News Flash – 19 July 2017

National News



Rain surge likely this week, floods feared


NEW DELHI: Heavy rain is expected in Odisha and neighbouring areas, raising the possibility of floods, as a depression was set to hit the state on Tuesday night. It’s likely to move west through central India over the next five-six days, invigorating the monsoon across the region and taking the seasonal rainfall back into the surplus zone. The depression is likely to make landfall between Puri and Gopalpur. “In the next 24 hours, heavy rains will centre around south Odisha, north coastal Andhra, south Chhattisgarh and Telangana,” said M Mohapatra, head of IMD‘s National Weather Forecasting Centre. In a tweet, Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary, ministry of earth sciences, said, “Widespread rains with heavy spells are expected in next 8-10 days over central and northwest India.” An official release warned that several rivers and tributaries were likely to observe rapid rise in water levels. While the heaviest rain over the next week is expected in central India, as the weather disturbance moves west, north and east India too may get some good rain spells. Sutlej too has been put on flood alert after water was discharged from the gates of Karcham Wangtoo Dam and Nathpa Jakhri Dam in Himachal Pradesh. Heavy showers have also been forecast in parts of Uttarkashi, Dehradun, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Bageshwar in Uttarakhand for the next 24 hours.


“Flood is not a disaster in itself. It becomes disaster in certain circumstances,” said Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, while articulating how floods helped agriculture by raising soil fertility through silt. “We need to be prepared in areas prone to floods. We should also have a proper flood warning system,” said Thakkar. Monsoon entered an active phase two-three days ago after a rather sluggish first half of July. While the overall rainfall across the country is currently 100% (neither a surplus nor a deficit), July has a 3.5% deficit so far. Meanwhile, the monsoon further advanced into more parts of west Rajasthan and Haryana on Tuesday. The rain system now covers around 90% of the country, with just a portion of Punjab and small parts of Rajasthan and Haryana out of its ambit.



Landslide warnings issued due to extended wet spell



MUMBAI/PUNE: Weathermen have warned of five to seven more days of heavy showers and even landslides in Ghatkopar and Thane after the wet spell continued for the second consecutive day in Mumbai, Thane, Vashi, Vasai and Virar on Tuesday. SATARK, a landslide-warning facility initiated by the Centre for Citizen Science (CCS), Pune, issued a weather alert for the next 72 hours for possibilities of landslides in the ghat regions of Nashik, Ahmednagar, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Goa. Mayuresh Prabhune, secretary, CCS, Pune, said roads connecting Mahabaleshwar, Thane, Ghatkopar, Malshej, Mahad, Dapoli, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Amba Ghat and Amboli, among others, were most prone to landslides because the rain quantum there had crossed the threshold limit. On Tuesday, Santacruz received 48.1mm rainfall in the 12-hour period from 8.30am to 8.30pm and Colaba 15.2mm.


Data obtained from the BMC’s automatic weather stations shows that the highest rainfall in the three days between Sunday and Tuesday was recorded in Matunga at 225.01mm followed by 215.29mm in Dadar and 211.07mm in Fort. Weathermen said Santacruz has already received around 50% of the average rainfall required for the season. “Rainfall recorded by the IMD’s Santacruz observatory so far has been 1,104.8mm, which is almost 50% of the average required for the season,” said K S Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, Indian Meteorological Department. He added that the rainfall recorded in Santacruz so far is above average. The total rainfall recorded from June 1 to 18 by the IMD’s Santacruz observatory was 1104.8mm, which is 83.9mm above average. IMD Colaba, though, recorded 837.3mm, which is 176.1mm below normal. Thane has received 1,469mm from July 1 to July 18. Meanwhile, owing to heavy rains, 62 tree fall complaints were registered with the BMC, of which 15 were made in a seven-hour period from 8am and 3pm.



