Quality at Value JUST OPTICS, ‘NO POLITICS’ SYRIAN PREZ ASSAD SWORN IN FOR FOURTH TERM DAMASCUS: Assad's new term starts with the country still devastated by 10 years of war and worsening economic crisis. (Pg 7) CORONAVIRUS CASES 190,592,332 DEATHS 4,095,831 VERSTAPPEN IS OFF TO A SMOKING HOT START Sharad Pawar meets PM Modi for 50 minutes; denies discussing politics; flags off concerns on the Banking Regulation Act SANJAY JOG Mumbai Amid speculation over his candidature for the post of President, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday held a 50minute meeting with PM Narendra Modi. Pawar said no politics was discussed, and has already denied running for the post of President or Prime Minister. For its part, the PMO tweeted, “Rajya Sabha MP Shri Sharad Pawar met @narendramodi @PawarSpeaks.” The meeting has come two days ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament. On Friday Pawar had held , back-to-back meetings with Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and former defence minister AK Anthony , where Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat was also present. The newly-appointed Leader of House in the BETWEEN THE LINES 66 cr more doses of Covishield, Covaxin at revised rates T he Centre has placed an order to procure 66 crore more doses of Covishield and Covaxin to be supplied between August and December this year, at a revised price of Rs 205 and Rs 215 per dose, respectively, excluding taxes, official sources said. The price of each dose of Covishield amounts to Rs 215.25 and Covaxin Rs 225.75, including taxes. Sources said 37.5 crore Covishield doses from the Serum Institute of India and 28.5 crore Covaxin doses from Bharat Biotech will be procured by December. The Union health ministry, which was procuring both the vaccines at Rs 150 per dose, had indicated that the prices would be revised after the new Covid-19 vaccine procurement policy came into effect from June 21. Under the new policy, the ministry will procure 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by drug manufacturers in the country. While the Centre has asked both vaccine manufacturing firms to scale up their production, the manufacturers had indicated that getting Rs 150 for each dose while making investments to rampup the production was not viable for them, sources said. — Agencies Next R-Day parade on renewed Rajpath l l l Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal also called on Pawar. Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has categorically denied any possibility of coming together with the BJP citing different , ideologies. “The NCP and the BJP are two ends of the river he has raised objections against the amendments carried out last year to the Banking Regulation Act. He said he has drawn the PM’s attention towards issues and conflicts in the wake of certain developments in the cooperative banking sector. No political links as Modi and Pawar share an old bond, notes Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut Pawar asked to ensure that the Cooperative Principles laid down in the Constitution are not sacrificed at the altar of overzealous regulation. “Although the objects and reasons for amending the Banking Regulation Act can be lauded, I wish to point out certain inconsistencies and the resulting legal inefficacy of normative provisions of the Act that are in conflict, most specifically with the 97 , Constitutional Amendments, State Cooperative Societies Acts and with the Cooperative Principles,” he said. Pawar said he has reiterated in the letter that the aims and objectives of the amended Act are well-intentioned, and many provisions are necessary “The erring board . and management must definitely be acted upon strictly and the depositors’ interests should be protected, but at the same time it should be ensured that while doing so, the Cooperative Principles laid down in the Constitution are not sacrificed at the altar of overzealous regulation.” The NCP chief said the Reserve Bank of India on the basis of various newly-introduced impugned provisions was directly intervening into the functioning of the affairs of the cooperative banks. CONTD. ON P6 LONDON: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has won the inaugural F1 Sprint at Silverstone circuit, earning himself three points for Sunday’s British Grand Prix. (Pg 9) FACE SAVER: UP yatra is off Yogi Adityanath government cancels Kanwar Yatra after SC remarks RASHMI SHARMA Lucknow Days after the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government for organising the Kanwar Yatra, the state has finally announced its cancellation. The SC had raised questions over such a crowded event in the wake of the pandemic situation and had said it “cannot be allowed 100 per cent”. The Uttarakhand government has already called off the yatra. On Saturday the Yogi , Adityanath government held discussions with the associations of yatris and appealed to them not to take out the yatra to avoid crowding, which India can’t afford with the third Covid-19 wave looming large. CONTD. ON P6 States can take ‘Ganga jal’ in tankers AGENCIES / Dehradun The Uttarakhand government on Saturday allowed states to take ‘Ganga jal’ from Haridwar in water tankers, days after the state government cancelled the Kanwar Yatra owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Haridwar police have said that Kanwariyas will not be allowed to enter Haridwar and the border will also be sealed. On Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre told the Supreme Court that as far as the Kanwar Yatra is concerned, states “must not” permit movement of Kanwariyas for bringing water from the Ganga in Haridwar to Shiv temples for ‘abhishekam’ in view of the Covid-19 crisis. New academic session Film, TV night shoots may commence with riders Thackeray asks producers to follow Covid-19 for colleges from Oct 1 Uddhavmembers and coordinate locations and timingsnorms, vaccinate crew with the police ESSENTIAL FOR A ‘YES’ AGENCIES / New Delhi The new academic session for first-year students to be admitted in various universities across the country will commence from October 1, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines. The admission process for the current academic session must be completed by September 30. According to new guidelines issued by UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain, directions have been given to colleges, universities and other higher educational institutions that the admission process for undergraduate courses for 202122 will begin only after Class 12 results are declared. