Monthly Archives: October 2018

News Flash – 31 October 2018

National News



Bandra Slum Fire: 2 kids take shelter under table, rescued

Two women and as many children were injured in the fire that destroyed more than 70 shanties, many of them illegal two-storey structures, in a slum at Bandra West late Tuesday morning.



Mumbai: A massive fire destroyed 70 shanties in Nargis Dutt Nagar slums in Bandra Reclamation around 11.30 am on Tuesday. Two children, including a toddler, who were reported missing were rescued from under a table in their shanty, where the duo had taken shelter from fire. Over half a dozens of LPG cylinders exploded as the fire kept spreading in the slums, most of which were illegal two-storey structures. A senior fire official said, “A large mob came to Bandra fire station and informed us about the blaze. We immediately mobilised resources. We rescued two children—Humera Sallauddin Rahim (5) and Saifuddin Sallauddin Rahim (2)—who had taken shelter under a table.” The two children and two women who suffered a mild shock were rushed to Bhabha Hospital. All were discharged after treatment. Initially eight fire engines were rushed to the spot, it was increased to 12 later. Besides, 10 water tankers and four ambulances were also deployed. The fire was extinguished by 1.05 pm. Local MLA Ashish Shelar, who visited the spot, said it could be a sabotage and demanded investigation. “The BMC has failed to take adequate action against illegal slums which have only kept growing, ” he said. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, a fire brigade official said, adding that, “a thorough investigation will be carried out”.



Under test conditions, this technology cut PM2.5 by 90%


New Delhi: National Physical Laboratory of India (NPLI) on Tuesday certified a ground-level air purifying technology that can improve air quality even in an open environment. Therefore, it might be possible to have cleaner air at a bus stop or playground even on a bad air day. The technology, which is called the ‘CleanAirZone’, has been installed on a pilot basis at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib where the testing was carried out earlier this month. NPLI says its utilisation could reduce PM2.5 concentrations by up to 90%. Developed by Evergreen Pvt. Ltd, the machine could soon be implemented by the end of the year with talks now ongoing with the state government and corporations. “Since it is an open environment around us, the machine is capable of creating a micro-environment of clean air like at a bus stop or a playground. Open restaurants can even utilise it. The technology not only purifies the air but ensures that the air stays trapped in the area where it is installed and can be embedded in the existing infrastructure,” said Sukhbir Sidhu, CEO of Evergreen.


Sidhu said the first such machine could be installed in the capital before the end of the year, and depending on its success, more such machines could be installed. The study carried out by NPLI analysed the pollution levels outdoors and near the machine and saw an average reduction in PM2.5 levels by 30 micrograms per cubic metre with the PM 2.5 readings dropping by up to 90%. “The testing was done for two days continuously. This can be seen as a good improvement in an outdoor environment,” said Shankar Agarwal of NPLI. The technology utilises a combination of atmospheric chemistry and airflow engineering and makes use of Nano particles and a dual purifier system to trap gases and particulate matter. “We were waiting for the certification process to finish. Now, agencies can utilise the technology on the ground,” Sidhu said. Delhi’s air quality touched “severe” for the first time this season on Tuesday with the AQI crossing 400 in the evening.



Toxic air in Bengaluru leaves its children gasping for breath


Bengaluru: The impact of air pollution in the city is evident in its worst victims — children. A study by Clean Air Platform shows 25% of kids in Bengaluru have asthma while a pulmonologist says as many as 77% of children below five years have suffered wheezing at least once. The worst affected are those who commute to school amid heavy traffic. This results in a double whammy: Children’s lungs fail to grow to full capacity and whatever is left is compromised due to a steady build-up of pollutants. Paediatric pulmonologist Dr H Paramesh, who was part of the team that formulated the international guidelines on treating childhood asthma, says most Paediatric asthma cases occur in the 3-6 age group. “It is tough to diagnose these children as no lung function test can be done at such a tender age,” Paramesh says. Pointing to a Japanese study on childhood asthma, he says polluted air inhaled by the mother during pregnancy can affect her children. “If a pregnant woman lives 50-100 metres from a highway, the babies born to her would be three times more vulnerable to asthma, according to a Japanese study. Urbanisation has an adverse impact on the lungs,” he adds. The most common triggers for asthma in the city are allergens like dust mites and pollen grains which, when mixed with the city’s polluted air, make a toxic cocktail, says Dr KR Bharath Kumar Reddy, director and CEO of Shishuka Children’s Speciality Hospital. Dr Mohan Mahendrakar, Paediatrician and neonatologist from Vikram Hospital, says if he sees 15 cases of Paediatric asthma in a week, 3-4 will be from areas like KR Puram, Tin Factory Circle and Sarjapur Road. “The first thing I ask them is where they live and where they commute to. The roads that children take and where they live have a huge impact on their health.


Areas in and around Tin Factory and Sarjapur Road are notorious for traffic snarls and that’s where air pollution must be the highest. I see the impact of this in my practice as a Paediatrician every day. The cases we get are largely referred from doctors in such areas across the city,” says Mahendrakar. Doctors and parents in Bengaluru agree that the symptoms of asthma subside or altogether disappear when the children move from Bengaluru. Chandan Sharma from HSR Layout says his six-year-old son is severely asthmatic in Bengaluru but when they head out on vacations, there is no trouble. “When we travelled to Kochi and Goa, the boy hardly coughed. He was absolutely fine. That is when we realised that the problem lies in Bengaluru’s weather and its pollution,” says Sharma. Rampant construction activities in the city and lack of regulation have only worsened air quality, doctors say. And there is no way out for the unwitting victims.  “Masks won’t help,” says Mahendrakar, adding, “Only those sitting in air-conditioned cars with closed windows can avoid air pollution. Options like carpooling, using Metro and enhancing public transport system can avoid individual vehicles being taken out on the road. But for that, the government has to intervene,” he says. As for treatment, inhalers are the best-suited medicine to get rid of childhood asthma but there is resistance among parents who believe their children will get addicted, say city-based pediatricians.



Air pollution may decrease monsoon rainfall: UN report

THE BIG PICTURE: The largest impact of air pollution on the Indian monsoon will be a decrease in the amount of rainfall, the report, presented in WHO’s global conference on air pollution and health, warns.



Nagpur: Rising air pollution in India is likely to impact rainfall patterns in the country and decrease the monsoon in the long term, which can cause extensive financial losses, warns a United Nations report released on Tuesday. ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based Solutions’ presents a comprehensive scientific assessment of air pollution in Asia and the Pacific. Released in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first global conference on air pollution and health in Geneva, the report covers various pollution aspects which India is grappling with. The largest impact of air pollution on the Indian monsoon will be a decrease in the amount of rainfall, the report warns. “However, some parts can also witness high precipitation depending on the topography. Pollution will also impact the duration and distribution of rainfall,” said Nathan Borgford-Parnell, science affairs adviser at Climate and Clean Air Coalition who co-authored the report. Highlighting the effects of air pollution on Asian monsoon, the report states that the presence of particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5), a deadly tiny pollutant, can affect precipitation patterns during the monsoon season in India. “A weaker trend in the Indian monsoon precipitation and has been linked to changes in the emissions of particles and other pollutants from within and outside Asia,” the report says. The report also has a word of praise for several mitigation measures taken by the government. Recognizing indoor air pollution as a major health crisis in India, the report reveals that it is contributing as much as 22-52% to the country’s ambient air pollution. Speaking exclusively to TOI, Andy Haines, member of the scientific advisory panel of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, said from Geneva, “The much-needed mitigation measure that India needs to ensure is provision of clean household energy.


Burning of fossil fuels in households is a big health threat, especially for women and children who live in proximity to the source of pollution. UN claims that if the suggested measures are implemented, annual premature mortality associated with indoor air pollution can decline by 75%. This means that about 2 million premature deaths per year can be avoided in countries like India. The economic development data of 41 countries (in Asia and the Pacific) shows that unlike many other nations who managed to control air pollution with economic development, India’s air quality got worse with an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A graph shows that as India transitioned from a low-income to a middle-income country between 1995 and 2014, levels of PM 2.5 increased significantly. “In the last decade, China, England and California have witnessed a decrease in pollution levels while their economies were developing. India showed an opposite trend with no improvement in the air quality. The entire country is facing a health emergency today and it is mainly due to lack of time-bound and sectoral targets to reduce consumption of polluting fuels. We need an aggressive shift towards public transportation and renewables,” said Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India. Haines, who is also a professor of environmental change and public health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added that growing air pollution was adversely affecting the country’s health care, with an increase in pollution-related ailments like heart attack, cancer and other respiratory diseases.



Cafe robbers identified from CCTV grabs


Kolkata: A day after four men walked into a Cafe Coffee Day outlet at AD Block in Salt Lake on Monday morning, pointed a gun at the sole employee present and decamped with Rs 15,000 kept in the till, the police on Tuesday identified the four faces from the images of the CCTV camera installed next door. The images have also matched with the description of the persons given by the coffee shop employee in his police complaint. Two persons were detained in the evening for questioning but the police declined to divulge any details. “We have found CCTV footages from an adjacent building that shows four men walking towards the coffee shop and then after some time, walking towards the Keshtopur canal. The men’s images in the CCTV grabs match with that mentioned by the employee whom they held at gunpoint. We have circulated the photographs to all the police stations in our jurisdiction and in North 24 Parganas,” said a senior Bidhannagar Commissionerates officer. Following the robbery that took place in the morning office hour, stone’s thrown from the main road bustling with commuters, residents of the area, including the local councilor, had raised concern about the lack of security, especially inside the Blocks of Salt Lake. On Tuesday, a police team was deployed on patrol duty in and around the coffee shop area as well as the lanes and alleys.


The cafe concerned opened as usual around 10am. Shortly, the police called Subhankar Ghosh, who was tied, gagged and threatened with a gun by the robbers, to the police station. Another employee was also called there. “The cops made some queries. Ghosh gave vivid description of the men. He said two wore white shirts and trousers and one wore a blue shirt over a t-shirt. They all spoke in Bengali among themselves,” said the other employee, adding Ghosh took the day off after the questioning. Cops said they were verifying Ghosh’s statements as the cafe CCTV camera had no recording of the incident. “The shop camera showed the employee entering the premises at 10.10am. There was a power cut for 3 minutes at10.17am. The power resumed at10.20am but there is no footage for the next one hour. The 11.21pm footage shows Ghosh trying to seek help and call people outside the cafe with his hands tied and mouth gagged,” said an officer, adding they were checking the call details in the area. A senior Cafe Coffee Day official said talks had been on to deploy guards outside every CCD outlet and increase CCTV cameras. “Officials from head office in Bangalore will visit to discuss safety norms at the outlets. The CCTV cameras might be monitored centrally,” said an official.



Police warn food delivery boys against violating traffic rules

GOOD COUNSEL: A policeman tells men employed by a food aggregator about the importance of following traffic rules at Mandaveli RTO.



Chennai: In a bid to crack down on delivery boys engaged by online food aggregators, transport officials and traffic police personnel stopped their two-wheelers and counselled them against speeding and flouting rules. Officials from regional transport office (RTO) in Mandaveli distributed books on road safety to delivery executives and warned them of severe action if they continued to violate traffic rules. This was in response to a recent TOI report stating that 73% of delivery personnel violated traffic rules. The report was based on a survey by Satta Panchayat Iyyakam, a Chennai-based NGO, at Old Mahabalipuram Road and Velachery. Some of the common violations by these men included riding without helmets, use of earphones or mobile phones while driving, jumping signals, riding on the wrong side of the road and speeding. Delivery boys said they were forced to rush because deadline commitments. Many had to pick up food packets from restaurants and deliver them at the customer’s doorstep within 30 minutes. An official from the state transport department said, “We have requested food aggregators operating in and around Chennai to increase the minimum delivery time from 30 minutes to 45 minutes so that the delivery boys get some extra time to drive cautiously. The aggregators have promised to look into this and bring in changes after discussing it with their higher-ups”. K Anbu, a road safety activist, said the enforcement agencies should start penalising violators and impound their vehicles. “Once their services are affected, the firms would start employing more people and this would in turn reduce pressure on existing staff”. Welcoming this, K P Rangaprasad from SPI said the government should frame a separate set of rules guiding vehicles operated by staff of these firms.



International News



Indian couple fall 800ft to their death at US park

Vishnu Viswanath (29) and Meenakshi Moorthy (29), the couple who died in an apparent fall from Taft Point at Yosemite National Park, US.



California: An Indian travel blogger and her husband fell 800 feet to their death while apparently taking selfies on a cliff edge at a popular lookout spot at Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains last week. Park rangers found the bodies of Vishnu Viswanath and Meenakshi Moorthy, both 29, on October 25 at the foot of Taft Point, where visitors can gaze over an unguarded cliff face. Viswanath’s brother, Jishnu Viswanath, told reporters on Tuesday that the pair had set up a tripod close to the sheer ledge shortly before they apparently fell. Another couple that was clicking selfies at the point said that a couple of their selfies accidentally captured the couple’s fatal attempt at the selfie, as also their fall. Park visitors later saw the camera and alerted rangers, who found the couple’s bodies using high-powered binoculars last Thursday.


Viswanath, a software engineer who had recently moved to work in San Jose, and Meenakshi, who had ambitions of becoming a full-time blogger, described themselves as “travel lunatics”. Moorthy wrote for a blog called ‘Holidays and HappilyEverAfters’, filled with photos of the couple at the Eiffel Tower, riding gondolas in Venice and exploring mountains. Soon after reports of their death emerged, attention was drawn to an old Facebook photo of herself posted by Meenakshi, that underscored the tragic irony of their death. “Is our life just worth one photo?” reads the caption, with a warning to tourists about how wind gusts can be fatal at cliffs. Vishnu’s parents have left for California while his brother Jishnu, a Melbourne resident, has reached the US. The families began to enquire about the couple only after they received no updates from the couple about their trip to Yosemite Park.



Flyers ‘Vomited & Panicked’ in previous flight of Crashed Jet

A relative of some passengers on the crashed Lion Air flight cries at a hospital in Jakarta.



