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30 dead as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand bear brunt of rain fury, Delhi on flood alert

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Rains continued to lash several places in Punjab and other states on Monday after at least 30 people were killed and dozens reported missing or feared dead over the weekend across north India.

Authorities in Uttarakhand and Punjab launched rescue operations in several places to move people stranded after flood and cloudbursts as the weather department forecast more rains in the region.

Flood alerts have been sounded in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh as rivers, including the Yamuna, swelled to dangerous levels. The Delhi government has asked people living in low-lying areas to move to safer places as the water level in the Yamuna is expected to cross the danger mark (205.33 metres), officials said.

The Yamuna was flowing at 203.37m on Sunday evening and is expected to touch 207m on Monday as 828,000 cusecs water was released from Haryana’s Hathini Kund barrage at 6pm, an official said.

Majority of the damage was reported from the two worst-hit states — Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand — as heavy rains remained unabated through the Himalayan belt. Hundreds were stranded after incessant rainfall triggered landslides, snapped road links, led to shutting down of hydropower projects and release of excess water from dams in the region.

As of Sunday evening, rain-related incidents had claimed at least 23 lives in Himachal Pradesh, four in Uttarakhand while dozens were reported injured. In Punjab’s Aol village, three members of a family were killed when the roof of their house collapsed, police said.

Two people were airlifted from Arakot of Uttarkashi’s Mori tehsil and brought to Sahasradhara helipad in Dehradun following a cloudburst in the area, news agency Asian News International reported on Monday. They are being shifted to Doon Hospital, it said. Two helicopters were sent to Arakot earlier with communication equipment and ropes and three medical teams have also reached Arakot.

At least 10 people were reported missing as cloudbursts wreaked havoc in several villages, damaging several houses in Arakot, Makuri and Tikochi villages in Uttarkashi district, the worst-hit region in the state.

Hundreds have been evacuated to higher reaches, state officials said adding that roads were damaged at many places, hampering rescue efforts.

Indian Army and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel launched a rescue operation in Punjab’s Jalandhar district on Monday after major breaches were reported on the Satluj River at four places in Bholewal, Meowal and other villages under Philluar sub-division.

As per the initial reports, more than 20 people are still trapped even as NDRF teams rescued four people from Nawan Khera village.

Jalandhar’s deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma has asked people in at least 13 villages of Phillaur district to be evacuated. Officials said the situation is under control in Shahkot sub-division of Jalandhar district, where around 63 villages were put on high alert. Sharma requested residents of Shahkot to move to safer places as around 2.4 lakh cusec of water from the Sutlej is likely to hit the area during the day.

The situation also remained under control in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, where more than 65 villages were put on high alert. Heavy rainfall in Jalandhar lead to waterlogging in several places across the city.

The India Meteorological Department has warned heavy rainfall likely at isolated places across Punjab.

Hundreds of tourists were also left stranded in Himachal Pradesh’s tribal Lahaul and Spiti district after a freak snowfall on Sunday cut off roads in the region, officials said. They said rescuers were on their way to Chandratal situated at an altitude of about 4,300metres or 14,100ft in the Himalayas.

The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) office in Himachal Pradesh said on Sunday that the state received the highest ever rainfall for a 24-hour period since records began almost 70 years ago. “The state as a whole received 102.5mm and this was 1,065% more than normal,” IMD said in a statement.

In Uttar Pradesh, several rivers, including Ganga, Yamuna and Ghaghra, are in spate. The Ganga is flowing above the danger mark in Badaun, Garhmukteshwar, Naraura and Farrukhabad.

Of the 15 wettest places in the world in the past 24 hours, 13 were in India, according to global weather monitoring website El Dorado Weather. The world’s wettest place was Diamond Harbour in West Bengal, which received 220mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. Vellore with 188mm rain was ranked second, Jamshedpur third with 172mm, Shimla seventh with 146mm and Chandigarh was 11th in the global ranking with 121mm of rain.

As of August 15, a total of 1,058 persons have died due to rain-related incidents during the monsoon season that started on June 1 with one-fourth of the deaths reported from Maharashtra.

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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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