News Flash – 10 July 2018

National News



Mumbai standing after season’s Heaviest Rain


Mumbai: The downpour continued on Monday, claiming one life in the city and marking a wet and difficult start to the working week. Complaints of water-logging, delayed train services, and traffic hit by potholes were rife but Mumbai was on its feet with water receding faster than usual and its lifeline—the suburban train services— running on all four routes, albeit with delays. The IMD Colaba observatory recorded 170mm rainfall in the 24-hour span from July 8 (8.30am) to July 9 (8.30am), the highest for this monsoon. Santacruz recorded 122mm rain in the same period, which makes it very heavy rainfall at both stations. On Monday, Colaba and Santacruz recorded another 110.2mm and 78.7mm rain till 8.30pm. In all, the city (Santacruz) has received over 50% of its annual required rainfall in barely a month since the onset of monsoon on June 9. The total rain received for July is 645mm, against the average of 840mm required for the month. This shows 77% of the average July rain has already been received. This at a time when total rainfall for July across the country is 16% below average. The continuous downpour has also brought down maximum temperatures. On Monday, Colaba recorded 25.2°C and Santacruz 26.4°C. The Santacruz temperature is the second lowest for July since 2011. Minimum on Monday at 8.30am was 22.2°C, lowest in last five years.


IMD’s forecast for the week is the same, with heavy to very heavy rains predicted at isolated places till Friday. Ajay Kumar from IMD Mumbai said the reason was cyclonic circulations, one over Chhattisgarh and Odisha, and another over south Gujarat and its neighbourhood. “The westerlies are strong at 40-50 km per hour and this condition is expected to continue for the next five days,” said Kumar. The downpour meant flood-prone spots in Dadar, Sion, King’s Circle and Khar, Lower Parel, Andheri went under and traffic had to be stopped at places till water receded. BEST buses on a few routes had to be diverted. BMC additional municipal commissioner Vijay Singhal said despite flooding, water receded fast. “Pre-monsoon work at chronic flooding spots like Fitwala Lane at Lower Parel helped,” he said. Many schools were already announcing a rainy day break in the morning, when the education department declared a holiday for schools and colleges. But the rest of the city worked, with trains, buses and the metro running. Three houses collapsed due to a compound wall crash in Rawalpada, Dahisar (E), around 9 pm. No casualties were reported. Adjoining regions also received heavy rains, with Dahanu in the north receiving 354mm between Sunday and Monday morning. Heavy rain also hit Vasai and Thane, leading to flooding in Virar Global City, Nalasopara (West), Vasant Nagari in Vasai (East), and Manickpur Naka in Vasai.



At 354mm, Dahanu gets highest rainfall in India



Mumbai/Pune: Maharashtra was the wettest state in the country on Monday with close to 23 locations recording over 100mm rain in the 24 hours ending 8.30am on Monday. Dahanu in Palghar district recorded the highest rainfall in the state in the 24-hour period at 354mm. Rainfall above 204.5mm falls in the extremely heavy category. In September 2016, Dahanu had recorded 529mm rainfall. Residents were, however, spared of the monsoon fury as the onslaught took place on Sunday night and rainfall abated on Monday. Extremely heavy rainfall has been predicted in the region till Thursday. Virar recorded 276mm rain, the second highest rainfall in the state in the 24-hour period, while Vasai saw 235mm. Almost all of Vasai-Virar went under and access to railway stations like Naigaon, Vasai, Nalasopara and Virar was cut off on Monday. “It was impossible to reach stations as all major roads were flooded with waist high water,” said a Vasaigaon resident Manisha Ingle. Flooding was also reported on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway at Vasai-Virar.


The other locations in the state that received over 200mm rain in a day were Mhasla and Murud India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for Konkan till July 12, while the Flood Forecast Monitoring Directorate has issued a forecast on possible drainage congestion in Mumbai due to heavy rain and flash floods. “Rivers having their sources in the Western Ghats and flowing into Arabian Sea may witness flash floods. Necessary precautions need to be taken in case of old bridges along highways and along Konkan Railway routes,” said AK Srivastava, head of climate monitoring and analysis group at IMD. Meanwhile, all Mumbai-Pune ST buses were delayed on Monday, while Indrayani Express was cancelled.



Borivli building 2nd to sink in 2 days


Mumbai: A four-storey Borivli building, constructed back in 1980, developed major cracks and sank a few inches on one end during Monday’s incessant downpour, forcing authorities to evacuate all its 16 flats and seven shops. The BMC has decided to demolish the building, Popular Terrace Society in Shimpoli, and has barred residents from even entering the premises. Around 1km away, residents of another building, Jai Punit Nagar, in Poisar, Borivli, which too was evacuated on Sunday after it began to sink into the ground, complained that they were not allowed to enter their flats either to collect their belongings. One resident, scheduled to fly to the US this month end, wants to at least pick up his passport and documents from his flat. Civic officials said both the buildings are in a precarious condition, especially due to the unceasing rain, and fear these may sink further. Ramakant Biradar, assistant municipal commissioner, R-Central Ward, said. “After the current spell of rain ends, we will consult our structural engineers to decide if residents can be allowed entry into the buildings to collect their valuables”. Popular Terrace’s residents said they had been discussing its redevelopment for some time but were not aware that its condition was “so bad”. They had recently appointed a structural engineer for an audit.


