News Flash – 26 September 2017

National News



Forget IDs, you may soon use biometrics to enter airports


NEW DELHI: The government has begun work on ensuring a completely paperless aircraft boarding process under which a mobile phone is all that will be required to board domestic flights in India. The aviation ministry is linking the databases of airlines and airports with passenger IDs such as Aadhaar and passport numbers for this. Once this happens, says aviation secretary R N Choubey, passengers will be able to use biometrics to prove identity before entering terminals and will not have to show ID cards. A flight ticket or e-ticket will not be needed either as the airline database will show the details of the flight they are booked on. The linked airport databases will show if the passenger has been through checkin and security check gates before being allowed access to the boarding gate closer to flight departure time. “We have set up a special unit in Airports Authority of India for giving shape to this ‘digi yatra’ programme. Airport operators, especially from Bangalore and Hyderabad, are part of this as they have done a lot of work in this field. We will soon know the indicative cost of the project and time frame in which it can be implemented,” Choubey told TOI. International flyers, however, will need passports to travel.


Airport officials said the linked database will allow access to the boarding gate only closer to the flight departure time and would cut crowding by ‘anxious’ passengers who turn up at boarding gates much before they would actually be allowed inside aircraft. “Airlines will also be able to know the last level the missing flyer was at in case he does not report for boarding in time,” Choubey said. Passengers giving biometrics at each stage of airport process will help do away with the current practice of stamping “security checked” on physical boarding cards. This is presently done to ensure that only passengers who have cleared security checks board planes. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Central Industrial Security Force have already stopped stamping of handbag tags at 17 airports and will begin trial runs at 10 more airports, including Pune and Ranchi. The government is trying to increasingly use the technology to offer a seamless boarding experience and bring down the cost of security personnel deployment, an official said.



CCTV cams to ensure safety inside subway at Metro Junction



MUMBAI: Over a year after a girl from Cuffe Parade was molested inside the Metro junction subway at Fort, BMC has decided to install 32 CCTV cameras inside the subway to keep an eye on miscreants. It will cost BMC approximately Rs 11.70 lakh. Each camera would be placed approximately 15-20m from each other. Footage will be handed over to the police as well as BMC’s disaster control room. On January 30, 2016, the college student was molested in the Metro Junction subway while returning home. However, it took the girl three weeks to muster the courage to tell her mother about the incident, who insisted on filing a police complaint and visiting the spot. They found the accused loitering around the subway. The mother immediately called the police who picked him up. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station subway as well as the Churchgate railway station subway already have CCTV cameras. “The Metro junction subway is the longest compared to the other two and, therefore, we are keen on installing these cameras. Work order for installation will be issued by Tuesday ,” said BMC `A ‘ ward office assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar. Meanwhile, activists said it was a good move. “From the safety point of view, this is much required and it is good the BMC is considering installation of cameras,” said RTI activist Anil Galgali.



Indian soldiers rescue 22 kids from militia in war-torn Congo

Indian soldiers in Congo.



NEW DELHI: Indian Army troops deployed under the United Nations Organisation Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have rescued 22 children who were in the danger of being turned into “child soldiers” by armed groups in the war-ravaged country. Army officials here on Monday said the 16 boys and six girls from Nyabiondo, a village in the eastern part of Congo, were “extricated” in a 48-hour long-range mission launched by the Indian rapid deployment battalion. “The battalion swung into action on September 16 after receiving the information about the children from the local villagers and foiled attempts by armed groups to turn them into child soldiers. The children were later handed over to the UN child protection agencies,” said an officer. On the same day, soldiers from another Indian battalion prevented the displacement of an entire village with over 200 families in the Mirki area. “The exodus was being caused by fighting between rival groups, which had led to panic in the area. The prompt show of force by the Indian soldiers drove away the fighting groups and brought the situation under control,” he added.


Over 2,600 Indian soldiers are deployed under MONUSCO, which is the largest and most complex UN peacekeeping mission around the globe at present, who conduct an average of 2,300 patrols every month to ensure protection of civilians there. The Indian brigade is deployed in the most unstable North Kivu province of the central African nation, covering an area of 43,700 square km with 948 villages and 42 camps from the 1,80,000 internally displace people. Indian troops have often come under attack, with at least half a dozen being killed and several injured while performing peace-keeping duties in the country. India, of course, is the second-largest troop contributing country in the world, with 6,891 Army soldiers and 782 police personnel deployed in 11 UN missions and two UN offices.



