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Monday, July 29, 2013

City’s dengue toll up 200%, cholera claims 9 in a year


Mumbai: There has been a 200% increase in deaths due to dengue in the city in the past five years, an NGO, Praja, said on Monday. Analyzing data collected from death certificates issued by the BMC, Praja said 74 people succumbed to complications arising out of dengue in 2012-2013 as against 24 in 2008-09.Figures released by Praja also revealed that cholera claimed nine lives in Mumbai in 2012-13. The BMC has disputed these figures.



Cong clear loser, but BJP still far from victory: Poll Regional Bosses Could Emerge As Major Force

   We could end up with a Lok Sabha in which, for the first time, the single largest party has less than one-fourth of the 543 seats and no front has even a third. That is what would happen if elections were held now, according to a Times Now-CVoter opinion poll. It projects that the NDA would win 156 seats with the BJP getting 131 of them, while the UPA would win 136 with the Congress pegged at 119. 

    The poll estimated that the 'Third Front', which includes the Left, SP, RJD, TDP, BJD and some other regional parties, would win 129 seats and the 'Fourth Front', including the BSP, Trinamool Congress and AIADMK, would win 122. In short, there could be a fairly even four-way split, though the Third and Fourth Fronts are not really firmly established, at least as of now, and others 
may also morph in the coming months. 
Poll gives Sena-BJP 26 seats, 17 to Cong-NCP in Maharashtra 
    If the predictions of the Times Now-C Voter opinion poll come true, the SP, BSP, Left, AIADMK and Trinamool would each have between 22 and 33 seats, possibly giving them a crucial role in the formation of the next government in New Delhi. 
    With the two big national parties put together not winning even half of the seats, the regional bosses would really be able to call the shots in such a scenario. 
    Among the bigger states, the poll projects SP and BSP between them winning threefourths of the 80 seats in UP, with the SP picking up 33 and the BSP 27. The Congress, which won 21 seats in the state in 2009, is projected to win just five in 2014 and the BJP is estimated to gain just a couple of seats to get 12. 
    In Maharashtra, it's advantage NDA and bad news for Sharad Pawar's NCP, if the poll has got it right. It estimates that the Shiv Sena will win 15 seats of the state's 48 seats and the BJP 11, the same as the Congress. The NCP is projected to get just 6 seats, Raj Thackeray's MNS opening its account with 3. 
    In Andhra Pradesh, a state in which the Congress won 33 of the 42 seats in 2009, the CVoter poll projects it will win a mere 7. Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress, a party that didn't exist in 2009, is estimated to win 14 seats and the Telengana Rashtra Samiti 11, leaving just 7 for Chandrababu Naidu's TDP. Of course, the AP numbers could change dramatically once the formation of Telangana is announced, as expected soon. 
    In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee will continue to fly high despite her alliance with the Congress having broken up since the last elections. The poll projects that the Trinamool Congress will win 22 of the state's 42 seats and the Left will win 17, a gain of two seats for each of them, while the Congress tally will drop from 6 to 2. In Bihar, the break-up between Nitish Kumar's JD (U) and the BJP seems to be hurting the former more. In fact, the poll projects that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party in the state winning 14 of the 40 seats, Lalu Prasad's RJD coming a close second with 12 and JD(U) in third place at 11. 
    For the full report log on to www.times of india.com 





Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mumbai City reels under season’s heaviest rain in 24 hrs, Met says respite ahead

The city received this season's highest one-day rainfall between Tuesday and Wednesday. Mumbai received more than 200mm of rainfall within the 24-hour span. In fact, Colaba received about 10% of its annual average rainfall in a single day. 

    Between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, Colaba recorded 218.6mm, whereas Santa Cruz received 215.6mm. Colaba has already covered 78% of its annual average rainfall of 2,220mm. Santa Cruz on the other hand, has covered 73% of 2,598mm, its annual average. With more than two months of the monsoon remaining, the rainfall seems likely to exceed normal figures this year. 
    "Monsoon is a complicated global system which depends on parameters such as the jetstream effect or the Indian Ocean dipole effect. Sometimes even El Nino affects it negatively," said N Y Apte, deputy director-general of the Indian Meteorological Department, Mumbai. "If two-three of these parameters work favourably, the monsoon is normal in that particular year. If more param
eters work favourably, then the rainfall will be higher than normal," said Apte. 
    Mumbaikars got a relief when the heavy rainfall petered out to a light drizzle on Wednesday. Between morning and evening, Colaba had recorded only 14.6mm, while Santa Cruz had received 18.8mm of rainfall. Though a far cry from the meteorological department's warning, the city received some heavy showers in the morning. The department on Wednesday downgraded the rainfall warning. "Our forecast now says there will be heavy rainfall in a few places for the next 36 hours," said V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast, IMD, Mumbai. The department said though climatic conditions remain the same, they are not as potent as predict "The offshore trough stretching from the Gujarat coast to the Kerala coast and the pressure gradients on the western coast still persist. However, they are not as strong as we thought them to be on this side," said Rajeev. 
    "Now there will be heavy rainfall at the Gujarat side of the coast, while the city will see fewer spells," said Rajeev.

CRUSHED: A huge tree fell on three cars near MLA hostel at Churchgate



Season’s heaviest 24-hr rain spell throws city out of gear

Mumbai: The city received more than 200mm of rainfall between Tuesday and Wednesday, the season's highest in 24 hours. Colaba recorded 218.6mm and Santa Cruz 215.6mm. Wednesday's heavy rain turned into a drizzle later in the day, but only after water-logging caused several traffic snarls in the morning on the Western and Eastern Express highways, and forced cancellation of train services on all lines, Harbour being the worst-hit. Many schools and colleges were closed, and attendance in offices was low. TNN P 4 



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dead gene halts inflammation Researchers have identified a single gene that controls inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer

 Agene long presumed dead comes to life under the full moon of inflammation, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have found. 

