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Jammu: 100 underground bunkers to save locals from Pakistani shelling on LoC

More than 100 shell proof underground bunkers are being constructed to save the local population from cross-border shelling in the vulnerable villages along the Line of Control in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri district in Jammu division.This follows the fresh escalation on the borders in Pir Panjal Valley of the Jammu division.District Development Commissioner (DDC) , Rajouri Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has directed the sub-divisional magistrate of Sunderbani to finalise the location to construct 100 bunkers along the Line of Control.”The DDC directed SDM Sunderbani for finalisation of location for at least 100 bunkers along LoC in Sunderbani in consultation with elected representatives, locals and army representatives”, said an official spokesman.This followed the demands made during a public meeting chaired by DDC at border village Meenka in Sunderbani near the Line of Control. More than 300 people from six panchayats participated in the meeting.Also read’Jammu and Kashmir extremely safe destination for women travelling alone’The design and layout of bunkers are being made in such a manner that they will withstand the Pakistani shells. Sources said the highlight of the bunkers will be the double RCC slab which will be covered with five feet of sand so that the shells do not penetrate inside.Tension had gripped the LoC after four army soldiers including a Major were killed when Pakistan violated ceasefire on December 23. Forty-eight hours later Indian army troops in a tit-for-tat action crossed the LoC and killed three Pakistani army men and injuring another in Rawalakote sector.Also readJammu and Kashmir: Pakistan violates ceasefire; targets Indian forward posts along LoC at PoonchFigures presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir 771 times till December 10 this year, and 110 times along the International Border till November-end. Around 30 people including 14 army personnel, 12 civilians, and four BSF personnel were killed in these ceasefire violations this year.Last year there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 13 civilians and 13 security personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured. The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen glacier came into force in November 2003.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Flights suspended at IGIA after drone spotted

Once again, reports of an unidentified flying object near the Indira Gandhi International airport led to disruption in flight operations and affected as many as 15 departures and arrivals. Security officials, however, could not find anything suspicious when they rushed a Quick Response Team (QRT) to the spot.It was around 7 am on Thursday when the pilot of a Chennai-Delhi Indigo flight spotted a suspicious object and reported the matter to the Air Traffic Control (ATC). The message was further conveyed to Airport Operations Control Centre and the Delhi Police. A team of CISF QRT was also rushed to the spot but nothing could be found, an official said. As a precautionary measure, some departures were put on hold while a few arrivals were delayed at the airport.Delhi Police has registered the matter and is now trying to spot the origination of the flying object. This, however, is not a rare incident where a UFO was spotted by a pilot. Earlier this month, in a close shave, a drone-like UFO and an Air India flight, landing at the IGI airport almost had a face-off. Seconds later, another flight to Leh that took off from another runway, also reported spotting the flying object.The incident also affected some departures and landings at the airport. However, the officers said that no such flying object could be found within the airport periphery.The menace of the drone-like UFO sightings, however, is not something new at the IGI airport and is known for leaving the security and intelligence sleuths at the airport rattled. In October this year, a Jet Airways Singapore-Delhi flight, while preparing to land on runway 29 of the IGI airport, reported a drone flying in the proximity, about 300-400 meters above the ground.Earlier, three incidents came to light in 2016, when UFOs were spotted near the IGI airport, sending security agencies into a tizzy. On March 31, one such flying object was spotted over apron area of the IGI airport but disappeared before security forces could arrive. Earlier on March 13, a balloon-like structure was spotted close to an operational runway at the airport and prior to that on January 27, another unidentified item was spotted flying in the vicinity of the airport, but could not be traced.In 2015 also, two such incidents were reported when on October 27, a suspicious object was spotted over runway 29 by the ATC officials and three days later again on October 30, a flying object was spotted over runway 27, thrice before it completely disappeared.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

It’s business as usual in Kashmir

Skirmishes on the borders notwithstanding, it is business as usual for the Cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade at Chakan da Bagh crossing on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road.Tension had gripped the LoC after four Army soldiers, including a Major, were killed when Pakistan violated cease fire on Saturday. On Monday evening, Indian Army troops — in a tit-for-tat action — crossed the LoC and killed three Pakistani army men and injuring another in Rawalakote sector.However, escalating tensions between two rival armies have failed to dampen the spirit of Cross LoC trade on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road in Jammu and Kashmir. For the second day on Wednesday, the Cross-LoC trade continued uninterrupted on the Poonch-Rawalakote Road despite tensions on borders. “On Tuesday, 30 trucks from our side crossed the Chakan da Bagh crossing into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Around 19 trucks came from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). On Wednesday, 25 trucks carrying banana and tomato crossed into PoK and 12 trucks carrying kinnow and dry dates came from the other side,” said Tanveer Ahmad, Custodian, Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) Chakan da Bagh.It is after a long time that border tension has not cast its shadows on the cross LoC trade. This year the trade on Poonch-Rawalakote Road was suspended for four months due to the cross border shelling.

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‘Severe’ air pollution likely to return to Delhi in run-up to New Year

‘Severe’ air pollution may return in the national capital in the run-up to New Year, the Met department has forecast, prompting the CPCB to direct agencies to step up action against polluting sources.The concentration of pollutants will rise till at least December 29 due to low velocity wind and the coming down of the atmospheric layer where air and pollutants mix close to the surface. Wind speed 900 metres above the ground may fall to 4 km/hr on December 29, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. On December 27 and 28, it will be around 17 km/hr and 6 km/hr, respectively. However, from December 30 wind speed may pick up a little and rise to 13 km/hr on the eve of New Year. Ground-level wind speed will be between 5 km/hr and 8 km/hr during this period, the IMD said.The day’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 335, classified as ‘very poor’ by the CPCB, which may trigger respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure. “The IMD has predicted that low winds, poor ventilation coefficient and stable atmospheric conditions are likely to cause episodic severe air quality events particularly in the evening and night till December 29,” CPCB’s air lab chief Dipankar Saha said. Poor ventilation coefficient essentially means that the ability of the atmosphere to dilute and disperse the pollutants over a region will reduce.Also readDelhi chokes again as smog strikesAll these factors do not allow dispersion of pollutants leading to their accumulation in the air. In view of the emerging situation, agencies concerned have been requested to remain alert and take all necessary measures for preventing emergency situation, Saha said. In Delhi, agencies such as the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the civic bodies are in charge of acting against open burning of waste, coal and firewood, visibly polluting vehicles, diesel generator sets, factors which spike pollution at the local level.

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Inside details of India’s cross border raid: ‘Exact replica’ of Pak attack on December 23

Indian Army’s action across the Line of Control on the evening of December 25 which resulted in the killing of three Pakistani soldiers was today described as “selective targeting across the LoC”, a “short-distance raid” and a “localised tactical operation” by highly-placed sources in India’s defence establishment.The cross-border raid across LoC was first reported by DNA.The raid was also acknowledged as a “tit-for-tat” reply for the attack carried out of Pakistan troops on December 23 in the Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district in which one Major and three Army jawans were killed. In fact, sources said that Monday’s raid was almost an “exact replica” of the raid conducted by the Pakistani soldiers on December 23.Also readSurgical Strike 2.0: Indian Army planted IEDs to surprise Pak; toll could be higher The Pakistani troops who came under fire were from 59 Balooch Unit of the Rakhchakri Battalion of the Rawalkot Brigade. The engagement with Pakistani troops happened at around 6 pm on Monday when a temporary post and a patrol party came under fire from the Indian Army. Firing from both sides continued for a long time even after the raid had ended and the situation continued to be tense in that area.On Monday evening, first an explosion was conducted 200-300 meters across the LoC and following that the 8-10 member strong Pakistani patrol party came under fire from Indian Army’s Ghatak team. Around four Indian Army troops conducted this raid, sources added. Sources added that the Pakistani patrol party was probably in this area to lay a counter-ambush. “We were able to locate and target them,” a source said. “”The Indian Army will continue to exploit such fleeting opportunities,” the source added.While initial details suggests that three Pakistani troops got killed and one injured, sources said that intelligence reports indicate that the toll could climb. Sources also added that this was a localised tactical operation conducted by Indian Army Commanders on the ground and that the decision to conduct this raid was taken at the Brigade/Battalion level.

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PM Modi takes a driverless Metro ride on Magenta Line

Scores of locals swarmed the Botanical Garden Metro station in Noida on Monday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived to inaugurate the much awaited Magenta Line.Breaking the infamous “Noida jinx”, Modi arrived with UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, whose predecessors have always avoided visiting the state’s urban hub as it is widely believed that whoever visits Noida loses power.The PM inaugurated a section of the Magenta Line and even took a ride in the new driverless Metro around 1 pm. He was accompanied by Adityanath and UP governor Ram Naik. Amid heavy security, the trio travelled from Botanical Garden to Okhla. The PM then reached the Amity University ground to address the public.The Metro was ready for public use from 5 pm onwards.Talking to DNA, Ambrish Kuhar, a government employee and a resident of Noida Sector 37, said the Magenta Line was an answer to their long pending prayers. “It was so cumbersome going all the way to Mandi House and then boarding Violet Line to reach south Delhi. The new route will ease our commuting woes,” he said.Echoing the sentiment, Himanshu Kukreja, who lives in East of Kailash and works with an MNC in Noida, said: “I am very relieved that the travel time to my office and home will be lesser with this new train. It was long overdue.”The 12.64 km Magenta Line will connect Noida to Kalkaji Mandir and will be extended till Janakpuri by March next year. The stretch runs between Kalkaji and Noida’s Botanical Garden and would cut the travel time to 19 minutes, thus facilitating easy access for commuters from south Delhi to Noida and vice versa.The Magenta Line has automated platform screen doors at every station, which will open only when the trains arrive at the platform. The coaches will reportedly have LED display, power charging capacity, and colourful seats, while the stations will portray themes of nature, yoga, and cultural landmarks.Further, the driverless trains will be run on Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology, which will facilitate the movement of trains with a frequency of 90 to 100 seconds.The new trains will also offer lumbar support and backrests near the wheelchair areas, so that even if a commuter is standing, he or she can do so comfortably. While most Metro trains have power outlets, the new trains on the Magenta Line will also feature USB ports to connect phone charging cables directly, without a power adapter.The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has stated that trains on the Magenta Line will have Wi-Fi connectivity for seamless internet browsing. This feature, however, may not be available immediately, the officials added. Besides all this, fully programmable LCD screens will display videos, graphics, and other information on the trains.YOGA THEMEThe Magenta Line has automated platform screen doors at every station, which will open only when the trains arrive at the platform. The coaches will reportedly have LED display, power charging capacity, and colourful seats, while the stations will portray themes of nature, yoga, and cultural landmarks. Further, the driverless trains will be run on Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology, which will facilitate the movement of trains with a frequency of 90 to 100 seconds.

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Experts blame low temp for ‘poor’ AQI

Mumbai’s Air Quality Index (AQI) continues to remain a cause of worry for citizens as on Monday the overall AQI for the city was reported to be 257. As per System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) an AQI between 200 to 300 is rated in the ‘poor’ category and is known to cause respiratory-related allergies.In fact as per air quality experts from SAFAR, on Monday AQI of PM2.5, which is the smallest size pollutant known to cause respiratory illnesses and worsens the condition of those suffering from ailments like asthma and bronchitis in the four centers including Borivili, BKC, Andheri and Mazgaon reported ‘Very Poor’ air quality. Bandra Kurla Complex (332) topped the list followed by Borivili (325) Andheri (322) and Mazgaon (313). The safe limit as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for PM2.5 is 60 µg/m3 for 24 hoursWhile air quality experts blamed lower temperatures in Mumbai, they also said that the haze-like condition was due to the high difference between the maximum and minimum temperatures. “Several parts especially central Mumbai are facing haze-like conditions throughout the day due to the lower temperature early in the morning while the dust particles get stuck to the moisture and remain in the air throughout the day,” said an official.On Monday, the minimum temperature in Mumbai was recorded at Santacruz, which was 16.5 degree Celsius while the maximum temperature was also at Santacruz which was recorded as 32.4 degree Celsius.

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Army Major, 3 soldiers killed in Pak firing in Keri sector, J&K CM pays tribute

Pakistani troops opened fire on an Indian Army patrol, killing a Major and three soldiers, along the Line of Control (LoC) in Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district today, officials said.The latest violation of the ceasefire agreement took place at a time when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was camping in Rajouri district headquarters to address people’s grievances, they said. A defence spokesman said Pakistani troops targeted the Army patrol at Brat Galla in Keri sector at around 1215 hours. “We suffered three fatal casualties including one officer in the incident. Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh were grievously injured during the ceasefire violation and succumbed to their injuries. Two other personnel also sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment,” the spokesman said.Defence sources, however, said four Army personnel were killed in the “unprovoked” firing.The Army, in a statement, said that Indian troops retaliated “strongly and effectively”. Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh paid rich tributes to the slain soldiers and condemned Pakistan for the ceasefire violation. “Pakistan is indulging in such cowardly actions and is being given a befitting response, but it does not desist from such cowardly acts,” Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.Major Ambadas (32) belonged to Bhandara district in Maharashtra and is survived by wife Avoli Moharkar, while Lance Naik Gurmail Singh (34) belonged to Amritsar district in Punjab and is survived by wife kuljit Kaur and a daughter.Also readPeace talks only when Pakistan stops supporting terror in Jammu and Kashmir: General Bipin RawatSepoy Pargat Singh (30) belonged to Karnal district in Haryana and is survived by wife Ramanpreet Kaur and a son, the Army said. “Major Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail and Sepoy Pargat were brave and sincere soldiers. The nation will always remain indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” the Army statement said. The deputy chief minister said Pakistan has got isolated at the global stage, especially on the issue of terrorism. “Pakistan is a terrorist state and it will not be too long before the country is declared a terrorist state by the world. It does not only support terrorism but also provide state sponsorship,” Singh said. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today paid rich tributes to four Army personnel, including a Major, killed in Pakistani firing along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti paid rich tributes to the Army Major and three jawans who were killed in an incident of cross-border shelling at Keri sector in Rajouri district,” an official spokesperson said. He said the chief minister had conveyed her heartfelt condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.