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced that it will declare Class 12 results by July 31. The other state boards have also said the results will be declared tentatively around the same time. The schools will also be uploading the marks secured by students in Class 11. The CBSE has asked all schools to upload the marks secured by students in practical and project work, too. The UGC has made it clear that the college seats left vacant during the admission process must be filled by October 31. However, the universities will accept documents related to the admission process till December 31 this year. SANJAY JOG Mumbai In a major relief for Bollywood film producers and TV and OTT serial makers, the Maharashtra government on Saturday hinted at allowing film shoots beyond 4 pm, the current permissible time. Agreeing to consider the request of the Producers Guild of India for night shoots, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during a virtual interac, tion, attached certain riders with the possible permission. These include strict adherence to Covid-19 norms, proper coordination with the local police about locations and timings, periodical RT-PCR tests of crew members and complete vaccination at the earliest. The CM said, “Shootings need to take place in a disciplined manner… as we can’t afford any carelessness.” He said the state government is taking steps to lift restrictions in phases, cautiously and safely and for this , people’s cooperation would be required, which means complete vaccination and not ignoring coronavirus India to get indigenous anti-drone tech OUR BUREAU New Delhi The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other agencies are working together to develop an indigenous counter-drone technology which will be available soon, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced on Saturday . The Home Minister’s statement comes after a drone attack on Jammu Air Force base on June 27, when two Indian Air Force personnel suffered minor injuries. As per sources, drones have since been repeatedly spotted hovering over military installations in the region. Over 250 drones have been sighted along the border with Pakistan since 2019. Noting that smuggling of drugs, arms, and explosives through tunnels and drones is a major challenge, Shah said it is very important to deal with these challenges at the earliest. While addressing the 18th Border Security Force (BSF) Investiture ceremony , Shah said, “DRDO is working to develop anti-drone swadeshi technology to get over this new danger. CONTD. ON P6 Boost to Navy with Seahawk choppers Border fencing gaps with Pak, B’desh to be filled by 2022 U NEW DELHI: The Republic Day parade next year will be held on the refurbished Rajpath as the redevelopment work of the Central Vista Avenue, stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, is expected to be completed by this November, officials said on Friday. Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who reviewed the status of ongoing construction works, said citizens will get an avenue that they will be proud of. — Agencies AGENCIES / New Delhi In a move to increase fire power in the Indo-Pacific region, the Indian Navy has inducted two US-made Seahawk multirole helicopters, as part of a 24-chopper deal. The two helicopters were inducted during a ceremony at San Diego on Friday. An all-weather helicopter manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corporation, the MH-60R is designed to support multiple missions. Its induction will also help the Indian Navy replace its aging fleet of anti-submarine Sea King helicopters, which were first acquired from British Westland Helicopters Limited back in the early 1970s. CONTD. ON P6 NEET eliminates poor: Former Madras HC judge CHENNAI: Primary health care centres in rural Tamil Nadu will not have doctors in future if the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is maintained, said former judge in the Madras High Court AK Rajan, reported NDTV. The former judge submitted his report to the state government on the impact of the NEET among the various sections in the society. "NEET drives away the poor, only the rich and the affluent garner most seats. When you remove local students from studying MBBS, after becoming doctors affluent people are not going to serve in PHCs in remote areas. They will go abroad to continue studies and look after their life," the news channel quoted Rajan as saying. and cannot come together as long as there is water in the river,” said NCP chief spokesman and state minister of minority affairs Nawab Malik. On the topic of his meeting with the PM, Sharad Pawar said that in a six-page letter NCP denies any alliance with the BJP, saying both are two ends of the river, can’t come together VOL. 33 NO. 11| MUMBAI, PUNE, INDORE, BHOPAL SUNDAY| JULY 18, 2021| 14 PAGES | ` 4 nion Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday asserted that all border fencing gaps with Pakistan and Bangladesh will be filled by 2022. Shah said, “There is no benefit of fencing the border if gaps are not completely filled. I want to ensure that there will be no gaps….” He said all issues related to the fencing project have been resolved. The Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System, that entails deployment of smart fences, advanced surveillance gadgets and anti-infiltration alarms, has been sped up by the border management division under the Ministry of Home Affairs and BSF along the borders with the two nations. symptoms. The CM directed that the Mumbai police should seek necessary information about shooting schedules and locations from producers in advance. He said the police should appoint a coordinator to give approvals only when convinced that stipulated norms are being followed. The Producers Guild of India CEO, Nitin Tej Ahuja said, “In a letter to the CM, we had shared comprehensive standard operating procedures being followed by our members, as also our efforts to get film crews vaccinated. The CM and other attendees, like the medical task force and the police commissioner, gave us a patient