News Flash – 4 July 2017

National News



22 states scrap check posts for smooth GST rollout

With the removal of checkposts, trucks won’t have to queue up for hours to get their consignments and papers checked.



NEW DELHI: The rollout of the Goods & Services Tax across the country has been smooth with 22 states, including West Bengal and Delhi, abolishing checkposts, adding to the efforts to ensure that the changeover to the new tax regime is hassle-free and least disruptive for businesses and consumers. Eight states are on the verge of scrapping the checkposts, which is expected to ensure smooth flow of goods across the country. The removal of checkposts will come as a huge relief for trucks which queue up for hours to get their consignments and papers checked, causing delays and adding to costs. A session of the assembly of J&K, which is yet to enact the law for the implementation of GST, has been convened on Tuesday to consider approving the legislation. Sources in the finance ministry said that there has been no inflationary impact of the new tax regime: an assertion which was significantly endorsed by the CPM-led government in Kerala. The LDF government issued a statement in Thiruvananthapuram saying prices of more than 100 products have been brought down under GST. State finance minister T M Thomas Isaac came out with the list of products to counter widespread complaints that there was no positive impact of GST in the state. Keen to ensure that the momentum is maintained, authorities are also keeping a close watch to ensure that any roadblock is removed swiftly. Cabinet secretary P K Sinha reviewed the post-GST implementation situation with the secretaries and senior officials of different ministries and departments.


The cabinet secretary urged every secretary to take up the responsibility of addressing GST-related issues of their respective stakeholders, trade and industry. He asked them to coordinate with state government officials to ensure smooth implementation of the tax measure. Sinha also asked all departments to ensure that there is no shortage of products and commodities especially consumer items in order to keep the prices under check. The cabinet secretary also urged officials to ensure that retailers, dealers and shopkeepers display the post-GST prices of different items being sold by them. He said each department and ministry should make sure that benefits of GST are passed on to consumers which would help keep inflation under control. Sinha asked all departments to ensure that that various machines used by dealers and retailers for computerised billing are calibrated at the earliest to reflect the GST rates. He said this exercise should be completed in a time- bound manner without delay. It was also decided that a weekly review meeting will be held to keep a close watch on the situation. The cabinet secretary also told the officials to launch campaign to make consumers fully aware about issues linked to GST. The Centre also appealed to the people not to circulate wrong messages on social media as no distinction is made in the GST law on any provision based on religion. “There are some messages going around in social media stating that the temple trusts have to pay the GST while the churches and mosques are exempt. This is completely untrue,” a finance ministry statement said.



LPG tanker overturns in Ghodbunder, Mumbai-Ahmedabad traffic blocked for 9 hours

An LPG-laden tanker bound for Gujarat overturned on Ghodbunder Road on Monday afternoon, blocking traffic to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway for over nine hours.



THANE: An LPG-laden tanker bound for Gujarat overturned on Ghodbunder Road on Monday afternoon, blocking traffic to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highway for over nine hours. The road had turned slippery due to rain. A gas leakage from a ruptured valve of the tanker compounded the problem, till it was finally arrested by 9.30pm. “We have booked the driver and cleaner, who are on the run, for rash and negligent driving,” said an officer from Thane Rural police. Around 1pm, the tanker driver lost control of the vehicle while maneuvering a sharp turn at Kajupada and it fell on its side. A local alerted the control room and the Kashimira police reached the spot within 10 minutes. By 1.45pm, the police barricaded 500m stretch on both sides of the highway fearing that any stray spark from a passing vehicle could trigger an explosion. The tanker had enough LPG to fill 400 domestic cylinders, a rescue official said. To avoid an incident like Pakistan’s Bahawalpur where around 150 people died after a tanker carrying fuel exploded, the police kept curious onlookers who wanted to capture the mishap on their phones at bay.


