News Flash – 28 September 2017

National News



Government nod for Rs 25,000 crore plan to upgrade internal security



NEW DELHI: The government on Wednesday approved a Rs 25,000-crore internal security scheme to strengthen the law and order mechanism, modernise police forces and fight terrorism. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by PM Narendra Modi, gave its approval for implementation of Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) for 2017-18 to 2019-20. “This is the biggest ever internal security scheme in the country. The financial outlay for the scheme over the three years period is Rs 25,060 crore, out of which the central government’s share will be Rs 18,636 crore and states’ share will be Rs 6,424 crore,” home minister Rajnath Singh said. The scheme has special provisions for internal security, law and order, women’s security, availability of modern weapons, mobility of police forces, logistical support, hiring of helicopters, upgradation of police wireless, national satellite network, crime and criminal tracking network and systems and e-prison.


The new initiatives are being introduced to assist states in upgradation of police infrastructure, forensic science laboratories, institutions and making equipment available to plug critical gaps in the criminal justice system. Singh said under this plan, a central budget outlay of Rs 10,132 crore has been earmarked for internal security-related expenditure for J&K, northeastern states and those affected by the Left-wing extremism (LWE). A scheme for special central assistance (SCA) for 35 districts worst hit by LWE has been introduced with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore to tackle the issue of underdevelopment.



MTDC to identify e-vehicle zones; to shun private vehicles in areas



MUMBAI: With an aim on achieving sustainable tourism, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will be marking areas in hill stations, coastal areas and religious sites as e-vehicle zones where private vehicles will not be allowed and only battery operated, zero polluting vehicles will be allowed. Jaykumar Rawal, minister for MTDC, said that the department will identify popular tourist spots which have a lot of ecological significance and to maintain that e-vehicles will be plied in those areas to ferry tourists. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has been pushing for the use of battery operated vehicles in public transport and Rawal said that the government will purchase such vehicles. Rawal also said that the government is looking at developing some cities in the state as cycling cities. The idea is to develop cycle stands where cycles can be made available on rent for tourists and once the tourists have used them, they can drop them back to different stands across the city.


“Tourists who come from outside the city can rent a cycle right outside the railway station or bus stand and roam around the city and then drop the cycles back at the state. We are trying this in Nashik first and based on the response we will implement them in other cities as well,” said Rawal at a press conference on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Rawal also said that the state government was keen on procuring the now de-commissioned naval ship INS Viraat and to setting up a naval museum and dock it at Vasai creek. He said that a letter has been written to the defence minister showing the government’s intent on the issue. States like Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh too have shown interest in the issue. Earlier, the government had planned an undersea marine museum using the ship. MTDC will be giving all the heritage buildings in Mumbai especially south Mumbai a unique OR code. If they are scanned on a cell phone, one will be able to get all the information about the building on their phone. This is being done to interest people to go on heritage walks that are organised by the MTDC in south Mumbai.



Soon, pay for parking outside your home


NEW DELHI: Parking your vehicle in Delhi, even near your home, is soon going to be an expensive proposition. According to new rules that are set to be notified, roadside parking in residential colonies will be allowed in demarcated areas and a fee charged. LG Anil Baijal on Wednesday reviewed the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Rules, 2017, prepared by the transport department. The meeting was attended by transport minister Kailash Gahlot and senior officials of his department, civic agencies and traffic police. Rates for parking on demarcated public roads in residential areas will be fixed by the respective civic agency in consultation with RWAs. If your building has stilt parking but you still park on the street, the charges will be twice the normal rate. According to the new rules, which give teeth to the draft parking policy prepared by the department, parking rates will be fixed by a `base parking fee committee’ headed by the transport commissioner. The rules are set to be notified very soon and The rules propose that on street parking for the first hour be priced at least twice as much as off-street parking. The parking fee will increase exponentially every hour to discourage long duration of on-street parking and will be thrice that of off-street parking. No surface parking will ordinarily be allowed within 500 meters of a multi-level stack parking. The rules have also come up with dynamic pricing mechanisms such as peak and off-peak fees and exponential increase per hour of use would be used to moderate parking demand.


