Air pollutant levels drop in 3 years, but still in red: Report
Mumbai: The air quality in Mumbai has improved in the last three years, with the average levels of pollutants dipping significantly, according to the BMC’s Environment Status Report (ESR) 2017-18 released recently. However, the levels of the air pollutants remain much above the Central Pollution Control Board’s permissible limits. According to the report, the annual average PM 10 (particulate matter lesser than 10 microns) levels in 2017-18 for the nine locations monitored by System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) were above the permissible limit of 60 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air)—overall average for Mumbai was 93 µg/m3. The average levels of the more hazardous PM 2.5 (lesser than 2.5 microns) were between 38 and 68 µg/m3 this year—overall average for Mumbai was 54 µg/ m3. Only Worli recorded an annual average lesser than the permissible limit of 40 µg/m3. The most critical of all air pollutants, PM —a mix of solid and liquid particles, including smoke and arsenic—gets lodged in lung tissues. At the four monitoring sites of BMC, nitrogen dioxide levels were in the range of 62 to 76 g/m3 (grams per cubic metre of air) this year, much above the permissible limit of 40 g/m3. High levels of PM and nitrogen dioxide could be hazardous to health. “Short-term exposures to both would increase the risk of respiratory symptoms. For instance, increase in exposure to particulate matter is linked to increase in respiratory symptoms, hospital visits and increased risk of cardio respiratory illness,” said Sumi Mehta, environmental health expert.
Dr Altaf Patel, director of medicine at Jaslok Hospital, said, “Our priorities are imbalanced as we building taller skyscrapers and more highways but not looking at striving to give cleaner air to our citizens. Not able to inhale clean air only leads to an increase in respiratory illnesses like asthma as well as heart disease”. Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR, said it is necessary to further study the source of emissions to achieve permissible limits. “Mumbai has the sea breeze washing out the pollutants but it cannot depend on that. The sources of pollution vary at each location, so it is necessary that we identify these sources and create an action plan to tackle the pollution levels,” he said. Activists say the report doesn’t reflect the ground situation. “We are witnessing an increase in the complaints about air pollution. One of the major causes of it is the unorganized industries sector. Unauthorised burning takes place at many of these industries which goes unchecked. Besides, the dust generated from the Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) plants is also very dangerous and these still continue to operate within the city limits. There is a need to move these out immediately,” said Godfrey Pimenta from NGO, Watchdog Foundation. Similarly, Khar-based activist Zoru Bathena said, “The three locations where PM levels are above prescribed levels have heavy traffic. People today want to use own vehicles… Another source of pollution is the heavy construction… There is fine dust seen coming from construction work which only leads to worsening the air quality”.
Tempo hit by landslide falls into Uttarkashi gorge, 14 killed
On Monday, fourteen people were killed and one was left seriously injured after a tempo traveller was hit by a landslide and fell into a 100-metre deep gorge in Uttarkashi district.
Uttarkashi: Fourteen people were killed and one was seriously injured after a tempo traveller was hit by a landslide and fell into a 100-metre deep gorge in Uttarkashi district on Monday. The incident occurred at Shanglai on the Rishikesh-Gangotri highway, when the tempo traveller, carrying 15 passengers, was returning from Gangotri shrine, district disaster management officer Devendra Patwal said. A girl aged 15, who was injured, has been referred from district hospital to a hospital in Dehradun. Another girl, Radha (13) died on her way to the hospital. Teams of the State Disaster Response Force and Border Roads Organisation led by district magistrate Dr Ashish Chauhan have recovered all bodies. SDM (Bhatwari) Devendra Negi said, “BRO is working to restore traffic movement at Gangotri national highway by removing debris from the area”.
Weather Gods Smile, Delhi Doesn’t
New Delhi: Monday began on the same note for Delhi as the previous two days: early morning showers kept the temperatures down, but there was havoc on the roads. The capital received 35.9mm of rain till 8.30am and recorded another 41.6mm by 5:30pm. The maximum temperature came down by several notches to 29.5 degrees Celsius. Humidity levels, however, stayed in the range of 85-100% through the day. “Rain is expected to continue this week. Most places will record light-to-moderate activity and the maximum temperature is expected to hover between 30 and 32 degrees Celsius. September, so far, has received more rain than is generally seen in the first few days,” a met official said. The Lodhi Road and Ridge stations recorded 25.9 and 24mm of rain, respectively, till 8.30am, while Palam received 8.7mm. Rain between 2.5mm and 15.5mm is considered “light” and between 15.6 and 64.4mm as “moderate”. Anything above 64.5mm in a 24-hour duration is “heavy”, according to IMD. Delhi has seen 86mm of rain till 8.30am in September so far, far higher than the average of 21.7mm during the first three days of the month. Met office said, similar conditions are likely to prevail over the next seven days. “The forecast for Tuesday is for cloudy skies with light-to-moderate showers. The maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 30 and 25 degrees Celsius, respectively,” an official said.