Civic staffers from Thane and Mira-Bhayander turned up even as five fire tenders were rushed to the spot. “There was a rupture in one of the valves of the vehicle leading to a leakage. We sprayed foam on the tanker and fixed the valve before the situation could spiral out of control,” said an officer. Thousands of motorists were stranded as the road was barricaded. “Traffic to and from Thane to Ahmedabad was shut as precaution,” said Mahesh Patil, superintendent of Thane Rural police. Thane resident Aditya Mehta, who had an appointment in Kandivli, was stuck in traffic for nearly three hours before he decided to return home. “I had to cancel the meeting as the authorities said they had no idea when the traffic would move again,” he said. A family escorting an ailing person to hospital was stuck in the jam near Owala naka for 30 minutes. “There was no response to the siren and no policeman was visible. We had a tough time making our way out,” said a family member. The leakage was plugged by 9pm and the tanker made upright by 9.30pm. By 10.15pm, traffic started moving as one lane on both sides was opened.



City police urge college students to be vigilant


Bengaluru: Close to 2,500 students of Christ University were given some handy tips on road safety, drug abuse, drunk driving and other topics by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) South-East, Dr. Boralingaiah recently. The DCP addressed topics of drug abuse and drunk driving and advised students not to drive without a licence. Speaking to Bangalore Times, Dr. Boralingaiah said that this was an awareness programme for the students who had recently joined the college. “We had a session with Pre-University students. We follow three steps — educate, awareness and enforcement. It is our priority to educate and create awareness among the youngsters,” he said. Dr. Boralingaiah also spoke about security issues specially at Paying Guest (PG) accommodations in the city and said that it is essential for the warden or the PG owners to ensure that proper safety measures are in place like CCTV cameras, security guard at all times and having a female warden to stay in PGs where women stay. He also said that if the safety measures weren’t in place, students could approach police officials for help. He added, “We don’t want the students to compromise when it comes to their safety. If the students are hesitant to approach police officials directly, they can intimate their teachers or the administration as we are in constant touch with them”. Students were also encouraged to use public transport and carpool in order to reduce traffic congestion in the city. They also had a session on cyber-security and cybercrime by Dr. Nagarathna A, Senior Assistant Professor of Law, NLSIU, alerting them to be aware of fraudsters online. Students were asked to be vigilant about anything suspicious happening around and urged to inform police officials in any case.



1,17,675 parking violations recorded in the Cyberabad area this year



HYDERABAD: The recent fatal accident on the Outer Ring Road (ORR), where the victim’s vehicle collided with a truck that was parked on the roadside, is only part of a larger problem. Official records indicate that a staggering 1,17,675 parking violations have been recorded within Cyberabad limits in the first five months of this year alone. According to data available with the Cyberabad traffic cops, while the total number of parking violations stood at 598 in January and 731 in February, this number shot up to 38,901 in March, 36,894 in April and 41,880 in May. The number of parking violations for each March, April and May has far surpassed the same number for the six-month period between June and December, last year, when 4,244 parking violations were recorded. Records also reveal that the maximum number of parking violations were committed by lorrie strucks, closely followed by heavy and medium motor vehicles, both this year and last year as well. A R Srinivas, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), Traffic, Cyberabad, attributed the high numbers, over the past three months, to stricter enforcement along the IT belt.


“Enforcement, against unauthorised and wrong parking has been made stronger, with the use of traffic cameras that can identify wrongly and haphazardly parked vehicles. There is a fixed parking regulation that will come into place, once the state government has finalized its parking policy. Once that comes into place, likely in a few months, enforcement drives will only get stronger,” said Srinivas. The announcement has come as a dampener for commuters who point to the absolute lack of parking bays along most roads cutting through the IT hub and even inside most commercial establishments in the area as the reason for their woes. “There is no respite for road users, until the state government actually builds the multi-level parking complexes that were proposed more than three years ago. The fines being imposed for wrong parking must be lowered. There is absolutely no place to park on roadsides and challans are issued even if a vehicle is parked for less than 10 minutes,” said Anand Gummadi, an IT professional and a resident of Chandanagar.



