News Flash – 4 September 2019

National News



Fire at ONGC’s Uran Plant Kills GM, 3 CISF Constables

Chemicals in the storm water drain may have combusted, feel officials.



Navi Mumbai: A major fire broke out at the ONGC oil and gas processing plant at Nagaon village in Uran, around 30km from here, killing four persons, including the plant’s general manager, and injuring two others on Tuesday morning. Fire-fighters controlled it in four hours before it could turn into a bigger disaster. C N Rao, GM and resident production supervisor, got trapped in the blaze as he rushed into the plant to check the situation. Three CISF fire-fighters head constable E Nayaka and constable’s M K Paswan and S P Kushwahawere killed when their tender caught fire. Their colleagues, constables Mahesh K R and Raj Shinde, sustained severe burns and are admitted in hospital.



CNG Supply Choked, 40% Autos, Taxis stay off Roads


Mumbai: CNG supply to the city, Thane and Navi Mumbai was badly affected after the fire at the ONGC installation at Uran on Tuesday morning, bringing down the number of public transport vehicles on roads, like buses, taxis and autos which largely run on gas. More than 40% autos as well as taxis stayed off the roads as 44 CNG pumps of the 131 across the city and suburbs were completely shut and supply sputtered in others. Coinciding with heavy rains, this compounded the misery of commuters on the first working day after Ganesh Chaturthi, and many complained of major refusals and very steep surge in app cab fares. CNG supply was affected on August 16 too after a technical problem, again at the Uran plant, which lead to lower volume of supply as well as low quality gas. CNG is usually routed from the ONGC unit to Mahanagar Gas Limited’s (MGL) City Gate Station at Wadala. More than 200 outlets in MMR get their supply from here. After the fire, ONGC diverted gas supply to its Hazira unit. The circuitous routing of gas via Gujarat as well as low quality and pressure meant supply to the pumps was poor throughout the day.



The services improved by evening as supply restarted from ONGC to Wadala. Auto union leader Thamby Kurien, however, said the quality of gas was yet to be nomalised till late evening and the queues were more than double than on normal days. “We ensured that supply to domestic PNG consumers was maintained on priority, without interruption. However, many CNG stations across Mumbai could not operate due to low pressure in the pipeline,” said an MGL spokesperson. Apart from public transport, nearly 3 lakh private cars in Mumbai region have now switched to the green fuel and these car owners were affected as well. Several app based taxis like Ola and Uber ply on CNG and they stayed off the roads, said sources. For those who did ventured out, the long queues proved a nightmare. “I had to rush to a pump in the eastern suburbs to fill up fuel as the one I use in the west was shut,” said an auto driver, adding that the long queues meant fights at a few pumps. Navbhartiya Shivahtuk Sanghthana union vice-president Maqbool Mujawar said it took three-four hours of waiting at some pumps. “Drivers lost a day’s income which comes to a minimum Rs 500-600. The commuters too suffered as many autos were not on the roads”.



Heavy Rain Forecast Today; Navi Mumbai Breaches Season Record of 2005



Mumbai: In keeping with this season’s trend of heavy rain in the first week of the month, several parts of Mumbai witnessed significant activity on Monday and Tuesday. While the IMD Colaba observatory crossed the 2000-mm rainfall mark on Tuesday evening, in the Navi Mumbai municipal region, 164.75mm rainfall from 8.30am on Monday till 5.30pm on Tuesday, pushed the area’s season’s total to 3373.41mm, the highest since 2005. Weathermen have issued an ‘orange’ alert for Mumbai, Raigad and Thane for Wednesday, with heavy to very heavy rain forecast at isolated places. While a ‘red’ alert signifies the text ‘warning (take action)’, orange and yellow signify ‘alert’ and ‘watch’ respectively. The downpour is expected to continue till Wednesday, after which the wet spell may remain, but the intensity may reduce, they added. IMD officials said a strong revival of monsoon resulted in very heavy rain at 23 places in Konkan and Goa over the 24 hours ending 8.30am on Tuesday. Several locations in Konkan recorded triple digit rainfall over the period, including Thane-Belapur (190mm), Uran (170mm) and Ratnagiri and Thane (140mm). Anupam Kashyapi, head of weather, IMD Pune, told TOI that there was significant clouding over Maharashtra on Tuesday with strong westerlies coming from the Arabian Sea. “We expect the rainfall activity to reduce from September 5 in Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha, but Konkan would continue to remain on isolated heavy rain warning till September 6-7,” he said.



