with a bed capacity of more than 450 was set up by DRDO at Awadh Shilpagram on the directions of Defence Minister and Lucknow MP Rajnath Singh.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated the well-equipped hospital, which has a 20 kl tank for uninterrupted supply of oxygen, a dedicated power backup and bio-medical and other waste management systems.    

According to the statement, patients would be treated free of cost at the facility being run by the Armed Forces.

The admission, however, would be controlled through an Integrated Control Centre in Lucknow and it would not cater to walk-in patients, the statement said.

It has doctors of many specialities along with nurses and paramedic staff.

'The medical staff has been flown in from all across the country. Intensive training, quality checks of installed equipment, Covid procedures and protocol have been completed prior to commissioning of the hospital,' it said.   -- PTI
20:16   Customs cleared 1L oxygen concentrators: Govt
The Centre on Wednesday told the Delhi high court that from April 24 to May 4 it has cleared over one lakh oxygen concentrators and only907 units were pending clearance as of Tuesday.

In a status report filed before a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, the central government has said that it has cleared 1,09,689 oxygen concentrators in the given period.

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao, during the hearing, told the court that accordingto a status report filed earlier by the Centre as on May 2 22,920 concentrators were there in the customs warehouse of which 1,921 were pending clearance.

He also told the bench that according to the latest status report of May 5, 169.7 kgs of Remdesivir API and 1.61 lakh units if Remdesivir injections have been cleared by customs from April 24 to May 4.

Besides that 1,41,413 ventilators and its accessories have been cleared during the same period and 1,755 units are pending approval of the customs department, the status report has said.

It also states that 234 oxygen plants, 276 empty oxygen cylinders and 1,131 devices used for generating the life saving gas as well as 30,000 vaccines imported from various countries have also been cleared by the customs till May 4.

It further said that 14,163 diagnostic kit reagents were also cleared by customs and 6,465 units of the same were pending approval during the same period.

The report was submitted pursuant to the court's direction to ensure that all COVID-19 related medical equipment and medicines are cleared by customs expeditiously in view of the surge in infections and shortage of infrastructure like oxygen concentrators, testing kits, etc.   -- PTI
19:59   TN governor appoints MK Stalin as Tamil Nadu CM
Governor Banwarilal Purohit appointed DMK president M K Stalin as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu after he submitted a letter on his election as legislature party leader, the Raj Bhavan said on Wednesday. 

Stalin called on Purohit at the Raj Bhavan and "submitted a letter intimating of his election as the leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislature party." 

Governor Purohit appointed him as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and invited him to form the ministry and to have the swearing-in-ceremony on 7 May at 9 am at Raj Bhavan, an official release said.
19:57   Earthquake of 3.5 magnitude hits Assam town
Just In: Earthquake of magnitude 3.5 on the Richter scale hit Sonitpur in Assam at 7:22 pm today: National Center for Seismology.
19:32   States allocated 34.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir so far: Gowda
The government has allocated 34.5 lakh vials of antiviral drug remdesivir, used in the treatment of COVID-19, to states since April 21, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sadananda Gowda said on Wednesday. 

The minister, while chairing a meeting to review availability of drugs for COVID treatment and other essential drugs, noted that allocation of 16.5 lakh vials of remdesivir has been made to all states for the period between May 3 and May 9.

'Allocation to states is a dynamic process and efforts will be made to further enhance supply in the coming weeks,' Gowda said in an official statement.

Production capacity of antiviral drug remdesivir is being ramped up by the manufacturers and has increased to 1.03 crore vials per month from 38 lakh vials earlier, he added.

During the meeting, Gowda also stressed the need to continuously monitor availability of other essential medicines and to check instances of black marketing and hoarding.

DCGI V G Somani, who also participated in the meeting, noted that state drug controllers have been instructed to make teams at state level for field inspections.

Strict action is being taken against hoarding and black-marketing of drugs, he added.

"A number of preventive and enforcement actions have been taken by DCGI/SDCs to stop hoarding/ black marketing/ overcharging of Covid management drugs like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir, etc.

"By May 1, as many as 78 actions have been taken all over India, in coordination with SDCs, local police, FDA etc. for hoarding, overcharging, black marketing, and arrests were made/ cases were registered," Somany said.

Seizures of drugs, vehicles, empty vials (meant probably for making spurious drugs) and cash were made, he noted.

In one case in Chandigarh, remdesivir vials to the tune of 3,000 units were recovered, Somany said.

With a massive surge in COVID infections across the country, demand for remdesivir has gone up manifold.

The government has already waived customs duty on remdesivir, its raw materials and other components used to make the antiviral drug in order to help augment domestic availability and reduce the cost of the injection.    

On April 11, in view of increased demand for remdesivir, the Centre banned the export of the injection and its APIs till the situation improves.

Various drug companies have also cut the prices of remdesivir injection following intervention of the government.   -- PTI
19:10   14 BJP workers killed, 1 lakh fled Bengal: Nadda
Bharatiya Janata Party president J P Nadda has claimed that 14 party workers have been killed in 'state sponsored' violence after polls in West Bengal and 80,000 to 1 lakh people have fled from home in face of attack following Trinamool Congress' win.

"I condemn killing of party supporters, molestation of women in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee's silence on violence speaks of her involvement; she has blood on her hands," Nadda said.

Earlier, Nadda took an oath in Kolkata to protect democracy and 'save the people of West Bengal from the vicious cycle of political violence', shortly after Banerjee was sworn in as the chief minister at Raj Bhavan for her third consecutive term.

Nadda, who on Tuesday attended a dharna in the central part of the city in protest, said his party will ensure that the entire country gets to know about the widespread violence unleashed in the state following the declaration of poll results.

"I will be visiting districts such as North 24 Parganas to be on the side of our members who were at the receiving end of this brutal violence... We want to tell the entire country about this," Nadda said at a programme organised by the saffron camp at its Hastings office in Kolkata.

Authorities that are supposed to protect people are not performing their duties well, he claimed.

"Violence witnessed during Partition has returned to Bengal. We will continue to serve the people here, carry forward Modiji's vision for the state. We will strive to break this chain of political violence," he said.

