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Delhi gets first batch of 25 new buses after six years

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The national capital will get at least 3,000 new buses in the next seven to eight months, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced while flagging off the first lot of 25 buses for the city on Tuesday.

The 3,000 buses are a part of a total 4,000 buses, which the Delhi government will be getting by 2020 to augment the city’s transport system.

The non air-conditioned, standard floor buses, which were flagged off on Tuesday, are first in the city to be fitted with hydraulic lifts for easy access for the differently-abled and senior citizens.

Speaking at the event, Kejriwal said the new buses will not only help boost public transport but also improve the air quality in the national capital.

“In the last seven-eight years, no new buses were added to Delhi’s public transport system. But, in the coming seven-eight months, 3,000 new buses will be delivered. In this fleet of 3,000 buses, we will also have some electric buses – another first for the city,” Kejriwal said.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said that the government overcame “unimaginable obstructions” for procuring new buses. “Nobody could think that some people would go to court even on the matter of getting buses in the city. In the past two years, we fought hard to ensure that the cases turned in our favour,” he said.

Apart from hydraulic lifts, the 25 new buses that were pressed into service from Tuesday are equipped with three CCTV cameras, GPS and panic buttons.

The fleet of 1,000 standard floor buses, of which Tuesday’s 25 buses are a part, will be delivered by January next year. These buses will be added to the existing fleet of 1,679 buses that are operational under the cluster scheme of the Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System (DIMTS).

The chief minister said that the delivery of another 1,000 e-buses, being procured by the government, will begin from February. Roll out of the first batch of 385 e-buses is expected in February 2020. The remaining 615 e-buses will be procured in next phases, the government later said in a press conference.

Apart from this, tenders for 1,000 low floor air-conditioned buses for Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) have also been floated.

Besides, the government is also moving to induct 1,000 low floor air-conditioned buses under the cluster scheme.

In the new standard floor buses flagged off on Tuesday, drivers will get a clear view of the rear of the bus while reversing, thanks to a rearview camera. Each bus comes with a touch-enabled screen fixed near the driver’s steering for live feed. This is in addition to two cameras that are fitted inside the bus for safety of passengers. So far this year, cluster and DTC buses have been involved in at least 27 fatal accidents. In 2018, the count was 15.

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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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‘Will go to world as Kashmir’s ambassador’: Imran Khan in PoK’s Muzaffarabad

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, continuing his attack against India over Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday declared that he will go to the world as “Kashmir ka safir (ambassador)”.

“I want to tell Modi and Hindustan (India) that I will travel the world as Kashmir ka safir (ambassador). I will tell the world what RSS stands for,” Khan told a public gathering in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Imran Khan said the Kashmir issue has been “internationalised” as it was brought back to the UN Security Council after 50 years.

Pakistan had on Tuesday asked the UN human right body to ensure that India ends the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir and restores fundamental rights and liberties in the region after the revocation of its special status on August 5.

India has described the changes in Kashmir as an internal matter and said Pakistan has no locus standi in the matter. India countered Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir at UNHRC by saying the Pakistani leadership is using the issue to promote cross-border terrorism.

Khan alleged that the India that we see today is not the one that was envisaged by its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru or even Mahatma Gandhi.

“I want to tell India that, by detaining thousands of people, you are pushing people into extremism,” Khan said.

“People will rise against India, and it is not just about Indian Muslims, there are 1.25 billion Muslims around the world. They all are watching this,” he said.

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Rajasthan teen, raped by 3, ran half-a-km to escape man trying to help her

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A 15-year-old girl on her way to a temple with her two friends in central Rajasthan was abducted, thrashed and raped by three men, police said on Wednesday.

She was rescued after one of her friends ran back to the market some distance away and got some help. The three suspects escaped, leaving the terrified teenager behind.

But the girl was so traumatised that she also tried to escape the man who rescued her. She ran without clothes for nearly half-a-kilometre. When she eventually stopped, the man then gave her his clothes to cover herself and took her home.

Police said the three men had been arrested. Two of them, Raju Kahar and Kailash Kahar, are in their mid-twenties. Narayan Gurjar, the third suspect, is 40.

The incident took place on Monday evening in Bhilwara district, 250 km south of Rajasthan capital Jaipur.

Bhilwara district police chief Harendra Mahwar said the girl and her two friends were going to a temple when the three suspects, who were consuming liquor on the roadside, saw them and went after them.

“While her friends managed to escape the three, the teenage girl was abducted by the accused and forcibly taken to an isolated place where she was raped,” Harendra Mahwar said.

One of the male friends who managed to escape ran towards the market area and sought help from a shopkeeper identified as Chand Khan Rangrez and told him about the incident.

“I was sitting at my shop on Monday evening when one boy, who looked scared, approached me. The boy said that when he was going with his two friends, three men stopped him on Tehnal road. They snatched his bike, abducted his minor friend, took her to isolate place and are raping her,” said Rangrez.

Rangrez told HT that he picked up his bike to help the girl. When he reached the spot, he saw three people beating the girl.

“Seeing me approach them, the accused fled… The girl was so terrified that she ran without clothes for more than half-a-kilometre. I tried to convince her that I am here to help but she didn’t believe me. But a few minutes later, she seemed to trust me and stopped… I gave my clothes to her,” Rangrez said.

She headed back to town with him but insisted that they do not go to a hospital, but home. The girl told Rangrez that her father was unwell.

When her parents heard her horrific details, they promptly decided to file a police complaint.

A case was lodged under law to penalise sexual offences against children, atrocity against scheduled castes and penal code. District police chief Harendra Mahwar said the statements of the rape survivor, Rangrez and her friends had been recorded,

Deputy superintendent of police Bharat Singh, who is investigating the case, said the three accused were residents of Shahpura block 60 km away.

At the spot where the girl was raped, Bharat Singh said they had found “broken pieces of bangles, liquor bottles and blood stains from the spot”.

“The clothes of the victim has also been recovered,” Bharat Singh said. The officer said the case was being investigated under case officer scheme under which the probe will be fast tracked.

A doctor, who conducted the girl’s medical examination, said there were scratch marks all over her body.

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