Jakarta: The Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet that crashed in Indonesia on Monday flew erratically the previous day and its airspeed readings were unreliable, according to an accident investigator and a flight tracking website. According to data from FlightRadar24, the jet displayed unusual variations in altitude and airspeed after taking off from Denpasarn, Bali, on Sunday — including an 875-foot drop over 27 seconds when it would normally be ascending — before stabilizing and flying on to Jakarta. “About three to eight minutes after it took off, I felt like the plane was losing power and unable to rise. That happened several times during the flight,” Alon Soetanto told TV One. “Some passengers began to panic and vomit”. His account is consistent with data that show erratic speed, altitude and direction after the jet took off. A similar pattern was also seen in data pinged from Monday’s flight. Lion Air president Edward Sirait said there were reports of technical problems with the flight from Bali but they had been resolved in accordance with the plane manufacturer’s procedures. The airline didn’t respond to requests to verify a document purporting to be a Lion Air maintenance report, dated Sunday, that described inaccurate airspeed and altitude readings. Meanwhile, relatives, numbed by grief, provided samples for DNA tests to help identify the victims. Rescue officers sent 26 body bags to identification experts.

News Flash – 30 October 2018

National News



ATM fraud: 3 culprits held at Shadnagar


Hyderabad: Cybercrime sleuths of Cyberabad commissionerates have arrested three members of an inter-state gang of fraudsters stealing debit card details of people by snooping at ATM centres near Shadnagar on Monday. Using the stolen data, they had duped over 200 people by siphoning off money from their bank accounts. Cyberabad police have arrested Manish Kumar, 19, Vinod Kumar, 18, and Manjesh Kumar, 21, all from Gopalgunj in Bihar. The gang members collected debit card details, including card number, CVV and PIN by standing close to victims while they were withdrawing cash from ATMs. Cyberabad commissioner V C Sajjanar said the accused had gathered debit card details by snooping on customers withdrawing cash at ATMs near Shadnagar bus stand. “The accused targeted customers visiting ATM centres where there was no security guard,” the commissioner added. All the victims were residents of Shadnagar and surrounding villages. “Most victims are from rural areas. The accused mostly stole data from Axis and ICICI Bank ATM centres where security guards were not deployed,” Cyber Crime Inspector K Srinivas said.


After collecting debit card details by snooping, the culprits verify the victim’s account balance by calling the particular bank’s call centre. After verifying the account balance, they place order for products like mobile phones, laptops, gold coins on e-commerce websites like Flipkart, ShopClues, Big Basket, Amazon, where OTP might not be required. They also used to purchase flight tickets and recharge talk time. “Based on an agreement between e-commerce firm and the bank, payment through debit card is being allowed with card number, CVV and PIN. OTP is not being asked and the accused exploited this loophole,” the inspector said. The accused obtained multiple SIM cards from their native place on different names and, while ordering the products, they always used to mention vague delivery addresses so that the order could be picked up without revealing their place of stay. The gang even picked up orders from other states like Kerala, Bihar, Karnataka, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.



7 hurt as Thane building scaffolding crashes


The seven labourers came down crashing with the pile of bamboo.



Thane: Seven construction workers suffered severe injuries after a bamboo scaffolding put up for repairs and painting of a 19-storey residential building in Balkum area collapsed around 10.30 am on Monday. All the seven were standing high up on the scaffolding, without any safety gear, and came down crashing with the pile of bamboo. Rescue officials said five of them are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) whereas the rest are out of danger, having sustained relatively minor injuries. The Balkum fire brigade, the Kapurbawdi police and the Regional Disaster Management Cell (RDMC) reached the spot and rushed the seven daily-wage workers to two hospitals. Five of them—Mohammed Royal Shaikh (30), Mohammed Rakhibulla Sheikh (21), Hasan Shaikh (24), Manirudhin Shaikh (27) and Jamal Sheikh (50)—were admitted to a private hospital in Kolshet, while the other two-Ektiyar Mohammed (20) and Dulal Singh (35)— were taken to the state-run Civil hospital in Thane. Gopal Singh, owner of the private hospital, said, “The five patients seemed to have had a bad fall as they were brought in a critical condition. All of them had multiple fractures and rib and head injuries since they had fallen on the pile of bamboos. The workers are still in a serious condition in ICU”.


Residents said the housing society of the six-year old Daisy building in Runwal Garden City complex was carrying out repairs and painting work for the past two years and had appointed a contractor for that. The residents also alleged that the ropes in the scaffolding had worn out as the contractors had delayed the work. “The repairs were being carried out as the building had seepage and leakage problems, besides re-painting was going on. The contractors would often change and new labourers were appointed after every few months. The ropes had become worn-out and loose due to the rains which could have led to the fall,” said a resident of the complex requesting anonymity. As per preliminary investigations, the police have registered a case against the private contractor, Dada Kumbhar, appointed by the housing society, under sections 336, 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code for causing hurt and endangering life.



India tops in under-5 deaths due to toxic air, 60,000 killed in 2016: WHO


New Delhi: India’s toxic air has been linked to the premature deaths of close to 1,10,000 children in 2016, with the country witnessing highest number of deaths of children under five years attributed to their exposure to ambient air pollution of particulate matter (PM) 2.5, said a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released on the eve of the first-ever conference on air pollution and health. As many as 60,987 children of under five years of age in India died due to exposure to outdoor air pollution of PM 2.5. Nigeria with 47,674 deaths is a distant second, followed by Pakistan with 21,136 deaths. China recorded 6,645 deaths. In India, death rate for this age bracket is 50.8 per 1,00,000 with more girls dying than boys. About 32,889 girls died, compared to 28,097 boys in 2016. Between ages of five and 14, India saw deaths of 4,360 children due to ambient air pollution. Across both age groups, over 1 lakh children died due to ambient and household pollution of particulate matter 2.5 in 2016. PM 2.5 are fine dust particles, considered highly harmful for health because it can enter people’s lungs while breathing. The report, ‘Air Pollution and Child Health – Prescribing clean air’, seeks to caution against the rising levels of pollution causing growing burden of diseases as well as deaths. Over 2 million deaths occur prematurely in India due to pollution, accounting for 25% of global deaths. The data for India is primarily based on four key studies: a 1991study on perinatal mortality; a 2009 study on adverse reproductive outcomes; a 2010 study on low birth weight & still birth and a 2013 study on still births in India.



707 Dengue, 24 Malaria, 31 Chikungunya cases last week



New Delhi: According to the latest report of the municipal corporation, 707 cases of dengue, 24 cases of malaria and 31 chikungunya cases were reported in the last one week. Of the 707 cases of dengue, 290 were reported in Delhi while the remaining are from other states. This year, 3,401 cases of dengue have been reported, of which 1,310 were from Delhi. Over 800 cases of malaria have also been reported this year. Senior civic officials claim that they have been regularly monitoring the major breeding grounds and have issued notice to violators. The civic body report stated that domestic breeding checkers found mosquito breeding in 21.5 lakh houses in Delhi till October 27. It said that 1.7 lakh notices have been served for various violations and 24,696 prosecutions have been initiated. As a pro-active measure, LG Anil Baijal had, a few months ago, directed local bodies and other agencies to intensify vector-control measures. The LG also asked for regular meetings of district magistrates with all stakeholders to review the situation in their respective districts. A senior doctor at a government run facility in the city advised people to take precautions like wearing full sleeves and not allowing the breeding of mosquito larvae inside their homes.



Lift collapses at under-construction site, 4 labourers die



New Delhi: Four workers died at a construction site in north Delhi’s Narela when a hydraulic lift malfunctioned and collapsed. According to the police, the men were working at a housing society project of the Delhi Development Authority. DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta said the victims were identified as Sonu (25), Sonu Ram (27), Pramod (30) and Raj Kumar (28). Initial probe revealed the incident took place around 4.30pm on Monday. The contract for the project was given to a company, identified as B G Shirke, and a makeshift lift using a hydraulic crane had been setup there. The lift was used to transport raw materials to the top floor of the building. Eyewitnesses said the service engineer, Pramod, along with the three workers had stepped on the lift, which had iron grills around it. The men were travelling to the top floor to check on some repairs, when the crane that was supporting the metal wire developed some snag. The pulley, holding the lift, lost power and the lift came crashing down from a height of 35 feet. The workers immediately rushed the injured men to a nearby hospital where doctors declared them dead on arrival. Though an autopsy is yet to be conducted, preliminary medical examination has revealed that the men suffered multiple fractures and injuries to their head.


“The tower crane machine, during a routine maintenance, malfunctioned due to which accident occurred. Compensation to the kin of the victims will be given by the construction agency, as per the terms and conditions of our contract. We are looking into the issue to identify the reasons for the accident. DDA will take all necessary steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents. A committee of two superintending engineers is being formed to conduct a fact finding inquiry,” a DDA spokesperson said. Cops were informed about the incident and a team visited the crash site and collected forensic evidence. The construction site has been sealed as a part of the investigation and cops have asked officials from the construction company to provide documents related to the project. “This is being done to ascertain if due safety regulations were being followed,” said a police officer. Teams are now working to contact the family members of the deceased. While Sonu Ram is a native of Balia in Uttar Pradesh, Sonu came from Jaunpur, UP. Rajkumar is a native of Bokaro in Jharkhand. Cops said that the autopsies will be conducted on Tuesday.



Security Guard Kills Housekeeper in Lavelle Road office

SETTLING SCORE: Biswas allegedly slit Dilip’s throat with a knife he’d ordered online.



Bengaluru: A 21-year-old security guard allegedly murdered a housekeeping employee at his workplace on Lavelle Road, central business district, on Monday afternoon. He claimed to have been constantly harassed by the youth, who also happened to be his roommate. Bijoy Biswas, from Kalikapur village near Agartala in Tripura, was booked for killing Dilip Pradeep, 21, a resident of KGF in Kolar district, and was arrested from the crime scene. Police said Pradeep worked with Cinerama Pvt. Ltd. (Cinebels) at 4th Cross, Lavelle Road, and shared a room with Biswas on the third floor of the office building. Biswas, who’s attached to Mac Securities, a private security agency, had been deployed at Cinebels three months ago. The incident happened during the lunch break, around 1.50pm. “The accused revealed that harassment by Pradeep prompted him to kill his roommate,” a police officer said. Biswas claimed that Pradeep hid his shoes and intentionally poured water on his clothes. He brought the matter to the notice of the firm’s store manager last week, who warned the youths not to fight over trivial issues.


However, an angry Biswas decided to eliminate Pradeep and ordered a knife on Amazon using his friend’s mobile, which was delivered two days ago. During lunch break on Monday, Biswas walked up to their third floor room and allegedly stabbed Pradeep in his stomach and slit his throat. Pradeep managed to drag himself to the second floor but collapsed on the staircase. Office staff rushed to the spot hearing Pradeep scream and alerted Cubbon Park police. Pradeep was found dead in a pool of blood, and Biswas was taken to the police station. The body was shifted to Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital. “We have informed Pradeep’s parents and the autopsy will be conducted once they reach the city,” police said. Eshwar B, legal advisor for Mac Securities, said Biswas joined the firm four months ago and was working at Cinebels for three months. “We will extend support to police in the investigation,” Eshwar added. Cinebels provides high-end audio, home cinema solutions and home automation; it’s main office is in Yeshwantpur.



Is Bengaluru’s polluted air ‘breaking’ young hearts?


Bengaluru: Vasanth Kumar, 34, is a non-smoker and teetotaler. The autorickshaw driver from Bommanahalli spends nearly 12 hours a day on the roads to provide for his wife and two children. Three months ago, his small world came crashing down. At first, the pain in his left chest was bearable. With time, it aggravated and one day, he had to be taken to the state-run Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research. There, the doctors gave him some shocking news – he had suffered a heart attack due to blocked arteries. The doctors were as puzzled as Vasant and his family were. “Vasanth is one of the many patients we’ve seen who have suffered heart attacks with no known risk factors involved,” says Dr Rahul S Patil, consultant cardiologist and head of project Premature Coronary Artery Disease (PCAD) at the institute. “We are seeing an increase in the number of young age heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the causes”. Prolonged hours on the road, surrounded by vehicle emissions, impacts the heart, the ongoing study at the institute has found. It covers 2,000 heart patients below 40 years who have been visiting the hospital since April 2017. Over 25% of the patients are either auto drivers or cab drivers, while 65% are from Bengaluru.


“I don’t drink nor smoke. Even the doctors don’t know what may have led to the heart attack,” says Vasanth. “I am more cautious these days. But I have returned to work. I am an autorickshaw driver and that’s my job. I have to continue working”. Researchers at Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research are charting the frequented routes of these patients and to study the impact, mobile air pollution monitors have to be set up. St John’s Research Institute too has joined the study. “We want to understand the effect of traffic and air pollution on the working population travelling in cars,” says Patil. “In the studied population, blood is hyper viscous and unable to flow freely through the arteries. We have learned that there is an abnormal fluctuation in their blood pressure and heart rate, which are known to be detrimental to the heart”. Studies across the world have found that air pollutants lead to cardiovascular diseases such as artery blockages leading to heart attacks and death of heart tissue due to oxygen deprivation, leading to permanent heart damage. While it is still being studied exactly how pollutants weaken the heart, scientists say it is similar to how respiratory disease is caused – by inflammation and oxidative stress.



4 die of swine flu in Kurnool, Vizianagaram



Kurnool: Kurnool has turned into a swine flu death trap as two more persons, including a four-year-old, succumbed to the virus in the district on Monday. According to Dr P Chandra Sekhar, medical superintendent of the government general hospital in Kurnool, the infant was undergoing treatment at the swine flu ward and passed away late on Sunday. A 50-year-old woman from Kurnool succumbed to the deadly virus after undergoing treatment for eight days at government hospital on Monday. At present six patients with swine flu are undergoing treatment at the isolation ward at the Kurnool GGH. Meanwhile, two people died of swine flu in Vizianagaram district, the Vizianagaram district medical health officer (DMHO) said on Monday, prompting the health authorities to spread an awareness campaign.



Salt Lake cafe gets armed visitors in morning rush hr


Kolkata: Four men reportedly barged into a popular cafeteria chain at AD Block in Salt Lake, held the sole employee present in the shop at gunpoint, tied him up with his apron and gagged him and decamped with Rs 15,000—the entire amount left in the cash dispenser. This brazen loot was carried out in 15 minutes flat, around 10.30am on Monday, the shop being located in a three-storey house stone’s throw from First Avenue, which was bustling with office-goers and residents in the morning peak hour. The store manager, Sanjay Singh, confirmed no customer was around and no employee, other than the one targeted, was present at the time of the robbery. According to Singh, the employee, Subhankar Ghosh, had opened the store around 10am, just like any other day. While he was cleaning the store and arranging the tables and chairs, the four men walked in, claiming they had been sent by someone, called Babu, for a job at the cafe. “Ghosh said he did not know anyone by that name and asked them to come back later in the day. While one of the men engaged Ghosh in a conversation, another man from the group took out a gun and held it to Ghosh’s head. Ghosh told us the men demanded that he handed them the money in the store. Scared, he took them to the cash section and opened the vault from which the men took away whatever cash there was, which was Rs 15,000,” Singh said. Ghosh is the oldest staff member at the shop.