    The discovery, described in a study to be published in eLife, may help explain how anti-inflammatory steroid drugs work. It also could someday lead to entirely new classes of anti-inflammatory treatments without some of steroids' damaging side effects. 
    Chronic inflammation plays a role in cancer and in autoimmune, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. 
WARNING SIGN 
When pathogens such as viruses or bacteria invade our body, the immune system reacts by producing a flurry of chemical signals that call specialized defender cells to the scene. This first line of defence is known as inflammation. "It is a necessary defence mechanism — you can't live without it," said Sourav Ghosh, lead author. 
To be effective against pathogens, yet prevent collateral damage from body's own defences, the immune system has to maintain just the right level of inflammation, explained Ghosh. 
    Vertebrates have two powerful lines of defence: a non-specific, or innate, immune response and the specific, or adaptive, immune response. In the non-specific response, the immune system 
throws a first wave of measures at the intruders, ing of aggressive destructive enzymes kamikaze-like neutrophils. don't know who the enemy you fire everywhere with eyes closed," Ghosh "But once you know, you shut this off and bring in cial ops so to speak." 
    This is specific immunity, ble of targeting pathogens cisely, while sparing microbes and cells belonging the body. "Once activated, has to be a mechanism that vents adaptive response going into overdrive," he 
PROTEIN S 
Two immune cells that used Protein S to communicate 'ceasefire' turned out to be the key players in mediating the immune response. The findings could help scientists develop treatments for inflammatory diseases by designing substitute for insufficient Protein S. According to Ghosh, patients with inflammatory bowel disease are 20 times more likely to develop colon cancer, underlining the significance of this study. 
    AGENCIES


Sit tight for 72 hours: Met Agencies concerned with disaster management, relief and rescue operations on high alert

The city woke up to a wet morning on Tuesday and was almost submerged as the day progressed. According to the authorities, the continuous spell of heavy rainfall will last till Friday. 

    Between 8.30 am and 8.30 pm, Santacruz recorded 142.2 mm of rainfall while Colaba received84.6mm.TheMetdepartmenthasissued a heavy rainfall warning for the next 72 hours, and police and BMC have asked residents to avoid long distance journeys. 
    Road traffic was first to get hit. As office goers headed out, Western Express Highway, Eastern Express Highway, SV Road, Link Road, LBS Marg, Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road and Barfiwala Junction—all major arterial roads—instantly got clogged with traffic. "It took me two hours and 45 minutes to reach Parel from Vile Parle," said Shekar Meshram, a chartered accountant. 
    The continuous showers that started at 1 am on Tuesday coincided with the high tide of 4.88 mat12.43pm.Trainservicestookabeatingwith services on the Harbour Line being suspended between Chunnabhati and Kurla from 2.15 pm and 5.09 pm and again between 6 pm and 6.27 pm. BEST operated 16 extra buses from Wadala and 13 extra buses from Kurla to aid Harbour Line passengers. 

    Suburban services on Central Railway's main line ran approximately 15-20 minutes behind schedule. Services between CST and Bandra/Andheri and the trans-harbour line were running on schedule. "At 7.15 p.m, 70 services onHarbourLineand28servicesonthemainline were cancelled," a railway official said. 
    "Any tide above 4.5 metres is unusually high and is a cause of concern, because combined with more than 65 mm rainfall in a day, it can result in water-logging in the low-lying areas," said BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte. He added that all agencies concerned with disaster management and relief and rescue operations have been put on high alert and people have beenwarnedagainstventuringoutdoors,unless absolutely essential. 
    The civic officials also blamed the Met department for not issuing the heavy rainfall alert inthemorning."Theforecastissuedtousat9am said frequent spells of shower or rain would occurwithoneortwoheavyspells.Theyissuedthe 'heavy to very heavy' rainfall warning only at 1 pm," said an official. 

    As per the civic body's automatic weather stations, the city received 91.24 mm, western suburbs 80.44 mm and eastern suburbs 96.76 mm average rainfall between 8 am and 6 pm. High tides coupled with heavy rain are expected to continue till Friday, with a 4.95 m high tide at 1.27 pm on Wednesday, high tide of 4.89 m at 2.10 pm on Thursday and a 4.71 m high tide at 2.53 pm on Friday. 

    "A huge amount of water accumulated near Kurla north end. Even the slow line between Sion and Kurla saw a steady rise in water levels throughtheafternoon.Servicesonmainlinebetween CST, Kalyan and beyond were almost 45 minutes to one hour late," a railway official said, adding that continuous announcements were being made for the convenience of the commuters. 
    IMD's Mumbai director V K Rajeev said, "Mumbai, Konkan, central Maharashtra and Marathwada will experience heavy to very heavy rains in the next 72 hours. We will review the warning every 12 hours." According to IMD, heavy rains means 7-14 cm and very heavy rains means 14-25 cm within a 24-hour rain cycle. IMD officials have also asked people to ignore any SMS warning of heavy floods in Mumbai, saying these were being circulated by rumourmongers. 

    As per BMC records, water-logging was reportedatHindmata,Sion,ElphinstoneRoad,Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, DN Nagar in Andheri (W), Andheri Subway, LBS marg in Mulund and Subhash Nagar in Chembur, among other areas. 
    The civic body's disaster control room received around 20 complaints of tree fall and two complaints of wall collapse. In the first incident, reported from Barfiwala Lane in Andheri (W), two teenagers were injured and admitted to Cooper hospital. They were reported to be in a stable condition.

SANTACRUZ


CST


PAREL


KHAR


SANTACRUZ

Heavy downpour coupled with high tide derails life in metro

Drenched Tuesday: Mumbaikars' Rain-Related Woes May Be Far From Over As Met Dept Predicts More Showers Today


    Mumbai was once again soaked and water-logged on Tuesday as incessant rains coincided with high tide. The city may not get a respite from the wet spell any time soon as the meteorological department has forecast heavy to very heavy rainfall over the next 60 hours. 
    Till 8.30pm on Tuesday, Colaba had recorded 84.6mm of rainfall whereas Santa Cruz 

got 142.2mm. Other areas in the city that received heavier rainfall in 12 hours included Bhan dup; it topped the list at 151.7mm. Wadala at 140.2 mm, Kurla 133.9mm, Dadar 132.9mm and Bandra 132.6mm followed closely. 

