Monthly Archives: September 2017

News Flash – 29 September 2017

National News



Unlocked car no grounds to turn down theft claim


Mumbai: A consumer forum ruled against an insurance company who repudiated a car theft claim on the grounds that the vehicle was left unlocked when the driver visited the washroom for a few minutes. The forum has ordered the insurance company to pay Rs 5.22 lakh along with a compensation of Rs 40,000 to the owner of a Skoda car after it was stolen from a heavily secured and guarded Marine Lines building in 2012. The complaint was submitted before the Central Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in 2015 by the owner of the car Ms. Banswara Syntex Limited against TATA AIG General Insurance Co Ltd. The complaint said that on May 7, 2012, the car was parked at the parking place of the company’s director. The driver of the car slept in the vehicle for the night. The following morning the driver went to washroom. On his return a few minutes later he found that the car was not in the parking spot. A complaint was lodged with the police and on May 9, 2012 the RTO was informed. The insurance company was intimated and the claim submitted. However, the insurance company repudiated the claim through a letter dated March 25, 2013 on the grounds that proper care was not taken and the vehicle was left unattended without locking it.


It said that this was a breach of the policy conditions. The complainant’s said that the claim was repudiated on the basis of the insurance company’s investigator report. The advocate pointed out that the report said, “It was found that the location is well secured and guarded by a fleet of security persons”. He further submitted that the investigator report was binding on the insurance company”. The consumer forum said that it is a well settled law that the insurance company cannot avoid the report submitted by investigator without proper reason. While pointing to the investigator’s report, the forum said, “Merely because the vehicle was not locked, it cannot be said that it was left unattended. In the instant complaint before us, the vehicle was parked at the parking place under security. The opponent has wrongly repudiated the claim”.



IndiGo A320 neo engine woes add to congestion at Delhi airport



NEW DELHI: IndiGo’s woes with A320 neo aircraft engines is impacting operations at the Delhi aerodrome with “extra time” taken by these planes to taxi out results in congestion, especially during peak hours, according to airport and ATC sources. The A320 neo planes, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, have been facing problems even forcing the no-frills airline to ground some of those aircraft. Besides IndiGo, budget carrier GoAir also has these aircraft running on P&W engines. Sources at the airport and ATC (Air Traffic Control) here said the issue of A320 neo planes taking longer time to start up and taxi out has been flagged to the airline and stakeholders concerned. Queries sent to IndiGo spokesperson remained unanswered while DIAL spokesperson could not be contacted. The issue was discussed during the Airside Safety Committee Meeting of the airport in July. A source quoting the minutes of the July meeting said DIAL informed that due to engine issues IndiGo’s A320 neo planes were taking “extra time” for taxiing after getting push back from the parking area and at times, these aircraft also cause block on the taxiways. On account of this delay, the airport traffic gets congested as the arriving flights have to wait for their parking bay till the particular A320 neo planes moves out, they added. With IndiGo operating a good number of A320 neos, a few minutes delay in each of the departure has a cascading impact on flight operations from the airport, sources said.


The Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), operated by a GMR group-led consortium, is the busiest in the country and handled 57.7 million passengers in 2016-17. IndiGo is the country’s largest domestic carrier and a significant number of flights that are operated out of the airport here. On an average, there are around 1,200 flight movements at the airport here every day. There are about 67 flight movements per hour and it goes up to 72 during peak hours. InterGlobe Aviation-run IndiGo had grounded nine A320 neo (new engine option) planes due to issues P&W engines in June quarter and few more were grounded later. This had also resulted in a large number of flights getting cancelled. As of now, IndiGo has grounded at least seven of the 23 A320 neos operated by it. IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh had during the post-Q1 earnings call on July 31 said that “regrettably, there have been days when we have had to ground as many as nine A320 neos due to lack of spare engines. While we do receive certain compensation from Pratt and Whitney for these groundings, the operational disruptions are quite challenging and we are not happy with that situation”. To cater to the rising traffic, DIAL has announced plans to expand the passenger handling capacity of two operational terminals, recommission operations at terminal-2 and build a new runway by 2021. At present, there are three runways – 11/29, 10/28 and 9/27. As per the master plan, capacity of T1 will be increased from 20 million to 40 million and the capacity of T3 will be increased from 34 million to 45 million.



4 killed as heavy rain lashes north Karnataka



Hubballi: Heavy rain lashed parts of north Karnataka on Thursday leaving four people dead, including three children, while over 2,500 houses were damaged in Davanagere city. Three children died when lightning struck them at Goudigiri village in Yadagiri taluk on Thursday evening. They were grazing sheep on a field when the incident occurred. The deceased have been identified as Nagaraj Pujari (12), Nagendramma Pujari (10) and Kareppa Pujari. Another person died when he was hit by lightning at Ennivadageri village. The deceased, Nagappa Hosamani, was standing under a tree on his field when lightning struck him. Heavy downpour in Davanagere and Harihar towns threw life out of gear on Thursday evening. The KSRTC bus stand, vegetable market and Ashoka road areas in Davanagere were inundated. The government hospital in Harihar town was also reportedly flooded, leaving patients helpless. Over 2,500 houses were damaged due to rain in Davanagere city alone, leaving several people homeless. The affected families have been shifted to temporary shelters arranged by the district administration. Deputy Commissioner D S Ramesh said five gruel centres have also been opened for the purpose. “Over 250 families from Chikkanahalli, 30 each from Neelammana Thota and Nittuvalli were affected. We can pay Rs 95,100 as compensation to each damaged house, but there is no provision for illegally built houses.


At the same time, we are distributing cheques of Rs 3,800 to each affected family under the state natural calamity fund,” Ramesh said. A land of over eight acres has been identified at Boosanur Hatti near Davanagere to build a housing complex as a permanent solution for all those who have lost their houses, the DC said. A proposal in this regard would be sent to the government shortly, he added. District minister S S Mallikarjun, mayor Anithabayi Malathesh and the DC visited the flood-affected areas. Agriculture fields were inundated due to heavy rain in several parts of Gadag district. Normal life was thrown out of gear at Gadag-Betageri, Naragund, Lakshmeshwar, Naregal and Mundaragi. Vijayapura, too, witnessed rain for more than two hours in the afternoon. The sudden downpour, accompanied by thunderbolt and lightning, flooded major roads resulting in waterlogging. Several areas in Ballari district — Kottur, Gadiganur, Toranagallu and parts of Hosapete – received rain for more than two hours. However, no damage was reported.



Alert loco pilot averts possible train accident in Tamil Nadu

A train passing through the restored section of a cracked track in Tamil Nadu on Thursday.



VELLORE: A possible train accident was averted after the loco pilot of a goods train spotted a fracture on the up line near Vaniyambadi railway station in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of Thursday. Southern Railway officials said the rail fracture measuring around 1 foot was found before the first signal (starter signal) at the Vaniyambadi railway station. The loco pilot of a goods train, who spotted the fracture, brought the train to a halt. On being informed, officials detained several Chennai-bound trains in various places. Traffic was restored after the temporary restoration of the up line (Bengaluru to Chennai). However, Chennai-bound morning trains were running late by two hours. Officials said Yesvantpur-Muzaffarpur Weekly Express (train no 15227) that was to leave Katpadi railway station at 7.10am left the station at 9.20am. Mangaluru Central -Chennai Central Superfast Express (12686), Thiruvananthapuram Central -Chennai Central Express (12696), Cheran Express (12674) and Yelagiri Express were running late by two hours. After allowing the morning trains to pass through the section at a speed of 5km, the authorities took up work on permanent restoration of the fractured rail. “The fractured rail will be replaced by a 13-metre rail. By noon, the will be completed,” said an official.



Damaged roads, overflowing drains are big challenge for Mangalhat division



CHARMINAR: Expressing anger over the apathy of the authorities concerned, residents of Balramgalli and Kagaziguda localities have complained that frequently overflowing drains and the pathetic condition of the roads have been much inconvenience to everyone passing through these areas. A resident of Balramgalli district, Babu Singh, said the devotees have to face a lot of problems due to the presence of drain water that routinely overflows right onto the road. He further added that the local leaders and authorities concerned are well aware of the situation in the locality but they failed to solve the problems permanently. “It is Navrantri Festival time. The devotees have been facing immense problems owing to the overflowing drains. Besides this, there is a lack of cleanliness in our locality though local leaders and authorities are well aware of the problems but nothing has been done. I want them to at least pay attention to these problems which have become a head ache for us,” Babu Singh complained. Residents of Kagaziguda district made similar complaints saying that the cutting of inner roads have caused accidents in the area.


They said that some motorists met with accidents due to dug-up roads. Despite this, the authority concerned are not in a mood to visit the localities. “For the last 25 days we have had to undergo much suffering because of road cuttings in these areas. The roads have been dug into at haphazard locations. The motorists have to ride cautiously to avoid accidents. “Some motorists have met with accidents, after losing their control over their vehicles while trying to avoid dug up roads. We want the officials concerned to take note of the damaged road and ensure re pair or lay new road in the locality,” said Sashi Kanth, one of the residents of Kagaziguda district. The situation turns worse when it rains in these areas. The accumulation of rain water in potholes and overflowing drains add to residents and motorists woes. The locals urged Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation authorities to take serious note of their problems and give them respite from broken roads and overflowing drains.



Chennai put on high alert for dengue



CHENNAI: The government on Thursday put officials in Chennai on high alert for dengue even as a 32-year-old man with symptoms of the disease died in Tambaram. If tests confirm that the Tambaram resident had contracted dengue, it would take the death toll from the disease in the city to 21 since January this year. Officials said they were yet to positively ascertain the cause of death. Several victims have been schoolchildren and the school education department on Thursday issued an advisory to be circulated across the state. Tests revealed that at least four schoolchildren who died with symptoms of dengue in Chennai and on the outskirts in the past few days had contracted the disease. Two of the children were from the city, a 10-year-old girl was from Tiruvallur, and an 11-year-old girl was from Maduranthakam. There have been more than 8,000 cases of dengue in the state in the last nine months. Chennai has reported more than 130 cases of dengue since January and three deaths in the past week. The state health department will start outpatient fever clinics in all government hospitals where at least two doctors will be posted round the clock including on weekends and public holidays. “There is now a spike in fever and dengue cases in Chennai and its outskirts,” health minister C Vijaya Baskar told reporters here on Thursday, while announcing the opening of the fever clinics. “We are taking all measures to bring the disease under control”.


Public health officials say that almost all the deaths occurred because patients were admitted to tertiary hospitals very late. While the state has deputed 92 units that will spread across the city to undertake vector control measure including fogging, senior public health officials urged people to prevent mosquito breeding in their houses and workplaces. The government has asked schools to ensure that the space around classrooms and bathrooms should not be waterlogged and any stagnation should be attended to immediately by authorities. Schools have been told to check if all water tanks and water pots and containers are kept closed and also raise awareness among students on drinking clean water only from closed containers. The department has advised residents to prevent storing water in open vessels or containers and check for water stagnation, which enables mosquito breeding, in coconut shells, old tyres, flowerpots, plates and water tanks. “During the assembly session, school heads must educate students of the symptoms and raise awareness about mosquito breeding and diseases like dengue and chikungunya,” the advisory said.



International News



More than 130,000 flee menacing Bali volcano

Mount Agung volcano spews smoke to the air as seen from Karangasem, on paradise island of Bali.



BALI: More than 130,000 people have fled the region around the Mount Agung volcano+ on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will soon erupt, an official said on Thursday. The disaster mitigation agency’s command post in Bali said the number of evacuees has swelled to about 134,200. The figure is more than double the estimated population within an immediate danger zone but people further away are leaving too. Those who have fled are scattered in more than 500 locations across the island famed for its beaches, lush green interior and elegant Hindu culture, taking shelter in temporary camps, sports centers and other public buildings. The volcano has been at its highest alert level since Friday, sparking the massive exodus of villagers. Thousands of cows left behind by rural communities are also being evacuated. The exclusion zone around the mountain extends as far as 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the crater in places. “I was very worried about the situation” said Nyoman Suarta, who was leaving a village a few kilometers outside the official no-go radius. “So I decided to get out to save myself with my stuff and my pet,” he said, carrying a cage housing a bird. Agung, which dominates the landscape in the northeast of the island, last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,100 people. It remained active for about a year. Volcanologists say the past week’s dramatic escalation in tremors indicates an eruption is more likely than not, but they can’t say with certainty when it will happen. “I would definitely be following the advice to stay outside the exclusion zone,” said Heather Handley, an assistant Earth sciences professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University.


The increase in tremors suggests an eruption is “imminent,” she said. Its eruptions in 1963 produced deadly clouds of searing hot ash, gases and rock fragments that traveled down its slopes at great speed. Lava spread for several kilometers (miles) and people were also killed by lahars _ rivers of water and volcanic debris. Officials this week installed warning sirens in several townships. “If Mount Agung erupts, I’m in charge of pressing the alarm button,” said Nyoman Kasna, a local official. “Sirens will sound and tell the community the mountain has erupted”. Agung, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta, is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Another volcano, Mount Sinabung on Sumatra, has been erupting sporadically since 2010, sometimes blasting volcanic ash several kilometers (miles) into the air and forcing more than 30,000 to evacuate their villages. Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.



Somalia police say car bomb blast kills five in capital

The wreckage of a destroyed van, as seen at the scene of a car explosion in Hamarweyne district of Mogadishu.



MOGADISHU: A car bomb explosion in Somalia‘s capital late Thursday has killed at least five people, police say. The blast was by a car parked outside a restaurant in Mogadishu‘s Hamarweyne district and killed mostly civilians, said Captain Mohamed Hussein. The explosion shattered a period of calm in this seaside city which has a large security presence following a series of attacks by the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab, who are linked to al-Qaida and fighting the Somali government and African Union forces in the country. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. However, al-Shabab often carries out such attacks. Despite being ousted from large parts of the south and central Somalia; the insurgents continue deadly attacks across the country.

News Flash – 28 September 2017

National News



Government nod for Rs 25,000 crore plan to upgrade internal security



NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday approved a Rs 25,000-crore internal security scheme to strengthen the law and order mechanism, modernise police forces and fight terrorism. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by PM Narendra Modi, gave its approval for implementation of Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) for 2017-18 to 2019-20. “This is the biggest ever internal security scheme in the country. The financial outlay for the scheme over the three years period is Rs 25,060 crore, out of which the central government’s share will be Rs 18,636 crore and states’ share will be Rs 6,424 crore,” home minister Rajnath Singh said. The scheme has special provisions for internal security, law and order, women’s security, availability of modern weapons, mobility of police forces, logistical support, hiring of helicopters, upgradation of police wireless, national satellite network, crime and criminal tracking network and systems and e-prison.


The new initiatives are being introduced to assist states in upgradation of police infrastructure, forensic science laboratories, institutions and making equipment available to plug critical gaps in the criminal justice system. Singh said under this plan, a central budget outlay of Rs 10,132 crore has been earmarked for internal security-related expenditure for J&K, northeastern states and those affected by the Left-wing extremism (LWE). A scheme for special central assistance (SCA) for 35 districts worst hit by LWE has been introduced with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore to tackle the issue of underdevelopment.



MTDC to identify e-vehicle zones; to shun private vehicles in areas



MUMBAI: With an aim on achieving sustainable tourism, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will be marking areas in hill stations, coastal areas and religious sites as e-vehicle zones where private vehicles will not be allowed and only battery operated, zero polluting vehicles will be allowed. Jaykumar Rawal, minister for MTDC, said that the department will identify popular tourist spots which have a lot of ecological significance and to maintain that e-vehicles will be plied in those areas to ferry tourists. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has been pushing for the use of battery operated vehicles in public transport and Rawal said that the government will purchase such vehicles. Rawal also said that the government is looking at developing some cities in the state as cycling cities. The idea is to develop cycle stands where cycles can be made available on rent for tourists and once the tourists have used them, they can drop them back to different stands across the city.


“Tourists who come from outside the city can rent a cycle right outside the railway station or bus stand and roam around the city and then drop the cycles back at the state. We are trying this in Nashik first and based on the response we will implement them in other cities as well,” said Rawal at a press conference on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Rawal also said that the state government was keen on procuring the now de-commissioned naval ship INS Viraat and to setting up a naval museum and dock it at Vasai creek. He said that a letter has been written to the defence minister showing the government’s intent on the issue. States like Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh too have shown interest in the issue. Earlier, the government had planned an undersea marine museum using the ship. MTDC will be giving all the heritage buildings in Mumbai especially south Mumbai a unique OR code. If they are scanned on a cell phone, one will be able to get all the information about the building on their phone. This is being done to interest people to go on heritage walks that are organised by the MTDC in south Mumbai.



Soon, pay for parking outside your home


NEW DELHI: Parking your vehicle in Delhi, even near your home, is soon going to be an expensive proposition. According to new rules that are set to be notified, roadside parking in residential colonies will be allowed in demarcated areas and a fee charged. LG Anil Baijal on Wednesday reviewed the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Rules, 2017, prepared by the transport department. The meeting was attended by transport minister Kailash Gahlot and senior officials of his department, civic agencies and traffic police. Rates for parking on demarcated public roads in residential areas will be fixed by the respective civic agency in consultation with RWAs. If your building has stilt parking but you still park on the street, the charges will be twice the normal rate. According to the new rules, which give teeth to the draft parking policy prepared by the department, parking rates will be fixed by a `base parking fee committee’ headed by the transport commissioner. The rules are set to be notified very soon and The rules propose that on street parking for the first hour be priced at least twice as much as off-street parking. The parking fee will increase exponentially every hour to discourage long duration of on-street parking and will be thrice that of off-street parking. No surface parking will ordinarily be allowed within 500 meters of a multi-level stack parking. The rules have also come up with dynamic pricing mechanisms such as peak and off-peak fees and exponential increase per hour of use would be used to moderate parking demand.