BSF jawan gets DU students arrested for ATM fraud
New Delhi: A BSF jawan busted an ATM racket run by two Delhi University students and got them arrested. Police said that the youths — Aniket and Gulshan — used to tamper with the ATM keypads in south Delhi and illegally withdraw money after the user left the kiosk. BSF jawan S Murugesan got suspicious of their activities after his transaction failed. He came out and waited as the boys went in. He soon received a message that Rs 10,000 had been withdrawn from his account. He then caught the duo and handed them over to the police. Police said that the accused used to paste glue on one of the keys due to which the users could not complete their transactions. The duo would remove the glue and complete the transaction after the user left the kiosk. Murugesan, who is posted with the CGO complex, had gone to the ATM near Tigri to withdraw money for his household expenses. Murugesan said that when he went to the Kotak Mahindra ATM, he saw one of the youths stepping out. Murugesan swiped his card and punched in his ATM pin, but when he pressed the “enter” button the machine did not respond. He tried it a few more times, but every time the transaction failed. Suspecting foul play, Murugesan stepped out and stood outside the ATM, after some time one of the youths entered the ATM, removed the glue like substance and withdrew Rs 10,000. Murugesan received a message on his mobile phone and he chased after them. The youths tried to flee on a motorcycle, but Murugesan caught hold of them. DCP (south) Vijay Kumar said that a case of cheating has been registered against the youths, both residents of Sangam Vihar and pursuing graduation from School of Open Learning, DU.
Cash custodian decamps with Rs.76 Lakh’s from 4 ATM’s
Bengaluru: A custodian with a cash management services firm has gone missing after he allegedly took away Rs 76.4 lakh from four ATMs using their passwords, which he had with him to load cash. Ashoknagar police registered a case of cheating and misappropriation on Sunday based a complaint lodged by Shatrughna Prasad Singh, branch manager of SiS Prosegur Holdings Pvt. Ltd. In his complaint, Singh alleged Shivaraju B, a custodian of the firm, is the suspect. According to police, Shivaraju and KS Manjunath were handling a route, including OTC Road, to load cash in ATMs of their customers HDFC and ICICI. When Shivaraju remained absent from August 22, the firm deployed another custodian, Veeru Velu. Velu and Manjunath found cash had dried up in a few ATMs on OTC Road. A verification revealed Shivaraju had allegedly entered the ATM kiosks, opened the machines and decamped with the money.
As Leptospirosis claims 19 lives, Kerala to maintain 3-week vigil
Kozhikode: After 71 confirmed cases and 123 suspected cases of leptospirosis were reported from different parts of the state on Monday, health minister KK Shailaja asked the public not to panic by saying that the situation was under control. She added that the state would maintain a vigil for another three weeks to keep a check on the cases while taking quick preventive measures. Addressing the media after an emergency meeting with health officials in Kozhikode, Shailaja said the government has issued a directive to doctors of all government and private hospitals to provide treatment to patients exhibiting symptoms of the disease. The total number of leptospirosis-related death rose to 19 after Vadakara resident Narayani (80) died on Monday. Of the 19 deaths, seven are confirmed cases of leptospirosis while the remaining are suspected cases. In Kozhikode, the number of suspected cases rose to 209 from August 1 to September 3. On Monday, the number of confirmed case rose to 104.
The minister asked medical officers(MO) to follow a 30-day micro action plan to combat leptospirosis. She said the government is expecting dengue cases in the coming days and directed MOs to carry out an intensive drive with the help of LSG bodies to eliminate mosquito breeding spots and ensure removal of waste. She sought the formation of ‘Arogya Sena’ covering 20 houses in all panchayats to ensure chlorination of water sources within respective limits. Shailaja informed that health department had received guidance from the expert panel of WHO, ICMR, NCD, NCDC, Union health ministry and Manipal Institute of Virus Research. Referring to the false message on social media, she said a directive has bene given to the DGP to act against Jacob V for spreading a false message. Meanwhile health officials in Palakkad said that three persons Prakashan (43); Nirmala (50) and Krishnankutty all from Mundur––died over the past two days and 33 were admitted in hospitals with the symptoms of leptospirosis. Two suspected leptospirosis deaths were reported in Kottayam after PV George (62) from Kadanad and MR Divakaran (60) from Thalayolaparambu died. One case each was confirmed in Kottayam municipal region and Athirampuzha on Sunday.