The gang then allegedly opened Ghosh’s apron, tied him up with it, gagged him and dumped him in a corner before fleeing. Ghosh has told the police and the cafe chain officials that he somehow managed to free himself after which, he called up the area manager of the chain and dialed 100 to inform the cops about the robbery. “Ghosh called me from the store and told me about the robbery. He sounded scared. I told him to call the cops as well as the other employees immediately. I myself rushed for the store,” said Sumit Singh, area manager of the cafe chain. “This is the first time such an incident has happened at our store. When I reached, the youth was still trembling in fear”. The police found the shop had only one CCTV camera, installed on the ceiling near the cooking and brewing area. “The images are not clear. But we are checking the grabs of a CCTV camera installed outside the house next door and those images may help get a lead,” said a senior detective department officer at the Bidhannagar Commissionerates. Till late into the night, cops recorded the statements of Ghish as well as the other employees and the landlord of the building. “We have started a case and carrying out questioning,” said a Bidhannagar North police station officer. The 60-seater, 1000-sq-ft coffee shop at AD 84, the biggest in the area, has been open for the past two years. With three employees, the establishment stays open from 10am till 10.30pm.



ICF launches India’s first Train-18; ‘five more to roll out by Apr 2020’


Chennai: The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) will manufacture five additional Train-18 sets by the end of April 2020, Ashwani Lohani, chairman of Railway Board, said after launching the first Train-18 set at Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai on Monday. The 16-coach Train-18 is India’s first engine-less, self-propelled and completely air-conditioned train and is poised to replace the current LHB coaches that are operated on the Shatabdi Express train. It has advanced features such as a maximum speed of 220 kmph, 360 degree rotatable chairs, infotainment, better acceleration and deceleration, modern braking system and a footstep in the coach’s doorway that slides outward when the door is opened. The train would be subjected to field trials by ICF first, Lohani said. Sudhanshu Mani, ICF general manager, said the rake would have speed trials on the Moradabad-Bareilly and Kota-Sawai Madhopur stretch next month. The total cost is Rs.100 crores, which is cheaper by at least Rs.50-70 crore if it were manufactured by a foreign company, Mani said.


Lohani told reporters that depending on the performance, Railway Board might place more orders for Train-18. The train has better acceleration than conventional trains as it has 50 percent more power and can cut down travel time by 10-15 percent. It is equipped with a smart braking system consisting of regenerative and electro-pneumatic braking imported from Hungary. “This is one of the most ambitious Make in India concepts. By developing it completely in India, we have saved on the cost of technology transfer from a foreign country that is usually the norm,” Mani said. An imported rake of similar characteristics would have cost Rs.170 crores, he said. Established private companies in India would have taken 36 months to deliver a similar product, Mani said.



International News



189 feared Dead as plane flown by Indian crashes into Java Sea


Relatives of passengers on the ill-fated flight mourn at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia. Two babies and a child were among the 189 on board the plane.



Indonesia: An Indonesian Lion Air aircraft with 189 people on board, flown by an Indian captain, Bhavye Suneja, crashed into the Java Sea on Monday soon after taking off from Jakarta at 6.20am local time (4.50am IST), killing everyone on board. Things went horribly wrong as soon the Boeing 737 Max got airborne for its destination, Pangkal Pinang. The pilot made a request to return to the airport two to three minutes after take-off and the air traffic controller cleared it. But the plane plunged into the sea about 10 minutes later. The B737 had joined the Lion Air fleet on August 15, 2018 and had flown about 800 hours. Once the debris was located, a search and rescue operation was launched. President Joko Widodo ordered an investigation and urged Indonesians to “keep on praying”. But no survivors were found, said Bambang Suryo Aji, director of operations at the Search and Rescue Agency. “My projection is there is no survivor. The bodies of the victims already found were not intact any more. It is very likely that all 189 people are dead,” he said. The vice-president of a leading airline in India that operates the Boeing 737 said Suneja was considering returning to India. “We spoke this July.


He was a very sweet person. Being an experienced pilot of the B737 with an incident-free record, we were keen to have him with us because of his impeccable credentials. His only request was that he be given a Delhi posting as he was from the city. I told him that once he flies with us for a year, we will consider his posting in Delhi,” said the senior official. Captain Suneja had over 6,000 flight hours of experience. Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. Of the 189 on board, two were pilots and six were flight attendants. Rescue workers retrieved six bodies from the sea where the Indonesian budget carrier’s crash took place. Authorities said they were trying to locate the black boxes and emergency locator transmitter, which was currently not transmitting, to know the exact cause of the crash. Lion Air chief executive Edward Sirait said the plane had reported a technical problem during its previous flight from Denpasar Bali to Jakarta on Sunday night, but that was resolved before it too.

News Flash – 29 October 2018

National News



Woman dials 100 after tiff with Security Guard, strips in lift when cops ask her to come to police station


Mumbai: A content writer and an aspiring model partially stripped in the elevator of a housing society in Andheri to drive away a team of cops that had arrived following her altercation with a security guard. Later, she tweeted that the police were insisting that she accompany them to the police station at 3am, despite no female cop being present. She tagged the commissioner of police, chief minister and Prime Minister in her post. Women cannot be called to the police station for interrogation under Section 160 of the Cr PC. This law provides women the right of not being physically present at the police station for interrogation. The police can interrogate a woman at her residence in the presence of a woman constable and family members or friends. Also, according to a SC ruling, a woman cannot be arrested after sunset and before sunrise. In this case, it is not clear why the police wanted the woman to accompany them to the police station. No FIR has been registered yet. Video clips of the incident shot by bystanders have been widely circulated on social media.


The incident took place on October 25 at Lokhandwala Complex where the woman lives as a paying guest. Officials said she had a fight with a guard after he refused to run an errand for her at 1am. She then dialed the police emergency number ‘100’ and said the guard had misbehaved with her. The guard claimed she assaulted him. A team from the Oshiwara police station was dispatched as residents gathered and commotion ensued. In the video, the cops can be seen asking her to accompany them to the police station but she refuses as there is no female cop and it is way past midnight. The clip shows her getting back into the elevator and telling the police to speak to her lawyer. But the police and the guards refuse to let her go and she begins yelling at them. Later, she can be seen undressing to get the police and bystanders to leave. The clips also show her assaulting another guard. After her tweet on Saturday, the police advised her to go to the police station and lodge a complaint. She has recorded her statement.



Season’s worst air day in Delhi; Ghaziabad and Gurgaon in ‘severe’ zone



New Delhi: Diwali is still 10 days away but air quality in the capital has been steadily deteriorating. Delhi had the worst air quality of the season on Sunday, with the AQI at 366 (very poor), while “severe” levels of air pollution were recorded in Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. The steady fall in air quality is bad news ahead of the November 1-10 period, when very high pollution levels have been projected for the region. Experts said changing wind directions, low wind speeds and a drop in temperature were all playing a part in trapping pollutants in the lower atmosphere, while the contribution of stubble-burning taking place in Punjab-Haryana could not be ruled out. Government’s air pollution research body, SAFAR, found stubble-burning contributing as much as 36% of Delhi’s pollution on Friday. Its forecasts, however, showed a reduction in the share of crop fires in the capital’s pollution in the subsequent three days. A SAFAR scientist said wind speeds were likely to reduce in the coming days which could cause pollution levels to rise further. “Wind speeds will drop further and with very little activity, pollutants will not disperse. The pollution levels are likely to be highest on October 31, however it may not touch severe just yet,” the SAFAR scientist said.



Defusing terror: Bomb squad to get more teeth


New Delhi: Delhi Police is adding more teeth to its bomb disposal squads as a part of its anti-terror measures. Bids have been invited to procure sophisticated gear, like advanced explosive ordnance disposal suits, contactless stethoscopes and telescopic manipulators, which will help cops defuse improvised explosive devices (IED) with ease. The shopping list includes a remote-operated vehicle (ROV), bomb baskets, Kevlar blankets and blasting machines. In March last year, TOI had reported about the plan to modernise bomb squads with latest technology and equipment. Every year, bomb disposal teams respond to around 2,500 calls of suspicious objects. While teams of NSG and other agencies are also available, Delhi Police is the first responder in such cases. Officers said strengthening bomb disposal squads is imperative given that terror inputs constantly indicate a possible strike not only by POK- and Pak-based groups like Jaish-e-Muahmmed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba, but also by global terror groups like al Qaida and Islamic State. The ROV will be a game changer as it will be able to carry out explosive disposal and surveillance inside aircraft, trains, buildings, buses, metro and railway stations and help cops locate and defuse IEDs without human intervention. “The ROV will be able to climb a staircase/slope of at least 45 degrees with a weight of 8kg. It will have modular mount for weapon system (SMG, MP5 and shotgun), de-armer disrupter and real-time viewing system with X-ray,” said an officer.


The electronic stethoscope will be able to detect sound through solid materials, like bricks, walls glass and wood, packing materials, etc. “The contactless stethoscope would help technicians detect fuses, circuits, quartz watches and cellphones used in IEDs these days. We are planning to procure 24 of these devices,” said an officer. The Kevlar blanket would offer protection against blasts, thermal and fragmentation effect resulting out of a blast of 2kg of trinitrotoluene (TNT) equivalent explosives along with minimum 100 grams of nails or nuts used as fragments. The bomb basket will have the capacity to withstand a blast of a minimum of 220gm of TNT with splinters. It will be used to transport the bomb away from populated areas where it can be safely defused. Explaining the feature of explosive ordnance disposal suits (bomb suits), officers said that it would provide a high impact backbone protection arrangement for the technician’s safety. It will be designed in such a manner that it won’t take more than 10 minutes to wear the suit with all accessories. “The suit’s helmet will have a built-in microphone for the operator to hear all conversations taking place in the vicinity. It will also have two-way communication up to a range of 100 meters. A video camera will be fitted to the visor of the helmet for live transmission to a command post located at a distance of up to 200 meters,” an officer said. Other items on the list include devices like thermal cutters, which are used by bomb disposal engineers to gain access to the inside of the soft skin of an IED and remote car opening kit to help disable vehicle-borne IEDs.



Air quality dips after rain, will worsen with the chill


Hyderabad: Post-monsoon, air quality in most parts of the city has come down but experts say the worst is yet to come. As per Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) data, air quality is showing signs of deterioration and officials said the situation could worsen in the winter. Air Quality Index values in areas like Balanagar, Jubilee Hills, Charminar, Paradise and Jeedimetla showed signs of deterioration in September compared with previous months. Pollutants such as PM10 and PM2.5, the particulate matter which are tiny particles and can penetrate lungs and enter the bloodstream, was recorded more than prescribed standards in many areas. For instance, the PM 10 levels at Balanagar were recorded at 85 ug/m3 in July. But the same shot up to 101 ug/m3 in August and 134ug/m3 in September against the prescribed standard of 100 ug/m3. PCB officials said: “Pollution levels dip during monsoon as most pollutants get washed away in rains. The gradual worsening is due to temperature inversion during winter”. Medical experts say rise in PM10 levels cause health problems. “People with asthma and heart diseases are more susceptible to dust pollution. It may aggravate existing heart and lung diseases and damage lung tissue as well as air way irritation,” said V V Ramana Prasad, senior consultant pulmonologist at KIMS Hospital. Environmental experts, too, said pollution levels would worsen with onset of winter. “This happens in mornings when there is fall in minimum temperatures. It leaves pollutants trapped close to the surface, leading to smog cover,” said N Raveender, former environmental scientist at TSPCB.



Engineless Train-18 may link Howrah and Delhi


Kolkata: A high-speed train journey between Howrah and New Delhi is in the offing with Indian Railways planning to introduce a Train-18 trainset on this route. The train, the first of its kind in Indian Railways, is expected to roll out of Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai on Monday. It will be introduced after necessary trials. Later, a similar trainset will be introduced on the Howrah-New Delhi route, Rajesh Agrawal, member/rolling stock, Railway Board, said in Kolkata on Sunday. Capable of running at 160km per hour, the engineless train will cover the nearly 1,400km journey between Howrah and New Delhi in approximately 12 hours. The Rajdhani Express takes 16 hours to cover the distance. Train-18 is much like an electric multiple unit (EMU) rake though much sleeker and more luxurious. As all coaches have traction and the wheels start rolling by themselves when the loco-pilot sets the train in motion, creating greater acceleration. Brakes can also be applied more easily, making the trains safer than conventional ones. The semi-high speed train, with 16 air-conditioned coaches, will undergo short runs near ICF for five days to test its braking and air-conditioning systems and familiarize the crew with the on-board systems before being moved to New Delhi.


Train-18 will then undergo speed trials of 150 km/hr in the Moradabad-Bareilly section before shifting to the Kota-Sawai Madhopur stretch for final trials at 160 km/hr. All tests will be monitored by a special team from the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO). The first trainset has only seating arrangements, but orders have been placed with ICF for two with berths. ICF is building six such trainsets. According to Agrawal, the next series will be called Train-20 and will be capable of achieving 200 km/hr. The first train has several imported components that gives it special features. Of the 16 coaches, two will be executive class with 52 seats each. The remaining will have 78 seats each. The plush seats can be swiveled towards the direction in which the train is moving. In the executive class, they can also be moved to face the windows, which are continuous. All doors are sliding and coaches have vacuum toilets like on aeroplanes. Onboard infotainment and continuous Wi-Fi have also been planned. On the issue of new rakes for the Metro Railway, Agrawal said: “Four rakes from ICF have already undergone trials and clearance is now awaited. The Metro will introduce them very soon. Other rakes have also been ordered. As soon as they arrive, the existing ones will be replaced”.



New VHF installations to boost pilot-airport communication


Chennai: In a bid to cover blind spots in voice communication between air traffic controllers (ATC) and pilots, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is gearing up to install very high frequency (VHF) transmitters in three places falling under air routes from Chennai airport. Though radar is used to track planes, pilots radio altitude, speed and direction of the aircraft to ATC officials of the nearest airport when they cross pre-determined wayside points on an air route. The pilots and ATC use voice communication when a plane is handed over to another airport’s air space and pilots speak to controllers when the plane nears an airport or starts descent kilometres away for landing. A pilot said clear and static-free communication was essential to listen to the instructions of ATC officials. “We are planning to install a transmitter near Madurai, Ooty and Bellary. These machines will eliminate blind spots in these areas. We recently installed a transmitter on the Pallavaram hills to erase a blind spot on Chennai-Trichy and Chennai-Vizag routes,” a senior AAI official said. These transmitters will enhance the range and strength of signals for planes when they fly along those areas. He said studies were conducted and a report had been sent to AAI headquarters in New Delhi for consideration. “We are planning to conduct a few more studies,” the official said. The blind spot near Madurai affects voice communication between pilots and controllers on the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram route while the one in Bellary is on the route planes take to fly west and north from Chennai. VHF communication gets interrupted because of barriers like hills and mountains and buildings.


