News Flash – 30 July 2018

National News



Hoax call: Security Guard turns a Security threat



Mumbai: A 21-year-old former security guard of a private firm was nabbed from near Mumbai Central railway station five hours after he allegedly warned the NSG of a chemical attack on the prime minister. The National Security Guards (NSG) control room in New Delhi received a call around 5.30 pm on Friday that “there will be chemical attack on the Prime Minister”. Using caller ID tracker, the NSG found that the call was made from Mumbai-based number and alerted its Mumbai unit and the city police. The investigators first headed to the Walkeshwar address used for procuring the SIM card. Through mobile phone location tracker, the investigators found that the caller was constantly on the move. Around 10.30 pm, when the tracker showed the phone’s location as Mumbai Central station, police rushed to the spot and zeroed in the phone carrier— Kashinath Mandal, a Jharkhand native-—when he was on his way to catch a train. Sources said Mandal initially tried to evade the police queries, but later said he made the call to “to create fear and communal unrest”.


Mandal told police he came to Mumbai seven months ago and was working as a security guard at a private firm. During his employment, he would stay at Wallkeshwar. He had quit his job two weeks ago and was planning to return to his home town. Police sources Mandal claimed he had got the NSG control room’s phone number through Google search. Mandal was placed under arrest after verification and a court has sent him in city police custody. The police have seized two mobile phones from him and are scanning their content. Investigators are trying to find out if he has links with any terror organisation or if someone helped him in making the phone calls. Mandal has been booked under section 505 (1) and (2) of the IPC which relate to making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report and statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes. The maximum sentence under these sections are jail term which may extend up to three years.



Gokhale bridge collapse: After housewife, 52-year-old CA dies



Mumbai: The collapse of Andheri’s Gokhale bridge on July 3 claimed its second victim on Sunday. Vile Parle resident Manoj Mehta (52), who was on ventilator from the day of the crash, succumbed to infection and multi-organ dysfunction. Taking the 7.28am Dahanu local train from Andheri was Mehta’s ritual for many years. On July 3, as the chartered accountant waited for his train on platform No. 8, concrete debris from the bridge collapse came crashing down on him. Mehta suffered critical injuries to the spine and was taken in for a surgery at Balabhai Nanavati Hospital in Vile Parle. His family shifted him there after initial treatment at the civic-run RN Cooper Hospital. He had also suffered injuries on the ribs, shoulder and lungs. COO of Nanavati Dr Rajendra Patankar said that the injury to his spine and other organs were grave. “He was on ventilator. His kidney functions had suffered too, making it necessary to put him on Continuous Renal Replacement Therapies, where dialysis is provided as a continuous 24-hour therapy,” he said. Mehta, however, developed infection following which he was kept under isolation in an ICU. “He was conscious at times as his brain functions were not affected but overall he remained critical throughout,” said Patankar.


Mehta was declared dead around 7.30pm, following which his body was sent for an autopsy. His younger brother and business partner Rajesh Mehta was inconsolable. “He put up a good fight but he couldn’t win it. The injuries were too severe. He never spoke after the collapse though there were fleeting moments when he was conscious and recognized us. That gave us hope,” he told TOI. The brothers jointly ran a construction company. He said his older brother handled the company’s finances and would always be the first one to reach their Palghar office. Mehta is survived by his wife and two daughters. With this death, the over bridge collapse destroyed two families. The first victim was Asmita Katkar (35) who left behind her six-year-old son Siddhesh and husband Lahu. The homemaker was returning after dropping Siddhesh to school when the bridge had collapsed. Three others who were injured in the collapse, friends Dwarka Prasad Sharma and Girdhari Singh; and Versova resident Haresh Koli, are on their way to recovery.



15k families affected as Yamuna flows above danger mark

People shift their belongings to a drier area as they evacuate the flooded Yamuna river bank in New Delhi.



New Delhi: The Yamuna water level remained above the danger mark on Sunday with deputy CM Manish Sisodia carrying out an inspection of the low-lying areas. The water level was recorded at 205.51m at 6pm on Sunday and 1,12,540 cusecs was released from the Hathni Kund barrage in the evening. The warning level for the Yamuna is 204m, while the danger mark is 204.83m. Meanwhile, Delhi Traffic Police on Sunday shut the Old Yamuna Bridge connecting north and east Delhi after an alert by Delhi Disaster Management Authority. Sisodia took stock of the ongoing evacuation work in low-lying areas around Akshardham and Pandav Nagar. The evacuation work had started on Saturday when the water level reached 205.3 metres at 7pm. Officials said nearly 15,000 families have been affected and they would be accommodated in corporation schools. Both the education department and municipal corporations have been asked to provide space. CM Arvind Kejriwal held an emergency meeting on Saturday, directing all departments to stay on high alert and evacuate people from low-lying areas. The flood and irrigation department said the water level was steady at 6pm, but it is expected to rise to about 205.65m by Monday. “With more water set to be released from Hathni Kund barrage, the water level may touch 206.6m by 7pm on Tuesday,” an official said. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old boy died while his 10-year-old sister was grievously injured when a portion of their house collapsed on Sunday in Dabri Extension in southwest Delhi.



