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Delhi Bursts Firecrackers Despite Ban, Air Quality Inches Towards “Severe” On Diwali – dot newz

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New Delhi:

Skies over Delhi hung heavy with smoke and its air quality inched towards “severe” category on Diwali night as people burst firecrackers in a blatant disregard to the government’s ban against it, imposed amid an increase in the contribution from farm fires.

People from several parts of the city and its suburbs complained of itchy throat and watery eyes, as a layer of smog, the first episode this season, enveloped the environment.

Residents of Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi, Burari in North Delhi, Paschim Vihar in West Delhi and Shahdara in East Delhi reported incidents of firecracker bursting as early as 7 pm, despite the blanket ban in the national capital till January 1, 2022.

Several incidents of high-intensity cracker bursting were reported from Gurugram and Faridabad.

The Haryana government had also imposed a ban on Sunday on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in 14 of its districts in the National Capital Region, while curbs were put in other parts.

Experts predicted the air quality here may plunge to the severe category by midnight owing to unfavorable meteorological conditions – calm winds, low temperature and low mixing height – and a poisonous cocktail of emissions from firecrackers, stubble burning and local sources.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the “first episode of fog” in the capital reduced visibility at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the Safdarjung Airport to the range of 600-800 metres in the morning.

“It continued to remain in the poor range of 800-900 meters in smog throughout the day due to calm wind conditions,” senior IMD scientist R K Jenamani said.

The first episode of smog coincided with the share of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution increasing to the season’s highest at 25 per cent.

“The PM2.5 pollution in the national capital may enter the ‘severe” zone by midnight even if there is only 50 per cent of firecrackers emission as compared to last year,” said Gufran Beig, the founder-project director of SAFAR.

The PM2.5 pollution will shoot up rapidly by Friday early morning with the AQI even crossing the 500 mark, he said.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the 24-hour average PM2.5 concentration in Delhi-NCR stood at 243 micrograms per cubic meter at 6 pm, more than four times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter.

The capital’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 382 on Thursday, up from 314 on Wednesday. It was 303 on Tuesday and 281 on Monday.

AQI between zero and 50 is considered ”good”, 51 and 100 ”satisfactory”, 101 and 200 ”moderate”, 201 and 300 ”poor”, 301 and 400 ”very poor”, and 401 and 500 ”severe”.

“The extremely calm wind conditions in Delhi and 25 per cent stubble share (fire count 2,293) are two major factors today,” SAFAR said.

As per SAFAR model forecasts, the stubble burning share may increase to 35 per cent on Friday and 40 per cent on Saturday with the wind direction changing to northwesterly.

Northwesterly winds carry smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana towards the national capital.

“Relief is expected only from the evening of November 7 but AQI will fluctuate within ”very poor” range,” the air quality forecast agency said.

Last year, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution had peaked at 42 per cent on November 5. In 2019, crop residue burning accounted for 44 per cent of Delhi”s PM2.5 pollution on November 1.

The contribution of stubble burning in Delhi”s PM2.5 concentration was 32 per cent on Diwali day last year as compared to 19 per cent in 2019.

On October 27, the Delhi government had launched the ”Patakhe Nahi Diye Jalao” campaign to create awareness against the bursting of crackers.

Under the campaign, action can be taken under relevant IPC provisions and the Explosives Act against anyone found burning crackers.

According to the government, more than 13,000 kg of illegal firecrackers have been seized and 33 people arrested so far under the anti-cracker campaign.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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China Poses Significant Challenge To India’s Strategic Goals: Air Chief – dot newz

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Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the Indian Air Force needs to be rapidly modernized. (File)

New Delhi:

Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said that China poses a significant long term challenge to India’s strategic goals. He said it should be made clear to the world that today’s India has the capability and will to respond at a level that the nation deems appropriate.

“China poses a significant and long-term challenge to India’s strategic goals. Both People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have enhanced their military capabilities in equipment and infrastructure. The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities,” the IAF chief said at a seminar conducted by the Centre for Air Power Studies.

The IAF needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities, he urged.

