News Flash – 22 May 2017

National News



In 10 years, private vehicle rides double to 23% in Mumbai



MUMBAI: The number of commuters who use private cars daily has risen in the past 10 years, which, in turn, has led to a “disturbing” decline in the use of public transport, according to the latest report of Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a forum of transport experts. The report, collated with data from government and private statistical agencies, states that 77.1% of daily passenger trips were by public transport in 2015-16 down from 89.1% in 2005-06. On the other hand, statistics show private car rides increased from 10.9% of the total daily commuters in 2005-06 to 22.9% in 201516. In terms of numbers, private car and bike ridership increased from 7.6 lakh to 16.4 lakh –a 116% growth in a decade. The decline has mainly been in the road sector, especially buses and taxis, said A V Shenoy of the Samiti. BEST, with a fleet of 4,000 buses, itself, saw a huge drop in commuters -from 32.9% in 2005-06 to 18.3% in 2015-16. Local trains has the highest ridership with 46% of commuters using it daily in the city, according to the latest report of Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a forum of transport experts, on the use of public transport in the city.

Over18% of the citizens were ferried by public transport buses while 5.8% travelled by taxis and 5% opted for auto rickshaws for daily commute. Among those who preferred to use one or multiple modes of transport to travel daily from home to office and back, 46% also chose to walk a few kilometres en route. “This should be encouraged,” said A V Shenoy of the Samiti. He added that the report speaks about the way Mumbaikars commute by various modes of transport, analyses vehicles entering city through different entry points daily , and brings to the fore major transportation problems faced by rail and road users. Metro and monorail comprises close to 2% of the city’s total commuters, the report added. Latest Metro statistics show that daily ridership increased to 3.6 lakh in 2017. “An analysis of traffic counts on the outer periphery (cordon) shows that 5.65 lakh vehicles enter or leave Mumbai daily. Major traffic handling corridors are Western Express Highway and Sion-Panvel Highway with 28% traffic vehicle load shared by each, followed by Eastern Express Highway (20% load), Mulund-Airoli Bridge (13.5%), Lal Bahadur Shastri Road (11%) and Gorai Uttan Road (0.5%),” the report mentions and adds that the population of private cars had increased on these stretches leading to peak-hour traffic snarls at several locations. Traffic on Western Express Highway, especially on the Jogeshwari-Kandivli stretch, was a nightmare during peak hours.

While agreeing that public transport needs to be given a push, Ashok Datar of Mumbai Environmental Social Network said, “Let us have an integrated approach. If we start the odd-even pilot project in Mumbai, nearly 40% cars will be off roads and the available road space can be used to demarcate bus lanes. We should initially restrict only to Western Express Highway in the morning southwards and in the evening northwards. It should be accompanied by kerb side bus lane. BEST should run 60-100 buses per hour of which one-third should be AC. A bus carries the load of eight cars and occupies less road space”. Experts pointed out that unlike trains and Metro, BEST did not have a “right of way.” “We need to provide solutions from the grassroots level, which is demarcating roads to create dedicated bus lanes. Once that is done, you can expect buses to arrive on time and with good frequency. The state and civic authorities should support fund the BEST undertaking and ensure there are 1,000 new air-conditioned buses on roads for daily commute to dissuade citizens from using private vehicles,” they added.



Ride to airport slowest in Delhi among big 6

New Delhi: When it comes to reaching the airport by road, Delhi is ranked higher only than Chennai among the Metros. And despite the addition of several new airports across the country, accessibility remains a problem, a recent study by the School of Planning and Architecture has found. At 29 km/hour by car and 24km/hour via public transport, Indian airports lag global standards (52km/hour and 64 km/hour, respectively) in terms of average journey speed. The study, conducted by Amal Jose from SPA and titled Benchmarking of Accessibility and Connectivity of Indian Airports, analyzed parameters such as air connectivity, ground accessibility, reliability, access travel time and speeds of the influenced networks. Hyderabad ranks highest in terms of average journey speed in Metros to reach the airport with Delhi a lowly sixth. Overall, Delhi ranks 60th. Hyderabad averages a speed of 35.1 km/hour, but people trying to reach the airport in Delhi can only manage an average speed of 20.1 km/hour due bottlenecks on the way.