    The average rainfall received by the island city was 96mm in the 12-hour period. The eastern suburbs recorded 108mm whereas western suburbs received 88mm in the same period. What added to the woes as tide as high as 4.88 metres at 12:48pm, which led to water-logging. 
    Mumbai has already seen about 10 days of heavy to very heavy rainfall this season. 
    According to the Indian Meteorological Department, multiple climatic conditions have been contributing to the current spell of downpour. "In the past four days, there have been very strong pressure gradients over the west coast," said V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast at IMD, Mumbai. 
    The pressure gradient is a physical quantity that describes which direction and at what rate the pressure changes most rapidly around a particular location. "These pressure gradients have caused very strong westerly winds. Moreover, a low pressure area has formed over Bay of Bengal, which has further strengthened the westerly winds. The winds, in turn, are responsible for heavy rainfall in the region," said Rajeev. 
    According to the weather bureau, heavy rainfall is likely at a few places, while very heavy rainfall can be expected at isolated pl a ces over the Konkan and Goa region (including Greater Mumbai) in the next 60 hours. "Though we have given a heavy rainfall warning for the next 60 hours, we do keep revising the forecast every 12 hours," said Rajeev. 
    On Wednesday, Mumbaikars may face another round of water-logging. The tide levels are going to be 4.95-metre high at 1:27pm. If it rains heavily in the morning, low-lying areas may flood once again. 

Doppler radar on the blink for 4 hrs 
    
The Doppler weather radar remained non-operational on Tuesday afternoon for more than two hours due to "technical issues". This is the first monsoon since the radar was installed. 
    Civic officials manning the BMC's disaster control room said the web site that gives out realtime radar data remained offline for at least four hours. S G Kamble, director of the Doppler weather radar in IMD, admitted the radar was not functional between 2:30pm and 5pm, after which the defect was rectified. "During the time the radar was not functional, it wasn't giving any observations. But we have many other ways to get observations, based on which the weather can be predicted." 
    Before the radar, the met used satellite pictures and numerical weather prediction. The radar forecasts the height of clouds, direction, speed and intensity of rains. TNN


THAT SINKING FEELING, AGAIN

WATERLOGGING IN: Hindmata, Elphinstone Road, Worli, L B S Marg in Mulund, Vashi Naka, Deonar Colony, parts of Chembur, Chunabhatti, Juhu, Vile Parle (W), Jogeshwari, D N Nagar in Andheri, Andheri subway 

AFFECTED SERVICES: Trains: 70 cancellations on Harbour Line; Delays on Western Railway and CR Main line Roads: Snarls on Andheri-Kurla Road, both Eastern and Western Express Highways, S V Road, Dadar T T and Saki Vihar Road FORECAST FOR WEDNESDAY 
Intermittent showers are likely in the city and the suburbs. Heavy rainfall can be expected at a few places

VIHAR BECAME 4TH LAKE TO CROSS THE OVERFLOW MARK



Monday, July 22, 2013

SOFT TARGET A mobile can be hacked in 2 min via SMS


Outdated Tech Used In SIM Cards Renders Cellphones Vulnerable To Spying, Says Expert


Houston: Millions of mobile phones may be vulnerable to spying due to the use of an outdated 1970-era cryptography technique, according to a new research. The research, due to be presented at an upcoming Black Hat security conference in US, cites phones running the risk of their security being breached due to use of the old cryptography technique. 
    Cryptography allows communication to take place securely over a mobile network. 
    Karsten Nohl, an expert cryptographer with Security Research Labs, has found a way to trick mobile phones into granting access to the de
vice's location, SMS functions and allow changes to a person's voicemail number. 
    Nohl's presentation, "Rooting SIM cards," will take place at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on July 31. His research looked at a mobile phone's SIM (Subscriber Identification Module), the small card inserted into a device that ties it to a phone number and authenticates software updates and commands sent over-the-air from an operator. To ensure privacy and security, SIM cards use encryption when communicating with an operator, but the encryption stan
dards use vary widely. 
    Nohl's research found that many SIMs use a weak encryption standard dating from the 1970s called DES (Data Encryption Standard), according to a preview posted on his company's blog. DES has long been considered a weak form of encryption, and many mobile operators have upgraded now to more secure forms. It is relatively easy to discover the private key used to sign content encrypted with DES. In its experiment, Security Research Labs sent a binary code over SMS to a device using a SIM with DES. 
    Since the binary code 
wasn't properly cryptographically signed, it would not run on the device. But while rejecting the code, the phone's SIM makes a crucial mistake: it sends back over SMS an error code that carries its own encrypted 56-bit private key. 
    Owing to DES' weakness, it is also possible to decrypt the private key using known cracking techniques. 
    Security Research Labs did it in about two minutes on a regular computer with the help of a rainbow table, a mathematical chart that helps convert an encrypted private key or password hash into its original form faster. 

    With the private DES key in hand, it is then possible to "sign" malicious software updates with the key, and send those updates to the device. 
    The device believes the software comes from a legitimate source and then grants access to sensitive data. 
    Using the SIM's private key, an attacker could force the SIM to download Java applets, which are essentially very small programs that perform some function. Those applets would be "allowed to send SMS, change voicemail numbers, and query phone location among other things," the company wrote. PTI


Newborn twins in city die for want of ventilator, neonatal care

Mumbai: Premature twins born in a private nursing home in Ghatkopar and urgently requiring neonatal care, died days after they were turned away by the city's three biggest public hospitals for lack of ventilators. 

