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Monday, December 13, 2010

Fwd: Plants can slow global warming: Study

GREENBELT: A new NASA computer modeling effort has found that additional growth of plants and trees in a world with doubled atmospheric carbon dioxide levels would create a new negative feedback – a cooling effect – in the Earth's climate system that could work to reduce future global warming.

Plants can slow global warming: Study

A new NASA modeling effort found that in a doubled-carbon dioxide world plant growth could lessen global warming by about 0.3 degrees C globally.

The cooling effect would be -0.3 degrees Celsius (C) (-0.5 Fahrenheit (F)) globally and -0.6 degrees C (-1.1 F) over land, compared to simulations where the feedback was not included, said Lahouari Bounoua, of Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Bounoua is lead author on a paper detailing the results that will be published Dec. 7 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Without the negative feedback included, the model found a warming of 1.94 degrees C globally when carbon dioxide was doubled.

Bounoua stressed that while the model's results showed a negative feedback, it is not a strong enough response to alter the global warming trend that is expected. In fact, the present work is an example of how, over time, scientists will create more sophisticated models that will chip away at the uncertainty range of climate change and allow more accurate projections of future climate.

"This feedback slows but does not alleviate the projected warming," Bounoua said.

To date, only some models that predict how the planet would respond to a doubling of carbon dioxide have allowed for vegetation to grow as a response to higher carbon dioxide levels and associated increases in temperatures and precipitation.

Of those that have attempted to model this feedback, this new effort differs in that it incorporates a specific response in plants to higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. When there is more carbon dioxide available, plants are able to use less water yet maintain previous levels of photosynthesis.

The process is called "down-regulation." This more efficient use of water and nutrients has been observed in experimental studies and can ultimately lead to increased leaf growth. The ability to increase leaf growth due to changes in photosynthetic activity was also included in the model. The authors postulate that the greater leaf growth would increase evapotranspiration on a global scale and create an additional cooling effect.

"This is what is completely new," said Bounoua, referring to the incorporation of down-regulation and changed leaf growth into the model. "What we did is improve plants' physiological response in the model by including down-regulation. The end result is a stronger feedback than previously thought."

The modeling approach also investigated how stimulation of plant growth in a world with doubled carbon dioxide levels would be fueled by warmer temperatures, increased precipitation in some regions and plants' more efficient use of water due to carbon dioxide being more readily available in the atmosphere.

Previous climate models have included these aspects but not down-regulation. The models without down-regulation projected little to no cooling from vegetative growth.

Scientists agree that in a world where carbon dioxide has doubled - a standard basis for many global warming modeling simulations - temperature would increase from 2 to 4.5 degrees C (3.5 to 8.0 F). (The model used in this study found warming - without incorporating the plant feedback - on the low end of this range.)

The uncertainty in that range is mostly due to uncertainty about "feedbacks" - how different aspects of the Earth system will react to a warming world, and then how those changes will either amplify (positive feedback) or dampen (negative feedback) the overall warming.

An example of a positive feedback would be if warming temperatures caused forests to grow in the place of Arctic tundra. The darker surface of a forest canopy would absorb more solar radiation than the snowy tundra, which reflects more solar radiation. The greater absorption would amplify warming.

The vegetative feedback modeled in this research, in which increased plant growth would exert a cooling effect, is an example of a negative feedback. The feedback quantified in this study is a result of an interaction between all these aspects: carbon dioxide enrichment, a warming and moistening climate, plants' more efficient use of water, down-regulation and the ability for leaf growth.

This new paper is one of many steps toward gradually improving overall future climate projections, a process that involves better modeling of both warming and cooling feedbacks.

"As we learn more about how these systems react, we can learn more about how the climate will change," said co-author Forrest Hall, of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Goddard Space Flight Center. "Each year we get better and better. It's important to get these things right just as it's important to get the track of a hurricane right. We've got to get these models right, and improve our projections, so we'll know where to most effectively concentrate mitigation efforts."

The results presented here indicate that changes in the state of vegetation may already be playing a role in the continental water, energy and carbon budgets as atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, said Piers Sellers, a co-author from NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

"We're learning more and more about how our planet really works," Sellers said. "We have suspected for some time that the connection between vegetation photosynthesis and the surface energy balance could be a significant player in future climate. This study gives us an indication of the strength and sign of one of these biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks."

Source: NASA release

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Canadian Speed Controls

Canadian Speed Controls
Speed controls being used in    Canada .  How's this for effective speed control?


I don't know about you, but this would certainly slow me down!

People slow down and actually try to "straddle" the hole.   


This is an actual speed control device that is currently in use.

It is MUCH cheaper than speed cameras, radar guns, police officers, etc.


Pretty clever -- especially when they move them around every day.

Isn't art wonderful

  he only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Disaster Management Drill in Mumbai city in Dec

Mumbai: A seven-day drill to check the city's disasterpreparedness is
scheduled to be held in December with international experts assessing the
city's response to natural as well as manmade disasters.
   Dubbed the Mumbai Emergency Management Exercise (MEMEX 2010), the drill
will test preparedness at schools, public places and hospitals.
   At the local level, the BMC and the newly formed National Disaster
Authority will manage the drill. However, the entire operation, costing Rs 8
lakh, will be funded by the Unicef as well as the UNDP and Harvard
   Details of the drill were finalized at a meeting chaired by chief
secretary J P Dange on Tuesday. According to Mantralaya officials, the drill
will start with an emergency one at Shivaji Park in the first week of
   "We will hold emergency drills in schools and judge trauma response at
simulated disaster sites as well as hospitals. A tabletop workshop on
disaster management will also be held,'' an official said, adding that the
Kalina university campus as well as NMIMS in Andheri will also be venues for
the drill.
   This will be the third disaster drill to be organized in the city.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Canned Rasgullahs Have Micro-Organisms That Cause Diseases: Study


Bitter truth about sweet samrat

New Delhi: If you think canned rasgullahs are a better option than the khoyabased sweets you'll encounter this Diwali, think again. The mouth-watering sweet sold by big brands at high prices has been found to have micro-organisms that can cause diseases. Also, it has been found that most of the canned rasgullahs have a higher percentage of syrup than prescribed.
    It's claimed that in one of the cans weighing a kilogram, the drained weight of rasgullahs was found to be 179 grams only!

