News Flash – 6 December 2018

National News



ATM ‘fraud’ hits 40 customers at PNB branch



New Delhi: Cops are probing a suspected ATM fraud after 40 customers of Punjab National Bank alleged that money was siphoned off from their accounts a few minutes after they used an ATM at the Sheikh Sarai branch on Tuesday evening. The customers got “failed transaction” reports after their withdrawal attempts. Six customers have complained to police. Ravi Yadav, a resident of Chirag Dilli, said that he and his mother had gone to withdraw Rs 10,000 from the ATM on Tuesday afternoon, but the transaction failed. “It showed that the ATM had run out of cash. We went to another ATM and withdrew money. However, after some time I got three messages showing Rs 10,000 had been debited from my account. When I approached the bank, they said I had withdrawn the money a few moments ago. I then approached the bank manager with a complaint,” he added. The second complainant, Vikas Kumar, claimed that after withdrawing Rs 9,500 he got a message that his ATM card had been blocked. However, a few minutes later he got an SMS saying Rs 10,000 had been withdrawn from his account. He also lodged a complaint with the bank. The bank officials said they were unable to find out who carried out the fraud and advised the customers to approach police. Cops have contacted the bank and sought CCTV footage from the ATM to identify whether miscreants had fixed card-cloning devices in the card inserting slot. They suspect the crooks have siphoned off a few lakhs. An FIR will be registered after an inquiry into the incident.



Can Government fulfil promise of zero E-way deaths by 2021?


Mumbai: Speeding on the Expressway, in the absence of CCTV coverage or a speed limit notification, has contributed to nearly 40% of fatal accidents on the Mumbai-Pune corridor this year. Given the number of deaths—82 till October—it looks tough for the government to achieve its stated aim of making the highway a zero-fatality stretch within three years. “The reason why the number of fatalities has remained almost the same in the first 10 months of 2018 and 2017 is no change in enforcement. In terms of causal factors of road crashes, we have identified speeding, zigzag driving and not wearing seatbelts. But to control all of these, significant enforcement will be required from the police,” said Piyush Tewari, founder of the NGO Save LIFE Foundation, that entered into an MoU with the state government in 2016 to bring fatalities to zero by 2021-end. Tewari said that good emergency medical care or engineering measures wouldn’t help in instances where a vehicle driving at an extremely high speed collides with another speeding vehicle as instant death is likely. “The specific challenge so far is there’s no notification for speed limit on the Expressway. Signs have been put up in only a few sections, restricting speeds to 30-50kmph. It is critical for every road-owning agency to work with the transport department to have a formal speed limit notification. We have also recommended installing cameras at 50 locations on both sides of the carriageway.


As of now, the highway police only have speed guns, and these too are unusable at night,” said a research officer with the NGO. An investigation by Save-LIFE into accidents that occurred this year showed that cars were the biggest culprits whether it came to speeding (81% of errant vehicles), zigzag driving (61%) or no usage of seat belt (81%). Improper parking or parking off the road has also been an important factor contributing to crashes. A time-wise distribution shows that a majority of crashes occurred between 3am and 6am, likely due to driver fatigue. A senior highway police officer said that a massive campaign against errant motorists was started last month and driving licences were being forwarded to the RTOs for suspension. “We are checking vehicles for tire safety and whether seat belts are being worn in the backseat as well. This is probably the first time in the state that passengers in the backseat are being checked for seat belts,” the officer said. Not wearing seat belts can have disastrous consequences. “Passengers who don’t wear seat-belts can become projectiles during crashes and hit others. Unbuckled passengers can be ejected through the front, rear or side windows, often resulting in death. If a car rolls over, a passenger wearing a seat-belt may not be ejected,” said the officer.



Armed men on 3 bikes loot Rs.40 Lakhs from collection agents

AUDACIOUS: The bullets fired by the robbers damaged the engine of the car due to which the cash collection agents were forced to stop the vehicle.



New Delhi: Four cash collection agents carrying Rs 40 lakh in a WagonR car were robbed on Madho Setu in Ranjeet Nagar on Wednesday afternoon. The robbers, who were on three bikes, fired two rounds at the car, snatched the cash bag and sped away towards Naraina. The incident occurred around 11am. The four agents Ashraf, Anil, Praveen and Bhupendra had collected the cash from liquor shops and other establishments and met near the flyover. They were on their way to deposit the money in a bank on Nangloi Road when they were waylaid by the three bikers. Ashraf told police that the bullets fired by the bikers damaged the engine due to which they were forced to stop the vehicle. Another bullet pierced the windshield and hit the steering wheel, missing the driver by a few inches. The robbers asked them to hand over the cash bag. When they refused, they hit the driver, Anil, with the butt of a pistol and snatched the bag. They also took their mobile phones before fleeing the spot.


