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First batch of 1,138 pilgrims leaves Jammu for annual Amarnath Yatra

Spike in terrorist activities have posed a serious threat to the security arrangements

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Amarnath Yatra. Image source: www.thetathaastu.com
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  • The first batch of pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra left Jammu today
  • Rajnath Singh will take a stalk of security measures in his two day visit to the state
  • CRPF will be inducting drones for aerial security and crowd management

JAMMU, JULY 1: Amid tight security, the first batch of 1,138 pilgrims left Jammu today, for the annual Amarnath yatra, which begins from Saturday, July 2.

The 48-day long yatra that will proceed to Amarnath shrine situated in South Kashmir Himalayas from Pahalgam and Balta, which has begun under the concern of increased incidents of terrorist attacks in the state.

Reportedly, there are 900 males, 225 females and 13 children in the first batch. They have left Jammu in 13 buses, 24 mini-buses and other modes of public and private transport in a group guarded by the security forces.

Flanked by junior minister Priya Sethi and Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore State Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh flagged off the batch of pilgrims from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu at 5 am today.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Image source: abplive.com

According to the Indian Express, Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh will also take a stock of the security measures in his two day visit to the valley.He along with Governor N N Vohra will also be present for the pratham (first) darshan of ‘baba barfani’ (ice lingam at the shrine).

Nirmal Singh said, “With adequate number of security forces sent to the state by Central government, all security arrangements for smooth conduct of yatra have been put in place.”

Singh added that that special enquiry centres have been set up by police and other agencies for all information, particularly the weather conditions.

Speaking to The Hindu, a senior police officer said, “With up gradation in technology, many new electronic surveillance systems have been inducted in the security set up.”

He further told that CRPF will be inducting drones for aerial security and crowd management and added, “This will be in addition to the manual security in and around the base camp.”

The state is currently struggling with increased terrorist activities and attacks on security forces, which has posed a serious threat to the security arrangements made for the peaceful termination of the yatra.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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India Gets to Know its Slums with Drones And Satellites

About 65 million people live in India's slums, according to census data, which activists say is a low estimate

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slums
A metro train moves past a cluster of houses at the Asalpha slum in Mumbai, India, April 12, 2018. (VOA)

Satellites and drones are driving efforts by Indian states to map informal settlements in order to speed up the process of delivering services and land titles, officials said.

The eastern state of Odisha aims to give titles to 200,000 households in urban slums and those on the outskirts of cities by the end of the year.

Officials used drones to map the settlements.

“What may have takes us years to do, we have done in a few months,” G. Mathi Vathanan, the state housing department commissioner, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last week.

Land records across the country date back to the British colonial era, and most holdings have uncertain ownership, leading to fraud and lengthy disputes that often end in court.

Officials in Mumbai, where about 60 percent of the population lives in informal settlements, are also mapping slums with drones. Maharashtra state, where the city is located, is launching a similar exercise for rural land holdings.

Children play as a woman crosses a railway fence at a slum area in New Delhi, India, July 11, 2018.
Children play as a woman crosses a railway fence at a slum area in New Delhi, India, July 11, 2018. (VOA)

In the southern city of Bengaluru, a seven-year study that recently concluded used satellite imaging and machine learning.

The study recorded about 2,000 informal settlements, compared with fewer than 600 in government records.

“Understanding human settlement patterns in rapidly urbanizing cities is important because of the stress on civic resources and public utilities,” said Nikhil Kaza, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.

“Geospatial analysis can help identify stress zones, and allow civic authorities to focus their efforts in localized areas,” said Kaza, who analyzed the Bengaluru data.

About a third of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements, according to United Nations data.

These settlements may account for 30 percent to 60 percent of housing in cities, yet they are generally undercounted, resulting in a lack of essential services, which can exacerbate poverty.

Identifying and monitoring settlements with traditional approaches such as door-to-door surveys is costly and time consuming. As technology gets cheaper, officials from Nairobi to Mumbai are using satellite images and drones instead.

slums
A man brushes his teeth outside a shanty in Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 27, 2016. (VOA)

About 65 million people live in India’s slums, according to census data, which activists say is a low estimate.

Lack of data can result in tenure insecurity, as only residents of “notified” slums – or those that are formally recognized – can receive property titles.

Lack of data also leads to poor policy because slums are “not homogenous,” said Anirudh Krishna, a professor at Duke University who led the Bengaluru study.

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Some slums “are more likely to need water and sanitation facilities, while better off slums may require skills and entrepreneurship interventions,” he said.

“Lack of information on the nature and diversity of informal settlements is an important limitation in developing appropriate policies aimed at improving the lives of the urban poor.” (VOA)