In rain-hit Bihar, fish go for a swim in ICU

Water enters a ward of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital after rains in Bihar.



Patna: Doctors, nurses and patients had to wade through knee-deep water and fish swam in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the state run Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) here on Sunday, which was flooded due to incessant rain lashing the capital city. According to hospital officials, water had entered the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the medicine department and as a result, patients had to be shifted to a different ICU. “We have shifted patients admitted in medicine department’s ICU to the surgery department’s ICU. Besides, efforts are on to pump out the water,” NMCH superintendent Chandrashekhar said. As the hospital is located in a low lying area, water has entered its various wards due to heavy showers, the superintendent added. While television channels beamed the shocking footage of fish swimming inside the ICU, the family members of patients as well as some of the hospital staffers were left fuming. One of the nurses at the ICU alleged even snakes, scorpions and leeches could be found in the water.



Theft probe opens lid on toddy binge at Gandhi


Hyderabad: Investigation into a mobile theft case at Gandhi Hospital blew the lid on happenings at the state-run health facility. Liquor and gutka are smuggled into wards, while it was found that an in-patient turned-thief left the hospital and returned after a week. Apart from free flow of country liquor and toddy, a huge quantity of gutka packets (100-200 packets) were being seized every day at the hospital. Investigating the mobile theft in the gastroenterology ward, the hospital authorities began a manhunt for the thief and, to their shock, found that the culprit was an in-patient behind the thefts. Incidentally, during the search, the patient, who was caught on tape lifting another phone in another ward, had left the hospital for a few days and then returned. On receiving the complaint, CCTV footage of the ward was scanned and a patient was found to be the culprit. “Our security staff kept an eye on him. He was followed to the fourth floor, where CCTV footage showed him stealing another phone from a ward.


Our security staff swung into action and tried to catch him, but he managed to slip out of the hospital,” Gandhi Hospital superintendent Dr P Shravan Kumar told TOI. The patient, however, returned last week to the hospital late in the night. The patient was finally caught and handed over to the Chilkalguda police. After the incident, security personnel were directed to frisk every individual entering the hospital building and check their bags too. “During these checks, we discovered that they were sneaking in gutka and liquor,” he added. In fact, consumption of gutka by attendants at the hospital was known with tell-tale signs on the walls. However, the huge quantity of gutka being brought into the hospital surprised hospital authorities. “We finds 25-30 packets from an attendant and on days it is a pile after we confiscate the packets,” a security guard stationed at the hospital said.



In season’s first, city techie tests positive for swine flu


Kolkata: The city’s first confirmed case of swine flu of 2018 was reported on Saturday after a software engineer tested positive for the H1N1 influenza virus. His minor child is being treated for suspected swine flu. The man is admitted in Fortis Hospital and his child is in Apollo. Authorities at Fortis told TOI on Sunday, “We have come across the first swine flu case this year. Timely intervention has been done and the patient is doing well.” Though relatives said the child, too, had tested positive for the H1N1 virus late on Saturday — hours after she was admitted with high fever — Apollo Hospital authorities said they were awaiting final reports and the child was being treated for suspected swine flu. TOI is withholding the names of the patients on request, even as doctors in the two hospitals agreed that the swine flu outbreak should be made known in public interest and for spreading awareness. The techie was admitted to hospital with high fever, lung congestion and body ache. Hours after he tested positive for swine flu, his child developed high temperature and was advised immediate hospitalisation by the family pediatrician. “The father was already down with swine flu and we were told not to take chances. So we got the child admitted immediately,” a relative said. The Bengal government is yet to notify an H1N1 alert since the detections have taken place over the weekend. But some doctors have already started cautioning their patients, referring to standard WHO guidelines, telling them that a vast majority of people could be vulnerable to H1N1, which spreads easily from person to person.



Rain reopens potholes on city speed corridors


Kolkata: It has not even been a week since repairs were carried out on the city’s speed corridors and flyovers, and the craters — as deep as two feet in places — have resurfaced. Commuting via these roads has become slow and bone rattling, and it might get worse. Since last Monday, the various custodians of the city roads — Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority for EM Bypass and Public Works Department for Taratala and Mejerhat flyovers — had begun mending the gaping potholes and craters by filling them with modified bitumen fragments. However, the patchwork has been washed away after a spell of heavy rain, exposing the potholes again. Driving on these roads has become more dangerous now since the vehicles skid on the loose gravel. “Watching the authorities repairing the stretch had given us a sense of relief. But now the situation has worsened as the craters have resurfaced and the road has become so uneven and slippery that it is difficult to apply brakes without skidding,” said Avishek Dasgupta, a resident of Behala who regularly uses the Majerhat and Taratala flyovers. Those manning the traffic said the potholes and craters were slowing down cars on the flyovers. “The road beneath is in an equally bad shape because of the ongoing Metro construction. When the patchwork was undertaken, we had a smooth ride for two days, but the craters have returned to slow down the traffic flow,” said a sergeant posted near Ajanta Cinema on Diamond Harbour Road. The officer added that during the peak hours in the evening, it takes vehicles over 30 minutes to cross the 1km stretch between Burdwan Road and Ajanta Cinema.