Portion of building crashes in Mumbai



MUMBAI: The slab of a portion of a ground plus four storey building at Warden road in South Mumbai collapsed yesterday evening. However, as the structure was largely vacant no one was trapped under the debris. On Monday evening, around 6.30 pm the Mumbai fire brigade received a call about the second and third floor slab Haziz Habib building at Warden Road having crashed. Three fire engines were rushed to the spot. “There were commercial shops on the ground floor. The back side portion of the second and third floor of the structure collapsed largely and therefore no person was injured. Those working on the ground floor of the building were immediately pulled out. The ground floor however is still intact,” said Devidas Kshirsagar-assistant municipal commissioner of BMC D ward. Haziz Habib is a MHADA cess building. “A watchman was also present in the building who immediately ran out,” said a BMC official.



Students offer IoT-based solution for unmanned railway crossings

The team from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, aims to reduce railway accidents through their innovative approach.



BENGALURU: At a time when train accidents are becoming frequent, six students from CMR Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, have suggested a cost-effective way to the Indian Railways to eliminate accidents at unmanned level crossings. The project – an Internet of Things-based (IoT) multi-tier system – is currently under the railway ministry’s consideration. The system is based on three types of sensors and was presented at the Smart India Hackathon 2017, organized by the central government in April. “We have given an alternative idea of eliminating unmanned railway crossings across India. It’s an automated IoT-based multi-tier system based on sensors. This will buttress the security system of the railways and remove human errors,” explained Ishaan Abhinav, a third-year student and member of team Gamma, which came up with the model. The model operates on three sensors – radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensor, pressure sensor and optical sensor – to be placed at different points from the crossing. The pressure and optical sensors are triggered by the weight and appearance of trains, respectively. As soon as the train passes through the RFID sensor located 2.7km from the crossing, an alarm and light system will be activated to signal road users to stop. As the train approaches the pressure sensor – to be placed at 1.75km from the crossing – it’s time for the gates to close.


By the time the train reaches the optical sensor, placed 1.5km from the crossing, the gates will shut automatically. “The project doesn’t end here. It is often seen that when barricades come down, many walkers try to cross the track by slipping underneath. To prevent this, we have added barbed wires to the barricades,” said Malvika Vinay, another team member and a third-year engineering student. The project was readied in two-and-a-half weeks by the team whose members include Madhusoodhanan K M, Adhitya Niranjan, Misha P and Rainy Jain. The students from computer science and mechanical engineering streams were mentored by Sudhir Routray, Sharmila K P and Rahul Nyamangoudar. “We went till the final round of the hackathon. The PM addressed us and spoke about the problems faced by the Railways,” said Madhusoodanan. Said professor Sharmila, head of the department for telecommunication: “It’s a low-budget solution for railways as these sensors don’t require much power or battery to run till about four to five years. We are now making changes in the project as suggested by the ministry of railways”.



No helmet rule for men in khaki? 1,300 cops booked in 10 months

300 traffic cops booked for not wearing helmet.



HYDERABAD: Call it a classic case of law enforcers breaking the law if you will, but at a time when the city’s traffic police department has been slapping challans and hefty fines on citizens caught violating traffic norms, particularly the helmet rule, cops continue to flout the law with impunity. What makes this utter disregard for the law even more appalling and ironic is that most of these cops were found brazenly breaking the law while in uniform. In the past 10 months, over 1300 policemen, including traffic cops, were booked for traffic violations, traffic police department officials admit. Two months after the penalty point system was introduced in the city, over 300 police officials have been booked for driving without helmets. According to data provided by the traffic police department, as many as 106285 people were booked in the city in the past two months for not wearing helmets and seat belts while driving. However, the police department claims that it is now cracking the whip on errant cops to ensure that they make it a habit of practicing what they preach. “Cops booked for traffic violations have been asked to cough up fines. Also, we are conducting several awareness programmes among various police departments, particularly traffic department, so that such instances are not repeated,” said Anurag Sharma, Director General of Police, Telangana.


“The department is also taking disciplinary action against errant cops. Traffic offences will be linked to the ir increments and promotions so that they don’t repeat such behaviour,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) A V Ranganath, admitting that on an average they get 100 to 150 complaints of cops violating traffic norms every month. Agreeing, V Ravinder, joint commissioner of police, Hyderabad Traffic Police, said: “We get complaints against cops on social media and come across violations on CCTV as well. We have observed that after disciplinary action is initiated, the cops who violated the norms, are not repeating their mistake”. Interestingly, JCP Ravinder claimed that most of the cops found flouting the helmet rule are from the law and order department, while the number of traffic cops doing so is comparatively less. However, road safety experts said that the number of cases booked against cops should have been higher. “We have seen police officials sling their helmets on their arm while driving and put it on at junctions or check points where CCTV cameras are positioned. There are many cases that go unreported,” said Vinod Kumar Kanumala, founder, Indian Federation of Road Safety, an NGO. “One of the key reasons riders violate this traffic rule is because they feel helmets are uncomfortable and block their vision. Cops too think no differently while driving,” said DCP Ranganath.



