News Flash – 27 June 2017

National News



Five killed in south Delhi cylinder blast



NEW DELHI: Five people were killed and several injured when a cylinder exploded at a tea stall near the Tata Steel office in Okhla phase-1 on Monday night. Police said that the fire started from a stove after the owner closed the shop at 10pm. Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the flames were controlled within half an hour. The owner and his family members -who stayed in a shack behind the stall -were the worst affected. The intensity of the blast also rocked nearby buildings. Romil Baaniya, DCP southeast, said eight people were taken to hospital following the blast, of them four were declared dead on arrival. Police have registered a case of causing death due to negligence against the stall owner, who is battling for life.



18-year-old jumps out of Metro station to avoid fine, survives 30ft fall


MUMBAI: An 18-year old had a miraculous escape, with just a fracture, after he jumped nearly 30ft from the concourse area of Ghatkopar Metro station, allegedly to avoid paying a penalty. The incident happened around 8.45pm on Sunday. Rajkumar, originally from Orissa, works as a tile-layer. He claimed he had boarded the Metro from Saki Naka to travel to Ghatkopar. On reaching Ghatkopar, he inserted the token but the automatic fare collection (AFC) gate did not open. Sources said, “He then jumped the AFC gate to come to the non-ticketing area but was questioned by security officials. He jumped back inside the ticketing area but the Metro personnel asked him to pay the fine”. While being taken to customer care department, a drunk Rajkumar managed escape from the hands of a security personnel and jumped out on the road, which is about three floors below. A Metro official said, “He jumped from the concourse level and people on the street immediately gathered around. With the help of Ghatkopar police, he was rushed to Rajawadi hospital at 9.15pm”.


Rajkumar fractured his knee and required a few stitches on the chin. An employee at Rajawadi Hospital said he is out of danger. Asked why the gate did not open even though he had bought the token, the Metro official said, “Rajkumar had bought a token for Ghatkopar but was roaming around at various metro stations. According to the rules, the journey has to be completed within one hour from the time of purchase of the token or else the token becomes invalid”. Rajkumar, who arrived in Mumbai in January, lives in Borivli. He initially claimed he had come to meet a relative at Ghatkopar but later said he had gone to attend a Jagannath Rath Yatra festival being held at Saki Naka, Andheri. A Mumbai Metro One spokesperson said, ” At around 8.30pm, a man under the influence of alcohol was tailgating the AFC gate at Ghatkopar station. When the security personnel nabbed him and were taking him for questioning, he tried to escape and jumped from the concourse level to the road. We immediately called an ambulance and informed the police. The man is being treated in Rajawadi Hospital.”



Youth lynching: Footage of men fleeing on bike gives vital clue to cops



NEW DELHI: Investigators have stumbled on some vital clues in the case related to the killing of a Muslim teenager during an assault on a group in a train at Ballabhgarh. CCTV footage at Asaoti village close to where the bleeding youth was dumped showed three men fleeing on a bike. The injury on the head of one of them has led cops to believe the trio had fought with Junaid and his brother Shakir, both of whom had used belts in defending themselves. The footage from a camera installed outside a bank showed three men, one of them with a bloodstained cloth tied on his head, speed away after the train halted around 8.30pm on Thursday. Police, suspecting the trio to be local residents, contacted hospitals in the area to find out whether they had treated any injured person since Friday. After detaining one person on Saturday, cops are now combing Asaoti for the three men. During questioning, Shakir, who had responded to his brothers’ call for help and reached Ballabhgarh station, told cops that after being insulted by the men in the train, Junaid had pulled his belt and lashed out at them, injuring one of them. This sequence had already been corroborated by the arrested man.