SDMC to install 100 water ATMs


NEW DELHI: After NDMC, South Delhi Municipal Corporation has initiated a project to install 100 water ATMs and 100 mobile toilet vans across its area. The move has come after LG Anil Baijal held a meeting with the civic bodies last month and directed them to ensure that water ATMs are installed across Delhi at the earliest and are maintained properly. Senior officials claimed that the tender has been floated and once installed, people can get chilled filtered water for just Rs 2 (250ml). “Paper glasses will be available at every water ATM. If someone wants to fill their bottle, they will have to pay Rs 5 per litre,” a senior official said. As a pilot project, SDMC had installed its first water ATM in Defence Colony Market last month. “The response was good and we decided to expand the services across our jurisdiction. In Defence Colony Market, every day about 300 glasses of water are sold. Once these ATMs are installed, people will not have to buy packaged bottle anymore,” he said.


The machine will have a capacity of 5,000 litres of RO water along with a provision for dumping paper glasses. As per the tender, every vendor has to ensure that glasses and any other kind of waste accumulated near the ATMs are cleared on a daily basis. SDMC has identified 20-25 points in four zones — central, south, Najafgarh and west — for the installation and the tendering process. “The space for placing water ATMs will be provided by SDMC,” added the senior official. The areas with no public toilets will have mobile toilet vans. “We have floated the tender to procure 100 mobile toilet vans and by next month these will be deployed in areas within our jurisdiction. We have initiated the process to identify the sensitive areas where there is no provision for public toilets,” said the official. NDMC had earlier collaborated with artists and painted the walls where urination in public was more.



Traffic policemen get body cameras to record violations



MUMBAI: Stopped for a traffic violation? Think twice before arguing with the police. In Dadar and Worli, traffic personnel now wear body cameras to record the goings-on while issuing a challan. The aim of the pilot project is to deter motorists from getting into an altercation with the police as well as to keep a check on the behaviour of the men in khaki-and-white. Sources said the traffic department was in the process of procuring cameras for policemen across the city. The recording capacity of each device is eight to ten hours. The camera is to be worn even when monitoring vehicular movement on the streets. “Body cameras will bring more transparency in the working of the traffic police; allegations of corruption can be verified,” an official said. CM Devendra Fadnavis had announced in September that the traffic police would get such cameras for their safety. The announcement had come soon after the death of a constable, Vilas Shinde, who was thrashed with a stick while on duty.



Law department looking into ways to denotify NH stretches in Bengaluru



BENGALURU: While the state government is still struggling to find a way out to salvage liquor vends shut in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Karnataka high court has asked it to clear its stand on denotification of the stretches of national highways where these outlets are located. The high court asked the advocate general on Monday to clarify the state government’s stand on bar owners’ demand for denotifying 77.64km of national highways within the limits of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The court will hear the case on Thursday. “We have sought opinion from the law department on the issue. They are looking into it,” said M Lakshminarayanaadditional chief secretary, public works department. Following the Supreme Court e reaffirming the state government’s e prerogative to denotify highways, CM Siddaramaiah convened a n high-level meeting on July 11, e which resolved to refer the matter ” to the law department. The law department has to find out whether the state has the power to denotify the stretches of national highways on its own or it has to approach the Centre.


PWD officials said they would resend a proposal seeking denotification of the national highways to the Centre if required, depending on the legal opinion. “We are studying the Supreme Court’s judgment and related aspects,” said a senior law department official. The state government, meanwhile on July 13 denotified about 55.25-km stretches of state highways, salvaging some 150 liquor vends. The newly denotified stretches include 11.85-km long roads in BBMP limits, giving respite to some 50 liquor outlets in the areas adjoining Jayanagar, JP Nagar and Bannerghatta Road. Last month, 1,476.69-km of state highways were denotified, salvaging more than 3,000 liquor vends across Karnataka. “We are renewing licences of the liquor vends along the denotified state highways. Rest of the outlets can relocate,” said Rajendra Prasad, additional excise commissioner.



Rain brings cheers to farmers in Telangana, cities live in flood fear

With incessant rain lashing the city for two days, water level in Hussainsagar has gone up considerably forcing the authorities to release excess inflows into the Musi. The GHMC put the low-lying areas on high alert.



