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Saturday, June 30, 2012

GOVT GUTTED Inspect bldgs annually for fire traps: Report

Mumbai: Electrical fittings in buildings must be inspected once a year and defaulters should face a heavy penalty for violations, a state government report stated. 

    The Mantralaya blaze seems to have forced the state administration to review its laws. "In the report we will recommend mandatory checks and certification of fittings by electrical inspectors of the district (for high-rises of 50 foot and above) and the power suppliers (for buildings less than 50 foot) once in a year instead of 
five years," a senior official said. "Defaulters will be made to pay higher fines to put pressure on the citizens as well as the administration by amending the Electricity Act," he added. Under the law, before commissioning power supply to a building (more than 50 foot) it is mandatory to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the area electrical engineer after a scrutiny of the power network. 
    According to experts, it is necessary to check fittings and get them certified every five 
years from the electrical engineer. Similarly in buildings less than 50 foot, the power utility has to inspect the fittings regularly for each consumer. 
    "For each district in the state, there is an electrical inspector appointed by the energy department. However, the maintenance and inspection of government buildings are done by electrical engineers from the public works department (PWD). Except for some developers, few people are aware of the norms," a source said. Another official said no inspection of government buildings has been conducted in the state . 
    "Electrical inspectors have been told to attain their revenue target by issuing NOCs. Government buildings are 

completely ignored. We will ensure that either inspectors or PWD electrical engineers do that regularly," he said. 
    "In the current system, if a building does not comply with the norms, the electrical inspector gives a notice (ranging from 15 days to a month) to do so. If the developer / society office-bearer does not meet the requirement, he can seek a deadline extension. There is no provision of stringent punishment. For high-rises the maximum fine charged is Rs 1,500," the official said. Defaulters keep paying meagre fines but can never be nailed for not complying with the norms.

Coming soon in state: Dial a blood bag


Mumbai: For stressed citizens whose near-and-dear ones are in hospital, soon, blood supply could be only a telephone call away. The state government is rolling out a blood-on-call service to break the stranglehold of private blood banks. 
    A pilot project will be launched in two districts and extended across the state, said public health minister Suresh Shetty. He didn't give a timeline. 
    The project plans that once a call for a particular blood type is received at a helpline, a worker on a bike will deliver it at the specified destination. 
Like pizza, blood will ride in on a bike 
Mumbai: Public health minister Suresh Shetty said the DF government will soon announce the launch of a project that will try to break the stranglehold of private blood banks, which often artificially inflate rates during emergency and help citizens get required blood after only a phonecall. 

    "Sometimes, hospitals ask patients' relative to arrange for blood. Blood banks tell them a particular group is not available.Consumerseven havehadto pay exorbitant amount to get a specified blood packages. To makebloodeasily available and prevent malpractices, the governmentisworking on a project, wherebloodwillbedeliveredon a phone call," Shetty said. "The schemewillbelaunchedon a pi
lotbasisin twodistricts." 
    Health department officials used the example of pizza delivery boys to explain the scheme. "A special helpline number would be set up for 'dial-a-bloodbag' project.The momentsomeone places a request for blood, a person on two-wheeler will deliver itblood atthedestination," asenior officialsaid. "Therewill be cold storage boxes fixed on the motorcyclesto maintain the required temperature for the blood asitisdelivered." 
    Doctors and NGOs welcomed the initiative. "The new system will help patients' relatives as they will not have to run around to get required blood," said Dr Jayashree Sharma, headof departmentof thetransfusion medicine department at KEM Hospital. But Vinay Shetty, vice-president of Think Foundation, an NGO working in the field of thalassaemia, said, "Many hospitals refuse to accept blood packs from banks. Willthe governmenttake action against them?" He accepted the move will help break the "alleged monopolies and cartel" of bloodbankstosomeextent. 
    According tostatestatistics, nearly 275bloodbanks arethere in Maharashtra and 11.5 lakh units of blood are annually collectedfrom donors. 

PLAN FOR BLOOD 'BUSINESS' 
Price control | Public health department has written to the Centre to cap the processing charges levied by blood banks 
Easy availability of blood | 
Making blood available on a phone call

Thursday, June 28, 2012

FIND YOURSELF SLEEPING MORE THAN NECESSARY


You could be inviting a host of health problems. Zeenia F Baria tells you more about it...



    While experts say that an average person needs seven to eight hours of sleep everyday, there are people who suffer from the problem of oversleeping. Hypersomnia is a disorder characterised by excessive sleepiness. One often experiences prolonged night sleep and has difficulty waking up. Other symptoms include anxiety, increased irritation, low energy levels, restlessness, slow thought process, loss of appetite and difficulty in remembering things. 
    Integrated medicine therapy expert Dr Anil Patil opines that human sleep needs can vary with age and among individuals — there is no established criteria to determine exactly how much sleep a person needs, and sleep is considered to be adequate when there is no daytime sleepiness or dysfunction. "There are several side effects of over sleeping, which can interfere with one's lifestyle by inhibiting the ability to cope with social situations," he says. 

