News Flash – 22 November 2018

National News



US national feared killed in Andaman’s by protected tribe


Chennai: A 27-year-old US national, who entered North Sentinel island of the Andaman’s, may have been killed by indigenous inhabitants who aggressively resist contact with outsiders. His body is still to be recovered. Sentinelese tribesmen shot arrows and killed John Allen Chau on November 17, official sources confirmed. Andaman and Nicobar DGP Dependra Pathak told TOI this was Chau’s sixth visit to Port Blair. “He paid Rs 25,000 to some fishermen to take him to North Sentinel island,” the DGP said. On the night of November 15, they took him in a dinghy to the western side of the island, from where he took a kayak alone to the island early next day. Police have filed a murder case against unknown Tribals and arrested six fishermen who helped Chau, and an Andaman resident, K S Alexander, for violating rules that caused the death. Police are in possession of 13 pages of notes Chau had scribbled and handed over to the fishermen before he rowed to the island. The Sentinelese, whose number is estimated to be less than 100, shot arrows at IAF choppers that went to check on them after the 2004 tsunami. In August, the government relaxed the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) rules for 29 islands that foreigners could not visit without prior permission. North Sentinel was one of the islands removed from the list.


Sources said Chau stayed at Port Blair with his friend Alexander and set off for North Sentinel island on November 16. At the island, Chau is learnt to have tried to befriend the Sentinelese, offering them gifts like footballs, fishing lines and medical kits. The fisher men, who returned around 6.30am on November 17, told police that they saw the Tribals performing rituals around a body that appeared to be that of Chau. The body has not been recovered. The fishermen returned to Port Blair and spoke to Alexander, who informed Chau’s mother of his death. She emailed David N Roberts, vice-consulate general of American Citizen Services at the US Consulate in Chennai. Pathak told TOI that the Indian Coast Guard sailed close to the island and SP Jatin Nariwal made an aerial survey, but could not recover the body. Police are trying to get help from forest and tribal welfare departments. They arrested fishermen Saw Jampo, Saw Taray, Saw Watson, Saw Molian, M Bhumi, Saw Remmis and Alexander for violating Protection of Aboriginal Tribes (Regulation) Act.



Navi Mumbai buildings to get cash for being eco-friendly


Navi Mumbai: The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has decided to give cash incentives to 200 housing societies for taking up green initiatives: waste segregation and composting, rainwater harvesting, and solar power generation. The motivation for NMMC is to improve its ranking in the 2019 Swachh Survekshan—a survey conducted to rank India’s cities on various sanitation and cleanliness parameters. The annual incentives will range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 per category for two years, beginning from January 2019 (see graphic). Ward committees, under the respective ward officers, would be constituted to inspect the societies that are to be part of the initiative. “The scheme is on first come, first serve basis. Ward committees will ensure that space is made available for the initiative,” said an official. Navi Mumbai’s deputy municipal commissioner (solid waste management), Tushar Pawar, told TOI, “The plan has been chalked out to involve housing societies in our ‘clean and green city’ drive by encouraging them to adopt environment-friendly measures”. NMMC, ranked first in the country last year for solid waste management, is gearing up to turn the city into a zero garbage area before the next survey. Its aim is to boost its 85% waste segregation record to 100%. Members of Yash Paradise Society, Airoli, are upbeat about the plan.


“We have all facilities for this scheme. We will be part of this drive,” said Bhagwan Patil, the society’s vice-president. Rajesh Prajapati, former president, Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI), Raigad, said, “This concept will motivate housing societies and developers as well. NMMC should provide incentives or subsidy to developers so that they can add such facets to project plans”. Manohar Shroff from MCHI, Navi Mumbai, said, “Other MMR corporations, like the BMC, should follow suit.” The opinion was echoed by civic activist Rajeev Mishra and retired professor Kesar Singh, a member of one of the largest housing societies in Seawoods (NRI Colony), which has over 700 flats. TIMES VIEW: It’s time all municipalities in MMR learnt from the example set by Navi Mumbai’s civic body. Cash incentives should be a big motivation for housing societies to ensure scientific waste disposal, and energy and water conservation. This is not to suggest that citizens don’t have the responsibility to fulfil their civic duties without prompting. Still, though civic sense should be universally instilled, given the realities of Indian cities, it is quite appropriate to drive a green initiative top-down.



Fire breaks out at Sewri tower flat, 9 rescued



Mumbai: Firemen rescued nine persons after a fire broke in a flat on the second floor of the 10-storey Raja Tower in Sewri on Wednesday. One of them, Moinuddin Qureshi (50), who complained of uneasiness, was admitted to KEM Hospital, Parel, where his condition was stated to be stable according to a civic official. Fire brigade officials learnt about the incident around 5pm and rushed four fire engines to the spot. They ensured that the fire did not spread to other flats and rescued residents trapped on the upper floors, including four females and two children.



After 4 deaths in fire, North Corporation seals 124 units in Karol Bagh

The residential area had shops and godowns of tar oil causing environmental pollution.