Inside job? Burglar knew museum contours
Hyderabad: A person who knew topography of Nizam’s Museum, including the location and angles of CCTV cameras there, may have committed the offence. Police suspect the culprit got on to the terrace of the museum from one of the buildings located on its rear side. The offence took place in the third gallery, which is also called City Museum. The entire premises are covered with 10 CCTVs and one camera was specifically set up at an angle to focus on the tiffin box and tea set. Knowing about it, the burglar scaled the wall and tilted the camera away from the artefacts, sources said. The culprit, who knew there was no CCTV coverage on the terrace, reached the museum building from one of the buildings on its rear side. The museum authorities, after verifying CCTV footage, said the offence took place immediately after the museum closed at 5pm on Sunday. However, after preliminary investigation, police suspect the offence took place around 3am on Monday. In the CCTV footage, the burglar’s back was seen. The security agency, which oversees security arrangements, deploys three guards during daytime and five at nights. They keep doing rounds in the corridor, but they did not know that an offence was taking place inside the museum until Monday morning, when the door’s seals were opened. “Every morning after removing the seals, we clean the galleries and verify whether the artefacts are intact or not. It is only after that we allow public to visit the galleries,” Syed Ali Razvi, security officer of HEH The Nizam’s Museum, said. Police quizzed the security and museum staff as part of investigation. It is learnt that the current security agency took over responsibility of the museum three months ago.
Burglar slipped in with ease despite five guards on duty
Hyderabad: The burglar broke into HEH The Nizam’s Museum at Purani Haveli with ease even though Nizam’s Jubilee Pavilion Trust claims five security guards were manning the building when the theft of valuables took place on Sunday night. Clues Team experts, who visited the scene of offence, said it was a simple operation that needed no sophistication. According to them, the burglary exposed the negligence of the Trust in protecting the museum. City top cops also suspect that the number of security guards could be only on paper, and were of the view that the museum is “badly protected”. Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar told TOI, “I have visited the crime scene and found that burglars could easily enter the museum from the rooftop by walking on ladders from neighbouring buildings. We are verifying whether the security guards shown on paper were really on the ground. The cameras are eight years old, and half of them are dysfunctional, and some of them are focusing elsewhere than the key focus areas”.
Heritage experts expressed anguish over the theft and feared the precious items may be melted down by the culprits for gold and precious stones. Deccan Heritage Trust managing trustee Mohammed Saifullah told TOI, “It is an unfortunate incident where Nizam’s tiffin box and cup and saucer have been stolen. I hope police would make every effort to recover the stolen articles. We fear that the thieves may melt it down for gold not knowing the value of the precious artefacts. Police should recover them before they do it. If they are melted, it would be an irreparable loss”. Incidentally, there is a move to evict the Museum from the premises of Purani Haveli. Mukarram Jah Trust for Education and Learning had earlier served legal notices on Nizam’s Jubilee Pavilion Trust to vacate the premises, which was leased to it. Nawab Najaf Ali Khan of Nizam Family Welfare Association said, “There is clear negligence on behalf of the Trust authorities in protecting the treasure. It is high time the security be handed over to CISF or SPF (of the state). We can’t afford to lose the great treasure of the Nizams”.
200-year-old Museum in Brazil goes up in Smoke
Rio de Janeiro: A massive fire ripped through Rio de Janeiro’s treasured National Museum, one of Brazil’s oldest, in what the nation’s president says is a “tragic” loss of knowledge and heritage. Even before the embers had begun to cool early Monday, grief over the huge cultural loss had given way to anger at across-the-board budget cuts threatening Brazil’s multi-cultural heritage. “It’s not enough just to cry, it is necessary that the federal government, which has resources, helps the museum to reconstruct its history,” the museum’s director Alexandre Keller said in front of the devastated building. The fire, the cause of which remains unknown, broke out late Sunday. The museum’s collection included art and artifacts from Greco-Roman times and Egypt, as well as the oldest human fossil found within today’s Brazilian borders, known as “Luzia”. It also housed the skeleton of a dinosaur found in the Minas Gerais region along with the largest meteorite discovered in Brazil, which was named “Bendego” and weighed 5.3 tonnes. Pieces covering a period of nearly four centuries — from the arrival of the Portuguese in the 1500s until the declaration of the first Brazilian republic in 1889 — were also stored there. “This is a tragic day for Brazil,” President Michel Temer said in a statement. “Two hundred years of work and research and knowledge are lost.” Brazil’s culture minister Sergio Sa Leitao tweeted that “there will be little or nothing left of the palace and the exhibits”.
Eight shot at apartment complex in California
Los Angeles: Eight people were shot at a San Bernardino, California apartment complex, including a 17-year-old boy who was in critical condition, police said on Monday. Police in the Southern California city were unsure what motivated the shooting late on Sunday in an outdoor common area where a group of people had gathered, said San Bernardino police spokesman Captain Richard Lawhead. “Right now, nobody is cooperating and providing us with the information we need to help us locate a suspect or what led to the shooting or anything else,” Lawhead said in a phone interview. Two people, including the 17-year-old boy, were hospitalized in critical condition, Lawhead said. The conditions of the other six people were not immediately known. Victims were taken to three hospitals. Police initially said 10 people had been hit by gunfire at the apartment complex, but Lawson later said a total of eight people had been shot. The shooting happened during a hot holiday weekend in San Bernardino, a city of more than 216,000 residents about 96 km east of Los Angeles.