News Flash – 6 June 2017

National News



‘Baahubali’ rocket GSLV Mk-III has perfect launch



SRIHARIKOTA: The country took another step towards establishing itself in the global heavy payload market, successfully launching its most powerful rocket, GSLV Mk III, on Monday. After the rocket, nicknamed “Fat Boy”, fired by a high-thrust indigenous cryogenic engine, lifted off at 5.28pm from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a four tone communications satellite, GSAT 19, the country’s heaviest, was placed in geosynchronous transfer orbit 15.53 minutes later, a few seconds earlier than scheduled. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has now demonstrated its mastery in developing a cryogenic engine, a technology denied to it years ago. The launch also proves the homegrown launch vehicle’s capability of hurling up to four payloads into higher orbits. ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar said, “The GSLV Mk III needs just one more developmental flight, planned in a year, before it can be declared operational”. The boosters of satellite GSAT 19 would be fired at 9.30am on Tuesday to make a series of man oeuvres in the next two days so that it would be placed in its orbital slot in two weeks, he said.

The launch demonstrated an indigenous cryogenic engine, in the works since 2002, a strong foundation for ambitious future projects, including Chandraayan II, scheduled for the first quarter of 2018, and a manned mission. It also showed the capability to make a next-generation satellite with a high reach. The satellite contains 50 new technologies which will be its mainstay in the next decade. The mood was upbeat at mission control where scientists burst into applause when the cryogenic stage started to burn. On its maiden flight, the CE-20 engine was operational for 640 seconds. Congratulating the scientists and others involved in the mission, Kiran Kumar said it was a historic day. “The entire team has worked since 2002. The vehicle carried the next-generation satellite”. Dr. K Sivan, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre director, said it was the commencement of complex technologies -a vehicle that can carry twice the payload weight and a high throughput satellite. “It is the continued efforts of the team and industry contribution”. Satish Dhawan Space Centre director P Kunhikrishnan said ISRO had made two new technologies for GSLV Mk III at the launch pad. “We made an acoustic suppression unit, which is a tower containing 600 tonnes of water, and a solid propellant plant to prepare the 200 tonnes each of propellant loaded in each of the motors.



The suppression unit splashed the water on the rocket when it lifted off.” Satish Dhawan Space Centre director P Kunhikrishnan said integration for the next launch of PSLV C38 was on simultaneously at the first launch pad. “It is planned for the next half of the month. The next GSLV Mk III will be integrated in the new vehicle assembly, which will be three times bigger,” he said. GSAT-19 carried transponders and a geostationary radiation spectrometer which will monitor and study the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components. Kiran Kumar said the immediate requirement was to improve the launch frequency of PSLVs and undertake at least two GSLV Mk II launches per year. “NASA’s synthetic aperture radar will be launched using a Mk II rocket. The cost of doing the launches in India is cheaper than going abroad. At the cost of hiring a launch vehicle abroad, we can make a launch vehicle and satellite here,” he said. Commenting on commercialization of the GSLV launch, he said “with every launch credibility will go up and customers will have confidence, and it will also bring down the insurance premium”. On whether India would go abroad for future launches, he said the country had not used foreign launch vehicles to put satellites in lower Earth orbit since 1995.



Mumbai more aware? Fire calls fell to 8-year low last year


MUMBAI: The Mumbai fire brigade received 15,216 calls in 2016-17, It’s lowest in eight years. Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale attributed the drop to increased awareness about fire safety among Mumbaikars. Since 2004-05, fire calls, which include even those made in case of house collapses, oil spills and for animal rescue, have exceeded 10,000 every year except in 2006-07.In 2015-16, the fire brigade had received 17,127 calls.



Dengue, malaria on the rise in Delhi



NEW DELHI: Cases of dengue continue to increase in spite of high temperature. In the past week, municipal corporation report shows that 21cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported in the city. The total number of dengue cases has gone up to 40, while malaria and chikungunya cases have gone up to 30 and 96 respectively. While dengue and chikungunya viruses are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito that breeds in fresh water, malaria is spread by the anopheles mosquito that can breed in dirty water. Last year, 4,431 cases of dengue and 7,760 cases of chikungunya were reported in Delhi. Several people died due to the diseases but they could not make it to official figure because the state government and corporations cited co-morbidities in such patients as reason behind the mortality. Experts say that early action against mosquito-breeding is the only way to prevent outbreaks, which have become common in places like Delhi. Large-scale construction, poor upkeep overhead tanks and inefficient solid waste management have been found to be main culprits.



You could ride an AC local train in September



MUMBAI: Mumbaikars are likely to get a chance to travel on an air-conditioned local train on Western Railway in September. The AC local, which arrived in April 2016, is undergoing trials on WR for the past one week. Railway Board member (rolling stock) Ravindra Gupta said, “We plan to introduce the take in service in September. Thereafter, nine rakes will be manufactured for introduction on WR and CR”. Member (traffic) Mohammed Jamshed said, “We have not finalized the fares yet. This train is a special product so the fare structure too will be different”. The fare structure is not approved but there is a dominant view that it should be equivalent to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation‘s fare structure. However, there no concession will be provided on season tickets. The WR is still to decide how many compartments will be reserved for women. Gupta also said that the board has issued formal orders to manufacture all 47 rakes under Mumbai Urban Transport Project III with air conditioning feature. Earlier, railways had decided to go for automatic, closed-door technology with non-AC. The AC train was manufactured under `Make In India’ and technology indigenously developed. BHEL provided the electrical system.



