News Flash – 8 August 2017

National News



Kids below 14 barred from dahi handi, but height restrictions go



MUMBAI: Children below 14 will not be allowed to participate in dahi handi, but there will be no curbs on the height of human pyramids formed to break the pots. The Bombay high court on Monday declined to place restrictions on the age of govindas and the height of dahi handi pyramids. But it accepted the state government’s statement that kids below 14 will not be allowed to participate. The court said it is for the state to enact laws in that respect. “We are of the considered view that it would fall within the exclusive domain of the legislature. It is for the legislature if it finds there has to be restriction on children and that height should not exceed (sic). If we enter into that arena, we would be encroaching on the legislative domain,” said a bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Makarand Karnik. On August 1, 2014, the HC had directed the state government to raise the minimum age of participants to 18 years and cap the height at 20 feet or four layers. The order was passed on three public interest litigations which expressed concerns about the safety of children taking part in pyramid formations. The Supreme Court on August 1, 2017 remitted the matter to the HC to hear it afresh.


Considering the matter “on a clean slate,” at the outset the bench queried: “How can we issue a direction that only children above 18 years could take part? Under what jurisdiction can we restrict height?” Advocate Nitesh Nevshe, for petitioner Swati Patil, said several persons have suffered paralysis and spine injuries after falling off. Petitioner Vinod Raman argued the state has failed to protect the interests of children. The judges said the petitioners must approach MLAs and MPs. “You have elected them. It is for your elected representatives to make the law,” said Justice Gavai. The judges said the court can interfere only when the constitutional validity of a statute is challenged, which is not the case in these PILs. They then said accidents can happen anywhere. “Every day we see (news reports of) people clicking selfies fall from (a) hilltop or in (the) sea. Can we issue regulation for controlling the same?” asked Justice Gavai, referring to a WhatsApp forward on a foreign model taking a selfie from the 50th floor. The judge also said, “At this rate, we’ll have to direct the state to stop gymnastics. Somebody has head injury while playing cricket, should we direct to stop cricket? Is it for us to take care of all situations under (Article) 226? Accidents can happen even in a toilet,” remarked Justice Gavai. He added. “I personally suffered injury while playing tennis”.


Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta and advocate Shardul Singh, representing the state, argued that as far as restricting persons below age 18 and even the height is concerned, it will not be permissible for the HC to issue such directions. Mehta said events like dahi handi take place in various parts of the world. He said under the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, a child is defined as being under 14 years. “So far as the age aspect there is legislation occupying the field,” he said. He said the state government has also issued a government resolution on August 24, 2016 recognizing dahi handi as an adventure sport. “Are you willing to say children below 14 years will not be permitted to participate?” asked the bench. To this, Mehta replied, “We are bound by law.” He said in view of the Act and the notification, the government will ensure children below 14 will not take part. The bench said while the concern of petitioners is “laudable,” the state has not treated the matter as adversarial and has accepted most directions of HC’s August 2016 order for taking precautionary and remedial measures, including providing cushion layers, helmets, safety nets, chest guards, medical aid and ambulance. Intervener Dahi Handi Utsav Samanvay Samiti also said it has insured every govinda for Rs 10 lakh. “In that view of the matter we find the concerns of the petitioners to a great extent stand answered,” the judges noted, disposing of the PILs.



PWD plans signals, cuts to ease west Delhi traffic



NEW DELHI: Najafgarh Road, officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg, is considered the lifeline of west Delhi. However, driving on it — especially between Uttam Nagar and Tilak Nagar — is a nightmare during peak hours. The stretch near Janakpuri District Centre has especially become a major choke point since the inauguration of the Vikaspuri-Meera Bagh elevated corridor last year. While the public works department (PWD) is planning to rope in a consultant to prepare a detailed plan to decongest Najafgarh Road, a short-term measure has been found to ease traffic movement near Janakpuri and the neighbouring areas. PWD has started work and would take around six-eight months to complete. To begin with, PWD has decided to install a traffic signal under the single flyover at Janakpuri on Najafgarh Road along with some basic street designing. PWD officials said some cuts between Uttam Nagar and Dwarka Mor, which often lead to traffic jams, will also be closed to ensure easy movement. Residents of Janakpuri have been complaining for a long time about the mess on the arterial road due to poor traffic management. “Outer Ring Road-bound vehicles from Janakpuri have to take nearly a kilometre-long detour as traffic is not allowed to go straight from Prof Joginder Singh Marg. We have to take a U-turn before Janakpuri West Metro station to come on Outer Ring Road, triggering traffic jam on Najafgarh Road,” said Sanjay Puri, an AAP member and social activist who wrote to PWD minister Satyendar Jain earlier this year.