An apex monitoring committee headed by the chief secretary will review the implementation and compliance of these rules. The civic agencies will prepare and implement local area specific, integrated parking plans (called area parking plans) as envisaged in Delhi Master Plan 2021. The rules also propose to assign the responsibility of preparing area parking plans to MCD deputy commissioners, chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council, commissioner (Land), Delhi Development Authority and CEO of the Delhi Cantonment Board. The enforcement powers for challaning vehicles and realising fines under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 will also be delegated to officers of civic agencies. The civic agencies will identify roads and spaces for granting permission for overnight parking of transport vehicles. The parking of commercial vehicles would be permitted only on notified roads during night hours only, upon payment. The civic agencies will identify and provide exclusive night parking places for the purpose of parking of e-rickshaws and other electric vehicles. A facility of legal charging of such vehicles shall also be made available at these places. In case of illegal parking on roads wider than 60 feet, the traffic police shall be the primary agency for towing away the vehicle. In case of other roads and spaces, the civic agencies shall be responsible to tow away the vehicle and impose penalties. Any junk vehicle (petrol and CNG ones older than 15 years and diesel vehicles more than 10 years old) found parked on public streets will be impounded.



2 killed, houses flooded as rain wreaks havoc in Bengaluru


BENGALURU: Heavy rain crippled life in Bengaluru as the city witnessed 55.8mm rain between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Bengalureans woke up to breached lakes, flooded houses and roads in many areas including HSR Layout and Koramangala, stretching the civic body’s resources and its ability to restore normalcy. The downpour hit many places across Karnataka too, including Mysuru and Hubballi where rescue boats were out on the roads. Rain claimed four lives in Karnataka, including two in Bengaluru. Rangappa Birasin, 40, at Datanala village, Navalgund, and Chandramma, 30, at Puchchaladinni village in Raichur taluk, were killed in lightning strikes. Narayanappa, 48, died after a house wall collapsed at Madanayakanahalli on city outskirts, and Josh Meenamma, 64, a resident of KR Puram, was electrocuted. Among the worst hit in Bengaluru were schoolchildren preparing for exams, a grocer who lost goods worth Rs 30 lakh and residents of HSR Layout who were marooned by the rising water on the roads. Rain was a huge dampener for Dasara festivities in Mysuru. The city received 128.5mm rain since Tuesday night, a record for 24 hours in 77 years. The last time it rained so much was 129.3mm on September 11, 1940.



6-day state bank holiday triggers cash crisis fear



KOLKATA: The city may run into a funds crisis in the middle of festivities with banks shutting down for six consecutive days from Wednesday on account of Durga Puja followed by a Sunday and Gandhi Jayanti. Although banks have assured seamless cash supply through ATMs, citizens are keeping their fingers crossed in view of last year’s bitter experience when a similar six-day bank closure had seen several ATMs run dry in the middle of Pujas. Worse, with companies headquartered outside Bengal likely to credit salaries either on Friday (September 29) or Monday (October 2), bulk cash withdrawals on both these days may compound the crisis. In 2016, when the banks remained closed between October 6 and 12, salary credits didn’t pose a problem. Yet, there were complaints of ATMs going ‘low-on-cash’. According to banking industry insiders, ATM withdrawals in Kolkata and the suburbs tend to spike at the beginning of the festive season. Already this has led the ATM cash-dispensing pattern, a software-run algorithm that ensures cash is replenished before the machines run out of money, to sputter in isolated cases. To beat the “temporary” crisis, SBI has already been allowed by the RBI to keep several of its 211 currency chests (RBI-monitored treasuries run by the banks) open on at least two of the six days. “We believe we will be able to replenish most ATMs in all the six days,” said a senior SBI official. However, movement of cash vans across Kolkata on festival days takes longer than usual. “If a van normally services six city ATMs, on festival days it can service only half of it,” sources said.


An HDFC Bank spokesperson from Mumbai said, “The HDFC Bank operates 250 plus ATMs in and around Kolkata. The agencies which replenish cash has been instructed to fill up the ATMs to their optimum capacity. These agencies remain closed only till Friday. On Saturday, cash will again be replenished. We do not see any reason for worry.” SBI and HDFC Bank together account for almost 50% of the ATMs in the city. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, industry sources said, follow a pattern of “overnight vaulting”, which allows them to hand over surplus cash to their MSPs (manage service providers) to take care of contingencies and keep ATMs running even during extended holidays. A senior bank manager explained: “An ATM, according to the dispensing pattern, is packed with anything from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Part of the cash is a buffer amount kept in the fourth cassette to ensure that the machine doesn’t run dry. But should it happen, the MSP (who have now replaced the traditional CRA or cash replenishment agencies), is contract-bound to replenish it within 15-90 minutes within city limits, and the next day for off-site, outstation ATMs”.



Crater mess: Tadbund at crossroads after cave-in trouble, traffic jammed

Cave-in of Tadbund crossroad caused Traffic chaos



HYDERABAD: Peak-hour traffic at the busy Tadbund crossroads came to a screeching halt in the early hours of Tuesday, after a portion of the road caved in. What started as a leak in the 25-year-old pipeline at the busy junction slowly turned into a gush, leading to loosening of the soil. The road finally caved in following passing of several heavy vehicles, leaving a huge cavity at the spot. “Water suddenly gushed out of the pipeline to a height of five to six meters. The incident occurred in the early hours when there was not much traffic. However, as the traffic picked up, vehicles piled up on the road,” G Mahesh, a resident of the locality told TOI. Two home guards, who arrived at Tadbund crossroads at around 7am to regulate traffic, were not prepared for such a gridlock. “Seeing the source of traffic jam, we immediately alerted Trimulgherry traffic inspector R Rajeshwar Rao. The latter alerted the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) officials regarding the road cave-in and consequent flooding of the road,” M Lakshminarayana, one of the home guards said. Since the incident occurred on the National Highway 44, which sees plying of hundreds of buses bound for several districts like Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak and cities in Maharashtra, besides innumerable city buses and private vehicles, we had a tough time in regulating traffic. “The damaged pipe is nearly two-and-half-decade-old 300-mm diameter trunk main. The road caved in suddenly due to water leakage from the broken pipeline. The pipeline was connected to Hasmathpet reservoir from Marredpallly Control Room (HMWS&SB water supply network) to provide drinking water to some areas in the Secunderabad Cantonment,” said general manager, (O&M Division-IX-KPHB), HMWS&SB, R B Anil Kumar.


Soon after receiving information about the damage at around 7am, we pressed into service an earth mover and workers to dig the damaged portion. The asbestos cement pipeline, which was at a depth of two-and-half-meters below the ground was removed. Though two to three-meter length of the pipeline was damaged, we replaced 15-meter length of pipe as a precaution, he said. The restoration work was completed by 7pm, said Anil Kumar. “Due to the pipeline damage, water supply to nearly 3,000 households at Hasmathpet, HAL ColonyDubai Gate, Tadbund and adjoining areas was affected, said the water board official. It is difficult to pin down the exact reason for the damage to the pipeline. This could have been caused by heavy trucks which pass daily on the NH 44, carrying huge turbines weighing about 200 tonnes to BHEL and other firms, replied Anil Kumar. When TOI contacted HMWS&SB director (Operations), A Krishna said instructions were given to the general manager concerned to prepare a proposal to replace the old pipeline to prevent similar accidents in future”. TIMES VIEW: A series of sinkholes across city streets is a grim reminder of how the age-old pipelines must be replaced immediately to avoid accidents. Authorities must take stock of the situation and take urgent measures to replace the old pipelines.



Fire breaks out at wooden utility manufacturing unit in Kolkata


KOLKATA: A fire broke out at a wooden utility manufacturing unit at Ultadanga area in north Kolkata this afternoon, a Fire Brigade official said. The blaze, which broke out at 1 pm, was brought under control at around 3 pm by 10 fire engines, the official said. There was no injury to anyone in connection with the incident, he said. Cause of the fire at the wooden utility manufacturing unit at Durga Dutta Garden Lane in Ultadanga was being investigated, the official said.



Traffic police make arrangements at Koyembedu



Chennai, September 27: Gearing up to meet heavy rush at Koyembedu due to the long weekend, the traffic police have made elaborate arrangement from Thursday. In a bid to facilitate smooth flow of traffic from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) to different national highways, the city cops are coordinating with police in the neighbouring Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. According to traffic police sources, 700 cops would be deployed in different locations of the city and outskirts to regulate traffic. “Police would be posted at Koyembedu, Perungalathur, Vandalur and toll plazas at Padiyanallur and Sriperumpudur. Cops will also be on two wheeler patrol to clear traffic jams (in certain locations),” a senior official added. With special buses would be concentrated at the CMBT, traffic police and state owned transport corporation officials held a meeting on Wednesday to prepare a plan for regulating traffic. Fleets of state owned transport corporations including special buses for the Pooja holidays will leave from Koyembedu, which official sources said, was a challenge for traffic. As part of plans to avoid traffic snarls, heavy vehicles that are bound for southern districts from the north that do not require to enter the city would be diverted through Sriperumpudur, Orgadam towards Chengalpet, sources said.



International News



Thousands evacuate after blasts in Ukraine arms depot


KALYNIVKA (UKRAINE): Ukrainian authorities evacuated more than 30,000 people Wednesday from the central Vinnytsia region after a huge arms depot caught fire and set off explosions in what prosecutors said was a possible act of “sabotage”. It was the second major incident affecting a large Ukrainian weapons storage site this year. Kiev blamed a deadly fire in March on Moscow and its Russian-backed insurgents fighting Ukrainian forces in the war-wrecked east — a charge both sides denied. The pro-Western former Soviet republic’s military prosecutor’s office said it was opening an investigation into possible “sabotage at a military facility”. Immediate reports mentioned no fatalities and only two minor injuries from the blasts at a facility the Ukrainian military said stored some 83,000 tonnes of munitions. Military general staff spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov told AFP that the arms depot was “one of the country’s largest”. An AFP reporter said explosions in the town of Kalynivka in the Vinnytsia region located some 175 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Kiev could be heard every five to 10 minutes and that streets of the town of 20,000 were nearly deserted. “People suffered heavy damage,” a local resident who agreed to identify herself only as Antonina told AFP. “Some homes had their windows and doors completely blown out,” she said. President Petro Poroshenko underscored the seriousness of the situation by telling his top military brass and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to report to him directly after visiting the site. “This is the arsenal of the Ukrainian army, and I think it was no accident that it was destroyed,” Groysman said in televised remarks from the scene. The military general staff later issued a statement saying an initial inspection showed that “around 70 percent of the storage facilities were not damaged by the fire”.


The army’s high command wrote on Facebook that the fire broke out at around 10pm (1900 GMT) Tuesday. Police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told the Pravda news outlet the flames caused artillery shells at the facility to explode one after the other. The national police said more than 30,000 people had been evacuated from areas immediately surrounding the storage facility. “In addition, 180 patients were evacuated from Vinnytsia area hospitals,” Ukraine’s emergency ministry said. Officials also shut down surrounding airspace as a precaution to keep exploding missiles from hitting passing commercial jets. “Airspace has been closed in a radius of 50 kilometres (30 miles) around the area of the fire,” Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Lavrenyuk wrote on Facebook. The last major arms depot fire killed one person in the eastern town of Balakliya in March. Authorities at the time pointed the finger at Moscow and Russian-backed militias fighting Ukrainian troops in a war that broke out in April 2014 and has claimed more than 10,000 lives. Some officials in Kiev then mooted the possibility that the fire was caused by explosives dropped from a drone. Both the Russian-backed forces and the insurgents dismissed the charge outright. Vinnytsia lies nearly 700 kilometres west of the war zone. Russia vehemently denies plotting and backing Ukraine’s eastern conflict and refers to the fighting as a “civil war” — a term that particularly irritates Kiev.



Bangladesh arrests three Rohingya with 800,000 meth pills


COX’S BAZAR: Bangladesh police has arrested three Rohingya men and a Bangladeshi who were trying to smuggle 800,000 methamphetamine pills into the country from Myanmar, an official said. The arrests come as Bangladesh struggles to deal with a massive influx of Rohingya Muslims fleeing unrest in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Officers from Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) detained the four men yesterday on a fishing trawler in the estuary of the Naf river, which divides the two countries. “We caught four people trafficking Yaba tablets. Three of them are Rohingya from Myanmar and the other one is a Bangladeshi,” Major Ruhul Amin, an RAB area commander, told AFP. “They were carrying 800,000 yaba tablets on a boat. They brought the yabas from Myanmar. Two of the Rohingyas came here recently. And the other one is an old refugee,” he added. Yaba, a Thai word meaning “crazy medicine”, is a concoction of methamphetamine and caffeine that has become popular among young people in Bangladesh. Some 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled violence in Rakhine since August 25 and taken refuge in Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar. The influx began when deadly attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar police posts prompted a huge crackdown by the military. In recent year’s Bangladeshi security forces have seized millions of yaba tablets from traffickers attempting to enter Cox’s Bazar by land and sea. Last week two Rohingya men were arrested from a boat in the Naf river by Bangladesh border guards with some 430,000 yaba pills. Last year a Bangladesh counter-narcotics official told AFP the country was struggling to shut down trafficking from Myanmar, in part because it is difficult to patrol the vast Naf river. He said yaba pills were being produced in bathroom-sized labs in border areas in Myanmar.

News Flash – 27 September 2017

National News



Mandi Security officer was killed for slapping 17-yr-old



NEW DELHI: The security officer of the Azadpur Mandi shot dead a week back was killed in revenge after he had slapped a 17-year-old youth when he refused to remove his food cart away to make way for the trucks, police said. The juvenile and his associate Love Kumar were arrested after cops scanned through more than 100 shopkeepers and loaders from the area. The victim, Sumer Singh (52), was working with Agricultural Products Market Committee (APMC), when he was shot in the head from behind. Some traders told cops that Singh had an argument with someone over parking handcarts near the gate a few minutes before the incident. Singh had threatened to stop the errant drivers from entering the market if they did not comply with the norms, said traders. “The two youths were identified after some of the eyewitnesses found their movements to be suspicious,” said Milind Dumbere, DCP (northwest). CCTV cameras installed around the market were scanned, during which it was found that two youths were seen running away from the spot after the incident towards the Peer Baba Gate.


The footage was shown to the staff to identify the suspects in nearby cluster areas. Love was arrested from a nearby slum cluster. During investigation it was found that the father of the juvenile is a road side vendor. For the past few days the juvenile had taken up his father’s job after he had fallen ill. A few days before the incident, Singh did not allow him to enter the Mandi as there was heavy traffic jam and he was entering from wrong side. This led to a heated argument between them, during which Singh slapped him and broke a wheel spoke of his cart. Singh had also pushed him out of the Mandi. The accused had called his father to tell him about the incident, who had asked him to let it go. However, the enraged juvenile had decided take revenge against Singh and roped in his friend Love Kumar to arrange for the pistol. After shooting Singh at the back of his head, the youths fled towards Peer Baba Gate and fled on a bike parked outside the gate.



Conference on waste treatment



MUMBAI: BMC’s A ward, which covers Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Nariman Point, Churchgate and Fort, will hold a conference on Thursday for all restaurants in the area to discuss ways to treat waste. This comes close on heels of the October 2 deadline from when BMC has decided not to collect waste from properties which generate over 100 kg of waste a day. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A ward, said, “We also plan to rope in vendors to present the technologies available in the market to treat waste”.



Cops suspect firm filling up cash may have stolen from 22 ATMs



NEW DELHI: A day after TOI reported about two employees of a cash replenishment firm suspected of siphoning cash from two ATMs in Malviya Nagar, cops further suspect that the firm might be involved in stealing money from 22 other ATMs in the city since February this year. A total of Rs 35 lakh was reported to be missing by the security officials employed by the banks. At least 11 employees of the company are suspected to be involved in siphoning the money. It was found that they have been stealing after demonetisation, when ATMs were being re-calibrated with new currency. The miscreants had passed off the theft as a technical glitch. Police officials said that the company has alleged that a few of its own employees are involved in the thefts after the data logs of the machine’s vaults were analysed. A case under section 379 (theft) and 34 (act committed by several persons) of the IPC has been registered at Malviya Nagar police station. Remaining cases are still being examined. DCP (south) Ishwar Singh was, however, not available for comments. National security head of the company, Sudhanshu Singh said that the incidents occurred after ATMs were being recalibrated with new currency notes post the demonetisation. “After the currency ban, our teams were responsible for loading cash at various ATMs across NCR. The accused culprits were siphoning off a share of the new currency by tampering with the machines.


We got to know about the incident only in May and since then we have been trying to get a police complaint registered,” Singh said. “We had submitted a formal complaint on May 22 at Hauz Khas police station,” he added. Singh said that the employees would enter the ATM and pull down its shutter. One of them would open the ATM vault with his password and deposit the cash. Technical experts shared that each machine has a fuse where the deposited amount is noted. The accused had tampered with the fuse of the ATMs. For example, they would deposit only Rs two lakh in the machine, but would enter in the system that they had submitted Rs ten lakh. The company has so far accounted Rs 35,70,000 to be missing from 22 ATMs, and are expecting the amount to rise further. The cash loading company also found that the employees would declare a technical fault with the machine so that it is registered as out of operation with the bank and the cash collecting company till another technical team is sent to check it. This delay helped them continue siphoning off the money. The company also found that they had damaged multiple hard drives containing the CCTV footages from the ATM to avoid being detected.



