News Flash – 16 July 2018

National News



Train services hit for 45 minutes after Khar subway alarm



Mumbai: An anonymous call about soil erosion on the railway tracks and possible collapse of Khar subway resulted in suspension of services on both Western and Harbour lines for 45 minutes on Sunday evening. The call turned out to be a false alarm, but commuters faced hardships as they were stranded in trains or on platforms between Andheri and Bandra. Efforts are on to trace the caller. Since the call, though anonymous, had come 12 days after the collapse of a portion of a bridge at Andheri station, railway authorities did not want to take any chances and halted all WR and Harbour line services over Khar subway. “Around 4.30pm, the disaster management control room received a call from a pedestrian who claimed soil/mud was flowing down from the tracks above the subway. The control room immediately alerted us,” said a senior WR official. “Since it was a Sunday, we took the decision to halt services temporarily as a precautionary measure at 5pm as there was no peak-hour rush. We did not want to ignore the alert in the wake of the recent Andheri bridge collapse”.


A team of engineers rushed to the spot. Assistant municipal commissioner of H-West ward Sharad Ughade said BMC staffers and firemen also reached the site. “The engineers checked all parameters and after they certified the railway tracks over Khar subway as safe, services were restored,” said the senior official. While WR services on both slow and fast corridors resumed by 5.50pm, on Harbour line, services restarted at 5.45pm. But during the 45-minute period, scores of passengers were inconvenienced. A woman who boarded a Churchgate-bound train from Goregaon was furious as the service was terminated at Andheri and the indicator said it would go back to Virar. As crowds swelled on platforms, announcements were made that services were suspended. While those stuck in trains jumped off and walked to the nearest station, those on platforms between Andheri and Bandra travelled by road. Passengers complained that auto drivers at Bandra overcharged them.



Esplanade balconies crash, Sunday saves the day



Mumbai: Esplanade Mansion, which started life as Watson’s Hotel, is the country’s oldest surviving cast iron building. Fabricated in England, it was constructed on site in the early 1860s. It is now crumbling and is a strange mix of decayed blocks of wood and bricks set within lithe and elegant metal outlines. The most significant aspect of its heritage is that it was the first place in India to screen the Lumière Brothers’ Cinematographer in 1896. The building, which has residential quarters as well as commercial units, is right across the street from the city civil court. As such, several lawyers have their chambers on Esplanade Mansion’s first floor. After the balconies crashed, the fire brigade reached the spot and told the building’s occupants to vacate it immediately. With the help of the BEST undertaking, the building’s power supply was then cut. A preliminary inquiry suggested that the balconies caved in and gave way as the steel beams on which their slabs were placed had rusted. Heavy rains in the last few days did the remaining damage.


According to eyewitnesses, first a small portion of a fourth floor balcony fell on a third floor balcony, following which a large chunk of the third floor balcony crashed onto a second floor balcony, bringing it down. Mehmood Golaftab, a 67-year-old resident of the building, said his family has been living there since 1934. According to him, except for its balconies, the building was strong. “Balcony repairs were recommended by heritage committee experts and Mhada a few months ago. But litigation between the residents and the authorities delayed the work,” he said. “Incidentally, 16 years ago, a balcony had fallen, again, without causing injuries”. A Mhada officer said that had the BMC and the heritage panel allowed Mhada to renovate the building after it was given heritage status a couple of decades ago, things would have been different today.



5,000 CCTV’s out of order in busy hubs


New Delhi: It may have been with India Gate in mind that the courts pulled up police in the capital for non-functional CCTV cameras, but around 5,000 are actually estimated to be out of order in markets like Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar and other places. Madhur Verma, DCP (PRO), Delhi Police, reasoned that the process of repairing inoperative cameras was an ongoing process. “They tend to break down due to many factors, but we immediately inform the owner agency,” Verma said. “In every district, an additional DCP monitors the functioning of cameras under their jurisdiction. We created the Nigahen scheme to rope in the market associations and RWAs to install cameras, which are also being monitored by Delhi Police”. There are, by police numbers, 2.01 lakh CCTVs across the city Delhi, of which 4,074 cameras have been installed by the cops. The rest have been put up by private individuals, RWAs and government bodies. The cops said they rely on cameras installed by market associations for day-to-day surveillance. However, these are low-resolution CCTV cameras often put up by shops outside their premises or those at market intersections. At Lajpat Nagar, TOI found 15 out of 20 cameras not functioning. Police claimed digging in the area for the metro construction had snapped the wires for these cameras and they are yet to be repaired. Vinod Gupta, vice-president of the traders’ association there, said that business establishments had used their own funds to installed 63 cameras and handed over their operational control to the cops. The control room, however, appeared to be unmanned and locked.


Gupta said, “We have broached the issue with local political leaders and installation of more cameras is being considered, but the process is too slow. We were told that the MLA-LAD funds would be used for additional cameras, but the plan is yet to see the light of day.” He added that market has over 1,000 private CCTV systems installed by shops that can prove helpful should the need arise. At Sarojini Nagar market, TOI found that some of the points that were earlier used to hold the CCTV cameras were empty. Some of the remaining cameras pointed at the ground or were blocked by hoardings and plastic sheets. Though the cameras installed by New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Police were operational, they only covered some pockets of the market. “We have public-address systems and manual patrols that substitute for the cameras. During public festivals like Diwali, I-day and Republic Day, we hire 40-50 cameras and install them around the market,” said Kuldeep Sahni, president of the market association of Sarojini Nagar. Police officers were satisfied that the functional cameras focused on the entry and exit points. “This means that anyone entering the market area has to go through our scrutiny and he or she is recorded on our cameras,” said an officer. “We have been encouraging the shop owners to put up cameras outside their shops”.