Why do some people tend to sleep so much? 
Healthcare consultant Dr Parul R Sheth says that some people are habituated to oversleep as their circadian rhythm (the 24 hour body clock) makes them so. "There are people who undersleep during the week and oversleep during the weekend. Some may have hypersomnia (too much sleep), that makes you 
sleep during the day in addition to the night-time sleep. Those individuals with a condition called obstructive sleep apnoea in which breathing stops and starts again repeatedly, oversleep and experience daytime sleepiness. Depressed people tend to oversleep and go into sleep inertia. Alcohol, drug abuse and certain medications can also make you drowsy and 
cause sleepiness. Sleep needs vary from person to person and can change as you age. Your ability to function well depends upon how well rested you are, your total sleep time and the amount of various stages of sleep you get each night," says 
Dr Sheth. 
    General medicinal expert Dr Amol Manerkar says that one can overcome this problem by making sure they sleep at more or less the same time daily, not sleep for more than eight hours a day, regularly exercise and maintain a healthy weight, avoid excessive stimulants and alcohol and seek medical help for sleep apnoea. "Remember, that inadequate sleep creates a sleep debt, which the body tries to recuperate by sleeping for longer hours. Certain diseases and drugs can cause excessive sleepiness eg. alcohol, cough syrups. Other conditions like asthma, congestive cardiac failure and hypothyroidism also lead to excess sleep," he says. 
Alternative treatments 
    
Psychotherapy is recommended for patients with sleep disorders associated with other mental disorders. 
    Ayurveda treatment is advised only after taking a detailed his
tory of the patient and location and the exact cause of Hypersomnia. 
    For some people, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga can help. 
SIDE EFFECTS OF OVERSLEEPING 
Diabetes- Researchers have discovered that a side effect of too much sleep is diabetes. In a study of 9,000 people, they found that those who sleep more than nine hours per night are 50 per cent more likely to contract diabetes than those who sleep seven hours per night. 
Obesity- Studies have proven that people who sleep nine to 10 hours per night are 21 per cent likelier to become obese over a six-year time span than people who sleep seven to eight hours nightly, even when food consumption and exercise levels were considered. 

Heart disease- A study of 72,000 women found that women who sleep over nine hours nightly are 38 per cent likelier to experience coronary heart disease than women who sleep eight hours every night. 
Depression- Regular sleep habits are important to recover from depression. Sleeping too much can worsen symptoms. 
Death- A myriad of studies have proven that people who sleep nine or more hours per night have notably greater death rates than those who sleep seven to eight hours nightly. 

What are the side effects of oversleeping? 
Oversleeping can make you feel groggy when you wake up, cause puffiness and eye bags around the eyes. It can also make you lethargic and sleepy during the day. 
Children need more sleep per day in order to develop and function properly — up to 18 hours for newborn babies, with a declining rate as a child grows. School children need about 10 to 11 hours of sleep. Adolescents need nine to 10 hours of sleep. Adults need at least seven to eight hours of sleep daily.

Sleeping for more than eight hours daily is inviting trouble


Headaches- Sleeping too much can cause headaches, which scientists believe are linked to the effect of sleep on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin. Too much sleep can disrupt the balance of the chemicals in the brain causing headaches.


Back pain- Too much sleep can cause great deals of pressure on the back for extended periods of time leading to backaches.


HIGH ON SOFT DRINK Colas have traces of alocohol, says study



London: Tests have revealed that more than half of leading soft drinks, like Coke and Pepsi, contain traces of alcohol. The revelation will cause concern among those who choose the carbonated soft drink for religious, health or safety reasons. 
    According to tests carried out by the Paris-based National Institute of Consumption more than half of leading colas contain the traces of alcohol, the Daily Mail reported. These include the brand leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, while it is mainly only cheap supermarket versions of the drink which are alcohol-free. 
    French magazine '60 Million Consumers', published the results of the tests in its latest issue. They suggest that the alcohol levels are as low as 10mg in every litre, and this works out at around 0.001% alcohol. 
    But the figures will still be enough to upset the thousands of Muslims who regularly drink Cola because their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol.
    Those who are teetotallers and drink Coke regularly will also be worried, as will those who choose it as an alternative to alcohol when they are driving. Of 19 colas tested, the nine which did not contain alcohol were made by brands including Auchan, Cora, Casino, Leader Price and Man U-Cola. 
    Ten which had traces of alcohol in them included Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Coca-Cola Classic Light and Coke Zero. Michel Pepin, scientific director for Coca-Cola France, ac
knowledged that "It is possible that traces of alcohol come from the process" of making Coca Cola according to its secret recipe. He, however, insisted that Coca-Cola drinks were provably "soft" and recognized as such "by the government authorities in which they are sold." 
    A spokesman for Pepsi acknowledged that "some soft drinks can contain minute traces of alcohol because of the ingredients used," although "the Pepsi Cola recipe does not contain alcohol." Both companies suggested that natural fruit can ferment and produce minute traces of alcohol. ANI



Mumbai’s lifeline goes offtrack

Mumbai: Heavy showers on Thursday crippled suburban train services, leaving lakhs of passengers inconvenienced through the day. There was flooding on tracks near Malad and signal failure at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli on the Main line, and at Mankhurd, Chembur and Kurla on the Harbour line. 

    Several commuters told TOI that trains ran an hour late on the Central Railway while it was delayed by 20 to 30 minutes on Harbour and Western lines. Passengers waited for 20 to 40 minutes on crowded platforms to catch trains and this too was a challenge as trains arrived packed like sardines. 
    "Indicators showed timings of trains which should have left (as per the timetable) more than an hour ago," said Mahesh Gada, a regular commuter from Mulund. 

