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Kamal Haasan richest candidate in Tamil Nadu Assembly polls




Our Special Correspondent

 NEW DELHI, March 20:

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan has emerged as the richest candidate in the fray for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections on April 6. The founder and chief of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) declared moveable assets worth over INR450 million. He filed his nomination from the Coimbatore (South) constituency.

 Candidates, including heavyweights such as Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, DMK President MK Stalin, Haasan and Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, have officially entered the fray for the April 6 election.

 The Chief Minister, who filed his nomination from Edapadi constituency on Monday, declared movable assets worth over INR 4.7 million while stating that he has no immovable assets to his name. He further stated that his wife’s movable assets were worth INR 10.4 million and that of the Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) were INR 5.021 million.

 He declared immovable assets in his wife’s name at INR 17.8 million and a further INR 21 million under the HUF, including ancestral property. His affidavit further states that he owes a “hand loan” of INR 1.5 million to an individual.

 In his 2016 poll affidavit, the AIADMK joint coordinator had pegged his movable assets at over INR 1.283 million and immovable assets at INR 19.7 million. In his latest filed on Monday, he declared that he owes the government no dues, including on the Income Tax and GST fronts.

 Stating agriculture as his primary profession, the CM said he has no pending cases against him. He chose the ‘Not Applicable’ option in a section of the nomination papers where a candidate is required to enter the total number of cases in which he/she has been convicted. Palaniswami has contested six Assembly elections till date, winning four of them.

 Stalin declared movable assets worth a little over INR 49.4 million, while pegging his immovable assets, comprising land and residential buildings, at INR22.4 million. The DMK president, who is seeking a third successive term from Kolathur constituency, stated that his wife’s movable assets were worth INR 30,52,854.

 He said he had no vehicle in his name while his wife was in possession of gold jewellery worth INR 2.477 million. Adding that he INR50,000 as cash in hand, Stalin declared that he owed no dues to banks or government agencies and had no other liabilities. He stated the sources of his income as his monthly salary as MLA, bank deposits, and rent.

 Stalin’s son and the party’s youth-wing secretary Udhayanidhi, who is making his electoral debut from the Chepauk-Triplicane segment this year, declared INR211.3 million worth of movable assets, including a four-wheeler of 2016 model. Declaring the ‘procurement price’ of his vehicle as INR17.7 million, he stated that he had immovable assets worth INR 65.4 million.

 Haasan quoted his movable properties over INR 450 million. These include two vehicles – BMW 730 LD and Lexus LX 570, the combined valuation of which comes to INR 30.7 million. The veteran actor pegged his immovable properties, including commercial buildings and agricultural land, at a little over INR1.31 billion.

 He also declared two residential buildings in Chennai, cumulatively priced at INR 195 million, and a joint property in London worth INR25 million. The superstar stated that he has INR 495 million in liabilities, adding that he has no spouse or dependents. 

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Facilities for infected pregnant women inadequate – SLCOG



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The distribution and availability of high-flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant women were not adequate, President of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG,) Dr. Pradeep de Silva said yesterday.

Dr. de Silva said that while they had not yet faced any lack of oxygen in treating Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers, things could change rapidly given the limited availability of equipment. “Having an adequate supply of oxygen alone is not enough. You need high flow oxygen machines, and 50 litres of oxygen per minute is needed to operate a high flow oxygen machine. I do not know how many machines we have in this country but where I work, Castle Street Maternity Hospital has about four. We need to estimate the number of these machines we require and how much oxygen we want. From my understanding, the distribution and availability of high flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers is not adequate.”

Dr de Silva said that Sri Lanka needed about 50–200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10–50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four for ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines.

“If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr de Silva said that currently one pregnant woman who has been infected with COVID-19 is receiving ECMO treatment. There is also a shortage of beds at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women. On Thursday, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage, who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds were dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. They didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated for their use, he said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” Dr Dewolage said.

