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NEW DELHI: Winter could be colder this season due to the prevailing La Nina conditions, India meteorological department (IMD) director general Mrutunjay Mohapatra said on Wednesday.

He said there should not be an impression that climate change leads to rise in the temperature, but on the contrary, it leads to erratic weather.

“As weak La Nina condition is prevailing, we can expect more cold this year. The El Nino and La Nina conditions play a dominant role if you consider the large scale factor for the occurrence of cold wave conditions,” Mohapatra said.

He was addressing a webinar on ‘Cold Wave Risk Reduction’ organised by the national disaster management authority (NDMA).

“La Nina conditions are favourable for cold wave conditions, while El Nino conditions are unfavourable for it,” he added.

Mohapatra said Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are among the states that mostly see deaths due to cold waves.

The IMD also releases a winter forecast every year in November which gives predictions on the severity of the winter season starting December to February.

La Nina is related to the cooling of the Pacific waters, while the El Nino is linked to its heating. Both factors are also believed to have an impact on the Indian monsoon.

For instance, 2020 witnessed an above normal monsoon with nine per cent excess rainfall. The winter season last year had long spells of cold waves.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Bihar assembly election phase 1: 31% candidates with criminal cases

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NEW DELHI: In the phase one of Bihar assembly

2020, as many as 328 (31%) candidates are with criminal cases and 244 (23%) are with serious criminal cases, according to a recent analysis done by the election watchdog Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). The watchdog analysed self-sworn affidavits of 1064 out of 1066 candidates contesting phase one of the election.

Among political parties, RJD has fielded most number of candidates with criminal background, followed by BJP.

Also, out of the 1064 candidates analysed by the watchdog, 375 (35%) are crorepatis. The average assets of candidates contesting phase 1 election is Rs 1.99 crores.

Of this 9% candidates have wealth of Rs 5 crore and above, while 12% have wealth between Rs 2 and Rs 5 crore.

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INDIA

Pandemic to shave off 40% operating profit of pvt hospitals: Report

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MUMBAI: The pandemic will eat up around 40 per cent of the operational profit of private hospitals this fiscal, as billing has plunged drastically due to the virus outbreak and the resultant proclivity of people to avoid hospitals for non-emergency situations, says a report.

The Crisil report released on Tuesday, however, noted that a large number of pandemic cases, which though is low-margin, will get these hospitals an additional revenue to the tune of 15-20 per cent.

Further, with the relaxation in lockdown and travel restrictions, footfalls have started improving from July, helping bed-occupancy levels.

The report also expects bed-occupancy levels to stabilise 65-70 per cent of the pre-lockdown levels in the second half of the fiscal. This, along with additional revenue from the pandemic treatment will help limit overall decline in revenue to 16-18 per cent, as against 17 per cent annual growth logged in the two preceding fiscals, it said.

Since the pandemic-driven lockdowns that began late March, hospitals have been on a crisis path as people began to avoid going to hospitals for regular consultations and began to postpone elective surgeries, which have been the most lucrative procedures for any hospital, especially organ transplants among others.

“A triple whammy of postponement in elective surgeries, revenue loss from the highly profitable medical tourism segment, and increasing costs will lead to 35-40 per cent reduction in operating profit of private hospitals this fiscal,” Crisil said.

The report is based on the analysis of 40 hospitals, including 36 rated by the agency, which account for over Rs 36,000 crore of the sector’s revenue.

Even though the trauma and emergency treatment account for 28-30 per cent of revenue continued, but at a much lower level, given the fewer accidents during the lockdowns.

On top of these, medical tourism, which accounts for 10-12 per cent of revenue but gets the highest margins, especially for large hospitals, came to a complete standstill, due to travel restrictions imposed as part of the lockdowns.

However, the pandemic is set to bring them around 20 per cent of the revenue despite low margin.

“Treating COVID-19 patients is expected to provide an additional revenue stream and may contribute 15-20 per cent to revenue this fiscal. But it is not as profitable as other revenue streams. Additionally, given the high fixed cost structure of hospitals, lower overall occupancy will result in lesser absorption of overheads.

“This, coupled with the increased cost of safety and sanitation will lead to 35-40 per cent decline in operating profit this fiscal,” the report said.

Weakened operating performance accentuated cash-flow challenges in the first half and to manage the situation, hospitals have deferred 35-40 per cent of planned capex for this fiscal, and are now resorting to short-term debt funding.

About a third of the agency-rated hospitals also availed moratorium for loan repayments which supported their liquidity during the first half.

Nonetheless, the credit outlook for the sector remains moderately negative, with credit metrics being impacted primarily by lower profit, the report said adding that the deterioration in performance is expected to be only temporary, and a strong bounce-back is likely in the next fiscal supported by pent up demand.

“Elective surgeries cannot be postponed indefinitely and medical tourism is also expected to recoup as travel restrictions ease. We expect a healthy 25 per cent revenue growth in fiscal 2022, and operating profitability to recover to pre-pandemic levels, including due to lower share of less-profitable treatment for the pandemic patients,” the report said.

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Rajnath Singh approves new DRDO procurement manual to facilitate indigenous defence industry

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NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday approved a new procurement manual for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to encourage the participation of the Indian industries in research and development activity to facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry.

Rajnath Singh said that the new manual will help towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

“The new DRDO Procurement Manual will facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry by simplifying the processes and ensuring their participation in design and development activities. PM-2020 will help towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Atma Nirbhar Bharat,” defence minister Singh tweeted.

The new DRDO Procurement Manual will facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry by simplifying the processes and en… https://t.co/cfSfIzJ3Kn

— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) 1603177544000

Prior to Singh’s tweet, Office of Defence Minister (DMO) had announced the approval of a new procurement manual for DRDO to achieve the goal of self-reliant in Defence industry.

“Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh has approved a new DRDO India Procurement Manual (PM-2020) to encourage more participation of the Indian Industry including startups and MSMEs in Research and Development activity and also to achieve the goal of self-reliance in Defence,” DMO tweeted.

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