Category Archives: News Flash

News Flash – 17 August 2018

National News



Kerala rain fury kills 26 more, Kochi airport shut till August 26

People are rescued in a boat in Kochi on Thursday. More rains have been predicted across Kerala till Saturday.



Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: Heavy rains continued to batter Kerala, claiming the lives of 26 more people on Thursday as floods and landslides ravaged the region in what is being described as the worst disaster the coastal state has witnessed in living memory. Incessant rains since August 8 have so far killed 97 people, with more than 1.67 lakh being shifted to 1,165 relief camps across the state. Most parts of Kerala are now flooded, with the situation worsening in several places, including Kochi, where the backwaters are threatening to breach their banks. Kochi airport remains under water and has now been closed till August 26. Train services from Thiruvananthapuram have been suspended and Kochi Metro operations drastically cut short. The Met office said rains were expected to continue till Saturday, although a statewide “red alert”—the highest level weather warning—was in place only till Thursday. PM Modi will visit Kerala on Friday evening and conduct an aerial survey of the affected regions on Saturday. CM P Vijayan had sent an SOS to Modi on Wednesday, describing the floods as the worst ever in the state. The toll is likely to rise as rescuers are struggling to reach far-flung locations. Rs. 8,000 crores damage to crops, properties in Kerala so far, Hundreds of people are trapped on terraces of homes, atop tall buildings and, in one case, in a marooned church, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach them. Pathanamthitta district was the worst affected over the last 24 hours with thousands of people stranded in their homes. Water levels in parts of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose to 20 feet, turning streets into lakes, forcing rescuers to deploy inflatable boats to evacuate people.


A total of 52 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF are already engaged in rescue operations. Several nongovernmental agencies have also joined. So far, 2,182 people have been rescued and 968 evacuated. Yet, by Thursday evening, it became evident that the scope of the disaster had outpaced efforts to cope with it. A fresh red alert was sounded in 13 of the 14 districts. All nine flood-monitoring stations of the Central Water Commission have notified ‘extreme flood situation’. Damage to crops and property across the state is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore. After a meeting of the national crisis management committee (NCMC) following a request for help from CM Vijayan, the Centre decided to send 35 more NDRF teams, comprising nearly 1,000 personnel. “The teams are equipped to assist state government authorities in launching quick rescue operations and help with food distribution,” NDRF director general Sanjay Kumar said. Meanwhile, the SC on Thursday directed the sub-committee on disaster management for Mullaperiyar dam authorities to convene an emergency meeting to chalk out a contingency plan to meet any crisis due to release of water from the dam and also consider reducing the water level to 139 feet from the present 142 feet. Due to the closure of Kochi airport until August 26, airfares to Trivandrum and Calicut shot up despite the regulator, DGCA, asking for a cap.



Homemaker from Kurla is season’s 1st dengue fatality


Mumbai: A homemaker from Kurla become the first casualty of mosquito-borne dengue viral fever in the city even as a 52-year-old man from Worli Koliwada succumbed to complications arising out of a rare dual infection of malaria and typhoid, according to Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health file released on Thursday. Two others succumbed to this monsoon’s largest killer, leptospirosis, which has claimed nine lives between June 1 and August 15. “BMC’s death committee met on Thursday and declared four deaths, taking the total toll due to monsoon diseases to 11 so far,” said BMC’s executive health officer Dr Padmaja Keskar. According to Thursday’s declaration, the 32-year-old homemaker from Kurla, who succumbed to dengue, had fever with chills, body ache and pain in the abdomen for four days. “She went to a local doctor for three days and then moved to a BMC hospital on July 23. She died the following day due to dengue shock syndrome with acute respiratory distress syndrome,” according to the report.


A 25-year-old man from Kandivli village, who had gone swimming in a local lake, died of leptospirosis at a private hospital on July 28. Leptospirosis also claimed a 50-year-old male from Tilak Nagar who had walked through rainwater. The BMC’s release said that the patient, who had a bad liver as well as a history of tuberculosis, died after four days of hospitalisation on August 4. The dual infection of malaria and typhoid killed a 52-year-old man who worked for a housekeeping firm and had been hospitalised for only a day. A resident of Worli Koliwada, he had travelled to Alibaug a week ago, said BMC officials. BMC health officials said the intermittent rains aided mosquito breeding. “People have to be vigilant about water accumulation in balconies or gardens as mosquitoes can breed in such small pools of water as well,” said Dr Keskar. She said August-September is when dengue cases shoot up in Mumbai.



Cash van robber arrested after police shootout



New Delhi: A notorious gangster involved in a series of cash van robberies was arrested after a brief shootout with Special Cell. The man, Jitender alias Jeetu (29), carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh and was the man Friday of gangster Bharat Bhushan arrested earlier. Police said they are planning to book Jeetu and Bhushan under MCOCA. The gang members used to gun down their victims during robberies. By targeting multiple cash vans and collection agents in a short period, they had created panic among businessmen. DCP Sanjeev Yadav said that several teams had been formed to track down the gang members. “ACP Sanjay Dutt’s team got a tip-off that Jeetu would be coming near the NDPL office in Narela on a white Apache motorcycle. Around 4.30am, Jeetu was spotted and flagged down, but he turned and sped away,” he added. After a chase of about 10 kilometres, Jeetu was intercepted in Goga Dairy area. He tried to escape on foot, but the cops surrounded him. The man then shot at the cops, but was soon overpowered. The loaded pistol had ‘Made in Italy’ engraved on it with four cartridges in the magazine and one in its chamber. Jeetu told police that on April 26 he and his associates shot dead the gunman and cashier of a SIS cash van and looted Rs 12 lakh. The company employees had come to collect cash from DSIDC area in Narela. When they had collected cash from a wine shop in Vardhman Mall, Jeetu came on a motorcycle and began shooting indiscriminately. In March, the gang members had shot at a gas agency employee and looted cash. On February 3, another cash van employee was robbed of Rs 10 lakh after getting shot in the belly. They had shot at the cashier of an ATM cash van and looted Rs 19 lakh last year.



Damage to crop, property in Kerala floods pegged at Rs. 8,000 Crores so far


New Delhi: The floods in Kerala are estimated to have damaged crops and properties worth over Rs 8,000 crore even as a fresh red alert was sounded in 13 of the 14 districts in the state. All nine flood-monitoring stations of the Central Water Commission have notified ‘extreme flood situation’. NGOs have joined 52 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF in relief and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Kerala but it became evident on Thursday that the scale of the disaster was greater than the current efforts to cope with it. Pathanamthitta district continued to remain the worst-affected with thousands of people stranded at their homes in Rani, Aranmula and Kozhencherry towns. Water levels in several parts of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose to as high as 20 feet, turning streets into deep lakes. CM Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to PM Modi and other central leaders again on Thursday to request more help. Landslides were reported in Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Idukki districts. Munnar remained submerged for the third day while the Sabarimala shrine was cut off. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed Mullaperiyar dam authorities to chalk out contingency plan to meet any crisis due to release of water and also consider reducing the water level to 139 feet from the present 142 feet. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra asked Tamil Nadu and Kerala to work harmoniously to get over the problem. Earlier, advocate Manoj George had contended release of water from the dam “at the whims and fancies of Tamil Nadu for extraneous reasons” is a threat to the life of people living downstream.



Monsoon mayhem ravages Karnataka


MOVING HOUSE: Video grabs of a house in Mallikarjun Nagar in Madikeri town sliding down 50ft as the earth under it collapsed. Luckily, the family of Yashauddi had left the house minutes earlier. Landslides across the hilly terrain of the town are leaving people in distress.


NO RELIEF: The Purandara Mantap at Hampi was submerged after outflow from Tungabhadra was increased to 2lakh cusecs.



Madikeri: Rain continued to pummel Kodagu district, leaving a trail of destruction and killing at least three people. After nearly two decades, Kodagu district is facing chaos of this magnitude: houses collapsed in at least three localities in Madikeri, while hundreds of thousands of residents were left without potable water and electricity. People are living on the edge, with landslides destroying populated areas. Roads are cut off due to landslides, and residents in far-flung areas are stranded. Two people died near Katakeri village, as houses caved in on them, while another person is missing. In Makkanduru village, at least two people were feared to have died when their house was flooded. The family of Yashauddi, living in Mallikarjun Nagar in Madikeri, had a narrow escape as minutes after they left the house to a safer spot, the double-storey building slid down 50ft as the land under it collapsed. Another house in Indira Nagar also caved in, while the building adjacent to it is on the verge of collapse. People who have lost their homes are inconsolable as they have lost almost everything they owned. In Chamundeswari Nagar in Madikeri, more than 100 people were shifted to temporary shelters. At least 10 houses are on the verge of collapse here. Scores of houses in the town are inundated, while the industrial suburb is also flooded. The NDRF team rushed to the affected areas and rescued people. The town looked deserted for a major part of the day as the business community didn’t open their shops, fearful of landslides and getting stranded due to road damage.


Across the district, power supply is cut off as electricity infrastructure has sustained major damages. Villagers are forced to drink rain water as water supply is hit. The district administration has opened rescue centres in many places across the district, including Madikeri, Napoklu, Siddapura and Somwarpet. Railway authorities on Thursday sent an SOS to the Hassan district administration, requesting them to immediately airlift 16 railway employees who are stuck at Yedakumeri railway station for 48 hours. The station, situated in the Ghat section, is hit by a landslide, and the building is in a dangerous condition. The railway staffers are unable to move out in either direction due to a massive landslide along with falling boulders. The station master sent a message that heavy rainfall and high speed winds are continuing. If a landslide occurs near the station, it will be wiped out, as there is a valley behind. Mysuru additional divisional railway manager AK Sinha sent an SOS message to Hassan DC Rohini Sindhuri, seeking airlifting of the staff, and said that railway authorities have no means to bring them out.



Shiradi Ghat blocked till Aug 25; Kukke marooned

WATERSCAPE: Kumaradhara river has cut off the pilgrim centre of Kukke Subrahmanya.



Mangaluru: The Dakshina Kannada district administration has banned movement of all vehicles on Shiradi Ghat stretch of the Bengaluru-Mangaluru National Highway 75 till 6am August 25. This decision was taken after reviewing the current situation and to safeguard travellers. The incessant rain in the Ghat section over the past week has led to numerous landslides, trapping travellers for a long period and triggered fatal accidents. Deputy commissioner Sasikanth Senthil directed police to erect signage at vantage points to alert passengers that the section has been closed to public till August 25. Officials of the National Highway division alerted the district administration that they need at least six days to clear the mud and debris blocking the road due to landslides. On August 14, a gas tanker driver and cleaner were killed following a landslide near Sakleshpur of Hassan district. On the same day, over 100 buses plying between Bengaluru and Mangaluru were stuck for nearly 20 hours due to multiple landslides on the 33-km Shiradi Ghat section. Rain lashes DK: Though rain abated in Dakshina Kannada district on Wednesday, it was back to square one on Thursday with a ferocious downpour since morning, especially in Sullia and Bantwal taluks. This prompted tehsildars of these taluks to declare a holiday for schools and colleges. The Nethravathi river was flowing at 9.1m at Bantwal, well above the danger mark of 8.5m. About 15 families marooned at Kuduremajalu near Subrahmanya, Sullia taluk, about 90km from here, were rescued by officials in a midnight operation and shifted them to the safety of a nearby school. Schools and colleges in Puttur, Sullia and Belthangady taluk will be closed on Friday. All rivers and rivulets are swollen, posing danger to people.


Bus services stalled: On Thursday, the movement of buses between Bengaluru and the coast was severely hampered with KSRTC operating skeletal non-premium services on Charmadi Ghat route, with both alternative routes, Shiradi and Sampaje, being closed for traffic due to landslides and road damage. Only non-AC sleeper, Rajahamsa and Express buses will play on the Charmadi route, said KSRTC divisional controller Deepak Kumar. “We’ll take a call depending on the situation as intimated by the district administration,’’ he added. No trains to Bengaluru till Aug 23: Train services to Bengaluru via Shiradi Ghat stretch on Subrahmanya Road-Sakleshpur section is unlikely to resume till August 23, due to landslips in 48 places in this 50km section. Incessant rain lashing the Ghat section since August 13 has resulted in landslips at multiple places between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya Road, forcing authorities to regulate/cancel/ divert trains from August 14. Thursday rainfall: The district recorded 102mm rainfall in the past 24 hours from 8.30am Wednesday. Sullia taluk received the highest rainfall of 148mm, with Mangaluru taluk receiving the least (37mm). Belthangady, Puttur and Bantwal taluks received 146mm, 108mm and 68mm respectively. Last year, the district had received a paltry 12.5mm. The cumulative rainfall for the month till Thursday was 806mm, 50mm short of the normal average for the month with another fortnight to go. Last year, the district received 292mm of rain till August 16. As on Thursday, water level in the Nethravathi at Bantwal was 9.1m, well above the danger level of 8.5m. The water level of Nethravathi at Uppinangady and Kumaradhara river were close to the danger marks at 25m each, with levels being 28.5m and 29.5m respectively.



After rain pounding government sounds alert: Hyderabad wallows, state wades


Hyderabad: Heavy rain across several parts of the region, especially at erstwhile Adilabad and Karimnagar districts, disrupted normal life across Telangana. With medium and minor irrigation projects flowing to the brim, lakes, rivulets and tanks overflowing, several villages in Adilabad district were cut off from other villages. Water gushed into houses in low-lying areas including some colonies in Adilabad district headquarters. Following Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) prediction of heavy rain for next 48 hours, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao instructed officials to be alert. He reviewed the situation with officials and spoke to chief secretary SK Joshi and DGP M Mahender Reddy on Thursday. The CM directed ministers, MPs, MLAs and MLCs to be available for people in respective districts and Assembly constituencies. According to IMD, Hyderabad, highest rain of 898mm during past 24 hours was recorded in Adilabad district. Bejjur in Asifabad district recorded maximum rainfall of 187mm received by any mandal in the state during the same period. Places such as Mancherial, Mandmarri, Koutala, Bellampally, Karimnagar and Chinta Manepally were also badly-hit due to heavy rainfall in the past 48 hours. Coal production was also hit at Srirampur and Mandamarri areas due to the rains as water gushed into mining areas. Work at Kaleshwaram project site was also stopped due to heavy rain. The irrigation department was forced to release 2 lakh cusecs of water from Kadem project and three lakhs from Yellampally project. Irrigation minister T Harish Rao told officials to move men and machinery from Kaleshwaram project sites at Sundilla, Annaram and Medigadda immediately.



48 hours after CCTV cameras set up, thieves make merry



Hyderabad: Just two days after closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed at Brindavan Colony in Banjara Hills to improve safety of residents, miscreants made off with eight CCTV cameras. However, the theft was captured by the cameras and stored in recorders before they were removed. The three culprits have been taken into custody by Banjara Hills police. On the night of August 10, the culprits stole the eight cameras as well as the connecting wires. The next day, locals lodged a complaint. “In the complaint, Brindavan Colony Welfare Association (BCWA) office-bearers said the CCTV cameras from park area and Masjid-e-Fatima had been stolen. The cameras were installed only on August 8, 2018, for better surveillance of the park and masjid area to curb anti-social activities. However, the digital video recorder (DVR) and monitoring systems which had been kept inside the masjid recorded the theft,” Banjara Hills police said. During investigation, police checked the DVR and identified three culprits from the locality. “We identified the suspects, and arrested them based on DVR visuals,” Banjara Hills inspector K Srinivas said. Similar such incidents have been reported from other parts of the city as well. A businessman from Karkhana in Secunderabad was booked after he reportedly ‘ordered’ his employee to snap the community CCTV. He did not want other residents to know about his movements. However, the vandalism was captured on another CCTV, which was installed nearby.



Ordering online? Make sure you get the original product


Kolkata: Did the newly acquired mobile phone that you had ordered online develop snags hours after it had arrived at your doorstep? May be the delivery executive had a role to play in piling the misery on you. Kasba Police has busted a gang of delivery executives who used to work for e-commerce giants but replaced the costly electronic gadgets with their cheap Chinese versions before delivering them to customers. The investigation has led cops to an electronics dealer in the Bidhan Sarani area who accepted the expensive items and replaced them with Chinese devices. So far, four persons have been arrested. According to police sources, the cops got going after an FIR was registered on August 14 on the complaint of one Om Prakash Singh (30), the team leader with an e-commerce firm at Sarat Ghosh Garden Road at Kasba. Singh alleged that at least two delivery boys of their firm — Subho Acharya (25), a resident of Shyampukur, and Gariahat’s Mahesh Kumar Hela (23) — had conspired with some others and misappropriated six high-end mobile phones, which they were supposed to deliver to customers, causing a loss of Rs 2,76,080 to the company. IPC sections 408 (criminal breach of trust) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) were slapped on the duo and they were arrested from near Acropolis Mall on Rashbehari Connector.


After recording their statements, the investigators arrested Rohit Das (24) from his rented flat at Baguihati. After interrogating Das, the cops finally arrested the kingpin of this racket — Danis Ali (21), a resident of Bidhan Sarani — on Independence Day. “We have seized a travel bag containing 16 China-made mobile phones in sealed packs. Ali claimed these were to be used by them to replace the originals and deliver to customers,” said DC (SSD) Santosh Nimbalkar. Sources said the accused also spoke of a godown where Ali used to store an entire stock of such cheap mobile phones. “Preparations are being made to produce all the four accused persons before court with a prayer for police custody,” said an investigating officer. For its part, the ecommerce company said: “We have a zero-tolerance policy on incidents that impact customer trust. We conducted an internal investigation into this case and put all efforts to find out the real facts. Finally, we zeroed in on the two delivery boys before approaching police. Meanwhile, as a responsible marketplace, we are ascertaining if money will be refunded to customers in good faith”.



ATM fraud: Another Romanian under lens



Kolkata: Kolkata Police has claimed to have found the involvement of a sixth accused again a Romanian national in the recent ATM frauds. Police suspect he was involved in skimming cards in the city and usurping lakhs through ATMs. Lalbazar officers confirmed that they have sent a team to Chandigarh to bring one Miacelia Lucianinoud to the city. The accused was nabbed with two others by Chandigarh police recently in similar skimming fraud cases last week. “The accused gang had used around 20 ATMs in Delhi to withdraw money from the accounts of Kolkatans. When we began collecting footage and started going through them, we found that Lucianinoud had close links with three gang members, including leaders Adrian Liviu and Vaico Aurel, whom we had arrested earlier. This is the reason we will submit a prayer to a Chandigarh court and bring him here for questioning. If found to be a part of the gang, he will show as arrested,” explained the officer, adding that Lucianinoud is from Brasav and was on two-month tourist visa. The Chandigarh and Maharashtra police have contacted Kolkata Police after it emerged during questioning that the gang had hit multiple cities in Maharashtra and Chandigarh about a month ago.



Alert in TN delta districts as major rivers swell, many places flooded

UNDER WATER: Perur Padithurai bridge submerged by overflowing Noyyal river in Coimbatore.