    The maximum drained weight was 367 grams for all brands tested.
    This has been revealed in tests conducted by Consumer Voice, an NGO supported by the ministry of consumer affairs.
    Eight popular brands of rasgullahs sold across the country were tested. They were checked for quality,
whether they were safe for
consumption or not and for sensory test properties.
However, officials of some of
these companies complained they were not con
tacted during testing.
    "Brands Bikano, Kaleva and MTR did not meet the requirement for bacterial count and failed the test. Brand K C Das also had the bacterial count near about the maximum limit (500 per gram),'' said Sishir Ghosh, head of the NGO. He said the samples were tested at a laboratory approved by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL).
    The microorganisms are responsible for many foodborne diseases.
    Traces of heavy metals, including lead and nickel, were also found in some brands of rasgullas. "Except for Ganguram's, all the brands showed a fat percentage lower than the
precribed limit.
    "The fat component adds richness of flavour, contributes to a smooth texture and as per national standards should be at least five per cent,'' said Ghosh.
    The tests showed that most of the canned rasgullahs con
tained a high amount of sugar syrup which is generally not used by the consumer.
    The drained weight of rasgullas ranged between 17.42 per cent and 34.63 percent of the net weight, which consumer activists say is a major nonconformity for most of the brands of this product and loss for consumers.
    "The drained weight was found to be lesser than what these companies claim. The consumers are cheated as the cans are filled with syrup,'' said another official of the consumer organisation.
    A Bikano Sweets spokesperson, who was not willing to be quoted, told TOI: "We cannot comment on the report without knowing the details.
Our products are up to mark.''
    A sales manager at Kaleva sweets at Gole Market said they maintained the best hygienic standards. "We are very careful about the quality. I do no know about the reports,'' he said. Officials of the other rasgulla brands could not be contacted despite efforts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boat capsizes in Bengal, 119 feared dead

Ghoramara Island: Pilgrims' progress turned into a tragedy when around 119 people returning to Kakdwip after prayers at East Midnapore's Hijli Sharif were feared drowned near Ghoramara Island in the Bay of Bengal.
    The overcrowded trawler, carrying 175-200 pilgrims, hit a sand bar near the island around noon on Saturday and capsized in the rough seas under the impact of waves that splashed it when a large ship sailed by. This is the second major boat tragedy in the state in two months. Around 20 people had died in a boat capsizal in the Sunderbans in September. Bodies of 15 women and three children were recovered from the trawler till late afternoon amid fears that the toll may go up. Fishermen rowed to the trawler and rescued 30 passengers who were admitted to Kakdwip hospital. Another 10 were rescued by locals.
    Although Coast Guard and South 24-Parganas police teams did lend a hand, the entire rescue was essentially done by locals who were forced to suspend operations after dark as they lacked searchlights. Union minister C M Jatua and South 24-Parganas zilla sabhadhipati Shamima Sheikh are camping at Kakdwip from where rescue teams will sail out on Sunday. The state government woke up late. Disaster management teams were sent only after 3 pm from East Midnapore and Kolkata. TNN

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Check out my photos on Facebook

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Can current travel through Flash light of camera to your body? yes it is 100% true.......5

With deep pains (and tears in my eyes), i am sorry to inform You that yesterday morning, one of my dear friend's elder son (Mr. Aditya Suresh Joshi), age 19, studying in 1st year of engineering, died in Keshvani Hospital, Mumbai. He was admitted in Keshavani Hospital as burned patient.


4 days back this boy had gone to Amravati (One of the district place located in State of Maharashtra) on study tour. After their study was over, he, his classmates & his teachers, all of them were standing on "Badnera" railway station to catch the train. "Badnera" is the name of the railway station for "Amravati" city.

As soon as they arrived on Badnera Railway station, many of them started taking pictures of their friends using "Mobile Phones" and/or "Digital Camera". One of them complained that, in his camera, he was not able to capture more number of friends in one frame. He was not able to catch the angle. Another boy suggested that let's climb on train boogie and take picture so that all of them can be accommodated in single frame.

At that there was one goods wagon (all of them were oil tankers) train resting between 2 main railway lines.

Kumar Aditya climbed up oil boogie. Above his head, 40,000 volts electrical line was passing through. As soon as he clicked the digital camera? 40,000 volt current passed through the camera flash light to his camera and then from his camera to his fingers and then from his fingers to his body. All this happened within fraction of minutes. Next moment he was thrown from the top. His body was half burned on the spot.

At that time, his father (my friend) was traveling in Bangkok. His many friends in Pune came to know about this via mobile SMS. They instantly arranged air ambulance in Amravati and his burned body was brought to Keshavani Hospital, Mumbai. i was told that this is the best hospital in Mumbai. For 1 and 1/2 day or so he was talking to his relatives. When he was admitted to the hospital, at that time only, doctor informed his relatives that don't keep great hopes. Because of lot of complex issues in half burned body? He died yesterday morning.

  • Now how many of us are aware about this technological threats & dangers? Honestly, Kumar Aditya and his father was not aware. His family was not aware. Our entire friend circle of more than 12,000, we were not aware. Now should we call ourselves as fully educated and fully knowledgeable people? Please Think of it.
  • Please avoid mobile phones on petrol outlets.
  • Please avoid talking on mobile phones while driving. i also know many of my friends who do not bother about this good suggestion and each one of them have opted for "Chalta Hai Yaar Attitude". 
  • Please avoid talking on mobile phones while they are in charging mode.
  • Please avoid charging mobile phones near Your bed and/or near wooden furniture. Avoid mobile phones near high voltage electrical lines like railway stations and use flash lights.
  • My friend, his family members and we all friends learned our lesson with loss of young life. Now Would You like to empower Your friends about this accident so as to avoid future accidents? We can save human life by empowering all the IT users who are in Your network?
  • i have done "My Karma {with deep pains & tears in my eyes}" by empowering You about this horrible experience.

   Please  Please.....I request you to send this very important life threatening information to your loved ones.....





Friday, September 24, 2010

India’s health system IN SICK BAY

Less than 1 hosp bed for every 1,000 Indians 

The only silver lining in the study is that India holds the top position in the number of medical and nursing colleges—-303 and 3,904 respectively. But then, despite having less than half the number of medical colleges as compared to India, the United States has more doctors on its rolls. "There could be many possibilities, but brain drain could be one of the main reasons,'' said Desai. Statistics suggest that in 2008 nearly one-tenth of doctors in the UK were not British citizens, while the percentage stood at 26% in the US.