    Vijay Jaiswal (31), an autodriver, was advised by the nursing home to shift his twin daughters to a civic hospital as it lacked ICU facilities. Also, he 
couldn't afford a private hospital. He took the twins, born on June 13, to KEM, Sion and Wadia hospitals the same day, 
but was sent back saying there were no neo-natal ventilators available then. He got the babies back to the nursing home, where their condition worsened and they died on June 18. 
    Ironically, the BMC has been unable to buy new ventilators for its hospitals for over two years because of legal issues. 
'Most difficult five days of my life, watching my children die' 
Civic Hospitals Cite Lack Of Beds, Auto Driver Forced To Admit Twins To Private Clinic 

    A file on procurement of more neonatal ventilators for civic hospitals, pending with the BMC for over two years, has finally been expedited and all sanctions should 
be in place in a month. But it will be of no help for Vijay Jaiswal (31), an auto-rickshaw driver, whose newborn twins were turned away by three civic hospitals citing inadequate ventilators. The baby girls, later admitted to a private nursing home, died within five days. 
    The premature twins were born on June 13 at the Ghatkopar nursing home, which advised Jaiswal to take them to a government hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. The treating doctor at the nursing home, who refused to be named, said it did not have adequate intensive care facilities which the babies required. Jaiswal went to KEM, Sion and Wadia hospitals, only to bring the babies back to the nursing home as no neonatal ventilators were available at the civic hospitals. While the hospitals assured they would call him when the ventilators were available, he got a call from Parel's KEM Hospital when the babies died on June 18, informing him that only an incubator was available, but not a ventilator. "Those five days were the most difficult for me, to see the health of my children deteriorate and watch them die," said Jaiswal. 
    KEM Hospital's 37-bedded NICU has six invasive and an equal number of non-invasive ventilators. "KEM being a tertiary care centre, our warmer beds in the NICU are packed to capacity. Some days we even place two babies on one bed," said head of neonatology at KEM Hospital, Dr Ruchi Nanavati. Both KEM and Sion hospitals said there was no formal waiting list of babies for NICU beds. "Eight to 10 babies born in the hospital itself need NICU care and are always given preference. Besides, at least two to four babies are referred to the hospital from outside on a daily basis," said head of neonatology at Sion Hospital, Dr Jayashree Mondkar. The hospital has 40 infant warmer beds with eight invasive and six non-invasive ventilators at their disposal. She suggested that hospitals in neighbouring municipal areas should strengthen their infrastructure. 
    Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party corporator, who gave financial aid to the family, said, "It is sad that people are being turned away from civic-run hospitals which have a huge budget. The BMC has been sitting on a number of files pertaining to medical equipment for at least three years now." A senior civic official said, "There has been a delay in procurement of certain equipment. But the backlog will be cleared by the end of this month." 

PENDING FILES 
    
Corporators and activists allege around 50 files on the purchase of medical equipment, including neo-natal ventilators, general ventilators, X-ray, ECG and ultrasound machines, are pending with the civic administration for over two years 

    The BMC admitted to the delay and has now shifted responsibility of following up on the files and procurement from doctors to the central purchase department. The department will have to bring a file for approval to the standing committee within six months 
Times View: A wake-up call 
    The exact cause for these two babies' death is not so important here. Far more relevant is the set of problems that have held up, specifically, the entry of more ventilators into the system and, more generally, the addition to the city's publichealth infrastructure in this critical sector. The deaths should serve as a wake-up call to the government to plan better and cut through red tape that holds up requisitioning of absolute essentials

Mamta Jaiswal (25) wife of auto driver Vijay (31), delivered premature twin girls in a Ghatkopar clinic


The nursing home lacked facilities essential for the twins and advised that they be taken to a civic hospital


Jaiswal took them to KEM, Sion and Wadia hospitals the same day, but found no neonatal beds vacant


He had no option but to bring his daughters back to the Ghatkopar clinic where on June 18, the twins died





City abortions up by alarming 61% in 3 yrs

Mumbai: The city has seen an alarming 61% rise in the number of abortion cases over the past three years, according to the BMC statistics received by the publichealth department. 

    The city recorded 27,256 abortions in 2012-13 against 16,977 abortions registered in 2010-11 (see box), reveals the BMC data on abortions conducted in public and private hospitals in its jurisdiction. 
    But government officials find nothing suspicious in this sudden rise in the numbers. They say it's an indication of a better working system. 
    "This rise has nothing to do with sex-determination cases," public health minister Suresh Shetty told TOI. Higher ab
ortion rates are often thought to indicate sex selection by couples; the logic is that they illegally find out the gender of the unborn foetus and, if it's a girl, opt for an abortion within the stipulated 20 weeks. Given the city's pathetic child sex ratio — only 874 girls are born for every 1,000 boys in the city as per Census 2011—such suspicion is not surprising. 'Increase in abortion rate shows better monitoring' 
Mumbai: According to public health minister Suresh Shetty, higher abortion rates are just an indicator of better monitoring. "After realising that there has been a significant drop in child sex ratio of Maharashtra, including in urban areas such as Mumbai, the state initiated stringent measures to control the issue,'' said thehealth minister. As a result, the state has better reporting of all pregnancies. "Hence, the rise in abortion cases in Mumbai is nothing but an outcome of better monitoring, surveillance and effective implementation of the rules," added Shetty. 
    The issue of curbing illegal abortion in the state was raised by Dr Sujit Michekar, Devendra Fadnavis, Pankaja Munde-Palve and other members of the legislative assembly during the question hour on Monday. 
    In his written reply, Shetty 
admitted to a rise in abortion cases in Mumbai. "Beginning from June 1, 2013, the BMC has formed 34 squads to visit sonography centres and check whether they are following MTP rules or violating them. The squad so far has served showcause notices to eight sonography centres for violating the rules," the minister mentioned in his written reply. 
    Dr Rekha Daver, who heads the gynaecology department of the state government-run JJ Hospital in Byculla, said that the state's mother-tracking system tracks every pregnant women. "The idea is to bring down maternal mortality (death during pregnancy) and to alleviate the health problems of pregnant women (such as anaemia, hypertension, etc)," she said. 
    But in the process, data is also collected on women who undergo spontaneous abortion or opt for voluntary termination of pregnancy. 
    "Any increase in abortion rates is just a reflection of the better tracking system using computers," she added. 
    Dr Nozer Sheriar of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India said that abortions have traditionally been underreported in India. "Any increase has to be because of better reporting of abortions," he added.