Coimbatore: More than 200 people were evacuated from Thavittupalayam village near Thirumukkudal in Karur district as floods inundated their houses and hundreds of acres of agriculture land on Thursday. Since the area falls at the confluence of the Cauvery, Bhavanisagar and Amaravathi rivers, the district administration has moved the people to safety. It is after 40 years that more than 3 lakh cusecs of water are being realized at Thirumukkudal. A flood alert has been sounded in 11 districts as the discharge from the Mettur, Bhavanisagar and Amaravathi dams was expected to go up, with Karnataka releasing 2.1 lakh cusecs from the Kabini and Krishnaraja Sagar dams into the Cauvery. The Central Water Commission has issued an alert saying a combined release of about 2.5 lakh cusecs was expected to be made from the Mettur and Bhavanisagar dams and asked the state government to take precautionary steps. The downstream areas of Thirumukkudal were expected to see a combined release of more than 3 lakh cusecs. It is after 40 years that such a quantum of water is being realised at this spot. A total of 10 camps in Mettur, three camps in Edappadi and three in Sankagiri have been kept ready to put up people in case of emergency. With substantial outflow from the dams following heavy rain in Kerala and Karnataka, many areas have been flooded, dislocating families and throwing life out of gear. Many trains were either cancelled or partially cancelled.


As Hogenakkal falls in Dharmapuri saw 1.7lakh cusecs of inflow, water surrounded 31 houses which had been constructed on river poromboke land. People have been barred from bathing in the Hogenakkal falls; coracle rides have been barred. In Coimbatore, three houses collapsed on Thursday morning after surplus water from the Kurichi tank was discharged into the Noyyal river through the Sunnambu Kalvai channel. In Kanyakumari district, the rain has receded but it would take a few days for the district to limp back to normalcy. Many low lying parts close to the Thamirabarani and Paraliyar rivers and channels that were flooded on Wednesday continued to be inundated on Thursday as well. Hundreds of houses in such low lying areas were still under water. Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu has offered to chlorinate water supply and provide medical support to people in areas of Wayanad and Idukki districts of Kerala. On Thursday, officials from the state health department were discussing the needs with officials in the border areas. Essential medicines, including antibiotics such as doxycycline, have been sent by the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation to border areas and medical camps have been set up. “There are in areas where approach from the Kerala side is difficult. Officials working in border areas of both the states were working together,” he said. Doctors from the Nilgiris and Theni districts have set up camps to help people living in Kerala.



International News



Jakarta covers up stinky river for Asian Games

WHEN YOU CAN’T CLEAN IT, HIDE IT: Clogged with decades of garbage, River Sentiong is one of the most polluted of Jakarta’s 13 waterways.



Jakarta: With thousands of Asia’s top athletes preparing to descend on the Indonesian capital for the start of the 2018 Asian Games this weekend, city officials were in crisis mode about a heavily polluted river behind the athletes’ village. After an emergency dredging and water purification project was deemed infeasible, officials came up with a plan to fix their river problem that would impress David Copperfield: They hid it. Last month, workers erected a nearly kilometer-long black nylon net covering the “kali item”, or Black River, a local nickname for the polluted waterway. For good measure, they laid rows of lights across the cover, creating a festive — albeit slightly perverse — evening light show. Clogged with decades of garbage, the river, officially the Sentiong, is one of the most polluted of Jakarta’s 13 rivers and canals. The nearly stagnant water beneath the net looks more like a tar pit, and releases a gag-inducing smell. Residents of a slum next to the river, their nostrils by now immune to the foul stench, say they are not bothered by it but can understand the government’s logic in hiding it. “We want the athletes to enjoy being in Jakarta,” said Jazuli, 31, who works for a local snack distributor. “We don’t want them to see the river and say, ‘What in the name of God is that.

News Flash – 16 August 2018

National News



Actor smelt a rat at salon, alerted cops to trafficking


Mumbai: Child trafficker Rajesh Gamlewala’s racket was busted early March when actor Preeti Sood visited Shringar Salon in Versova one afternoon and got suspicious on finding three men instructing staff on how to apply makeup on two underage girls. “When I asked the men, they claimed to be sending the children to their parents in the US. I told them to accompany me to the police station, but they refused. I managed to stop two of the men and called the police. Meanwhile, the third escaped with the girls,” Sood told TOI. “I got curious when I got a call from my friend who was at the salon that two minors were getting makeup. I went there on a suspicion that the girls were being readied for brothels. Once there, I realized that the racket was bigger than I thought,” she said. Sood got four men arrested by the Versova police, including a retired sub-inspector’s son. The four are Amir Khan (26; the policeman’s son), Tajuddin Khan (48), Afzal Shaikh (35) and Rizwan Chotani (39). Gamlewala would instruct his gang to find a poor family, usually in Gujarat, willing to sell a child, and another family willing to rent out their child’s passport. A passport with a picture with some resemblance to the about-to-be trafficked child would be selected. The gang would then pay a carrier to take the child to the US on the chosen passport.


Before that, makeup would be applied on the child for a stronger resemblance with the picture on the passport. The carrier would return after leaving the child in the US and return the rented passport. It is not yet clear how the passport would be stamped by immigration without its bearer’s presence. Gamlewala was tracked with the help of a WhatsApp number he used to communicate with his accomplices. “Gamlewala has been arrested before. In 2007, he was caught in Mumbai for passport forgery. We were led to his latest racket because of the March arrests,” said Versova police senior inspector Ravindra Badgujar, part of a team which cracked the case. Supervised by DCP (Zone IX) Paramjit Singh Dahiya, it also comprised inspector Sanjay Pawar, assistant inspector Bharat Patil, sub-inspector Om Totavar and others. The accused have been booked under the IPC’s sections 34 (common intention) and 373 (buying minor for purposes of prostitution). Gamlewala will be in police custody till August 18. His four cronies are in judicial custody. TIMES VIEW: That human traffickers succeed despite checks and the security apparatus inside and outside airports points to the possible collusion of officials. If this theory is proved baseless, it’s all the more worrying because it would then indicate the system itself is creaky despite its apparent stringency. Child trafficking needs to be tackled as seriously in the countries of origin as in the destination nations.



7 revellers swept to death, 30 stranded at MP waterfall

Viral videos showed a group of youngsters desperately trying to hold on as they were pounded by the raging, churning torrent and swept over the edge within seconds at Sultanpur waterfall in MP. Heavy rainfall in the upper reaches on Wednesday had created conditions for a flash flood.



Bhopal: Independence Day revelry turned into a tragedy when at least seven picnickers were swept to their death in a flash flood at Sultanpur waterfall in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh. IAF choppers and NDRF personnel are trying to rescue about 30 others, who are stranded on a rock, with water rising all around. While unofficial sources put the toll at11, officials confirmed only seven deaths. Viral videos show a group of 8-10 youngsters desperately trying to hold on as they are pounded by the raging, churning torrent and are repeatedly swept over the edge within seconds. Those who have survived so far were lucky to be on a rock about 50 feet upstream. The group that got swept away was far too close to the edge of the waterfall. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted that seven people had been rescued and efforts were being made to recover the rest. Two bodies have been found so far — both deceased are said to be from Gwalior. Sultanpur waterfall is about an hour’s drive from Gwalior and Shivpuri on the Agra-Mumbai highway. It’s a popular picnic spot and hundreds had gathered on I-Day. Police said that many of them were bathing in what was then a gentle stream.


Suddenly, around 4.30pm, the water level started rising. Locals screamed for the picnickers to get out immediately but many couldn’t realise they were in danger. Witnesses say that the river went from a trickle to a torrent in about 30 seconds. Heavy rainfall in the upper reaches on Wednesday evening had created the perfect conditions for a flash flood that took everyone unawares. Some reports said that water release from a dam was responsible, but officials denied it. Rescue operations were initially hampered due to incessant rain and then due to darkness. Shivpuri SP Rajesh Hingankar and Gwalior SP Navneet Bhasin rushed to the spot. “We are not sure how many people have drowned. We are focusing on rescue,” said Bhasin. An SOS was sent to the IAF’s Maharajpura airbase in Gwalior and they responded immediately. Seven persons had been rescued by 10pm, and the IAF personnel were still at it despite bad weather. Those stranded are only 100 feet from the edge.



Rising Yamuna level forces 1,000 people to be Evacuated

TROUBLE OVERFLOWS: The water level could rise even further, after another 13,572 cusecs of water was released at 6pm on Wednesday.



New Delhi: For a second straight day, the water level at the Yamuna rose and touched 205.72 metres at 1pm on Wednesday, forcing over 1,000 people to be evacuated from low-lying areas. The water level had shown a sharp rise in the early hours of Wednesday after around 1.75 lakh cusecs of water was released from Hathni Kund barrage in Haryana on Tuesday night. Officials said the water level could rise even further, after another 13,572 cusecs of water was released at 6pm on Wednesday. Precautionary measures are already in place as they were two weeks back, when the water level at the Yamuna had crossed 206 metres. Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash held an emergency meeting on Tuesday after the water level crossed the danger mark of 204.83 metres. The ‘warning’ level for the Yamuna is 204 metres. According to officials from the flood and irrigation department, Yamuna’s water level stayed steady at 205.72 metres between 1pm and 6pm. However, a slight increase is likely when more water is released from the Hathni Kund barrage. “We are looking at the situation closely and if the water level does not drop, the Old Yamuna Bridge may be closed to traffic once again,” said a senior traffic official.


K Mahesh, district magistrate (east and Shahdara), said officials worked on August 15 as well, despite it being a public holiday so that people could be evacuated from low-lying areas. In addition, boats have been kept on standby at vulnerable points, while additional space is being made at schools and community centres. “We were ready for evacuation. People have been moved to higher ground and provided tents and food. We will continue to track the situation through the flood control room and take action accordingly,” said Mahesh. The Yamuna had recorded its highest water level in Delhi in the last five years on July 31 when it touched 206.05 metres. The water level had, however, receded drastically after that and had fallen below the ‘warning’ level in the next 48 hours. The highest ever water level recorded for the Yamuna was in 1978, when it had touched 207.49 metres at Old Yamuna Bridge.



Rain kills 25 people in one day, toll 67; Kochi airport shut till Saturday

RAIN RAGE: Rescue workers evacuate a family from a flood-hit locality in Thiruvananthapuram. The state capital on Wednesday witnessed heavy rain and several low-lying areas were submerged forcing officials to open 14 relief camps.



Thiruvananthapuram: Braving the unprecedented monsoon deluge that has claimed 67 lives in the past seven days, Kerala is trying hard to restore normalcy in the lives of thousands of flood-affected people who have either been isolated or rehabilitated. The IMD, predicting heavy rain and gusty winds for two more days, has declared ‘red alert’ across the state till Thursday. With 25 people dying in various incidents including landslides, electrocution and drowning on Wednesday alone, the official death toll since August 9 has now been pegged at 67. Around 10 people are reported missing from various parts of the state. The worst tragedy of the day was reported from Malappuram where eight people were killed in a house collapse triggered by a landslide. Shutters of 33 of the 39 major dams across Kerala have now been opened. Flights services have been severely disrupted due to the flooding. Cochin international airport had to suspend operation from Wednesday early morning. The operational area is completely inundated. The airport will remain closed till Saturday. Domestic flights to Kochi are being diverted to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Many international flights are being either rerouted to major south Indian airports or cancelled.


As an emergency, the Union civil aviation ministry has approved the state’s proposal to allow flights to arrive at the Kochi naval base airport. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan described Wednesday’s rain and flood as the “worst ever crisis faced by the state”. Over 1.5 lakh people are now living in rehabilitation camps. Among the places cut off from other regions is the popular tourist destination of Munnar. Domestic and foreign tourists are trapped in Munnar, but they are all safe. While the rain fury had ravaged lives in north and central Kerala earlier, Wednesday’s rain didn’t spare southern Kerala too. Pathanamthitta, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts were affected badly. The government declared holiday for all educational institutions on Thursday. The shutters of Mullaperiayar dam, the safety of which had been a bone of contention between Kerala and TN, had to be opened in the early hours leading to further raise of water discharge via Idukki dam. The dam water level almost touched 142 metre, the SC approved maximum level, on Wednesday. Vijayan held telephonic discussions with PM Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh who promised all help to Kerala.



Alert driver saves 20 passengers as bus catches fire



Bengaluru: An alert KSRTC driver averted a major mishap after a multi-axle bus caught fire in the wee hours of Wednesday. All 20 passengers on board the bus escaped unhurt. The incident took place when the Bengaluru-bound bus coming from Tirupathi was moving along KR Puram hanging flyover around 5am. As soon as the bus reached the flyover, bus driver Ambari noticed smoke emitting from the engine through the rearview mirror. He immediately stopped the vehicle and asked all passengers to alight. Panicky passengers rushed out of the bus leaving some of the baggage behind. The bus was almost gutted as the fire spread rapidly, stalling traffic on the flyover for some time. By then, the driver had alerted fire officials who reached the spot and doused the flames. Police said no complaint has been registered.



High alert in five rain-battered districts

FURIOUS FLOW: Nine out of 11 gates of Linganamakki dam in Sagar taluk of Shivamogga district were opened as Sharavathi river on which the reservoir is built has filled to the brim.



Bengaluru: Chief minister HD Kumaraswamy who was busy temple hopping for the past two days even as rains pounded Malnad and coastal districts finally took some time to review the situation on Wednesday. After a brief meeting with officials, Kumaraswamy declared a high alert in five rain-hit districts of Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga and asked the deputy commissioners (DCs) to be on their toes to combat any untoward situation. With heavy rain expected to continue in Malnad and coastal region of Karnataka, the CM asked the DCs to take necessary steps including evacuation of people residing in low-lying areas and deployment of boats. The CM also directed senior secretaries to visit districts and keep themselves apprised of the situation. He also appealed to all district-in-charge ministers to review the situations in their respective areas.


Torrential rains in the last three days has caused floods, landslides and disrupted normal life in the state, forcing suspension of train and bus services. “Though rain has abated in some areas except in parts of Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, we are not taking any chances,’’ said GS Srinivasa Reddy,’’ director, Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre. Flash floods were reported on Wednesday in 30 villages in Honnali and Harapanahalli taluks of Davanagere districts, situated on the banks of Tungabhadra. This was after more than 60,000 cusecs of water was discharged from the Bhadra reservoir, which has filled to its capacity. About 200 houses besides a primary school, temple and a community hall was inundated due to the flash floods. Rains continued to wreak havoc in Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. The Madikeri—Mangaluru Road via Sampaje was shut for vehicular traffic following landslides. The Somwarpet- Sakaleshpur highway was also severely damaged due to rain.



As Mettur Overflows, Several Districts Sink


Chennai: The Mettur dam received an inflow of 1.90 lakh cusecs on Wednesday night, the highest ever this year. Concerned PWD officials diverted the entire water into the surplus pathway as the dam had already reached the full capacity of 120ft. The Central Water Commission (CWC) on Wednesday morning issued an alert about the huge discharge from Kabini and Krishnaraja Sagar 9KRS) dams due to heavy rain in Karnataka and Kerala. The combined discharge will be more than two lakh cusecs and the water is expected to reach Mettur dam in two days. Following the alert, Salem collector Rohini R Bhajibhakare visited the dam on Wednesday. During an urgent meeting she chaired with the dam PWD officials as well as with district officials, she directed them to maintain round-the-clock vigil. Rohini told reporters that a flood alert had been sounded across Salem district and across the downstream districts, including the delta region. “We have advised villagers on the banks of the Cauvery to contact 1077 for any emergency,” she said. Officials in the control room in the district collector’s office would inform those concerned to look into the issue and sort it out at the earliest.


Later, interacting with people living near Mettur dam and river pathways, the collector urged them to ensure their cattle including cows, sheep and goats were in safe areas and were not entering the river. “We have warned the villagers not to fish, swim or bathe in the floodwaters,” she said. In Erode, many residential areas were inundated as surplus water was released from the Bhavanisagar dam near Sathyamangalam after it crossed 100ft on Tuesday night for the first time in 11 years. Collector S Prabhakar, who opened the sluice gates of the dam at 11.30pm on Tuesday to discharge 50,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) water from the dam, issued a flood alert to people living along the river pathways. On Wednesday, the water level in the dam had risen to 102ft and as a result the discharge level was increased to 50,500 cusecs. The inflow to the dam was recorded at 45,000 cusecs. Surplus water released from the dam entered a few residential areas at MGR Nagar, Iyappan Nagar, Pillayar Street and Fathima Nagar in Sathyamangalam on Wednesday morning. Families in 145 houses were rescued and given shelters in a nearby marriage hall and government school. “We have given them food, clothes and blankets,” the collector said, adding, “They will be given free food until the situation returns to normalcy”.



International News



48 killed as suicide bomber targets Shia students in Afghanistan

A police official near the site of a blast in Kabul on Wednesday.



Kabul: A suicide blast in a mainly Shia area of Kabul killed at least 48 people on Wednesday, the latest in a wave of attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, soldiers and policemen over recent days. The explosion, targeting an educational centre, tore through a large tent set up as a classroom in the courtyard, killing dozens of teenagers studying for a university entrance examination. The blast, which shattered weeks of relative calm in Kabul, also wounded at least 67, including both male and female students. “Most of the boys at the educational centre have been killed,” said Sayed Ali, who witnessed the blast. “It was horrific and many of the students were torn to pieces”. Doctors at city hospitals, where people had gathered to try to find relatives who had been studying at the centre, said many of the victims were severely burned. “My brother was studying at the centre and he was killed. I’m here to get his body,” said Abdul Khaliq, waiting outside the Isteqlal hospital.


There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Kabul blast but the attack bore the hallmark of Islamic State, which has conducted many previous attacks on Shia targets. The Taliban denied that it was involved. The explosion, which came as the central city of Ghazni struggles to recover from five days of intense fighting between the Taliban and government forces, underlined how badly security in Afghanistan has degenerated, some two months before parliamentary elections scheduled for October. Earlier on Wednesday, local officials said at least nine policemen and 35 soldiers were killed in an attack on their base in the northern province of Baghlan, the latest of a series that has killed dozens of members of the security forces nationwide. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called for the fighting to stop, saying up to 150 civilians are estimated to have been killed in Ghazni.



Italy bridge collapse toll 39, hundreds forced out of homes

The truck driver was saved thanks to a car that passed it, forcing its driver to brake slightly.



Genoa: Italian prosecutors focused their investigation into the Genoa highway bridge collapse on possible design flaws or inadequate maintenance, as the death toll rose Wednesday to 39 people and Italian politicians looked for someone to blame. Fears mounted that another part of the Morandi Bridge, which was carved in two by the collapse of its midsection during a violent storm Tuesday, could also come crashing down. That prompted authorities on Wednesday to widen an evacuation zone around the bridge, forcing some 630 people out of apartments in nearby buildings. Transportation and infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli raised the possibility that the evacuees may never again live there, saying the need to rebuild a new bridge on the city’s key artery could require the destruction of nearby residential buildings. On Tuesday, a 260-feet stretch of the 51-year-old bridge collapsed, sending over 30 cars and three trucks plunging up to 150 feet to the ground. Still dazed or shaken, survivors on Wednesday recounted their brushes with death. One truck driver provided a dramatic account, including a description of how a green truck seen in photos worldwide stopped just short off the abyss as the bridge crumbled. The driver identified only as Idris said the green truck was saved thanks to a car that passed it, forcing its driver to brake slightly. The car plunged off into the chasm.

