News Flash – 17 September 2018

National News



300 residential Schools for Tribals to get 24×7 Ambulance



Mumbai: To curb tribal children deaths in residential institutions, the state government has decided to provide 300 ashram schools with 24×7 dedicated ambulance and a medical room on each campus. Besides, the government will set up a team of 10 doctors for yearly medical check-ups at these schools, and have digital records of the students’ data through use of electronic health cards. The state has set aside Rs 11 crore for developing infrastructure for mobilisation of resources to deal with health issues of tribal children residing in ashram schools. The latest internal data compiled by the tribal welfare department revealed that 132 students died at ashram schools across the state in 20016-17—65 of them in aided (private) institutions. The state has 502 government-run ashram schools and 556 private ones. Activists, however, have raised doubts over the initiative as ambulance service will be provided through private contractor, and not by the government directly. “While our committee had recommended appointment of local Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) at each school campus for 24 hours to take care of children, the state has appointed a Telangana-based company, which will provide ambulances to ashram schools on contract basis.


It has to be noted that the services provided by a private firm could differ from that by a social worker. The latter could be in a much better position to access the situation and act accordingly,” said Dr. Ashok Belkhode, a member of the state-appointed committee for improvement of ashram schools. “But something is better than nothing,” he added. The health care project has been scheduled for three years. The tribal welfare department has issued government a resolution (GR) stating that every ashram school will have a ‘school heath committee’ comprising an ANM, head master, superintendent, teachers, parents and representatives from the firm. The move comes long after a 12-member committee headed by former director general of state public health services Dr. Subhash Salunkhe submitted a report on tribal children deaths in residential schools, to governor Vidyasagar Rao in 2016. The governor took a serious note of report and asked the state to implement the recommendations of the committee to curb deaths of tribal students.



30% of Delhi-Mumbai highway is unsafe for 4-wheelers, finds study


New Delhi: Nearly 30% of the Delhi-Mumbai and almost half of the Mumbai-Chennai stretches of the Golden Quadrilateral are unsafe for car, bus and truck occupants, according to a first-of-its-kind safety study on national highways by agencies that included the World Bank and the National Highways Authority of India. The study, which looked into the likelihood and severity of accidents, found that these NH stretches were even more unsafe for two-wheelers, pedestrians and cyclists as there were hardly any facilities for these vulnerable road users. The safety assessment and star ratings of the two NH corridors were conducted by Global Road Safety Facility of the World Bank, International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) and NHAI. The two corridors were rated on a scale of one to five stars, based on crash studies from around the world. The report said only 40km in the two corridors running into 5,431km got the highest five-star safety rating for vehicle occupants. Another 245km got a four-star rating. The study gave three stars to about 55% of the two highway networks, which is “good” so far as safety of occupants is concerned. The rest 39% of the two corridors got a one- or two-star rating, which is considered unsafe for users.


The report gains importance considering that NHs, which have only 2% share of the country’s road network, account for almost 36% of the total road deaths. In 2017, about 52,000 people lost their lives in accidents on the NHs while another 40,000 persons were killed on state highways. According to the study, about 824 km of the Delhi-Mumbai of GQ fell under the one- and two-star category for vehicle occupants when the speed limit is 80kmph. But when the speed limit is 100kmph, as much as 1,517km out of 2,795km, or 54% of the stretch, is unsafe. Similarly, in the Mumbai-Chennai stretch, about 1,286km fell under the one- and two-star category when the speed limit was 80kmph. This share increased to 1,623km out of 2,636km — 62% of the total — when the vehicle speed limit was 100kmph. The road transport and highways ministry notified100kmph as the maximum speed limit last April.



City frets about Women’s Safety, but 30% of its dark spots remain


New Delhi: There are around 2,000 dark spots in the capital. Last year, poles for streetlights were erected here but the illumination hasn’t happened so far. A prime reason for this is that various civic agencies haven’t been able to sort out jurisdiction issues. In 2016, 7,428 potentially dangerous dark spots had been identified through a pan Delhi survey by NGO Safety Pin. Since the municipal corporations didn’t have the wherewithal to handle these, the Delhi government began an initiative in July that year to install LED streetlights on their behalf. Both the north and east corporations issued no-objection certificates for the work. “We were to just install the lights and hand them over to the corporations. The work was to take three to four months,” said a PWD official. But more than 25 months later, the Rs 22-crore project is only 70% complete. That translates to 5,472 spots that were illuminated. So, what happened to the rest? To put it simply, they got stuck in the proverbial red tape. The north corporation isn’t willing to take over 1,956 sites where the poles have been erected but the meters are yet to be put up. The civic body argues that these are located in unauthorised colonies and areas that don’t fall under its jurisdiction. A senior corporation engineer said the civic body won’t “energise” these poles. “Meters were installed in areas under our jurisdiction. We are already facing numerous disputes in terms of electricity bills from the poles we installed earlier.