    CR spokesperson V Chandrasekar told TOI, "Due to incessant rains, there were intermittent signal failures 
at Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Mankhurd, Chembur and Kurla. Drains parallel to railway tracks in Ghatkopar-Kurla section overflowed, which was a contributory factor in signal failures. Precautions were taken to clamp and set all tracks in straight direction to ensure safe running of trains." He said trains were running 25 to 30 minutes late on Main line and 
15 to 20 minutes late on Harbour. "By 3.45pm, signals began to function properly." 
    WR spokesperson Sharat Chandrayan said the delay was just eight to ten minutes. "It was mainly between 9am and 10.30am and was due to water-logging near Malad." 
HOLLOW RLY CLAIMS DOWN THE DRAIN 
CENTRAL RAILWAY: Encroachments and silt were removed and tracks lifted to prevent waterlogging Around 450 unauthorized structures were removed from the railway area to clear drainage Culverts were cleaned Pumps were deployed at lowlying areas such as Parel and Sandhurst Road 
WESTERN RAILWAY: Tracks were lifted in low-lying areas such as Nalasopara, Vasai Road, Kandivli, Malad, Goregaon and Bandra (East) Desilting and cleaning of all 43 culverts was done with BMC funds 52 diesel pumps are to be installed at vulnerable low-lying locations Precautionary work at service buildings as well as electrical and signallng and telecom installations 

SIGNAL PROBLEMS 
When water enters tracks, it affects signals. When a signal malfunctions, it turns red and speed restrictions are automatically imposed. The timetable goes for a toss and trains run slow at a speed of 15 to 20 kmph 
Rush claims senior's life Badlapur: A 62-year-old died on Thursday morning after falling in a gap between a train and the railway platform at Badlapur. The victim, Vasant Virkar, fell while trying to board a 10.40am CST local that reached station late at 11.20am. TNN


HEAVY SHOWERS LEAVE CITIZENS HIGH & DRY, 2 DIE


The skies finally opened up over the city, but the rain brought death and chaos in its wake on Thursday


Tree fall fells MBA aspirant 

• A tree fall at Lower Parel killed 24-year-old MBA aspirant Ashwini Satpute of Kandivli. In Badlapur, Vasant Virkar (62) died after he fell on the tracks while trying to board a train for Dadar during the rush hour when heavy rain disrupted train services 
75mm rain in suburbs 

• From Wednesday night to Thursday evening, Santa Cruz recorded 75.4mm of rain and Colaba 20.6mm. But the downpour did not translate into a rise in lake levels 
Train services hit 

• Showers crippled local train services on all 3 lines, with flooding causing signal failure at many locations 
Roads in deep water 

• Waterlogging led to traffic snarls, washing away the BMC's claims on monsoon preparedness

Many areas in the city were water-logged, driving motorists and pedestrians to despair. P 2 


7-HR NIGHTMARE FOR COMMUTERS

Mhada lottery stir chokes Bandra roads

Mill Workers Demand Flats Free Of Cost

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 


Mumbai: Thousands of commuters had a harrowing time on Thursday as scores of mill workers led by former Shiv Sena MP Mohan Rawle held a morcha in Bandra on Thursday. 
    The protesters were demanding the cancellation of Mhada's lottery, which was held at the Rang Sharda auditorium to allot 6,925 flats to mill workers. They also wanted the state (through Mhada) to allot flats to 1.1 lakh mill workers free of cost. 
    Nearly 2,000 protesters occupied S V Road around 9am, triggering massive traffic snarls whose effects were felt for almost seven hours on all roads in and around Bandra. Patients, too, had a torrid time as they got stuck in the mess. 
    Traffic police officials said though they had information about the morcha, but were not prepared for a rasta roko. 
    As the protesters blocked Mahim Causeway, south-bound traffic from S V Road was diverted, said the police. Northbound traffic was diverted to 
Mori Road and Raheja Hospital Marg towards Dharavi and Sion-Dharavi Road. "Around 40 traffic personnel were deployed at places like the Mahim junction, Turner Road junction, Bandra station (W) and Lilavati Hospital junction," said senior inspector Rajendra Chavan, Bandra traffic chowky. 
    DCP (Zone IX) Pratap Dighavkar said: "We will take legal action against those who staged the rasta roko. Traffic was diverted almost immediately to ease the situation." 
    Rawle held a one-hour meeting with Satish Gavai, 
Mhada vice-president, and Gautam Chatterjee, principal secretary (housing). Both officials, however, refused to stay the lottery. "We have held several meetings with the unions, but there has been no consensus on the issue of giving flats free of cost. It is not possible. We are already giving the flats at Rs 7.5 lakh each as against the cost of Rs 12 lakh," said Chatterjee. 
    Meanwhile, there was anxiety, joy and disappointment for 43,099 workers of the total 1.48 lakh families that had bid for the 6,925 flats. 
    This is the first time a lottery has been conducted to give homes to workers from the 58 erstwhile textile mills. However, the housing board has so far got its share of land from only 18 mills. As a result, only 43,099 workers from these 18 mills got to participate in the lottery. 
    "There was no option but to keep out workers from the other 40 mills. They have to wait till Mhada gets possession of the remaining land," said a senior Mhada official, adding that no additional houses will be available for mill workers for at least two years. One option is to build houses for the workers in their hometowns, the official said. 
    Of the 43,099 eligible applicants, 6,820 were descendants of workers who had died. 
    Pravin Ghag of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti said, "A state panel with representatives from our union is looking at options under the ULCA, slum rehabilitation and similar schemes whereby we can provide more houses for mill workers in Mumbai." 

