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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Arctic sea ice bigger than US melts

PUSHED TO THE BREAKING POINT


Alarming Incident A Sign Of Extreme Climate Change, Warns UN Agency


Doha(Qatar): An area of Arctic sea ice bigger than the United States melted this year, according the UN weather agency, which said the dramatic decline illustrates that climate change is happening "before our eyes". 
    In a report released at UN climate talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, the World Meteorological Organization said the Arctic ice melt was one of a myriad of extreme and record-breaking weather events to hit the planet in 2012. 
    Droughts devastated nearly two-thirds of the US as well western Russia and southern Europe. Floods swamped west 
Africa and heat waves left much of the Northern Hemisphere sweltering. 
    But it was the ice melt that seemed to dominate the annual climate report, with the UN concluding ice cover had reached "a new record low" in the area around the North Pole and that the loss from March to September was a staggering 11.83 million square kilometers, an area bigger than the United States. 
    "The alarming rate of its melt this year highlighted the far-reaching changes taking place on Earth's oceans and biosphere," WMO secretarygeneral Michel Jarraud said. 
"Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records." 
    The dire climate news comes as delegates from nearly 200 countries struggled for a third day to lay the groundwork for a deal that would cut emissions in an attempt to ensure that temperatures don't rise more than 2°C over what they were in preindustrial times. Temperatures have already risen about 0.8°C, according to a IPCC report. AP


4°C dip gives city the shivers

Mumbai: Mumbaikars experienced a chilly Thursday morning as the mercury plunged by four degrees Celsius. Santa Cruz recorded a minimum temperature of 15.8 degree Celsius—almost four degrees below normal. 

    The city experienced its second-lowest November temperature of the decade on November 19 as the mercury dipped as low as 14.6 degrees. However, the temperature stabilized soon after. 
    After fluctuating between 18 and 19 degrees Celsius for over a week, the night-time temperature fell 
once again bringing another 
wave of winter. The weather department said the north
ern chill is affecting Mumbai. "The temperature in the north has fallen. Since the cold northerly winds are hitting Mumbai, the temperature has dipped," said V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast at the India Meteorological Department (IMD). 
    Other cities in Maharashtra too witnessed a little dip in the night-time temperature. Malegaon and Pune recorded 10 degrees and 13 degrees on Thursday. Ahmednagar (13 degrees) and Aurangabad (14 degrees) also experienced cool weather on Thursday. 
    Meanwhile, in Mumbai the day-time temperature al
so witnessed a dip. On Thursday, Colaba recorded minimum temperature of 20 degrees, almost two degrees below normal. 
    However, Colaba recorded a day-time temperature of 30.7 degrees—about two degrees below normal and Santa Cruz recorded 32.2 degrees, which was normal, according to the IMD. 
    The weather department said the chill is likely to continue for a day or two. 
    "For the next one or two days, the temperature is likely to remain similar to that on Thursday. After that it is likely to stabilize," said Rajeev.


Long work hours, no social life but the young love Mumbai


Majority Travel 35km To Reach Office, Don't Exercise: New Survey


Mumbai: The young and the employed in the city endure prolonged work hours, hectic commute, housing woes and a near-zero social life. Yet, 90% of them say they would not even dream of leaving Mumbai for another city. 
    These are some of the findings of a survey commissioned by Young Bombay Forum, the youth wing of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The survey, which was released on Thursday, focused on the work life and after-work life of 1,004 employed young adults aged between 21 and 35. It highlighted how most Mumbaikars spend one to three hours travelling to and from their workplace. Close to 59% of the respondents lived more than 35 kilometres from their offices. 
    The survey, carried out by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) International, showed that about 60% of those interviewed across small, medium and large corporates, were not completely satisfied with their work. Most clocked nine hours a day on an average, which left them with little time to indulge in recreational or physical activities. More than 68% of the respondents said they did not find the time to follow a fitness regime. 

    Housing was one of the biggest issues for those who work in the city. A fourth of the workforce rents their accommodation; the percentage multiplies when it comes to those who have migrated to the city. About 35% of those who were interviewed are migrants who have been in the city for more than five years. 
    While it highlighted lack of a social life, the study also brought to the fore the belief that youngsters themselves willingly spend extra hours at work. Ashith Kampani, chairperson of Young Bombay Forum, ca lled the study an eye-opener. "There is no 
doubt that they lead extremely stressful lives. But there are also days when they can go home early and yet they choose to hang around in office," he said. 
    The findings that 84% of the working youth have a mentor at their workplace and 90% have a best friend at work also point towards this fact. Interestingly, men tend to linger more at their workplaces. 
    Kampani said the internet and more recently the social media have brought about a change in the youth, who like working more on their virtual image than a real 
one with their families. Yet, he suggested, corporate houses have to take it upon themselves to device ways to cut down on stress. "We will be sensitizing companies and working with them to look for solutions," he said. "Smaller companies will need a little hand-holding to bring in more healthy work practices." 
    Deepa Mathew, group business director, IMRB International, said employers must appreciate the fact that most don't mind commuting as long as the job is satisfying or pays well.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GROWING PROBLEM

Every year, Greenland is losing 200m tonnes of ice


Washington: Greenland is losing an average of 200 million tonnes of ice every year since 2003, which could have a big impact on sea levels, scientists claim. 
    The latest analysis by scientists studying the changing mass of the island using satellite data backs the previously reported trend without even including the last two summers of record-breaking ice melts. 
    "Greenland is really the place where everyone agrees that (the ice melt) is definitely accelerating with time and there is a big contribution to sea level rise," said researcher Isabella Velicogna of the University of California (UCI). 
    Velicogna is an expert at analysing the same kind of data used in this most recent study: from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) which can detect mass changes on the surface of the Earth over time, the 'Discovery News' reported. GRACE does this by detecting subtle increases and 
decreases in gravity, which is directly related to the mass below the two orbiting GRACE satellites. 
    Roughly, 200 million tonnes of ice is the amount needed to fill enough railroad coal cars to encircle the Earth. Princeton University researcher Chris Harig and Frederik Simons applied a new method to analysing the GRACE data. They found that during 2003 and 2004, mass loss was centred along the eastern coast of Greenland. 
    From 2005 to 2006, mass loss dropped in the northeast but rose in the southeast. Meanwhile, more mass was lost along the northwest coast, especially from 2007-2010. 
    "The study confirms what we already knew," says Eric Rignot, an Earth systems science professor at UCI and scientist at Nasa's jet propulsion lab. "The authors use a new decomposition, but the sources of error and corrections are essentially the same as for other studies," said Harig. PTI



Kitchen sponge is dirtiest item at home

DETHRONING TOILET SEAT



London: The toilet seat is believed to be the dirtiest item in the average household, but scientists say the filthiest culprit in your house is the kitchen sponge. 
    Dr Chuck Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, studied how diseases are transferred through the environment. This involves swabbing household items and measuring how many bacteria — and what sort — develop. 
    In his studies, he particu
larly looked for faecal bacteria such as E.coli and staphylococcus aureus, BBC News reported. He found that on the average toilet seat there are 50 bacteria per square inch. 
    "It's one of the cleanest things you'll run across in terms of micro-organisms. It's our gold standard — there are not many things cleaner than a toilet seat when it comes to germs," he said. 
    People should be more worried about other household items, it seems. 

