Containment zones back in Chennai as Omicron cases in Tamil Nadu rise to 45
With the National Institute of Virology confirming 11 more cases of Omicron in Tamil Nadu, thus taking the total number to 45, State Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Wednesday, December 29, that there was no need to panic as all the cases detected so far are asymptomatic. After inspecting the city’s first COVID-19 containment zone in Chennai’s Ashok Nagar since the removal of lockdown restrictions during the second wave, the Minister also said that all the Omicron patients had availed two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Minister visited the containment zone along with Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department Dr J Radhakrishnan, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi and other officials. As to the containment zone in Ashok Nagar, Radhakrishnan said it was the first in the city after the lockdown curbs were lifted. A cluster of 10 people infected with coronavirus was detected two to three days ago and the area has been cordoned off, he said.
Tamil Nadu had detected 129 persons with S-gene drop and their samples were sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV). On Tuesday, December 28, NIV confirmed 11 cases of Omicron (in addition to the previous 34 cases) and including 5 old cases, totally 16 persons are undergoing treatment now, the Health Minister said. About 29 persons out of 34 who tested for Omicron have been treated and discharged.
With the rising Omicron cases in mind, the government has established COVID-19 Care Centres at three places in the city with a total bed strength of 500. Preparations are on to revive the CCC at the Chennai Trade Centre and also to ramp up the RT-PCR testing to 25,000 tests per day, from the present 23,000 tests, in Chennai, the Minister said.
Asserting that the present situation is not alarming, the Minister said the emphasis should be more on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and people should come forward to get vaccinated to shield themselves from coronavirus and its variants.
Pointing out that England and several countries world over were changing treatment protocols, asking asymptomatic persons to undergo treatment at home, the Minister said Tamil Nadu too would closely monitor the cases apart from following the guidelines.
Inoculation against COVID-19 would help to protect the people, Subramanian said, and added that plans are on to ensure 100% vaccine coverage of the beneficiaries.
Already 86% of the population have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine while the second dose has been administered to 58%, the Minister said. For its part, the GCC has initiated steps to make sure the entire eligible population is covered, including vaccinating those above 60 years, he added. Chief Minister MK Stalin will launch the vaccination drive for the 15 to 17 years age group at a camp in Porur on January 3 and it will be simultaneously initiated in all the schools across the State, Subramanian informed.
Hotels, resorts, farmhouses, conference halls and other recreational centers are barred from organizing parties, dance shows, musical concerts or any commercial events
The city will be virtually shut on Friday, New Year’s eve, with police on Tuesday banning parties at public places and in apartment complexes.
Hotels, resorts, farmhouses, conference halls and other recreational centres are barred from organising parties, dance shows, musical concerts or any commercial events. Private housing societies or resident welfare associations too are not allowed to gather for celebrations.
Only restaurants and hotels serving food have been allowed to function till 11pm by following Covid-19 protocol, with the managements told to ensure that all employees are fully vaccinated, according to an advisory from GCP.
Police commissioner Shankar Jiwal has requested the public not to gather at Marina, Elliot’s, Neelankarai and East Coast Road (ECR) or to park vehicles on arterial roads (Anna Salai, Rajaji Salai, RK Salai, Kamarajar Salai and GST Road) for any celebrations).
As a precautionary measure, police have completely banned vehicular movement along Marina and Elliot’s beaches and the stretch connecting War Memorial with Gandhi Statue.
Jiwal appealed to the public to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB), warning about a possible spread of Omicron.
The legal notice alleges that the film 'Sarpatta Parambarai' has certain misleading scenes, depicting the political scenario of the 70s in Chennai inaccurately.
AIADMK leader and former MLA RM Babu Murugavel has issued a legal notice to Amazon and the makers of the film 'Sarpatta Parambarai' alleging that certain scenes in the films are inaccurate and misleading.
The legal notice claims that certain facts produced in the film are totally inaccurate and induce the sense of misleading the public at large with events and incidents without material proof.
Sarpatta Parambarai released on Amazon Prime on July 22.
The movie, directed by PA Ranjith, who is known to portray the essence of Madras in its raw form, is about the 70s when Chennai was buzzing with a boxing culture.
The movie depicts the rivalry between 'Sarpatta Parambarai' and 'Idiyappa Parambarai', two groups ruling the boxing ring in the 70s in the city.
However, the movie also has some scenes showcasing DMK and AIADMK leaders.