The voice will not be clear when the planes fly low, especially while descending from cruising altitude to approach an airport for landing. The new transmitters will enhance signals for planes that fly below 25,000 feet. A pilot said in an area over Coimbatore it was difficult to communicate with controllers in Chennai, Bengaluru or Thiruvananthapuram. The new transmitter near Ooty is expected to solve this hassle. An official said the VHF transmitter in the Pallavaram hills has enhanced the range of VHF coverage. “It is usually spread over a range of 200 to 250 miles but we are getting the signals at 300 miles also. This has removed a communication blind spot on Chennai-Trichy route and Chennai-Vizag route,” he said. Enhancing VHF coverage for low-flying planes was crucial because the government is promoting regional connectivity scheme and commence operations at smaller airports. Airlines have started to bring in small planes such as ATRs and Bombardiers and a new airline is planning to operate a 20-seater to Vellore and Neyveli. “These planes fly at less than 25,000 feet. As the number of such flights is bound to increase, AAI is looking at improving voice connectivity between pilots and controllers to enhance safety. Small planes need to be tracked efficiently because they fly low and may need guidance from controllers to change course or to steer clear of a turbulence,” said an official.



International News



On trial: Serial killer nurse who murdered 100



Berlin: German nurse Niels Hoegel, already serving a lengthy term for previous killings, will go on trial before anguished relatives on Tuesday over the murders of around 100 more people — a spree prosecutors say is unprecedented in the post-war period. The 41-year-old is accused of intentionally administering medical overdoses to patients in his care in order to be able to bring them back to life at the last moment. He rarely succeeded. Prosecutors say at least 35 patients were killed at a hospital in the city of Oldenburg where he worked, and about 64 more in Delmenhorst, between 2000 and 2005.



Next AI frontier: Predicting Earthquakes



San Francisco: Countless dollars and entire scientific careers have been dedicated to predicting where and when the next big earthquake will strike. But unlike weather forecasting, which has significantly improved with the use of better satellites and more powerful mathematical models, earthquake prediction has been marred by repeated failure. Some of the world’s most destructive earthquakes — China in 2008, Haiti in 2010 and Japan in 2011, among them — occurred in areas that seismic hazard maps had deemed relatively safe. The last large earthquake to strike Los Angeles, Northridge in 1994, occurred on a fault that did not appear on seismic maps. Now, with the help of artificial intelligence, a growing number of scientists say changes in the way they can analyse massive amounts of seismic data can help them better understand earthquakes, anticipate how they will behave, and provide quicker and more accurate early warnings. “I am actually hopeful for the first time in my career that we will make progress on this problem,” said Paul Johnson, a fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who is among those at the forefront of this research. Well aware of past earthquake prediction failures, scientists are cautious when asked how much progress they have made using AI. Some in the field refer to prediction as “the P word”, because they do not even want to imply it is possible. But one important goal, they say, is to be able to provide reliable forecasts. The earthquake probabilities that are provided on seismic hazard maps, for example, have crucial consequences, most notably in instructing engineers how they should construct buildings. Critics say these maps are remarkably inexact.


A study led by Katherine M Scharer, a geologist with the US Geological Survey, estimated dates for nine previous earthquakes along the Southern California portion of the San Andreas fault dating back to the eighth century. The last big earthquake on the San Andreas was in 1857. Since the average interval between these big earthquakes was 135 years, a common interpretation is that the region is due for a big earthquake. Yet the intervals between earthquakes are so varied — ranging from 44 years to 305 years — that taking the average is not a very useful prediction tool. A big temblor could come tomorrow, or it could come in a century and a half or more. The new AI-related quake research is leaning on neural networks, the same technology that accelerated the progress of everything from talking digital assistants to driverless cars. Loosely modeled on the web of neurons in the human brain, a neural network is a complex mathematical system that can learn tasks on its own. Scientists say seismic data is remarkably similar to audio data companies like Google and Amazon use in training neural networks to recognize spoken commands on coffee-table assistants like Alexa. When studying earthquakes, it is the computer looking for patterns in mountains of data rather than relying on the weary eyes of a scientist.

News Flash – 26 October 2018

National News



ATM Theft Attempt


Kolkata: An unidentified person tried to break into a Canara Bank ATM on B K Pal Avenue under the Burtolla police station. Cops said the thief had targeted the ATM as it did not have any security guards. According to cops, some locals were first to notice there was a break-in attempt. “We found that the accused had managed to break the computerised vault lock of the machine but not the vault. Even the CCTVs installed at the premises were not working,” claimed a local. The cops though said that the main vault was secure.



A peek into how tech may help you beat congestion at border toll posts


New Delhi: Staring at the men giving the finishing touches to the newly installed, two-lane radio frequency ID toll infrastructure at Aya Nagar, Keshav Kumar worries he will soon lose his job as a chaser of vehicles that avoid paying the municipal tax at the border crossing. But unlike angst-ridden Kumar, the rest of Delhi has been waiting for this automated toll system to ease the jams at the borders. The work that Kumar currently does to prevent evasion of toll payment will now be done by technology. The RFID system comprising an overhead radio frequency dish, high-resolution number plate readers, axle sensors on the ground and an alarm will automate the process of toll collection. Gyan Prakash, engineer with Tecsidel India, which installed the components, explained, “The dish can read the RFID tag information in a vehicle travelling at up to 60kmph from a distance of 15-20 metres.” When a vehicle with a valid RFID tag approaches, the dish calculates the appropriate toll and deducts the amount. Information related to load and axle will be cross-verified with data from the axle sensors. Prakash added, “One of the four hi-res cameras has a range of 300m and will image the number plate. They will help make cash transactions faster because the operators do not have to enter car details manually.” The cameras, connected to the central database, will also identify vehicles older than 10 years or non-destined trucks entering Delhi.


Vehicles trying to drive past the toll gate without paying, say behind another vehicle, will be stopped by a flying squad deployed 100m away, which will be alerted by sirens and illuminated alarms. There is no penalty for evasion at present, but the Environmental Pollution Control Authority is expected to soon announce fines. The road has been bifurcated for the purpose. “Two lanes on the right will allow passage to non-commercial vehicles without obstruction,” said Yogesh Gaur, site in-charge at Aya Nagar. “Commercial vehicles will be directed to the left side, which has two toll booths: one for taxis or autos and another for heavy vehicles”. Cabbie Keshav Kumar, purchasing an RFID tag which costs Rs 237 to register, hoped not to have to stand in queues to recharge toll cards, as with the existing passes. But South Delhi Municipal Corporation has announced it is launching a mobile Android app called ECC Tag for online payments. SDMC officials said that five of the 13 border points — Aya Nagar, Kapashera, Tikri, Rajokri and DND — will be RFID-enabled first, and the rest by November end.



Another arrest in Khaira Bank Heist (Robbery)



New Delhi: A fourth accused in the sensational bank robbery in southwest Delhi’s Khaira village has been arrested. The accused had fled to Jammu after the incident and was caught when he recently came back from there. DCP (Dwarka) Anto Alphonse said the accused was identified as Sachin Antil. Cops recovered Rs 50,000 from him. Antil, a resident of Khewra village in Sonipat, was nabbed from Peeragarhi metro station on Sunday evening. His involvement was disclosed by aides who had earlier been arrested. The accused’s family was questioned about his whereabouts and the teams received an information that he would be coming to Peeragarhi. Police teams waited near the metro station and nabbed him from there. Antil told cops that he had planned the heist with the mastermind, Ram Lagan Sharma, who is still absconding. Cops said all accused were drug addicts and, on the day of the robbery too, they had taken intoxicants before committing the heist. The accused told cops that their aide, Pawan Pandey, who has been identified as the one who shot the bank’s cashier Santosh Sharma, was waiving the gun to signal the bank staff to move into a corner when it suddenly went off. The bullet hit Sharma in his back and he succumbed to his injuries.



3 robbers arrested, valuables worth Rs.10L seized in Meerpet



Hyderabad: Sleuths of Special Operations Team (SOT) of Rachakonda commissionerates arrested three robbers on Thursday and seized valuables worth Rs.10 lakhs. Acting on a tip-off, the SOT sleuths arrested V Santosh Kumar, 20, and M Sai Kumar, 19, both mechanics from Meerpet, along with N Shiva, 19, a private sector employee. Police also seized some stolen jewellery and the accused confessed to having committed a series of robberies and extortions in the city. According to police, the trio formed a gang a few years ago and targeted people travelling alone in isolated areas. “By threatening the victims, the accused used to snatch wallets and other valuables,” Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat said. Two robbery cases were booked at Choutuppal and Saifabad police stations against the trio. After the arrest, the accused confessed to have committed six more robberies at LB Nagar, Meerpet and Choutuppal in past few months. Based on their confession, police recovered a Swift Dzire car, Rs. 15,000 cash and eight cell phones.



Kolkata Police plans to add shock batons to its armory



Kolkata: The city police plans to acquire a new weapon for its armory—shock batons, which are used to temporarily incapacitate an attacker through a mild electric shock. According to the specifications sought, a baton shock will deliver a charge of 1.5 kilo volt (peak voltage) for a maximum of 1 millisecond (a thousandth of a second). Aware of possible safety issues, Kolkata Police in its bid document—where it has sought 20 other specific weapons and equipment — has clearly stated the shock batons will be used only by specialized forces. Sources said this is an indication that the batons are unlikely to be used in everyday law and order duties and will be used only “under specific provocations”. The tender, bidding for which closes on November 2, states that the force is looking to buy merely 10 of them for now. The tender comes with a rigorous set of specifications that the force hopes will be met. Shock batons are increasingly being looked upon as a low-risk weapon and are being used by cops in situations where the general public or the officers themselves face a severe threat or actual violence upon which no rigorous action could be taken.


The weapon is in use in several states, including Jammu & Kashmir, where both the police and paramilitary forces are using it to control aggressive protesters. “We will be using it in very limited situations. We are aware that Kolkata’s requirements are vastly different from some regions where it is being used. For now, it will be deployed with our specialized units like our commandos and RAF teams,” said a senior Lalbazar official. Apart from the shock batons, the city police also plan to equip its personnel with shock resistance fibres, full body protectors, dragon light, loud hailers and tactical zip tie handcuff. The police have only recently floated a global tender to acquire a miniature remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Widely used by top-notch security forces, ROVs help in detecting possible bombs or other terror threats planted in vehicles and places which are either difficult to access or where there are chances of loss of human lives. The police modernization programme will not end with these new acquisitions. The entire city will be mapped using Geographic Information System (GIS), and the spots where crimes against women have been reported frequently will be identified for installation of panic buttons. On pressing the panic button, alert will be sent to the nearest police station which will rush its personnel to the spot.



Traffic Violation: Over 60,000 to lose Licence


Chennai: The Chennai City Traffic Police have asked regional transport offices in Chennai to suspend licences of 61,504 traffic violators. Jumping red light, drunken driving, over-speeding, overloading, carrying passengers in goods carriages and using mobile phones while driving is some of the offences which have invited trouble for these Chennai drivers. Driving two-wheelers without helmets and driving four-wheelers without a seat belt are the other violations. Over-speeding tops the list of offences, with 2,917 licences of motorists exceeding speed limits facing the axe. “People think they can get away with jumping a red signal, but 29,032 people who violated the rule are in our hit list,” said a police officer. Another 10,651 will lose their licence because of drunken driving, and 8,810 for using mobile phones while driving. The list includes 9,664 drivers who carried more than permitted number of people in goods carriages and 430 others for overloading goods carriages.


“We’ve received recommendations from police seeking suspension of drivers’ licences for various traffic violations and we are looking into this,” said a senior RTO official. “First-time offenders will have their licences suspended for a specific period, while repeat offenders will lose their licences. The punishment will be decided on the recommendations by the traffic police”. Police officers said many two-wheeler riders are yet to realize the importance of wearing helmets. “Since we fine them only Rs.100 for the first two violations, many take it easy. People should know that repeated violation of the helmet rule will cost them their licence,” said the police officer. “We are enforcing the rule in right earnest. But enforcement alone cannot make people obey rules. They should realise it is for their own safety,” said A Arun, additional commissioner of police, traffic. “Issuing challans was not effective as people think they can go scot-free paying Rs.100 for traffic violations like jumping signals and talking over mobile phones. Now we want to send out a message that if they can’t drive safe, they can’t drive at all,” said R Sudhakar, joint commissioner of police, traffic, south.



International News



US girls, 11 & 12, planned to kill schoolmates, drink blood



Bartow: Two middle-school girls in central Florida brought knives to school in a foiled plot to kill classmates, cut them up and drink their blood before killing themselves. The two girls, ages 11 and 12, were armed with knives on Tuesday at Bartow Middle School before they were caught, according to arrest affidavits. No one was hurt. The girls face charges of conspiracy to commit first degree murder and possession of a weapon at school, among other charges. It will be up to prosecutors to decide whether the girls will be charged formally as juveniles or adults. The girls planned to stake out a school bathroom and wait for smaller students. “They were hoping to kill anywhere from 15-25 students. They hoped it would make them worse sinners ensuring that after they committed suicide … (they) would go to hell so they could be with satan,” a police official said.



Robbers snatch 40 Miss France dresses in break-in



France: Robbers snatched 40 gowns fit for beauty queens during a break-in at the headquarters of the Miss France organising committee, the pageant’s grande dame said on Wednesday. Genevieve de Fontenay (86) said she was heartbroken over the theft of the dresses.

News Flash – 25 October 2018

National News



Boat to Shivaji Sea Memorial site capsizes off Colaba, 1 dead

One of the four boats, with 25 people on board, hit a rock and overturned.



Mumbai: Tragedy and deep embarrassment for the Maharashtra government marked the day work on the proposed Shivaji sea memorial was to begin. A boat carrying about 25 people to the site capsized midway, near Prongs Reef off the tip of Colaba, killing a 35-year-old chartered accountant from Santacruz. The state government, at the instance of Vinayak Mete, the chairman of the steering committee overseeing the memorial project, had organized a bhoomi pujan ceremony at the proposed site, which is a rock outcrop 2.4km off Marine Drive. About 250 people set sail between 3.30pm and 3.45pm from the Gateway of India on four boats—two speedboats and two big passenger boats. They included senior bureaucrats like chief secretary D K Jain, the chief minister’s personal secretary Bhushan Gagrani and Manoj Saunik (secretary of the public works department, which is executing the memorial project), junior state officials, politicians, journalists, Mete’s supporters, and other saffron loyalists. Around 4pm, the speedboat with Mete’s supporters, some from Beed, hit a rock. As water started gushing into the damaged vessel, panic ensued.