Mangaluru gangwar: Two rowdies hacked to death

Police inspect the vehicle after Adyar Ziya, Fazal and three others were attacked at Farangipet on Monday night.



MANGALURU: Two rowdy-sheeters met a bloody end late Monday night in what Dakshina Kannada district police top brass insist is a case of gang war stemming from personal rivalry. The attack near Garden Hotel on the Bengaluru-Mangaluru NH at Farangipete under Bantwal Rural police station limits left three injured, superintendent of police C H Sudheer Kumar Reddy said. Three police teams have been set up to nab the accused. The attack took place around 10.45pm, 15km from the city. The assailants, rowdy-sheeters from Adyar, came in an SUV, and attacked five members of a rival gang who were in another car. Police said the five assailants attacked Ziya, Fayaz and three others with swords. While Ziya, 27, died on the spot, Fayaz, 22, died on the way to hospital. Both were residents of Kannur. Musthaq and Hameez were injured and shifted to a private hospital where their condition is stable. Police constable Subrahmanya B, who was on duty at the nearby police outpost, rushed to the spot and saved Fazal and secured him at the outpost. Police sources said that the marauding gang who swung their swords wildly almost decapitated the constable too.


Police have gained vital clues about the assailants by going through the CCTV footage from nearby buildings, the SP said. Soon after the incident, pictures of a car with its right-hand side bumper ripped off and blood stains on the right-hand side door did the rounds on social media. Police said an hour before the attack on these rowdysheeters hailing from Kannur, the accused made a vain bid on the life of a Ziya gang member. However, he escaped and informed Ziya, who with accomplices rushed to Farangipete. The rival gang learnt about his movement, followed the gang and attacked them. The slain Ziya aka Riyaz had been arrested along with six others for the murder of Ijaz at Kannur in 2014. Ijaz had been killed as payback for the murder of Sanna Putta alias Abdul Rahiman in 2012. Ijaz was murdered when he gone to a barbershop in Kannur for a shave. Ziya and his gang rushed inside and attacked Ijaz, killing him on the spot. Police said the gangs had been at each other’s throats to establish local supremacy.



SDMC schools to get Security Guards, CCTVs



NEW DELHI: South Delhi Municipal Corporation is going to hire 434 guards and install CCTV cameras in all their school buildings to ensure safety and security of students in their primary schools. For several years there has been shortage of manpower and lack of infrastructure, but after the Ryan International School incident, the civic bodies have sprung into action. At present, south civic body has 409 guards to look after their 581 schools running in 434 buildings. However, the existing guards work in just one shift. Additional commissioner Meeta Singh said that SDMC is hiring guards from civil defence and ex-Armymen, who are trained to look after safety and security in school premises. “We are hiring 434 more guards to double the numbers. We have got the administrative approval and the process will be initiated soon,” she said.


“We are going to install CCTV cameras at all our schools which will be monitored through mobile application by deputy commissioners, additional commissioners, commissioner and head of departments, and senior zonal officials along with principal of every school,” she added. Singh said that it has been directed to all zonal officers to ensure that high rise walls with barbed wires are being developed at all school buildings. “In the circular that we have issued, we have directed all the mid-day meal staffs to wear ID cards and the principals should get proper verification done for all employees and staffs,” said Singh. The school management committee, that includes parents, teachers, will organise safety audit in all schools to ensure that the directions are being followed. Taking cue from western countries, Singh said that SDMC is going to introduce ‘buddy concept’ in their schools as well, to ensure that even outside school campus no student goes alone.



Special units must guard Metro: Cops



HYDERABAD: In cities where metro rail services are operational, special police units are providing cover to their mass transport systems. Telangana police brass too feel security of Hyderabad metro rail system should be with special police units. In Mumbai, the Mumbai Metro has enlisted the services of Maharashtra Security Force (MSF) to provide security cover. MSF provides security to vital installations, PSUs and government entities, but for a fee. Apart from providing armed security, MSF personnel carry out frisking, bag checking and guard platforms. Similarly, in Chennai, the metro operator has brought in a trained police unit now. Chennai police have raised a dedicated unit for their metro. Earlier, a private firm used to handle security operations, but it was replaced with Chennai police. In Bengaluru, on the other hand, security for the metro is provided by private security guards except at a few places, where Karnataka State Industrial Security Force (KSIF) is extending its services. KSIF, however, supervises the private security personnel deployed at various stations.



Dengue claims first life in Salt Lake, Kolkata



KOLKATA: A 7-year old boy died after suffering from dengue shock syndrome on Sunday afternoon, making it the first reported confirmed dengue death in the satellite township, Salt Lake in Kolkata. The boy died at BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences (BCRPGIPS) formerly known as BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children on Sunday. Hospital source have confirmed the death and the matter was reported to Swasthya Bhawan on Monday. The boy Saikat Makal was brought to the hospital on Saturday evening. A resident of 214 Duttabad Road, had been suffering of high fever for the past few days. His parents got blood samples tested at a private laboratory that confirmed dengue. The boy’s platelet count plunged drastically making the family press the panic button. By the time father Surajit took the boy to the hospital on Saturday night, the patient was also in severe respiratory distress. Hospital sources said that the boy was brought in a very critical condition. The boy died around 1 pm on Sunday. Sources in the hospital said that the dengue report was reconfirmed in the hospital’s laboratory. Though Saikat’s death certificate mentions dengue shock syndrome, Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC) claimed that they are yet ascertain if it was a confirmed dengue case. “I have heard about the death and have sent health workers to collect test and treatment reports. We can only say if it was dengue death case only after going through those documents,” said Paranay Roy. MMiC (health) at BMC.



In TN, 4,399 areas vulnerable to flooding



Chennai: Taking pointers from past experience, the Tamil Nadu government has identified 4,399 vulnerable areas in various parts of the state, including Chennai, that are prone to floods during northeast monsoon based on data for several years. Vulnerability maps have been prepared at the firka level, with analysis of vulnerability, details of escape routes and relief centres for faster evacuation of the affected people by the district administration in time of crisis. The revenue and disaster management department zeroed in on 4,192 areas of vulnerability during last year. “These locations have been identified, marked and linked to the nearby relief centres for possible evacuation. The causes for inundation and any mitigation that needs to be taken up, has been done,” Revenue secretary B Chandra Mohan told TOI. Revenue minister R B Udhayakumar had a review meeting with officials on monsoon preparedness at the state control room in Ezhilagam. Images of inundated Chennai and Cuddalore in the 2015 floods continue to haunt many. Tens of inter-departmental zonal teams have been set up for the vulnerable locations to take up mitigation measures drafted by the department. The composition of the teams includes personnel from police, fire service, rural development, agriculture and municipal administration departments. The teams carried out a recce. These teams have been instructed to submit report on the preparatory work taken up in the high vulnerable areas to the district-level multi-disciplinary coordination teams led by the district collectors. Senior bureaucrats will be deputed for each district to monitor the preparedness and coordination similar to last year, if necessary.


In a bid to ensure community participation in the rescue operations, the government has roped in 23,324 volunteers – first responders — for each locality and imparted training by Red Cross, Fire and Rescue Services, Police and voluntary organizations. The skilled responders include 6,740 women, fishermen and youth. “These able-bodied men and women will guide us in the process of evacuation. Preparations have been an ongoing process and we have taken the historical data of the location of vulnerability,” Chandra Mohan said. Chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan held a high-level meeting last week with line departments, including SDRF and NDRF to take stock of preparedness and facilitate speedy movement of relief teams and material. “The district administration is equipped with vulnerability maps this time to do the needful as and when the crisis arises during heavy rain. Meticulous planning has been done this time. Blocks have been removed in canals and bridges to avoid flooding. Special emphasis is on removing silt in water bodies,” Udhayakumar told TOI. Under the state’s kudimaramath scheme, 4.43 crore cubic metre of silt has been removed from 23,132 water bodies and nutrient-rich silt given free of cost to 4.59 lakh farmers so far. The revenue department has notified 43,821 water bodies for desilting exercise.



International News



UK terrorist identified as part of ISIS ‘Beatles’ gang



LONDON: A Zimbabwean-origin terrorist who fled from Manchester to Syria has emerged as a key member of an Islamic State (ISIS) terror cell referred to as the ‘Beatles’ because of their British accents. Raymond Matimba is believed to have left Britain in 2014 to link up with ISIS terrorists in the Middle East. According to ‘The Daily Telegraph’, he went on to join the group of high-profile British terrorists that included Mohammed Emwazi, who was dubbed Jihadi Johnand seen on beheading videos. The newspaper also reports that Matimba had links to suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who is linked to the terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year which claimed 23 lives. The 28-year-old adopted the name Abu Qaqa al-Britani al- Afro as he became a leading sniper for ISIS in Raqqa, the terrorist group’s de facto capital. The newspaper report believes he may still be alive, unlike Emwazi who was killed in 2015 in a US-led drone attack. It published a video apparently showing Matimba, Emwazi and two other British terror suspects – Reyaad Khan and Junaid Hussain – in a coffee shop in Raqqa in 2014. The men are lounging on sofas, their weapons leaning against the wall, while they charge their phones.


The clip, which was filmed in secret by an infiltrator, is said to be the first to show all four together as part of a cell dubbed the ‘Beatles’ by the ISIS after the four-member British pop group. The unnamed source of the video claimed that it was Matimba who had urged the terror cell to organise an attack on his home city of Manchester, and had spoken to Abedi in the months before the attack on Manchester Arena in May. “He said [to the group] that he hated his city, that he wanted it to be bombed,” the source was quoted as saying. Matimba was reported to have been killed earlier this year, however his mother, Monica, told the newspaper that she had not received any official confirmation. She said she last heard from her son in 2015 via WhatsApp. The other three members of the so-called Beatles group are believed to have all been killed in airstrikes over the years but Matimba’s fate continues to remain uncertain.



Earthquake measuring 6.5 magnitude strikes off Fiji, no tsunami threat



SYDNEY: An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 magnitude struck off Fiji on Tuesday but there was no threat of a tsunami, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) said. The quake, at a depth of 104 km (64 miles), was south of the Fijian islands in the South Pacific, the Hawaii-based PTWC said.



Japan: Man nabbed for trying to steal car, with cop’s inside



TOKYO: A would-be car thief in Japan has been nabbed after he tried to steal a vehicle- with several police officers inside. Ushio Sato, 23, was caught red-handed trying to make off with the unmarked police car in his failed pre-dawn heist on Monday in the central city of Numazu, said a police spokeswoman. She declined to give more details. Japanese media reports said the luckless Sato did not notice there were officers inside the unlocked vehicle, which was at a local parking lot. He immediately fled but was quickly caught, according to the Sankei newspaper. It was not clear if the officers were wearing uniforms or were on duty at the time.



Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive for the first time



RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced that women will be allowed to drive for the first time in the ultra-conservative kingdom next summer, fulfilling a key demand of women’s rights activists who faced detention for defying the ban. The kingdom was the only the country in the world to bar women from driving and for years had garnered negative publicity internationally for detaining women who defied the ban. The move, which has been welcomed by the United States, represents a significant opening for women in Saudi Arabia, where women’s rights have steadily and slowly gained ground over the years. Saudi women remain largely under the whim of male relatives due to guardianship laws. King Salman and his young son and heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have tested the waters though, allowing women into the country’s main stadium in the capital, Riyadh, for national day celebrations this month. The stadium had previously been reserved for all-male crowds to watch sporting events. The king and his son have also opened the country to more entertainment and fun. Women’s rights activists since the 1990s have been pushing for the right to drive, saying it represents their larger struggle for equal rights under the law. Some ultraconservative clerics in Saudi Arabia, who wield power and influence in the judiciary and education sectors, had warned against allowing women to drive. They argued it would corrupt society and lead to sin.


Women in Saudi Arabia have long had to rely on male relatives to get to work, run errands and simply move around. The more affluent have male drivers and more recently, in major cities, women could access ride hailing apps like Uber and Careem. The state-run Saudi Press Agency and state TV reported the news late Tuesday evening, saying King Salman decreed that both men and women to be issued drivers’ licenses. Women, however, will not be allowed to obtain licenses immediately. A committee will be formed to look into how to implement the new order, which is slated to come into effect in June 2018. The kingdom had held out on allowing women to drive, despite a number of social openings and gains for women, including granting women the right to vote and run in elections for the first time in late 2015. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US is “happy” with the move, calling it “a great step in the right direction for that country.” She did not comment on whether Saudi Arabia still needs to do more to ensure full rights for its female citizens.

News Flash – 26 September 2017

National News



Forget IDs, you may soon use biometrics to enter airports


NEW DELHI: The government has begun work on ensuring a completely paperless aircraft boarding process under which a mobile phone is all that will be required to board domestic flights in India. The aviation ministry is linking the databases of airlines and airports with passenger IDs such as Aadhaar and passport numbers for this. Once this happens, says aviation secretary R N Choubey, passengers will be able to use biometrics to prove identity before entering terminals and will not have to show ID cards. A flight ticket or e-ticket will not be needed either as the airline database will show the details of the flight they are booked on. The linked airport databases will show if the passenger has been through checkin and security check gates before being allowed access to the boarding gate closer to flight departure time. “We have set up a special unit in Airports Authority of India for giving shape to this ‘digi yatra’ programme. Airport operators, especially from Bangalore and Hyderabad, are part of this as they have done a lot of work in this field. We will soon know the indicative cost of the project and time frame in which it can be implemented,” Choubey told TOI. International flyers, however, will need passports to travel.


Airport officials said the linked database will allow access to the boarding gate only closer to the flight departure time and would cut crowding by ‘anxious’ passengers who turn up at boarding gates much before they would actually be allowed inside aircraft. “Airlines will also be able to know the last level the missing flyer was at in case he does not report for boarding in time,” Choubey said. Passengers giving biometrics at each stage of airport process will help do away with the current practice of stamping “security checked” on physical boarding cards. This is presently done to ensure that only passengers who have cleared security checks board planes. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Central Industrial Security Force have already stopped stamping of handbag tags at 17 airports and will begin trial runs at 10 more airports, including Pune and Ranchi. The government is trying to increasingly use the technology to offer a seamless boarding experience and bring down the cost of security personnel deployment, an official said.



CCTV cams to ensure safety inside subway at Metro Junction



MUMBAI: Over a year after a girl from Cuffe Parade was molested inside the Metro junction subway at Fort, BMC has decided to install 32 CCTV cameras inside the subway to keep an eye on miscreants. It will cost BMC approximately Rs 11.70 lakh. Each camera would be placed approximately 15-20m from each other. Footage will be handed over to the police as well as BMC’s disaster control room. On January 30, 2016, the college student was molested in the Metro Junction subway while returning home. However, it took the girl three weeks to muster the courage to tell her mother about the incident, who insisted on filing a police complaint and visiting the spot. They found the accused loitering around the subway. The mother immediately called the police who picked him up. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station subway as well as the Churchgate railway station subway already have CCTV cameras. “The Metro junction subway is the longest compared to the other two and, therefore, we are keen on installing these cameras. Work order for installation will be issued by Tuesday ,” said BMC `A ‘ ward office assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar. Meanwhile, activists said it was a good move. “From the safety point of view, this is much required and it is good the BMC is considering installation of cameras,” said RTI activist Anil Galgali.



Indian soldiers rescue 22 kids from militia in war-torn Congo

Indian soldiers in Congo.



NEW DELHI: Indian Army troops deployed under the United Nations Organisation Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have rescued 22 children who were in the danger of being turned into “child soldiers” by armed groups in the war-ravaged country. Army officials here on Monday said the 16 boys and six girls from Nyabiondo, a village in the eastern part of Congo, were “extricated” in a 48-hour long-range mission launched by the Indian rapid deployment battalion. “The battalion swung into action on September 16 after receiving the information about the children from the local villagers and foiled attempts by armed groups to turn them into child soldiers. The children were later handed over to the UN child protection agencies,” said an officer. On the same day, soldiers from another Indian battalion prevented the displacement of an entire village with over 200 families in the Mirki area. “The exodus was being caused by fighting between rival groups, which had led to panic in the area. The prompt show of force by the Indian soldiers drove away the fighting groups and brought the situation under control,” he added.


Over 2,600 Indian soldiers are deployed under MONUSCO, which is the largest and most complex UN peacekeeping mission around the globe at present, who conduct an average of 2,300 patrols every month to ensure protection of civilians there. The Indian brigade is deployed in the most unstable North Kivu province of the central African nation, covering an area of 43,700 square km with 948 villages and 42 camps from the 1,80,000 internally displace people. Indian troops have often come under attack, with at least half a dozen being killed and several injured while performing peace-keeping duties in the country. India, of course, is the second-largest troop contributing country in the world, with 6,891 Army soldiers and 782 police personnel deployed in 11 UN missions and two UN offices.



Portion of building crashes in Mumbai



MUMBAI: The slab of a portion of a ground plus four storey building at Warden road in South Mumbai collapsed yesterday evening. However, as the structure was largely vacant no one was trapped under the debris. On Monday evening, around 6.30 pm the Mumbai fire brigade received a call about the second and third floor slab Haziz Habib building at Warden Road having crashed. Three fire engines were rushed to the spot. “There were commercial shops on the ground floor. The back side portion of the second and third floor of the structure collapsed largely and therefore no person was injured. Those working on the ground floor of the building were immediately pulled out. The ground floor however is still intact,” said Devidas Kshirsagar-assistant municipal commissioner of BMC D ward. Haziz Habib is a MHADA cess building. “A watchman was also present in the building who immediately ran out,” said a BMC official.