Hyderabad airport on growth runway, passenger flow takes 22% leap



HYDERABAD: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Hyderabad is cruising high. So vigorous has the growth been in corporate and leisure-related travel to and from Hyderabad and its catchment areas, in addition to increasing regional connectivity , that passenger traffic at RGIA has overshot its initial capacity of 12 million to zoom past the 15million mark. RGIA authorities said, in 2016-17 overall passenger traffic shot up approximately 22% to 15.24 million from 12.49 million in 2015-16. Of this, domestic passengers accounted for 1,19,36,975 and international passengers were 33,03,093. The big thrust came from domestic traffic, which grew by whopping 55% in the 2011-17 period. Even movement of domestic aircraft registered 27.1% year-on-year growth in FY17-highest among all metro airports in India. Ten domestic carriers connect Hyderabad with 33 domestic destinations, while 15 foreign and three Indian carriers connect the city with 16 international destinations. Since beginning its operations at Shamshabad in 2008, the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) led RGIA has registered a growth of 60% in domestic passenger traffic and 63% in international passenger traffic.

Today Hyderabad airport is one of the top four private airports in the country along with those in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, which together cater to nearly 55% of the country’s total air traffic. The airport’s take-off on the growth runway is visible from the strengthening of connectivity between various tier-II cities. According to reports, on June 1 this year Spice Jet launched its first ever direct flight service connecting Surat to Hyderabad. Similarly, Indigo is expanding its network by adding new direct flights from Hyderabad to Chennai, Raipur and Pune from June 10. Hyderabad-based airline TruJet, too, is waiting in the wings to launch flights on Hyderabad Cuddapah and Hyderabad-Nanded routes. “In FY17, not only did RGIA add two new domestic airlines but also several new routes have been started leading to this remarkable growth in passengers. In the recent past, RGIA has been connected with airports including Jabalpur, Chandigarh, Trivandrum, Cuddapah and Nanded,” said a GHIAL spokesperson, adding that over the next few months the airport will also be connected to Patna and Guwahati airports.

Aviation experts attribute rise in footfall to increased traffic towards the Middle East. “There has been a dramatic increase in passenger traffic at airports in the southern part of the country. Increased connectivity with the Middle-East is a major reason for the rise in footfalls in Hyderabad,” said Kapil Kaul, chief operating officer and director at the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. With traffic expected to zoom to 20 million in the next five years, GHIAL is learnt to be planning an expansion of the terminal to keep pace with the anticipated growth. Expansion is currently at the preliminary stage and the proposal will be taken up after all approvals are in place. Even a report published by Crisil points out that Hyderabad is among the top four private airports in the country that is operating at near-full capacity and will need to spend heavily on expansion through 2021. “Because of surging footfalls and high capacity utilization of over 90%, we estimate that the four airports will need to invest about Rs 27,000 crore for expansion. Yet their credit quality will not suffer because of low implementation risk -such expansions are brownfield and modular in nature -and conducive traffic regulation,” said Gurpreet Chhatwal, the president of Crisil Ratings.



Corporation seeks public support in managing waste



Chennai: The Greater Chennai Corporation sought a helping hand from residents in managing municipal solid waste through source segregation during a function organised to mark World Environment Day at Amma Maaligai in the Ripon Buildings complex. The event was attended by finance minister D Jayakumar, municipal administration minister S P Velumani and senior bureaucrats. During the event, the local body distributed 25 tricycles to conservancy workers purchased at a cost of Rs 6.09 lakh and distributed 27,000 green and blue bins, bought for Rs 16.20 lakh, which will help in segregation of degradable and non-degradable waste.

Velumani and Jayakumar extolled the virtues of the AIADMK government which, they said, had spent over Rs 1,800 crore towards better waste management practices across Tamil Nadu. Comparatively, the DMK government had spent only Rs 303.51 crore between 2006 and 2011, the ministers said. Municipal administration and water supply secretary Harmander Singh said the public needed to play a larger role in waste disposal. “If the piling up of garbage is to be avoided, the public should think about reducing waste generation at source. We have around 18,000 conservancy workers to handle Chennai’s waste but garbage is generated by 75 lakh people. The numbers aren’t enough. Participatory efforts from the public are required,” he said. Citing an example, he said developed countries charged a fee for excess garbage generation, hinting that residents should not exploit the lack of similar legislation. Corporation commissioner and special officer D Karthikeyan called on the media to help raise awareness on source segregation.



