News Flash – 12 September 2017

National News



49,000 fraudulent operators blacklisted, says UIDAI



NEW DELHI: A day after TOI reported that several Aadhaar enrolment centres were fleecing applicants, the Unique Identification Authority of India said that since its inception, it had learnt of such contraventions and blacklisted over 49,000 operators. Sources in UIDAI said that the company had independently received several complaints of people being overcharged for Aadhaar services and had taken action against such violators. “If any operators or supervisors are found involved in corrupt practices, they are blacklisted from the system for five years,” UIDAI said. “Additionally, the enrolment agency is also penalised with a fine of Rs 50,000 in addition to other legal steps. Since December 2016, over 6,100 overcharging incidents have been fined Rs 10,000 each for the incident and from July 2017, 466 such incidents have drawn penalties of Rs 50,000 for each incident”. UIDAI said that it would welcome people stepping forward with specific complaints and assured that it would initiate action against those violating the norms. The sources added that directions had also been given in June for all enrolment centres to be shifted to government-owned premises.


“Time had initially been given till the end of August to effect this shift, but it has now been extended to September 30,” said one of the sources. “This is being done to ensure that there is proper supervision of these centres and immediate attention can be drawn to reports of misconduct.” Apparently, there is no scope for non-compliance and those who have not moved will face penalties. Meanwhile, TOI received several more complaints from readers who said that they had been charged more than the mandated fees for Aadhaar services. Sarthak Kalucha, a reader, reported that he went to an Aadhaar centre in Kalkaji’s Krishna Market on August 25 and was asked for Rs 200 as enrolment fee. “I was shocked because as far as I knew, there are no charges payable on a new Aadhaar enrolment,” narrated Kalucha. “I asked the service centre owner since when he had been charging the fee and he replied that he had been accepting the payment since July 18. Because I was getting late for work and had spent an hour in the queue, I simply paid and left”. Another reader, Abhinav Bhasin, who was applying for an Aadhaar card for his daughter, said he was told that while the card was free, he would have to pay Rs 200 for getting a token immediately. “I paid the amount but also had to sign a declaration that I got the Aadhaar card for free,” he alleged.



With 7,438 offenders booked, drunk driving cases spiked in July

July saw the maximum number of drunk driving cases being registered in Bengaluru in 2017.



BENGALURU: July saw the maximum number of drunk driving cases being registered in Bengaluru in 2017. Incidentally, that was the month when most pubs and bars in central business district (CBD) were shut due to the Supreme Court order banning sale of liquor along highways. A total of 7,438 drivers were booked for the offence during the month. On July 1, pubs and bars in CBD areas like M G Road and Brigade Road, Indiranagar, Koramangala and other locations downed their shutters. However, in a huge relief for bar owners, the court clarified on August 23 that the rule didn’t apply within city limits. “The spot where motorists get drunk and the location where they are caught needn’t be the same. The offenders were possibly drinking elsewhere when pubs and bars in CBD were closed,” said additional commissioner of police (traffic) R Hithendra. Between January and August this year, traffic police caught 44,448 drunk drivers, higher than those nabbed during the corresponding period in the two preceding years — 32,260 in 2015 and 35,299 in 2016. This despite the availability of public transport options like Metro and cabs apart from intensified checks and awareness campaigns by the police.


Hithendra attributed the increase in the number of drunk driving cases to better enforcement. “We have increased the number of special drives to nab such offenders. Earlier, drunk driving checks were conducted on weekends but now they are held on a daily basis, which could be one of the reasons for the spurt in cases”. Prince Singhal, road safety expert and founder of the NGO, Community Against Drunken Driving, said a majority of the accidents are due to drunk driving. “Traffic police should intensify checks during 2pm and 5pm, when most pubs and bars offer discounts under ‘happy hours’. Action should be taken against repeat offenders,” he stressed. According to records, the number of accidents in the city has increased from 4,828 in 2015 to 7,506 in 2016. The legal permissible limit for driving is 30mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. According to the proposed amendment under the Motor Vehicle Bill, the fine for drunk driving will be increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000. Traffic police said they will recommend to the transport department to suspend offenders’ licences.



Malad, Andheri, BKC and Mazgaon have max pollutants in air: Study



Mumbai: Tracking Mumbai’s pollution levels can be tricky given the fact that it’s a windswept coastal city where the air is regularly cleared out by a seaborne breeze. According to data from the BMC’s Environment Status Report (ESR) 2016-17, extent of suspended particulate matter, PM 2.5 and PM10, in the air are lower than last year but still way above prescribed limits. Another set of data from nine locations across Mumbai present a more nuanced picture. Certain areas such as Malad, Andheri, Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and Mazgaon are more subject to the effects of air pollution than others (see graphic). Readings from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) stations show that in these areas, the levels of suspended particulate matter in the atmosphere are relatively higher. Air quality deterioration in the metropolis has coincided with a sharp rise in vehicular population. ESR 2016-17 says vehicle population which was 27,86,512 in 2015-16 has gone up to 33,09,966 in 2016-17.


