News Flash – 15 May 2017

National News

 

 

Mumbai dumps 2,100mn litres of human waste in sea daily

 

 

MUMBAI: Where does Mumbai’s waste go after you flush it down the toilet? In a wooded patch close to the Bandra sea link toll booth, municipal engineers and maintenance staff monitor a constant gush of light brown water as a dull stench permeates the air. Sub-engineer Abhijit Desai and his team at the waste water sewage treatment plant at Bandra Reclamation are among a group of silent workers at seven locations across the city, handling Mumbai’s human and kitchen waste. Managing this daily nauseating torrent is no mean task. Mumbai’s coastline is now considered among the most polluted in the world. And one of the reasons for this is that the sewage receives a basic preliminary treatment before it is pumped into the sea. The BMC’s seven sewage plants located between Colaba, Malad and Bhandup work round-the-clock throughout the year. Around 2,100 million litres a day (MLD) of waste water sewage is released into the Arabian Sea and the creeks. The waste that arrives at the plants is pumped 3km into the sea. The BMC’s Malad sewage treatment plant, which handles the waste of 35 lakh people, is perhaps the worst of the seven in the city. The facility is limited to just preliminary treatment before the effluent is discharged directly in the Malad creek, which is surrounded by a large mangrove forest.

 
“The Malad creek does not have the required assimilative capacity due to nominal tidal flushing. The dissolved oxygen (DO) level in the Malad creek has reached zero, raising serious environmental concerns,” states an internal note of the BMC’s sewerage operation department. Officials said a DO level of 4 is considered safe for aquatic life. “Anything below that is dangerous,” they said. Every day, around 240 MLD is released into the Malad creek. The Malad plant handles the waste of people living in Charkop, Gorai, Shimpoli, Goregaon and Dahisar. Last month, a global study found the sea near the Mumbai coast to be among the world’s most polluted. The database (Litter base) compiled by Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany also found high quantity of plastic debris on the city’s four beaches. Civic engineers said around 25% of the city’s waste, which comes from the slums, is not connected to the 1,915km sewer network and goes straight into nullahs and creeks. Rakesh Kumar, director and Mumbai head of National NEERI, said this is a more serious problem because waste generated from slums is dumped totally untreated.

 
S R Narkar, chief engineer (Mumbai sewerage disposal project), said despite basic treatment of sewage, “it gets highly diluted by the time it is released 3km into the sea. The dilution factor is very high”. Back at the Bandra treatment plant, sub-engineer Desai pointed out that human feces dissolve completely by the time it reaches the plant. Inlet shafts remove floating material like plastic bags, bottles and solid waste. The waste water is then pushed into a shaft 63m below the ground. From there, large pipes (marine outfall) push the sewage 3.7km into the sea. The Bandra plant handles sewage from Vile Parle, Khar, Santa Cruz, Bandra, Dharavi and Kherwadi. The Versova treatment plant has aerated lagoons where sewage is treated before around 120 MLD is released into the sea through a 1.5kmlong channel. The seven existing plants were set up based on the master plan prepared in 1979. The first plant was commissioned in 1988 and the last one in Bandra commenced operations in 2003. The BMC will now spend Rs 10,000 crore to set up seven new plants at the same locations where the existing ones stand. The new plants will include tertiary treatment. According to Narkar, the treated water will be recycled and reused for industrial gardening and supplied to construction sites. “These new sewage treatment facilities will be built according to Central Pollution Control Board norms,” he said.

 

 

Safety audit of Heritage line by May-end

 

 

New Delhi: Delhi Metro’s Heritage line, which has missed several deadlines, is finally getting ready for a safety audit. Sources said the audit is scheduled for May 22-23. It is undertaken by the metro rail safety commissioner and after his approval, the line can be started. “The dates have been given. If the commissioner’s inspection takes place as scheduled and approval is given, operations can be started immediately,” said a senior government official. Sources said officials want the launch to be around May 26 — when the central government completes three years in power. The ITO to Kashmere Gate section is the last one on the Central Secretariat-Kashmere Gate corridor, also called the Heritage line. The 9.37km-long corridor was delayed by several months because of various “challenges” faced during the construction of the Kashmere Gate Metro station, the only station in the network to have three intersecting lines, said a Metro official. The Red line (Rithala-Dilshad Garden) and the Yellow line (HUDA City Centre-Samaypur Badli) already intersect at Kashmere Gate. Once the Heritage line is completed, there will be three corridors available at the station for interchange. “This underground section has four stations — Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid, Lal Quila and Kashmere Gate,” said the senior Delhi Metro official. The section was scheduled to open in October 2016 after its original deadline of December 2015 was missed. Trials on the section between ITO and Kashmere Gate, which is 5.17 kms, started on August 10, 2016. The Heritage line will be an extension of the Escorts Mujesar-ITO corridor.

