Isolated heavy rain likely this week: IMD
MUMBAI: After a dry spell last week, weathermen are expecting rain to pick up in the city this week. The India Meteorological Department (Mumbai) has forecast isolated heavy rain for parts of North Konkan, which includes Mumbai, in the week ahead. While there was no rain in the island city on Sunday, meagre rainfall was recorded in the suburbs. The IMD Colaba observatory recorded no rain, while the IMD Santacruz observatory recorded 0.8mm from 8.30am-5.30pm. The IMD has forecast one or two spells of rain or showers for Monday. The weathermen said the reason for the current dry spell was that there was no favourable weather system developing to give the city good showers. But some isolated showers are expected around July 12-13, IMD said. “There is an upper air cyclonic circulation over western parts of Bihar, and in case of it moving northwards, parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, including Mumbai, can expect isolated heavy showers,” said Ajay Kumar, a scientist from IMD Mumbai.
IMD has also forecast heavy rainfall in the districts of North Konkan during July 12-13. The maximum temperatures were about one degree above normal at the Colaba and Santacruz observatories. The maximum temperature recorded by IMD Colaba was 32.2 degrees Celsius, while Santacruz recorded 32.3 degrees. Meanwhile, the minimum temperature recorded by IMD Colaba was 26.5 degrees Celsius and Santacruz was 24.6 degrees. From June 1 this year, the total rainfall recorded by IMD Colaba has been 594.9mm, and at IMD Santacruz it was 711.8mm, which is much below the average required. In the case of IMD Colaba, rainfall is almost 216.5mm below average, while for Santacruz it is 70.4mm.
4 cops hurt in fresh violence in Darjeeling
Indian army personnel guard a street during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling on July 9.
DARJEELING: Sporadic violence and arson, which has kept the Hills on the boil for the last 25 days, continued on Sunday even as Army columns kept a close watch on the funeral rallies in Darjeeling and Sonada. A huge mob set ablaze a BDO office and a police camp at Pokribong, injuring four police personnel. Cops said firearms were also looted. Agitators also torched the Pokhribing panchayat office and set ablaze the sub-divisional office at Kurseong, partially destroying the building. A day after Sonada toy train station was set on fire, protesters attacked the Sonada police station and torched a part of it. GJM activists took out a rally at Chowkbazar with the bodies of Suraj Soondas and Sameer Subba, who were allegedly killed in police firing. The GNLF, on its part, took out a procession at Sonada with the body of Tashi Bhutia who, too, was allegedly killed in police firing. “We took out two funeral rallies in Darjeeling Bazar area and one more rally in Sonada to pay our last tribute to the three Gorkha brothers who were killed on Saturday. We do not have any arms with us. The arms are with police. So it is obvious that the shots were fired by them,” said GJM assistant general-secretary Binay Tamang.
The police, however, denied reports of firing and said they hadn’t fired a “single shot”. Amid continuing political diatribe between GJM and the ruling Trinamool Congress during the day, the GJM brought forward the all-party meeting to Tuesday. The meeting had originally been scheduled on July 18. “The events on Saturday forced this emergency meeting. There are also reports that food-laden trucks are being stopped from entering the Hills at Siliguri by police and Trinamool cadres,” said Kalyan Diwan, convener, Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee. “The meeting is re-scheduled due to the current situation in the Darjeeling Hills,” Tamang added. Setting the tone of the meeting, GJM president Bimal Gurung in a press release demanded a CBI inquiry into the deaths. To rile the Mamata Banerjee government, the release also claimed that the Sharad Pawar-led NCP has extended its support to the Gorkhaland agitators. On Saturday, Mamata had appealed to the agitators to shun violence and resume talks. GJM general-secretary Roshan Giri said they were ready for talks, but only with the Centre. Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee also kept up the heat. “It is obvious that some foreign countries close to GJM are influencing the agitation,” he alleged.
