QBullet: Vizag Gas Leak Kills 11; K’taka Restarts Migrant Trains

1. Vizag Gas Leak Kills 11; Company Didn't Have Environmental Clearance

At least 11 people, including two children, died after a chemical gas leakage at the LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday, 7 May. Vishakhapatnam police said that 5,000 tonnes of polymer were kept in two tanks at the factory. The polymers caused an automatic chain reaction which resulted in vapours coming out, they said.

According to a report by The Indian Express, this specific plant of LG polymers did not have environmental clearance for a "substantial period of its operations between 1997 and 2019".

At least 1,000 people living within a three-kilometre radius around the factory have fallen sick. The adjoining villages have been evacuated.

Also Read: Vizag ACP Confirms Gas Leak as 11 Die in Tragedy, 250 Hospitalised

2. Karnataka Allows Trains for Migrant Workers After Facing Criticism

The Karnataka government decided to restart train services that were to take migrants workers from the state to their home states. On 6 May, The Quint had reported that after a meeting with the builders' lobby of the state, the government had cancelled these trains meant for migrants workers. A senior government official had then said that migrant workers were "needed to revive the economy".

This sparked widespread outrage on social media with many comparing this to a modern form of slavery or bonded labour. This has now prompted the government to reverse its decision.

Also Read: Karnataka Govt Allows Trains for Migrant Workers After Facing Flak

3. PM Modi Addresses the World on the Occasion of Buddha Purnima

Addressing the global community on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India strongly stands behind anyone battling the COVID crisis in the country, or anywhere else in the world.

The prime minister, who conducted a virtual prayer session, said that India was "fulfilling its global responsibilities".

“To stop after getting tired cannot be a solution to any problem. All of us have to fight together to defeat coronavirus,” he said.

Also Read: Only Modi Govt & RBI’s Efforts Can Revive India’s Auto Industry

4. India Records Over 3k New COVID Cases Two Days in a Row

States across India have cumulatively reported more than 3,000 news cases per day for the last two days. This has sent the country's corona count past the 55,000-mark. This comes just four days after the country reached the 40,000-mark on 3 May.

The figure also touched a new high in New Delhi which recorded 448 fresh cases. The previous single-day peak in the national capital was 428.

Maharashtra, the state with the highest number of COVID positive cases and death toll, recorded over 1,200 fresh cases for the second day in a row.

Also Read: COVID-19: Over 52,900 Cases in India; Death Toll Stands at 1,783

5. Uttar Pradesh Cancels Cases Against 28 in 2013 Muzaffarnagar Riots Case

The Uttar Pradesh government has withdrawn cases against 28 people against whom these cases were filed after the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots in the state's Shamli district, reported PTI.

A local BJP party leader, Dhanshyam Parcha, was also among the 29, confirmed Shamli's MLA Tejendra Nirwal.

The cases were withdrawn after the district's administration's report on the same.

"Most of the cases have been withdrawn after proper examination. They were found to be politically motivated to harass people, said the state's Law Minister, Brijesh Pathak.

At least 62 people were killed and many others lost their homes and livelihoods during the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.

Also Read: COVID-19: Man Under Home Quarantine in Muzaffarnagar Kills Self

6. Netas, Corporates Using Defamation as a Tool to Intimidate the Media: Madras HC

Powerful politicians and corporates are using the defamation law as “tools of intimidation” said the Madras High Court on Thursday, 7 May.

The court added that at this juncture the "higher judiciary will not desert its duty when it comes to the protection of fundamental rights", reported The Times of India.

The HC made this observation while quashing defamation cases against Economic Times and two journalists, stating that inaccuracies in reporting cannot justify the prosecution of media.

Also Read: Where Does Press Freedom Stand in the Age of Contempt, Defamation?

7. JEE (Advanced) Date Set for 23 August

The JEE (Advanced) entrance test for admission to 23 Indian Institutes Of Technology (IITs) wil be held on 23 August, announced Union Human Resource Development Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal.

Earlier the government had announced that the JEE (Main) will be held from 18 to 23 July, and that the NEET-UG for admission to medical colleges will be held on 26 July.

The ministry has postponed all competitive exams, including the CBSE board exams, due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Also Read: JEE Advanced Exam to Be Held on 23 August: HRD Minister 

8. Indian Spinners May Face $3 Billion Loss in FY21: ICRA

The COVID pandemic and the resulting lockdown seems to have the cotton spinning industry hard as it stares at losses at a multi-year low in FY21.

The operating income of cotton spinners is expected to decline 15-20 percent year-on-year and the operating margins are expected to be corrected by 200-400 bps for FY21, compared to FY20 levels, said a report by ICRA, reports The Financial Times.

This comes after the Indian spinning industry had a hard year in 2020 as severe pressures on demand and unfavourable movements in yarn realisations and raw material prices posed massive challenges.

9. India to Take on Off-Shore Currency Markets Amid COVID Pandemic

The India International Exchange (IFSC) Ltd. and NSE IFSC Ltd. will on Friday, 8 May, begin trading foreign-exchange settled rupee derivatives, reported Bloomberg.

This is being seen as a push by the Indian government to bring the market back home.

“Volumes in an exchange typically take time to pick up. The bid-ask spreads have to come down and a lot of market-making has to happen to get decent activity", said Abhishek Goenka, chief executive at India Forex Advisors Pvt. to Bloomberg.

However, experts say that the timing of the move, amid a crippling lockdown, may make it harder for the contracts to gain traction even as volumes in rupee trading overseas grows.

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