The 'oath' to save democracy and the people of Bengal was read out by state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh, with Nadda and other BJP leaders repeating after him.

"Everyone has the right to take an oath as guaranteed by the Constitution. We have assembled here today to take a vow to protect the state, constitutional values and democracy," Nadda added.

Later in the day, he visited Jagaddal in North-24 Parganas and met the family members of a BJP worker, whose mother died allegedly when 'TMC goons' attacked them on May 2.    -- PTI
19:02   India gets 54 tonnes of oxygen from Bahrain
India on Wednesday received 54  tonnes of oxygen from Bahrain as part of Operation Samudra Setu-II launched by Indian Navy to transport oxygen and associated medical supplies from friendly foreign nations.

The INS Talwar docked this afternoon at the New Mangaluru port with 54 tonnes of oxygen, a Defence officialsaid in a statement.

As part of the ongoing national effort to fight the Covid 19 pandemic, the Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu II to bring in by sea the much-needed oxygen and associated medical supplies from friendly foreign countries.

'As many as nine warships have been diverted to various ports in the region extending from Kuwait in the West to Singapore in the East,' Vice Admiral M S Pawar, Deputy Chiefof Naval Staff, on the was quoted as saying in the statement.

Additionally, INS Airavat from Singapore and INS Kolkata from Kuwait are heading back home with Liquid Oxygen, Oxygen filled cylinders, cryogenic tanks and other medical equipment, the statement read.

According to the defence official, three more warships are scheduled to pick up more supplies from Kuwait and Doha.

The LPD INS Jalashwa mission deployed in South East Asiais ready to be diverted to ports in the region as the situation demands, it added.

"Just as last year Indian Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu to repatriate our distressed citizens from IOR countries, let me assure the countrymen that the Navy will continue with its efforts to bring relief and together, we will overcome this challenge," the Vice Admiral said.  -- PTI
18:47   Maoist party withdraws support, Nepal PM Oli loses majority
Nepal's embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli-led government on Wednesday lost majority support in the House of Representatives after the CPN (Maoist Center) led by Pushpakamal Dahal 'Prachanda' officially withdrew support to it. 

The party submitted a letter to this effect to the parliament secretariat, informing about its decision to withdraw support to the government, according to a senior leader of the party, Ganesh Shah. 

Chief whip of the Maoist Center Dev Gurung handed over the letter to officials at the parliament secretariat, he said. 

After handing over the letter Gurung told the media persons that the party decided to withdraw support to the Oli government as the government had breached the constitution and the government's recent activities have posed threat to democratic procedures and national sovereignty. 

After the withdrawal of support, the Oli government has lost its majority in the house of representatives. 

The decision of the Maoist party to withdraw support to the government comes two days after Oli announced that he will seek a vote of confidence in parliament on May 10. 

The Maoist Center has a total of 49 lawmakers in the lower house. 

Since the ruling CPN-UML has a total of 121 lawmakers, Prime Minister Oli is short of 15 lawmakers to save his government in the 275-member house.
18:12   Mamata is leader of the country: Kamal Nath
Veteran Congress leader Kamal Nath on Wednesday described West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the leader of the  country who defeated all her opponents, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigatoin and the Enforcement Directorate, in the recently-held assembly elections in West Bengal.

When asked by reporters on the possibility of the Trinamool Congress supremo being pitted against the prime minister in the 2024 Lok Sabha  elections, the Madhya Pradesh Congress president said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)  would decide its electoral face at an appropriate time.

"Banerjee is the leader of our country  today. She has become the chief minister of West Bengal for the third  time in a row. She has reached this stage after a tough fight in the  unprecedented assembly election," he said.

Nath said Banerjee had to fight against the Central government, PM Modi, his ministers, as well as the CBI, the  Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department.

"Yet she has kicked all them away ('sabko lath markar bhaga diya')," he said.

Asked  if Banerjee could be projected as the Opposition's face against PM Modi in  the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Nath said, "We don't know that  right now. This will be decided by the UPA."

Referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party's  protest against 'political violence' in West Bengal after the election  results, the former chief minister said, "Now they (BJP leaders) are trying to say that  violence is happening in Bengal. Adopting violent ways is very wrong. I  have also spoken to Banerjee over the phone and told her to ask everyone  to stay away from violence."

Nath also said  that during his conversation with Banerjee, he also invited her to Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier in the day, Banerjee was sworn-in as the chief minister for the third consecutive term after securing a massive mandate and vowed to not 'give respite' to those behind political violence sweeping the state since the election results were announced.   -- PTI
FM S Jaishankar meets UK Home Secretary Preeti Patel
FM S Jaishankar meets UK Home Secretary Preeti Patel
17:49   Covid scare: EAM attends meets virtually in UK
Update: "All members of the Indian delegation attending G7 in London are doing well and are isolated, they got their COVID19 test done while leaving all were negative and they are vaccinated. EAM is also doing well and is attending meetings virtually," reports ANI. 

 Members of the small delegation accompanying External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to the UK have tested positive for Covid-19, forcing the minister to take his remaining schedule in London virtual as a "measure of abundant caution".

Jaishankar arrived in London on Monday for a four-day visit at the invitation of UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to join the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers Meeting as one of the guest ministers.
17:44   12 states have more than 1 lakh active Covid cases
Twelve states, including Maha, Karnataka, Kerala and UP, have more than 1 lakh active COVID cases, the government said on Wednesday. Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar are among the states that show increasing trend in daily cases, it said From May 1, 6.71 lakh people in the age group of 18-44 years in nine states have been administered the vaccines, it added. Principal Scientific Adviser K VijayRaghavan said the long COVID wave of such ferocity the nation was seeing was not predicted. PTI
17:24   40 US companies to send Covid aid to India
A newly created global task force of CEOs of 40 top American companies on Wednesday announced an effort to provide massive COVID-19 emergency relief material, including 1,000 ventilators and 25,000 oxygen concentrators, to India in its fight against the coronavirus. 

India is struggling with a second wave of the pandemic with more than 3,00,000 daily new coronavirus cases being reported in the past few days, and hospitals are reeling under a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. 