When the speedboat with saffron loyalists hit a rock, a few occupants jumped out, and then held on to its railings. Rescue boats arrived within 20 minutes and started pulling them to safety. One person was declared missing after some time. This was Siddhesh Pawar (35), a Santacruz resident who got married just five months ago. After a search of over three and a half hours, his body was fished out from inside the overturned boat. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said quick response from all agencies ensured that the accident did not turn into a big tragedy. He announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to Pawar’s next of kin. Chief secretary Jain said, “The Mumbai Maritime Board (MMB) will conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident”. Activists and environmentalists opposed to the project say Wednesday’s incident should serve as a wake-up call for the government, which should scrap the project or at least think of a site that can be approached safely. “We have repeatedly petitioned the government about the unfeasibility of the site shortlisted for the project. The site is inaccessible during the four monsoon months, when the waves are just too high for passenger boats. And on the other days, rules prohibit passenger boats from breaching the maritime baseline. The project site is ahead of the demarcated maritime baseline,” said Vice-Admiral (Retd.) IC Rao of APLI Mumbai, a citizen group.


Wednesday’s trip arrangements seemed to have been made in haste. The boats were overcrowded, said an eyewitness. There were simply too many people and the organizers seemed to be in a hurry to accommodate them all, he said. “It seemed something very big was at stake”. When the four boats were passing by Prongs Reef within a few minutes of one another, the speedboat which had Pawar hit a rock and got severely damaged. An eyewitness said that the boat was at great speed and passengers were scared of the consequences. Experts say the area around the reef is particularly dangerous as it has rocks which aren’t visible from the surface of the sea, and also a few ship and boat wrecks. Boats should ideally avoid that area, but even if they don’t, they should navigate the treacherous waters there slowly, said an expert. The reef is 4.4km from the Gateway and has a lighthouse. “The speed of the boat was very high and suddenly we heard a screeching noise and the boat came to a halt. The rear end had hit a rock. Water was coming inside at force,” said Balasaheb Jatal Patil, who had come from Beed to attend the event. He said that within minutes the boat was flooded up to people’s knees, and the passengers started jumping into the sea. “I could hear Pawar screaming for help. But no one was able to reach him. A relative of his, who was rescued, wanted to jump back to save him, but we didn’t allow him to do so as that would be perilous for him too,” said Patil. “I was so scared, I thought this was the end of my life. I also made a call to my family, telling them I may never return”. Two people sustained some injuries and also an excess ingress of water into their lungs and bodies.



Dengue stings more than usual, 20 cases in city, 86 in state in one day



Hyderabad: Contrary to the usual trend of the dengue season coming to an end in the month of October, this year the virus has become more active with 477 new cases being reported over the last fortnight. On Tuesday alone, 86 new cases were detected in the state, 20 of which were from Hyderabad city. Apart from Hyderabad city, a spurt in cases has also been recorded from Kothagudem, Nizamabad and Medchal. Typically, dengue season begins with the onset of monsoon in the month of June-July and subsides by the end of October. While last year the season extended well into the month of January, the dengue season is likely to extend far beyond the usual season this year as well, said experts. In fact, more dengue deaths have been recorded in the month of October than the last two months of this year, confirmed health authorities. Also, the severity of dengue cases seems to have increased, said doctors. “A peculiar thing being noticed this year is an unusual proportion of rashes. Also, in many cases, severe joint pains have been found to be persistent even after the dengue fever has subsided,” said Dr Rahul Agarwal, consultant general physician. Doctors also recount having many patients from a close vicinity, be it an entire family or roommates or immediate neighbours. “We are seeing many members from the same family coming in at almost the same time, which clearly hints at the lack of adequate sanitation in the immediate vicinity,” said a senior doctor.



Swine flu claims 3 more lives in Andhra Pradesh



Kurnool: Swine flu claimed three more lives in Kurnool district of AP in the last two days including two on Wednesday. According to Dr P Chandra Sekhar, medical superintendent at the Government General Hospital in Kurnool, a 27-year-old man from Shareen Nagar in Kurnool town was admitted with advanced swine flu symptoms a couple of days ago and he died on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, a 54-year-old man from Adoni and a 38-year-old woman from Peapully were also admitted in advanced stages of Swine flu and were placed on ventilator support as their condition worsened. Both of them passed away this evening.



As city celebrates, gangs clean out 28 empty homes


Kolkata: While the city celebrated its annual festival, thieves apparently had a free run in some neighbourhoods and the suburbs. Almost 30 petty crimes have been reported from Joka to Titagarh over the past 10 days, between Shashthi and Laxmi Puja. Even conmen seemed to have been at play, with a case being reported as recently as on Wednesday. But Lalbazar and other commissionerates claimed the figure was lower this festive season than that in the past few years, thanks to the sustained campaigns and greater precautions adopted by the residents of Kolkata, Salt Lake and the neighbouring pockets. All the thefts had a common trait: the families were away on a vacation or a brief holiday and the homes were targeted during the peak Puja time. The police claimed that at almost all the houses, the occupants did not leave the homes fully secure, and that gave the thieves an opportunity to break in and make away with valuables. While some thefts, especially a couple of them in the southern fringes of the city along with north Kolkata, have received attention of the top brass from Lalbazar, the police are convinced that organized gangs, possibly from South 24 Parganas, were involved. The cops said that of the 28-odd complaints received across Kolkata and suburbs during the festive season, four thefts at Survey Park, Panchasayer, Tangra and Chitpur were being given the most importance.


In the first case, Sandipan Kundu, a resident of Santoshpur Avenue, who left for a vacation to Sikkim on Shashthi, was informed by his neighbours on Nabami that his house had been burgled. He cut short his holiday and returned home on Saturday to find Rs 15,000 in cash and small gold and silver articles missing. From the images of the CCTV camera he had set up, the police spotted two men entering the house and even fiddling with the CCTV. At Panchasayer, an 80-year-old resident, Bithika Duttagupta, lodged a complaint that after she returned home following a short break between Shashthi and Nabami, she found Rs 7,000 and other valuables missing. At Tangra, the complaint was lodged by a resident, Annapurna Modak. Chitpur’s Sanghati Mukhopadhyay claimed the thieves targeted her money bag and laptop. The latest incident reported on Wednesday saw a government food outlet employee being duped in the Entally Market area. “The accused visited the shop around 9am and bought some items. He ordered a few other items. I asked another employee to arrange for those. As my colleague got the articles together, the accused asked for Rs 3,000 from him, saying he had paid Rs 5,000 at the counter. My colleague believed him and handed him the money and the accused walked away. He had not paid anything,” claimed victim Anup Saha, who said he would go to the police on Thursday. Locals claimed two more nonjobs were reported from the area, though the Entally police said they were yet to get any complaint.



Post-Puja viral attacks leave city under weather, trigger panic


Kolkata: Thousands of Kolkatans are down with a post-puja spate of viral diseases, including one that is leading to unexplained body rashes. With the dengue still on the prowl and symptoms being similar, it has led to a panic. At least three non-dengue viruses have struck, according to clinicians and though none is fatal, concurrent bacterial infections have often been leading to serious ailments. A spurt in the number of viral fever patients was triggered during the Puja. It coincided with the temperature fluctuation that followed cyclone Titli which struck four days prior to the festival. “This is the season when the mercury starts going up and down, leading to a spurt in viruses. Since the dengue outbreak persists, a panic has set in. Non-dengue viral symptoms are similar. So, dengue has to be ruled out first through an NS1 test. Seasonal viruses are extremely contagious, but rarely fatal unless the patient has an accompanying bacterial infection,” said consultant Arindam Biswas. Rhino virus, human meta-pneumo virus and influenza virus are likely to have struck, said doctors. It is difficult to identify a virus unless a test is done. The state, however, doesn’t have the facility. But it is the viral fever with body rashes that has had doctors worried. It is striking children more frequently. “The rash is leading to a dengue scare. But it’s neither dengue nor measles. So, the symptom is leaving us worried till dengue has been ruled out. Like dengue, the viruses are very severe this time with the fever persisting for a week. The accompanying symptoms like body ache, diarrhea and vomiting, too, have been very severe,” said Paediatrician Shantanu Ray.


The common viruses trigger similar symptoms which recede in 3-5 days, according to consultant P K Nemani. “But a bacterial infection can lead to complications. The elderly and children are vulnerable,” said Nemani. Those above 65 years of age and below 12 were susceptible to bacterial infections while suffering from viral fever. “A subsidiary infection could be dangerous unless it is detected early and treated with antibiotics. Many have required hospitalization to tide over the crisis period,” said Ray. Seasonal viruses are highly contagious so an outbreak is difficult to prevent in the pre-winter period, felt Belle Vue Clinic critical care consultant Samarjit Naskar. “These viruses are transmitted through sneeze and cough droplets which can travel six feet. Public places and transport usually help to spread them. The only option is to use handkerchiefs and not to touch objects with bare hands,” said Naskar. The post-puja period sees a spurt in viral outbreak since the festivities see large congregations which helps the spread, said a consultant. Most felt that the outbreak could continue for a month till the temperature fluctuation stops. “This is also the time when pollution shoots up. As the suspended particulate matter count rises, lung and respiratory disorders turn frequent. Coupled with the viral infection, these can complicate matters. I have come across several elderly patients who contracted pneumonia during a viral attack,” said Biswas.



Health department raises the Alarm as doctors err on treating fever


Chennai: The health department has raised the alarm after it found that nearly a third of patients with fever referred to government hospitals in the city by private doctors in the past few days developed complications, including kidney and lung failure, caused by faulty treatment. A late night audit by the department on Monday threw up multiple cases of wrong diagnosis and prescription by medical practitioners across the city, with some patients who complained of fever turning critically ill. The prescriptions that patients brought to the government hospitals showed that many of them, including children, were given analgesics and steroids for quick recovery or were overloaded with fluids and platelets. Administering steroids to patients with diseases such as dengue will lead to kidney failure and drop in platelet count, said Dr A T Arasar Seeralar, director of the Institute of Child Health. “Children with dengue may be dehydrated and may require IV fluids. In some cases, they may need platelets. But fluids should be given very slowly. Some doctors may rush fluids. It can cause serious complications, including lung failure,” said Dr Arasar. The director of public health, Dr Kolandaisamy, said it was shocking to find that even specialists were prescribing the wrong medication. “Children with simple seasonal fevers landed up in ICUs.


One patient with typhoid had to be wheeled into the theatre last week for an emergency surgery as the doctor failed to diagnose the disease despite textbook symptoms,” he said. “If we find wrong prescriptions or late referrals, a two-member committee will hold an inquiry. If they are convinced there is mismanagement, the state will file complaints with the state medical council,” Dr Kolandaisamy said. The health department circulated the “faulty” prescriptions among doctors’ bodies such as the Indian Medical Association and Association of Physicians of India for discussion along with a six-page advisory on management of fever cases. Doctors’ bodies said they would circulate the advisory and conduct refresher modules for all doctors. “We will be propagating the state protocol actively to avoid use of injectable analgesics and steroids. We are telling doctors to do a blood test on the third day and refer patients to bigger hospitals at an earlier stage if they don’t have adequate facilities,” said IMA state president Dr A Jayalal. The health department plans regular audit of all cases referred to government hospitals with complications such as dengue, H1N1 and typhoid. “The number of positive cases we receive this year is far less than 2017, but when we saw four back-to-back deaths from dengue and six from H1N1, we decided to check,” said health secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan.



A bridge too far: 20x commuters, same infra


Santragachhi: A day after a stampede on the foot overbridge at Santragachhi station claimed two lives and injured 12, things seemed to have changed at the station premises. On Wednesday, the station was looking cleaner, the staff seemed more disciplined and uniformed scouts and guides of South Eastern Railway (SER) were seen patrolling the overbridge across the sprawling railway yard, coaxing passengers to move towards the platforms instead of waiting on top with their luggage. A massive retinue of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel also guided passengers to their designated platforms after announcements were made. Passengers were also asked not to cross the tracks but use the overbridge. If the knee-jerk reaction after the tragedy seemed too good to be true, closer scrutiny revealed that it indeed was. The problems are bound to come back even before the dust of the tragedy settles. Passengers were almost unanimous in saying that what happened on Tuesday evening could have happened any day. “That’s because the infrastructure in place is the same as that of 2001, when the overbridge was opened,” said a railway official. “At that time, only two mail trains used to halt at Santragachhi. Taking into account the local trains, the station used to handle 5,000 passengers a day. Now, the same station complex has 20 times the footfall, with the station serving 12 pairs of mail trains and more than 98 local trains. There is a second overbridge, but it connects only two platforms 5 and 6”.


One of the major mistakes identified by railway officials is delayed announcement. Most passengers wait for trains on the overbridge, not on the platform, as there is very little gap between announcements and arrivals. “If I wait at platform No. 6 for the train and the announcement is for platform 1, I will surely miss the train,” said Tinku Das, who came to see off his relatives. That’s the reason why the overbridge remains congested. In the absence of a ramp, a passenger needs to physically haul luggage also. “It is impossible for any passenger, carrying luggage, to rush from one platform to another. This is why he finds it easier to wait on the overbridge and keep track of announcements,” said Md. Kamal, president, South Eastern Railways Shop-owners’ Welfare Samiti. There is also a design flaw. The overbridge does not connect platform 6. One needs to walk to the end of the overbridge, get down and then walk up to platform 6. Most passengers don’t find this way and instead get down at platform 5 and walk across the line to access platform 6. Instead of manning the overbridge, RPF personnel are mostly busy catching these “jaywalkers” to penalize them. The overbridge is also used by locals, who are not passengers. It is the only bridge for residents living south of the yard. “If you don’t use the overbridge, you have to take a detour of 3km to use the Betor level crossing,” said a local resident.



