News Flash – 18 January 2018

National News



Brave brothers stop miscreants to rob ATM in Karnataka

The incident took place at Shimoga Taluk’s Santekaduru where the miscreants planned to rob a Canara Bank ATM, located at Santekaduru bus station.



SHIMOGA: A bunch of boys planned to rob an ATM, but were stopped by two brave youths who helped the cops to arrest them. Interestingly, when the robbers who had been planning the robbery for many days switched off the street lamps near the ATM and turned off the CCTV camera. The incident took place at Shimoga Taluk‘s Santekaduru where the miscreants planned to rob a Canara Bank ATM, located at Santekaduru bus station. Six of them came in a car to the ATM on Tuesday morning. While three of them used hack and shovels to break into the ATM door and take out the cash, the rest of them waited in the car parked 50 meters away from it. However, as the gang was dismantling the ATM machine, the owner of the building, Murugesh, who heard the noise, woke up and called his brother Venkatesh and told him about the suspicious men. Both the brothers then came down and immediately pulled down the shutter of the ATM and locked the robbers inside. They then shouted for help after which villagers gathered around the spot even as the three men waiting in the car managed to escape. While closing the shutter, one of the robbers attacked both Murugesh and Venkatesh with a sharp weapon from inside the ATM. Later, the burglars surrendered before the police. According to officials, nearly Rs 10 lakh cash was inside the ATM machine.



GPS, panic buttons must on public transport vehicles by April 1

Public transport vehicles to have emergency panic buttons, CCTV cameras and GPS-enabled vehicle tracking devices to ensure the safety of women.



NEW DELHI: All taxis, buses and public transport vehicles, barring three-wheelers and e-rickshaws, will have to install location tracking device or GPS and an alert button from April 1. The road transport ministry has reiterated the deadline amid reports that most of the states had not done much to meet the target. “From 1st April, 2018, passenger transport vehicles including taxis and buses are to be mandatorily equipped with GPS devices,” the ministry tweeted on Wednesday. A senior official said there will be no extension to roll out these passenger safety measures in public transport vehicles. Though initially the ministry had proposed mandatory installation of CCTV cameras in buses having more than 23 seats, the proposal was dropped due to privacy concerns. “Three-wheelers have been kept out of these mandatory installation of GPS and alert button since they are open. Passengers are more vulnerable in vehicles with closed structure,” the official said. According to sources, the state transport departments are responsible for putting a system in place for tracking public transport vehicles. When any passenger presses the alert button, both the transport department and police control rooms will be alerted for taking quick action. “Doing things in piecemeal can’t be the solution. Just installing GPS and panic button will not work unless someone is tracking them. There have been many good ideas; now the focus should be on implementing them in the next one year,” said Kalpana Viswanath, co-founder at Safetipin.




Andheri station, which sees high footfall, reports too many cases of molestation



Mumbai: With the number of molestation cases increasing exponentially on the suburban railway network, the Railways has identified several lacunae in the logistical and security setup at railway stations across the three railway lines. 9 ‘danger zones’ or vulnerable spots have been marked where women are most susceptible to being attacked. Four of these areas fall on the Western line while 5 are on the Central route. Among the problem areas are the BMC’s cross-over bridge at Dadar station and the narrow stairs at Andheri station. The bridge at Dadar, despite having two central lights and armed with security staff, is prone to incidents of ‘inappropriate touching’ by men who take advantage of crowds and poor lighting. The newly constructed skywalk at Dadar, which is not as widely used, is yet to be covered with CCTV cameras and is currently being manned by Railway Police Force (RPF) staff. The biggest problem at Andheri station is the high footfall and too many cases of molestation reportedly take place on the narrow stairs. Another issue is that the toilets at Andheri have no roofs, which is more of a logistical misstep than a security concern. For now, male and female RPF staff are deployed at these locations, but with Railways’ new proactive approach, the toilet might be getting new roofs soon. The problem at Churchgate was the lack of police presence at the Virar end of the station. A senior officer from RPF, explained, “Some anti-social elements would loiter on that end of the platform and jump into the lady’s compartment during the early hours or late in the night and misbehave with women.


They would often jump off at various signals when the train stopped before Marine Lines”. The Railways has recommended deployment of additional manpower outside ladies compartments in the morning and night specifically. The stretch between Mumbai Central and Grant Road has also been earmarked due to the location of several brothels in the vicinity. Post 10 pm is highly dangerous for women, the Railways has observed. On the Central line, at Kalyan, two spots were identified where female toilets were located at isolated ends of platforms 2-3 and 4-5. Located at the extreme ends, both these toilets are in seclusion with little to no lights. An RPF personnel pointed out, “Baring the one on platform 1, which is newly constructed, all are isolated spots”.  Another problem that was highlighted was that all railway platforms operated on 60 per cent lighting post 12 am in an endeavour to save electricity, a measure that hampered security of women travelling late in the night. In order to minimise risks, reduce security concerns and make the railway stations safe for women, senior railway officials are now conducting regular surprise checks to ensure that staff are vigilant. In a recent surprise check conducted by the Chief Security Commissioner of WR, AK Singh, it was found that most of the home-guard staff were either loitering aimlessly or glued to their mobile phones watching videos or listening to music with earphones on. “We have written to their department. And at the same time we are conducting several drives to create more awareness,” said AK Singh.



To avoid custodial deaths, 410 CCTV cameras for 25 police stations



MUMBAI: The government of Maharashtra on Wednesday approved Rs 1.35 crore to install 410 CCTV cameras in 25 police stations here in order to avoid custodial deaths, a resolution issued by the Home department stated. It added that the total outlay of the project was Rs 2.75 crore of which the state on Wednesday approved Rs 1.35 crore. The release stated that it was decided to deploy 410 CCTV cameras along with provisions to keep recorded footage for one year. The money has been given to the state Information Department to deploy the machinery, the government resolution stated.