Biradar said, “Popular Terrace needs to be razed, according to a report by a structural engineer appointed by the society. Jai Punit Nagar’s structural audit report will take a few more days. We will take a decision on it thereafter”. Popular’s resident Krishna Ajmera said, “Till Saturday, the structural auditor kept saying that the building was repairable. But on Sunday he told us that we needed to vacate it. Now we have no roof over our heads and have to start from scratch.” Parth Joshi, another resident, said, “On Monday morning, we came down to discuss the issue after noticing the cracks when BMC officials came and cordoned off the area.” Hansraj Kapadia, joint secretary of Popular, said they are coordinating with the BMC and their structural auditor to find out if the building can be repaired. Meanwhile, around 40 occupants of Jai Punit Nagar who vacated their flats on Sunday have moved in with relatives and friends for now. Ground floor resident Vinod Bant said, “On Saturday night, tiles of my flat began to come off and out of fear, I vacated the flat and informed others”.



Sign up for DL/RC at home, get them at your doorstep


New Delhi: Do you plan to get a driving licence or transfer the registration certificate of your vehicle? Soon, you won’t have to go anywhere to get them; the transport department will come to you. The Delhi government is finalising plans to start doorstep delivery of a host of its services and will begin with DLs and RCs. “Applicants will have to call a helpline number that is being set up. Once they get an appointment, a ‘mobile sahayak’ will visit their homes and help them fill up forms online. This will be exactly like approaching a helpdesk that we have set up at regional transport offices (RTO), but here the helpdesk will actually come to your home,” said an official. The assistants will also fix an appointment for a driving test. “Though these services are already available online, there are many people who are not very tech-savvy and are not comfortable filling forms online. Also, many people don’t have easy access to internet services and have to look for a cyber café,” the official said.


For the driving test, applicants will have to visit an RTO. “Once an applicant clears the driving test, a permanent driving licence will be delivered home,” the official said. A nominal fee of around Rs 50 may be charged for the services. “The assistants will be provided with not only tablets but also a scanner for scanning and uploading documents required for transfer of vehicle,” he said. The RC will be delivered to the home of the buyer of the vehicle. The department has also streamlined the process of conducting driving tests. “Most applicants turn up early in the morning for driving tests and have to wait a long time for their turn. This also leads to congestion and chaos at the RTOs,” the official said. This process, too, has been rendered online. “Tests are conducted between 8.30am and 2pm, and by staggering the time slots, we will reduce crowding and make the exercise hassle-free for applicants,” the official said. He added that around 100 driving tests will be carried out at each RTO daily and video graphed.



Delhi-bound flight delayed by bomb hoax



Ahmedabad: A bomb scares on a Delhi-bound Vistara flight scheduled to depart from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport on Monday turned out to be a hoax. The flight was delayed for nearly three hours because of mandatory security checks. Police sources said an unknown caller, calling from Goa, made a call to the airline’s customer care centre in Delhi, after which security agencies were alerted to the bomb threat. “There was a bomb scare on Vistara flight number UK 976 from Ahmedabad to Delhi, at around 10.45am. An unknown caller made a call to the airlines, but nothing was found later,” said DCP Zone 4 Shweta Shrimali. Police sources said the aircraft was thoroughly scanned and as nothing was found, passengers were allowed to board at around 2.30pm on Monday. The director of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International (SVPI) airport, Manoj Gangal confirmed the scare. In a text message, Gangal said, “Local Vistara Airline at SVPI Airport received a call from their call centre in Gurgaon that there is an explosive device on their Ahmedabad flight”. “On receiving the information, the BTAC (bomb threat assessment committee) convened immediately at SVPI airport. After thorough checks, flight No. UK976 was cleared for operations at 1415 IST (2.15 pm),” said Gangal.



Smart cities let transport lead, put safety & waste disposal in back seat


Bangalore: While urban transport is the topmost investment priority for cities selected under the Centre’s Smart City Mission, safety and solid waste management issues are at the bottom of the list. In a presentation made to the parliamentary standing committee on urban development, the housing and urban affairs ministry has stated that 99 cities that are part of the mission are expected to make investments of Rs 2 lakh crore, of which the highest share, of over Rs 33,000 crore (16.6%), is proposed for urban transport. Interestingly, while most cities in India are faced with a solid waste management crisis, only 2.4% (Rs 4,896 crore) of the total investment is directed towards this sector. Social sectors and storm water drainage are also a low priority on the investment agenda with just 2.5% (Rs 5,100 crore each) for projects in these areas. Some of the core infrastructure elements in a Smart City include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing and safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly.


