UAE suspends all passenger flights to contain virus outbreak

News Network
March 23, 2020

Dubai, Mar 23: The United Arab Emirates announced on Monday it will temporarily suspend all passenger and transit flights amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Emirati authorities "have decided to suspend all inbound and outbound passenger flights and the transit of airline passengers in the UAE for two weeks as part of the precautionary measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19", reported the official state news agency, WAM.

It said the decision -- which is subject to review in two weeks -- will take effect in 48 hours, adding: "Cargo and emergency evacuation flights would be exempt."

The UAE, whose international airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are major hubs, announced on Friday its first two deaths from the COVID-19 disease, having reported more than 150 cases so far.

Monday's announcement came hours after Dubai carrier Emirates announced it would suspend all passenger flights by March 25.

But the aviation giant then reversed its decision, saying it "received requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers" and will continue to operate passenger flights to 13 destinations.

Emirates had said it will continue to fly to the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, the United States and Canada.

"We continue to watch the situation closely, and as soon as things allow, we will reinstate our services," said the airline's chairman and CEO, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

Gulf countries have imposed various restrictions to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the air transport sector.

The UAE has stopped granting visas on arrival and forbidden foreigners who are legal residents but are outside the country from returning.

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News Network
September 11,2020

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Bengaluru, Sept 11: The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) on Friday predicted fairly widespread heavy rains and scattered to widespread light to moderate rains over several parts of Karnataka for Saturday.

"Fairly widespread to widespread moderate to heavy rains with isolated very heavy to extremely heavy rains likely over Coastal and Malnad regions. Scattered to widespread light to moderate rains with isolated heavy rains likely over North Interior Karnataka region and scattered to widespread light to moderate rains likely over South Interior Karnataka region," the KSNDMC said.

It predicted widespread light to moderate rains likely over Kolar, Bengaluru Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chitradurga, and Ramanagara districts, and isolated to scattered light to moderate rains likely over the remaining South Interior Karnataka districts.

"Scattered to widespread light to moderate rains with isolated places heavy rains likely over Kalburgi, Belagavi & Raichur districts. Isolated to scattered light to moderate rains likely over remaining districts of the region," the KSNDMC said for North Interior Karnataka.

"Fairly widespread to widespread light to moderate rains with isolated heavy to very heavy rains likely over Shivamogga, Kodagu, Hassan & Chikkamagaluru districts. Widespread moderate rains with isolated to heavy to extremely heavy rains likely over Udupi, Dakshina Kannada & Uttara Kannada districts," it said for Malnad and Coastal Karnataka.

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News Network
September 18,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 18: The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to entertain submissions by a lawyer pressing for a contempt against the editor of Sudarshan News for an alleged tweet against the court, which has stayed the broadcast of the subsequent five episodes of "UPSC Jihad". The top court had said the intent and purpose of the programme is to vilify the Muslim community.

Senior advocate Anoop G Chaudhary, representing the petitioner Firoz Iqbal, submitted that he wants to press for a contempt against the Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan News for his tweet after the court stopped the broadcast of a show on the news channel. Chaudhary contended before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and Indu Malhotra to initiate contempt proceedings for the "contemptuous" tweet against the top court. Justice Chandrachud replied: "If he has said something silly, we will ignore it."

The bench scheduled the matter for further hearing on Friday at 12 noon, which is subject to the administrative order of the Chief Justice, as this bench is not sitting tomorrow. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing Sudarshan TV, contended before the bench his client has filed a counter affidavit, where it provided details of the alleged foreign funding, by Zakat Foundation of India, to justify its programme alleging conspiracy to infiltrate Muslims into the Indian Civil Services. "I am doing investigative journalism. I feel it is my duty to awaken the citizens and the Government about anti-national and anti-social activities and the modus operandi", said Suresh Chavhanke, the Editor-in-Chief of Sudarshan News.

The editor in the affidavit said there is no statement or message in the four episodes broadcast that members of a particular community should not join the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). He insisted that the UPSC is an open competitive examination and members of every community may participate in the entrance examination and qualify. "The thrust of the programme is that there appears to be a conspiracy which needs to be investigated by NIA or CBI", he added.

He submitted before the court that the word "UPSC Jehad" was used because it has come to the knowledge through various sources that Zakat Foundation has received funds from various terror-linked organisations. "It is not that all contributors to the Zakat Foundation are terror-linked. However, some of the contributors are linked to organisations or are organizations that fund extremist groups. The funds received by the Zakat Foundation, in turn, are used to support aspirants for IAS, IPS or UPSC", said the affidavit.

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Shivani
September 17,2020

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The Western Ghats have been exposed to excessive human interference for past few years. Though a certain amount of forest was lent for agroforestry in this hot-spot of biological diversity, people have crossed the margin which resulted in irregular rains and floods in the region. In the past few years, south-west of India was prone to floods and landslides though the amount of rain received by these parts is relatively less.

According to environmental activist Dinesh Holla, “the shola grassland that grows in the hills of Western Ghats play a major role in holding the rainwater that flows down the hill. The roots of the grass hold the rainwater and this water is stored in the catchment area. Hence only a limited amount of rainwater joins the river. Since the shola forest is being cut down for different purposes like setting up the power plant, resorts, commercial crop plantation etc the water flows down the hill causing soil erosion and flooding as well. In 2018, Kerala and Madikeri faced major floods due to this.”

“Last year, several parts of Western Ghats suffered forest fire. This became an opportunity for estate owners to extend their land of agroforest. There are even instances where the estate owner sprayed chemicals on the grassland so that they catch fire during summer and they could occupy the reserved forest land. Also, the forest fire burns the seed that would germinate into another tree. Hence the reserved forest area is somehow devastated by the people. Though only certain parts of Western Ghats are allotted for development purpose, a large area of forest has been encroached.”

Shivananda Kalave, a water conversationalist, says, “There are   several endemic plants grown in Western Ghats. In order to make deforestation look convincing to the public, the industrialists claim it as compensatory deforestation. The suitable climate necessary for the growth of the endemic plants is only found in Western Ghats. Hence deforestation is still a damage with or without compensation.” 

“There are several plants in Western Ghats that boost our immunity but people decide to destroy forests under the pretext of development, employment and what not. What kind of unhealthy society are we building by destroying this forest which is beyond price?” he laments. 

In concern with floods, Karve says that the absorption rate of the forest in Western Ghats is 10- 12% rest of water flows down and joins the river. Since the highway has been constructed in between the forest, the water does not have a proper path to flow. Also, after immense clear cutting of the forest, the rate of absorption has declined to 4% which means the amount of rainwater that would be flowing to the river will be unendurable, resulting in floods.

The section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 states that a prior approval is necessary from the central government before de-reserving the reserved forest. Several parts of Western Ghats also belong to the reserved forest. Also, according to the National Forest Policy 2016, climate change should be given importance in forest management and community management plans. The Ministry of Environment and Forest appointed the Western Ghats ecological expert panel under the chairmanship of Madhav Gadgil. The committee divided the area into three based on their ecological sensitivity. But the report faced great criticism as the people assumed it to be against farmers. Later the Kasturirangan committee was formed to examine the report of the Gadgil committee. However, this report favoured the corporates. As only 37% Western Ghats was considered an ecological sensitive zone and rest of the land is available for development projects. 

Nature has the power to generate as well as destroy. Even after facing the destruction caused by floods, humans have not learnt any lessons from the past. Clear cutting still takes place in Western Ghats, people still go there for road trips and throw plastic. This is just the beginning of karma to human society for the destruction we have caused. Destruction of nature will be nothing but us digging our own grave.

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