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New tigers in Jai’s territory

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost eight months after its dominant male disappeared from the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWLS), two males have moved in to replace the missing tiger Jai. What’s more, the number of adult tigers in the sanctuary has increased from four last year to seven now, with two pregnant tigresses likely to deliver fresh litters soon. A senior forest department official told DNA that camera trap monitoring which was being carried out in the sanctuary had revealed the presence of seven adult tigers, including two males and five females. The final results of this Phase IV monitoring exercise are expected shortly. The exercise carried out last year had thrown up the presence of just four individuals. “Two female tigers are pregnant and may deliver cubs very soon,” said another official. He added the presence of two males would ensure diversity in the gene pool. One of the males is Jai’s three-year old offspring ‘Jaichand’ (a combination of the names of his father Jai and mother Chandi) and the other tiger is supposed to have entered Maharashtra from adjoining areas since he has not been captured in camera traps earlier.Officials said there were chances that another male tiger was also trying to enter the UKWLS habitat. When 250 kg Jai — named after Amitabh Bachchan’s character from Sholay — went missing, it led to a massive outcry with fears that the iconic tiger, the largest in India, may have been poached. The NTCA tiger census, which is conducted every four years detected 190 tigers in Maharashtra in 2014. However, last year’s Phase IV monitoring by the forest department to confirm these figures had identified 203 tigers.

Singaporean navy’s vessel arrives at Visakhapatnam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Singaporean navy’s stealth frigate RSS Formidable on Sunday arrived at Visakhapatnam on a five-day visit to Eastern Naval Command (ENS) as a part of the ongoing Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises.The two navies share a long-standing relationship with regular professional interactions which include exchange programmes, staff talks and training courses.Bilateral cooperation between Singapore and India was first formalised when RSN ships began training with Indian Navy in 1994 and this year’s edition, SIMBEX-16, is being held in the Bay of Bengal region, an official release said. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Khoo Aik Leong Albert, RSS Formidable is the first of the six multi-role stealth frigates which forms part of the 185 Squadron based at Changi, the release added.A senior Singapore Navy delegation, headed by Colonel Aaron Beng, Commanding Officer, 185 Squadron, RSN is also visiting ENC during the period, it said, adding that the visit will encompass interaction between the personnel of both the navies in various professional, cultural, social and sports events.During the visit, Colonel Aaron Beng, Commanding Officer (CO), 185 Squadron of Republic of Singapore Navy, along with Lt Colonel Khoo Aik Leong Albert, CO, RSS Formidable, will call on Vice Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, ENC and Rear Admiral B Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, the release said.The 23rd such exercise in the series is aimed at increasing interoperability between RSN and Indian Navy as well as at developing common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations, it added.The exercise would include wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour Phase, scheduled from October 31 to November 2, and a diverse range of operational activities at sea during the Sea Phase, to be held from November 3-5, according to the release. The thrust of the exercises at sea this year would be on anti-submarine warfare (ASW), integrated operations with surface, air and sub-surface forces, air defence and surface encounter exercises, it said.During SIMBEX-16, Singapore Navy will be represented by RSS Formidable and maritime patrol aircraft Fokker 50, operating from Port Blair.Indian Navy will be represented by INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer, INS Kamorta, an indigenous ASW stealth corvette, one Sindhughosh-class submarine, in addition to long range maritime patrol aircraft P8I, maritime patrol aircraft Dornier, advanced jet trainer Hawk and integral rotary wing helicopters are also scheduled to participate in the exercise, the release added.In February, Singapore Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Lai Chung Han had visited ENC and participated in IFR-16, held in Visakhapatnam, the City of Destiny, it said.

Delhi Dy CM Sisodia raids East Delhi liquor shops with excise officials

Tue, 25 Oct 2016-12:20am , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia along with the officials of the Excise Department raided four liquor shops in Mayur Vihar Phase 2 on Monday evening and suspended the licence of one. The Deputy CM’s move came after some local residents complained about the liquor shops violating excise rules.”During the raid, it was found that out of four shops, two were being run on one license which is against the rules. The Deputy CM has ordered suspension of the license. The excise department has also sealed the illegal liquor shop,” said a government official.The Deputy CM, who heads the Excise Department, said he had received complaints from the locals that people drink alcohol in the open near these shops and Haryana-made liquor also is served. He said strict action will be taken against the violator.

