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Sunday, May 31, 2009

BMC identifies 55 spots in MUMBAI it can’t save from monsoon

Mumbai:

After making loud claims about being rain-ready the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said that it will be helpless in preventing 55 spots in the city from flooding. The civic administration has warned citizens of these chronic flooding spots, Kurla and Juhu being two of them.

A number of other locations have been idenitified in Goregaon, Juhu, Mumbai Central, Parel, Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Borivli, Kandivli and Mulund that might be vulnerable as they are low-lowing regions.

"These are traditionally low-lying areas which see flooding every monsoon. There is usually localised flooding that happens mostly because of the natural topography," said chief engineer, storm water drains, VL Joshi. He added that installing pumps in these areas will bring the much-needed respite. "These pumps are designed in such a way that they will pump the extra water immediately. This will surely help the citizens during monsoon," said Joshi.

Although the civic administration was banking on the Rs 16,000 crore BRIMSTOWAD project it will not be able to relieve these 55 spots. "The BRIMSTOWAD project will be completed by 2011. Wherever the components of the project have been completed the areas have got relief," said Additional Municipal Commissioner, R A Rajeev.

Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak discussed the other pre-monsoon measures taken up by the BMC on Friday. According to the figures presented by the BMC almost 93.19% of the total nullahs have been desilted and the remaining ones are expected to be cleared by June 2.

The civic administration said that the rain gauges installed at 34 different locations will help in assessing the rainfall situation. "Though the Met department keeps us updated on the rain situation, it only gives updates from Colaba and Santacruz. Hence we thought of installing rain gauges at other main locations to get a more localised update," said additional municipal commissioner, Kishore Gajbhiye. These locations include Borivli, Marol, Bandra-Kurla Complex, IIT-Powai, Dadar, Kurla and the civic body head quarters.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Huge blast rocks Pakistani city

Powerful car bomb hits Lahore

Rescuers are searching the rubble of a police building in Lahore after a bomb attack killed at least 23 people and injured 200 in Pakistan's second city.

Gunmen reportedly opened fire on guards before detonating a car bomb which flattened the emergency response building at police HQ.

Nearby offices of the ISI intelligence service were also damaged.

The interior ministry chief linked the attack to Taliban insurgents whom troops are battling in the Swat valley.

"Enemies of Pakistan who want to destabilise the country are coming here after their defeat in Swat," Rehman Malik said.

"There is a war and this is a war for our survival," he added.

Previous attacks on Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, were also blamed on the Taliban.

'They started firing'

Rescuers speaking unofficially put the death toll at 35, although this figure is unconfirmed.

I ran out of the building and saw a surreal huge ring of white smoke rise into air
Matthias Gattermeier
eyewitness in Lahore, speaking to BBC

Sajjad Bhutta, a senior government official in Lahore, told reporters that a car carrying several gunmen had pulled up in a street between the emergency response building and the ISI offices.

"As some people came out from that vehicle and started firing at the ISI office, the guards from inside that building returned fire," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

"As the firing continued, the car suddenly exploded."

Issam Ahmed, a journalist with the Dawn newspaper in Lahore who arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the blast, told the BBC he could still hear shooting in the area.

A least two arrests were made.

Rescue workers were seen clambering over a pile of concrete which was all that remained of the emergency response headquarters.

They were able to drag out several of the injured. Semi-conscious policemen could be seen being carried out in blood-stained uniforms.

Debris was scattered on the road outside. Officials were seen rushing towards the buildings to cordon off the area.

The blast also destroyed several cars parked or standing on the main Mall road opposite to the police building.

Bulldozers and other heavy lifting equipment were brought in as many people were feared to be trapped under the debris.

Altercations also took place between members of the media and security personnel as the former tried to get in to the site of the blast.

'Surreal scene'

Zubair, a BBC News website reader in Lahore, described hearing the explosion: "I was sitting in my office on Lawrence Road [about 500m from the site] when a huge explosion rocked our entire building.

BBC map

"Glass windows shattered to pieces and the ceiling came down on the floor. I ran outside the building to nearby Jinnah Garden. I could hear gunfire which lasted for about 10 minutes and then I saw ambulance and police rushed to the scene."

Matthias Gattermeier, an Austrian reader also in Lahore, said his office building had been shaken so hard he thought it would collapse.

"We first thought the explosion happened far closer by, but the blast was just so massive," he said.

"I ran out of the building and saw a surreal huge ring of white smoke rise into air. Within minutes police and military blocked the streets. Disaster units and emergency are going in and out in every minute. The streets are full of people."

Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city, has seen bomb attacks with increasing frequency.

Weeks before a police college was attacked in March, with eight people killed, militants attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team in the city, killing six police guards.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aila, the fiercest storm to hit the state capital in 20 years.

