The Hindu Important Articles 26 May 2018

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# Tamil Nadu CM says Sterlite will be shut; power supply cut
TNPCB orders closure after finding the unit was preparing to resume production
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said on Thursday that the State government was taking all steps legally to permanently close down Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta Group company, in Thoothukudi.

Thirteen persons were killed in police firing during the protests against the plant.

Earlier in the day, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) ordered the closure of the Sterlite Copper unit with immediate effect and disconnected electricity supply to the plant at 5.15 a.m.

“This government is Amma’s [Jayalalithaa’s] government that respects the sentiments of the people. As far as the Sterlite issue is concerned, this Amma’s government is taking steps legally to close down the unit,” Mr. Palaniswami told journalists at the Secretariat.

His statement came soon after Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin staged a dharna outside the Chief Minister’s chamber. Mr. Stalin, who was physically removed from the Secretariat premises and detained till the evening, alleged that the Sterlite Group had bribed the government.

TNPCB inspections

In its order, the TNPCB said that during inspections by its officials on May 18 and 19, it was found that “the unit was carrying out activities to resume its production operations” though permission was not granted.

Following this, the Joint Chief Environmental Engineer, Tirunelveli, recommended disconnection of electricity supply to the plant under Section 33A of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and Section 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution)Act, 1981.

Awaiting nod: Vedanta

However, Vedanta Chairman Anil Agarwal on Thursday said the company would like to continue the business at the plant with the “wish” of the community.

At present, the company is waiting for clearance from the court and the government to restart the plant, which was closed for annual maintenance, Mr. Agarwal said in a video statement on Twitter.

# Nipah lab tests return negative
Throat swabs of two suspected patients had been sent to Manipal, Pune
The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test of the throat swabs of two patients in the city sent to Manipal Centre for Virus Research (MCVR), Manipal, to ascertain if they have Nipah virus infection has been found negative, according to M. Ramakrishna Rao, Dakshina Kannada District Health and Family Welfare Officer.

Mr. Rao said here on Thursday that a 20-year-old woman, an employee of the Calicut Medical College admitted in a private hospital here, was more prone to virus infection as she had been exposed to treatment of those infected by Nipah virus. Though a 75-year-old local resident admitted to the Government Wenlock Hospital had no history of getting exposed to persons infected with virus, his throat swab too had been sent for analysis to clear doubts. “Tests of both swabs were found negative for Nipah,” Dr. Rao told reporters.

Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil S. said that virus spreads only with close contact with infected persons and not through air. He said that following three cases of Nipah virus infection, the Kerala Government acted quickly to isolate them and provide treatment. “There is no case of this viral infection spreading to other areas of Kasaragod and in our region,” he said and added, “Unless there is close contact with infected persons, there is no need to be concerned of Nipah infection in cases of viral fever.”

While referring to new guidelines issued by the State government, Mr. Senthil said that PCR Test at the MCVR was the final confirmatory test for detection of Nipah. The centre will do tests of only those who are found to have had an history of contact with infected persons or have had visited the infected areas in Kerala, he said.

As there are instances of Nipah virus outbreak because of toddy, the district administration was asking people to stay away from toddy consumption. While advising people not to eat cut fruits, Mr. Senthil said that it was better to eat fruits after washing them and peeling off their skin.

Mr. Senthil said that government and private doctors in the district have been given advisory on treatment protocols to be followed in case of suspected Nipah infections. “We are closely monitoring the situation,” he said.

# Three more men attacked after fake message on child snatchers goes viral
In all three incidents in the city, those attacked were not locals
The day that a 26-year-old labourer was tied up and beaten to death in Chamarajpet, three other men were severely injured when attacked by mobs in two separate instances on Wednesday. All the attacks were fuelled by messages on social media claiming that gangs of child snatchers were roaming the streets of Bengaluru. The police have dismissed the messages as fake.

In all three cases, the people were not locals. In the second incident, two labourers were assaulted by a group of 15 people at Cottonpet who allegedly accused them of kidnapping children. The victims – Manjunath, 32, a labourer from Tiptur, and his friend Khemraj Gyawali, 30, from Nepal – were walking towards Vinayaka Theatre from Majestic on Wednesday with the intention of catching a movie.

They told the police that when they reached Siddarthanagar around 15 people surrounded them, accused them of being child snatchers and attacked them. They tried to escape but fell as the men kicked them and hit them with clubs. “They threatened to kill us. We begged and pleaded with them to spare our lives and tried to tell them that we were not kidnappers. But they were not in the mood to listen to us,” said Manjunath in his complaint to the police. The two friends were rescued by the Cottonpet beat police who dispersed the mob and rushed the victims to hospital. Manjunath and Khemraj sustained multiple injuries but are said to be out of danger. “We have filed a case of attempt to murder, unlawful assembly and rioting. Efforts are on to track down the attackers,” said the police.

In another incident on Wednesday, an angry mob attacked Noor Ahmed Khan, 40, from Kashmir while he was begging for alms at Bagalur Layout in Lingarajpuram. The patrolling police were able to intervene in time and rescued Khan. “But he refused to file a complaint and left after being treated at a local hospital,” said the police.

# Get your facts right, Naidu tells Pawan
‘Our govt. alone is making efforts to help out CKD patients’
A day after Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan served a 48-hour ultimatum on the State government on the Uddanam kidney disease issue, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu asserted that a few people were resorting to a political blame game for their vested interests.

“Those criticising the government should consider the ground realities,” Mr. Naidu said at a review meeting on the Uddanam issue at his residence on Thursday. The people of the region, who have been haunted by the chronic kidney disease (CKD) for several decades, got relief only with the initiatives taken by the government.

