Click Here to Subscribe For FREE SMS Alerts on Disaster Awareness

Refresher Training of CERT by FOCUS

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crossing tracks led to most railway deaths

58% Died While Trespassing, 21% Fell Off Trains

Mumbai: Going by the statistics provided by the Government Railway Police, 58% of the people killed in railway mishaps were run over by trains while trying to take a short-cut across tracks so far this year. 
    While trespassing is the reason behind the deaths of 1,279 people of the total toll of 2,207 till August, 21% people died after falling off trains. Many youths performing stunts on the footboard of locals also die, either by losing balance and falling or hitting their heads against the poles along the tracks. The solution, say officials, is to increase the carrying capacity of trains and improve infrastructure like foot overbridges and subways. "We have launched a website, 'Shodh', to help relatives of unidentified victims and missing persons. But the larger aim is to provide empirical data to the railways so that the officials can find an engineering solution. This is not a policing problem alone," says GRP commissioner Prabhat Kumar. 
    The stretch from Kurla to Mulund witnessed the highest number of deaths due to trespassing (176) and commuters falling off trains (68) this year. The Kalyan section—Kalyan to Badlapur and to Kasara—came second with the numbers touching 145 and 48 respectively. 
    According to the RPF, most accidents caused due to crossing tracks, occur during morning and evening rush hours. "A foolproof measure to stop passengers from taking short-cuts across tracks and instead, making them avail of FOBs and subways is to build boundary walls and put up fences, which the high court directed in 2004. But the Western and Central railways are yet to complete the constructions," said activist Sameer Zaveri. "At some stations, the FOBs are narrow and moreover, a large part of it is occupied by hawkers. That leaves very little space for commuters to walk by, 
leading to overcrowding. So, some opt to walk across tracks." 
    To curb such practices, the RPF on the Western Railway conducted an analysis of railway stretches from where the maximum number of railway accidents was reported and their timings. "We zeroed in on 10 locations and started deputing our personnel at those spots since February. The presence of policemen stationed at those spots discouraged trespassing and led to a drop in those mishaps," said a senior officer. 
    To stop youngsters from performing stunts, which often lead to their deaths or grievous injuries, the RPF on the Central Rail
way launched a campaign in schools where pamphlets with graphic images of victims were circulated. They also talked about the punishments that have been awarded to youths performing stunts. "Chapters on rail safety need to be inculcated in the curriculum at the school level itself," an official suggested. 
    Students from JJ School of Architecture recently identified critical spots for the railways where escalators, FOBs and elevators could come up. The multicrore project, to be implemented by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, has received a nod from the state but is awaiting the ministry of finance's approval.

Friday, September 28, 2012


    It's a day no Mumbaikar can afford to ignore. Ananta Chaturdasi, the day the city's biggest Ganpati idols are immersed, is marked by huge celebrations and enormous traffic jams. 

    The police and BEST have made special arrangements for today, while various volunteer groups have offered their services to keep Mumbai afloat amid the immersions.
    The traffic police have urged Mumbaikars to avoid unnecessary travel to avoid the huge traffic snarls expected on visarjan day. 
    "Our officers will be on the roads from 8am. We appeal to citizens to avoid stepping out unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to travel,www.trafficpolicemumbai.org has all the information you might need," said Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic). He added that around 3,000 traffic police will be on the roads to guide people. There have been several meetings to ensure co-ordination between the Ganpati pandals, the police and agencies such as the BMC and MMRDA. 
    "At almost all important roads and junctions, watchtowers will relay messages to the public. We expect every Mumbaikar to behave responsibly," said Phansalkar. 
For the sixth consecutive year, the Girgaum Chowpatty Lifeguard Association will provide free lifeguards at Girgaum chowpatty on the final day of visarjan. A total of 20 lifeguards and 80 volunteers, who have been trained in first aid, will be present. 
    N M Khan, secretary of the Girgaum Chowpatty Lifeguard association, said, "Every year the beach gets extremely crowded. Sometimes, people caught up in the excitement enter the sea even if they do not know how to swim. We have been providing volunteer lifeguards for many years. There are similiar associations doing this in other parts of the city as well." 
School and college students across the city have already started cleaning littered, post-visarjan beaches with the help of BMC officials. Many of them have committed to take on the mamoth task of cleaning the beaches after the final day of visarjan as well. At 8am on Sunday, over 60 students from Stds IX to XII of Oberoi International School, Goregaon, will gather at and clean up Aksa and Marve beaches. Another team, of about 80 students from Sanskar India Foundation (SIF), will do the same at Girgaum Chowpatty. 