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Air quality in Delhi dips to ‘very poor’, US Consulate report raises concern over Kolkata’s pollution level

Delhi’s air quality dipped on Wednesday due to a drastic fall in wind speed, triggering rapid accumulation of pollutants and a grey haze, which affected visibility across the city.The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 359, marking the return of ‘very poor’ air after eight days. The AQI had turned ‘moderate’ on December 12 and since then had remained ‘poor’. CPCB scientist Dipankar Saha said the situation is likely to improve soon as winds blowing from the north will bring down temperature resulting in precipitation of fog. “We are witnessing calm conditions but good news is that wind is likely to come from north and we can expect drop in temperature, and fog,” Saha said.Due to precipitation of fog (liquid droplets turning into vapour), the level of particulates also fall. Vivek Chattopadhyay, a researcher with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said conditions are considered calm when wind speed hovers around 0.3 metres per second. “It makes the air more dense. Moreover, due to drop in temperature, the boundary layer, the layer where particulates and air mix, also comes near the surface,” he said.The concentration of PM10 was 408.8 ug/m3 at 8 pm after rising through the day. PM2.5, which are finer and deadlier particulates, was recorded at 256.2 ug/m3 as per the Central Control Room for Air Quality Management of the CPCB.Also readAnti-smog gun does little to curb pollution in national capital; breathing difficulties continueConcern over Kolkata’s air qualityAn air quality report by the US consulate here has shown that the PM 2.5 level at the city’s Park Street area has surpassed Delhi’s Chanakyapuri locality on Tuesday, with environmentalists and people here expressing concerns.Also readSoon, we might have pollution meters like light meters: Ravi Shastri on smog halting India v/s Sri Lanka TestThe particulate matter (PM) level — an important index in measuring pollution — in the Chanakyapuri area of Delhi had improved from 292 Acceptable Quality Limit (AQL) to 189 AQL between noon to 6 pm on Tuesday. In Park Street here, the count went up from 274 AQL to 288 AQL during that time, the consulate website report says. Expressing concern over the report, environmentalist S M Ghosh said diesel cars are the main contributing factor to the alarming level of pollution in the city.The West Bengal Pollution Control Board is doing very little to reduce the fleet of diesel cars, he alleged. The situation, however, improved this morning with the PM 2.5 level at 171 AQL, far higher than the minimum alarming level of 151 AQL (acceptable quality limit), the website said. In New Delhi, the AQL count shot up to 389 at 1 pm today, it added. WBPCB Chairman Kalyan Rudra, however, said there was no reason to panic as the report covers just one area and does not give a complete picture.The WBPCB is initiating a number of measures to ensure good ambient air quality for the people here, Rudra said. There are 14 WBPCB air pollution monitoring units in the city and their display boards have been put up across the thoroughfares here to give updates on Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) and PM 2.5. Environmentalist Ghosh, however, said three pollution monitoring devices in the city are lying defunct for months now. “The WBPCB is sitting on a proposal by environmentalists to increase the monitoring devices across the city from 14 to 25. They (WBPCB) would not admit but three of their monitoring units are lying defunct for several months,” he alleged.Debmit Dutta, a 39-year-old telecom engineer who works at an MNC in the Salt Lake area of the city, said he has ordered special air filter masks online considering the situation.”The situation is not very different here from that of Delhi, I feel. I have ordered masks online and hopefully it will protect us from the toxic air to an extent,” he said. West Bengal Public Health Engineering Minister Subrata Mukherjee said the situation here is better than Delhi and necessary steps are being taken to curb air pollution. Echoing similar sentiments, West Bengal Environment minister Sovon Chatterjee said, “I am yet to go through the contents of the US consulate report. But the government is taking every measure to reduce pollution level.

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Clean Ganga: Don’t dispose ashes in sacred river; bury it in ground and grow plants, says Satyapal Singh

Union Minister Satyapal Singh on Wednesday addressed the importance of the clean Ganga mission, and said that the people of India, despite their beliefs, need to revisit the way they dispose ashes.Highlighting that nothing should be done to affect the purity of the sacred river, the former Mumbai police chief said, “As per present situation, I appeal to everyone, ashes must be buried in ground & saplings should be planted on it, so even coming generations can remember (the deceased). I urge all priests, associated with rituals, to create awareness among people.”On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Centre’s flagship Namami Gange project has been marred by poor financial management and implementation woes in the past three years, a performance audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed. The CAG’s audit, that covered 87 projects worth Rs7,992.34 crore, found that only eight to 63 per cent of the funds were spent between 2014-15 and 2016-17 in comparison with the revised estimate.Also readGanga cleaning funds lying unspent, says CAGThe national auditor said that multilateral implementation and poor planning were some of the chief reasons for funds lying unutilised with the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is the nodal implementing authority for cleaning the national river. As a result of poor planning and missing of deadlines, large quantities of untreated sewage continues to pollute Ganga across towns and cities along the main stem of the river.Last week, the National Green Tribunal imposing a ban on the sale, purchase and storage of plastic items such as bags, plates, spoons, etc along river Ganga in Haridwar’s Hari Ki Puri Rishikesh up to areas in Uttarkashi.Also readNGT bans sale of plastic items along Ganga belt from Haridwar up to RishikeshAs per an ANI report, a Rs 5,000 fine will be imposed on violators.On March 30, the chairperson had directed that a meeting be held after the UP government informed the Tribunal about its willingness to discuss the scenario of shifting tanneries outside Kanpur. This is contrary to the stand of the previous government, under Samajwadi Party, which had submitted through former advocate general Vijay Bahadur Singh that paucity of land and dependence of lakhs on the tannery cluster made shifting difficult.A year after assuming office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged his ministerial colleagues and three chief ministers to adopt an “uncompromising mission-mode approach” to halt pollution of River Ganga. Already in January this year, the PM had directed the water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation ministry to prioritise pollution control and taking remedial steps. But, on ground, the progress has been rather slow and effluent treatment plants have still been found wanting.In the key stretch of Ganga, between Haridwar and Kanpur, 30 drains are directly discharging 701 million litres/day (MLD) of waste water in the Ganga, a recent report of the Central Pollution Control Board has said. The report also highlighted that barring three of the 30 drains, all other drains directly releasing effluents into Ganga indicate the presence of pesticides. Also, four drains of Kanpur carried a high concentration of Chromium, ranging from 2mg/l to 84 mg/l. “It has been observed that Ganga receives 3,048MLD of waste water,” the report said.CPCB, the country’s pollution watchdog, submitted a ground report of these 30 drains on the orders of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The NGT had ordered last October that the drains in the Hardiwar-Kanpur stretch directly releasing effluents into Ganga needed to be physically inspected to record the quantum and quality of effluents going into the river and its main tributaries.Along with the Ganga, the joint inspection team, comprising of CPCB, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), UP Jal Nigam, and National Mission for Clean Ganga, inspected 25 drains discharging effluents into Ramganga of which a majority release domestic wastewater into the river while 26 drains release effluents into Kali-east.The direct discharge of effluents from 30 drains has resulted in high levels of fecal coliform, above the CPCB prescribed standards. At Jajmau, a tannery hub in Kanpur, the fecal coliform was ten times higher than the prescribed standards.According to the report, disposal of industrial and domestic sewage effluent directly by drains or indirectly through tributaries is the chief cause for high levels of pollution. The storm water drains designated to flood out the storm water during rainy season, are now being used for disposal of sewage and trade effluents which ultimately joins River Ganga, the report added

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Environment minister takes stock of E-Waste management compliance

Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain on Tuesday took stock of the compliance with E-Waste Management Rules in the city. The rules had come into effect from October 1, last year.The minister, in the meeting, directed officials of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to ensure that there is no dismantling and recycling of the E-Waste.The electronic waste includes waste from electronic items, including discarded mobile phones, refrigerators, computers, television sets and electronic entertainment devices.As per these rules, every producer of the electrical and electronic equipment can apply for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for handling and managing the E-Waste.EPR is an authorisation given by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for collecting and managing the E-Waste. This authorisation is given for five years and for obtaining an EPR, a producer is required to submit a detailed plan for the collection of the E-Waste, mode of collection, details of collection points and agency responsible for such collection.The DPCC officers informed the minister that till date the CPCB has given EPR authorisation to 47 producers from Delhi. The environment minister also reviewed the working of Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste Management Rules, 2016.”The new Rules are aimed to check indiscriminate disposal of C&D waste and enabling the channelization of such waste for re-use and recycling. The purpose is also to promote public’s participation in the scientific management of this category of waste. This waste could be used for composting, high calorific waste could be used for producing energy; steel and concrete could be re-used as well. A policy for C&D Waste Management Rules is under preparation with Urban Development Department of Delhi Government. The role of the DPCC will be to ensure that facilities which are granted authorization for C&D Waste processing, comply with various environmental laws and prescribed norms in this regard.”

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Death toll in J&K avalanche up to 3; 2 still missing

The death toll in the avalanche along the Line of Control in the Gurez sector of North Kashmir has gone up to three after Army rescuers pulled out two more bodies on Tuesday.Lance Naik Marigendra Nath Pramanik and Sepoy Shiv Singh were part of the three-member team when an avalanche swept away their high-altitude post last week. Two soldiers are still missing.”Two bodies have been recovered from Gurez. Earlier, the body of another soldier was retrieved from the Naugam sector. However, two soldiers continue to remain missing,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Last Tuesday, a massive avalanche swept away the army bunkers at two different places. The first incident occurred at Kanzalwan sub-sector of Gurez in the LoC when an avalanche hit the `Mani Post’ in Bagtoor area. Three army jawans manning the post were swept away and are still untraceable. The second incident occurred in the Naugam sector along the LoC, when two soldiers were taken in by a snow slide.For the last seven days, army rescuers have mounted a mammoth search and rescue operation to locate the five missing soldiers. Indian army has also pressed Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) into service and moved special equipment to the site to trace out the missing soldiers.

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Himachal Elections 2017 | A play with a difference: The tale of two CM faces

In an unusual tale that played out in Himachal Pradesh, one of the two most prominent political faces won his seat but lost power, while the other found his name in the losers’ list but still led his party to victory.End of the ‘Singh era’For 83-year-old outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh, this is certainly the end of his active political life that spanned over five decades. His only consolation is that under his watchful eyes, his son Vikramaditya Singh, 28, has managed to enter the Assembly by winning the Shimla (Rural) seat.During the campaign, the six-time CM had declared that this election would be his last. His departure from Himachal politics means that now the hill state has no one with a mass appeal. His immediate future also remains uncertain as he faces a string of corruption charges, which continue to be heard at Delhi courts.In almost 60 years of public life, first as a junior minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet and then as the chief minister of Himachal, Singh had a long rivalry with two BJP stalwarts — Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal. Known for his unique style of administration, where he controlled almost every department of the government, Singh would be remembered as someone who ruthlessly crushed rivals and never allowed anyone within the party to grow in stature. For instance, Anand Sharma and Vijay Singh Mankotia, though hugely popular, were never allowed to come anywhere near the CM’s chair.Even state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was not allowed to have any say in the last five years. The office-bearers of the state unit were allowed to take directions only from Holy Lodge, Singh’s residence in Shimla.Singh’s biggest weapon to keep the BJP away from student politics was propping up the Left-wing Students Federation of India (SFI) in colleges and university campuses. This was necessary for him to keep the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) at bay.Singh’s personality was such that when denied complete freedom in selection of candidates, he even went up to the extent of breaking the Congress legislature party, twice. Once, after the Congress’s victory in the 2012 election, he got his lot of loyal legislators under one roof at a Shimla hotel in order to prevent the Central leadership from trying to woo them in Vidya Stokes’ favour.‘Outsider’ Dhumal’s woesOn the other hand, 73-year-old Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was not the party’s initial choice, was happy when the party finally decided on his candidature. His son, flamboyant BJP MP Anurag Thakur’s controversial tenure with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, served to exacerbate the problems of an otherwise low-profile Dhumal.This time, Dhumal chose his younger son, Arun Kumar Dhumal, to lead his campaign. Despite being the CM face, he was called an ‘outsider’ by his opponent Rajendra Singh Rana. To make matters worse, his son Thakur brought a battery of hand-picked workers from other states, such as Punjab, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan.Locals say the presence of ‘outsiders’ in Dhumal’s campaign did not go down well with the rural voters in Sujanpur and cost Dhumal the seat.THE CM STORYDespite the party’s return to power, Dhumal had to eat humble pie. Singh and Dhumal are out of the picture; BJP and Congress will have difficulty with successors.

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Army recovers one jawan’s body, four lie buried in snow

After five days of intense search, Army rescuers pulled out the body of one of the five missing soldiers from the mounds of snow along the Line of Control (LoC) in Naugam sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Massive rescue and search operations are on to locate four other soldiers.Sepoy Koushal Singh of 20 Dogra regiment was part of a two-member Operational Team which was swept away by massive snow slide at high altitude area of the Naugam sector along the LoC on Tuesday.”Concerted efforts of the specially equipped Avalanche Rescue Teams, which have continued despite the inhospitable terrain and weather conditions, have led to the recovery of mortal remains of the martyr on Saturday,” said an Army spokesman.Son of soil sepoy Koushal Singh hailed from Batla Deonia, a village in Samba district of Jammu division. The 19-year-old had donned uniform last year and is survived by his parents and siblings.Massive avalanches had swept away Army bunkers at two different places on Tuesday. The first incident had occurred at Kanzalwan sub-sector of Gurez in the LoC when a snow avalanche swept away a high altitude ‘Mani Post’ in Bagtoor area. Three army jawans, who were manning the post were swept away by the avalanche and continue to remain untraceable. The second incident occurred in Naugam sector along the LoC when two soldiers were swept away by snow slide.For the last five days army rescuers are busy in mammoth search and rescue operations to locate five missing soldiers in the huge mounds of snow in Gurez and Naugam sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir.Inclement weather and poor visibility in high altitude areas is also hampering the search and rescue operations. Upper reaches and high altitude areas have been receiving heavy snowfall in the last five days.Army has pressed Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) into service and moved special equipment to the site to trace out the missing soldiers. Specially trained sniffer dogs too have been brought in to help the soldiers in the search and rescue operations. Tones of snow has accumulated at both the places and army rescuers are digging deep to locate the missing soldiers.The fresh tragedy has come 11 months after the Army lost 20 soldiers in the snow avalanches in Gurez, Sonamarg and Machil areas in the north and central Kashmir.EARLIER CASEThe fresh tragedy has come 11 months after the Army lost 20 soldiers in the snow avalanches in Gurez, Sonamarg and Machil areas in the north and central Kashmir.