News Flash – 10 August 2018

National News



Lepto claims 2 young lives in Goregaon



Mumbai: Leptospirosis claimed the lives of two young Goregaon (West) residents in the past 10 days, as hospitals have reported a spurt in cases from the area. The bacterial disease has already claimed nine lives in the months of June and July. Among the deceased were a 19-year-old girl from Shastri Nagar and a 27-year-old man from Motilal Nagar. Both died of multiple-organ failure after developing severe lung injury at S R V Hospital. The 19-year-old, who had a history of wading through water, was brought to the hospital after being treated in another smaller medical centre for two days. The girl allegedly was suspected to be suffering from dengue and not leptospirosis. “By the time she came to us, she had full blown acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)—a lung injury that can be fatal. We put her on the ventilator, but she went into multi-organ failure. She succumbed on July 30,” said Dr Abhay Vispute, intensivist and chairman of S R V.


The second death occurred on August 4. The 27-year-old deceased had walked into the hospital’s outpatient department with high grade fever and breathlessness and was advised hospitalization. The man said he used to reside close to some cattle shed and would walk past it daily. “He came to us on the third day of developing the symptoms. He too developed ARDS, which leads to acute kidney injury and doesn’t allow antibiotics to work optimally. Hence, it’s important that people seek medical care without wasting time,” said Dr Vispute. He added they treated at least seven cases in the past fortnight, of which three were critical but have come out with aggressive treatment. At the BMC-run Siddharth Hospital, too, cases are being reported. A doctor said, “We have treated a few cases from Goregaon, Kandivli and Malad. Some have needed aggressive antibiotic management.” A BMC official said there has been a spurt in cases following the heavy rain of July’s last week. “Cases are coming from all parts of the city”.



Violent Maratha bandh blocks E-way, targets industrial units


Pune: The state-wide bandh called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) on Thursday witnessed another round of violence in Pune, Nashik and Marathwada. Protesters blocked the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and other highways, damaged buses and private cars, went on the rampage in the Waluj industrial belt in Aurangabad, and laid siege to the Pune collectorate for more than nine hours. As the violence spread, internet access was cut off in many parts of the state. MSRTC did not deploy a single bus from its 19,000-strong fleet. Waluj, home to 3,000 industrial units, saw the worst violence with hundreds of protesters torching vehicles, ransacking at least 60 companies and damaging property worth crores. They assaulted security guards, employees and even senior executives. A police vehicle, a private truck and a fire tender were set ablaze. The protesters also attacked the convoy of Aurangabad commissioner of police Chiranjeev P. Industrialists from Waluj reacted strongly, warning the government they would shift out of Aurangabad if they were not given protection.



Refinery fire put out after 11 hours



Mumbai: The fire that started on Wednesday after an explosion at the hydrocracker plant of Bharat Petroleum’s Mahul refinery was extinguished in the early hours of Thursday after raging for over 11 hours. A total of 43 persons were reported injured, of whom 22 had to be hospitalised. Nine have now been discharged. BPCL has said it will form a high-level committee to investigate the cause of the explosion and fire, which started around 2.45pm on Wednesday and was put out at 1.50am the next day. The committee will also ascertain the extent of damage and losses. “No product (high speed diesel) shortage is envisaged on account of the fire,” reiterated a BPCL spokesperson, S S Sundararajan. “It is clear that none of the neighbouring plants in the refinery has been affected. All were functional on Thursday”. In a statement, BPCL said, “The condition of the injured is being closely monitored by our refinery medical centre”. Medical director Dr SK Goswami said 13 BPCL staffers continue to be hospitalised as of Thursday. “All are stable. Two who suffered fractures have undergone surgery. The one person who suffered a head injury is being treated conservatively”.


The relatives of Sushil Bhosle (35), one of the two patients declared serious on Wednesday, said they were relieved when he recognised them a day later. The chemical engineer, with over four years’ work experience with BPCL, suffered head and facial injury, which caused severe blood loss. “We were worried as he had a head injury. But he could recognise his father and wife, which doctors told us is a good sign,” said his brother-in-law, Amit Jadhav. Nanadip Walwe (53), the second person who was seriously injured, was operated for fractures. He and his colleague, Philip Kurien (51), were about 100 metres away in a neighbouring plant when the explosion occurred. The impact blew the roof of their plant, which crashed on them. While Kurien escaped with a shoulder fracture, a large chunk fell on Walwe’s face and shoulders. Sources said that though the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, leakage of gas from the hydrocracker plant cannot be ruled out. Sources said investigators will have to find out if there was a ‘vapour cloud ignition’—the vapour cloud being a mixture of hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide gases. “The gas was burning and at high pressure, which was later regulated”.



Guess SWAT 36 women from NE to form city’s terror shield


New Delhi: Delhi will be the first police force in the country to have an all-women SWAT team. Home minister Rajnath Singh will formally induct the unit in Delhi Police on Friday. Trained by specialists from India and abroad, 36 women constables from northeastern states have been inducted into the squad after rigorous, 15-month training. It is the brainchild of police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. “These women are second to none when it comes to handling terror strikes and hostage crises in urban areas. In fact, they were rated better than their male counterparts by their trainers at Police Training College in Jharoda Kalan,” Patnaik said. The formation of this team is being considered a big achievement as most western countries do not have all-women SWAT teams due to the kind of training required to become one. The maximum numbers of members (13) are from Assam and five each from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Manipur. They are trained in the Israeli Krav Maga, an unarmed combat style, and equipped with MP5 submachine guns and Glock 21 pistols. These commandos will be stationed at strategic locations in central and south Delhi. Amids intel inputs of women Fedayeen’s planning to target the capital, this all-women unit would helm the security apparatus around Red Fort and India Gate as well. Many of them would be posted in anti-terror vans called Parakram.


The women are trained to handle challenges unique to the capital—like climbing multi-storey buildings or carrying out hostage rescue operations at hotels, buses or metro. The idea of an all-women SWAT team germinated when 41 newly-inducted policewomen had completed a four-month commando training. To minimise the problem of language, an instructor from the northeast has also been included in the training team. “They have undergone a rigorous training of 15 months as against 12 months for general duty male constables. They further honed their skills at NSG Centre, Manesar. They are experts at unarmed combat, ambush and counter ambush, jungle operation, urban operation which includes building interventions, vehicle/bus intervention and VVIP security. They have also been imparted basic knowledge of explosives and IEDs apart from being trained to use a wide array of weapons,” DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwaha said. “Experts at abseiling and scaling, they can spring from deep sleep to action, fully armed, within a minute of an alarm. Not only have they mixed well with personnel from other parts of the country, there is an amazing mix of cultures on display at the academy at present,” said a trainer.



Alert in Kerala as landslips, flashfloods leave 23 dead


Idukki/Thiruvananthapuram: Twenty-three people were killed in flashfloods and landslides caused by incessant torrential rain across Kerala in the past 24 hours. Four people are missing. Responding to the Kerala government’s request, the Army and Air Force joined rescue operations in Idukki and Wayanad. A defence spokesperson said more forces are on standby at Pangode, Kannur and Sullur airbases for assistance. The shutters of 24 dams were opened. With the water level at Idukki reservoir, Asia’s highest arch dam, rapidly rising to the danger mark of 2,403 feet, the government on Thursday opened one of the five shutters of the connected Cheruthoni dam by 50cm. With just one shutter partially open, 50,000 litres of water were discharged in one second, indicating the kind of impact the opening of all five shutters would have on heavily populated towns, villages and cities downstream. Idukki, parts of northern Kerala and Palakkad district bore the brunt of the floods, and landslides were reported from eight places in Wayanad, Malappuram and Idukki. Kuttanad, which lies below sea level and is known as the rice bowl of Kerala, was inundated after the shutters of the Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta district were opened. With Pamba river in space, the water level in the scenic Alappuzha-Kottayam backwaters too has risen.



As many as 11 deaths were reported from Idukki district, six from Malappuram, three in Ernakulam, two in Kozhikode and one from Wayanad. Four persons are reported missing from different parts of the state. The government has opened round-the-clock control rooms in all districts. The ‘1077’ hotline is active in all flood-affected districts. A seven-member central delegation headed by AV Dharma Reddy, joint secretary of the home ministry, is in the state to assess the extent of damage caused by floods. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and revenue minister E Chandrasekharan held discussions with the delegation and sought more time to prepare a detailed estimate of the damage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected. “Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the state. Offered all possible assistance to those affected,” the PM said in a tweet.



Cauvery swells as Kabini, KRS outflow up; alert along banks


Mysuru/ Mandya: For the first time after its inauguration in 1974, 71,100 cusecs of water were released from the Kabini dam on Thursday, following heavy rainfall in the Wayanad region of Kerala. The water release led to heavy inflow into the Cauvery since Wednesday night. “On Thursday morning, inflow into the dam was 41,692 cusecs, while outflow was 44,054 cusecs. But by evening, inflow reached 58,450 cusecs and outflow was 71,100 cusecs,” water resources department officials said. Until now, the record release of water from Kabini was 68,300 cusecs in 2009. Following heavy rainfall in Kodagu and surrounding areas, inflow into the KRS dam also increased. Inflow was 23,942 cusecs, while outflow was 41,301 cusecs. “This outflow includes water released into various canals,” the authorities said. According to locals, following heavy outflow from Kabini, several roads connecting Suttur, Nanjangud and other areas are submerged. Revenue department authorities have issued a warning to residents against venturing near the river. Mysuru and Mandya district administrations are on high alert, following the release of water, and have warned people against moving close to the swollen rivers, Mandya police said. With more than 20,000 cusecs of water likely to be released from Krishnaraja Sagar dam any time, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) has sounded an alert, warning people living downstream.


Inflow to KRS was as low as 4,000 cusecs in the past couple of days, but rose to 13,000 cusecs on Thursday when the water level stood at 124.25ft against the maximum of 124.80ft. The inflow could increase to 50,000 cusecs as there is good rainfall in Cauvery catchment area. “Since the reservoir is filled to the brim, we have to release entire inflow into the river. We have already informed the district administration to take necessary steps as there could be flooding along the river course. As a precautionary measure, we should let more water into the river as we need to keep the water level below the Full Reservoir Level,” said a senior CNNL officer. Meanwhile, farmer leaders are unhappy with the state government as the irrigation department is not taking steps to fill waterbodies, including village tanks. “If the waterbodies are filled, it would help in recharging underground water, and water scarcity in summer could be staved off,” said Shridhar, a farmer from Kommerahalli village. Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy will plant paddy saplings in Mandya on Saturday to mark good rainfall this year.



Monsoon hits train, bus travel on Shiradi route

IN THE DEEP: Rescue personnel shift people to a safer place out of Bantwal, which was flooded after heavy bouts of rain.



Mangaluru: After a lull of more than 10 days, an invigorated monsoon wreaked havoc on road and rail transport from this coastal city to Bengaluru. Heavy rain lashing Shiradi Ghat region since late Wednesday resulted in the newly opened stretch of Shiradi Ghat getting waterlogged, posing problems to vehicular traffic. Landslips at multiple places, with boulders falling on the track, resulted in disruption of train services. Due to incessant rain in the Ghat section in the past couple of days, landslides were reported at multiple places, resulting in regulation/cancellation of passenger train services from August 8. Even as restoration work was under way, fresh landslips occurred. The railways arranged buses for 446 stranded passengers to reach their respective destinations. The passengers were also refunded the full fare. The train from Kannur/ Karwar bound for KSR Bengaluru was also cancelled, and 397 passengers on board were provided alternative transport facility by routing KSRTC buses through Hassan railway station, besides a full refund. In addition, railways hired 10 buses to transport the remaining passengers. On Thursday, the Mangaluru-bound express from Yesvantpur did not start, and neither did its pairing train from Karwar. The railways arranged catering services which included snacks and water for all stranded passengers, and refunded their fare, amounting to Rs.74,720. Additional ticket checking staff assisted stranded passengers with announcements at stations on arrangements being made, S G Yatish, senior divisional commercial manager and PRO, South Western Railway, said.


Train 16511/16513 KSR Bengaluru City-Kannur/Karwar via Kunigal-Shravanabelagola and Hassan with scheduled departure from KSR Bengaluru City at 7.15pm on Thursday, was rescheduled to leave at 11:15pm. Due to delay in restoration of track and landslides on tracks in Donigal-Kadagaravalli and Shiribagilu-Yedakumari of Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road Ghat section, train 16518/16524 Kannur/Karwar-Mangaluru Central-KSR Bengaluru triweekly express was cancelled on Thursday. Heavy rain also resulted in vehicular traffic along Shiradi Ghat getting affected for nearly six hours from 5am on Thursday. SP B R Ravikanthegowda told TOI that there was heavy waterlogging along the Ghat stretch between Sakleshpur in Hassan and Gundya in Dakshina Kannada, following which vehicle movement was temporarily suspended. “Vehicle movement was restored post 11.15am, when the water receded,” he said. The swelling Nethravati river in Bantwal forced the authorities to shift people residing along the banks to safer places. Fire and emergency services personnel pressed lifeboats into service to shift families affected by the rising water. A person fishing on the banks of the Nethravati at Innoli, drowned on Thursday. Harish Naik, 30, was a native of Gundya. A bridge at Hosamutt near Kukke Subrahmanya Temple was reportedly submerged by the rising water level of the Kumaradhara river. Mundaje in Belthangady taluk recorded maximum rainfall of 253mm rain in Karnataka in the past 24 hours up to 8.30am on August 9, according to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre.



Banks install anti-skimming device, 40% ATM’s secured


Kolkata: All leading banks in the city have started installing anti-skimming devices in their teller machines to stop incidents of ATM tampering using skimming devices. The move was prompted by a spate of ATM frauds reported from several parts of the city. Banks have assured customers who are cagey about using ATMs in the Puja shopping season that the installation of anti-skimming devices will be completed in most of the 11,500-odd ATMs in the state before the Pujas. Some banks like HDFC and United Bank of India (UBI) are hoping to finish installing the devices even earlier. The RBI had directed the banks to enhance cyber security, including the installation of anti-skimming devices in ATMs. The deadline for completing the installations is March 2019. According to an estimate, over 40% of ATMs in the state already have the anti-skimming device installed. The chief general manager of SBI, Partha Pratim Sengupta, has said that the anti-skimming device has already been installed in a substantial number of SBI’s 3,500-odd teller machines. “Unlike many other ATMs, most of our ATMs have security guards, so chances of breaking in or skimming are less,” Sengupta added.


Bank officials feel anti-skimming devices were a possible antidote to the type of ATM frauds reported late last week. The fraudsters in these cases used a skimmer — a device set in the machines where customers swipe the cards to withdraw money. The skimmer captures data from the magnetic strip on the card, which is used to clone them. An HDFC Bank official said almost 90% of its ATMs in Bengal are now equipped with the anti-skimming device. “As far as Kolkata is concerned, almost all of our 120 ATMs are now equipped with the technology,” the official said. The UBI has installed the anti-skimming device in nearly 50% of its ATMs. A UBI official pointed out that banking frauds using skimmers have become rampant all over the country. “It is a very common fraud now. We have seen that an anti-skimming device can protect ATMs from such things. The device has to be installed inside the machine,” the official added. According to a banking IT expert, the latest ATMs being installed have an inbuilt anti-skimming system. “As the device has to be inserted into the machine, logistics are very important. This is why RBI has proposed the March deadline, giving the banks some time,” he added.



Flood alert sounded for Cauvery



Chennai: The central water commission (CWC) on Thursday issued its first warning to Tamil Nadu government that due to heavy rain in Karnataka and Kerala, there was a likelihood of heavy release of water from Kabini dam and Krishnarajasagar dam into river Cauvery. The combined discharge of more than one lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) is expected to reach Mettur dam in Salem district within two days. “Already, about 40,000 cusecs is flowing into Tamil Nadu at Biligundulu, the interstate border, near Hogenakkal as on Thursday evening,” a CWC official said. The huge inflow will help Mettur dam reach its full capacity of 120ft in a couple of days for the second time this year. On Thursday evening, the water level stood at 117.50ft. Inflow into the dam is 8,311 cusecs and the outflow is maintained at 19,341 cusecs for irrigation in delta districts. After giving a miss to its customary opening date of June 12 due to poor storage, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami opened sluices of Mettur on July 19. In his first advisory on river Cauvery, CWC southern rivers division executive engineer R Saravanan said, “Suitable precautionary measures may be taken, and downstream areas be informed of the release”. The alert has been sent to TN chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and the district collectors of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode, Trichy and Thanjavur.


In a separate advisory for Karnataka reservoirs, CWC said there was a likelihood of high inflow into Hemavathy, Harangi, Kabini and Krishnarajasagar reservoirs of Karnataka in the next 36 hours due to heavy rain in Kerala and Malnad region of Karnataka. The dam authorities should release water as per the standard protocol. Revenue administration, disaster management and mitigation, commissioner, K Satyagopal, said, “We are watching the situation closely. Necessary directions have been issued to inter-departmental zonal teams about vulnerable areas”. Salem collector Rohini R Bhajibhakare has instructed people living along the river banks to move to safer places. The district disaster management team has been told to stay vigilant. A team of officials from revenue, PWD, police and forest departments has been deployed to monitor the situation. Dharmapuri district administration has banned coracle services at Hogenakkal. Tourists are not being allowed to take bath in the falls.



Kerala witnessing unforeseen calamity: Pinarayi

WATER WORLD: People being evacuated in Palakkad on Thursday.



Thiruvananthapuram: With 24 dams being opened in Kerala and landslides being reported, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state was witnessing an unforeseen natural calamity. This is for the first time in the history of the state that these many dams have been opened at the same time. The chief minister, who called a high-level meeting to review the flood situation on Thursday morning, gave necessary direction to open the shutters of Cheruthoni dam. After the meeting, the chief minister said the state had sought the help of defence forces for rescue and relief operations. The government has given alerts to the Idukki, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Malappuram district collectors where landslides and floods have severely affected people. A state monitoring cell headed by additional chief secretary (revenue) P H Kurien has been constituted which will be reviewing the situation directly with the district collectors. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Disaster Response Team and the Coast Guard are helping the state authorities in rescue and relief operations. The help of Air Force has been sought to rescue the people who have been isolated following the landslides.