“The person we arrested has so far revealed details about his involvement in the case and we are verifying them and scanning his phone details too,” said Mohinder Singh, deputy superintendent of police, GRP. “We also have other leads that we are following up. Four teams are now in pursuit of the suspects”. The cops have also contacted the youth who had filmed a clip of Junaid lying bleeding on the railway platform. “We have accessed all the WhatsApp groups where the video was circulated and contacted the person who uploaded it,” said DSP Singh. “We will question all of them to find out if they were travelling in the train and could identify the teenager’s killers”. Police have also formed a WhatsApp group of villagers and the sarpanch to provide them information about the suspects. A reward of Rs 1 lakh has been declared to identify the suspects or provide photos or videos of the ghastly incident to the police. Investigators are also scanning through the phone of the arrested man, who told the media his name was Ramesh, to find out whether he had boarded the train and attacked the teenagers on the instructions of somebody. All calls from unknown numbers are being verified.



Bengaluru’s realty sector is all set to get a Metro boost



BENGALURU: The Bengaluru realty market is all set to get a much-needed boost with the Metro Green Line connecting the East-West and North-South corridors, covering 42.3km. With the recent launch, realty on Metro routes will become hot property, and sensing the windfall, the state government is working on an increased Floor Area ration (FAR) policy for commercial and residential buildings within 200 metres of Metro stations and this could be beneficial for the real estate sector. The government also plans to raise guidance value rates along Metro routes, possibly in November, as part of its annual exercise. “Real estate prices zoomed 150% in areas closer to Metro stations over the past five years but the guidance value has gone up by just 20%-30%. Now we expect prices to go up by a further 10%20% in the next quarter and we assume it needs some value correction,” said a senior official of the state revenue department. Industry players hope the boost of property prices along Metro routes will help infuse new lease of life to the market. Harish Achar Brahmavar, founder-director, Homz N Space, said property sales are growing more towards surroundings of Metro terminus when compared to other zones. While there has been steady growth of 12%-15 % along the Purple Line on the east-west corridor, he said there could be higher appreciation of property value along the Green Line. “We are projecting growth in areas like Jalahalli, Peenya, Yeshwantpur, Rajajinagar, Sampige Road, Krishna Rajendra Market, South End Circle, Jayanagar, Banashankari, JP Nagar and Puttenahalli,” he added.


Om Ahuja, CEO-Residential, Brigade Group, said: “As the Green Line connects industrial hub (Peenya) with commercial hub (Central Business District) and cultural hub (South Bengaluru), business houses and offices are likely to relocate their offices closer to the Metro line to save on travelling time and expenditure incurred by employees. Since prices in these zones are fairly undervalued, property values will witness further 15%-20% jump in the next 2-3 quarters. Rentals too for the existing supply will shoot up in the coming months and new supply will start witnessing minimum 10% premium to other zones in Bengaluru.” C N Govindaraju, managing director, Vaishnavi Group, said residential real estate will be a major beneficiary. Over the past two years or so, he said they are seeing a marked customer preference to buy into a project due to its proximity and or accessibility to Metro stations. “This will help build good and healthy sale traction for residential projects along the Metro line. The rates of residential apartments and land value are also likely to go up,” he added.



Hyderabad lake goes Bellandur way, toxic foam can gush into taps

White foam is seen at Ramakrishnapuram Lake in Neredmet.



HYDERABAD: After Bengaluru’s Bellandur and Varthur lakes gained notoriety for spewing toxic foam, Hyderabad’s Ramakrishnapuram Lake (RK Puram lake) near Neredmet too seems to be choking with pollution. On Monday afternoon, the lake’s weir furiously frothed over with clouds of noxious foam as alarmed residents looked on in horror. What left residents fuming is that the lake is a part of Alwal catchment area and feeds the aquifer from where water makes its way into homes of hundreds of residents of 14 different colonies. Blaming this noxious foam on the alarming rise in pollutants pouring into the lake, residents expressed concern. “All colonies in the area use bore wells for their daily water needs and the groundwater is recharged by the lake. If it is indeed carrying polluted water, the same poison must be entering into the water that we use every day,” said GK Nagesh Bandu, a resident of Devinagar, which abuts the lake.