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Work to integrate Brahmos on 40 Sukhoi aircraft begins

Work has begun to integrate the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft which is expected to fulfil critical needs of the Indian Air Force in the wake of evolving security dynamics in the region.The air-launched variant of the Brahmos, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile, was successfully test fired from a Sukhoi-30 combat jet on November 22, marking a major milestone to enhance the precision strike capability of the air force.The work to integrate the Brahmos missile on 40 Sukhoi combat aircraft has begun. A timeline for the project is being set, official sources said without elaborating.it is learnt that the project is expected to be completed by 2020.The fleet of 40 Sukhoi jet will undergo structural modifications at the state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for integration of the missile on them.The 2.5-ton missile flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.Also readAfter supersonic success of BrahMos, DRDO to make its booster motor in IndiaThe range of the missile, an Indo-Russia joint venture, can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) last year.Brahmos missile is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft.Once the project to integrate the weapon on the combat fleet was over, the IAF capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target in sea or land is expected to go up manifold.”It is a very important project considering IAF’s evolving requirement to boost air power when the possibility of a two-front war cannot be ruled out,” said an official.Also readDeal that wasn’t: No, India has not sold Brahmos missile to VietnamAfter the test firing of the air-launched version, the IAF had said the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30 aircraft will give the force a strategic reach and will allow it to dominate the ocean and the battle fields.The integration of the missile on Sukhoi aircraft is a very complex process involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications of the Su-30 jet.Brahmos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia.Also readWATCH: Mind-blowing footage of Indian Navy test-firing BrahMos missile will strike fear into India’s enemies

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Hot wheels: Cops crack carjacking case, two held

Delhi police have arrested two notorious carjackers who allegedly committed crimes in a unique manner.The duo is said to have used mobile phone signal jammer devices while committing the thefts in Vasant Village, police said. According to the police, the accused have been identified as Subodh Yadav, 37, and his associate Vipan Kumar, 42, who would steal the vehicles and then dispose of them after tampering with the engine and chassis number of the vehicle. The accused were arrested following a tip-off.”We had received information that they would be coming to Vasant Village to meet and finalise a deal for a stolen luxury car. A trap was laid out at 4.30 pm,” said Romil Baniya, Deputy Commissioner of Police, South District.The team swung into action and on sensing the police presence both of them tried to escape with the car but were apprehended.”The accused were thoroughly searched and sophisticated tools for reading and replicating ignition, lock system and bypassing Engine Control Module (ECM) settings and mobile phone signal jammers were recovered,” Baniya added.During interrogation, the accused revealed that they had developed a vast network of engine and chassis numbers punchers operating from Punjab and UP. The members of this syndicate purchased all the damaged vehicles from the insurance company and punched the engine and chassis numbers of total loss vehicle to stolen vehicle and sell the stolen vehicles to second-hand car buyers.”The modus operandi was unique as they used an advanced security software read-and-replicate machine to disable ignition and security system and bypass the ECM of the vehicle, and transferred this data to their programming machine.””Using this data, the accused prepared duplicate keys to steal the cars. They further used A mobile phone signal jammer device while committing theft or dealing in stolen cars to dodge decoy customers as well as police. This device was to act as a cloak for the electronic surveillance of these criminals,” Baniya added.

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Staff crunch ups pollution woes

Delhiites may be suffering from pollution but what’s surprising to note is that there are only 19 pollution inspectors doubling up as RTI, vigilance and Motor Vehicle (MV) inspectors to check the over 971 Pollution Under Control (PUC) test centres across the city which cater to over one crore registered vehicles. Officials say the Delhi government has not made any new recruitments for these posts in almost a decade.Despite the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government, strongly coming out against the recent pollution problems in the Capital, calling the city a “gas chamber” they also have not done much to fill these posts so far.Pollution inspectors are the need of the hour especially in Delhi where vehicular pollution counts for 20 per cent of the city’s toxic air. But so far in Delhi government’s transport department, out of the 38 sanctioned posts of Pollution Level Test Inspectors (PLTIs), only 19 have been filled. The number of filled posts has remained the same for years while the levels of pollution have risen alarmingly in the city.”These inspectors tasked with monitoring PUC fitness centres that are certified to check emission content of vehicles have been doubling up as officers in the RTI cell, vigilance and other administrative wings due to the overall staff crunch in the department. This has affected the monitoring of quality levels badly,” said a senior officer.Meanwhile, sources reveal that the transport department overall has 1,465 sanctioned posts of which only 494 are filled. This means that 940 posts are vacant. Besides, pollution inspectors, officials said, public services such as the issuance of driving licenses (DL) among others are getting affected as there are only 12 MV inspectors against the sanctioned 44 posts. MV inspectors get the driving tests done.However, only last month after the National Green Tribunal has asked the department to upload PUC reports annually on the website, the government has moved a file for fresh recruitments to the Lieutenant Governor.”The department has sent a proposal to fill these posts besides some others last year to the government. It has now been sent to the LG,” he said.The cadre of PLTIs was created in 1987. Till some years ago the number of sanctioned posts for them was 50, however, it was reduced later when a new post of pollution control officer (PCO) was created for these officers to be promoted to the next level.Besides, the officer said there is a scope for creation of posts for the new wings that have come up in the recent years such as IT, Road Safety and Victim Impact Report cells. The existing staff only doubles up for these wings as well affecting the overall working of the department.An audit report of the PUC centres and monitoring levels done by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) submitted in the Supreme Court earlier this year found that most of the pollution checking centres did not have upgraded technology or trained staff to get the correct readings.Besides, it also found that the rejection rate for vehicles is less, as PUC norms in the region are weak.

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Fortis raked in moolah of up to 1,737% in Adya Singh case: NPPA

Drugs administered to seven-year-old Adya Singh were grossly overcharged by Gurugram’s Fortis Memorial Research Institute (FMRI), a probe conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has revealed.Deceased Adya’s father, Jayant, was billed close to Rs 16 lakh in 15 days for his baby’s dengue shock syndrome treatment at FMRI.The hospital earned a mind-boggling profit ranging from 12% to 1737% on 176 items, including drugs and consumables, according to the information supplied by the hospital to NPPA. “These are tactics adopted by hospitals in collusion with pharma companies to earn profit,” said an NPPA official. He added, “Companies put exorbitant prices on MRP, but sell in bulk at highly discounted rates to hospitals.””Hospitals stand to earn huge profit margins by charging at MRP to patients. Also, they prescribe and procure particular brands of drugs for patients,” the official said.”NPPA shall be taking necessary follow up action as per existing law and within its jurisdiction,” said NPPA deputy director Anand Prakash.A three-way stop cock bi-valve which was procured by FMRI at Rs 5.77 was billed at Rs 106 (a profit margin of 1737%). The MRP of the bi-valve was Rs 106, while pharma company Romsons supplied it to FMRI at a heavily discounted rate of Rs 5.77 per piece.A ventilator circuit procured by FMRI at Rs 46, 614 was billed at Rs 66,305, a profit margin of 42%. Up to 171% profit was made by the hospital on dialysis contraptions like a CRRT kit of seven items procured at Rs 8,033 but billed at Rs 21,745.Surgical gloves, over a thousand of which were used in Adya’s treatment, procured at Rs 12 each, were priced at Rs 49 (marking up to 298% profit on each glove), while some units of gloves were sold at Rs 65 (up to 428% profit).Drugs like injection Dotamin which was bought by FMRI at Rs 28.35 was billed at Rs 287.50 at 914% profit. A simple paracetamol injection, Tamin, procured at Rs 36.29, has been billed at Rs 310 (754% profit) to the patient.Only 39 items of the 176 fall under the Drug Price Control Order where pharmaceutical companies cannot fix MRP over and above the ceiling price fixed by NPPA.Criminal charge12-1737%The profit FMRI has earned on 176 iitems.Rs 106The charge for a three-way stopcock bi-valve procured for Rs 5.77Rs 21,745 Billing for CRRT kit of 7 items procured at Rs 8,033Rs 49-Rs 65 Billing for gloves procured at Rs 49

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Bomb scare at Khan Market, but nothing found after day-long search

A bomb threat sent Delhi Police and intelligence agencies into high alert on Friday. Early in the morning, an anonymous caller informed police that a bomb had been planted in the tony Khan Market and would soon blow up. The upscale market area also houses VIP residences.Police, fire-fighters, and a dog squad with a bomb disposal team surrounded the Market in no time and kept scanning the area until evening. However, no explosive was found.Since the Parliament is located within a radius of 2.5 km from the market, and bearing in mind that it was the first day of the Winter session, police presence was ensured until late. Chief Fire Officer Atul Garg of the Delhi Fire Services said, “After assuring the area was free of explosives, the parking space was opened.””A few shops also started functioning. Vigil, however, was maintained till around 4pm,” he added.Cleared of parked vehicles, Khan Market was fortified throughout the day with police vehicles, anti-terror Parakram vans and armed commandos.”The New Delhi District Control Room got a call through Police Control Room at 6.46 am today (Friday) saying ‘Khan Market mein bomb plant kar diya hai’ (A bomb has been planted at Khan Market), said Deputy Commissioner of Police BK Singh, “A probe revealed that the call originated from outside New Delhi district. Adequate measures were taken and all the concerned agencies were roped in without any delay.”He added that the police was verifying facts and following the steps required as per the standard drill to handle a threat call. “There is no need to panic,” he asserted.

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Recover land worth Rs 14K cr: Bombay High Court to MHADA

“What steps is MHADA going to adopt to recover the surplus area which is due to it from developers who have developed Cess buildings in Mumbai. It is a powerful authority, it cannot be so helpless,” the Bombay High Court noted on Friday.A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and N W Sambre issued the direction while hearing a petition filed by activist Kamlakar Shenoy, who has claimed that there has been a wrongful loss of around Rs 14,000 crore due to willful and deliberate inaction of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) officials for not taking back around 30 lakh square feet saleable area.As per rules, MHADA is eligible to get a certain percentage of saleable area from developers, who redevelop cess buildings under rule 33 (7) of the Development Control Rules. Most Cess buildings are located in South Mumbai.The court has asked MHADA and the State housing department to file their replies to the petition within a week. “Some policy will have to be framed to recover the area,” the Bench said.”It cannot be that only First Information reports are filed against defaulting developers. In our country, you know the process takes a long time. Will till then the eligible candidates be deprived of their right?”The court also went through a reply filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau, which states that 457 projects are approved under the rules, of which surplus area to be recovered is 198,646.45 sqmt and compensation is Rs 37.54 crore.However, majority of the promised area is around 141803.29 sqmt, from 260 ongoing or stalled projects. The surplus amount will only be given after the projects are completed.MHADA has initiated prosecution against 34 developers and final reports have been filed against them in 26 cases. Further, civil proceedings against 29 developers have been initiated and MHADA has recovered 6376.12 sqmt from redeveloped area and Rs 40.47 crore as penalty. Six developers, have expressed their intention to settle their dues with MHADA and are in the process of handing over promised area.

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Centre works on cyber safety for power sector

Amid an increasing number of Cyber attacks, Cyber terrorism, and data leaks across the country, the Centre has prepared a comprehensive Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) exclusively for the power distribution sector which is the most critical link in the electricity market. This sector interfaces with the end customers and provides revenue for the entire value chain. The CCMP includes the framework for identification of various critical information infrastructure, cyber incident response coordination, and steps to be taken for its mitigation.The Ministry of Power’s move comes at a time when India has witnessed more than 27,000 cyber security threat incidents in the first half of 2017. Reported threats include phishing attacks, website intrusions, and defacements or damages to data as well as ransomware attacks. CCMP envisages a layered security approach to strengthen cyber security posture of distribution sector. This will provide a redundancy in the system with respect to cyber security.The power ministry officer told DNA, “Cyber threats to systems can take many forms such as failure of a system/element to act/react in designed way due to virus, software bugs, intrusion, and congestion in the underlying/supervising system. Dependence of normal system operation on ICT, so much so that, operators/ power system personnel are not aware of and not well versed in alternate method to control/operate the system.’’ He informed that the impact of cyber attack on the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system can lead to disruption of services to critical customers like hospitals and metros.

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Hopes fade for soldiers missing in avalanche

Hopes of finding alive the five soldiers, who went missing following heavy snowfall along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, are fading as blizzard-like conditions are hampering search and rescue operations.A search and rescue operations continued for the second day on Wednesday to locate the missing soldiers. “Our search operations are continuing. The soldiers continue to remain missing,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.Snow avalanches had swept away army bunkers at two different places on Tuesday. The first incident had occurred at Kanzalwan sub-sector of Gurez in the LoC when a snow avalanche swept away a high altitude `Mani Post’ in Bagtoor area. Three army jawans, who were manning the post were swept away by the avalanche and continue to remain untraceable. The second incident occurred in Naugam sector along the LoC when two soldiers slipped down from high altitude area.Indian Army has pressed Specialized Avalanche Rescue Teams (ARTs) into service and moved special equipment to the site to trace out the missing soldiers. Specially trained sniffer dogs too have been brought in to help the soldiers in the search and rescue operations. However the rescuers have not got any success to locate the five missing soldiers so far.Sources said inclement weather and poor visibility in high altitude areas is also hampering the search and rescue operations. Upper reaches and high altitude areas have been receiving heavy snowfall for the last two days.The fresh tragedy has come 11 months after the army lost 20 soldiers in the snow avalanches in Gurez, Sonamarg and Machil areas in the north and central Kashmir.