    "Usually there are about 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat," he said. 
    In the kitchen it doesn't necessarily get there through actual contact with faeces. It comes via raw meat products or the viscera from inside of the animal, where a lot of the faecal bacteria originate. 
    The filthiest culprit in homes is the kitchen sponge or cloth. According to Gerba, there are about 10 million bacteria per square inch on a 
sponge, and a million on a dishcloth. In other words, a kitchen sponge is 200,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat, and a dishcloth is 20,000 times dirtier. This is the same the world over, the report said. 
    "Always the dirtiest thing by far is the kitchen sponge," said John Oxford, professor of virology at the University of London and chair of the Hygiene Council — an international body that compares hygiene standards across the world. PTI


‘RESPIRATORY CASES RISE’


Mumbaikars under the weather as winter sets in



Mumbai:The chill in the last two dayshas left Mumbaikars breathless and wheezing. 
    The temperatures in Santa Cruz soared to 17.4 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, about three degrees more than the recorded minimum temperatures on Monday. The minimum temperature in Colaba was 22 degrees Celsius. However, during the afternoon the mercury 

climbed to 33.5 degrees and 33.3 degrees in Colaba and Santa Cruz. 
    According to doctors, the swing in temperature is causing havoc on respiratory tracts. "There is a paradoxical situation with the weather, which is causing more of throat infections than anything else," said Dr Hemant Thacker, who consults in Jaslok and Breach Candy hospitals. "More patients are coming
with wheezing and dry cough. They do not get any phlegm, which is even worse as there is no relief from the bouts of cough until the infection is gone. I have seen about 10 cases daily since the temperature started dipping from Saturday," he added. 
    While many doctors claim that the infections are allergic reaction to a thick layer of smog in the morning, others believe that most are cases of viral infections. "We are seeing a 
40-60% increase in the number of OPD patients suffering from respiratory problems," said Dr Shahid Barmare, physician with Kohinoor Hospital at Kurla. 
    Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital said there was a lull in the cases of respiratory problems last week. "Smokers and those with existing problems are having trouble during the morning and night," he said.

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Indian woman dies of abortion every 2 hrs

New Delhi: India, where a woman dies of unsafe abortion every two hours, may soon allow abortion services in its 25,000 primary health centres, which are the first points of care for India's rural population. 

    The health ministry is also looking to allow "mid-level service providers" like staff nurses and ayurveda, unani and siddha (AYUSH) doctors to conduct safe abortions — thanks to the lack of MBBS doctors in the country's rural areas, who are the only ones allowed to conduct an abortion. 
    India has been quite vocal in expressing shock on Savita Halappanavar's death in Ireland. But India itself has a shamefully high death rate due to unsafe abortions or lack of availability of abortion services. 
    National Rural Health Mission chief Anuradha Gupta said abortion-related deaths contribute to 8% (approximately 4,600 deaths annually) of all maternal deaths in India. Experts say even as India protests to Ireland around Savita's death, it is actually among the 11 countries responsible for 65% of all maternal deaths globally resulting from unsafe abortions. 
    "Savita's death is one among 358,000 maternal deaths annually (based on 2008 WHO 
data) around the globe. Since she died, more than 1,000 other women have also died every day, due to the combination of obstetric complications and inadequate, inappropriate or no treatment," an expert said. A committee was constituted to draft recommendations to The MTP Act in 2006. A number of meetings were held till 2010 to finalize the amendments with the primary focus of allowing nurses and AYUSH doctors to carry out abortions. 
    "In India alone, 286 women died due to unsafe abortions or not have having access to abortion services in the past 22 days following Savita's death. The committee looking at amending the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act hasn't met since 2010," an expert on maternal health said.



Mumbai City shivers on second coldest Nov day in 10 yrs

Mumbai: The city recorded its second lowest November temperature in a decade on Monday as the mercury dropped to 14.6 degrees Celsius. Between Sunday night and Monday morning, Santa Cruz registered 14.6 degrees, while it was 21 degrees in Colaba. According to Met officials, the chilly weather is expected to continue for at least another day. 

    The lowest November temperature of the decade was recorded on November 26, 2007, when the mercury dipped to 14.4 degrees Celsius. However, the lowest ever temperature witnessed in the month was 13.3 degrees on November 19, 1950. 
    The weather bureau has attributed the chill to winds blowing in from the north and the northeast. Indian Meteorological Department official Ajay Kumar said, "There is a western disturbance which is affecting J&K. This has caused snowfall 
there. Thus, the chill in the northern areas is being carried to the state by winds." 
    It was not just Mumbai that shivered, severe cold wave conditions prevailed in a number of places across the state. In fact, Pune recorded its lowest November temperature in 48 years with the mercury plummeting to 7.9 degrees on Monday, six degrees below normal. At 7.4 degrees Celsius, Ahmednagar registered not only the state's lowest minimum temperature but also the lowest temperature in the plains across the country. 
City sees rise in day temperatures 
Mumbai: The temperature in Mumbai, which witnessed its second coldest November day on Monday, started dipping on Saturday when Santa Cruz recorded 19 degrees Celsius. On Sunday, the mercury plunged almost four degrees to 15.2 degrees. 
    While the minimum temperatures were on a downward swing, the day-time temperatures saw a rise from Sunday, increasing the difference in the day and night temperatures. On Monday, both Colaba and Santa Cruz recorded a maximum of 33.2 degrees. While Colaba saw a 12.2 degrees Celsius difference in the day and night temperatures, it was 18.6 degrees in Santa Cruz. Coupled with very low humidity levels of 45% in Colaba and 46% in Santa Cruz in the evening, the day was remarkably cold.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cremation at Shivaji Park at 5-6pm today


Mumbai:Bal Thackeray's funeral will be performed on the Shivaji Park grounds between 5 and 6pm on Sunday. His body will be brought to the venue around 10am, and 5-6 lakh people are expected to visit in the course of the day. 
    While special BEST and state transport buses will ferry Thackeray's followers from within the city and outside to his last resting place, the average Mumbaikar will be left without taxis, autos and even fleet cabs as drivers-—some out of respect, others out of fear—have decided to stay off roads. Thus, access to railway stations and the airport— where prepaid booths will remain shut—will be severely curtailed. The railways, in view of the situation, have decided to cancel all megablocks, which means trains will run normally. 
    While visitors to the city are advised to arrange for their own modes of transport, residents should stock up on food or ration its use for the day as restaurants and bars, including those in five-star hotels, will remain closed till the evening. 

