News Flash – 17 May 2017

National News



Gurugram’s air worse than Delhi’s most polluted areas



Gurgaon: When cycling enthusiast Amit Bhatt moved to Gurugram from Delhi some eight years back, he was counting on clean air and clear roads. But eight years later, Bhatt, the head of urban transport at World Resources Institute (WRI), has had to seriously cut down on cycling. That’s because over the years the air in Gurugram has become so foul it’s now quite unbreathable. TOI did an analysis of the air quality index (AQI) in various parts of Delhi and Gurugram, and the results are shocking. Gurugram’s average AQI for PM 2.5 has been higher than even the most polluted parts of Delhi since April 20. Experts point out that these fine pollution particles are not just from natural dust but also toxic diesel emissions from generator sets, diesel autos and cars. Bhatt used to cycle to work almost daily but now does it once a week. “I had seen a map that showed scary PM 2.5 concentrations around NH8. It showed how the adjoining areas were affected. The pollution worries me. I have reduced cycling over time and have started depending on taxis despite knowing that they are polluting my city more,” said Bhatt.

According to Bhat, the mobility pattern in Gurugram played a huge role in the mess. The Metro is there but without adequate last-mile connectivity options; diesel taxis and autos are adding severely to the pollution. “As against a requirement of at least 1,000 buses, there are only about 40 buses. The government has been planning to buy more buses for a long time now but hasn’t bought them yet. It’s a vicious cycle where people are buying more cars because there is no other transport available and there is induced traffic,” he added. About 41% of the people here commute to work by cars and two-wheelers compared with 30% in Delhi. The PM 2.5 concentrations in Gurugram has ranged from 226 micrograms per cubic metres to 73 micrograms per cubic metres between May 6 and May 14, which is between 3.76 and 1.21 times the safe limit. According to an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the density of cars in Gurugram is far higher than in Delhi. In 2014, Gurugram had 323 cars per 1,000 population compared with 88 cars per 1,000 population in Delhi. Add to this the fact that Gurugram has vertical growth, which means there are more people per square km in Gurugram than in Delhi. On top of that, over 1.3 lakh cars and SUVs from Delhi come to Gurugram every day.

So, it’s not hard to imagine why one is likely to see many more cars in Gurugram than in Delhi which is more spread out. But cars are only a part of the problem. “We know there is a lot of dependence on diesel gensets in Gurugram’s apartments. But there are no clear numbers on either gensets or their emissions. But it’s definitely a huge factor. Then there’s the dust problem because of large-scale construction,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Then, many parts of Gurugram are devoid of adequate greenery which too has a marginal impact on air quality. To make matters worse, Gurugram has only one pollution monitoring station — at Vikas Sadan — so no one really gets a clear picture about the whole city. A larger data base is a must to understand the problem better and take corrective action. While several source apportionment studies have been conducted for Delhi to pinpoint emission contributions from each source, no such research has taken place in Gurugram so far. Such a study would help in prioritizing and targeting emission sources. Sewa Ram, associate professor at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), said, “There are major road works and construction projects all over the city. We have also found that vehicles in Gurugram have very long idling time with very low occupancy. A mix of all these issues is leading to the high pollution levels in Gurugram”.



CRPF hits back after Sukma carnage, guns down 10-15 Maoists in Bastar



BHOPAL/RAIPUR: The CRPF on Tuesday claimed to have gunned down 10-15 Maoists in a massive operation after “storming the core area” of the rebels in Bastar’s Dantewada on Sunday, in a bid to avenge the massacre of 25 jawans in Sukma on April 24. “Our forces, who went deep into the forests to carry out the operations, saw Maoists falling down after being hit by bullets. However, neither bodies nor weapons could be recovered during these operations,” a senior officer of the Chhattisgarh police told TOI on Tuesday night. The operation was carried out in Bijapur’s Basakura area by a joint team of CRPF, CoBRA, Special Task Force and District Reserve Group, according to a CRPF officer. The mission was coordinated by a joint command and control centre and closely monitored from Raipur, DIG Dantewada P Sunderraj is heard saying in a videographed interview to ANI. In the interview, Sunderraj calls the mission a “very successful operation”.

