BEST gets GPS, Panic Buttons in all Buses; Common Card from November
Mumbai: BEST has fitted GPS and panic buttons in all its 3,201 buses, including 25 hybrid AC ones. Now, buses can be monitored for live tracking and the panic button can be used by the conductor or passengers in an emergency. BEST also plans a pilot project of a common mobility card for passengers from the first week of November, general manager Surendrakumar Bagde announced on Monday. Bagde, who was interacting with the media as BEST Din is coming up on August 7, said the mobile application for commuters was undergoing last-minute tests. “It will enable commuters to get the expected time of arrival of a bus at stops, using GPS. We will launch the app soon,” he said. He said new passenger friendly features will ensure convenience and comfortable travel for over three million commuters. “Our depots have been modernized, and the bus dispatch/deployment facility has been automated,” he said, adding that work at bus chowkies was also being monitored online. “Buses have been fitted with GPS devices, which will enable us to track the location and speed on a minute-to-minute basis from a control room, and the information can be stored on a data cloud,” he said.
Bagde said the government had directed all agencies, including BEST, to expedite work on One Nation-One Card. “We will soon have the common mobility card, to help you to travel by bus, Metro, Mono or Railways using one card. The pilot run begins in November,” he said, adding that BEST will procure software and card-scanning devices. Meanwhile, the first lot of five AC and five non-AC electric buses is being launched this month, with a new charging infrastructure at Dharavi depot. BEST plans to run all electric buses in the island city initially, with charging facilities at Backbay, Colaba, Worli and Dharavi depots. These will be on long routes, such as Sion-Colaba, Mahim-Churchgate and Byculla-Regal, sources said. BEST plans to get 1,000 more buses under the Central government’s FAME subsidy scheme, wherein the undertaking does not have to pay anything as the Centre will subsidise 60% of the capital cost.
One more Person Dies as Rain Pounds Belagavi District
MAROONED: Most areas of Chikkodi in Belagavi district continued to remain under water on Monday, throwing normal life out of gear.
Belagavi: One more person died as rain continued to wreak havoc in Belagavi district on Monday, with roads and bridges being submerged, crops lost, property damaged and schools and colleges remaining shut. Deputy commissioner SB Bommanhalli has declared a two-day holiday for schools across the district barring Ramdurg taluk which is curiously suffering from a lack of rain — from Tuesday, following incessant rain and collapse of road networks in many areas. Several roads and more than 25 bridges have been under water since the past four days. Maharashtra compounded the woes of locals by releasing more water into the Krishna river — which is already in spate on Monday. About 2.6lakh cusecs were released into the river on Monday, including 1lakh cusecs from the Koyna dam in Pune and 2.3lakh cusecs from Rajapur barrage. As a result, several hectares of standing crops have been destroyed. Authorities also released about 25,000 cusecs from Hidkal dam, which is almost filled to the brim. The water level in the dam stood at 56tmcft against a total storage capacity of 51tmcft.
Authorities have asked people in villages downstream from the dam to shift to safer areas as a precautionary measure. Personnel trained in disaster management from Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre (MLIRC), National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) worked tirelessly through Monday to rescue stranded residents and cattle and to move people away from low-lying areas. Maruti Hariba Jadhav, 52, was washed away at Hulagabali village, Athani taluk, taking the death toll due to rain to three. Officials said Jadhav had jumped into flowing water to feed his cattle, but the current proved too strong. The district administration has moved his family to a safer area. Residents in Athani taluk were disappointed after chief minister BS Yediyurappa cancelled a visit to the taluk. Yediyurappa was scheduled to visit Athani taluk and take stock of the flood situation after conducting an aerial survey of Raichur, Bagalkot and Yadgir districts. Instead, district in-charge secretary Rakesh Singh, Bommanhalli and ZP CEO KV Rajendra, who were in Satti village to welcome the CM, heard grievances of flood-affected people. More than 30 families are housed in relief centres in Satti. Singh instructed authorities to ensure a steady supply of food. He also asked authorities to install toilets near the centre, besides constructing shelters for cattle.
8 Hurt, Thousands Evacuated after Blasts at Russia Ammo Depot
Moscow: Massive explosions at a Russian military ammunition depot in Siberia injured at least eight people and prompted the evacuation of thousands on Monday. Russia’s defence ministry said a fire triggered the explosions at a storage facility for gunpowder charges near the city of Achinsk in eastern Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region. Authorities declared a state of emergency in the region and ordered the evacuation of residents of several districts in Achinsk, as well as towns and villages within 20 kilometers of the depot. Regional Governor Alexander Uss said 6,000 people were being evacuated under the order. Air traffic was suspended within 30km of the munitions site. Videos posted by local residents showed powerful explosions sending plumes of black smoke high into the sky.