THE CYCLONIC STORM that gathered over Bay of Bengal Sunday night crashed into Kolkata and south Bengal districts Monday as Aila, the fiercest storm to hit the state capital in 20 years.

ATLEAST 23 PEOPLEwere confirmed dead and over 150,000 were homeless by late evening as Aila cut through South and North 24-Parganas, Howrah and Bankura districts. Five people were killed in Kolkata.

20 FLIGHTS were diverted, and scores of trains delayed or cancelled.

Suburban and Metro services in Kolkata stopped after tracks were flooded.

THE WORST IS OVER, the Met announced late in the afternoon, as the eye of the weakening storm settled 50 km south-southwest of Kolkata, and seemed to be inching north towards Howrah and East MidnaporeAA DEEP depression on the Bay of Bengal in tensified into a severe cyclonic storm and slammed into the coastal belt of West Bengal on Monday, killing at least 23 people and rendering over 150,000 homeless. Cyclone Alia, with wind speed of about 100 km per hour, uprooted trees, disrupted power supply and brought the city of Kolkata to a grinding halt. Officials described it as the fiercest storm to hit the city in 20 years.

Five people died in Kolkata, 14 in South 24 Parganas district, three in Howrah and one in Bankura district. More than 100 river embankments in South 24 Parganas district and North 24 Parganas district were breached by high tides causing inundation of large tracts of land. The Army was alerted in Kolkata but not deployed till late in the evening. The state Government said the Air Force had been asked to carry out air-dropping operations in some parts of South 24 Par ganas where people in some isolated pockets got marooned.

In Kolkata, it was darkness at noon, when the cyclone made landfall near Sagar Island, about 80 km from the city in South 24 Parganas. The wind speed rose to about 90 km and was accompanied by heavy rains. By 2 pm, more than 120 trees that got uprooted, blocking roads and even the Metro services. As many 20 flights to Kolkata were diverted.

Around 2.30 pm, the police urged people to get back to their homes and asked schools to close for the day as the eye of the cyclone was heading towards the city. A few hours later, the Alipore Weather office announced that the eye of the storm had shifted.




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Two killed in firing, curfew in four cities, Army is called out nna, fires in Punjab





TWO persons were killed and more than a dozen injured in vi T olence across Punjab and parts of Haryana today after Sant Ramanand of Dera Sachkhand, injured in an attack in Vienna on Sunday, died in hospital. Angry Dera followers took to the streets, torching at least 11 train coaches and an engine, stoning buses, blocking traffic and clashing with police at several places.

T The Army was called out in in Jalandhar, Phagwara and Hoshiarpur — curfew was imposed in the three cities and in Ludhiana — and placed on standby elsewhere. Cable operators were told to stop telecast of channels beaming pictures of the violence in Jalandhar.

Firing was reported from several places in Punjab as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appealed for peace. Badal said he had asked External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to take up the matter with his counterpart in Austria and make arrangements for bringing back the body of Sant Ramanand.

In Vienna, police spokesman Michael Takacs said the Sunday attack, which left 16 people seriously wounded, "had clearly been planned".

Six of the attackers, who were laterapprehended and roughed up by Dera followers, were also in hospital. Police did not rule out the possibility of more arrests. Dera head Sant Niranjan Dass is among the seriously injured.

In Lambra village in Jalandhar, a 500-strong mob tried to burn the police station and gheraoed securitymen who later opened fire, killing one person and wounding another.

At the Jalandhar Cantonment railway station, GRP personnel opened fire to scatter a mob that torched three coaches of the Jammu Tawi Express.

In Phillaur, protesters gheraoed the vehicle of the SHO and a bus of Punjab Police commandos on the National Highway and attempted to snatch their weapons. Ten people were injured when the commandos opened fire and one of them later died.

Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner R K Chaudhary was stopped by a mob near the Vidhipur railway crossing on the road to Phagwara from Kartarpur. The mob attacked his gunmen and three of them were injured.

The Chandigarh-Jalandhar highway was blocked at Banga by protesters. All trains on the Ambala-Amritsar section have been cancelled, including the Shatabdis.

The Delhi-Lahore bus and Lahore-Delhi bus were stopped briefly and diverted from Ludhiana and Amritsar via Moga and Sultanpur Lodhi.

The Election Commission, on a report from the Jalandhar DC, postponed the Nurmahal by-election, scheduled for May 28.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was deeply distressed over the outbreak of violence in Punjab. "Whatever the provocation, it is important to maintain peace and harmony among different sections of the people," he said in an appeal.