The chief minister said the opening of Kakki dam will flood the Kuttanadu region and hence the state is going to witness a huge damage here. A decision has also been taken to postpone the Nehru Trophy boat race in view of the flood situation. The new date will be announced later. He said 20 deaths were reported from the state on Wednesday night following heavy rain and landslides. In Idukki, 11deaths have been reported, six from Malappuram, two from Kozhikode and one from Wayanad. He urged the people to support the relief team and stay away from dangerous areas. He also advised tourists to stay away from the flooded regions of the state. “The state has taken all precautionary measures to face the situation and the government needs the support of the people to carry out the relief and rescue operations,’’ said the chief minister.



International News





Yemen: At least 50 people were killed, including 29 children, during an air strike by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen’s Saada province on Thursday, the rebel-run health ministry said. The coalition is fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi group in Yemen. ‘A hospital supported by our team in Yemen received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15,’ the International Committee of the Red Cross posted on Twitter. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition said it targeted the Houthis who had fired a missile at the kingdom’s south on Wednesday. A spokesman accused the Houthis of recruiting children and using them in the battlefields to cover for their actions.



Aftershocks rock quake-hit Lombok, toll 319



Mataram: The death toll from a devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok jumped to 319 on Thursday, as strong aftershocks triggered panic among traumatised survivors waiting for aid in the worst-hit regions. The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on Sunday levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok, with relief agencies only just starting to reach survivors in some of the worst-hit areas four days later. “Our latest update is that 319 people died,” said Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto adding that rescue efforts were ongoing and complicated by aftershocks. Around 1,400 people were seriously injured and more than 1,50,000 displaced, authorities said earlier.

News Flash – 9 August 2018

National News





Mumbai: A major fire broke out in the hydrocracker plant at Bharat Petroleum’s Mahul refinery in Chembur on Wednesday afternoon, triggering panic among locals, who spilled onto the streets after an explosion and tremors. As videos went viral on social media, with citizens fearing the spread of toxic gases, BPCL authorities assured there was no reason to panic and that the blaze was under control. Forty persons were injured, five of them seriously. Two who sustained severe head wounds are critical. Interestingly, all the injuries were caused by flying debris, not burns. About 45 workers had a miraculous escape, thanks to a hissing sound from the plant minutes before the explosion. The cause of the explosion and fire is yet to be ascertained. Sources said the possibility of a ‘vapour cloud ignition’, the vapour cloud being a mixture of hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide because of a gas leakage from the hydrocracker plant, cannot be ruled out.



Teacher tracks phone thief online, gets him nabbed as he boards train


Mumbai: With some ingenious sleuthing, a 19-year-old teacher from Andheri managed to track down the man who had stolen her Android cellphone. The woman used another handset to track every online activity of the thief and got the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to nab him just as he was leaving the city by train. RPF personnel handed over Selvaraj Shetty (32) to the Dadar GRP outpost where a case of theft was registered against him on Monday. Zeenat Banu Haq, a Marol resident, teaches at a preschool in the same neighbourhood. On Sunday, after returning from a trip to Malad, she could not find her Xiaomi 4A handset. “I couldn’t recollect where my phone was stolen,” she told TOI. But she had logged into the Google account and turned on the “location” on her stolen phone. There is a section called “My Activity” in a Google account where one can view and manage things such as websites visited, videos watched and searches done. “I used another Android handset to log into my Google account and kept track of the activities done using the stolen phone”. Haq said she found that the thief had searched for songs from the Rajnikanth-starrer ‘Kaala’. He used the SHAREit app, updated WhatsApp messenger and accessed Facebook. “Eventually, he downloaded an app for booking railway tickets,” she added.


As the battery status of the stolen phone could be seen, Haq gathered from the draining battery that the handset was being excessively used. The man then booked a Dadar-Tiruvannamalai railway ticket for Sunday and took a screenshot of the PNR number and seat details. He also took a picture of himself. “Through Google Photos, I accessed his ticket details as well as his photo. A quick internet search showed that the train was Puducherry Express and it would leave from Dadar Terminus around 9.30pm on Sunday. I left home and headed straight for Dadar Terminus where I found RPF personnel and narrated everything,” said Haq. The young woman continued to track the thief ’s activity as the “location” option of her stolen phone was on. She could see the bridge that he took to reach Dadar Terminus. The RPF waited after the train arrived but the man didn’t arrive immediately. “When he finally arrived and took his seat, the RPF started to quiz him. My phone was found but he claimed that it had been mortgaged with him. By then, I had broken down as I was scared. But the RPF asked a lot of questions and he and his sister gave contradictory answers,” said Haq. “RPF constable Nitin Mistry summoned two other staffers to attend the train and they hauled Shetty to the Dadar outpost. After the stolen mobile was recovered, he was handed over to the GRP,” said Satish Menon, senior inspector, Dadar RPF. Shetty lives on Malad Link Road.



50 cops on patrol duty, more CCTV’s to minimise blind spots at district courts


New Delhi: District court complexes are in the focus of police now, and the next time you enter a court, you could find the naib court, the court policeman, sitting in a corner equipped with a firearm instead of a stick. Following a spate of violence in courts in the capital, Delhi Police has decided to beef up the security at these complexes. Senior police officers confirmed the developments and said that a general security plan has been drafted that incorporates the threat perceptions to courts, ranging from violence involving under trials to drone attacks. The enhanced security, sources said, was mooted after the recent gunfights at court complexes, particularly those involving gangs at the Rohini and Tis Hazari courts. For a start, the Dwarka court complex has got a reserve squad of more than 50 to patrol the court. The cops deployed have been pulled from the district investigation unit, MACT cell and other reserve forces. An officer said that the teams are deployed on each floor of the court building and their presence is likely to act as a deterrent to violent acts. “Apart from performing their duties in their parent units, the cops are being rotated to ensure a steady presence in the court complex,” the officer added. “We are also working on improving the CCTV coverage inside and around the court area to minimise the blind spots”.


The mobile unit at Dwarka been acquainted with standard operating procedures for various levels of threat alerts. Half of the team will be deployed for armed response, as quick reaction team, mobile strike party and for patrolling. The other half will be deployed for intelligence collection. Similar action is being undertaken in other district courts in the capital. Apart from increasing the police presence inside the courts, a risk assessment system will also be used whenever there are hearings involving gangsters and hardcore criminals. Sources explained that a risk assessment input will be conveyed to other police units whenever such a criminal is to come to court. If the risk is assessed as high, the cops can opt to have the hearing via video conferencing. If that’s not feasible, the teams may keep the prisoner inside the court lock-up area and get his statements recorded before a magistrate there. The cops transporting the criminal have also been asked to establish a safe house for in-custody criminals to meet emergencies. Sources acquainted with the developments stated that apart from force deployment, technical devices have also been recommended as force multipliers that will plug the gaps. The cops have thus proposed a fully integrated intrusion detection system that includes the installation of motion sensors, smoke sensors, heat sensors, infra-red sensors and glass break sensors according to the requirements of the premises.



Howrah ATM dispenses brown paper

The brown paper and the Rs 2000 notes dispensed by the ATM.



Howrah: A customer on Tuesday night alleged that an ATM in Howrah’s Bally dispensed a sheet of brown paper along with Rs 4,000 in currency notes instead of the Rs 6,000 he had keyed in. Bijay Pandey (37), the customer, has lodged complaints with police and the Bank of India (BOI), which owns the ATM. Under RBI norms, currency notes issued to banks are screened and segregated in three lots. The lot with the best notes is handed to agencies that fill ATMs. The second lot of notes that are also in good condition are sent to bank branches, while the third lot with notes in bad condition or soiled ones are returned to RBI. A sales manager of a realty firm at Bhowanipore, Pandey went to the ATM adjoining the bank’s branch at Bally Bazar near his Ramnavamitala home around 9pm on Tuesday. He swiped his Karnataka Bank debit card and went through the usual operations to withdraw Rs 6,000. To Pandey’s surprise, two Rs 2,000 notes were dispensed by the machine along with a sheet of brown paper, which according to him, was of the same size and thickness as the notes. Soon, he received an SMS from his bank informing that Rs 6,000 had been withdrawn from his account. Pandey went to Bally PS and lodged a complaint. He went to the BOI branch on Wednesday and met manager R S Behera. Pandey alleged that Behera reluctantly accepted his complaint. Behera said, “The agency was negligent. Our head office will probe it and take a decision”.



More bank accounts at risk, 3 skimmers caught

The ATM on Elgin Road where one of the skimmers was caught red-handed. (Inset) Guard Sofiuddin Sk.



Kolkata: Debit cards belonging to at least a hundred more Kolkata customers have been compromised, with probe leading to a gang specialising in skimming and operating from the Mumbai suburb of Mira Road. Cops busted this latest racket, thanks to the presence of mind of two guards — Sofiuddin Sk and Moinuddin — employed at an Elgin Road ATM. A six-hour operation, starting from 8.30 pm on Tuesday and ending before daybreak on Wednesday, ended with the arrest of three persons from diverse backgrounds: an out-of-business broadband service provider, an engineering college dropout and an electrician. The same Elgin Road ATM — belonging to Kotak Mahindra Bank was also targeted by the Romanian gang busted last week. Soifuddin was the first to notice a youth fiddling with the ATM around 8.30 pm. “Two more men started fleeing, after trying to alert the person standing inside the ATM, as soon as I tried to check what was going on,” Soifuddin said. “I was certain something was wrong and automatically presumed that they were trying to fit a skimming device. So Moinuddin and I locked the ATM from outside and informed cops. We also informed Kotak Mahindra officials, one of whom arrived and assisted the police,” he added. Cops arrested Rohit Nair and, by 2.30 am, picked up Sayeed Sayed from the airport (he was trying to flee with the assumed identity of Ajay Chauhan) and Sudhir Ranjan from the CIT Road area. A search yielded two skimming devices, pin-hole cameras, mobile phones and a laptop.


The Mumbai gang had managed to lay their hands on the PIN and debit card details of at least a hundred bank customers, officials said. “This info was gleaned through skimming machines set up at a New Market ATM belonging to ICICI Bank,” joint CP (crime) Praveen Tripathi said. “The gang targeted three other ATMs — one on Elgin Road belonging to Kotak Mahindra, one in Kasba belonging to IndusInd Bank and another also in Kasba belonging to Axis Bank,” an officer said. “They failed to gather any data from the Axis Bank ATM in Kasba because anti-skimming devices were already installed there. We are now trying to ascertain whether they had got any data from the other two ATMs,” he said, adding cops were probing possible links with the Romanian bank fraud gang busted earlier. “The gang bought a laptop from Forum Mall to store 100 customers’ data who used the ICICI ATM at New Market,” Tripathi said. This gang, officials said, was headed by Sayeed who owned a broadband firm. “The launching of new services by an Indian behemoth forced him out of business. He went to Australia where he claimed to have married a woman from Guatemala. He returned to India about one and a half years ago, after which he launched the gang along with engineering college dropout Nair and electrician Ranjan, who came from Ambedkar Nagar in UP. Rohit was arrested earlier, in Pune, where the gang made Rs 7 lakh. A similar operation in Mumbai yielded Rs 12 lakh,” an officer said.


The trio set up skimming machines at ATMs of ICICI Bank at New Market (left) and IndusInd Bank at Kasba.



“We found that Ranjan put up at Anupam Hotel in Howrah before shifting to a kin’s house on CIT Road. Nair and Sayeed had checked into Rowland Hotel in Bhowanipore. We have also found their footage from Acropolis Mall, where they went on a buying spree after inserting the skimmer machines at the Kasba ATM without realising that an alert citizen had detected their device,” police said. “They read in TOI that Romanians were arrested for skimming in the city the very day they tried hitting the Elgin Road ATM but wanted to take one more chance,” Tripathi said. Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, secretary general of the Central Association of Private Security Industry, West Bengal, an umbrella body of security agencies, said Soifuddin would be rewarded “so that it acts as an inspiration for other guards”. “We are planning a special training module for guards posted at banks and ATMs to make them aware of new challenges,” said Ahluwalia. “We appreciate alertness shown by two guards who were on duty at the ATM on Elgin Road in Kolkata, which helped us in immediately informing the police and catching the culprits. We have lodged a complaint with the police and are extending full cooperation in the investigation. The commissioner of police has also appreciated the alertness and vigilance of the security guards,” said Rohit Rao, chief communication officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank.



Munna is a prize catch for Indian Security Agencies



Kozhikode: Bangladeshi terrorist Mohammed Zahidul Islam alias Munna, who was picked up by the NIA from Bengaluru on Tuesday, is a prize catch for Indian security agencies as he is one of the most wanted criminals in his country with a death sentence against him. Munna, also known as Boma Mizan and Kausar, was forcibly freed by his associates who attacked a police team that was taking him to court in 2014. Many policemen are reported to have been killed in that incident in Bangladesh. Munna’s arrest on Tuesday was on the basis of the inputs received by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from two migrant labourers picked up from Kottakkal on August 3. Sources said Munna used to frequently visit Malappuram over the past year. “Names of places like Tirur, Kuttippuram, Tanur and Kottakkal were found in his diary. It is assumed that he was planning to come to Malappuram again,” said a source. Munna is the senior leader of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned terrorist organization, whose aim is to overthrow the elected government and to establish an Islamic state.



International News





Indonesia: A mosque that collapsed after a 6.9 earthquake on Sunday in North Lombok, Indonesia. The toll rose above 130 on Wednesday, as authorities appealed for food, clean water and medical help for some 156,000 people forced from their homes. Many frightened, displaced villagers are staying under tents or tarpaulins dotted along roads or in parched rice fields, and makeshift medical facilities have been set up to treat the injured.

News Flash – 8 August 2018

National News



Metro aims to be longest rail network in 5 years, bigger than CR’s Main and WR put together


Mumbai: The new metropolitan commissioner is running against time: he aims to make the metro Mumbai’s longest public transport network in five years. That would mean surpassing Central Railway’s CST-Karjat line (122km) and the Western Railway stretch linking Churchgate to Dahanu (123km). The two add up to nearly 250km of track length, but short of the 276-km mark that R A Rajeev hopes to conquer. In scale and conception, the metro is touted as the future of travel. Its potential can be gauged from the fact that the 12 lines, on completion, would provide 250 stations for entry, exit and interchange—as opposed to the 100-odd stops on the suburban railway. Rajeev says, “By 2022, it will change the face of Mumbai.” Indeed, the consensus among planners is the metro will have a transformative effect, shaping development, intra-city commute and life on the street in ways that render the network a key determinant of traffic and the economy. Given that the existing 11.5km Andheri-Ghatkopar line has a daily ridership of more than 4 lakhs, prospects are bright. The MMRDA has asked the state to appoint it as a Special Planning Authority with jurisdiction for a 500m radius around each of the stations that will dot the grid. “We have learnt from mistakes while constructing Metro One (the Andheri-Ghatkopar line).


This area is being sought to ensure seamless travel and ease of movement…there will be pedestrian pathways, cycle tracks, easy movement for buses, autos,” said Rajeev. The financial burden of developing the zone around the metro will be borne by MMRDA and the urban local body. Many stations will be linked via skywalks to office hubs like Bharat Diamond Bourse in BKC, malls, or large facilities like the airport so that commuters do not spill out on the roads. “We are benchmarking ourselves against Hong Kong and Singapore. We will appoint consultants for creating a separate operation and maintenance division for the metros,” he said. That brings us to the staggering cost attached to it. Capital expenditure last year was Rs 2,700 crore; in 2018, it’s been budgeted at around Rs 5,000 crore. But that’s small change compared to what’s coming next. Initial civil work accounts for barely one-third of expenses on a metro. The bulk is yet to be spent on rolling stock, telecom, signaling, and electrical systems. “Expenditure will scale up from next year,” said the metropolitan commissioner. That’s putting it mildly—in all, MMRDA will need Rs 88,000 crore for 12 lines, nearly as much as what the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train will cost.


Where’s the money? – “We have a balance of Rs 20,000 crore and land assets at BKC and Wadala worth Rs 95,000 crore,” said Rajeev. He hastens to add that MMRDA will not liquidate assets immediately; rather it has approached government to provide a steady source of revenue. The authority has also sounded out multilateral agencies to raise funds. “We are in advanced discussions with Asian Development Bank for loans for lines VII (Dahisar-Andheri East) and IIA (Dahisar West-D N Road),” said Rajeev. MMRDA is also in talks with the New Development Bank for BRICS countries for Metro Lines II and VII. The loans will have to be repaid over 25 years, which includes a five-year moratorium after the last instalment is received. MMRDA claims it is financially stable, but will need a constant source to supplement revenue from traffic. As of now, it has been promised 1% of stamp duty earnings from property transactions in the region outside Mumbai. It may get a share of the Mumbai kitty as well but that requires an amendment in the BMC Act. Besides, it has sought a share of development charges levied in the city, including premium for extra floor space in the 500-metre area around metro stops. Earnings will swell as lines are added—MMRDA expects daily ridership to eventually hit 50 lakhs—but will ticketing cover costs? “If Delhi Metro with ridership of 25 lakhs daily and minimum fare of less than Rs 10 can be profitable, so can Mumbai’s metro which will have more ridership,” says Rajeev. Right now, he’s focused on clearing bottlenecks. Tenders for telecom, signaling, electrical works, and rolling stock are out for Metro lines 2A, 2B and VII. Nearly 60% of the civil work is complete on 2A and VII. Metro station work has also started, said Rajeev. “It is very difficult but we are trying to start Metro Line VII and 2A by December 2019,” he said.



Plane with nine on board overshoots runway, breaks wall at airport in Raj

All the people on board had a narrow escape on Tuesday when the turboprop overshot the runway on landing in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan.



New Delhi: Nine people on board a Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft had a narrow escape when the turboprop overshot the runway on landing at Lalgarh airport in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, on Tuesday. The aircraft (VT-UDN) belonging to Supreme Airlines hit and broke the boundary wall. “Flight 503 Jaipur to Sri Ganganagar with seven passengers and two pilots on board overshot the runway at Lalgarh. Since the runway length is only 3,000 feet, after overshooting (runway) the aircraft hit the boundary wall,” Supreme Airlines president and CEO Ameet K Agarwal said in a statement. He added that no person on the aircraft was hurt and that there was “no severe damage to any property including aircraft”. He said pilots of the Cessna reported they overshot the runway due to presence of birds on the airstrip. “DGCA air safety has been informed and they shall further investigate for facts,” Agarwal said. The Cessna had taken off from Jaipur at 3.51pm. The Lalgarh Airport is owned by Rajasthan government and operated by Airports Authority of India. The DGCA will probe this accident.



