CHENNAI WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 24, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 22 LATE CITY EDITION FACEBOOK KISSES AND MAKES UP WITH AUSTRALIAN GOVT LAST-MINUTE FACE-SAVING COMPROMISE The social media giant said talks were held with the Australian government to amend the proposed media bargaining laws According to reports, the face-saving compromise will see Facebook as well as internet search giant Google plunge tens of millions of dollars into the struggling local news sector. In return, the US digital firms will not be subjected to mandatory payments that could cost them vastly more and create what they see as an alarming global precedent ■ $28 bn NEW LAW LIKELY TO BE PASSED THIS WEEK ■ ■ Facebook had blocked news feed in Australia last week following dispute on paying news organisations for sharing content Inadvertently, some government pages and announcements on Covid-19 were blocked too, drawing backlash Australian Parliament is expected to pass the law this week FACEBOOK’S REVENUE IN THE OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2020 QUARTER CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Proof sketchy, court shows the bail Disha Says people can’t be arrested just because they disagree with govt policies; invoking sedition to massage egos not done A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to 22-year-old climate change activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in connection with the toolkit case, citing scanty and sketchy investigation. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana said, “Citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation. They cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments.” The 18-page bail order said, “Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right.” Shortly after bail was granted, another judge, Pankaj Sharma, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of the Patiala House Court, disposed of a Delhi Police application seeking Disha’s extended Cong swept out by BJP in Guj local body polls der Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, it gave the BJP a scare, scoring 87 as against the BJP’s 96 in a 182-member Assembly. Subsequent defections weakened the party and reduced it to 61. The Gujarat blow comes a day after the Congress lost power in Puducherry According to . an analyst, consecutive Congress losses in all major elections has forced people to look for an alternative. “In 2017, peo- S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I BJP workers celebrate after winning civic body elections in Ahmedabad | PTI Grand and grandeur The gigantic Motera stadium is all set to host its first international match after renovation when India face England in 3rd Test from Wednesday No floodlights but LED lights fitted on the roof will illuminate the stadium 63 acres The total area in which the Sardar Patel Stadium has been built 1,10,000 capacity makes it the largest cricket stadium in the world SIX FOUR NUMBER OF INDOOR PRACTICE PITCHES Dressing rooms with modern facilities 3 OUTDOOR PRACTICE FIELDS Third Test live on Hotstar/Star Sports: 2.30pm `4.85 lakh crore expected debt burden by March 2021. It is expected to go up to `5.70 lakh crore by March 2022, but is within norms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 55.67 lakh BPL families eligible for insurance coverage of `2L in case of natural death of breadwinner; `4L for accidental death, and up to `2L for permanent incapacitation record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-yearold young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society and send her to jail.” , He also said the police are in the process of collecting more evidence and so they cannot be allowed to further restrict the liberty of a citizen on the basis of propitious anticipations. “The resistance to bail plea seems to be more ornamental in nature,” said the judge. | P11 `1,700 crore to be spent on stormwater drain project at Pallikaranai marshland FinTech City being developed by TIDCO at Kavanoor near Chennai Govt to formulate Urban Wage Employment programme Interim Budget highlights State’s rise while the country faces a negative growth rate of 7.7% ‘TN TO GROW AT 2.02%’ T M U R U G A N A N D H A M @ Chennai marshland. The government seeks to tap the rapidly growing A few days ahead of the expected fintech space that is largely used announcement of poll schedule, in mobile banking, insurance Deputy Chief Minister O Pan- and investment applications. neerselvam flashed a positive “The pandemic and other reagrowth rate expectation of 2.02% sons caused a sharp dip in revefor Tamil Nadu for the fiscal year nue, but expenditure had to be 2020-2021. Presenting the Interim enhanced to protect people’s welBudget for 2021-2022 on Tuesday fare. Hence, the government had , Panneerselvam, who also holds to borrow, resulting in a higher the finance portfolio, told the fiscal deficit. The government juState Assembly this positive rate diciously borrowed based on the was in contrast to the country Government of India’s authorifacing a 