With highest single-day spike of 49,931 cases, India's COVID-19 tally crosses 14 lakh mark

News Network
July 27, 2020

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New Delhi, Jul 27: India's COVID tally on Monday crossed 14 lakh mark with the highest single-day spike of 49,931 cases reported in the last 24 hours, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The total COVID-19 cases stand at 14,35,453, including 4,85,114 active cases, 9,17,568 cured/discharged/migrated, it added.

With 708 deaths in the last 24 hours, the cumulative toll reached 32,771.

India had crossed 13 lakhs COVID-19 cases on July 25.

Maharashtra has reported 3,75,799 coronavirus cases, the highest among states and Union Territories in the country.

A total of 2,13,723 cases have been reported from Tamil Nadu till now, while Delhi has recorded a total of 1,30,606 coronavirus cases.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 5,15,472 samples were tested for coronavirus on Sunday and overall 1,68,06,803 samples have been tested so far.

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News Network
September 25,2020

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Bengaluru, Sept 25: Karnataka government gave its firm assurance to all 32 Kannadigas who are repatriated from Saudi Arabia.

This was announced here by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr C. N. Ashwathnarayana on Thursday. "All 32 Kannadigas reached Bengaluru on Thursday evening and the state has made them stay in Bengaluru University hostel premises," he said.

He further added that all of them have undergone mandatory Covid-19 tests and till the results come, they will be kept in a hostel.

The minister said that most of them lost their jobs due to the pandemic and they are direly in need of jobs, hence the state government had taken responsibility for accommodating them.

According to him, Karnataka took every possible initiative to bring back these 32 persons who were languishing in Saudi Arabia prisons after they had violated their Employment visa rules.

"Most of them had over stayed in that country. We got in touch with External Affairs ministry and in turn they got in touch with Embassy in Saudi Arabia, who helped us out to bring all of them to India," he explained.

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Agencies
September 27,2020

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New Delhi/Madurai, Sept 27: The CBI has chargesheeted nine Tamil Nadu policemen for murder, conspiracy and other offences in the custodial death case of the father-son duo who were arrested on a "fake" charge of violating the lockdown and tortured in Sathankulam police station in June this year, officials said Saturday.

The policemen have also been accused of destruction of evidence in the charge sheet filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Madurai on Friday in the alleged torture and murder of shopkeepers J Benniks and his father RP Jeyaraj, who ran a mobile phone shop in Thoothukudi district.

The ghastly crime had triggered a massive outrage prompting the chief minister to seek a CBI probe in the matter.

In its charge sheet, the CBI has named the then Inspector and SHO S. Sridhar, Sub Inspectors K. Balakrishnan, P. Raghuganesh, Head Constables S. Murugan, A. Samadurai, and Constables M. Muthuraja,  S. Chelladurai, X. Thomas Francis and, S. Veilumuthu posted at the police station.

The CBI rushed to file the charge sheet as the three-month custody of the accused is getting over on September 30 making them eligible for bail, sources said.

The agency has alleged that after the torture of the two victims in the police station which led to their death, the police officials destroyed evidence and filed "fake" charges against them of violating the coronavirus lockdown by keeping their shops open beyond the permitted time, they said.

When asked what was the motive behind the incident, the officials said the probe is being kept open.

During the investigation, nine CBI officers contracted COVID-19 while one of the accused sub-inspector died.

All the remaining accused police personnel are under judicial custody, they said.

"A CBI team camped continuously at Madurai and worked untiringly in the cases, even through the odds of COVID 19 pandemic," CBI Spokesperson RK Gaur said.

"The CBI investigation revealed that the father-son duo were arrested in the evening of 19.06.2020 and allegedly tortured at the Sathankulam Police Station by the accused in the evening as well as in the intervening night, consequent to which both of them succumbed to the injuries and died in the intervening night of June 22, 2020 and June 23, 2020," he said.

After investigation, a combined charge sheet in both the cases has been filed, he said.

"Further investigation is continuing to look into the role of other persons in the case," he said.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Magistrate probing the incident had told the Madras High Court that the policemen thrashed the deceased father-son the whole night in the police station. "Lathis were used" for allegedly assaulting them and a table carrying bloodstains bears testimony to the grisly crime.

The findings were based on a statement of a woman police personnel attached to the police station where the alleged crime took place.

After the alleged torture, Jeyaraj and Benniks were sent to sub-jail under remand at around 2.30 AM on June 20 where they were kept as prisoner number 3636 and 3635 respectively.

In the morning at around 7.45 am, Benniks complained of a wheezing problem and was taken to Kovilpatti government hospital in an autorickshaw. The doctors declared at 9 AM that he could not survive, the FIR had alleged.

Two days later at around 10.20 PM on June 22, Jeyaraj complained of fever and was taken to the government hospital.

In the morning at around 5.40 AM the next day, doctors told the authorities that treatment failed and Jeyaraj too had died, it said.

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Agencies
September 28,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 28: CNG and piped natural gas prices could face an increase this festive season if the government implements a new floor price mechanism for gas produced from domestic fields by companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Sources said the petroleum ministry is considering a proposal under which domestic gas will have a floor pricing that would prevent fuel prices from crashing below an identified threshold in the current subdued market conditions and insulate oil and gas explorers like ONGC from a tariff crash.

Talks are on to link gas prices with price Japan-Korea Marker, a benchmark index used to determine LNG tariff in North Asia with a discount.

With JKM prices hovering over $ 5 million British thermal units (mmBtu) even with day $ 1 mmBtu discount, the Indian gas floor price under this formula will be close to $ 4 mmBtu. This is much higher than the government administered price of $ 2.39 mmBtu for the April-October, 2020 period. And if implemented, it could increase the cost for all gas consumers.

"Nothing has been finalised on having a gas floor price as of now. A panel in the petroleum ministry is looking at various options and the best course would be adopted that has little impact on consumers but also supports oil and gas companies with remunerative and sustainable gas prices."

The average cost of gas production for the country's largest public sector oil company ONGC is about $3.7/mmBtu, much higher than the current regulated price of natural gas at $2.39/mmBtu. This is expected to fall further to about $1.9/mmBtu for the next six months beginning October 1 under the current formula, sources said.

Lower gas prices is bad news for ONGC as it would mean further suppressed margins and losses. The company is set to lose close to Rs 6,000 crore on low gas prices this year, brokerages have said.

Brokerages have put ONGC's FY22E gas price at US$3.6-4.2/mmbtu depending on discount to JKM price if the new floor price is implemented. With Low L NG liquefaction capacity addition ahead, JKM spot futures for FY22-FY26E are expected at US$5.2-5.8/mmbtu vs US$4.7-4.1/mmbtu in FY20-FY21E.

Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said earlier that India will phase out price controls in natural gas and make it market-linked soon.

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