Beacon banned, VIPs go to town with sirens
The great Indian jugaad has found a way to get around the beacon ban- with netas replacing the VIP light with sirens- at least in two states, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. This, even as the Centre and most state governments banned the “lal batti”, a symbol of the VIP culture, from Monday. Other states, like Maharashtra, are exploring options that can be exercised by VIPs without flouting the new rules. Minister of state for home Deepak Kesarkar has written to the state DGP to look for other options, which do not violate the new rules. Kesarkar said when a VIP like a minister is travelling, there should be something to distinguish his car from other vehicles for the purpose of security. In Madhya Pradesh, while some netas of the ruling BJP grudgingly followed CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s example and removed the beacon, others planted hooters on their cars as the new VIP symbol. The Central Motor Vehicle Rules does not provide for use of siren or hooter in any vehicle. Under Section 119 of the CMVR, exceptions are made for ambulances, fire brigades and construction equipment vehicles besides those used by police.
When asked about the use of sirens by some politicians and bureaucrats, Bhopal ARTO Sanjay Tiwari told TOI: “Only the transport department and police have the right to use hooters. No one else can. We will fine vehicles using hooters Rs 5,000 each”. The sight of hooters upset citizens who had welcomed the beacon ban. “Beacons are gone, but what about hooters and sirens? It’s irritating when vehicles blaring sirens tailgate you and try to overtake even on narrow roads. Sirens have no use, apart from emergency vehicles, and only add to noise pollution,” said Vineet Sharma, a private firm employee. In Hyderabad, motorists travelling towards Panjagutta from Khairatabad were in for a rude shock as a vehicle with siren kept on honking. “Initially, I thought it was an ambulance trying to make way and I swerved towards the left, but soon I realised it was actually a politician’s car. The beacon was not flashing, but the driver kept the siren on,” an eyewitness said. The blaring siren went on for five minutes before the car eventually sped away at the signal towards Ameerpet.
Elsewhere in the city, many VIPs were seen using sirens near road junctions, extracting “green channel” from the traffic police posted there at the expense of common motorists. When contacted, Hyderabad joint commissioner of police (Traffic) V Ravinder said pilot vehicles of VIPs generally use siren only near junctions and not otherwise. “It amounts to noise pollution and we do not allow its extensive usage,” he said. Moreover, there was confusion about red beacons on the very first day of the ban. Tiwari said there is no intimation regarding the ban and the penalty for defaulters. “We have not received any notification in this regard. I can comment on it only after receiving any instruction,” he said. In December 2013, the Supreme Court had directed states to amend the motor vehicle rules to restrict the use of the red beacon and impose “exemplary fine” on those who misuse it. The court said only constitutional authorities would be allowed to use the red beacon.
Couple held for fighting with traffic cop
MUMBAI: A couple who manhandled a traffic policeman near domestic airport last week were booked and arrested by Vile Parle police on Monday. Kashyap Patel and his wife Nipa Patel were arrested on the charges of misbehaving with police and preventing a government servant from performing his duty. Both have been remanded in police custody. According to the police on Sunday Patel parked his car in a no-parking zone and when the traffic cop Mahendra Shinde of Vakola traffic division asked him to move the car as it was leading to jams. “When Patel refused to move his car, Shinde took out his e-challan machine camera and clicked pictures to book Patel, who pushed Shinde. Then Shinde took them to the Vile Parle police station and got them booked,” said a police official.
Ola driver ‘molests’ Bengaluru woman
BENGALURU: Police launched a manhunt for a cab driver attached to taxi hailing app Ola for allegedly molesting a professional singer around 2am on Friday. She lodged a complaint with Bommanahalli police on Sunday. The driver deviated from the assigned route and took her to an isolated location where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. In her statement to police, the woman said the driver, later identified as Ravi, took the detour on pretext of avoiding the main road, but before she could react, he began molesting. Her screams for help went unheard in the deserted location. The woman was returning home after attending a karaoke night in Koramangala. Her house was around 5km away and she booked a cab. “I boarded the cab from Koramangala to my house in Begur. On our way, the driver stopped opposite Kebab Zone on Begur Road on the pretext of avoiding something in the road,” read the complaint. The driver then went to a deserted location, suspected to be predetermined by the driver, and stopped. He sat in the cab for some seconds and then suddenly turned back and grabbed her.
“I screamed, but still he didn’t stop,” she wrote in her complaint. She told police she was shocked and realised no one had heard her screams. “I pushed him and jumped out of the cab. He still followed me,” read her statement. “Luckily there was a hospital close by and I requested the security to allow me inside,” she said. She called her friends and waited at the clinic till they arrived. On seeing her enter the hospital, the driver fled. Deputy Commissioner of police, Whitefield, M Narayana said, “We have all details of the driver and three teams have been formed, under the supervision of an assistant commissioner of police, to track him down”. The driver has been booked under section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) and other sections of the IPC. “We have terminated the driver partner from the Ola platform as soon as we received a complaint from the customer. We have assured the customer of full support in further investigation of the issue,” said Ola in an official statement.
Tarmac is clear, Kempegowda International Airport back to 24×7 flight operations
BENGALURU: With the lifting of the partial closure of the runaway, Kempegowda International Airport is all set to operate flights round the clock from Monday. The country’s third biggest airport by air traffic movement is now ready with more room for flight operations. The runway had been closed from 10.30am to 5pm from February 17 to April 30 for maintenance, leading to a reduction in the number of flights and a major rearrangement of schedules, besides sending airfares soaring. In more good news, the newly constructed rapid exit taxiways allow aircraft to exit the runway quicker than earlier. According to a spokesperson of the Bangalore International Airport (BIAL), which operates KIA, two additional exit taxiways have been constructed during the runway maintenance work. Exit taxiways allow aircraft to leave the runway at higher speeds, allowing the aircraft to vacate the space quicker, permitting another to land or take off in a shorter interval of time.