Students offer IoT-based solution for unmanned railway crossings

The team from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, aims to reduce railway accidents through their innovative approach.



BENGALURU: At a time when train accidents are becoming frequent, six students from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, have suggested a cost-effective way to the Indian Railways to eliminate accidents at unmanned level crossings. The project – an Internet of Things-based (IoT) multi-tier system – is currently under the railway ministry’s consideration. The system is based on three types of sensors and was presented at the Smart India Hackathon 2017, organized by the central government in April. “We have given an alternative idea of eliminating unmanned railway crossings across India. It’s an automated IoT-based multi-tier system based on sensors. This will buttress the security system of the railways and remove human errors,” explained Ishaan Abhinav, a third-year student and member of team Gamma, which came up with the model. The model operates on three sensors – radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor, pressure sensor and optical sensor – to be placed at different points from the crossing. The pressure and optical sensors are triggered by the weight and appearance of trains, respectively. As soon as the train passes through the RFID sensor located 2.7km from the crossing, an alarm and light system will be activated to signal road users to stop. As the train approaches the pressure sensor – to be placed at 1.75km from the crossing – it’s time for the gates to close.


By the time the train reaches the optical sensor, placed 1.5km from the crossing, the gates will shut automatically. “The project doesn’t end here. It is often seen that when barricades come down, many walkers try to cross the track by slipping underneath. To prevent this, we have added barbed wires to the barricades,” said Malvika Vinay, another team member and a third-year engineering student. The project was readied in two-and-a-half weeks by the team whose members include Madhusoodhanan K M, Adhitya Niranjan, Misha P and Rainy Jain. The students from computer science and mechanical engineering streams were mentored by Sudhir Routray, Sharmila K P and Rahul Nyamangoudar. “We went till the final round of the hackathon. The PM addressed us and spoke about the problems faced by the Railways,” said Madhusoodanan. Said professor Sharmila, head of the department for telecommunication: “It’s a low-budget solution for railways as these sensors don’t require much power or battery to run till about four to five years. We are now making changes in the project as suggested by the ministry of railways”.



No helmet rule for men in khaki? 1,300 cops booked in 10 months

300 traffic cops booked for not wearing helmet.



HYDERABAD: Call it a classic case of law enforcers breaking the law if you will, but at a time when the city’s traffic police department has been slapping challans and hefty fines on citizens caught violating traffic norms, particularly the helmet rule, cops continue to flout the law with impunity. What makes this utter disregard for the law even more appalling and ironic is that most of these cops were found brazenly breaking the law while in uniform. In the past 10 months, over 1300 policemen, including traffic cops, were booked for traffic violations, traffic police department officials admit. Two months after the penalty point system was introduced in the city, over 300 police officials have been booked for driving without helmets. According to data provided by the traffic police department, as many as 106285 people were booked in the city in the past two months for not wearing helmets and seat belts while driving. However, the police department claims that it is now cracking the whip on errant cops to ensure that they make it a habit of practicing what they preach. “Cops booked for traffic violations have been asked to cough up fines. Also, we are conducting several awareness programmes among various police departments, particularly traffic department, so that such instances are not repeated,” said Anurag Sharma, Director General of Police, Telangana.


“The department is also taking disciplinary action against errant cops. Traffic offences will be linked to the ir increments and promotions so that they don’t repeat such behaviour,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) A V Ranganath, admitting that on an average they get 100 to 150 complaints of cops violating traffic norms every month. Agreeing, V Ravinder, joint commissioner of police, Hyderabad Traffic Police, said: “We get complaints against cops on social media and come across violations on CCTV as well. We have observed that after disciplinary action is initiated, the cops who violated the norms, are not repeating their mistake”. Interestingly, JCP Ravinder claimed that most of the cops found flouting the helmet rule are from the law and order department, while the number of traffic cops doing so is comparatively less. However, road safety experts said that the number of cases booked against cops should have been higher. “We have seen police officials sling their helmets on their arm while driving and put it on at junctions or check points where CCTV cameras are positioned. There are many cases that go unreported,” said Vinod Kumar Kanumala, founder, Indian Federation of Road Safety, an NGO. “One of the key reasons riders violate this traffic rule is because they feel helmets are uncomfortable and block their vision. Cops too think no differently while driving,” said DCP Ranganath.



Dengue grips Chennai, two children die



CHENNAI: Two children have died of dengue in Chennai and its outskirts since Sunday, and nearly 900 hospitalised with high fever. Of those admitted to various hospitals with fever, public health officials say, 40 are infected with the dengue virus. On Monday , around 6.30pm, Krithik Ram, the 8-year-old son of a police inspector, died at Apollo Children’s Hospital of liver failure after being diagnosed with dengue. While the hospital spokesman said he tested positive for dengue, health officials said they were yet to see the test results. “The clinical signs hint at dengue, but we can’t confirm till we see the results and the person’s case history ,” said K Kolandaswamy, director of public health. The boy’s father Ranjith Kumar is with the crime wing of the Neelankarai police and the family stays at the police quarters in Kilpauk. On Sunday morning, V Bhargav, a student of DAV school in Gopalapuram, died of multiple-organ failure at Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital where he was referred to after receiving treatment at two other private hospitals. City health officer Dr N Senthilnathan, while acknowledging that the nine-year-old tested positive for dengue, said he also suffered from a blood disorder that exacerbated the condition. “We need a fever audit to ascertain the cause of death,” he said.


A team of sanitary inspectors who had visited the boy’s house in Thousand Lights last week -after he was admitted to the hospital with high fever -found a discarded container on the terrace with larvae of Aedes mosquitoes, the vector that transmits dengue virus. “We had stepped up surveillance in the locality, including conducting door-to-door inspections, as there were quite a few fever cases. But some families resisted,” said a Greater Chennai Corporation official. On Friday morning, Prem Avinash, a third year student of IIT-Madras, died of multiple-organ failure after being diagnosed with dengue. Since January , Tamil Nadu has reported more than 7,000 cases of dengue -the second highest in the country after Kerala -and more than 16 deaths. Aedes mosquitoes usually breed in clean stagnant water. The warning signs of the viral fever include high temperature, rashes, headache, joint pain and body ache. At a later stage it can cause drop in blood platelet levels, internal bleeding, haemorrhagic shock and death. Greater Chennai Corporation has mapped 179 neighbourhoods in 32 areas where more people are reporting dengue-like symptoms, including fever. Surveillance has been heightened in Adyar, Mylapore, Kodambakkam, KK Nagar, Virgumbakkam, Vyasarpadi and Ekkatuthangal. The civic body has also fined close to 60 property owners after repeated warnings to remove breeding grounds for mosquitoes went unheeded.



National Security Guard & Octopus organize anti-terror drive in city


HYDERABAD: To counter urban terrorism, the National Security Guard (NSG) and Octopus, the special force of Telangana State will jointly organize a program to create awareness and to sensitize people about their role against terrorism at Prasads IMAX, Neckace road on September 25 at 6 pm. The event is open to the public, and commandos are expected to demonstrate their combat skills. Meanwhile, a group of 32 NSG riders are on a 40-day long, 7,000 km bike expedition covering different parts of the country. The expedition reached Hyderabad on Sunday and was flagged in by Maj Gen N Srinivas Rao, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Telangana and Andhra Sub Area (Tasa) at the NSG Hub in Secunderabad. The GOC felicitated the riders and appreciated the objectives of the expedition terming it as a very pertinent to our national security. The expedition began on September 7, 2017 from NSG headquarters in Delhi. The NSG riders covered major metros like Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Chennai. where NSG collaborated with state police and other public institutions and organized different events to generate awareness among the people. The response to these events has been encouraging. The expedition will culminate at Manesar, Gurgram (Harayana) on October 16, which is celebrated as Raising Day of NSG.



Auto driver, woman held for murder of Security Guard



CHENNAI: Police on Sunday detained an auto rickshaw driver and a maid in connection with the murder of a 55-year-old guard in Nungambakkam. Residents of an apartment complex on Melpadi Muthu Street in Nungambakkam found Sukumar‘s body on Sunday morning. The body, on the terrace of the apartment building, bore deep injuries to the head, police said. “Sukumar, who was physically challenged, worked as a guard at the apartment complex,” a police officer said. “He lived in Kodambakkam“. Police have registered a case of suspicious death and detained an auto rickshaw driver and a maid for questioning, he said. “Sukumar was at odds with the auto driver, who was in a relationship with the maid, who worked in the apartment complex,” the officer said. “The guard had warned the auto driver against the relationship”. “We are awaiting the hospital postmortem report,” he said.



International News



India seeks zero tolerance against terrorist safe havens



UNITED NATIONS: India has urged the UN Security Council to ensure that the first and foremost duty of the international community is to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level. “We must not differentiate between good and bad terrorists, or play one group against the other. The Taliban, Haqqani Network, al-Qaida, Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others of their ilk are all terror organizations, many of them proscribed by the UN,” said Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN. “The international community cannot remain silent. It is the international community’s first and foremost duty to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level,” he said in an apparent dig at Pakistan. Participating in an open debate of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, Akbaruddin said that these terrorist groups should be treated like terrorist organisations with no justifications offered for their activities. Noting that the situation in Afghanistan has remained particularly painful and disturbing with security worsening and visible signs of withering away of the gains by the international community and Afghan people, the top Indian envoy said that the incessant attacks on hospitals, schools, funerals, or international development agencies, diplomatic missions are a matter of serious concern.


“The multiple crises that have been inflicted on Afghanistan have made Afghan territory attractive for criminal and terrorist groups, who are well connected to international terror and crime networks. “These groups are stealing the resources of Afghanistan which ought to belong to the people of the country,” he said. Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani joined Akbaruddin in identifying terrorist safe havens across the border. “The scourge of terrorism and violent extremism affecting Afghanistan is the product of a long-standing policy by a neighboring state to keep Afghanistan unstable,” he said. “It has menaced Afghanistan for several decades now, with its roots located in terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens outside of my country,” Rabbani said, adding that the new strategy of the United States for South Asia has generated new hope among people across the country. Afghans from all walks of life are looking to the future with renewed optimism that finally the threats of terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan and the wider region will be tackled appropriately. “In this connection, we welcome the fact that the new strategy recognizes the critical need to address the lingering problem of terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region; and for more determined efforts to end political, logistical and financial support enjoyed by terrorist groups,” he said. “Furthermore, the strategy’s conditions based approach has addressed some uncertainties by reinforcing the right message that the international community’s engagement will endure until Afghanistan becomes stable and secure,” Rabbani said.


Representing the European Union, Joanne Adamson, stressed that it is important that the international community remains strongly committed to accompany Afghanistan towards long-term peace, security and stability. Eshagh AI-Habib from Iran rued that more than a decade after its invasion, Afghanistan, the region and the world is not any safer. “I need to reiterate, once again that deteriorating security in Afghanistan has its deeper roots and cannot be addressed solely through military buildup as some suggest,” he said. Taliban and self-proclaimed Islamic State Khorasan Province or ISIL-KP continue their heinous attacks against the civilian population. They are reinforcing and recruiting and undertaking complex attacks such as the attack on a Shia mosque in Herat on the first and 25 August that killed over 90 and 28 people respectively or August attack in Sar-e Pul province during which at least 36 people were killed, as in Herat, the majority of the documented casualties were Shia, he said. “The proliferation of terrorist groups in the Afghan territory necessitates concerted international effort on counter-terrorism. “The world needs to deal with this increasing threat in a comprehensive manner,” the Iranian diplomat said. The Turkish representative expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation and the presence of Daesh in the country. “Increased cooperation among the countries of the region is imperative for the success of Afghanistan,” he said.



Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis

Men look at the flying taxi in Dubai.



DUBAI: Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation. The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers. It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Meant to fly without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes. Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and U.S. firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-haul, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft. These include aerospace giant Airbus, which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page; and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy. “Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you.


The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” CEO Florian Reuter said. “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way,” he added, saying developers aimed to initiate the taxis within five years. In Monday’s test flight, the device hovered upward about 200 meters and whirred for about five minutes over a windswept patch of sand astride the emirate’s Gulf coast. Attired in crisp white robes and headdresses, Sheikh Hamdan and his entourage clapped approvingly from a nearby viewing deck as the craft alighted. The UAE has sought to distinguish itself in a region mired in war and strife as a high-tech, forward-looking society. It plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, the Arab world’s first mission to space, and Dubai has in many ways led their showy march into the future by introducing the region’s first driverless metro and robot policemen prototypes. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

News Flash – 25 September 2017

National News



Fire breaks out in commercial building in Mumbai; none hurt



MUMBAI: A fire broke out in a commercial building in suburban Kandivali here this morning, with four to five persons rescued from the spot, a civic official said. The blaze broke out on the second floor of the three-storey structure located at Ashok Nagar, Kandivali East, said an official of Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation‘s (BMC) Disaster Management Cell. “The Fire brigade received a call at 10.20 am. Our team arrived at the spot at 10.38 am and swung into action to douse the fire which occurred in a commercial establishment. Cooling operations were underway,” the official said. The fire was confined to 4 to 5 galas (commercial shops) on the second floor, he said. Four-five people who were inside the building have been rescued with the help of a ladder. They were unhurt. Eight fire engines and water tankers are at the spot to contain the blaze, the official said, adding that the cause behind the fire is yet to be ascertained.



City students raise awareness about suicide


Bengaluru: In a bid to create awareness about suicide as part of the World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), students of Garden City University performed a street play on Wednesday. Speaking about the event, Smitha M Reddy, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, said, “Every year we perform a play to create awareness about suicide. However, this year in addition to that, we also highlighted the Blue Whale Challenge and the effect it has on youngsters“. The street play, performed by first and second year students, aims at addressing issues faced by students. “We tell them (students) that they are not alone and that they can seek help whenever needed. We display helpline numbers for them so that anyone can reach out and get all the necessary help,” says Smitha.



How ‘Pythons’ are helping railways deliver

Long-haul trains like Python are not only helping deliver goods quicker, but are also efficient and cost-effective.



AGRA: Snaking through the country, several ‘Pythons’ and ‘Anacondas’ are helping deliver a small revolution for the railways. Looking to optimise existing infrastructure to boost freight operations as well as ease congestion on the tracks, the transporter is employing trains over 1.4 kilometres long with as many as 118 wagons. North Central Railways‘ ‘Python’, Western Railways’ ‘Anaconda’, Central Railways’ ‘Maruti’ and other long-haul trains are not only helping deliver goods quicker, but are also efficient and cost-effective, said officials. Each of these trains is made up of two rakes (59 wagons in each), two brake vans and two to three locomotives, and travels nonstop to its destinations. Long-haul trains were identified as a focus area in the railways’ passenger and freight sector action plan for 2017-18, “to meet freight traffic demands requiring movement across already congested sections and to reduce the per-unit cost of operation…” Sanchit Tyagi, divisional commercial manager, Agra division said, “The concept of long-haul trains was mooted some years ago as a pilot project to halve the time required for the journey of two trains, and increase the goods trains operation within the current infrastructure, which is heavily congested.”


An average of 15 to 25 such trains run across the country every day. The target is to increase the number to 50 by the end of March 2018, said officials. These trains require longer loop lines, a railway branch line that leaves the main line and rejoins it after a short distance, where trains wait while others can pass. Three such long loop lines have been commissioned, and a total of 109 have been sanctioned across India. Tyagi added, “Almost every second day, we make a long-haul train out of empty wagons (used to ferry coal) near Baad station (next to Mathura). We have a maximum of 45 minutes for this… Since the trains look like long snakes, they are named after the reptiles”. On December 15, 2014, Southern Railways created a record by operating a long haul freight train for the first time. The total weight of the formation was 3,000 tonnes.



In a first, Bengaluru Metro train stopped by emergency push button


BENGALURU: A Namma Metro train came to a halt on Saturday after a passenger pushed the emergency button—used for the first time since its launch in 2011—to help a sick co-passenger alight from the train. The train on the green line was stopped for four minutes near Peenya Dasarahalli at around 11 am and there was no inconvenience caused to the passengers. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited spokesperson U A Vasanth Rao said that the train was bound for Yelachanalli from Nagasandra and it was about to reach Mahalakshmi Layout when a 25-year-old man felt giddy. Noticing this, Rao said, the man next to him pushed the emergency button and stopped the train. While there were a few anxious moments, Rao said, the loco pilot took control of the situation and took the train to Mahalakshmi Layout from where it reached Rajajinagar where the boy was given the first-aid. And he took the next train to continue his journey. “It was a minor incident and there was no interruption to the train service as such,” Vasantha Rao said. As a rule, stopping the moving train using the emergency button is an offence and it attracts penalty. However, Saturday’s incident was regarded as a genuine case and the passenger who pushed the button was not penalised.



Big talk on Metro rollout, but no security blueprint



HYDERABAD: With just two months away for the likely launch of Hyderabad Metro rail, there is no clarity on which police unit will provide the crucial security cover to the city’s future lifeline. In all probability, Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda police units might share the burden since HMRL is unwilling to pay `cost’ to Special Protection Force (SPF), a specialised unit. However, officials claim the nitty-gritties were still being worked out and a final decision might be taken in the next two or three weeks. Chief secretary SP Singh had recently issued an order outlining distribution of security-related work responsibilities between police and the metro rail concessionaire L&T. The order was issued after three or four rounds of meetings between various stakeholders, including HMRL, police and L&T, in the last one year. In simple terms, the GO stated that internal security at each station junction was that of the concessionaire, while external security of police. In all probability, the external security responsibility might be given to respective commissionerates depending on the location of the stations junctions. Local police units might be given the brief to handle the external security of Metro stations and junctions. However, the moot question is whether local police would be able to provide security, especially armed security, at each metro station? For Delhi Metro, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) provides integrated security cover. Apart from armed security, CISF personnel carry out frisking and baggage scanning operations. Already, the three commissionerates were reeling under severe staff crunch. With just two months away, can local police personnel be trained for the specialised requirement?.