There were reports a few days ago of CoBRA commandos being heli-dropped into the jungles of Bastar, and on Sunday, a wounded STF was flown to Raipur for treatment, indicating something was on in the forests. He died on Monday. The first exchange of fire was on the morning of May 14 (Sunday), the DIG says in the interview. Two jawans were injured and evacuated. Sporadic gunfights continued all day, culminating in a major encounter in the evening, he says, adding that “10-15 Maoists were possibly killed in both exchanges and many injured”. Asked why there aren’t any bodies or captured weapons to show, the DIG says that when troopers were evacuating the casualties, the rebels took advantage and whisked away the bodies. “Searches are on”.



Homemaker shares bank info, loses Rs 49K



Mumbai: In yet another case where a citizen lost money after sharing bank details, a 34-year-old Andheri homemaker was duped of Rs 49,000 after a caller claiming to be a bank executive, asked for her card details. After noting down the victim’s card details, the caller made three fraudulent transactions in matter of seconds. The incident took place on May 10 when the woman got a call from an unknown number. The caller identified himself as a bank executive and asked the woman for her bank details. The woman initially did not believe the man and asked him to prove his identity, to which he immediately texted her his ’employee ID number’.

In the complaint, the victim said, “I realized that I have been conned when I received three transaction alerts collectively worth Rs 49,000 on my mobile. The caller had asked for my card details as he said that I had failed to comply with the KYC norms three months ago. He warned me that the bank would block my card and also impose an Rs 5,500 fine if I did not furnish my card details to update my account”. On learning that she was conned, the victim lodged a complaint at the Andheri police station. Police said despite repeated warnings given through advertisements and text messages, people still fall prey to such calls and reveal their confidential details. Senior inspector Pandit Thorat confirmed the fraud but refused to divulge any details. A case under the Indian Penal Code and the IT sections for cheating and impersonation has been registered against the unidentified person.



What hospitals are doing to keep your data safe



NEW DELHI: The global cyber-attack on Friday has exposed a potential crisis situation for hospitals moving towards digitisation of patient data. It shows how hackers can disrupt health services at massive scale by introducing malware. In Britain, for example, doctors in many hospitals were blocked from patient files and emergency rooms were forced to divert patients on Friday due to the cyber-attack. In India, there are few instances of cyber-attack on hospitals but officials say they are not taking any chances. TOI spoke to many top hospitals in Delhi where officials said they were equipping their network with stronger features to prevent hacking. Dr. Anand Bansal, medical director, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, said they spend Rs 25-30 lakh on cyber security. “We have set up a separate department for cyber security. We are also investing on educating our staff to remain safe from any cyber frauds in this era of digitisation,” he said. Dr. (Col) R K Sharma, medical superintendent of PSRI Hospital, said they are upgrading their hospital information system to prevent hacking.

“These days, most of the patient data is maintained digitally for quick access. But there is high possibility of this data being accessed by hackers. To prevent this, we have a team of cyber security experts. Also, laptops and tablets used by doctors are given limited access to the hospital network to prevent the risk of virus transfer or any malware,” said Niranjan Kumar, chief information officer, Sir Ganga Ram hospital. At AIIMS, officials said, the national informatics centre, which is the government’s web services organisation, has been entrusted with the task of ensuring cybersecurity. “It is a very important aspect in today’s world since we are trying to integrate control of key equipment,” said Dr. Deepak Agrawal, head of IT division at the institute. According to cyber security experts, hospitals should not use vendor-supplied default passwords and other security parameters for medical devices. “Websites, applications, databases, data centres and servers, networks, desktops and other endpoints need to be monitored, assessed and defended periodically,” said Nitin Bhatnagar, an information security specialist. An Australian web security expert, Tony Hunt, recently revealed how nearly 43,000 sensitive pathology reports, including those of HIV patients, were exposed online by a Thane-based laboratory. Hunt wrote in his blog that he stumbled upon reports containing name, age, gender and tests results of patients in an online folder, which could be easily seen and downloaded. The case was referred to the cyber cell of Mumbai for further investigation.



Over speeding a global concern; Bengaluru sees 38,000 cases in 4 months



BENGALURU: Over two years ago, 19-year-old Arpita Janardhan was mowed down by a tanker zooming down the elevated expressway at Hebbal-Kempapura Junction. The incident triggered massive protests. However, public wrath has done little to change the situation on Bengaluru‘s roads. Two months ago, 80-year-old B Krishna from Jeevan Bima Nagar was crossing a thoroughfare when a speeding ambulance carrying a dead body ran over his foot, necessitating amputation of his toes. Over speeding is one of the leading causes of accidents across the world. With one in three deaths attributed to over speeding in high-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has sought to focus on the menace with its Save Life #Slow Down campaign. Bengaluru seems to fare no better. Till April 30 this year, traffic police had registered 38,131 cases of over speeding vehicles. According to traffic police data, 1,35,527 such cases were booked in 2015 and 1,09,769 in 2016. Accident data report of the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) for 2015 said about 44% of the 64,633 road fatalities in India were due to over speeding.