HOUSE THAT 
    
6,925 flats put up for sale by Mhada for mill workers 
    1.48 lakh applications received 
    43,099 applicants found eligible 
    Each flat to cost 7.5 lakh and measure 250 sq ft (approx carpet area) 
    Half of the available houses have been built on land given by NTC. The entire New Hind mill has been given to the housing board as part ofMhada's share from mills like Apollo, Elphinstone, Indu 2 & 3, Jupiter, Kohinoor 3, Mumbai Textile Mill and New Hind

SPACE JAM: The effects of the mill workers' morcha were felt on and around Bandra's roads for seven hours on Thursday





Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BMC orders survey of city fire hydrants


Mumbai: Days after the Mantralaya fire, the BMC has ordered a survey of all the fire hydrantsin thecity.Thecivicbody also plans to work with other agencies to ensure that fire hydrants are not affected by any construction work. Defaulters are likely to be penalized if the instructions are notfollowed. 
    Members of the civic standing committee on Wednesday said there were several lapses when it came to dousing the fire at Mantralaya, including problemswiththefirehydrants. 
    Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota said,"We are going to conduct a survey of allthefirehydrantsin thecity.It has come to our attention that many hydrants have got buried under the roads. The agencies carrying out work on the roads will be responsible for uncover
ing these hydrants and if they fail to do so, action will be taken againstthem." 
    The BMC will also be conducting an audit of all its buildings in the city and officials are planning to reduce the amount of paperwork by going digital, Jalota added. 
Govt Gutted Inflammable material, haphazard construction on top 2 floors: Audit National Disaster Mgmt Authority Team Wraps Up Probe Sharad Vyas TNN 
Mumbai: A team of experts from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday completed its final report on the structural stability of Maharashtra secretariat building which was partially gutted in a fire last week. The report will be submitted to the state government on Thursday. 
    The team has found presence of inflammable material and haphazard construction on the top two floors of the building, which were worst affected by the blaze. The team had, in its preliminary audits, ruled out major structural damage to the eight-storied structure and declared it "sound and safe". "Whether the inflammable material was used as part of the original design or alterations is for the government to find out. Our scope was limited to structural safety," said a team member. 
    The issue of illegal and haphazard construction on the top floor and the original cause of the fire have been a bone of contention between the Congress and the NCP. The blame game continued in the pre-cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Senior ministers, many of whom pointed fingers at the saffron combine as the top floor was constructed during its reign, discussed the need to fix responsibility for any faulty wiring or alterations that could have fuelled the fire. A total of 166 truck-load of debris has been removed so far by the public works department (PWD). 
    The Congress ministers hinted at the negligence cau
sed by the NCP-controlled PWD which, in turn, has been hinting at the apathy of the chief minister-controlled general administration department (GAD). "Once all of this (repair and renovation) is over, we will fix responsibility for negligence. Someone will have to answer why the fire raged for so long despite the entire state machinery present for rescue," said a Congress minister. 
    PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal has clarified that the PWD can't be solely held responsible for deficiency found in the building as part of an audit conducted in 2008. In his clarification to the PM, CM Prithviraj Chavan has hinted at a delay in dousing of the fire. 

Sixteen of 102 CCTV cameras damaged 
S ixteen cameras of installed the 102 CCTV in Mantralaya were damaged in the last week's blaze, said the crime branch, which is probing the fire. So far, the sleuths have examined footage from 50 of the remaining 86 cameras. The crime branch will rope in forensic experts as some of the CCTV footage is not clear due to smoke during the fire. TNN 

MMRDA to store data on distant servers 
The prompted Mantralaya the Mumbai fire has Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to scan its files on a priority basis and store the data on distant servers. "We will store the data on the servers in different cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore and may be even abroad," said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana. TNN



10% water cut from July 1 if rain stays away


Mumbai: After much deliberation, the BMC's standing committee on Wednesday passed a proposal to impose a 10% water cut from July 1. The civic administration, though, assured that this is a "precautionary measure" and the water cut may not be imposed if the rainfall improves over the next few days. 
    Rajiv Jalota, additional municipal commissioner, told TOI, "As a precautionary measure, we have planned to impose a 10% water cut from July 1. But if we receive adequate rainfall in the next few days, we may not impose it. A fresh decision will be taken after reviewing the situation." 
    According to the hydraulics department, Upper Vaitarna and Modak Sagar can provide water for the next 56 days, Tulsi 104 days, Bhatsa 115 days and Vihar 75 days. The current level of the lakes is slightly above the minimum level required. 
    The decision to impose the cut gave committee members an opportunity to discuss conservation issues. Anuradha Pednekar, Shiv Sena corporator 

and standing committee member, said, "Across the city, several housing societies use booster pumps." While other members such as Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party group leader, said, "We claim to be a world-class city. Shouldn't we have certain provisions to deal with a delay in monsoon? It only shows lack of long-term planning." 
    Laxman Dhoble, water supply minister, said that if rains don't arrive in the next 10 days, the government will have to chalk out a strategy to deal with the situation. "If the situation worsens, then in consultation with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and deputy CM Ajit Pawar, the department plans to restrict supply to pools in hotels, construction industry and even some industrial units." 
PARCHED STATE 
Panel to look into water distribution in worst-hit areas 
Sharad Vyas & Sanjeev Shivadekar TNN 
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has set up a fourmember committee of senior bureaucrats to take stock of the worsening water crisis across the state. The panel will look into the availability of water and its effective distribution in cities and villages affected by the shortage. 
    CM Prithviraj Chavan has directed municipalities and district officials to prepare contingency plans and judiciously use water in reservoirs only for the purpose of drinking. A total of Rs 92 cr from the state contingency fund (CF) has been released for water and fodder shortages across the state. Of this, Rs 20 crore is meant 

specifically for areas with water shortage. The CF has Rs 150 crore in its kitty. 
    The cabinet on Wednesday expressed concern over the crisis worsening in Pune, Jalna, Osmanabad and Nashik. These cities have water stocks which will not even last until July 15. Pune, one of the worst-hit, has just 4% of water stock left in its reservoirs. However, Mumbai has stock until July 15 and heavy showers expected in two days in reservoirs that supply water to the city are expected to further ease the situation, said officials. "Mumbai has the option of drawing from its reserve stock," said an official 
    The water level in reservoirs across the state has plummeted to 13% because of a late monsoon, which usually arrives every year in the second week of June.