Mumbai: In the recent past, India has been resting on its medical laurels, but an international survey has revealed that the reality is an altogether different story. The country's healthcare system fails miserably in almost all parameters when compared to six developed and developing nations such as the US and UK, China, Brazil, and Singapore, reveals a newly released study. The most telling finding was that despite having 10.8 lakh beds—the second highest among all the countries surveyed—there is less than one bed for every 1,000 people.
    The joint study was conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and HOSMAC, a hospital planning and management consultancy firm. The UK tops the bed-patient ratio parameter with 3.9 beds higher than WHO's norm of three beds per 1,000 people. India's burgeoning population, say industry experts, cannot be used as an excuse given that China has 40.63 lakh beds, and meets WHO's norms (see box).

    The report stated that to achieve the desirable norm a minimum of one-lakh beds have to be added to the country's existing kitty over the next 30 years. "About two-third of these beds have to come up in rural areas to ensure an even development of health infrastructure,'' said director of FICCI Shobha Mishra Ghosh, adding that in some areas even the UAE and Brazil surpass India in providing medical care.
    China has successfully managed to create an efficient healthcare system with an army of medical personnel. In terms of manpower, our neighbour has three times
the number of doctors working in India, and 1.22 crore nurses. India has only 13.72 lakh nurses.
    According to industry watchers, policy-makers must acknowledge that in the healthcare expenditure pie, the government's share is only around 26%. "One suggestion is that the government should emphasize on primary and secondary healthcare facilities, while leaving tertiary centres to the private sector,'' she added.
    It goes unsaid that the urban-rural divide has to be addressed. "The government has to provide lucrative incentives for private players to move to rural and
semi-urban areas,'' said managing director of HOSMAC, Dr Vivek Desai.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stand Up and Be Counted

Help the less fortunate simply by practising your favourite hobby

 Never believe that a small group of people can't change the world," said American writer Margaret Mead. "Indeed, they are the only ones who do.'' For every Gandhi, there are a million followers who join the movement. For every Mother Teresa, there are a thousand missionaries of charity who demonstrate compassion in their daily life and work.
    As India prepares to celebrate the Joy of Giving Week (JGW) from Sept 26 to Oct 2, here is a chance for you to stand up and be counted. If autorickshaw drivers can donate Rs 1,000 to feed the poor, and 8,000 women in lower income self-help groups can donate 15,000 kg of food
grains to the less fortunate, then surely we all can do our bit.
    With over 150 events registered across India, there's a lot for you to choose from and participate in. The Dreamathon is a simple initiative that you can undertake all by yourself. Simply pick your favourite hobby or passion and use it to either raise money for a cause, or promote awareness of an important social issue, or simply to provide direct help.
    Rahul Nainwal, the CEO of a Delhi-based enterprise, loves to cook. He has already planned ten meals—lunch and dinner—that he will personally cook during the Joy of Giving week. "Cuisine will range from Thai, Continental, Indian to Italian and I have already invited friends over for all meals, for a fee. Some of my friends are vegetarian, so I'm also doing a special 'vegetarians only' meal for them," says Nainwal, who is yet to decide where he will donate the proceeds. "I have a few charities in mind
but haven't zeroed in on one yet."
Sandeep Gurung is a fashion designer in Bangalore. In the JGW, he will organize Go Green, an awareness exhibitioncum-sale. "My team and I will tell people how they can use d o m e s t i c waste to create s o m e t h i n g fashionable and how a small lifestyle change can make a big difference to our environment," says Gurung, who is also inviting unemployed youth and NGOs to attend the workshop free of cost.

Why a Dreamathon?
Because it is a simple idea that every individual can implement. Everyone has some hobby or the other, and every hobby can be used to help a cause.
    Even if your dreamathon raises "just" Rs 1,000, or helps "only" 25 people, it will all add up. JGW is not about large corporates, celebrities or wealthy people — it's about regular people doing their bit.
    It is a great chance to do what you enjoy for a cause that you care about.
    Rahul Nainwal, Sandeep Gurung and many others like them have already started. What are you waiting for?

How to set up your Dreamathon in seven easy steps
1 Shilpa Kamath, a branch manager at a public sector bank, loves doing mehendi art so she picks this as her hobby.
2 She decides to train underprivileged girls in this art so that they can earn money out of it.
3 Shilpa knows teaching this art will need at least 12 hours of training. Her work day ends at 4 pm, so she decides to do the training from 6 pm to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday.
4 She surfs the Internet for NGOs working with underprivileged young girls and finds one near her home.
5 The NGO agrees to host her "mehendi-training workshop" and identifies about 40 potential participants in the 16-20 age group who can learn. Shilpa will do a "test" on Sunday (Sept 26) to identify 10 talented girls who have a flair for art, and then work with them for the rest of the week. She decides to "charge" each participant Rs 200 which will be paid to the NGO and used to buy all the materials they will need — less for the money and more because she wants the girls to take the course seriously.
6 Shilpa registers the event on the JGW website, starts practising how she will teach the finer techniques, how to mix the mehndi, and also gets copies made of a "design booklet" she uses that has 100 patterns. She keeps checking on the progress with the NGO every day to make sure there are at least 40 people lined up for her "big day".
7 Shilpa organises the event.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

After malaria, dengue strikes

Mumbai: Dengue is not only giving Delhi authorities sleepless nights, it's also beginning to sting Mumbaikars. Doctors say the number of cases of dengue—a viral infection spread by Tiger mosquitoes—is steadily rising in the city, which is just about recovering from its worst ever outbreak of malaria in recent times.
    According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) health records, 118 patients have been admitted with dengue to various civic hospitals in the first fortnight of September. But doctors in the private sector say dengue is possibly more rampant than feared. They say almost 50% of patients who come to them test positive for dengue.

    "Dengue patients don't test positive at the onset of the infection. It takes at least four days of fever before the patient tests positive. This makes detection difficult,'' said Dr Khusrav Bajan, intensivist at Hinduja Hospital.