According to a senior PWD official, “The U-turn causes congestion due to slow movement of traffic. The congestion is further increased due to a bus stop and parking of autos and Gramin Sewas near the station”. Similarly, Janakpuri- or Uttam Nagar-bound traffic coming from Outer Ring Road (Meera Bagh elevated corridor) is also not allowed to go straight and people have to take a U-turn under the flyover. “Throughout the day, the traffic volume on Najafgarh Road is very high. Vehicles from Outer Ring Road trying to take a U-turn block the passage for straight-moving traffic,” said Sanjay Gupta, a resident who had written to the then LG, Najeeb Jung, in October 2016. Officials said the construction of the intersection would allow smooth movement of traffic among Prof Joginder Singh Marg, Outer Ring Road and Najafgarh Road. Following a joint survey by Delhi Traffic Police and PWD officials, a work order has been issued. “The project, which will cost Rs 45-50 lakh, will undertake basic street design and streets capping. We will, however, leave space for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles,” added an official.



Smart system flawed, says automated parking pioneer

BBMP will implement smart parking systems on 85 roads in the city



BENGALURU: The BBMP is all set to implement a smart parking system on 85 roads, including many in the central business district (CBD). Two companies shortlisted for the project recently demonstrated their equipment on St Mark’s Road and Residency Road. But the man credited with introducing the city’s first automated on-street parking facility (on Brigade Road) has questioned the project’s feasibility. Sohail Yusuf has conveyed to BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad that the parking system lacks transparency in revenue collection and cannot be operated without human intervention. If introduced, the project will only result in road space being sold to private parties, he told TOI. “The system has had problems right from the tendering stage. On May 5, 2017, the civic agency floated a tender (on its e-procurement portal) for the ‘Pay and Display System’, which was perfect for on-street parking. It was akin to the Brigade Road facility, which is fully automated (no need of human involvement), ensures transparency in revenue collection and prevents leakage of revenue.


But on May 7, the specifications were changed to ‘Pay-By-Space’, which works only for closed parking systems in malls and large commercial complexes,” he explained. Yusuf, who represents the Brigade’s Shops and Establishments’ Association, said: “In the proof of concept displayed by one of the companies, I observed there was no transparency in fare collection, no proof of payment and some human involvement, which may only lead to corruption and law and order problems”. He alleged the civic body had made changes at the tendering stage to facilitate a particular bidder. BS Prahallad, chief engineer (road infrastructure), BBMP, associated with the project, said they have maintained transparency at the bidding stage as well as at the proof-of-concept level. “Parking fee collection can be monitored on a real-time basis with the new system. BBMP administrators will regularly get reports from the company,” he added.



EVR Salai caught in chaos as 2-way traffic plan starts

Vehicles were stuck for hours on Monday on EVR Road, McNicholas Road, Harrington Road, Spur Tank Road and Dr. Gurusamy Bridge



CHENNAI: Confusion and chaos prevailed on the first working day since police put two-way traffic in effect on EVR Road after six years. Most motorists were not aware of the change in traffic and it led to a traffic snarl Vehicles remained stuck for hours not only along EVR Road but also along McNicholasHarrington, Spur Tank roads and Dr. Gurusamy Bridge. The ordeal that started in the morning continued till evening, despite more traffic police personnel deployed at road junctions in these stretches than usual. “Normally this stretch has fast-moving traffic at that time, but I had to wait for at least 20 to 30 minutes at the junction,” said S Manikandan, an auto-driver. A consultant, S Aarthy , heading to Ezhilagam from Arumbakkam, said earlier people couldn’t head to Nungambakkam from the Ega theatre junction, but it was possible on Monday due to the change. Even policemen were confused at the traffic signals because of this, she said. A traffic police officer said the public was not aware about the traffic change. “We have deployed more policemen to streamline traffic on the stretch and also to tell them about the two-way system. On Monday, there was a protest which led to the traffic chaos, which was rectified in a couple of hours,” he said. Local authorities were reportedly trying to make the stretch between Ega Theatre and Gengu Reddy subway more spacious and it was made a two-way only on trial basis.



Rachakonda police’s short film on drunk-driving to be screened before movies in theatres



Now movie-goers will be apprised of the harmful effects of drunk driving before the start of films in theatres. Beautiful Life, a short film by Rachakonda police on the subject, won the first prize at the second Telangana State Public Conference in the city on Sunday. “The sole motive behind conceptualizing the film is to spread awareness about driving under alcohol influence. We will be screening the short film, whose duration has been cut from eight minutes to 1.43 seconds for theatres, will be screened before the start of films. We have received an overwhelming response from people for it,” says additional deputy commissioner of police N Divyacharan Rao, who along with the director of the film, Shashank Ramanujapuram, received the award at the event. The film, which was released in June this year, has received more than 3.2 lakh views and over 3,000 likes on a popular video streaming website within a short span of time. The plot of the film revolves around two youths who kill a young girl while driving under influence. Telugu actresses Sanan and Meghna Lokesh played important characters in the film. “We are also planning on making similar short films on other traffic rules-related subjects such as the use of helmets and seatbelts. Work in that regard is afoot,” Rao says, signing off.