NGT forms panel to check sewage joining Ganga through drains

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ganga rejuvenation project, which is of national importance, is being carried out by officials “who do not know” how many drains are polluting the river, the National Green Tribunal lamented on Wednesday. While setting up a panel to collect information on the quantum and quality of waste being released into the river, the NGT said “a project of national importance is being carried out and all authorities including Centre and state government do not know how many drains are polluting Ganga.” Taking the authorities to task, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said “you publish books and books, but you know nothing. We are asking you about only 1/5 part of river which is more than 2500 km in length. Still, you don’t have complete information.”The observation came after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the NGT that there were 30 main drains which joined Ganga or its main tributaries like East Kali, Kosi and Ramganga falling in the segment from Haridwar and Unnao.However, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board claimed there were 172 drains, of which 150 directly joined Ganga and its tributaries. According to UP Jal Nigam, there were 172 drains out of which 83 terminated in the Ganga. “We are very disappointed to note that during the hearing of the case, none of the parties could inform the Tribunal as to how many drains join river Ganga. “We are primarily concerned with segment B of Phase-I but as domestic and industrial waste are inseparable and cannot be quantified, we have to deal with the issue of pollution of Ganga collectively. The Tribunal cannot come to a definite conclusion until the quantum and quality of sewage is brought to the notice by the authorities.”Furthermore, providing of data for control of pollution would depend on the number of drains which join Ganga. The uncertainty created reflects upon functioning of the authorities which have a statutory duty to maintain records.Moreover, the officers present in the court are also unable to assist the Tribunal in this regard. “In these circumstances, we direct Member Secretary of CPCB, chief engineer of UP Jal Nigam, senior environmental officer from UPPCB and a representative from National Mission for Clean Ganga shall personally visit segment B of Phase-I of river Ganga,” the bench, which also included Justice UD Salvi, said. The tribunal directed the panel to identify how many drains joined river Ganga and also record quantity and quality of effluents generated in the river.It asked Ministry of Environment and Forests, CPCB, state pollution control board and UP Jal Nigam to clarify their stand on zero liquid discharge (water treatment process), online monitoring of effluents and discharge of waste in drains by industries releasing contaminants in Ganga. The hearing will continue on Thursday.The NGT is hearing final arguments by various authorities on the mechanism to clean the Ganga from Haridwar to Unnao. Earlier, the Tribunal had rapped Uttar Pradesh government for wasting crores of rupees of public money on Ganga rejuvenation and restrained it from spending on any major project except maintenance work on the stretch from Haridwar to Kanpur.UP government had told the NGT that as per estimates, at present 1382.36 million litre per day sewage is generated and only 300 million litre per day get treated in treatment plants. The green panel had divided the work of cleaning the river into different segments — Gomukh to Haridwar, Haridwar to Kanpur, Kanpur to border of Uttar Pradesh, border of Uttar Pradesh to border of Jharkhand and border of Jharkhand to Bay of Bengal.On December 11 last year, the tribunal had imposed a complete ban on use of plastic of any kind from Gomukh to Haridwar along the river from February 1 and decided to slap a penalty of Rs 5,000 per day on erring hotels, dharamsalas and ashrams spewing waste into the river.

Bengaluru’s steel bridge: Should IT hub say no to development at the cost of tree cover?

Bengaluru’s infrastructure projects have always been mired in controversy, with citizens and green activists crying foul until either the projects get scrapped or get implemented regardless of the protests.

This time around, it’s the proposed steel flyover to connect Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport Limited (KIAL) to other parts of the city that’s got everyone’s ante up.

Considered to be the longest flyover at a 6.72 kilometre stretch from the neighbourhood of Basaveshwara circle to the neighbourhood of Hebbal, the steel flyover is estimated to cost Rs 1791 crore and is expected to be completed in 24 months. The project will be executed by Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Nagarjuna Ltd, with the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) overseeing it. BDA will acquire around one acre for the project.

What has got citizens and activists up in arms is not just the traffic snarls, that the project would entail on one of the busiest stretches in Bengaluru, but that 812 trees will be chopped off along the project’s corridor and some existing flyovers and underpasses would have to be demolished too. This has begun a debate on whether the project is required at all.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

BDA commissioner Rajkumar Khatri has sought to assuage annoyed protestors with assurances that 60,000 saplings would be planted in other parts of the city. BDA has also said that the steel structures would be pre-fabricated in the L&T factories and that traffic would get affected only during the last six months of the project cycle. Incidentally, this is not the first time that the Karnataka government is talking about a steel bridge, it proposed one in Central Business District (CBD) between Minerva Circle and Hudson Circle to ease traffic, but this never took off for the want of takers.