The Global Task Force on Pandemic Response, whose steering committee members include Julie Sweet, CEO, Accenture; Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon; Tim Cook, CEO, Apple; Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Bank of America; Raj Subramaniam, president FedEx; and Arvind Krishna, Chairman and CEO, IBM; also announced creation of Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) India Action Group to provide ideas and practical information to CHROs to help their people in India. Among other members of the steering committee are Gail McGovern, president and CEO, American Red Cross; Mike Parra, CEO Americas, DHL Express. Jim Fitterling, Chairman and CEO, Dow; Alex Gorsky, chairman of the Board and CEO, Johnson & Johnson; Michael Miebach, CEO, Mastercard; Geoff Martha, chairman and CEO, Medtronic; Brad Smith, president, Microsoft; Ramon Laguarta, Chairman of the Board and CEO, PepsiCo; Carol Tom, CEO, UPS; Sanjay Poonen, COO, VMware; and Judith McKenna, President and CEO, Walmart International. 

 Established as a public-private partnership organised by the US Chamber of Commerce and supported by Business Roundtable, the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response is working in close collaboration with US and Indian government officials to share information and coordinate efforts.

This includes regular briefings with the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and (US president Joe) Biden administrations, US Congress, US State Department and the US Agency for International Development, a media release said. 

 It is working with the Chamber's US-India Business Council and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum to take three immediate actions to help address the COVID-19 surge in India. 

 First sourcing, shipping and delivering 1,000 Puritan Bennett ventilators desperately needed by healthcare facilities across India. The first ventilators procured by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation will arrive in India today, with all remaining ventilators expected to arrive by June 3, a media release said.
17:06   Logistical nightmare
From "It took the government seven days to create a mechanism to distribute supplies to states, the Health Ministry said in a news release on Tuesday. They began working on the plan on April 26, and only issued their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) -- guidelines on how to distribute aid -- on May 2. The release did not state what day the distribution of aid began.

In those seven days, more than 23,000 Indians died of Covid-19."

Read the report here. 
17:00   Sensex rallies 424 pts on RBI announcements; financial stocks shine
Market benchmark Sensex rallied 424 points on Wednesday, led by gains in financial stocks after the RBI unveiled a slew of measures to support the economy facing strong headwinds amid peaking second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 The 30-share BSE index jumped 424.04 points or 0.88 per cent to close at 48,677.55. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty surged 121.35 points or 0.84 per cent to 14,617.85. Sun Pharma was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, soaring around 6 per cent, followed by Kotak Bank, Axis Bank, IndusInd Bank, ICICI Bank, Dr Reddy's, Titan and TCS. On the other hand, Bajaj Finance, Asian Paints and HUL were the laggards.
16:57   Third Covid wave inevitable: GOI
The GOI's Covid briefing. 

K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Centre: 
-- A phase three is inevitable, given the higher levels of circulating virus but it is not clear on what time scale this phase three will occur. We should prepare for new waves.

-- Variants are transmitted same as original strain. It doesn't have properties of new kinds of transmission. It infects humans in a manner that makes it more transmissible as it gains entry, makes more copies & goes on, same as original.

-- Vaccines are effective against current variants. New variants will arise all over the world and in India too but variants that increase transmission will likely plateau. Immune evasive variants and those which lower or increase disease severity will arise going ahead.

-- Scientists of India and all over world are working to anticipate these kinds of variants and act against them rapidly by early warning and  developing modified tools. It's an intense research program, happening in India and abroad.
16:28   Next batch of Rafales head to India
Next batch of three Rafales leave from France to India today.
16:25   Where is foreign Covid aid going, Rahul asks GOI
Rahul Gandhi asks these questions to the GOI:

"Questions about Covid foreign aid: 
- What all supplies has India received? 
- Where are they? 
- Who is benefitting from them? 
- How are they allocated to states? 
- Why no transparency? 
 Any answers, GOI?"

News reports say planeloads of ventilators, oxygen supplies and antiviral drugs have been being unloaded at New Delhi airport, but almost none of it has reached states, still begging for basic supplies like oxygen cylinders. 

Pic: Indian Naval Ship Airavat (a Landing Ship Tank - Large)-LST (L), has departed Singapore with more than 3600 oxygen cylinders and eight 27 ton oxygen tanks and is homebound, says the navy.

16:14   UK Covid aid is at behest of GOI: Envoy
British High Commissioner to India Allex Ellis on British aid flown to India: "The way we work is, through Govt of India. Things flown over are things that are being specified by Foreign Ministry and Health Ministry. We're doing this through Indian Red Cross Society. 
"Govt of India is in better position to work out where goods, ventilators or oxygen concentrators are best applied. Whatever we produce is at GoI's request. They tell us requirements, we work them through Indian Red Cross and it's up to GoI to decide where it's best applied."
16:05   Crowds, chaos at Mumbai's BKC vax centre
Even as the Supreme Court recommended that the Centre take notes from the "Mumbai model" to try and ensure oxygen supplies to Delhi, chaos reigns at this vaccination centre in Mumbai.     

People gather in large numbers outside the BKC Jumbo COVID-19 Vaccination Centre in Mumbai. "Nothing is organised here. Even queues are not formed properly," says Rajshekhar Upadhyaya, a local.

Yesterday, the BMC opened its first drive-in vaccination facility. Located at Dadar West, at the Kohinoor Parking lot, the vaccination centre has 7 rooms and will vaccinate those above 45 years of age who are eligible for their second dose of Covishield.
15:59   Do not self medicate if you test +ve for Covid
This is what Dr Randeep Guleria, AIIMS chief, says on taking steroids. 
15:56   Delhi cop helped cremate 1100 Covid bodies
This hero has ditched the cape for a uniform. Delhi Police ASI, stationed at Lodhi Road Crematorium, helps in cremation of people who died due to COVID. "I have helped nearly 1100 people. I have taken both shots of vaccines & take all precautions. I have postponed my daughter's marriage to help people here," says ASI Rakesh Kumar.
15:31   Delhi received 555 tonnes of oxygen on May 4, highest till now: AAP
The national capital received 555 tonnes of oxygen on Tuesday, the highest till now, said AAP MLA Raghav Chadha as the city hospitals struggled with a shortage in the supply of the life-saving gas amid a spurt in coronavirus cases. 

