News Flash – 13 June 2017

National News



Burglars cut 2-foot hole in bank wall, rob 30 lockers of items worth crores

Police said the burglars had broken the cement concrete of the nine-inch-thick wall with the help of hammers and pickaxes while its steel frame was cut open with blade saws.


GHAZIABAD: Sometime over the weekend, burglars drilled a two-foot hole in the wall of the strong room of Punjab National Bank‘s Modinagar branch, entered through the opening they had made, and emptied out 30 lockers. Nobody really knows the exact value of what they stole, but it could easily run into crores. The branch is located on NH-58 and is adjacent to an L shaped plot on which sits an abandoned rubber factory. On this plot, an empty office is right behind where the bank’s strong room is, sharing a common wall. The burglars entered this office, and cut the hole in the common wall, which is about nine inches thick, at a height just above where the lockers end. The burglary was discovered around 9:45am on Monday when a bank staffer, Anil Bhargav, and the head cashier, Ajay Kumar, opened the strong room which has two security doors. The steel door of the strong room can be opened with a set of two keys, kept in the custody of these officials, only when they are inserted together into the keyholes.


“After opening the steel door, the officials were about to open the next door which is an iron grille like those found in prisons. However, they noticed through the grille that things had been scattered inside the strong room. They also noticed that several lockers seemed to have been bro ken. They immediately called up the police control room,” assistant general manager S K Pancholi told TOI. Bank officials said there has been no security guard at the bank. “The strong room had been closed on Friday around 6pm. The bank was closed for two days after that. A security alarm is also installed inside the strong room apart from a CCTV camera. Even if the alarm went off, there was no one to hear it since the bank was closed. There was no security guard at the branch. The branch depended on police patrol vehicles for security,” added Pancholi.



The burglars managed to open only 30 lockers, but it was evident they had tried to break a few more. There are 435 lockers in the strong room, of which 96 are not in use at present. The burglars also stole a double-barreled gun kept inside a steel cabinet inside the strong room though the iron chest containing the bank’s cash reserves had been left untouched. TOI visited the strong room and found that a hole had been drilled at a height of over six feet, above the steel locker cabinets. A full-length mirror on a side wall had been smashed. The cabinet containing the gun, which once upon a time was used by a security guard, had also been forced open. Senior officials of Ghaziabad police reached the bank after receiving the call, along with a forensic team and a dog squad. Fingerprints have been lifted from the scene. The bank operates out of a rented building which once belonged to the now-abandoned Modi Rubber Factory .According to officials, the building has now been sold to Haryana Distilleries which has continued with the rent agreement. On the other side of the bank is a building which houses the office of Modi Spinning & Weaving Mills Employees’ Union. Cops used the ladder of a fire engine to enter the compound of the abandoned factory whose walls are at least 30-feet high.


According to cops, the room from which the burglars had drilled the hole contained a small steel almirah, a table and a typewriter which are also in derelict condition. Police said the burglars had broken the cement-concrete of the nine-inch-thick wall with the help of hammers and pickaxes while its steel frame was cut open with the help of blade saws. The equipment has been recovered by police from the spot. “The factory compound has been lying vacant for several years now. It is in a dilapidated condition. For several years, the factory’s workers used to collect their salaries through a window of the bank that opens into the compound but has been sealed now. We are computing losses,” bank second-man Anil Bhargav told TOI. Scores of anxious customers thronged the bankers thronged the bank throughout Monday. Valuables worth crores are allegedly missing from the lockers. Many complained that their entire savings have vanished. “My wife had put all her jewellery into the locker. She had been operating it. She had also put other valuables and important documents into it. We have no idea if we will ever be able to get it back,” said Mukesh Goyal (40), a Modinagar-based trader. An FIR was registered in Modinagar police station on Monday on the basis of a complaint registered by bank officials.



2.5km tunnel from Lodhi Road to NH24 revived to ease traffic



NEW DELHI: Delhi government’s PWD has revived the project for constructing a 2.5km-long tunnel between NH-24 and Lodhi Road to handle the projected increase in traffic volume after completion of the NH-24 widening work next year. It has sent the proposal to the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for approval as there are many protected monuments on the proposed alignment. NH-24 terminates near Millennium Park on Ring Road. At present, there are just two routes–either towards Ashram or Bhairon Marg-available for central Delhi-bound traffic from NH-24. And both routes are congested, especially during peak hours. According to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the traffic volume is going to double once the work on Delhi-Meerut expressway is complete. NHAI has conveyed its assessment to PWD that if an alternative route is not planned, the NH-24 traffic will get stuck on Ring Road and Bhairon Marg. “At present, the daily traffic volume is 80,000 passenger car units (PCU) which is likely to increase to more than 1.4 lakh PCU day. We have informed PWD that the existing bifurcation of Ring Road is not sufficient for increase in traffic volume,” said RP Singh, project director of NH-24, NHAI.


