News Flash – 11 August 2017

National News



Coming soon: Rs 69 crore flyover to ease traffic woes on SCLR



MUMBAI: East-West connectivity is set to improve at one of the busiest stretches in the eastern suburbs as work on the road over bridge (ROB) above the Vidyavihar railway station is expected to begin before the end of this year. The ROB will help decongest Santacruz Chembur Link Road (SCLR), LBS Road and part of MG road in the Ghatkopar-Chembur belt. A senior BMC official said, Tenders for the Rs 69-crore project is likely to be finalised by September so that the work can begin around December”. It will take almost two years for work to completed on the 2+2 lane flyover, which will originate near Somaiya College in Vidyavihar (E) and descend on Kirol Road, a few meters ahead of Naval armament depot in the west. The officials said, “The work is going to be extremely challenging because the ROB will pass above six railway tracks. To carry out work over tracks is always difficult. It will have unique 100-m long span steel bridge. However, none of the pillars will come up in between the railways tracks”.


In the absence of this connector, residents in Ghatkopar east have to either travel to MG Road in the west or take the SCLR in the east to travel from this side of the track to the other side. Once the ROB is built, the distance can be covered in 5 minutes as against the existing time of 30-40 minutes. For example, those studying in Fatima high School and staying in Ghatkopar east have to travel almost 3 km daily to travel this distance in 30-40 minutes. A lot of patients staying in Ghatkopar (W), Kurla (W) and Vidyavihar (W) also get stuck in massive traffic if they are planning to travel to Rajawadi Hospital in Vidyavihar east. Work is in progress on another connector between BKC-Chunabhatti that will also take considerable traffic off the Sion-Dharavi Link road as well as SCLR.



NGT orders Rs 5,000 fine on use of thin plastic bags



NEW DELHI: Anyone carrying a ‘thin’ plastic bag (less than 50 microns thick) in the capital will now run the risk of being fined Rs 5,000. The National Green Tribunal announced the fine on Thursday while imposing an interim ban on the use of such plastic bags. Plastics of less than 50-micron thickness are already prohibited under the Plastic Waste Management Rules. The order by a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar lends urgency to the ban, besides bringing in the Rs 5,000 fine. The NGT has given the Delhi government a week’s time to seize the entire stock of the banned plastic from the market. Experts said it may be difficult for people to differentiate between plastic that is less than 50 microns thick and those slightly more than 50 microns, but they should avoid all flimsy looking plastic bags. The NGT said thin plastic bags were one of the principal ingredients of environment hazards in Delhi. “There shall be complete prohibition on use of plastic carry bags in entire NCT of Delhi for any purpose whatsoever, the plastic which is non-compostable and below 50 microns,” the bench said. “Public authorities have failed to implement the directions and take preventive and precautionary steps, which is their statutory obligation,” it said. The bench further asked the AAP-led city government and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to file an affidavit by a “senior most officer” and inform it how directions with regard to waste management in the city were being implemented, particularly in respect to plastics. “The NCT Delhi, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and all public authorities shall ensure that sale of such plastic, storage and use of such plastic at shops or otherwise is not permitted. Any person in possession of such plastic…shall be liable to pay environmental compensation of Rs 5,000,” the order said.


Under the new Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, the permissible thickness of plastic bags was raised from 40 microns to 50 microns. “It’s a good move. The plastic waste management rules that prohibit less than 50-micron plastic carry bags are already there but it was not being implemented. Now, hopefully, there will be better implementation and consumer will be pushed to carry their own cloth or paper bags,” said Priti Mahesh, chief program coordinator (clean industry) at Toxics Link. Mahesh said plastic bags that are permitted are usually used in clothes shops and other stores that sell heavy items. The banned plastic is generally given by vegetable vendors and milk shops. Environment department officials said they were awaiting the NGT order after which an action plan will be formed. “We are awaiting details of the order. Only after that we will be able to assess how it needs to be implemented,” an official said. Ravi Kumar Agarwal, president of All India Plastic Indus tries Association (AIPIA), said, “This ban was already in place. There is nothing new. Action should be taken against manufacturers who violate rules”. The plea of plastic manufacturers against a ban on both thin plastic bags and plastic crockery is pending in NGT. The petition was against a Delhi government notification issued in 2012 which directs that “no person including a shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler or retailer, trader, hawker or rehriwala etc. shall sell, store and use plastic carry bags for supply of any goods,” It also said, “No person shall manufacture, store, import, sell or transport any kind of plastic carry bags (including that of poly-propylene, non-woven fabric type carry bags)”.