“As there are no benchmarking parameters for Indian airports, it is important that we fix these for improving the overall level of service. The government has announced different policies of UDAN to improve connectivity. A similar policy needs to be adopted to classify airports into different tiers, ranging from mega hubs — which will include Delhi and Mumbai — to Metro and regional hubs,” said Sewa Ram, professor, Transport Planning at SPA. According to the study, Delhi secured the fourth rank among Metros in terms of access by road, but an overall rank of 60 in terms of reliability. Shillong was first on the reliability index, followed by Aizawl and Goa. The study further pointed out that a journey from the city centre (Chandni Chowk) to the airport may take anywhere between 31 and 76 minutes in Delhi.



To keep rapists away, put on ‘ElectroShoe’

Shoe has a unique circuit board


HYDERABAD: Using only the concepts of physics he learnt in school and a few basic coding skills, a 17-year-old city-based high school graduate Siddharth Mandala has designed ‘ElectroShoe’ -a product for women, which when used allows them to electrocute perpetrators of crimes. An aspiring tech entrepreneur, Mandala says that using such a product will help a woman thwart even a rape attempt. The ‘shoe’ inflicts 0.1amp electricity and also sends out an alert for assistance to cops and family members. Explaining the concept behind the ‘ElectroShoe’, Mandala says, “The shoe was created using a unique circuit board that uses footsteps to charge itself with the help of a concept called the “piezoelectric effect”. The more the user walks, the more energy is generated and stored in a rechargeable battery“. While he has already applied for a patent, Mandala is now looking to test the viability of his product in the real market.

“After the patent is obtained, I plan to approach start-up incubators in the city to get a better understanding of how my product will fare in the real market and what changes I have to make to the prototype. I need to focus on the designing of the product in order to make it appealing in a market space,” said Mandala, adding that he was inspired to create the self defence device for women, post the 2012 Delhi gang rape incident. “All a woman needs to do is ensure that the battery is sufficiently charged. When the shoe makes contact with an attacker’s body, the attacker will be electrocuted,” he said. If Telangana’s record of crimes against women is anything to go by, Mandala’s invention could not have come at a better time. Telangana (83.1) stood third in the country in the rate of crime against women in 2015. As per the National Crime Records Bureau data, Delhi reported the highest crime rate (184.3) in 2015, as against overall national rate of 56.3. Delhi was followed by Assam (148.2), Odisha (81.9), Rajasthan (81.5), Haryana (75.7) and West Bengal (73.4).



Rescue teams search for worker, but in vain



BENGALURU: Efforts to fish out the body of a 30-year-old site supervisor who was washed away in a storm water drain in northwest Bengaluru during Saturday’s heavy rain, remained unsuccessful on Sunday. Six earth movers, 50 firefighters and a unit of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) scoured a 6km stretch of the drain during the day, but the operation was called off around 7pm. The search is expected to resume on Monday. Shanta Kumar, the supervisor at a site where a retaining wall for a storm water drain was being constructed at JC Nagar Colony, near Kurubarahalli, off Mahalakshmi Layout, was seated in an earthmover used for removing debris, late Saturday evening. Kumar was not operating the earthmover but was engaged in keeping the floodlights on as work had dragged on into the last day of the week. Around 8.30pm, it began to rain and as it became heavier, the workers came out of the storm water drain but Kumar stayed back in the vehicle. In a matter of seconds, the water level in the drain began to rise. Locals said a huge volume of rainwater gushed into the storm water drain at a height of at least 6feet, locals said.