AIADMK leader has raised objection over a dialogue in the movie. While the movie dialogue claims "Chief minister's son was also arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act [MISA]", Babu Murugavel says that no such incident took place at that time.
Babu Murugavel stated that the scene seems to be based on the then chief minister, M Karunanidhi, and his son and MK Stalin. He added that after research, he had found out that there were no such incident of MK Stalin's arrest under the MISA Act.
The legal notice also stated that there are more scenes in the film showing "false propaganda" and "politically motivated verses" in favour of the present government of Tamil Nadu.
Babu Murugavel has demanded removal of the scenes.
Former AIADMK minister Jayakumar had also expressed objection over the movie earlier, saying that the director had hidden 30 years of good governance by MGR in the movie.
Sarpatta Parambarai makers are yet to comment to the allegations.
This is big. Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. (CMRL) on Saturday published a notice inviting tenders to build 29 underground stations of Chennai’s new 45.81 km Line-3 which will connect Madhavaram and SIPCOT in the 118.9 km Chennai Metro Phase 2 project.
These 29 stations of the line’s 26.7 km underground section between Madhavaram Milk Colony and Taramani Road Junction will be built through 5 civil packages, UG-01 to UG-05, and financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The brief scope of each package indicates the contractor(s) will be responsible for the entire civil works at 21 stations and partial civil works at 8 stations.
Those 8 stations’ remaining partial works and approximately 21 km long twin tunnels (total 42 km) connecting all 29 stations will be built as part of Packages TU-01 and TU-02, and for that CMRL received 8 bids (2 each) from Gulermak, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), STEC-WH JV and Tata Projects (TPL) a little over a week ago.
Package UG-01 (Madhavaram to Perambur)This package includes entire civil work at 5 stations and partial works at 2 stations.
Brief Scope: Construction of five (05) underground stations at Thapalpetti, Moolakadai, Sembiyam, Perambur Market and Perambur Metro and Crossover at Sembiyam and works other than diaphragm wall of two underground stations at Madhavaram Milk Colony and Murari.
Package UG-02 (Ayanavaram to Kellys)This package includes entire civil work at 4 stations and partial works at 2 stations. The proposed station at Doveton Junction has not been mentioned in its scope of works, so I assume it has been dropped.
Brief Scope: Construction of four (04) underground stations at Otteri, Pattalam, Perambur Barracks Road and Kellys and works other than diaphragm wall of two underground stations at Ayanavaram & Puraisaiwakkam High Road cum Crossover Box
Package UG-03 (KMC to Royapettah)This package includes entire civil work at 5 stations and partial works at 2 stations. The new station-box at KMC (Kilpauk) will form an interchange with the 22 km Green Line (Line-2) which connects Chennai Central and St. Thomas Mount, while a new station box at Thousand Lights will form an interchange with the 23.10 km Blue Line (Line-1) which currently connects Chennai Airport and Washermanpet.
Brief Scope: Construction of five (05) underground stations at KMC, Sterling Road Junction, Nangambakkam, Gemini, Thousand Lights and Thousand Lights Crossover and works other than diaphragm wall of two underground stations at Royapettah Govt. Hospital & Chetpet Metro
Package UG-04 (Radhakrishnan to Adyar Junction)This package includes entire civil work at 4 stations with partial works at 1 station (Greenways). Thirumayilai will serve as an interchange with Phase 2’s new 26.09 km Line-4 (Light House – Poonamallee Bus Depot).
Brief Scope: Construction of five (05) underground stations at Radhakrishanan Salai Jn, Thirumayilai Metro, Mandaiveli, Greenways Road (with part diaphragm wall), Adyar Jn and two cross passage shafts and one emergency escape shaft.
Package UG-05 (Adyar Depot – Taramani Link Road Ramp)This package includes entire civil work at 3 stations, partial works at 1 station and one ramp leading to the elevated section towards SIPCOT.
Brief Scope: Construction of three (03) underground stations at Adyar Depot, Indira Nagar and Taramani Road Jn and Ramp and works other than diaphragm wall of underground station station Thiruvanmiyur Metro.
With this development, here’s the status of all packages for which bids have been invited so far:
Services on Washermenpet-Wimco Nagar stretch will begin after safety inspection
Chennai Metro Rail’s much awaited north line, connecting Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar, is likely to be opened in the last week of January or the first week of February next.
At a recently held high-level meeting, officials of Chennai Metro Rail Limited informed the State government that the stretch would be open for operations in two months.