Fog hits 46 flights at Kempegowda International Airport; 4 cancelled



BENGALURU: Foggy weather affected 46 flights at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Wednesday. Operations were suspended between 7.20am and 8.29am. While four flights — three departures and one arrival — had to be cancelled, 36 were delayed and six diverted to other airports. Of the 36 flights delayed, 26 were to land in KIA. The airport normally experiences ‘radiation fog’ (land cools down after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions when sky is clear). Operations are generally affected between November 13 and February 16, 3am to 9am. Early-morning fog had affected 140 flights at KIA on Sunday. The scale of disruption was the highest since early December.



Doctors alarmed as rush-hour air quality turns foul


KOLKATA: The city’s air quality index (AQI) finishing above 450 at 10am, when most of Kolkata’s working population and students are out on the street, has prompted environmentalists and health experts to flag the dangers of the AQI’s quirky behaviour. The AQI generally spikes after midnight till daybreak, with the sun and the consequent heat bringing down pollution levels as the day wears on. This has not happened this season, say experts, pointing to Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s 10am AQI figures of 467 and 456 respectively. The PM2.5 readings are from the US embassy’s Ho Chi Minh Sarani monitoring station. The permissible limit is 60 and anything above 300 is ‘hazardous’. “Ten in the morning is when a large part of the city, and not specific groups like morning walkers, are out. Such high levels of PM2.5 count can wreak havoc on the human system,” warned oncologist Subir Ganguly. According to environmental scientist S M Ghosh, this is a very dangerous trend. “Peak-hour pollution is the worst since it affects everyone from office-goers to school children and the elderly. You can’t avoid stepping out at 10 in the morning and since the reading has been taken near central Kolkata which sees the largest congregation of people and vehicles, it is likely to have a great impact. While early morning pollution affects just morning-walkers, Wednesday’s PM2.5 count affected all,” Ghosh said. Environmentalists pointed out that air velocity and temperature might have been responsible for the count pushing up later than usual.


“A temperature of 10°C-12°C is ideal for trapping particulate matter at the lower levels of the environment. This is what has been happening over the past one week, but the count climbed during peak hours on Wednesday. It might have been triggered by a sudden surge in vehicular pollution in the area,” environmental researcher Sudipta Bhattacharya explained. Ghosh agreed. High footfall and dense traffic might have combined to take the count soaring on Wednesday morning, he said. “Suspended particulate matter hardly gets any room to escape into the air in the congested parts of Kolkata. This happens due to the bumper-to-bumper traffic and buildings in close proximity that leave no ‘relief space’ for PM 2.5 to float away. With rampant felling of trees and disappearance of waterbodies, there is nothing that can absorb the pollution. So, a sudden spurt in traffic is quite capable of pushing up the count to a very high level,” added Ghosh. What made Wednesday’s count more dangerous was the fact that PM 2.5 in Kolkata tends to get trapped at a height of seven to 10 feet, which is perilously close to the air that we breathe, said a green activist. “A lot more people inhaled this foul air on Wednesday which saw a late surge in the count.


This is far worse than early morning pollution and let’s hope this is not repeated,” he said. While Kolkata’s count reached a highest of 468 at 1 am on Wednesday, Delhi fared much better at 335. On Tuesday, Delhi’s highest was less than half of Kolkata’s peak. Inhaling PM 2.5 could be fatal in the long-run since it is carcinogenic, warned Ghosh. “It is rich in formaldehyde and benzene which are generated by diesel smoke and ill-maintained petrol-run vehicles respectively. Both have long crossed the permissible limit in Kolkata. Till old vehicles are phased out, PM 2.5 will continue to escalate,” felt Ghosh. Kolkata’s count has crossed 300 on 13 days since January 1. A consistent count of 350-400 is dangerous, pointed out Dr Ganguly. “Since PM 2.5 goes straight into the lungs without any resistance, it is difficult to evade. Apart from cough, sneeze and breathlessness – which are the relatively harmless effects of an exposure to PM 2.5 – it can cause COPD, aggravate heart diseases and even lead to cancer in the long run. Since the particulate matter that we inhale are laden with vehicular pollution, they have a high metal content. This exposes us to lung cancer as well as head and neck cancer,” the oncologist said.



International News



Even the eyelashes freeze: Russia sees minus 67 degrees Celsius


MOSCOW: Even thermometers can’t keep up with the plunging temperatures in Russia‘s remote Yakutia region, which hit minus 67 degrees Celsius (minus 88.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas Tuesday. In Yakutia a region of 1 million people about 3,300 miles (5,300 kilometers) east of Moscow students routinely go to school even in minus 40 degrees. But school was canceled on Tuesday throughout the region and police ordered parents to keep their children inside. In the village of Oymyakon, one of the coldest inhabited places on earth, state-owned Russian television showed the mercury falling to the bottom of a thermometer that was only set up to measure down to minus 50 degrees. In 2013, Oymyakon recorded an all-time low of minus 71 degrees Celsius (minus 98 Fahrenheit).


Over the weekend, two men froze to death when they tried to walk to a nearby farm after their car broke down. Three other men with them survived because they were wearing warmer clothes, investigators reported. But the press office for Yakutia’s governor said Tuesday that all households and businesses in the region have working central heating and access to backup power generators. Residents of Yakutia are no strangers to cold weather and this week’s cold spell was not even dominating local news headlines on Tuesday. But some media outlets published cold-weather selfies and stories about stunts in the extreme cold. Women posted pictures of their frozen eyelashes, while Yakutia Media published a picture of Chinese students who got undressed to take a plunge in a thermal spring.

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