1 in 2 Has Dengue
118 dengue cases were registered in public hospitals between September 1 and 15
However, private doctors say 50% of their patients test positive for the disease
245 cases were reported from August 1-31, with six deaths registered in civic hospitals
Mumbai's dengue surge normally lasts till December
Sick city braces for dengue wave
Mumbai: For a city that has resembled a sick bay since the onset of the monsoon in the first week of June, dengue is the latest scourge. Some doctors have observed that there was a spurt in dengue cases about two weeks ago, but in the last couple of days, the situation has stabilized. The fever season began with a rise in cases of swine flu, followed by malaria and now the comparatively benign conjunctivitis.
    Dr Bhajan of Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, said that out of every 10 patients who walk into the hospital with high fever, at least seven test positive for dengue. "In 50% of cases, the patient requires hospitalization,'' he said, adding that those with a platelet count of less than 50,000 should seek hospitalization. According to Dr Amol Manerkar, who is attached to Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla, the spurt in dengue cases began two weeks ago. "Of the patients coming in with high fever and rash, half test positive for dengue,'' he said. The other half, however, don't have the tell-tale dengue sign—low blood platelet count. "These patients have high fever and joint pain, but they test negative for both dengue as well as chikungunya. They need treatment on an out-patient basis and are stable,'' he added.
    A senior professor from KEM Hospital said patients who contract dengue require hospitalization, as opposed to those who have malaria, because the drop in platelet count is faster in the former. "Also, no doctors want to take chances as dengue patients stand a serious chance of suffering from bleeding, or dengue shock syndrome,''he added.A dengue test takes at least three to four days to show positivity. Till then, patients are treated symptomatically, said an associate professor of medicine, Sion Hospital.
    Blood banks, too, are witnessing a slight spurt in demand, though authorities say the city has enough platelets to treat dengue patients as of now, and the situation is well under control. "We are handing out about 200-250 platelet units a day,'' said Dr Girish Chaudhary, assistant director, State Blood Transfusion Corporation (SBTC). Platelets have a life of only five days, so they cannot be stored for long. But regular camps help meet demand, he said.
    (With inputs from
    Malathy Iyer)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Drama at city airport as flyers jump out of plane

Fire Alarm Triggers Evacuation: On To Wing, Then Tarmac; Some Hurt

Mumbai: Mumbai airport witnessed dramatic scenes on Friday evening when over 150 passengers of a Jet Airways flight to Chennai were ordered to evacuate the flight on an emergency basis after passengers saw smoke inside the cabin—close to the left wing—and pointed it out to the crew.
    But the inflatable evacuation chutes at two of the exits near the middle of the aircraft failed to open, forcing many of the passengers to jump on to one of the wings and then jump down to the tarmac. Three of the passengers suf
fered fractures and a dozen more received minor injuries in the process. All of them were given first aid by Mumbai International Airport Limited officials and those who suffered fractures were taken to hospital after that.
    The incident took place around 9 pm when flight 9W2302, already 45 minutes behind schedule, was on the taxiway of the airport just before takeoff. "One of my co-passengers saw the smoke and immediately alerted the
cabin crew,'' Shrikanth Barhate, one of the passengers aboard the Boeing 737 aircraft, told TOI minutes after the dramatic escape.
    One cabin crew member went into the cockpit to inform the commander as others searched for the source of the fire. "Then, all of a sudden, we were told to evacuate and the emergency exits were opened,'' Barhate said.


At 9 pm on Friday, Jet flight 9W2302 to Chennai is waiting on the taxiway A passenger notices smoke, alerts crew members Commander announces immediate evacuation Emergency exit doors near the middle of the aircraft are opened No inflatable slides, so flyers jump onto wing 3 sustain fractures, a dozen minor injuries
No trace of fire, says Jet
    The front and rear exits of the flight were also thrown open, he added, but not too many people could use them because the aisle was crowded. "Many of us, who were nearer the emergency exits in the middle, rushed there,'' he explained.
    It was there that the passengers realised that there was no inflatable slide to help them get off the aircraft and they would have to jump off the flight. Many of the flyers first jumped on to the wing and then jumped more than 12 feet to land on the tarmac, suffering fractures and bruises in the process.
    Barhate himself suffered minor injuries. "I had taken off my shoes and was relaxing when the flight attendant barked out the evacuation orders. I just jumped off the aircraft with my shoes in hand,'' he said, adding that an elderly woman who jumped after him apparently sustained serious injuries.
    An MIAL spokesperson confirmed the incident. "Jet Airway's flight to Chennai reported fire in one of its engines when it was still on the taxiway,'' the official said. "But no fire was detected,'' he said.
    A Jet Airways spokesperson said the commander on board was informed of "an alleged engine fire''. There was no visible trace of the fire but the commander still proceeded to declare a "precautionary emergency'', the spokesperson said, adding that a "thorough inspection of the engine was carried out'' after the evacuation.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FOCUS assists thousands of flood victims in Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan, 12 August 2010 - Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) Pakistan, an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, has launched a relief effort to assist the thousands of people displaced by the recent floods in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral regions of northern Pakistan.

FOCUS, with its teams of trained personnel and hundreds of volunteers, supplied food items comprising flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar and tea to the hundreds of families left destitute by the heavy monsoon rains, which have ravaged different parts of Pakistan. In addition to food supplies, non-food items such as tents, tarpaulins and blankets are being supplied to displaced families in Ghizar and Chitral. In its first phase, the assistance has reached over 900 destitute households through the emergency intervention.

"It has been extremely difficult to reach these vulnerable communities," said Khadija Shaban, Chairperson, FOCUS Pakistan. "Almost all infrastructure has been destroyed by the flood and relief activities are hindered," she added. A blockade of the Gilgit-Ghizar road and smaller village link roads hindered relief activities in the rugged region. However, additional tents, blankets, tarpaulin and bedding items have been transported to the region after the government restored the Gilgit-Ghizar link road earlier this month.

As part of the efforts to create resilient communities, FOCUS not only trains local communities in search and rescue operations but also establishes community stockpiles by storing limited quantities of non-food items to help local communities cope with sudden, small scale, disasters locally. Regional stockpiles have also facilitated distribution of relief items.

Flooding of the Indus River and its tributaries due to torrential rains has caused widespread destruction in Azad Kashmir, Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa (KP), and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. The United Nations has reported that to date, an estimated 14 million people have been affected by torrential rains and flooding and 6 to 7 million people are in dire need of food aid, clean water and shelter. Over 1,400 lives have been lost, more than 1,600 injured and 2 to 3 million people displaced due to the various rain-related hazards including landslides, floods, mudflows and structural collapse. More floods due to continued rains in upper parts of the country are likely to swell the number of those affected.

Over 20,000 people were displaced in Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral due to complete or partial damage of residential buildings. Crop fields, orchards, trees, cattle sheds and other sources of livelihoods have also been heavily damaged or destroyed. FOCUS is in the process of transporting 200 tonnes of relief goods including food, to support 12,000 affected by the flood in these areas in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority.

FOCUS is also working in Chitral's Booni village, where a large glacier became active due to the heavy rains, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people. Following an aerial reconnaissance of the glacier to analyse the situation, FOCUS' intervention is reaching over 200 families in collaboration with the District administration. While most of the evacuated families are now living with host families, hundreds are staying in tents provided by the government, FOCUS and other organisations.