AAI cleans drains, desilts river to prevent flooding at airport



Chennai: With monsoon around the corner, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has completed desilting of many water channels that crisscross the campus, connecting eastern and southern neighborhoods through Adyar river, and the space under the runway bridge to prevent flooding at Chennai airport. As part of its short-term measures to prevent floods, AAI has desilted some portion of the Adyar river. AAI has further agreed to pay Rs.60 lakhs to the PWD to desilt the stretch of the river upstream and downstream near the airport. “We have paid Rs.31.5 lakhs to the PWD as the first installment, and the balance will be paid when the work is completed,” said an official. “We have also bought two high-power pumps that can pump out 10lakh litres of water in an hour. We plan to buy two crane-operated pumps for which the tender is getting over,” he added. These pumps can be used to remove water stagnation caused in the drains that carry water from neighbourhoods and pass through the campus. “These drains get clogged faster as the water brings with it floating garbage and debris,” he said. As part of a long-term plan to prevent flooding, AAI has planned to install two sluice gates on the compound wall and install water barriers near critical installations like ILS antennas, DVOR (a navigational aid), radar and other equipment. This would ensure time to create a backup or take steps to protect the equipment before the water level rises. “These are part of the recommendations submitted by IIT-Madras, which studied the airport after the 2015 flood. The sluice gates will be ready in three months,” the official said. IIT-M has submitted a Rs.700 crores plan to protect the airport from floods. But AAI has written to them to scale it down and reduce the cost.



International News



Cathay Pacific hit by data leak affecting 9.4m flyers



Hong Kong: Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific said on Wednesday it had suffered a major data leak affecting up to 9.4 million passengers. The airline admitted data including passport numbers, identity card numbers, email addresses and credit card details was accessed. “We are in the process of contacting affected passengers, using multiple communications channels, and providing them with information on steps they can take to protect themselves,” Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg said in a statement on the airline’s website. “We have no evidence that any personal data has been misused.” Cathay said it had launched an investigation and alerted the police after an ongoing IT operation revealed the hack. Hogg also revealed 403 expired credit card numbers and 27 credit card numbers with no CVV were accessed. “The combination of data accessed varies for each affected passenger,” he said.

News Flash – 24 October 2018

National News



Robbers break open two ATM’s, loot Rs. 23 Lakhs

Both the ATMS at Tamluk and at Debra were broken with a gas-cutter, police said.



Tamluk/Debra: Robbers looted about Rs 23 lakh from two ATMs, one at Tamluk in East Midnapore and the other at Debra in West Midnapore, early on Tuesday. The distance between the two ATMs is about 50km and investigators are not yet certain whether the same gang was involved. The police in both districts said gas-cutters were used to break open the two unguarded ATMs. At Tamluk’s Kankdia Bazar, a gang looted Rs 20.28 lakh from a nationalised bank’s ATM after allegedly breaking open the machine with a gas-cutter. The loot was discovered on Tuesday morning, when the customers went to withdraw cash from the ATM. Tamluk police station, about 11km away, was immediately informed about it. The cops found the wires of all the four CCTV cameras within and outside the ATM snapped. On inspecting the ATM, the police confirmed that gas-cutters were used to break the machine and then, the cash was looted. Sleuths have spoken to the bank authorities and are now trying to gather CCTV images recorded till just before the CCTV camera wires were cut off.


About a month ago, robbers had allegedly snatched Rs 40,000 from a woman after she exited the Kankdia branch of another nationalised bank. Four bike-borne suspects allegedly dragged the woman for about 2.5km till she fell to the ground, sustaining critical injuries. She was treated in a Kolkata hospital but succumbed a fortnight later. The police arrested four suspects and recovered the entire sum. At Debra, masked robbers looted about Rs 3.27 lakh from an ATM of a private bank along NH-6 after allegedly breaking open the machine, also with a gas-cutter. They fled with the case where the cash was stored in the ATM. Locals, who were out at that early hour, noticed the ATM had been broken into and called the Debra police station. Sleuths found that the screens of three of the four CCTV cameras had been smashed and the lower part of the ATM missing. The police called the bank authorities, after which Debra branch officials reached the spot. West Midnapore SP Alok Rajoria said, “The robbers used a gas-cutter to break open the ATM. We have requested the CID to investigate the case.” The police said the ATM was last replenished on Monday morning.



Government considers doubling city’s CCTV network with 5,000 cameras


Mumbai: In July, after a series of burglaries in shops in the Malad-Borivli belt, the police went through CCTV footage and noticed a common pattern. In most cases, a man with a pronounced limp was captured on camera. Ultimately, when a night patrol team spotted a person with a similar limp at a shop in Malad, they knew they had their suspect. After a short chase and scuffle, the police overpowered Shivkumar Dubey, putting an end to his crime run. Two years after the city’s CCTV network was started, the police have reported hundreds of arrests made possible with footage from the network, and also privately installed cameras in housing societies and commercial complexes. Now the state is considering a proposal to almost double the extent of the network by adding 5,000 cameras.


“The proposal is to cover by lanes and blind spots in the city. At present, the network covers Mumbai’s main roads and traffic junctions,” said a senior official. The cost of procuring and installing the new cameras is estimated to be Rs 300-400 crore, he said. Officials said that apart from aiding the police to solve crime, Mumbai’s CCTV network has also helped impose traffic discipline. Since the network’s installation in October 2016, over eight lakh e-challans have been issued to motorists for violating traffic rules, they said. According to the government, the 4,746 cameras in the network are working at a 96% operational rate, though experts say that it is only of late that such a high efficiency has been achieved. Meanwhile, the state cabinet on Tuesday increased the scope of the city’s CCTV project and cleared additional funds of Rs 41 crore, taking the cost of the entire project since its inception to about Rs 980 crore.



1st bitcoin ATM in Bengaluru seized, co-founder held


Bengaluru: A 37-year-old man was arrested here on Tuesday for running India’s first bitcoin ATM kiosk, which police called illegal as it had been set up without approvals. Harish BV, from Tumakuru and co-founder of Unocoin Technologies, Rajajinagar, operated the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road. The kiosk facilitated cryptocurrency deals. Central Crime Branch sleuths seized a teller machine, two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of Unocoin company, a cryptocurrency device and Rs 1.8 lakh. Harish was produced before the I additional chief metropolitan magistrate court which sent him to police custody for seven days. Cops said more arrests are likely. According to police, the kiosk was a platform for bitcoin buyers and sellers. Police requested public not to be lured by the prospect of making huge profits and invest money in cryptocurrencies. Unocoin co-founder Sathvik Viswanath defended his company’s business model, saying it’s perfectly legal for Indians to buy, own or sell bitcoins. “We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018.


The minister’s statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry,” he said. In his 2018-19 budget speech, Arun Jaitley had said, “The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take measures to eliminate use of these crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities”. The ATM in Bengaluru was not operational. “A few mainstream media reports projected it in a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it’ll be up and running soon. It has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation,” said Unocoin. The Unocoin founder said the mall management became apprehensive after media reports. “The reason for panic is because of fake videos on Kannada and English channels. Due to this, our kiosk is not operational. We’ve been trying to actively to get these videos pulled down,” said Sathvik.



GHMC limits breed 90% Swine Flu cases in state


Hyderabad: Over 90% of the swine flu (H1N1) cases and 70% of the dengue and malaria cases recorded in the state are from Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits, health department authorities said, hinting at the lack of adequate sanitation in many parts of the city. While dengue and malaria cases have been reported in large numbers from upmarket areas like Banjara Hills, Begumpet and Manikonda, apart from Uppal, Nizampet, Khajaguda and Old City, especially areas along the Musi belt, cases of these two vector-borne diseases and swine flu are being reported from across the city. While dengue cases started to pick up during the month of August this year, malaria and swine flu cases have seen a three-fold jump over the last few weeks. As many as 1,426 cases of malaria and 2,644 dengue cases have been recorded up to October 8, while 154 swine flu cases have been recorded up to October 12, as per official records of the state health department. “Dengue and malaria are both vector-borne diseases and are related to sanitation. Around 70% of these cases are being reported from GHMC limits. When we see swine flu cases, more than 90% are from GHMC limits. This is due to population density and other related factors. In the case of swine flu, recent festivities like Bathukamma, Durga Puja, Navratri and Dasara have also added to the spread of the airborne virus,” explained Dr G Srinivas Rao, director of public health, Telangana.



2 Dead, 12 Hurt in FOB Stampede


Kolkata: Two persons were killed and at least 12 others injured, nine among them serious, after a stampede on the foot over bridge (FOB) at Santragachhi station on Tuesday evening. The incident occurred around 6pm after three trains arrived at the station even as hundreds were waiting to catch one bound for Visakhapatnam. South Eastern Railway (SER) officials said cross-movement on the FOB and the stairs led to the disaster. Some passengers tripped and fell and behind them trampled upon them. The deceased have been identified as Kalakant Singh (32) and Taser Sardar (54). Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was at the Durga Puja Carnival on Red Road when the accident occurred, rushed to Santragachhi on receiving information. After reaching the accident spot, she blamed the railways for lack of coordination and announced compensation for the dead and seriously injured. “There seems to have been some negligence and callousness on the part of the railways. When there was a change in platform at the last moment, more time should have been given for passengers to board. Naturally, there was a rush to board the trains and the accident occurred. The railways need to behave more responsibly. Why weren’t precautions taken? I was the railway minister and am still part of the railway family so I am not blaming anybody. However, since we are responsible for law and order, an administrative inquiry will be conducted by the state. The chief secretary will announce this on Wednesday. The next to kin of those killed will receive Rs 5 lakh each and those seriously injured will get a compensation of Rs 1 lakh.


Others will also be compensated after ascertaining the level of their injuries,” Mamata said. On being asked where the railways may have gone wrong, the CM said: “There was certainly some lack of co-ordination. Santragachhi is a busy station used by thousands. Why can’t there be a second FOB? How much does it cost?”. SER officials, however, said there was no change of platform and Santragachhi is undergoing major upgrade. More than a thousand people got off the Nagercoil-Shalimar Express that stopped at platform 1. These passengers climbed the FOB and made their way towards platform 6 and the exit to the station. On the way, they came across several hundred people waiting for the Shalimar-Visakhapatnam Express that was to stop at platform 2. These people were waiting on the FOB with their luggage, blocking the tracks. Passengers were also waiting on platform 1 for the Santragachhi-Chennai Express. Four trains had passed the station shortly before the incident and passengers were waiting to board four more. “At the same time, two suburban trains stopped at the station and more people got off. They too climbed the FOB and there was chaos. It is possible that somebody sparked off a rumour about a bridge collapse, which lead to the panic and stampede,” a senior SER official said. The railways have also announced a compensation on of Rs 5Lakh for the deceased and Rs1lakh for the injured.



5 Bengal tourists die in Sikkim crash



Gangtok/Barasat: Five tourists from Barasat, Madhyamgram and Machlandapur were killed and three got critically injured after their vehicle fell into a gorge at Tinjerbung near Reshi Bazar in west Sikkim on Monday night. The vehicle skidded off the road and plunged into the gorge. All five victims died on the spot. The group was heading for Kaluk in West Sikkim from Namchi. The dead have been identified as Bibhas Pathak (42), Lily Pathak (52), Asha Lata Pathak (61), Brajendranath Pathak (71) and Niharendu Biswas (41). The driver Ashim Rai and two others, Tusharkant Pathak and Pratap Biswas, were critically injured. The victims were first taken to a Namchi hospital, which referred them to a hospital in Siliguri. Autopsies of the five victims were completed at the Geyzing district hospital on Tuesday. The victims’ bodies were handed over to relatives. A joint rescue operation was launched by a five-member team led by Geyzing Regional Transport Officer (RTO) Sonam Wangchen Bhutia. It comprised members of Pelling Tourism Development Society and police officers.


The group of 17 from Barasat and Machlandapur set out for Sikkim on Sunday. The members were travelling in two cars while descending from Chardham to Kaluk village. “We started around 5pm from Chardham for Kaluk. The journey was slow due to heavy traffic. At around 8.15pm, we reached Kaluk and went into the hotel where our rooms were booked while everybody checked in, I was waiting outside for the other car in which my husband and six others were travelling. After waiting 10minutes, I called my husband but got no response. Then I called up another relative in that car but got no response from him either,” said an inconsolable Sabita Biswas, wife of Barasat resident Niharendu Biswas (57), who died in the accident. Sumana Pathak, wife of another victim, Bibhas Pathak, too, tried to control her emotions. She tried putting up a brave face while trying to cheer up her two kids Tinni (11) and Gunja (5).



Blasts set off by country bombs kill 4 in Kanchipuram

GUTTED: In the impact, the walls of the house were reduced to rubble and the walls of neighbouring homes were also badly damaged.



Chennai: Four people, including a woman, died on Tuesday afternoon in blasts triggered by country bombs stocked illegally in a house in Kancheepuram town. Police said a mother-son duo Saira and Mushtaq Ahmed, who died on the spot, had brought the country bombs to Kancheepuram from their native Vellore district recently. They had stocked it inside their house located on a narrow lane in ward 35. According to police, around 4pm some spark or heat triggered the explosion which reverberated across the street. In the ensuing fire, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder in Saira’s residence also caught fire and caused another major explosion. The walls of the house were reduced to rubble in the impact and a few two-wheelers parked nearby also caught fire, police said. With houses packed close to each other on the narrow street, the walls of two neighbouring homes were also badly damaged. In addition to the woman and her son, a man named Masthan, who was also present in the house with them, died on the spot. The bodies were burned beyond recognition, police said. Police added that a 70-yearold neighbour, Sarbhuddin Banu, was also injured in the explosion and was rushed to the Kancheepuram general hospital, where he later died of injuries. Witnesses said the fire and rescue services personnel who rushed to the spot faced difficulties given the width of the lane. They could not bring in their wide-bodied vehicle. Earth movers were deployed to break what was left of the walls of the neighbouring residences to check for bodies buried in the rubble. Police have registered a case and are probing how such a large stockpile of local explosives was brought to town and the reasons for the same.



International News



New TB drug claims to cure 8 of 10 patients



Paris: A new treatment for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis can cure 80% of sufferers, according to a trial hailed on Monday as a “game changer” in the fight against the global killer. Doctors in Belarus — a country with one of the highest rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the world — spent months treating patients with a new drug, bed aquiline, alongside other antibiotics. The results were startling: Of the 181 patients given the new drug, 168 people completed the course and 144 were totally cured. The World Health Organization says currently only 55% of people with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis are successfully treated. The Belarus trial cure rate — 80% — was largely replicated in bed aquiline trials in other countries in eastern Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia and is to be unveiled at a major tuberculosis conference later this week. “The results from this study confirm… that newer drugs like bed aquiline can cure and are game changers for people living with multidrug-resistant and extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis,” Paula Fujiwara, scientific director of The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said.

