News Flash – 14 November 2018

National News



2 of a family Dead in Andheri building fire


Mumbai: Two members of a family a 25-year-old man and a seven-year-old boy were killed and another suffered burns in a fire in a 22-storey SRA building at Andheri’s Veera Desai Road on Tuesday night. Sources said the blaze started in a 10th floor flat around 8.30 pm, when a puja was on. “Vicky Sharma (25) and Sagar took shelter near the grilles of the drawing room in flat No. 1001 and got stuck. Three others who rushed into the bedroom were rescued,” a fire official said. One of three, Lalkrishna Sharma (50), sustained 30% burns. A fire official said that soon after they received a call, four fire engines, water tankers and an ambulance were rushed to the site. “When we reached there, the fire had spread across the 270 square feet flat. Some portion of the flat on the floor above was gutted,” the official added. A building resident said they rushed out when they heard the family shouting for help. “We asked all the residents to come down. The fire alarm also went off, but we were unable to go to the affected floor,” said Sanjay Pawaskar, who lives on 14th floor. Another resident, Chandrakant More, said, “Chhath Puja was in progress when the incident took place”. According to some residents, there’s no proper access to the building.



Quietest Diwali in 6 years: MPCB


Mumbai: This Diwali was less noisy than the last five years, average noise recordings by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board have established. Though noise levels on the festival day were lower, they were still above permissible limits at all the 158 locations across the state where noise is monitored round the clock. The noisiest location was Miraj Market in Sangli with an average noise level of 89.5 decibels during the day. In the city, it was near Metro Cinema (see box). Residents in that area, however, said they had witnessed fewer firecrackers compared to previous years. “There were firecrackers during the evening, but comparatively fewer and people tried to finish early too,” said Darshana Nair, a resident of Marine Lines. After a Supreme Court prod, the state had limited the time for bursting crackers between 8 and 10pm. In an indication that the higher noise levels could have been a result of crackers, the MPCB included in its report noise levels of the same locations recorded on November 1, a non-festival day. At most locations, the levels were higher on Diwali. Yet, MPCB officials said the use of crackers had halved. “We are extremely glad that efforts to create awareness against firecrackers among citizens are finally paying off. We had sent out letters to the police, collectors and other implementation authorities to ensure the Supreme Court order is followed.


The use of firecrackers has seen a drop by nearly 50%. At places where the noise levels are still higher, we will intensify our efforts,” said V M Motghare, joint director, MPCB. Anti-noise crusaders are wary about the findings. “The report contains average noise levels during day/night but does not contain any details of minimum or maximum levels and does not identify the source of noise. It is unclear whether firecrackers increased background noise levels and intensity based on this report. The MPCB could partner with NGOs to help identify appropriate locations for testing noise from firecrackers,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation. The NGO did peak noise recordings (as against an average of the noise throughout the day) on Diwali at three prominent locations in the city and found the highest level to be 114.1 dB at Marine Drive around 10 pm. In the MPCB report, the lowest noise level of 53.4 dB in the city was recorded on Diwali night at Ghatkopar (East). Across the state, the lowest noise level of 53.2 dB was recorded at Shankar Nagar in Nagpur.



App-based cab kiosks at metro stations to help fix last-mile gap


New Delhi: Soon, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) will tie-up with app-based cab aggregators to facilitate last-mile connectivity for commuters. Kiosks of the aggregators will come up at the stations, from where commuters can easily book a cab. Initially, this facility will be available at five stations and later extended to others, wherever space to create kiosks and pick up and drop points will be available. “As per the agreement with DMRC, cab aggregators will be setting up kiosks at Dwarka Sector 21, Sikanderpur, MG Road, Noida Sector 18 and Rajiv Chowk stations,” a DMRC spokesperson said, adding that the corporation has already tied-up with Uber, while talks with Ola are on. The Uber kiosks will be set up at Dwarka Sector 21 and Sikanderpur stations, while the MG Road and Noida Sector 18 stations will have Ola. “Rajiv Chowk will be the common station for both aggregators where Uber has already set up its kiosk,” he said. These kiosks will provide the booking facility as well as information regarding the booking status and location of already booked cabs. “DMRC is providing space on chargeable-basis for the convenience of the commuters,” the spokesperson said. Proper non-commercial signage will also be put up at the stations with clear pick and drop points identification outside the stations, he said. The aggregators will deploy personnel at the kiosks to handle queries and book cabs. There are, however, also plans to set up unmanned kiosks where commuters can make bookings and get other information by using touch screen panels.