No sequel here: 20 days after robbery in E Delhi locality, six men arrested while attempting rerun



New Delhi: On July 5, armed men had struck at the house of an elderly businessmen in Preet Vihar, held the family captive, and looted cash and jewellery worth several lakhs. Twenty days later, the same men landed up at another businessman’s house in east Delhi. They were less lucky this time as a police patrol intercepted them. They shot a policeman in the chest, but when he fired back, they had to abort their plan and flee. The trail they left behind led to their eventual capture. Six of those men were arrested, said joint CP (east) Ravindra Yadav. Turns out all are Bangladeshis and involved in several crimes. DCP (east) Pankaj Singh said three teams comprising inspectors Maninder Singh, Videsh Singhal and D P Singh and led by ACP Rakesh Dixit were formed. One team found a bag belonging to the assailants from a forest along railway tracks. The bag had been dropped in the crossfire with the injured officer, sub-inspector Lokesh Sharma. The first to be trapped by the police was one Ikram from near the Kanpur railway station. He led the police to his aides Islam and Sohail. Police then conducted raids in Ghaziabad and Delhi and arrested three others—Salim, Suttan and Haroon. Two country-made pistols, cartridges, gold jewellery, cellphones, knives and other tools used to break into houses were seized from them. A passport belonging to one of the men was seized along with the Aadhaar card of Ikram.


“During interrogation, Ikram said he had lived in Mandawali during childhood where his father worked as a scrap vendor. He had developed a good knowledge of Delhi. He got in touch with other Bangladeshi men in both Delhi and in Bangladesh and teamed up with some of them to form a gang,” DCP Singh said. Police said all of them belong to Khulna and nearby districts of Barisal in Bangladesh. They are between 30 and 40 and have been committing crimes in Delhi for a decade. They targeted houses near railway tracks so that they could flee with ease. The gang would commit several crimes within a span of a couple of months and then lie low for a few months to dodge the police. This was their cooling off period that they would spend either in Bangladesh or in another Indian state where they committed robberies again. Police found them to be involved in some multi-crore robberies in Kerala and Karnataka (Bangalore). Sub-inspector Sharma would be awarded Asadharan Karya Puraskar for displaying exemplary gallantry in taking on armed criminals and foiling their plans, joint CP Yadav said.



Trees uprooted, streets waterlogged as rain lashes city


New Delhi: The capital witnessed a strong spell of rain on Tuesday while the air quality continued to remain ‘moderate’ at 113 according to CPCB’s data. Overcast skies remained throughout the day with light to moderate rain activity recorded in the most parts of the city, which even led to uprooting of trees. The Met office said rain will continue over the next few days. The Safdarjung observatory recorded 2.1mm rainfall in a 24hours till 8.30am on Tuesday and received another 3.6mm of rainfall in the next nine hours. According to Met officials, parts of west and south Delhi received the most rainfall with Ayanagar recording 64mm of rainfall between 8.30am and 5.30pm. Meanwhile, Palam and Lodhi Road recorded 12.6 and 1.7mm rainfall, respectively during the same period. “Light to moderate rain was recorded in parts of Delhi. It was intermittent, but a couple of strong spells were recorded in south, central and west Delhi. We will continue to see similar activity over the next few days as well,” said a Met official. Delhi’s humidity remained on the higher side on Tuesday, hovering between 69% and 92%. The maximum temperature touched 33.3 degrees Celsius — one degree below normal. According to the Met office, Delhi will see light rainfall on Wednesday as well. “There will be cloudy sky with a chance of light rain. The maximum and minimum will be around 33 and 26 degrees, respectively,” said an official.



17L respiratory infections, 981 deaths in 5 years in capital


New Delhi: The capital witnessed 981 deaths due to Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI) from 2013 to 2017. Over 17 lakh others were diagnosed with ARI, stated a standing committee report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The report said the polluted air in Delhi-NCR is a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and health conditions, including respiratory infections, and recommended immediate corrective and preventive strategic steps in consultation to mitigate the air pollution. The committee, which held three meetings with authorities concerned and analysed the whole gamut of air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the past nine months, said it was surprised to note that the health ministry was not taken on board in the high-level task force on air pollution which is, in a way, indicative of ignorance as well as denial about negative impact of air pollution on human health. “The committee recommends that considering the severe health hazards of air pollution, ministry of environment, forest and climate change should take immediate corrective and preventive strategic steps in consultation with the health ministry,” the committee advised. It has asked the health ministry to aggressively start an awareness campaign to educate people about the adverse health effects of air pollution, and the ways and means to minimise its adverse impacts. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) put Delhi amongst the 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5 levels.


An epidemiological study conducted in 2008 on effects of air pollution on human health (adults) in Delhi, referred to by the parliamentary committee in its report, shows citizens of the city were more susceptible to respiratory symptoms compared with those living in rural areas. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had said last year there is growing body of scientific research that shows that air pollution can permanently damage a child’s brain. UNICEF also said that south Asia has the largest proportion of babies living in areas where air pollution is at least six times higher than international limits (10 micrograms per cubic metre). “Pollution is one of the biggest health hazards of our times. Apart from the government agencies, people need to realise this urgently too and take preventive measures,” Dr Arvind Kumar, centre for chest surgery at SGRH, said. In a recent analysis conducted by him that involved 150 in-house patients suffering from lung cancer from March 2012 to June 2018, Dr Kumar found nearly half of the patients were non-smokers. While conventional wisdom states that smoking is its main cause, but now, there is strong evidence that points to the increasing role of air pollution in the rise of the cases, he said. Calling polluted air in Delhi a significant risk factor for a number of pollution-related diseases and health conditions, the parliamentary committee on Tuesday said infants, children and asthmatic patients were most vulnerable to it.



Road-safety drive turns eye-opener



Bengaluru: The Indiranagar Cambridge School, along with HAL III Stage Residents & Taxpayers Association, organised a road-safety awareness programme for high school students on July 30. While interacting with students about road safety and traffic rules, ACP (traffic and planning) Kasim Raja spoke about safety measures to be adopted and the police department’s role in improving the conditions. Students asked questions on non-availability of footpaths due to vendors and car parking, and also about bad roads leading to accidents. The programme concluded with students taking a pledge to follow safety rules and spread awareness among friends and family. Students of St Claret School, Jalahalli, emerged winners of the Under 17 Super Sportive Girls Volleyball Counsellors Cup, a state-level inter-school volleyball championship held on July 19-20 at the Kittur Rani Chennamma Stadium, Jayanagar. About 38 schools participated. Shreya S Naidu bagged the Best Player trophy for her skills on the field. The team members and coach Subbareddy were honoured by Jayanagar MLA Sowmya Reddy. Principal Fr Joshi and vice-principal Sally Jose felicitated the winners. Some students of Class 10, Kendriya Vidyalaya, KR Puram, interviewed Sagarikka Sivakumar, author of My Unschooled Year, on July 17. The book speaks about her experiences during the gap year she took after school. She said her motto is not run to a race but to create her own space. Students AB Ananya, Sethulakshmi Das and Dinesh Gokul Das, along with English teacher Lakshmi Jayaraman, were part of the crew. Students said her inspiring and encouraging words made it a rewarding experience.



Mid-sea collision kills 3, nine missing



Kochi: Three men died and nine, including North Paravur native Shaiju Maliankara, went missing when fishing trawler ‘Oceanic’ capsized early on Tuesday morning after being hit by a ship, around 27 miles off the Kerala coast. Crew members Naran Sarkar, who hails from Kolkata, and Edwin, who is from Colachel, were rescued by fishing vessel ‘Manjumatha’. Sarkar said most of the crew of the mechanised boat, except the driver, were asleep when the mishap occurred. Sarkar and Edwin managed to stay afloat on wooden planks for about three hours. The bodies of three fishermen were recovered but nine are still missing. Mercantile Marine Department officials in Kochi said that four vessels, one Indian and three foreign, were in the surrounding area when the collision took place. “As per our preliminary assessment, a vessel with Indian flag, crude oil tanker ‘Desh Shakthi’, is thought to be involved. But there is no confirmation from DG Shipping,” a Mercantile Marine Department official said.



Auto & buses stay off roads, Metro, MMTS remain on track


Hyderabad: Regular commuters were inconvenienced as buses and autos stayed off the city roads on Tuesday in response to a one-day nationwide strike to protest the continuous rise in fuel prices and certain provisions of Motor Vehicles Amendment Bill. However, Metro rail proved to be a lifesaver for commuters. Angry commuters said that vehicles were not easily available on cab aggregator services and bookings were marked by long wait times and high surge prices. “High surge prices were being quoted by cab aggregator apps and several drivers cancelled booking requests without any intimation,” said Shravya B, an irate commuter. The regular and additional services of Metro, however, proved to be a boon for many commuters. Metro services, in fact, hit a peak. Close to 1.5 lakh passengers used the Metro to commute on Tuesday as against usual ridership of 80,000 to 90,000 passengers, HMRL managing director N V S Reddy said.


HMR authorities ran 60 additional trips on Tuesday. As many as 580 train services were run in both directions as against the usual 540 daily trips. “Metro stations and trains are running full capacity. Extra trains and manpower have been deployed. Trains were run with a frequency of one train every 6.5 minutes throughout the day. Last train timings were also extended by an hour. The last train left at 11pm on both sides (Miyapur and Nagole) and reached their end points at 12.15am,” Reddy said. Bus services resumed before evening peak hours. “Ameerpet to LB Nagar section is planned to be opened around first week of September. All works, testing & commissioning activities are done. Trial runs are in full swing. Independent Safety Assessor, Halcrow (UK), is currently doing safety assessment of signaling system. On receipt of ISA Certificate, Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety would inspect the section,” said K V B Reddy, MD and CEO, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Ltd.



Security Guard at every ATM is unviable: Banks


Kolkata: Banks in the city were left baffled on Tuesday after a Kolkata Police advisory and a state minister’s prod, urging them to engage security guards at ATMs. The police advisory urges people to use ATMs that are guarded. The minister went a step further threatening penalty against outsourced unguarded ATM kiosks. Bank officials, however, indicated they were exploring all measures, including legal, if the they were forced to deploy guards in approximately all the 11,000 ATMs in city. In Kolkata, private banks have slashed the security guard strength at their ATMs by 40%-50%. “The RBI is pushing for its March 2019 deadline for all ATMs to be security compliant. This involves systems upgrade, installation of anti-skimming devices and whitelisted solutions (installation of only permitted software). The banks are also implementing e-surveillance measures,” a senior bank official said. This, he argued, involves huge costs. The minister’s suggestion, he said, if implemented would lead to an additional expenditure of Rs 24,000 per ATM. “Together, it makes an ATM financial unviable,” he claims. Police said a guard at ATMs is a deterrence for fraudsters. “Several ATMs have non-functional CCTV cameras. There is no real-time surveillance. Most ATMs don’t have alarms. We have been stressing on these issues but to no avail,” an officer said. Police also said banks claim to have 24×7 centralized teams that keeps tabs on ATMs.


But these teams keep tabs only on the cash inflow and outflow in the ATMs. “They have no role in the security-related monitoring and have outsourced ATM management and security to private agencies,” a senior officer said. “This, and the fact that the amount handed out to multiple service providers is insured, shouldn’t be a reason for banks to shirk their responsibilities,” the officer said. Banks said RBI mandates allow them to engage service providers for cash handling, including ATM operations. “It is not an RBI mandate to engage security guards,” a bank officer said. “In 2016, the Gauhati High Court had issued several directives to banks, that included placing security guards round-the-clock at all ATMs. This direction was later stayed by the Supreme Court. Another official said, “Globally the trend is to adopt e-surveillance measures and reduce physical security at ATMs. These are more reliable and cost-effective. Guards can be an option for off-site ATMs, but for the ones that are attached to a bank branch with 24X7 security guards, this will be unviable”.



Customers get smiles back as bank returns lost money


Kolkata: Forty-four odd customers of Canara Bank, who were among the firsts to have reported about the ATM skimming fraud last month, could heave a sigh of relief as they got back their lost money under the head ‘ATM fraudulent amount refund’ on Tuesday morning. Between July 29 and 30, the customers of the bank’s Gariahat branch, who were used to withdraw money from the ATM machine at Golpark — that was later found to be rigged — had complained of losing between Rs 2,000 to Rs 80,000 in multiple transactions by fraudsters. As the customers came in large numbers to the bank complaining about the fraud, the lid was blown off a citywide skimming racket, following which cops arrested two Romanians and an investigation into the process is under way. “When I had lost the money, I felt hopeless. That was the amount I had borrowed from a moneylender to invest in my fish business and suddenly it was all gone. I felt like committing suicide. Now that I got my money back, I have withdrawn the entire amount and would never keep a large amount in the bank anymore,” said Jugal Bar, a fish trader at Ballygunge market who had lost Rs 80,000. Like Bar, other customers too were relieved after getting their hard-earned money back. “I had almost started crying on losing Rs 40,000 at a go. My father and I had rushed to the bank and even had a heated exchange of words with the bank officials who had failed to give us any solid assurance. But after they called me in the morning and informed me that they have already started the process of refunding the money, I am relieved,” said Anindita Mukherjee, a resident of Ballygunge Gardens.


Mukherjee’s next-door neighbours Kankan Roy Chowdhury, too, got a refund of Rs 4,000 but they are worrying about the Rs 30,000 they have lost from the SBI account that has still not been refunded. “I am more concerned about the money lost from the SBI account. The bank officials have not given us any time frame,” said Roy Chowdhury, a retired government official. The bank officials had started calling up the customers from Tuesday morning, informing them that the lost money would be refunded to their account and asked them to come over to the branch to update their passbooks. As the customers came in, the officials welcomed them with tea, snack and sweets. “Even we are feeling relieved to be able to refund the money. It was the first time ever we faced such a situation. The day they had lost the money, some customers were angry with us and some began crying holding my hand. Our entire team has worked hard to find a way out to refund the money. We didn’t even wait for the insurance company to refund the money to us,” said Sukumar Dafadar, the branch manager. Dafadar said they returned a total of Rs 12 lakhs was refunded on Tuesday on the basis of 44 complaints. Punjab National Bank was the first bank in the city to have started the refund process to its 34 customers on August 3. There are still certain customers with banks like Kotak Mahindra and State Bank of India who had complained of being duped of skimming during this period.



Fearing violence, firms and shops down shutters


Chennai: The city came to a virtual standstill as soon as DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s death was announced. Many private firms and shops downed shutters early and employees rushing home led to traffic snarls across the city, mainly along arterial Anna Salai, Nungambakkam High Road and Ponamallee High Road. “We were asked to go home safe, as our bosses thought the announcement will instigate violence in the city,” said Shyam Sundar, a techie. Many IT companies advanced bus and cab timings to help employees. In a bid to cash in, the few autorickshaw drivers present on the roads, many had stayed off the roads due to the transport strike, began fleecing passengers and fares of app-based taxis soared. “Cab services offered by our firm usually were cancelled. Had to wait for an hour to get a cab,” said R Sneha, a techie from OMR. There were also long queues in petrol bunks. “I’ve asked my family to stock up on essentials,” said K Raghu, waiting at an outlet on Venkatanarayana Road, T Nagar.


MTC buses and suburban trains, all of them packed, became the most reliable and economical option. Services of all 600 private buses, scheduled to depart from Koyambedu Bus Terminal, were cancelled late in the evening. About 600 private buses bound for Chennai from other districts, particularly Madurai, Trichy and Coimbatore, were also cancelled and tickets were either refunded or postponed. A Afzal, managing director of Parveen Travels and president of Tamil Nadu Omni Bus Owners Association said, “Those buses, which already left from the origin point before the announcement came out, were alone operated. People willing to travel to Chennai for the last rites of Karunanidhi can travel for free.” On whether private buses would be operated on Wednesday, he said it would depend on the day’s developments. Most long-distance State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) buses were operated at night with support from local police, but, many government moffusil buses were not operated. All cinema halls will be shut on Wednesday and Thursday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi and all film shootings and film-related works will not be carried out, said Tamil Film Producers Council. The Koyambedu wholesale market will be shut too.



International News





California: Two fires mercilessly roaring through northern California have grown so rapidly that they are now the largest ever to ravage the state, authorities said. Collectively dubbed the Mendocino Complex, the wildfires have burned through 283,800 acres — an area nearly the size of the city of Los Angeles — and are just 30% contained, according to state fire authority CalFire. Two people have died in the inferno, taking to 11 the number of people killed by major fires that broke out last month and are still ongoing.



A generation grows up in China without Google, Facebook



Hong Kong: Wei Dilong, 18, who lives in Liuzhou, China has never heard of Google or Twitter. He once heard of Facebook. It is “maybe like Baidu?” he asked, referring to the Chinese search engine. A generation of Chinese is coming of age with an internet that is different from the rest of the web. Over the past decade, China has blocked Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as thousands of other foreign websites, including The New York Times and Chinese Wikipedia. Many Chinese websites emerged to serve the same functions — though they came with censorship. Accustomed to the homegrown apps and online services, many young people appear uninterested in knowing what has been censored online, allowing Beijing to build an alternative value system that competes with western liberal democracy. China is now exporting its model of a censored internet to other countries, including Vietnam, Tanzania and Ethiopia.


Two economists from Peking University and Stanford University concluded this year, after an 18-month survey, that Chinese college students were indifferent about having access to uncensored, politically sensitive information had given nearly 1,000 students at two universities free tools to bypass censorship, but found that nearly half the students did not use them. “Our findings suggest that censorship in China is effective… also because it fosters an environment in which citizens do not demand such information in the first place,” the scholars wrote. In March, Tencent surveyed more than 10,000 users who were born in 2000 or after, nearly eight in 10 said they thought China was either in its best time in history or was becoming a better country each day. Nearly the same percentage said they were very optimistic or quite optimistic about their future. Wen Shengjian, 14, said he had noticed that American rappers like Kanye West were vocal about social issues and that some even criticised the president in their music. That would not work in China, he said, because it is a developing country and needs social stability. That is a line the Communist Party makes sure that the state media and school textbooks repeat all the time.

News Flash – 7 August 2018

National News



7,000 driving licences destroyed in RTO fire


Mumbai: More than 7,000 new smart card driving licences were burnt and 20 computers used for making them damaged in the over two-hour fire at Tardeo RTO on Sunday. It will affect distribution and printing of permanent driving licences in the island city for some time, officials said. There was chaos on Monday as computers used for tests faced “technical glitches”. Sources said the computers were brought in from Wadala and Andheri RTOs, so applications were registered under MH-02 (Andheri) or MH-03 (Wadala), when they should have been MH-01 (Tardeo RTO). But officials rectified the problem quickly. Sanemi Parikh, a college student, said, “I arrived at 10am and came out of the test room after around two hours. We were made to wait as there was computer problem and only three out of 12 were working.” Another applicant complained of a long queue in the Tardeo RTO compound in the rain. The premises had a huge waiting hall, AC room for tests of 25 candidates at a time and spacious cabins for checking documents and biometrics. The alternate arrangement was a small room, cramped with few chairs and 12 computers for tests. There was a crowd outside H-block room, where tests were conducted. Regional transport officer Subhash Pedamkar said, “In record time and with assistance of all officials, including women, who stayed back till 9pm on Sunday, we got 12 computers, furniture and arranged for alternate space to ensure licences are issued from Monday morning. We restored the system amid challenging conditions. There may have been teething problems but we streamlined the issuance of licences by afternoon.” Sources said the licences burnt will be reprinted in four days.