Aircraft jet blast shatters shuttle window, 5 hurt
NEW DELHI: Five passengers on an IndiGo shuttle bus at IGI airport sustained minor injuries on Friday after a window shattered due to jet blast, allegedly from a SpiceJet aircraft getting parked at a nearby bay. The bus was ferrying passengers for Indigo Flight 6E-191 bound to Mumbai when the incident happened. An IndiGo spokesperson said that the ground staff alerted airport officials and the passengers were taken to the airport clinic for first-aid and medical assistance. The flight departed only after ensuring all passengers were provided with proper assistance. “SpiceJet SG-253 aircraft turned to park at the allocated bay during which the jet blast broke the right front window glass of IndiGo Coach number 34, parked at bay 17,” said IndiGo in a statement. Sources said that while two passengers proceeded to board the aircraft after treatment, three others were accommodated in other flights.
“The matter is being investigated by the safety department and the regulator. At IndiGo, safety of the passengers is of utmost importance,” the statement added. A SpiceJet spokesperson, however, said an investigation was underway and it was too early to determine the cause the incident. “The Chandigarh-Delhi flight was following ATC instructions and taxiing after landing at Delhi. It is too early to say if the incident was caused by an outside object or jet blast or the bus violated the vehicular movement lane,” said a SpiceJet spokesperson. Delhi Police has registered an FIR under Section 337 of IPC (Causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety). “We are investigating to determine the cause of the incident. Action will be taken based on the findings,” said Sanjay Bhatia, DCP (IGI airport). Directorate General of Civil Aviation has also taken note of the matter and has started investigating.
Principals urge students to boycott Chinese goods
MUMBAI: As India-China relations continue to make headlines daily, a group of principals in the city has appealed to their students to not use ‘Made in China’ stationery in schools. The Mumbai School Principals’ Association, which claims to have allegiance to over 1,500 schools in the Mumbai metropolitan region, is sending out messages through apps, hoping to create awareness and evoke patriotism among students. Association members feel it is a small step that could show support to Indian soldiers on the border. “Students must be aware about problems the country is facing. Stationery, like pens, compass boxes and erasers are all made in China. Even if we are able to hurt the economic gains China makes through our country by a little, it will mean we are doing our bit,” said Prashant Redij from the association. The association will print a circular and send the appeal to all schools. “It is the schools which must in still patriotism among students,” he added. Other principals felt the appeal may be followed by many schools had it come through channels of the education department. “Students need to be made aware and this must not be done through a knee-jerk reaction. The association could have appealed to schools through the education department. We have heard how Japanese students are told about not using American products from a very young age,” said Fr Francis Swamy, joint secretary, Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE), which governs over 150 schools in the city.
Teachers also feel the focus must remain on educating students in the right manner. “If you just tell students to stop using Chinese goods, they may not understand the problem. Teachers must talk about the global problem in the classroom and inform students about current affairs so that they have their facts right. Also, today the market is full of stationery that is made in China that finding alternatives will be difficult,” said Vilas Parab, a teacher at Balmohan Vidyamandir, Dadar. Experts feel that while it is good that principals are reacting, urging students not to buy Chinese products may not be the right approach. “China is being aggressive but coming down on trade like this is impractical. As a result of globalization, Chinese-made products are widely available the world over. But, students must definitely be made aware of the situation and this could be done by using available audio-visuals and gadgets. They must be given reasonable information,” said Uttara Sahasrabuddhe, professor of international politics at University of Mumbai.
Burglar drills through lodge floor, flees with 3kg jewellery from shop
Bengaluru: A burglar pulled off a gold heist at a jewellery shop in Cottonpet in central Bengaluru by taking up a room above the shop and drilling a hole through the ceiling. The robbery was discovered when the owner, Himmat Prakash, opened the shop on Sunday. The safe was broken and more around three kilograms of gold and silver ornaments were missing. Prakash discovered the hole in the ceiling and went to Platinum Lodge, which had rooms on the first floor, right above the shop. He was told that the guest, who had given his name as Mohammed Hussain, had checked out the previous evening. Police were summoned but there were very few fingerprints to be lifted. The staff at the lodge told police that Hussain had been staying in room no. 102 since June 19. The voter ID copy provided by Hussain was found to be fake, police sources said. Hussain had, it turned out, visited the jewellery shop downstairs frequently in the past few days, pretending to be a buyer. Once he was familiar with the shop’s timings and Prakash’s movements, he got down to drilling a hole in the floor. Occupants at the lodge in the three-storey building said they had heard grating sounds over the past 10 days and complained to the staff who put it down to construction work under way in the neighbourhood. Police suspect the drilling went unheard in the noise of traffic on Cottonpet Main Road. With a drilling machine, Hussain managed to make a 1.5-foot wide hole through the concrete floor that was 1.5ft thick.