Advice from Mumbaikars who have been out on the roads on visarjan days in the past 
If you plan to go anywhere today, it is best to avoid traveling by road. Taking the trains is the best option. Also, instead of hunting for a taxi or auto for short distances it's best to take a bus or walk to your destination. 
    - Madhura Lingayat, 25, 
If you're going to travel today, travel light. Carry a bottle of water and some biscuits in case you get stuck somewhere for a long time. 
    - Amit Suvarna, 30, 
    marketing manager 
If you plan on watching the visarjans, go in a small group to reduce the chances of someone getting lost. Decide on a meeting point and time in case someone does get seperated from the group. Be careful with your belongings, especially wallets and phones. Women need to be extra careful. 
    - Dania Kabir, 22, 
    client servicing and marketing 

Chinchpokli bridge: Lalbaugcha Raja, Ganesh gully, Chinchpoklicha Chintamani, Tejukaya Mansion Ganpati, Rangari Badak Chawl Ganpati, Kalachowki Ganesh Mandal, Laxmiwadi Ganpati Saat rasta: Delisle Road Ganpati, Nare Park Ganpati, Lakshmi Cottage Ganpati (Parel), Krishna Nagar Ganpati (Parel), Lal Maidan Ganpati (Parel), R K Studio Ganpati (Chembur), Dukes Ganpati (Chembur). Opera House junction:Lalbaugcha Raja, Khetwadi Ganpati, Khotchawadi Ganpati, Girgaoncha Raja, Keshavji Naik Ganpati (the oldest ganpati mandal in Mumbai) 
Juhu chowpatty, Girgaum chowpatty: 
Two of the biggest tourist attractions on visarjan day, these beach attracts thousands seeking a glimpse of the actual immersions. Lalbaugcha Raja is immersed at Girgaum. 
KEM hospital: 24136051 Nair hospital: 23081490 Sion hospital: 24076381 Baghwati hospital: 28932461/2, 328932463 
Accident cases only: 102 Mumbai Heart Brigade, BMC: 23079643, 105 
Route maps and closed routes trafficpolicemumbai.org Live traffic updateswww.traffline.com/?City=Mumbai 

The procession starts at 10 am from Lalbaug market and takes the following route: Lalbaug, Bharat Mata Theatre, Lalbaug, Sane Guruji Marg, Byculla Railway Station, Clare Road, Nagpada, Dunkan Road, Don Taki, Sant Sena Maharaj Marg (Kumbharwada), Suthar Gully, Madhav Baug, C.P. Tank, V.P. Road, Opera House, Girgaum Chowpatty

Aircraft carrying Everest trekkers crashes, 19 killed

Kathmandu: All nineteen people onboard a small plane were killed in Nepal when it caught fire and crashed soon after take off on Friday. 
    The plane was flying to Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region. Seven British, five Chinese and four Nepali passengers along with three Nepali crew member were on board the aircraft. The British nationals were on a 13-day trek to Everest base camp. 
    "A bird hit the plane during take off and this was a contributing factor," said general manager of Tribhuwan International Airport Ratish Chandra Lal Suman. An eye witnesses said the plane was on fire as it took off and landed about 20 metres from a settlement of squatters at a riverbank. A black eagle that hit the plane was 
recovered in several pieces. 
    "After the bird struck, the control was not smooth," Suman said. "We are investigating whether the proper procedure was followed or not after the bird struck. The black box has been recovered." 

    The bodies were charred beyond recognition. 
    The same aircraft was scheduled to make three flights to Lukla on Friday and this was the first flight of the German made Dornier aircraft.

HIGH TRAGEDY: The site of the plane crash near Katmandu on Friday. The flight was carrying 7 British, 5 Chinese and 4 Nepali passengers

One in 3 Mumbaikars has abnormal lipid levels

    Nearly one in three Mumbaikars has unhealthy lipid levels that greatly heighten the risk of heart disease, according to a new survey. The study showed that the country's metros, including Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore, have worryingly high burden of dyslipidemia—abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels—that is mostly attributed to sedentary lifestyle and westernised diet. 