An apex monitoring committee headed by the chief secretary will review the implementation and compliance of these rules. The civic agencies will prepare and implement local area specific, integrated parking plans (called area parking plans) as envisaged in Delhi Master Plan 2021. The rules also propose to assign the responsibility of preparing area parking plans to MCD deputy commissioners, chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council, commissioner (Land), Delhi Development Authority and CEO of the Delhi Cantonment Board. The enforcement powers for challaning vehicles and realising fines under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 will also be delegated to officers of civic agencies. The civic agencies will identify roads and spaces for granting permission for overnight parking of transport vehicles. The parking of commercial vehicles would be permitted only on notified roads during night hours only, upon payment. The civic agencies will identify and provide exclusive night parking places for the purpose of parking of e-rickshaws and other electric vehicles. A facility of legal charging of such vehicles shall also be made available at these places. In case of illegal parking on roads wider than 60 feet, the traffic police shall be the primary agency for towing away the vehicle. In case of other roads and spaces, the civic agencies shall be responsible to tow away the vehicle and impose penalties. Any junk vehicle (petrol and CNG ones older than 15 years and diesel vehicles more than 10 years old) found parked on public streets will be impounded.



2 killed, houses flooded as rain wreaks havoc in Bengaluru


BENGALURU: Heavy rain crippled life in Bengaluru as the city witnessed 55.8mm rain between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Bengalureans woke up to breached lakes, flooded houses and roads in many areas including HSR Layout and Koramangala, stretching the civic body’s resources and its ability to restore normalcy. The downpour hit many places across Karnataka too, including Mysuru and Hubballi where rescue boats were out on the roads. Rain claimed four lives in Karnataka, including two in Bengaluru. Rangappa Birasin, 40, at Datanala village, Navalgund, and Chandramma, 30, at Puchchaladinni village in Raichur taluk, were killed in lightning strikes. Narayanappa, 48, died after a house wall collapsed at Madanayakanahalli on city outskirts, and Josh Meenamma, 64, a resident of KR Puram, was electrocuted. Among the worst hit in Bengaluru were schoolchildren preparing for exams, a grocer who lost goods worth Rs 30 lakh and residents of HSR Layout who were marooned by the rising water on the roads. Rain was a huge dampener for Dasara festivities in Mysuru. The city received 128.5mm rain since Tuesday night, a record for 24 hours in 77 years. The last time it rained so much was 129.3mm on September 11, 1940.



6-day state bank holiday triggers cash crisis fear



KOLKATA: The city may run into a funds crisis in the middle of festivities with banks shutting down for six consecutive days from Wednesday on account of Durga Puja followed by a Sunday and Gandhi Jayanti. Although banks have assured seamless cash supply through ATMs, citizens are keeping their fingers crossed in view of last year’s bitter experience when a similar six-day bank closure had seen several ATMs run dry in the middle of Pujas. Worse, with companies headquartered outside Bengal likely to credit salaries either on Friday (September 29) or Monday (October 2), bulk cash withdrawals on both these days may compound the crisis. In 2016, when the banks remained closed between October 6 and 12, salary credits didn’t pose a problem. Yet, there were complaints of ATMs going ‘low-on-cash’. According to banking industry insiders, ATM withdrawals in Kolkata and the suburbs tend to spike at the beginning of the festive season. Already this has led the ATM cash-dispensing pattern, a software-run algorithm that ensures cash is replenished before the machines run out of money, to sputter in isolated cases. To beat the “temporary” crisis, SBI has already been allowed by the RBI to keep several of its 211 currency chests (RBI-monitored treasuries run by the banks) open on at least two of the six days. “We believe we will be able to replenish most ATMs in all the six days,” said a senior SBI official. However, movement of cash vans across Kolkata on festival days takes longer than usual. “If a van normally services six city ATMs, on festival days it can service only half of it,” sources said.


An HDFC Bank spokesperson from Mumbai said, “The HDFC Bank operates 250 plus ATMs in and around Kolkata. The agencies which replenish cash has been instructed to fill up the ATMs to their optimum capacity. These agencies remain closed only till Friday. On Saturday, cash will again be replenished. We do not see any reason for worry.” SBI and HDFC Bank together account for almost 50% of the ATMs in the city. ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, industry sources said, follow a pattern of “overnight vaulting”, which allows them to hand over surplus cash to their MSPs (manage service providers) to take care of contingencies and keep ATMs running even during extended holidays. A senior bank manager explained: “An ATM, according to the dispensing pattern, is packed with anything from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. Part of the cash is a buffer amount kept in the fourth cassette to ensure that the machine doesn’t run dry. But should it happen, the MSP (who have now replaced the traditional CRA or cash replenishment agencies), is contract-bound to replenish it within 15-90 minutes within city limits, and the next day for off-site, outstation ATMs”.



