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Kerala rains: 6 districts on red alert, opening of dam shutters aggravate flood situation; Mullaperiyar raises concerns

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As heavy rainfall continues to pound different parts of Kerala, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued red alert for six districts saying that they will receive over 20 cm rainfall over Monday.

The IMD has sounded a red alert and predicted extremely heavy rainfall in Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Alappuzha districts.

IMD officials said almost all districts north of Alappuzha are likely to receive over 20 cms rains.

There is likely to be a reduction in rainfall from Tuesday, it said.

In the wake of incessant rainfall, several parts of the state are facing flood-like situation with the administration shifting hundreds of people from low-lying areas to relief camps.

With the tragic memories of the 2018 deluge still fresh in the minds of the people of the state, many have already moved to higher places or shifted to stay with relatives even before receiving alert from the district administration.

The incessant rains, landslides and opening of shutters of dams across rivers have led to rise in water levels in rivers and streams in central Kerala, aggravating the flood situation.

All six shutters of Pamba dam, in Pathanamthitta district opened for 60 cm each Sunday afternoon after its water level rose to 983.45 meter mark, raising concerns about floods in Ranni, Chengannur and Kuttanad regions.

The shutters were opened to bring down the water level in the dam to 982 meters in nine hours, Pathanamthitta district officials said.

District Collector PB Nooh IAS said that 82 cubic ft of water will flow out because of the opening of the shutters and added that the water level in Pamba river may rise up to 40 cm.

Anticipating breach of the river in areas downstream of Pathanamthitta, the district administration has sought the assistance of fishermen to carry out rescue operations. Fishermen from Neendakara and Alappad in neighbouring Kollam district will reach vulnerable areas of Pathanamthitta, including Thiruvalla and Adoor with 15 boats, officials said. Last month, 30 fishermen arrived from Kollam with 10 boats deployed at Kozhencherry and Ranni, officials said. Nearly 100 families living in the vulnerable areas in Ranni have been shifted to safety, they said.

Normal life of people in low-lying areas of Kottayam and Alappuzha has been badly affected with flood waters entering their homes.

Hundreds of families have been shifted to relief camps from-low lying areas, including Kumarakom and Kuttanad regions of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts.

Farming in Kuttanad ‘Below Sea Level Farming System’, the only such one in India practicing rice cultivation below sea level for the past two centuries, has been affected due to the breach of bunds due to floods, farmers of the area said.

An airport taxi driver was washed away in flood waters at Manarcad area in Kottayam district in the wee hours of Sunday. The body of the man, identified as Justin from Angamaly, was later recovered by the rescue personnel. Officials said four cases of drowning have been reported from Kasargod, Kannur, Kozhikode and Alappuzha districts in the past 24 hours. Considering the spread of COVID-19, the authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of the flood affected people.

Meanwhile, the water level at Mullaperiyar reservoir in Idukki district of Kerala reached 136 feet late Sunday night. This has raised concerns for those living on banks of Periyar river where the water level will rise. Hundreds of people from the area have been shifted to relief camps.

“The water level has reached 136 feet. I have talked to the Theni collector. No decision has been made as of now with regard to opening of the shutters. They have assured us that we will be informed prior to opening,” Idukki district collector H Dineshan told PTI.

In a letter, Kerala Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta had asked his Tamil Nadu counterpart to inform the state government, 24 hours prior to opening of the shutters.

“The state is receiving heavy rains especially in the Idukki district. The water level in the catchment area of Mullaperiyar has been steadily rising. The water level, which was at 116.20 feet on August 3, reached 131.25 feet by 2 pm on August 7,” Mehta said in his letter.

Meanwhile, four shutters of Neyyar dam have been opened in Thiruvananthapuram district following heavy rainfall in the region.

Three shutters of Aruvikkara dam in the state capital have also been opened, as the catchment areas of both the dams are receiving heavy rainfall since Saturday.

Considering the spread of Coronavirus, the authorities have opened separate camps for different categories of the flood-affected people.

In Ernakulam district, 1,203 flood affected people have been shifted to relief camps. While 1,118 people have been lodged in general relief camps, 67 senior citizens are in camps for those above 60 years of age. Eighteen people are staying in the camps set for quarantined people, district administration officials said.

The Shiva temple located in Aluva continues to stay submerged in the water despite the water level of Periyar river going down. The river had swelled up due to heavy downpour from the past couple of days.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the massive landslide at Rajamala in Kerala’s Idukki district, triggered due to heavy rainfall in the last few days, has risen to 43 with 17 more bodies including that of a 6-month-old baby being retrieved on Sunday.