When contacted, HMRL managing director NVS Reddy clarified that all stations would have foolproof security. “There will be foolproof security system in place. Already, DGP and commissioners are working out the modalities (external security). There will be 360 degree cameras and other gadgets, which we cannot disclose for security reasons. We want to depend more on technology and not just manpower for security. We will announce the final mechanism in the next two or three weeks,” Reddy said, claiming it would be on par with Delhi Metro. Ever since officials started drawing up the metro security blueprint, several changes to ok place. Earlier, it was mooted to have a dedicated security police force for HMRL. However, the proposal was shot down by the powers that be and Special Protection Force (SPF), a unit which was created on the lines of CISF for state requirements, was brought into the picture. Director-General (SPF) Tejdeep Kaur Menon told TOI that SPF personnel were trained for the task (metro security), but the metro rail honchos found the services too costly . Later, a committee, headed by T Krishna Prasad, now Director-General (Road Safety and Railways), was given the brief to study the security requirements for metro rail and submit a report. The officer studied various metro services in the country, including Delhi, and gave a report some time ago. It is learnt that the committee recommended a specialised force. Telangana police brass too felt that a specialised unit would be useful to handle the responsibility.



Stumped by Tritiya traffic, cops gear up to tackle tough challenges



KOLKATA: An early start to the festivities left Kolkata grappling with massive traffic snarls that virtually stalled the city on Tritiya evening. Several appointments, trains and flights were missed as large swathes of central and north Kolkata saw a bumper-to-bumper traffic. The gridlock late in the evening forced police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to hit the street to take stock of the situation. The morning had started with a promise. Barring a few stretches near Hatibagan and Sarat Bose Road, the cops were able to keep jams at bay. But once some religious processions took off around Entally and Moulali in the afternoon, vehicles came to a halt. By 5.30pm, the major pujas were drawing in thousands – Ekdalia Evergreen, 41 Pally, Jodhpur Park, Kumartuli Park and Suruchi Sangha were clearly the favourites. By late evening, EM Bypass got clogged. The closure of Cornfield Road led to more chaos in the Garihat region. It did not even matter that some biggies — like Md. Ali Park in central Kolkata — had not opened gates. “In the morning, there were some breakdowns on Bijan Setu, Maa Flyover and AJC Bose Road flyover. The religious procession near Sealdah was managed by us. However, the shopping crowd severely disrupted traffic at CR Avenue, SN Banerjee Road, MG Road, Rashbehari Avenue, MG Road, Hatibagan, New Market and Vivekananda Road. Those returning home from work and thousands of revellers on the pandal trail added to the chaos.


We had to close down parts of Rabindra Sarani and Bagbazar Street to allow movement of idols,” said a senior IPS officer. The Kolkata traffic police Facebook page reflected the situation aptly. Messages began pouring in from people getting stuck in endless jams. “It took me 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Bridge No. 4 from Sector V and three hours to reach Behala,” commented Angshuman Roy. Payel Samaddar from Jadavpur said she was “literally stranded” near Manicktala. Police sources cited several reasons — the loss of road space due to barricades being one — for the mess. One example is probably CR Avenue. Two, several arterial roads have been blocked due to Durga Pujas. “When all vehicles are vying for the same stretch, it will lead to jams,” said an officer. The traffic chaos could lead to a review of the allocation of force. “We want to keep the process dynamic. For example, when we found the crowd swelling at Hatibagan, we diverted some of our men from the Sealdah pujas,” said a source. DC (traffic) V Solomon Nesakumar said all their effort was to keep the four most important roads — CR Avenue, RB Avenue, DH Road and EM Bypass — free. “We are constantly monitoring these roads so that the city does not collapse,” said Solomon.



15,000 turn up to clean Tamirabarini

Students clean the Tamirabarini river in Tirunelveli



MADURAI: Over 15,000 people participated in a cleaning drive on Saturday on the perennial Tamirabarini river. They included about 10,000 students from 30 colleges and 20 schools, 5,000 people including teachers, members of revenue employee’s association, police and fire service personnel besides employees of various other departments. Tirunelveli collector Sandeep Nanduri inaugurated the cleaning work near the collector’s office in the presence of K R P Prabhaharan, Member of Parliament. He said that the riverbed from Karuppanthurai to Vannarpettai had been taken up for cleaning in the first phase and the same work would be replicated on a larger area in the second phase. Both the banks of the river to a distance of 120 kms, which is 60 kilometres on each bank from Pabanasam to Tirunelveli four-way bridge, were cleaned.



International News



Gunman opens fire in Nashville church; 1 dead, 7 wounded

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville



NASHVILLE: A masked gunman invaded a Nashville church on Sunday and opened fire, walking silently down the aisle as he shot unsuspecting congregants. At least one person was killed and seven others wounded, authorities said. An usher confronted the shooter, who apparently shot himself in the struggle before he was arrested, police said. No motive was immediately determined. Church members told investigators that the suspect had attended services a year or two ago, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department. The gunman pulled into the parking lot at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ as services were ending. He fatally shot a woman who was walking to her vehicle, then entered the rear of the church with two pistols and kept firing, hitting six people, Aaron said. Authorities identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of Murfreesboro, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal U.S. resident. It was unclear whether the self-inflicted wound to the chest was intentional, Aaron said. The gunman was discharged hours later from Vanderbilt University Hospital but remained in police custody. Warrants charging him with murder and attempted murder were pending, Aaron said. Witness Minerva Rosa said the usher was “a hero”. “He’s amazing,” said Rosa, a member of the church for eight years. “Without him, I think it could be worse”. The suspect said nothing as he fired. While the gunman made his way down the aisle, Rosa said, the pastor started shouting, “`Run! Run! Gunshots!”. Aaron called the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, “an extraordinarily brave individual”. The woman who was killed in the parking lot was identified as Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tennessee.


The gunman and six others were treated for gunshot wounds at nearby hospitals, along with Engle, who was pistol-whipped, Aaron said. Witnesses were being interviewed by police. Forty-two people were at the church at the time of the shooting, and that all victims were adults, Aaron said. The small brick church describes itself on its website as a “friendly, Bible-based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading his word to those who are lost”. Photos on the church’s Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities. After the attack, the nearby New Beautiful Gate Church opened its doors to Burnette Chapel churchgoers as they reunited with loved ones. New Beautiful Gate Pastor Michael Moseby said he is neighbors with Burnette Chapel Pastor Joey Spann. “As a pastor myself, you come with the expectation of sitting down and having a service and not thinking about what can happen around you,” Moseby said. “You never know who is going to come to the door or what reasons they would come to the door, come to your church and do something like that. We’re always on guard. We just thank God many more weren’t hurt”. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement that the shooting was “a terrible tragedy for our city.” She said her administration “will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution and promote non-violence”.



Mexico quake: As search continues, thousands homeless

Rescuers at the site of a collapsed building in Mexico City.



MEXICO CITY: As the search continued Sunday for survivors and the bodies of people who died in quake-collapsed buildings in Mexico, thousands of people have been left homeless because their houses or apartment buildings are uninhabitable. Specialists have fanned out to inspect buildings and determine which are unsafe after Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which has killed at least 318. Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente reported the new death toll on Twitter and said 180 of the deaths came in the capital. Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera reported that 7,649 properties have been examined and 87 percent of those are safe and require only minor repairs. But that means about 1,000 left standing have been determined to be uninhabitable _ and the number seemed likely to rise as more are inspected. Mancera also said Saturday night on Twitter that nearly 17,000 people have been ‘attended to’ at 48 shelters, though it’s not clear how many of those are being housed there. Many are bunking with family or friends. Families have been camped out for days at the site of collapsed apartment and office buildings awaiting word on missing loved ones and holding out hope they may still be found alive.


Inspectors were also evaluating the safety of schools and planned to begin getting kids back in classrooms after nearly a week away. The government said it would soon release information about which schools have been cleared to reopen Monday. Search and rescue crews have pulled dozens of lifeless bodies from the wreckage of buildings- and numerous survivors, too. Mexico’s marines, considered the nation’s most elite troops, said they have recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people in the aftermath. Many of those survivors are now in hospitals with injuries ranging from fractures and bruises to severe brain injuries. Many face an uncertain future. In a hospital room blocks away from where he survived 26 hours buried under the rubble of his nine-story apartment building, Jose Luis Ponce lay sedated and on a respirator Saturday, alive but with fractures to multiple bones and damage to his lungs and a kidney. “You said you would be with me always,” his daughter, Claudia Ponce, 30, told him. “Now is not the moment to leave”.

News Flash – 22 September 2017

National News



Mumbai: Flyers hit as 50 flights scrapped, many delayed



MUMBAI: The ripple effects of the SpiceJet aircraft getting stuck in mud at Mumbai airport on Tuesday night continued to be felt even hours after its retrieval. Hundreds of passengers who had flights into and out of Mumbai on Thursday expected to encounter only short delays, but were caught unawares as a number of flights were delayed by two hours or more. Worse, about 50 flights were cancelled, 38 of them operated by Jet Airways. Air India too was hit—to a much lesser degree. Both airlines operate wide-bodied aircraft for long-haul flights. With only the shorter secondary runway operational all through Wednesday, these flights were diverted to other cities. Bringing them back to Mumbai, re-planning the subsequent departures, and getting pilots and cabin crew rostered for these took a toll on airline schedules. Among the cancelled lot were Jet’s return flights to Calicut, Hyderabad, Goa, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Delhi, and Chennai. Pradyna Mhatre, whose son was to land from Goa (9W 627) around 2.45pm, said the flight finally landed at 8.30pm. Air India passengers on flights to Varanasi and Coimbatore were inconvenienced as the airline cancelled two connections (AI 696, AI 658) to these destinations. Among the other Jet and Air India delays were arrivals from Jodphur, Chandigarh and Vishakhapatnam, not to speak of international arrivals—AI 191 from Newark was scheduled to land at 1.30am, but landed at 8.30am, Jet Airways 9W275 from Dhaka arrived over six hours late at 9pm. GoAir’s Mumbai-Goa flight, which was to depart around 4pm, left at 6pm.


What added to passengers’ misery was that Mumbai airport is a silent airport (no flight announcements are made) and a number of flight display boards showed inaccurate information. Expectedly, passengers’ anger spilled over onto social media all through the day. With a picture of an inaccurate flight display board, Sagar Shetty, a passenger, tweeted in the morning: “#jetairways mum Kolkata flight delayed by almost 2 hours. And still showing on time. And the worst no one here to answer.” Rahul Piprade, booked on a 11.30am Mumbai-Goa flight tweeted: “Jet Airways 9W475 you guys ruined our Bachelors party. Curse is better word”. None of the airlines issued a statement on flight disruptions. Trouble for passengers began at Mumbai’s airport on Tuesday night when a SpiceJet Boeing 737-900 aircraft landed amid rain and strong wind, only to overshoot the hard-working main runway and get stuck in mud. Flight operations had to be moved to the poorly-equipped secondary runway, which lies unfavorably in the northwest-southeast direction. Strong westerly winds from the Arabian Sea had aircraft landing on the secondary runway face incompatible tailwinds and crosswinds. On Wednesday night, about 24 hours after it got stranded, the SpiceJet aircraft was moved from its resting place and in about three hours the main runway was reopened. But as became evident in the course of the day, the problems for passengers were far from over.



Delhi: Weatherman predicts 2-day rain relief starting today



NEW DELHI: Delhities may get some respite from the heat and humidity with the Met department predicting heavy rain and thundershowers in parts of the capital from Friday. The rain is likely to continue on Saturday. On Thursday, Delhi’s maximum temperature remained high at 35.4 degrees Celsius, one notch above normal for the season. Officials from Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) in Delhi have also forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall over isolated parts of Uttarakhand and west Uttar Pradesh on September 22 and 23. Meanwhile, Delhi and its neighbouring areas, along with parts of Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, are likely to see heavy rain and thunder activity on the two days. “Delhi and its neighbouring areas will see moderate to heavy rainfall. The temperatures are likely to drop by 2-3 degrees Celsius and rainfall is likely to occur on September 22 and 23,” said an RWFC official. Delhi’s minimum temperature was recorded at 24.8 degrees Celsius on Thursday. However, humidity continued to remain high, oscillating between 54% and 88%, officials said. On Friday, the maximum temperature is expected to be around 32 degrees Celsius, while the minimum will be around 25 degrees Celsius, met officials said.



Airport link: Revised alignment faster, safer and cheaper, says BMRC


BENGALURU: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC), which submitted the detailed project report (DPR) for the airport link to the government on Thursday, says the revised alignment near Cantonment Railway station—connecting Shivajinagar and Pottery Town Metro stations—is the best option available. BMRC managing director Pradeep Singh Kharola said the corporation revised the alignment, which now goes through Bamboo Bazaar, as it saves money, is safer and the fastest way to connect Shivajinagar and Pottery Town. The original plan was to take it under the Cantonment Railway Station. “There are three broad reasons: technical, safety and financial. The earlier alignment was 1.8km-long with sharp curves that’d increase the time taken to reach Pottery Town by at least 2 minutes. The route we now propose is faster as it’s almost a straight line,” Kharola said. He also said the new alignment wouldn’t affect access to Cantonment Railway Station. “In either plan, people would need to walk the same distance. Here, we plan to construct an underground subway connecting the Metro station and the railway station and also have separate ticket counters for those getting off the Metro,” Kharola said.


Safer & cheaper: Stating that the revised alignment will save the BMRC around Rs 1,000 crore, Kharola said the old route would have been a big challenge for the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) too. “The longest tunnel in Phase 1 was 965m and both the TBMs had to be repaired. We have learnt our lessons and don’t think that a 1.8km-long tunnel would be easy with our TBMs,” Kharola said. In Phase1, the TBMs could be retrieved and repaired as there was enough land available with BMRC on the said stretch. However, if the machine fails on this stretch, which is part of Phase 2, it’ll have to be left underground. The BMRC also feels that such a long underground stretch (1.8km) isn’t safe for people. “Imagine if there’s a power failure. People have to be evacuated and this isn’t the safest option,” Kharola said.


Railway restrictions: Also, if the original route was to be implemented then there’d be additional cost as the Railway Board has now given written instructions that any track going under an existing railway station needs to be at least 30m below the railway tracks. “If our tracks need to be 30m below then the station would be 40m below the Cantonment station, which isn’t feasible. On the revised route we’ll only be required to go 15m below the ground for our tracks,” Kharola said.


Land caved in at Majestic: Months after the city’s first underground stretch became operational, the BMRC has revealed a secret that led the Railway Board to revise its guidelines. Kharola on Thursday said it wasn’t viable to go under the Cantonment Railway Station—the original plan—as the Railway Board has issued instructions that Metro tracks need to be at least 30m below the station. Answering a question about how the BMRC had managed to lay Metro tracks just 15m below the City Railway Station if this was the rule, Kharola said: “This has never been disclosed before, but the land had caved in at Majestic and the railway tracks were hanging. Following this, the Railway Board revised its guidelines. We now have written instructions”. In the coming years, the Byappanahalli Metro depot will stop feeding trains on the East-West corridor. “Given the latest plans, Byappanahalli will be required to feed the Outer Ring Road (ORR) line, while the Kadugodi depot will feed the East-West corridor,” Kharola said. The BMRC will need at least 50 acres for the Kadugodi depot, which have to be acquired from the forest department. “The process has begun and we will follow all procedures,” he said.



Tactical drills on disaster relief in Hyderabad on September 23



HYDERABAD: Tactical drills on providing relief during disasters will be demonstrated by various agencies at Husainsagar in the city on September 23. On Friday, Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju will speak at the “Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief” (HADR), which will be conducted at College of Defence Management in Secunderabad. Lieutenant General PM Hariz, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Command and other subject experts will also speak. The seminar is a part of the exercise “Pralay Sahayam”, which has been conceptualized as a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), supported by the government of Telangana in conjunction with the armed forces and other disaster mitigation agencies. During the seminar, strategic and operational level plans will be discussed. The tactical drills on September 23 will be a multi-agencies exercise. All national, state and district-level disaster management agencies, including the NGOs will join together to demonstrate the ‘Rescue and Relief Operations’ exercise. “The exercise aims to synergise the efforts of all the agencies involved and to build confidence in the populace with regards to the capabilities of the disaster management agencies towards mitigation of disasters and support available in case of such disasters,” Defence officials said. The exercise will be conducted by the Headquarters Southern Command of the Army with guidance from Sudarshan Chakra Corps and coordinated by Bison Division.



Kolkata: Cops plan parking zones for app cabs, map toilets

Commissioner Rajeev Kumar (C), additional CP (I) Vineet Goyal (R) and DC (traffic) Solomon V Nesakumar release the Puja guide map at the Police Athletic Club tent on Thursday.