Dr. Girish Narayan from the emergency medicine department of St John’s Medical College and Hospital said they get about 20 cases of accidents caused by over speeding every day. He organized an awareness programme last week to spread the WHO message, as part of which students conducted a flash mob, interacted with spectators and road users and asked members of the public to pledge to drive slow and save lives. Bengaluru’s over speeding problem is puzzling, given the perennial traffic congestion and deplorable condition of roads. Typically, people tend to over speed to overtake the vehicle in front or when there’s less traffic/more road space. The braking distance is very less by the time the driver sees any obstruction on the road or another vehicle or pedestrian coming in his/her way, resulting in injuries that get graver as the distance reduces.

“The tendency to overtake vehicles is the highest among two-wheeler riders. Pedestrians are most vulnerable. Cabbies too tend to over speed when traffic is thin or while driving on highways. The higher the vehicle speed, the greater the impact. Every day, we get about 40 accident cases of which 20 are from Bengaluru. People commonly lose their limbs in such accidents. It’s even worse when the deceased are the sole breadwinners of their families,” said Dr. Girish. Hosmat hospital too witnesses three or four fatalities every day due to over speeding. Dr. Ajith Benedict, director of the hospital, said, “On an average, we get 15 patients involved in accidents due to over speeding every day. Mostly, pedestrians get hit by motorists or two-wheelers riders’ skid and fall and injure themselves after braking at shorter distances”.



Ahmedabad police trains computer operators in cyber safety



AHMEDABAD: After several computers of Ahmedabad city police were found infected with malware on Monday, the police officials conducted a training workshop for over 300 constables and head constables working as computer operators in various police stations and administrative departments. City police officials said that a massive drive is already under way to upgrade all computer systems and install latest operating system patches released by Microsoft. “The training step-by-step explained the security features and what precautions need to be taken. The aim of the initiative is not only to address the current threat, but also of enabling them to identify threats by running security scans and reporting the same to the department’s IT experts,” said an official.

The city police’s cyber cell continued receiving calls on its helpline (079-22861917 and 079-25398549) on the second consecutive day since the worldwide ransomware attack. Crime branch officials said that callers included both government and private sector members who wanted to understand the procedure of securing their PCs and from where update patches can be downloaded. “About 100 persons called up on Monday, and today about 70 persons inquired about the ransomware, how to be safe and computer security procedure,” said Deepan Bhadran, DCP (crime). Sources said that computer systems were down at a number of police departments in Gujarat as a precautionary measure. The systems such as eGujCop function on WAN, they added.



Awareness key to prevent complications, says expert



HYDERABAD: Only 10 percent people out of 35 per cent adults with hypertension in Hyderabad and Telangana know that they are suffering from high blood pressure. This could lead to a massive increase in cardiovascular diseases in the country, warned health experts. Interacting with the media on the occasion of World Hypertension Day on Wednesday, hypertension specialist Dr. C Venkata S Ram said that awareness is key to prevent complications. A large population with uncontrolled hypertension despite medication is a serious concern as untreated hypertension can lead to stroke, heart failure and premature heart attack. “If not treated, it can lead to problems like kidney failure and paralysis,” he said. BP should be checked even in schools, colleges and IT firms, he added. BP should to be treated indefinitely. “BP medicines are not like antibiotics. Patients cannot stop them. If BP is being noticed in a person for the first time, it should be tracked carefully,” they said. Most people have misunderstood that medicines can be stopped after the BP is controlled. In some patients, high BP could be as a result of “secondary’ hypertension like thyroid, gland disease, adrenal grand problem.

Hypertension also manifests differently in different people. It is observed that BP in some people goes high when they are at a doctor’s place or in hospital but normal outside. It is denoted as white coat hypertension. In some people, the situation is reverse and it’s called reverse white coat hypertension or masked hypertension. This can be diagnosed by the measuring 24-hour blood pressure (at work and home) with an automatic machine. If BP in the heart increases, patients will be at a higher risk. BP during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous for both the mother and the foetus. Excessive alcohol use and pain relievers also can cause high BP. Unlike other ailments, hypertension does not manifest quite early. A majority of people suffering from hypertension realise only when things become complicated. Ironically, even the people, who are aware that they are suffering from hypertension, do not seek medical help. Hypertension can be controlled quite easily. One should always keep a tab on one’s blood pressure and if any abnormality is observed he or she should consult a doctor for medical advice and help.



