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‘Better urban planning needed to control pollution’

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New Delhi, Nov 10: Reducing transport activities, improving technologies and relocating traffic sources from crowded areas are some of the measures for better urban planning that can help Delhi combat rising air pollution, a leading health and medical research institute said on Friday.

As residents in Delhi and its suburbs continue to suffer from worsening air quality, The George Institute for Global Health in a statement said air pollution has become “one of the major public health problems in India, especially in the northern regions”.

It said “sustainable public health solutions” were needed, describing pollution as the “largest risk factor for death”.

“In fact, pollution kills more people than HIV-AIDS, TB and malaria put together. In economic terms, the global cost of pollution in terms of hours not worked, premature deaths, health spending and eroded quality of life has been estimated at Rs 26,760 crore a year,” said the statement by The George Institute India Executive Director Professor Vivekanand Jha.

The institute warned that pollution affects all stages of life and reduces the number of years lived in full health by aggravating asthma attacks, eye and skin disorders, and increasing the risk of development of high blood pressure, obesity, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, psychiatric disorders and frailty.

“We need better urban planning starting with proper land-use assessment, reducing major transport activity close to communities, relocating traffic sources (roads, airports) from crowded areas, avoiding the mixing of industrial and residential areas, making better roads, reducing uncovered areas in cities by planting more grass and plants, improving transport technologies, and increasing awareness of the societal burden imposed by air pollution,” the institute suggested.

It also suggested cutting down the usage of private and government vehicles, shutting industries that cause emission and heavy watering of the dust-paths alongside roads as a few simple steps to fight the “current public health emergency situation in Delhi.

IANS

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Himachal Rains: Traffic to Manali restored partially

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Shimla, Sep 25: Traffic to picturesque Himachal tourist resort Manali was restored partially on Tuesday, a day after all major road links snapped due to landslides triggered by heavy rains, officials said.

However, the administration has advised the motorists to travel towards Manali only in case of emergency.

“The traffic was partially restored through a narrow link road. Only small vehicles have been allowed.

“Chances of more landslides are high. The national highway between Kullu and Manali is still blocked at various places,” Subdivisional Magistrate Raman Gharsanghi told IANS over phone.

He said telecommunication services have been severely affected by the heavy rainfall and landslides in the past three days.

Gharsanghi said major landslides have occurred in Vashisht and Rangri, both located in Manali town. However, there was no loss of life.

Two people were killed in Pangi village in Kinnaur district late on Monday when their vehicle skidded off the road and fell into a gorge.

IANS

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Bengal school violence orchestrated by outsiders: Minister

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West Bengal School Violence

Kolkata, Sep 25 (IANS) West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee on Monday claimed the violence that took place in a North Dinajpur district school over the recruitment of new teachers last week was not orchestrated by students, but by outsiders.

The Minister, who had previously blamed the BJP and RSS for the unrest in which two youths were allegedly killed, however, refused to pinpoint any one as guilty, stating probe was on.

“I think the students did not create the ruckus in the school. It must be the work of the outsiders. If the students were agitating on the demand for new teachers in school why would they cause such damage to the school’s property?” Chatterjee said after a meeting here with the District Inspectors (DI) of schools.

“Some people carrying a certain flag orchestrated the violence from behind keeping the students in front. Since the investigation is on, we will not accuse anyone. Be it the headmaster or the managing committee of the school, no one is above scrutiny. Not even the police,” he said.

A massive clash broke out between a mob and police outside Darivit High School in North Dinajpur district’s Islampur area last week over the recruitment of two new teachers of Urdu and Sanskrit languages in the school while the students had been demanding teachers in literature and science subjects.

The new teachers were stopped from entering the school on Thursday afternoon by the agitating students, who later blocked the road and clashed with police when they arrived on the spot.

Villagers claimed the youths, both former students of the school, were killed in police firing, whereas the police maintained no bullets were fired by them and claimed that miscreants armed with guns, bombs and sticks attacked them outside the school.

Referring to the meeting with the DIs, Chatterjee said they have been instructed to submit detailed report regarding the infrastructure of the schools under their purview along with the number of male and female students, teachers as well as the requirement for additional teachers in those schools.

He said all 22 sanctioned posts for teachers including five para-teachers in that school were filled up as per the district education department report.

“I have seen in the preliminary investigation that all the sanctioned posts for teachers in that school were filled. So either there is an error in the report or the students were demanding additional teachers, which is within their rights,” he said.

Terming the incident of violence as barbaric and pathetic, Chatterjee reiterated that no one will be spared if found guilty.

“The Chief Minister has asked me to strongly handle the situation and take strict action against those found guilty. No one will be spared. We have asked the DIs to do their job with courage,” he added.

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SpiceJet to start Shirdi-Delhi flight from October

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Spicejet

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) Budget carrier SpiceJet will commence flight service on the Shirdi-Delhi-Shirdi sector from October 1, said the airline on Monday.

“Our new flight will offer an immediate boost to religious tourism that the city is best known for,” Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, was quoted in a statement.

Besides, it will also launch a new daily direct flight on the Mumbai-Kanpur route from October 8.

The airline will also operate first direct flight on the Mumbai-Jaisalmer route starting October 29 and a third direct flight on Mumbai-Kolkata sector from November 1.

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