HYDERABAD: Two days of incessant rain across Telangana has brought smiles on the face of farmers as major lakes and tanks are brimming over. At the same time, with the Met office predicting more rain in the next 48 hours, people in Greater Hyderabad and other cities in the state are a worried lot, but government officials and the agriculture department are upbeat that more rains mean availability of enough water for drinking purposes and irrigation needs. “Most of the lakes and tanks in many districts including Khammam, Kothagudem-Bhadrachalam and Adilabad have received very good inflows. If rain continues, all the 16,000 lakes that were desilted under Mission Kakatiya will be soon full and provide water for irrigation and drinking purposes,” irrigation department officer on special duty Sridhar Deshpande said. The agriculture department said the rains that occurred during the last two days are good for all crops. The rainfall across the state is good for all crops. There has been no damage to any crop,” agriculture commissioner M Jagan Mohan told TOI. Revenue officials claim they have been monitoring the situation and even all district collectors have been asked to do so. The rain may be good for agriculture, but some other sectors have been adversely hit. Coal production in Singareni Collieries at Manuguru was affected. According to official rainfall figures recorded between fall figures recorded between 8.30am on Monday and 8.30am on Tuesday, 30 districts either received excess or normal rainfall.


While three districts, Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Kothagudem-Bhadrachalam, received more than excess rainfall, 11 districts such as Mahbubabad, Warangal (Rural), Siddipet, Medchal-Malkajgiri recorded excess rainfall. Normal rainfall was reported in sixteen districts. Only Mancherial district still has deficit rainfall. Irrigation department officials said many streams in Khammam and Kothagudem district are full and water level in Hussainsagar too is rising. However, officials said it needs some more major inflows for the city’s drinking water sources and major reservoirs in the state to be full. “City drinking water sources like Osmansagar and Himayatsagar as well as major reservoirs such as Nagarjunasagar, Sriramsagar, Srisailam, Yellampally, Manair, Singur and Manjeera still need inflows for them to be full. If rain continues like this for another four to five days, all these reservoirs will become full to the brim,” a senior official of irrigation department told TOI. According to the rainfall forecast bulletin by Telangana State Development Planning Society, monsoon depression will continue till July 20. “Thereafter, the rainfall intensity will increase over north and north-eastern parts such as Adilabad, Komaram Bheem-Asifabad, Mancherial, Nirmal, Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Rajanna-Siricilla, Karimnagar, Jagtial, Peddapalli, JayashankarBhupalpally,” the bulletin said.



Capital shift for Hills stir to shake up silent Centre



KALIMPONG/DARJEELING: The death of a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha worker — the ninth death in Darjeeling since June — and the Centre’s continuing “strategic silence”, despite the clearly worsening situation in the Hills, prompted Gorkhaland proponents to decide to take their agitation to Delhi from August and push the Bengal governor and the “friendly government” in Sikkim to take up the Gorkhaland statehood cause. The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) will have its next meeting in Delhi on August 1 when it will start the next phase of its agitation, which will include a hunger strike and coincide with the Parliament’s monsoon session. Its leadership admitted that the shift to Delhi was prompted by the “increasing feeling of hopelessness and restlessness” at the Union government’s lack of any response to the agitation that would be entering its seventh week on Thursday. The decisions followed the death of Gorkha Janm-ukti Morcha supporter Ashish Tamang in Mirik late on Monday. GJM spokesperson Binay Tamang said the 36-year-old was killed in police firing after a clash between GJM and Trinamool supporters. “The police opened fire at GJM supporters near Mirik Market,” Binay said. The clash, he claimed, broke out after Morcha supporters demanded that seven Trinamool members of Mirik Municipality resign immediately. GJM president Bimal Gurung termed Ashis another Gorkhaland martyr. Police officers, however, denied any firing. A large contingent of police rushed to the spot around 8 p.m. and charged tear gas shells to disperse the mob when the crowd started pelting stones. “Our forces baton-charged and lobbed tear gas shells,” a senior officer said.