Jet mishap in Saudi: Pilots mistook taxiway for runway


Mumbai: The mystery behind the Mumbai-bound Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 veering off into soft ground at Riyadh airport last Friday has been solved. The pilots mistook a taxiway — pathways leading off the runway to parking bays — for a runway and attempted a takeoff. Licences of both pilots have been suspended, said Lalit Gupta, joint director-general, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, on Monday. Pilots are generally de-rostered after any “incident”, pending investigation. The tougher decision points to the gravity of the incident. In 2000, a Singapore Airlines plane crashed after a similar mistake killing 81(see box). “The aircraft attempted takeoff from taxiway (K), parallel to takeoff-designated Runway (R33),’’ said a statement issued by Saudi Arabia’s Aviation Investigation Bureau on Sunday. It added that the visibility was high and there were no obstacles on the taxiway. “The aircraft accelerated with full takeoff power and exceeded the taxiway onto unpaved area”. A Jet Airways spokesperson said: “The matter is currently under investigation and we cannot comment.” Last week, the airline said in a statement flight 9W 523 “departed the runway, following an aborted takeoff… All 142 guests and seven crew members safely evacuated”. Experts are taken aback by the error. “What’s strange is that it occurred at night, when the white runway-edge lights and the blue taxiway lights are clearly visible. It’s not easy to mistake a runway for a taxiway at night,’’ said a senior instructor with a foreign airline. Firstly, there are the runway markers: the piano key markings that indicate the threshold, the runway number and the white runway-edge lights. Most importantly, the runway centreline is indicated by 30m dashes with 20m gaps (illuminated when needed), while taxiway centrelines are a single, solid line, with blue taxiway-edge lights.


Then there is the navigation display map in the cockpit and navigation aids like the localiser signals that indicate whether the aircraft has lined up along the correct runway. The incident has raised questions, the ambit of which extends beyond the cockpit to include the role played by Riyadh airport officials and also Jet’s training standards and operational practices. On May 28, Riyadh air traffic control had issued a permanent notice to pilots, controllers that a new taxiway K (Kilo) is functional. But the current aerodrome chart released by Saudi Arabia does not show taxiway K. Consequently, the Jeppesen airport chart, consulted by pilots, also does not show it. “Airlines pay huge fees for Jeppesen charts, which are regularly updated. Had Saudi Arabia followed good aviation practices and published information about taxiway K, the charts would have had it and the Jet pilots would have been aware,” said a commander. The chart for Riyadh airport instead has a telling warning: “Use caution as unknown changes might exist”. Unlike most major airports, the Riyadh airport does not have a surface movement radar, which would have indicated to the air traffic control that the Jet aircraft had entered a taxiway for takeoff. Errors in runway identification are a serious issue. So much so, the US aviation regulator publishes a 45-page best practices guide to prevent errors. It advises pilots to stop the aircraft clear of any runway and seek ATC guidance when uncertain about their location in an airport. A number of pilots TOI spoke to said Riyadh ATC is known to give “incomplete instructions”, that is they won’t spell out the taxiways to be taken to reach a particular bay or a runway.



Man caught with bombs on bus to Delhi, city on alert



New Delhi: A bike squad would keep an eye on suspicious people and vehicles after a high alert has been sounded in the Capital following the arrest of a man found to be carrying explosives in a bus bound for Delhi from Jammu. Security has been tightened at all bus and train stations. A bike team would have two riders armed with assault rifles and pistols. They would patrol a 2-km radius and are part of a bigger motorcycle squad called Jaguar that was raised earlier to curb street crimes. Apart from scanning roads, the teams have also been asked to keep an eye on street-corner gatherings and small crowds during kanwariya processions. This is because there have been intelligence inputs about terrorists trying to use these as cover by posing as devotees or vendors. “We have briefed these men to be more alert and keep an eye on suspicious movements. They are trained for the job, and we have asked them to patrol crowded areas for better control,” said DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma. The squad would identify the areas having high footfall and deploy the teams accordingly. They would coordinate with squads from the neighbouring police districts to maintain a seamless patrolling mechanism.



8.1 km stretch that connects 4 south Delhi markets opens


New Delhi: The metro opened its ‘shoppers’ corridor’ — the 8.1km Durgabai Deshmukh South Campus-Lajpat Nagar section of Pink Line — on Monday. Though the corridor has six stations, two stations that saw the maximum crowd even on Day 1 were Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar. Commuters could be seen coming out of these stations in droves though both markets were closed on Monday. Only a few shops were open in both, but street vendors had a good day. The stretch, opened to the public after 1pm, connects four major markets — Sarojini Nagar, INA, South Extension and Lajpat Nagar. The other stations are Sir Vishweshwaraiah Moti Bagh and Bhikaji Cama Place. Shagun Dhingra, a student, had come all the way from Gurgaon to visit Sarojini Nagar market. “Though there are many malls in Gurgaon, Sarojiini Nagar offers more variety at much affordable prices and that is why I don’t mind the long journey,” she said. “Earlier, I had to get down at INA station and then take an auto to reach the market. Now, the station is bang opposite it,” she added. “Coming to Sarojini Nagar market from Dwarka was a pain as one had to either change at Rajiv Chowk metro station or brave the huge traffic if coming by an auto. Now I just need to change train at Rajouri Garden, which saves a lot of time and money,” said Reena Negi, who works with a private firm. At the next station – INA – too, many passengers were seen changing train between Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli-HUDA City Centre) and Pink Line to reach Sarojini Nagar. However, the unusual topography of the interchange area stumped many.


As the Pink Line station is built above the existing tunnel of Yellow Line, passengers have to go below the platform to reach the Yellow Line station, confusing many on the first day despite ample signage. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has deployed a guard at the interchange point to guide passengers, who had his hands full on Monday. Although the South Extension station didn’t see many shoppers, a large number of students were seen as the area has a large number of coaching institutes and other private institutes. “I’m doing a language course from an institute here and earlier had to take a bus or an auto from Moolchand to come here. Now my journey has become much more comfortable,” said Neha Taneja, a resident of Faridabad. The first metro station in the area has also made its residents happy as they can now avoid the traffic congestion on the nearby Ring Road. “Earlier the closest metro station was INA. Thanks to the metro, I can now travel in air-conditioned comfort and not bother about traffic,” said Rekha Chaudhry, a resident. Many commuters also went market hopping. “We just finished shopping at Lajpat Nagar and are now going to Sarojini Nagar. It won’t take more than a few minutes now,” said Divya Tripathi, a student. The entire 59km Pink Line, the longest in the Delhi Metro network, will become operational by September — between Shiv Vihar and Trilokpuri in August and between Lajpat Nagar and Mayur Vihar Pocket 1 in September.



Frayed nerves, bottled up brain: 1 in 10 kids hit by neuro disease


Hyderabad: Sounds unbelievable, but one in every 10 children below the age of nine in Hyderabad suffer from one or other problems related to brain and neurological development. A research study covering five regions of India — northcentral, north, south, east and west — has revealed a high burden of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) among children between two and nine years. Hyderabad was one of the urban centres studied as part of the research. The research on autism and other mental health issues revealed that neurological disorders in children are a significant public health burden. The incidence is higher than global prevalence. The study was supervised by a team of experts from India and USA. Seven disorders related to brain and neurological development were included in the research. The team of 25 researchers from Hyderabad was drawn from the Indian Institute of Public Health, Rainbow Hospital and RVM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre. A group of 3,964 students were studied for seven common neurodevelopmental disorders like vision impairment, 27 epilepsies, neuromotor impairments including cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, speech and language disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disability.


Health issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and learning disorders were also included in the research. The research was published in the latest issue of Plosone Medicine. Hearing impairment was higher than autism spectrum disorders. “Most risk factors of NDDs were modifiable and amenable to public health interventions,” the researchers said. The prevalence of NDDs in children (two to six years) ranged from 2.9% to 18.7%. In case of children between six and nine, it ranged from 6.5% to 18.5%. About 20% of children showed two or more problems related to neurodevelopment. The research was supervised by experts from the fields of pediatrics (Paediatric neurology, developmental pediatrics, general pediatrics), epidemiology, public health, social science, biostatistics, child psychology, ENT, ophthalmology, and child psychiatry from 18 institutions.



Users of rigged ATMs to get new debit cards



Kolkata: Several banks have decided to replace the debit cards of customers who have used two of the city’s compromised ATMs for transactions between February and July this year. This is the biggest such exercise in Kolkata, say senior bank officials; the two ATMs that banks have under their scanner are the Canara Bank ATM at Golpark and the PNB ATM at the Mullick Bazar-Park Street crossing. Banks have started analysing the data dump provided by Visa, Mastercard and Rupay though the entire exercise — ending with every target customer having a new debit-cum-ATM card — may take some more time. Reserve Bank of India had issued a similar directive to banks in October 2016 following the detection of a skimming racket. The directive was not only limited to cards that had been misused; it asked banks to safeguard customers whose cards could have been exposed to potential misuse. Banks started hot-listing debit cards when this round of complaints first surfaced on July 26. It has now decided to replace all debit cards used at the two compromised ATMs in the weeks before and after the skimming fraud took place. The decision comes after the preliminary police probe has indicated that the two arrested Romanian suspects came to Kolkata in March and installed the skimming devices in April. Banks analyze card usage to avoid a repeat, a senior private-sector bank official said they were analysing debit card usage to identify all customers who had been to the two compromised ATMs in the February-July period. “We have decided to replace all debit cards of customers who used either of these ATMs. This is a practice normally followed in ATM skimming cases.



The timeframe in this case appears stretched because the probe is in a preliminary stage. We know we need to win back customers’ trust,” he added. Another private bank official told TOI from Mumbai: “Hot-listed debit cards are being replaced immediately but we are also going to replace debit cards of customers who had been to either of the two compromised ATMs when the fraud took place. We follow a zero-risk policy when it comes to these things”. He added that banks were also urging customers to change their debit card PIN periodically, “ideally every three months”. “We are pushing for a PIN change ourselves whenever we notice any unusual debit pattern,” he said. A senior official of a public-sector bank in Kolkata corroborated what private-sector banking officials said. “We have already taken up the process. This is something we have done earlier, too, when similar complaints surfaced elsewhere in the country. This will be no different either,” the PSU banking official said. The RBI 2016 directive also advised banks to “take measures, including advising customers to change PIN, blocking payments at international locations, reducing withdrawal limits, monitoring unusual patterns, replacing cards and re-crediting accounts of card holders for amounts wrongly debited”, which should come as relief to defrauded customers. Times View: Sunday’s discovery of yet another “compromised” ATM in Kasba has dented customer confidence further; it had, anyway, taken a big hit after the first round of revelations about such ATMs at Gol Park, Mullickbazar and on Elgin Road. A swift probe and arrests followed by conviction can restore some amount of confidence. But customers will feel much more reassured when they know that the ATMs they use are fool-proof. That element of trust is essential.



Police start security audit of city ATM’s


Kolkata: Police have started to carry out a physical security audit of the approximately 11,000 ATMs in the city after it was found that many of them lacked basic security. While banks outsource the ATM management and cash replenishment to private agencies, they are supposed to carry out periodical physical audit of their ATMs. However, a random police check carried out recently found several security loopholes, including non-functional CCTV cameras and broken access doors. A week after the ATM skimming fraud led Lalbazar to review the security requirements at ATMs, the top brass has now formed separate teams from all police stations to carry out physical examination of the ATMs located within their respective jurisdiction. Sources said the finding of lacunae in the audits carried out by banks has forced cops to step in, claimed sources. These teams — working in morning and night shifts with a total of six men — are expected to do a vulnerability mapping of the ATMs. This includes a check on whether any skimmer devices have been fitted to the machine, whether there has been any attempt to hack the keyboard and whether any attempt has been made to set up pin-hole cameras. “We are concerned with the entry/exit, physical safety of the ATM machine and the availability of CCTV footage,” explained a senior police officer from the detective department.


“Even in case of CCTV footage, unless a real-time analysis is done, the cameras serve no purpose. In some ATMs, the banks analyse the CCTV footage in ATMs after every five days or a week. In between, if anything were to happen, none would have an inkling,” an officer said. In addition, each team will be in touch with the local bank branch and ensure that banks are implementing RBI norms. They will also be actively pushing for the installation of anti-skimming devices. The exercises, claimed sources, have as much to do with increasing safety for customers as also to win back their confidence. “We have been asked to use simple devices to ensure that the ATMs are not compromised. The idea is to carry out random checks. We have not yet been asked to look into CCTV feeds. However, if we suddenly come across something illegal, we will ask the concerned bank to provide us the footage,” said a source at Lalbazar. The feedback will be shared regularly with Lalbazar, for the time being. “We will review the situation on ground and make changes in our plans as and when required,” claimed a senior IPS officer.



Over 2,500 hit in Bankura as 224mm rain triggers floods

A number of houses collapsed at Junbedia, a flooded area under Bankura municipality, after 224mm rainfall in the last 24 hours. The disaster management department said 52 houses in the district were fully damaged and more than 663 partially damaged.



Bankura / Jhargram / Kolkata: The flood situation in Bankura has triggered alarm, with 224mm rainfall in the last 24 hours killing one person and affecting more than 2,500 people. The state disaster management department said Gunomoy Bhandari (70), a resident of Nagardanga, drowned while crossing a swollen rivulet in Mejhia block. It also said 52 houses in the district were fully damaged and more than 663 partially damaged in the rain. Of the more than 2,500 people affected, 610 have been rescued and sent to relief camps. The state administration sent two quick response teams and opened relief camps in Bankura town. The situation may worsen as the Met department forecast heavy to very heavy rain in Gangetic West Bengal till Tuesday owing to a low-pressure area over northwest Bay of Bengal. “Three blocks — Bankura-II, Mejhia and Satighat — and eight wards of Bankura municipality are affected. We had to rush in two speedboats with 12 volunteers for rescue work,” a senior department official said. “If there is more rain, then the situation might become really alarming”.


While Bankura reeled from a flood-like situation, Jhargram’s people agitated over waterlogging in their area and smashed windowpanes of the tourism complex in Jhargram Rajbari, including those of the ground-floor room where chief minister Mamata Banerjee will put up during her two-day visit to Jhargram on August 8-9. The incident followed heavy rain since Sunday evening, when many roads and lanes in the town went under water, causing problems for people living around the Rajbari in Jhargram Municipality’s ward 11. Rajbari and tourism complex sources said the room where Banerjee stays is mostly damaged. The CM will reach Jhargram town on the evening of August 8 and leave after addressing programmes the next day. These include an administrative meeting with district administration officials and a public meeting. Jhargram DM Ayesha Rani said: “It is a minor incident. We have surveyed the area. The irrigation department has been asked to clear rainwater from the area and elsewhere in Jhargram town”.



Poor fire safety steps, shoddy upkeep threaten Government Museum


Chennai: Poor fire preparedness and lack of maintenance of the Government Museum, Egmore that houses artefacts worth crores of rupees, continue to threaten the grand old structure. A recent reality checks by TOI found that at least two fire extinguishers have not been refilled for nearly 10 months. Though the authorities insisted that the artefacts were safe due to elaborate safety measures in place, the country’s second oldest museum does not have any internal guidelines to be followed in case a fire breaks out. Sources confirmed to TOI that the museum did not have any standard operating procedure (SOP) to be pursued during emergencies. The dry chemical powder (DCP) fire extinguisher installed on the ground floor of the anthropology department was past the expiry date as the label on it read. It was due to be refilled in September 2017. The DCP fire extinguisher on the first floor that houses bronze idols was to be refilled almost 10 months ago but nothing has been done. S Vijaykumar, co-founder of Singapore-based India Pride Project which is working for the retrieval of stolen idols from India, said security at the museum was confined to preventing people from taking photographs on mobile phones. “Other important aspects such as fire safety and emergency evacuation seem non-existent. Further, the system of CCTV camera surveillance needs to be upgraded. Considering the poor light, the existing cameras are unlikely to produce any clear video feed,” he said.



When contacted, Pinky Jowel, the director (in-charge) of the museum, said an annual mock drill for fire safety was conducted at the museum. “Officials have been asked to frame guidelines for internal safety and security,” she said. It does not stop at safety issues. The grand old buildings cry for renovation and proper maintenance. Cracks have started appearing on different parts of the structures that have been functioning since 1851. The unchecked growth of vegetation in several parts of the campus indicates a sorry state of upkeep by the authorities concerned. Making do with meagre grant from the government for annual maintenance, the British-era museum is in dire need of funds. Of the Rs.10 crore earmarked for the department of museums, the grandiose facility gets Rs.40 lakhs for maintenance by the public works department (PWD). “We do not have trained engineers. Hence, the maintenance is carried out by the PWD,” an official said.



Security forces storm Maoist stronghold in Bastar, kill 15



Raipur: In one of the biggest offensives in Chhattisgarh, security forces stormed a Maoist hideout deep in the forests of Bastar on Monday morning, killing 15 rebels. Two suspected Maoists were arrested and a large cache of IEDs, guns and ammunition seized. About a fortnight ago, eight Maoists, including four women, were killed in an encounter on the border of Dantewada and Bijapur in Bastar. In the last two months, 39 Maoists have been eliminated. This is part of the forces’ new tactic of scaling up the offensive during monsoon — a strategy devised in the last two years when specially selected jawans were trained in guerilla warfare school. Special DGP (anti-Naxal ops) Durgesh Madhav Awasthi said that joint forces went into the jungle near Nalkatong village, between Gollappalli and Konta regions of Sukma, an area supposed to be dominated by Maoists. There were intelligence inputs about the presence of a large number of armed rebels in the area. Spearheaded by Cobra commandos, the teams comprised jawans from CRPF, Chhattisgarh STF and District Reserve Guards (DRG). A DRG patrol party spotted a Maoist camp and sent out an alert. An intense gun battle went on for about 30 minutes after the forces encircled the rebel camp, Awasthi said. Maoists fled into the forests after suffering heavy causalities, the DGP said.



Government eyes ways to block FB, WhatsApp during crisis



New Delhi: The government wants to arm itself with powers to block global social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Instagram in cases where national security or public order are under threat. The exercise comes at a time when the government has expressed reservations over the responses given by WhatsApp after it was asked how its platform was used to mobilise lynch mobs across various states. The department of telecom (DoT) has sought the industry’s views on technical measures that can be deployed for blocking popular mobile apps under Section 69A of the IT Act, which spells out powers to issue directions for blocking public access to any information through a computer resource. Through a letter issued on July 18, DoT sought the views of telecom operators, Internet Service Providers Association of India, Cellular Operators Association of India and other associations.


Concerns around potential misuse of social media has been raised by the ministry of electronics and IT, as well as some of law enforcement agencies. Section 69A authorises the central government or any officer authorised by it to issue directions to block information on the internet in the name of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of the country, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them. The viral messaging of rumours on social media platforms has often been blamed for mob lynching’s across many states. WhatsApp has been particularly questioned by the government on the issue. An IT ministry official said that the Facebook-owned instant messenger has not committed itself on “traceability” and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government. Hence, the ministry’s concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the official said.