Delay due to pandemic
The phase I extension should have been inaugurated by June but the construction schedule was delayed due to the pandemic and the deadline was pushed by several months.
The extension will provide better transport options for commuters residing in north Chennai. The signalling system for this project would likely be installed by mid-January. After that, the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) and his team will conduct an inspection.
According to officials, the CMRS will check the construction of the stations, facilities for emergency evacuation, the quality of construction and the working of passenger-related amenities like information display systems and automated fare collection gates.
“When the CMRS issues certification saying that the Washermenpet-Wimco Nagar stretch is fit for operations, the train services will begin,” an official said.
Sources said the existing frequency was likely to be maintained when the phase I extension is opened.
While some sources said the delay in the signalling system could be the reason for the project inauguration being deferred till the end of January, others said the pace of construction of stations also contributed to it.
“We are expecting a marginal increase in patronage after trains services commence in north Chennai,” another official said.
NewGovernment on Saturday said FASTag will be mandatory for four-wheelers or M&N category of vehicles that were sold before 1 December, 2017. Through amendments in Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, FASTag has now been made mandatory to be available by 1 January, 2021 in vehicles sold before 1 December, 2017.
Valid FASTag has been made mandatory for new third party insurance with effect from April 2021.
Fitness certificate will be renewed only if the vehicle has FASTag.
"As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, since 1st December 2017, the FASTag had been made mandatory for all registration of new four wheeled Vehicles and is being supplied by the Vehicle Manuracturer or their dealers. It had further been mandated that the renewal of fitness certificate will be done only after the fitment of FASTag for the Transport Vehicles. Further that for National Permit Vehicles the fitment of FASTag has been mandated since 1st October, 2019.
"It has been further mandated that a valid FASTag is mandatory while getting a new 3rd Party Insurance through an amendment in FORM 51 (certificate of Insurance), wherein the details of FASTag ID shall be captured. This shall be applicable w.e.f. 1 April 2021," said Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in an official release.
M&N vehicles refers to vehicles having at least four wheels and used for the carriage of passengers (e.g., standard car with two, three, four doors) and power-driven vehicles having at least four wheels and used for the carriage of goods, respectively.
The ministry said that this notification would be a major step for ensuring that the payment of fees be 100% at toll plazas through the electronic means only and that the vehicles pass seamlessly through the fee plazas. There would be no waiting time at the plazas and would save fuel, said the ministry.
"The steps for ensuring the availablity of FASTag at multiple channels are being made through physical locations and also through online mechanism so that the citizens are able to have them affixed at their vehicles within the next two months at their convenience," added the ministry.
The National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) programme, the flagship initiative of the MoRTH, has been implemented on a pan-India basis in order to remove bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of user fee as per the notified rates, using passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
FASTag is a prepaid tag that enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets the vehicle pass through the toll plaza without stopping for the cash transaction.
The radio-frequency identification (RFID)-based FASTag is affixed on the windscreen of the vehicle. It allows for direct payment of fee from the prepaid or savings account linked to it and enables vehicles to drive through without stopping for transactions.
Disclaimer : Below article is not going to help our current water crisis but it really helps for our future. "Use water cautiously"
Chennai, India faced a devastating flood in 2015 that killed hundreds of people and displaced many more. Today, the southern Indian city’s four main reservoirs are virtually dry.
This crisis is not only due to lack of water. Lack of proper management is exacerbating dry conditions in Chennai and many other cities around the world. If Chennai does not take action, it will likely face similar crises in the future.
Chennai’s Water Crisis Is a Management ProblemChennai gets its water from four main reservoirs—Puzhal, Cholavaram, Chembarambakkam and Poondi. Puzhal and Cholavaram have completely dried up. Chembarambakkam and Poondi have little water left. While rainfall this week is bringing a temporary reprieve, reservoirs are unlikely to recharge until the North East Monsoon arrives, which is still months away.
In the meantime, the city and many of its more than 10 million residents are now desperately drawing water from wells, further depleting scant groundwater resources. Others wait in line for hours to get water that’s trucked in from other locations or pay exorbitant sums to private water providers.
While last year’s poor monsoon season contributed to the current crisis, Chennai’s water scarcity has worsened in recent decades, driven largely by unplanned urbanization and increased competition.