UK heatwave kills 760 in 9 days With Mercury Soaring Past 30°C, Met Predicts More Sweltering Days Ahead

London: A severe and prolonged heatwave is believed to have killed up to 760 people in England in the past nine days. 

    Temperatures in parts of the country reached as high as 32 degree celsius on Thursday, four degrees short of the government announcing a Level 4 alert marking a national emergency. Thursday was the sixth consecutive day with a recorded daytime temperature of over 30 degrees celsius marking Britain's longest heatwave in seven years. 
    Research by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has estimated the death toll for the first nine days of the heatwave at between 540 and 760 people in England alone. With high temperatures likely to remain till the end of next week, the number of heat-related deaths is expected to double. 

    A Level 3 heatwave alert means people should be aware of the actions to protect themselves from the possible health effects of hot weather, and social and healthcare services are advised to take specific actions that target highrisk groups. Ambulance ser
vices have already seen a 30% increase in past three days. 
    A Level 3 is triggered as soon as the Met Office confirms there is a 90% chance of heatwave conditions, when temperatures are high enough over threshold levels to have a significant effect on health on at least two consecutive days. 
    Following this latest Met Office alert, Public Health En
gland (PHE), an executive agency of UK's department of health, is continuing to remind people to be aware of the health risks of hot weather. "… try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, avoid physical exertion, wear light, loose fitting cotton clothes, drink plenty of cold drinks, if you have a health problem, keep medicines below 25 °C or in the refrigerator and never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals," it has said. 
    Dr Angie Bone, Heatwave Plan lead for PHE, said: "In this continued hot weather, it's important to remember that high temperatures can be dangerous, especially for yulnerable people like older people, young children and those with serious illnesses." 

    Professor Dame Sally C Davies, chief medical officer in the department ofhealth, said: "Although it seems we barely saw the sun last summer in England, last year's Climate Change Risk Assessment clearly indicated that we are increasingly likely to experience summer temperatures that may be harmful to health. For example the temperatures reached in 2003 are likely to be a 'normal' summer by 2040, and indeed globally, countries are already experiencing record temperatures." 
    Declaring a Level 4 alert indicates a major incident. The government will decide whether to go to Level 4 if there is a very severe heatwave that will last for a considerable period of time and will also affect transport, food and water, energy supplies and businesses as well as health and social-care services. 

    The hottest July temperature in Britain was 36.5°C, recorded in Surrey in 2006. The hottest ever in Britain was 38.5°C in Kent in 2003. July is also expected to become the driest July since records began in 1766 and may beat the record set in 1955 when only one inch (30mm) of rain fell. 
SCORCHING SUMMER 
It is the UK's first prolonged heatwave since 2006, with six consecutive days of temperatures above 30°C 
Wednesday was the hottest day of the year, with 32.2°C recorded at Hampton in south-west London 
The warm weather is set to continue into next week 
Met Office says the UK had seen 132 hours of sunshine between July 1 and July 15, which is 77% of the average sunshine for the whole month 
Firefighters report over 20 grass fires a day in London 
Millions of households in London have been urged to ration water



State bans flavoured supari and khaini Gutka, Pan Masala Stay On Ban List

 Taking off from its tough stand on gutka and pan masala, the Maharashtra government has banned the sale and manufacture of processed tobacco and flavoured betel nut (supari) in the state. 

    The administration issued a notification on July 18 extending for a year the ban on gutka and pan masala, which was first put in place last July. In the same notice, the state expanded the embargo. From now on, it will be a violation of rules to add khaini (flavoured tobacco), supari (processed betel nut) and maava or kharra (a mix of processed tobacco, betel nut and lime) to a paan. 
    "Tobacco products are injurious to health. The new 
ban is to curb the sale of these products," said minister of state for food and drug administration Satej Patil. 
    The ban, which would be 
in force for a year, does not apply to unprocessed betel nut and tobacco. This is so because the two are not "consumed in large quantity" in raw form, said food and drug administration commissioner Mahesh Zagade. 
    In 2004, the World Health Organization had classified 
areca or betel nut as carcinogenic to humans even without the addition of tobacco to it. "Tobacco can be made more attractive for a wider section of the population, including kids, by flavouring and scenting it or by mixing additives with it. Hence, the revised ban," Zagade said. 
    Asked about the availability of gutka and pan masala in the state despite the ban, Zagade said: "The department's aim is to have a complete ban on these products. We never claimed we have fully achieved the goal. But, certainly, our efforts have yielded good results." 
    According to the FDA, it has seized gutka and pan masala worth Rs 20.7 crore in the last one year. "Of the total, material worth Rs 13.5 crore was destroyed. The remaining is being destroyed," Patil said. "FIRs have been filed in 391 cases, and 437 cases are in different courts in the state." 

INJURIOUS TO HEALTH 
Like tobacco, areca or betel nut is a psychostimulant, an addictive substance or carcinogen 
Betel nuts contain N-nitroso compounds that convert into alkaloids, which can cause cancer 
The World Health Organization classifies betel nut as a Group 1 human carcinogen 
Experts from Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, say there is sufficient evidence to show that sustained intake of betel nut increases risk of submucus fibrosis (precancerous oral lesion), cancers of oral cavity, pharynx and oesophagus 
Studies have shown a link between supari chewing and cancers of the liver, stomach and lung 
Its use is associated with diabetes, obesity, several metabolic disorders, causation of certain psychological disorders, hypertension and ischemic heart disease 
Its use also adversely affects reproductive health in women and foetus 

CHEW ON THIS 
STATE BAN Gutka and pan masala, flavoured and scented tobacco, scented supari, kharra and similar products 
MAX PENALTY Sale and manufacture of the banned products can attract up to 25,000 and life imprisonment





Very high tides, rain threaten city this wk

Mumbai: The BMC and the railways are gearing up to tackle a combination of heavy rainfall and unusually high tides this week. The sea is expected to rise above 4.5 metres for five consecutive days. Any tide above the 4.5-metre level combined with more than 

65mm rainfall in a day can result in water-logging in lowlying areas and throw the city out of joint. 
    The Pune-based IMD on Monday predicted heavy rainfall during the next 24 hours 
in Maharashtra, with the intensity expected to increase in parts of the Konkan region, including Mumbai, on Wednesay. Although the local Met office has not predicted heavy rainfall for the city in the next two days, officials cautioned that climatic conditions are prone to sudden change. 
    In June, the BMC couldn't deal with localized flooding as pumps installed at various places to drain away the water failed to function. Railway officials are also on alert as heavy rain could flood the tracks. CR has decided to suspend services if the water level is 100mm above rail level.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mid-day meal toll rises to 27. Was it deliberate poisoning?