 While issuing the oxygen bulletin on Wednesday, he said the High Court has scolded the Centre and even "compared it to an ostrich". 

 "Maybe because of this rap, Delhi received 555 metric tonnes (MT) of Liquid Medical Oxygen as against the requirement of 976 MT, which is the highest till now. 

 "However, this oxygen was not made available from regular sources but from an ad hoc arrangement. We did not receive it from our regular sources but Centre arranged it from other states and gave Delhi the oxygen that was being sent elsewhere," Chadha claimed. 

 He also said the Delhi government received 48 SOS calls regarding oxygen shortage and cylinders not being refilled, and they were addressed. 

 "We supplied 36.40 tonnes of oxygen to address SOS calls. Theses hospitals had a total of 4,036 oxygen-supported beds. It means, we helped 4,036 lives," Chadha said in an online briefing. 

 The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to show cause as to why contempt not be initiated against it for failing to comply with order on supply of oxygen to Delhi for treating COVID-19 patients. 

 "You can put your head in sand like an ostrich, we will not," the high court told the central government. It added that the Supreme Court has already directed, and now the high court is also saying that the Centre will have to supply 700 MT oxygen daily to Delhi right away by whatever means.
15:23   SC gives Centre 10:30am deadline for Delhi oxygen
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to place a plan before it indicating how it will allocate 700 MT oxygen to Delhi. The court has asked the Centre to submit the plan by 10:30 am tomorrow. 

The Centre and state governments are doing their best amid the oxygen crisis and it is pointless to jail officials for contempt, the Supreme Court said today while hearing the central government's plea against a Delhi High Court order. 

The Supreme Court also recommended that the Centre take notes from the "Mumbai model" to try and ensure oxygen supplies to Delhi.

The hearing began in the afternoon today after the Centre moved the Supreme Court against the lower court's threat to pursue contempt charges against officials for non-compliance of an earlier order.

Chief Justice NV Ramana had placed the matter before a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah.
15:14   'Not enough oxygen for Delhi'
Senior journalist and occasional columnist Aakar Patel does a reality check on the government's much-harped about oxygen express trains. "11 trains are on the move across India today with oxygen tankers. Of these 5 trains are empty (returning to refill). The other six are carrying ~380 tons. This is 8 hours' requirement just of Delhi but govt doesn't say that. Just frantic, endless tweeting." 
15:11   Facilitate free vaccines for all: Mamata
Shortly after taking oath as the chief minister of West Bengal for the third consecutive term, Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to facilitate free vaccines for all in a "transparent and time-bound manner". 

 Banerjee, in her letter, also expressed concern over the dearth of oxygen cylinder in West Bengal, and stressed that the current health system "will have to be strengthened". 

"Considering the severity of the matter in its entirety, I would like to request you to kindly look into free vaccination as universal immunisation for all in a transparent and time-bound manner(sic)." 

 "At present, vaccine availability is too inadequate... and the central government's direction to extend vaccination up to 18 years makes it unrealistic. So supply of vaccines is the core issue that needs to be addressed now," she said. PTI
15:04   Mamata reinstates police officers removed by EC
WB CM Mamata Banerjee's first address from Nabanna after she was sworn-in today. 

On Covid-19: "Looking at the COVID-19 situation, we have to take some steps. Wearing of masks to be mandatory. There will be only 50% attendance in state govt offices. Shopping complexes, gyms, cinema halls, beauty parlours to be closed. Social/political gatherings prohibited. 

"Work from home for private sector, for 50% of the staff allowed. Jewellery shops to remain open from 12 pm to 3 pm. Home delivery to be encouraged. Banks to operate from 10 am to 2 pm.

"Random checking will be done in inter-state buses, RT-PCR negative report not older then 72 hours is mandatory for the passengers. The ruling is also applicable to the passengers of train services."

On post-poll violence: "No such incident can be tolerated. There is more disturbance in places where BJP has won. BJP is circulating about fake incidents through old videos. My appeal to all political parties is to stop this. You all have done a lot during elections. Bengal is a place of unity."

Banerjee also reinstated IPS officer Virendra as Bengal DGP. Jawed Shamim reinstated as ADG Law and Order. EC appointed ADG Law & Order Jag Mohan posted in Civil Defence & EC appointed DGP Nirajnayan Pandey posted in Fire & Emergency Services.
14:45   Warships carrying oxygen, aid, head to India
Indian Navy warship INS Talwar arrives in New Mangalore with the1st consignment carrying 50 tons of oxygen from Bahrain. INS Airavat from Singapore and INS Kolkata from Kuwait coming back home with Liquid Oxygen, Oxygen filled cylinders, cryogenic tanks and medical equipment.

As part of Operation Samudra Setu II, to bring in oxygen and associated medical supplies from friendly foreign countries, as many as 9 warships have been diverted to various ports in region extending from Kuwait in the West to Singapore in the East, says, Navy Deputy Chief Vice Admiral MS Pawar.
14:39   Delhi govt not taking steps to create oxygen buffer
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said it appears that the Delhi government has not taken steps for creation of a buffer of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and for streamlining its distribution in the national capital. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said it is for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to explore the various possibilities to create storage facilities for LMO and oxygen cylinders in the city. 

 The court said that the GNCTD may take help of the Delhi Technological University to prepare a blueprint for storage and distribution of oxygen in the city. It said the obligation to create an oxygen buffer fell on both the Centre and GNCTD as per the Supreme Court's April 30 order. PTI
14:23   Govt to give free food-grain to poor in May-June
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the allocation of additional food-grain to National Food Security Act beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (phase III) for a period of two months -- May and June 2021. 

The Union Cabinet meet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for allocation of additional food-grains under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana Phase III for another period of two months, May to June 2021, at 5 kg per person per month free of cost for about 79.88 crore beneficiaries covered under the NFSA (AAY & PHH) including those covered under DBT. 