While many of these components are also covered and funded through other programmes like AMRUT and Swachh Bharat Mission, cities were free to also include them in the Smart City drive. After urban transport, area-based development is the second most important priority, with proposed investment of Rs 30,600 crore. Under area based development, cities pick one area and develop it fully so that the model can be replicated in other parts of the city. According to the ministry, 3,183 projects worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore are in various stages of implementation. Projects worth Rs 4,960 crore have been completed. Work has begun on other projects worth Rs 23,000 crore while the tendering system is in process for the rest. The Smart City Mission is one of the Modi government’s flagship programmes. The mission’s duration is five years — 2015-16 to 2019-20 as per the mission statement and guidelines, which add that it may be continued thereafter after an evaluation. The first lot of 20 cities was selected on January 1, 2016.



Cool Monday surprise for citizens: Rain tames Celsius, wet spell to linger today


Hyderabad: The city enjoyed a pleasant Monday following a spell of rainfall brought on by an upper air cyclonic circulation over Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The rain brought smiles to the faces of residents. As the temperature fell, the weather turned more pleasant compared to the previous week. On Sunday, the maximum temperature hovered around the 29degrees Celsius mark. Met officials said the temperature is likely to remain pleasant even on Tuesday. On Monday, the city’s peripheral areas and Old City received heavy rainfall, as compared to the central areas. Rajendranagar Circle recorded the highest rainfall (29mm), followed by Saroornagar (27.3mm), Chandulal Baradari (22.5mm) and Charminar (21.5mm). Jubilee Hills (6.5mm), Khairatabad (3.0mm) and Begumpet (2.8mm) were among the areas that received less rain.


“An upper air cyclonic circulation has formed over Chhattisgarh and Odisha,” said an IMD official, adding, “Light rain in various parts of the city is expected and the temperature is likely to be around 30 degrees Celsius”. GHMC kept in stand-by monsoon teams on Monday after the rain and alerted engineers in peripheral areas and Old City. The directorate of enforcement, vigilance & disaster management wing (GHMC), is shortlisting people at the civic head office who they can hire in case of a disaster. The met department had predicted heavy to very heavy rainfall for three days starting July 8. Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao put off the state cabinet meet scheduled and directed ministers to stay in their districts to take up relief operations.



International News



Four more brought out of cave on day 2 of rescue op

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has proposed a mini-submarine to save the boys trapped inside the cave. ‘Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull,’ Musk said in a tweet to his 22 million followers. ‘Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps.’ The mini-submarine is due to arrive in Thailand today, Musk wrote.


Chiang Rai: Eight of the 12 boys trapped with their soccer coach in a labyrinthine flooded cave complex in northern Thailand have been freed, authorities said on Monday, adding that the time for rescuing the others will depend on the weather. The mission which started on Sunday is a race against the clock with heavy rain expected this week which would again flood the tunnels with fast-flowing, rising water. A crack team of foreign divers and Thai Navy SEALS guided four boys on Sunday and a further four on Monday through narrow, submerged channels from the muddy bank deep inside the Tham Luang cave where they had been stranded for more than two weeks. “All four boys have arrived at hospital, all are safe,” Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters. Asked whether the remaining four “Wild Boars” team and their coach would come out at the same time in the next rescue effort, he said: “It depends on the plan… We have set the plan for four people so if they want to take five out (at the same time), then they need to change the plan”. The operation on Monday went more smoothly than on Sunday and took two hours less as the practice became more refined, he said. But he added rescuers may need more than 20 hours, to replan and replenish oxygen supplies. Then it will depend on the weather. Heavy rain has struck the region intermittently over the last three days and more downpours could set back draining efforts at the cave.


“As all of us said, the main thing is we still need more than 20 hours to get ready,” Narongsak said. “And it is up to the environment. If the rain god helps us, then we may be able to work fast”. PM Prayuth Chan-ocha visited the cave to inspect the operation, with navy rescuers giving him a rousing cheer. “The PM said that this kind of event should never happen again on Thai soil,” Narongsak said. “We should learn from this experience to prevent it from happening again”. The team became trapped on June 23 when they set out to explore the cave. Authorities have not confirmed the identity of the rescued boys. Some of the parents said they had not been told who had been rescued and that they were not allowed to visit the hospital. Narongsak said the rescued boys had not been identified out of respect for the families whose sons were still trapped, adding that the boys were being kept away from their parents due to fear of infection. Medical teams previously said concerns included hypothermia and an airborne lung infection known as “cave disease”, caused by bat and bird droppings.

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