Firstpost reached out to RK Mishra, a member of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of both BBMP and BDA, who also worked on the preliminary feasibility report of the elevated corridors project. When asked whether the steel flyover was necessary at all, Mishra said, “The CBD to Hebbal/Esteem Mall stretch is extremely congested for three reasons. First, it is the only access to KIAL from South, Central and North Bangalore. Second, there is no other means of reaching the airport except by road -no Metro or Rail Connectivity. Third, the existing Hebbal flyover is not integrated with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Elevated Expressway, hence it becomes a bottleneck. So, we certainly need additional road capacity from CBD till the NHAI Expressway. Since we can’t widen the roads, we need to go elevated.

“Now whether we go steel or concrete is another debate and both have pros and cons. I don’t see any issue with the Steel Flyover per se, but my concern is on the alignment. Taking the proposed route will cause chaos during construction, has strategic danger of being the only access route and of course will require demolition of some existing magic box based flyovers/underpasses which were built not so long ago.”

When asked why Bengaluru’s civic authorities authorised projects and then went and broke them down for another one, Mishra said, “It is poor planning and waking up after the crisis has hit the panic button. Hence, we end up doing knee jerk projects like magic box based flyovers/underpasses and now this steel Flyover. The Hebbal Flyover Interchange should have been integrated with the NHAI Expressway and should have been planned for higher capacity with 4-6 lanes. But poor planning led to this chaotic situation. We are driven by projects and do no planning.”

When asked whether the metro was also not being planned on the same route, Mishra said, “Metro on this route could have been ideal. We had been procrastinating on the metro to the airport for way too long. With this steel flyover, metro on this route is dead forever.”

When asked to outline what according to him would be the best option for Bengaluru given that the green protests were also going on for the steel flyover, Mishra outlined what would work best for Bengaluru:

“They could have the Integrated Metro in the same Flyover (Steel or Concrete) as Jaipur has done or as is being done between Silk Board and Jayadeva, where same pillar has road at 5.5 Mtr height and Metro at 11 Mtr. But our planners are driven by short term quick fixes and no one guides long term planning.
We also need other access routes to KIAL. Proposed South and Southeast access roads from Nagavara (ORR) and Budhigere are stuck for long. These must be expedited.
Metro to Airport from East (KR Puram) and from West (Yeshwantpur) is a must and sooner the better.
Both KR Puram and Yeshwantpur are Railway Hubs too, hence Airport Metro from these makes logical sense.”

Meanwhile, green activists in Bengaluru have been up in arms over the indiscriminate chopping of trees to make way for various development projects in the city. Recently, activists did a kind of Chipko movement to protest the chopping of 30 odd trees to make way for the Tendersure (the SURE stands for Specifications for Urban Road Execution) project on Nruputanga road.
The green activists were also not happy when Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) went and chopped 2500 trees for Phase 1 and planned to cut down 313 heritage trees for Phase 2. Although BMRCL said that enough trees as specified by the tree officer were planted, activists were not convinced, especially as public hearings for Phase 2 kept getting cancelled.

The Times of India reports that many of the trees facing the axe including the 812 trees for the steel flyover, were planted in the 80s by the then chief minister of Karnataka R Gundu Rao. Some 15 lakhs saplings were planted on roadsides and public spaces and it is to this sustained effort that Bengaluru owes its tree cover.

Firstpost reached out to Leo Saldana, campaigner of environment protection and coordinator for the Environment Support Group (ESG). He said, “any infrastructure project should have public consultation and the state government has given an undertaking to do so.”

According to Saldana, “the proposed steel flyover has been approved by the Karnataka Cabinet in patent violation of the order of the High Court of Karnataka in the Environment Support Group vs BMRCL case issued on 16 November, 2010. HC ruled that any urban infrastructure project in the State should be undertaken only in strict conformance with the provisions of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961.”

However, as Saldana said, “Not one of the provisions of the KTCP Act have been complied with by the BDA when announcing plans to start the steel flyover.” This was not only “a comprehensive violation of the applicable laws, but also is in blatant contempt of court.”

Saldana said that the Karnataka government was constantly proposing mega projects involving thousands of crores of investments, leading to the loss of hundreds of trees and causing massive public nuisance. “This steel flyover is a cardinal example of how the project is blatantly promoted to facilitate the needs of only those who are flying in and out of Bangalore. Never has the city or state governments ever invested similar interest, money and energy in attending to the needs of those who rely on affordable public transport or pedestrian and cycling needs, and ensure their safe passage in the city.”