Crores Swindled from Banks as Fraudsters Exploit ATM Flaw


Punjab-based gang loots . 75 lakh from ATMs of Kerala-headquartered Federal Bank; 6 of its members behind bars


A fraud unravelling in Punjab and Kerala has exposed a secret fear the country's banking system has been living under for more than a year. Fraudsters appear to have stolen crores of rupees from several Indian banks, cleverly exploiting a design flaw in their automated teller machines (ATMs) and their networked nature. While several banks have executed design changes in their cash machines to combat it, many of India's one-lakh plus cash machines still remain vulnerable to this socalled 'transaction reversal' fraud. 
The technique employed in the fraud is simple and involves withdrawing money from an ATM machine, taking out a part of the currency notes it throws up and letting the machine swallow the rest. Since the machine cannot count the retracted notes, some banks credit back the entire amount to the account. So if a customer withdraws . 10,000, pockets . 9,000 and lets the machine retract . 1,000, some banks record the transaction as null and the entire . 10,000 remains in the account. Most ATMs are designed to retract the cash if the customer does not pull it out within 42 seconds. 
Kerala-based Federal Bank has lost . 75 lakh to a Punjab gang that attacked its ATMs across the country using this method. Police in Kerala and Punjab made the first arrests in such cases in the country this week. "The surge of such fraud occurred in late March and April. That is when it came to our attention. We have subsequently scrutinised all transactions and filed more than 30 police cases across the country," said TS Jagadeesan, chief gener
al manager of Federal Bank. Apart from various police stations in Kerala and Punjab, the bank has filed criminal complaints in Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Gurgaon and Panipat. 
Police in Kerala and Punjab have arrested six men from the north Indian state. Officials said the accused had confessed to extracting . 2 crore using this method. This means another bank or other banks together have lost as much as Federal Bank just to this one gang. The gang, headed by one Sumit Gupta of Punjab, predominantly used ATM cards procured from a leading private sector bank using forged documents, one Kerala police official said. Cards of banks such as ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India have been used by the gang, the official said. 
The rise of transaction reversal fraud had caused so much concern that in January, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the intermediary for interbank transactions, asked all member banks of the National Financial Switch to disable the cash retraction facility from their ATMs. The move was discussed and approved by the Reserve Bank of India. The circular asked banks to comply by March 31. NCPI operates the National Financial Switch that connects India's nearly 1 lakh ATMs (99,200 as of May; 1,500 added each month). 
NCPI Chief Executive AK Hota said the first such fraud was reported at an ICICI Bank ATM in 2010. But the matter became more serious in 2011, when Andhra Bank lost . 17-18 lakh to this method of fraud. Much of this was later recovered. Subsequent to the Andhra Bank episode, a steering committee of the National Financial 
Switch recommended in April last year that the cash retraction feature in ATMs be deactivated. During periodic cash reconciliations in ATMs, banks were unable to ascertain whether the shortage was due to ATM error, transaction reversal fraud, or fraud by employees loading the cash. So a pilot study was undertaken and disabling of cash retraction was found to be an effective way of countering the fraud. Even though NPCI asked all banks to comply by March, Hota said some banks are yet to complete the exercise. The change involves upgrading backend servers as well as changes in individual machines. Depending on the vendor and number of ATM machines owned by a bank, the cost of this process worked out to . 800 to . 2,500 per ATM. The ATM market in India is dominated by American firms NCR and DieBold, as well as Germany's Wincor Nixdorf. NCR has more than 40% share in a market where an ATM machine sells for between . 5 lakh and . 12 lakh. 
Jagadeesan said his bank had upgraded all its DieBold machines, but due to operational delays, some machines from other vendors were awaiting upgrades.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Short-circuits spark 75% city fires

Mumbai: Around 75% of fires in the city occur because of short-circuit caused by loose wiring. The reason, officially called defective electric circuits (DEC), was behind 9,711 of 13,185 fires in the last three years. 

    RTI activist Chetan Kothari, who obtained the data through a plea, said to prevent fires, the cause of every incident should be found and scientifically studied. "For example, we know that throwing away lit cigarette butts can cause fires. Will you be surprised, then, to know that indeed they do? As per the reply to my RTI plea, 1,806 fires between April 2009 and January 2012 were caused by careless smoking or improper disposal of cigarette butts and matchsticks." 
    The data reveals that short-circuits mostly occur in old buildings, especially in densely populated areas or crowded markets. In the period mentioned, the maximum number of short-circuits occurred around Memonwada fire station, which has busy 
markets like Bhendi Bazaar, followed by Byculla, Mulund, Worli, Chembur, Andheri, Gowalia Tank and Dharavi, all thickly populated areas. The Mantralaya fire, too, is not an exception to this trend since the secretariat building is old. Regular checks of earth wires, fuses can prevent fires: Experts 
Mumbai: An application filed under the Right to Information Act by activist Chetan Kothari has revealed that short-circuit, the reason for most of the fires in the city, usually occurs in buildings in crowded localities. A fire expert said that had the authorities gone through the data and taken preventive action, Mantralaya could have been saved. "The non-renewal of wiring capacity against increased load because of additional equipment ultimately results in overheating and fire. This phenomenon is common to all old, ill-maintained establishments," said an expert. 
    Power expert Ashok Pendse recommends regular checking of earth wires, circuit breakers and fuses, which cut off power supply if a shor t-circuit occurs. "Also, one should use gadgets with quality certification from well-known agencies." 
    According to a Mantralaya source, though there are rules for electrification and maintenance, "there are not enough men and machinery to ensure that these are followed in letter and spirit".