20 CBD roads to get smart; motorists in for traffic mess


Bengaluru: The central business district (CBD) will soon get a facelift, with the Bengaluru Smart City Limited (BSCL) ready to redevelop 20 roads, including Brigade Road, under the Smart City project. These roads will be remodeled as per Tender SURE specifications; this envisages uniform standard carriageway width with ample space for pedestrian movement. Tenders were invited for the Smart City roads project on Tuesday, and technical bids will be opened on December 17. The total cost of the project is Rs 250 crore, and it is expected to take at least two years. The project promises to enhance aesthetics and visual appeal in the central city area by ensuring that all underground utilities are shifted to one side, and there is no room for road digging. But on the flip side, motorists will have to deal with traffic snarls and pollution as the project is bound to turn the CBD into a mess. In fact, the spotlight was on the Smart City project recently when chief secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar, during a recent interdepartmental review meeting, questioned the delay in taking up works under the project that is funded by the Centre, state government and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike.


In fact, BSCL, the special purpose vehicle for the project, was established on January 3 this year. Bhaskar reportedly directed civic officials to take up road remodeling work on priority. An official, who is part of the project, said that 50 roads will be taken up. “However, the detailed project report for 20 roads is ready, and tenders for the remaining roads will be called later”. TIMES VIEW: Bengaluru, which was a laggard in grabbing a Smart City slot, can now look forward to world-class roads and pavements in the Central Business District. While much has been debated on the pros and cons of Tender SURE roads, they have uplifted the city’s image and encouraged pedestrian movement to a large extent. The city’s stakeholders must utilise this opportunity well, and make the best use of central funds. But what Bengaluru also needs is major surgery on roads outside the purview of the Smart City Project, and the Palike would do well to step up to the challenge.



Two more die of swine flu in city hospital



Hyderabad: Two patients admitted at the state-run Gandhi hospital succumbed to the swine flu virus, authorities said on Tuesday, taking the total toll to 17 since August this year. A 65-year-old man from Karmanghat and a 46-yearold woman from Kamareddy area succumbed to the virus, doctors said. Speaking about the two patients, Dr P Shravan Kumar, superintendent Gandhi hospital said the two were admitted in the hospital for the past four days. “So far this year, 39 patients admitted to Gandhi hospital were tested positive, of which nine succumbed to the disease. Currently there are three swine flu positive patients and six suspected patients admitted at the hospital,” he said. The Gandhi hospital is the designated nodal centre for treating complicated swine flu cases, which are referred from across districts. The swine flu ward at the hospital has been filled to capacity, since the beginning of October. Across the state, nearly 16-17 new cases of the H1N1 virus are being confirmed per day. As per official figures, these numbers account for 22.7 percent of the suspected cases, which turns out to be positive as compared to just 2 -3 percent at the beginning of the current swine flu season. The H1N1 virus is likely to be strong till January, 2019. As the numbers of patients increase, officials say a large number of public meetings and events in the recent past could be a reason for a spike in numbers in GHMC limits. Out of 480 swine flu cases recorded since August this year, 215 are from Hyderabad, 82 from Ranga Reddy and 80 from the city fringes of Medchal.



Man slips from train, cop saves him

CCTV grabs show the RPF constable saving the passenger


Chennai: A Railway Protection Force constable on Monday acted swiftly and pulled to safety a passenger falling between a moving train and a platform at Chennai Egmore railway station. The Shraddha Sethu Express from Rameswaram to Faizabad arrived at Chennai Egmore at 12.30pm and was leaving at 1pm when the incident occurred, police said. As the train began gathering speed, the passenger tried to board a general compartment. He managed to catch hold of the handle and was climbing on when he slipped. He could have fallen between the train and platform 5, but RPF constable Suman, who was on the platform, rushed there and dragged him to safety. The man escaped unhurt. CCTV camera footage from the station showed the man in a dark shirt struggling to maintain a foothold at the entrance of the coach and slipping. It also showed a railway employee waving the flag furiously in an effort to the get the loco pilot to bring the express to a halt. It then showed the RPF constable pulling him away from the moving train.


After his rescue, the man, probably in his 40s, was thoroughly shaken and was unable to speak for a few moments, Suman told TOI later. “The man was carrying a small bag but he didn’t reveal anything about himself,” the constable said. The man later walked out of the station. The video clip of the man being rescued soon went viral on social media and won all round praise for the RPF constable. Senior officers in the force also commended the constable. “The passenger was lucky that the policeman was standing close to him and was able to rescue him,” said RPF inspector V Mohan The RPF always deploys one or two constables on platforms at important stations to keep an eye on passengers and also to look out for those who loiter. There have been instances in the past when RPF personnel saved people falling off trains. On March 2, around 6pm, an RPF constable named Mahendran saved the life of a passenger who was about to board Charminar Express at Chennai Central Station but slipped and could have fallen.