28mm rain in 9 hours brings Delhi to halt; Gurugram down under again


GURGAON: Heavy rainfall continued to lash the city on Wednesday causing waterlogging and traffic snarls at various places. The maximum temperature recorded was at 32 degrees Celsius, two notches below normal. The capital saw 28mm rainfall in a 9-hour period. Met officials forecast more rain for Thursday morning, followed by clear weather in the next few days. The Safdarjung observatory, which is taken as the base for Delhi’s weather, recorded just 5.6mm rainfall in a 24-hour period till 8.30am on Wednesday , followed by 28mm rainfall in the next 9 hours. This brought down the maximum temperature by two notches, however, the minimum temperature was recorded at 28 degrees Celsius, one degree above normal. Humidity continued to remain high, oscillating between 78% and 97% in the past 24 hours according to MET officials. Delhi’s weather stations at Lodhi road, Ridge, Ayanagar and Najafgarh all received over 10mm rainfall in a 9hour period from 8.30am to 5.30pm on Wednesday. Officials from the Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) said rainfall was likely to occur on Thursday morning.


“The monsoon trough which had shifted southwards is again likely to move northwards and back into the foothills which will see clear weather in the region after Thursday morning,” said a RWFC official. According to Thursday’s forecast, light rain and drizzle is likely to occur in some areas. The maximum and minimum temperature would be around 33 and 27 degrees Celsius respectively , officials said. Meanwhile in NCR, mode rate showers — just over 32mm — lasted for a few hours from around 11am, to wreak havoc across Gurgaon, laying bare tall claims of the authorities, regarding measures they had taken to counter monsoon rain damage this year. Commuters underwent severe hardship due to the intense waterlogging, which also led to traffic congestion. Key routes around Rajiv Chowk were inundated, while muddy roadside made it a nightmare for pedestrians to walk on roads. During morning hours, heavy waterlogging was reported from Golf Course Road near Central Plaza, while in Sector 54, Suncity’s gates were blocked by several feet-deep water.



Man books Ola cab using stolen phone, robs driver



BENGALURU: A conman stole a woman’s mobile phone in Kolar, turned up in Bengaluru and used it to book an Ola cab, before robbing the driver of Rs 5,000 and a cellphone. In a complaint to Vidhana Soudha police, Ola cabbie Hemakumar alias Kumar, a resident of Kogilu Cross, Yelahanka, said the accused booked his cab on Tuesday to travel from Fraser Town, east Bengaluru, to Infantry Road. “He sat next to me and was speaking on the phone. I could hear him promise the person on the other side that he’d arrange for a loan at low interest soon,” the cabbie said. The accused told Hemakumar he was a manager with a private bank and handled the loan section. “He asked me whether I needed a loan. I said I was in need of Rs 10 lakh. He asked me to stop near Shivajinagar, went to a shop and took copies of my driving licence and office ID card. He told me I should pay Rs 10,000 towards incidental charges. I gave him Rs 2,500 in cash. I drew another Rs 2,500 from an ATM nearby and gave it to him. I promised to pay the balance in a day or two,” Kumar told police.


The accused then asked for Kumar’s iPhone. “We should download our bank’s ‘loan app’ and I should take your mobile to the office for that,” the man told Kumar. The passenger asked Kumar to park his cab in Ali Asker Road. “Saying he is going to his bank, he took my mobile and entered a building. After waiting for over two hours, I tried to reach him on my mobile number. But the phone was switched off,” Kumar told police, adding the passenger spoke fluent Kannada and appeared to be in his 20s. Police took details of the mobile number used by the accused to book the cab; the number and address was traced to Kolar. On Wednesday, a police team travelled to Kolar. “To our surprise, a woman, who works as a school teacher, was living in the said address. When questioned, she told us that an unidentified miscreant had robbed her of her mobile phone on Sunday. She said she hadn’t lodged a complaint as it was a low-end phone”.



12 building collapse in a span of 40 days in Kolkata



KOLKATA: As many as 12 building collapse in a span of 40 days has kept the Kolkata Municipal Corporation on tenterhooks. Going by the KMC building department records the number of collapse this year has surpassed all records since 2013. According to an estimate, from July 1 to August 9, the KMC building department had to requisition the civic demolition squad to pull down the dangerously hanging potions of 12 buildings located across the city. All of a sudden collapse of a century-old building on 10 Indian Mirror Street claimed two lives. Some others who had been living in other dilapidated buildings parts of which collapsed were lucky enough to escape the jaws of death. Record July rains had much to do with the spate of building collapses, said Debasish Chakraborty, the additional director-general of KMC buildings. “This year we witnessed highest rainfall in July. The non-stop, torrential rains led to collapse of a number of rickety buildings According to Chakraborty, owners of most of the dilapidated buildings had been served with notices asking them to undertake repairs for the safety of the inmates of the buildings. But, all requests fell on deaf ears. The results have been obvious,” Chakraborty said. According to Debasish Ghosh, a structural engineer in the KMC the reason behind collapse of large number of unsafe buildings lay in the fact that most of these buildings were century-old and made of lime and mortar. “Instead of using cement owners of most of these buildings had used lime instead of cement. When water seeps into the structure after a heavy rain or incessant drizzles followed by a sunny morning, the lime used as the cementing agent weakens leading to collapse of a building concerned,” Ghosh said.