New Delhi: North Delhi Municipal Corporation on Wednesday sealed 124 units in Ashok Park and Manohar Park in Karol Bagh, of which four were shut on Tuesday. Senior corporation official from the headquarters informed that the area falls under Ward 99 of the civic body. “The sealing drive has been carried out on account of misuse of residential properties and violation of provisions of Master Plan Delhi 2021. This residential area had shops and storage godowns of tar oil causing environmental pollution besides being a fire hazard,” the spokesperson added. The units were engaged in selling, recycling and reusing of old mobile and tar oil. “We were informed that several people escaped with the material on Tuesday night. Therefore, we had to undertake the massive drive on Wednesday,” he added. Sealing teams from the building department arrived at 11.30am and the drive continued till 6.30pm. Officials said constant monitoring would be undertaken to identify more violators in the next few days. Just two days ago, the area had witnessed four deaths in a fire accident that started in an illegal clothes packaging unit operating out of a residential premise. The civic body has been severely criticised for letting such industrial units operate in the residential area. The officials estimate that there are over 1,600 illegal units in Karol Bagh, based on a survey conducted this year. Earlier this year, TOI had highlighted how DSIIDC has sent a list of over 51,837 industries that may be operating in nonconforming residential areas. Karol Bagh has one of the highest densities of such factories-cum-godowns.



LPG tanker overturns in Mangaluru, disrupts traffic for over 4 hours

RECKLESS RIDE: The tanker hit a streetlight on the median and toppled after the driver lost control while negotiating a curve on Wednesday.



Mangaluru: All major roads leading to the city from the national highways connecting Mumbai and Kochi and Mangaluru and Sholapur were blocked for over 4 hours after an LPG tanker overturned at Nanthoor Circle on Wednesday morning. The incident occurred at 3.45am at Nanthoor-Bikarnakatta Road connecting to the Bengaluru-Mangaluru National Highway. The driver of the LPG tanker, which was bound for Bengaluru from Surathkal, lost control while negotiating a sharp turn near Nanthoor, and the tanker toppled. The driver braked hard to avoid the vehicle going to the other side of the divider. The tanker also hit a streetlight erected on the median. There were no casualties. Police said a major disaster was averted since the accident did not cause a leak in the LPG container. An official said the tanker had come in contact with a live electric wire after hitting the streetlight on the median. Police alerted Mescom to shut down power supply in Nanthoor as a precautionary measure. Traffic was diverted from four points – Kaikamba, Padil, Mahaveer Circle and KPT – all on the national highway leading to the city prevented a traffic pile-up. This inconvenienced people, especially students. Though school vans and auto rickshaws took alternative routes from Bikkarnakatte via Shakthinagar to reach Bondel Maryhill, students who depended on buses were seen walking towards Nanthoor to catch buses, since buses were diverted. The road was cleared for traffic only after 9am.



Card skimming racket busted, 2 held in Punjab


Hyderabad: An MBA drop out, involved in a debit/credit card skimming racket was arrested with an accomplice in Patiala, Punjab by Hyderabad cybercrime sleuths. The two duped customers visiting high end pubs or restaurants. Cybercrime police said that Sumit Jhingran of Uttar Pradesh and Gaurav Varma of Madhya Pradesh were arrested. Kevin Jerry D’Souza of Mumbai, another of the same racket and Sachin Kumar of Uttar Pradesh were arrested in the past. Rafiq Faruk Khan, a resident of Mumbai, is still on the run. Sumit is the prime accused who has worked in various call centers as an executive. He bought skimmers, magnetic strip cards and MSR machines before he gave it to some waiters working in various restaurants. He generally lured waiters by offering to pay Rs. 2,000 for every skimming of card. Sachin and Rafiq who worked earlier as waiters in restaurants located in Goa moved to Hyderabad and started working in prominent restaurants and pubs recently. Sumit made Sachin and Rafiq skim the customer banking details while they were working in Goa.


Since the two moved to Hyderabad, Sumit gave them the needed gadgets for skimming here. “After working in Goa for some days they joined in a restaurant at Hyderabad. When some of the restaurant customers handed over their cards along with PIN number for clearing the bill, the accused Sachin and Rafiq swiped the cards in their skimmer machine and note down PIN numbers also. Every 10 to15 days, Sumit Jhingran would visit restaurants and collect card data from waiters,’’ Cyberabad police said in a press note said. Later, using the skimmed data, Sumit prepared cloned cards using MSR machines before the cloned cards were handed over to Kevin to withdraw the money. The racket was busted by Cyberabad police based on the complaint given by Surendra Inkollu, a resident of KPHB, whose Rs.1 lakh was withdrawn in two instalments without his knowledge. During the investigation, police came to know that the accused had illegally earned Rs.15 lakhs by duping various victims in Hyderabad while across the country they duped to the tune of Rs.50 lakhs.