The men borrowed a phone from a passerby and informed the PCR and their manager. A team from Ranjeet Nagar police station soon reached the spot to probe the crime. The agents told the cops that the three robbers were wearing helmets and the number plates of their bikes were folded. The place of crime didn’t have a CCTV camera. Police are trying to look for CCTV footages in the nearby colonies to spot the criminals. Police are questioning the agents to establish the sequence of events and their versions are being verified independently. Witnesses said that most people at the crowded place fled after hearing the gunshots. The bikers had also threatened to shoot the onlookers. Additional DCP (central) Amit Sharma said that a case of armed robbery, attempt to murder and under Arms Act has been registered. The role of a company insider who may have tipped off the robbers is also been probed.



Cops to set up STF command centre for better crisis management


Kolkata: The Kolkata Police special task force (STF) will set up a single command centre nicknamed the War Room that can seamlessly manage any major accident, disaster or terror attack in the city. The command centre is likely to come up at the Kolkata Police wireless office at Ripon Street. The War Room will coordinate with all on-ground CCTV footages and monitor activities of suspicious movements. “It will be a combination of our information hub, control room and the response teams. For this, proper co-ordination with other agencies like the disaster management group and the fire brigade is a must,” claimed a source. According to the tender document, the new War Room will have feeds from all available CCTV sources, both belonging to Kolkata traffic police and private ones. The drive to connect all private CCTV feeds to the local police stations has already yielded results. In addition, the cops will receive internet feeds and have separate channels of communication, which will be in touch with the main police control room. There will be multiple feeds so that officers at the command centre are always in touch with those on the ground. One of the major tasks of this command centre will to ensure social media does not add to the trouble in times of crisis.


“While real-time audio and video conferencing will be a key feature, what will set this control room apart, is the futuristic idea of using real-time video analytics and GIS-based software to pinpoint locations and suspects within the shortest possible time,” claimed a well-placed police source. A source added the bidders will have a free hand in designing the centre. “We have invited the bidders to the spot where the command room would be set up before they make their presentation. The last date for Expression of Interest (EOI) has been extended from December 3 to December 10,” said the officer. The war room will combine intelligence gathering with operations and aims to ensure all the players are in sync, said an officer. “Now, it will become a collaborative effort where everything is on the table and all intelligence report is shared across the board,” he said.



Robotic device keeps eye on E-W Micro-Tunneling


Kolkata: Robotic technology is being used to collate precise data to keep an eye on even the slightest subsidence or ground settlement around the existing Esplanade Metro stations. This kind of robust monitoring has been introduced, given a “high-risk” underground excavation of a micro-tunnel is going at 8m below the Metro tracks at Esplanade to remove steel beams or joists that have come in the way of the twin East-West Metro tunnels. The steel beams have been at the spot since the construction of the north-south Metro in the early 1980s. When the East-West Metro’s tunnel boring machines (TBM)s burrowed below heritage structures, such as Writers’ Buildings, conventional geo-technical instruments, manned by engineers of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), which is implementing the East-West Metro corridor connecting Howrah to Salt Lake’s Sector V, were deployed. But given that the current digging is being carried out underneath a Metro station, which is used by thousands every day, the authorities have opted for a precise optical monitoring (POM), using a set of advanced instruments to obtain valuable data relating to subsidence. “This robotic system can provide unattended 24×7 operation, wireless communications for data transfer and web-based reporting, which provides alarms and integration with data from standard geo-technical instrumentation,” said an engineer. “POM includes components, like total stations, prisms and a processing software”. The robotic total stations operate autonomously, obtain frequent measurements and can achieve accuracy approaching that of standard geo-technical instruments. They also measure angles and distances to the optical prisms, which are fixed to the critical points, in this case, the 45m stretch along the Esplanade Metro station tracks. Sixty optical prisms have been placed in two rows—15 in each row—atop the rails of each Metro track on either side.