Also in the country's Sindh Province, where the Meteorological Department of Pakistan has issued a "red alert" predicting an "imminent extreme flood threat" to the population, FOCUS, working closely with local community organisations, has mobilised its Search and Rescue Team and Community Emergency Response Teams to respond to the emergency situation. FOCUS continues to make public announcements to raise awareness on flood threats and precautionary measures to be implemented by affected communities.

For further information please contact: 
Nusrat Nasab 
Deputy Executive Officer 
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan 
Telephone: +92-51 2294024; 2294051 
Fax: +92-51 2294036 
E-mail: nusrat.nasab@focushumanitarian.org  

Salimah Shiraj
Member for Communications and Publications 
His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Pakistan 
Telephone: + 92-21 35861242
Cellular: +92 300 8218592 
E-mail: salimah.shiraj@akcpk.org  

Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is a crisis response and disaster risk management agency established in Europe, North America and South and Central Asia. It helps vulnerable communities build resilience to natural and man-made disasters and compliments the provision of humanitarian relief principally in the developing world. FOCUS is an affiliate of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of institutions working to improve opportunities and living conditions, for people of all faiths and origins, in specific regions of the developing world. For further information please visit www.akdn.org/focus  

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) - The Aga Khan Development Network is a group of non-denominational development agencies, created by His Highness the Aga Khan, with complementary mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities. As a contemporary endeavour of the Ismaili Imamat to realise the social conscience of Islam through institutional action, the AKDN agencies work to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. Working in the fields of economic, cultural and social development, AKDN aims to provide choices and opportunities to communities so that they can realise and determine their own development. For further information please visit www.akdn.org

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oil spill stops, danger still afloat

Mumbai: The oil that washed ashore on Monday at Sewri and Colaba finally stopped flowing, but the scare may be far from over. While the sea at the Geeta Nagar slum in Colaba was painted in hues of black, locals in Raigad district reported signs of the oil spill on their shores. About 879 metric tonnes of oil has flowed into the sea from MSC Chitra's second and third fuel tanks so far. More than 500 containers have fallen into the sea, posing a major hazard to navigational channels of Mumbai Port Trust and JNPT, whose operations remained suspended on the third consecutive day. However, MbPT chairman Rahul Asthana said since the width of the ship was 32 metres, even if it listed at 90 degrees, much of it would still be above water.
    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought a report on the incident from the cabinet secretary. The director general of shipping ordered an inquiry into the causes of the accident after he held a meeting with representatives of all agencies monitoring the situation. Sources in Delhi said
a survey of the area by the Navy on Monday showed that 10-12 containers were still blocking the navigational channel.
    Chief minister Ashok Chavan, his deputy Chhagan Bhujbal, and environment minister Suresh Shetty went on an aerial tour. Later, Shetty said the oil was spilling at the rate of 2-3 tonnes per hour.
    Meanwhile, a constable of the Mumbai police's marine unit died after he fell off a boat near the sinking ship.

SLICK AND THE CITY: A youngster's oil-smeared palms show the extent of pollution at Geeta Nagar in Colaba on Monday

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cloudbursts a sign of climate change in cold desert

Experts: W Himalayas Warming Up Faster Than Subcontinent

New Delhi: The two cloudbursts that lashed the Leh area of Ladakh with unprecedented fury on Thursday and Friday, could be another sign that rising temperatures in the cold desert were leading to climate change, experts said.
    The western Himalayan region is warming faster than the rest of the subcontinent. A recent analysis of temperature trends in the country
since 1901 done by scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, found that maximum temperatures in the region were rising at an alarming rate of 0.53°C.
    Dr M P Sah of the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology said warming in the region was a plausible explanation for the rising incidents of cloudbursts. "Cloudbursts in this cold desert are a recent phenomenon. We see a rising trend of cloudbursts since the late 1990s. These weather events aren't expected in this dry and cold region."
    Sah added that rainfall too was increasing in Ladakh. "This ties in with the warming trend in the region. As Ladakh warms, there is more evaporation from the soil, leading to a rise in relative humidity. With increased water holding capacity of the air, the possibility of strong local convection currents leading to heavy rain increases." The geomorphologist cautioned that this was a hypothesis that explained the phenomenon but specific research needed to be conducted.

ITBP will soon open Manali-Leh highway
Hopes of an early opening of the Manali-Leh highway for at least supply trucks brightened on Saturday as the ITBP managed to clear enough way from some of the highway's offshoots for heavy trucks. The movement of 5-tonner trucks have sped up relief and rescue work. Sources in Leh said water has started gushing along the route taken by the debris. "This is a good sign. It means there is no more rubble or mud," a source said.

Major oil spill feared as ships collide off city

Mumbai: A cargo ship grounded at a worrying 25-degree tilt and discharging three to four tonnes of oil by the hour after a collision with another vessel barely five nautical miles off the city's coast in the morning kept the navy, coast guard and port officials on high alert all of Saturday.
    Around 9.50 am, Panamanian container vessel MSC Chitra, while leaving JNPT's Nhava Sheva port, collided with the inbound MV Khalijia-3, which was involved in another mishap off Mumbai on July 18. It had been recently repaired and crew and salvagers were taking it to the port when the col
lision took place in the vicinity of the Prongs Reef Lighthouse, said coast guard officials, adding that the situation has become very serious.
    "Four Chitra crew members who were asked to stay aboard to help in the salvage operations deserted the ship at 7.30 pm. Even the salvagers have left the scene,'' said one.
    The impact of the collision, according to eyewitnesses, was so huge that containers from MSC Chitra were hurled into the sea and oil began to leak from the vessel. Thirty-three crew members were rescued by Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) workers and the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).
A struggle to contain oil spill
Coast Guard & Port Authorities Do Not Have Enough Equipment To Tackle Slick

