News Flash – 21 June 2017

National News



All DTC buses to have panic buttons, cams


NEW DELHI: In a bid to make public transport safer for women, the Delhi government is going to install CCTV cameras and panic buttons on all DTC and cluster buses. The state cabinet, in a meeting chaired by CM Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday, approved the transport department’s proposal to authorise DTC to call tenders and sign the agreement for installation of CCTV cameras on 6,350 DTC and cluster buses. The Nirbhaya Fund, to be provided by the central government, will be used for this purpose. The project is estimated to cost around Rs 140 crore. Installation of CCTV cameras on buses has been a key promise of Aam Aadmi Party. In his first budget speech as finance minister for the financial year 2015-16, deputy CM Manish Sisodia had moved a proposal in this regard. “The cabinet has taken an important decision to ensure a safe and secure environment for the public, especially women in Delhi,” said transport minister Kailash Gahlot. “This measure would impart a feeling of security to women using public transport”. “The council of ministers decided that the transport department of the Delhi government will execute the project through Delhi Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, a state government-owned company,” Gahlot added.


DTC and cluster buses would get state-of-the-art IP (internet protocol) CCTV cameras and each bus will have three such cameras, he said. The installation and maintenance of the cameras will be for five years. “A screen shall be provided on each bus to telecast the output from each of the three cameras,” Gahlot said. “There will be a panic button on each bus. The moment it is pressed, the control room will get an alert and a team will be activated to thwart the danger,” he said. The Union road transport ministry has recommended detailed specifications for CCTV cameras under the project “National-Level Vehicle Security and Tracking System”. The specification of the proposed cameras would be either equivalent or higher than these standards, government sources said. Earlier, DTC had installed 200 CCTV cameras on a pilot basis on buses being run from Sarojini Nagar and Rajghat depots. Each of these buses have three CCTV cameras each and 15 days’ data is maintained. The data can be kept in archive for a longer period, according to requirements. The Nirbhaya Fund, named after the December 2012 gang-rape victim, was set up to launch initiative to ensure safety of women.



Monsoon delay may bring down water level in dams



Mumbai: Following the delay in arrival of monsoon and the subsequent dry spell, the water stored in dams across the state is likely to decline resulting in shortage of drinking water in drought-prone Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. Significantly, following successful implementation of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis’s Jalyukta Shivar scheme, Maharashtra has witnessed a drastic reduction in the number of tankers. Last year, 6,139 tankers were deployed to tackle drinking water shortage, while now only 1,176 tankers have been deployed. A water resources department official said the total water stored is 15.42% now against 6.86% on June 20, 2016. “We were expecting proper monsoon showers in the second week of June, but now it appears we will get that in the last week of June. Compared to last year, the drinking water situation across the state is satisfactory, but we will have to be prepared for a delayed monsoon,” he said.


Pointing out at a sharp decline in water stored in June compared to April and May, the official said that in most regions, the quantum of water stored is better compared to last year (see box). The official said that the Marathwada region experienced its worst ever situation last year. There was no water in the Jaikwadi dam, the biggest earthen dam in Asia, while Latur and Parbhani, besides imposing prohibitory orders, water was transported by rail from Sangli following the intervention of Fadnavis and railway minister Suresh Prabhu. On the deployment of tankers, the official said the massive water conservation programme under the CM’s Jalyukta Shivar scheme has helped to improve the underground water level. As a result, fewer tankers were deployed this year. “Last year, we deployed 6,130 tankers, whereas on June 19, 2017, only 1,176 tankers were in service. In the worst-affected Marathwada region, we had deployed 3,968 tankers last year as against 377 today. Our goal is to make Maharashtra tanker-free,” he said.



Laser cams to put brakes on speeding on colony roads



New Delhi: Colony roads will no longer be pleasure strips for youngsters enjoying fast-speed bike rides or car drivers on adrenaline. Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik launched 11 special interceptors equipped with laser cameras on Tuesday for deployment in residential areas. “We have observed that the maximum number of speed violations occurs in the colony roads, not on the arterial roads, obviously because the drivers think that they can get away with anything within the colonies,” said Patnaik. “Our aim is to nab such violators before they hit the main roads.” The police chief, accordingly, directed the traffic cops to post teams authorised to book violators in such places. Police officers pointed out two instances of reckless driving on colony roads leading to fatalities, one on June 5 when a senior journalist was killed by a motorbike in Govindpuri, and the other on June 16, when the elderly mother of an IAS officer was hit by a car driven by a policeman near Chanakyapuri.