7.7% negative growth sation for enhanced borrowing rate in the current fiscal. of up to 2% of the GSDP,” said But the State’s debt burden is Panneerselvam, defending the expected to touch `4.85 lakh increased debt burden. crore by March this year, “The primary sector and is likely to be witnessed the strongest ADU B N around `5.70 lakh performance, of 5.23%, crore by March 2022. driven by the liveWhile attributing stock and fisheries this burden to the sectors. The secondpandemic year slump ary sector’s growth is 2 2 and other reasons, he 1.25%, and that of the 02 1- 2 0 2 stressed that the debt services sector is 1.64%. was well within the This is significantly betnorms of the Fiscal Responter than the expected growth sibility Act. performance in 2020-21 due to the Panneerselvam made a few an- State government’s expeditious nouncements, such as hiking the and effective methods of tackling insurance cover for below-pover- the pandemic. I have no doubt the ty-line (BPL) families, introduc- growth will be even stronger in ing computer science subject for 2021-22,” the Deputy Chief MinClasses 6 to 10 in government ister stated. schools, a special project, On the way forward, PanneerRIGHTS, for the differently- selvam said, “The reform agenda abled, with an outlay of `1,700 we adopted to improve the taxcrore, finalising a FinTech Policy GSDP ratio, to raise additional to develop Chennai as a global revenue to contain losses of large hub for firms that use technology PSUs and find adequate resourcto automate financial services, es for growth-enhancing expendand a `816.80 crore stormwater iture, will need to continue.” FULL COVERAGE: P4 drain project for Pallikaranai | P17 The pandemic and other reasons caused a sharp dip in revenue, but expenditure had to be enhanced to protect people’s welfare - O Panneerselvam, Deputy Chief Minister Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam arrive at the Assembly to present the Budget in Chennai on Tuesday | P JAWAHAR COMPUTER SCIENCE FOR CLASS 6 ONWARDS METRO FROM AIRPORT TO KILAMBAKKAM SOON Computer Science, which was so far taught as a separate subject in Classes 11 and 12, will now be introduced for Classes 6 to 10 in all Government High and Higher Secondary Schools. This comes after the State government set up hi-tech labs at 6,029 government high and higher secondary schools Work on the 15.3 km Metro Rail stretch from Chennai Airport to Kilambakkam is set to begin this year. It will have 13 stations, and connect Chromepet, MEPZ, Tambaram and Vandalur. A detailed feasibility report is being prepared for the VelacheryTambaram stretch EXPRESS READ EC meet today to decide poll dates Chennai: About 80 per cent of government buses in the State are expected to remain off the roads from February 25 as transport unions have announced an indefinite strike. Among the demands of the workers are clearance of provident fund and other retired-workers’ dues, covering transport corporation losses in the budget, and a revision of wages | P2 New Delhi: The Election Commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday to finalise the election schedule for five states — Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala. Sources said polls in West Bengal will be held in six to eight phases while Assam is likely to vote in two to three phases. The results of all the states are likely to be declared on the same day Blow to Oli as Nepal SC revives House IN a major setback for Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, the country’s Supreme Court has reinstated Parliament, which was dissolved in December last year. In a landmark ruling on Tuesday A five-member Constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher annulled the Oli government’s ‘unconstitutional’ decision to dissolve the 275-member lower house of Parliament. The court also ordered the government to summon the House session within the next 13 days. Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Dev Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of PM Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party . In his letter recommending House dissolution, Oli said he controlled 64% majority in the House and the country needed a fresh mandate of the people to ensure stability . Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, also a co-chair of the ruling party . As many as 13 writ petitions including the one by the ruling party’s Chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung were filed in the apex court seeking the restoration of the lower house parliament. Covid pushed up debt burden, but it’s within norms Though the State’s debt burden is expected to touch `4.85 lakh crore by March, and is likely to be around `5.70 lakh crore by March 2022, it is well within the norms of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Deputy Chief Minister Panneerselvam said. He attributed the high debt burden to Covid and other factors ‘State not minting money from high cost of fuel’ “As per the Finance Commission’s recommendation, the Centre should transfer 41% of tax revenue to States. But the Centre need not share revenue