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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Daily Briefing: Rs 80-crore deal for JD(U) leader’s family in Bihar tap water scheme; Almost entire India polluted as per new WHO norms

The National Disaster Management has recommended an ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for loss of life due to Covid-19 — an amount that will be provided by states from the State Disaster Relief Fund.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 23, 2021 8:18:18 am
A look at the top news today, October 21, 2021.

Good morning,

Express Investigation 

There’s nothing wrong in doing business, was the response of Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Tarkishore Prasad when he was asked about the Rs 53-crore Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal projects which, as The Indian Express investigation has found, were awarded to his relatives and aides. As such, The Indian Express formulated a list to show how long is the shadow of political patronage in the award of contracts under Bihar’s flagship scheme to take drinking water to the doorstep. Topping the list, in the amount involved, is JD(U) ex-state secretary Anil Singh’s family, which got contracts worth about Rs 80 crore.

In the wake of The Indian Express report that contracts worth at least Rs 53 crore were awarded under Bihar’s Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal drinking water scheme to family members and aides of Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad, the state government said it will probe the “process of bidding and tendering if there are specific complaints”.  Meanwhile, Bihar’s Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has dared Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take action against Prasad.

From the Front Page 

The National Disaster Management has recommended an ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 for loss of life due to Covid-19 — an amount that will be provided by states from the State Disaster Relief Fund and distributed by the District Disaster Management Authority or the district administrations. The payments, NDMA added, “will continue to be provided for deaths that may occur in the future phases of the Covid-19 pandemic as well, or until further notification”.

A day after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar raised the issue of non-recognition of Covishield with the British Foreign Secretary, the UK updated its travel guidance, clarifying that the formulations of Covishield qualify it as an “approved” vaccine but not the Covid-19 certificates issued by India. This means that Indian travellers will continue to be treated as “unvaccinated” and will still have to take a pre-departure RT-PCR test, further RT-PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 of arrival, and self-isolate at their destination address for 10 days after entry.

According to the World Health Organisation’s new air quality guidelines that lowers the recommended levels of pollutants that can be considered safe for human health, nearly entire India would be considered a polluted zone for most of the year.  While a PM2.5 concentration of 25 micrograms per cubic metre in a 24-hour period was considered safe earlier, the WHO has now said that a concentration of over 15 micrograms is not safe.

Must Read 

“They said a body covered in tarpaulin has been found in an orchard, and that it is possibly Shakir’s.” A phone call from a relative in a nearby village, ended Manzoor Ahmad Wagay’s 14-month search for the remains of his son. Shakir Manzoor, who was serving as a Rifleman in a Territorial Army unit at Balpora in Shopian, disappeared on August 2, 2020, after an Eid lunch at home. He was kidnapped by suspected militants while returning to the camp where he was posted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed for international travel to be made easier through “mutual recognition of vaccine certificates” at the recent Global Covid Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden. In his video remarks, Modi also said India is ramping up production capacity of existing vaccines and the supply chains of raw materials must be kept open.

From luxury hotels, to fancy cars and bikes — Anand Giri, a priest at the Bare Hanuman Temple in Prayagraj, is known to live it up. Now he is under the scanner in connection with the death of Akhara Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri. After the police found Giri dead, police claimed to have found a seven-page ‘suicide note’ in which the mahant held Anand Giri, besides two others, responsible for his death. But this is by no means Anand Giri’s first brush with controversy. 

There’s a new media giant in town. Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) Wednesday entered into an exclusive and non-binding agreement to merge the two companies. The merged entity will almost draw level with sector leader Star India in terms of revenues and will potentially derive synergies from the varied presence of both ZEEL and SPNI. 

And Finally 

On Tuesday afternoon, Haryana boxer Akash Kumar won the national title in Bellary, earning himself a berth at the World Championship next month. His first thought after his big win: “I will place this gold medal at my mother’s feet.” Little did he know that his mother had passed away on September 14, a day before the tournament kicked off.

Delhi Confidential: The Congress is facing some heat for nominating Rajani Patil for the sole available Rajya Sabha seat from Maharashtra. The name of Patil, who previously served one term each in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, was also present in the list of nominated MLCs, which is still pending before the Governor.

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, first we discuss the Quad Summit and why there are talks of the AUKUS pact impacting it; then, we take a look at the big takeaways from the police’s chargesheet in the case related to the murder and rape of a 9 year-old Dalit girl in Delhi; and finally, we go over how a Myanmar town near the Indian border is seeing an exodus as thousands flee fighting in the country.

Until tomorrow, 
Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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