Protests Break Out In Bihar's Saran District


Mashrakh (Saran): The Bihar mid-day meal tragedy worsened on Wednesday with the fatalities rising to 27 and suspicion mounting that the last meal eaten by the children may have been accidentally contaminated or, as Bihar's education minister claimed, deliberately spiked. 
    The Nitish Kumar government put the toll in what is turning into the country's worst mid-day meal tragedy at 22. But villagers said angry parents and relatives had buried at least 27 bodies in front of the government primary school, where the kids had eaten their 
meal on Tuesday. The residents of Dharmashati Gandaman village in Saran chose to bury the bodies near the school as a mark of protest. 
    According to the villagers, the 27 children buried did not include those who had died on their way to Patna. While four 
kids were declared brought dead at Patna Medical College & Hospital on Tuesday night, two died on Wednesday. 
    Education minister P K Shahi said traces of organic phosphorous had been found in the food served to the children. "It is a criminal case of 
poisoning," he said, alleging that the ingredients used had come from a store run by the school principal Meena Devi's husband Arjun Rai, whom he described as a member of a rival political party— the RJD. 
Did alerts on poor quality go unheard? 
    
Twelve districts of Bihar, including Saran where 27 children died, are among the country's 106 districts with poor performance in implementing the mid-day meal scheme. The monitoring institutions—Patna's A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies and Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia—had, in their last report to the HRD ministry, pointed out widespread mismanagement and flouting of norms. The HRD ministry sent the report to the state but sources said there was no reply yet. P 10 

One cook in hosp, another's kids dead 
    
Pano Devi, one of the two cooks at Dharmashati Gandaman Primary School, didn't turn up for work on Tuesday but her two children were among the 27 who died after eating the lunch of rice and soyabean curry. Manju, who received the supplies from the principal's residence and cooked that day, says "something went very wrong" and kids complained of giddiness as soon as they ate the curry. Manju, who too ate, is battling for her life in hospital, inconsolable and unable to fathom what went wrong. P 10 

A man grieves for his daughter who died after eating a mid-day meal at her school in Dharmashati Gandaman village in Saran district

Monday, July 15, 2013

City abortions up by alarming 61% in 3 yrs

Mumbai: The city has seen an alarming 61% rise in the number of abortion cases over the past three years, according to the BMC statistics received by the public health department. 

    The city recorded 27,256 abortions in 2012-13 against 16,977 abortions registered in 2010-11 (see box), reveals the BMC data on abortions conducted in public and private hospitals in its jurisdiction. 
    But government officials find nothing suspicious in this sudden rise in the numbers. They say it's an indication of a better working system. 
    "This rise has nothing to do with sex-determination cases," public health minister Suresh Shetty told TOI. Higher ab
ortion rates are often thought to indicate sex selection by couples; the logic is that they illegally find out the gender of the unborn foetus and, if it's a girl, opt for an abortion within the stipulated 20 weeks. Given the city's pathetic child sex ratio — only 874 girls are born for every 1,000 boys in the city as per Census 2011—such suspicion is not surprising. 'Increase in abortion rate shows better monitoring' 
Mumbai: According to public health minister Suresh Shetty, higher abortion rates are just an indicator of better monitoring. "After realising that there has been a significant drop in child sex ratio of Maharashtra, including in urban areas such as Mumbai, the state initiated stringent measures to control the issue,'' said the health minister. As a result, the state has better reporting of all pregnancies. "Hence, the rise in abortion cases in Mumbai is nothing but an outcome of better monitoring, surveillance and effective implementation of the rules," added Shetty. 
    The issue of curbing illegal abortion in the state was raised by Dr Sujit Michekar, Devendra Fadnavis, Pankaja Munde-Palve and other members of the legislative assembly during the question hour on Monday. 
    In his written reply, Shetty 
admitted to a rise in abortion cases in Mumbai. "Beginning from June 1, 2013, the BMC has formed 34 squads to visit sonography centres and check whether they are following MTP rules or violating them. The squad so far has served showcause notices to eight sonography centres for violating the rules," the minister mentioned in his written reply. 
    Dr Rekha Daver, who heads the gynaecology department of the state government-run JJ Hospital in Byculla, said that the state's mother-tracking system tracks every pregnant women. "The idea is to bring down maternal mortality (death during pregnancy) and to alleviate the health problems of pregnant women (such as anaemia, hypertension, etc)," she said. 
    But in the process, data is also collected on women who undergo spontaneous abortion or opt for voluntary termination of pregnancy. 
    "Any increase in abortion rates is just a reflection of the better tracking system using computers," she added. 
    Dr Nozer Sheriar of Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India said that abortions have traditionally been underreported in India. "Any increase has to be because of better reporting of abortions," he added.