The President of the SLCOG also urged all hospitals to find a separate space for pregnant women who were receiving treatment at their institutions. When COVID-19 pandemic started, the Health Ministry instructed all hospitals to do so but it was now obvious that those instructions had not been followed, he said.

“When the second wave started people got ready but later, they just stopped getting ready and now we are unprepared to meet the challenges of the third wave. We need to find a way to manage this. If the Ministry of Health has not prepared a plan, we are ready to help formulate one,” the President of the SLCOG said.

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Those who had AstraZeneca first jab, should take Sputnik V with adenovirus 26 – Specialist



By Rathindra Kuruwita

If those who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca are to receive a second jab of Sputnik V, they should take the first Sputnik V vaccine with adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology-MRI, Dr Nihan Rajiva de Silva says.

Dr. de Silva said that the first dose of Sputnik had Ad 26 and the second had adenovirus-5. “Adenovirus-5 is common. We may have been exposed to that and we may have developed antibodies. Adenovirus-26 is rarer and we will better respond to that. That is why the vaccine-maker has used adenovirus-26 in the first vaccine. So, if you had a first jab of AstraZeneca and you are to get the second dose from Sputnik-V remember to get the first jab,” Dr. de Silva said.

He added that any vaccine has the chance of reducing the severity of the virus and that the general public should get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.

Dr. de Silva said that there was a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines because the Serum Institute of India could not deliver shipments as promised.

“However, we are now getting Sputnik V vaccines and we are looking at mixing them. There is a study in Russia about the efficiency of mixing Sputnik V with AstraZeneca and the results should be out soon. I can say that theoretically mixing the two vaccines should work,” he said.

Dr. de Silva added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should work against the new variant spreading in the country.

Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Gotabaya Ranasinghe said that those with heart issues, non-communicable diseases and were obese must get vaccinated to minimise the complications of Covid-19.

Dr. Ranasinghe said that those in the above-mentioned categories were at risk of contracting, getting complications and dying of COVID-19 and research had proven that vaccination would reduce the chance of such eventualities.

“If you worry about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Don’t seek advice from friends and family,” he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe added that they had limited the number of heart surgeries they do due to COVID-19. ICU beds used for heart patients too were being now allocated for COVID-19 patients. “We only do the most pressing cases. But this means that the waiting list keeps on growing. Now, the waiting list is over eight months. If we limit the surgeries more and keep taking away ICU beds available for those who have had heart surgeries, the waiting list will grow further,” he said.

The Consultant Cardiologist also advised the public to eat healthy food and engage in moderate exercises, at least five days a week. This will reduce the mental stress as well as boost the immune system. ‘We recommend moderate exercises like jogging and brisk walking, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Being healthy is as important as wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing,” he said.

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STF raids narcotics distribution centre close to Bloemendhal police station



Acting on information received from the Organised Crime Fighting Unit of the elite Special Task Force (STF), police commandos, on Thursday (6), arrested a person running a narcotic distributing network, 1.5 km away from the Bloemendhal police station.

The STF identified the suspect as Thawasidevan Pradeep Kumar, 21, a key associate of one Suresh with links to a criminal outfit run by Kimbulaele Guna, now absconding in India.

DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana said that the raiding party had recovered 2 kg, 22 g and 88mg of ‘ICE,’ with a street value of Rs 25 mn in addition to 4kg, 2 g and 527 mg of substance known as ‘hash,’ as well as Rs 400,000 in cash and a mobile phone.

Kimbulaele Guna is believed to have sought refuge following an LTTE attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the final PA presidential election rally at the Town Hall in December 1999.

DIG Rohana said that Guna’s brother Suresh was a major heroin distributor in Colombo. The STF later handed over the suspect, along with contraband and locally made ‘hash,’ and his phone to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). The raid on the heroin distribution centre situated in Aluth Mawatha, Colombo 15, followed specific information received as regards the ‘operation’ conducted with impunity (SF)

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