    Mumbai's citizens, the survey revealed, have the worst low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels as compared to the other three cities. A whopping 51% of the 17,655 patients surveyed here between January and July this year had borderline high or high levels of the bad cholesterol. Increased LDL is known to play a significant role in hardening the fat that goes on to choke arteries, which eventually leads to heart attack or stroke. 
    Initiated by diagnostic major Metropolis Healthcare, the survey studied lipid profile investigations—comprising cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels—of 2.7 lakh people in the four metros and found abnormality in as many as 33% cases. 
    In Mumbai, the survey found about 54% of women—particularly aged 35 to 50 years—had higher cholesterol levels than men. Forty-six per cent of the men here were noticed to have high or borderline high cholesterol. Among children, the survey discovered that over 2% did not have 
the desired levels of good cholesterol or HDL. A senior cardiologist from a state-run hospital blamed the troubling statistics on the rapid change in eating patterns in urban households. "Weekly outings now mean eating fast food, which is high on cholesterol. Ready-to-eat food could also be a contributing factor," the doctor said. 
    Experts believe dyslipidemia is a crucial parameter in gauging the burden of heart disease in a nation. 
    In the survey, Bangaloreans were found to have the worst degrees of cholesterol. While 42.61% of them had abnormal levels, 30% of Mumbaikars had such levels. Interventional cardiologist Dr Vijay Bang, who consults at Bandra's Lilavati Hospital, said the trend is worrying. "It has become imperative that people be pushed to exercise and adopt better dietary habits," he asserted. 
    The head of interventional cardiology at Breach Candy Hospital, Dr Dev Pahlanji, said almost every patient who meets a heart specialist today has at least one abnormal lipid parameter. "The trick is to watch out for related factors such as genetics, dietary and lifestyle. Hypertension, stress, smoking and diabetes contribute to heart ailments." He recommended that anyone over 50 should be up-to-date on their lipid profiles. 
    The survey found that 48% of women and 34% men who had high cholesterol levels were above the age of 50. Pahlanji cautioned that, if the heart disease epidemic among Indians has to be controlled, the bar for checking lipid profile should be lowered due to genetic and dietary factors.

32m patients, but cardiac care heartwarming

Mumbai: Nearly 32 million Indians suffer from some heart disease, according to extrapolations from the Global Burden of Diseases study. Given this huge number that is almost the population of Canada, cardiac care is not surprisingly one of the busiest medical specialties in India. 

    Within this field, the Cardiological Society of India's statistics show that progressively more heart patients now opt for angioplasty, the minimally invasive procedure to remove blockages in blood vessels. In 2011, 1.5 lakh Indians chose angioplasty— almost 29% more than the number in 2010. "This figure has been growing annually by 25- 30% in the last few years," said Dr Sundeep Mishra who, as CSI's National Interventional Council chairman, maintains the national registry. 
    Since only 55% of the cath labs actually send their statistics to the council, the number is bound to be higher. Dr Mishra believes over 2.5 lakh angioplasties are performed annually. In contrast, about 1.5 lakh cardiac bypass surgeries are performed a year, said cardiac surgeon Dr Ramakanta Panda of Asian Heart Institute. The reasons for the angioplasty demand range from people's fear of open heart surgery, growing number of cath labs and availability of affordable stents. 