Mumbai: Hours after the collision off Mumbai's coast on Saturday, MbPT chairperson Rahul Asthana said one of the ships, MSC Chitra, was leaking tonnes of oil. The coast guard, JNPT and MbPT do not have enough equipment to contain the slick. The coast guard has launched a helicopter with an anti-pollution dispersion spray system to tackle the spill. The grounded Chitra poses a serious threat to the navigational channels for other ships entering Mumbai's ports.
    According to senior officials, carelessness on the part of the port authorities as well as the captains was responsible for the accident as both ships were communicating on different radio frequencies. "The pilot boats were not present when the accident took place. While Chitra was on VHF 13, Khalijia-3 was using VHF 12 There was no communication between the ships.''
    Confirming it, an MbPT official said, "No one can explain how the staffers of both the ships failed to see each other. From the initial reports, we are told that the MSC Chitra was using a different signal frequency.''
    Asthana said, "Singapore-based sal
vagers were working on Khalijia-3, which has been brought to the Mumbai port.''
    On July 18, Khalijia-3, which was carrying steel coils, was grounded off the coast when water entered its hold through a leak. There were fears of an oil slick as it was carrying 728 metric tonnes of fuel and diesel. At the time, officials had raised concerns about the vessel blocking navigational channels of other ships.
    Despite the risk, there were no safeguards in place resulting in Saturday's
collision. The MbPT has roped in five barges for the fuel to be drained, and a naval architect has been sent aboard Chitra. The director general of shipping has initiated a probe into the accident. The 33 crew members from Chitra were handed over to the ship's agent in Mumbai.
    One crew member said: "The port officials are to blame for this. The incident could have been avoided if the captains had been cautious.''
8.30 AM | Panamanian container vessel MSC Chitra starts moving out of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JnPT). It is headed to Mundra port in Gujarat
    Around the same time, crew and salvagers begin preparations to bring in the recently repaired St Kitts' vessel Khalijia-3 into JnPT. The had been grounded off Mumbai's coast in an accident on July 19
    The ships are on different radio frequencies. MSC Chitra is on VHF 13 and Khalijia-3 is on VHF 12 9.50 AM | There is no communication, and the two ships collide in the vicinity of Prongs Reef Lighthouse
    Chitra starts leaking hydraulic oil 10 AM | A message is sent to the Indian Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre 10.45 AM | The Coast Guard sends its ship Kamladevi to the scene. The Mumbai Port Trust (MbT) sends tugs to rescue the crew aboard Chitra.
BETWEEN 10.45 AM AND 1 PM | 33 crew members are rescued, but four are left on board to help in the salvage and dewatering operations
    The MSC Chitra has tilted to 25 degrees and is discharging two to three tonnes of oil by the hour
    Khalijia-3 has been brought to the Mumbai Port 7.30 PM | The 4 crew members desert the ship. There is no sign of the Singapore-based salvage company that has was brought in earlier in the day to help with the operations
At 1 pm, a Coast Guard helicopter arrives with an anti-pollution dispersion spray system. A naval architect is also sent aboard the ship
    MbPT has also roped in five barges for the fuel to be drained from Chitra
    A salvage company is also brought in

The listing MSC Chitra disgorges tonnes of oil into the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast

ON DANGEROUS WATERS: The MSC Chitra is leaking two to three tonnes of oil by the hour after it collided with Khalijia-3 on Saturday morning. On July 18, Khalijia-3 was grounded off Mumbai's coast after it sprouted a lea

More rain lashes Pakistan, deepening flood crisis

ISLAMABAD — More rain soaked flood-ravaged Pakistan on Saturday and even heavier downpours were forecast in the coming days, deepening a crisis in which hard-line Islamist groups have rushed to fill gaps in the government's patchy response.

Pakistani officials estimate as many as 13 million people throughout the South Asian nation have been affected by the rising waters. About 1,500 people have died, most of them in the northwest, the hardest-hit region.

The intense flooding that began about two weeks ago has washed away roads, bridges and many communications lines, hampering rescue efforts. Incessant monsoon rains have grounded many helicopters trying to rescue people and ferry aid, including six choppers manned by U.S. troops on loan from Afghanistan.

The national government's response has appeared chaotic at times, and confidence in its ability to cope has been shaken by the decision of President Asif Ali Zardari to visit France and Europe amid the crisis.

Floodwaters receded somewhat Friday in the northwest, but downpours in the evening and early Saturday again swelled rivers and streams. Pakistani meteorologist Farooq Dar said heavy rains in Afghanistan were expected to make things even worse over the next 36 hours as the bloated Kabul River surged into Pakistan's northwest.

That will likely mean more woes for Punjab and Sindh provinces as well, as new river torrents flow east and south.

Authorities have given varying tolls for the number of people among Pakistan's 175 million population impacted by the floods.

The United Nations said 4 million people had been affected, including 1.5 million severely, meaning their homes had been damaged or destroyed. But Pakistani officials have put the figure much higher.

In the northwest and Punjab, floods have displaced 12 million people, said Amal Masud, an official with the National Disaster Management Authority. In Sindh province, about 1 million people have been evacuated or are currently being helped out of their homes, said Jam Saifullah, the provincial irrigation minister.

The United Nations said the disaster was "on a par" with the 2005 Kashmir earthquake — which killed about 73,000 people — in terms of the numbers of people needing assistance and damage to infrastructure.

Some 30,000 Pakistani soldiers are rebuilding bridges, delivering food and setting up relief camps in the northwest, which is the main battleground in the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban. Foreign countries and the United Nations have donated millions of dollars.

The U.S. has tapped soldiers from its war effort in Afghanistan to operate four Chinook and six Black Hawk helicopters to evacuate people from the northwest's Swat Valley and carry aid there. Around 85 U.S. soldiers are involved, though the rain has limited their flights.

Also helping in the relief effort are Islamist charities, including the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, which Western officials believe is linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The group has been officially banned, but the prohibition has been challenged in court and is unevenly enforced.

Foundation head Hafiz Abdur Rauf said the group is running 12 medical facilities and providing cooked food for 100,000 people every day. The foundation helped out after the Kashmir earthquake under a different name.

"In the next phase, we will start providing shelters, but presently providing food and medicines to the flood victims is our priority," Rauf said.

He criticized government officials, saying they did little beyond hold news conferences and make announcements. But he welcomed the U.S. effort.

"Every helping hand and donation is welcome," he said.

Associated Press Writer Ashraf Khan in Sukkur contributed to this story.