Police to carry out Fire-Safety audit at high-rises in Tangra, Topsia areas


Kolkata: A day after a fire was reported from a high-rise in Topsia, the southeast division police has been instructed to carry out a basic safety audit to ascertain if the fire safety equipment is in working condition in all major high-rises dotting the Tangra and Topsia areas. Special emphasis will be on high-rises closer to Bypass and those which have been constructed in the past decade. There were reports that the Topsia building’s firefighting equipment failed to work. In fact, it was not until 58-year-old security guard Jag Bali raised an alarm that people realized a fire had broken out. “Safety of residents is paramount. We have the mandate along with the fire department to carry out spot checks. We are considering a safety audit of high-rises. In this case, too, we will check if a building lacks a fire licence. We will also ascertain that basic firefighting equipment is in place even during the construction period,” said a senior official at Lalbazar. The headquarters is banking on a recent statement from the fire department which was issued after a minor fire at The 42.


Apart from the mandatory permission from the fire department, builders of skyscrapers will also have to get approval from the police and the civic authorities before being issued a completion certificate. Sources said the administration is planning to check how permissions and approvals are given to buildings and what steps need to be taken to improve safety. In case of any fire safety violations, the fire department and police can conduct surprise inspections, issue a notice for non-compliance and give time to occupiers or developers to comply with rules. If they still fail to follow the norms, they can be prosecuted. Police sources said that while not all high-rises constructed before 1996 were aware of fire safety norms, it was important to check the newer ones as these were constructed after all rules were in place.



Gaja Made Four Lakh Homeless


Tamil Nadu: With Cyclone Gaja rendering nearly four lakh people homeless, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami left for New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday morning and seek Central assistance of nearly Rs. 15,000 crores. Restoring power infrastructure alone would require Rs. 7,000 crores as per the latest estimates, sources said. “The restoration work is being taken up in a frenzy,” said revenue and disaster management minister R B Udayakumar. While 3.78 lakh men, women and children are now housed in government relief centres in the central and coastal districts, a lakh of uprooted trees on public roads have been removed so far. Another one lakh trees are strewn across roads, waiting to be cleared, indicating the enormity of the restoration task ahead. With additional workforce being drawn from the neighbouring states, the energy department managed to restore 56 lakh power connections snapped due to strong winds. Several lakh power connections are yet to be restored. Nagapattinam district administration has utilized the services of 8,000 staff members from neighbouring districts. Health secretary J Radhakrishnan, who is monitoring the district relief operations, said the administration set up self-contained teams, comprising officials from revenue, local bodies, fisheries, police, agriculture, TWAD and PWD, to meet the demands of each location. “The teams are given complete freedom to decide depending on local needs,” he told TOI.


The demand for food has been overwhelming. So, the district administration set up three community kitchens in Nagapattinam, Thalaignayiru and Peria Kuthagai in Vedaranyam taluk on Wednesday. This is in addition to 523 noon meal centres working overtime to supply food. Radhakrishnan said about 30,000 food packets were distributed in far flung habitations. “People have lost their livelihood. All sectors, including fisheries, agriculture, horticulture, trading and labour force are affected,” he said. Besides medical camps and mobile camps, teams have fanned out to disinfect the flood affected areas. Water is being distributed through tankers and generators used to pump water. With extensive damage to agriculture and horticulture crops, ministers and officials have been coordinating to bring paddy farmers under insurance cover. The last date for crop insurance is November 30, and just nine days are left to get compensation. Agriculture secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said a request was made on Wednesday to the Union agriculture ministry to extend the deadline based on requests from farmers. “But we don’t want to give them false hopes and appeal to farmers to insure by November 30,” he said.



International News



In terror-struck Pak village, home is where the cave is

IT’S BOMB-PROOF: Villager Faqeer Gul offers noon prayers in his cave room in Nikko village, about 60 km from the capital Islamabad.



Pakistan: Bomb-proof, Earthquake resistant and cheap: thousands of people in Pakistan are choosing to hunker down in caves northwest of Islamabad, snapping up the hobbit-like homes amid a nationwide housing shortage. Located around 60km from Pakistan’s capital, nearly 3,000 people live in caves in the village of Hasan Abdal, according to councilor Haji Abdul Rasheed whose own home is among the dwellings carved into the hillside embankments. His cave or “buray” as it is locally known consists of a few minimally furnished rooms and a veranda. The caves are usually dug by hand, with residents using clay to plaster the walls a practice which serves as a bulwark against landslides, they say. “If you build a mud house, it collapses during the rains. This does not collapse,” says Rasheed. “It’s Earthquake proof and bomb-proof”.


Although locals have been living in caves for at least five centuries since the area was settled, a surge in housing prices has renewed the appetite for these homes. “We bought this because it’s cheaper,” says resident Ameer Ullah Khan. People also recommend the structures as suited to Pakistan’s weather staying cool as summertime temperature soar past 40°C and providing a warm cocoon during winters. Life is not easy however: lacking sufficient natural light, the caves rely on electricity cabled in from outside to power TV sets, while indoor plumbing is a rare luxury. But with cave prices averaging around about Rs 40,000 ($300) compared to brick homes that start around Rs 2,50,000, locals and property experts say they are more affordable than other options.

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