Dr. Gufran Beig, project director of SAFAR at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), pointed out that rise in particulate matter is a problem common to all of urban India. “Especially during winter season, levels of suspended particulate matter is the maximum. Advantage for Mumbai is that being surrounded by the sea does help in dispersing pollutants,” said Beig. However, activists bemoan the lack of a holistic strategy to combat air pollution. Sumaira Abdulali, environment activist and convener of Awaaz Foundation, said, “There is no action plan stating what the cause of a particular pollutant is and what are the steps being taken to deal with it.” She said the impact of pollution is already telling on people’s health. Doctors said particulate matter is not just owing to vehicular exhaust but also construction activity and roadwork. “Slow traffic movement also adds to pollution levels. Efforts need to be made so that fuel used in vehicles is monitored, not using clean fuel can add to pollutant levels. In case of SO2, one of its major sources is fuel burned in industries. In Mumbai, while industries are moving away, there is still a lot of unauthorized burning seen taking place,” said Dr. Ashok Mahasur, consultant in chest medicine at P.D. Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre.



Health centre flooded, 20 patients evacuated



BENGALURU: Twenty patients had to be evacuated from Community Health Centre, Kaggalipura, south Bengaluru, early on Sunday, after rainwater entered hospital premises. “It rained through the night and around 3am the water level started rising. The centre is located in a low-lying area,” said Dr. Harishwara, taluk health officer, Bengaluru south. Drains alongside the roads outside the centre were clogged, obstructing flow of water and resulting in flooding. “Water ran one-foot-deep inside the centre, and four-feet-deep outside. We started moving out the patients between 4 and 5am. Fire and emergency services personnel were also at the spot, and boats were used to shift patients,” he said. Dr. Radha, administrative medical officer, said patients were shifted to Victoria Hospital and Vani Vilas Hospital, “The others were stable, and I had planned to discharge them today itself. They were taken to their homes in 108 ambulances,” she said.


Dr. Radha said one patient was sent to Vani Vilas Hospital, two to Victoria and eight were sent home. Ten other patients preferred to go to nearby private hospitals, she added. Officials said since it was only a community health centre none of the patients were critical. There were 10 staffers in the hospital at the time. With muddy water flooding the centre, it’ll take some time before the place is restored and patients are admitted again. “Everything will need to be sterilized. So, we won’t be able to admit patients or conduct operations for some time. We are hoping to resume OPD operations by Monday,” added Dr. Harishwara.



Hyderabad: Parents want education department to conduct safety audit of schools

Demonstrators protest outside Ryan International School as they demand action against School, in Gurugram on Saturday.



HYDERABAD: Ripples of the chilling murder of a Class 2 student at a school in Gurgaon last week, are now being felt in the city with parents expressing concern over the safety of their school-going kids. On Monday, members of the Hyderabad School Parents Association (HSPA) submitted a written representation to the Telangana school education department urging officials to conduct safety audit of schools. In their representation HSPA members sought establishment of a permanent and sustainable monitoring mechanism in all schools. “In our view, functioning and empowered Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is one such mechanism that can not only be effective but also sustainable. The GO No 46 of 1987 explicitly provides for formation of PTA in each and every school. However, sadly, like other GOs issued by the government, this also remains unimplemented. It is high time that the government pushes for the formation of PTAs in each school,” reads the representation.


And if the gruesome murder of a seven-year-boy in Ryan International School in Gurgaon was not enough, a recent incident of an 11-year-old girl being forced to stand in boy’s toilet as a punishment in Hyderabad only further added to their concerns, parents confessed. “Such incidents are becoming repetitive and more frequent as the schools seem more interested in making money than anything else. The safety, security and upbringing of the child have taken a back seat. The training of teachers, connect with the students and the bond that they share with students is all sacrificed at the altar of commercialization,” said members of HSPA in a statement issued to the media. Parents further demanded that safety and security of students be considered as a key agenda in September 15 meeting that has been organised by the school education department between school managements and parents to discuss the action plan for curbing the Blue Whale menace.