'The allocation of additional food-grains free of cost to approximately 79.88 crore individuals under TPDS @ 5 kg per person per month for two months, ie, May to June 2021 would entail an estimated food subsidy of Rs 25332.92 crore, taking the estimated economic cost of Rs 36789.2/MT for rice and Rs 25731.4/ MT for wheat,' the official release reads. 

'The state/UT-wise allocation in terms of wheat/rice shall be decided by the department of food & public distribution on the basis of the existing allocation ratio under NFSA. The department of food and public Distribution day also decide on the extension of the lifting or distribution period under PMGKAY as per operational requirements keeping in view partial and local lockdown situations, and also arising out of adverse weather conditions like a monsoon, cyclones, supply chain and Covid-induced constraints, etc. The total outgo in terms of food-grains may be approximately 80 lakh metric tonne,' it said.
14:14   SC decision on Maratha quota unfortunate: Uddhav Thackeray
Terming the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Maharashtra law granting quota to Marathas in admissions and government jobs as unfortunate, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said the legal battle for the reservations to that community will continue till there is "victory".
In a statement after the apex court verdict, Thackeray said, "With folded hands, we request the prime minister and the president to take an immediate decision on Maratha quota."
The chief minister said he expects the Centre to show the same alacrity on the Maratha quota issue as it did in delivering verdicts on issues like the Shah Bano case and repeal of Article 370 for which the Constitution was amended.
Thackeray said BJP MP Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje has been seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appointment over the Maratha quota issue for the last one year but to no avail.
The apex court has scrapped a decision taken by all parties in the state legislature, he said.

The legal battle for Maratha quota will continue till there is "victory", Thackeray said.

Earlier in the day, the SC termed the state law on Maratha quota as "unconstitutional" and held there were no exceptional circumstances to breach the 50 per cent reservation cap set by the 1992 Mandal verdict.

-- PTI
13:54   India's healthcare system stands exposed: EAM
EAM Dr S Jaishankar at Global Dialogue Series: 

-- Our vaccine production situation different from many other countries. On what basis Covishield was being made in India? It's Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, you can say it's British-designed product. It was made in India as vaccine owner saw India as an efficient production venue.
-- It was a truly international collaboration. When there is an international collaboration, if somebody gave you a vaccine to make in India, then you have to do your part, otherwise, it doesn't work.

-- It also came with support from the Covax initiative. So, there was an obligation to support the Covax initiative to give vaccines at a low cost to a number of nations.

-- Our healthcare system stands exposed, very clear that over 75 years we've underinvested in health. Maybe there were reasons, it's very easy to say you should've put in more money. Now that I'm in govt I can tell you it's not as easy as it sounds.

-- This isn't a defence of today's situation, I'm saying this for over 75 yrs. It is that realisation, that PM was pushing for Ayushman Bharat as we had reached a stage where PM genuinely believed we can't leave people to vagaries of private practitioners, however, good they may be.

-- But having said that, you have what you have at this point of time which is an under-invested health sector over many decades... In a crisis today, even though I have limitations, I have to make that extra effort, find some way by which I can respond to today's crisis.

-- We're running trains so that oxygen comes to population centres as production centres are very distant. We have been trying to purchase tankers from abroad. That is what my Missions are doing, they are looking for cryogenic tanks, for generators, concentrators.

-- IAF is picking up empty tanks, flying them back so that we save driving time. It's a difficult crisis but I can tell you we are giving everything we have & more."
14 patients died in a fire at a Covid hospital in Virar
14 patients died in a fire at a Covid hospital in Virar
13:45   MHA asks states, UTs to conduct fire safety review of hospitals, nursing homes
The Home Ministry has asked states and union territories to carry out a detailed fire safety review of hospitals and nursing homes to prevent fire incidents, an official spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has written to state chief secretaries and UT administrators, asking them to ensure fire safety measures, particularly in view of the summer season. Given the recent fire incidents in hospitals and particularly in view of the impending summer, it needs to be highlighted that short circuiting takes place, leading to fire incidents and loss of life and infrastructure, either because of high temperature, lack of maintenance or high load on internal wirings within the facilities, the Home secretary said. 

 According to the communication, care should be taken to put in place a plan of action to ensure there is no fire incident in any health facility, particularly COVID-19 dedicated facilities, both in the government and the private sector, the spokesperson said.
13:42   RBI running ops with 250 quarantined staff: Guv
The Reserve Bank is running some of its key operations from a 250-member-strong quarantine centre -- a souped-down version of the war-room it had set up in mid-March last year, more than a week before the national lockdown, Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday. 

Making an unscheduled press announcement earlier in the day amidst the raging second wave of the pandemic, Das said the quarantine facilities of the RBI continue to operate with over 250 RBI personnel and service providers -- away from their homes -- to ensure continuity of various segments of financial markets and RBI operations. 

 He did not offer details such as whether the centre is located outside the RBI premises like the war-room it had set up last year, which was located at an unnamed city hotel. The governor also expressed his gratitude and admiration for the "brave citizens of our nation, to our doctors, healthcare and medical staff, police and law-enforcement agencies and to other authorities who battle the second surge selflessly and tirelessly and have been at the frontline for more than a year. Their services are needed now, more than ever." 

 It can be noted that as part of the business continuity plan, the RBI had set up a war-room in just one day to insulate financial system from the pandemic, at an undisclosed hotel in the megapolis in March last year and had ran that office manned by just about 150 critical staff. 

 The war-room was made operational from March 19 from a city hotel, and the business contingency plan (BCP) was up and running in flat 24 hours after the decision was taken to set up the war-room the previous day, an RBI official had told PTI then. 

 On a normal day, the RBI is served by around 14,000 employees spread across its 31 regional offices with the central office in Mumbai and the monetary authority handles billions of transactions each day. 