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State govt considers ban on plastic use by shopkeepers

The neighbourhood grocer may not be able to sell your monthly supply of staples in plastic bags. Apart from a blanket ban on plastic bags, the state government’s proposed curbs will also include the use of plastic in bags used by shopkeepers for packaging groceries like rice and dal, flex boards, clings for covering fruits and vegetables, buntings and flags.Packaged and mineral water manufacturers may also be asked to establish recycling and processing plants for used plastic bottles under their extended producers’ responsibility.”Apart from plastic bags, spoons, disposable plastic and thermocol plates and cups, we also plan to include plastic for secondary packaging (plastic packaging that is not done at the manufacturers end or for use in logistics and export), plastic clings, flex boards, buntings and flags and non-woven polyester bags in the ban’s ambit. However, we may have to cover this in phases,” said an official from the state environment department.Environment minister Ramdas Kadam has spoken about banning plastic bags from Gudi Padwa (March 2018) considering its environmental impact, while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised a complete ban on plastic in six months with alternatives being put in place.The state also plans to ban water packaged in PET bottles for sale in starred residential hotels and for serving in government and semi-government offices, educational institutions and their functions.In the later phase, plastic bottles in restaurants, private offices and mass functions may be banned. This will reduce the use of plastic bottles which are discarded, unlike glass bottles which are recycled.CHOKING ON PLASTICMaharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials estimate that around 3-5 per cent of municipal waste generated consists of plastic. While the MPCB will oversee plastic manufacturers, municipal bodies will regulate shops with the ban on dispensing plastic bags being built into license conditions.

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Brief spell of rain brings relief to pollution-hit Capital

The pollution-hit Capital heaved a sigh of relief on Monday after a light rainfall graced the city in the evening. The drizzle started around 5 pm and as much as 2 mm rainfall was received till 8.30 pm, officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.The air quality, however, remained ‘very poor’, with an AQI score of 366 during the evening. Scientists at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the rain was likely to continue on Tuesday as well, with which the air quality might improve from poor to moderate in the coming few days. In fact, it is not expected to end up in the ‘severe’ category till December-end.”The rain is likely to continue on Tuesday and will help in washing down of pollutants hanging in the air. The AQI in the city is expected to range from moderate to poor in the coming fortnight,” said Dipankar Saha, chief of air laboratory, CPCB. The temperature is also expected to come down with the downpour, he added.The maximum and minimum temperatures on Monday were recorded at 24.2 degrees Celsius and 8.2 degrees Celsius, respectively.”So far, winter has not set properly in Delhi. It is expected to set in by December 15-16. At present, the pressure in the atmosphere is low, which will pick up after winter sets in and a cold wave from the Himalayas comes in. Air from this region is clean and will help improve the air quality in the Capital as well. In the next 20 days at least, it will not touch the ‘severe’ category,” Saha said.After a brief respite on December 6 and 7, which were tagged as ‘good air days’ in the month, pollution levels spiked once again on Friday, with the AQI shooting up to 390 units. The permissible standards for PM 2.5 — the most prominent pollutant in the city — are 60 units (measured in microgram per cubic meters).Meanwhile, the air quality in the NCR towns of Ghaziabad and Noida, which are industrial hubs, continued to remain in ‘severe’ category at 463 and 408 units, respectively.Last week, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had asked the Lieutenant-Governor in a meeting to tell the Delhi government to start patrolling of small industrial units using cheap fuels, which leads to pollution.The Delhi Technological University (DTU) surrounded by Narela, Bawana, and Badli in outer Delhi has been witnessing massive pollution levels. The air quality index (AQI) readings of these two areas is always found to be high.

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Court extends NIA custody of alleged LeT terrorist

A Delhi court has allowed further custody of an alleged Pakistani Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, arrested recently along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, to the National Investigation Agency till December 18.The accused, identified as Mohammed Amir Awan, was arrested by the Army on November 24 from Handwara area of North Kashmir during an intensive search launched after an encounter in the area on November 21 that had left three alleged Lashkar militants dead. One soldier was also killed during the encounter.District judge Poonam A Bamba allowed his further NIA custody after he was produced before the court on expiry of his earlier custody.In its application, the probe agency told the court that the accused was needed for further custodial interrogation. The matter was transferred to the NIA which had registered a case on November 26 and took custody of the alleged terrorist.During initial interrogation, he had identified himself as Mohammed Amir Awan whose code in the Lashkar terror group was Abu Haamaz, the NIA said.The accused told his interrogators that he hailed from Bardiya town near the port city of Karachi and was recruited and trained by the terror group.He was allegedly pushed into the Kashmir valley from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to carry out attacks on various important installations in the Valley, the agency said.

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Kolkata: Steps taken by government to prevent power pilferage ineffective, say officials

While the state government is trying to prevent power pilferage with the installation of Aerial Bundled Cable or AB Cable, officials at the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) said that it had been a tried and failed technology for them.Sources at the power department said that in the first phase about 15,000 km of bare overhead conductors would be replaced by AB Cable which will not only prevent tampering with but will also help in maintaining the quality of power. State power minister Sovandeb Chatterjee had said that MLAs of places with high aggregate technical and commercial losses have been alerted. “There are plans of making it underground. At the same time these AB Cables will help prevent many accidents which are caused by bare overhead conductors,” Chatterjee said. It was found that the state intends to spend about Rs 8000 crore in installing AB Cable.On the other hand officials of privately-owned Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) said that they had unsuccessfully tried the technology in 2005. “It is seemingly impregnable and worked for about two years after we installed those but pilferers found a way out to tamper with these. Either the insulator on the wire was slashed at or burnt to create an opening for hooking,” a senior CESC official said.He also said that at present CESC had resorted to a first-in-India technology to deal with power theft. “We are now using coaxial cable where the wires, instead of running side by side, run in a concentric circle which, if attempted to puncture for hooking will not be successful,” he said and added that the joints of the cable would have junction boxes which would be sealed with expandable PU sealant making it foolproof. “A pilot project at Tiljala area in south Kolkata had been successfully implemented. We are now in the process of installing it in along Avinash Chowdhury Lane also in south Kolkata and next would be at Narkeldanga area in north Kolkata. These are areas which are most vulnerable in terms of power theft,” the official said.Officials of Loss Control Cell (LCC) of CESC said that they had brought down power theft from 70 percent to 15 percent in about two years by taking various preventive steps along with awareness programmes and making electric meters easily available.

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Guj High Court has asked EC to clarify on VVPAT counting by Dec 12

In its reply to the Gujarat High Court on December 12, the Election Commission has decided to stick to its decision of randomly electing and counting vote slips of one voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine in each constituency and match it with the corresponding electronic voting machine (EVM).Hearing a petition seeking 100 per cent manual counting of VVAPT vote slips and matching it with corresponding EVMs, the Gujarat high court on Thursday had sought Commission’s reply on if had set up any framework for sample counting of VVPAT slips along with EVM votes on random basis or not.EC sources said, the Commission has decided to do it on a pilot basis as it cannot take the risk of counting more than one VVPAT per constituency which may put the counting process in disarray, create confusion and delay the results.”On the basis of this pilot, we will be able to know exactly what are the lacunae and problems and will increase the number of VVPATs in future elections,” said the source adding that the Commission had never said that votes of 5% VVPATs will be matched in Gujarat elections.”The former CEC (Nasim Zaidi) has said 5% in terms of elections that will take place in distant future as he also knew that the EC first does everything on pilot basis and slowly increases the number and implements it,” said the source.Sources added that in case of any dispute or mismatch of votes between the VVPAT and EVM, the VVPAT counting will prevail as it is documentary evidence. He also clarified that a mismatch will not mean that votes of all machines in the particular polling station or constituency will be physically counted.”But the polling agents can ask for counting and matching of a particular VVPAT if they come across a complaint by a voter that the button pressed on the EVM and VVPAT slip are not matching,” said the source.In an elaborate statement issued on Friday, the EC described in detail the entire framework of administrative system, security protocols and procedural checks-and-balances in Gujarat to prevent any possible misuse of EVMs/VVPATs or procedural lapses in the use of EVMs and VVPATs during polls.”The Commission would like to reassure the people of the country that the Commission would leave no stone unturned in preserving the purity, integrity and credibility of the elections and reinforcing the faith and trust of the people in the electoral democracy of our county,” it said.On the poll day, a mock poll by casting at least 50 votes will be conducted at every polling station by the Presiding Officer in the presence of the polling agents one hour before start of actual poll.After the mock poll, Presiding Officer will ascertain the result in the CU, count the VVPAT paper slips in the presence of the polling agents and confirm that the results tally for each candidate. All mock poll data in CU and VVPAT paper slips from VVPAT will be stamped as mock and removed by the Presiding Officer and the empty drop box verified by the Polling Agents.After poll, EVMs and VVPATs will be sealed in their respective carrying cases and polling agents will also be allowed to put their signatures on the seals, which they can check for the intactness of the seal before counting.Candidates/representatives will also be allowed to follow the vehicles (with escorts) carrying EVMs and VVPATs from polling stations to counting storage rooms where the central armed police force (CAPF) will be on guard, the EC said.No vehicle, including that of any official or ministers or any other political functionary, will be allowed inside the secured campus where the EVMs and VVPATs are stored and it will 24X7 under video surveillance with a gazetted officer along with a senior police officer put on duty round the clock for monitoring the security arrangements of strong room.DCs and SPs have been made personally responsible for security of the strong room within the district and meticulous implementation of the protocol.On the day of counting of votes, the strong room will be opened in the presence of candidates/their representative, RO and observer under videography.After completion of counting of votes, Control Units and VVPATs shall again be sealed as and shifted back to strong room for safe storage for a period of 45 days to allow any party seek redressal through courts.The Commission said it is confident and of firm conviction that no unauthorised person is allowed access to EVMs and VVPATs before, during or after the polls. Besides, no unaccounted EVMs and VVPATs can enter the election eco-system at any stage, since all EVM/VVPAT activities are done in presence of stakeholders and tracked through the ETS.POLL RULESPolling agents can ask for counting and matching of a particular VVPAT if they come across a complaint by a voter that the button pressed on the EVM and VVPAT slip are not matching, said a source.

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Include pollution when assessing when to play a cricket match, IMA tells BCCI

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Thursday to include atmospheric pollution while assessing the criteria for a match.In a letter to BCCI acting president CK Khanna and head of committee of administrators Vinod Rai, IMA president Dr KK Agarwal said the message that has gone home from the India and Sri Lanka cricket match is that it is safe for children to play cricket even when PM 2.5 level is more than 300.The five-day match, in which Sri Lankan players were seen wearing masks on the field, ended on Wednesday.”Air pollution also reduces performance of the athletes. In a situation where milliseconds and millimetres often determine success of athletes, air pollution can be an important factor in affecting their performance. Rain and poor light are taken into consideration when determining suitable playing conditions, we suggest that atmospheric pollution should now also be included in the assessing criteria for a match,” the medical body said in its letter.The safe levels of atmospheric particulate matter (PM), according to the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines, are 20 ?g/cu mm (annual mean) for PM10 and 10 ?g/ cu mm (annual mean) for PM2.5.If the AQI is between 151 and 200, it is recommended that outdoor exercises be reduced. If the AQI is between 201 and 300, all outdoor activities and sports should be reduced. If the AQI is more than 300, all outdoor exercise and activities should be avoided as much as possible. If the AQI crosses 400, indoor activities, too, should be reduced and no exercise even at home is recommended.”Air quality in the Delhi-NCR region has been ranging between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ for several days. This has been a cause of great concern to us. Exposure to air pollution increases the risk of lung and heart disease and may precipitate an acute potentially life-threatening event. But, when pollution levels are this high, everyone, including healthy persons may experience some level of discomfort,” said Dr Aggarwal.
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Flashpoint, as India asks China to give back drone

India has requested China to return the Indian Army drone operating in north Sikkim, which went down in the Chinese territory on Thursday, even as Beijing accused India of violating its air space and infringing upon its territorial sovereignty.The possibility of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being shot down or electronically taken over cannot be ruled out, sources said. They added that if the damaged drone was broken into, sensitive data could be accessed.The Army first contacted its Chinese counterparts on the hotline. Then, through diplomatic channels, New Delhi asked them to return it. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, however, said the country has lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the drone violating their sovereignty. The UAV was on a regular training mission inside the Indian territory when it lost contact with the ground control due to some technical problem and crossed over the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Sikkim Sector.As per standard protocol, the Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV.”In response, the Chinese side reverted with the UAV’s location details. The exact cause of the incident is under investigation. The matter is being dealt with in accordance with the established protocols through institutional mechanisms to deal with situations along the Indo-China border areas,” a Ministry of Defence statement read.The Chinese claim of India violating its air space comes ahead of Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to New Delhi to take part in the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers’ meeting, to be held on December 11.Shuang told journalists on Wednesday that Wang will meet top Indian officials on the meet’s sidelines. This will be the first visit by a top Chinese official to India after the Doklam crisis and commencement of second five-year term of Chinese president Xi Jinping. The drone incident comes in the backdrop of a recent 73-day standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam, which also happens to be in the Sikkim sector where the UAV was operating.The Chinese troops retreated in August, putting an end to their road construction. India had objected to Chinese road building activity at the tri-junction in Doklam, which falls in a territory disputed by China and Bhutan. India had raised security implications of the proposed road.
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Air quality improves to ‘poor’, relief temporary

The Capital breathed better with the air quality improving from ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’ category on Wednesday.The air quality index (AQI) improved to 282 units from 378 units yesterday. The sun showing up and winds picking up speed were attributed as factors behind the relief by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).Delhi-NCR is likely to receive rainfall on Thursday, which officials of the CPCB said, is expected to wash down the pollutants hanging in the air.The relief, however, is going to be temporary, as fog is set to return after this period with a sharp drop in temperatures.”The AQI improved because of sunlight and movement in the air. The air is going to get even better if the expected rainfall occurs on Thursday. We are expecting a complete washdown. The AQI is likely to remain better over the weekend.However, a further drop in temperatures is expected thereafter, which will bring more moisture resulting in fog and trapping of pollutants,” said Dipankar Saha, air lab chief, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).Delhi witnessed much hue and cry over bad air quality, as Sri Lankan cricketers wore anti-pollution masks during the Test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. A player even threw up on the field during the match on Tuesday. ‘Very poor’ AQI comes with the warning that people may develop respiratory illness on prolonged exposure to air which affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases. The PM 2.5 — most prominent pollutant in Delhi NCR — has remained high in the NCR towns including Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Noida, which until Tuesday had’severe’levels of pollution.However, the wind speed helped clear the air with the AQI recorded as ‘very poor’ in these two towns with Noida (303), Faridabad (310) and Ghaziabad (347) units, respectively. While Gurugram was better off in ‘poor’ category — at 294 units. The units for pollution concentrations are measured in microgramms per cubic meters.
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Air quality may turn ‘severe’