Weathermen said multiple weather systems are giving Mumbai heavy rain. “There is a cyclonic circulation over the Gujarat region and wind sheer zone is extending from North Konkan and Goa near Mumbai to North Bay of Bengal, which is also enhancing the surge. There is also a low pressure area over Orissa which will move in that westerly direction… Till Wednesday, a few heavy spells are expected to continue and thereafter the intensity will reduce,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice-president, meteorology & climate change, Skymet. In the 24-hour period ending Tuesday 8.30am, the Santacruz observatory recorded 131.4mm of rainfall and the Colaba observatory 80mm. And in the 12-hour period ending Tuesday 8.30pm, the Santacruz observatory recorded 53.4mm rainfall and the Colaba observatory 68mm. The season’s total rainfall recorded by the Colaba observatory till Tuesday 5.30pm was 2011mm. This monsoon, most of the intense rain activity in July and August was recorded in the first week of the month. In the 24-hour period between July 1-2, the suburbs recorded 375mm of rainfall, and in August, 78.2% of the month’s required rainfall was received till August 5, after which it was comparatively dry. The required August rainfall is 585.2mm.



Burglar Empties Jewel Store, tries to Outsmart Cops



Mumbai: When a burglary was reported at a jewellery store in Andheri, the police gathered from the modus operandi that the culprit was a history-sheeter. They pored over crime files of 40 police stations, but it was only when an informant provided a tipoff that could they track him. Sikandar Shaikh (50) has been arrested for breaking into jeweller Utkarsh Shah’s store on July 7, and making off with jewellery worth Rs 10.4 lakh. “Shaikh neither uses a cellphone nor has a fixed address. As he has been booked more than 30 times, he knew the police’s strategy of tracking down burglars,” a police officer said.



Gang of Women Thieves Busted with Rs.10L Jewellery



New Delhi: Five women, who have been striking at jewellery shops across the city posing as customers, were caught by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police. Police also recovered jewellery they had stolen from a shop in south Delhi. The cops are trying to contact the owners of the other jewellery shops where they had struck earlier. Additional CP (crime) Rajiv Ranjan said that the women would enter shops posing as customers and engage the shopkeepers in conversations, while asking the other executives to show them different kinds of jewellery. They would then quietly lift small pieces from the trays. After some time, they would leave saying that the jewellery was not to their liking. The women, Rekha, Boby, Sunita, Kaushal and Shimla all residents of a JJ colony in Nand Nagri were caught along with jewellery worth Rs 10 lakh by a team led by ACP Jasbir Malik, when they had gathered near the Tahirpur crossing to dispose of the stolen jewellery.



During questioning the women told police that all of them were related and would travel in a group of four or five. The gang used to first do a recce and target jewellery shops where the employees were women, since it would be easy for them to engage in a conversation. They would pose as family members of a businessman and talk about expensive jewellery among themselves. They would ask the shopkeeper to open multiple boxes for them to see the designs. During this two members of the gang would start lifting jewellery from the tray when the shopkeeper turned to pull out a box. On Monday they had struck at three shops near Madanpur Khadar.



Dengue Hits 2,000, Eatala Mum on Deaths


Hyderabad: Around 50 dengue deaths are suspected to have taken place in the state so far this year, many of which took place last month. State health authorities who are currently verifying the cases have not made any official announcement on the figure yet. As per official statistics, 530 confirmed cases of dengue were reported in the state over the last 25 days. With cases pouring in from government and private hospitals, health officials held a series of meetings over the last two days to review the situation. A total of 2,113 cases have been reported, so far, this year as compared to just 1,012 during the corresponding time last year. When asked about the deaths, state health minister Eatala Rajender said, “We cannot say how many died of dengue this year. The reason for all the deaths recorded in the hospitals will be analysed to check whether they were caused by viral fever, dengue or influenza and then cross checked by an expert committee before an announcement can be made. We can only make an announcement after the entire process is concluded next year.” The minister however did not confirm or refute the number of suspected dengue deaths being verified by the government.



In the last two months, around 200 cases of dengue were reported at state-run Gandhi Hospital while another 171 cases were registered at Osmania General Hospital, but there was only one suspected dengue death. “In many of these cases, the patients had other co-morbid conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure and heart disease among others. In such cases, the death is not declared as a dengue death although the death occurs due to dengue. Therefore, official numbers declared by the health department is usually low,” admitted a senior official from the department. The number of suspected dengue cases has increased to such a level that the state health department may be forced to go back on its earlier decision to carry out all tests at Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM). The department is now considering an agreement with private diagnostic centres for carrying out dengue tests for free. Meanwhile, outpatient services at government hospitals have been extended to the evening given the large inflow of patients with symptoms of dengue and other fevers. Times View: After months of denial, the government seems to have finally woken up to dengue deaths in Telangana, but it needs to do more and roll out a detailed prevention plan in educational institutes and offices, where dengue cases are rising. A massive awareness campaign should also be launched by the government for all communities, explaining ways to counter the dreaded virus.