JR Devender, a resident of RK Puram, said: “We are scared of touching the foam as it might give us an infection. Another concern is the putrid smell emanating from the foam.” It is not just the water. Residents have also come to fear the fruits and vegetables they buy from a market located next to the lake. “There is a Rythu Bazaar right next to this lake. How do we know the vegetables we buy from there are also not contaminated?” asked TS Seetharam, resident of New Vidya Nagar. Pollution, experts suggest, has been taking place for the last decade and with authorities doing precious little about it, they fear that the lake could eventually meet the same fate as Bengaluru’s Bellandur lake. in February this year, the Bellandur lake was covered with foam and burst into flames. Repeated attempts to reach officials of the Pollution Control Board and Telangana State Groundwater Directorate (TSGWD) failed to elicit any response. Experts like BV Subba Rao, who was assisting the Karnataka government in cleaning up Bellandur lake, said that every once in a month, the lake bursts into flames because of pollution.



Lack of initiative by corporation leaves 1,000s of homeless in cold



CHENNAI: An apparent lack of initiative and planning by Greater Chennai Corporation has left a large number of homeless people -and could leave many more -without a roof over their heads. According to a Supreme Court ruling, every city must have one night shelter for every 1 lakh of the general population. Going by the last census, this means Chennai should have around 70 shelters. The corporation currently has 47 night shelters and no immediate, or concrete, plan to set up the 23 more it requires by the mandate of the apex court. Senior officials of the corporation’s health department told TOI that they will soon finalise locations for new shelters. They did not give a date by which they would accomplish this. The corporation has also not utilized existing shelters to even half their capacity. A total of 1,152 homeless people occupy the civic body’s 47 night shelters, each of which has a maximum capacity of 50, making for a total capacity of 2,350.


In a two-day survey across the corporation’s 15 zones in the city in the first week of the month, officials of the civic body identified 3,574 homeless people -apart from those who now use the city’s shelters. But they have so far been able to persuade only 35 of these individuals to stay in the existing night shelters. Officials said a majority of homeless people lived with their families and this posed a problem. “The idea of family shelters is not feasible because [homeless individuals] are likely to stay there permanently,” a corporation official said, adding that the civic body proposes to collaborate with the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board to provide permanent housing for homeless families. “The need is to have a transparent and clear policy on housing for slum dwellers and the homeless because we have to safeguard the rights and livelihoods of the deprived,” said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities.



Gujarat Class X students cannot answer 2+2+2?



AHMEDABAD: Results of 850 Class X students were cancelled by Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) after authorities found major discrepancies between their optical mark recognition (OMR) and descriptive exam results. These students had scored 40-49 marks out of 50 in the objective question paper but scored only 0-3 marks in descriptive papers raising strong suspicion that mass copying had happened. The suspicion was confirmed when the students, summoned in batches of 100 each for questioning, could not even do basic math like adding 2+2+2 or give correct answers to simple single-digit multiplication. The majority of the students could not even write the correct spelling of ‘cricket’ and drew a blank when asked ‘What is the capital of Gujarat?’. “Results of 850 students from 10-odd centres in Dahod, Mahisagar, Tapi and parts of Saurashtra have been cancelled. While there is no proof of mass copying, our questioning of the students was a huge shocker as the SSC students could not answer basic questions which a grade 2-5 student easily can,” said RR Thakkar, vice-chairman of GSHSEB. While the poor education level of the students prompted authorities to take action, how the students selectively wrote correct answers remains a mystery. “All CCTV footage was checked and there is no hint of mass copying,” said board member K A Butani.



International News



Oil tanker fire overshadows Eid celebration in Pak, death toll rises to 157

Pak soldiers transfer a burn victim from a C-130 plane in Lahore, a day after an oil tanker fire following an accident on a highway near the town of Ahmedpur East.