The Capital’s air came close to’severe’category on Monday with the air quality index (AQI) at 390 units. Though still in the’very poor’category, the index bordered the ‘severe’ air pollution levels, over six times above the prescribed standards of 60 units.The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) — a Supreme Court mandated body — said if pollution levels enter’severe plus (500+)’ category in the next 48 hours, it will issue emergency directions.No movement in the air and emissions from the NCR towns led to the spike in pollutants, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said. This comes a day after much hue an cry was raised as Sri Lankan cricketers wore anti-pollution masks during the test match at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Sunday.The PM 2.5 — most prominent pollutant in Delhi NCR — had reached past 400 during the day. NCR towns, including Ghaziabad, Noida had’severe’levels of pollution at 467 units and 415 units, respectively.Gurugram and Faridabad remained high up in the’very poor’category — at 323 and 394 units, respectively. The units for pollution concentrations are measured in microgramms per cubic meters. “Meteorological conditions, in particular, no wind speed coupled with fuel emissions from vehicles and industries in NCR towns is resulting in foul air. If the wind speed picks up the pace in the coming days, it will get better. However, if conditions reach ‘severe plus’ category for 48 hours, we will issue fresh emergency directions,” said Bhure Lal, EPCA chairman.The monitoring stations under the CPCB and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) recorded high PM 2.5 concentrations above 300-400 units — R K Puram (442), Anand Vihar (476), DTU (390), NSIT Dwarka (367) and Mother Dairy Plant, Patparganj shooting up to (515).”There is a depression in the south and west with no movement of air on the Indo-Gangetic plains. There is a condition of complete calm, which means there are no winds to disperse the pollutants. However, light rain is expected in Delhi on Thursday, which will help clear the air and improve the air quality,” said Dipankar Saha, chief of Air Laboratory, CPCB. ‘Very poor’ AQI comes with the warning that people may develop respiratory illness on prolonged exposure air affects healthy people and seriously impact those with existing respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.GASPING ALREADYNCR towns, including Ghaziabad, Noida had ‘severe’ levels at 467 and 415 units, respectively.
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City’s air quality gets worse, AQI at 360

The air quality in the Capital deteriorated to 360 units on Thursday from 334 on Wednesday, remaining in the ‘very poor’ category for the eleventh day. The air quality index (AQI) at 360 is six times more than the permissible standards of 60.However, even as officials of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the air quality is likely to improve by Monday with the winter setting in, some Delhiites complained of breathing difficulties and irritation in eyes.CPCB officials said that an increase in moisture and humidity in the winds has been the trigger for the spike.”The winter is still to set with winds coming in from the north. So far winds have been fluctuating making it difficult for pollutants to be dispersed. At present south-easterly winds are bringing in humidity which is trapping the pollutants further deteriorating the air quality,” said D Saha, head of air laboratory, CPCB.The AQI is expected to hover from 320 to 360 units until this weekend, said Saha. The air quality is measured against PM 2.5 — the most prominent pollutant in Delhi-NCR — in units of micrograms per cubic metre.However, even as the average air quality index in the capital remained in the ‘very poor’ category, NCR towns such as Ghaziabad, which is an industrial hub, continued to reel under ‘severe’ pollution levels.The Delhi government had issued a health advisory on Monday asking schools to avoid all outdoor activities including assembly, sports and other physical activities that are held in the early morning hours. Besides this, it also advised people to reduce their exposure to the air and stay indoors as much as possible.AIR QUALITY INDEXDelhi: 360 (very poor)Ghaziabad: 453 (severe) Gurgaon: 312 (very poor) Noida: 359 ( very poor) Faridabad: 322 (very poor)
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Rs 2000-crore road map to end stubble burning submitted in Supreme Court

New Delhi: A Rs 2,000-crore road map to end stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana suggests that the government must provide equipment to farmers for free instead of subsidies, and the cost be recovered by imposing cess on sale of petrol and diesel in Delhi.According to the plan, submitted to the Supreme Court by an amicus curiae in an ongoing case related to air pollution, the best solution to avoid burning of crop residue is to till the straw back into the field using certain machines.According to official estimates, over 30 million tonnes of paddy straw are annually generated in Punjab and Haryana, which are later set to fire by farmers to reduce the turnaround time between harvesting paddy and sowing wheat crop.Also readHow much paddy stubble can we use in thermal plants?”The Centre and state governments must provide machines free of cost to farmers to use. This requires large-scale governmental procurement of the agricultural equipment, which should be given to every panchayat for common use,” says the report.It says the most promising technologies in this area are Turbo Happy Seeder (THS), which allows for seeding without till and the Super Straw Management System (S-SMS), developed by Punjab Agricultural University, which provides for the straw to be spread on the field.Also readFind solutions to stubble woes, says NGTThe seasonal burning of paddy straw in Punjab and Haryana aggravates pollution in Delhi every winter. The issue has turned political in the recent years with the neighbouring governments indulging in blame game over it.Earlier this month, pollution in the city hit emergency levels due to the traditional practice as smoke-laden winds from that region had shrouded Delhi in a thick blanket of smog.Also readDelhi pollution: SC issues notices to Centre, UP, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi govts over stubble burningHarish Salve, the amicus curiae who works closely with the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority or EPCA, submitted the plan to the apex court on November 17.”The THS and S-SMS each cost between Rs 1.2 and 1.5 lakh.Given that there are roughly 13,000 panchayats in Punjab and some 6,500 in Haryana, if even three sets of these machines are given free to each panchayat, it would only require some Rs 2,000 crore to be spent in Punjab and Haryana (Punjab would need Rs 1,300 and Haryana Rs 650 crore),” it says.The amount should be generated by imposing a pollution charge on the sale of petrol and diesel in Delhi, which will also help in reducing the differential between the prices of petrol and diesel, which continues to remain at about Rs 10 per litre because of taxes, the proposal says.Currently, Delhi consumes 10 lakh tonnes of petrol and 13 lakh tonnes of diesel annually (2016-17). If a cess of Rs 1 is imposed on petrol and Rs 5 on diesel per litre, then the city alone will contribute Rs 900 crore in one year.The report terms as “perverse” the suggestion that farmers be provided subsidies to dissuade them from burning crop residues.
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Mumbai: AIDS Control Society teams up with college students to raise awareness on HIV

Mumbai Districts AIDS Control Society (MDACS) to tie up with various colleges in order to spread awareness on HIV AIDS among the masses. This year, the MDACS orgnaisation has come up with a different initiative on the occasion of World AIDS Day on December 1. While 16 colleges from across the city have confirmed their participation, the MDACS will also be opening Antiretroviral therapy (ART) center for HIV AIDS detection at Kamathipura. Dr Shrikala Acharya, spokesperson and additional project director of MDACS, said, “Every year we try to collaborate with different colleges groups through NSS units in order to spread the awareness message. The students come up with street plays and other activities which they perform in and around their college areas. This year around 16 colleges have confirmed their participation. Through this initiative, it helps NSS unit students to work for a social cause in the society as well as us to reach out to the masses at different locations in a day.” According to MDACS awareness activity plays a major role to detect HIV in the earlier stage. “While we will be opening ART center at Kamathipura on December 1, a professional group will be performing skits at various location in Kamathipura occasionally to make people know about the facts of HIV/AIDS and prevention measures.”
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J&K: Pakistani troops violate ceasefire in Rajouri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistani troops opened fire at Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district in violation of the ceasefire, police said.”Pakistani troops resorted to firing in Jhangar forward area from 1845 hours to 1900 hours,” a senior police officer said, adding that further details were awaitedLast night’s violation of the ceasefire came after a lull of over a week in firing by Pakistani troops at Indian posts. ALSO READ Ceasefire agreements can help save Indo-Pak relationsPakistani troops violated the ceasefire for three consecutive days between November 15 and November 17 in Jammu and Poonch districts. An Army jawan was injured in the exchange of fire in Poonch.On November 2, a BSF jawan was killed when Pakistan Rangers attacked a patrol party along the International Border in Samba district.A girl was injured when Pakistani troops opened fire from small arms along the LoC in Karmara belt of Poonch district on October 31.On October 18, eight civilians, including a two-year-old child, were injured in heavy Pakistani shelling in Poonch. ALSO READ J&K: Pakistan violates ceasefire in Nowgam

Forget PoK, raise Indian flag in Srinagar first: Farooq Abdullah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After his ‘PoK belongs to Pakistan’ remark, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah has made another controversial statement saying, raise Indian flag in Srinagar first.Abdullah, who is under fire for controversial comment said that the India government should try to raise the flag in Lal Chawk in Srinagar first, before attempting the feat in PoK.Taking jibe at the Centre, he said, “They are talking of raising flag at PoK. I ask them, first you go and raise the Tricolour at Lal Chawk in Srinagar. They can’t even do that here and they are talking about PoK.”Unfazed by the criticism of his remarks that the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir belonged to Pakistan and ‘this won’t change’ no matter how many wars India and Pakistan fight, he reiterated his stand saying this was the only realistic solution to herald a new era of peace and trust in the region.On Sunday, following the abduction and killing of a Territorial Army jawan by militants, Abdullah also expressed concerns over the ‘worsening security situation’ in Jammu and Kashmir and said the Centre has to frame its response vis-a-vis Pakistan for bringing peace in the region.”Conversion of the Line of Control (LoC) into a line of peace will improve the living conditions of people on both sides and promote interaction and goodwill,” Abdullah said. A social activist had also filed a complaint with the district magistrate against Farooq Abdullah seeking registration of sedition cases against them for their remarks on Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Rajasthan ‘first state’ to get ombudsman to redress grievances of people with HIV/AIDS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rajasthan has become the first state in the country which have an ombudsman to redress grievances of people with HIV/AIDS. For the purpose, the state has started the work on formulating guidelines and rules as per the provisions of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act 2017, which brings in legal accountability and establishes formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances of HIV positive people.Recently, a meeting of representatives from various departments including health, woman and child development, police, transport, railways, social justice and empowerment, Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority, NGOs, Network of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) and development partners was held.

Notice to Centre on steroid misuse plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court (HC) on Wednesday issued notices to the Centre on a plea seeking directions to ensure that no topical medications containing a “cocktail of harmful steroids” are sold without a valid prescription. The steroids in question are used to treat several skin diseases.The plea, filed by the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists, and Leprologists (IADVL), a leading official body of dermatologists and skin specialists, has questioned the misuse of topical corticosteroids, a class of drugs used to treat a variety of skin diseases.The petition sought a ban on the manufacture and sale of several skin creams containing steroids, which are marketed for skin conditions such as pigmentation, itching, fairness, and inflammation.It also sought an independent high-level inquiry into how the Central Drug Standards and Control Organisation (CDSCO) granted approval for the commercial manufacture, use, and sale of hazardous as well as irrational and unscientific steroid combinations, and an order to prosecute the officers concerned.A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar termed this a serious issue and asked the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Central Drug Standards and Control Organisation (CDSCO) to file their response on the plea by January 23, the next date of hearing.Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Tania Agarwal contended that by enforcing the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the government must curb the menace of abuse of certain drugs that have been affecting the health of millions of Indians.”The unchecked and unregulated manufacture and sale of irrational, unscientific, and hazardous corticosteroids, either in the form of a single molecule or in combination with other antifungals or antibacterials has caused serious adverse effects on the health of millions of Indians,” the plea stated.It also contended that these drugs caused growth retardation in infants and children, Cushing syndrome, suppression of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, acute adrenal insufficiency, severe hard to treat steroid modified fungal infection of the groin and other body areas, male genital dermatophytoses, topical steroid damaged face, among other things.The petition sought directions to the government to include these drugs in Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945, as proposed by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board. Schedule H is the category of drugs that can to be dispensed only through a prescription and that cannot be advertised. The sale of steroid creams is over half-a-billion-dollar business, with almost two-thirds of them being sold without prescription.

190 terrorists killed this year in Jammu and Kashmir of which 80 were locals: Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Army and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday called for peace in the valley and urged the local terrorists to give up militancy.General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant General J.S. Sandhu said, “The local terrorists must realise that it is easy to call themselves a Mujahid. But are you a Mujahid, or just a proxy for Pakistan? Come back to the mainstream as this will facilitate return of peace to the valley. We are ready to receive them in an honourable manner.”While addressing a joint press conference along with state Director General of Police (DGP) S.P. Vaid, Sandhu claimed that the security forces have gunned down about 190 militants this year so far. “We have killed about 190 terrorists sa far this year. Out of these 190, 80 are local terrorists and 110 foreign. Out of these 110, 66 terrorists were killed near the Line of Control (LoC) while infiltrating,” he pointed out. He further said that the security forces have killed 125-130 terrorists in the hinterland of Kashmir Valley which has resulted in a remarkable change in situation.Speaking about the Bandipore encounter, Lieutenant General Sandhu hailed the Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police for successful operation. “Based on specific information, joint operation was launched by CRPF, Army, Jammu and Kashmir Police in which six terrorists were eliminated, all were foreign terrorists. I commend all agencies who worked to ensure success of the operation,” he said.Six Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists, including Mumbai attack mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s nephew Owaid, were gunned down by security forces in the encounter in Hajin area of Bandipora district on Saturday.Meanwhile, DGP Vaid also called for peace in Kashmir and lauded the security force for Bandipora encounter. “Kashmir valley needs to be free from violence, terror, guns and drugs. It was a commendable joint effort by our agencies and jawans. Wish very soon we can see Kashmir free of violence,” he said.