It will add to the financial burden of an already cash-strapped civic body,” he said. But PWD argues that the street lighting work was done by it for the corporations and the completed sites were handed over to the corporations to run and maintain them. “If there was a jurisdiction issue, why did they provide an NOC?” the PWD official pointed out. A status report by PWD says these lightless poles are mostly located in outer Delhi, north and west Delhi. Some spots include stretches in Geetanjali Enclave, Paschim Vihar, Ashram Road, Najafgarh Road and Nihal Vihar. “DSIIDC and flood and irrigation department are entrusted with the development works of unauthorised colonies and they should also take over these new streetlights,” said a senior north corporation engineer overseeing the project. He added that whenever street-laying illumination works were carried out by the corporation in the past, the Delhi government provided additional funds. The north corporation pays nearly Rs 100 crore annually as electricity bill for its streetlights, he said. The situation begs a rhetorical question: how serious are Delhi agencies for improving women’s safety. The answer should be evident.



Doctors infuse platelets at 50k count, dengue panic syndrome grips city


Hyderabad: With a spurt in fever cases, dengue panic syndrome has gripped the city, resulting in more and more Hyderabadis landing in intensive care units (ICUs) of hospitals. However, a TOI investigation has revealed that patients with platelet counts around 50,000 are also being put in the Intensive Care Unit(ICU), which is not only burning a hole in their pockets, but some being recommended the unnecessary platelet transfusion. In severe cases, ‘platelet transfusion’ might be required, but not unless the count goes below 10,000-20,000. The normal presentation of the disease is sudden onset of high grade fever, severe muscle pains, headache, pain behind the eyes, vomiting, rash, low white blood count and low platelet count. It is the last feature i.e., low platelet count that instils fear in patients and treating physicians. Platelets form blood clots to seal any injured or bleeding site. The normal platelet count is usually maintained in a range of 1.5 lakh to 4.5 lakh/mm3. “Unfortunately, patients, their relatives as well as healthcare workers tend to ‘chase’ the platelet count.


Even patients who test positive for dengue actually have a mild disease and can be safely treated and monitored on an out-patient basis. There is such a fear in the general population that they tend to choose to get admitted to hospital rather than stay at home,” Dr. Rahul Agarwal, consultant internal medicine, Maxcure Hospitals, said. It is not until the platelet count reaches 10,000 to 20,000/ mm3, the risk of spontaneous bleeding rises. “In many dengue patients, there isn’t any need to transfuse platelets until this threshold is reached. About 70-80% cases need temporary management like controlling fever and electrolytes. Only in case of patients who have lower than 50,000 platelet count and complications like high-grade fever or renal failure, it is not necessary to monitor them in ICU,” said Dr. Sanjeev Singh Yadav, president Indian Medical Association-Hyderabad unit.



Hyderabad set to join global Cyber Security league with own cluster


Hyderabad: Expanding its reach in the global cyber security space, the Hyderabad security cluster launched earlier this year is set to join the league of 14 global cyber security clusters across the world. The Global Ecosystem of Ecosystems Partnership in Innovation and Cybersecurity (Global EPIC) is a collaboration between 14 global cybersecurity ecosystems, which HSC is likely to join. A high-level delegation from HSC will be meeting representatives of Global EPIC early next month. “We have been invited to join Global EPIC and discussions are on in this regard. Joining Global EPIC will mean access to the global community of the innovation ecosystem. Also it will mean HSC being able to collaborate on projects. Leaders of these centres have become aware of challenges of cybersecurity that require global paradigm shift in partnerships and cooperation that include regional and local imperatives,” said Zaki Qureshey, founding father and task force member, HSC.


The 14 cyber security clusters around the globe are located in the US, UK, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Israel, Spain, Belgium, Costa Rice and Poland. Global collaboration emerged with the rising need for exchange of expertise being recognised by the individual cluster. “With cyber-criminal groups becoming organised and converging capabilities and increased hiring such groups by as cyber mercenaries, the need for global collaboration is at an all-time high. Since cybercrime has no borders, tackling it also needs to be done at a global level,” added Qureshey. Since the launch of the HSC organisations like Gartner, Symantec, UL (firm based out of Chicago), Accenture, Grant Thornton, Blackberry, National Stock Exchange (NSE), Virtusa and others have come on board. HSC will be meeting the head of NCSC National Cyber Security Centrum), Head of European Cybercrime centre (EC3) and the Global head of Cyber Security World Economic Forum (WEF) for collaborations.