from cess and surcharge. The cess and surcharge, which stood at 10%, has now become 20%, which means the transfer of tax revenue to States has gone down,” said Finance Secretary S Krishnan Transport strike from tomorrow EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE `816.80 crore outlay to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities DG E T ple of Gujarat wanted to vote out BJP but the Congress failed , to capitalise on it. Continuingnfighting in its Gujarat unit, too, is a factor in the poor performance,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the verdict. “Thank you Gujarat! Results... clearly show the unwavering faith people have towards politics of development and good governance,” he tweeted. | P11 custody. The police had sought four more days of custody . While citing a couplet from Rig Veda, which says ‘let noble thoughts come to me from all directions,’ the judge said, “Difference of opinion, disagreement, divergence, dissent, or for that matter even disapprobation, are recognised legitimate tools to infuse objectivity in state policies. An aware and assertive citizenry , in contradistinction with an indifferent or docile citizenry, is indisputably a sign of a healthy and vibrant democracy .” Expressing concern over the sketchy probe, th court said, “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on U A listless Congress found itself whipped by the electorate in Gujarat, as results of the local body polls came in on Tuesday . While there was no surprise in the BJP sweeping the municipal corporation elections, the Congress was forced to cede a part of its opposition space to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and to a lesser extent to Asaduddin Owasi’s Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen. Of the six municipal corporations that went to polls, the Congress drew a blank in Surat and trailed way behind the BJP in the other five. In contrast, the AAP won 27 seats in Surat while the BJP got 93 of the 120 that were up for grabs. In the Ahmadabad Municipal Corporation, out of 192 seats, the BJP was way ahead of the Congress, while MIM opened account with 7 seats. In the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation, the BJP won 50 while Congress got 11 and the BSP 3. In Bhavnagar, Vadodara and Rajkot municipal corporations, the Congress could not even reach double figures, winning 8, 7 and 4 respectively as against , the BJP’s 44, 69 and 68. The Congress has been out of power in the Gujarat for 25 years. In the 2017 state polls un- Disha Ravi (C) arrives at Patiala House Court, in Delhi on Tuesday | SHEKHAR YADAV T A MI L K A N U S A R D A @ New Delhi Temples may no longer be allowed to own elephants E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Chennai THE Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the State to frame a policy to prohibit private ownership of elephants by individuals and temples. The court made this observation while hearing a petition that highlighted the poor upkeep and inhumane treatment of elephants owned by Srirangam temple and other temples. The bench said the government’s policy should ensure only the forest department has the authority to own elephants, for their proper maintenance. The bench directed the State to file a comprehensive report FULL REPORT: P7 within eight weeks. Entire session to be boycotted by Oppn parties Most Opposition parties have decided to boycott the entire Budget session. DMK’s deputy floor leader Durai Murugan said the State had been crippled under a heavy debt of `5.70 lakh crore, and despite this, no development work was done. To highlight the State’s failure in finance management, DMK will boycott the entire session, he said Surge in cases not due to new Covid variants: Govt S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE Centre on Tuesday clarified that the recent spurt in Covid-19 cases in some states is not due to the mutated versions of the coronavirus. “Based on information available to us, yes these variants are there but there’s no reason to believe that these are responsible for the upsurge of the outbreak in some districts of Maharashtra and Kerala,” said V K Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog. Paul, who also heads the national Covid-19 task force, added two variants of SARS CoV 2 — N440K and E484K — have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana. Kerala has 38% of the total active cases of the country while Maharashtra has 37%. The other states showing an upward trend in daily Covid19 cases are Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. So far, 200 cases of the UK variant, six cases of the South African variant and one case of Brazilian variant of SARS CoV 2 have been found out of the 3,500-genome sequencing carried out in India since December. At least five states in India have reported a gradual rise in active Covid cases over the past several days. The active coronavirus cases in the country have crawled up to over 1.5 lakh after touching a low of 1.3 lakh cases earlier this month.
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