Mantralaya employees resumed work on Monday after mourning the five victims of the fire that devastated the state's seat of power last Thursday. Related reports, P 4


BACK AT WORK: CM Prithviraj Chavan, along with his PRO Satish Lalit (circled), who was injured in the fire, carries out official duties at Mantralaya on Monday

46 H1N1 cases in 3 mths

 'not worrisome' ?????

City Had Not Reported A Single Case In 2011 Till Jun 26



Mumbai: The civic authorities are insistent that H1N1 cases in the city are sporadic and nothing to worry about. But statistics suggest otherwise. While 46 positive cases of H1N1 have been reported between April and June so far, there were zero cases in Mumbai during the corresponding period last year. 
    Dr Anil Bandivadekar, executive health officer, at
tributed it to more awareness. "We cannot say there has been any spurt in cases so far this year. People are occasionally testing positive and we are closely monitoring those cases too," he said. On Sunday, a private laboratory sent its reports to the BMC saying seven people tested positive for H1N1. He said it was a weekly report and not clusters of cases coming positive together. Twelve people have tested positive in June itself. 
    Dr A C Mishra, director of Pune's National Institute of Virology, also maintained that globally, the virus has taken the character of a seasonal influenza vi
rus. "We have been constantly monitoring its behaviour. There have been no major variations to worry about. Mutations, too, are normal like what other viruses go through," he said. 
    The virus, Mishra added, has been affecting all age groups alike. This also came forth in the Sunday cases that turned out to be positive. A six-year-old girl from Mahim and a 57-year-old woman from Bandra tested positive and were put on Tamiflu. Barring the 36-yearold man from Malad, who had to be admitted to a private hospital, all patients were treated on an outpatient basis. Infectious diseases consultant Dr Om Srivastava said that although monsoon is here, there has 
not been a significant rise in H1N1 cases. 
    "We are seeing cases in Kasturba Hospital but that is a nodal centre. Otherwise there are not many cases in the community." 
    He, however, said that people have to remain alert. "There is a lot of awareness about getting tested and treated." 
    The H1N1 influenza has claimed 16 lives in the state since April this year and affected more than 260 individuals. Dr Pradeep Awate, state epidemiologist, said monsoon was favourable for the growth of the virus but it is nothing that cannot be curbed by staying alert. 
'Swine flu deadlier than India thought' 
Global Death Toll 15 Times Higher Than Reported? 

New Delhi: India may have grossly underestimated the might of 21st century's most aggressive pandemic. 
    A study, which will be published in the medical journal Lancet on Tuesday, says the deaths caused by H1N1 pandemic flu in its first year (2009-10), could be 15 times higher than the number of laboratory-confirmed deaths previously reported to the World Health Organization. 
    The study was conducted by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, with help from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi. During the pandemic, 18,500 laboratory-confirmed H1N1-deaths were reported worldwide from April 2009 to August 2010. The new research indicates the death toll was anywhere between 1.51 lakh and 5.75 lakh during the first year when the virus circulated worldwide. 
    The results say, 80% of the total deaths occurred in people below the age of 65, contrary to seasonal influenza where most deaths occur among the elderly. 
    Additionally, the study suggests that 51% of the deaths may have occurred in south-east Asia and Africa, continents which are home to 38% of the world's population. The scientists say, "China and India, where about a third of the world's population live have garnered little information about the bur
den of influenza." 
    India's age-adjusted respiratory and cardiovascular mortality rate associated with 2009 pandemic influenza H1N1 per one lakh individuals stood at 4.1-6 per lakh population. Lead author Dr Fatimah S Dawood from the CDC said, "The study underscores the significant human toll of an influenza pandemic. We hope this work can be used not only to improve influenza disease burden modelling globally, but to improve the publichealth response during future pandemics…". 
    The study says, "As a general rule, the number of labconfirmed flu deaths is known to be significantly lower than the number of flu deaths that actually occur." The CDC estimated the 12-month cumulative symptomatic attack rate and multiplied it by the estimated symptomatic case fatality ratio from 17 sites in 13 countries — India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Denmark, Germany, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru, England, USA and Vietnam. 

BIGGER SCOURGE 
    
18,500 laboratory-confirmed H1N1 deaths were reported worldwide from April 2009 to August 2010 
    Study shows death toll was between 1.51 lakh and 5.75 lakh during first year of the pandemic 
    80% of the deaths occurred in people below the age of 65





Eye trouble? That’s ‘BANG’ ON!


A study reveals that side bangs, a hot hairstyle fad, can cause eye hazards. Avoid it for fashion's sake, warn experts to Ismat Tahseen



    Let's rephrase the adage from: 'there's never a dull moment' to 'there's never a dangerous moment', especially when it comes to the world of high-octane glamour. For, everything that's able to push you up several notches on the style quotient, it can also pull you down 
health-wise! You have high heels that can lead to foot impairment, silicone implants that are said to be toxic, botox that also has its hazards and now, it's the turn of the side fringe or 'emo' — the hair style that almost covers one eye. 
    It has everyone from Hollywood hottie Nicole Richie and popstar Justin Bieber, to Amrita Arora, Bipasha Basu, Chitrangda Singh and Freida Pinto wearing the swoopy-esque trend. The stylish bangs are said to be the only hairstyle that could be a health hazard, as it is said to adversely affect one's vision. A recent buzz on a website got folks into a panic when it reported how Andrew Hogan, an associate member of Optometrist Australia, said side bangs that almost cover the eyes or obscure view, causes amblyopia, also commonly called the lazy eye syndrome. 
What are the risks? 