News Flash – 23 October 2018

National News



BMC to shore up safety at beaches, hire 59 more ‘Professional’ Lifeguards

The move follows a government resolution directing the BMC to ensure adequate safety.



Mumbai: With several drowning incidents being reported at city beaches during monsoon, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has decided to get on board a professional agency to provide lifeguards and increase their number from 34 to 93. The lifeguards will be posted at six of the most-visited beaches including Girgaum, Dadar, Juhu, Versova, Gorai and Aksa shores. The civic body will spend Rs 10 crore to procure 59 new guards for whom wooden towers will be erected. The fire brigade at present has 11 permanent lifeguards and 23 serving on contractual basis. Apart from these guards, flood rescue teams and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel are deployed on beaches on public holidays and high tide days. Now, the fire brigade has proposed that 59 lifeguards be outsourced from a private agency. Of the existing 34 lifeguards, 11 will work with the new ones and the rest will supervise all of them. A senior civic official said, “A government resolution has directed that beaches should be adequately protected so that there are no drownings. Following the same, we have moved to hire the services of a professional agency who will depute experts. The 93 lifeguards will work in two shifts”. “Depending on the length of the beach, the number of lifeguards to be deployed will be decided. They will be trained at a government institute and will carry life-saving equipment like binoculars, whistles and jet skis. In case of drownings, lifeguards will be expected to swim up to 200 metres inside the sea,” added the official. The proposal for appointing the agency will be tabled before the civic standing committee for an approval on Wednesday.



6-hour runway closure hits last-min flyers


Mumbai: The airport will remain closed for six hours on Tuesday for pre-scheduled runway maintenance work. While airlines have cancelled or rescheduled flights, the closure is expected to hit last-minute air ticket buyers, especially those who need to fly out or arrive into the city in the evening. Both the main and secondary runways will remain closed between 11am and 5pm. At most airports, afternoon usually experiences leaner air traffic than early morning and evening hours, during which traffic peaks. “But since Mumbai airport is congested, the afternoon time slot is not as lean as it used to be till some years ago,” said an air traffic controller. Passengers booked on evening departures out of Mumbai can expect delays, with flights scheduled between 5pm and 7.30pm, to be the worst hit. The pinch though would be felt by flyers who would need to buy an air ticket on an emergency to fly out of the city in the afternoon or later. Given that its peak travel season, airfares out of Mumbai have climbed, though on Monday, airfares for Tuesday travel hadn’t skyrocketed. The cheapest, all-inclusive one-way fare to Delhi on an evening flight started at Rs 6,000, while that to Bangalore cost Rs 5,500. On Kolkata flights, among the expensive routes out of Mumbai, the cheapest evening one-way fare began at Rs 9,700. Goa one-way was expensive at Rs 6,500, while fare for Wednesday travel was Rs 3,800. “Since it’s only a one-day runway closure, airfares haven’t been hit greatly,” said an airline official. Next year, Mumbai airport will be closed for six hours thrice a week between February 7 and March 30.



At 4,700, Maharashtra tops in Dengue cases, Odisha second


Pune: With 4,667 recorded cases, Maharashtra has earned the dubious distinction of having maximum dengue reports in the country this year, which health activists have blamed on the “collective failure of administration at various levels”. The latest data of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBCP) revealed that Maharashtra recorded maximum (4,667) dengue cases till September 30 this year — much higher than Odisha which occupies second spot with 3,883 cases. Kerala at third spot, recorded 3,660 cases, followed by Andhra Pradesh (3,314), Himachal Pradesh (3,303) and Rajasthan (3,022). “This reflects the collective failure of administration, besides lack of intra-departmental coordination and a disregard for carrying out basic vector-control and anti-larval measures,” health activist Sanjeev Dabhade said. He added state and civic health staffers were not carrying out weekly surveillance and antilarval work effectively. “Entomological surveillance is the gold standard to prevent spread of dengue, which is often neglected or done halfheartedly,” he said. Dismissing this claim, state entomologist Mahendra Jagtap said, “The screening and detection work in Maharashtra is robust and transparent. We detect, treat, record and report every patient diagnosed with dengue in the state. That’s why the dengue disease burden in Maharashtra is always on the higher side”. However, he added that the number of dengue deaths have reduced significantly due to early diagnosis and treatment.


“The Union health ministry’s report shows that there were 7,829 cases and 65 deaths in Maharashtra during the same period (January 1 to September 30) last year. The cases and deaths have dropped to 4,667 and 18 respectively in the same period this year,” Jagtap said. Under optimal condition, the life cycle of dengue causing Aedes aegypti mosquito can be as short as 7-10 days. The health staff deployed by state for surveillance work is supposed to monitor house and container index by carrying out house-to-house surveys every 15 days. They are trained to keep the indices at zero and not let it exceed the 10% mark. “If it exceeds the 10% mark, the health staff should inform the medical officer in charge of the area, who is supposed to intensify surveillance to ensure destruction of mosquito-breeding sites, while taking up a door-to-door survey to identify people down with fever,” a state health official said. While carrying out the survey, workers are supposed to sensitize and educate people about how to prevent mosquito breeding in and around their dwellings. “The health staff is often found to be lax in one and or more of these parameters of surveillance, resulting in high number of dengue cases,” the official said. In India, dengue outbreaks have been reported since the 1950s. Data provided by NVBDCP and earlier publications of Pune-based National Institute of Virology show that dengue has been endemic in 16 states since then.



Bhalswa landfill continues to simmer as city battles poor air


New Delhi: Even as the capital’s air quality has become a cause of concern these days, remaining mostly ‘poor’ but tending towards the ‘very poor’ level, a toxic mass of polluting particles is being released into the air from the Bhalswa landfill in northwest Delhi. On Monday, the fire that started on Sunday, was still smouldering and sending thick smoke into the air. The fire brigade was at the spot and trying to douse the embers. Over 13 fire tenders and a dozen trunkful’s of construction and demolition waste (C&D) have been used to contain the fire. Often, to control a methane fire at landfills, as in Bhalswa, the authorities use construction debris rather than water because it is more prudent to fill up the spaces where the gas gathers. However, overuse could create methane pools that can lead to explosions. “The fire was doused on Monday afternoon and the situation is now under control. We used construction waste to curb it,” claimed a senior official of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. The 40-acre landfill was declared exhausted in 2006, but the non-availability of land for a replacement site has led to the corporation continuing to use it to dump municipal waste. The landfill site has also crossed the permitted safe height allowed by the environment ministry by at least 30 metres. It experiences fires most frequently among the three landfills, the others being Ghazipur and Okhla.


Following the trash slide at the Ghazipur landfill last year, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation had decided to use an open plot in Rani Kheda for dumping garbage. However, the protests of the residents there led to the cancellation of the measure. The civic body has finalised the tender for the erection of a 15MW waste-to-energy power plant on a 12-acre site near the landfill in the hope that this will help diminish the quantum of waste requiring dumping. “The idea is to ensure that the garbage is processed on a daily basis and only the matter not utilised by the waste to-energy plant is dumped in the landfill,” said a civic official. Similar plants are in operation in Ghazipur, Okhla and Narela-Bawana. The reclamation plan for the Bhalswa landfill site was turned down by the civic body because the project entailed an expenditure of Rs 900 crore. It was decided instead to install a methane extractor plant to pipe off the inflammable gas from the garbage heap before turning the whole into a green space by covering the humongous mound with layers of soil and seeding it with grass. The official added, “We had earlier planned to give the material from the Bhalswa landfill site to the National Highways Authority of India for use in road construction, but a study established that the landfill’s content had zero calorific value and so was not good for use in road construction projects”.



Case against Security firm



Bengaluru: Police have registered a case against a private security agency that provided armed guards to self-proclaimed social activist Muthappa Rai. The action comes after photographs of Rai performing Ayudha Puja to at least half-a-dozen guns and pistols went viral on social media. Rai appeared before the Central Crime Branch on Saturday, along with his bodyguards and K Vasantha Poovaiah, owner of the security agency. Police found that Poovaiah has been running the agency without permission from the Internal Security Division (ISD).



As Gandhi Hospital brims, Health dept. to set up Swine Flu centre at OGH



Hyderabad: With the swine flu ward at Gandhi Hospital, where complicated cases of swine flu are being rushed from across the state, chock-a-block with patients, the state health department has now planned to set up another specialty nodal centre at the Osmania General Hospital. Also with a three-fold jump in cases, the health department authorities have pressed into action nodal swine flu teams for quick screening of patients and arranging logistics. The nodal centre at OGH will accommodate patients who develop severe respiratory stress along with other red flag symptoms of swine flu like breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood and bluish discoloration of nails in addition to fever and cough. As the condition of such patients can progress rapidly to pneumonia and even lead to cardiac failure, such patients need intensive care. While all district hospitals are equipped to handle swine flu patients who are stable, nodal centres are meant for tackling complicated cases.


In fact, if the number of cases continue to rise further, all six teaching hospitals in the state might require to be upgraded to nodal centres. Apart from the nodal centre coming up at OGH, two more nodal centres are currently under consideration to deal with the alarming rise in the number of cases. These are likely to come up at Fever Hospital and Warangal. “Ventilators have been made available at the special ward at OGH. We are upgrading more hospitals, which have the intensive care (ICU) facility, to nodal centres for handling complicated cases. A round of intensive training has been completed for a few centres last week,” said Dr K Shankar, director, Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM). Meanwhile, health authorities have not only sounded an alert and sent an internal set of advisories and recommendations to all government hospitals two weeks back, teams have also been trained at various hospitals to man the isolation wards.



GSI designs app-based landslide warning for Darjeeling villages


Kolkata: People in the three most landslide-prone villages in the country will now be alerted by WhatsApp messages and sirens on phone apps at the slightest signals of landslides. The Geological Survey of India has developed a “people-centric” Landslide Early Warning (LEW) for Giddapahar, Paglajhora and 14th Mile villages, which it had earlier marked among the country’s most landslide-prone zones. The LEW is connected to mobile apps for fast and mass dissemination. The system has been installed by GSI in the chosen villages, all in Kurseong block of Darjeeling, along with the district administration. The system has started working. The loss of life and property in the three villages due to landslides since 2003 has been immense and hence GSI decided to install the system here first. “Most landslides are rainfall-triggered and earlier we had a top-down system, where the administration was alerted first and then it trickled down to the population. But we wanted to change this because we thought that a bottom-up approach, where possible victims are alerted as soon as there is a trigger, will save more lives,” said Ashish Nath, director of GSI.


The villages are located over the crown of an active rock slide, which reactivated several times in the two decades. The houses and grounds have developed cracks and show signs of active mass movement, he added. Shallow, fast-moving rainfall-induced landslides are one of the most common that kill several people every year in these villages and that had induced the GSI to study the pattern of landslides. There are 18 such zones that the GSI has marked as extremely vulnerable and the three Darjeeling villages, where the warning system has been installed, top that list. The area has been studied using the latest In-SAR technology (Interferometric synthetic aperture radar), used for remote sensing, by putting five corner reflectors, rainfall threshold analysis for landslide initiation within the Kurseong area and finally the results culminated into development of the LEW.



Monsoon maladies: 50 dengue, 20 H1N1 cases daily across TN


Chennai: At least 50 cases of dengue and 20 cases of H1N1 are diagnosed among the 5,000-plus patients who visit hospitals across the state every day complaining of fever. And health experts fear a spike in these numbers once the rain begins. Most hospitals in Chennai and bordering areas of Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts are seeing an increase in admissions due to fever. On Monday, at the state-run Institute of Child Health, there were more than 27 children with dengue. There was also an increase in H1N1 cases and other respiratory ailments, said hospital director Dr A T Arasar Seeralar. The city, which now has nearly three-fourths of the fever cases in the state, usually sees a spike in monsoon ailments from September. “This year, it has affected a lot of children. Besides mosquito-borne ailments, hospitals are beginning to see increase in respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and pneumonia,” he said. Hospitals are also beginning to see two cases each of leptospirosis and typhoid, caused by contaminated water or food. Private hospitals have reported an increase in fever cases, most of them children. Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital has 15 cases of dengue and about five H1N1 cases. Hospital medical director Dr S Balasubramanian said the facility has been reporting all positive cases to the health authorities. “As a policy we don’t test outpatients for dengue or H1N1. We give them medications to reduce fever and other complications,” he said. While there are cases reported among adults — the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital had about four dengue cases among 50 patients admitted for fever on Monday – what has left pediatricians worried about dengue this time is that the disease disrupts immune system and is causing cardiac arrest and brain swelling.


“We are studying the number of patients who died because of myocardial dysfunction and encephalopathy,” said Dr Arasar. The state public health department will follow up on dengue cases to track the source of infection. “We had given a three-day deadline to government and private organisations to clean up surroundings to prevent mosquito breeding. If public places such as theatres, religious places and parks are not clean we will initiate action against them,” said director of public health Dr K Kolandaiswamy. Besides cleaning up the place and collecting a fee, the department will slap fines. The state authorities will meet residents’ welfare associations, hotel and mall owners to sensitize them about the need to remove scrap and unused items from their premises. The state is advocating hand hygiene to prevent H1N1 infection. “At least 30% of patients with H1N1 have history of travel to neighbouring states,” he said. “We are telling doctors to start patients with fever, sore throat, running nose, watery eyes and other clinical symptoms on oseltamivir even before the test,” he said. Health secretary J Radhakrishnan said officials will meet members of the state pharmacy and druggist associations. “We will ask them to notify patients with fever coming for medications without meeting doctors. Action will be taken against druggists who distribute antibiotics and other scheduled drugs over the counter because it delays right therapy and causes death,” he said.



International News



America goes crackpot over $2.2 billion Jackpot

FEELING LUCKY: A man reaches for his Mega Millions tickets hours before the draw of the jackpot, at a store in California.



Washington: From water cooler chatter to elevator small talk, it is the subject du jour. A record $2.2 billion-plus is up for grabs in two American lotteries this week. And just so you know — foreigners and non-residents are eligible to buy and win the lotteries, although they will be subject to different tax laws. But just so you also know: you have greater chances of getting struck by lightning (one in million), getting killed by a hippopotamus (one in 2.5 million), and having identical quadruplets (one in 15 million), than winning one of the two lotteries at stake, Mega Millions or Powerball, which come in at approximately one in 300 million chance. Still, millions of Americans are streaming into gas stations and convenience stores to slap down anything from a couple of bucks to hundreds of dollars, often by way of office pool, to take a shot at the improbable, fueled by hope, dream, and outright fantasy. Both the principal US lotteries, Mega Millions and Powerball, have rolled over for several weeks now with no winners, resulting in what is a $40 million initial prize for a twice-a-week draw ballooning to more than $1.6 billion for Mega Millions and $600 million for Powerball, for a combined $2.2 billion (approx. Rs 16,000 crores). After sundry federal and state taxes and fees, the winner can have expected to get about 60% of the payout if he or she accepts it in one lump sum, instead of the option of taking it in equal instalments over 30 years. For Mega Millions, players now pick five numbers from 1 to 70 and a Mega number of 1 to 25 (for eg 12 34 57 65 69 and 12).