LAHORE: Eid celebrations in Pakistan were today overshadowed by the grisly oil tanker explosion as the death toll in the catastrophic fire rose to 157 with families rushing to hospitals to claim the bodies of their loved ones most of whom were charred beyond recognition. The harrowing tragedy struck Pakistan’s Punjab province yesterday just a day before Eid celebrations when a tanker carrying 40,000 litres of petrol overturned and burst into flames as hundreds of villagers had gathered to collect the fuel spilled over on the highway at the Ahmedpur Sharqia area of the Bahawalpur district, some 400km from Lahore. Rather than celebrating Eid, a large number of relatives of the victims were waiting outside hospitals in the district to claim the bodies most of which have been burnt beyond recognition and will be identified only by DNA tests. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was in London to celebrate Eid along with his family members, cut short his visit and arrived this morning to visit the victims. The tanker was travelling from Karachi to Lahore when its tyre burst and the driver lost control, crashing the truck on the highway. Hundreds of people from a nearby village ignored warnings to stay away from the tanker which had overturned and rushed to the scene to collect the spilled petrol. Minutes later the tanker exploded, engulfing the crowd as well as dozens of other vehicles in a massive fireball. It is believed that a spark from the many cars and motorcycles that raced to the scene ignited the fuel, the Dawn reported.


The death toll in the explosion today reached 157. A doctor at Bahawalpur’s Victoria Hospital in south Punjab said the latest deaths occurred at a hospital in Multan where some of the 50 critically injured were taken, many of them suffering extensive burns. A senior rescue official in the area said the death toll could rise further as dozens are still in critical condition. The charred wreckage of the motorcycles and cars could be seen scattered on the highway, along with kitchen utensils, pots, water coolers, jerry cans and buckets which victims had brought to collect the petrol. The fire brigade arrived on the site of the incident shortly after the blaze started and rescue operations were initiated. Firefighters fought the flames for over two hours before extinguishing the fire. Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered the army to assist the civil administration in the rescue efforts. Army helicopters were used to transport injured people from Bahawalpur to Nishtar Hospital in Multan. The prime minister’s office said the Punjab provincial government had been directed to provide full medical assistance. “Prime Minister Sharif has expressed deep grief over the heavy loss of life in the unfortunate accident of oil tanker fire at Ahmad Pur Sharqia, Bahawalpur,” the statement said. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced Rs 2 million each for the deceased and Rs 1 million each for the injured. The oil tanker tragedy comes about two years after 62 people, including women and children, were killed in a fire after a coach collided with an oil tanker travelling on the wrong side of the road, on the outskirts of Karachi.



AirAsia plane ‘shaking like washing machine’ returns to Perth



SYDNEY: An AirAsia flight to Malaysia was forced back to Australia Sunday due to a technical problem, with one passenger saying the plane was “shaking like a washing machine”. The Airbus A330 from Perth to Kuala Lumpur experienced problems about 90 minutes into the journey. It landed safely, with Perth Airport reporting a “technical issue”. “The pilot identified technical issues, turned around and returned,” an airport spokesman told AFP, adding that emergency crews were put on standby but not needed. The Malaysian low-cost carrier said only that “flight crew are taking precautionary measures to check the aircraft”. It was the second scare involving an Airbus A330 in Australia this month, with a China Eastern plane making an emergency landing in Sydney after a huge hole appeared in one of its engine casings. Terrified passengers on that flight described a very loud noise soon after it left Sydney for Shanghai. No one was hurt. The West Australian newspaper cited passengers on Sunday’s flight as saying they heard a bang and then the plane started shuddering.


“You could tell by the cabin crew’s reaction that it was really bad,” said Sophie Nicolas, who said she heard a small explosion from the left wing. “It was terrifying”. Another passenger, Brenton Atkinson, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the whole plane started shaking, far more than standard turbulence. “It was essentially the engine seized up I think, that’s what they told us anyway,” he said. “It was literally like you were sitting on top of a washing machine. The whole thing was going. We could see the engine out the window which was really shaking on the wing. “Once we landed we realised one of the blades had actually come off the turbine”. The airline suffered its first fatal incident in December 2014, when AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed in stormy weather off Indonesia with 162 people on board. That followed two Malaysia Airlines incidents in the same year which left hundreds dead, raising concerns among some travelers about the safety of the country’s carriers.

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