So then, what is the way out for Bengaluru?

Can the IT capital of India, which is in dire need of proper infrastructure, really say no to development? Yet, when development comes at the cost of improper planning and at the cost of its precious tree cover, should its citizens allow it to happen?

Bengaluru’s planners never expected Bengaluru to burst at its seams and see such unbridled growth. Almost all five year Comprehensive Development Plans are already ancient and redundant even as they’re inked and unless the city’s civic authorities understand the intrinsic nature of the burgeoning city, a lot of taxpayer money is going to be spent on infrastructure projects which will soon have to make way for another upgraded, improved version.

And what is most important is that development must go hand in hand with conservation. Ideally every person should have eight trees in a city but it is estimated that Bengaluru has one tree for every seven persons and with a population of nearly a crore Bengalureans you can do the math.

I&B ministry may allow private FM channels to air their own news

The information & broadcasting (I&B) ministry may allow private radio operators to air their own news content, provided they start airing news sourced from the All India Radio (AIR) at a fixed tariff for a certain period of time.Under the FM radio policy guidelines, private FM channels were not allowed to broadcast news as there was no manpower or mechanism to monitor the content of such news. However, last year, under the third phase of FM auction guidelines, the government had decided to allow private radio operators to carry “verbatim” AIR news content.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The move may lure licensed radio operators to use news sourced from AIR, an idea that had failed to generate interest among them with most of them claiming they are not keen on airing government news. This will also fetch the central government a good revenue, as it plans to expand the radio broadcasting sector through private channels. The I&B ministry has recently invited applications for e-auction of second batch of 266 FM Radio channels in 92 cities under the FM Phase III expansion, under which special incentives are being offered to 36 channels in 14 cities comprising Jammu& Kashmir and north eastern states. Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati will sign an agreement to allow such FM channels use AIR’s news bulletin and has already prepared a tariff card for those interested in sourcing news bulletins from the AIR. As per the tariff card, radio operators will have to pay the AIR anywhere between Rs2 lakh to Rs50 lakh per year, depending on the popularity of the channel and the city where the channel is operating. The tariff would be lower for smaller cities and will go up for tier I cities. Whether the channels decide to run the AIR news content for 15 minutes or for all day, the tariff would remain the same. It is awaiting the I&B ministry’s nod. A senior I&B ministry official said that most private radio operators are anyway not keen on airing news. “Private radio operators have barely shown interest in running news on their channels. They can get readymade news content for AIR and run them at their ease. Only after that, they can ask for airing their own news content,” the official said. When dna contacted minister of state for I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, he said private FM channels should start airing news as per the phase III policy. “As yet we have not seen anyone air news on private FM.”

NEET row: We will decide on medical admissions in 2 days, says Centre

New Delhi: Legal consultations are being held over implementation of Supreme Court-ordered NEET as the sole entrance test for admissions to medical colleges following opposition by several states and there will be a decision in two days, the Centre said on Wednesday.

Union Health Minister JP Nadda. AFP

Union Health Minister JP Nadda. AFP

“Very soon we are coming out with a solution. Phase-1 of NEET is over. Phase-II will take place. Three issues are there–the issue of ongoing examinations, syllabus and language. These need to be addressed.

“We are going in the right direction. We are going for legal consultations. In next day or two, we will arrive at the course which needs to be taken over this issue. Solution will be reached through talks only,” Union Health Minister JP Nadda told PTI.

He said the reason behind bringing National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admissions to medical and dental colleges across the country was to tackle the corruption and malpractices and the government has moved in that direction already and things will be clear within two days.

Nadda’s comments came against the backdrop of reports that the government is mulling bringing an Ordinance to defer by one year the implementation of NEET.

Sources in the government had said that the Ordinance could be brought to “postpone the effect of the Supreme Court judgement by 12 months”.

Observing that the consensus in the government is that issues which have been raised should be addressed, Nadda said that it is only after arriving at a consensus with the persons concerned in the government that the Health Ministry is going forward in this direction.

“Second phase (of NEET) will happen on 24 July,” Nadda asserted and said “All processes are on,” when asked whether the government will take a legal route on the issue.

Major political parties and several states have favoured deferring implementation of the apex court verdict by one year. The Centre has already kicked off consultations on the issue, asserting the matter was essentially in “executive domain”.