KOLKATA: In a first, Kolkata Police will set up separate parking zones for app cabs at 40 locations for encouraging pandal-hoppers to use public vehicles. The cops are already in talks with app-cab aggregators to explore the possibility of extending concession to those hailing vehicles from these points. In another first for the police force, the men in uniform will be present on Kolkata’s roads from Dwitiya this year. While the full-scale centralized deployment will begin from Chaturthi, the cops are “aware” that several big Puja pandals, which have already been inaugurated, might need police presence from Friday evening. “With the weekend ahead, all local police stations and traffic guards have been asked to make their arrangements to maintain smooth traffic and ensure law and order,” said a senior IPS officer. To make pandal-hopping hassle-free, commissioner Rajeev Kumar on Thursday launched ‘Utsav’ app and published the Puja guide map. The app is being seen as a one-stop solution for revellers looking for directions, public transport. The commissioner also launched the unique public toilet map, which gives the public information about toilet locations near big-ticket pandals.


Commenting on the arrangements, additional CP (I) Vineet Kumar Goyal said the decisions were taken keeping in mind two important parameters — past experience and the feedback from organizers and the neighbourhood. “We are going to put up important traffic updates on our Facebook page. Any change of traffic plans will be communicated real time,” said Goyal. DC (traffic) Solomon V Nesakumar confirmed that the movement of autos will be regulated from Panchami. “No autos will be allowed to ply beyond 2pm on all important roads,” he said. Elaborating on the utility of the app, Solomon added: “It will have the digital version of the guide map. Whoever downloads the app will be directed to the map page where the location of the user will get automatically updated. One only needs to select the pandals he wants to visit and the app will show the shortest route. It will also display the traffic condition and the adjoining parking locations”.



Chennai Corporation zeroes in on dengue hotspots



CHENNAI: Greater Chennai Corporation has drawn the battle lines in its fight against dengue. One hundred and seventy-nine localities in the city have been identified as ‘hotspots’ for the vector-borne infection. Stepping up vigil, the civic body has mapped 179 neighbourhoods in 32 areas where more people are reporting dengue-like symptoms, including fever. Surveillance has been heightened in Adyar, Mylapore, Kodambakkam, K K Nagar, Virgumbakkam, Vyasarpadi and Ekkatuthangal. City health officer Dr N Senthilnathan said in these areas sanitary inspectors had been going door-to-door to remove potential breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus. “We are intensifying source reduction in any unit or locality that reports more than five cases,” he said, adding that the department was also mobilising community volunteers to participate in the drive. The health department is taking other parameters into consideration before identifying an area as a hotspot, including mosquito density, number of complaints received and larval count. The corporation has identified around 1,500 premises in the city, including educational institutions, construction sites, hospitals and commercial establishments, that could be potential breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes. “We first issue notices asking them to take steps to ensure they don’t become sources for the mosquito larvae. If they don’t comply, we penalise them,” said Dr Senthilnathan. The health department has collected Rs 11 lakh as fine in three months.


Owners have been instructed to cover all water storage containers in ‘mosquito-proof’ manner and remove discarded items like tyres, tins, boxes and other articles that can contain water. Mosquitoes can travel up to 500m, putting the neighbourhood at risk even if one household has a breeding source. At present, around 2,800 ground workers have been deployed to carry out fogging and breeding check in all the zones of the corporation. According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Tamil Nadu recorded 6,919 dengue cases since January, the second highest in the country after Kerala. The state government reported 16 dengue deaths. Director of public health K Kolandaiswamy said while initially the state’s focus was on districts bordering Kerala, the infection was now more prevalent in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Tiruvannamalai and Chennai. “Although Chennai hasn’t been categorised as a hotspot, fever cases are increasing,” he said. According to corporation records, since January, 110 fever cases have been confirmed as dengue. Dr Benny Benjamin, consultant pediatrician at Fortis Malar Hospital in Adyar, said because of awareness most of the patients were coming in at an earlier stage. “Almost all report with either mild or moderate severity. Only 30% require hospitalisation for up to three days,” he said, adding that there has been a rise in other viral and bacterial infections that cause distress in the upper respiratory system, along with fever.



International News



Myanmar police fired warning shots in Rakhine as mob attacks aid boat



YANGON: Myanmar police fired warning shots to disperse a mob who threw petrol bombs at them and tried to block an ICRC boat in the conflict-hit Rakhine state, where tens of thousands are believed to be in urgent need of aid, state-backed media said on Thursday. Communal tensions remain sky high across Rakhine where raids by Rohingya militants at the end of last month sparked a massive army crackdown and an unprecedented exodus of the Muslim group which the UN has called “ethnic cleansing”. Stranded after their villages burned to the ground, many Rohingya Muslims left inside Rakhine are in especially desperate need of aid. The zone worst-hit by communal violence remains under a virtual army lockdown, although authorities have promised to allow safe passage for relief. Aid is an incendiary issue in Rakhine, which is poor and scored by ethnic and religious hatred. Ethnic Rakhine believe foreign aid agencies ignore their needs and are biased towards the Rohingya — a minority denied citizenship in Myanmar and branded ‘Bengali’ outsiders. A 300-strong mob in the Buddhist-majority state capital Sittwe massed late Wednesday at a jetty where a boat — carrying 50 tonnes relief materials including clothes, water buckets and mosquito nets — was preparing for the journey up river into Maungdaw. They forced “the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to unload the aid from the boat and prevented the boat from leaving,” Global New Light of Myanmar reported Thursday, quoting Myanmar’s Information Committee.


Police officers arrived as the crowd grew near the jetty, while Buddhist monks also tried to calm the mob, but people began to hurl “stones and Molotov (cocktails) at the riot police” the report said. Eight people were detained and several police were injured before order was restored late at night. Before last month’s crisis, tens of thousands of Rohingya — as well as some ethnic Rakhines — displaced by previous rounds of violence were already dependent on foreign and local aid groups. Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was condemned early on in the Rohingya crisis after photos of World Food Programme (WFP) food packages were shared on her office’s Facebook page after apparently being seized from the Rohingya militants. Foreign aid groups said that made them a target of local hostility — and many have reined in or stopped their operations for safety reasons. Hundreds have been killed in violence since August 25, which has forced 420,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee army operations to Bangladesh. A further 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also been displaced, seeking shelter in monasteries and schools in and around Sittwe. There are fears tens of thousands of terrified Rohingya villagers are on the move inside Rakhine desperately short of basic necessities.



Leaving the caliphate: The struggle of one ISIS bride to get home



“No, Abu Bakr, leave it alone!” A woman shouts at her five-year-old son as he reaches out to pet a chicken that is penned into the corner of the warm, filthy room by jerry cans filled with water. Curly haired Abu Bakr ends up being roughly pulled away by his mother, 20-year-old Lebanese Nour al-Huda. The eldest of four – soon to be five, as Nour is pregnant – scowls but does as he’s told. He’s nicknamed for the leader of ISIS, Nour explains, before reflecting on the reason the chicken is there. “I am going home in two days,” she says, clearly delighted. “Maybe we’ll have the chicken to celebrate”. Her friend Fatima (not her real name), a Syrian with freckles and beautifully mascara’d eyelashes, draws a finger slowly across her veiled neck, miming a beheading. “Let’s slaughter it ISIS-style,” she says mischievously, at which Nour suffers from a laughing fit so severe she has to hug her growing belly. Nour looks much younger than 20. Although it may be expected that a girl who got married at 14 – and then lived in the capital of ISIS’s caliphate for three years – will look and act older than her real age. Her cheerfulness is not at all in keeping with the unpleasantness of the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp she lives in or the experiences that have shaped her life so far, although that might be because she’s just had good news. Jilad, the camp’s leader, said on Thursday that Nour’s father had managed to arrange for his daughter and grandchildren to rejoin the family across the border in Lebanon.


The news makes Noor much luckier than the 15 other “ISIS wives“, as they are called by the rest of the residents of the IDP camp in Ain Issa, 45 miles (72km) north of Raqqa. Once the impenetrable heart of the so-called ISIS caliphate across Syria and Iraq, since the US-backed joint Arab-Kurdish campaign to drive fighters out of the city began in earnest in June, ISIS has been greatly weakened in Raqqa. Retreating jihadists leave improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and a sniper rear guard as they consolidate their shrinking territory under the constant threat of US-led coalition air strikes. Most fight to the death, some are captured: almost all leave behind brides and children. Unsure with what to do with the fighters’ families, officials at the Ain Issa camp have separated the “ISIS wives” from the rest of the residents, in a small compound accessed through the head office. Since Syria’s war began in 2011, the town has passed from the hands of the Syrian government, to Free Syrian Army rebels, to ISIS, to the control of the Kurdish-backed Raqqa Civic Administration. Once upon a time it was a regime cotton plant site, according to the sign that still hangs above the gated entrance. In the room in which we are talking there is a plastic picnic table piled high with nappies and other baby essentials, thin mattresses for sitting and sleeping and next to nothing else. A very small baby sleeps face down on one of them, next to Nour, while older children play and fight almost on top of him. Outside in the open-air corridor it is even more chaotic. The 16 women and their 32 children all live in just three rooms and a small concrete courtyard. It’s hot, dirty, and noisy as women shout at each other and their kids.


Several foreigners are among them, including a strawberry-blonde Turkish woman and a new arrival originally from the Netherlands. One blue-eyed woman nurses her half-Indonesian baby; the mix of languages and ethnicities could double as a diversity poster if not for the intense poverty, borne of an evil experiment. Most of the women tell a similar story: the caliphate wasn’t what they thought it would be. The wives claim their husbands were tricked into moving to Syria, or they were otherwise misled themselves. Without papers, proof or a trial for obvious wrongdoing, however, the foreign women in particular find themselves in a stateless legal loophole, detained against their will. One of their curious band – a dual French-Moroccan national- managed to leave the camp last week. She may have been rescued by the French embassy, but that seems unlikely given that France expects French female ISIS members captured during the battle for Mosul to face trial in Iraq rather than be extradited home. Most of those remaining think she has ended up detained elsewhere. Nour, from Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, is no different to her new-found sisters – except that she may really be going home. “I was only 17 when I came here,” she complained, twisting her thick mousey hair into a plait, then unbraiding it, then plaiting it again. “I was a kid, what did I know?”.


Moving to Syria had been her late first husband’s idea, Nour said. He was killed fighting in 2015; when pressed, she said she is not sad about his death. Since ISIS generally doesn’t tolerate singleness or widowhood in child-bearing women, pressuring them into remarrying, she quickly married a second husband – a Tunisian. He was also killed defending ISIS’ disintegrating caliphate. Although he is father to her youngest, and the baby she has on the way, Nour only speaks of him as “the Tunisian”, laughing when asked if she had any feelings for him at all. “Khalas,” she says, the versatile word in Arabic for something that is irreversibly done or over. “What does it matter? He’s dead, and I’m going home”. Nour is vague on the details of how her family has managed to secure her return. It appears she doesn’t really understand what’s happening – only that her father has somehow found her safe passage through President Bashar al-Assad‘s territory to Lebanon, or across the Kurdish-claimed areas of northern Syria to the Iraqi border. The arrangement is unheard of, although the camp manager confirms it’s happening. It remains to be seen whether the deal will work. “I’ll see you in Beirut,” I say, tucking a piece of paper with her father’s name and address into a shirt pocket. Nour claps her hands with excitement. “Yes! Like on Arab Idol. They say that at the end when a contestant gets through to the next round. God knows I’ve missed TV. “And my father. And my brothers,” she adds in the next breath. “I probably should have said I missed them more first”.

News Flash – 21 September 2017

National News



Mumbai receives second heaviest September rain in over a century

A BEST bus stranded in the Malad subway on Tuesday night.



MUMBAI: The city experienced yet another intense downpour, the second time this season, receiving almost as much rain over Tuesday and Wednesday as it usually does in an entire month. Data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) indicated that over 24 hours starting 8.30am on September 19, Mumbai recorded about 304 mm of rainfall, just shy of the 312mm average set for the entire month of September—which means it rained in one day almost as much as it usually does over a month. The sudden force of this spell was apparent from the fact that it was the second wettest September day in IMD’s over 100-year recorded history. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) has said that owing to climate change we’ll keep seeing such heavy rain over short intervals,” said Prof Kapil Gupta of IIT, referring to the extreme nature of the phenomenon. The impact was mostly felt in the western suburbs like Andheri, Borivli, Dahisar, Dindoshi, where many streets were under water, especially those adjoining subways connecting eastern and western parts. Amruta Deshpande of Thakur village in Kandivli (E) described the situation as chaotic.


But rail and road transport were unaffected as traffic was thin owing to the government’s proactive decision to shut down schools and colleges. The continuing spell of heavy downpour accompanied by gusty winds caused waterlogging in unexpected localities on Wednesday. Not just the usual low-lying areas of Khar and Kalina, even parts of western suburbs such as Dahisar, Marol and Bandra that rarely report waterlogging were submerged in knee-deep waters. Considering that few Mumbaikar’s ventured out, the BMC was able to clear the flooded stretches faster. It deployed around 35,000 staffers on the streets to tackle the situation. Waterlogging was reported on Andheri-Kurla Road below Airport Road metro station at Marol, S V Road in Khar, and Nutan Nagar, St Paul’s Road and St Francis Road in Bandra. A BMC official from Malad blamed “high intensity” rain for waterlogging in these parts.



For kids’ safety, Delhi government wants CCTVs in all city schools



NEW DELHI: To the relief of many parents concerned about the safety of children in schools, Delhi government wants installation of CCTVs in all Delhi schools, both government and private. A blueprint to fast track this measure is being prepared. The matter was reviewed at a special cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday. The meeting on Wednesday, held a day after Kejriwal’s return from a nine-day meditation course, also reviewed other flagship programmes. While focused on the safety of schoolchildren, the CM discussed education programmes, mohalla clinics, medicine counters at government hospitals as well as water and development in unauthorized colonies, pension and issues related to the ration disbursal system. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is also the education minister, informed the CM about the plan to install CCTV cameras in all schools. He said other steps were also being taken to ensure the safety of children in schools. Kejriwal asked the education department to study the New Delhi Municipal Council model, because, he said, “all stakeholders, including parents, have expressed satisfaction at the CCTVs in these schools”. Besides CCTV vigil, smartcards are used in NDMC institutions to mark the entry and exit of students, with the parents getting alerts on their phones to show the time when the student reached and left the school. The high number of students who are not doing well in studies and are forced to study through correspondence needed government help, Kejriwal added.


The meeting decided that the government would strictly prevent liquor vends from operating near schools. Even if they fall outside the stipulated boundaries but are seen to be adversely impacting any school, they would be shut down. The CM also reviewed the progress of mohalla clinics in government schools and asked officials to fast-track their next phase. Taking stock of the work of existing clinics, he directed the health department to keep track of complaints/shortcomings if any and resolve these by the end of the month. The CM directed that tests at these clinics should start at the earliest and any shortage of doctors quickly resolved. Similarly, he asked the chief secretary to remove all hurdles in the way of filling the vacancies in government hospitals. He was also keen that the health department put up more counters for free medicines at hospitals to ease the rush. While reviewing the progress of development projects in unauthorized colonies, Kejriwal wanted the finance department to make sure that the nodal departments of DSIIDC and irrigation & flood control faced no financial hurdles. He also asked for the list of all social schemes, including pensions and the ration disbursal system, to assess their implementation. A statement from the CM’s office later said that the ministers presented included Sisodia, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai, Rajendar Pal Gautam, Imran Hussain and Kailash Gahlot.



Mumbai: Rain, stranded plane affect over 160 flights



MUMBAI: A total of 161 flight arrivals and departures were cancelled at Mumbai airport on Wednesday, when inclement weather affected flight operations for the second day in a row. Another six planes were forced to do go-arounds, one to divert and several were delayed by up to 2 hours. It was at 9.38 pm, almost 24 hours after it overshot the main runway on Tuesday and got stuck in mud, that the stranded SpiceJet Boeing 737-900 aircraft could be removed. The plane had landed around 10pm on Tuesday in heavy rain and strong winds. Hours before the aircraft was removed, Mumbai’s air traffic control (ATC) had announced the main runway’s closure till 6am on Thursday. At the time of going to press, the runway closure notice was not yet cancelled. ATC sources said the main runway may remain shut for some time because of the damage to areas immediately beyond the runway end where the aircraft’s wheels sunk. Though an ATC official said the runway cannot be used till its end safety area is graded back and leveled to comply with safety requirements, an airport official said the main runway was to be opened in a few hours. The SpiceJet overrun has exposed how ill-prepared airlines and airports are to handle such emergencies. The incident had a cascading effect across the country as hundreds of passengers were left stranded not only in Mumbai, but also in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Hyderabad. A common grouse among passengers was lack of information on flight status. Airline call centres were difficult to get through. Airlines and passengers took to social media to share information. Passengers whose flights managed to land in Mumbai were left waiting for their luggage for hours. Till 5pm on Wednesday, Jet Airways had taken the worst beating, with 63 flight cancellations, followed by IndiGo (8), SpiceJet (3), Air India (2) and GoAir (1). Trouble began in the early hours of Wednesday, with strong, gusting tailwinds whipping the operational, shorter secondary runway.