The new interceptor cameras are fitted on the dashboard and not on the rear seat as in the earlier police cars. The cameras are capable of working in all light conditions and can produce photographs of vehicles with registration plates, along with time and GPS coordinates. These will enable cops to issue an accurate challan with photographic evidence of the speed violation. “We are identifying the areas where these interceptors will be deployed,” said Ajay Kashyap, special commissioner (Traffic). “We can crack down on speedsters at any time of the day.” The high-speed cameras can record movement between 1kmph and 250kmph. The first violation will attract a penalty of Rs 400 and suspension of driving licence for three months. Drivers will have to pay the fine for subsequent violations. Cops would also file a criminal case under the Indian Penal Code against those driving at over 80kmph. Police data show that 33% of traffic accidents take place at T-points in colonies. In half the accidents, the culprits are either under aged drivers or those driving while intoxicated.



Traffic cops allow ambulance before President’s convoy, rewarded


BENGALURU: Two city traffic policemen have won fulsome praise and reward from their department for quick thinking in allowing an ambulance ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee‘s convoy during his recent visit here. Traffic Sub-Inspector M L Nijlingappa with about 38 years of experience along with his subordinate Vishwanath was on duty at the city’s busy Trinity Junction when the incident happened on June 17. Senior police officials said as the two policemen saw an ambulance heading towards a private hospital stuck in the traffic that was halted for the President’s movement, they took a split-second decision and allowed it to go. Their spot decision came even as the President’s convoy was just a couple of minutes away from the junction. “Sh Nijlingappa, PSI-8, Ulsoor Tr PS, allowed the ambulance before President of India’s convoy at Trinity junction and he took reward for deftly allowing the ambulance before the 1st citizen of India,” Bengaluru Traffic Police posted on its Face book page. Both Nijalingappa and Vishwanatah have earned approbation from social media users for their presence of mind and quick decision. City Police Commissioner Praveen Sood has rewarded both the police men. The president was in the city to attend a Bengaluru metro rail function. The incident has come as a positive sign for the city traffic police, which had come under severe criticism for stopping ambulances to allow the convoys of the chief minister and home Minister, following which the city police chief had issued strict instructions to give priority to the movement of ambulances.



Official website gives false alert, leaves NEET aspirants in a tizzy



HYDERABAD: MBBS aspirants went into a tizzy on Tuesday after the government’s official news website, that declares examination result dates, put up an alert stating the national eligibility-cum-entrance examination (NEET) results would be announced soon. Within no time, the alert was seen by lakhs of aspirants. Many began circulating the message through WhatsApp and various social media platforms. The information was pulled down by afternoon, with an down by afternoon, with an announcement declaring: “As of now no new result is scheduled to be announced in next few days. Pl visit (sic) this site again to have the latest information on results announcements.” This is not the first time that such a declaration has left students confused. Several such unconfirmed reports and messages posted by online news sites declaring result dates -a different date every day -have been adding to students’ stress in the city. “For the past two weeks, every other day there is a new alert that is sent out. It soon spreads like wild fire on social media platforms because of which we are left confused with absolutely no confirmation,” said Swathi Reddy, a NEET aspirant from Madhapur.


“Whenever such messages are circulated, the only way to confirm it is by checking the government’s official websites. But when government’s official website plays such a trick, it becomes difficult for us to believe,” said Karthik J, an aspirant from SR Nagar. According to the examination schedule, the CBSE was expected to declare the results on June 8.However, results went off-schedule following Madras High Court‘s interim order issued on May 24 which had restrained the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) from declaring the results. Later, the Supreme Court paved way for NEET results as it gave two weeks’ time to CBSE to declare the results. According to CBSE sources, the results are likely to be declared by June 26.