Friday, July 12, 2013

TRACKING THE MONSOON BMC system to curb water contamination still dated


Mumbaikars Suffer As Unclean Water Causes Illnesses While Rain-Related Tragedies Drown Claims Of Preparedness


Mumbai: Most of the BMC's promised measures to curb rising water contamination over the pastfew years arestill totakeoff. 
    Two years ago, the civic body,for instance,had planned toexpand andupgradethe municipal laboratory in its GNorth (Dadar West) ward office.Thiswould allowfor more testsof water samples and quick generation of test reports. Currently, the lab can handle 500 samples a day and give resultswithin 48 hours.Onceupdated, the lab would be able to handle around 2,000 samples daily.The plan isstillon paper. 
    Similarly, it had decided to bring in modern methods to detect leakage and to fix them. So far, the BMC relies on the primitive 'sounding' method. Civic officials told TOI that they are in the process of obtaining modern technology to detectleakageunder theRs 350 crore water distribution improvement program (WDIP). This program should be place by 2013-end,theofficialssaid. 
    Tillitcomesin,though,the BMCwillcontinuetotakehelp of 'sounding mukadams'. Theseemployeesof theBMC's hydraulic department make rounds of the city with a "special gadget" called the "sounding rod". 
    To locate the exact point of the leakage, a mukadam tap 

the gadgeton the groundover a buried pipeline with his ear placed on the rod's other end. Vibration due to the leak is detectedby the rod andconverted into a specific sound, which tends to be continuous. This method can be used during nights asthereislittletraffic. 
    Theother so-called method involves repairing leaks that are visible. "Visible leaks that are pointed out, though, are not repaired for more than a week. This leads to wastage of water andincreaseschancesof contamination," said Crompton Texeria, a 65-year-old social activist from Kalina who has helped the BMC spot more than 1,000leaks. 
    Another announcement to map underground water lines using the geographic information system (GIS)has notstarted yet.Oncedone,theBMCwill be abletozeroin on theexactlocation and quality of a pipeline. This will help them undertake preventive measures before a linestartsleaking. 
    "There were a few issues that needed to be resolved before commencing on the GIS project. Most of the issues are sorted out and the project will begin soon," said a senior civic official. 
    Long-term measures such as replacement of pipes and building more tunnels instead of water mains will also help plug contamination caused duetotampering of pipelines. 
Times View: Plan early, deliver on promises he BMC cannot blame nature for water contamination, not in twenty-firstcentury Mumbai. The problems are age-old, the BMC knows what the problems are and has repeatedly promised to take corrective measures. Yet, again this year, it's the same litany of complaints pouring in from several parts of the city. Waking up to the issue now and trying to redress the immediate grievances just won't do. The civic body has to plan early and deliver on its promises so that there is some long-term solution to this problem.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Virulent dengue strain at work, 250 cases already reported in Mumbai Lethal Strain Affects 85% Of City Patients

Mumbai: As reasons behind dengue's increased incidence and severity continue to puzzle experts, the closest explanation seems to be the circulation of its virulent type DEN-2. It is one of the four virus types that cause dengue, and can be lethal when it combines with any of the other types to infect humans. 

    "In Mumbai, 85% of the dengue cases can be attributed to the DEN-2 type of the virus," said Dr Jayanti Shastri, incharge of the BMC's molecular diagnostic reference laboratory. Dengue has four types, commonly called DEN-1, 2, 3 and 4. "Literature suggest that if the primary infection is by DEN-2 and a secondary one by DEN-4, there is a likelihood of the patient suffering from dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, both deadly manifestations of the disease," said Shastri, also head of the microbiology department at the BYL Nair Hospital. 
    The additional director of the New Delhi-based National Vector Borne Disease Programme, Dr P K Sen, shared a similar observation. "In recent years, we have found DEN-1 to be the commonly circulating type but that seems to have shifted to 2 now. Even in Delhi, the serological studies have found type 2 to be more predominant," he said. At the national level, dengue cases had jumped 
to a whopping 50,222 last year, an almost 166% increase from 2011. 
    Mumbai, too, had recorded a 142% increase in dengue cases in 2012 when compared with the previous year. This year, one-third of the 727 dengue cases reported in the state were detected in the city. While, at the state level, 15 lives were lost to dengue this year, the city has not reported any fatalities. 
One death was reported from Mira Road on Thursday. 
    Experts say the types of dengue viruses in circulation keep shifting with one type gaining strength over the other, or at times, two or more types circulating together. Scientists from the National Institute of Virology, Pune, observed that while DEN-1 almost remained the same in 50 years, there has been a genotype shift in DEN-2, 
which also coincided with the disease becoming more severe. 
    Director of Haffkine Research Institute, Dr Abhay Chaudhary, said cross-infection or infections by two strains could be behind the severity of cases. Intensivist Dr Khusrav Bhajan, who consults with PD Hinduja Hospital, said, "We have treated over 10 cases, some very serious. People should not delay seeing a doctor," he said. 
MBMC notice to hospital on death The Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has issued a notice to the Bhaktivedanta hospital at Mira Road for failing to notify a dengue case after a patient died of the disease in the hospital on Wednesday. Vishwanath Sahu (42), a Mira Road resident who became the first victim of dengue this season, was not on the list of MBMC's list of suspected dengue patients did not have Sahu's name. The hospital authorities admitted they failed to notify the case due to miscommunication. The name of another patient being treated at Bhaktivedanta hospital for suspected dengue, Prasad Jadhav, has been notified to the municipality and his blood was sent for testing. 
Sandhya Nair | TNN


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Five killed as factory collapses in Bhiwandi The one-storey structure was weak and the developers were adding another floor to it

 Awarehouse housing a garment factory collapsed in BhiwandiearlyonThursday, killing five and injuring 24 others. The single-storey ShreeArihantcomplexwaslocatedin an area with many garment factories. So far, 36 people have been rescued while six are feared trapped under the debris. Sources blamed unplanned illegal construction, on the already weak structure, for the collapse. 