Trinamool Congress claimed a supporter, Nawaz Tamang, was injured in the attack and was battling for life at a Siliguri nursing home. Nawaz, Trinamool leaders said, was injured in a clash in Mirik’s Ward 7 area on Monday night. State tourism minister Gautam Deb said, “The GJM allegations are false. There were no police firing and, instead, the forces exercised a lot of restraint in the face of provocation. The agitators attacked our supporter. He is on life support”. But what seems to be testing the Gorkhaland leadership’s nerves is the fact that the agitation has not led anywhere so far. Monday’s more-than-five-hour-long GMCC meeting in Kalimpong, besides deciding to take the agitation to Delhi to garner more eyeballs and prod the centre into taking some action, also decided to “take the statehood demand” to Bengal governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling and Sikkim governor Sriniwas Patil. Gurung later urged all GMCC constituents to push the BJP and its Darjeeling MP and union minister, Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, into some sort of action. “Nothing else besides a separate state will be discussed with our alliance parties,” he added, demanding that the Gorkhaland issue be placed in Parliament this monsoon session itself. GJM has already air-dashed its general secretary, Roshan Giri, and four other senior leaders to Delhi. The GJM desperation for some action from Delhi instead is not without reason. Gurung’s statement admitted, albeit in a roundabout way, that people had started feeling the pinch of the shutdown: “Despite the shortage of food, vegetables and essential commodities in Darjeeling, our people are willing to continue the bandh till the Gorkhaland demand is fulfilled”.



New link road to ease traffic congestion at Nesapakkam

The point where the road splits and the new road is being built



CHENNAI: In a couple of weeks, motorists can evade the traffic bottleneck at the bustling Nesapakkam junction as a 300m long link road between Ramapuram and KK Nagar is nearing completion. The two-way road would help riders coming from Udhayam Theatre to bypass the junction and slash the travel time between the two areas. The work has been carried out by the Chennai Corporation at a cost of Rs. 5 crore, and would give motorists direct access to Anna Main Road and Bazaar Street without having to cross the junction, bypassing a distance of 600m. The corporation bought land belonging to the Chennai Metro Water and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) to build the road. “At a cost of Rs 2.5 crore, CMWSSB’s existing structures were shifted and a compound wall was built. Another Rs 2.5 crore was spent on constructing this link road which is 300m in length and 18m wide,” a corporation official told TOI. Corporation officials said the most time-consuming step was acquiring the land from the CMWSSB, due to which the construction was delayed. “The road would have been in use by now but buying the land and constructing a compound wall took some time”.


The process which began six months ago was expedited over the last two weeks when the construction of the road kicked off. “The road is almost completed and is likely to be inaugurated in the next week,” the official added. Residents are looking forward to using the road, which they say would ease 50 percent of the congestion on the Nesapakkam junction. “It is a short stretch but will ease the traffic woes of those coming from the Udhayam Theatre side. About ten minutes would be saved for those travelling from KK Nagar to Nesapakkam as they will directly reach Anna Main Road,” said Umesh Vaidyanathan, a resident of KK Nagar. He added that it was a helpful move of the Corporation to demolish a wall near an existing wine shop to make way for the commuters to reach Ramapuram in a hassle-free manner. Meanwhile, even as the road is nearing completion and median work is in progress, trespassers have already started using the stretch, residents said.



International News



As Pakistan rains mortar shells, 217 kids trapped in schools



JAMMU: At least 217 students and 15 teachers trapped in three schools close to the LoC during a deadly rain of mortar shells from Pakistan were rescued on Tuesday in a daring operation conducted by police and the district administration. One of the school buildings in the Nowsherasector took direct hits but there were no casualties. “Five bulletproof vehicles and three buses were deputed for the operation,” the Rajouri district commissioner, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said. An official spokesperson said the students were trapped for over six hours. “In Sair, 55 students and teachers had a narrow escape as the school building took direct hits,” Choudhary said, lauding the courage of the students and teachers. Following Tuesday’s ceasefire violation by Pakistan, all schools in Nowshera and Manjakote sectors were closed indefinitely.



Suicide bomber kills four in Kurdish-held Syrian northeast



BEIRUT: A suicide car bomber killed four people at a checkpoint in a Kurdish-controlled area of northeastern Syria on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Kurdish official confirmed an attack targeting a checkpoint operated by the Asayish Kurdish internal security force, but had no further details. The Asayish could not immediately be reached for comment. Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said the attack took place near the village of Tel Tamr, some 30 km (19 miles) from the Syrian-Turkish border. Syrian state TV also reported the deaths of four people in a car bomb attack in the area, but said it had taken place in the nearby town of Ras al-Ayn. The area is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, the main partner for the US-led coalition in its campaign against Islamic State in Syria. The YPG is spearheading an assault to capture the city of Raqqa from Islamic State.

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