LAST JOURNEY 
7-7.30am | Body to leave Matoshree 9.30am | To be brought to Sena Bhavan for 20 min 10am | To reach Shivaji Park 5-6pm | Last rites and cremation on Shivaji Park grounds 
ROAD RESTRICTIONS 
    
In effect from 6am to 10pm 
    Shivaji Park periphery, in a radius till Ravindra Natya Mandir, to be closed to vehicles 
    Avoid roads leading to BKC, Dharavi and Mahim Causeway 
    North-and south-bound traffic to be shut on LJ Road between Mahim and Sayani Road junctions 
TRANSPORT 
Taxis & Autos: Will be off the road at least till night Many fleet cabs won't operate Airport: Prepaid counters to remain closed Buses: BEST to deploy extra buses from 7am Petrol Pumps: Will probably remain shut till the evening Trains: All mega blocks cancelled 
EXAMS, EVENTS, ENTERTAINMENT 
CA Exams: Postponed Restaurants and Bars: Including in five-star hotels, will be closed till Sunday evening Theatre, Cinema Halls: Shut on Sunday. Shows, concerts off

Saffron Loses Its Senapati:Bal Thackeray Called The Shots In Mumbai Like No One Has In Decades.

Jan 23, 1927- Nov 17, 2012


End Comes At 3.33pm After Long Ailment With His Brand Of Marathi Manoos-Hindutva-Rough & Ready Politics,  Both Feared And Loved, One Of India's Most Colourful, Charismatic & Controversial Leaders Leaves Behind A Divided Family And An Uncertain Legacy

TEAM TOI 


Mumbai: Bal Keshav Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena and one of Maharashtra's most iconic and divisive figures, died on Saturday after weeks of ill-health. Thackeray, 85, was seriously ill since Wednesday when his blood pressure plunged and he lost consciousness. 
    "He suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest today. We could not revive him despite 

our best efforts. He breathed his last at 3.33 pm," said pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar, who was the Sena chief's doctor for the last five years and was by his bedside till the end. In his last days, Thackeray received round-the-clock attention from a battery of Mumbai's best doctors. 
    Thackeray's body, wrapped in saffron and with his trademark dark glasses on, has been kept in a glass casket in a hall on the second floor of 'Matoshree', his residence in Bandra. It will be taken at 7 am on Sunday to Shivaji Park, where legions of supporters are expected to pay their last respects between 10am and 
5pm. A large stage is being erected on the sprawling grounds under the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Party leaders announced that the final rites will be held at 6pm at the Shivaji Park crematorium. 
    Thackeray is survived by sons Jaidev and Uddhav, who is executive president of the party. News of his demise was followed by an appeal from Uddhav to restive cadres, requesting them to maintain calm. However, the city of Mumbai and its suburbs had already begun shutting down in anticipation of trouble. 
    The post-Thackeray phase marks a new era in Maharashtra's politics and heightens speculation about the strategies the Sena would need to adopt in the absence of its principal crowd-puller. For over four decades, Thackeray had dominated the stage, courting controversy with a blend of regional chauvinism and cultural aggression, and punctuating it with biting, if often crude, humour through editorials in his mouthpiece Saamna. On the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Thackeray famously said, "If Shiv Sainiks have done it, I am proud of them." 
Thackeray ran Sena govt on remote control 
    Thackeray was the eldest son of writer-crusader K S Thackeray, also known as Prabodhankar, for he edited a periodical called Prabodhan (Renaissance). Beginning his career as a cartoonist in the 1950s, he plunged into a nascent statehood movement for Maharashtra. 
    The Sena, which began as an outfit that fought to secure employment opportunities for Maharashtrians in the 1960s, gradually turned into a mainstream party that tasted power for the first time when it swept Mumbai's local body polls in 1985. The use and threat of mob violence became a calling card. There were even whispers about a culture of extortion taking root. 
    But it was Thackeray's sons-of-thesoil agenda that altered the state's political culture and eroded the Congress base. Using aggression to demand job 
quotas for the working class Mumbaikar Marathi, he built a loyal constituency and acquired near-mythical stature. 
    The Sena acquired prominence on the national stage when it embraced Hindutva and aligned with the BJP, eventually winning the Maharashtra assembly polls in the charged atmosphere of the mid-90s. Thackeray's stature grew when he spurned public office and installed Manohar Joshi as CM, although he made it known that he would be the one in charge running the gov
ernment on "remote control". From film-makers to businessmen, Thackeray's approval was considered a must. 
    His predilection for rough-andready methods showed in the manner in which his government dealt with the Mumbai underworld. During the Sena-BJP regime, nearly 100 gangsters were gunned down in 'encounters' that were described by then home minister Gopinath Munde as 'necessary' to tackle the deteriorating law and order situation. 
    However, cases for hate speech registered against him in the wake of the 1992 Mumbai riots continued to dog him. He escaped prosecution due to the reluctance shown by successive governments, including the ones headed by the Congress, to grant sanction. But he was banned in 1999 by the EC from voting or contesting in any election for six years for violating the code by seeking votes in the name of religion and caste in a bypoll in Mumbai in 1987. 

Leaders to attend funeral 
ujarat CM Narendra Modi, MP CM Shivraj Chauhan, BJP's LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari and Arun Jaitley will be present for the funeral as will be NCP leader Sharad Pawar. They will be taken from Veer Sawarkar Marg, which will remain closed to traffic. TNN

FUTURE TENSE: Does Uddhav (52) have it in him to emerge out of his father's shadow and take centrestage? Or will 44-year-old cousin Raj (seen below at 'Matoshree' on Saturday evening) move into the driver's seat?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Your expensive brand could be a fake Scamtrepreneurs Have A Field Time, Peddling Goods Ranging From Electronics To Food