Emphasizing the need for an alternative route to central Delhi from NH-24, Sarvagya Srivastava, engineer-in-chief, PWD, told TOI, “A new route is required. The one we are proposing will reduce both distance and also travel time.” The tunnel will start from NH-24 (just before the T-point) and emerge at Lodhi Road before the Archbishop Makarios Marg traffic intersection. It will have ramps on either side of Ring Road near Millennium Park for vehicles to enter and exit in both directions from the tunnel. The proposal was initially mooted in 2006 but shelved after ASI denied permission as the proposed alignment was close to several protected monuments like Humayun’s Tomb, Sunder Mahal, Subz Burj, Chota Batasewala Mahal, Bada Batasewala Mahal etc. “We submitted the proposal to NMA for approval in March this year. We are writing to them again as it is important for providing smooth access to traffic entering Delhi from NH-24,” said a PWD official.


The proposal was tabled before the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC) last year. But PWD was asked to get the necessary approval from the heritage body. PWD officials say that new alignment has been carefully worked out so that the 100m restriction -no construction activity is allowed within 100m from protected monuments–is maintained. PWD officials are hopeful that the project might get a go-ahead this time as the central government is planning to amend the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMSAR) Amendment Act, 2016, to allow public projects near heritage sites. Delhi Traffic Police officials anticipate jams on Ring Road once the expressway work is over. “We are in consultation with all stakeholders, including PWD, to find ways to reduce the congestion. Plans are on to divert vehicles through alternative roads connecting UP and Delhi to reduce the volume on NH-24,” said Ajay Kashyap, special commissioner, traffic, Delhi Police.



22 flooding-prone spots under lens of CCTV cams



MUMBAI: The newly installed surveillance cameras are not only helping the cops detect criminals, but will help the authorities in dealing with waterlogging during the monsoon. As many as 22 flooding-prone have been covered by CCTV cameras to ensure better coordination during monsoon. Officials in the disaster control room said that during a heavy downpour they will relay the footage captured by these cameras to local ward officials. Waterlogging and dilapidated buildings are two major concerns for the authorities. Civic officials have installed pumps in low-lying areas to drain rainwater quickly. “We always face a problem in deciding when to start the pumps, as officials say they must be switched on if there are complaints about waterlogging from citizens,” said a BMC staffers. “At least at the 22 flooding-prone areas that are under CCTV surveillance, we can take prompt decisions from the disaster control room to start the pump to drain water,” he added. Politicians across parties said that this time desilting of drains was not done properly and this may result in flooding parts of the city during heavy rain. Civic chief Ajoy Mehta has refuted their claims. BMC corporator Rais Shaikh said, “We need to wait for a heavy downpour to assess the BMC’s claims”.



Safdarjung to open largest trauma centre



NEW DELHI: In a major boost for trauma services in Delhi, Safdarjung Hospital has decided to throw open to public its new emergency block by next month. It will have 500 beds, including nearly 100 ICU beds, and 17 operation theatres-the largest for any public hospital in the country. Dr. Jagdish Prasad, the director-general of health service rector-general of health services (DGHS), said the super specialty-cum-paid ward is also ready and it will be made operational soon, in addition to the emergency block. The super specialty block will have 850 beds for specialties such as cardiac surgery, ne urosurgery and urology, among others, Prasad said. At present, the hospital has about 1,600 beds, including 80 beds, with ventilator support. Dr. A K Rai, hospital’s medical superintendent, said the patient load is much higher, which puts a strain on services. “There are times when two patients have to be accommodated on one bed for emergency care or till the time a bed is allotted. We cannot refuse admission because most patients coming here are poor who cannot afford private treatment,” Rai said, adding infrastructure upgrade will help avoid such crisis in future. According to senior doctors, apart from adding equipment and state-of-the-art facilities, Safdarjung would require adding manpower to run the upcoming facilities. Recruitment of over 1,000 nurses for the upcoming emergency and super specialty block has been approved already. Officials said the requirement of doctors and other staff was also being assessed.


With these changes, Safdarjung Hospital is also looking to change its image–from a poor man’s last resort to a modern super specialty hospital. The hospital has, among other things, a provision for a paid ward in the upcoming super specialty block. The purpose is to encourage CGHS beneficiaries to get treatment at the hospital, instead of getting operated at private facilities and seeking reimbursements. “AIIMS has a private ward. But the waiting time for neurosurgery, cardiac surgery and cancer treatment is so long that government employees often rush to private hospitals for treatment. Sometimes they have to pay from their pocket, over and above the sanctioned amount for a particular surgery at these hospitals under the CGHS scheme,” said a doctor. Safdarjung Hospital started functioning in 1954. Since then, the number of beds has gone up from 204 to nearly 1,600 beds. Many doctors at Safdarjung grumble about neglect by the government. “We are happy that the government is finally focusing on this hospital. The prime minister is likely to visit Safdarjung hospital soon,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified.