City has worst lipid level record in India 
sedentary lifestyle and fast-food diet are taking a toll on the Mumbaikar's heart. With one in three people in the city having unhealthy lipid levels, Mumbai has the worst record among metros like Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, a study has revealed. About 54% of women, mostly those between 35 and 50, were found to have higher levels of cholesterol than men while 46% men were borderline cases or had high levels, putting them at risk of developing heart ailments. Worse, over 2% children in the city were found to be lacking the desirable level of good cholesterol. P 6 Smaller cities too offer good heart care 
    Fear of bypass surgery and the availability of affordable stents has prompted the number of angioplasties in India to rise sharply. "Also, the spending power of the middle class has improved," says Dr Sundeep Mishra, CSI's National Interventional Council chairman. 
    Dr Ramakanta Panda of Asian Heart Institute concurred. "The numbers of heart patients who come to doctors are just the tip of the iceberg. Many cannot afford treatment, many are frightened of interventions and only want medical treatment," he said. 
    There is a silver lining to the growing cardiac care facilities in India: the care itself is getting better. The CSI registry throws up big positives in India's battle against cardiac ailments. The biggest positive seems to be the time taken for the average cardiac patient to reach a cath lab. The doorto-balloon time is a term to calculate the time between the patient reaching a hospital and doctors removing the blockage. The 2011 statistics from CSI say that that average time is 48.6 minutes, though it varies from a minimum of 12 minutes to a maximum of 120 in some hospitals. "International norms suggest that the average door-to-balloon time is 90 minutes. If India's average is 48.6 minutes, it is excellent," said cardiologist Ganesh Kumar from Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. 
    The CSI statistics show that the number of primary angioplasties, which is done within six hours of a patient getting a heart attack, is increasing. Nationwide, many hospitals now offer primary angioplasty, with many of their staff members living on the campus to facilitate better time management. In 2008, 10,465 primary angioplasties were performed in India, accounting for 9.23% of all angioplasties that year. In 2011, 20,541 primary angioplasties were done, accounting for 13.5% of the total procedures. 
    CSI said that although half the number of procedures is performed in a handful of cities, there is a trend of smaller centres coming up across India. "People no longer travel to big cities for interventions. Pune, for instance, has overtaken Mumbai in the number of angioplasties," said Dr Mishra.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The deafening truth about mobiles

Mumbai: When 21-year-old Hiten, a Dadar resident, started complaining of a whistling sound in his right ear, he thought it was an infection. But ENT specialist Divya Prabhat shocked the youngster with his diagnosis: hearing loss. 

    "An audiogram revealed that he had significant hearing loss in his right ear, the one he favoured while talking on his phone," said the doctor. While the jury is still out on the connection between shiny new phones, personal listening devices and hearing loss, Dr Prabhat said he found no other reason for Hiten's galloping hearing loss. 
    During World Deafness Week, which this year has ironically coincided with Mumbai's favourite but noisy festival, Ganeshotsav, doctors and activists feel it is time to draw a connection between lifestyle and hearing loss. "Previously, I would get patients with complaints of tinnitus (ringing sound in the ears) in their 60s, but now I have patients in their twenties," said Dr Prabhat. 
    Overusing mobile phones, say doctors, is also associated with rising incidence of vestibular schwannoma (also referred to as acoustic neuroma or benign tumour growing on the nerve). "It is felt that the incidence of vestibular schwannoma would be 50% higher in mobile users than nonusers," said Dr Prabhat. 

A loud warning for youth 

Long hours on phone, listening to loud music affects hearing, say docs Today, youngsters hit by ear ailments for long associated with those in their 60s Listening to sounds over 80 decibels for four hours will damage ear, warns WHO Activists say noise pollution must be considered a health problem and awareness created 
We may turn into a nation of deaf people: Activist 
    Doctors say hearing problems affecting youngsters these days are due to their favourite habit—hanging on to their phones and music players at loud volumes for several hours a day. "Hearing loss depends on two factors—the decibel of sound and the duration for which one is exposed to it," said Prof Hetal Marfatia from KEM Hospital, Parel. "If one is listening to sounds over 80db for four hours, there will definitely be hearing loss." The World Health Organization has said that noise above 85db is damaging to human ears and a 3db rise above this reduces by half the time needed to cause damage. 
    But another doctor, Nishit Shah, said rapid hearing loss is only caused by viral 
i n f e c t i o n s . "Hearing loss o c c u r s o ve r years," he said, adding that the only exception would be instances of terror victims turning deaf on exposure to loud sound. 
    But Dr Marfatia said an angiogram would be a definite way of understanding if hearing loss is caused by noise pollution, be it exposure to sound in the environment or personal music players. 
    A study from Tel Aviv University has shown that youngsters who listened to over four hours of music on their MP3 players or iPods could be damaging their hearing. Dr Prabhat remembers a 38-year-old businessman from Surat who suffered complete hearing 

    loss in one of his ears due to mobile use. "He confessed he was on the phone from morning to evening. It definitely had a result," he said. 
    Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, which works on creating awareness about noise pollution, said, "The levels of noise we are exposed to could turn us into a nation of deaf people. It's high time noise pollution was considered a health problem and solutions worked out accordingly." 