 It's a video that could sink the spirits of a certain Scotch company, which probably explains why it hasn't yet gone viral. The recording captures a crackdown in what is later learnt to be a shanty in Borivali, where plainclothes policemen raid the 'workshop' of a middle-aged man. The room is packed with empty cartons and labelled bottles of top-flight foreign liquor brands and full bottles of inferior grade Indian Made Foreign Liquor. Following the general disorder that attends such crackdowns is a priceless howto class, where the con artist somewhat grudgingly demonstrates how in under a minute, he is able to crack open the bottle's 'tamperproof' seal using nothing more than a 1.5-ft wooden box and an adapted wrench, empty an inferior liquor into the superior bottle and reseal it. Voila—the perfect body double. 
    The liquor company in the Highlands didn't drink to the con of course. They could scarcely believe that their millions worth of R&D could be so easily outclassed by a Mumbai-based bilker. The man belongs to that flourishing school for scoundrels of the kind who specialize in double-dealing, that is, slipping counterfeits into the retail market—a deception that is reportedly on the rise. 
    It's a known fact that virtually every product in plain view can be duplicated. From fashion brands to automobile parts, electronics, software, medicines, biscuits, cosmetics, and power tools, everything can be skilfully duplicated. Himanshu Roy, additional commissioner of police (crime), who won't commit to whether or not the black market in Mumbai has expanded, imputes its ineradicable nature to the simple demand-and-supply logic that drives business. "With a greater demand for cheaper goods, there's reason enough for people to put out fakes," 
he says. What has changed, he reveals, is the depth of penetration of these goods. "Earlier black markets in Mumbai were clearly defined; now fakes are mixed with genuine products and sold in shops in malls and so on," he says, referring to a raid the crime branch conducted last month at Orchid City Centre Mall at Nagpada. About 1,000 fake Samsung notebooks worth over Rs 1 crore were seized, Roy says. 
    If earlier fakes were sold at telltale discounts and largely in known black markets, now some of the high-quality fakes are palmed off in the organised market at a marginal markdown from the genuine product's maximum retail price so as to lend them an aspect of authenticity, says Zaheer Khan, CEO of EIPR (Enforcers of Intellectual Property Rights), a corporate security agency that specialises in anti-counterfeiting solutions. 
    "What's troubling is that it's no longer traditional black market bastions like Heera Panna or D 
N Road or Musafir Khana that stock the stuff—even authorised dealers sometimes mix fakes with original goods to earn a higher margin," Khan says. Earlier, knockoffs manufactured in Bangkok or China were smuggled in, now Indian 'scamtrepreneurs' have twigged the craft and don't only put out perfect facsimiles but often, ironically, also improve on the product's features. 
    This is why local businesses and MNCs are increasingly turning to outfits like Khan's to help preserve their brand equity and plug the loss of potential revenue. It's virtually impossible to estimate the projected losses that knockoffs cause mainstream industry, because for every one item seized, there are uncountable more that are successfully traded; it's something like Whac-
A-Mole, the arcade game. 
According to EIPR, which has a clientele spanning top brands across various sectors, a pointer to the prolificacy of the counterfeit business in India is the number of raids the company has conducted-—from 600 last year, to 1,000 in 10 months this year 

across the country. Last month, EIPR alerted the police to a counterfeit racket in Bhuleshwar, where duplicates of brands like Canon, HP, Samsung and Brother were seized from a shop in Moti Bhavan. While the (under)value of the seized good was Rs 12,19,290, the projected losses to the brands was upward of Rs 1 crore. 
    HR Shetty, president of Planet Power Tools, an Indian company with an annual turnover of Rs 80 crore, is on the lookout for an IPR agency to help plug an estimated leak of Rs 30 to 40 crore via counterfeit losses. "Fakes not only deprive owners of intellectual 
property rights their dues, they also rob the government of sales tax and excise duty," Shetty points out. 
It's not only about financial losses but also potential health hazards, as counterfeit food and food supplements, drugs and body care products brazenly circulate in the market. Industry sources claim that nearly half the inventory of 'wholesale beauty centres' in the city consists of counterfeits. (Your Boots shampoo has probably bubbled in a village vat and your Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo may have acquired its golden disposition in a Thane workshop). It's impossible to draw hard maps of the manufacturing hubs because their locations are changeable. 
Across the counter there are two types of customers—those who knowingly buy fakes and the suckers. In the case of the latter, it's often foolproof packaging—right down to a credible-looking barcode, hologram and other gobbledygook on the box—that does them in. Zaheer Khan says if firms were to publicly put out 'safety' instructions to customers to help them tell the real from the rogues, counterfeiters could just as well use that information. "This is why only security agencies are briefed about tips and tricks they ought to look out for," he says. 
Aspokesperson with a liquor brand says that stricter penalties and lower taxation may bring the beast to heel. "As for customers, they can destroy the packaging of products or make it difficult for counterfeiters (who often buy used bottles and cartons from recycling units and raddiwallahs) to acquire them intact," she says. Here's toasting to better vigilance then—watch out for that Scotch, though!



Govt pushes for docs’ bulletins on Thackeray health

City Calm After Uddhav Spoke On Thursday


Mumbai: A nudge by Mumbai police top brass prompted Shiv Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray late Thursday night to give a health update on his ailing father, party patriarch Bal Thackeray, and appeal to Sainiks to maintain peace in the city. 
    Uddhav's announcement had the desired effect on Friday as Mumbai crept back to normalcy. Autorickshaws and taxis returned to the roads, buses ran as normal and no incidents of violence were reported. All importantly, there was little of the uncertainty and anxiety that had permeated Mumbai on Thursday, impelling joint commissioner of police (crime) Hi
manshu Roy to speak to Uddhav to defuse the tension in the city. 
    The state government, it is learnt, believes the Thackerays should allow a medical doctor to issue regular health bulletins instead of having visitors make pronouncements on leaving Matoshree. On Friday, it was party members again—not doctors—who gave out news on Thackeray's condition.

Fewer cops were deployed outside Matoshree on Friday

NOV 25-DEC 10 Drive against gender violence, soon in city


Mumbai: According to a 2003 report by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (now UN Women), one in three women around the world would have suffered some form of gender-based violence in their lifetime—be it psychological, sexual or physical. It is to focus attention to this problem that the international body, Center for Women's Global 
Leadership, launched an initiative in 1991 called '16 Days of Activation Against Gender Violence Campaign'. Day 1, on November 25, coincides with International Day Against Violence Against Women, and Day 16, on December 10 falls on International Human Rights Day. 
    In Mumbai, the 16-day campaign has been taken up by Dharavi-based non-profit SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) 
which has named the outreach as 'Breaking the Silence On Violence'. The organization has put together a programme that takes the message across the city via art, theatre, workshops and discussions. 
    Dr Nayreen Daruwalla, director of the programme on Prevention of Violence against Women and Children, says her centre has handled 2,848 cases of gender-based violence between 2000 and 2012 and about 80% of those are related to domestic violence. According to the National FamilyHealth Survey (NFHS 3, 2005-2006), a quarter of all women living in Mumbai slums had experienced some form of abuse, most often perpetrated by their husbands. 
    However, the taboo associated with speaking out about abuse is gradually fading, an indication being the rise in the number of women who have approached SNEHA seeking help— from 78 in 2001 to over 500 in 2011. For details on the campaign visit www.snehamumbai.org 

Govt pushes for docs’ bulletins on Thackerayhealth

City Calm After Uddhav Spoke On Thursday


Mumbai: A nudge by Mumbai police top brass prompted Shiv Sena CEO Uddhav Thackeray late Thursday night to give a health update on his ailing father, party patriarch Bal Thackeray, and appeal to Sainiks to maintain peace in the city. 
    Uddhav's announcement had the desired effect on Friday as Mumbai crept back to normalcy. Autorickshaws and taxis returned to the roads, buses ran as normal and no incidents of violence were reported. All importantly, there was little of the uncertainty and anxiety that had permeated Mumbai on Thursday, impelling joint commissioner of police (crime) Hi
manshu Roy to speak to Uddhav to defuse the tension in the city. 
    The state government, it is learnt, believes the Thackerays should allow a medical doctor to issue regular health bulletins instead of having visitors make pronouncements on leaving Matoshree. On Friday, it was party members again—not doctors—who gave out news on Thackeray's condition.