 

 

Open ATMs only after software update: RBI

 

 

MUMBAI: The RBI has directed banks to operate their ATM networks only after machines receive a Windows update to protect them from a malware impacting systems across the world. The directive was in response to the WannaCry ransomware that took down computer systems across the world locking up critical data and demanding bitcoins as ransom for its release. ATM machines are seen as being vulnerable since almost all of them run on Windows software. Also over 60% of the 2.25 lakh ATMs in the country run on the outdated Windows XP. Microsoft has, however, issued a statement saying that it has developed and released a special update for Windows XP although this particular version of its operating system is no longer serviced by the company. “RBI has asked banks to update specific Windows patches on ATMs urgently and not to operate ATM machines unless updates are in place,” said an official with a public sector bank. Banks have passed on the directive to their management service providers. ATM operators, however, say that there is no threat to customer data on money. “The objective of ransomware is to shut down critical information in networks and prevent access to this data. In the case of ATMs there is no data stored in the machine. Neither is there storage of any kind of logic that will block transactions.

 
Even if a machine were to get affected it can be reformatted and put to use immediately,” said Manohar Bhoi, president (technology) at Electronic Payments and Services — a management services firm that handles ATMs for public sector banks. Applying software patches is done by the vendors who supply the ATM. According to Bhoi, this can be done remotely and usually the vendors run their tests on the patch before an update. In India, 102 computer systems of the Andhra Pradesh police were hacked on Saturday and a Nissan Renault plant production was halted because of the malware. There have been rumors of some computer system two south-based banks being infected but there was no confirmation from RBI and none of the banks have reported the incident. According to payment security specialist SISA’s associate VP Nitin Bhatnagar, the full impact would be known only on Monday since the attack happened on a weekend. Meanwhile bitcoin wallets linked to the ransomware saw transactions worth $34,300 indicating that a small percentage of affected users were paying the ransom money.

 

 

Hyderabad cops tighten software security

 

 

HYDERABAD: Roughly 48 hours after computers used by police in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh were reportedly compromised in the worldwide ransomware attack, the Hyderabad police have begun revamping their computer network. As part of its effort to protect its computer network, the city police have begun downloading the latest safety patch for its software. “Our computer network has a three-layer security, which is not easy to breach. It entails a firewall, kill-switch and anti-virus system. If there is any attack on our systems, we will hit the kill-switch and delete everything from our database, which has a back-up in place,” assistant commissioner of police (ACP) cybercrime, KCS Raghu Vir said. Over the last two days, 19 computers belonging to the AP police had their hard-disk drives encrypted by a malware identified as Wannacry or Wannacrypt. According to cyber security experts, the hard disk of the infected system was encrypted from a remote location and to decrypt the system, the hackers demanded a ransom ranging from $300 to $600 in Bitcoins.

 
“This malware is spreading widely and primarily targets computers using older versions of Windows rather than Linux or iOS operating system. It attacks a primary target first and then spreads to other systems connected to the infected computer via local area network (LAN),” Altaf Halde, managing director Kaspersky Lab (South Asia), told TOI. “We have seen that the malware spreads via e-mail. The hackers learn about victim’s profession through his browsing history and cache memory. Then, they send a mail indicating the receiver has won some award or has been called to attend a high-profile meet. When they download the attachment in the mail, their system is compromised,” the ACP said. According to an advisory issued by the Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In), the malicious attachments come with file extensions including .lay6, .sqlite3, .sqlitedb, .accdb, .java and one of the most common one .docx. The CERT-In asked users to verify the sender and open only if it is from a known source.

 

 

Heavy rain, gusty winds pummel Koramangala

The weekend ended on a rainy note as thunder, lightning and a duststorm gave way to downpour in many parts of Bengaluru.