Now, UP bans plastic, polythene bags



Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday issued an ordinance banning the use and manufacture of polythene, plastic bags and thermocol, with immediate effect. The move comes days after chief minister Yogi Adityanath sought a complete ban on the use of polythene to save the environment, and 10 days ahead of the scheduled UP assembly session. As per the UP plastic and other non-biodegradable waste (use and disposal ordinance 2018), the use and manufacture of polythene less than 50 microns would invite a penalty ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment up to a maximum of six months. The ban will be imposed in phases. First-time offenders will be fined Rs 1,000 or imprisoned up to one month. For second-time offenders, the term of imprisonment will increase up to six months and penalty from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000. Those manufacturing, storing or transporting polythene or plastic bags for the first time will invite imprisonment up to 6 months or penalty from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000. Similar violation for the second time will be punished with one-year imprisonment or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh. In 2015, the Allahabad HC had directed the state government to issue a notification enforcing a complete ban on the sale of polythene in UP.



Boat capsize: Rain delays rescue ops



Visakhapatnam: Incessant rains in areas along the Godavari triggered flooding hampering rescue operations after a boat capsized on Saturday. Due to flooding, the present inflow at Dowleswaram barrage in Rajahmundry is reported to be 3.65 lakh cusecs and the outflow 3.50 lakh cusecs. Though the rescue team were able to trace one of the eight victims on Sunday, the team postponed operations to Monday due to continuous rains. The body traced on Sunday was identified as that of Galla Nagamani, 35, wife of one Durgaiah. Her body was found at Komaragiri village. Some rescue team personnel told TOI that due to unfavourable weather conditions and poor visibility on Sunday evening, the rescue operations reached a standstill and would be taken up at sunrise on Monday. “We carried out rescue operations both upstream and down Yanam, where the river ends before merging into the sea. We traced only one deceased in our day-long operations. The continuous rains hampered efforts,” the officer said.



TN braces for flood as Cauvery inflow to touch 90,000 cusecs



Salem: With Cauvery water gushing from Karnataka reservoirs to Tamil Nadu through Biligundulu — the entry point — expected to touch 80,000 to 90,000 cusecs on Monday morning, a flood alert has been issued to the people living along the banks of the Cauvery river in Salem district. Salem district collector Rohini R Bhajibhakare issued the alert on Sunday morning as water release from the Karnataka reservoirs increased steadily, raising the inflow at Hogenakkal. Rohini said people in low-lying areas along the river banks from Biligundulu to Mettur have been advised to move to higher planes and make arrangements for the safety of their livestock. The disaster management control room at the Salem collectorate would be monitoring the flood situation round the clock, she said, and urged people to call 1077 for any emergency. The collector said 80,000 cusecs was currently being released from the Karnataka reservoirs into the Cauvery, and on Sunday, the realisation of the water at Biligundulu was 45,000 cusecs. The flow is expected to touch 80,000 to 90,000 cusecs on Monday morning.


The water level in the Mettur dam, which stood at 79.45ft on Saturday, rose and touched 83.5ft on Sunday evening. PWD team camping at Mettur dam, In the past two days alone, the water level has increased by nearly 8 ft. For now, officials are letting out only 1,000 cusecs of water from Mettur for drinking purposes. “Once the level in the Mettur dam reaches 90 feet, a report would be sent to the state government, for the chief minister to take a call on opening sluice gates to release water for irrigation,” she said. A team of PWD officials are camping at the Mettur dam to keep track of the situation. A PWD official said that in 2013, there was a high inflow of more than 1.5 lakh cusecs into Biligundulu, but there was a lull during subsequent years. After five years, the state was witnessing such high realisation of water from Karnataka at Biligundulu, he said.



Man, 68, tries to steal from ATM’s, held



Chennai: A 68-year-old man was arrested for attempting to steal money from an ATM at Ice House on Sunday morning. Police identified the accused as Mani of Karaikudi. Police said people who had come to use the machine had raised the alarm on seeing Mani attempting to damage the machine while trying to steal cash. “They initially thought somebody was repairing the ATM,” said an investigating officer. When Mani saw people approaching him, he panicked and tried to escape but was nabbed by members of the public. During questioning, Mani revealed that he had earlier attempted to steal money from ATMs in Trichy and Karaikudi. Mani would operate at night, making sure to leave the place within 10 minutes. He used a hammer and screwdriver to try to break open the machines, targeting ATM kiosks without security guards. “Mani said he hoped to successfully break open at least one ATM so he would land a wind fall,” the officer said. A court remanded Mani in judicial custody.



International News



Seven killed in suicide blast near AF ministry



Kabul: An apparent suicide attack close to a government ministry in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday killed at least seven people and wounded more than 15 as staff were leaving the office in the evening rush hour, officials said. The attack was the latest in a seemingly unending series of blasts against civilian targets in Kabul and other major cities including Jalalabad, which has seen three major attacks in the past two weeks alone. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.



Woman survives 7 days on radiator water after crash



California: An Oregon woman who disappeared a week ago was rescued from the bottom of a California coastal cliff where she survived by drinking water from the radiator of her wrecked car, authorities said on Saturday. Angela Hernandez, 23, was found by hikers on Friday after they saw her wrecked car partially submerged at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff in the Big Sur area, the police said. The hikers discovered her conscious, and with a shoulder injury. She told investigators she swerved to avoid hitting an animal on the highway on July 6 and plunged over the cliff. She said she stayed alive “by drinking water from the radiator of her vehicle”.

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