International News



A passphrase can keep your online data safe



Washington: Scientists have developed a new system that uses passphrases for online authentication, and found it to be more user-friendly and secure than traditional word based passcodes. Although passphrases, or phrase-based passwords, have been found to be more secure than traditional passwords, factors like typographical errors and memorability have slowed down their wider adoption. “Passphrases are more secure than passwords and avoid the various issues with biometric systems like fingerprint or facial recognition,” said Kevin Juang, a user experience research manager at SunTrust Bank in the US. “It’s inevitable that we will eventually need to move past traditional passwords, but it’s nothing to fear,” said Juang. The study, published in the journal Human Factors, developed and tested two new passphrase systems that seek to address these shortcomings and improve the usability and security of existing passphrase authentication systems. The first passphrase system incorporated, in part, a specialised wordlist using simple, common words; a six-word sentence structure that made meaningful sense; and a user created mnemonic picture to assist with recall.


The final result would be a passphrase such as “silly pet wolf ate our pizzas,” with an accompanying user-generated illustration. The second passphrase system replaced the six-word sentence structure with four words randomly drawn from a customised 1,450-word list. Researchers assessed the usability of their systems against two existing passphrase systems: a user-generated passphrase containing at least 24 characters, and a system-generated passphrase using words randomly drawn from a list of 10,000. To gauge the success of their new systems, the authors asked 50 adult participants to create, in five minutes, a passphrase and any applicable mnemonic — without writing down what they created. Given that study participants were instructed not to write down or practice their passphrases, researchers found that in real-world settings, the success rates for their new systems would likely increase. “Instead of asking users to juggle both usability and security, which is complicated, let’s provide secure passphrases and allow users to do what they do best: make things easier for themselves,” Juang said.



A tanker truck carrying flammable material exploded on a highway


Italy: A tanker truck carrying flammable material exploded on a highway near the northern Italian city of Bologna on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring up to 70 as it partially collapsed the raised roadway, police said. Some people were reportedly hit by flying glass as windows shattered in nearby buildings. Officials did not immediately know what kind of explosives were in the tanker, but the news agency ANSA said it was liquefied petroleum gas. The explosion reportedly came after a traffic accident.



Indonesia quake toll rises to 98, over 20,000 homeless



Indonesia: The death toll in the powerful earthquake that flattened houses and toppled bridges on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok rose to 98 on Monday. Authorities said rescuers still hadn’t reached some devastated areas and the death toll would “definitely increase”. Thousands of homes and buildings were damaged and 20,000 people were in temporary shelters.

News Flash – 6 August 2018

National News



Major fire at RTO in Tardeo destroys documents, comps

Nearly 400 people visit the RTO every day for licences.



Mumbai: A major fire broke out on the premises of the regional transport office (RTO) at Tardeo early on Sunday. The blaze, which was first noticed around 5.20am, raged for at least two hours, completely gutting the area that housed the learner’s driving licence section located beside a petrol pump. No one was injured. The cause of the fire is not known. While documents, computers and furniture have been destroyed, RTO officials said they have a back-up of records. The learner’s driving licence tests scheduled for Monday morning—around 400 aspirants turn up every day—could be affected as RTO officials struggled until Sunday evening to zero in on an alternative location to conduct tests at the Tardeo premises on Monday. State transport commissioner Shekhar Channe told TOI that no data has been lost. “All data has been digitized. Also, we have a back-up on another server kept at a safe location,” he said. The Tardeo RTO handles driving licence applications for the island city. This includes areas between Cuffe Parade/Colaba up to Sion/Mahim. On an average, 400 people arrive to take driving licence tests daily at the Tardeo office. RTO officials claimed that the tests scheduled to be held on Monday would be conducted “smoothly”.


The fire, which was doused by 7.35 am, was first noticed by the lone watchman who was deployed to guard the premises. Office paraphernalia like computers, printers, servers, biometric devices, licence documents and furniture was destroyed. While the cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained, a fire brigade official said that a short circuit could have sparked it. Sources also said that the possibility of sabotage has not yet been ruled out. A deputy transport officer said that they were arranging for new computers, printers, biometric machines and office furniture from other RTOs and other government departments. The fire-ravaged premises, spread on a 10,000-sq-ft space, had a huge waiting hall and an air-conditioned room to conduct driving tests. Fire brigade officials said that a CNG petrol pump is located beside the RTO office. A senior RTO official said that important documents besides hardware have been gutted. “Most documents were those submitted as proof to obtain licences and for issue of new licences,” said the official.



Caught on camera: Lone women targeted by snatchers

INCIDENT 1 A man starts following the target when she is returning to her house in Mansarovar Park. As soon as he sees an isolated stretch, the man attacks her from behind. He then pins her down and thrashes her, taking away her mobile phone and chain.


INCIDENT 2 Three men on a bike follow a woman in Laxmi Nagar. When she reaches her house, two men go inside and snatch her chain, while the third reverses the bike. The men rush out of the house and flee on the bike. The woman is seen trying to chase them.



New Delhi: Two snatching incidents captured on CCTV, which occurred last week in east and northeast Delhi, show robbers targeting lone women returning home. In the first incident that took place around 8.30pm on July 29, a 30-year-old woman was robbed of her mobile phone and chain in Mansarovar Park of northeast Delhi. A CCTV camera installed in one of the houses captured the robbery. The woman, Hemalatha, was returning home after collecting medical reports from her doctor. In the footage, a man is seen following the victim while she is passing through a lane in Hardevpuri Colony. A bike crosses them, which was later identified as the snatcher’s accomplice. The snatcher throttles her from behind as soon as the lane gets deserted. The woman grapples with the man, but he pins her down and thrashes her. The woman stops protesting after which the snatcher takes her mobile phone and chain. The man runs for a few meters and then gets on the bike. The woman is seen rushing towards the robber and then returning to the crime spot. Passersby gather and people are seen coming out of their houses. The woman is visibly distraught and is seen narrating the ordeal to bystanders. A PCR call was made after which an FIR was filed on woman’s complaint. Police said they are trying to nab the snatchers. In the second incident, robbers barged into a woman’s house and snatched her chain in east Delhi’s Laxmi Nagar. CCTV footage shows three men on a bike following the woman in a lane in L-Block. The woman enters her house and the trio pull over outside. Two men go inside the house and snatch her chain while the third reverses the bike. The men rush out of the house, sit on the bike and speed away. The woman is seen running after them, but gives up after a few metres. An FIR has been registered and the robbers are still at large.



ATM thieves use passcode, flee with Rs.26 Lakhs



New Delhi: Criminals fled with approximately Rs 26 lakh from an ATM located in Seelampur in northeast Delhi. However, the robbers didn’t need to uproot the machine, as has been seen in earlier instances, because they knew the passcode of the cash box. Confirming the incident, DCP (northeast) Atul Kumar Thakur said the incident occurred early on Sunday. Three men entered the kiosk, opened the cash box of the ATM and stole approximately Rs 26 lakh from it. Police suspect an insider role into the incident. They have prepared a list of current and former employees of the bank and the cash logistic firms to zero in on the suspects. Senior officers said that only a few people are aware of the passcode of ATMs.



Night-show fire at Priya cinema sparks panic

Firefighters battle the blaze late on Sunday at Deshapriya Park.



Kolkata: A fire broke out at Priya cinema on Rashbehari Avenue, one of Kolkata’s landmark single-screen theatres, on Sunday, while the night show of a major Bollywood production was on, triggering panic among viewers and local residents. There was, however, no report of injuries or casualties. The fire started at the first floor office of the cinema around 10.15pm. Within minutes, the whole area was shrouded in smoke. There was a stampede-like situation as the movie-goers panicked and tried to rush out. They were, however, safely evacuated. Four members of the family that owns the cinema and stays on the top floor of the five-storey building had to wait a while before they could be brought to safety. The theatre was screening ‘Fanney Khan’ to a sizeable weekend audience in its 9.15pm show when the fire was detected. The building has a lounge bar in its basement, which also had a good weekend crowd. Two eateries on the same floor also had a considerable number of patrons inside. The top two floors house the office and home of Arijit Dutta, the owner. It is not very clear where the fire was first seen. Fire brigade sources suggested it was spotted between a first floor eatery and the box office. Dutta, who spoke to reporters, suggested it could have started from the office. Fire minister and mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who rushed to the spot, said the matter would be thoroughly investigated. Police commissioner Rajiv Kumar was also at the spot.


Even as the fire brigade tried to control the flames, the theatre’s staff had opened all emergency exits to let out people from inside. Dipak Pal, a floor staffer, indicated they had initiated the emergency evacuation drill after the fire alarm sounded and the fire brigade had been informed. Fire brigade officers present at the spot said the blaze could be contained, but the accompanying smoke could have been hazardous. They said they broke the glass panes to let out the smoke. The officers also indicated that no one was hurt during the evacuation. “There was some panic when we were asked to evacuate through the emergency exits. We followed instructions and came out safely. While we were being led away by the staffers, we could smell heavy smoke. We are grateful to have been escorted out of the hall so quickly,” said a south Kolkata resident. “The whole area was covered in smoke. People were running out of the gate. We were inside the resto-bar in the basement when somebody screamed that there was a fire upstairs and asked us to run out,” said Papiya Basu, who had come to spend Sunday evening at Priya. Traffic around Deshapriya Park was disrupted for a while because of the incident.



Techie exposes skimmer at Kasba ATM

Software engineer Soumyabrata Sen in front of the Kasba ATM that the police suspect has been compromised and (right) the suspected skimming device inside the ATM booth.



Kolkata: A day after attending a seminar on cyber security, a software engineer in his early 30s claimed to have found an ATM card skimmer, which looked identical to the card reader, at an unguarded private bank ATM in Kasba’s Bakultala on Sunday afternoon. Soumyabrata Sen, a software engineer with Cognizant, was at the ATM booth located at the crossing of Bakultala Lane and Rasbehari Avenue around 3.30pm on Sunday to withdraw Rs 3000 from his father’s account with another bank. Sen was running the mandatory checks he had learnt only a day before at a seminar. “I checked the green plastic case on the card reader and felt something was wrong. The colour was a little off and it seemed larger than the usual one. On touching, I felt the reader was not fixed properly. So, I didn’t insert the debit card. Then I checked the panel above the keypad and as I pressed it on the edges, it came off and there was a skimming device with a memory chip and a small camera,” Sen told TOI. Realising that he had exposed a skimming device attached to the ATM, he first went outside and alerted the man who had withdrawn money from the ATM immediately before him and then called one of his seniors, who told him to call the police. Officers of Kasba PS, barely 300 metres away, reached the spot and seized the panel with the camera and SD card. They also dislodged the card scanner attached to the top of the card reader.


“We have seized the suspected parts and informed bank officials suspecting that the ATM has been compromised,” said an officer. Manager of Global Force, the firm in charge of maintenance at the ATM, later sent a technician to check the device. He has switched it off till the investigation is over. “I do not come to this ATM for regular maintenance. I am here to take stock of the situation and inform my seniors. All I know is that this ATM didn’t have a guard,” said Mehndi Hasan Mullick, the technician. After the news became public, many residents, who regularly use this ATM, visited the spot and started discussing if their card details were hacked. “I use this ATM regularly. Yesterday, I had withdrawn Rs 3000 and today morning I had withdrawn Rs 1000. Has my card also been hacked?” businessman Sanjib Naskar asked a policeman standing near the ATM. The incident comes five days after residents in various parts of the city complained that they lost their money through illegal ATM transactions. Probing into the case cops arrested two Romanian nationals on Friday and recovered 20 fake debit cards from them.



Thundershowers lash city, inundate pockets


Kolkata: The city sky remained gloomy with heavy clouds throughout Sunday. By afternoon, it started pouring in most parts of Kolkata and the adjoining areas. A special weather bulletin issued by the Indian Meteorological Department warned of heavy rain in Kolkata and other parts of south Bengal since a low pressure system was developing over northwest Bay of Bengal. The Met office had earlier predicted an increase in rain activity by Sunday. Though a good part of the morning escaped without significant rain, thundershowers, accompanied by lightning, started up in the afternoon. According to the Met office, there is a cyclonic circulation over Bangladesh and Bengal. Under the influence of this system, which extends up to 3.6km above the mean sea level, a low pressure area is likely to develop over northwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas of Bengal during the next 24 hours. “The cyclonic circulation developing over Kolkata can trigger heavy rain. But the system is likely to move towards northeast Bay of Bengal. Therefore, the intensity of rain is expected decrease from the second part of Monday. But we will continue to get a few spells of thundershower or moderate rain,” said G K Das, director (weather) at Regional Meteorological Centre, Kolkata.


In meteorological parlance, rainfall between 7cm and 11cm within 24 hours accounts for heavy rain. By 5.30pm on Sunday, Alipore had recorded 4cm rain in nine hours. The afternoon downpour left many pockets in the city inundated, affecting traffic movement. The overnight rain predicted by the Met office has raised concern about more craters and potholes opening up on major thoroughfares. But not everybody was inconvenienced by the rain. “I was driving back home from a weekend retreat in Deulti with a gang of friends. Just as we hit the National Highway, it started pouring heavily. We had fun driving in the rain,” said Sumantika Chowdhury, a PR professional. Apart from Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly are expected to get heavy rain overnight. As the cyclonic circulation moves towards the northeast Bay of Bengal on Monday, the system could trigger heavy rain in pockets of Midnapore and the western districts.



Security agencies likely to close shop in face of high GST rates


Kolkata: Unable to cope with the GST regime, several security agencies in Kolkata and the state are shutting down. The private security industry employs nearly half a million people in Bengal and over a lakh in Kolkata. Sources said, the first problem was that this industry was charged 14% service tax. This tax was based on receivables. Now, the 18% GST must be paid upfront by the agency on a monthly basis. This is pushing up costs, hurting the small players. This is choking the private security industry, felt Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, secretary general of Central Association of Private Security Industry (Capsi), West Bengal. “Security agencies raise the bill on the 20th of every month and deposit the GST. However, the agencies themselves receive the payment of these bills only after 60-90 days or more,” he said. The solution, he argues, is to introduce a reverse charge mechanism, where the principal employer (to whom the security guards are outsourced) pays the GST on due date and claims refund later. Secondly, it is unclear what should be taxed. Any bill raised involves the salary component and the statutory taxes payable (roughly 14% for PF and 4.7% for ESI). Added to this is an 8%-10% profit margin. “When we are being taxed on the entire bill amount, we are paying taxes on reimbursements and the profit together. Reimbursements are payable immediately, so why should we be taxed for it?” asked Ahluwalia. Capsi, Bengal, had already petitioned on the matter to state finance minister Amit Mitra, chief minister Mamata Banerjee and governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. At the Centre, they took it up with the home affairs ministry and union finance minister Piyush Goyal. Capsi was assured that its demands have been send to the GST Council for consideration.



Straightened airport taxiway to cut time ahead of takeoff


Chennai: Flying in and out of Chennai airport will be hassle-free for airlines early next year as Airports Authority of India (AAI) will complete straightening of a taxiway and linking of rapid exit taxiways to the main runway by March. This will reduce congestion as aircraft will save 10 minutes to get to the Guindy end of main runway for takeoff while the rapid exit taxiway will help flights that have touched down to move out of the main runway to allow more take offs and landings. The taxiway which runs in front of the old airport building where cargo flights are handled at present is a bottleneck because it curves and runs closer to the main runway to make way for parking bays in front of the terminal. Pilots have to either slowdown or wait at the spot where the taxiway turns if there is a movement of cargo plane on the parking bays or if flights are landing on the runway. Taxiing takes 10minutes more than it should usually take from the terminal to reach the Guindy-end of the runway. The airport is also not able to handle wide-bodied planes like A380 and giant cargo flights smoothly.


AAI has started straightening work a few months ago as part of the phase 2 expansion of the airport. A senior official said that the straightening of taxiway is on schedule and would be completed by March next year. The apron space in front of the cargo terminal will have to be acquired. The old airport building also may have to be pulled down at a later stage. The authorities have already started arranging an alternative space for parking cargo planes. “The linking of rapid exit taxiways to the main runway is expected to take a little longer as work need to be done near the runway after closing it for operation. It may need nine months to complete the work once linking work begins,” he added. The rapid exit taxiway is ready and AAI is looking at closing main runway from sometime this month to start work to link them to the runway. Sources said that a notice would be issued notifying the closure of the runway during the day in two phases for nine months. “This is the right time to take up the work,” he added.



International News



Venezuela’s Maduro survives drone ‘assassination’ bid

SHIELD OF LOVE’: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (inset) said at no point did he panic; confident the military would protect him. ‘That drone came after me. But there was a shield of love that always protects us.



Caracas: A drone attack caused pandemonium at a military ceremony where President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was speaking on Saturday, sending National Guard troops scurrying in what administration officials called an assassination attempt. The president, who was unharmed, later told the nation, “To all of our friends in the world, I am fine, I am alive.” He blamed right-wing elements and said, “The Bolivarian revolution keeps its path”. Maduro has presided over a spectacular economic collapse in Venezuela, where inflation is expected to reach one million percent this year despite the country’s large oil reserves. Economists blame decades of mismanagement under Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. The drone attack was the latest in a string of attempts in recent years to end the tenure of Maduro, who was declared the victor of an election in May that carries his term until 2025. No previous assaults have been as bold, though, and this appeared to have been the first assassination attempt on a head of state using drones. It was an attack that seemed scripted for Hollywood: Off-camera explosions. Low flying drones exploding midair. The president and first lady ducking for cover. Thousands of soldiers in a military parade suddenly fleeing in a stampede that was broadcast to the country, live. Jorge Rodríguez, the communications minister, said the attackers had used “several flying devices” that were detonated near where the president was standing.


The attack came shortly after 5.30 pm (local time) during an event the government said was meant to celebrate the 81st anniversary of the country’s National Guard. During the president’s speech, which was broadcast live on state television, the camera began to shake. Maduro then looked into the air as his wife, Cilia Flores, flinched and reached for another official to brace herself. The video feed was interrupted, but Maduro could be heard continuing to talk as voices in the background yelled for people to flee. The video feed then showed figures dressed in black breaking through a barrier from the sidelines of a wide street where hundreds of uniformed guardsmen were arrayed in formation. The figures in black ran toward the guardsmen, who abruptly fled in panic. The transmission then cut off. Maduro, addressing the nation just before 9pm, blamed far-right elements in Venezuela and Colombia for the attack, and said that President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia was also responsible. “All the investigations point to Bogotá,” he said, accompanied by his ministers and military high command. “They have tried to kill me today.” Maduro also suggested involvement by unidentified Americans, and at one point, even asked Trump to arrest the “terrorists”. He said some arrests had been made of those responsible.