Rain helps but air quality remains ‘poor’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The air quality in the Capital improved on Saturday, after overnight rain in some parts of Delhi, moving it from ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’ category as the concentation of Particulate matter (PM) decreased.An official of the India Meteorological Department said the city recorded one mm rainfall in the 24 hours till 8:30 am on Saturday.The Central Pollution Control Board on Saturday recorded the pollutant particulate matter or PM2.5 at 288 at 10 am on Saturday, as compared to 299 at 7 pm on Friday.According to the experts, the situation will improve in the coming days.SAFAR records 24-hour rolling averages of PM10 and PM 2.5, and uses this data to estimate the air quality index (AQI). PM 10 and PM 2.5 are ultra-fine particles, which are the dominant pollutants in Delhi. The acceptable levels of PM10 and PM 2.5 are 100µg/m3 and 60µg/m3 respectively.The larger particulate matter, measured by PM10, docked at 199 µg/m3 on Saturday morning while PM2.5, which measures very poor and more dangerous particulate matter, hovered around 130 µg/m3.The Safdarjung observatory recorded 1 mm rainfall.

Air clean, NGT lifts ban on construction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday lifted its prohibition on construction activity in Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) in light of improved air quality. In an order passed last week, the NGT had put a restriction on all construction activity in Delhi-NCR and transportation of construction material as dust is one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the city.The Tribunal though, directed Delhi and neighbouring states to prepare an action plan within two weeks to control air pollution and prepare for times when the pollution levels rise above very poor levels.A three-member bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar was hearing the plea on air pollution filed by advocate Vardhaman Kaushik.”While preparing the action plan, all the prior judgments, directions, existing action plans must be taken into consideration and the action plan should be directly relatable to the pollution standards and will automatically come into play the moment the prescribed parameter is touched,” the bench said.It added that failure to file the action plan will attract exemplary costs that would be recovered from the senior most concerned officers. “All the state governments, pollution control boards, Central Pollution Control Board and NCT Delhi should have complete preparedness for the coming challenge when the parameter of ambient air quality is severe or hazardous,” the bench added.The Tribunal also clarified that since the Delhi administration had lifted restrictions on entry of diesel-fuelled trucks into Delhi, it will not interfere in it but ordered strict regulations. Further, it said that all other directions in relation to emissions from industries, burning of wastes, burning of crop residue and emissions from vehicles shall however continue to be in force on the basis of precautionary principle.

Plea on measures to tackle pollution: SC seeks Centre’s reply

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to respond to a plea which has sought its direction on issues, including availability of sufficient gas supply in the NCR and review of status of existing coal-based power plants, aimed at tackling the problem of air pollution.The application has also sought the top court’s direction to implement the 2015 emission standards for power plants by December this year and also direct the Centre to strengthen the distribution of electricity in the National Capital Region (NCR).A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, representing the Centre, about it and he said that he would take instructions and file a response, if necessary.The application has been filed by an advocate, who has been appointed as an amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter.During the hearing, the court also observed that it would consider the issue of deadline for implementing BS-VI emission standards for vehicles.The plea has sought a direction that “sufficient gas supply be made available so that all power generation in the NCR is from power plants using gas as their principal fuel”.It has also sought ban on import of pet coke and furnace oil, review of status of existing coal-based power plants and a time-bound switch over to natural gas.It has said the Centre should be directed to oversee measures to strengthen the distribution of electricity in NCR to ensure that there was no shortfall in availability of power on 24X7 basis.Meanwhile, the bench asked the Centre, amicus and the counsel appearing for the Central Pollution Control Board to identify the money, which was collected under various heads pursuant to orders passed by the court in pollution matter, so that it could be properly utilised.The court, however, did not pass any order on a separate application filed by the amicus seeking a direction for collection of a compensatory sum on petrol and diesel in the NCR which would be used for measures to deal with pollution in the region.The plea has also sought a direction to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to examine the feasibility of existing technologies and present a workable scheme on the use and disposal of crop stubble to the court.The court was hearing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR.

What is stopping you from getting back PoK, prove my father wrong: Omar Abdullah to Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A day after Farooq Abdullah’s controversial remark on PoK, son Omar Abdullah today said the Centre should prove his father wrong with “actions” by taking back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”I don’t understand the ‘if we try’. What is stopping you from getting it back? Prove Dr (Farooq) Abdullah wrong with your actions rather than with hollowed out words,” Omar Abdullah tweeted. The National Conference leader was reacting to Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hans Raj Ahir’s statement that no one can stop India from taking back PoK. “I say Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is a part of India and due to the mistakes of the previous governments it has been with Pakistan. If we try to get PoK back, no one can stop us because it is our right,” Ahir said on the sidelines of a function in Delhi.Farooq Abdullah made controversial remarks earlier this week saying PoK was part of Pakistan while Jammu and Kashmir is part of India. He said India and Pakistan may fight as many wars as they can but this cannot be changed. Despite drawing flak, the National Conference president continued with his controversial remarks and while addressing a party function in Uri town of Baramulla district yesterday said that Pakistan was “not weak and not wearing bangles to allow India to take that part of Jammu and Kashmir under its occupation”. “How long shall we keep saying that (PoK) is our part? It (PoK) is not their father’s share. That (PoK) is Pakistan and this (J-K) is India,” he had said.
ALSO READ Another shocker: Pakistan not weak to allow India to take PoK, says Farooq Abdullah He said 70 years have “passed but they (India) could not get it (PoK)”. “Today, they (India) claim it is our part. So take it (PoK), we are also saying please take it (from Pakistan). We will also see. They (Pakistan) are not weak and are not wearing bangles. They too have atom bomb. Before we think about war, we should think how we will live as humans,” Farooq Abdullah had said. Hitting out at Ahir, Omar Abdullah asked if he included the decision of the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to respect the sanctity of Line of Control (LoC).”And in ‘previous governments’ do you include Vajpayee Sb’s decision to respect sanctity of LoC during the Kargil War as well?” he asked. In an earlier tweet yesterday, Omar Abdullah, reacting to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s remarks, said he wanted to know what successive Congress governments did since 1947 to get back PoK. “That’s excellent news. Perhaps Azad Sb may like to explain what successive Congress governments have done since 47 to get it back,” he wrote.

IMD predicts rain for today, may lower pollution levels

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While thick smog continued to envelope Delhi-NCR on Tuesday morning, the pollution levels, however, came down by the evening from the ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ category. The air quality index (AQI), which stood past 400 units in the morning, fell to 308. However, it is still five times above the safe standard of 60 units.The improved wind conditions, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), can be attributed to a change in meteorological conditions including wind speed picking up and a sunny day.CPCB officials, as per the forecast provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), said that slight rains are expected on Wednesday, which is further likely to bring down pollution levels.”The weather conditions have changed, reducing humidity and moisture, and wind speed improved on Tuesday which helped disbursal of pollutants hung in the air. Besides, if it rains tomorrow, pollutants will be washed away majorly bringing much respite. The week ahead is expected to have better air quality,” said, Dipankar Saha, head of air laboratory, CPCB.However, even as the average AQI in the capital improved, NCR towns including Noida and Ghaziabad continued to reel under ‘severe’ pollution levels.Meanwhile, some monitoring stations in the city still recorded ‘severe’ pollution levels above the score of 400 units including Delhi University (410), Lodhi Road (428) and Pitampura (411).

Can’t give parole to consummate marriage: HC to convict’s wife

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court recently rejected an application filed by a woman seeking her husband to be released on parole for 90 days to consummate their marriage. The court rejected the plea since parole rules don’t acknowledge conjugal rights as reason for leave from prison.A division bench of Justices V K Tahilramani and M S Karnik turned down the plea of a wife, who had submitted that her husband, a convict under Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), be released from prison on parole. The court, relying on Rule 19 of the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959, said, “The ground on which the parole is being sought is not one on which the prisoner can be released on parole. Hence, we cannot entertain this petition.”Advocate Apeksha Vora, appearing for the woman, argued that the accused, who is sentenced to life imprisonment, had been released on temporary bail by the High Court in 2014 to get married. After attending post-marriage functions, he was brought back to prison on June 2, 2014. Thereafter, he has been lodged at the Kolhapur prison.Further, it was argued that if the convict can be allowed to get married after conviction, then he should be allowed to consummate his marriage. Convict Abhijit Babar is co-accused in a case filed under various sections of MCOCA.

On Children’s Day, Delhi kids ask PM Modi for their right to breathe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As National Capital wakes up to even higher smog levels on Tuesday as compared to Monday, shooting past 500 level into the ‘severe plus’ category, Delhi’s children come out on streets on Children’s day asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for their right to breathe.100 young kids from the capital will mark Children’s day with masks and National Flag to share a plea with the Prime Minister for ‘My Right to Breathe’, organised by a citizen group of the same name, on Tuesday at India Gate at 3 PM.“It’s a plea from the children of Delhi directly to their PM pleading for clean air. Their right to breathe, their right to a future, their right to live,” said a member.According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) officials,”Pollution levels will see a rise on Tuesday owing to meteorological conditions. But, the conditions are expected to improve between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.” The conditions are expected to improve as rains are predicted on November 15. Besides, moderate to dense fog is expected across Delhi-NCR.Monday early morning hours in the national Capital were bad with a blanket of haze and visibility less than 500 meters. However, by evening some monitoring stations under the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) showed the pollution levels coming down in some places, including R K Puram and Rohini.

Odd! AAP failed to act on bus shortage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the AAP government has called off its controversial Odd-Even scheme for now after stinging criticism from the National Green Tribunal, DNA has learnt that officials thought of hiring buses on the eve of the rolling out of the rationing of private vehicles.The government floated a tender to hire private mini and medium-sized buses only on November 10, three days before the scheme was to be implemented in Delhi in the name of curbing spiralling air pollution.The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) sought proposals by November 12 for standard CNG buses (40 seats) and midibuses (30 seats) at the rate of Rs 41/km and Rs 31/km, respectively.Application forms for the same were available between 9 am and 6 pm on November 12. They were to be filled and submitted to the DTC on the same day by 8 pm.The Delhi government’s transport department headed by Minister Kailash Gahlot had asked the DTC to procure 500 private buses to implement the Odd-Even scheme proposed (and now scrapped) during November 13-17. Gahlot had discussed the implementation of the scheme with officials of the transport department at a meeting on October 23.After the tribunal raised questions over the exemptions to two-wheelers and female drivers, the scheme was called-off on Saturday.”We had asked the department to invite a tender to engage private contractors during Odd-Even. Buses were under procurement,” said a senior official.According to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), the government needs at least 2,000 additional buses.According to a recent survey, Delhi needs at least 11,000 buses plying on a daily basis. However, the DTC at present has a fleet of around 5,600, of which only 4,200 are plying, as the remaining have turned defunct.The AAP government in 2015 had promised to add 10,000 buses to the DTC fleet, besides 736 cluster buses. However, while no new DTC buses have been procured, only 215 cluster buses have come. The Odd-Even scheme was first implemented by the AAP government twice in 2016 – during January 1-15 and again during April 15-30.

Delhi pollution level goes up again, Gurugram schools to be closed on Monday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a brief let-up, the pollution levels skyrocketed in Delhi on Sunday with the air quality becoming hazardous, which environmental agencies consider unfit for inhalation even by healthy people.As the NCR-region continues to be under worse smog condition, the Gurgaon district administration on Sunday directed that government and private schools would be closed on Monday in view of the persistent smog and pollution situation in the NCR, an official said.”Due to smog and pollution in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), including Gurgaon, we have decided to close all private and government schools on November 13,” District Magistrate Vinay Pratap Singh said.Schools in the district were closed on Friday and Saturday. The order has been extended till Monday, the official said.”Smog can be dangerous for children and students. We have suggested residents to wear best quality mask to combat air pollution,” he said. The pollution monitoring authorities said there may be some respite from Monday evening as surface winds will gain momentum.SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) said there is possibility of rains in the evening of November 14.However, experts say rain brings temporary relief, but also leads to accumulation of particulates due to high levels of moisture.The hourly graph of the Central Control Room for Air Quality Management, which had briefly fallen below emergency levels on Saturday, recorded PM2.5 and PM10 concentration at 478 and 713 microgrammes per cubic metre by afternoon.The corresponding 24-hour safe standards are 60 and 100. Visibility came down below 100 metres at many places.The air quality index of the CPCB had a score of 460, as against Saturday’s 403. The most dominant pollutants were PM 2.5 and CO, according to the CPCB air bulletin.People complained of burning sensation in their eyes and heaviness in breathing, reflecting the severity of the pollution.The PM2.5 reading of the Centre-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) was also above 400, which is in the severe category as well.If the prevailing levels of PM2.5 and PM10 persist for another 24 hours, the odd-even scheme is supposed to be implemented, according to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) being enforced by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.The NGT on Saturday said that the odd-even scheme should be implemented “without any default” as and when PM (particulate matter) 10 level goes above 500 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM2.5 level crosses the limit of 300 microgrammes per cubic metre during a span of 48 hours.CPCB and SAFAR scientists maintained that the fresh spike in pollution was triggered mainly due to drop in inversion layer (the layer beyond which pollutants cannot disperse into the upper layer of the atmosphere), which in turn happened due to sharp drop in minimum and maximum temperatures.The CPCB’s air lab chief Dipankar Saha said the haze was basically a mixture of dust and moisture. Formation of a thick cloud cover also resulted in the spike in moisture and drop in both minimum and maximum temperatures, he said.”The wind flow from North Western side of Delhi (through Punjab & Haryana) is likely to continue till today. The wind will start flowing towards towards Punjab and Haryana from tomorrow under the influence of a western disturbance approaching Delhi.”Under the above scenario, atmospheric circulation over Delhi will become favourable for substantial reduction of air pollutants from November 13,” Saha said.Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP accused the AAP government of being in an “indecisive state” over the pollution crisis in the city and demanded Lt Governor Anil Baijal to call an all- party meeting.Manoj Tiwari, the president of Delhi BJP, said that air pollution levels in the city are 4-7 times higher than the normal posing serious health hazard to the people.”Despite this, the visionless Arvind Kejriwal government continues to be in a indecisive state,” he alleged.With schools set to open and heavy public activity likely tomorrow after the weekend break, the Kejriwal government seems to be “lost” as it never formulated a strategy to fight such a climatic emergency, he said.He requested the LG to call an all-party meeting to discuss the preparations to fight pollution and remedial measures, Tiwari also demanded 24×7 free chest units at all the government and private hospitals in Delhi.