Dr Hogan explained that the hair prevents access to sunlight and when the eyes do not get sunlight, they are said to get weaker. A website reported him as saying, "If young people have bangs to cover one eye over a long time, they will not see detail clearly. If that happens from a young age, the eyes get amblyopia." While 
a huge debate sprang up on whether his comments were accurate, it also threw into focus other often-ignored reasons why the hairstyle is risky. Mumbai-based eye surgeon Dr Keiki Mehta says going as far as amlyopia might be a little far-fetched, but adds that wearing the hair in long side bangs can contribute to serious eye problems. "It's not a good idea to wear hair that way, because one side of the field of vision is lost, making it a safety hazard. The danger is that you may have fall over something or have an accident. It's not logical to have this just for the sake of fashion. Imagine wearing a transient patch all the time. It's like the case of a person suffering from glaucoma, which occurs because part of the field of vision is lost. Here too, you are artificially trying to obstruct the field of the eye! While the longish hair strands that get into the eye can trouble the surface of the cornea, it's worse when such hair is coated with hairsprays. It can cause long-term irritation; that's how you find people blinking away," he explains. 
    Adds Dr Nikhil Nasta, cataract and refractive surgeon, "As mentioned by an Australian optometrist; the Emo haircut — in which the hair is swept down to cover one eye at all times — is reported to cause a lazy eye. I would not entirely agree with this statement, yet to be on the safer side, the younger generation must especially take note and avoid these funky haircuts for long periods of time. The price you pay to be cool is clearly not worth it!" 
Hair-rasing' enough? 
Not really, feels actress 
Amrita Arora, who has worn the style for long. "Really now, there's a medical take on the side bangs as well? That's hysterical," she says, adding, "Bangs have been around forever and the minute they fall into your eyes there are ways to keep it away, so maybe people say it could hurt the eyes but it hasn't for me." 
Singer Anushka Manchanda has had a spot of bother with her side bangs. "With the new 'emo' 
hairstyle, it's no surprise that one's vision could be impaired. I've experimented with bangs but I would pin them up more often than not. It's uncomfortable to have something in your eyes constantly," she admits. Are you ready to give this one up for health's sake? 
ismat.tahseen@timesgroup.com 

Nicole Richie


Liv Tyler


Bipasha Basu


Chitrangda Singh


Freida Pinto


Amrita Arora


Anushka Manchanda


Skinny jeans can cause nerve disorder

They may make you look slim, but at what cost? Experts now say super-tight trousers cause a condition called Meralgia Paresthetica


Skinny jeans have been a fashion staple for a long time. However, if you prefer good health over a garment that makes you look slim, read on. A recent article posted by an international website reported that too-tight skinny jeans could cause health problems. Another New York-based daily scripted an advice on the same topic by Dr Robert Rhee, chief of vascular surgery at a Brooklyn hospital, who said, "Switch to a larger size. The numbness is a sign your body is not getting enough blood." 
WHAT IS THE HEALTH RISK? 
Skinny jeans worn too tight can cause a nerve disorder called Meralgia Paresthetica, and was brought to the spotlight by Dr Karen Boyle from the Greater Baltimore Medical Center in the US. The website stated her as saying, "It's a disorder that occurs when one of the nerves that runs in the outer part of a thigh gets compressed." This nerve disorder has been noted in medical papers. In 2003, Malvinder S Parmar reported three cases in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stating that patients who suffered from Meralgia Paresthetica were all overweight women who had worn tight, low-rise trousers over the previous six to eight months. 
HOW DOES IT OCCUR? 
Explains neurosurgeon Dr Sunil Kutty, "Meralgia Paresthetica is a nerve condition where the lateral cutinous 
nerve (sensory) of the thigh, which exits around the waist to supply the lateral part of the skin of the thigh, can be damaged. When someone puts on weight (most commonly a paunch) or wears a tight belt, this nerve could get compressed. When such a compression happens, the function of the nerve may alter and even a slight touch can be perceived as pain." 
Before you develop a denim scare and swear off skinny jeans again, here are a few things to remember. "Wearing skinny jeans might cause this condition only if it's worn tight around the hip area. This can be treated but there's no easy cure. We recommend removal of the stimulant, i.e. not wearing a tight belt or jeans that are tight around that area. To cure it, we either decompress the nerve or cut it off completely," says Dr Kutty. Neurophysician Dr PP Ashok confirms, "Obese 
people tend to get this nerve pinched, as the nerve is very delicate. It's not a blanket rule that this is bound to happen to people wearing tight clothes, but it's advisable not to. People prone to pressure-sensitive numbness and diabetes are more likely to suffer from this disorder. One may have numbness and a burning sensation on the outer thigh." 
Another detail flagged up was about wearing high heels with skinny jeans, worsening the situation because tilting the pelvis increases pressure on the sensitive area. Dr Ashok says, "When one wears high heels, the weight of the body comes on the toes and this can effect the tender nerves. All these contribute to this problem." 
Skinny jeans have raised health concerns in the past as well when an article stated that doctors advise men trying for a baby to avoid these as they may cause the testicles to overheat, lowering their sperm count. Wearing skinny jeans can also increase the chances of developing thrush.

TOO TIGHT FOR COMFORT: Wearing skinny jeans comes with peculiar problems

CRATER MUMBAI Potholes back in Bandra after light rain

Mumbai: From the potholetracking system to cold-mix, the BMC has tried out different technologies to make Mumbai's roads crater-free. But nothing seems to work. 

    Even before the monsoon could gather momentum in the city, contractors have started repairing stretches that have already been fixed. Reason: the work has been washed away after light spells of rain. 
    As complaints of shoddy work pour in, experts have questioned the manner in which the contractors have carried out their job. 
    TOI did an audit of six roads in Bandra (W), which have been repaired at least once over the past week, on 
Monday along with corporator Asif Zakaria. A sum of Rs 4 crore has been earmarked for pothole repairs in H-East and H-West wards. 
    One of the stretches audited was 32nd Road, located off Linking Road near National 

College. According to a roads department official, the contractor fixed the entire stretch on Friday, but a drizzle was enough to undo the work. The road witnesses heavy traffic due to the educational institutions in its vicinity. On Monday, granular materials could be found on the road. 

