News Flash – 27 January 2020

National News



CCTV Cameras, GPS But it’s Still Not Safe to be a Woman in City


New Delhi: In the last decade, women’s safety has become a key issue of concern in the capital. In its five years, the AAP government has taken steps to make Delhi more secure for women, and yet they will testify there is no place where they feel fully safe anytime of the day. A look at the statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau reveals that women in the city face high levels of violence and runs the daily risk of being harassed, assaulted, raped and murdered, both within their homes and outside. The state government has installed nearly 1.5 lakh CCTV cameras across Delhi, with 1.5 lakh more in the process of being put up. But women aren’t convinced. Rohini resident Akansha many women in her neighbourhood have been robbed on the roads. “CCTV surveillance won’t prevent crime from taking place,” She insisted. “I think the law and order situation in a locality has to change to empower women to move around freely. I know it is the police’s job, but something has to be done by the state government too to make us feel safer”. Kalpana Viswanath, a women’s rights activist, echoed Akansha’s view. “The government surely is taking steps but women should not feel that they cannot be on the streets at night,” she said. “This lack of safety reduces economic opportunities for women. Active public spaces like parks, markets, bus stops, metro stations must be safe for women at any time”. The state government has also procured 428 new buses for the Cluster scheme that are equipped with panic buttons, CCTV cameras and GPS tracking. These and the free rides on Delhi Transport Corporation buses have certainly won AAP the goodwill of women, which the party hopes will translate into votes on February 8. AAP’s assurance that it would install CCTV cameras in DTC buses, at bus stands and in crowded places was more or less met in 2019. On August 21 last year, Delhi got the first 25 buses with CCTV cameras and the process of installation of CCTV cameras on the other buses is going on.



The manifesto promise of bus marshals was also fulfilled last year. Not surprisingly, Kusum Tyagi of Janakpuri’s D Block, said, “Perhaps later than it promised, AAP still managed to fulfil its pre-election promises. Other parties also make such promise but disappear when it comes to delivering on those promises”. If there is criticism of these steps it is that these came only in the last year of AAP’s five-year tenure and not earlier. So despite police claiming an increased presence in the localities, not many would agree that things changed a lot in the past five years. Meera, a housewife in J Block of south Delhi’s Ambedkar Nagar, is always anxious when her daughters leave home for school. “Before classes being in the morning, the boys will have made a beeline to the school area to tease our daughters. When the school time gets over, the story is the same. If the government could make a provision for guards and police security near schools, then our concern will be addressed,” she said. Poor illumination of public areas is another problem. In its 2015 manifesto, AAP had promised to install an adequate number of street lights across Delhi. But in September 2019, NGO Safety Pin discovered 22,000 dark spots in the city. The civic agencies were directed to light up these areas. According to PWD officials, only 30% of the work related to this has been completed, the remaining likely to be completed by the end of March. If many of the steps had been taken earlier as promised, perhaps NCRB’s crime figures would have been different. As it is, rape cases went up to 1,947 till November 15, 2019, from 706 in the same period in 2012. The total number of crimes against women has fluctuated, with 15,310 cases reported in 2016, 13,076 in 2017 and 13,640 in 2018.



City Trembles as Earthquake of 4.6 Magnitude Hits Telugu States


Hyderabad: A 4.6-magnitude earthquake struck on the banks of river Krishna in Suryapet district of Telangana in the wee hours of Sunday. The tremors were felt in various parts of Hyderabad too, apart from other districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Many people in various parts of the city, including Old City, Bowenpally and Ashok Nagar among others, said that they felt the ground shaking. After the earthquake, 26 aftershocks were reported till Sunday evening. No damage has been reported so far in any part of the city or other areas. Akbar Razvi, a resident of Hussaini Alam, said, “Around 2.30am, I felt mild tremors and rushed out of my house. Many of my neighbours also rushed out of their homes”. Scientists from Hyderabad based National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) set up two temporary stations near Vellatur in Suryapet district and are monitoring seismic activity in the area. D Srinagesh, chief seismologist, NGRI, told TOI, “The Pulichintala dam surveillance camera recorded the quake. For two seconds, the fans were seen shaking and rumbling noise was recorded for around seven seconds”. He added, “On June 30, 1969, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3 was reported in the Telugu states.



Since then, this is the second biggest in terms of magnitude. The epicenter of the quake is in Vellaturu on the banks of river Krishna. We have reports that suggested tremors were felt in various parts of the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, including Hyderabad. No damages were reported. There have been stray reports of locals at Vellaturu informing about cracks the walls of their houses due to the quake”. Most of the aftershocks recorded by NGRI measured less than one on the Richter scale. “The aftershocks may continue for the coming few months. Tremors were felt in Krishna, Guntur, Suryapet, Khammam, Nalgonda, Rangareddy and Hyderabad,” said Srinagesh. Officials said that there is a fault that exists near the epicenter and it is yet to be named. Y Inna Reddy, a resident of Tallacheruvu in Atchampet mandal of Guntur district, said, “Around 2.30am, I was sleeping. Suddenly my cot and doors started shaking. We all ran out of the house and spent the rest of the night on the street”. The timing of the earthquake was recorded as 2.37am. While NGRI recorded it as 4.6 on the Richter scale, the National Centre for Seismology reported 4.7 at a depth of 10km.



