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Pakistan’s former prime minister’s daughter granted bail

NEW DELHI: India’s national capital Delhi on Monday launched a car rationing system amidst menacing increase in the air pollution in the city. Under this system known as odd and even plan- a vehicle, depending on odd and even number plate, will run on the road on every alternate day . On Monday only those…

Pakistan’s former prime minister’s daughter granted bail

NEW DELHI: India’s national capital Delhi on Monday launched a car rationing system amidst menacing increase in the air pollution in the city. Under this system known as odd and even plan- a vehicle, depending on odd and even number plate, will run on the road on every alternate day . On Monday only those motors were allowed which had even number plate. Delhi has more than 6 million private vehicles and rationing system reduces vehicular traffic by more than 30% .

This system will remain in force till November 14.

Supreme Court however was not impressed with the steps the government has taken in addressing the worst pollution problem affecting around 40 million people living in Delhi and the National Capital Region(NCR).On Monday it  came down heavily on the centre and the local government for not doing enough to address the issue of  pollution which is affecting “the fundamental right to life”.

“The time has come to fix responsibility for the situation that is destroying the Right to Life of citizens in gross violation of Article 21 of the constitution. Everybody has to be answerable”, said the highest court in a hearing.

The apex court questioned the efficacy of the car rationing and asked whether such rationing in past has yielded any result.

“What are you achieving by odd and even?”, questioned the court.

The court ordered to stop all construction and demolition activities in Delhi and adjoining areas and fixed a fine of $1350 for any burning of garbage.

It asked the neighbouring states of Panjab and Haryana to stop the burning of crop stubbles which many environmentalist believes is one of the main reasons for the deteriorating air quality in the national capital region.

“Stubble burning must stop. Both Centre and the state must do this. People are dying. The sad thing is that everyone in this country is interested in gimmicks,” the court said while hearing a petition from the pollution control body Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

On Monday according to Delhi based US Embassy the levels of particulates measuring less than 2.5 microns –

 PM 2.5 were 613 micrograms per cubic metre of air which is way above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended safe daily maximum of 25. The tiny particulars enter the respiratory system and cause long term problem to the health.

At several places in Delhi the Air Quality Index (AQI)  reached 900 mark on Monday mark which is considered to be hazardous. By evening it was hovering around 289 which is also described as “ highly unhealthy”.

Generally an AQI level between 0 to 50 is considered good. 

Most of the schools in Delhi and adjoining areas are closed till Tuesday. Some 5 million masks have been distributed in schools to protect the students.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

 Medical practitioners in Delhi say that 

“air pollution at this level poses serious risk to the respiratory systems of the general population”.In the last three weeks, the number of patients visiting with respiratory problem has seen a sizable jump due to the deteriorating air quality”, says Dr Loveleen Mangla, a leading pomologist in the Metro Hospital and Cancer Institute, Noida, a suburb of Delhi.

“ It’s not that the people with chronic respiratory problems are coming to me those who have no history of lung problems are also visiting me now and most of them are young”, Mangla tells Arab News.

He adds that “if the pollution is not controlled then pregnant women also face the risk of passing on respiratory problem to the foetus. So the problem can become chronic”. 

“ I ask my patients to remain inside most of the time and avoid exposure outside”, he says.

Environmentalist V Selvarajan and founder of Green Circle, an NGO working in the area of air pollution, says that “ car rationing system is a good move but this cannot solve the problem”.

“ I don’t blame stubble burning for this crisis. Environment has not got any territory. The problem is affecting the whole of North India. We should have a comprehensive plan and address the issue in its entirety , says Selvarajan.

“Vehicular traffic is too much in Delhi. The capital city has more vehicles than all the three metro cities in India combined together. Naturally the pollution would be higher and we need to regulate that”, adds the environmentalist.

He tells Arab News that “people should change their mindset and start using public transport more”. 

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France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the…

France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown militant group.His triumph will, however, alarm Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the international community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.Mahinda, with Gotabaya effectively running the security forces, ended a 37-year civil war with Tamil separatists. His decade in power was also marked by alleged rights abuses, murky extra-judicial killings and closer ties with China.Gotabaya, a retired lieutenant-colonel, 70, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, romped to victory with 51.9 percent of the vote, results from the two-thirds of votes counted so far showed.“I didn’t sleep all night,” said student Devni, 22, one of around 30 people who gathered outside Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence. “I am so excited, he is the president we need.”Rajapaksa’s main rival, the moderate Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party, trailed on 42.3 percent. The 52-year-old conceded the race and congratulated Rajapaksa.On Sunday three cabinet members resigned — including Finance Minister Mangalar Samaraweera.The final result was expected later on Sunday with Rajapaksa due to be sworn in on Monday. Turnout was over 80 percent.Premadasa had strong support in minority Tamil areas but a poor showing in Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese heartland, a core support base where Rajapaksa won some two-thirds of the vote.Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Wickremesinghe’s administration failed to prevent the April attacks despite prior and detailed intelligence warnings from India, according a parliamentary investigation.Premadasa also offered better security and a pledge to make a former war general, Sarath Fonseka, his national security chief, projecting himself as a victim seeking to crush terrorism.He is the son of assassinated ex-president Ranasinghe Premadasa who fell victim to a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in May 1993.But Gotabaya is adored by the Sinhalese majority and the powerful Buddhist clergy for how he and Mahinda ended the war in 2009, when 40,000 Tamil civilians allegedly perished at the hands of the army.Under his brother, Gotabaya was defense secretary and effectively ran the security forces, allegedly overseeing “death squads” that bumped off rivals, journalists and others. He denies the allegations.This makes the brothers detested and feared among many Tamils, who make up 15 percent of the population. Some in the Muslim community, who make up 10 percent, are also fearful of Gotabaya, having faced days of mob violence in the wake of the April attacks.Under Mahinda, Sri Lanka also borrowed heavily from China for infrastructure projects and even allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Colombo in 2014, alarming Western countries as well as India.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday that India looked forward to “deepening the close and fraternal ties… and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region.”The projects ballooned Sri Lanka’s debts and many turned into white elephants — such as an airport in the south devoid of airlines — mired in corruption allegations.Unlike in 2015 when there were bomb attacks and shootings, this election was relatively peaceful by the standards of Sri Lanka’s fiery politics.The only major incident was on Saturday when gunmen fired at two vehicles in a convoy of at least 100 buses taking Muslim voters to cast ballots. Two people were injured.According to the Election Commission the contest was, however, the worst ever for hate speech and misinformation.