“The hole was concealed with a doormat,” a police source said. Since the room was cleaned only once in two days, he may have succeeded in covering up his job, they said. However, police have not ruled out the possibility of inside help to Hussain. They are investigating how the lodge staff did not discover the hole even after Hussain checked out. Once he had drilled the hole, Hussain waited for Saturday, when the shop would be shut. This Saturday, though, Prakash came to the shop in the morning on some work and stayed till 11am. Once he left, Hussain had the rest of the day to pull off the heist. He is believed to have entered the shop soon after. He then broke the locker, took the gold and silver ornaments and climbed back. He did not take any big silverware from the showcase, though. At 5.30pm, he checked out, telling lodge staff that he was returning to his hometown. “The culprit was staying in the room for more than three weeks. We are holding back his identity details for investigation. We will arrest him soon,” said M N Anuchet, DCP, West. The Cottonpet police is investigating how Hussain managed to get a fake voter ID card and if he had any accomplices. Fond of Biriyani: Lodge staff said Hussain mostly stayed in the room during day and went out in the evening. “He relished mutton biryani. He asked us where the best biryani was available,” a lodge employee said. Police are looking into whether Hussain had any helpers at the lodge or elsewhere.
Fire breaks out in Worli building
Mumbai: A fire broke out inside a closed flat in a 10-storey building, Himalaya, in Worli on Sunday evening. Eight fire engines, one ambulance and five jumbo water tankers were pressed into service. The building is located near Worli sea face. Mumbai fire brigade‘s chief fire officer PS Rahangdale said the fire at the fourth-floor flat was brought under control in a short while. No casualty was reported.
Muthoot heist bid: Gujarat cops slept over getaway Tavera
HYDERABAD: A stolen car was used by culprits in the failed robbery bid at Muthoot Finance, Mylardevpally , but Cyberabad police are racking their brains to find out why their Gujarat counterparts did not register a case for three months when the getaway Tavera was stolen from Valsad. Tavera’s actual owner Vinod Purohit had parked his vehicle outside his residence and later discovered that it was stolen. Though the vehicle owner approached police immediately, the local Valsad police did not register a case for three months. Had the Gujarat police acted immediately on the complaint, the gang’s evil designs could have been nipped in the bud itself. Till date, police have failed to get any leads in the robbery bid. The investigators dealing with the case were waiting for information from others states to identify the accused, whose act was caught on CCTV on the day of the robbery attempt. Cyberabad police commissioner Sandeep Shandilya wrote letters to police units of 14 states to help them identify the culprits involved in the Muthoot incident. One of the reasons for delay in identifying the accused could be that many of the states in North India and Maharashtra were still following manual procedure to verify records of the accused available with them.
“Initially, we had doubts over the vehicle owner as a case was not registered after his vehicle was stolen. However, when we verified, we found that he did approach police, but the local unit did not register a case for three months. The Valsad police wanted to rule out the angle of any financier taking away the vehicle as the stolen Tavera was still under hypothecation,” a senior Cyberabad police officer told TOI. Based on available information like CCTV footage recovered at the Patancheru ORR toll plaza and other locations, the officials now suspect that on the day of the offence, the robbers did not have any pilot vehicle ahead of the Tavera. After abandoning the vehicle at Happy Homes Apartment at Upparpally in Rajendranagar after the failed bid, the six culprits might have split into smaller groups, took different modes of transport and fled the location. The investigators discovered that the toll gate staff, while entering the vehicle registration number, made a wrong entry. Instead of 3711, had he entered it as 5711while issuing the payment receipt. However, it was a fake registration number plate with TS code. In all probability. the culprits might have abandoned the arms in their possession before fleeing Hyderabad as checking was intensified by police after the offence.
