News Flash – 3 August 2019

National News



Weather Bureau Issues Red Alert for Mumbai


Mumbai: Rainy weekends this monsoon has majorly affected travel plans, a situation set to continue this weekend as well. The weather bureau has issued a red alert for west and central Maharashtra, including the Ghats, till Sunday. A red alert in this context is very serious, as it means that civic and state agencies need to be in a state of preparedness to anticipate ‘action’. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that till August 4-5, there are chances of heavy to very heavy and even extremely heavy rain at isolated places especially in the Konkan and Madhya Maharashtra. For Mumbai, a specific red alert has been issued for and Sunday. “With the development of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal, on Saturday night and Sunday, Mumbai is very likely to get intense heavy rainfall. Warnings are issued, including for the west coast,” said IMD West’s chief, K S Hosalikar. Fairly widespread to widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rain are likely over Vidarbha, Madhya Maharashtra, Konkan and Goa, among other regions during the next two to three days, said IMD.



Isolated extremely heavy rainfall is also likely over north Konkan and the Ghat areas of Madhya Maharashtra during this period, it said. Meanwhile, Friday’s rain has made the city’s monsoon total cross the 2,000mm mark. The city has received 91.39% of its required monsoon rainfall. The total from June 1-August 2 (till 8.30pm) is 2,117.8mm, just short of the seasonal average of 2,317.1mm. Rainfall recorded in the 12 hours ending 8.30pm on Friday by the IMD’s Colaba and Santacruz observatories were 14.6mm and 81.5mm, respectively. Good rainfall has ensured that the catchments of supply lakes are already almost 90% of the required capacity, a positive situation that has arisen after two years. Four lakes—Tulsi, Tansa, Modak Sagar and Vihar—are already overflowing. Bhatsa, the biggest supply lake for Mumbai, is 85% full. At Friday’s civic standing committee meeting, BMC distributed pedas to all corporators to celebrate the filling up of four lakes.



Eye on Third Eye: Control Room to Watch Toll Points


New Delhi: With feeds from 255 cameras at the 13 radiofrequency placed identification (RFID) border points reaching a central control room in Satya Niketan, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) will soon get to know exactly how many commercial vehicles entered the capital on a particular day and how much was collected as the environment compensation charge (ECC). With all 13 points to go cashless by August 15, TOI on Friday visited the centre where final touches are being given to operationalize the system, which, EPCA says, will help Delhi fight its air pollution problem to a great extent. As each vehicle will be audited and accounted for at the centre, the Supreme Court-appointed body will also get a figure for the number of violators. At present, 200 live feeds are being provided to the command centre from the 56 operational lanes. Another 17 lanes will become functional in the next two weeks and only pre-registered vehicles with RFID tags will be allowed into Delhi. By August 15, the 255 cameras will be streaming live to the control room where 24 personnel will monitor the data. Vivek Rohilla, a supervisor at the control room, said the system, which is now recording cash entries, would automatically become cashless and provide separate system entries for empty vehicles and those carrying essential commodities. While empty vehicles have to pay half the ECC amount, the essential commodity carriers are fully exempted. To record the entry, a camera captures the number plate of a vehicle, along with its photographs from the front and the rear. This is automatically fed into the system, allowing the operators at the central control room to keep a watch. “This helps us carry out the audit and we can see how the vehicle paid, at what time it entered Delhi and the photographs,” said Rohilla.



“If the vehicle is empty, that too can be recorded,” he added, pointing at the screen in front of him that showed a ‘violation’ tag against a car that entered Delhi recently. The system even shows exactly how many cars entered through a particular RFID point every hour. For instance, between the midnight of July 25 and 26, Aya Nagar saw 3,091 cars entering through two functional lanes. During the same period, the nine lanes at Rajokri handled 23,851 commercial vehicles. According to Akash Sinha, CEO at Tecsidel — the private company managing the RFID points, the system is easy to manage with the registration process and payments being carried out through e-wallets with the help of every border point should come down to 3-4 seconds from the previous 20-25 seconds, he added. “We have already seen the pre-registration of close to 50,000 vehicles and this number will increase considerably over the next two weeks”. Sunita Narain, a member of EPCA, said overhead cameras would soon be installed to capture photographs from the top. At present, there are lane cameras, a camera in the toll booth and cameras to take photos of the vehicles. “Each vehicle will be audited this way and not only will this help in saving time but also provide us with the exact figure of ECC, removing any discrepancy in the process, which used to occur during cash transactions. No faulty number can also be quoted,” said Narain. The RFID project has become functional at toll plazas at Kundli, Rajokri, Tikri, Aya Nagar, Kalindi Kunj, Kapashera, Shahdara (main and flyover), Ghazipur (old), DND Flyway, and Badarpur-Faridabad (main and flyover). However, the cashless system is yet to kick in.



Cops nab molesters with help of CCTV footage


Kolkata: CCTV footage obtained from a shop near a bus stand in Picnic Garden, which captured the registration number of a scooter, helped the police crack a case of molestation of a 16-year-old girl in about 48 hours. The student who was allegedly molested by GJ Khan Road residents Zakir Molla, 20, and Md. Sarfaraz, 20, was accompanied by her brother and a friend when the incident took place around 11.15pm on Tuesday at Picnic Garden Third Lane. “The girl was attacked from behind by these two men who make a living doing odd jobs. They were on a scooter and the pillion rider snatched her cellphone and touched her inappropriately before fleeing the spot,” said an officer. “Accordingly, on the basis of the complaint lodged by the girl, a case of theft under IPC Section 379 and section 8 of Pocso Act was recorded against unknown persons. During the investigation, we collected CCTV footage from two places — a coal shop and near 39 No. bus stand. Our sources in the area were activated. In a short while, acting upon credible information, we arrested the culprits. The scooter used to commit the crime has been confiscated,” said DC (southeast) Ajoy Prasad.



“We had a clear idea that the accused were locals given the route they took to escape. The girl, her brother and friend gave us a description of the two-wheeler. We have been using local CCTV footage to ascertain the identities of accused for the past couple of years since their numbers had gone up. We are investigating the case further and statements of a few witnesses have been noted down,” said an officer. The statement of the girl will be recorded before a magistrate soon. The incident has raised questions on how the youths had the audacity to molest a minor in front of her family member and friend. “We are checking if they are repeat offenders. The real ownership of the scooter used to commit the crime is being checked too. So far, both accused have claimed they do odd low-income jobs. We have assured all help and security to the victim’s family,” an officer said. According to locals, the bylines of Picnic Garden which has witnessed a demographic change lacks proper lighting and policing is restricted to special raids. “The cops have been lucky with evidence, but there is little effort to deter crime,” alleged Md. Feroz, a local trader. “There are a lot of burglaries in this locality. My phone was stolen from my house just last month,” said Frank Caaruthars, another local resident. Locals also alleged that most of the CCTV cameras in the area don’t work, which is why there are a lot of burglaries. Nidhi Jha, a 26-year-old resident, who has lived in the locality all her life, said a stance against petty crime can help stop bigger crimes.

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