He predicted landslide in ’06

Record-Holding Geologist Caught In Cloudburst

Chandigarh: For Ritesh Arya, a geologist camping in Chuglansar village, his worst fears and predictions about Leh came true. He claims he had predicted a dangerous mudslide after his research on rocks in the area in 2006. What he couldn't anticipate was he would be right in the middle of it.
    Speaking to TOI on phone from Leh, Arya, who was sleeping in a house in Chuglansar village when the entire area abruptly began to move, said: "This village is 6 km from Leh on a hillock formed by mud itself. I woke up when I felt massive vibrations and found that the whole hill-side was moving.''
    The loose soil had softened further due to torrential rains. "This is a rare geological phenomenon, and though landslides are common, mud creeps like this are unheard of,'' said Arya, who holds a Guinness World Record for discovering ground water at an altitude of 11,000 ft in Ladakh.
    Describing the sheer size of the mudslide, Arya said: "Its dimensions make it so
scary: it was about 20-meter high and several kilometers wide.'' All the houses coming in its way appeared to just dissolve into it as it roared on, destroying the Leh bus stand and the BSNL exchange.
    The mudslide is believed to have travelled 6 km, bulldozing the Chuglansar village. Arya said most roads have disappeared under the debris. The worst hit are the heritage buildings and old houses, traditionally made of mud.
    "People were completely caught unawares. Then suddenly, everyone started scrambling as the enormous amount of loose mud and debris was unleashed. Those who survived in the Chuglansar village had to wade through five-ft high mudflow,'' said Arya. "There are bodies still buried in the debris and I found arms and legs sticking out at several places. No one knows how many are dead."


It'll Take Days To Restore Phone & Air Links, Roads Even Longer

Chandigarh: With road and air connectivity disrupted and phone lines down, Leh has been cut off from rest of the world since Thursday night. The severe disruption in communication system has affected the rescue work undertaken by the army as well as other paramilitary personnel.
    According to sources, it will take days to restore the telephone system and air connectivity, while the road network would take even more time.
    The road approaches to Leh from Srinagar through Zozilla and from Rohtang passes have been cut off as small bridges have been washed away.
    The closure of air and road network will also affect the supply of essential commodities in Leh town that witnessed heavy damage due to cloud burst on Thursday
night. Fearing shortage of essential commodities, people have already started storing milk and vegetables.
    The Manali-Leh road is closed at two points, one at Rohtang pass due to landslides at Rahni nullah, and another at Darcha as the bridge has been washed away.
    The Leh airport runway and the ATC tower have been badly affected as thick mud has accumulated in these areas. Air operations from Leh have been shelved and efforts were under way to clear the airbase to ensure supply of essential commodities from Chandigarh and Delhi.
    The Centre is rushing a 140-member team of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) along with doctors and paramedical staff in an IL-76 IAF aircraft to Leh for relief and rescue operations. Massive rescue operations involving the state police, paramilitary personnel and the army in Leh town are already under way. A senior home ministry official said, "Six thousand army and ITBP personnel fully acclimatised to the atmosphere in Leh are there and they are engaged in rescue operations."
    The district hospital and two buildings housing offices of the Union home ministry were also affected. All commercial flights from Delhi to Leh were cancelled. The IAF has opened a disaster management cell at Chandigarh, consisting of three senior officers including medical officers.

Missing Link
Road approaches to Leh from Srinagar through Zozilla and from Rohtang passes cut off as small bridges are washed away
Manali-Leh road closed at two points
Thick mud covering Leh airport runway and ATC tower
Closure of air and road network to affect supply of essential commodities in Leh town

(Clockwise from top) Relief workers rescue people after a house complex is destroyed in flash floods in Leh on Friday; A truck, caught in the natural disaster; Swirling waters indicate the trail of destruction caused by the sudden overnight downpour and flash floods

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Disasters sow seeds of success

To err is human because risk-averse refusal to stop tinkering with the world is alien to human nature. The point is to learn from every mistake, not stop making them, says Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar.

GREAT disasters occur constantly. The Asian financial crisis blasted the miracle economies of Asia. The Great Recession of 2007-09 led to the bankruptcy/rescue of the five top investment banks on Wall Street, the biggest bank (Citibank), the biggest insurance company (AIG), the biggest auto manufacturer (General Motors) and the biggest mortgage underwriters (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The BP disaster in the Caribbean is the greatest environmental disaster in history. Some people fear that global warming will be the biggest manmade disaster of all.
    Many NGOs and politicians want to retreat from cutting-edge technologies (deepwater exploration, climate geoengineering) to avoid all risks. Others want to end or avoid innovation in economic and financial issues, retreating into state-regulated cocoons. Alas, these remedies will be worse than the evils they seek to remedy. The right approach is to learn from disasters and combine innovation with greater safety. The wrong approach is to retreat from innovation.
    Many Americans want to stop offshore oil exploration, saying the BP disaster shows that potential costs exceed the benefits. This argument is bogus. If true, all offshore oil exploration across the world should be banned, since environmental disaster can strike anywhere. Such a ban will quadruple oil and gas prices and send the world into a Great Depression. That will be infinitely costlier than the BP disaster.
    After the Great Recession, some point to the state-controlled banking systems of India and China as safer. Yet, India merely proves that if a financial system is bound hand-and-foot, it will not have enough rope to hang itself. Ratios of bank credit to GDP of 200% in some countries may have been too high, but India's 50% is clearly too low, and has starved citizens of badly-needed credit.
    Over-controlled India escaped the Asian financial crisis. But its Asian neighbours, though badly hit, had 5 to 20 times India's per-capita income. For In
dians, with a per-capita income of $350, to gloat over the troubles of Thailand, with a per-capita income of $3,000, was a case of sour grapes.
    Indeed, India's economic success in the last decade was aided crucially by financial liberalisation. The lesson India learned from the crisis was to calibrate financial liberalisation, not abandon it. The global system is also learning from the Great Recession. Right now, the proposed changes look insufficient. But certainly, risk awareness has improved greatly.
    Disasters will still occur. No innovation or new exploration is ever risk-free. But just as shipwrecks did not stop exploration of the seas, so too economic and technological disasters should not stop economic and technological innovation.
    Henry Petroski of Duke University has written a book, Success through failure: The paradox of design. Its key lesson is that failures teach us more than successes. Failures lead to radical design changes that are needed but are ignored in times of unbroken success.
    One example is the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Bridge in the US. For dec
ades, engineers had built ever-longer suspension bridges, and this lulled them into overconfidence. The Tacoma disaster showed that suspension bridges were vulnerable to high winds if their stiffness and girth were not specifically engineered for safety. Subsequent suspension bridges, often longer than the Tacoma one, were made stiffer, and sometimes had a second deck to combat high winds even if traffic did not justify it. Failure at Tacoma bred success in ever-longer bridges, not a retreat into smaller bridges.
    AIRSHIPS in the 1930s used hydrogen to keep aloft. Then the Hindenburg, the world's biggest airship, caught fire and airship production ground to a halt. However, this soon led to airships being filled with safe, inert helium instead of inflammable hydrogen.
    The sinking of the Titanic, the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor and the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001 all forced engineers to come up with new designs to combat risks earlier thought to be negligible. The Exxon Valdez tanker was rock-wrecked by a drunken captain in 1989, and leaked en
ormous quantities of oil into the sea. This spurred a global shift from single-hulled tankers to double-hulled tankers that can withstand a crash. The Exxon Valdez disaster spurred Exxon to develop one of the best safety records in the industry.
    The BP disaster will lead to vastly-improved equipment to thwart future deep-sea disasters. Already four top oil exploration companies have decided to pool their safety and rescue resources in the Caribbean.
    This lesson should also apply to geoengineering to combat global warming. Pilot projects have begun to pour iron ore into the sea to increase its carbon-absorption capacity. Simply spraying seawater into the sky could create clouds that reflect back sunlight and combat warming. The same effect might also be achieved by shooting aerosols and sulphates into space to reflect back sunlight.
    Many green outfits oppose such geoengineering because of the risk of calamitous side-effects. Dumping iron ore in the sea, for instance, could increase sea acidity and bleach corals. Yet, iron ore is one of the common minerals in the earth's crust, and must be abundant in seabeds already.
    We should start with pilot projects to educate us on possible benefits and risks, and scale up after adjusting for risks. Geo-engineering could be a far cheaper way of providing insurance against global warming than carbon reduction.
    Many greens believe that humans should not tinker with nature, and will be penalised for it. In fact, humans evolved from the hunter-gatherer stage only because exploration and innovation is hardwired into their DNA.
    Poet T S Eliot wrote, "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to return to where we started, and know the place for the first time." Greens who fear exploration know very little of the nature they claim to protect, and think that ignorance is bliss. Regardless, we humans must and will explore every facet of nature. Then alone will we know the place for the first time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Final Warning Yahoo Update- Don't answer - Its SPAM