Eyewitness recounts last moments of Britannica executive

A top executive of Encyclopedia Britannica jumped to his death early Sunday morning from the top floor of a building in his locality in Gurgaon. A resident of Belvedere Apartments in DLF Phase-III, Vineet Whig, the chief operating officer, lived on the eight floor in one of the four buildings within the swanky complex. Whig, who lived with his family — wife and three children, in Block ‘D’, whereas his aged parents, both presumably in their mid-eighties lived in the adjoining Block ‘B’. Whig, however, chose Block ‘C’ to commit suicide.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Prima facie, Whig planned his death. He was seen wandering around by the guards and the cleaners on the 19th floor (the top floor) of Block ‘C’. Most presumed he was there to meet a friend. The victim also left a suicide note behind that did not blame anyone,” said Hawa Singh, additional commissioner of police (Gurgaon). “We have not registered any case against an individual though, we have sent the suicide note or a handwriting analysis to further investigate the matter,” Singh added.An eyewitness recounts the events that led to Whig’s discovery in the shaft where he was found dead and remembers her neighbour who she found to be very shy. “I have known Whig as a passing acquaintance from his walks in the colony. I remember he walked very slowly. Whig was shy, did not interact much and mostly kept to himself,” the eyewitness said.It can be surmised that Whig had allegedly left home on Sunday morning for his regular morning walk. When, 47-year-old Whig did not return at his usual time, it can be gathered that his wife went looking for him. However, as she was looking for her husband outside in the complex along the walking tracks, he at the time lay at the bottom of the shaft where he was discovered by a cleaner.At around 9:30 am, there was a commotion as the cleaners found Whig in the shaft of the building. The shaft, though easily visible from all the floors, is not so easily accessible. One can gather that Whig may have known about the entrance to the shaft, since all the buildings in the complex are similarly designed.Whig’s former colleague stated, “Everyone who knows him is in shock.” Singh, alleged, the suicide note was fairly clear, though the immediate cause that compelled Whig to take such a drastic step remains unknown.

Finally a drug-treatment which will provide long-term control over HIV?

Scientists are developing a new drug treatment that may provide a better long-term control over HIV by stimulating a patients’ immune response with just a single dose of an antibody. The development of antiretroviral therapy, a combination of drugs that slows the replication of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the body, has transformed the treatment of this infection. What was once a certain death sentence is now a chronic condition that people can live with for decades. However, the therapy has side effects, including kidney problems, decreased bone density and gastrointestinal problems.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A phase-1 clinical trial of the new treatment developed by researchers from The Rockefeller University in US and the University of Cologne in Germany, may offer new insights about how the antibody functions.”This study provides evidence that a single dose of an antibody stimulates patients’ immune response, enabling them to make new or better antibodies against the virus,” said Till Schoofs, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University. “We reported last year that this treatment can greatly reduce the amount of virus that’s present in someone’s blood, but we wanted to follow the patients for a longer period of time to study how their immune systems were adapting to the new therapy,” Schoofs said.The molecule used in the research, 3BNC117, is called a broadly neutralising antibody because it has the ability to fight a wide range of HIV strains.Researchers isolated it several years ago from an HIV-infected patient whose immune system had an exceptional ability to neutralise HIV in the blood by preventing the virus from infecting and destroying a specific type of immune cells, called CD4 cells, in patients. The destruction of CD4 cells is a hallmark of AIDS.Early studies showed that 3BNC117 can neutralise more than 80 per cent of HIV strains that are found around the world.The researchers therefore theorised that giving the antibody to patients would help them to fight the virus as well.The clinical trial included 15 patients who had high levels of the virus in their blood, and 12 other patients whose virus levels were being controlled with antiretroviral therapy (ART).The patients were infused with a single dose of 3BNC117 and were monitored over a six-month period.The researchers found that 14 out of 15 patients who had high levels of the virus at the time they were given the antibody were making new antibodies that were able to neutralise a number of different strains of HIV.The next steps in this research are to test 3BNC117 in combination with other antibodies that target HIV, to see if an even stronger antiviral effect can be found.The researchers are also conducting a Phase 2 trial in which patients receiving ART are switched to antibody treatment. The study was published in the journal Science.