WannaCry forces 50% of Chennai ATMs to down shutters



CHENNAI: With the WannaCryransomware attack targeting more than 150 countries worldwide, banks in the state were on high alert on Tuesday. More than 50% of about 3,200 ATMs in the city were shut down, as banks tried to upgrade their systems. Banks said they were likely to resume operations over the next few days. Chennai-based lender Lakshmi Vilas Bank said it had to close 611 of its 972 ATMs for upgrade. “We will operate some of our ATMs tonight. The remainder will be opened in the next 2-3 days after the necessary software upgrade,” said A J Vidyasagar, head, retail banking, Lakshmi Vilas Bank. Industry body Confederation of ATM Industry (CATMI) and ATM original equipment makers have set up a taskforce to come up with solutions to set up patches for ATMs. The Reserve Bank of India on Monday directed banks to upgrade their system as more than 70% of India’s 2.2 lakh ATM network is believed to be running on outdated software such as Windows XP, which is vulnerable to WannaCry.

Banks said normal banking transactions were not affected as they relied on core-banking software such as Infosys’ Finacle, Oracle’s Flexcube and Temenos’ T24, which have been unaffected by WannaCry. However, customers were not able to get passbook entries at nationalized banks like State Bank of India, which shut down its printers. Banks also said they had been working on precautionary measures since Saturday. “The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) was very prompt in its issuance of guidelines and arranging for patches that we could install for Windows operating systems,” said K Venkataraman, CEO, Karur Vysya Bank. ATM operators such as FSS and BTI Payments, however, clarified that some of their ATMs were shut due to shortage of cash rather than the threat from the virus. “Since mid-January, we have been operating only 70% of our 4,000-strong ATM network,” said K Srinivas, CEO, BTI Payments.



International News



ISIS struggling to maintain its ‘little hold’ in Afghanistan: Pentagon


WASHINGTON: The Afghan unit of ISIS known as ISIS-K or ISIS Khorasan Province is not growing in the war torn country and instead is struggling to maintain the little hold it has, the Pentagon has said. “It is continuing to be a challenge, but at this point I don’t see it growing. I see it, if anything, struggling to maintain what little hold it has,” the Pentagon Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters here. “ISIS-K, is very small area in the mountains of Nangarhar region, not something that presents the level of threat at this point that it would probably like to. But we will continue to work with our partners there to defeat it. We don’t want it to establish a foothold,” he said in response to a question. The very presence of ISIS in Afghanistan, he said is both a problem and a symptom or a reflection of progress. “When ISIS is on its back in Iraq and Syria, it is no surprise that it’s popping up in other places that are more hospitable compared to Iraq and Syria. Iraq and Syria, because of the success of the mission there, have become less hospitable,” Davis said.

“So we have seen this affiliate grow in Afghanistan, called ISIS-K or ISIS Khorasan Province. But we have focused a lot of effort on it, and you’ve certainly seen that covered widely in the press, both with air strikes and operations on the ground in conjunction with the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces,” the Pentagon spokesman told foreign journalists. Davis said the main objective of the United States is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States and its allies. “We remain focused on the defeat of al-Qaida and its associates as well as the defeat of ISIS Khorasan province, or ISIS-K as we call it,” he said. “The Taliban, tried eight separate times last year to overtake a provincial capital in Afghanistan. They failed every single one of those times, and they have yet to do it successfully this year as well. And you’ve heard General Nicholson talk about it in his open testimony and elsewhere that Afghanistan remains a formidable challenge,” he said.



Pakistan International Airlines crew detained, searched in London over ‘security threats’



LONDON: Fourteen crew members of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight were detained at London’s Heathrow Airport and later let off after the aircraft was thoroughly searched for over two hours post-landing. The Dawn and the Express Tribune newspapers quoted PIA spokesperson Mashhood Tajwar, as saying that Flight PK-785 from Islamabad to London arrived at Heathrow Airport at 2.50 p.m. on Monday, and after passengers disembarked, the flight crew and aircraft were searched by authorities. It is yet not known why the crew was detained. Tajwar said nothing was found on the plane, adding that the PIA plans to take up the case with the British aviation authorities. Other reports in Pakistani media said the crew was detained over ‘alleged security threats via confidential information’ and their passports withheld.

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