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12 dead, 36 missing after boat capsizes in Andhra’s Godavari river

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Twelve people were killed and another 36 went missing when a private tourist boat with 72 on board overturned in the swirling waters of the Godavari river at Kachuluru village of Devipatnam block in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district on Sunday afternoon.

East Godavari Superintendent of Police, Adnan Nayeem Asmi said while 24 tourists were rescued by members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local villagers, as many as 12 bodies were recovered by evening, when rescue operations were hampered since it was getting dark.

The rescued passengers were shifted to the government hospital at Rampachodavaram for treatment.

According to officials, the boat, Royal Vashishta, had in all 63 people on board, besides nine crew members including two drivers – S Nukaraju and Tamaraju, who were still missing. Thirty six passengers were from Telangana, including 22 from Hyderabad and 14 from Warangal.

The state disaster management authority swung into action and rushed two teams of NDRF, each with 30 members, besides another team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to the spot to carry out rescue operations.

The boat was ferrying passengers from Gandi Pochamma temple near Rajahmundry to the picturesque Papikondalu hill range, a popular tourist spot.

According to Gorre Prabhakar from Kadipikonda village of Warangal who was rescued, the incident happened at around 1.20 pm, within minutes of the crew serving lunch to the passengers on board.

“The boat suddenly tilted towards the right side in the river and we panicked and shouted for help. We were all wearing safety life jackets and some of us jumped into the waters, while some others climbed on top of the boat to save ourselves. Luckily, there was a village Thutukunta nearby on the shore and the locals rushed towards us in their boats and rescued some of us. In the meantime, the boat overturned completely and sank into the waters,” he said.

Kodigudla Venkata Ramana of Punnami Travels, the owner of the boat, told reporters that the boat had a capacity of 90 passengers and had sufficient number of life jackets. “The spot at Kachuluru where the accident occurred is very dangerous with deep whirlpools. The drivers should have been careful in steering the boat. I don’t know what exactly happened,” he said.

Within minutes of receiving information, the state disaster management authority swung into action and rushed two teams of NDRF, each with 30 members, besides another team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to the spot to carry out rescue operations.

Two boats of the AP Tourism Department have been sent to the spot, while a Navy helicopter was also pressed into service to carry the NDRF teams and also to find the exact location of the boat. However, the rescue operations were hampered due to full flow of the river.

“The Godavari has been in spate due to fresh floods for the last one week. Even on Sunday, the river was receiving inflow of five lakh cusecs,” state home minister Mekathoti Sucharita said.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is reviewing the situation. He has directed local ministers and MLAs to supervise rescue operations. He announced Rs 10 lakh as ex gratia for the kin of the victims.

The chief minister has ordered cancellation of licences of all boats being operated in the river. He has asked officials to conduct a thorough inspection of all the boats which ply in the river.

Tourism Minister Muthamsetty Srinivasa Rao said the capsized boat didn’t have a licence of the Tourism Department, but had permission from Kakinada Port authorities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his concern, “Extremely pained by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. Rescue operations are currently underway at the site of the tragedy.”

Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, expressed shock over the boat tragedy, in which nearly 36 passengers were from Telangana. He announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of the boat tragedy victims from the state. He directed state tourism minister Puvvada Ajay to visit the spot and oversee the rescue operations.

Telugu Desam Party president and former AP chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan have expressed shock over the boat tragedy. The leaders have asked their party workers to take part in rescue operations.

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No, RBI didn’t introduce new Rs 1,000 note. The claim is fake

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Images of what appears to be a note of Rs 1,000 is going viral on social media. Several people – on Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp – are sharing the images with the claim that the pictures are that of a new currency note of 1000 denomination that has been introduced by the RBI. The claim and the images are fake.

A closer look reveals that there are several discrepancies in the images. If you zoom in on one of the images – claiming to be the front side of the note – on the topmost right corner there are two words written, “artistic imagination.” Though that’s enough to prove that the image is a work of imagination, here are some more points.

The claim and image that RBI has introduces Rs 1000 note is fake.

There is no notification regarding the introduction of Rs 1,000 notes on RBI’s official website.

A note of any denomination bears a signature of the RBI governor. Though there is a signature on the image, it reads MK Gandhi.

Image and claim of RBi issuing new Rs 1000 notes is fake.

Another search on YouTube revealed that a video with the same image was also shared on February with the same claim.

So, the images claiming that RBI has issued a new Rs 1,000 note are false.

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Delhi air gets toxic, NASA’s crop burning images point to worse days ahead

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The concentration of particulate matter — PM 10 and PM 2.5 — shot up twice the safe limit on Tuesday, when the national capital region’s (NCR) emergency action plan to tackle bad air came into effect, which includes a ban on diesel generator (DG) sets.

Vacuum and water-cleaning of roads will be intensified, pollution hot spots put under closer scrutiny and emission regulations are enforced under GRAP.