After analyzing the nature of collapse of the buildings which have been collapsed this year, the KMC building department engineers have come to the conclusion that majority of the structures were made of lime and mortar. With the monsoon still active in the region, a section of the KMC building department officials are keeping their fingers crossed. “We have reasons to worry about the future of inmates of at least 50 highly dilapidated buildings located mainly in north and central Kolkata. We need to evacuate inmates from some of these buildings to prevent bigger accidents,” said a senior official of the KMC building department. Going by a KMC building department list, most of the highly insecure buildings are located in areas such as Burrabazar, Chitpore, Pathuriaghata Street, Beadon Street, College Street, M.G. Road, Lenin Sarani, Elliot Road among other areas. Sunita Kumar, one of the residents of Burtolla Street and a home maker has been an inmate of an insecure building since late 80’s. She has seen collapse of a building which stood next to her in 2015. However, Kumar chose to stay in the unsafe building as she lacked means to move to a rented house in the area. However, the recent spate of building collapses has brought a desperation in her. “Now I have told my husband to move anywhere as I feel no longer safe,” Kumar said. According to a KMC official in charge of buildings located in the ‘insecure zone’ the time was ripe for owners and tenants to realize the urge to move out of the dilapidated buildings or else the civic body would helplessly watch loss of more lives.



10 accused acquitted in Hyderabad Task Force bomb blast case



HYDERABAD: In a major setback to Hyderabad police, all the 10 accused in the 2005 Task Force bomb blast case, were acquitted by Nampally court on Thursday. The investigation authorities claimed terror outfit HUJI was behind the bomb blast, in which one died. Nearly 12 years after the suicide bombing incident, the VII Metropolitan Sessions Judge of Nampally criminal court has delivered a verdict acquitting all the 10 arrested accused including, Md. Abdul Kaleem, 25, a welder from LB Nagar, Md. Abdul Zahed, 20, brother of a key conspirator, Shahed Bilal of Moosarambagh, Nafeequl Biswas, 26, a grocery store owner from Murshidabad district of Bengal, Md. Hilaluddin, 22, a B Com student from Rajshahi district of Bangladesh, Md. Shakeel Ahmed, 40, a mechanic from Laad Bazar, Syed Haji, 22, a book salesman, Md. Abdul Khaja alias Amjad, both from Moosarambagh, Ajmal Ali Khan, 45, a farmer, Syed Azmath Ali, 35, and Md. Mahmood Baroodwala, 45, all from Bidar, Karnatka. It was in 2005, a policeman who was alone in office of Task Force, Begumpet, died after a suicide bomber walked into the office in the night and blew himself. The accused were acquitted due to lack of evidence. Speaking to the media personnel, the counsel of the accused said, “We are happy with the verdict. The court opined that the prosecution did not have sufficient evidence to prove the case and acquitted the accused. Some of the acquitted have spent 11 years in prison and now finally they got freedom to live”. In this case prime accused was late Shahid Bilal, who died in Pakistan, and 19 others.



Three injured as a packed rack fell down inside Big Bazaar


KOLKATA: Three employees of Big Bazaar at Esplanade were injured after a rack near the ground floor billing bay, carrying a number of food products ranging from atta packets to noodles, came down on Thursday evening, trapping the employees under the steel rack and the packaged food products for some time. Other employees and consumers immediately stepped in and helped remove the rack and drag the employees out before they were sent to a private hospital for first aid. Following the accident at 7.30pm, the authorities immediately suspended further billing and escorted the consumers out of the shop and downed the shutters of the departmental cum retail store. They were opened only late in the night to allow the employees to go home. A senior officer of New Market police station said: “Three of their own employees were injured because of the accident. But none of them have lodged any complaint”. TOI called up senior officials of the Future Group but none responded to calls. Only an employee of the store took the call on the landline number but she refused to share any details of the accident apart from the fact that a rack had fallen down accidentally.



TN RTOs, police cancel 10,000 licences in two months for traffic violations



CHENNAI: Regional transport officers (RTOs) and police officers across Tamil Nadu have suspended nearly 10,000 driving licences for traffic violations in the last two months, the state government said on Thursday. A government statement said that RTOs had suspended 9,489 driving licences in the last two months. The transport department recently instructed officials to suspend driving licences for traffic violations such as over speeding, overloading, drunken driving, jumping red lights, using mobile phones while driving and carrying people in goods carriages, based on the recommendations of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety. The statement urged road users to obey the traffic rules, adding that last year, there were 71,431 road accidents in state, in which 17,218 people died. Till June this year, there were 33,345 road accidents, in which 8,452 people were killed, the statement added.