Bagri Market Fire Snuffs Out Rs.80cr Biz Ahead of Festive Season


Kolkata: A massive blaze in Bagri Market, one of Kolkata’s most prominent wholesale markets in the heart of the city’s tinderbox capital of Burrabazar, gutted 80 shops and devoured at least Rs 80 crore worth of goods, all lying packed to be shipped across Kolkata, Bengal and eastern India ahead of the region’s biggest festival season. The only consolation that traders managed to get out of the ashes and the rubble left behind by the seventh major fire in a Burrabazar market in the last 10 years was the fact that there was no loss of life or limb; the fire started at 2.35am, when the market was desolate except for 13 security guards and their families. But every trader in the market said the scale of loss was “colossal”, which would be compounded by the timing of the fire: Bagri Market alone does business of over Rs 1,000 crore in the run-up to and during the year’s biggest festive season, which starts from Mahalaya and runs till the end of the year with a short break after Diwali. The fire, which comes 12 days after the Majerhat bridge collapse, may also have a larger collateral damage on commercial activity ahead of the festive season, fear traders. “One catastrophe is bad. A second in a month, which precedes Durga Puja and Diwali, may impact retail logistics while the government is being proactive in taking timeliest corrective measures,” said Subhodip Ghosh, director general of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


The fire started possibly from an electric pole outside the market that spread to a makeshift shop and then engulfed the market. But over 400 firemen could not douse the blaze till late on Sunday. A combination of factors impeded the massive operation mounted by 35 fire tenders; these included the narrow pathway leading to the market (which the fire tenders could not enter initially) as well as the dense network of overhead wiring. There were no casualties since the shops were closed when fire broke out in the 63-year-old building. But it did extensive damage. “Whatever I had was in those shops. Our family has been doing business here for three generations. What will I do now?” said Ashutosh Singh, whose two shops on the ground floor of Block C, packed with imported gift items, were gutted. According to multiple witnesses, after the fire started spreading from the ground floor, locals and a few traders tried to enter but failed as the entrance to Block C was locked and the security guard was nowhere to be found. “The fire extinguishers didn’t work. There was no water in the reservoir and we practically watched our shops getting devoured in the blaze. When the firemen came, we worked in tandem but by then everything was over,” said Tausif Ahmed, who has a shop of imitation jewelry on the ground floor.


“The lanes were too narrow, lined with thousands of makeshift shops encroaching the road, which hindered the operation of sky lifts. They even had no firefighting measures in the building. I will ask cops to take necessary action against the building authorities,” said mayor and state fire minister Sovan Chatterjee. While Chatterjee fumed over the authorities, it was his office that had granted a trade licence to the market on July 31, even when they had failed to produce a fire clearance certificate. Officers of Hare Street police station said they will take necessary steps once they receive a complaint from the fire department. “We will do all the formalities but our first priority is to get the fire under control. We will initiate a probe into how the fire broke out and will lodge a complaint accordingly,” said Jag Mohan, DG, fire services. With the flames refusing to die down, traders demanded Army intervention. “We suspect sabotage. The owners have disputes among themselves as well as with us. The authorities should probe the matter,” said Debabrata Das, secretary of Bagree Market Central Kolkata Traders Welfare Association.



International News



Typhoon Kills 64 in Philippines, moves to China


Philippines: Typhoon Mangkhut barreled into southern China on Sunday after lashing the northern Philippines (right) with strong winds and heavy rain that left at least 64 people dead and dozens more feared buried in a landslide. In China, more than 2.4 million people had been evacuated by Sunday evening to flee the massive typhoon and nearly 50,000 fishing boats were called back to port. Hong Kong’s RTHK broadcaster cited experts as saying Mangkhut was expected to be the strongest typhoon to hit the city in decades. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Florence kept dumping rain on America’s North Carolina and officials warned residents that “the worst is yet to come” from a storm that has already killed at least 14 people. About 7,40,000 homes and businesses remained without power.



At US climate summit, the electric bus ran nearly empty

The mismatch between the San Francisco conference’s ethos and execution was not lost on protesters. ‘We’re not getting enough walk and we’re getting too much talk,’ one said.



San Francisco: It’s not easy going green. Offer electric buses and some still choose hulking Chevy Suburbans. Require paperless brochures and some hawk their colorful booklets. At the Global Climate Action Summit, a three-day gathering that ended on Saturday, organisers wanted the mayors, governors, international leaders and others attending to show the world that a large convention in a big city needn’t leave carbon footprints all over. Event-sponsored transportation focused on bicycles, cars and buses that ran entirely on electricity. But the conference proved that even those in the green space sometimes cling to carbon-based conveniences. City councilman Mike O’Brien of Seattle noted that some attendees commuted in oversized SUVs, while he used an electric bike to get around. “To be fair, there are mayors and governors,” he said. “I’m a just a City Council member”. Santa Fe mayor Alan Webber tried to do his part, but he did it alone. On the full-size electric bus with its flashing digital sign proclaiming “zero emissions”, Webber was the lone passenger on the shuttle to the event venue.

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