The Chief Minister said that the government took several initiatives as soon as the problem came to its notice. Fifteen mobile medical teams were set up to provide medical assistance in seven mandals where CKD was rampant. Blood samples were collected from 1,01,593 people to test serum creatinine and blood urea.

Of this, 13,093 were identified for medical assistance and sent to community health centres. NTR laboratory was set up at the Sompet community health centre and dialysis services were being provided in Palasa, Sompet and the area hospital at Palakonda. These were in addition to the dialysis centres located at RIMS at Srikakulam, and the Tekkali Area Hospital. Fifty dialysis machines were put to use at these places. Dialysis was done on 798 patients at five centres.

Mr. Naidu said that the government was extending a monthly pension of Rs. 2,500 to each of the 2,761 patients who were undergoing treatment at the government dialysis centres. RO plants with a cost of Rs. 17 crore were also installed in the area.

# UGC allows online degrees
With the University Grants Commission approving the UGC (Online Courses) Regulations, 2018, in its meeting on Thursday, higher educational institutions can now offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode in line with their regular programmes.

An official release said only those disciplines in which qualifying institutions have already been offering the same or similar programmes/ courses at the undergraduate level in the regular mode (of classroom teaching), or in open and distance learning mode, approved by the statutory councils as applicable, and from which at least one batch has graduated, are eligible. A minimum National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score of 3.26 on the 4-point scale is required.

# ‘Do not go by messages on social media ’
Deputy Commissioner Sasikanth Senthil S. has asked people not to be carried away by messages posted on WhatsApp groups and Facebook claiming to provide treatment for Nipah virus.

Talking to reporters here on Thursday, Mr. Senthil said that messages providing treatment was being circulated on the social media. “This is not the recommended treatment. Do not believe what is posted on social media,” he said.

# Five boys held for sexually assaulting minor girl
Accused booked under POCSO and Nirbhaya Acts
The Palamaner sub-division police on Thursday took five minor boys into custody for their alleged sexual assault on a 12-year-old girl in Punganur. About 50 police personnel from Palamaner and Punganur were pressed into action to make the arrests from Wednesday midnight till the early hours of Thursday. A police picket is being posted in the town to avoid any untoward incident.

Deputy SP (Palamaner) K. Chowdeswari told The Hindu that the girl along with her mother had migrated to Punganur last year, after her father died. The girl reportedly developed friendship with a 15-year old boy, who allegedly showed some objectionable content to her on the mobile phone and reportedly started to exploit her sexually.

In the last four months, the girl was allegedly exploited by four more boys. “A few days ago a boy allegedly saw the girl in a compromising position with a boy, and reportedly informed the same to his brother. On Wednesday evening, the girl’s mother was informed about the incident,” the DSP said.

A fear-stricken girl then reportedly informed her mother about the happenings since four months and about the boys who were behind the assault. The girl’s mother with some elderly persons rushed to the police station in Punganur and lodged a complaint on Wednesday night. Ms. Chowdeswari, who was on bandobast duty at Kuppam Ganga jatara, rushed to Punganur, and formed a special team to nab the accused.

“It is not gang-rape, as the boys had committed the crime without the knowledge of the other. All the five were arrested under POCSO and Nirbhaya Acts and sent for remand, and would be lodged at juvenile homes. The girl has been sent for medical examination and steps are initiated for her rehabilitationIncidentally, the Hackathon Safety for Women programme is under way in the district,” the official said.

# ‘Busports’, native online taxi service for the State
Facility to have infrastructure on par with airports
Select bus stations in Kerala will be upgraded as ‘busports’ that have infrastructure on par with airports, to woo people to use public transport. Similarly, plans were afoot to launch a native online taxi/autorickshaw service in the State by August, K.R. Jyothilal, Principal Secretary, Transport, announced here on Thursday.

Elaborating on the ‘busport’ concept, Mr. Jyothilal said that PricewaterhouseCoopers had been asked to prepare a DPR for readying Kerala’s first such facility in Kochi. This would be operated on public-private partnership (PPP) basis for proper upkeep. The amenities would include a proper waiting area, eateries, well-maintained toilets, etc., he said, after Kochi Metro Rail Limited and Axis Bank inked an agreement with seven private bus companies that together operate 1,100 buses in Greater Kochi area. The pact was to extend Kochi metro’s Kochi-1 prepaid inter-modal card to the buses as well.

The buses would be brought under the system by November, while efforts were under way to bring KSRTC buses that operate in the region too under its purview. A software was being readied to enable ‘cashless’ travel using the card in autorickshaws too, he said.

Electric vehicle policy

He further said that a draft electric vehicle policy would be unveiled shortly, to bring about mobility that leaves the least carbon footprint. Thus, electric vehicles could transport air commuters from places like Cochin International Airport to the city. Referring to increasing operational expenses of buses, he said one way to substantially lessen the expenses was by introducing conductor-less buses, by relying on such prepaid transit cards. “The KSRTC’s staff strength per bus is double the national average. This has to come down. Yet another method planned is to introduce vehicle-tracking system, whereby operation of buses can be monitored, thus increasing the quality of services and also reigning in operational cost.”

Transport Minister A.K. Saseendran expressed shock at the number of vehicles registered in Kerala crossing the 1 crore mark, primarily due to proliferation of private vehicles. The resultant chaos and snarls caused the death of 4,500 people in accidents on the State’s roads. “Even wars do not see such high fatalities,” he said and sought peoples’ cooperation to promote public transport.

Source:- The Hindu

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