PLDs permit users to listen to crystalclear tunes at high volume for hours on end The study found that 21% of the participants were using PLDs from one to four hours and 8% for at least four hours Experts feel that the extent of slow hearing loss will only be felt in 10 or 20 years, by when it may be too late for an entire generation to do something about their hearing 

Worldwide, 16% of disabling hearing loss in adults is attributed to occupational noise, ranging from 7 to 21% in various sub-regions 
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common form of acquired hearing loss after age-related loss 
NIHL is generally used to denote the cumulative, permanent loss of hearing that develops gradually after months or years of exposure to high levels of noise. It has long been recognized as a problem in occupations associated with prominent noise 
Studies have shown that people who are exposed to noise levels higher than 85 db suffer from NIH

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sr citizen dies as Tardeo bldg flooring caves in

Mumbai: A 78-year-old polio-afflicted woman, who was lying on her bed in her second floor flat in Tardeo's Soonawala building, died on Tuesday morning after the flooring gave way and she fell to the ground floor, smashing the first floor's ceiling as well. She was rushed to Bhatia Hospital but died there, said the Gamdevi police. 
    Assistant inspector Sudhir Dalvi, who is probing the accidental death case, identified the deceased as Homai Bharucha, a resident of the building in Parsi Colony, Tardeo. "Bharucha, who was undergoing treatment for sometime, was lying on her bed. Her son, daughter in-law and granddaughter were in another room when the incident took place. The family members ran out when they heard a loud thud. They found a bleeding Bharucha and rushed her to the nearby Bhatia Hospital. She was declared dead," said Dalvi. 
    He added that a domestic help, Veena (40), who was in the kitchen of the first floor tenant during the incident, also fell and landed on the ground floor. "She suffered minor injuries," added Dalvi. "Luckily, no one was present on the ground floor. A portion of this 80-year-old building has been evacuated for repairs," said Dalvi. Bharucha's body was sent for a post-mortem to JJ Hospital. 

    "Soonawala was not on the list of cessed buildings declared dangerous by a survey carried out by Mhada. The housing authority had repaired a portion of the building 15 years ago. Though it is nearly 80 years old, the building appears to be in a good condition to the naked eye, but one cannot know the internal problems of drainage or seepage which may have weakened some building portions,'' said Mohan Thombre, chief officer of Mha
da's Mumbai Building Repair and Reconstruction Board. A Mhada team will inspect the building for the next two days to determine the cause of the slab collapse. 
    Two years ago, Mhada had inspected the building and had initiated the process for carrying out minor repairs. But, the tenants refused to haveMhada carry out repairs. Three months ago, the tenants had once again approached Mhada to carry out repairs. "We had sent our architect to inspect the building, who was to submit his report when this fatal incident occurred,'' said Thombre.

TRAGIC TUESDAY: Rescue workers inspect the building where a 78-yr-old polio-afflicted woman died

Monday, September 24, 2012

Skip immersion jams with traffic police site

    For the first time, this year motorists can avoid snarls and delays during Ganpati immersion by logging on to the traffic police's website and checking for congested roads. The website — www.trafficpolicemumbai. org—will host a route update link with a colour-coded map. Motorists can enter their point of origin and destination to find out which routes are available for traffic and what is the average speed on these roads. Alternate routes can be found out as well. 

    "As part of our preparations for Ganpati visarjan, we will be closing down 37 roads completely for vehicular traffic on Tuesday and Saturday between 12pm and 6am the next day. On these two days, 50 roads will be made one-way, parking will not be permitted on 61 roads and heavy vehicles will be banned on 13 roads," 
said joint commissioner (traffic) Vivek Phansalkar. 
    There will be CCTV surveillance at major immersion spots. "A control room was inaugurated at Girgaum Chowpatty, which will be used for bandobast coordination, CCTV operation, a lost-and-found section for kids and senior citizens, coordination with other agencies, lifeguards coordination, monitoring of reserve forces and deployment," said joint commissioner (law and order) Sadanand Date. 
    There are a total of 99 visarjan points and 4,200 sarvajanik Ganpati idols are expected to be immersed on Saturday. "Police commissioner Satyapal Singh had a meeting with Ganpati mandals in five regions before the festival began and appraised them about security. 
This made a lot of difference. Security audits were also carried out with prominent mandals where they were asked to deploy private security guards, instal CCTVs and have a proper access control system with metal detectors," Date added. 
    The traffic police will be coordinating with other agencies such as BMC, MMRDA and Ganpati mandals. "Apart from BMC lifeguards who will be posted at 88 spots, the traffic 
department will be arranging for 400 additional lifeguards. Around 8,500 volunteers are being roped in, including 4,500 from Aniruddha Bapu's academy of disaster management, 1,000 each from NSS and NCC and 35 Ham radio operators," Phansalkar said. "Thirty-seven watch towers have been erected for making announcements. Drums and ropes will be used to segregate both carriageways. Local police personnel have been provided with binoculars and walkie talkies." TRAVEL GUIDE FOR THE BIG DAY 
Roads closed | 37 One-way | 50 No-parking | 61 Heavy vehicles banned | 13 (The above will come into effect on Tuesday and Saturday from 12pm to 6am) 