Underground Bengaluru Metro Station service flagged off, Siddaramaiah seeks Centre’s help for Namma Metro phase III

Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday evening flagged off the first ever-operational underground metro of South India from the grand stairs of Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru.Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the objective of the Namma Metro is to provide better commuting facilities in the city and all-out efforts would be made to complete the remaining portion of the phase I of Namma Metro within a few months. “I expect the completion of the all pending works within four months. The delay is due to the hard rock,” Siddaramaiah said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that state government has been working to provide better infrastructure in Bengaluru city, Siddaramaiah has sought the cooperation and financial assistance from the Central Government. “The phase II of Namma Metro would cost Rs 26,405 crore and the work is already commenced. If all goes well, the phase II of Namma Metro will become operational by 2020. The state government will contribute Rs 9000 crore for this project and it has already released Rs 900 crore till now. The remaining amount will be released in the near future,” the Chief Minister said.Phase 3Chief Minister Siddarmaiah said that survey work for the phase III of Namma Metro has already begun. “The RITES has been assigned to conduct the survey. I expect Centre’s cooperation and financial assistance to take phase III of Namma Metro. The state government’s objective is to provide better infrastructure in and around Bengaluru city. In future, around 20 lakh commuters will utilise the Namma Metro train service,” he said.Garbage issueThe menace of garbage hogged limelight during the inaugural function of Underground Metro service between Cubbon Park and City Railway Station.While Minister for Bengaluru Development and Town Planning KJ George had explained how the state government is mulling to have waste to energy units to find a permanent solution for the garbage problems in the city, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has sought residents’ cooperation to solve garbage problems in the city. “I appeal the residents to ensure segregation of waste at source. The state government has been trying its best to solve the garbage problems in the city. I seek the residents’ help and cooperation,” the chief minister said.Rainwater harvestingEmphasising the need to make harvesting of rainwater mandatory, the chief minister said that all buildings must have rainwater harvesting mechanism. “As of now, the city needs 19 TMC of drinking water per day. The demand for drinking water may go up to 30 TMC water in the near future. If we fail to implement rainwater harvesting, the residents would have to face lot of problems due to shortage of drinking water.Central govt ready to helpSpeaking on the occasion, Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu said the Central Government would be happy to extend all the help and financial assistance to the state government as far as infrastructure is concerned. “I assure the state government that Central Government will extend all help for the phase III of Namma Metro,” Venkaiah Naidu said.
Public transport Emphasising the need to decongest city roads, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu advised the public to avoid depending on personal transport and opt for public transport. “I want more and more people use public transport to avoid traffic jams on the city roads. I want software companies to encourage their employees to prefer car-pooling. It will be good if people use bicycles,” Naidu said.Travel timeIt will take generally 35 minutes to travel from one end to other end as compared to 90 minutes taken to travel on road.Underground stationsCubbon ParkDr B R AmbedkarSir M VisvesvarayaMajesticCity Railway Station Elevated (Nov. 16, 2015)Magadi Road,HosahalliVijayanagarAttiguppeDeepanjalinagarMysore Road Length of the tunnel: 4.8 kmNo. of blasts: 10,000 controlled blastsNo. of tree cut down: A total of 2500 trees were cut down during the construction of both lines of Phase I.

Lessons from phase 1: Can Bengaluru Metro beat deadline blues in underground trail?

Bengaluru’s Namma Metro is finally all set to go underground from 30 April. With the opening of this 4.8 kilometre underground stretch, passengers can now travel an uninterrupted stretch of 18.10 kilometre from East to West of Bengaluru, otherwise called the East-West corridor or the Purple line.

Two on-ground stretches on the Purple line are already operational. Reach 1 from MG road, in the heart of Bengaluru, to the outskirts of Baiyyappanahalli and Reach 2 from Magadi road to Nayanadahalli on Mysuru Road. Phase 1 of the Metro project also comprises the North South corridor or the Green line of which Mantri Square to Nagasandra is also operational. A commuter can now change lines at Kempegowda station.

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), a joint venture between the Government of India and the Karnataka government, got its approval for the Metro Rail project from the central government in 2006 at a cost of Rs 8,158 Crores. The implementation time envisaged then was five years for phase 1 of 42.3 kilometre track. The project cost for Phase 1 was revised from Rs 8,158 crore to Rs 11,609 crore and again revised to Rs 13,845 crore by the Karnataka government. The deadline kept getting extended too. BMRCL now hopes to finish Phase 1 by the end of this year.

Namma Metro has faced much flak for delays in execution and overshooting its deadline several times in the last two years. It is way behind Delhi Metro, also a joint venture between the Delhi government and central government. Delhi Metro completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 in 12 years.

Image courtesy: IBNLive

Image courtesy: IBNLive

At the rate it is going, Namma Metro’s Phase 2 is expected to take another 16 years for completion. And, we are not even talking about Phase 3 right now. Delay in land acquisitions, safety clearances and underground work are some of the reasons cited for the deadlines getting extended.