Agency gets breakfast for kids, ambulance for Metro evacuees
KOLKATA: The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) has ensured that the evacuees from Brabourne Road don’t face any inconvenience during their stay at the hotel they have been put up in. The executing agency of the East-West Metro project has arranged for milk and bread for 22 kids who leave for school from the hotel they are staying in long before the kitchen starts functioning. Additionally, Afcons, the agency that is constructing the tunnel, has stationed an ambulance round-the-clock near the hotel to be available to the three pregnant women among the evacuees should they need it. The number of the ambulance driver was also shared with all the evacuees. KMRC and Afcons have set a high benchmark of taking care of evacuees for any mega infrastructure project which might necessitate permanent or temporary relocation of residents. The 158 residents of two unsafe buildings — 42, Strand Road and 2, Raja Woodmunt Street — and 45 residents of 111, Netaji Subhas Road were shifted to two hotels on Mahatma Gandhi Road before the passage of the tunnel boring machine underneath.
“We are moved by the gestures of Afcons officials who visit us daily to check whether we have any issues. We were quite surprised when they arranged an ambulance after knowing that three of the residents of 42, Strand Road were in advanced stages of pregnancy. We are having a lot of fun in the hotel,” said Shreya Dubey, a student of a north Kolkata college who checked into the hotel on Wednesday. Away from the hotel, their house is in the safe custody of Afcons engineers. Afcons has installed 42 CCTV cameras in the evacuated houses so that no sabotage can be committed. “We are quite assured by the range of measures the engineers have adopted,” said Nil Kamal Ghosh, secretary of the tenants’ association of 42, Strand Road. The grouting, a treatment that involves injecting a structure-strengthening chemical to the century-old foundations, will extend the life of the buildings by another 100 years. On Saturday, 42 residents of 111, N S Road were also shifted to Hotel White House. Though they were supposed to be shifted on Tuesday, the precarious condition of the building led to the early relocation. This building was not on the list of nine ‘very unsafe buildings’. But after Afcons engineers surveyed the structure, they decided on its evacuation.
Rooftop solar plants can break even over a period of 10 years
CHENNAI: Tangedco wants to change the net-metering policy for domestic solar rooftops which will make it commercially unviable for consumers. According to the discom’s chairman and managing director M Saikumar, “the scheme makes losses which will have to be borne by general public and not the affluent house owners who can afford the rooftop plants”. However, calculations show that the units turn profitable over a period of 10 years going by the discom’s own figures. Currently, the installed capacity for around 4,732 rooftop solar plants under net-metering is 16MW. This translates into 2.56 crore units of electricity per year, which costs Rs 15 crore per year at a tariff of Rs 6 per unit. Transmission and distribution (T&D) losses for rooftop plants is less than 1% as power is consumed at the point of generation. If Tangedco is to supply the same quantity of power, it has to account for 25% T&D losses. For supplying 2.56 crore units the cost for the discom — excluding operation and maintenance costs which increase every year and huge capital expenditure on future transmission lines — is Rs 11 crore per year at the Average Power Purchase Cost (APPC) at Rs 3.35 per unit.
APPC is the average price at which Tangedco buys or produces power from all sources put together. It was Rs 2.37 per unit in 2009-10 and Rs 3.35 in 2015-16, a 40% increase. By that metric, APPC will be Rs 4.69 per unit in 2021-22. At that rate, Tangedco will have to spend Rs 15 crore to replace the power that solar rooftop owners are producing, which is the break-even point. Also the so-called losses from rooftop panels that Tangedco claims is peanuts compared to its own T&D and power theft losses. RTI replies show that Tangedco lost Rs 7,086 crore to T&D in 2014-15 and Rs 43.2 crore to theft in 2015. Sunday is the last day for stakeholders to send in comments on Tangedco’s proposal to Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org, TNERC) (MP 9 of 2017). However, the petition is not hosted on TNERC website. It can be accessed on http://www.tangedco.gov.in/linkpdf/MP(120617).pdf
600-year-old smart city gets World Heritage tag
AHMEDABAD: We have done it! Ahmedabad was inscribed as a World Heritage City at the 41st session of Unesco’s World Heritage Committee meeting in Karkow, Poland, on Saturday. July 8, 2017, will go down in history as the date on which India’s first city received such an accolade. Ahmedabad’s nomination was supported by 20 countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia, Portugal, Peru, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Finland, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Croatia, Poland, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, South Korea, Croatia, Angola, and Cuba. The countries unanimously spoke in favour of Ahmedabad, citing the harmonious co-existence of Muslim, Hindu, and Jain communities. Ahmedabad’s intricately carved wooden havelis dating back hundreds of years were also hailed at the meeting. The countries also recognized the city as the cradle of India’s non-violent freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi.