The Colombian government dismissed the claims.US national security advisor John Bolton also insisted there was “no US government involvement” and even suggested that the incident could have been “a pretext set up by the regime itself”. “If the government of Venezuela has hard information that they want to present to us that would show a potential violation of US criminal law, we’ll take a serious look at it,” he said. Analysts said on Saturday that while the attack might be used to drum up support for the president, it was a deep embarrassment for Maduro. “It will boost his rhetoric and give some substance to his conspiracy theories,” said analyst David Smilde. “But the optics of this weaken him. The images of him being interrupted in mid-speech and the armed forces running away make him look vulnerable.” Smilde dismissed theories that the government had organised a failed attack to build support for Maduro. He said the attack appeared “amateurish”. Meanwhile, opposition leaders in Venezuela warned that the government might use the incident as an excuse to crack down on those who legitimately oppose his policies. “We warn that this confused event could be used as an excuse to repress the constitutional rights of the people to continue protesting for the defense of their rights,” the Broad Front opposition alliance said in a statement.



WWII plane crashes in Alps, 20 dead



Flims (Switzerland): Twenty people died after a vintage World War II aircraft crashed into the Swiss Alps on Saturday. The German-built Junker JU52 HB-HOT aircraft, dating from 1939 and nicknamed ‘Iron Annie’, was a collectors’ aircraft. It crashed into Piz Segnas, a 10,000-foot peak in the east of the country at an altitude of 2,540m on the mountain’s western flank. The fully booked plane was flying the passengers back to its base at Duebendorf, near Zurich, from a two day trip to Switzerland’s Italian-speaking southern Ticino region. The victims were 11 men and nine women between the ages of 42 and 84 — seven couples from various parts of Switzerland, a couple from neighbouring Austria and their son, and the three crew members. There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash, and officials said they expect a complex probe given that the 79-year-old plane was not equipped with black boxes.



7.0 quake rocks Indonesia’s Lombok, Bali islands; 32 killed



Denpasar (Indonesia): At least 32 people were killed on Sunday when Indonesia’s resort island of Lombok was hit by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The powerful quake triggered panic among tourists and residents, and was also felt on the neighbouring holiday island of Bali. On Lombok, thousands fled from their homes to gather for safety in open spaces. Agung Pramuja, head of the Disaster Mitigation Agency in the West Nusa Tenggara province which includes Lombok and neighbouring islands but not Bali, said 32 people were confirmed dead, many from northern and western parts of Lombok. He said the agency was still collecting data on the injured. Singapore law and home affairs minister K Shanmugam, who was in the Lombok town of Mataram at the time of the quake, wrote on Facebook that his 10th-floor hotel room shook violently and walls cracked. “It was quite impossible to stand up. Heard screams,” he wrote. “Came out, and made my way down a staircase, while building was still shaking. Power went out for a while. Lots of cracks, fallen doors”.


The quake struck Lombok in the early evening at a depth of 10 km. It came a week after a magnitude 6.4 quake killed 14 people on the island and briefly stranded hundreds of hikers on the slopes of a volcano. Most of Lombok suffered power cuts, local media reported. Travellers at the international airports in Lombok and Bali were thrown into panic and there was minor damage to the buildings, but operations were not disrupted, officials said. The quake was felt for several seconds in Bali, where people ran out of houses, hotels, and restaurants. “All the hotel guests were running, so I did too. People filled the streets,” said Michelle Lindsay, an Australian tourist. “A lot of officials were urging people not to panic.” Other witnesses said the initial quake grew in intensity over several seconds, rattling windows and doors, and there were many aftershocks.

News Flash – 4 August 2018

National News



Two held for siphoning off ATM cash



New Delhi: Police have seized Rs 76 lakh from two employees of a cash replenishment firm who had siphoned off Rs 1.72 crore cash they were supposed to load in ATMs in west Delhi. TOI had reported about the heist two days ago. During interrogation, the employees disclosed that they were supposed to withdraw the cash from various banks and keep in their vault at Rajouri Garden, DCP (west) Vijay Kumar said. “From the vault, the money was entrusted to various employees for filling ATMs of various banks,” he added. Senior officials of the logistics firm approached police after they conducted an internal audit of their ATMs and found a large amount of cash missing. During inquiry, it was found that the employees, Manish and Satpal, were designated to recalibrate 14 ATMs located in west and northwest Delhi. They had withdrawn Rs 1.7 crore from the vaults on July 27.


Cops found that the two were in possession of passwords for 14 ATMs and had not deposited approximately Rs 1.2 crore in 10 of them. They had even taken out approximately Rs 50 lakh from a few other machines. The deposited Rs 72 lakh in the ATMs’ cash boxes and returned Rs 9 lakh into the vault and kept the keys of the cash trunk to avoid surveillance. After the audit revealed the fraud the company officials contacted Satpal, but he told them that he had gone to Agra to visit his family. Manish’s phone was switched off and he didn’t turn up for work. A probe showed that Manish was also an accused in a case of possessing an illegal pistol. When police contacted his family, they were told that he was unwell. However, they got to know that he had been arrested in Bindapur in the Arms Act case. He was arrested in this case as well. He led the cops to Satpal.



UIDAI helpline no. pops up in phones, courtesy Google


New Delhi: Nobody knew where it came from, but there it was. Millions of mobile phone users found an unexpected intruder in their phone contact list on Friday — an invalid Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) toll-free number. Late at night, Google issued a statement saying that an internal review had revealed that the number, 18003001947, and the distress helpline number 112, were “inadvertently coded into the Setup wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and remained there since”. Users can manually delete the number, it added. Google’s statement put to rest a fresh controversy that had erupted involving Aadhaar, with Android phone users wondering how a number could enter their phone book without their consent. As the controversy raged, UIDAI and telecom operators denied any role in the matter. Sources in Apple and Google, the companies that own Android and iOS—the two most widely used mobile operating systems—denied any role and promised a probe. After the initial denial, Google’s review solved the mystery. The issue first came to light on Friday when several mobile phone users uploaded images of UIDAI’s defunct toll-free helpline (18003001947) in their contact list on social media. Amidst fresh privacy concerns, the government swung into action with IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad convening a review meeting. As outrage and criticism built up on Friday, UIDAI denied reports that it had issued any instruction to add this number to mobile phones. It termed the number appearing on the contact list as “invalid”, saying its toll-free number is ‘1947’ and not the one on their phonebook. “UIDAI has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility. Some vested interests are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public,” it said.


“UIDAI has reiterated it hasn’t asked or advised anyone, including any telecom service providers or mobile makers or Android, to include 18003001947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers,” the statement said. Aadhaar CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey told TOI that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) had started an investigation into the issue. This is the second row involving Aadhaar in just over a week. Last week, TRAI chairman RS Sharma was trolled after making his Aadhaar number public, and throwing a challenge to hackers to “cause harm”. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) too washed its hands off the row. “The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks is not from any telecom service provider,” COAI said in a statement. An unverified official release issued by the telecom department in 2013 also surfaced on social media. It informed all mobile operators to “map short code ‘1947’ to UIDAI’s toll-free number 18003001947 with immediate effect and send compliance to UIDAI directly”. A Google spokesperson said: “Our internal review has revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the Setup wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since. Since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device. We are sorry for any concern that this might have caused, and would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices. We will work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of Setup wizard, which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks”.



From Sept 1, travel again on Chembur-Wadala monorail


Mumbai: Monorail services between Chembur and Wadala depot will resume from September 1, while services on the Wadala-Jacob Circle corridor will be opened for commuters by February 2019, said officials of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Services were operational on the 8.8km Chembur-Wadala depot stretch since February 2014, but they were discontinued after a fire gutted two coaches on November 9, 2017. MMRDA had planned to open the entire route and even got safety clearance in April, but due to technical and logistical issues, was unable to do so, said officials. “We will reopen Phase-I of the monorail from September 1, and the entire corridor up to Jacob Circle by January or February,” confirmed Dilip Kawathkar, MMRDA joint project director. Kawathkar added that they might run a few services till Jacob Circle by January, if they get two more rakes by December. MMRDA officials said that they will charge the old rates—Rs 5, Rs 7, Rs 9 and Rs 11—on the Chembur-Wadala depot corridor though revised fares have been approved. The revised fares are in four slabs: Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 30 and Rs 40.


MMRDA expects around two lakh commuters a day once the entire monorail stretch is operational. The 8.8km Phase-I corridor had a daily ridership of Rs 15,000. The project cost of the entire 20-km monorail corridor has increased by Rs 236 crore due to delays, said officials. MMRDA has 10 Monorakes of which around five are not in working condition. The authority has asked the operator, L&T-Scomi, to repair the balance four rakes. Scomi has assured that it will soon deliver five more rakes. “Since we do not have adequate rakes, there is no hope of running the services on the entire corridor in the next couple of months,” said a MMRDA official. In April, monorail had received safety clearance with a rider that adequate spare parts for rolling stock, installation of mirrors on platforms for drivers to see if all passengers have boarded, and temperature gauges in coaches following the fire, be in place before running services on the 20-km stretch.



Feeds from 5,500 cams, 30 calls at same time


New Delhi: Delhi Metro’s security network has been further strengthened with Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) inaugurating a new operational control centre at Shastri Park on Friday. The new facility is capable of receiving live CCTV feed from over 5,500 cameras and will also house the helpline control room, officials said. The centre was inaugurated by CISF director general Rajesh Ranjan in the presence of DMRC managing director Mangu Singh. The day also saw the launch of a new CISF helpline number – 155655. The control room is now capable of handling up to 30 calls at the same time. “At present, we can receive four calls at a time, but this will be increased up to 30. With both the helpline and the control room under one roof, emergency action and deploying quick reaction teams will be easier,” said a senior CISF official. Ranjan said the next step in evolving the control room will be to look at the possibility of video analytics software that can automatically scan surveillance footage, thus reducing the load on CISF personnel.


“This control room is a strong additional layer of security alongside the surveillance at metro stations and is capable of ensuring swift action. In the future, we want to introduce video analytics as manually scanning footage has a chance of error,” Ranjan told TOI. An official said the new Phase-III stations will all be added to this control room, apart from monitoring over 100 stations that fall under the Yellow, Red, Pink and Magenta lines. Some of the older stations will continue to be monitored at CISF’s other control room at Barakhamba Road. “This control room is capable of monitoring the entire DMRC network and all the new stations will be added here. The idea is to ensure that swift action is taken from our end on any incident that takes place in the metro network,” said a senior CISF official. CISF’s new training block – Kavach — was also inaugurated at the same complex on Friday. It is equipped with an X-BIS simulator and capable of providing training to 140 personnel at a time.



Cops catch ATM thieves red-handed



New Delhi: Two PCR van personnel prevented an ATM robbery in the early hours of Friday. The two cops on patrol noticed shadows inside the ATM in northeast Delhi’s Yamuna Vihar after which they decided to check it and found two men with equipment tearing apart the vault of the ATM. Seeing the cops, they tried to flee but the cops chased them on the streets for a kilometer before they caught and arrested them. DCP PCR S D Mishra said that the incident happened when a patrolling team noticed a group of youths near the ATM near B-block. Seeing the cops, they started running, leaving behind a scooter. The cops chased the men and caught up with them and while being questioned, they admitted to have tried to break into the ATM. They were taken back to the ATM booth and during inspection, cops found that the electric wires of the alarm system were disconnected and the lock of the battery room was broken. During a search, cops recovered a plier and a hammer from them. It was found that they had removed the wires from the camera installed in the booth and the alarm wires, but could not break open the chamber of the ATM in which the cash was kept as it gets automatically sealed if anyone attempts to break in. The men were identified as Deepak and Rakesh. The two cops from the PCR team have been rewarded. A case of theft has been registered.



CCTV cams must for commercial establishments



Bengaluru: Commercial establishments with a daily footfall of 500 will have to install CCTV cameras on their premises, according to a circular issued by the police department. Besides commercial establishments, CCTV cameras are mandatory at religious places, educational institutions, hospitals, sports complexes, industries, railway and bus stations if they have a congregation of over 100 people gathering at a time or over 500 people frequenting them daily. Shop owners failing to comply could attract penalty of Rs 5,000 for the first month and Rs 10,000 for the second. Temporary sealing and closure of the establishment is included in the penal action. The circular added that the equipment should have access control through physical and technical means. The establishments should use cameras with a provision of storage of video footage for 30 days.



Gang breaks into ATM’s, makes off with Rs. 30 lakhs


Howrah: Two State Bank of India ATMs in Howrah’s Liluah were broken into between Thursday night and the early hours of Friday and miscreants made off with Rs 30 lakh. The ATMs, one at Liluah’s Jagadishpur and the other at Kona’s Tetultala, had defunct CCTVs and no private security guards, cops said. The break in was noticed around 7am on Friday when customers found the machines cut open and empty of cash. After speaking with the bank officials, cops said around Rs 18 lakh had been looted from the Jagadishpur ATM and Rs 12 lakh was stolen from the one at Tetultala. On inspecting the ATMs, located 4.5km apart, sleuths said it was evident that gas cutters had been used to cut open the machines. The assigned agency of the bank had deposited cash at both ATMs on Thursday evening. Both cops and locals said there had been an attempt to break into the ATM at Jagadishpur six months ago. But the sound of gas cutters woke up shop owners who stay at Jagadishpur bazaar. They had rushed out, but the miscreants managed to flee. However, heavy rain on Thursday night apparently helped the gang carry out their operations smoothly.


“Since the attempt six months ago, we have been repeatedly requesting the bank officials to install private security guards and repair CCTV cameras at both ATMs. We had also requested them to install hidden CCTV cameras atop lampposts opposite the ATMs. Initially, the bank officials said they would do so within three months. But when the bank did neither, we again pursued the matter. The officials kept telling us they would inform their higher authorities every time we reminded them over the last three months,” said one of the local residents. Howrah City Police DCDD Ranendranath Banerjee said, “We have got some clues and an inter-state gang seems to be behind the break ins. We have collected what seem to be similar four-wheeler tyre casts from roads in front of both ATMs. A forensic team will inspect both premises”. A senior SBI official said, “We can’t comment on the law-and-order situation. An FIR has been lodged by SBI and money in ATMs is always insured.” Asked about the lack of security and alleged defunct CCTVs, the official said, “It is not feasible to appoint private security agencies for all ATMs. We are looking into whether the CCTVs were operative or not”.



All passengers rescued from Andaman’s Ship

A child on board MV Swaraj Dweep is brought to safety.



Kolkata: The remaining 101 passengers of MV Swaraj Dweep were successfully rescued by Coast Guard on Friday and taken to Car Nicobar. The ship, with its 93-member crew on board, has undergone temporary repairs and will leave for Port Blair from its present location at the Car Nicobar anchorage on Saturday. “There were several women and children among the passengers. On Friday, our primary aim was to get the women and children to safety. By the time we succeeded moving 149 passengers to Car Nicobar, the weather was deteriorating. Though the ship was stabilized, we didn’t want passengers to spend the night on it, in case of any complications. The remaining 101 passengers were shifted to another vessel MV Ocean Marvel that was anchored nearby,” a senior Coast Guard official said. The 156.97-metre-long MV Swaraj Dweep had sailed from Port Blair towards Nancowrie on Thursday. Later in the night, the ship reported ingress of water in hold 2. It was also reported that containers inside were floating and crashing into the walls. The ship was then close to the 10-degree channel that separates the Andaman’s from the Nicobar chain of islands.


The Coast Guard directed the ship’s captain to move towards the anchorage of Car Nicobar and dispatched a ship from the Kamorta Island. “On Thursday, we used powerful pumps to bring down the water level in the hull. On Friday, we carried out some preliminary repairs to make the ship seaworthy. It can now sail back to Port Blair with its crew. However, passengers can’t be allowed on board,” the official added. While those rescued on Friday were kept at a safe shelter on Car Nicobar, many women feared for their husbands who had been forced to stay behind on the ship. Their relief was evident when the men were united with their families on Friday. The Andaman and Nicobar Administration has taken responsibility to send the passengers to their destination. When not carrying passengers from the mainland to the Andaman’s, MV Swaraj Dweep works as an inter-island ferry. Due to its size and endurance, it undertakes trips from Port Blair to distant islands such as Nancowrie.



9 killed in stone quarry blast in Kurnool, several injured



Kurnool: Tragedy struck more than 20 migrant workers with nine of them dying on the spot and eight others suffering serious injuries after a major blast went off at a granite quarry in Hathi Belgal village of Alur mandal in Kurnool district late on Friday evening. According to the Alur police, the incident happened around 7.15pm when gelatin sticks placed at the site is suspected to have gone off. Most of the migrant workers were from Odisha. However, they also found a diesel tanker burning at the site so they are yet to confirm if the truck triggered the blast. Local witnesses said they had heard a huge blast and soon, villagers at Hathi Belgal and Molagavalli too felt the noise and vibrations. People nearby began running helter skelter at the site of the smoke fearing it might be an attack. Cops said that they are yet to identify the deceased as the bodies were badly mutilated. Fire tenders rushed to the spot to douse the flames. Most of the injured suffered 70 degree burns and are in a critical condition.



International News



Sweden loses its tallest peak to global warming


Stockholm: Sweden has a new highest point. The Scandinavian country’s highest peak lost its title this week because record heat has been melting away the tip of a glacier that sits atop the Kebnekaise mountain, experts say. A month ago, the mountain’s southern peak held the title, soaring to 2,101 metres above sea level. On Tuesday, after weeks of high temperatures, it was 2,097 metres high — only 20 centimeters, or about six inches, taller than the north peak, said Professor Gunhild Rosqvist, head of the Tarfala Research Station near the mountain. By Wednesday, enough had melted to take it below the critical height, Rosqvist said, handing the northern peak the crown. “We can estimate the melt rate based on temperature measurements. We know that it has melted because it is very hot,” she said. “We are going to measure again later this summer when the melting stops. In a month, we’ll know how bad it is”.


The shrinking peak is symbolic of climate change that also brought marked shifts for animals and vegetation, she said, and badly affected the region’s reindeer herders. July was the hottest on record in many parts of Sweden, with drought and some of the worst forest fires the country has seen. Even if the northern peak is higher when the mountain is measured at summer’s end, the southern tip is likely to grow again in winter. The peaks could then take turns as Sweden’s highest point over the next few years. The southern peak was first measured in 1880, when it stood at 2,123 metres. Its height has varied from year to year, growing in colder years and shrinking in warmer ones. But since 1995, it has shrunk almost a meter a year, with few exceptions, the newspaper ‘Dagens Nyheter’ reported. Located in far northern Sweden, Kebnekaise is a popular tourist spot. Last year, 10,000 people reached the summit of the southern peak, a trip that usually takes 10 to 15 hours. But once the northern peak officially becomes the highest mountain, that could change as climbers seek to summit the new highest peak.



12 schools, 6 of them all-girls, set ablaze in Gilgit-Baltistan



Islamabad: At least 12 schools, out of which six were all-girls, were attacked and set ablaze by unknown attackers late on Thursday night in Diamer district of Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, police and locals said on Friday. Locals said that two huge explosions were heard at midnight in two primary girls-only schools in Diamer’s Ronay and Takya villages, while smoke could be seen billowing from several destroyed schools in other villages in the early hours of Friday. The attackers also vandalised the schools and even set the books ablaze. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.