Rally backing Rohingyas freezes rush-hour traffic



KOLKATA: Traffic in several parts of Kolkata, including the heart of the city, came to a standstill on Monday afternoon because of a massive rally taken out by 18 Muslim groups to express their solidarity with the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, against what they termed a “genocide” in that country. According to police estimate, close to 40,000 supporters joined the rally at RR Avenue as thousands marched from several parts of the city like Sealdah, Park Circus, Rajabazar, Howrah and Kidderpore, which resulted in crippling snarls for hours on all key arteries. The meeting at RR Avenue lasted from 1pm till 4pm but the ripple effect had begun from 10.30am and continued well past 6.30pm as commuters struggled to reach office on time and also had trouble heading home. As for the evening, hundreds were stuck for hours in traffic snarls; Metro trains were packed beyond capacity and schoolchildren had a horrific time returning home. “I understand what is happening in Myanmar is unjust and extremely gruesome, but what is the point of organizing a rally in Kolkata and that too on a Monday? Had it been held on a holiday, it would have served the cause for the protesters and at the same time, would have eased our pain,” said Romit Banerjee, who was stuck in a snarl on Maa flyover for close to an hour. Kolkata Police’s Facebook page was flooded with comments and reactions from hundreds caught in the traffic mayhem. At 2.30pm, one FB user, Minu Sirsalewala commented: “School children subjected to perpetual torture in name of these gatherings. It’s exam time in most schools but people will not refrain from inconveniencing the aged, children and public in general”.



Another user Harinder Preet commented: “Why should rallies be allowed on any day except Sunday? Grow up boys and take some hard decisions. Religious or political gathering on a working day, on a 7-point crossing!! For goodness sake!!”. The rally organizers, however, felt otherwise. “The BJP government is not protesting the attacks on innocent Muslims of Rohingya community in Myanmar. They should immediately come up and provide shelter to those ousted from Myanmar. Hence, there is a need to create an awareness on the issue among people in Kolkata and such campaigns cannot have the kind of impact if it is held on a holiday,” said Md. Kamruzzaman, secretary of the West Bengal Minority Youth Federation. The rally, one of the biggest in the city in recent times, was also attended by CPM and Congress leaders like Sujan Chakraborty and Adhir Chowdhury and several other Muslim organizations across the state who walked towards the venue. They raised slogans beside burning effigies of Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Cops said they were helpless. “We had information of some 4,000-odd participants in the rally. We had never expected them to be so many,” said an officer at Lalbazar.


To add to the chaos, a car broke down on AJC Bose Road flyover around noon, a tram broke down near College Street on Bidhan Sarani in the early evening and as many as four other rallies rocked the city from morning to evening. To mark the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s 1893 speech at Chicago, there were multiple processions and floats from as early as 6.30am and as the day progressed, more floats started coming out from different areas of north and south Kolkata, slowing down traffic movement. While the protest against torture on Rohingyas was going on in the city centre, Left supporters took out another rally in Alipore against government inaction that further choked traffic movement in south Kolkata, shutting down Alipore Road and Belvedere Road for half-an-hour. Children from Apeejay School, Loreto House (Sealdah), Ashok Hall, St James’ School, Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School, St Augustine’s Day School and Mahadevi Birla World Academy were stuck in snarls for several hours.



Smart device to monitor, detect cracks on bridges



Chennai: A smart device will now help structural engineers detect cracks on large structures and bridges before it is too late — all from the comforts of their office. Scientists from CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi, have developed a portable device that will monitor weak structures and send alerts whenever a crack is observed. The device called the ‘Triboluminescence (TL) camera uses a light emitting compound and a smart camera that allows detection of cracks — invisible to the naked eye — on structures made of concrete, metal and fibre-reinforced plastic. The compound when coated on a surface will emit light due to excessive pressure and the smart camera is programmed to capture it. The images can be shared through cloud storage or a mobile app, web browser or Bluetooth. The TL camera device was among the many technologies developed by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory and on display at an industrial conclave in the city recently. Scientist R Monika, who demonstrated the technology to visitors at the conclave, said the chemical compound used in the device is in the form of a coarse powder. When it is coated on the surface of a structure, it has the capability to emit red light when rubbed, scratched, pulled or ripped. “In the case of a bridge or a flyover, its central portion and beams are considered the weaker parts. These areas can be coated with the compound. When vehicles move on the structure and these portions come under pressure, a red light is emitted wherever there are cracks.