Thegarmentfactory,BigGarment Exports, had been operating on the first floor of the 90,000 sq ft structure since 2011. The building was constructed by the Arihant Developers in 2004. 
On Wednesday afternoon, owner of the factory, Prem Panjabi had visit
ed to inform the workers that they had to finish an order by Thursday morning. All 45 of the workers, therefore, were working on a double shift. Around 12.35 am, the building started shaking and the electricity went off. Then suddenly the front part of the building came crashing down. 
    Around 15 people who were at the back at the time of collapse escaped, while the rest were stuck inside. Around one-and-a-half hours later, the Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation and Thane Municipal Corporation started the rescue operation. 
    While the Fire department started the operation initially, National Disaster Response Force was also summoned, which took over at 3 am. 
    Teams of NDRF, Fire department and local police worked through the night to rescue people. Five people 
died, six are still missing and 10-12 sustained minor injuries. Four people, who were in a critical condition, were admitted to Thane civil hospital. Three among the deceased wereidentifiedasTajamulShaikhAnsari (28), Virendra Pandey and Munna Diwan. 
    Sources alleged the building was already weak, and the developer had startedaddinganewfloortoit.Thearea where the mishap took place falls under the Kalher Gram Panchayat. Sources in the panchayat said huge blocks of cement were lying on the second floor of the building, and incessantrainhadmountedpressureon the structure. They claimed they had issued notices to the developers regarding the same but they paid no heed to the warning. 
    "Initial investigation shows the building plan was improper. The pillars were weak, and the builder had 
constructed another unplanned pillar to help the structure stand," said DCP M K Bhosle from Bhiwandi. 
    Meanwhile,seniorcommanderof NDRF,SAAhmed,said,"Thebuilding started developing cracks at least at three places at the same time. As the structure is surrounded by other buildings on three sides, there was no way to access the people stuck inside. We had to climb the collapsed building vertically. The rescue operation could go on till Friday evening." 
    Six people— Arihant developers Sanjay and Hasmukh Dedia, contractors Munna and Mistry, architect of the building, and owner of the garment factory Prem Panjabi—have beenbookedbytheNarpolipoliceunder sections 337, 338, 304(A) and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). They includenegligencecausingdeathand culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

NDRF personnel look for survivors after puncturing the collapsed roof


An injured being taken for treatment


The front portion of Big Garment Exports, Bhiwandi, collapsed around 12.30 am. There were 45 workers inside the unit at the time

RAINCOAT FOR COLABA BUILDING




COVERED UP: Rabro House on Shahid Bhagat Singh Road in Colaba is covered in plastic in the midst of the monsoon. Mhada has stuck a 'dangerous structure' notice (seen above advertisement) on the cover

Killer pothole: 5L too little, too late?

Mumbai: Two days after a young scooterist died in a fall after hitting a pothole on a flyover, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation has promised that his family will get Rs 5 lakh as compensation. 

However, its reassurance did nothing to staunch questions on whether the measure was too little and too late. 
    The flyover on the Western Express Highway where civil engineer Umesh Shinde, 28, tripped on Tuesday night comes under the MSRDC's au
thority. It was built by contractor J Kumar Infra Projects and is under the five-year defect liability period. 
    The contractor is, therefore, duty-bound to pay Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased, said MSRDC managing director Bipin Shrimali.

The WE highway pothole that killed scooterist Umesh Shinde (28)

Monsoon’s 1st dengue death in Mira Road

Mumbai: Vishwanath Sahu, a42-year-old resident of Mira Road, became the first recorded victim of dengue in the city this monsoon. Sahu was admitted to hospital on June 30 with high fever. His death certificate said he died of dengue shock syndrome (DSS). 

    Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. Currently, 14 people are being treated in various 
hospitals in the area. 
    Meanwhile, in more bad news, 84 persons have succumbed to the H1N1 influenza, commonly known as swine flu, in the state till June this year. Last year, the flu had claimed 135 lives across Maharashtra. The majority of the fatalities are from Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scooterist hits pothole in Malad, dies

Mumbai: A 28-year-old scooterist lost his life after he was flung onto the road, unable to navigate a pothole on the Western Express Highway, at Malad (E), on Tuesday night. 

    Umesh Shinde, a civil engineer, was returning from work when the mishap occurred. The Kurar police admitted that the authorities should have filled up the pothole, but no FIR has been filed. 
    Shinde, who had tied the knot two months back, resided in Andheri (W) with his wife Tejashri, his parents and brother. Although he was wearing a helmet, he is believed to have died due to injuries to his abdomen and liver. 
2-ft pothole sealed scooterist's fate 
Mumbai: A civil engineer who lost his life after he was flung onto the road, unable to navigate a pothole on the Western Express Highway, was employed with a firm at Kandivli (E) for a year and used his Suzuki Access to commute. 
    Umesh Shinde (28) was riding down a flyover, opposite the Times of India building at Malad (E), when he hit the pothole on Tueday night. 
    "The scooter's wheel got stuck in the pothole, around 2 feet in diameter and nearly six inches deep, throwing Shinde to the ground. He landed with a thud and sustained internal injuries. He did not hurt his head as he was wearing a helmet. Traffic policemen on duty called for an autorickshaw. Other vehicles passing by also came to ahalt," said a police official. 
    Shinde was taken to Sai Sparsh Hospital in Malad. His father, Haribhau, who was informed by the police, felt Shinde should be taken to Cooper Hospital at Vile Parle, where he is employed at the post-mortem centre. When Shinde was taken to that hospital, doctors declared him dead. 
    Traffic police officials informed the police control room and the Kurar police recovered Shinde's helmet from the road. "Shinde did not bleed. He had a serious bruise on his abdomen. Doctors said he damaged the right side of his liver in the accident," a police official said. The scooter was towed to the police station and a case of accidental death was recorded. 
    Relatives said Tejashri was inconsolable. Shinde got married on May 6, aweek before his younger brother tied the knot. "Can you imagine a pothole taking away someone's life? How negligent can the authorities be?" a relative said. Officials of the MSRDC, 
which is in-charge of maintenance of the flyover, said they would comment 
about the mishap on Thursday. 
Times View: Crack the whip for these open death traps nce again the loss of an innocent life to a death trap on Mumbai's roads has exposed civic negligence in maintaining craters. Every year, thousands of these open death traps are left unfilled and unrepaired because of a clear nexus between contractors and officials. It is about time the government cracked whip and sent a clear message that enough is enough, and unrepaired potholes would not be tolerated resulting in strict action. Even if that means sending people responsible behind bars.



KILLER CRATER: The wheel of Shinde's scooter (top) got stuck in the pothole

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