DEPLOYMENT Police constables | 21,500 Police officers | 1,500 Traffic police personnel | 2,500 Rapid Action Force | 2 companies Border Security Force | 1 company 
State Reserve Police Force | 4 companies 
Navy and coast guard will be on alert 
Volunteers from Aniruddha Bapu Academy of Disaster Management | 4,500 NSS | 1,000 NCC | 1,000 Ham radio operators | 35 Total volunteers | 8,000 to 8,500 

Watch towers 37 BMC lifeguards 88 Other lifeguards arranged by traffic department 400 

Jagannath Shankar Sheth Marg (Girgaum Road) Thakurdwar Marg Sandhurst Road Nathalal Parekh Marg Pandita Ramabai Marg Dr B A Road Dr E Borges Road Sane Guruji Marg Shivaji Park Road nos 3 and 4 Keluskar Marg (North and South) N C Kelkar Marg Tilak Bridge L B S Marg at Kurla West and Mulund West Ghatkopar Link Road Adi Shankaracharya Marg at Powai Aarey Colony Road and M G Road in Kandivli West

DIVINE POWER: The Ganpati idol of Moti Baug Sarvajanik Ganesh Mandal, Khetwadi


Govt transfers charge of city highways from PWD to BMC

Move Follows Complaints Against Poor Maintenance

    The Maharashtra government has given the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) the responsibility to maintain the Eastern and Western Express Highways, the most vital of the city's north-south arteries. The decision was taken on Monday following a piling up of complaints against the current custodian of the two thoroughfares—the state public works department (PWD). 
    The BMC had been pushing for custody of the two highways for quite sometime. De
spite the roads experiencing heavy traffic, when potholes and craters surface on them, repairs are not done quickly. Also, though the BMC is one of many civic agencies in charge of maintaining the city's roads (the others being the PWD, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Mumbai Port Trust and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation), it takes flak for the poor condition of roads every year. 
    A senior BMC official said that the municipality had wanted control of WEH and EEH in keeping with the law. "Under the BMC Act, the municipal commissioner must be satisfied with the condition of all roads within corporation limits. If not, he can seek custody of the roads. Our demand regarding the two highways has 
been in this context." 
    Monday's decision was taken during a meeting of senior BMC officials and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who directed the PWD to hand over possession of the two highways to the municipality with immediate effect. When Pawar asked why the highways were repeatedly developing bad patches and potholes, the officials said the PWD lacked a coherent system of undertaking repair work on them. This was not the first time that the possibility of WEH and EEH being the BMC's responsibility was deliberated upon; several meetings between the government and the municipality on the issue had taken place before. 
    In taking Monday's decision, the government was perhaps aware of the difference in approach of the PWD and the BMC regarding road repairs: over the years, the BMC has experimented with various technologies to fill potholes, including imported ones; but the PWD's method has been to temporarily patch up bad stretches with paver blocks, which are usually used to lay footpaths. This approach only worsened the condition of the highways, with several stretches becoming uneven. 
    The PWD had custody of the 25-km WEH for long, except for a brief period when it was handed over to the MMRDA. During this time, the highway saw major growth of traffic and development of connectivity. But a question mark always remained on its maintenance. The 23-km EEH, too, has had its share of problems, with several incidents of skidding being reported in recent years.