Even as narrow-body aircraft landed onto the wet runway, the big birds were diverted to the safer runways of Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The worst-hit were passengers onboard wide-bodied aircraft (of both Indian and foreign airlines) scheduled for early Wednesday arrivals to Mumbai after long-haul flights from Europe and the US. Among the hundreds of Mumbai-bound passengers stranded across airports were a team of six doctors from Mumbai who were returning to the city after attending a conference in Vancouver. “We had dinner at 10.30pm on Tuesday night. After that, till now (6pm, Wednesday) we have had no meals, not even a single cup of tea,” said Dr Hasmukh Ravat, a senior intervention cardiologist who works at Fortis Hospital. “We understand it’s (almost like) a natural calamity and there are major disruptions. But we were appalled by the callous attitude of our airline’s staff.” He and his team had left for Calgary airport on Monday morning. Their Jet Airways flight was overhead Mumbai around Tuesday midnight when it was diverted to Hyderabad. Dr Sangeeta Ravat, HOD, neurology, KEM, said, “After it landed in Hyderabad around 1am, we had to sit inside the aircraft till 6.30am. Worse, after we disembarked, there was no update on flight status for hours on end”. With no news from the airline, some in the group booked a TruJet Hyderabad-Pune flight for Rs 84,000 per ticket. “Even as we were checking in, we learnt that the Jet flight was to depart for Mumbai. So we cancelled the new ticket, collected our bags and again checked them in onto Jet,” said another doctor in the team. They finally landed in Mumbai around 4.30pm, but their ordeal was far from over as there was no news of their luggage. They were then stranded at Mumbai airport for over two hours. Jet Airways said its “teams are working round-the-clock to ensure that inconvenience to guests is minimised and operations are normalised at the earliest”.



Deadly pits: Potholes claimed 11,386 lives during 2013-16


BENGALRU: Pothole-ridden roads have claimed 11,386 lives across the country over the past four years, which translates into roughly seven deaths a day. The data compiled by the ministry of road transport and highways shows Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum pothole deaths (3,428), followed by Maharashtra(1,410), Madhya Pradesh (1,244), West Bengal (783), Bihar (659), Gujarat (597), Andhra Pradesh (497), Tamil Nadu (481), Rajasthan (440) and Punjab (367). The actual figures could be grimmer, since many cases go unreported, sources said. The number of pothole related fatalities in India increased from 2,607 in 2013 to 3,039 in 2014 and 3,416 in 2015. The figure dipped to 2,324 in 2016. A senior official in the ministry of road transport and highways said: “Some states recorded more deaths due to various reasons such as road length, vehicular population and rate of rainfall. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and West Bengal account for about 43% of the total road length of the country”.


Many states don’t classify causes of accidents in a scientific way, hence several cases are not reported, he added. V S Suresh, an advocate from the Madras high court who handles motor vehicle accident cases, said government agencies are liable to pay compensation to the victims in cases of accidents caused by potholes. “Craters are mainly formed due to the inferior quality of construction material and poor maintenance but police rarely record such cases as pothole-related accidents,” he said. Advait Jani, who works with the Institute for Transport Development and Policy (ITDP), a non-profit, says poor quality of work and waterlogging reduces the lifespan of roads. “Civic agencies should ensure an efficient drainage system and a proper gradient so that water doesn’t stagnate on streets. Repeated digging and faulty construction also damage roads quickly”.



Kolkata: Mystery-fever death sparks Salt Lake dengue scare



KOLKATA: The death of a 36-year-old Salt Lake resident from a mysterious fever on Tuesday has triggered a dengue scare among the residents of EE Block where around 25 people are already being treated for dengue or dengue-like symptoms. Victim Milan Banerjee was suffering from fever since last Saturday. He was admitted to Columbia Asia Hospital early on Monday. Banerjee, a contractor, was declared dead on Tuesday evening. According to the death certificate, Banerjee’s cause of death was an acute viral fever with thrombocytopenia (platelet loss) and adrenal crisis leading to shock syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction. The certificate mentioned ‘pan hypopituitarism’ as the antecedent cause. Even though the cause of death does not mention dengue, the dengue NS1 Elisa test taken last Sunday at a private diagnostic centre tested positive and the platelet count was also found to be below normal. Arindam Banerjee, MD of Columbia Asia Hospital, said the patient had several co-morbid conditions that led to the rapid decline of his health. “Since NS1 is not confirmatory for dengue, we had also sent his sample for IGG and IGM to find out whether it was a confirmed case of dengue,” he said. “What will my daughter do now? My grandson is only about three and he is yet to fully understand that his father is no more,” said Banerjee’s father-in-law Banabihari Chatterjee.


Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation workers on Wednesday visited Banerjee’s building with fogging machines. Local residents, however, alleged that this was just an eyewash. “Is it not ridiculous to do this after someone has already died from dengue? The civic authorities have taken no dengue control measures till date in this block and now that Banerjee has passed away they are fogging the area. Many people in this locality are suffering from dengue,” said a resident of the same apartment. Anena Majumder, a 20-year-old student of Presidency University, who lives in the building opposite the Banerjees’, has been affected by dengue and was taken to hospital on Wednesday morning. “The fogging at this spot today is just an eyewash. There has been no initiative from the civic authorities till date to prevent a dengue outbreak in the locality,” said S Majumder, the girl’s father. Local Trinamool councillor Sudhir Saha, who visited the Banerjees on Wednesday, claimed the civic authorities have been taking all necessary vector-control measures. Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation MMIC (health) Pranay Roy, however, said there was no mention of dengue in Banerjee’s death certificate and that anybody could test NS1 positive without having dengue due to other complications. “There are reports that several others in the locality have been affected by dengue as they have only tested positive in NS1. We sent our fogging team to the spot today itself and regular measures are being taken,” he said. Roy may visit EE Block on Thursday for a spot inspection.



To fog out mosquitoes, corporation gets smart, plans to go digital

The corporation said fogging is not a solution to the city’s vector menace.



CHENNAI: Greater Chennai Corporation is exploring the possibility of using mobile technology in its fight against mosquitoes after it successfully pilot-tested a smartphone application to gather data on larval density. The app, whose access will be limited to field workers and officers attached to the vector control and city health departments, will record larval density after the field worker conducts a dip test in a mosquito breeding site. Other parameters like photograph, temperature, time, coordinates will also be stored in the app’s database. “The plan is to have 15 field workers assess the primary water bodies — Adyar, Coovum and Kosasthalaiyar. Periodic assessment would provide us valuable data that will help us study the pattern, if any, with respect to disease prevalence and breeding,” said a corporation official. The project file requires approval from the special officer’s council, where it is pending, before it can be forwarded to the state government to seek funding. Sources estimated the project cost at a little over Rs 15 lakh. In June, TOI reported that the corporation was interested in setting up a Vector Control Monitoring System (VCMS), which officials said was the first-of-a-kind in the country, that would streamline data collection. VCMS would store the app’s data centrally for the civic body’s higher-ups to access and monitor. Till date, the corporation’s field workers record data in notebooks and submitted files to supervisors. According to sources, crucial historical data is often unavailable due to the corporation’s poor track record in file preservation.


But questions are being raised in corporation circles on whether the project will be worth the expenditure. “Authenticity of the data can be questioned. It may be difficult to determine whether the field worker visited the breeding site and if the photograph and density data are accurate,” a source said. However, health department officials were quick to downplay the concern. “Even if a field worker fudges the data, we will be able to find out,” an official said. “The reason is because the city’s water bodies traverse through different zones before emptying into the sea. Breeding sites are usually washed downstream. So if a field assistant upstream records breeding and the worker downstream doesn’t, then we will know that there is a gap in measurement,” the officer added. Civic body officials said once successfully set up, they will have an option to expand the scope of the project to track malaria and dengue cases. “There is greater awareness among public today about the need to get tested for dengue if fever persists. To that extent, our disease-fighting mechanism has improved. If we are able to record area-specific disease data, it will help us study the nature of vector movement with respect to location of breeding sites,” an official said.



International News



Hurricane Maria pummels Puerto Rico



SAN JUAN: Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Ricoon Wednesday, pummeling the US territory after already killing at least two people on its passage through the Caribbean. The US National Hurricane Centre warned of “large and destructive waves” as Maria came ashore near Yabucoa on the southeast coast. Puerto Rico‘s Governor Ricardo Rossello has told residents to brace for “the worst storm of the last century”, opening 500 shelters that can accommodate 67,000 people. “The wind sounds like a woman screaming at the top of her lungs!” photographer and storm chaser Mike Theiss posted on Twitter as the hurricane hit. “We are getting absolutely hammered right now”. Puerto Ricans had scrambled to board up windows and buy last minute supplies as the storm approached the densely populated island of 3.5 million. “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane,” tweeted US President Donald Trump. “Be careful, our hearts are with you — will be there to help”. Maria made landfall as a Category Four storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, packing winds of 155 miles per hour. The US and British Virgin Islands — still struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Irma — are also on alert, along with the Turks and Caicos Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic. Maria has already torn through several Caribbean islands, leaving two people dead in the French territory of Guadeloupe and causing major damage on the independent island of Dominica.


“I’m not denying I’m scared,” said Noemi Aviles Rivera, a 47-year-old schoolteacher in Puerto Rico who experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Georges in 1998. “I feel worried because it’s the first time I’ll see a hurricane of this magnitude”. Governor Rossello tweeted that more than 11,000 people had sought shelter already, with nearly 600 pets in tow. In the US Virgin Islands, locals reported horizontal rain and trees swirling in the wind. “Very violent and intense right now as we have just begun to experience hurricane force winds,” said 31-year-old Coral Megahy, hunkered down on the St Croix island. “We can hear debris banging on the aluminium windows as well”. In Guadeloupe, one person was killed by a falling tree as Maria hit, while another died on the seafront. At least two more are missing after their boat sank off the French territory, while some 40 per cent of households in the archipelago of 400,000 were without power. On neighbouring Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook yesterday that there were initial reports of “widespread devastation”. Communications to the tropical island of 73,000 people have been cut, and its airports and ports have been closed.



Strong 6.1 earthquake off Japan’s east coast: USGS



TOKYO: A strong magnitude 6.1 quake hit off the east coast of Japan early Thursday but authorities did not issue a tsunami warning. It struck 281 kilometres (175 miles) east of the city of Kamaishi on Honshu, the largest Japanese island, at a shallow depth of just 10 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said. The Japan Meteorological Agency said no tsunami warning was in effect and the USGS said only weak shaking would have been felt on Honshu and the risk of damage was likely to be minor. Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year. But rigid building codes and strict enforcement of them mean even strong tremors typically do little damage. A massive undersea quake that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami crashing into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. It was the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986. The company Tokyo Electric is trying to clean up and dismantle the reactors in a process expected to last decades.



Mexicans dig through collapsed buildings as earthquake kills 217


MEXICO CITY: Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities stood at 217. Adding poignancy and a touch of the surreal, Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 quake struck on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 earthquake that killed thousands. Just hours earlier, people around Mexico had held earthquake drills to mark the date. One of the most desperate rescue efforts was at a primary and secondary school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete slabs. Journalists saw rescuers pull at least two small bodies from the rubble, covered in sheets. Volunteer rescue worker Dr Pedro Serrano managed to crawl into the crevices of the tottering pile of rubble that had been Escuela Enrique Rebsamen. He made it into a classroom, but found all of its occupants dead. “We saw some chairs and wooden tables. The next thing we saw was a leg, and then we started to move rubble and we found a girl and two adults, a woman and a man,” he said. “We can hear small noises, but we don’t know if they’re coming from above or below, from the walls above (crumbling), or someone below calling for help”. A mix of neighborhood volunteers, police and firefighters used trained dogs and their bare hands to search through the school’s ruins. The crowd of anxious parents outside the gates shared reports that two families had received WhatsApp messages from girls trapped inside, but that could not be confirmed. Rescuers brought in wooden beams to shore up the fallen concrete slabs so they wouldn’t collapse further and crush whatever airspaces remained.


The federal Education Department reported late Tuesday that 25 bodies had been recovered from the school’s wreckage, all but four of them children. It was not clear whether those deaths were included in the overall death toll of 217 reported by the federal civil defense agency. Pena Nieto had earlier reported 22 bodies found and said 30 children and eight adults were reported missing. In a video message released late Tuesday, Pena Nieto urged people to be calm and said authorities were moving to provide help as 40 percent of Mexico City and 60 per cent of nearby Morelos state were without power. But, he said, “the priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people”. People across central Mexico already had rallied to help their neighbors as dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of broken concrete. Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 sites in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed and twisted and hundreds of thousands of panicked people ran into the streets. The huge volunteer effort included people from all walks of life in Mexico City, where social classes seldom mix. Doctors, dentists and lawyers lined up alongside with construction workers and street sweepers, handing buckets of debris or chunks of concrete hand-to-hand down the line. Even Mexico City’s normally raucous motorcycle clubs swung into action, using motorcades to open lanes for emergency vehicles on avenues crammed with cars largely immobilized by street closures and malfunctioning stoplights. Dust-covered and exhausted from digging, 30-year-old Carlos Mendoza said two people were pulled alive from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building in the Roma Sur neighborhood during a three-hour period.


“When we saw this, we came to help,” he said, gesturing at the destruction. “This is ugly, very ugly”. Blocks away, Alma Gonzalez was in her fourth-floor apartment when the quake collapsed the ground floor of her building, leaving her no way out. She was terrified until her neighbors mounted a ladder on their roof and helped her slide out a side window. The official Twitter feed of civil defense agency head Luis Felipe Puente said 86 dead had been counted in Mexico City and 71 in Morelos state, which is just south of the capital. It said 43 were known dead in Puebla state, where the quake was centered. Twelve deaths were listed in the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on three sides, four in Guerrero state and one in Oaxaca. At the site of a collapsed apartment building in Mexico City, rescuers worked atop a three-story pile of rubble, forming a human chain that passed pieces of rubble across four city blocks to a site where they were dumped. Throughout the day, rescuers pulled dust-covered people, some barely conscious, some seriously injured, from about three dozen collapsed buildings. At one site, shopping carts commandeered from a nearby supermarket were used to carry water to the rescue site and take rubble away. As night fell, huge flood lights lit up the recovery sites, but workers and volunteers begged for headlamps. Where a six-story office building collapsed in Mexico City, sisters Cristina and Victoria Lopez Torres formed part of a human chain passing bottled water. “I think it’s human nature that drives everyone to come and help others,” Cristina Lopez said. “We are young. We didn’t live through’85. But we know that it’s important to come out into the streets to help,” said her sister Victoria. Ricardo Ibarra, 48, did live through the 1985 quake and said there hadn’t been anything like it since.


Wearing a bright orange vest and carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag strapped to it, he said he and his friends just wanted to help. “People are very sensitive because today was the 32nd anniversary of a tragedy,” he said. Buildings also collapsed in Morelos state, including the town hall and local church in Jojutla near the quake’s epicenter. A dozen people died in Jojutla. The town’s Institute Morelos secondary school partly collapsed, but school director Adelina Anzures said the earthquake drill held in the morning came in handy. “I told them that it was not a game, that we should be prepared,” Anzures said of the drill. When the quake came, she said, children and teachers rapidly filed out and nobody was hurt. The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.1 quake hit at 1:14 pm (2:14 p.m. EDT) and was centered near the Puebla state town of Raboso, 76 miles (123 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. Much of Mexico City is built on former lakebed, and the soil can amplify the effects of earthquakes centered hundreds of miles away. The quake appeared to be unrelated to the magnitude 8.1 temblor that hit Sept 7 off Mexico’s southern coast and also was felt strongly in the capital. US Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle noted the epicenters of the two quakes were 400 miles (650 kilometers) apart and said most aftershocks are within (60 miles) 100 kilometers.

News Flash – 20 September 2017

National News



Mumbai: Heavy evening rain causes panic, 4.5-metre high tide at noon today

A Spice Jet Boeing 737 from Varanasi with 183 passengers overshot the runway and got lodged into mud after landing amid heavy rain and strong wind at 9.55pm, Tuesday.



MUMBAI: Panic gripped the city on Tuesday as it experienced rain throughout the day. The emotion was misplaced for most part of the day, as the rain’s intensity didn’t merit such a reaction, but became justified after evening, when parts of the city went on to receive near-record levels of September rain. A 4.54-metre high tide warning has been issued for Wednesday noon, exactly 12.03pm. “For students’ safety, the government has declared a holiday on Wednesday, and will compensate it with one day less of Diwali vacation,” said school education minister Vinod Tawde. Schools began sending messages to parents soon after Tawde’s official announcement. Commuters had a harrowing experience during Tuesday’s downpour, as they rushed home in kaali-peelis, which charged exorbitant fares. Aggregator cabs’ surge prices were two-three times normal fares. CST was packed with passengers around 4pm, with several office-goers leaving for home earlier than usual. An executive from a bank at BKC said that in the absence of any mode of transport, the bank had arranged for a few cars. But given the flooded roads and traffic, it took longer than normal to reach home. An official said JVLR started getting flooded around 3pm. Heavy rain caused congestion on every north-bound road in the city in the evening. Western Express Highway, Linking Road, Eastern Freeway and Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road were the worst-hit.


Long distance trains on Western Railway were affected due to power tripping between Gholvad and Dahanu road stations. Suburban train services were not severely affected. A CR official said, “All trains are running normally except in some cases of 5-7 minutes delay”. A Spice Jet Boeing 737 from Varanasi with 183 passengers overshot the runway and got lodged into mud after landing amid heavy rain and strong wind at 9.55pm, Tuesday . Passengers vacated the aircraft using inflatable slides. An airport official said there was no smoke or fire. Flight operations were suspended at Mumbai airport, forcing all arrivals after 10 pm to divert to other airports. The main runway was to remain closed till 10.30am, Wednesday, said a notice issued to pilots and airlines. The secondary runway was made operational as strong tail winds died down and visibility improved. But some long-haul international flights were unlikely to land (because of being big, wide-bodied aircraft), and pilots and airlines were likely to decide against landing in wet conditions on the shorter secondary runway. Earlier, bad weather led to four flight diversions and ten aborted landings. Visibility fluctuated throughout the afternoon and evening, delaying arrivals and departures by 3045 minutes.