Cops help homeless narikurava kids bridge gap, go to school

The children are from narikurava families of a ‘residential colony’ under a bridge near the Ambattur telephone exchange



CHENNAI: As she helped her son put on his new uniform, Silk, a narikurava woman, was thrilled. So was her four-year-old, one of the 10 children admitted to the Government School in Patravakkam near Ambattur on Monday. The children, including four girls, are from narikurava families of a ‘residential colony’ under a bridge near the Ambattur telephone exchange. They are now set to get an education thanks to the efforts of the jurisdictional police. Inspector Vijayaraghavan had been patrolling the stretch near the bridge for a long time and saw many children, aged between 3 and 12, picking up rags and rods near the industrial belt. Concerned, he put his idea of helping the children go to school to their parents who initially appeared hesitant. Four children had dropped out of school, finding it difficult to board a bus to their school, he said. Police will now take them to and from school in patrol vehicles. “It is a good move from the police officers. We were worried that they would also go earning money picking up rags,” said Silk.



Fire at Apollo Hospitals in Kolkata, nobody injured



KOLKATA: A fire broke out in an operation theatre in Apollo Hospitals on EM Bypass. The entire main building was evacuated and at least five operations in different OTs were deferred. Nobody was reported to be injured or trapped in fire. Five fire engines were deployed to bring the situation under control. Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee visited the spot and took stock of the situation. This is eighth instance of fire in a hospital in the city in the past ten months. In 2012, over 90 people had died when fire broke out in AMRI Hospitals in Dhakuria. “Prima facie it appears that the fire started from a short circuit in an air-conditioner. The actual cause will be known after the forensic test,” said a senior fire department official.



This village has 1 tree for every 2 persons


Ahmedabad: This small village in Rajkot district has put big cities to shame. Khokhadad village has one tree per two persons, while Ahmedabad has only 11 trees and Rajkot, just 10, per 100 persons. The village panchayat has made it mandatory for residents to plant two trees in their houses every monsoon. If any resident fails to nurture the saplings, water connection to the house is cut off. The village had few green patches five years ago, according to the sarpanch, Raghu Korat. The panchayat decided to act and called a gram sabha. It was unanimously agreed at the sabha that each house will have at least two trees in its courtyard. After the first plantation drive, many saplings died. But the drive continued, and today the village of 3,000 residents has around 1,500 trees.



“We had been reading in the papers that air quality was deteriorating,” Korat said. “The village wanted green patches. The panchayat also decided that if people wanted to set up roadside stalls, they would have to take care of all trees around their stall. It would be their duty to water the trees.” The permission to set up stalls was given only if the applicants agreed to take up the greening mission. Rajuben Chawda, the talati of the village, said that the village has five green lungs and a garden which provide fresh air. “When I was posted in the village, I realized that it was the best example of what people can do for the environment,” Chawda said. Amitbhai Padariya, a member of the village panchayat, said that initially no one thought that the efforts would pay off. But now the villagers are happy with the results and the accuring health benefits. These days, people plant trees in unused land. They even keep cattle away from the green zones.



International News



AirAsia flight grounded after apparent bird strike damages engine

Officials inspect an engine of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia X Flight D7207.



Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia X said on Tuesday a flight from Australia to Malaysia was diverted and forced to land in Brisbane because an engine was damaged during take-off by what was thought to be a bird strike. AirAsia X Flight D7207 was carrying 345 passengers and 14 crew when it took off from the Gold Coast tourist hub in northern Queensland state en route to Kuala Lumpur late on Monday, it said. There were no reports of any injuries in the incident and AirAsia X did not respond immediately to a request for comment. AirAsia said in a statement on its official Twitter account the flight was diverted “after experiencing a suspected bird strike to its starboard engine shortly after takeoff”. “Two bird remains were found on the runway,” it said. Passengers said the plane began shaking shortly after take-off. “The plane started shuddering then there were a couple of loud bangs and a lot of light,” Tim Joga told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. Another passenger told the paper she saw flames coming from the right engine. The plane was forced to land 100 km (60 miles) away at Brisbane, the Queensland capital, just 11.30 p.m. local time (1430 GMT), a spokesman for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said. The CASA spokesman said AirAsia’s engineers were expected to confirm the cause of the problem later on Tuesday.