hearing and shared pertinent points, too.” Thackeray said the government does not like to impose restrictions, but the virus is still there in Maha- l l l l Strict adherence to Covid-19 norms Coordination of schedules and locations with the local police Periodical RT-PCR testing for crews Complete vaccination at the earliest rashtra, Kerala and other states. He said, “Despite the provision of a biobubble, the virus was detected during sports competitions and other programmes. We are not completely out of the second wave, but the third wave seems to have hit other countries. Therefore, we need to take full care for effective implementation of health rules.” The Producers Guild of India was represented by Ahuja, Riteish Sidhwani, Stuti Ramchandra, Madhu Bhojwani and Rakesh Mehra, with Marathi film industry represented by Subodh Bhave, Nagraj Manjule and Ravi Jadhav. Sidhu may head Punjab Cong despite Captain’s written protest FROM OUR BUREAU / New Delhi Navjot Singh Sidhu appears all set to become the Punjab Congress president despite Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s written protest to party president Sonia Gandhi to make a choice between him and Sidhu. He reportedly said he cannot guarantee the Congress victory in the Assembly polls early next year even if the elections are contested under his leadership as the chief minister. Party sources said All India Congress Committee general secretary Harish Rawat, who is incharge of Punjab affairs, met Amarinder and tried to pacify him that the party leadership will appoint four working presidents of the state Congress instead of the earlier plans to have two, one a Hindu and another a Dalit. CONTD. ON P6 Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu meets Punjab Congress Chief Sunil Jakhar in Panchkula on Saturday. Yet again, BMC fined for sewage treatment violation PRATIP ACHARYA / Mumbai The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed an additional Rs 2.1 crore fine on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as compensation for environmental damage for partial treatment of sewage. The NGT has summoned the municipal commissioner to be present at the next hearing. The NGT passed the order on Friday after Vanashakti, a city-based NGO, , filed an execution plea against the BMC in June 2021. It was then noted that six of the sewage treatment facilities at Worli, Bandra, Versova, Malad, Bhandup and Ghatkopar did not comply with the parameters set for treatment of sewage and discharge. Only one sewage treatment plant in Colaba complies with environmental norms. The remaining seven have not complied fully , and the BMC has stated that it would need another four to five years to set up fully-complying facilities. CONTD. ON P6 France allows visitors with Indian-made AstraZeneca vax ‘No one can ask transpersons to leave Mumbai’ LAST WORD: HC asks Mumbai police to protect a transgender person from getting married against wishes AGENCIES / Paris France will allow international travellers who have had AstraZeneca's Indianmanufactured vaccine into the country starting Sunday . At the same time, France is tightening border checks to control the spread of the delta variant and protect hospitals, according to a statement from the prime minister Saturday . The move to accept visitors vaccinated with As- traZeneca's vaccine made by India's Serum Institute came after a global outcry over the fact that the European Union's Covid-19 certificate only recognises AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Europe. Several other EU countries already accept the Indian version, which is notably used in the U.K. and around Africa. The varied rules from each country have further complicated this summer's travel season. CONTD. ON P6 NARSI BENWAL Mumbai A transperson, who came from Mysore to Mumbai in December 2020, to follow her dream to pursue a career in dance and to become a successful choreographer, moved the Bombay High Court seeking protection from any coercive action from Mumbai police and Mysore police. The plea, mentioned before the division bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Nizamoodin Jamadar, stated that her parents, in particular her father, want her to marry and are not willing to accept that she is a transgender person with psychological issues. Advocate Vijay Hiremath told the court that her parents had come to the city along with Mysore police and met her at Versova. He submitted that Versova police had asked his client to leave Mumbai against her will. Having heard the submissions, Justice Shinde said, “How can you (Versova police) ask them (transpersons) to leave Mumbai? How can you even think of confining them?” At this, additional public prosecutor KV Saste for Versova Police told the judges that the city police never asked her to leave Mumbai. During the hearing, Saste told the judges that the person’s parents had filed a missing complaint at Lashkar police station in Karnataka. “You have to protect them as they are the citizens of our country and can move as per their wish anywhere in India. Don’t treat them as criminals,” Justice Shinde remarked, adding that the person concerned is an adult. “Transpersons can take decisions for their own life and live wherever they want to. No one can ask them to leave the city against their will, at least not like this,” Justice Shinde added. CONTD. ON P6 Olympic Village reports first Covid case AGENCIES Tokyo The first resident of the Olympic Village has tested positive for Covid-19, Tokyo Olympic organisers said on Saturday Officials said it . was not an athlete with the Games opening in just under a week on July 23. Tokyo officials including Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, confirmed the case and said the positive test was Friday Organizers say . for confidentiality purposes they can only offer a vague description and few details. "In the current situation, that positive cases arise is something we must assume is possible," said Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee. The person is identified simply as a "games-concerned personnel." The person is also listed as a non-resident of Japan. Tokyo officials said the person was placed in a 14-day quarantine. The Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will house about 11,000 athletes during the Olympics and thousands of other staff.