News Flash – 8 December 2017

National News



11 lakh people stole from Railways in 2016



AGRA: The Indian Railways, it seems, is a veritable cave of treasures for robbers of all hues. From copper wires to iron bolts, towels to wash basin, blankets to faucets, nothing was spared. It was a busy year for the Railway Protection Force, which arrested over 11 lakh people across the country for stealing components from railway tracks and infrastructure in 2016. Maharashtra led in the number of arrests at 2.23 lakh, followed by UP with 1.22 lakh nabs. RPF personnel caught these people stealing pandrol clips, fishplates, bolts, overhead wires, rails, bathroom fittings in train coaches, and even tube-lights, fan, hand towels and blankets from AC coaches. Madhya Pradesh saw 98,594 arrests, while Tamil Nadu 81,408 and Gujarat 77,047, rounding up the top five states with this dubious distinction. According to railway officials, thieves target premium-quality iron and copper used in railway tracks, pandrol clips, high-tension overhead wires, signal cables apart from accessories on train coaches and railway stations.


Gaurav Bansal, chief public relation officer of North Central Railway zone, which covers half of UP railway traffic, said, “In eastern UP, miscreants throw iron chains on 25,000-volt overhead wires to disrupt power supply on the tracks and steal 99.9 % pure copper overhead wires, while in the rest of the state, people, especially drug addicts, steal pandrol clips or saw off parts of the track to sell in the grey market. A one-metre slice of railway track of 60 kg with 90 tones’ endurance capacity can provide sufficient money to buy contraband”. Railway officials said a metre-long rail track can fetch over Rs 1,000 in the scrap market. Bansal added, “Some thieves take mugs, mirrors, metal water taps from train coach lavatories, while some steal hand towels, blankets and bulbs from AC coaches. Recently, Tejas Express and Mahamana Express reported lavatory taps, hand shower heads and carpets missing after the trains completed their maiden journeys”. Due to this menace, railways have now introduced fibre brake blocks for train wheels, as thieves were taking metal brake blocks too.



IGI airport gears up to tackle fog

The Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) has, for the first time, introduced a GPS-based vehicle navigational system for better guidance of aircraft during low visibility, apart from taking several other steps.



NEW DELHI: It’s that time of the year when dense fog returns to haunt air travellers. The Delhi International Airport Ltd(DIAL) has, for the first time, introduced a GPS-based vehicle navigational system for better guidance of aircraft during low visibility, apart from taking several other steps. “As a pilot has a limited view from the cockpit, a ‘follow me’ service is provided to facilitate aircraft movement. Trained professionals are deputed for the service. These vehicle are equipped with GPS-based navigational system,” a DIAL spokesperson said. R K Jenamani, director-in-charge of IGIA Met unit, said while the capital had its first spell of dense fog on November 30 last year, this winter, it’s not expected at least till December 17. He said though visibility dipped considerably in the first week of November, it was due to smog. “A short spell of localised fog can’t be ruled out between December 9 and 11, but there is no likelihood of a major spell before December 17,” he said. Delhi’s pollution might also trigger dense fog, due to presence of ammonia in the atmosphere, he added. As dense fog at Delhi airport usually leads to flight delays and cancellations, leaving passengers stranded for hours either at the terminal or inside aircraft, DIAL on Thursday said it was taking a series of measures to ensure minimum inconvenience. Steps have also been taken to ensure smoother operation of aircraft even during minimum visibility.


“Runways 28, 29 and 11 at IGI are certified for CAT III B operations, which allow landing of compliant aircraft with visibility as low as 50 metres,” DIAL CEO, I Prabhakara Rao said. An instrument landing system helps guide pilots trained to use the system to land their aircraft even during poor visibility. “Delhi fog is a prime example of synergy among air traffic controllers, airlines, ground handlers, the meteorological department and airport staff,” he said. A K Bhardwaj, general manager, air traffic management, said: “An enhanced version for collaborative decision-making during fog has been put in place with active involvement of all stakeholders, including airlines and DIAL. These measures improve predictability of flight operations and, hence, facilitate passengers during fog”. The biggest problem passengers face during dense fog is the lack of timely information about flight delays and cancellations. Rao said while DIAL couldn’t reach out to individual passengers and it was also hard to predict a sudden onset of dense fog, flight information display systems at the airport and its website would provide real-time information as provided by the Met department. DIAL said frequent updates on expected time of arrival and departure of flights would be provided to passengers at the airport and additional helpdesks at entry gates would also display information on cancellation and delays. While senior officials of DIAL would be available at the airport during dense fog, airlines have also been asked to deploy additional staff for check-in counters and boarding gates.



Chaddi gang on cam sparks alert



HYDERABAD: Cyberabad police are on high alert after members of the chaddi-baniyan gang committed two burglaries in KPHB and Miyapur in the last few days. Police came to know about the role of the chaddi-baniyan gang during verification of CCTV footage of these areas. Cyberabad police said the first burglary took place at Miyapur five days ago and it was followed by another offence at NRSK Colony, KPHB. After the house owners returned to their house, they lodged a complaint that their house locks were broken. In the residence at NRSK Colony, ?10,000 was stolen and in Miyapur too there was not much property loss. During investigation, police chanced upon CCTV footage at KPHB wherein five persons, wearing just chaddi and baniyan, were seen moving briskly in a lane, probably after committing an offence. Though several groups follow the chaddi-baniyan modus operandi while committing offences, police were trying to identify the culprits in the footage. “We suspect that these five members of the chaddi-baniyan gang might still be in the city. Usually, these gangs do not use vehicles. They keep moving from a place to another and identify places to commit offences,” deputy commissioner of police (Madhapur) Vishwa Prasad told TOI. According to police, these gangs were known for carrying stones and might not hesitate in pelting them at citizens, when they attempt to catch them. “In both burglaries, there was no loss of much property. As of now, we collected fingerprints of the culprits from the scene of offence and are trying to compare it with our database to know whether the five culprits are previous offenders,” Cyberabad police said.