Cellphone video shows robbers fleeing on bikes

A resident recorded the video on his mobile phone.



NEW DELHI: A day after armed bikers looted around Rs 50 lakh from a cash van in northeast Delhi, a dozen police teams are conducting raids in Ghaziabad and outer Delhi areas to nab the accused. Police suspect criminals of Loni and other areas in Ghaziabad to be behind the crime. The cops have obtained video footages which show the accused fleeing on bikes in groups of two with the cash bundles wrapped in blankets. Sketches have been made on the basis of the footage. The cops are trying to contact blanket sellers in areas in Ghaziabad and Karawal Nagar for leads. According to the footage recorded on a mobile phone by an area resident, the van can be seen blocking a narrow lane in Johripur locality of Karawal Nagar. The driver stops and the security guard gets out and asked for the bike to be removed.


There are five bikes involved in the incident. Three Pulsar bikes and two Splendor bikes have been identified. Several stacks of notes fell down as the criminals put the blanket on the space between the pillion and the rider on the bike. The footage shows the men blocking the way of the cash van by parking two bikes at the front and rear. They dragged out the driver and the custodian and fired intermittently, two of which hit them. After which they were asked to walk to the lane behind while the robbers removed the cash bundles. They also snatched the gun from the gunman, sitting in the carrier. The cash van employees are being quizzed to ascertain why the van was taken to such a narrow lane. Several guidelines have been violated by the cash collection firm, police said. Apart from the cash van employees, two others including the man who shot the video and a passerby who had stopped to have a look are being questioned as well.



With 113cm rain, Bengaluru exceeds its annual average in 9 months


BENGALURU: From fears of a drought to a bountiful year: Bengaluru has received more than its average annual rain fall in the first nine months itself. The city has recorded 1,133mm rainfall till September 19 against the yearly quota of 980 mm. The city didn’t receive good rain earlier in the year. According to the meteorology department, Bengaluru received 320mm rainfall from Jan to May, and very scanty rain in June and July. August and Sept brought more-than-average spells of rain, including the record-breaking 129mm on the night of August 14. Over 60% of the rain received was in August and September. About 64% -or, 728mm -of the total rainfall received this year was in August and September. The weatherman doesn’t see anything unusual in this, and Sundar M Metri, head of the meteorological centre in Bengaluru, said it’s in line with Bengaluru’s pattern of receiving most rainfall in August and September.


“South-interior Karnataka, which includes Bengaluru, received vigorous clues Bengaluru, received vigorous spells of rainfall this year. Prolonged dry spell since last year and other changes in the weather pattern resulted in heavy rainfall,” he said. Prof MB Rajegowda, agro meteorologist, University of Agricultural Sciences, said, “During the 1980s, the city received 1,350mm rainfall in one particular year. Since then, the city has received around 1,200mm rainfall for some years,” he added. Another UAS scientist said Bengaluru is at an advantage. “The city’s location -at an elevation of 970 metres from the sea level -helps create necessary depression in the air to draw clouds from the surrounding regions. Also, climatic factors such as rise in temperature result in increasing rainfall in the past few years,” he explained.



Beating flood storm: Pumps to the rescue, where gravity fails



HYDERABAD: With several areas of the city getting waterlogged during monsoon, city-based engineers have mooted the construction of storm water pumping stations in areas where flood water cannot be emptied by gravity to prevent flooding of residential areas and roads by overflowing storm water drains. Water resources experts and engineers, who have worked with departments like irrigation, public health, and GHMC, emphasised this at a recent brainstorming session organized by the Institution of Engineers (India) in the city. They suggested improving the surplus capacity of Hussainsagar with a new gated regulator to prevent back water flow into the storm water drains. With most of the water bodies in the extended GHMC area under encroachments, experts also recommended vigorous monitoring to prevent construction activity within full tank level (FTL) of water bodies and natural drains and called for barring the regularization of unauthorized constructions. Based on expert suggestions, a report has been prepared for short-term, mid-term and long-term mitigation of the problem and submitted to the state government for necessary action.


“Whenever it rains heavily it results in flooding, causing damage to roads. The capacity of the existing storm water drains within GHMC limits needs to be increased. Encroachments constrain the widening of these drains for the required capacity to dispose of flood water. As a result, these drains remain as pockets of flooding during heavy rains. We have recommended the government to construct storm water pumping stations where flood water cannot be emptied by gravity ,” secretary , IEI, and former director (projects), HMWS&SB, G Rameshwar Rao, told TOI. According to Rao, a key reason for flooding is the fact that residential colonies have been built within the FTL of water bodies. “The retention capacity of these water bodies has been greatly reduced which causes flooding,” he said. IEI chairman S Satyanarayana said: “We have recommended that the network be redesigned in line with the changed rainfall pattern and land use .We have insisted that government restores the flood retention capacity of all existing water bodies through desilting and increasing the height of bunds”.



3 aides of ATM fraudsters on the prowl in Europe: Cops



BENGALURU: After arresting two foreign nationals last week for allegedly stealing debit-credit card data by fixing skimmers in five ATM kiosks, police have identified three associates of the duo and have sought Interpol help to nab them. All the three are foreign nationals and touring European countries at present, planting skimmers in ATM machines and stealing data, police sources said. Acting on a tipoff by cash loading staffers who spotted a suspicious device in an ATM kiosk on MG Road, police had arrested Dan Sabin Cristian, 40, of Angeles City in Romania, and Mare Janos, 44 of Ciorbalina, Hungary. Both were picked up from an ATM kiosk at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) where they had gone to retrieve the skimmer they had installed. Dan and Janos had arrived in India on a tourist visa on September 1 and were scheduled to leave on September 19.


“The accused are part of a large gang that operates globally. We have identified three more members. According to the statements made by the accused, the three men are touring European countries. We have alerted Interpol and sought their help in bringing the trio to India,” a source said. “We hope to get the custody of all five of them, which will help us crack one of the biggest ATM frauds in the recent past,” police said. Police said officials of the three banks whose five ATMs were compromised by the two Europeans told them no cash has been stolen so far. “Preliminary investigations have revealed the accused stole data of at least 5,000 ATM users. Bank officials have contacted customers whose card details were stolen and made sure they follow all precautionary measures, including changing of passwords,” police said.



Kolkata: Parking menace rears head in shopping season


KOLKATA: Mayor Sovan Chatterjee on Monday instructed civic officials to crack down on parking lot attendants to single out the errant ones who are reportedly fleecing car owners ahead of the festive season. The move came after the mayor received a series of complaints of car attendants taking advantage of the Puja rush and indulging in high-handedness. Chatterjee has also taken up the matter with additional police commissioner (traffic) Vineet Goyal and deputy commissioner (traffic) V Solomon Nesakumar and urged them to run a parallel inquiry into the charges made against car-parking agencies. “I am upset with some agencies. I have asked Kolkata Police brass to probe into the matter. We will conduct an inquiry simultaneously. We will get tough with the agencies if found guilty. The minimum punishment will be cancellation of licences to run parking lots,” Chatterjee told reporters on Monday.


Debasish Kumar, mayor-in-council member overseeing the KMC car parking department, agreed with the mayor. “We need to get tough with a section of parking agencies who have been flouting rules at will,” Kumar said. According to a KMC car parking department official, most of the complaints were being reported from the shopping hotspots. “Complaints are pouring in from car owners who were harassed and made to pay extra in areas like New Market, Gariahat, Bidhan Sarani (Hatibagan), to name a few,” said the official. Some car owners, said a KMC source, were even forced to pay Rs 40 per hour ahead of the Puja. The normal rate is Rs 10 per hour. Some agencies were so desperate that they did not bother to harass even a Trinamool Congress councillor, a civic official said. “We have received a complaint from Ellora Saha, a ruling party councillor from Pathuriaghata Street. Saha was threatened by the owner of a car parking agency recently near Burrabazar,” he said.



15 tourists rescued after ill-equipped boat stalls in sea



PUDUCHERRY: A reckless and illegal voyage undertaken by 15 tourists, including a woman, turned out to be a nightmare after their boat developed a technical snag and began drifting mid sea 20 nautical miles from the Puducherry coast. The tourists escaped with the timely intervention of an Indian coast guard team which rescued them on Monday. Police said a group of 15 tourists from different parts of the country including Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai set out on sail in a small mechanized boat with a three-member crew from Puducherry at 8am on Sunday . When they crossed 10 nautical miles from the coast the engine of the boat developed a technical snag. The boat did not have any safety and navigational tools. The standby engine also failed and the boat started drifting. The tourists panicked but managed to contact their friends in Chennai using their mobile phones. Chennai police alerted the Puducherry police, who sought the intervention of the Indian Coast Guard. A team from the coast guard set out on Sunday night to trace the boat.


“The team had a tough time in tracing the boat, which does not have proper lighting facilities to help in locating it in case of emergency. The boat belongs to a French national and it does not have any valid registration. The crew did not have any permission from the authorities to venture into the sea. There are no safety or navigational tool or even tow ropes,” said a police official. The coast guard personnel managed to trace the boat, which was about to sink and rescued all the tourists at 2am on Monday almost after 16 hours. Inquiries revealed that an Indian-French duo has been offering adventurous sailing expeditions charging `5,000 from tourists and local residents each. Chief minister V Narayanasamy, who congratulated the police and Indian coast guard teams for rescuing the stranded tourists, ordered a thorough investigation into the episode. He directed the police to initiate appropriate action against the people if found guilty.



International News



7.1-magnitude earthquake kills more than 140 as buildings crumble in Mexico

People clear rubble after an earthquake hit Mexico City on September 19, 2017.



MEXICO CITY: More than 140 people were killed when a powerful, 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, toppling buildings in the capital and sowing panic on the anniversary of a devastating 1985 quake. Rescue crews and volunteers in Mexico City — home to 20 million people — clawed through the rubble of at least 49 collapsed buildings looking for survivors and bodies. Local media reported that families were getting WhatsApp messages pleading for help from desperate relatives trapped under the debris. Mexico City recorded 36 of the deaths, while Morelos state directly south of it saw 64 killed. The others were registered in Puebla (29), a town southeast of the capital, and in Mexico state (nine), which lies just to the west of the capital. National Coordinator for Civil Protection Luis Felipe Puente said a total of at least 138 people died. Memories of the devastating 1985 earthquake that killed 10,000 people in Mexico City spurred panic on Tuesday. Many quickly ran for safety outdoors when walls around them swayed and cracked. “I’m so worried. I can’t stop crying. It’s the same nightmare as in 1985,” Georgina Sanchez, 52, sobbed to AFP in a plaza in the capital. Amamia Sanchez, a 45-year-old secretary cried out: “It’s just not possible that this happened also on September 19”. The quake — which occurred in the early afternoon, hours after city authorities had conducted an earthquake drill — caused damage in the bustling center of the city, and to areas south and west of the capital. “We ran outside thinking all was going to collapse around us,” said Lazaro Frutis, a 45-year-old who escaped an office building before it crumbled to the ground. “The worst thing is, we don’t know about our families or anything”. “It was horrible,” said resident Leiza Visaj Herrera, 27. “I didn’t want to get close under any tree. I had to hold on to the ground”. Scenes of chaos permeated the city straight after the earth shuddered.


Traffic jammed to a standstill before blanked-out stop lights, and anxious people ran between vehicles as ambulances tried to make headway, sirens squealing. Emergency officials warned people in the streets to avoid smoking because of the risk of igniting gas leaking from ruptured pipes. In several locations, people were seen clambering on buildings that were now piles of stone and tangled metal to pull people out. Jorge Lopez, a 49-year-old Spaniard living in Mexico City, said that he raced to the school in the central Roma district where his children aged six and three were in class, to find it collapsed but his offspring safe but terrified. “We arrived at the school and everyone was crying, everyone was frantic, and the kids were holding on to a rope,” he said. “It’s uncontrollable. You can’t do anything against nature”. Witnesses said another school was smashed to rubble in Cuernavaca, a town just south of the capital. The fate of the pupils and teachers was unknown. An office building of around five stories in the chic Condesa district of central Mexico City collapsed. Volunteers scrambled among the debris, pulling out three survivors and looking for more. “There are people trapped there!” yelled one woman. Similar efforts were made at other smashed buildings nearby. At one, an emergency worker held up a sign commanding “Silence” so crews could listen for the sounds of any survivors. Patients were evacuated from a hospital in the adjoining Roma district, wheeled out on beds and wheelchairs as staff set up makeshift wards outside. President Enrique Pena Neto said on Twitter he had ordered the evacuation of damaged hospitals “and the transfer of their patients to other medical facilities”.


At one collapsed building in the Roma district, dozens of people dug through rubble as they waited for the arrival of heavy machinery to move the massive chunks of stone. Officials called out for more volunteers, and for water. A woman standing and watching the efforts with her husband, a doctor, turned to him and said, “Darling, if you want to help, give me your glasses and take care”. The city’s international airport closed for more than three hours following the quake, and the stock market was forced to shut down. Hours after the quake, residents stood around outside, in the streets, fearing aftershocks. On the clogged roads, many without lights, muggers came out at night to assault trapped motorists. Appeals for missing people multiplied on television. Officials in other countries began to react to the disaster, with many offering to help. “With rising casualties & many collapsed buildings, my thoughts are with those impacted by the Mexico earthquake. The UN is ready to support,” tweeted the UN’s emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock. Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis, who was in New York with other world leaders for the UN General Assembly, expressed his “solidarity” with the Mexican people. US President Donald Trump, who has forged an antagonistic relationship with Mexico since coming to office, tweeted: “God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you”. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, tweeted: “Devastating news from Mexico City. My thoughts are with those affected by today’s earthquake – Canada will be ready to help our friends”. Mexican foreign minister Luis Videgaray responded by saying “Mexico sincerely thanks the displays of international solidarity that we are receiving”. Mexico is prone to earthquakes, being located in a seismically active region. Its last major quake, on September 7, killed 96 people in the southern part of the country.



Magnitude 6.1 earthquake strikes south of New Zealand – USGS



SYDNEY: An undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 magnitude struck in the remote Southern Ocean south of New Zealand on Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said. The quake, at a shallow depth of 10 km (6 miles), was recorded 211 km (140 miles) west of the sub-Antarctic Auckland Island, off New Zealand’s South Island, the USGS said. There were no tsunami warnings issued immediately after the quake.



Hurricane Maria wreaks devastation in Dominica



POINTE-A-PITRE: Hurricane Maria smashed into the eastern Caribbean island of Dominica on Tuesday, with its prime minister describing devastating damage as winds and rain from the powerful storm also hit territories still reeling from Irma. As residents hunkered down in their homes the Category Five hurricane made landfall with top winds swirling at 160 miles (257 kilometres) per hour, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. “We have lost all what money can buy and replace,” Dominica’s premier Roosevelt Skerrit posted on Facebook, saying there were initial reports of “widespread devastation”. “My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains”. Earlier, he said his roof had been blown off, his house was flooding and he was “at the complete mercy of the hurricane”. After being rescued Skerrit appealed for “help of all kinds” but noted specifically that helicopters will be needed so that authorities could survey the damage. Dominica’s airport and ports have been closed. After moving across the tropical island of 72,000 people, Maria was downgraded to an “extremely dangerous” Category Four hurricane but could strengthen again as it races north towards the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.


The NHC warned of dangerous storm surges, destructive waves, flash floods and mudslides and warned that “preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion”. The French territory of Guadeloupe — the bridgehead for aid for Irma-hit French territories — ordered all residents to take shelter in a maximum-level “violet alert”. Heavy rain lashed the island and several areas were without power Tuesday morning. The Dominican Republic, the east coast of which was battered by Irma, ordered citizens in part of the north to evacuate ahead of Maria’s arrival, expected Wednesday. St Kitts, Nevis, the British island of Montserrat, Culebra and Vieques were also on alert. Martinique, a French island south of Dominica, suffered power cuts but avoided major damage as the storm skirted its shores. Flooding, mudslides and power outages were also reported in parts of St Lucia. Criticised for the pace of relief efforts in their overseas territories devastated by Irma, Britain, France and the Netherlands said they were boosting resources for the Caribbean. “We are planning for the unexpected, we are planning for the worst,” said Chris Austin, head of a UK military task force set up to deal with Irma, as the British Virgin Islands readied for a new onslaught. On the island of St Martin, which is split between France and the Netherlands, authorities announced a red alert ahead of Maria’s arrival. “We’re watching its trajectory very closely, and we’re preparing for the worst-case scenario,” said local official Anne Laubies.


In Guadeloupe’s biggest city of Pointe-a-Pitre, Elodie Corte, the boss of a metalworking company, said there had been frantic preparations to limit the damage from the storm. “We spent the morning strapping down the aluminium to stop it from flying away if the winds are strong,” she said Monday. The Dutch navy tweeted that troops were heading to the two tiny neighbouring islands of Saba and St Eustatius to ensure security following widespread complaints after the first hurricane of looting and lawlessness on St Martin, among the worst hit by Irma, with 14 killed. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said 110 more soldiers would be deployed to the region to reinforce about 3,000 people already there shoring up security, rebuilding infrastructure and distributing aid. But he warned of “major difficulties” if Guadeloupe is hard hit. Irma, also a Category 5 hurricane, left around 40 people dead in the Caribbean before churning west and pounding Florida, where the death toll stood at 50 Monday. It broke weather records when it whipped up winds of 295 kilometres per hour for more than 33 hours straight. Another hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic and has triggered tropical storm warnings for the northeastern United States. Many scientists are convinced that mega storms such as Irma, and Harvey before it, are intensified by the greater energy they can draw from oceans that are warming as a result of climate change.