Its a SPAM fraud .. Don't answer it ..
yahoo has a strict policy of never
asking you for your password in an email
Kindly spread and forward to your contacts to beware
of such phishing frauds

From: Yahoo Service Center <yahoocustomercare@ yahoo.com>
Subject: Final Warning Yahoo Update !
Date: Saturday, July 3, 2010, 7:47 PM

Yahoo! Mail                     
We are really sorry for any inconvenience this might cause you. Due to the congestion in all Yahoo! account users, Yahoo I.D......... ......... ......... .........                           

Password.... ......... ......... ......... ....                            

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Date of Birth....... ......... ......... .......                           

Occupation.. ......... ......... ......... ......... ...

After you must have followed the instructions on the sheet, your Yahoo! account will not be interrupted and will continue as normal. Thank you for your usual co-operation. We apologize for any inconvenience.




Yahoo! Account Service.

We are really sorry for any inconvenience this might cause you.

Yahoo! Mail

~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

8,000 evacuated as Phet likely to hit Guj on Friday

Ahmedabad/Pune: Alarm bells rang throughout Gujarat, as cyclone Phet intensified to a very severe cyclonic storm causing strong winds, thunderstorm and rainfall across the state in a dramatic switch from the sweltering heat on Wednesday. Phet could possibly hit Gujarat coast on Friday, the weatherman warned.
   Over 8,000 people were evacuated from Kandla and Tuna in Kutch district in view of the advancing cyclone. Three fire brigade teams with rescue vehicles were dispatched to Junagadh, Porbandar and Jamnagar for any eventuality. One person, Sabbir Pateliya (35) drowned in the sea off Jamnagar coast. Power cuts were reported from parts of Saurashtra.
   Weather officials said while warnings have been issued, a cyclone alert which is issued 48 hours before its likelihood, might be issued later. Met officials, tracking the cyclone, said the system which is lying 1,060 km southwest of Naliya in Kutch, 1,100 km southwest of Karachi, Pakistan, and 600 km south-southeast of Sur, Oman, has intensified into a very severe cyclone. While the warning for fishermen was maintained for another 48 hours, a Distant Port Warning (No 2 level) was issued all along Gujarat's 1,600km long coastline.
   "The system is predicted to intensify further and head in a north-northwesterly /northerly direction close to Oman coast and then recurve northeastwards towards Pakistan and adjoining Gujarat coast, skirting Oman coast. The cyclone is expected to hit the coast between Pakistan and Gujarat on or after June 4,'' said Gujarat-based India Meteorological Department director Kamaljit Ray.
   On Tuesday, 25-35 kmph speed winds blew over parts of the state. All of Gujarat experienced light to heavy rainfall. The cyclonic storm, meanwhile, has led to uncertainty over the southwest monsoon's progress in the country. "Cyclone Phet has made it difficult for us to predict the exact date of the arrival of the monsoon in different parts of the country. This uncertainty will remain for three or four days,'' IMD's Pune-based director Medha Khole told TOI.

WEATHER WOES: Advancing cyclone has put Gujarat on high alert

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Every monsoon means flood of bad news

Every monsoon means flood of bad news

In the great plains of India, there is nothing romantic about the monsoon. People's fate depends on the monsoon's mood swings. If it fails to keep its date with the country, there is drought. If it's over generous, the floods cause death and destruction. Even when it's "normal", some river somewhere exceeds the danger mark and kills a few hundred people. After the skies clear and the water recedes, armies of mosquitoes and bugs launch attacks. Millions fall prey with chills, cramps, fever. In this part of the world, drought, deluge and death are as much an annual phenomenon as the monsoon.
    Bangladesh may be famous for its notorious floods, but India is not far behind. Every year, the monsoon floods leave a trail of destruction in India. Roughly 20% of deaths caused by flooding worldwide occur here; some 30 million people are evacuated every year. Every year witnesses an "un
precedented flood". Every other year the "worst flood in living memory" leaves scores dead. Is India becoming ever more vulnerable to monsoon fury?
    No, say Vinod K Sharma and A D Kaushik of the National Centre for Disaster Management in a recent paper on floods in India. They argue that states did not appear quite as vulnerable as before because there was less developmental activity and population pressure. "However, in the present time, unabated population and high rate of developmental activities forced on the occupation of flood plains has made the society highly vulnerable to flood losses," they wrote.
    In 2009, the monsoon was weak and deficient but it caused floods, deaths and displacement in Orissa, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and the north-eastern states. In 2008, the monsoon was normal, but Bihar faced the worst flood crisis ever as the Kosi breached its embankment, changed course and deluged several districts, leaving hundreds dead and three million homeless.

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