‘Adopt’ the elderly, Patil tells cops

Home Minister Promises To Take Responsibility For A Senior Citizen Himself

Mumbai: The growing number of crimes against senior citizens in Mumbai, six of them till September this year alone, has again highlighted the epidemic of loneliness in the financial capital. Under attack for his department's failure to make the city safer for the elderly, home minister R R Patil has now proposed that every policeman—from the commissioner to the constable—"adopt" one senior citizen in their jurisdiction. 
    Patil himself has taken assured that he too will "adopt" or take on the responsibility of one senior citizen. "The people in uniform (police) should meet elderly citizens in their jurisdiction and have regular dialogues with them. The practice will not only reduce crime against senior citizens, but also enable them to learn of the problems faced by the elderly. The initiative will help in overcoming the loneliness faced by people (senior citizens) whose children are living far away from them," Patil said. 
    Patil made Monday's announcement while inaugurating a renovated police chowky at Girgaum Chowpatty. However, earlier in April this year, Patil had admitted in the state legislature that crime against senior citizens was on the rise in Mumbai. According to home department records, four citizens were killed in 2010 and the number rose to seven in 2011. This year, six cases were recorded till September. Patil had then said that police officials have been asked to 
create a database of senior citizens living in their jurisdiction, meet them regularly and hand them a list of dos and don'ts. The scheme has not been able to do much to prevent crimes against senior citizens. 
    While Patil's idea, if properly implemented, might bring relief for the city's elderly, several political experts said that the home minister's announcement is nothing but a damage control exercise. "For the last couple of months, Patil and his department are under fire for 'poor performance'. Patil's directives to "adopt" senior citi
zens is seen as home minister's damage control exercise," a retired bureaucrat said. 
    It is learnt that NCP chief Sharad Pawar recently summoned Patil to Delhi for the home department's failure to tackle the Naxal issue. Not just Pawar, but for the past few months, Patil is under fire from within the ruling Congress-NCP combine. Even the Opposition has been demanding Patil's resignation over the August 11, 2012, mayhem in South Mumbai. 
    Mumbai police have a separate helpline for senior citizens. The elderly can either call on 103 (special senior citizen helpline) or on 1090 to lodge a complaint. 

Times View: Act on this proposal 
We just hope that this is not one more of those promises that politicians come up with when confronted with a difficult situation. For, the situation in Mumbai now is difficult, at least for its citizens. Mobs can just take over the business district for a couple of hours. You can be robbed at any time of the day; and whether you are at home or on a busy street does not make any difference to criminals. The elderly, particularly, have been at the receiving end, ending up as victims of one grisly crime after another. The home minister's proposal, if implemented with honesty, can instil a lot of confidence in senior citizens. The only question is whether the force has this honesty of purpose.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rising Brahmaputra waters threaten Guwahati, Kaziranga


Guwahati: The rising waters of the Brahmaputra are now posing a threat to the capital city of Assam. About 600 families in the city have already been hit by the second wave of floods as the swelling Brahmaputra waters inundated the city's western part. Guwahati lies on the southern bank of the river. 
    The second wave of floods has hit 14 districts in the state and over five lakh people have been affected till Sunday. The death toll in the floods has also increased to five after two children drowned in Sivasagar district on Sunday. 
    In the city, water from the Brahmaputra entered Pandu area in a reverse flow through two drains and inundated several places leaving hundreds of families marooned. The state health department has already shifted five pregnant women from the Greater Pandu area to the nearby First Referral Unit (FRU) at Maligaon. 
    The current wave of floods in Assam has also taken a toll on animals in the state's national parks. Altogether, eight animals have been killed in Kaziranga National Park and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. The first wave of floods in the state in April-June had claimed the lives of 631 animals in Kaziranga. 

Imphal tense after blast 
Imphal: Tension gripped the Kwakeithel area along the Airport Road in Imphal after a powerful improvised explosive device, believed to have been planted by rebels, exploded around 12.30 pm on Sunday. No one was injured in the blast. 
    Militants had also triggered a grenade explosion near the residence of a government engineer on Friday night, damaging the roof of his outhouse. Rebels launched bomb attacks on security forces since September 5 in Imphal Valley, killing an Assam Rifles jawan and injuring 10 central security personnel. TNN

Curtain that saves you from cell tower radiation

    Earlier this month, the government slashed the maximum acceptable cell tower radiation density by a tenth -- from 9,200 milli watt per sq m to 920 milli watt per sq metre. But this didn't stop telecom engineer Anuj Shah, who lives close to a cell tower, from painstakingly surfing the web for days and importing a curtain made of organic cotton and several precious metals to protect his family from cell tower radiations. Why? 