Fewer cops were deployed outside Matoshree on Friday

Thursday, November 15, 2012

India lags in pictorial warnings on cigarettes It Stands 123 Among 198 Countries On Parameter

Mumbai: When it comes to pictorial warnings on tobacco packets, India ranks a low 123 among 198 countries surveyed on the warnings parameter. 

    While experts agree that pictorial warnings on tobacco packets is a proven strategy that deters people from smoking or chewing tobacco, the ground reality is that less than 40% of the display area on cigarette and tobacco packets is covered by the warnings in India. 
    This finding was part of the 'Cigarette Package Health Warnings: International Status Report', released at a recent WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) conference. India ranks 123 among the countries surveyed on the size and fulfillment of requirements for picture- based warnings on packets. 

    Under the FCTC, an international treaty signed and ratified by India, the countries are required to carry health warnings on all packages of tobacco products describing the harmful effects of tobacco use. The warnings "should be 50% or more of the principal display areas, but shall be no less than 30% of the display areas", and include pictorial warnings. 

    Dr Pankaj Chaturvedi, oncologist at Tata Memorial Hospital who has been working against cigarette and tobacco products, said pictorial warnings serve as a deterrent to a first-time user. "The tobacco industry has exploited loopholes in the pictorial warning notifications to subvert the law. While smokeless tobacco packets have gory pictorial warnings of mouth cancer, the picture quality is so bad that they become meaningless. Moreover, the cigarette industry chooses the least graphic warning—photo of a lung—that has literally no impact on a user's mind." 
    International guidelines under the FCTC recommend that warnings should be as large as is achievable, should include a rotating series of graphic pictures and should be on both the front and back 
of packages. Examples of pictures that appear on packages include a diseased lung or mouth, a patient in a hospital bed and a child exposed to secondhand smoke. 
    However, the written warnings may not help much in compelling smokers to quit, say doctors. "Nearly 20-25% of Indian children are users of tobacco and nearly one-third users in India are illiterate," said Chaturvedi. "They cannot read the warning printed in Hindi or English. Pictorial warnings work better for them," he added. 
    "Considering that Australia has passed a law that mandates plain packaging of cigarettes packs to discourage branding, we still have a long way to go to get the message across to a user," said Surabhi Shastri of 'Smokefree Mumbai' campaign. 

AT THE FAG END 

    Australia, ranked first in the report, now has the largest warnings in the world at 82.5% of the package front and back (75% front, 90% back) surpassing Uruguay, previous holder of the title 
    Australia has also implemented plain packaging 
to prohibit tobacco company colours, logos and design elements on the brand part of the package, and to standardize the shape and format of the package 
    In India, only 40% of the tobacco and cigarette packets are covered with warnings. While tobacco packets have pictures of mouth cancer with 
low picture quality, cigarette packets continue to display a picture of lungs, which makes no impact on users 
    47 countries and territories have warnings covering at least 50% of the package front and back, up from 32 in 2010 and 24 in 2008 
    18 countries have warnings covering more than 50% of the package front and back

Thackeray remains critical, keeps city’s heart pounding

Security Beefed Up After Stone-Pelting & Near Shutdown


Mumbai: Sporadic updates on Bal Thackeray's deteriorating health kept Mumbai on tenterhooks all through Wednesday night and Thursday even as hundreds of Shiv Sena supporters began arriving from various parts of the state to keep a vigil outside his residence in Bandra. CM Prithviraj Chavan reviewed security arrangements and the Centre deployed paramilitary forces for a contingency plan. 
    Around 11pm on Thursday, Uddhav Thackeray, Sena CEO and Bal Thackeray's son, came out of Matoshree, the Thackeray residence, accompanied by son Aditya and told supporters his father is recovering and "we will leave no stone unturned to bring him back. There is power in prayers and he needs your prayers". He asked them to remain calm. 
    Earlier, sporadic incidents of stone-throwing and vandalism were reported from some areas, but the police were quick to round up suspects and douse the tension. However, most autos and taxis stayed off the roads, leaving commuters stranded, especially in the Sena's pocketboroughs in 
Bandra, Vile Parle, Dadar, Matunga and Bhandup. Taxis refused to ply at the airports, inconveniencing fliers. Passengers also found it difficult to book fleet cabs. Four incidents of stonepelting at buses — two at Lalbaug, one at Andheri and the other at Sion — were reported. No one was injured. BEST operated 30% fewer buses than usual. 
    Shops and restaurants in the traditional Sena strongholds of Dadar, Parel and parts of Matunga and Mahim remained shut, partly on account of a holiday for Bhau Bheej, but as much due to apprehension that Sena cadres may turn violent in reaction to news of their 86-year-old leader's precarious condition. A pub in Andheri (W) was 
vandalized and its employees attacked allegedly by Sena activists on Wednesday night for not shutting down. 
    On Thursday morning, Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut sought to dispel some of the anxiety. He said Thackeray had been taken off life support systems. His condition was described as critical yet stable. 