Seeing the water level rise, Kumar tried to get out of the earthmover but the vehicle tilted, throwing him into the water. Though some locals tried to save him, he was washed away. Attempts to find him began on Saturday night, but lack of visibility and persistent rain forced the teams to call off the operation in the early hours. On Sunday, the operation was resumed early in the morning with workers combing the drain. “We started from the location where he had fallen into the water, while four other teams were formed to look into other parts of the drain. We managed to cover over 9km during the day,” said a senior fire department official. One of the teams was dispatched to Jnanabharati campus of Bangalore University in Nagarabhavi where a bund is built across the drain, even as the search continued along the length of the storm water drain. “The drain doesn’t have a clear flow of water because of garbage and other debris. As there was a chance of the body being stuck in it, we had to sift through it as well,” the officer added.

NETAS, OFFICIALS VISIT SITE: Bengaluru development minister KJ George, BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad and mayor G Padmavathi were among the visitors to the site. At the search site, George said work is in progress. Asked about action against the officials responsible, he said the focus remains on the recovery of the body and further action will be taken following that.



Hyderabad cyber firms first develop anti-virus, then virus



HYDERABAD: Ever wondered where all the malware and anti-viruses, that can infect your systems and hold the entire world to ransom, come from?. While the latest bombardment of ransomware attacks have left most companies running for cover and IT teams scrambling to counter the attacks, it is in fact cybersecurity companies that invest heavily in developing malware and viruses, said industry experts. “All malware and anti-viruses are developed systematically through years of research. Anti-virus software are developed first, following which viruses are developed and released into cyberspace. This sends the demand of anti-virus software soaring as people rush to buy it to protect their systems. The trade of malware and its anti-virus solution is a multibillion dollar industry that thrives on information theft,” said the top official of a city-based cyber security firm. The reason why ransomware attacks are the most difficult to counter is the fact that the brightest brains in the cyber security space are behind the development of ransomware, which is the most sophisticated and lucrative form of information theft. “It is almost certain that data once lost to a ransomware attack can never be retrieved. This is because the data is locked by multiple levels of encryption that have been devised by the top brains in the industry,” said Zaki Qureshey, founder, E2 Labs Cybersecurity Academy.



Civil hospital doctor loses Rs 2.34 lakh to cyber cheats



AHMEDABAD: Naranpura resident Dr. Jeetendra Shah has lodged a complaint with the cyber cell of the city crime branch alleging that he had been cheated of Rs 2.34 lakh in nine online transactions, though he had not received a ‘one-time password’ from the bank for any of the transactions. Shah, who is a doctor at civil hospital, was using his credit card. Police said several other unsuccessful attempts had been made by cyber cheats. “The only messages which Dr. Shah received on his cellphone were of successful transactions,” a crime branch official said. Sources in the police said Dr. Shah had mentioned in his complaint that he had received the transaction messages when he was at work at the civil hospital. “It is not possible for cyber thieves to execute an online transaction without an OTP. This is a unique case and, hence, we have written to the bank to provide us with details of the transactions and also the reason why Dr. Shah did not receive an OTP,” a police officer said. Crime branch officials said they had also written to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to find out whether any norms or guidelines issued by the RBI to the banks had been flouted. “We are also verifying with the companies from whom various services have been purchased through online transactions. We are also trying to find out the mobile number through which the transactions were executed,” said a police official.



International News



At least 20 Afghan police killed in Taliban ambushes: Officials

An Afghan policeman takes position during a battle with Taliban in Kunduz province, Afghanistan.