 The war-room had only 150-select RBI personnel who were supported by close to 70 hotel staff and around 600 external vendors. The war-room ran the key data centres of the RBI such the SFMS (structured financial messaging system), RTGS, NEFT, e-Kuber (comprising services for the Central and the state governments transactions, interbank transactions, market and monetary policy instruments operations, treasury operations, currency inventory and distribution management), RBI Website, email, and other over 35 applications covering various functions. PTI
13:22   Particular community being attacked: Adhikari
BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari on post poll violence in West Bengal: "Situation is very serious. I've been in politics for a long time. Such an atmosphere was created in 2001 when CPI(M) was making an exit. At that time Mamata Banerjee got 60 seats. There was political violence in some areas.

"This time, it is happening across the state. People of a particular community are being attacked. As Naddaji said, the situation is similar to what happened at the time of Partition."

 Referring to incidents of violence which have reportedly claimed the lives of several BJP and TMC workers, Mamata Banerjee after being sworn in said, "I will tackle law and order from today and deal with these sternly. This is my second priority. We will not give respite to anyone (perpetrators of violence), and do everything to restore law and order." She urged all political parties to help maintain peace and order.
12:56   Journalists in UP to get priority in vaccination
The Uttar Pradesh government has announced that journalists and their families will now get special consideration in the state and will be given priority in vaccination against COVID-19. 

 Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday issued instructions to allot separate vaccination centres for journalists and their family members, who are above 18 years of age, an official statement said.

 The chief minister took the decision to recognise the efforts of journalists, who have been putting their lives and health at risk to cover the pandemic, it said. 

 Adityanath has also instructed officials to ensure that all journalists get vaccinated, the statement said. "If required, go to their workplace and administer free vaccination. All those above 18 years of age will be vaccinated in the families of journalists," Adityanath said. Non-accredited journalists and freelancers will also get the benefit of the welfare scheme, the statement said. PTI
12:54   81000 vials of Remdesivir from US land in Mumbai
Amid the record rise in COVID-19 cases in India, medical assistance is continuing to pour in from countries around the world, including the US, Singapore and Australia.The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that 81000 vials of Remdesivir from the US arrived early on Wednesday morning in Mumbai.

 "Further elevating the India and United States Strategic Partnership. Appreciate the shipment of over 81,000 vials of Remdesivir from the US that arrived early this morning in Mumbai (India)," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet.

Besides the US, 3,650 oxygen cylinders and 8 ISO tanks are on their way from Singapore."3,650 oxygen cylinders, 8 ISO tanks and much more-tremendous effort by Indian community and well-wishers of India to mobilise COVID-relief assistance from Singapore," High Commission in Singapore tweeted.

Furthermore, a chartered flight departed Sydney carrying supplies to meet the needs identified by the Centre."A chartered Qantas flight departed Sydney carrying supplies to meet the needs identified by the Govt of India, including 1056 ventilators and 43 oxygen concentrators," said Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia.

India registered 3,82,315 new coronavirus cases and over 3,700 related deaths in the last 24 hours, said the union health ministry on Wednesday morning. With this, the cumulative count of the cases has gone up to 2,06,65,148. -- ANI
Amol Mujumdar
Amol Mujumdar
12:45   A must-read interview on how to avoid cyber frauds
Amol Mujumdar, senior director-technology at, in an interview to Cybsersecasia, talks of the rising threats of email communication, especially in this time of wfh where many employees are using their personal devices for office work. 

'Though organizations have been prompt in enforcing iron-clad Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, the recent Work-From-Home compulsions have kept the IT folks on their toes. From protecting endpoints (personal devices) used by employees at home to adopting email traffic monitoring solutions like MDM and DLP, organizations are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to protect their IT assets. 

'Cyberattacks have become increasingly targeted: stealthy, and persistent these days. Targeted malware, heavily socially-engineered impersonation attacks, and phishing threats are the top threats that leave organizations at risk of a data breach and financial loss. Also common now are fraudulent emails such as fake account closure notices, fake emails from logistic operators claiming delivery notifications, fake giveaway promos, etc., which make users fall prey to cyber frauds,' Mujumdar says, here.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari
12:34   Modi should delegate war on Covid to Gadkari, says Swamy
Dr Subramanian Swamy tweets: 'India will survive Coronavirus Pandemic as it did Islamic invaders and British Imperialists. We could face one more wave that targets children unless strict precautions now are taken. Modi should therefore delegate the conduct of this war to Gadkari. Relying on PMO is useless.'
12:31   Stalin meets governor to stake claim to form govt
Tamil Nadu: DMK President MK Stalin meets Governor Banwarilal Purohit to stake claim to form government. To the governor's right are TR Baalu and RS Bharati. Next to Stalin is  Durai Murugan, DMK general secretary.
12:12   SC agrees to hear Centre's plea against Delhi HC contempt notice over oxygen supply
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea of the Centre against Delhi High Court's order issuing contempt notice and seeking personal appearance of its officials for non-compliance of the direction on supply of oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients in the national capital. 

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday had directed the Centre to show cause as to why contempt should not be initiated against it for failing to comply with its order on the supply of oxygen to Delhi for treating COVID-19 patients. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana was approached by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta as the bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud, hearing a suo motu case on COVID-19 management in the country, was not available on Wednesday. 

 The CJI-led bench directed that the Centre's plea be listed before a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud. The law officer wanted the matter to be heard on Wednesday itself, but the bench left it to the convenience of Justice Chandrachud. -- PTI 
Vaccinated adults in Mumbai
Vaccinated adults in Mumbai
12:08   94.47 L vaccines still with states: Centre
More than 94.47 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and UTs which will receive over36 lakh fresh doses in the next three days, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday. 

Representational image
Representational image
12:04   Orphaned by Covid, daughter jumps into father's pyre
In a tragic incident, a 34-year-old woman sustained severe burns in Barmer after she jumped on the funeral pyre of her father, who died after contracting COVID-19, police said on Wednesday. 

Damodardas Sharda (73) passed away at a hospital on Tuesday after suffering from the viral disease, they said. 

While Sharda was being cremated, the youngest of his three daughters, Chandra Sharda, suddenly jumped on the pyre, the police said, adding that although she was pulled out of it by people, she sustained around 70 per cent burn injuries. 

 She was rushed to a nearby hospital and from there, referred to Jodhpur for treatment, they said. 