Chennai’s population has increased from 500,000 to more than 10 million over the last century. Its economy and appetite for water-intensive industry, products and agriculture have grown in-step with population. According to WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, Chennai faces extremely high baseline water stress, meaning that on average more than 80% of the available water supply is used up every year by agriculture, industries and consumers.
At the same time, the water that is available is becoming increasingly polluted. Dumping untreated sewage into lakes is common practice in Chennai. These pollutants also seep into the soil and affect groundwater, further worsening the city’s water security.
Things Chennai Can Do to Increase Water Security.
Many have proposed ideas such as bringing water from other watersheds or investing in desalination plants to provide water to the increasingly water-stressed Chennai.
But bringing water from distant watersheds such as Cauvery or Krishna wouldn’t help the city in the long run, as these watersheds are also facing water-scarcity issues. Desalination plants could address some of the concerns, but they are very costly and consume a lot of energy. Chennai’s government is in the throes of a crisis – a difficult situation in which immediate action must be taken to sustain residents until the monsoons come. The city should also think about taking steps to help avert a similar situation in the future:
Ensuring Water-secure Futures for Cities Like Chennai. While Chennai’s “Day Zero” water shut-off was the latest to make headlines, cities around the world face similar problems. Cape Town, South Africa experienced a similar situation a year ago. Sao Paulo, Brazil nearly ran out of water in 2014 and experienced another severe drought last year. WRI’s Aqueduct tool shows that 36 countries are considered “extremely water stressed,” where more than 80 percent of the available supply is used up every year by agriculture, industry and consumers.
Cities around the world cannot afford to wait. They need to implement sustainable solutions with a focus on integrated water resource management to avoid having their own “Day Zero” experience. Chennai and other cities like it could be water-secure again, but only if we start acting now.
Watch YouTubers videos on Chennai Water Crisis :
Online Movie Ticket market has grown so big after the transformation of Internet in India. BookMySHow and Paytm are 2 most popular names in this market with major market share. These platforms do offer discounts most of the times but one thing that disappoints online users is the Internet Handling Fee that one gets to pay to complete the booking.
According to the recent reports, “Internet Handling Fee” that online movie booking platforms like BookMyShow and PVR charge is not legal at all. An RTI has recently revealed that any online movie booking platform that is charging you Internet Handling Fee is illegal and against the RBI regulations.
In a reply to the RTI filed by Vijay Gopal, the president of ‘Forum Against Corruption’, RBI responded that this fee is supposed to be paid by the merchant and not end customers.
According to RBI rules, every merchant has to pay Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) to banks when they accept payments online. However, the merchants are charging customers which is unethical.
After RBI’s reply, Vijay has filed a case against BookMyShow and PVR. He took to Twitter and announced.
Glad to share, A case has bee filed in the Hyd Consumer Court-3 against BookMyshow, PVR and the IT Dept. If GOI or shifting the operating cost of the theatre to the consumers calling it Internet Handling Fee. Justice will be served soon like sizzlers..!!
What do you think about this case? Do share your comments in this section.
Chennaiites can now travel on metro trains any number of times a day on a single ticket, as Chennai Metro Rail Limited has launched a monthly pass that allows commuters unlimited rides. Passengers will have to pay Rs 2,500 with an additional refundable fee of Rs 50 to purchase the ‘tourist card’.
“With this card, commuters can travel to any station at any time of the day for an entire month,” an official said.
While smartcards were introduced for commuters to avoid waiting in queues, metro rail officials said the new monthly tourist card is for office-goers and tourists who use metro rail facility multiple times a day.
At present, CMRL offers trip cards that allow passengers a set number of trips within a specific number of days between two stations. There is also tourist card for Rs 100 +50 refundable fee that allows unlimited rides for a single day.
Chennai Police's Third Eye campaign seeks to bring the city under complete surveillance.
It would be hard to miss the recent additions to the streets of Chennai over the past few months. The ubiquitous presence of tiny flickering lights that belong to the many CCTV cameras placed within 50 metres of each other at most roads and intersections have attracted considerable attention and publicity.
The CCTV cameras are part of an initiative launched two years ago by the Chennai Police to combat crime. Dubbed ‘Third Eye’, the campaign has gained steam over the last six months or so and now covers over half the city.
The Third Eye campaign took wings under the stewardship of incumbent Commissioner A K Vishwanathan. The top brass of the police force felt that the presence of CCTV cameras would serve as a deterrent to crime and also help in cracking existing cases by providing much needed evidence to fill the gaps.