Burglars Strike at Adibatla ATM, Scoot with Rs.4.5L

The CCTV cameras inside the ATM were damaged and there was no security guard when the incident occurred. There were two machines in the room but one was burgled.



Hyderabad: Burglars prised open an ATM with a gas cutter and stole Rs.4.46 lakh cash at Adibatla in the wee hours of Tuesday. Police said CCTV camera was damaged and there was no security guard at the kiosk. The burglary occurred at Indicash ATM at Manneguda in the early hours of Tuesday, when the security guard was not available. According to police, there were two ATM machines at the kiosk and the offenders only stole cash from one of the machines. The heist came to light on Tuesday morning around 11am, when the security guard came to the ATM centre, found the broken machine and alerted the police. “The offender or offenders had used gas cutting machine and prised open the ATM machine. The burglars stole Rs.4.46 lakh. However, the other ATM machine inside the room was left untouched,” Adibatla inspector P Narender said. “We have not identified the burglars yet and are still to find out how many offenders were involved in the incident. CCTV cameras inside the ATM centre were damaged,” the officer added. A burglary case has been registered.



Metro Zone Turns into Crash Course

(From top) Portion of the house that collapsed on Durga Pithuri Lane on Tuesday morning; cracks on a house on Shyankra Para Lane and a kid takes photographs on his mobile when the house collapsed on Durga Pithuri Lane.



Kolkata: At least two more buildings on Durga Pithuri Lane and Shyankra Para Lane collapsed and cracks surfaced on several other structures on these two lanes as well as the adjacent Gour Dey Lane and Hidaram Banerjee Lane on Tuesday. A Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) official said Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) has already identified 55 buildings in this zone as highly vulnerable, including the 13 which the government agency wants to raze immediately. The civic body fears that the number of damaged structures may cross 100. Around 11am, a century-old and recently renovated three-storey building belonging to Jayanta Seal collapsed around 10.30am. Such was the impact that the entire area remained under dust for about five minutes. “I was on the terrace of another building checking the condition of my house when the one at 13A Durga Pithuri Lane collapsed. It felt like an earthquake and the entire area was covered in dust as we all ran out for safety. Even cops guarding the area ran for cover,” said Sandip Shaw, who owns the house right opposite the one that collapsed. Later in the evening, the interiors of another house on Shyankra Para Lane came crashing down sending KMRC workers near the alley run for safety. Cracks were spotted on several other buildings in the area on Tuesday after which residents started leaving them. Realising the expanse of the cracks, KMRC and KMC engineers, along with cops, started making rounds of the area to check cracks on houses and find out if residents are needed to be relocated.



“Till Monday, our house was safe and it had no cracks. But from today morning, a number of cracks started appearing at different floors. I have a 14-year-old son whose exams are due in few days and I can’t take a chance living in this building. We ourselves asked the engineers to visit our house and on their advice we left it with all our essential belongings to an accommodation selected by them,” said Sumana Laha, a resident of Durga Pithuri Lane, whose house was declared safe even till a day before. With more buildings facing the danger of getting collapsed in and around Durga Pithuri Lane and Shyankra Para Lane, the civic body has decided to keep a close watch on all dilapidated buildings. However, a section of KMC buildings department officials was taken aback when they visited the affected area and found major cracks appearing on several other buildings there. A KMC official on Tuesday told TOI that the number of buildings that could be heavily damaged after Saturday’s incident may cross 100. Till Monday evening, the KMRC and KMC joint inspection highlighted the sorry state of 20 buildings, 11of which needed demolition. “But the number of buildings belonging to high risk category is rising every day due to subsidence. The KMRC has alerted us about 55 buildings where we may start an evacuation process. But the actual number of affected buildings could go beyond 100 as major cracks are being seen on the outer walls of many other buildings making them structurally unsafe,” said a KMC official. KMC has roped in structural engineers to conduct a structural stability test on the buildings which have developed cracks. They will also engage experts for soil tests sin the area.



International News



Hurricane Dorian Pounds Bahamas


Bahamas: A woman escapes her flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian, now a Category 2 storm, finally began to slowly inch away from the Bahamas on Tuesday, after pummeling the islands with unrelenting rain and winds. The storm, which hit the Northern Bahamas as one of the strongest storms on record in the Atlantic, remained stationary just north of Grand Bahama Island, delivering powerful winds and ceaseless downpours that have flooded neighbourhoods, destroyed homes and killed at least five people. The hurricane, now with 177kmph wind speed, was expected to start turning north near Florida’s eastern coast by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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