These cracks may otherwise not be visible to the naked eye,” she explained. “At present, structural engineers have to physically check for the smallest of cracks”. To keep a record of the detected cracks, scientists have developed a smart camera that is programmed with an image sensor analysis software. The camera identifies the light emitted by the compound and captures an image. “The images can be accessed with details like date and time and width of the crack,” said the scientist. The technology could come in for departments like the railways where there are several old bridges. Former railway officer R Ramanathan said railway bridges were once inspected by engineers with hand-held lenses that helped them check stability of the structures. Now, there are various modern hand-held devices like X-ray equipment and laser doppler vibrometer that are used to inspect minor cracks and measure strength of structures. “Unlike flyovers and bridges on city roads, almost all railway bridges in the country are about a century old. Indian Railways maintains a bridge register where all details of inspections and maintenance conducted over the years have been recorded. These come handy during future inspections,” he explained. CSIR-CECRI helps the railways in checking corrosion levels of Pamban bridge and provides remedial measures.



International News



Lorry driver accused in M1 crash which killed eight Indians appears in court



LONDON: A court in Britain has granted bail to a lorry driver, whose over speeding vehicle caused the death of eight Indians on August 26 in the worst motorway accident in Britain in 24 years. UK resident David Peter Wagstaff, 53, who was driving the Mercedes-Benz lorry that crashed with the minibus carrying eight Indians, including three Wipro employees and their relatives, made his first appearance before the Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court on Monday. Nearly a dozen reporters and cameramen were present at the court’s pressroom. Wagstaff, a resident of Derwent Street, has been charged with eight counts of causing death and four counts causing serious injury by dangerous driving. He has not yet indicated how he would plead to the charges. Wearing a smart faintly pinstriped dark grey suit, with a bright silver-grey tie, with short grey hair, Wagstaff appeared at the court located just five miles from the M1 motorway where the horrific accident took place. He was subsequently granted bail on the condition that he will not leave the UK without permission. The case has been transferred to Aylesbury crown court, where Wagstaff will appear on 26 September. At the end of the short hearing, chairman of the bench Sarah Clarke said, “As a mark of respect for the families and the bereaved, the bench will retire in this matter”.


A second lorry driver, Polish Ryszard Masierak, 31, from Worcestershire, had appeared at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court charged with eight counts of causing death by dangerous driving, four counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and eight counts of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit. He has been remanded in custody and will appear at Aylesbury Crown Court on September 26. The deceased included Wipro employee Karthikeyan Pugalur Ramasubramanian, 33, and his wife Lavanyalakshmi Seetharaman, 32 from Tamil Nadu; Wipro employee Vivek Baskaran, 26, from Tamil Nadu, Wipro employee Rishi Rajeev Kumar, 27, from Kerala; and minibus driver Cyriac Joseph, 52 from Kerala. Wipro employee Mano Ranjan Paneerselvam, is currently at a hospital, where his condition is said to be critical. His wife Sangeetha and aunt Valli are stable and out of danger. But his parents Subramaniyan Arachelvan, 58, his mother Tamilmani Arachelvan, 50, from Delhi’s Saket, and uncle Panneerselvam Annamalai, 63, were killed in the accident. Shravathi Ramasubramanian, 5, who lost her parents of Karthikeyan and Lavanyalakshmi in the accident is also serious but stable at Birmingham Children Hospital.



Suspected teargas attack at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport, Germany.



Germany: At least six people were left complaining of respiratory problems after a suspected teargas attack at Germany‘s Frankfurt Airport on Monday. In a series of replies to tweets from distressed travelers, Frankfurt Airport officials assured that the situation had been brought under control and those affected by the gas attack were receiving treatment. According to media reports, unknown persons sprayed an “irritating substance” at people at the check in desk in Terminal 1 of Germany’s busiest airport. Airport authorities called in the police and fire services, who cleared the area. Check-in counters were temporarily closed during the incident but have now reopened. “Fire department operation completed. No more measured values of tear gas can be detected and the affected area is accessible again,” the official Twitter handle of Frankfurt Airport reported. Fire department operation completed. No more measured values of tear gas can be detected & the affected area is accessible again. Fire brigade operations completed. Check-in reopened. No harmful substance found. 6 pers. under treatment with light respiratory irritation. Police said six people were being treated for breathing difficulties. The incident is currently under investigation as the cause is still unclear. Germany remains on high alert following an ISIS-linked terror attack that killed 12 people in December and a spate of similar terror-related incidents across Europe.



Two Swiss trains collide, injuring around 30 people: Police



ZURICH: Around 30 people were injured on Monday in a train collision at a station in central Switzerland, police said. None of the injuries are life-threatening, police for the Swiss canton of Uri said in a statement. The accident occurred in Andermatt, a town in the Swiss Alps popular among skiers. The crash occurred at around 11:30 local time (0930 GMT) while the engine for a train was being moved to the front from the back. Police said they were investigating the cause of the crash.

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