 

 

BENGALURU: Several parts of the city were lashed by heavy rain and gusty winds – the Karnataka State Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) recording winds raging at 18 to 20kmph at Begur and Lalbagh around 4pm. Very high rainfall in localities of southeast Bengaluru such as Koramangala (68mm) and Mahadevapura (62mm) disrupted normal life. One of the arterial roads in Koramangala, 80 feet Road was cut off for approximately two-and-a-half hours, blocked by a tree that brought down an electric pole along with it. Power outage in the area only added to the residents’ woes. K Nagaraj, a resident of Koramangala 6th Block, said, “It’s an unfortunate day. Bescom, and personnel from other corporations are working in different areas. The trouble is that we are not receiving any response on the Bescom helpline (1912). The residents were forced to contact executive engineers and other officials working at the spot. The process would have been far smoother if the helpline was functioning”. Nagaraj said that the areas near the Subramanya temple and Club Road had been affected badly. Another resident Girish Vasudev attributed the mess on 80 Feet Road to work undertaken by various utilities. “80 feet road, and other streets in the area have been dug up. As a result, the roots of the trees have become weak. A number of cars have been getting stuck in the mud too,” he said.

 
More rain over the next three days: The average wind speed recorded in the city on Sunday was 12 to 15kmph, according to KSNDMC. Warning the citizens to guard against instances of crashing trees, the body forecast scattered rainfall in Bengaluru, south and coastal Karnataka over the next three days. SSM Gavaskar, a scientist with KSNDMC, said that the rain was a result of an active pre-monsoon. “Overcast skies, scattered rain can be expected over the next two weeks,” he added.

 

 

Danger on two-wheels: 6 in 10 road injury victims on bikes & scooters

 

 

HYDERABAD: People using scooters and motorcycles in the city are most at risk of road accidents compared to those using other vehicles, says an international research study. Almost six out of every 10 road accident injuries in the city involves a two-wheeler rider. The mortality rate is also high among two-wheeler riders with five out of 10 accident victims succumbing to injuries. The study revealed that a majority of the victims of road accidents are young with the mean age being 32.4 years. This, means two-wheeler riders, succumbing to injuries in Hyderabad, die even before they reach the half way mark of the average lifespan of Indians, which is around 67 years for men. Researchers from Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, US; Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad; and the Department of Epidemiology , WHO Collaborating Centre for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, NIMHNS, Bangalore, studied accident victims in Hyderabad over nine months. The findings were published in the latest issue of the scientific journal, Surgery.

 
The researchers found out that 58.2%of road accidents in Hyderabad involve two-wheeler riders. The mortality rate is as high as 48.2%. They studied as many as 5,298 road accident victims. Of the accident victims, 87.3% were men. The most frequent type of accident was recorded as skid or rollover. This is contrary to the popular belief that collision is the leading cause of road mishaps in the city. The study calls for a serious road safety intervention to reduce two wheeler accidents. “The most frequent collision type was skid or rollover making up 40.9% of cases. Male victims were younger than female victims and were overrepresented among motorized two-wheeler users,” the study revealed, adding that the mishaps occurred mostly between 4pm and midnight. “A total of 27.3% of patients were admitted. Hospital mortality was 5.3%,” the study pointed out. “Road traffic injuries kill more people in India than in any other country,” the study said, adding that the number of road mishaps is increasing over the years as the population goes up. They also linked the road mishaps to the density of population and increasing motorization. Stating that official statistics on road accidents are likely to be under-reported, the researchers said that their study was based on the results of a surveillance programme. They interviewed patients and others, besides obtaining data from clinical records of a tertiary hospital in the city. If two-wheeler riders make the largest chunk of accident victims, pedestrians come next. Pedestrians make up 22.5%of road injuries. Only 9.2% of road mishaps involve autos.

 

 

First Chennai underground metro line inaugurated; services to begin at 2pm

 

 

CHENNAI: Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami and Union minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu flagged off a train and inaugurated the 8km underground line between Thirumangalam and Nehru Park on Sunday. Passenger services will begin 2pm onwards. A few free services were run between Thirumangalam and Nehru Park. The underground line has seven stations, which are in turn linked to the elevated corridors through a ramp between Thirumangalam and Koyambedu. Many commuters waited for several hours to take a joy ride. The second train from Thirumangalam station began its journey in the midst of applause and cheers from passengers.