Crater mess: Tadbund at crossroads after cave-in trouble, traffic jammed

Cave-in of Tadbund crossroad caused Traffic chaos



HYDERABAD: Peak-hour traffic at the busy Tadbund crossroads came to a screeching halt in the early hours of Tuesday, after a portion of the road caved in. What started as a leak in the 25-year-old pipeline at the busy junction slowly turned into a gush, leading to loosening of the soil. The road finally caved in following passing of several heavy vehicles, leaving a huge cavity at the spot. “Water suddenly gushed out of the pipeline to a height of five to six meters. The incident occurred in the early hours when there was not much traffic. However, as the traffic picked up, vehicles piled up on the road,” G Mahesh, a resident of the locality told TOI. Two home guards, who arrived at Tadbund crossroads at around 7am to regulate traffic, were not prepared for such a gridlock. “Seeing the source of traffic jam, we immediately alerted Trimulgherry traffic inspector R Rajeshwar Rao. The latter alerted the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB) officials regarding the road cave-in and consequent flooding of the road,” M Lakshminarayana, one of the home guards said. Since the incident occurred on the National Highway 44, which sees plying of hundreds of buses bound for several districts like Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak and cities in Maharashtra, besides innumerable city buses and private vehicles, we had a tough time in regulating traffic. “The damaged pipe is nearly two-and-half-decade-old 300-mm diameter trunk main. The road caved in suddenly due to water leakage from the broken pipeline. The pipeline was connected to Hasmathpet reservoir from Marredpallly Control Room (HMWS&SB water supply network) to provide drinking water to some areas in the Secunderabad Cantonment,” said general manager, (O&M Division-IX-KPHB), HMWS&SB, R B Anil Kumar.


Soon after receiving information about the damage at around 7am, we pressed into service an earth mover and workers to dig the damaged portion. The asbestos cement pipeline, which was at a depth of two-and-half-meters below the ground was removed. Though two to three-meter length of the pipeline was damaged, we replaced 15-meter length of pipe as a precaution, he said. The restoration work was completed by 7pm, said Anil Kumar. “Due to the pipeline damage, water supply to nearly 3,000 households at Hasmathpet, HAL ColonyDubai Gate, Tadbund and adjoining areas was affected, said the water board official. It is difficult to pin down the exact reason for the damage to the pipeline. This could have been caused by heavy trucks which pass daily on the NH 44, carrying huge turbines weighing about 200 tonnes to BHEL and other firms, replied Anil Kumar. When TOI contacted HMWS&SB director (Operations), A Krishna said instructions were given to the general manager concerned to prepare a proposal to replace the old pipeline to prevent similar accidents in future”. TIMES VIEW: A series of sinkholes across city streets is a grim reminder of how the age-old pipelines must be replaced immediately to avoid accidents. Authorities must take stock of the situation and take urgent measures to replace the old pipelines.



Fire breaks out at wooden utility manufacturing unit in Kolkata


KOLKATA: A fire broke out at a wooden utility manufacturing unit at Ultadanga area in north Kolkata this afternoon, a Fire Brigade official said. The blaze, which broke out at 1 pm, was brought under control at around 3 pm by 10 fire engines, the official said. There was no injury to anyone in connection with the incident, he said. Cause of the fire at the wooden utility manufacturing unit at Durga Dutta Garden Lane in Ultadanga was being investigated, the official said.



Traffic police make arrangements at Koyembedu



Chennai, September 27: Gearing up to meet heavy rush at Koyembedu due to the long weekend, the traffic police have made elaborate arrangement from Thursday. In a bid to facilitate smooth flow of traffic from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) to different national highways, the city cops are coordinating with police in the neighbouring Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. According to traffic police sources, 700 cops would be deployed in different locations of the city and outskirts to regulate traffic. “Police would be posted at Koyembedu, Perungalathur, Vandalur and toll plazas at Padiyanallur and Sriperumpudur. Cops will also be on two wheeler patrol to clear traffic jams (in certain locations),” a senior official added. With special buses would be concentrated at the CMBT, traffic police and state owned transport corporation officials held a meeting on Wednesday to prepare a plan for regulating traffic. Fleets of state owned transport corporations including special buses for the Pooja holidays will leave from Koyembedu, which official sources said, was a challenge for traffic. As part of plans to avoid traffic snarls, heavy vehicles that are bound for southern districts from the north that do not require to enter the city would be diverted through Sriperumpudur, Orgadam towards Chengalpet, sources said.