The situation is similar on Bypass. “We had repaired the stretch between Panchannagram and VIP Bazar last Tuesday and by Saturday, the craters have resurfaced. We don’t know what to do,” said a supervisor overseeing the patchwork on Sunday. “I was riding my bike to Sonarpur last Friday when it skidded on a slippery stretch and fell in a large crater near Ruby Hospital. Luckily, I had my helmet on. However, I was injured and doctors have advised bed rest for a week,” said Santanu Biswas, a private bank executive. KMDA officials blamed the incessant rain and the Metro construction for the potholes reappearing on the repaired stretches. “The road surface is getting damaged more near the places where Metro work is going on. We are doing patchwork at the damaged places whenever we can — following the modified cold mix road surfacing process. But with the Metro construction work on, we are not being allowed to cordon off lanes and divert traffic so that the mixture can solidify and hold on to the ground for a longer period,” said an official. PWD officials also blamed the rain and heavy traffic flow for the resurfacing of craters. “We are trying our best with patchwork repairs, but the heavy rain over the past few days, as well as the steady traffic movement, have made it difficult for any patchwork to stay on. However, once the rain stops, we will take up full-fledged repair work,” an official said.



Airports’ service standards on radar


New Delhi: The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) will soon check if big Indian airports are meeting the promised service standards in terms of maximum time taken for various processes like check-in, security check and immigration. AERA, which fixes tariffs for airports that handle over 15 lakh flyers a year, will link meeting of service standards to tariff determination and penalise laggards while rewarding effective airports. The authority’s concern stems from the fact that in peak travel hours, most Indian airports resemble overcrowded railway stations and are severely congested. Both private metro airport operators and state-owned Airports Authority of India have failed to augment infrastructure as air travel exploded in last few years. Serpentine queues are a common sight at almost all places — right from terminal entry to check-in, security check and immigration — with airlines routinely telling passengers to report to airports early to factor in the rush. “There are set service standards for airports. We are going to appoint consultants to measure the actual conditions at the airports vis-a-visa the standards. We will link meeting of standards to tariff determination and airports which do not meet the same will be penalised,” AERA chairman S Machendranathan said. While measuring service standards is AERA’s mandate, the agency has now its hands full with tariff orders as traffic growth has meant many airports fall under its ambit for tariff determination.



110 feet-high bridge submerged as Gandhaiyaaru river swells

Villagers said that water entered the bridge on Friday.



Coimbatore: The residents of Lingapuram in Sirumugai forest range here had to depend on coracles to cross Gandhaiyaaru river after the 110ft-high bridge that connects the village with Gandhavayal, Mokkamedu, Alur, Melur and Keezhur in Mettupalayam taluk was submerged in water released from Pillur dam. However, some people, including schoolchildren, were seen using the 300m-long bridge by wading through knee-deep water. TOI had reported about the villagers being anxious over the rising water level. Villagers said that water entered the bridge on Friday and, by Sunday, rose three feet. “Currently, the bridge’s side walls are visible. But if water rises two feet more, the entire bridge will be under water,” said M Ammasaikutti, a farmer from Lingapuram. People from neighbouring villages have to go through Lingapuram to reach schools and workplaces. “While most of the people used coracles, some people crossed the bridge by wading through thigh-deep water. There is also another path through the forest. But it becomes inaccessible during the rainy season,” said Ammasaikutti. Local residents said that the Bhavani Sagar catchment areas usually get water only in August.



International News



US lawmakers protest deal allowing free distribution plans for 3D printed guns



Washington: Dozens of US legislators are demanding that the Trump administration explain a recent agreement to allow the free distribution of plans for using 3D printers to make plastic handguns that will be easy to hide and almost impossible to control. After a legal battle, the government reached agreement last month with Cody Wilson, a gun rights advocate from Texas. He successfully argued that the US Constitution’s Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to private gun ownership, should extend to a person’s right to make guns at home — uncontrolled by authorities, since they will bear no serial number. Dozens of Democrats in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate have decried the settlement and are demanding an explanation from the President Trump’s administration. The agreement between the state department, which controls the exportation of American arms, and Wilson’s Defense Distributed (DD) was reached on June 29.


Wilson is due to receive $40,000 in damages and interest. The DD website invites anyone interested to download the programme to make so-called “ghost guns” starting August 1, when “the age of the downloadable gun formally begins”. That means anyone with a 3D printer — which costs around $2,000 — will be able starting next week to make plastic-bodied guns at home for a few hundred dollars each. Security experts fear the guns may be able to evade detection by the metal detectors used in many public buildings and airports. But gun enthusiasts say that without some metal parts, the guns will be unreliable — and might even explode in a user’s face. But five US senators, all Democrats, have denounced the agreement as “stunning” and “puzzling,” and have demanded, in an open letter, that the government provide a written explanation of its thinking. Forty-two Democratic members of the House of Representatives shared their own concerns.

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