TENSE 48 HOURS WEDNESDAY, NOV 14 
8.30pm | MNS chief Raj Thackeray reaches Matoshree, Bal Thackeray's residence 
9pm | News of Thackeray Sr's deteriorating health spreads 
10pm-midnight: Crowd builds up at Matoshree. Amitabh Bachchan and son visit, injured pushing through the crowd. Police beef up security at Kalanagar 
THURSDAY, NOV 15 
2am | Uddhav Thackeray addresses Sainiks, urges calm 
10.40am | Sena MP Sanjay Raut says Thackeray is responding to treatment. He is critical but stable 
3pm | Senior Sena leader Subhash Desai says Thackeray's health has improved since last night. He's off the life-support system 
11pm | Uddhav says Balasaheb is recovering, calls for prayers 

CITY ON TENTERHOOKS 
4 buses damaged in stone-pelting at Lalbaug (2), Jeevan Nagar in Andheri (1) and at Sion (1). No one injured Nearly 90% autos and taxis stayed off the roads in the morning Taxis refused to ply at airports, inconveniencing fliers Shops and petrol pumps in Sena bastions like Dadar, Parel, Andheri(E), Vile Parle, Mulund, Worli and other areas were shut 

    When I fought 
    for my life after 'Coolie' accident, he came to visit me in hospital, with a cartoon he had drawn—Yamraj defeated! God of Death, defeated by me. Wish I was as proficient a cartoonist as he, for tonight I would wish to draw that for him! 
Amitabh Bachchan | ACTOR 

We are hopeful. You be hopeful. Let's pray. 
Balasaheb has strong will power. We'll come out 
from the problem. Don't trust rumours. Make peace 
Uddhav Thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray and son Aditya address Sena supporters outside Matoshree, the Thackeray residence in Bandra, on Thursday night; (left) a deserted Sena Bhavan in Dadar


Monday, November 12, 2012

MENACE IN VENICE

High tides and heavy rain flooded Venice's dry streets, leaving tourist hotspots virtually deserted on Sunday. 

    Tourists chose to wade through the waters in boots, with one group donning swimwear to sit at a table in the iconic submerged St Mark's Square. The D aily M ail r e p o r ts th at heavy rains and seas whipped up by strong winds brought the lagoon city's high tide mark to its sixthhighest level since records began being kept 150 years ago in 1872.






Sunday, November 11, 2012

Climate change poses grave danger to city

Mumbai: Climate change and reckless development are leaving Mumbai increasingly vulnerable to the elements. A news report on an ongoing climate study places India's financial capital sixth in alist of 20 port cities worldwide that are at risk from severe 

storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds and rising seas. By 2070, according to the study, an estimated 11.4 million people and assets worth $1.6 trillion would be at peril in Mumbai due to climatic extremes. 
    The in-progress study, by 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reveals that many of the susceptible port cities are in Asia. In the news report's list—ranked by assets at risk—eight among the top 10 fall in the world's most populous continent. Poor planning increases climate risk to Mumbai Experts Seek Reduced Concretisation And Drainage System Revamp; BMC Says Work Is Underway On Storm Water Project 
    Climate change is putting millions of lives and assets worth billions in port cities at increasing risk, reveals a study by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Among the 20 port cities whose assets are in danger from climate extremes is Kolkata which, according to a news report, stands in the fourth spot. In the City of Joy, 14 million citizens and assets worth $2 trillion will be at peril by 2070. 
    Experts assert that rampant concretization in global cities is not only leading to fluctuations in temperatures worldwide but also causing shifts in microclimates. These changes together are likely to build up into disastrous scenarios by 2070, effecting excessive rainfall. In cities like Mumbai, where poor planning has left little space for water to percolate into the ground, the impact may be severe. 
    "A big portion of Mumbai is concretized and this is increasing. Solar radiation is absorbed by concrete, triggering urban heat island effect, where temperature within the city rises. The circulation of warm air from the city with cooler air currents from less urbanized areas can cause extreme weather conditions," says Subimal Ghosh, an associate professor in the civil engineering department of IIT-Bombay. 
    Ghosh had contributed to an OECD study in 2010 on flood risks, climate change and adaptation in Mumbai. That report predicts an increase in the intensity of the Asian summer monsoon. It foretells a 3.6 degrees Celsius increase in the mean temperature in Mumbai by 2070 or 2080. "This is the worst-case scenario. Even if not so high, the mean temperature will rise significantly. Another preliminary research by IIT
Bombay too shows that heat waves will be warmer by about 2degrees Celsius," Ghosh says. 
    According to the 2010 study, human heedlessness is as much a cause of Mumbai's susceptibility to flooding as its geographical location. The city's concretization has reduced the possibility of rainwater getting absorbed into earth and its high population density has put additional strain on the creakingly old drainage system. 
    "Large areas of reclaimed land are situated just above sea level and below high-tide level. 
This inhibits natural runoff of surface water and impacts the complex network of drains, rivers, creeks and ponds that channel water into the sea. During high tide, seawater can enter the system, preventing drainage and, in extreme cases, lead to salt water deluge. The city's drainage system is inadequate to cope with heavy rainfall and is impeded by urban encroachment," the 2010 study explains. 
    Rakesh Kumar, head of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, also warns that "with very tall build
ings around, sunlight will get blocked, causing humidity levels to rise, making the city a breeding ground for diseases". 
    The solution, most experts concur, lies in revamping the drainage system, among other steps. "We need to make sure that urbanization is allowed after careful planning and keeping in mind spatial distribution. Development needs to happen away from the city. Also, stronger weather forecast systems are needed and so are evacuation facilities for dwellers of low-lying areas," says Ghosh.




Climate change poses grave danger to MUMBAI city

Mumbai: Climate change and reckless development are leaving Mumbai increasingly vulnerable to the elements. A news report on an ongoing climate study places India's financial capital sixth in alist of 20 port cities worldwide that are at risk from severe 

storm-surge flooding, damage from high storm winds and rising seas. By 2070, according to the study, an estimated 11.4 million people and assets worth $1.6 trillion would be at peril in Mumbai due to climatic extremes. 
    The in-progress study, by 
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reveals that many of the susceptible port cities are in Asia. In the news report's list—ranked by assets at risk—eight among the top 10 fall in the world's most populous continent. Poor planning increases climate risk to Mumbai Experts Seek Reduced Concretisation And Drainage System Revamp; BMC Says Work Is Underway On Storm Water Project 
    Climate change is putting millions of lives and assets worth billions in port cities at increasing risk, reveals a study by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Among the 20 port cities whose assets are in danger from climate extremes is Kolkata which, according to a news report, stands in the fourth spot. In the City of Joy, 14 million citizens and assets worth $2 trillion will be at peril by 2070. 
    Experts assert that rampant concretization in global cities is not only leading to fluctuations in temperatures worldwide but also causing shifts in microclimates. These changes together are likely to build up into disastrous scenarios by 2070, effecting excessive rainfall. In cities like Mumbai, where poor planning has left little space for water to percolate into the ground, the impact may be severe. 
    "A big portion of Mumbai is concretized and this is increasing. Solar radiation is absorbed by concrete, triggering urban heat island effect, where temperature within the city rises. The circulation of warm air from the city with cooler air currents from less urbanized areas can cause extreme weather conditions," says Subimal Ghosh, an associate professor in the civil engineering department of IIT-Bombay. 
    Ghosh had contributed to an OECD study in 2010 on flood risks, climate change and adaptation in Mumbai. That report predicts an increase in the intensity of the Asian summer monsoon. It foretells a 3.6 degrees Celsius increase in the mean temperature in Mumbai by 2070 or 2080. "This is the worst-case scenario. Even if not so high, the mean temperature will rise significantly. Another preliminary research by IIT
Bombay too shows that heat waves will be warmer by about 2degrees Celsius," Ghosh says. 
    According to the 2010 study, human heedlessness is as much a cause of Mumbai's susceptibility to flooding as its geographical location. The city's concretization has reduced the possibility of rainwater getting absorbed into earth and its high population density has put additional strain on the creakingly old drainage system. 
    "Large areas of reclaimed land are situated just above sea level and below high-tide level. 
This inhibits natural runoff of surface water and impacts the complex network of drains, rivers, creeks and ponds that channel water into the sea. During high tide, seawater can enter the system, preventing drainage and, in extreme cases, lead to salt water deluge. The city's drainage system is inadequate to cope with heavy rainfall and is impeded by urban encroachment," the 2010 study explains. 
    Rakesh Kumar, head of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, also warns that "with very tall build
ings around, sunlight will get blocked, causing humidity levels to rise, making the city a breeding ground for diseases". 
    The solution, most experts concur, lies in revamping the drainage system, among other steps. "We need to make sure that urbanization is allowed after careful planning and keeping in mind spatial distribution. Development needs to happen away from the city. Also, stronger weather forecast systems are needed and so are evacuation facilities for dwellers of low-lying areas," says Ghosh.





Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bldgs can have only 2 cellphone towers: BMC

Mumbai: The BMC will not allow more than two cellphone towers to be installed on rooftops. 

    Currently, the civic body is finalizing a new policy after the Union department of telecommunication (DoT) issued guidelines on installation of the towers. While formulating the policy, the public concern over thehealth hazards will also be kept in mind. 
    Mumbai's cellphone usage is high and various service providers are vying to grab a major share in the market and want to instal towers on buildings to provide better connectivity. 
    The civic body also plans to have a special counsel to fight the case in the high court and to vacate the stay on taking any action on the illegal towers. 
    "Although we don't have our own machinery to check radiation levels, a new policy will soon be drafted to check the number of towers in Mumbai. We will not allow more than two towers on the top of a building." 
    The issue was raised by BJP corporator Vinod Shelar who said Mumbaikars were facing grave danger due to rising cellphone tower radiation astheBMChad not prepared any guidelines. 
    "At certain places, five to six towers have been set up on terraces," Shelar said. 
    "An increase in cellphone towers has seen rise in diseases like cancer, brain tumour, high blood pressure and heart ailments. The proportion of birds has also reduced considerably in Mumbai," he added. 
    Several mobile companies are violating the proposed transmission levels of 600 microwatt proposed by the International Commis
sion of Non-Iodised Radiation, claimed Shelar. 
    According to BMC officials, the onus is on the DoT's term cell to scrutinize the radiation levels. "In some cases wherethe radiation levels are high, BMC officials can register cases on the DoT helpline," Gupta added 

HEADING FOR TROUBLE 

    According to the BMC, there are 3,489 cellphone towers in Mumbai. Of these 1,628 (47%) are illegal 
    Over 500 towers have been installed without the civic body's nod in Bandra, Santa Cruz , Vile Parle, Andheri and Jogeshwari. K-East ward (eastern side of Vile Parle, Andheri and Jogeshwari) has 261 illegal towers 
    D ward (Malabar Hill, Nana Chowk) has 138 unauthorized ones 
    Mumbai's cellphone usage is high and various service providers are vying to grab a major share in the market and want to instal towers on buildings to provide better connectivity 
    Mobile companies violated the proposed transmission levels of 600 microwatt proposed by the International Commission of Non-Iodised Radiation, claimed a corporator


Thursday, November 8, 2012

While CR slept, commuter saved the day Rlys Did Not Issue Any Info About Crisis

 It was a commuter who alerted the BMC about the disaster that visited Central Railway (CR) on Wednesday evening. Only when his call came—a few minutes after 6pm—did the municipality learn that half an hour before, services on both of CR's lines had stopped. 

    Mahesh Narvekar, the chief officer of BMC's disaster management cell, said that had the civic body been infor med immediately about the disruption, it would have ensured that people stopped going to CST, thus preventing crowding at the station. 
    But the railways said on Thursday that an incident like a pantograph fault did not amount to a disaster and so it did not deem it important to inform the BMC. 
    CR's chief public relations officer V A Malegaonkar said, "Disaster in the context of the railways is a serious train accident caused by human/equipment failure. It includes severe disruption that may affect normal movement of train services, with loss of life or grievous injury to passengers." 
    He said services were restored within an hour of the pantograph incident. "Moreover, services kept running between Dadar and Karjat/Kasara, and Vadala and Panvel/Andheri during the affected period. Also, no long-distance trains were cancelled or delayed because of the incident." 
    Commuters responded to what they called the railways' callousness angrily. Kalyan resident Anjali Joshi, who is generally home by 7.30pm but on Wednesday reached at 10.30pm, said, "After a long day at work, I need to travel 90 minutes by train to reach my destination, fetch my children from the crèche, help them with their studies, cook the evening meal and get things ready for the next day so that I am not late for work. 
    "During a crisis, unless I am informed on phone and on time, how am I supposed to act?" 

INCIDENT ON TRACK 

5.37pm | Pantograph of CST-Dombivli fast local gets entangled with overhead wire as the train crosses Sandhurst Road 5.41pm | Two pantographs of Asangaon-bound local get entangled with overhead wire on the same track as the train pulls out of CST. CR said on Thursday the Dombivli local had disturbed the alignment of the wire 5.45pm | All trains on CR's main and harbour lines stop in the CST-Dadar and CSTWadala sections 6.53pm | The first two 
trains leave CST since the stoppage. One is for Panvel and the other for Dombivli, both slow locals 7.45pm | The rakes with entangled pantographs are cleared from the tracks 8.15pm | Services on fast track resume 
OVERALL EFFECT 160 services cancelled 
TAKING STOCK | CR has denied that pantograph design was responsible for the entanglements. It has said it will inspect overhead equipment to identify vulnerable spots 
    Text: Manthan K Mehta 

    EFFECTS OFF TRACK 
The BMC is the nodal agency for coordinating disaster relief. One of the reasons why commuters faced chaos on Wednesday was because it received information about CR's crisis half an hour late 

6.12pm | BMC receives a call on its hotline (108) from a person, who informs it of CR's breakdown 6.14pm | BMC calls up railway control room for confirmation. Told services would take 1-2 hours to be restored 6.18pm |Calls BEST to deploy additional buses at CST; 25 buses diverted to the spot6.20pm | Informs Mantralaya control room 
6.22pm | Calls up police control room, urging crowd control 6.28pm | Calls railways, learns that all six lines are shut 7.04pm | Calls railways, learns that slow services have resumed7.05pm | BEST informs deployment of 25 additional buses 9.23pm | BMC calls railways. Informed that fast services resumed at 9.18 pm Times View: Railways' disaster classification is absurd 
    In a city that has rail as its lifeline, lakhs of people getting stranded at stations during rush hour is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, it is absurd for the railways to say that only accidents can be termed disasters. Also, the state government cannot be absolved of negligence. Though a Wednesday-like crisis is not new to the city, it is only now that the government seems to have woken up to formulate transport and crowd management rules for railway emergencies. We hope the rules will be implemented, and not remain merely on paper.