 
The train sped in its maximum speed non-stop across the seven underground stations till Nehru Park. It then took them on a ride on the ramp that connects the underground and elevated corridors to Koyambedu. Among the first passenger crowd were several residents from Thirumangalam and surrounding areas. “We had been eagerly waiting for years for this line to open. It is worth the wait. The experience is something we have never had before,” said 61-year-old Arumugam, a resident of Thirumangalam who took a joyride along with his family. The underground line gives several localities including Kilpauk, New Avadi RoadShenoy Nagar and Anna Nagar access to mass transit facility for the first time.

 

 

International News

 

 

Cyberattack hits two lakh in 150 nations, number may rise

The website of the NHS: East and North Hertfordshire notifying users of a problem in its network taken outside the Department of Health in London on May 12, 2017.

 

LONDON/SINGAPORE/TORONTO: Friday’s “unprecedented” ransomware cyberattack has hit as many as 200,000 victims in over 150 countries, Rob Wainwright, the head of EU police agency Europol said on Sunday. He warned of possible fresh disruptions when workers switch on computers at the start of the working week. Monday was expected to be a busy day, especially in Asia which may not have seen the worst of the impact yet, as companies and organisations turned on their computers. “Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow (Monday) morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails”, or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher. Targets both large and small have been hit. The countries that were hit included India. Investigators are looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said. Technical staff scrambled on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones.  The threat is “escalating” as cyber experts warned that another attack was imminent in coming days. Technical staff scrambled on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones.

 
Experts said the spread of the virus, dubbed WannaCry, which locked up more than 200,000 computers — had slowed, but the respite might only be brief. New versions of the worm are expected. The infected computers are largely out-of-date devices that organisations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too difficult to patch without disrupting crucial operations. “The latest count is over 200,000 victims in 150 countries and many of those will be businesses, including large corporations,” said Rob Wainwright, the head of EU police agency Europol. After infecting the computers, the virus displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 in Bitcoin in exchange for the locked files. Account addresses hardcoded into the WannaCry software code showed the attackers received $32,500 in anonymous bitcoin till Sunday, but that amount could rise as more victims rush to pay ransoms of $300 or more just one day before the deadline expires.

 
Organisations were discouraged from paying the ransom, as it was not guaranteed that access would be restored. The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows XP software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. A security update was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus. However, many NHS trusts had not applied it. Microsoft has now sent out patches for Windows XP in an attempt to limit the damage. The threat receded over the weekend after a British-based researcher, who tweets under @MalwareTechBlog, said he stumbled on a way to limit the worm’s spread by registering a web address to which he noticed the malware was trying to connect. However, researchers from three security firms dismissed reports that a new version of WannaCry had emerged.

 

 

At least 23 killed in Turkey bus crash

Police at the accident site

 

ISTANBUL: At least 23 people died and 11 more were seriously injured Saturday when a bus carrying women and children plunged off a cliff near the southwestern Turkish sea resort of Marmaris. “Sadly, we have had 20 fatalities and 11 other seriously injured,” said Amir Cicek, the governor of Mugla province, calling it a “horrible accident”. His deputy Kamil Koten said the bus plunged through a crash barrier and fell 15 metres (50 feet) on to a lower road, smashing a car with its three occupants. “If we count these three deaths, the number of the dead rises to 23,” the state-run Anadolu news agency quoted him as saying. The accident occurred near the Sakar Pass on a steep winding road filled with hairpin bends. Cicek told NTV television an investigation was under way. “The bus’s brakes may have malfunctioned,” he said.

 
Television images showed the yellow bus lying on its side and bodies wrapped up in cloth lined up next to it. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently on a visit to China, said he was “extremely pained” by the tragedy and asked local authorities to take measures to ensure that “such tragedies” do not recur. The Hurriyet newspaper quoted Marmaris mayor Ali Acar as indicating an “error by the driver”, without giving further details. Other media outlets reported that the bus left from the western city of Izmir carrying only women and children who were on a trip for Mothers’ Day, celebrated in Turkey on Sunday. Marmaris is one of the country’s main resorts on the Mediterranean, and a popular weekend destination for many Turks as temperatures climb.


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