The Delhi government is monitoring data from NASA satellite imagery that warned that air pollution is set to worsen in Delhi on account of increase in the number of incidents of stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab.

The red dots indicate stubble burning in neighbouring states.

There was a steep rise in PM 10 and PM 2.5 — the prominent pollutants in Delhi air — over the past five days, when compared to the levels recorded in the first week of October, an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, on Tuesday, PM 10 was recorded as 263ug/m3 while PM 2.5 was 120ug/m3. The permissible standards for PM 10 and PM 2.5 are 100 and 60, respectively. The air quality index (AQI) till 4pm was 270 in the ‘poor’ category.

There was a steep rise in PM 10 and PM 2.5 — the prominent pollutants in Delhi air — over the past five days, when compared to the levels recorded in the first week of October, an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, on Tuesday, PM 10 was recorded as 263ug/m3 while PM 2.5 was 120ug/m3. The permissible standards for PM 10 and PM 2.5 are 100 and 60, respectively. The air quality index (AQI) till 4pm was 270 in the ‘poor’ category.

“There has been a rise in PM 10 levels because of dust emissions. Road dust and open storage of construction material are the major factors contributing to high PM 10 levels. We have found huge amount of dust in the air in a series of inspections,” said Bhure Lal, chairperson, Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

The pollution watchdog has also warned the India Metrological Department (IMD) that the air may turn ‘very poor’ on Wednesday.

“The smoke travelling to Delhi from stubble burning contributes to PM 2.5 emissions here. With the rise in number of farm fires in the past few days, there is a rise in concentration of particulate matter. Calm surface winds blowing over Delhi from the west and northwest are not able to disperse pollutants,” the analysis stated.

However, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a unit under Union ministry of earth sciences (MoES), said that stubble burning activity in Haryana and Punjab has shown a slight trend over the past 24 hours. The effect from stubble burning to PM 2.5 level in Delhi was 5% on Tuesday, which was lower than 9% on Sunday.

The ban on DG sets in Delhi and vicinity towns came as a pre-emptive measure under the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) that was enforced in Delhi-NCR from Tuesday. The plan defines specific actions to tackle different levels of air pollution throughout the year.

According to a senior DPCC official, so far no violations of the generator set ban had been recorded. “We have developed a mechanism for monitoring such violations and have alerted all district heads as well as municipal corporations to inform us of any such complaint.”

Delhi sees a rise in pollution during this time of the year owing to a change in meteorological conditions, combined with local emissions and the effects of crop residue burning in neighbouring states. This is because wind patterns change and blows from the northwest during , bringing pollutants such as smoke, to Delhi with it.

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Delhi govt to announce fitness fee, GPS charges waiver for taxis

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The Delhi government on Monday gave its nod to fully waive the fitness test fees and GPS-related charges for all taxis in the national Capital. It also slashed charges of other documentation and penalties by 60-80% for all cabs registered in Delhi.

The move comes ahead of the assembly elections scheduled in Delhi early next year. As per government data, the scheme will benefit at least a lakh taxis in the city.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the revised fees will be applicable only for those cabs, which are registered under an individual and not in the name of private companies.

“There are only over 15,000 such taxis that are registered directly under cab-aggregators or other taxi companies. So, the scheme will cover most of the cab drivers in Delhi. Also, after the steep hike in penalties under the amended Motor Vehicles Act, these reduced rates will come as a relief for them. It will encourage them to regularly get their cars checked for fitness and help in curbing vehicular emission,” the minister said.

In August, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had announced a similar scheme for auto-rickshaws which is now benefiting nearly 95,000 autos.

The decision to waive fitness test fees for taxis, be it manual or automatic and GPS related fees (Rs 1200 for tracking and Rs 450-Rs550 for SIM card) was taken by the Delhi Cabinet led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday. The transport department has been asked to issue an order and roll out the scheme from November 1.

The government also slashed the fees for taking a new permit and renewing the same from the existing rate of Rs 1500 and Rs 2,000 to a flat rate of Rs 500. The revision specifically of the permit-fee will, however, need an amended in the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules which transport department officials said will be done soon.

Besides, registering a newly bought cab will also get cheaper by 70% and so will the subsequent re-registration charges. This fee is currently Rs 1000 which has been revised to Rs 300. Duplicate registration rates will be Rs 150 instead of the current fee of Rs 500.

For drivers who have bought their taxis on loan, the government has reduced the ‘hire purchase’ or hypothecation charge from Rs 1500 to Rs 500.

Similar reductions have also been done in various penalties that are levied by the state government. The fine for delay in getting a cab checked for its fitness will be Rs 300 instead of Rs 1000.

Officials said an estimate of how much this latest scheme is going to cost the government is being ascertained. “It is likely to be less than Rs 20 crore, could be between Rs 10-15 crore in all likelihood,” said an official.

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