News Flash – 30 September 2019

National News



September Rainfall in India on Course to be Highest in 102 Year’s


New Delhi: Vigorous and relentless monsoon rain has put this month on course to be the wettest September India has seen in 102 years and lifted the June-September season’s rain to 9% above normal, barely a percentage point short of excess rainfall. With a day left in the month, all-India average rainfall in September stands at 247.1mm 48% above normal and the third highest in India Meteorological Department’s records since 1901. By Monday, the month’s rainfall is likely to go past 1983’s figure (255.8mm), as red alerts for very heavy rain have been issued for Gujarat and Bihar. If that happens, this will be the wettest September in India in over a century, behind only 1917 (285.6mm), when the highest rainfall for the month since 1901 was recorded. This year’s monsoon, which began with a delayed onset and a 33% rain deficit in June, will officially end on Monday with the country recording the highest rainfall for the four-month period in 25 years. The all-India average seasonal rainfall stands at 956.1mm, 9% higher than the normal of 877mm till Sunday. The monsoon’s retreat is still not in sight. “There are no signs of withdrawal for at least four-five days,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of meteorology, IMD. Monsoon has been active over the country almost without a break for over two months. Cumulative rainfall in August and September so far is the highest witnessed for these two months in 31 years. By Monday, August-September rainfall could end up as the highest in 58 years (since 1961) and fourth highest since 1901, as per IMD’s records.



September has recorded just two days of below normal rains across the country. In August, that figure was 10, still low by normal standards. India Meteorological Department said there were three reasons for the monsoon deluge since August. “El Nino conditions over the Pacific Ocean, which suppress the monsoon, receded in July. At the same time, conditions in the Indian Ocean became favourable for monsoon with the Indian Ocean Dipole turning positive. The third factor was the development of a series of low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal. Although the number of such systems wasn’t unusually high, some of these caused heavy rains for a long time by persisting over the central Indian region,” said Mohapatra. The top IMD official particularly pointed to one low pressure system that continued to remain active for over 10 days, mainly hovering over Madhya Pradesh and east Rajasthan. This pattern of rainfall, seen since the third week of July, soaked central India in particular. The region went from being 20% monsoon deficient to over 28% rain surplus by the end of the season. The turnaround was even more dramatic in south India, which was reeling under a monsoon deficit of nearly 30% by July 19, with drought conditions in many districts. By September end, the region was 16% rain surplus for the season.



Monsoon Fury Kills 22 in Bihar, Red Alert for Heavy Rain Today

NO RESPITE: Bihar State Disaster Response Force personnel rescue flood-affected residents following heavy rain in Patna on Sunday.



Patna: Bihar bore the brunt of a monsoon on overdrive in the past 24 hours, with at least 22 deaths being reported from across the state amid an IMD red alert for further heavy to very heavy rain on Monday. Four autorickshaw passengers were killed when the branch of a tree fell on the vehicle at Khagaul in Patna. At least 14 of the deaths since Saturday were caused by brick walls collapsing on the victims in Gaya and Bhagalpur districts. Three persons drowned in Nawada district while a six year-old was crushed to death in Begusarai district after her house collapsed in the middle of a downpour. In Uttar Pradesh, rain-related accidents claimed 16 lives as several districts received a pounding from the cloud-heavy skies for the fourth consecutive day. Bihar’s monsoon misery was all-pervasive, not sparing even the VIPs and upscale residential colonies. Justice Madhuresh Prasad of the Patna high court and his family had to be rescued from Patna’s flooded Kadamkuan neighbourhood on a lifeboat. The emergency operation centre of the disaster management department and the district control room received distress calls from marooned Patna residents through the night, including an Army colonel and a fellow officer stranded on Road No 11 at Rajendra Nagar.



Anuradha Kumari, a resident of PC Colony in Kankerbah, told TOI that she was stuck in her home for two days with her two children. “We have contacted the control room but nobody has come to our rescue so far. It is impossible for me to wade through 5ft of water,” she said. “We are running out of food and drinking water. There is no electricity and we are rationing our inverter use just so that we can charge our mobile phones and portable chargers”. Chief minister Nitish Kumar held a review meeting on Sunday afternoon in the wake of the IMD warning that the worst may not be over for Bihar. Pratyaya Amrit, principal secretary of the disaster management department, briefed the chief minister on the rescue and relief operations. “I fear that water will enter all areas if the level of the Punpun river rises further. Nonetheless, we are prepared for all eventualities,” Nitish said. East Central Railway cancelled at least 13 long-distance and an equal number of passenger trains, besides diverting 20 more passing through the Danapur division. Two Patna-bound flights were diverted to Lucknow and Varanasi because of low visibility. In Gujarat, two women drowned and another was reported missing after their car was swept away by the raging current of the Rasnal river near Rajkot on Sunday. Saurashtra and the Kutch region experienced rain fury for the third straight day.



Great Railway Robbery: Contractors Steal Nearly Half of Worker’s Wages


Chennai: R Sivakumar, a cook on contract at Perambur Loco Works in Chennai, said he was shocked to learn that he was getting paid just Rs. 10,000 as salary for September as opposed to Rs. 15,000 that the railways were paying to his contractor for him. He said he was being paid in cash through an account operated by his contractor with no debit card or bank passbook with him. It is not just him, but all 53-odd workers at the workshop registered with various contractors face the same issue, a probe by TOI revealed. Interactions with labourers in other departments such as ICF, engineering and maintenance contractual employees revealed that almost all contractual labourers in Chennai region of Southern Railways were paid in cash, and very few of them had a provident fund account or insurance coverage. Southern Railway has employed 4,830 workers under 1,944 contracts since November 2018. In Chennai region, 527 contracts were issued for engaging 1,630 workers. Each worker is supposed to get Rs.580 as minimum wage. After these workers clocked 1.64 lakh man days, the railways have paid Rs.9.5cr. as per the Shraman Kalyan portal. A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that only Rs.5cr has reached the workers and the contractors have pocketed Rs.4.5cr. Each worker got just Rs.300. TOI spoke to contractor Arasu and Co, whose contract was recently terminated after it failed to clear payments of labourers. The new contractor, PK Enterprises, said they too had paid labourers in cash.



A Kumar, a labourer, told TOI he joined a year ago and since then received payment only in cash. When asked why he never complained, he said, “I didn’t want to lose my job.” He said he recently found out that he was supposed to get Rs.583 a day, but got only Rs.300. Their PF accounts have also been dormant and that is when they wanted to bring this issue out, he said. The chief workshop manager at Perambur Loco Works, Arun Devaraj, told TOI that they verified with the contractor after receiving complaints. “We ensure payments are made to bank accounts of workers. If there are discrepancies, we will hold an enquiry,” he said. A contractor told TOI that discrepancies could be found in every labour contract. “We quote very low rates to win these contracts and to make profits, we have no other way but to pay them in cash. It is impossible to run the business if we follow the rules,” he said. Several officials are aware but they remain silent as they just want work done, he said. The contractor’s point was reiterated in CAG audit report of 2018 that stated that the compliance of payment of wages through cheque or bank transfer was found in only 18% (82 of 463) of contracts audited in nine regions across the country. R Geetha, advisor to Unorganised Workers Federation, said bank transfer is just one aspect. There are rules to provide basic amenities and facilities for workers. “If railways followed the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act (CLRA), 1970, wages should be disbursed in the presence of representative of principal employer (here, railways). Else, wages should be transferred to bank accounts. Railways is responsible for monitoring and taking action if a labourer’s salary is being siphoned off by contractors. Railway officials cannot be mute spectators but should act,” she said.

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