A sixth of Darjeeling Hills in high-risk landslide zone



KOLKATA: Some of your favourite spots in the Hills, including parts of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong towns and other pockets like Paglajhora and Teendhariya, have been grouped as “high-risk” in a Geological Survey of India mapping of landslide-prone areas in the country. The mapping across 18 states divides landslide-prone areas into three categories — high-, moderate- and low-risk — and will be shared with the Bengal government for preemptive action. Almost a sixth of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, or 17%, are in the high-risk zone; 40% and 43% are in the moderate- and low-risk zones, respectively. Besides parts of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong towns, areas like Teendhariya, Gidda Pahar, Limbudhariya, Soureni, Daragaon, Paglajhora and 14 Miles — which tourists encounter on their way up to and down from the Queen of the Hills — have been found to be high-risk. A large part of neighbouring Sikkim, too, has been found to be highly susceptible to landslides. The GSI, headquartered in Kolkata and working under the ministry of mines, is the Centre’s primary provider of basic earth science information.


“We have also studied the history of Darjeeling landslides while doing the mapping and found that at least 70% of the landslides have happened in the zones of Darjeeling that have been marked as high-risk in this study,” Pankaj Jaiswal, scientist in charge of the project, said. All the maps would be available for public use, GSI officials said. “When we mark a portion low-risk, we do not mean it is no-risk. So, when the state or local administration is thinking of building infrastructure in these zones, it will have to take that into consideration,” Jaiswal explained. The mapping is being done in two stages. The first stage has mapped the accessible or populated hilly areas of 18 states. “The Darjeeling Hills are part of Priority One. No other part of Bengal has been mapped for landslides,” GSI director-general Kutumba Rao said. “Priority Two will deal with inaccessible areas. We are starting public awareness programmes in some of the most landslide-prone pockets of Darjeeling so that people are sensitised about evacuation plans. There are comparatively safer pockets that overlap with extremely high-risk pockets. People should know them,” Rao added.



Cyclone Ockhi: Coast Guard says it has rescued 662 fishermen

Out of the 662 rescued fishermen, 259 were from Tamil Nadu



MADURAI: The Indian Coast Guard on Thursday said it had rescued 662 fishermen who had been missing in sea after cyclone Ockhi lashed the area last week. Out of the 662 fishermen, 259 hailed from Tamil Nadu, the Coast Guard said in a statement It said CG ships were continuing searches in Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Kerala and Karnataka coasts. CG Dornier planes from Goa, New Mangalore and Kochi were also taking part in the search operations. The Coast Guard deployed 15 crafts, four Dornier aircraft and one helicopter. The CG covered 1,365km coastline from Kanyakumari to Mumbai. CG ships went up to approximately 190km into the sea. Sea-air coordinated searches were being carried out by the aircraft up to 555km from the coastline, it said. The Coast Guard’s statement has come after eight Kanyakumari fishermen who had gone on a search and rescue mission with CG personnel had alleged that the CG had not been going beyond 60 nautical miles.



International News



Students hid in classrooms during New Mexico shooting that left 3 dead

Students are led out of Aztec High School after a shooting Thursday.



AZTEC (NEW MEXICO, USA): Students hid in their classrooms, some behind locked doors or in closets, as a gunman opened fire Thursday inside a New Mexico high school, killing two classmates before he ended up dead. Authorities and other officials in the small town of Aztec near the Colorado border have released few details other than to say the shooter and two victims attended Aztec High School. No other injuries were reported, and it was not clear if the shooter died by suicide or was killed by police. Bryn Divine, a senior, said she was sitting at her desk in her history class when she heard gunshots erupt down the hall. At first, it sounded as if someone was swinging a metal baseball bat against the lockers. Then she heard an announcer over the school intercom tell students: “This is not a drill”. “I stayed in my desk, and I just prayed, `Please just let this be over as soon as possible.’ That was my first reaction,” she said. Sophomore Garrett Parker told Albuquerque television station KOAT that he also heard what he thought was banging on the lockers. Then it got louder and closer. “Thankfully our teacher always locks the door no matter what. So he kept that locked,” Parker said. “When they called over the intercom that it was not a drill, we went to the corner of the room out of sight from the door and just started hiding”. Gov. Susana Martinez called the shooting a heinous and horrific act and told reporters that teachers, school staff and law enforcement jumped in quickly to prevent more deaths.


She didn’t provide more details. Police responded to the school less than a minute after getting the initial calls, which came shortly after the start of the first period. With the school in lockdown, they got inside through a window and a door. Authorities checked each room and each building at the school before the students were bused to another location where they were reunited with their parents. The high school remained cordoned off as the community prepared for a prayer vigil Thursday night. Aztec is a rural town of 6,500 people in the heart of northwestern New Mexico’s oil and gas country and near the Navajo Nation. Its main street is lined by old brick buildings that date back more than a century. Local, state and federal authorities said at a news conference that they had a lot of evidence to process and many interviews to conduct. They also were asking any students who might have seen something to call police. School Superintendent Kirk Carpenter choked up, describing it as a tough day. “At schools, our primary role and our primary job is to educate students and keep them safe, and when you have something like this, it hits you in the heart,” he said. Aztec school officials say schools across town that shut down Thursday will likely stay closed Friday. Residents voiced disbelief on social media, while members of the New Mexico congressional delegation, state Attorney General Hector Balderas and other elected officials offered their condolences and other assistance.

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