International News



Arab nations cut ties with Qatar over ‘terror links’, MEA worried about 6.5 lakh Indians living there



Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed ties with Qatar on Monday and moved to cut off land, sea and air routes to the energy-rich nation, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups and Iran. Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives joined the ban later, plunging the international travel hub into chaos and igniting the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq. Global equity markets dipped along with oil prices amid concerns that the diplomatic rift may weaken a multi-national pact on crude output cuts. Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is home to a major US military base, is the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and a major supplier of condensate. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said India didn’t foresee any problems for its own relations in the Gulf as it “is an internal matter of GCC (Gulf Coordination Council)”. “Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there,” she said, steering clear of the Islamic world’s latest implosion. The government’s response is surprising given that at last count there are over 6,50,000 Indian nationals living and working in Qatar, who outnumber native Qataris by almost 2:1.

“They (Gulf nations) have done this before, we hope things will get better soon,” she said. But it highlights the challenges and diplomatic balancing that India will have to conduct especially as it deepens economic and security relationship with the Gulf Arab states. Qatar’s stock market tanked today while there are reports of people queuing up outside grocery stores to stock up if the Saudi blockade gets worse. Earlier, the traffic to Qatar was mainly from Kerala, but now the top source state is UP, followed by Bihar. Qatar came under attack by the Saudi-led grouping+ of Bahrain, Egypt and UAE, Yemen (whatever exists of it) and surprisingly, Maldives, which cut off diplomatic ties as well as civil aviation and shipping ties days after a Qatar news agency report quoted the Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani criticizing the growing targeting of Iran by the Sunni alliance. Qatar, sharing the world’s largest gas field with Iran finds itself particularly vulnerable, although ironically Qatar follows the orthodox intolerant version Wahhabi Islam, just like Saudi Arabia. In 2014, Saudi Arabia UAE and Egypt had isolated Qatar again, in protest against its support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The blockade ended 10 months later, but Qatar continued on its path. In recent weeks, Qatar has apparently evicted Hamas activists from its country, and is fighting an unlikely duo, Israel-Saudi Arabia to get the US to move its base from Qatar.

In recent years, it has been clear that Qatar has been one of the biggest funders to the ISIS, though there have been reports of its ties to Hamas and Hezbollah, which puts it on collision course with Israel. Although it’s equally true that Saudi Arabia has also supported hardline Islamist groups in and outside the region, so no moral superiority applies to either side. The Saudi action against Qatar+ is mainly targeted at Iran, and seeks to punish any country that gets close to or acknowledges Iran’s growing power. Qatar’s sheikh Tamim recently made headlines by speaking to Hassan Rouhani on the phone after he won the Iran presidential elections. Qatar has played a mediatory role as well, hosting the Afghan Taliban in an office in Doha, which they converted into an “embassy”, prompting widespread criticism. But it has remained a place where countries and groups hoping to start talks with the Taliban can meet them, even though they have been isolated by the Taliban core leadership in Pakistan. This has been a problem for India but India has held its nose.

But India takes over 90 per cent of its natural gas import from Qatar. In addition, Qatar is in the process of building a domestic airline in India. That itself puts India in a unique place. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand is among the top suppliers of oil to India. Hitherto neither side have used their foreign partners as leverage against the other. It’s not yet clear how deep the present rift is at this point. India would be following the current crisis closely, particularly watching out for energy price spikes. It is undeniable that Saudi Arabia feels emboldened after Donald Trump’s latest visit to the region where he not only supported the kingdom but went after Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the region. However, US’ forward base of its CENTCOM is stationed in Qatar since 2003 when it was tossed out by Saudi Arabia. The US has also sent some of its terrorist prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar, including five which were exchanged by Barack Obama for a US soldier Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban. So it is likely a mediated settlement may yet happen with the US – and possibly Oman – in the middle.



London attack: More detentions in hunt for accomplices

Police stand guard on Ripple Road in east London.


LONDON: British counterterrorism investigators searched two homes on Monday and detained “a number” of people in the investigation into a van and knife attack in the heart of London that left seven people dead. Dozens were injured, many of them critically, in the attack that started on the London Bridge, when three attackers swerved the vehicle into pedestrians then, armed with knives, rampaged through Borough Market, slashing and stabbing anyone they could find. The three men, who wore fake suicide vests, were shot to death by police. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility. London’s police chief has said the attackers have been identified, but the names haven’t been released. At least 12 people were arrested Sunday, including five men and seven women ranging in age from 19 to 60. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said she wouldn’t release further details in what she described as a fast-moving investigation, including whether authorities were familiar with the men before the attack.

IS has claimed responsibility for the three attacks in Britain since March, and Dick described the recent wave of violence as “unprecedented in my working life”. “We in this country have faced a terrorist threat throughout my life-it changed and morphed and we will change and adapt to what appears to be a new reality for us,” she said. Prime Minister Theresa May warned that the country is facing a new threat from copycat attacks. The country’s major political parties temporarily suspended campaigning with only days to go before the general election. May said the vote would take place as scheduled on Thursday because “violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process”. Most of the London underground stations reopened on Monday in the neighborhood where the attack took place, allowing life to resume after more than 24 hours of lockdown. Some residents cooped up inside all day Sunday emerged from their homes for the first time since the attacks. “We were all stuck!” said Marcia Rainford, a 58-year-old who said she was sealed into her building complex with her mother and two children.

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