The campaign was launched and intensified after the police force realised the need for greater aid. According to a spokesperson for the Chennai Police, the imperative to keep up with the times was a major driver and technology proved to be a great facilitator. Several high profile cases such as the Swathi murder case prompted the force to ramp up efforts to increase the coverage of CCTV.
Cameras have now been installed at every major junction and street corners. In many cases they are linked to the police control room of the nearest police station. The unique nature of the Third Eye campaign is the high level of involvement of people from all walks. While some of these have been installed using police funds, some have received MP and MLA local funds while citizens and RWAs have also donated to them for CCTV installation.
Private individuals such as shopkeepers, house owners and Resident Welfare Associations have also come forward in great numbers to install street-facing cameras themselves. These cameras are not networked and the data rests with the owners who have installed the camera. In that sense, the Third Eye campaign is one of the largest public-private surveillance networks in the country.
Khaleel Rahman, security expert and proprietor of Pace Security solutions said, “As I see it, it is kept as a deterrent and for record keeping of any incident. As of now, I do not see centralised networking for all the cameras installed, though it may happen in the future. For now the recording will rest with the shop or household that the camera is linked to if they are maintained by an individual.”
Questions and concerns
Such a vast surveillance mechanism naturally raises concerns about privacy of citizens and the potential to misuse the information procured through this method. Khaleel Rahman says, “When the cameras are not networked, the recording will be saved at the point where they are connected, such as to a shop or apartment complex. The footage can be saved for 15 days to a month, after which it will be recorded over. If the camera is privately owned and street facing, then those who have installed it can have access to the footage. There are ways to also password protect and encrypt the footage to prevent access as well.”
Hariharan V, an IT professional raises questions about the way the programme has been implemented. “I’ve been noticing the cameras with a feeling of unease. I understand it is hard to keep track of all activities and it helps the police but many private parties such as RWAs and offices have installed street-facing cameras that they can use for their own ends. It could lead to unpleasant violations of privacy that no one has control over.”
Privacy advocates point out that in the absence of a data protection law, CCTV surveillance operates in a legal grey area that is prone to misuse. While they may be installed with the stated intent of aiding law enforcement, the footage in the hands of private individuals can be used for various nefarious purposes such as stalking, blackmail and extortion. An incident of intimidation faced by a prominent journalist, when CCTV footage of her meeting with a cop at a cafe had been leaked online, raises concerns about privacy and safety of information held.
A spokesperson for the Chennai Police confirmed that they access the footage only if there is report of an incident in the area. They do not seek information for any other reason.
There have also been some questions over gaps in installation in low-income areas. There are no cameras in the housing board tenements in Dr Thomas Road in T Nagar. Two instances of vandalism in the area remain unsolved. “We had someone set a bike on fire in the middle of the night. The bike was completely charred. We called the police and they took a complaint but since there was no one around and no cameras we do not know who is behind it,” says Valli K, a resident in Block M.
In response, the police say that the installation is yet to be completed in all areas as they await more funding and that the final aim of the programme is to bring all parts of the city under surveillance.
With privacy concerns being raised only by a few and a large part of the city already under the watchful eye of the many CCTV cameras, it will be hard to turn the clocks back on Chennai’s transition to round-the-clock surveillance. Chennai Police plans to share footage with the traffic police for cashless invoicing of traffic violators, and therefore, there is always a possibility that more agencies will be privy to the information recorded across the city by CCTV cameras.
In this event, a robust data protection framework that ensures the security of the information collected, as well as clarity on who owns and uses the data, must be in place for the city to prevent the misuse or unauthorized sharing of personal information of citizens.
The public and various stakeholders must be actively involved in the process of installation, in choosing locations. They must always be aware of who can access the data. The programme should follow a grassroots approach rather than the current top-down iteration.
The current surveillance mechanism only has legal sanctions in the form of the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies (Installation of Closed Circuit Television Units in Public Buildings) Rules 2012 which does not cover the privacy concerns of citizens. This must be remedied with clear rules on data sharing with law enforcement and other agencies as well as rules pertaining to footage in the hands of private individuals.
But what about the final impact of this mammoth exercise, in terms of the primary objective of curtailing crime? It is perhaps too early to ascertain that. Also, with no NCRB report since 2016, there are no numbers to show for the phase when the programme really took off. However, on the basis of personal experience, police personnel claim to have received fewer reports of theft and petty crimes since the cameras were put in place.
[Partial data from police sources]
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