Dengue grips Chennai, two children die



CHENNAI: Two children have died of dengue in Chennai and its outskirts since Sunday, and nearly 900 hospitalised with high fever. Of those admitted to various hospitals with fever, public health officials say, 40 are infected with the dengue virus. On Monday , around 6.30pm, Krithik Ram, the 8-year-old son of a police inspector, died at Apollo Children’s Hospital of liver failure after being diagnosed with dengue. While the hospital spokesman said he tested positive for dengue, health officials said they were yet to see the test results. “The clinical signs hint at dengue, but we can’t confirm till we see the results and the person’s case history ,” said K Kolandaswamy, director of public health. The boy’s father Ranjith Kumar is with the crime wing of the Neelankarai police and the family stays at the police quarters in Kilpauk. On Sunday morning, V Bhargav, a student of DAV school in Gopalapuram, died of multiple-organ failure at Kanchi Kamakoti Childs Trust Hospital where he was referred to after receiving treatment at two other private hospitals. City health officer Dr N Senthilnathan, while acknowledging that the nine-year-old tested positive for dengue, said he also suffered from a blood disorder that exacerbated the condition. “We need a fever audit to ascertain the cause of death,” he said.


A team of sanitary inspectors who had visited the boy’s house in Thousand Lights last week -after he was admitted to the hospital with high fever -found a discarded container on the terrace with larvae of Aedes mosquitoes, the vector that transmits dengue virus. “We had stepped up surveillance in the locality, including conducting door-to-door inspections, as there were quite a few fever cases. But some families resisted,” said a Greater Chennai Corporation official. On Friday morning, Prem Avinash, a third year student of IIT-Madras, died of multiple-organ failure after being diagnosed with dengue. Since January , Tamil Nadu has reported more than 7,000 cases of dengue -the second highest in the country after Kerala -and more than 16 deaths. Aedes mosquitoes usually breed in clean stagnant water. The warning signs of the viral fever include high temperature, rashes, headache, joint pain and body ache. At a later stage it can cause drop in blood platelet levels, internal bleeding, haemorrhagic shock and death. Greater Chennai Corporation has mapped 179 neighbourhoods in 32 areas where more people are reporting dengue-like symptoms, including fever. Surveillance has been heightened in Adyar, Mylapore, Kodambakkam, KK Nagar, Virgumbakkam, Vyasarpadi and Ekkatuthangal. The civic body has also fined close to 60 property owners after repeated warnings to remove breeding grounds for mosquitoes went unheeded.



National Security Guard & Octopus organize anti-terror drive in city


HYDERABAD: To counter urban terrorism, the National Security Guard (NSG) and Octopus, the special force of Telangana State will jointly organize a program to create awareness and to sensitize people about their role against terrorism at Prasads IMAX, Neckace road on September 25 at 6 pm. The event is open to the public, and commandos are expected to demonstrate their combat skills. Meanwhile, a group of 32 NSG riders are on a 40-day long, 7,000 km bike expedition covering different parts of the country. The expedition reached Hyderabad on Sunday and was flagged in by Maj Gen N Srinivas Rao, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Telangana and Andhra Sub Area (Tasa) at the NSG Hub in Secunderabad. The GOC felicitated the riders and appreciated the objectives of the expedition terming it as a very pertinent to our national security. The expedition began on September 7, 2017 from NSG headquarters in Delhi. The NSG riders covered major metros like Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Chennai. where NSG collaborated with state police and other public institutions and organized different events to generate awareness among the people. The response to these events has been encouraging. The expedition will culminate at Manesar, Gurgram (Harayana) on October 16, which is celebrated as Raising Day of NSG.



Auto driver, woman held for murder of Security Guard



CHENNAI: Police on Sunday detained an auto rickshaw driver and a maid in connection with the murder of a 55-year-old guard in Nungambakkam. Residents of an apartment complex on Melpadi Muthu Street in Nungambakkam found Sukumar‘s body on Sunday morning. The body, on the terrace of the apartment building, bore deep injuries to the head, police said. “Sukumar, who was physically challenged, worked as a guard at the apartment complex,” a police officer said. “He lived in Kodambakkam“. Police have registered a case of suspicious death and detained an auto rickshaw driver and a maid for questioning, he said. “Sukumar was at odds with the auto driver, who was in a relationship with the maid, who worked in the apartment complex,” the officer said. “The guard had warned the auto driver against the relationship”. “We are awaiting the hospital postmortem report,” he said.