Late-evening siding snag disrupts Metro services



KOLKATA: Metro services were disrupted from 8pm till the end of the day on Monday following a snag at the Dum Dum Y siding, the crossover point where trains change tracks to start the New Garia-bound journey. Trains were delayed up to 20 minutes. After the snag was reported, engineers failed to resolve the issue. They stopped Dum Dum-bound services, with trains stuck at different stations. “The train was then brought along the Dum Dum-bound track towards New Garia and it changed track from a crossover point near Belgachhia,” said Indrani Banerjee, the Metro spokesperson. The same technique was followed for next few trains, which resulted in delays. “We then took all the trains to Noapara till the end of service. That brought down the delay period a bit,” she said. Commuters’ confusion compounded with no correct information being announced.



Women’s college in Chennai hires female guards

A woman guard on the Women’s Christian College campus



CHENNAI: The next time you pass by Women’s Christian College, you may notice that the gates may not be “manned” as per usual. Befitting the theme of an all women campus, the college has hired female security guards on campus since the first week of August. While the security staff is not entirely female, the college felt it would be comforting for girl students to have women security around, especially when it comes to the hostel buildings. “We felt that it would be beneficial to both parties, for students as well as the guards, who may feel more comfortable and at home. We want at least one-woman guard near the hostel blocks in case of any emergencies. I had thought about this idea earlier but was able to implement it now,” said Lillian I Jasper, who recently took over as the principal of the college in June. The college has hired three female security guards currently and hope to hire more in the future depending on the requirement. Their duties involve checking IDs of students and visitors, ensure that they walk on the pathway and avoid vehicles coming in and out of gates, and also ensure that the gateway leading to the road is not blocked. The women guards have been recruited from agencies and come with a basic skill set and experience. T Shanthi, who has had 9 years of experience, says that she has worked as a security guard earlier at a hospital and residential set-ups. In the campus, she is posted near the gates and takes care of checking visitors and ensuring girls walk on the pathways.


Hiring the female security has led to one kind of a positive result in the first week itself, said college authorities. “Sometimes, the share autos park right in front of the gates and the drivers who usually haggle with our male security members somehow aren’t aggressive when it comes to the women guards when they are asked to remove the vehicles and instead oblige,” smiled the principal. Rebecca, a student of the college, felt it was a good idea to have women security on campus and was comforting for her friends. However, the college did point out that it cannot do away with male security guards as they are required for night duties and to help lift vehicles that may be parked haphazardly in the parking lot. While WCC has a group of female guards, there have been other women campuses which have hired a female security guard earlier. Stella Maris College as well as Valiammal College for Women both have one female security posted for disciplinary and checking duties. “I think girls do feel a notch more comfortable in the presence of female security and when they go on rounds on campuses for observation,” said Valiammal College authorities.



International News



22 injured in blast in Lahore: Police



LAHORE: At least 20 people were injured tonight in a blast in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan’s Punjab province. The blast took at Lahore’s Bund road area, police said. The injured, including women and children, were rushed to nearby hospitals where an emergency has been declared. The cause behind the blast has not been ascertained yet. Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, has witnessed several terror attacks in recent months. On July 24, a Taliban suicide bomber struck a police team near residence-cum-office of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif here, killing 27 people, including policemen. In April, six persons were killed and 15 others injured when a suicide bomber targeted a population census team in Lahore’s Bedian Road. In February, a suicide bomber killed 14 people, including senior police officers, near the Punjab Assembly here.



Dozens of migrants run across border in Spanish enclave


MADRID: Dozens of sub-Saharan migrants crossed into Spain from Morocco in the early hours of Monday after running through a border gate into the enclave of Ceuta, emergency services said. Migrants frequently attempt to storm the borders of Spain’s two enclaves in northern Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, often clambering up fences which are up to 6 metres tall and topped by razor wire. On Monday a group of more than 100 migrants ran through one gate in the fence usually used as a border control, surprising Moroccan and Spanish security forces, a Reuters witness said. The Red Cross said it had assisted 186 people following the morning rush across the border, adding that four migrants were taken to hospital. Once inside Spain’s enclaves, migrants are usually taken to temporary shelters and later moved to the Spanish mainland, or returned to their country of origin. Many migrants try to enter Spain as a means of reaching other parts of Europe. Arrivals through Ceuta and Melilla, as well as the number of migrants attempting to cross into Spain by sea from North Africa has risen this year, although the route between Libya and Italy remains the most popular. The Red Cross said last week it had attended 7,400 migrants crossing into mainland Spain and Ceuta and Melilla so far this year, up from 3,600 in the same period a year ago.

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