International News



Turkey detains Russian IS suspect ‘planning attack on US base’

Turkish police officers escort Russian national Renad Bakiev in Adana, Turkey on August 10, 2017.



ISTANBUL: Turkish authorities have detained a Russian national and suspected Islamic State group militant for allegedly planning a drone attack on US aircraft at Turkey‘s Incirlik air base, police said on Thursday. Renad Bakiev was detained in the southern city of Adana over suspicions that he plotted to crash an American aircraft or attack the Incirlik air base using a drone, Adana police said in a statement. Turkish private news agency Dogan said a court later ordered him formally arrested pending a trial. Bakiev also intended to attack the local Alevi community in Adana city, the statement said. It said he was affiliated with IS and had previously traveled to Syria. The Alevi religious minority is an offshoot of Shia Islam and is the largest religious group in Turkey after Sunnis. IS regards Alevis as heretics. Bakiev appealed for 2,800 Turkish Lira (nearly $800) from other militants on the Telegram messaging application, which IS sympathizers use widely, to buy a drone, police said.


The private Dogan news agency said during his questioning that he allegedly defended the need to kill Alevis and considered them “enemies of Allah,” the statement said. During police interrogations, Bakiev admitted to reconnoitering the air base for his strike, the police statement said. A previous attempt he made to attack Americans was unsuccessful. Bakiev’s plans came to light in testimony from suspected IS members detained in a counterterror raid in June, according to Dogan news agency. That operation captured the alleged commander of an Adana-based IS cell, 32-year old Abdulkerim Cakar, and 10 others. The US Air Force has used Incirlik air base, near Adana, as a staging post for the air campaign against IS in Syria and Iraq since 2015. IS militants have used armed drones to deadly effect in Iraq and Syria, converting commercial drones to carry small explosives.



5 dead, 50 missing as smugglers throw 180 migrants into Yemen sea



DUBAI: At least five migrants drowned and 50 went missing on Thursday when smugglers forced 180 Africans off a boat bound for Yemen, a day after a similar incident left 50 dead, the International Organization for Migration said. Twenty-five people were being treated for injuries on a Yemeni beach on the Red Sea, said the UN migration agency, which could not immediately confirm the nationalities of the casualties. On Wednesday, people traffickers also forced more than 120 Somali and Ethiopian migrants into rough seas off Yemen to avoid arrest by local authorities, leaving at least 50 dead and 22 missing, the IOM said. IOM teams, working with International Committee of the Red Cross representation, found the bodies of 29 migrants in shallow graves along the coast of Shabwa province in southern Yemen. They had been buried by survivors. The average age of the migrants was 16. Long the poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen has been called the “largest humanitarian crisis in the world” by the United Nations.


A brutal war since March 2015 between its Saudi-backed government and Shiite Huthi rebels allied with Iran, a cholera outbreak and the looming threat of famine have left nearly 10,300 people dead and displaced millions. Yet Yemen continues to draw migrants desperate for work in the stable and prosperous Gulf, accessible by land through its border with Saudi Arabia. IOM estimates some 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa headed for Yemen since the start of 2017. “This journey is especially hazardous during the current windy season in the Indian Ocean. Smugglers are active in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, offering fake promises to vulnerable migrants,” IOM said.



Car rams into soldiers, injuring six, in Paris suburb

Rescuers go to work after a car slammed into soldiers on patrol near Paris.



PARIS: A car rammed into a group of soldiers in a Parisian suburb on Wednesday, injuring six before speeding off in what its mayor called a deliberate act. Levallois-Perret Mayor Patrick Balkany said the car, a BMW, was parked in an alley before it accelerated into the soldiers as they left their barracks to go on patrol duty. Police said two of the six were seriously injured. Speaking to broadcaster BFM TV, Balkany said that what he called a “disgusting” act of aggression was “without any doubt” premeditated. “It all happened very quickly. The vehicle did not stop. It hurtled at them … it accelerated rapidly.” The soldiers were rushed to hospital, he added. France remains on maximum alert after a string of attacks in which Islamist militants or Islamist-inspired attackers have killed more than 230 people over the past two years. Police said a search for the driver and the vehicle, which they described as dark-coloured and probably a BMW, was under way. It was parked on the edge of the Place de Verdun square in the centre of Levallois, which is situated on the western edge of Paris. The area, quieter than normal in peak summer holiday season, was cordoned off after the incident, which happened at around 8am, police said. Levallois-Perret is about 5 km (3 miles) from city centre landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Elysee Presidential Palace.

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