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‘Second wave of coronavirus at its peak in Delhi,’ says Arvind Kejriwal, cites experts

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Delhi was witnessing the second wave of coronavirus and has now turned the corner, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday.

The sudden spike in case, crossing 4,000 which took place earlier this month was the second wave of the disease, he said.

CM’s remarks came while speaking at a programme in PUSA (Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University).

“On September 16, Delhi recorded approximately 4,500 cases. After that, the cases started to decline and in the last 24 hours, 3,700 cases have come up in the national capital. In the coming days, the numbers will decline further,” he said.

“From July 1 to August 17, cases were in control. So experts are believing that the second wave of coronavirus which had hit Delhi is now on peak and its intensity will be less in the coming days,” he contended.

With a fresh spike of 86,508 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, India has crossed the 57 lakh mark, according to Ministry of Health on Thursday.

India, which continues to remain the second-worst affected country’s total Covid-19 caseload now stands at 57,32,518 out of which 9,66,382 are active coronavirus cases which account for 16.85 per cent of all cases.

With 87,374 patients that have recovered from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the recoveries continue to remain more than the number of new coronavirus infections for the fifth consecutive day, according to data by Ministry of Health.

Delhi’s total coronavirus case load after daily spike of 3,714 cases now stands at 2,56,789 Covid-19 cases.

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Conspiracy grew right after 2019 parliamentary elections: Police in Delhi riots chargesheet

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In its chargesheet filed over the investigations in the Delhi violence, the Delhi Police said the conspiracy was plotted right after the 2019 parliamentary elections.

“From the day that the results of the 2019 Parliamentary elections were declared, the tone and tenor of the public utterances of the key conspirators of the present case have shown a clear streak of affinity towards violence which had started playing out in their minds,” it said.

Police have filed a 2,695-page “final report” in the chargesheet filed against 15 people under the stringent UAPA in a case of alleged conspiracy related to the February riots in Northeast Delhi.

The chargesheet filed by the police includes the names of former AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, Pinjra Tod’s Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, former DU student Gulfisha, Jamia Millia Islamia PhD student Meeran Haider and Jamia Coordination Committee media coordinator Safoora, among others.

“Internationally, terrorist activity is defined as the use of violence to force a government to accept/submit to political demands,” the final report, signed by DCP (Special Cell) P S Kushwah and ACP (Special Cell) Alok Kumar said.

“The conspiracy grew in an organic manner from the formation of a group called MSJ, an overtly communal seed that was sown after CAB to the subsequent formation of JCC and finally the emergence of DPSG, which provided a secular facade and naxal genes of violent resistance to an otherwise radically communal agenda,” it said.

The report further said that conspirators, by their ingenuity and criminality of thoughts, presented an entirely new dimension to the meaning of ‘hate speech’. Theirs was covered in the sugarcoat of nationalism which hit the sour and sordid truth that it was in fact a well-thought out attempt at igniting and reinforcing a pan-Islamic identity.

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Freelance journalist, who also worked for China’s Global Times, arrested for spying in Delhi

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The Delhi Police on Saturday said that the freelance journalist, who was caught in the national capital of spying, was also providing sensitive information about India’s border strategy and army deployment to Chinese intelligence.

Police further claimed to have busted a major spying operation amid soaring tensions between the two countries.

The police told that a Chinese woman, Qing Shi, and a Nepalese man, Sher Singh alias Raj Bohra, have been booked along with Sharma under the Official Secrets Act.

“Freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma arrested under Official Secrets Act for passing sensitive information to Chinese intelligence. A Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate also arrested for paying him large amounts of money routed through shell companies,” the Delhi Police said.

“Journalist Rajeev Sharma was involved in passing sensitive defence and strategic information to Chinese intelligence officers from 2016 to 2018. He used to meet them at several locations in different countries,” Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, DCP, Special Cell Delhi Police told.

“His 2 associates-a Chinese woman and Nepalese man, have a company in Mahipalpur, from where they exported medicines to China. Money sent from China was given to agents here. As per probe, transactions of Rs 40-45 lakhs have taken place in last 1 year,” the officer told.

“Rajeev Sharma has almost 40 years of experience as a journalist. In additional to his experience as a journalist in several news firms in India, he has written articles for Chinese media agency Global Times as a freelance journalist,” he added.

“Huge numbers of mobile phones, laptops and other incriminating and sensitive material have been recovered,” the police said.

Sharma is a journalist accredited with the Press Information Bureau (PIB).

Yesterday, senior police officer Sanjeev Kumar Yadav had said. “He was found to be in possession of some classified defence-related documents. The investigation is in progress and further details will be shared in due course.”

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