18 feared dead in Bavarian bus crash; 30 injured


BERLIN: Eighteen people are feared dead after a bus carrying a group of German senior citizens crashed into a truck on a highway in Bavaria early Monday and burst into flames, police said. Thirty people were injured in the early-morning accident, some seriously, while 18 still considered missing “are believed to have died on the burning bus,” police said in a statement. Some 200 emergency crews were at the scene and helicopters whisked away the injured to nearby hospitals. Simple wooden coffins were wheeled in for the remains recovered from the blackened, twisted wreckage of the bus. German Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked the emergency crews involved and sent the government’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, to the scene. “Our thoughts are with the families of the victims and we wish all those who were injured a speedy recovery,” she said. Authorities said forensic specialists were being brought in from Germany‘s federal police office to remove and identify bodies from the charred vehicle. Police spokeswoman Irene Brandenstein said the work was labor intensive because the bus was so badly damaged by the fire. “The investigation of the accident is very complex and time-consuming,” Brandenstein told The Associated Press.


The accident took place around 7 a.m. when the bus rear-ended the trailer-truck at the end of a traffic jam on the A9 highway near Muenchberg in Bavaria, not far from the Czech border. The accident led to long traffic jams on the A9, the main thoroughfare from Berlin to Munich. The highway remained closed on both sides for hours and police tweeted later that the road leading south would be shut down for the entire day. It was not immediately clear what caused the initial traffic jam. Two drivers and 46 passengers were on the bus, Brandenstein said, adding it was not known if the person driving the bus at the time was dead or alive. By the time firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames, the bus was a black, smoking skeleton. Police said the group on the bus was seniors from Saxony in eastern Germany. The German news agency dpa reported that all passengers were Germans. A phone number was activated to provide family members with information.



Salahuddin claims attacks against India and threatens more terror strikes in TV interview



ISLAMABAD: Within a week of being designated ‘global terrorist’+ by the United States, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin appeared for a TV interview on Monday in which he claimed terror attacks on India+ in the past, and also warned that his outfit could strike Indian targets anywhere, any time. “Our focus is on Indian occupation forces, their movement and installations. It is against our code of conduct to target civilians or public places,” he said. “In all operations that we have carried out or are under way, we focus only on the installations of these occupational forces,” said Salahuddin, who had threatened in September 2016 to turn the Kashmir valley “into a graveyard for Indian forces” in an exclusive interview to TOI. “We have the strength and capacity to strike at any time in India. But it would provide an opportunity to New Delhi to malign our just and legitimate struggle in Kashmir,” Salahuddin told Geo News. “We had carried out operations outside Kashmir in the past but gave up when the global perception about militancy changed after 9/11,” Salahuddin told the channel, which did not disclose how the United Jihad Council chief was accessed. Salahuddin said his men would target civilians and politicians who work as spies for Indian forces against his mujahideen, and criticized Pakistan for only extending moral and political support to the Kashmir movement.


“Pakistan is a party to the Kashmir dispute and if it had supported us militarily, we would have earlier liberated the region from Indian control,” he said. Salahuddin denied that Pakistan provides weapons+ to his fighters. “We purchase weapons from the international market and get financial support from Kashmiris spread around the world,” he said. “I can provide you any weapon from the international market if you give me the required amount,” he claimed. Criticizing his designation as global terrorist by the US, he described himself as a freedom fighter. He said Trump’s action has further strengthened him. Two days ago, Salahuddin had called US President Donald Trump “crazy” for the move against him. The State Department declared him a global terrorist during PM Modi’s visit to Washington last week. “Trump’s decision will be thrown out if anyone challenges it in American courts. No other Western nation has endorsed what this crazy Donald Trump has done,” Salahuddin had said at the rally in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, on Saturday. He also refused to challenge Trump’s decision himself but appealed to people to take it up in US courts. “We welcome anyone who challenges Trump’s decision of declaring me terrorist in US courts,” he said.

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