However, Pradeep Singh Kharola, managing director of BMRCL is not fazed by the delays and looks at it as a good learning curve. He told Firstpost, “We have learnt good lessons from phase 1. The phase 2 is on track and will be completed by 2020. The feasibility report for phase 3 has been prepared.”

Delays are not the only thing that has dogged the project. Last month, The Economic Times reported that some 30 loco pilots and 35 maintenance engineers had quit their jobs in a span of two months, citing low salaries.

When asked whether there were enough trained and experienced loco pilots and engineers to run the trains, Khorala said, “We have no shortage of staff. Namma Metro recruits staff on a regular basis. Our salaries are comparable to equivalent government jobs in Bangalore.”

Meanwhile, another state government transport entity, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is miffed at not getting the parking bays it wants to run feeder services from the Metro stations. Bangalore Mirror reported recently that BMTC had wanted land at Baiyyappanahalli, Nayanadahalli and Vijayanagar for its bus bays. But BMRCL had refused space at Baiyyappanahalli, saying it plans to run a mega transport hub.

Khorala says, “Namma Metro is in touch with BMTC and wherever possible bus bays will be provided at the stations.” Green activists also have not been happy when Namma Metro went and chopped 2500 trees for Phase 1 and has plans on cutting down 313 heritage trees for phase 2.

Although Khorala says, “The trees are cut only when it becomes absolutely necessary. But we take care to ensure that enough trees as specified by the tree officer are planted,” activists have not been convinced that enough trees were planted or reviews done.

The Environment Support Group (ESG), reported on its website, that a public hearing to review the proposed tree felling for the Phase 2 of Namma Metro for 313 heritage trees was cancelled for the third time by the forest wing of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) last month. A public hearing is essential in keeping with the orders of the Karnataka High Court and the subsequent 2015 amendment carried out to the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976.

However, what might please the green activists is that Namma Metro is the first railway project in India commissioned with 750V DC Third Rail on Standard Guage.

What this means is,” BMRCL uses third rail traction. The current comes from a third rail mounted next to the normal track. Delhi Metro uses overhead traction. In overhead traction, there is a wire which runs high above the track. This wire at times interferes with trees. In order to avoid any such interference the trees or its branches have to be removed. There are no such issues with Namma Metro,” says Khorala.

To ensure safety of the underground alignment, BMRCL has also cautioned residents against digging bore-wells on the ground above the underground alignment of the metro rail. Henceforth residents wanting to dig a bore-well within a 35 km radius of the underground alignment would need a No Objection Certificate from the BMRCL. “Bore-wells on top of Metro alignments can pose a serious hazard,” adds Khorala.

Namma Metro runs some 50,000 trips now. But with the expected underground section being opened, BMRCL expects passenger traffic to cross two lakh per day.

Noida: BMW hits bikers; 4 hospitalised

A BMW car hit three motorcycles, leaving six persons injured in Sector 24 area in Noida, police said on Saturday.According to police, the vehicle hit three bikes near the Adobe crossing in Noida, causing injuries to their six riders, one of whom identified as Gulfam Ali, an AC mechanic, was stated to be in a critical condition in the ICU of a hospital.Three other persons who suffered major injuries in the incident were identified as Prem Kumar, Joginder and Anwar and admitted to a hospital where their condition is said to be stable, police said. The remaining two suffered minor bruises, they said, adding that a search has been launched to nab the accused driver.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The police said they have identified the man who was driving the BMW as one Vinod, a property dealer by profession who lives in Mayur Vihar Phase III in Delhi. But he is yet to be arrested till late this evening. Vinod also runs gym in Sector 22 in Noida.Police said the BMW was registered in the name of Neetu, a resident of Faridabad. Vinod was stated to be family member of Neetu.Talib, brother of one of the injured, alleged that BMW driver had whipped out a pistol after the accident to scare away the people around and fled in another car. However, the police denied any information about this.Earlier this month, a 32-year-old marketing executive was mowed down by a speeding Mercedes sedan in Delhi’s Civil Lines area which was allegedly being driven by a juvenile.