Gaja: All dams in TN put on High Alert



Chennai: Following a special advisory from the Central Water Commission of the Union ministry of water resources, the state government has directed the public works department to keep round-the-clock vigil at all dams, especially small and medium ones, in the state. “Extremely heavy rainfall in the catchment area is sufficient to fill them up and lapse time between rainfall and peak inflow can be less than 24 hours and, in some cases, it can be as low as 6-12 hours,” the advisory said. This follows the India Meteorological Department’s latest forecast that cyclone Gaja was likely to cross the TN coast on November 15 forenoon. Dams such as Vaigai, Sholayar, Parambikulam, Aliyar, Bhavanisagar and Amaravathi are 80-90% full. On Tuesday, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami ordered release of water from Vaigai dam to benefit ayacut areas in Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts. The dam will be opened on Wednesday. Citing the meteorology forecast, the water commission advised TN government to maintain strict vigil till November 18 and do the gate operations as per the standard operating procedures. The advisory was received by the state relief commissioner and PWD as well. “One of the important functions of the PWD as well as district collectors is to keep watching for the advisories from the CWC and take necessary action. There is a standard operating procedure to be followed. They are monitoring all the water bodies very closely,” revenue administration and disaster management, mitigation commissioner K Satyagopal said. Vaigai in Theni district has a storage of 89% against its total capacity of 6.09tmcft, while Bhavanisagar has 87% of its capacity (32.8tmcft).


Similarly, Sholayar, Parambikulam and Aliyar too are nearly full. Amaravathi has 3.15tmcft water as against its capacity of 4.04tmcft. “The regional chief engineers were intimated to closely monitor all the dams in the south,” PWD engineer-in-chief M Bhakthavathsalam said. While the delay in onset of monsoon causes concern, the state is pinning hopes on cyclone Gaja to fill the water bodies desilted in the last two years under kudimaramath, the traditional way of restoring water bodies. The state has received alerts from IMD about heavy rainfall from November 14 afternoon. In some places, there is forecast of very heavy rainfall. Revenue minister R B Udayakumar said that adequate preventive measures had been taken by the PWD to protect the water bodies. “Adequate sand bags have been kept ready (in case of breach),” the minister said. Going by the state government’s claim, until October end, 30,457 notified water bodies were desilted in the state and 71.79 million cubic metres of silt was removed to restore the water holding capacity of those structures. Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur district administrations have geared up to meet any eventuality when cyclone makes the landfall. Three teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have arrived at Nagapattinam from Arakkonam to provide assistance. Two teams of the NDRF have reached Puducherry. Puducherry chief minister V Narayanasamy told reporters that one team would be deputed to Karaikal as the impact of the cyclone could be more in Karaikal as per the IMD forecast. He said he would reach Karaikal on Tuesday night and would hold a meeting with the officials on Wednesday to review the preparedness.



H1N1 claims five more lives in TN since Monday



Coimbatore/Madurai: The deadly H1N1 virus has claimed three lives in Coimbatore and two in Madurai since Monday. In Coimbatore, the three patients who were brought to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital with symptoms of H1N1 virus died hardly an hour after they were admitted. CMCH dean Dr B Ashokan said all the three patients were undergoing treatment in private hospitals and were referred after the patients became critical and stopped responding to treatment. Subramaniam Mohan, 56, who was referred by a private hospital around 4pm on Monday, died an hour later, said CMCH authorities. On Tuesday morning, Jaganathan, 44, also passed away with H1N1 symptoms including fever and respiratory failure. Selvam, 54, another patient with H1N1 symptoms, died around 2pm on Tuesday. Dr Ashokan said despite many notifications and appeals to private hospitals, they continued sending patients in the last stage to government hospitals.


“All the three patients died hardly an hour after they were brought to GH. By the time they are examined and sent to the ward itself, half an hour passes. Literally half an hour later, the patients die,” he said. “While Subramaniam tested positive for the H1N1 virus, Jaganathan and Selvam’s families did not have reports showing that they tested positive for the virus. But they suffered from fever and other viral infection symptoms,” he said. “Patients should come to GH within three days of testing positive for the virus within,” he added. Joseph, 60, of Kariapatti in Virudhunagar district, and P Jeeva, 34, of Kadamalaikundu near Andipatti in Theni district, died of H1N1 virus in two different private hospitals in Madurai on Tuesday. Joseph was suffering from fever for the past 10 days and was under treatment at a hospital a Kariapatti. As his condition worsened, he was referred to another private hospital at Chokkikulam where he was diagnosed with H1N1. Jeeva was diagnosed with H1N1 virus at the Theni Medical College Hospital and was taken to a private hospital for better medical care. Both died on Tuesday.



International News



Net traffic ‘Hijack’ via China, Russia impacts Google



San Francisco: An internet diversion that rerouted data traffic through Russia and China disrupted several Google services, including search and cloud-hosting services. Nigerian internet provider Main One Cable Co took responsibility on Tuesday for the glitch that caused some Google traffic to be temporarily misrouted, saying it accidentally caused the problem during a network upgrade. Service interruptions lasted for nearly 2 hours and ended about 5:30 pm EST, network service companies said. In addition to Russian and Chinese telecommunications companies, a Nigerian internet provider was also involved. Experts from the network intelligence company Thousand Eyes said the misdirected traffic was particularly concerning given the list of countries the sensitive data was passing through. The incident was particularly suspicious because traffic was being sent to the Chinese government’s Net provider, China Telecom.

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