The Walled City of Ahmedabad will now join the likes of Paris, Cairo, and Edinburgh. Of the 287 World Heritage Cities across the globe, only two were hitherto on the Indian subcontinent: Bhaktpur in Nepal and Galle in Sri Lanka. The Unesco tag will add immense brand value to the city and boost tourism. Ahmedabad’s journey to this landmark achievement began in 1984 when the first study for conserving heritage structures was commissioned by Ford Foundation. The second milestone was the launch of the heritage walk from Kalupur Swaminarayan temple and the setting up of a heritage cell by the AMC. Ahmedabad entered Unesco’s tentative list on March 31, 2011. Ahmedabad municipal commissioner Mukesh Kumar said: “We are officially India’s first world heritage city and this is an achievement for all Amdavadis”.
Fresh quake rocks Philippine island
People stand next to cracks in the ground at a park, a day after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the town of Tongonan, Leyte province, central Philippines on July 7, 2017.
MANILA: A 5.9-magnitude quake on Monday rocked a central Philippine island still reeling from a deadly tremor last week, though there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, seismologists said. The US Geological Survey said the moderately strong quake struck Leyte island near Ormoc, a city of about 200,000 people, at 9:41am (local time) at a relatively shallow depth of 12.7 kilometres (eight miles). A 6.5 quake stuck the region on Thursday last week, killing two people and leaving 72 others injured. Large areas of Leyte, home to some 1.75 million people, and some parts of the central Philippines were still without electricity this week due to damage to a Leyte power plant. The Philippines lies on the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
London firefighters at blaze at popular Camden Lock Market
60 firefighters are combating a fire at the Camden Lock Market
LONDON: The London Fire Brigade says about 60 firefighters are combating a fire at the Camden Lock Market, which is a popular tourist destination in the city’s north. The fire service says eight fire engines were sent after the blaze broke out early today. There is no early indication of damage. London police say it not yet known if there are any injuries. A serious fire in 2008 kept the market closed for several months.
Japan floods death toll rises to 20
Defence forces soldiers walk beside a river during a search operation for missing people in a flooded area in Asakura on July 9, 2017.
TOKYO: The death toll from heavy rains and flooding in Japan’s south has risen to 20, local media reported Sunday, as rescue teams continued their search for survivors. Swathes of Kyushu — the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands — have been left devastated after overflowing rivers and torrential downpours swept away roads, houses and schools this week. Thousands of people have been evacuated to makeshift shelters in school gyms and public buildings, but many remain stranded, with emergency services battling through thick mud and rain to try to reach them. Some 250 people were still cut off by Sunday, the Kyodo news agency said. Collapsed bridges and waterlogged ground on steep hillsides were hampering rescue efforts, according to media. A total of 20 people have died while more than 20 remain unaccounted for in the Fukuoka and Oita prefectures, Kyodo reported.
The government was doing its “utmost” to recover those missing or stranded, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga earlier said in a rare weekend press conference. Five people were in critical condition, Suga said, with the government still trying to ascertain if their injuries were a result of the severe weather. Television footage showed rescue helicopters held up at a makeshift heliport — unable to fly because of the downpours, while people prayed for the safety of their family members. More than 50 centimetres (20 inches) of rain deluged parts of Kyushu in 12 hours on Wednesday, prompting the Japan Meteorological Agency to warn of possible significant damage. Rains have continued intermittently since, with up to 22 centimetres recorded in Fukuoka in the past 72-hour period. Japan’s weather agency on Sunday warned of continued heavy rains and mudslides in northern Kyushu.