The IAF chief said that China’s hegemonic and entrapping policies can provide opportunities for India to leverage in trade and military domains.

He also asserted that India has demonstrated its capabilities during a standoff on the northern border while simultaneously handling the national COVID-19 response.

“In the future, we could be attacked from all fronts, starting from economic strangulation to diplomatic isolation and military stand-offs to information blackouts, in the form of attack by a distributed denial of services. We will need to prepare for the full spectrum,” the Air Force chief cautioned.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Gen Rawat Was On “Very Safe” Mi-17V-5, Crash Confounds Experts – dot newz

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India owns a fairly large fleet of Mi-17V-5 helicopters that are often used to ferry VIPs.

New Delhi:

The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV after one of these choppers crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and several members of his family on board. The crash perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.

Four people are dead and another four who survived, have been taken to a hospital. It is believed that there were 14 people on board, including the chopper’s crew and passengers.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered an inquiry into the crash.

The Mi-17V-5 is the latest twin-engine iteration of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter and is used regularly for high-altitude operations. One of the most advanced military transports that can be used in any topography and weather, it is one of the most powerful choppers used by Indian defence forces.

India owns a fairly large fleet of these helicopters that were purchased and inducted between 2013 and 2018.

Most experts NDTV spoke to described it as a “very reliable, safe, stable, and large” helicopter that is also used to ferry VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.

According to information available on the website of Rosoboronexport — the Russian arms supplier — the chopper is designed to “carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded”.

“Its armament system includes unguided rockets (up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets), cannons (suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each) and small arms,” the website says.



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‘Smartphones, Scootys, Security’: Congress’ “Women’s Manifesto” Before UP Polls – dot newz

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UP will vote for a new government in 2022, with the Congress challenging the BJP

Lucknow:

Girls studying in Classes 10 to 12 in Uttar Pradesh schools will get smartphones and female graduate students will get scooters, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Wednesday as part of a six-point “woman’s manifesto” ahead of an Assembly election in the state in a few months.

Ms Gandhi Vadra – who is leading her party’s campaign in the poll-bound state – read out a number of measures and schemes the Congress plans to implement should it win next year’s election, and demanded that all parties understand “the fact women have to bear with exploitation”.

Promises made by Ms Gandhi Vadra today include the offer of three free LPG cylinders for women – a significant offer given the skyrocketing prices of gas cylinders in the country, something for which the BJP (in power in UP and at the centre) has been severely criticised.

“I hope this women’s manifesto will put pressure on other political parties to also speak about similar issues. We want to release a women-specific manifesto so women have freedom of choice… I have seen that women ka bahut shoshan hota hai but they are fighting for their rights,” she said.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also highlighted the Congress’ promise to reserve 40 per cent of its election tickets for women; “this is not only on paper,” she said, giving late Indira Gandhi – India’s first woman prime minister – as an example of the Congress’ contribution to women in politics.

“Our attempt is to bring real women’s empowerment… at the grassroots level. Women’s empowerment is usually spoken about before elections and then mostly restricted to being on paper. We want to actually empower women on ground,” the Congress leader said.

“Parliament and legislative assemblies have an average of 14 per cent participation by women representatives. That needs to increase… we want that 40 per cent of all seats should be represented by women. This will increase their participation in policy-making,” she stressed.

Apart from smartphones, scooters and free gas cylinders, Ms Gandhi Vadra said women senior citizens and widows would get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000, and every new-born girl will get a fixed deposit in her name. All households with women will get a free internet connection.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also flagged the issue of women’s security – a serious subject given the worrying number of violent crimes against women reported from Uttar Pradesh.

“We want 25 per cent of the police to consist of women. All chowkis to have at least one woman officer and constable,” she said, reminding reporters that many crimes were unreported as the police is reluctant to file a case. “More women in the force will help the cause of women,” she said.

The Congress also promised Rs 10 lakh medical cover for women “for any kind of illness or disease”.

UP votes for a new government in a few months time.

The Assembly election here – for 403 seats – is widely seen as an indicator of how the ruling BJP might fare in the 2024 general election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party will seek a third consecutive term in power.



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