Odd! Odd-Even off after NGT spoiler

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government did a flip-flop on Saturday and called off the Odd-Even scheme for vehicles after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) refused to allow a number of exemptions in the proposed five-day exercise. The scheme was to come into effect from Monday.In what could be seen as a more odd than even twist, the government will now petition before the NGT against its own order on Monday. The green panel had given a conditional nod to the Odd-Even proposal, after ruling out any exemptions to women drivers and those riding two-wheelers.The fast-paced back-to-back developments were triggered by an NGT order earlier in the day, which stated that no exemption should be allowed to “any person or officer and two-wheelers” during the proposed car rationing scheme.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said on Saturday that the Odd-Even scheme should be implemented “without any default” as and when the particulate matter (PM ) 10 level goes above 500 microgrammes per cubic metre and PM 2.5 level crosses the limit of 300 microgrammes per cubic metre during a span of 48 hours. At the same time, the green panel ordered that no exemption should be allowed to “any person or officer and two-wheelers”.The panel allowed the exemption only for emergency vehicles, such as ambulances and fire tenders.”Is the Odd-Even scheme at the whim and thought of a particular officer or the Delhi government as a whole? Is it being implemented with the consent of both the Lieutenant-Governor and the Delhi government?” the NGT asked.As Delhi air became unbreathable, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had announced on November 9 that the scheme will be back for a week. Also, schools were shut down till Sunday due to the high level of smog in the Capital. Earlier, appearing before the NGT bench, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had said that two-wheelers were more polluting than other vehicles, and emissions from motorbikes accounted for 20 per cent of the total vehicular pollution.The bench also castigated the government over its decision to hike parking fees saying: “Measures such as enhanced parking fees to decrease pollution are absurd. The hike will benefit only the contractors and would stress people by encouraging them to park vehicles on roads instead.”Ruing the NGT order, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said the government was not ready “to compromise with the safety of women”. “We respect the NGT decision. Two conditions of NGT, that two-wheelers and women cannot be exempted, make it difficult to implement the Odd-Even scheme as we do not have enough buses,” he said.”We cannot compromise with the safety of women. The PM2.5 and PM10 levels have also come down. So, at the moment, we are calling the scheme off. We will file a review application in NGT on Monday,” the minister said, after participating in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, with other senior officials, at the CM’s residence.Had the scheme been implemented this Monday, it would have been the third edition of car rationing in Delhi. The scheme was earlier implemented for a fortnight from January 1-15, 2016, and then for the second time, from April 15-30, 2016.Under the scheme, odd-numbered vehicles ply on odd dates and even numbered on even dates. Restrictions were supposed to be in place from 8 am to 8 pm.

Why was the odd-even scheme not implemented immediately, NGT asks Delhi government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Saturday asked the Delhi government the rationale behind implementing the odd-even scheme in the city.”Why wasn’t this implemented when the air quality index had become bad?” the NGT questioned further asking both the Centre and the Delhi government to name one city in the world where the PM 10 levels were lower than 100.The NGT then directed the Delhi government to show the letter on basis of which this decision (to implement the odd-even scheme) was taken, and whether the LG’s approval was taken for the same.During the hearing, the Central Pollution Control Board claimed that they had ‘orally’ warned the Delhi government about the problem – a claim that the Delhi government denied.”Do not test our patience. When statistics indicate that rains lead to a fall in pollution levels, why did you take time to spray water? You’re only takeing the decision after the tribunal directed you to,” the NGT said to the Delhi government.The bench, headed by Justice Swatantra Kumar, had on Friday rapped Delhi government and asked it to not implement odd-even scheme unless they satisfy the court that it is not counter-productive.On Saturday, however, the bench asked the government whether it was sure of the odd-even scheme benefit. “Citizens should not be affected by it and no inconvenience should be caused,” the bench observed.The bench also asked the Delhi government on the reasons behind the exemptions on two-wheeler vehicles and the impact of those vehicles. The bench even asked the government whether it intends to employ the odd-even scheme whenever the pollution levels spiral, to which the Delhi Govt stated that this couldn’t be said as of now.Meanwhile, the Central Pollution Control Board submitted before the NGT that rain could take place in the next two days.A layer of smog continued to engulf Delhi on Friday with some of the areas still gripped in the hazardous category of air quality index.The pollution level in Punjabi Bagh at 802, Mandir Marg at 515, Anand Vihar at 571 and Dwarka at 420 fall under the hazardous category.The AAP government on Thursday announced the introduction of the odd-even scheme as part of a Graded Response Plan to tackle the alarming pollution situation in the national capital.With nearly 13 lakh private cars expected to keep off the road per day after the odd-even scheme kicks in from Monday, the government is looking to hire 500 buses to ensure smooth commute for the public.The odd-even scheme will be rolled out in Delhi for five days from November 13 to November 17. The scheme will be in place from 8 am to 8 pm and there will exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers.

Governments lack political will, says EPCA chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) was notified last year and measures were rolled out. However, there is no improvement in the situation this year. What is causing this mess?The EPCA has tried its best to bring about change and has urged all the states and agencies to follow the measures. However, it is the administration which has to go on the ground and get things done. All the state governments were on board and had agreed to the plan which we had submitted. Most pollutants are from crop stubble burning, besides industrial and vehicular emissions in neighbouring states. The State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) are the weakest links. These Boards get politicised and hence the implementation on the ground is majorly affected. Also, there is a lack of political will and initiative on part of all governments. While there is an improvement in conditions, and awareness has been created, we have a long way to go.What concrete steps can be taken to curb crop stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana?We have been telling the Centre and the state governments to provide alternatives to farmers, as the window between kharif and rabi crops is too small. The Centre must look at subsidising the tools such as happy-seeders and give them to farmers. Further, the state governments must organise farmers in groups and provide them these tools on a community basis. Alternatives are available and crop residue can be turned into an economic good. Besides, agencies which convert paddy straw into electricity must be welcomed. The Punjab government asked the Centre for Rs 10,000 crore to incentivise farmers, which is not a feasible thing to do. They must look at doable alternatives.Can reducing the number of private vehicles on roads be a solution?Vehicular pollution contributes to over 20 per cent in the overall air pollution. It is a big number. I have been saying this for years and one of our objectives is to discourage private transport on roads. In 2010, the number of buses should have been 11,000. What is it now? Who is to blame for it? We have always supported robust public transport, which will cut down on emissions as well as congestion. We went to Anand Vihar — a pollution hotspot — with a team and have suggested a plan for reducing smoke and dust in the area. The place did not have urinals and its redevelopment has been pending for years. After our team worked on it, Anand Vihar looks better. However, the government did not take an initiative to follow up on it.

NGT slams Delhi govt on Odd-Even, verdict today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal called the Delhi government’s Odd-Even traffic restrictions to clean up the city’s toxic air a “farce” on Friday, and said it will not be rolled out without the NGT’s go ahead.”We will not allow it until you prove that it’s not counter-productive,” the NGT said. India’s top environment court will take a call on the issue on Saturday.The government has announced to run during Monday-Friday the controversial measure which says odd- and even-numbered private vehicles ply on alternate days as air quality has remained severally polluted over four days. The NGT said that a hundred measures have been suggested to curb pollution, but the government always opts for Odd-Even. After the resounding criticism, the government plan hangs in the balance.The scheme is being rolled out under a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) given by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). But EPCA chairman Bhure Lal told DNA that Odd-Even will be ineffective. “The announcement was made without consulting EPCA… it will create panic… Two-wheeler exemption and lack of buses will make Odd-Even infective,” he said. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked Delhi government to provide details of the benefits during the earlier implementation of the scheme.The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has said there is no data to suggest that the road rationing scheme reduced vehicular pollution in Delhi-NCR.The NGT also questioned the exemption given to two-wheelers, saying these are a major pollution contributor in Delhi where schools are shut for the week. The situation has not improved despite a slew of government measures — ordering a halt to construction, restricting car use and raising parking charges fourfold.Following a plea by the AAP government, the green panel however allowed the industries engaged in essential services to operate in Delhi-NCR on the condition that they would not pollute and cause emissions.Illegal crop stubble burning, vehicle exhaust and construction dust have been causing Delhi’s pollution crisis every winter. A US embassy measure of tiny particulate matter called PM 2.5 showed a reading of 523 at 9 am onFriday. The safe limit of “good” air is 50. Commercial trucks are now banned from Delhi unless they are transporting essential commodities

Odisha sets up panel to crack down on ganja farming

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Odisha Police has set up a coordination committee, comprising officials of revenue, excise and forest departments, to crack down on ganja cultivation in the state.A meeting of top officials of excise department, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and police superintendents of districts, where ganja cultivation is rampant, was chaired by DGP R P Sharma on Wednesday to determine their plan of action in this regard.Stating that Odisha has emerged as the second state in the country, followed by Himachal Pradesh, to eradicate ganja plantation, ADG (crime branch), Santosh Kumar Upadhaya, said a coordinated effort could end the menace in Odisha.He said a blueprint has been prepared in the meeting for wiping out ganja plantations during the harvest period between November and January.The Odisha Police has set a target to destroy 4,000-acre hemp cultivation in 2017-18, he added.A source in the crime branch of the Odisha Police said ganja cultivation in several hilly areas of the state has been on the rise for several years now.Around 1300 acres of hemp was destroyed in 2012-13, but another 4000 acres were reported in the financial year 2016-17 in the state, a senior NCB official said.Tribal-dominated Kandhamal district was found to be the worst-affected. The police had destroyed 243 acres of ganja in 2013-14, 727 acres in 2014-15, but the plantation area rose to 1341 acres in 2015-16 and 2,072 acres in 2016-17.”Suitable climate, hilly terrains and support from local people made Kandhamal district a safe haven for the ganja cultivators,” a police official said on the condition of anonymity.​

Civic bodies to notify on parking fee hike today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking a U-turn, the municipal corporations in the city said they will release the notification on Thursday regarding hiking of parking fee by four times after the Lieutenant Governor issued directives for measures to be taken as air quality crossed the ‘severe’ mark on Wednesday.The air quality shooting past 500 entered the ‘severe plus’ category after which the L-G Anil Baijal called an emergency meeting to roll out the measures to tackle the situation.In a slew of measures, the L-G has asked the civic bodies, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to hike parking fee by four times.”We will issue a notification on Thursday regarding the said hike to be enforced for a week,” said South Corporation mayor Kamaljeet Sehrawat.Most of the parkings including surface and multilevel lots in Delhi are managed by the civic bodies.The South Corporation operates 96 parking lots while the North Corporation runs 104 parking lots and the East civic body manages 45 lots.The three corporations had earlier said that they could not hike the parking fee without taking a decision in the meeting of the House.The directives from the L-G came a day after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control (EPCA) enforced the measures to be taken under the ‘severe’ category of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).The DPCC, SDMs and Industries Department to strictly enforce ban on use of electricity generator sets with exceptions for essential services.The EPCA which had banned the use of diesel generator (DG) sets in Delhi-NCR has decided to not allow these during weddings and other such events. The SC-empowered body also said that the implementing agency will be able to book those who are found violating the ban.The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is the monitoring agency for observing the ban.”This is the season for weddings, however, we cannot allow people to suffer on account of these highly-polluting sets. The health of general public has to be kept in mind. The DPCC will have to make sure no permissions are given,” said Bhure Lal, a former bureaucrat heading the EPCA.ADVISORY ISSUED BY DELHI GOVERNMENTDo not burn dry leaves, crops residue, wood, coal, Gobar Upla etc.plant more trees to make your city green. Trees like Neem , Sheesham, Keekar , Gulmohar etc. make the air clean and healthy
Use carpooling and public transport, as much as possible.Walk or use nonpolluting mode of transport for short distance.
Avoid going outdoor during early morning and late evening for walk or outdoor physical activity as the pollution levels are maximum during this time.
Avoid going to high pollution areas during peak hours. Stay indoor as much as possible
Schools may avoid outdoor assembly, sports activities and other physical activities in the early morning
Take extra precautions for high risk groups like Small Children, Elderly, Pregnant women, Asthma Patients, Patients with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases),Patients of heart Disease and troke, Diabetics, Person with low immunity , N95 mask may be used if going outdoor during the peak pollution hours.
​If you feel irritation in the throat and nose, take steam and do salt water gargles. Drink plenty of warm water and maintain good hydration. HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELFObserve environment friendly behavior. Keep the environment healthy, not only by words, by your actions also
Do not burn dry leaves, crops residue, wood, coal, etc.
Use carpooling and public transport as much as possible
Walk or use nonpolluting mode of transport for short distance.
Do not smoke, as it harms not only you but others also.
Avoid going outdoor during early morning and late evening for walk or physical activity as the pollution levels are maximum during this time.
Schools may avoid outdoor assembly and physical activities in the early morning
Avoid going to high pollution areas during peak hours. Stay indoor as much as possible.
If you feel irritation in the throat and nose, take steam and do salt water gargles. Drink plenty of warm water and maintain good hydration.
Take extra precautions for high risk group as mentioned above, use N95 mask if going outdoor during the peak pollution hours
If any time you are feeling breathless or palpitation, immediately go to nearest medical facility. HIGH RISK GROUPSSmall Children
Children with More Outdoor Activities
Elderly
Pregnant Women
Asthma Patients
Patients with
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases)
Patients of heart disease and stroke.
Diabetics
Person with low immunity
​Pollutants Affecting Health
Particulate Matter
Carbon Monoxide
Ozone
Oxides of Nitrogen and Sulfur Dioxide
Volatile Organic Compounds

Delhi air can kill many, warns top AIIMS doctor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The air in the Capital became “unbreathable” on Wednesday, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) shooting up to a poisonous 517, crossing the ‘severe’ mark. Director of country’s top medical institute, AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria then warned that 25,000 to 30,000 people in in Delhi-NCR might lose their lives this year, due to diseases exacerbated by pollution.”Pollution is a silent killer,” he said, while comparing the situation to the 1952 killer Great Smog of London. On December 5, 1952, a thick yellow smog brought London to a standstill for four days, and is estimated to have killed more than 4,000 people.On Tuesday, the AQI in the Capital had clocked at 448. A dark blanket of haze enveloped Delhi-NCR on Wednesday, with citizens complaining of breathlessness and irritation in eyes. “It was worse on Wednesday. There was dust in my eyes, throat. Delhi has become unliveable,” said Mayank Sharma, a resident of Vasant Kunj.Hospitals across the Capital were swarmed with patients complaining about breathlessness, headache, throat infection, fever, cough etc. “The situation will lead to an increase in number of cases of breathlessness and deaths. There has been a rise of 20 per cent in the number of patients in OPD,” Dr Guleria said.Most monitoring stations in the city recorded pollution levels beyond 500, which was almost 10 times the permissible limit of 60. As the air quality plummeted further in the Capital, Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal directed the Transport Department to stay prepared for the third round of Odd-Even scheme.All schools have been shut in Delhi till Sunday. “The air quality in Delhi is deteriorating. We cannot compromise with the health of children,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. Also, schools upto Class VIII will remain shut on November 9 and 10 in Noida and Greater Noida as well.The wind speed required to disperse pollutants has remained stagnant at 0.3 m/s for days.The bad news is that the air quality is expected to deteriorate even further on Thursday.”The weather conditions are not expected to improve. It may even deteriorate further. The wind speed at the ground level is stagnant. The situation might look a bit better on Friday, with some sunshine predicted,” a senior scientist at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said.Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control (EPCA) chairman Bhure Lal said that he will now be writing to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana governments to immediately stop crop burning.”The visibility in Punjab is not even 50 yards. I will write to the state government to immediately put a stop to crop burning. It has affected Delhi-NCR badly,” he saidMeasures takenEntry of trucks (except those carrying essential commodities) to Delhi stopped.Civil construction activities in city stopped.DMRC increases frequency Metro services.Municipal Corporations and PWD intensify mechanical road sweepings and sprinkling of water.Parking fees increased by four times.Municipal Corporations stop use of fire wood and coal in hotels and eateries.Open burning prohibited.