International News



India seeks zero tolerance against terrorist safe havens



UNITED NATIONS: India has urged the UN Security Council to ensure that the first and foremost duty of the international community is to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level. “We must not differentiate between good and bad terrorists, or play one group against the other. The Taliban, Haqqani Network, al-Qaida, Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and others of their ilk are all terror organizations, many of them proscribed by the UN,” said Syed Akbaruddin, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN. “The international community cannot remain silent. It is the international community’s first and foremost duty to ensure that the forces of terrorism and extremism do not find sanctuaries and safe havens anywhere and at any level,” he said in an apparent dig at Pakistan. Participating in an open debate of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan, Akbaruddin said that these terrorist groups should be treated like terrorist organisations with no justifications offered for their activities. Noting that the situation in Afghanistan has remained particularly painful and disturbing with security worsening and visible signs of withering away of the gains by the international community and Afghan people, the top Indian envoy said that the incessant attacks on hospitals, schools, funerals, or international development agencies, diplomatic missions are a matter of serious concern.


“The multiple crises that have been inflicted on Afghanistan have made Afghan territory attractive for criminal and terrorist groups, who are well connected to international terror and crime networks. “These groups are stealing the resources of Afghanistan which ought to belong to the people of the country,” he said. Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani joined Akbaruddin in identifying terrorist safe havens across the border. “The scourge of terrorism and violent extremism affecting Afghanistan is the product of a long-standing policy by a neighboring state to keep Afghanistan unstable,” he said. “It has menaced Afghanistan for several decades now, with its roots located in terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens outside of my country,” Rabbani said, adding that the new strategy of the United States for South Asia has generated new hope among people across the country. Afghans from all walks of life are looking to the future with renewed optimism that finally the threats of terrorism and extremism in Afghanistan and the wider region will be tackled appropriately. “In this connection, we welcome the fact that the new strategy recognizes the critical need to address the lingering problem of terrorist safe-havens and sanctuaries in our region; and for more determined efforts to end political, logistical and financial support enjoyed by terrorist groups,” he said. “Furthermore, the strategy’s conditions based approach has addressed some uncertainties by reinforcing the right message that the international community’s engagement will endure until Afghanistan becomes stable and secure,” Rabbani said.


Representing the European Union, Joanne Adamson, stressed that it is important that the international community remains strongly committed to accompany Afghanistan towards long-term peace, security and stability. Eshagh AI-Habib from Iran rued that more than a decade after its invasion, Afghanistan, the region and the world is not any safer. “I need to reiterate, once again that deteriorating security in Afghanistan has its deeper roots and cannot be addressed solely through military buildup as some suggest,” he said. Taliban and self-proclaimed Islamic State Khorasan Province or ISIL-KP continue their heinous attacks against the civilian population. They are reinforcing and recruiting and undertaking complex attacks such as the attack on a Shia mosque in Herat on the first and 25 August that killed over 90 and 28 people respectively or August attack in Sar-e Pul province during which at least 36 people were killed, as in Herat, the majority of the documented casualties were Shia, he said. “The proliferation of terrorist groups in the Afghan territory necessitates concerted international effort on counter-terrorism. “The world needs to deal with this increasing threat in a comprehensive manner,” the Iranian diplomat said. The Turkish representative expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation and the presence of Daesh in the country. “Increased cooperation among the countries of the region is imperative for the success of Afghanistan,” he said.



Dubai starts tests in bid to become first city with flying taxis

Men look at the flying taxi in Dubai.



DUBAI: Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world’s first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation. The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers. It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Meant to fly without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes. Volocopter is in a race with more than a dozen well-funded European and U.S. firms, each with its own science fiction-inspired vision for creating a new form of urban transport that is a cross between a driverless electric car and a short-haul, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft. These include aerospace giant Airbus, which aims to put a self-piloting taxi in the air by 2020; Kitty Hawk, a company backed by Google co-founder Larry Page; and Uber, which is working with partners on its own flying taxi strategy. “Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you.


The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” CEO Florian Reuter said. “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way,” he added, saying developers aimed to initiate the taxis within five years. In Monday’s test flight, the device hovered upward about 200 meters and whirred for about five minutes over a windswept patch of sand astride the emirate’s Gulf coast. Attired in crisp white robes and headdresses, Sheikh Hamdan and his entourage clapped approvingly from a nearby viewing deck as the craft alighted. The UAE has sought to distinguish itself in a region mired in war and strife as a high-tech, forward-looking society. It plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars by 2021, the Arab world’s first mission to space, and Dubai has in many ways led their showy march into the future by introducing the region’s first driverless metro and robot policemen prototypes. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country’s development but also builds bridges into the future,” Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement.

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