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‘Terminator’ Rajapaksa storms to victory in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the…

‘Terminator’ Rajapaksa storms to victory in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown militant group.His triumph will, however, alarm Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the international community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.Mahinda, with Gotabaya effectively running the security forces, ended a 37-year civil war with Tamil separatists. His decade in power was also marked by alleged rights abuses, murky extra-judicial killings and closer ties with China.Gotabaya, a retired lieutenant-colonel, 70, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, romped to victory with 51.9 percent of the vote, results from the two-thirds of votes counted so far showed.“I didn’t sleep all night,” said student Devni, 22, one of around 30 people who gathered outside Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence. “I am so excited, he is the president we need.”Rajapaksa’s main rival, the moderate Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party, trailed on 42.3 percent. The 52-year-old conceded the race and congratulated Rajapaksa.On Sunday three cabinet members resigned — including Finance Minister Mangalar Samaraweera.The final result was expected later on Sunday with Rajapaksa due to be sworn in on Monday. Turnout was over 80 percent.Premadasa had strong support in minority Tamil areas but a poor showing in Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese heartland, a core support base where Rajapaksa won some two-thirds of the vote.Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Wickremesinghe’s administration failed to prevent the April attacks despite prior and detailed intelligence warnings from India, according a parliamentary investigation.Premadasa also offered better security and a pledge to make a former war general, Sarath Fonseka, his national security chief, projecting himself as a victim seeking to crush terrorism.He is the son of assassinated ex-president Ranasinghe Premadasa who fell victim to a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in May 1993.But Gotabaya is adored by the Sinhalese majority and the powerful Buddhist clergy for how he and Mahinda ended the war in 2009, when 40,000 Tamil civilians allegedly perished at the hands of the army.Under his brother, Gotabaya was defense secretary and effectively ran the security forces, allegedly overseeing “death squads” that bumped off rivals, journalists and others. He denies the allegations.This makes the brothers detested and feared among many Tamils, who make up 15 percent of the population. Some in the Muslim community, who make up 10 percent, are also fearful of Gotabaya, having faced days of mob violence in the wake of the April attacks.Under Mahinda, Sri Lanka also borrowed heavily from China for infrastructure projects and even allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Colombo in 2014, alarming Western countries as well as India.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday that India looked forward to “deepening the close and fraternal ties… and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region.”The projects ballooned Sri Lanka’s debts and many turned into white elephants — such as an airport in the south devoid of airlines — mired in corruption allegations.Unlike in 2015 when there were bomb attacks and shootings, this election was relatively peaceful by the standards of Sri Lanka’s fiery politics.The only major incident was on Saturday when gunmen fired at two vehicles in a convoy of at least 100 buses taking Muslim voters to cast ballots. Two people were injured.According to the Election Commission the contest was, however, the worst ever for hate speech and misinformation.

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Court says ailing ex-PM Nawaz Sharif can leave Pakistan with no bond

GOMA, DR Congo: Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks in the…

Court says ailing ex-PM Nawaz Sharif can leave Pakistan with no bond

GOMA, DR Congo: Assailants in DR Congo have killed 14 civilians in revenge for army offensives against Ugandan rebel strongholds in the east of the country, a local official said on Saturday.The latest killings, which occurred in the night from Friday to Saturday, take the total number of those killed in revenge attacks in the past two weeks to more than 30.The attacks took place in two locations in the Beni region of the North Kivu province where the Congolese army last month announced an offensive to root out insurgents belonging to the Islamist-inspired rebel group the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a militia of Ugandan origin that has long operated in the border region.Beni administrator Donat Kibwana said the attackers used machetes and knives, and were believed to have gone on to loot shops and homes.The army said on October 30 it had launched “large-scale operations,” including shelling and troop deployments, aimed at ridding the area of armed groups.But the civilian death toll in ADF attacks has been rising, and residents have accused the army of focusing their efforts on the wrong areas.“It’s a complicated situation because the population is the target of ADF revenge attacks against army operations,” said Teddy Kataliko, president of the Beni Civil Society.The ADF, which has been present in Democratic Republic of Congo since 1995, is accused of having killed hundreds or even thousands of civilians in the Beni region in the past five years.The Daesh group has claimed some of the ADF’s recent attacks but there is no clear evidence of any affiliation between them.

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