West Bengal needs an alternative and only BJP can provide that: Arun Jaitley

With just a few hours for the second part of the first phase of Bengal assembly polls scheduled to begin, the BJP announced itself as the only alternative in the state. “Bengal is yearning for an alternative. We are going to contest polls with more strength this time. Our strength has doubled to what it was earlier,” said BJP leader Arun Jaitley, adding, “The future of Bengal now stands at a crossroad. When the people of Bengal woke up from the nightmare of the Left Front, the Trinamool Congress further added to their woes by associating themselves with some chit fund scandals, sting operations and the flyover collapse. BJP will bring a new phase in Bengal.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley said this while addressing the media at the Calcutta Press Club. He is to address a public meeting later in the day.
ALSO READ West Bengal Elections Phase 2: Will TMC prevail against Left-Cong alliance? Besides highlighting that the BJP is the only viable option in the state, Jaitley launched a blistering attack on the erstwhile Left Front government and Trinamool Congress-led present government in the state. “If the Left Front destroyed the state, the Trinamool Congress did not meet the expectations of the people. In the last 34 years, during the Left Front’s rule, the state remained backwards in terms of development and economy. People gave Trinamool Congress a chance, they could change a lot of things and revive the state in the last five years, but they did not do anything to bring in development,” added Jaitley.
ALSO READ West Bengal Elections: Speeches by Modi, Mamata under EC scannerJaitley went further to term the ruling party as a party associated with syndicate raj and widespread corruption. “The state has witnessed the syndicate raj, law and order collapse, vindictiveness and widespread corruption during the present rule under the Trinamool Congress,” he said.

Poll dates for Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry announced; counting of votes on May 19

The Central Election Commission of India, on Friday, announced the election dates for four states and one union territory. The states which are going to polls include Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala. Puducherry is the lone union territory. Speaking to media, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said, “Model code of conduct comes into force with immediate effect.””170 million voters will take part in these elections. Assam: 1.98 crore, Kerala: 2.56 crore Tamil Nadu: 5.80 crore, West Bengal: 6.55 crore, Puducherry: 9, 27,000,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A symbol for NOTA has now been introduced. Photographs of all candidates will be present on the EVMs to eliminate confusion for voters,” Zaidi added. The state elections will begin on April 04 and the counting of votes will take place on May 19, 2016.The elections in Assam will be held in two phases. The dates of polling are April 4 and April 11. The elections in West Bengal will be held in six phases. However, polling in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be held in a single phase.Here Is The Elections Schedule# Assam: Elections to be conducted in two phases- First Phase: Date of notification: March 11. Last date of notification: March 18. Date of scrutiny: March 19. Last date of withdrawal: March 21. Date of polling: April 4, 2016 (Monday)- Second Phase: Date of notification: March 14; Last date of notification: March 21; Date of scrutiny: March 22; Last date of withdrawal: March 26; Date of polling: April 11, 2016 (Monday)# West Bengal: Elections to be conducted in six phases- First Phase: Date of notification: March 11. Last date of notification: March 18. Date of scrutiny: March 19. Last date of withdrawal: March 21. Date of polling: April 4, 2016.Second polling dates: Date of notification: March 14. Last date of notification: March 21. Date of scrutiny: March 22. Last date of withdrawal: March 26. Date of polling: April 11, 2016.- Second Phase: Date of notification: March 22; Last date of notification: March 29; Date of scrutiny: March 30; Last date of withdrawal: April 1; Date of polling: April 17, 2016- Third Phase: Polling on April 21- Fourth Phase: Date of notification: April 1; Last date of notification: April 8; Date of scrutiny: April 09; Last date of withdrawal: April 11; Date of polling: April 25 (Monday) .- Fifth Phase: Date of notification April 4; Last date of notification: April 11; Date of scrutiny: April 12; Last date of withdrawal: April 16; Date of polling: April 30.- Sixth Phase: Date of notification: April 11; Last date of notification: April 18; Date of scrutiny: April 19; Last date of withdrawal: April 21; Date of polling: May 5.# Kerala: Elections to be conducted in one phaseFirst Phase: Date of notification: April 21. Last date of notification: April 29. Date of scrutiny: April 30. Last date of withdrawal: May 02. Date of polling: May 16, 2016.# Tamil Nadu: Elections to be conducted in one phaseFirst Phase: Date of notification: April 22. Last date of notification: April 29. Date of scrutiny: April 30. Last date of withdrawal: May 02. Date of polling: May 16, 2016.# Puducherry: Elections to be conducted in one phaseFirst Phase: Date of notification: April 22. Last date of notification: April 29. Date of scrutiny: April 30. Last date of withdrawal: May 02. Date of polling: May 16, 2016.Counting of votes to take place on 16 May, 2016

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