With so many combinations, the odds of nailing the winning number right now is said to be one in 302 million. Powerball works along the same lines. The last time somebody hit the Mega Millions was July 24, when an office pool in Silicon Valley won the $543 million jackpot. The jackpot reset at $40 million for the next drawing and has been soaring ever since, each week’s failure to pick the winning number ballooning the overall prize money by tens of millions of dollars. In fact, it turns out that lottery officials tweaked things to make it even tougher to win and ramp up the prize money fearing that the relatively modest but more frequent prizes in the $100 million range was resulting in “jackpot fatigue”. Lottery officials banked on the fact that when the jackpot grows to an absurdly high figure, even skeptical players will buy tickets. They figured right. The story has been done to death before – even without reporters winning the lottery – and it does not have a happy ending. Most lottery winners’ lives end in disaster – even death – as they are overcome by misfortune, not to speak of friends and relatives who come out of the woodwork, along with conmen and tricksters. Still, Americans continued to chase the jackpot dream. In 2016, Americans spent more than $80 billion on lotteries, eclipsing the combined total of what they spent on movies, video games, books, music and sports tickets. It dropped to below $77 billion in 2017, but expect an uptick in 2018 with the ongoing billion-dollar bonanza.

News Flash – 22 October 2018

National News



Attacker Dog Squad to Guard key city buildings



Mumbai: The city police are likely to have a dog squad to protect vital installations in the city. These canines will be trained in sniffing out suspicious stuff and also to attack if the need arises, said a police source. Already, the police use the services of dogs to sniff out explosives, narcotics and the trail of a fugitive. The new squad of attack dogs will be deployed to protect at least two dozen vital installations of strategic and defence importance across the city. These include Mantralaya, Raj Bhavan, the chief minister’s bungalow, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the office of the state top cop among others. “A plan for this new squad for this purpose is being chalked out,” said a police source. “The canines will be trained in sniffing out suspicious items and could even attack a suspected subject”. This squad of dogs is likely to be a combination of different breeds—Labrador, German Shepherd and Rottweiler. The squad, which is yet to be named, will not be stationed at one place. “The dog squad will carry out its duties at different places in a given day and won’t be dedicated to a particular place,” said a senior police officer. “For instance, it could be taken to one place in the morning and a few hours later could be transferred to another spot”.



41 cases of Leprosy found in Mumbai, 3,000 in State



Mumbai: Forty-one leprosy cases were detected during a door-to-door survey carried out between September 24 and October 11 by state health department officials. In the rest of Maharashtra, 3,000 confirmed cases were found in the same drive. “Usually, we detect 4,000 cases a year across the state, but we have found over 7,000 new cases in four drives carried out across the state this year,” said a senior state health official. Leprosy is a bacterial infection that has an incubation period of five to 20 years. “People don’t realise that a skin infection that refuses to go could be a symptom of leprosy. It does not itch or pain so they don’t pay attention to it,” said Dr Raju Jotkar, who heads the leprosy programme in the city. The country declared elimination of leprosy in 2005 as the number of cases had dropped to less than one per 1,000 people. While the numbers are still under control, public health experts fear a resurgence because of lack of funding and awareness. Around 10% of the cases are nowadays found among children under the age of 15 years.



75 die of H1N1 in state in October 38 on Ventilator


Mumbai: Seventy-five people in the state have died of swine flu so far this month, taking the H1N1 death count in Maharashtra to 244 till October 18 this year. Of the 244 casualties, the maximum number of deaths occurred in the last two months. The latest state health report revealed that Nashik accounted for most with 76 deaths, followed by Pune city (64) and Pimpri Chinchwad (33). Satara with 28 deaths and Kolhapur which witnessed 17 were also hit hard. Moreover, the condition of 38 patients is currently critical and they have been put on ventilator support at different hospitals in the state. Of them, 29 patients are undergoing treatment at hospitals in Pune. Director of the state health department, Sanjeev Kamble, said that a large number of people who succumb to swine flu also suffer from other associated illnesses or co-morbid conditions. Health experts attributed the sharp rise in swine flu cases and deaths in the state in the last two months to extended rainfall, fluctuations in day and night temperatures and co-circulation of other influenzas. As assessment of deceased patients has shown, a delay in treatment was one of the main reasons for the complications and resultant death


Another state health official said that they have asked medical practitioners to administer oseltamivir to patients with co-morbid conditions within 24 hours. Analysis shows that the H1N1 virus hit the state harder in 2017 than the previous year. In 2017, a total of 777 people died of swine flu in the state. Since the 2009 swine flu pandemic, 2015 was the worst year for the state when the virus had claimed 905 lives. The virus activity attained two distinct peaks in 2017. According to scientists at National Institute of Virology in Pune, the virus’ transmission was at an all-time high first in summer (March/April) and then again during monsoon (August/September). Since 2009, the California strain of the virus had been doing the rounds in India. However, since January this year, scientists at the Pune institute have been seeing only the Michigan strain of the virus. Experts said the new strain could be behind the increase in cases and mortality. This is yet to be scientifically proven. State surveillance officer Pradip Awate said, “As per the NIV scientists, the molecular markers of virulence do not indicate that the Michigan strain is more virulent than the California strain”.



China’s Flood Alert helped Avert Disaster



New Delhi: China’s proactive approach on sharing hydrological data with India averted a crisis in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam as timely flood alerts helped central and local authorities take precautionary measures and evacuate people to safer places. China had last year stopped sharing data after the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam, making it difficult for the Central Water Commission (CWC) to predict floods in north-eastern states. Sharing of data resumed this year after both the countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in June. The MoU is meant for sharing hydrological data from May 15 to October 15 every year. “China, however, shared data with us even beyond the cut-off date of October 15 when it encountered an emergency situation (landslide-induced blocking of the main stream of Yarlung Zangpo/Brahmaputra river) to its side,” CWC chairman S Masood Husain told TOI on Sunday. China had also kept Indian ambassador in Beijing in the loop. The ambassador, in turn, was in touch with the cabinet secretary and chief secretaries of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Asked about the situation on Sunday, the CWC chairman said it was absolutely normal and there was no need to panic.



First Police Museum: An ode to fallen Heroes, 2,000 years of policing


New Delhi: A large number of visitors thronged the National Police Memorial museum, the first one in the country dedicated to police officers, on the first day after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As soon as you enter the corridor of the museum, which has five galleries focusing on different segments, you will be able to see examples of over 2,000 years of policing from the ancient till the recent times. These include the Kautilya system of law and order in 310BC, southern literature on policing and constables of Lanka. The first thing inside the museum is the rank structure, starting with constable, head constable, leading up to director general of police and director of intelligence bureau. The next installations are dedicated to the forces guarding the border and Indo-Tibetan Border Police. The central protection forces make up most of the next segment, with installations focusing on CISF, SPG, NSG, RPF, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, CPRF and IB. The displays of weapons like 5.56mm and 7.62mm rifles, .455 bore revolver and 9mm carbine are expected to be huge hit among youngsters. There are other installations about police bands and buglers and Indian police in postal stamps/philately. The 1,600 sq. meter museum takes visitors on a walkthrough describing police forces in each of the 30 states and six Union territories.


There are special sections dedicated to role of women in police and the animal squads — dog squad, camel squad, mounted police (horses) and pigeon post. For those inclined towards research-oriented work, there is a section highlighting the role of Bureau of Police Research and Development, LNJN National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science and National Technical Research Organisation. The most interesting segment is the one dedicated to martyrs and outstanding police operations. Sources said this is an evolving section and more stories would be added over time. Currently, there are about nine stories laid out in the martyrdom section, including Hot Springs Ladakh in 1959 where three police officers were killed, Akshardham attack in 2002 (Operation Vajra Shakti), Maoists attack Dantewada in 2010, and martyrs of Uttarakhand floods in 2013. A special film on 26/11 and an installation on Vandana Malik, the first woman IPS officer martyred in 1989, are also displayed in this section. Other police operations include Operation Puttur (2013), Noorbagh encounter (2003), and killing of forest brigand Veerappan. A section is also dedicated to gallantry awards and police contribution in international operations.



Ailing Hyderabad: District worst affected by Malaria outbreak, ranks 2nd in Dengue


Hyderabad: Denizens in the twin cities have been asked to protect themselves against mosquito-borne diseases after official figures showed Hyderabad as the worst affected when it comes to malaria, and second worst affected district in terms of the dengue cases. Apart from the dreaded swine flu virus affecting many in the city, dengue and malaria cases continue to tumble in large numbers, making it a deadly concoction of viruses. In the last two weeks, Hyderabad recorded 40 cases of malaria, while 70 dengue cases were recorded in the same period. Mahbubnagar recorded the highest number of dengue cases with nearly 150 in the last two weeks alone, authorities said. “Mahabunagar is also having a spurt in swine flu cases currently. Dengue is also expected to increase in the district as well as Hyderabad city due to the recent rainfall and fluctuation in temperatures. The three viruses together pose a huge threat to people and they need to be doubly careful,” said a senior official from the state health department. Dengue and malaria cases are expected to go up further due to the recent rounds of rainfall and subsequent waterlogging in various parts of the city. The viruses thrive in lower temperatures and authorities expect the numbers to go up in the next two weeks. About 1436 cases of malaria, 2644 cases of dengue and 244 cases of chikungunya were recorded across the state, since the beginning of the year up to the second week of October.



Dengue claims 53-yr-old on Bijoya Dashami; state toll crosses 15


Kolkata: When the city was bidding adieu to Goddess Durga on Saturday night, a family from Kanchrapara was busy preparing for the last journey of one of its members, who died of dengue. Fifty-three-year-old Laxmi Banerjee died at a city hospital on the night of Dashami — five days after being detected with dengue. Banerjee’s death certificate mentions dengue hemorrhagic fever as one of the causes of death. The vector-borne disease has claimed more than 15 lives in the state this year so far. The death toll includes at least eight children. Virologists fear the dengue menace may continue for some time till the mercury starts dipping. The resident of Sidheswari Lane in North 24 Parganas’ Kanchrapara had been suffering from fever since October 12. On the advice of the local doctor she was initially taken to a government hospital in Kanchrapara. Doctors in the hospital suspected dengue and shifter her to another government hospital in Sealdah, where her blood samples tested positive for dengue on October 14. According to the family members, Banerjee’s condition kept deteriorating despite treatment. They shifted her to a private hospital in Kolkata on October 15 as she needed better facilities.


“We shifted her thrice, but there was no improvement in my wife’s condition. Her platelet count had dipped. The platelet transfusions and ventilation support did not help either,” said her husband Narayan Banerjee, a former employee of Indian Railways. According to a source at the Kolkata hospital, the patient’s platelet count had dipped as low as 62,000 per microliter of blood and she was brought to the hospital in a very critical condition. “The patient also had chronic kidney problems and diabetes. These factors only worsened her condition and made the job a tough one for doctors attending to her,” said a source at the hospital. Doctors declared her dead around 10.40pm on Saturday, citing dengue hemorrhagic fever, sepsis and multi organ failure among reasons for the death. Banerjee was a resident of ward number 7 under Kanchrapara Municipality. The civic body swung into action on getting the news of the death, taking up vector control exercises. But locals said that it was too little and too late. “Such drive to combat mosquito breeding should have been taken up before the onset of the monsoon. It’s unfortunate that the civic body waits for deaths to happen before coming up with such knee-jerk reactions,” said a local resident.



Three women die of H1N1 infection in Southern Tamil Nadu



Madurai: Three women died of H1N1 infection in two hospitals in the state over the last two days. Two of the women were from Madurai, while the other was from Nagercoil. Meenakshi, 41, of Karumbalai, was admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai on Friday morning with high fever. She died on Friday evening. Sources in the health department said it was a confirmed case of H1N1 infection. The woman, however, had other health complications, including diabetes and viral pneumonia, they added. On Sunday evening, 70-year-old Veerammal of Anupanadi, Madurai, died in the Government Rajaji Hospital. Dean of the hospital, Dr D Marudhupandian, said Meenakshi tested positive for H1N1 virus in the hospital, while Veerammal tested positive in tests by another hospital and negative in those done by GRH. “We will have to wait for other results to confirm if Veerammal had H1N1infection,’’ he said. Teresa Josephine Rani, 60, from Nagercoil, who had been admitted to Asaripallam Government Hospital in Kanyakumari on October 12 after she tested positive for H1N1, died on Saturday evening. Sources said four people were undergoing treatment for H1N1 infection in GRH in Madurai.



International News



Taiwan train crash kills 18, injures 175



Taipei: Eighteen people died and 175 were injured when a train derailed in Taiwan on Sunday, authorities said, in the island’s worst rail disaster in more than three decades. Four carriages overturned in the crash, which occurred on a line popular among tourists when all eight cars ran off the tracks on a bend near a station, officials said. A total of 366 passengers were onboard. It was unclear what caused the crash. A probe was under way to find out the cause of the crash, Taiwan Railways Administration said. “The train was in pretty good condition,” deputy chief Lu Chieh-Shen said. As of 9.35pm (local time) all rescue operations had ended.



China coal mine mishap kills 2, leaves 18 trapped



Beijing: Two people died and 18 were trapped in a coal mine in China on Sunday after a rock burst destroyed part of a mining tunnel, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. The spontaneous fracturing of rock — a kind of earthquake induced by excavation — took place around 11pm (local time) Saturday in Shandong province. Part of a water drainage tunnel was destroyed in the burst, said the official Xinhua news agency, and two people were killed by fractured rocks that fell in the tunnel. More than 300 people were working inside the mine at the time of the rock burst, and most were successfully lifted to safety. Eighteen remained trapped underground late on Sunday. Two people who were trapped have been rescued, according to China Central Television. The incident “has nothing to do with workers’ operations,” an official with the Shandong Coal Mine safety supervision bureau said. The official, surnamed Tian, said nearly 140 rescuers were dispatched. Ventilation has returned to around 200 metres of the damaged tunnel, Xinhua said. The cause of the accident was being investigated. In August, 13 miners were killed in a mine explosion in southern China. Rock burst accidents are often caused by fractures due to mining.