 "Damodardas Sharda had three daughters. His wife passed away some time back. The youngest of the sisters jumped on the funeral pyre," Station House Officer, Kotwali police station, Prem Prakash said. Sharda, a resident of Rai Colony of Barmer, was admitted to the district hospital on Sunday. The police officer said the youngest daughter had insisted to go to crematorium for the last rites. PTI
The drive-in vaccinations at Mumbai
The drive-in vaccinations at Mumbai
11:56   Centre gave 17 cr Covid jabs free to states
The Centre has so far provided over 17.02 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses to the states and union territories free of cost and more than 36 lakh doses will be received by them in the next three days, the union health ministry said on Wednesday.

As many as 17,02,42,410 COVID vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories (UTs) free of cost as per data available till 8 am on Wednesday. Out of 17,02,42,410 COVID vaccines, the total consumption including wastages is 16,07,94,796 doses, the ministry stated.

The ministry further said that 94,47,614 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses are still available with the states and union territories to be administered.

Furthermore, more than 36,37,030 lakh vaccine doses will be received in addition by the states/UTs within the next three days.

Maharashtra has received the maximum number of vaccines, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Lakshadweep has reported the highest percentage of vaccine wastage with 9.76 per cent, followed by Tamil Nadu at 8.83 per cent, Assam at 7.70 per cent, Manipur at 7.44 per cent, and Haryana at 5.72 per cent, informed the ministry. -- ANI
11:26   Nadda promises to end political violence in Bengal
Meanwhile, BJP president JP Nadda, also takes oath before party workers. 

"We'll take an oath that we'll carry out our responsibility, by happily accepting the mandate, and play the important role of Opposition. What we fought in Bengal - political violence, appeasement and tyranny - we won't step back from carrying out our duties.

"Those who were supposed to protect others are the ones responsible for this violence. They can take oath, everyone has the right to do that in a democracy. But we also take an oath that we'll dismantle political violence in Bengal."
11:06   Mamata asks for peace, Covid 1st priority
CM Mamata Banerjee thanked those in the state, in India and abroad who were looking at the West Bengal elections. 

She said controlling Covid is her priority and will be holding a meeting on pandemic measures to be taken in the state at 12:30 pm. At 3 pm there will be a presser. She said she is on her way to the state secretariat Nabanna now. 

She said there would be huge celebrations at the Brigade Ground after the pandemic ended and apologised for not being able to invite everyone because of the Covid protocols.  

She beseeched people not to indulge in violence. "Please take proper care that sporadic instances of violence do not take place. I personally do not like it. I believe in peace," she said.  

Governor Jagdeep Dhankar spoke thereafter, saying he congratulates Mamata Bandopadhyay for her third term. "I hope there will be rule of law We are in a very difficult crisis. People are worried. Our first priority is to bring an end to this senseless violence. Post-poll retributive is antithetical to democracy. I hope relief is accorded on a priority basis to those affected."
10:53   Mamata Banerjee takes oath as WB CM for 3rd term
Mamata Banerjee takes oath as West Bengal CM. The oaths were taken in chaste Bengali. 
She exchanged a brief conversation with West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar with folded hands and then took oath. 

She has invited Dilip Ghosh from the BJP, Adhir Ranjan from the Congress and Biman Bose from the CPI-M as a message of inclusiveness. 

Banerjee said the oath-taking ceremony would be low-key following Covid protocols. 
10:38   RBI announces Rs 50K liquidity for healthcare
RBI announces Rs 50,000 crore liquidity for ramping up COVID-related healthcare infrastruture and services till March 2022.

Special long term repo operations for small finance banks to provide further support to micro, small & other unorganized sector entities, 3-yr repo operations of Rs. 10,000 crore at repo rate, for fresh lending up to Rs 10 lakh per borrower; facility up to 31 Oct' 21.

Build-up in input price pressures across sectors, driven in part by elevated global commodity prices remains a concern. Inflation trajectory over rest of the yr will be shaped by COVID19 infections & impact  of localised containment measures on supply chains & logistics.

But even at this time, in run-up to next MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) when our teams are analysing various incoming data, we don't expect any broad deviation from projections made in our April MPC but you'll have to wait for MPC statement due in June 1st week.
10:33   Mamata Banerjee awaits governor's arrival
At the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata, Mamata Banerjee, awaits the arrival of Governor Jagdeep Dhankar. She will be sworn-in as the Chief Minister for the third term at the throne room of the Raj Bhavan. She will be heading to Nabanna thereafter to take the guard of honour. The first on her to-do list is tackling Covid, she said on May 2, immediately after the results came in. 
10:26   India fighting ferocious rise in Covid cases: RBI
Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das's address:

-- RBI will continue to monitor the emerging COVID19 situation and will deploy all resources and instruments at its command especially for the citizens, business entities, and institutions beleaguered by the second wave.

-- The devastating speed with which the virus affects has to be matched by swift and wide-ranging actions that are sequenced, calibrated and well-timed so as to reach out to various sections including the most vulnerable.

-- India is fighting the ferocious rise in cases. 

-- The forecast of a normal monsoon by IMD is expected to sustain rural demand and overall output in 2021-22, while also having soothing impact on inflation pressures.

-- Rail freight registered growth of over 76% yr on yr in April. Toll collections in April suggest mobility declined but unlike abrupt halt during April 2020. Automobiles registration in April 2021 shown moderation compared to March. Tractor segment continues robust pace.

-- Banks Can Lend More To Medical Services Sector Till March 31.

10:01   India records 3,82,315 new Covid-19 cases
India on Wednesday registered 382,315 fresh cases of coronavirus disease in the preceding 24 hours, pushing the nationwide infection tally past 20.66 million. 

3,780 new fatalities were recorded in the same duration, mounting the country's Covid-19 death toll to 226,188. 

The country's cumulative case count has now reached 20,665,148, according to the Union health ministry's dashboard at 9:15 am.

India, battling the more infectious second wave of the coronavirus disease, has now registered over 300,000 daily Covid-19 cases for two weeks straight. 