Coronavirus: 1,500 from Hong Kong Screened at Chennai Airport



Chennai: Around 1,500 passengers from Hong Kong were screened at Chennai airport in the past few days for symptoms of fever as coronavirus spreads in China. An official said counters with thermal scanners were opened and screening began on January 21. “We have one direct flight from Hong Kong daily which has a load of 300 to 350 passengers. These passengers are being screened. A quarantine area has been set up to move people if they are found with influenza-like symptoms,” said an official. Though airports in Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok are screening passengers, airlines are taking steps to ensure that passengers and crew are safe. Flights from the infected destinations are being fumigated and crew has been told to watch for those who show signs of fever. Chennai has direct flight links to Hong Kong and Japan where cases of the virus have been detected. There are around seven flights on weekdays and nine flights on weekends between Chennai and Singapore. But all passengers from Singapore flights are not screened.



There is a general instruction to look out for passengers who have visited infected areas in China. IndiGo airlines, which operates flights to Chengdu and Guangzhou, said, “Our crew are taking appropriate precautions. There have been no cases reported yet in our Chinese points, which are around 1,000 km from Wuhan, nor indeed in India. We are in close touch with government authorities and will advise about any alterations to our schedule as and when they occur. Meantime, we have thousands of forward bookings and are serving those customers as normal”. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already instructed airlines to make inflight announcements to spread awareness. Notice boards have been set up to instruct passengers who do not have symptoms on arrival to report to district health authorities if they develop cold or fever within 28days of arrival.



International News



China Coronavirus Spreads Before Symptoms Show

Potala Palace in Tibet, the official residence of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, will be shut down from Monday until further notice as part of nationwide efforts in China to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus, officials said on Sunday. The SARS-like virus has spread to all provinces except Tibet.



Beijing/Shanghai: The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday, with nearly 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease. Health authorities around the world are racing to prevent a pandemic after a handful of cases of infection were reported outside China, including in Thailand, Australia, the US and France. The new virus has created alarm because much about it is still unknown, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases. China’s national health commission minister Ma Xiaowei said the incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days. The virus is infectious in its incubation period, meaning before symptoms show, officials said. This was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) making the new coronavirus harder to contain. SARS was a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003. “According to recent clinical information, the virus’ ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger,” Ma said. Meanwhile, WHO director general said on Sunday that he was on his way to Beijing to confer with Chinese officials and health experts about the outbreak. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he wanted to “strengthen partnership” with China “in providing further protection against the outbreak”. The Lunar New Year holiday, traditionally celebrated by hundreds of millions of Chinese travelling around the country and abroad to see family, began on Friday but has been severely disrupted by the outbreak. Ma said China would intensify its containment efforts, which have so far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events. China’s cabinet announced it will extend the Lunar New Year holidays to February 2, to strengthen the control of the new coronavirus, CCTV reported on Monday. The holidays had been due to end on January 30.



The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong has six confirmed cases. On Sunday, China confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected as of midnight (09.30pm IST) on January 25, while the toll from the virus has risen to 56, CCTV reported. The mayor of Wuhan said he expected another 1,000 new patients in the city. Health officials in Orange County, California, reported that a third case of the virus had been registered in the US in a travellers from Wuhan, who was in isolation and in good condition. On Saturday, Canada declared a first “presumptive” confirmed case in a resident who had returned from Wuhan. Australia confirmed its first four cases. Two of the three Chinese nationals in France who have been diagnosed with the virus arrived without showing symptoms, doctors at a Paris hospital said on Saturday. On Friday, France confirmed the first three cases of the virus in Europe. A Chinese flight attendant who arrived in Vienna on Friday has been quarantined since Saturday with flu symptoms. The woman is believed to have recently been in Wuhan. No fatalities have been reported outside China. On Sunday, China temporarily banned nationwide the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms. Wild and poached animals packed together in markets are blamed as incubators for viruses to evolve and jump the species barrier to humans. Snakes, peacocks, crocodiles and other species can be found for sale via Taobao, an e-commerce website run by Alibaba. Health authorities in Beijing urged people not to shake hands but instead salute using a traditional cupped-hand gesture. Beijing also postponed the reopening of the city’s schools and universities after the Lunar New Year holiday. Hong Kong had already delayed the reopening of schools to February 17.

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