Hello, this is your daily dose of news from Onmanorama. I'm your host, Vishnu, and these are the major news stories of the day:
1. Police will register fresh case against actor-producer Vijay Babu if there is a formal complaint based on new #MeToo post
2. India reports 3,688 new COVID infections, 50 fatalities
3. KSEB Officers’ Association stir may end soon, minister holds talks
4. NCC's Idukki airstrip is a threat to Periyar Tiger Reserve: Centre tells Kerala HC
5. Heatwave aggravates, mercury crosses 46-deg C mark in many parts of India
Let's get into the details:
1. A new case will be registered against film producer-actor Vijay Babu if there is a formal complaint, Kochi City Police Commissioner C H Nagaraju said on Saturday. The police officer made the statement a day after another woman made a #MeToo revelation against Vijay Babu.
Vijay Babu has been absconding after he was booked in a rape case after a young Malayalam actress made a series of charges against him. He landed in more legal trouble after he revealed the name of the actress through social media in a bid to paint himself as the real victim.
The police officer said a decision on the next steps of investigation, including revoking Vijay Babu's passport, will be taken after observing his moves. He is believed to be in Dubai now.
He also said the Kerala high court's decision to consider later an anticipatory bail plea filed by the accused will not affect the course of the probe.
A second woman came out against Vijay Babu on Friday, calling him “someone who tries to utilize vulnerable women offering help”. The woman made the revelations through a Facebook page called “Women against Sexual Harassment” which has seen many #MeToo revelations.
Meanwhile, the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes, widely known as AMMA, has sought a legal opinion on the action to be taken against Vijay Babu, a member of the outfit. Sources in the association said the internal complaints committee of the association has recommended disciplinary action against Vijay Babu.
2. India saw a single-day rise of 3,688 new coronavirus infections, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,30,75,864, while the active cases increased to 18,684, the government said on Saturday.
The death toll so far rose to 5,23,803 with 50 more fatalities. The active cases constituted 0.04 per cent of the total infections, while the national recovery rate was recorded at 98.74 per cent, according to the central health ministry.
In all 883 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.74 per cent and weekly positivity rate at 0.66 per cent, the data said.
Out of 50 fatalities, 45 were reported from Kerala, two each from Delhi and Maharashtra, and one from Uttar Pradesh.
The health ministry has stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.
3. The stir by the CPM-affiliated KSEB Officers’ Association against the management is set to end soon following a meeting held by Kerala power minister K Krishnankutty.
The formula to resolve the strike evolved during the three-hour meeting held at Ernakulam Government Guesthouse on Friday. The Association leaders have decided to join duty on Saturday following the assurance given by the minister to make a further announcement regarding the resolution of their demands on May 5.
The three association leaders who were placed under suspension joined duty at the new place of posting today. The three officers meanwhile replied to the charge sheet given by the management.
More announcements are expected after the next round of meeting with the minister scheduled to be held on May 5. Under these circumstances, all agitation programmes including campaign rallies which were to be held till May 5, have been deferred.
"We will be able to resolve the strike once the officers join the duty," the minister said.
A few days ago the High Court ruled that the Kerala Essential Services Maintenance Act (KESMA) – which contains severe strictures – could be invoked against the agitating officers. Striking employees could be fined and imprisoned as per the Act.
The Officers' Association has been on a warpath against KSEB Chairman B Ashok for his attempts to rein in rebelling trade unions.
4. The Centre has informed the Kerala High Court that the construction of an airstrip at Sathram, near Vandiperiyar, in Idukki district is a threat to the Periyar Tiger Reserve. The airstrip, which is being constructed for the National Cadet Corps (NCC), is set to be the first such in this highland district.
Constructing roads, rail, canals, pipelines, ropeway and transmission lines through the wildlife areas pose a threat to wild animals. And approval is required for development projects in such regions, stated the National Tiger Conservation Authority which is under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The Assistant Solicitor General submitted this explanation on a petition filed by Idukki native M N Jayachandran, seeking to restrain the construction of the airstrip without obtaining the environmental clearance and the clearance under the Forest Conservation Act.
The Centre informed the court that it has received the complaint sent by the petitioner to the Tiger Conservation Authority and that the report of the Chief Wildlife Warden of the Kerala Government was received only after repeated requests.
The Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) replied that the airstrip was being constructed near to the Tiger Reserve.
The aerial distance from the boundary of the Tiger Reserve to the runway is 630 metres. This is an ecologically important area with shola forests and grasslands. The flight operations will affect even the migratory birds and wild animals.
5. A torrid heatwave has sent temperatures soaring across large parts of the country, with Banda in east Uttar Pradesh logging a record high of 47.4 degrees Celsius.
The mercury breached the 46-degree Celsius mark in several places, including Allahabad and Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh; Sports Complex in Delhi; Ganganagar in Rajasthan; Nowgong in Madhya Pradesh; and Maharashtra's Chandrapur.
Meanwhile, Gurugram recorded an all-time high of 45.9 degrees Celsius.
Amid the intense heatwave, India's peak power demand has reached an all-time high of 204.65 Gigawatt as of April 28.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the heatwave spell will persist over northwest and central India till May 2 and over east India till April 30.
An 'orange alert' had been issued for Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra on Saturday.
The heatwave is expected to abate from Monday under the influence of a western disturbance, which is likely to affect northwest India from the night of May 1, IMD said.
A heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius and at least 4.5 notches above normal. A severe heatwave is declared if the departure from normal temperature is more than 6.4 notches, according to the IMD.
That brings us to the end of this episode. Be sure to come back tomorrow. As always, thanks for listening to Daily News Dose.