International News



Lightning kills 22 in Bangladesh



DHAKA: Lightning strikes have killed at least 22 people in Bangladesh in the last 48 hours, authorities said on Tuesday, a week after monsoon rains triggered a series of deadly landslides in the country. The deaths came as storms swept the country on Sunday and Monday, the head of the disaster management department Reaz Ahmed told AFP. Among the dead were a couple and their young daughter who were working on a peanut farm when they were struck by lightning. Hundreds of people die every year from lightning strikes in Bangladesh and experts say climate change has exacerbated the problem. They also blame deforestation and the loss of taller trees like palms that used to act as lightning conductors. Last year authorities declared a natural disaster when the official toll topped 200 deaths, with 82 people dying on a single day in May. Experts say the true figure is likely much higher as many deaths go unreported. One independent monitor said 349 people were killed by lightning strikes in 2016. Disaster officials spent several months last year looking at ways to reduce the toll and later came up with a programme to plant a million palm trees. The meteorological department has also trained 20,000 school students on measures to avoid being struck by lightning. Last week, more than 160 people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed in landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains in the country’s southeast.



Gunmen killed 8 Afghan guards of a US base: Official



KABUL: An Afghan official said that eight Afghan security guards were killed by gunmen who opened fire on them in northern Parwan province. The spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan said Tuesday that two other guards were wounded in the attack that happened late Monday in Bagram district. Wahida Shahkar said the guards were attacked on their way to work at Bagram airfield, the main US military base in Afghanistan. No one immediately claimed responsibility. The Taliban have increased their attacks against Afghan security forces, and Islamic State group affiliates have been trying to expand their presence by attacking in different parts of the country. Shahkar said the shooting is being investigated further.



Explosion rocks Brussels train station, suspect ‘neutralized’


BRUSSELS: An explosion rocked the central train station in Brussels on Tuesday and a man was shot by security as scenes of terror returned to the European capital. A suspect shouted out “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) before causing the blast, a witness said. Belgium’s national crisis centre said the suspect had been “neutralized” and the situation was under control. The confrontation in Belgium comes a day after a man mowed down Muslims near a mosque in London, and a radical Islamist on a terror watch-list rammed a car laden with weapons into a police vehicle in Paris. The incident happened just before 1900 GMT, causing Brussel’s Gare Centrale to be evacuated. The nearby Grand Place, a major tourist destination, was also evacuated. “There was man and a small explosion took place near him. Soldiers neutralized him with gunfire. No one (else) was injured,” federal police spokesman Peter De Waele said by phone to AFP. Social media images showed an intense yet contained ball of fire in the station’s underground arrival hall. “I went down to the mezzanine level, someone was shouting. Then he cried ‘Allahu Akbar’, and he blew up a trolley,” Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a railway sorting agent, told reporters. “I was behind a wall when it exploded. I went down and alerted my colleagues to evacuate everyone. He (the suspect) was still around but after that we didn’t see him”. Van Herrewegen added: “It wasn’t exactly a big explosion but the impact was pretty big. People were running away”.


He described the suspect as well-built and tanned with short hair, wearing a white shirt and jeans. “I saw that he had something on him because I could see wires emerging, so it may have been a suicide vest,” Van Herrewegen said. About an hour after the events, the situation was “under control”, the federal crisis centre said in a tweet. Gare Centrale is largely underground, located in the heart of Brussels, a few blocks from the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis statue. It appeared that the suspect was neutralized by soldiers who have been deployed at railway stations and government buildings in Brussels since the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks when a link to Belgium was first established. Firefighters were called to the scene after the report of the small explosion, RTBF broadcaster reported. Brussels has been on high alert since Islamic State suicide bombers struck the city’s airport and metro in March 2016, killing 32 people and injuring hundreds more. The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, which were carried out by the same jihadist cell behind the November 2016 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. Belgium suffered a further shock last August when a machete-wielding man shouting “Allahu akbar” attacked two policewomen in the industrial town of Charleroi, before being shot dead. The country’s law enforcement agencies and intelligence services came under intense scrutiny after the attacks for apparently missing a series of leads after the Paris attacks that could have led to the Brussels bombers.

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