International News



Thousands evacuate after blasts in Ukraine arms depot


KALYNIVKA (UKRAINE): Ukrainian authorities evacuated more than 30,000 people Wednesday from the central Vinnytsia region after a huge arms depot caught fire and set off explosions in what prosecutors said was a possible act of “sabotage”. It was the second major incident affecting a large Ukrainian weapons storage site this year. Kiev blamed a deadly fire in March on Moscow and its Russian-backed insurgents fighting Ukrainian forces in the war-wrecked east — a charge both sides denied. The pro-Western former Soviet republic’s military prosecutor’s office said it was opening an investigation into possible “sabotage at a military facility”. Immediate reports mentioned no fatalities and only two minor injuries from the blasts at a facility the Ukrainian military said stored some 83,000 tonnes of munitions. Military general staff spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov told AFP that the arms depot was “one of the country’s largest”. An AFP reporter said explosions in the town of Kalynivka in the Vinnytsia region located some 175 kilometres (110 miles) southwest of Kiev could be heard every five to 10 minutes and that streets of the town of 20,000 were nearly deserted. “People suffered heavy damage,” a local resident who agreed to identify herself only as Antonina told AFP. “Some homes had their windows and doors completely blown out,” she said. President Petro Poroshenko underscored the seriousness of the situation by telling his top military brass and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to report to him directly after visiting the site. “This is the arsenal of the Ukrainian army, and I think it was no accident that it was destroyed,” Groysman said in televised remarks from the scene. The military general staff later issued a statement saying an initial inspection showed that “around 70 percent of the storage facilities were not damaged by the fire”.


The army’s high command wrote on Facebook that the fire broke out at around 10pm (1900 GMT) Tuesday. Police spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told the Pravda news outlet the flames caused artillery shells at the facility to explode one after the other. The national police said more than 30,000 people had been evacuated from areas immediately surrounding the storage facility. “In addition, 180 patients were evacuated from Vinnytsia area hospitals,” Ukraine’s emergency ministry said. Officials also shut down surrounding airspace as a precaution to keep exploding missiles from hitting passing commercial jets. “Airspace has been closed in a radius of 50 kilometres (30 miles) around the area of the fire,” Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Lavrenyuk wrote on Facebook. The last major arms depot fire killed one person in the eastern town of Balakliya in March. Authorities at the time pointed the finger at Moscow and Russian-backed militias fighting Ukrainian troops in a war that broke out in April 2014 and has claimed more than 10,000 lives. Some officials in Kiev then mooted the possibility that the fire was caused by explosives dropped from a drone. Both the Russian-backed forces and the insurgents dismissed the charge outright. Vinnytsia lies nearly 700 kilometres west of the war zone. Russia vehemently denies plotting and backing Ukraine’s eastern conflict and refers to the fighting as a “civil war” — a term that particularly irritates Kiev.



Bangladesh arrests three Rohingya with 800,000 meth pills


COX’S BAZAR: Bangladesh police has arrested three Rohingya men and a Bangladeshi who were trying to smuggle 800,000 methamphetamine pills into the country from Myanmar, an official said. The arrests come as Bangladesh struggles to deal with a massive influx of Rohingya Muslims fleeing unrest in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Officers from Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) detained the four men yesterday on a fishing trawler in the estuary of the Naf river, which divides the two countries. “We caught four people trafficking Yaba tablets. Three of them are Rohingya from Myanmar and the other one is a Bangladeshi,” Major Ruhul Amin, an RAB area commander, told AFP. “They were carrying 800,000 yaba tablets on a boat. They brought the yabas from Myanmar. Two of the Rohingyas came here recently. And the other one is an old refugee,” he added. Yaba, a Thai word meaning “crazy medicine”, is a concoction of methamphetamine and caffeine that has become popular among young people in Bangladesh. Some 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled violence in Rakhine since August 25 and taken refuge in Bangladesh’s southeastern district of Cox’s Bazar. The influx began when deadly attacks by Rohingya militants on Myanmar police posts prompted a huge crackdown by the military. In recent year’s Bangladeshi security forces have seized millions of yaba tablets from traffickers attempting to enter Cox’s Bazar by land and sea. Last week two Rohingya men were arrested from a boat in the Naf river by Bangladesh border guards with some 430,000 yaba pills. Last year a Bangladesh counter-narcotics official told AFP the country was struggling to shut down trafficking from Myanmar, in part because it is difficult to patrol the vast Naf river. He said yaba pills were being produced in bathroom-sized labs in border areas in Myanmar.

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