Security beefed up in Old City before Eid and Bonalu



HYDERABAD: Ahead of two important festivals, Eid-ul-Fitr and Bonalu, elaborate security arrangements have been made in Old City. More than 2,500 cops have been deployed for the month long festivities. The Rapid Action Force (RAF) on Monday, along with the south zone police, carried out flag march in Falaknuma division, which has both sensitive and hypersensitive areas. The RAF walked through the communally sensitive areas of Chatrinaka, Shah Ali Banda, Aliabad, Laldarwaza, Nawab Sab Kunta and other areas. While Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated by the end of this month, around the same time the Bonalu festival will also start. Bonalu is an annual festival celebrated in Telangana. During the celebration, special pujas are performed for Goddess Mahakali. The festival is a way of thanking her. The Falaknuma assistant commissioner of police, Mohammed Tajuddin Ahmed said, “The RAF flag march is part of the security arrangements made in Old City. People will be able to peacefully celebrate the festivals”.


According to sources, as many as 1,500 additional forces have been pressed into service, with more than 150 police pickets and special teams to counter pickpocketing have been deployed. During festival, there is a surge in pickpocketing and police have a tough time controlling the menace. Many among the pickpockets are women which make it difficult for cops to catch them. Police will be deployed in the commercial areas of Old City such as Lad Bazaar, Pathergati, Madina market, Shahraan market and other areas. More than 300 CCTV cameras have also been installed. A senior police officer said, they are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that things are in order and there are no untoward incidents.



New GDCR rules risking fire safety?



Ahmedabad: The government of Gujarat on June 5 had announced the new policy for General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) applicable to eight municipal corporations and 162 municipalities along with urban development authorities. The government has adopted Ahmedabad’s GDCR for all the cities where there would be uniform floor-space index (FSI) and rules for permissible building heights except those areas under seismic zone IV (Kutch and parts of Saurashtra). Cities like Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Junagadh will have certain relaxations as these cities have narrow lanes and little scope for road expansion. But fire safety experts warn that there is no framework in place for fire and emergency situations that corresponds to the GDCR.


“There are issues of equipment, manpower and policies. First of all, only Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) today has snorkels that can go up to height of 80 metres. Other cities such as Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Gandhinagar and Jamnagar have snorkels going up to 54 metres,” said a fire and emergency expert. “While the figure might seem impressive,” said the expert referring to the 54m snorkels, “it’s the height when the vehicle is standing right next to the building”. “The farther the vehicle, the lower the reach,” he said. Likewise, onlyAhmedabad Fire and Emergency Services has a turntable ladder – which can be used simultaneously for firefighting and rescue operations. When the cities and peripheries would have multi-storey buildings, fire operations would be a worrisome preposition, believe experts.



International News



6.3 magnitude quake rocks western Turkey, Greek island



ISTANBUL: A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck the Aegean coast of western Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday, the US Geological Survey said. The USGS said the epicentre of the quake was in the Aegean Sea, 11 kilometres south of Plomari, a village on the southern coast of Lesbos. The mayor of Plomari, Manolis Armenakas, told ERT state television: “We have damage to several buildings, old and new. We are now evaluating the damage”. Reports said the quake was also strongly felt in the Karaburun district of Turkey’s Izmir Province, as well as in Athens, Greece. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Turkey. AFP reporters in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city, said the earthquake was felt in the city centre and caused alarm among residents. Turkey and Greece sit on significant fault lines and have regularly been hit by earthquakes in recent years. This year alone, Turkey’s western Aegean coast was hit by several earthquakes of up to 5.5 magnitude, which brought back memories of past deadly earthquakes. On August 17, 1999, a huge earthquake measuring more than 7.0 magnitude near the city of Izmit devastated vast zones in the countries densely populated northwestern zone, notably around Istanbul, killing over 17,000 people.



Islamic State calls for Ramzan attacks in US, Europe



BEIRUT: The Islamic State group is calling on supporters to carry out attacks in the United States and Europe during the Muslim holy month of Ramzanthat began two weeks ago. In an audiotape circulated online Monday, spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer praised last week’s attacks in Iran’s capital, saying the country is “weaker than a spider’s web” and calling for more assaults. Al-Muhajer also called for attacks in Russia and Australia, saying “heaven is reached under the shadow of swords”. IS has called for attacks during Ramadan in the past. This year it has claimed responsibility for attacks in Britain, Egypt, Iran and the Philippines that killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds.



China developing world’s fastest amphibious fighting vehicle



BEIJING: China is developing the world’s fastest amphibious armoured vehicle that reach a top speed of 50 kilometres per hour when travelling in calm waters. While there are many amphibious armoured vehicles in the world, most of them move very slowly in the water. The North China Institute of Vehicle Research has built the armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) that can attain a top speed of 50 kilometres per hour on calm waters. That speed would make the AFV the fastest amphibious military vehicle in the world. Even with armour and weapons on a production version, it would still likely reach amphibious speeds of at least 19 to 28 kilometres per hour. By comparison, the Iveco/BAE SuperAV, an amphibious AFV proposed by the US Marine Corps, has a top amphibious speed of about 9 kilometres per hour. The Chinese amphibious AFV can retract its wheels against the underside of its hull. It has a v-shaped hull to reduce water drag. It achieves its record-high speed with compact pumpjets, as well as retracting its wheels toward the hull to reduce drag, ‘PopSci’ reported. The proof-of-concept vehicle has a light weight (about 5.5 tonnes without armour or installed weapons) that allows it to be particularly speedy.

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