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: At least 20 Afghan policemen were killed in Taliban ambushes in south central Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday, the latest in a string of insurgent attacks that come as the NATO-led military mission considers sending thousands of additional troops to the war-torn nation. Fighting is ongoing in Zabul province, where the police were attacked in Shah Joi district, provincial governor Bismullah Afghanmal said. He said the Taliban had ambushed police in the areas of Chino and Ghulam Rabat. “The report we have right now indicates that 20 policemen are martyred and 10 others are wounded. The number may increase,” Afghanmal told Reuters. Dozens of Taliban fighters were also reported killed and wounded, Afghanmal said. The attacks were part of “Operation Mansouri,” the Taliban spring offensive announced at the end of April, the group said in a statement. “So far several enemy posts have been overrun, inflicting heavy tolls on enemy as well as seizing a good deal of ammunition,” the statement said, adding that fighters had also overrun a government checkpoint in Zabul’s Qalat district. Reinforcements sent to the area where the police had been ambushed were also attacked, said Gul Islam Seyal, a spokesperson for the Zabul governor.

Fighting was also ongoing in Zabul’s Dai Chopan district, but the extent of casualties was unknown, Afghanmal said. In neighboring Ghazni province, Taliban fighters launched a three-pronged attack on parts of the provincial capital on Friday, driving a Humvee packed with explosives into the entrance of a district governor’s compound during the assault. Separately on Sunday, Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Saturday on a bank in Paktia province, which left at least six people dead, including three attackers. The Taliban offensives come as American and allied officials are considering whether to send 3,000 to 5,000 more military advisers to help train and assist the Afghan security forces battling a 16-year-long insurgency led by the Taliban. So far, US President Donald Trump, who took office in January, has offered little clarity about whether he might approve more forces for Afghanistan, where some 8,400 US troops remain despite the declared end of combat operations at the end of 2014. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday he had not yet made a recommendation on troop levels, but would be presenting his plan to Trump soon.



North Korea confirms ‘successful’ launch of ballistic missile



SEOUL: North Korea on Monday confirmed the “successful” launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, Pyongyang‘s state media reported, adding the weapon was now ready to be deployed for military action. State-run Korean Central News Agency said the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw Sunday’s missile test, which has sparked a fresh chorus of international condemnation and threats of tougher UN sanctions. The missile tested was the Pukguksong-2, a land-based version of Pyongyang’s submarine-launched weapon, using solid-fuel that allows for immediate firing, KCNA said. “Saying with pride that the missile’s rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, (Kim Jong-Un) approved the deployment of this weapon system for action,” KCNA said. “Now that its tactical and technical data met the requirements of the Party, this type of missile should be rapidly mass-produced in a serial way to arm the KPA Strategic Force,” Kim said, referring to the North’s army, according to the KCNA report. The missile, which was described by Washington as medium-range, was fired from Pukchang in South Pyongan province and travelled about 500 kilometres (310 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan, according to the South’s armed forces.



KCNA said the test “aimed to finally verify all the technical indexes of the weapon system and thoroughly examine its adaptability under various battle conditions, before its deployment at military units for action”. The results of the test were “perfect”, KCNA added. The US, South Korea and Japan sharply denounced the launch and jointly requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the matter. The launch came just one week after the North fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which according to Pyongyang flew almost 800 kilometres and was capable of carrying a “heavy” nuclear warhead. Analysts said the Hwasong travelled further than any previous ballistic missile launched by the North. The May 14 launch was seen as a significant step forward as the North accelerates efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States. The launches, and a threatened sixth nuclear test, have fueled tension with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who has vowed that such an ICBM launch “won’t happen”.


He warned that no option is off the table in dealing with the North’s weapons program, although Washington has so far opted for sanctions and diplomatic pressure, while looking to China, the North’s closest ally, to help rein in Pyongyang. Seoul’s foreign ministry slammed the “reckless and irresponsible” firing as “throwing cold water on the hope and longing of the new government and the international community” for denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula. South Korea’s incoming left-leaning government has taken a more conciliatory line with Pyongyang than its conservative predecessors, but has reacted strongly to the latest two missile tests. Pyongyang has long had missiles that can reach targets across South Korea and Japan. With an imputed range of 4,500 kilometres the Hwasong-12 also puts US bases on the Pacific island of Guam within reach.

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