    Similar is the condition of the 16tand 24th roads. The roads have already been repaired twice. "These are long, 
important roads that should have been taken up earlier for repair. The materials start coming out when a little pressure is applied with one's leg. Officials have been saying that the work done by the contractor does not seem to last. Apparently, they have been penalized," said Zakaria. 
    At the junctions of the 37th and 35th roads, the corners have been repaired but the central portion—which is also in a poor condition—has been left out. 
    N V Merani, chairman of the standing technical advisory committee, said: "When new materials are used, it is essential that they are thoroughly checked. Besides, they should also be properly laid, which means that the edges of apothole should be cut properly. Apart from carboncor, we haven't given our nod to any other technology yet."

ROUGH RIDE 
(From above) Potholes have reappeared on this road near Rizvi Complex after a few light spells of rain; the condition of 16th Road, near Guru Nanak Park, is no better

Board games mooted for 12L senior citizens

Mumbai: The city has over 12 lakh senior citizens but little has been done by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to make their lives easier. Crime against senior citizens has been increasing, making it difficult for them to enjoy their golden years. Taking note of the situation, a corporator recently moved a notice of motion in the civic house to set up recreational facilities for them in the city. 

    There are around 10 crore senior citizens in the country, and by 2050 the figure will rise to 32 crore, according to the census. There are about 12 lakh senior citizens in Mumbai, but the civic body has not arranged for special facilities for them. Vinod Shelar (Bharatiya Janata Party) said, "The BMC is the largest civic body but it does not have a system in place for senior citizens. Even smaller bodies like Navi Mumbai and Pune have cells to deal with their problems." 
    Shelar said they need a special cell to deal with their problems. 
    "The BMC can allot classrooms in civic schools as recreational rooms for them, where they can play board games like carom and chess. The rooms can be used as centres to help senior citizens deal with legal, medical and other problems too," Shelar said. 
    Experts pointed out that the fastest growing sector of the population is senior citizens because of better healthcare facilities and nutrition. However, they remain one of the most neglected sections of society. A survey found that 50% of them are widowers, 21% depend on pension for expenses and 24% sur
vive on its interest. 
    "A major problem for many of them is loneliness, as their families often have no time for them and they are neglected in their own homes. It is very important for them to get together with others and socialize. If the BMC starts a programme for them, it will be a step in the right direction," said Savio Rebello, an activist. 
    Setting up recreational centres for senior citizens is only a beginning, Shelar said. "Senior citizens should not be seen as a liability. Many want to help out and be productive, and if given a chance, they would love to help other senior citizens. The BMC should set up a helpline for senior citizens to express their grievances too."

A corporator has suggested that BMC set up recreational centres in civic schools


Cockroaches must for Earth’s survival



Washington: The mere sight of a cockroach sends a shiver down the spine of many, but the most despised insect is actually essential to the survival of the Earth's delicate ecosystem, an Indianorigin biologists has claimed. 
    According to Srini Kambhampati, professor and chair of the biology department at the University of Texas at Tyler, the sudden disappearance of Earth's 5,000 to 10,000 cockroach species would have 
ramifications far beyond your filthy apartments. "Most cockroaches feed on decaying organic matter, which traps a lot of nitrogen. Cockroach feeding has the effect of releasing that nitrogen (in their feces) which then gets into the soil and is used by plants, Prof Kambhampati said. "In other words, extinction of cockroaches would have a big impact on forest health and thus indirectly on all the species," he said. PTI

LIFELINE


Just 11% of city’s fire hydrants operational Clear Danger As 74% Were Not Working Near Mantralaya


Mumbai: The financial capital of India seems to be playing with fire, as just 11% of the hydrants in the city are in working condition. When it comes to south Mumbai, where the seat of the state government is located and that was gutted in a blaze on Thursday, it is slightly better with nearly 26% functioning. "Defunct hydrants could be one of the reasons for delay in controlling the fire that gutted Mantralaya," a BMC official said. 
    Hydraulic department records show that the entire city is dotted with 10,220 fire hydrants, with ward A which 

has Mantralaya, having 895. "Offices of top corporate houses and premier government buildings are part of ward A. Despite this, merely 230 hydrants are functional here," the official said. 
    Thursday's fire that engulfed Mantralaya claimed lives of five persons and it took the fire brigade over 12 hours to douse the fire. Fire brigade officials said they had sought permission from Mantralaya to install fire hydrants on the premises but were denied approval. "Nonavailability of hydrant resulted in interrupted water supply. Shortage of water hit rescue operations. Had firefighting vehicles from central agencies not joined the operations, the damage would have been more," a fire brigade official said. 
    Fire hydrants are key to 
fire-fighting operations. When fire tenders run outof water, they hook up to these sources of water supply. 'Follow London, inspect hydrants' 
Mumbai: Civic officials said most of the hydrants in the city are defunct as they are either buried in newly-made pavements or encroached upon by the slums. 
    "If 89% of hydrants are defunct in a city like Mumbai, then the financial capital of India is certainly a fire risk," a senior official attached to the state disaster management cell said. He said Mumbai should follow London fire bri
gade procedure, where the crew conducts inspection of hydrants every two years. 
    BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte refused to comment on it. 
    "On Monday, a meeting has been called of all those who were part of the operations to douse fire at Mantralaya. They will share their experience on the fire-fighting operations and then the administration will decide on measures it needs to take to deal with such situations," he said.

The Mantralaya after getting a fresh coat of paint on Sunday evening




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