Divorce damage goes on into kids’ adulthood

  Family breakdown is as devastating for today's children as it was when divorce was a source of social disgrace, a new report has warned. According to the study, even though divorce is no longer considered 'shameful' as it was until a decade ago, children of broken families continue to suffer destructive effects throughout their lives. The study found that the damage caused to a child by divorce continues to blight his or her life as far as old age. It said parental separation in childhood was consistently associated with psychological distress in adulthood. 

    "While divorce and separation have become more common, their impact on mental health has not reduced," the report said, adding that goodhealth depends on lifestyle conditions that it termed as 'social medicines'. Key among these is a stable family background. "Family life has undergone dramatic changes in recent years," said study researcher Professor Mel Bartley. "Families no longer have to have two parents, they can contain children from different parents, and parents no longer have to be of different genders. This has led to concerns about the impact of family stability on thehealth and well-being of both children and adults. Children whose parents remain married throughout their early childhood years are less likely to suffer from asthma and obesity than children who have experienced an unstable family situation," he added. 
    "Childhood separation appears to result in an increased risk of a less healthy stress response many years later in adulthood. People who suffer stresses such as parental divorce in childhood are at a higher risk of social and psychological problems later in their adult lives," the report added. ANI

Kids from broken families will suffer psychological problems in adulthood

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Noisy crackers release metal dust, play havoc with Mumbaikars’ health

SPARE OUR EARS

The next time you light a rocket or a sparkler, remember that some amount of metal is loaded on to firecrackers to produce the bright red, blue and yellow colours they give out. These metals are poisonous and banned under the Hazardous Chemicals Act as they can cause a host of problems for people with low immunity or those with chronic ailments. 

    Dr Amita Athavale, head of department of chest medicine at KEM Hospital, said, "Metals 
such as copper and cadmium are added in firecrackers to produce colours when they are lit. These metals settle on tree leaves and other surfaces in dust form. For a long time thereafter, they remain in the environment, are inhaled continuously and affect the respiratory tract of people — especially those who already suffer from some problems." 
    Many components of firecrackers — aluminium, sulphur dioxide, potassium nitrate and barium, for instance — can cause a string of health hazards ranging from headache and breathing difficulties to serious disorders following years of exposure. (See 'Lights, Sound, Chemical Reaction'). 
    Worse, noise from crackers — especially those with highvelocity — can cause hearing damage, said city doctors. Several cases of eardrum damage are so severe that they have to be operated upon. According to ENT specialists, firecrack
ers can cause three types of hearing loss — adaptation, temporary and permanent. "Most people feel numbness in the ears for a few seconds after very loud bombs are burst. But there are many who cannot hear properly for about 24 hours and a few for whom the loss is much more permanent," said Dr Vikas Agarwal, ENT surgeon at BSES Hospital in Andheri. 
    Several also end up with a buzzing noise in their ear 
which refuses to abate. "Pressure and noise from the crackers, especially from a long ladi (string of crackers) or a sutli bomb, can cause timmitor or a permanent buzzing sound," said Dr Nishit Shah, ENT surgeon at Bombay Hospital. 
    "I have had cases of people who have suffered holes in the eardrums because of a direct injury or a tear because of sound pressure. Such cases have to be operated upon and still may not regain hearing 
completely," he said. 
    Breathing disorders, too, skyrocket, especially among asthma patients. Madhav Sharma, therefore, celebrates Diwali in self-imposed solitude. The 81-year-old confines himself to his sixth-floor flat and shuts all doors and windows. On the other hand, Nandini Khare, a 79-year-old Mahim resident, will leave for her Panvel flat this weekend. Her doctor has asked her to be careful as she has only recently reco
vered from pneumonia. 
    Dr Athavale says avoiding exposure might not be possible. "We tell patients to increase medication and teach them 'early identification of symptoms'... People should understand their short-term celebration affects others in the long run. One can come up with innovative ideas such as laser shows or community celebrations with fewer crackers rather than gifting trouble to others with fireworks.'' 

LIGHTS, SOUND, CHEMICAL REACTION 
TYPES OF FIRECRACKERS AND THEIR COMPOSITION 
    BOMBS 
These include atom bombs, sutli bombs and even a chain or a string of a thousand crackers 
Chemicals A black powder, also known as gun powder, which contains charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate. A tight paper tube with a fuse is used to light the powder 

Metal A composition used in a firecracker might have aluminum instead of or in addition to charcoal to brighten the explosion 
AERIAL FIREWORKSThese include all types of rockets or those that shoot up in the air and then explode 
Chemicals 
These, too, contain the black powder which includes charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate 
Metal 
Aluminium 

SPARKLERS 
These include all fireworks that burn up to a minute and produce extremely bright and showery light such as anar, chakri and sparklers 
Chemicals These include charcoal, sulphur, aluminum perchlorate or barium nitrate. A variety of chemicals are added to produce vibrant colours 
Metals Iron or steel powder. Also, it is very common for fireworks to contain aluminum zinc or magnesium dust to create bright, shimmering sparks 

HEALTH HAZARDS OF CHEMICALS AND METALS PRESENT IN FIRECRACKERS 

ALUMINIUM High levels could cause toxicity. People with kidney problems and older people are more vulnerable Effects: It can cause skeletal and neuromuscular problems, apart 

    from weakness, bone 
    pain, digestive problems, 
    confusion, headache, 
    heartburn, emotional instability, disturbed sleep 
SULPHUR DIOXIDE 
Exposure to very high levels can be life-threatening 
Effects It can cause heart, eye, hearing, liver and kidney damage, stomach disorder, suffocation and disturb blood circulation 
POTASSIUM NITRATE 

It can irritate respiratory track 
Effects It can cause shortness of breath, gastric and stomach pain, dizziness, bloody diarrhea, convulsions, mental impairment, redness or itching of skin or eyes 
BARIUM Certain compounds like barium acetate are highly poisonous 
Effects Mild exposure can cause muscle fatigue or weakness, difficulty in breathing, blood pressure changes, facial numbness, gastrointestinal disorders, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps








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