Delhi air pollution: All you need to know

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>New Delhi, the capital city of the India, remains engulfed in dense smog. City residents woke up to witness a thick blanket of grey smog hovering around Delhi.The air quality index in the city has reduced to an alarming rate. Blaming the slow winds, cold temperature and the crop stubble burning in the neighbouring cities, airborne pollutants have been recorded as ‘hazardous’ in the city. The Indian Medical Association has declared a state of health emergency in the capital. Recommending to cancel Delhi’s half-marathon, IMA also urged the government to issue preventive measures for the current environmental crisis. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research explains the air quality index as follows:SUDDEN DEVELOPMENT @850hpa and @700 hpaWind Speed: 15-20kmph (Strong Winds)Wind Direction: 315 degree (North-West) Punjab-HaryanaFire counts: High on Past 24 hr (More than 21)@SURFACEWind Speed: 2.2kmphVentilation Coefficient: Very SmallBoundary Layer height: Less than 800 meterWind Direction: 315 degree (Westerly)In simple words the ‘safe limit’ set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is 100 µg/m3 for PM 10 and 60 µg/m3 for PM 2.5. Anything recorded beyond 400 µg/m3 indicates severe air quality, and between 300 and 400 µg/m3 is seen as very poor.Meanwhile, the air quality index recorded for Delhi by the CPCB, based on as many as 15 monitoring stations, on Tuesday, was 351 µg/m3.It also remained “very poor” for Noida and Gurgaon as well at 349 µg/m3 and 343 µg/m3 while neighbouring Ghaziabad and Faridabad had “severe” air quality with 439 µg/m3 and 410 µg/m3.Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has directed the Delhi government to impose all conditions under the severe category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) under severe category; start preparedness for tougher action and appeals to governments to take this public health emergency seriously and to undertake massive and drastic action to control air pollution The drop in temperature is also not good sign for air pollution. Decrease in temperature leads to reduced wind speeds. The reduced wind speed ensures the pollutants suspended in the air are not able to disperse and thus remain hanging in the air.PREVENTIVE MEASURES BY GOVT. Forcing the authorities to swing into action, certain emergency preventive measures have been issued. 1.Deputy CM Manish Sisodia declared that the primary schools in and around the city remain closed. 2.Government also proposed on increase in the parking fare to 4 times the actual amount in order to encourage usage of public transport.3. Intensify the enforcement of non-destined goods traffic into Delhi by physically checking all vehicles and turning them back – also, putting out public announcements of the numbers that are turned back. 4. All brick kiln in and around Delhi to shut down. EPCA also directs the government to close all hot mix plants and crushers. 5. Immediate scaling up of public transport has been directed, by increasing the number of buses and reliable services in Delhi.6. Fines shall be imposed on all construction agencies for dust spread. Fines upto 5000 per day shall be levied.7. Ban on use of diesel generators to be continued in the city.8. Deployment of police personnels in the blocked ares of the city and traffic prone spots. 9. Intensification of mechanized road sweeping and sprinkling of water10. The Delhi government has put out health advisories for high-risk groups, mainly the children.SERIOUS HEALTH ISSUESAccording to World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution is a major environmental issue for health. Extremely high pollution levels in air can increase risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Major environmental health problems are witnessed in developed and developing nations. Air pollution leads to acute respiratory infections, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer among adults. “Exposure to ozone is a major factor in asthma morbidity and mortality, while nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide also can play a role in asthma, bronchial symptoms, lung inflammation and reduced lung function,” states reports by WHO. In 2012, some 72% of outdoor air pollution-related premature deaths were due to ischaemic heart disease and strokes, while 14% of deaths were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or acute lower respiratory infections, and 14% of deaths were due to lung cancer.Well the only good thing about all these environmental crisis is that Delhities are not the only ones battling the gas chamber. Beijing, China’s massive capital had also declared health emergency because of air pollution in the city. Beijing who holds the worst reputation when it comes to air pollution in world was able to deal with the various steps taken by them.According to the amendments of China’s environment protection laws in 2014, the law gave more to environmental officials against polluting businesses and business men. After Beijing was covered in thick blanket of smog the government officials took ‘tough measures for tough tasks.’ More than 100 factories were shut temporarily and one-third government vehicles were reduced from the streets. Strict control measures were issued for heavily polluting industries and vehicles. STEPS TAKEN IN PAST A plan with various traffic restrictions and the shutdown of a major power plant, was announced after Delhi saw severe pollution last year. Desperate measures to reduce toxic air were taken by the AAP in 2016 in Delhi. Delhi Government decided to follow the odd-even number concept to reduce the number of private vehicles plying on roads. Supreme Court had banned the sale and distribution of fireworks in Delhi ahead of the festival of Diwali. All these preventive measures and guidelines are emergency plans, cannot become a long term plan to battle the health crisis in the city. The government needs to gear up soon and take decisive actions in order to cut down the air pollution in Delhi.

As deadly smog continues in Delhi, foreign nationals in dilemma to ‘leave’ or ‘stay’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The worsening air quality in Delhi has left the expats in a dilemma about whether to continue living in the national capital or leave for their respective countries.Emily Bild, a professional from the UK, says her family which also has two toddlers has been acclimatising in Delhi, but is in a dilemma whether to leave or stay here.”We have three air purifiers in the house. We have also installed an air quality monitor in the house now and my two-year-old son and three-year-old daughter are moving around with masks.”But if the air quality continues to remain the same, I don’t think we have an option other than going back,” she added.Gracy Theo, a psychology student at Delhi University, said, “I am not moving out and just staying indoors. I am feeling nauseating as I step out but I cannot leave my course midway so have to somehow deal with the situation.”Similar thoughts were echoed by Kiran Stacey, a foreign correspondent working here.”It looks disgusting, it feels disgusting. It’s clearly damaging for anybody who is out in this really badly polluted air. I would have loved to go back or at least stay indoors but I had to report on the demonetisation anniversary so had to be in the field today,” he said.Hanne Meldgard, the acting ambassador of Norway, said, “We have an air cleaning system and we are trying to stay indoors as much as we can.”A toxic haze hanging over Delhi thickened on Wednesday, leading to near zero visibility at many places, even as air quality slid further.The air quality index of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had a score of 487 on a scale of 500, indicating ‘severe’ levels of pollution, which can affect even healthy people and “seriously impact” those with existing diseases.

Delhi pollution: With these options and government aid, stubble burning could be thing of the past

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after pollution levels in the national capital skyrocketed to alarmingly high levels, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has directed the Delhi government to impose all conditions under the severe category of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).In a press release that was shared by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the EPCA said that the GRAP is an emergency plan, which cannot be a long-term substitute to curb the city’s air pollution.The smog in the city has been caused by several conditions. These include the pollutants that come from Punjab that is the result of stubble burning, and the others from eastern Uttar Pradesh that come through moisture in the air. The pollutants collide at higher altitudes and this, minus ground wind level, has resulted in the smog-like situation in the national capital.
ALSO READ Punjab, Haryana pay dearly for farm firesOn Tuesday, the Indian Medical Association declared a public health emergency and requested the state government to shut schools and advised people from venturing out.
ALSO READ Stubble not the only villain: Delhi High CourtGoing by the readings of SAFAR-India, the level of PM2.5 in Lodhi Road as on 2:53 pm was 569 units. It is followed by Mathura Road (550) and Delhi University (536). As per national standards, the permissible range for PM2.5 is 60. It is 25, according to the international standards.However, Avinash Kubal, the director of Maharashtra Nature Park in Mumbai, says that it isn’t a Delhi problem alone. “The pollution levels in several north Indian cities rise during this period due to these factors. Most of these cities have dry climate and the humidity – one of the major reasons behind the smog – is due to the irrigation canal network in our country. This clubbed with stubble burning adds to the pollution levels,” he said.THE BHATINDA MODELWhile most farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been actively involved in stubble burning, a Financial Express report said that the Bhatinda district administration has been using MGNREGA to drive construction of compost pits in farm land and encourage farmers to use the crop stubble as raw material for composting.But why do farmers burn crop? Kubal explains that the stubble has high phosphorus levels, and while farmers are not aware of this, phosphorus in the soil ensures more flowering and as a result, more fruits. “Ideally, the government should not ban stubble burning but look at alternatives and subsidise the farmer,” Kubal adds.What are the alternatives? Like the Bhatinda model, composting is definitely one option. Other alternatives are using the stubble – an organic material – as one of the raw ingredients in paper manufacture. “One can even chaff the stubble i.e. cut it into smaller pieces and mix it with cattle feed to feed bovines,” Kubal said, adding that burning has impacted the community through increased medical bills and cancelled flights. “However, imposing a blanket ban on stubble burning isn’t the answer,” he maintained.In his book ‘Socioeconomic and Environment Implications of Agricultural Residue Burning’, Parmod Kumar of the Institute for Social and Economic Change says continuous burning is not a sustainable agricultural practice.The book suggests several alternatives including using rice residue as fodder for animals, use of crop residue in bio thermal power plants, use of rice residue as bedding material for cattle, use of crop residue for mushroom cultivation, use of rice residue in paper production, use of rice residue for making bio gas, incorporation of paddy straw in soil, production of bio-oil from straw and other agricultural wastes, and agricultural residues for power generation.And while writing this piece, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that he was writing to the governments of Punjab and Haryana to find alternatives to stubble burning.SMOG ATTACK 2.0As the memories of 2016’s pollution crisis — worst in two decades — were revived on Tuesday, there is no relief anytime soon. Delhi and adjoining areas are expected to witness a moderate to dense smog cover on Wednesday and Thursday as well. According to a forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the condition is expected to remain “severe” for the next two days.The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution and Control Authority (EPCA) directed Delhi and NCR states to implement emergency measures to tackle the crisis.These include a fourfold increase in parking fee with immediate effect to discourage car use, scaling up of public transport to cut private vehicle emissions, lowering of Metro fare for off-peak rides to decongest roads, a Rs 50,000 fine per day per site on construction agencies for dust spread. Road-rationing scheme Odd-Even may also return if the situation further worsens.

EPCA tells states to impose fines, hike parking fees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, Delhi’s skies resembled a vast plume of dust as smoke emitted from farm fires across Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and moisture-laden winds enveloped the city in a thick layer of smog. The air quality of the Capital breached the ‘severe’ category, making it hazardous and unhealthy for even those without any respiratory ailments.The situation saw the Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) go into a huddle. The members have now directed Delhi and other NCR states to immediately roll out measures from the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Apart from Delhi, authorities across Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan were also issued these directions.Chief among the directions were an increase in public transport services, including Delhi Metro, addition of more coaches in Metro, and a reduction in fares during off-peak hours, as long as the air quality was in the ‘severe’ category.To control the rampant dust pollution, the EPCA has directed all state pollution control boards to immediately impose fines on all road construction agencies found wanting in dust control. While discussing the quantum of fines, officials from CPCB and EPCA chief Bhure Lal said that using provisions of the Construction and Demolition Rules, a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh can be imposed.”The EPCA is directing for a fine of Rs,50,000 to be imposed as penalty, per day, for inadequate road dust control,” EPCA member Sunita Narain said during the meeting.Meteorological conditions played a significant role in worsening Delhi-NCR air-quality, Central Pollution Control Board Member Secretary A.Sudhakar informed EPCA on Tuesday.”It is in the severe category primarily due to weather conditions. The Western Disturbance-influenced winds are bringing pollutants from Punjab and winds from eastern side are bringing in moisture,” A Sudhakar said.

Residents with medical history gasp for breath as smog thickens

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karol Bagh resident Preeti Sharma (name changed), 59, got an asthma attack on Tuesday morning, just as the pollution levels hit the roof in the Capital. Last year around Diwali, she fell prey to the lung disease and had to be wheeled into the emergency care at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).According to the daily report released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on November 7, the air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas of Faridabad, Noida, and Ghaziabad over the last 24 hours has been in the ‘very severe’ category. “I have been advised by doctor to leave Delhi and go to cities where air is purer. But how can I stay there when my home is here?” she added.Doctors in Delhi have been witnessing a 20 per cent spike in the number of respiratory illness cases. Ram Kishore Maurya, 67, was desperately looking for a nurse to administer flu vaccine jab to him at AIIMS on Tuesday. An Interstitial Lung Disease patient, Maurya’s health has been deteriorating since 2013. He worked as a gardener with the Embassy of Switzerland for 35 years and retired recently. “I face trouble while breathing in mornings. I cannot walk as fast because of weak lungs,” Maurya said.RISING ILLNESSESAsthma
Irritation in eyes
Throat infection
Heart attack
Stroke

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