Placed at 3m interval, the prisms are supposed to detect the smallest subsidence in the Esplanade Metro station complex during micro-tunnelling, the engineer said. The advanced “new Austrian tunnelling method (NATM)” has been adopted to remove the joists coming in the way of the East-West Metro’s Esplanade-Sealdah tunnelling. NATM is the latest technology that excavates tunnels in tight spaces and can cope with difficult ground conditions. So far, the ground movements could be greatly minimized, engineers said. “Ahead of the main tunnelling, while the largely empirical predictive methods will remain much the same, the recent database of ground movement will make the main tunnelling more pre-emptive and precautionary. This will help us quantify the reduced impact of tunnelling,” said an engineer. Using NATM, four steel joists have been sliced till now, five more are left. At the nucleus of the POM is a software, which applies statistically weighted adjustments to the measurements and outputs spatial coordinates for each prism. “Changes in coordinates indicate movement,” explained the engineer. The software imports process checks for missing data, tests measurements against alarm thresholds and then stores measurement in the project database. Since the micro-tunnelling will be followed by the main tunnelling, the robotic monitoring instruments will continue to remain installed at the spot for the next six months. “By then, the twin TBMs will have passed the Esplanade crossing,” the engineer said. “The robust database demonstrating NATM’s ability to control ground movements will give us confidence to proceed with the main tunnelling”. Speed of trains approaching Esplanade have been reduced from 25kmph to 10kmph as a precautionary measure against ground movement because of the micro-tunnelling below.



Cops to launch paid service to help verify tenants and maids



Chennai: The Tamil Nadu police are set to launch a paid service that allows people to verify people seeking to be tenants, domestic help and jobs with the help of the police department. The service, which also covers self-verification, will be inaugurated next week, a police officer said. Any individual can apply on the state police website, requesting details for verification, along with a consent letter from the person to be verified. If verification is sought without consent, the application is rejected and the applicant will be probed. The state has fixed the charges at Rs.500 per application for individuals and Rs.1,000 per application for private companies. Police will verify the identity of the person, their present address and their involvement in any criminal case as per police records. District crime branch officers and city intelligence wing officials will be responsible for verification and will have to issue the report within 15 days from the receipt of the letter. The service comes in the wake of the recent murder of an elderly couple in Avadi. Jagadeesan, 67, and his partner Vilashini, 61, are believed to have been killed by their help Podilappu Suresh Kumar, who is absconding with his family. Director of the state crime record bureau Seema Agarwal said, “This is going to be another feather in the Tamil Nadu police department’s cap. Our team worked hard for the past six months to bring out the system and to make the police website more user friendly. We have received more patronage from the public after we launched lost document report and download option for accident documents”.



International News



Farmers join protests, France says open to more concessions

Students joined the demonstrations and set fires outside schools to protest a new university application system on Tuesday.



Paris: Trade unions and farmers pledged on Wednesday to join nationwide protests against President Emmanuel Macron, as concessions by the government failed to stem the momentum of the most violent demonstrations France has seen in decades. The “yellow vest” protests began over a plan to raise fuel taxes, but by the time PM Edouard Philippe bowed to three weeks of violence and suspended the plan on Tuesday, the protesters were demanding much more. Students set fires outside high schools to protest a new university application system. Small-business owners blocked roads to protest high taxes. Pensioners marched to protest the president’s perceived elitism. And on Wednesday, France’s largest farmer’s union said it will launch protests next week, after trucking unions called for a rolling strike.


Trade unions have not so far played a role in the improvised movement, but are now trying to capitalise on the growing public anger. A statement from the CGT and FO trucking unions called for action beginning Sunday to protest a cut in overtime rates, and asked for a meeting with the transportation minister. Farmers union FNSEA said it would fight to help farmers earn a better income. The government was clearly on the back foot. A day after announcing a six-month suspension of the fuel tax rises, it opened the door for more concessions as spokesman Benjamin Griveaux did not rule out bringing back a wealth tax that was slashed after Macron came to power. “If something isn’t working, we’re not dumb we’ll change it,” Griveaux told RTL radio, though he said “the issue is not on the table for now”.



Alaska Selfie-Takers told to stay off Quake-Buckled Road


Alaska (US): With shockwaves still emanating from last week’s powerful earthquake, authorities in Alaska are urging the selfie-taking public to stay away from a road that was mangled. Some photos posted online show people climbing into cracks on the buckled road north of Anchorage state trooper spokesman Jonathon Taylor said on Tuesday. ‘It looks sort of like shattered pieces of glass which makes a very fascinating visual. But it is also unsafe to be there,’ he said.

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