Describing the killing of Sant Ramanand as "most painful", Chief Minister Badal said the incident was "the handiwork of those who always on the lookout for an excuse to create unrest" in Punjab. He urged all political parties to join hands to maintain peace and not try to gain any political mileage out of this incident.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

ARE WE READY FOR THE RAINS


Publication: Times of India Mumbai; Date: May 23, 2009; Section: Times City; Page: 4;






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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Generating Disaster Awareness: ‘20 spots in city will be flooded this monsoon’


 With the promised flood modelling system still not in place four years after the 26/7 deluge, and the nullah-cleaning work far from completion, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has hit upon an ingenious solution to hide its shortcomings: it will issue an advisory asking all visitors to stay away from the city on or around July 24.
    As per the meteorological office five days are likely to be crucial this monsoon with very high tides, and if these are accompanied by heavy rainfall, the city can go under once again. July 24 in particular is expected to have tides as high as 5.05 meters (see box on page 4), the highest in a hundred years.
    With its drain rehauling project BRIMSTOWAD still two years away from completion, the BMC has deemed that the best way to deal with any impending crisis would be to keep people out of the equation. So while the traditional crisis management would be to
ensure that city remains on track and people keep going, BMC wants people to stop in their tracks and keep the city going.
    "It's a known fact that our system is not equipped to handle heavy rains and high tides together. We want the citizens to exercise cautions on these days so that there is no untoward incident," said Additional Municipal Commissioner Kishore Gajbhiye, who holds the charge for disaster management in city. To that end Gajbhiye wants the city to stay indoors— "do not take out your vehicles on the road," and for you to ask all your friends and relatives and acquaintances who may want to visit Mumbai during that period to "stay away." Schools and colleges have also been alerted to declare a holiday on days when the high tide is in excess of 4.5 metres and it is also raining. "We have told them not to wait for official orders and take decision on the basis of rainfall in their areas," said SS Shinde, Joint Municipal Commissioner (Disaster).
BMC has admitted that it is not equipped to handle more than 25 mm of rainfall per hour coupled with high tide of more than 4.5 metres.
    This year, there will be 22 such days during the monsoon, of which at least five such days when the high tide will be in excess of 4.5 meters.
    A high tide of 4.48 metres and a rainfall of 994 mm had wreaked havoc in the city on July 26, 2005, bringing the city to a complete standstill for three days.
    Damages to the properties in city were estimated at over Rs 1000 crore and over 800 people died following floods and diseases.
    However, it is ironic that the civic administration will be issuing a precautionary press note asking outsiders to stay away.
    Last year Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak had taken a strong objection to the US consulate advising its expatriates in city to take care during monsoon as manholes could be open during the monsoon. Phatak had then said that even they could issue similar warnings for the US cities.



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Thursday, May 21, 2009

BMC:wants visitors to stay away on the day Met office is predicting the highest high tide in a 100 years

 With the promised flood modelling system still not in place four years after the 26/7 deluge, and the nullah-cleaning work far from completion, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has hit upon an ingenious solution to hide its shortcomings: it will issue an advisory asking all visitors to stay away from the city on or around July 24.
    As per the meteorological office five days are likely to be crucial this monsoon with very high tides, and if these are accompanied by heavy rainfall, the city can go under once again. July 24 in particular is expected to have tides as high as 5.05 meters (see box on page 4), the highest in a hundred years.
    With its drain rehauling project BRIMSTOWAD still two years away from completion, the BMC has deemed that the best way to deal with any impending crisis would be to keep people out of the equation. So while the traditional crisis management would be to
ensure that city remains on track and people keep going, BMC wants people to stop in their tracks and keep the city going.
    "It's a known fact that our system is not equipped to handle heavy rains and high tides together. We want the citizens to exercise cautions on these days so that there is no untoward incident," said Additional Municipal Commissioner Kishore Gajbhiye, who holds the charge for disaster management in city. To that end Gajbhiye wants the city to stay indoors— "do not take out your vehicles on the road," and for you to ask all your friends and relatives and acquaintances who may want to visit Mumbai during that period to "stay away." Schools and colleges have also been alerted to declare a holiday on days when the high tide is in excess of 4.5 metres and it is also raining. "We have told them not to wait for official orders and take decision on the basis of rainfall in their areas," said SS Shinde, Joint Municipal Commissioner (Disaster).
BMC has admitted that it is not equipped to handle more than 25 mm of rainfall per hour coupled with high tide of more than 4.5 metres.
    This year, there will be 22 such days during the monsoon, of which at least five such days when the high tide will be in excess of 4.5 meters.
    A high tide of 4.48 metres and a rainfall of 994 mm had wreaked havoc in the city on July 26, 2005, bringing the city to a complete standstill for three days.
    Damages to the properties in city were estimated at over Rs 1000 crore and over 800 people died following floods and diseases.
    However, it is ironic that the civic administration will be issuing a precautionary press note asking outsiders to stay away.
    Last year Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak had taken a strong objection to the US consulate advising its expatriates in city to take care during monsoon as manholes could be open during the monsoon. Phatak had then said that even they could issue similar warnings for the US cities.


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