“On average, 34 aircraft used to get off the runway in one hour using the taxiway; with two exit taxiways now, the number could go up to 45, which would save considerable amount of time,” said the spokesperson. Before the partial closure, about 500 flights used to operate from KIA. The closure had affected 80-140 flights. The reduction in the number of flights, especially on busy routes, had led to an increase in airfares. Sources said as flight schedules are worked out in consultation with the Air Traffic Control, airlines operating out of KIA had made sure air traffic was not severely affected. With the new taxiways reducing the taxiing time, the patience of all stakeholders has been rewarded, they added.
Goods train derails in Solapur, rail services affected
MUMBAI: A goods train derailed near Dudhani railway station in Solapur Wadi division today early morning, railway sources said. Five wagons of the goods train got derailed at 12.30 am near Gulbarha in Wadi solar section, they added. The derailment affected movement of 12 trains on the affected Solapur Wadi division. No casualty has been reported. Entire train movement on the ‘critical’ Mumbai-Chennai route that connects Mumbai with southern cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore has been hit following derailment of the goods train at the Dudhani station.
Several trains running on the route have been diverted via Hyderabad and Bangalore and people onboard these trains will now have to travel at 6 to 10 hours more to reach their destinations. A few trains from Ahmedabad, Varanasi and Delhi heading to southern cities are among the affected. Among the trains affected on the South Central Railway Zone that are diverted via longer routes are CST Mumbai- Bhubaneshwar Konark express, CST Mumbai- Kanyakumari express, New Delhi- KSR Bangaluru Karnataka Express, CST Mumbai-Chennai central express, Dadar-Chennai Egmore Express, Varanasi-Mysore Express, CST Mumbai-Hyderabad Husainsagar Express, Yesvantpur-Ahmedabad Express, Hyderabad-CST Express. A few of them will also have to travel back on the affected line before being diverted.
Gujarat bakes as temperature crosses 40C in 11 towns
AHMEDABAD: As the wind direction has changed to westerly from south-westerly, the mercury has started soaring across the state. On Monday, 11 out of 23 towns being monitored by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Gujarat crossed 40 degree Celsius mark leading to another round of scorching heat in the state. The extreme heat was mainly experienced in central Gujarat, north Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch regions, whereas the temperature in south Gujarat and coastal parts of the state was less than other parts of the state. Surendranagar town of Saurashtra region was the hottest place in the state where maximum temperature was 42.3 degree Celsius and Bhuj town of Kutch district was the second hottest place in the state with maximum temperature at 42 degree Celsius. Ahmedabad too bore the brunt of heat as maximum temperature here was recorded at 40.5 degree Celsius on Monday and minimum temperature remained at 25.7 degree Celsius.
However, mercury did not rise above the normal level. The increase humidity made the denizens felt sweltering heat on Monday afternoon. Humidity level ranged between 65% and 23% on Monday in the city. According to the IMD, mercury in the city may rise one or two notches more in the coming days and the maximum temperature is likely to hover between 41 and 42 degree Celsius for the next five days. The IMD forecast for the state said that dry weather was most likely to prevail over the districts of Gujarat and Saurashtra-Kutch regions.
US issues travel alert for Europe, citing threat of terrorist attacks
WASHINGTON: The US State Department issued a travel alert for Europe on Monday, saying US citizens should be aware of a continued threat of terrorist attacks throughout the continent. In the alert, the State Department cited recent incidents in France, Russia, Sweden and the United Kingdom and said Islamic State and al Qaeda “have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe”. The State Department’s previous travel alert for Europe, issued ahead of the winter holiday season, expired in February. A State Department official said Monday’s alert was not prompted by a specific threat, but rather recognition of the continuing risk of attacks especially ahead of the summer holidays. The alert expires on Sept. 1. Malls, government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, airports and other locations are all possible targets for attacks, the State Department’s alert said.
Drone strike kills 5 Qaida suspects in Yemen
ADEN: Five suspected members of Yemen‘s Al-Qaida branch were killed Sunday in what local authorities said was a US drone strike east of the capital Sanaa. The early morning strike targeted a car in central Marib province that had been transporting arms from Yakla in Baida province, a military official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The official said the car belonged to a known local leader of Yemen’s Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which the United States views as the radical group’s most dangerous branch. Sunday’s strike comes 24 hours after a similar raid killed three suspected AQAP operatives in southern Shabwa province, which has been a central target of the US military. Yakla was the target of the controversial January 29 air raid ordered by US President Donald Trump, his first since taking office.
That raid, during which US special operations forces entered an AQAP compound in Yakla, killed a Navy SEAL and several Yemeni civilians, including a child with US citizenship. The Pentagon has confirmed more than 70 strikes against jihadist targets in Yemen since February 28. Al-Qaida has taken advantage of the chaos caused by more than two years of civil war in Yemen to expand its presence in the war-torn country. The conflict pits Huthi Shiite rebels, backed by Iran, against government forces allied with a Gulf coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The United Nations estimates more than 7,700 people have been killed since the coalition intervened in the war. Millions also face famine this year.