The active coronavirus caseload, which crossed the three-million-mark nearly a week ago, currently stands at 3,487,229. This accounts for 17% of the total confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country. 

As many as 338,439 patients were discharged in the last 24 hours and so far, and 16,951,731 people in total have recovered from the viral disease, the health ministrys dashboard displayed. With this, the countrys recovery rate stands at 81.91%, the government said. As many as 160,494,188 Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the country so far.
09:40   'PM should apologise for mishandling of COVID'
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central government over its handling of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the way Centre ignored the warnings and went ahead with political rallies and Kumbh has shown the world how such a pandemic should not be handled.

Sibal further said Prime Minister Modi should apologise to the nation. Assembly elections in four States and a Union Territory - Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry - were held in April while the month-long Kumbh was also organised in Haridwar last month.

"The Central government thought that the COVID-19 pandemic has ended and they were also applauded by the World Economic Forum. However, they didn't know that there would come a stage when there would be no testing and there would be no oxygen," said the senior Congress leader.

"In March, our own nine laboratories had cautioned that a new COVID-19 variant will spread very rapidly in India and there will be problems. However, the government thought they can go on conducting political rallies, can organise the Kumbh and all," he said.

"The way they showed negligence is an example of how such a pandemic should not be dealt with. The PM should come in front of the country and apologise," he added.

India is currently in the grip of the devastating second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

-- ANI
09:27   SC verdict on Maratha reservation law today
The Supreme Court on Wednesday will pronounce its judgment on the constitutional validity of the Maratha reservation law which leads to quota in the State in excess of the 50 per cent ceiling limit.

The Constitution Bench is led by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprises Justices L Nageswara Rao, S Abdul Nazeer, Hemant Gupta and S Ravindra Bhat.

The Bench had also examined whether its nearly three-decade-old judgment in the Indira Sawhney case, which fixed reservation for the marginalised and the poor in government jobs and educational institutions at 5 per cent, needs a re-look.

However, over the years, several states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have crossed the rubicon and passed laws which allows reservation shooting over 60 per cent.
09:24   Maha: 2,190 new COVID-19 cases in Thane, 52 more deaths
With the addition of  2,190 new cases of coronavirus, the infection count in Thane district of Maharashtra has gone up to 4,77,177, an official said on Wednesday.
These new cases were reported on Tuesday, he said.
Fifty-two more people also succumbed to the viral infection, taking the death toll in the district to 7,780, he said. 
The COVID-19 mortality rate in Thane stood at 1.63 per cent, he added.
Details of recovered and under-treatment patients were not provided by the district administration.

In neighbouring Palghar district, the COVID-19 case count has gone up to 90,654, while the death toll has reached 1,621, another official said.

-- PTI
08:59   Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4
US President Joe Biden has set a new vaccination goal to deliver at least one shot to 70 per cent of adult Americans by July 4 as he tackles the vexing problem of winning over the 'doubters' and those unmotivated to get inoculated.

Demand for vaccines has dropped off markedly nationwide, with some states leaving more than half their available doses unordered.

Aiming to make it easier to get shots, Biden called for states to make vaccines available on a walk-in basis and he will direct many pharmacies to do likewise. 

His administration for the first time also is moving to shift doses from states with weaker demand to areas with stronger interest in the shots.

"You do need to get vaccinated," Biden said from the White House.

"Even if your chance of getting seriously ill is low, why take the risk? It could save your life or the lives of somebody you love," he said.
08:32   RBI Guv to make unscheduled speech today at 10 am
Reserve Bank of India said Governor Shaktikanta Das will make a speech on Wednesday, an unscheduled appearance as ferocious new coronavirus wave devastates the country.

The address will be broadcast at 10 am local time, the RBI said on Twitter, without providing further details.

The Covid-19 wave that has slammed India in recent weeks will probably worsen before it starts to taper off sometime later this month, forecasters warn. Pressure from industry groups has begun mounting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impose lockdowns to stem its spread, a move he has so far resisted to avoid the economic damage suffered last year.

The RBI has augmented fiscal support measures from Modis government with loan holidays and cash injections, as well as by cutting interest rates. It has pledged to keep monetary policy loose though its room to act has been constrained by inflation concerns.
07:54   New rules for Covid testing by government
The central government has revised the country's coronavirus-testing rules to reduce pressure on diagnostic labs amid a spurt of coronavirus cases. "Healthy" inter-state travellers and Covid patients being discharged from hospitals after recovery must not be tested, it said.

The centre said the over 2,500 labs in the country are working under tremendous pressure because of the rapidly growing caseloads.

"The need for RT-PCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories," the centre said in a circular to states.

"No testing is required for COVID-19-recovered individuals at the time of hospital discharge," it added.

The centre said people who tested positive once - either by rapid tests or the gold standard RT-PCR - must not be tested again.

Non-essential travel of people with Covid symptoms should be avoided to reduce the risk of infection, the government added.

All asymptomatic individuals undertaking essential travel must follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

India has been reporting over 3 lakh daily coronavirus cases for over a week. On Tuesday, the country's single-day Covid numbers were 3.35 lakh cases and 3,449 deaths in 24 hours.
00:18   Mamata swearing-in to be low-key due to Covid
The swearing-in of Trinamool  Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee as chief minister at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday morning will be a low-key programme given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a government official said.

Invitations for the programme have been sent to her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Leader of Opposition of the outgoing House Abdul Mannan and Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran leader Biman Bose, the official said on Tuesday.

Chief ministers of other states and leaders of other political parties have not been invited for the programme keeping in mind the current COVID-19 situation in the country, he said.

"It has been decided to keep the oath-taking ceremony of Mamata Banerjee a very simple one because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Banerjee will be the only leader who will be taking oath tomorrow.

"The programme will be a very brief one," he said.

Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee, poll strategist Prashant Kishor and party leader Firhad Hakim are likely to be present at the ceremony scheduled to be held at the Raj Bhavan at around 10.45 am on May 5, TMC sources said.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has also been invited for the ceremony, the official said.

Soon after taking oath, Banerjee will go to the state secretariat 'Nabanna' where she will be given 'guard of honour' by Kolkata Police, sources said. -- PTI