    The 30-year-old says that his knowledge on the subject makes him aware that even the new 920 milli watt per sq m norm is too dangerous for his family, especially his six-month-old daughter Aaradhya. 
    Shah, who offers services on radiation audit and helps families make 
their houses radiation-proof, said that it wasn't easy getting a material that could shield his family from cell tower radiation. 
    "I was looking for solutions in India, but there weren't any products that were effective enough. So I started looking abroad. That is when I learnt about this fabric available in Germany which can be used as a curtain," Shah said. 
    The fabric is made of organic cotton and precious metals that are radiation absorbers. 
    Shah says that the curtain reduces the radiation density to the admissible radiation level of 0.7 milli watt per sq metre. The curtain makes me feel safe," he said. 
    Shah now works full time in spreading awareness against cell tower radiations and supplying the curtain to those who live too close to the radiation towers. His partner Dr Annisuddin 
Mohamed, an MSc in Telecommunications Engineering from Drexel University, USA, said, "Depending on the radiation intensity, I chose to install it with multi-folds to increase the absorption rate." 
    Professor Girish Kumar from Electrical engineering department, IITBombay, has been researching the impacts of cell tower radiation across the country for over a decade. He has been vociferously warning against the healh hazard posed by proliferation of cell towers and says that the Union government's new stipulated radiation norm is far from safe. 
    "I have been repeatedly asking the Union government to be very stringent with permissible radiation norms. Government must bring down radiation density levels to 0.1 milli watt per sq m. Also the mobile tower operators misuse the norms," Kumar said.

The picture to the right shows the radiation detector glowing green, indicating low radiation density because of the curtain covering the window. The one on the left is glowing red, indicating unsafe radiation levels

Housing societies, cops wake up to the danger at the gates

Day after Mumbai Mirror exposé, private security agencies in the dock

Angry societies summon agencies, one security in-charge gets the sack

day after Mumbai Mirror exposed how easy it was to become a security guard in the city without having to undergo any background checks or interviews, the three concerned housing societies have asked their respective security agencies for detailed reports on the verification about their guards emergency meetings and one security agency has sacked the officer in charge of one of the buildings. 

    The police, too, undertook a random inspection of the security guards manning housing societies in the Western suburbs. 
    Satya housing society in Bandra, where 
this reporter spent a day as a guard, has called senior officials of its security agency KGF for a meeting on Sunday to discuss whether the building will continue to use its services. 
    "We have called the security people for a meeting," said a resident. "They have to give us an explanation for how this happened. If we are not satisfied with their response, we will hire a competent agency." 
    KGF, on its part, said the entire episode was a lesson for the agency and assured that they will take every possible step to ensure that such an incident is not repeated. 
    "We have learnt our lesson," said Virender Tiwari, a senior official. "We will ensure that such a thing does not happen 
again." When this reporter went to Samarth Angan at Lokhandwala to speak to the society members and residents, he was chased away by angry security guards who recognised him. 
    However, Alphanet, which provides security for the society, has initiated action against the chief security officer in charge of the building, Anil Yadav. Agency officials said that Yadav has been asked not to report to work till he can provide a satisfactory report on how the lapse happened. "It is as good as losing my job," Yadav told this reporter. 
    The third society, Gym View in Khar, has asked the agency to appear before a full society meeting on Sunday with agreement and all the other relevant records and verification records of the security guards manning the building. 
    Anandini Thakoor, secretary, Khar Resident's Association, said it was shocking that agencies don't even perform a basic background check before 
hiring guards. "They don't run a background check or anything but hire them at lower cost," he said. "Today, the police came to our society and asked us to keep a check on the security guards and not to allow anyone without proper police verification." 
    When asked about what steps the police would take to ensure that security agencies do not hire guards without proper checks, Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Vishwas Nangre Patil, said, "We are initiating a drive to check whether security agencies are following the guidelines laid down under the Maharashtra Private Security Guards (Regulation Of Employment And Welfare) Act, and will take action accordingly." 
    Mumbai has over 250 security agencies, which provide security guards to the city's many housing societies and commercial establishments. Overall, India has an estimated 5.5 million security guards, and about one million new guards are hired every year, according to the Central Association of Private Security Industry.

Mirror reporter Anil Raina at Bandra's Satya building where he worked as a security guard. (Left) Our sting op that showed how easy it is to become a security guard in the city

Nona Walia finds out about ‘The Slow Movement’ that’s asking people to take a few steps back from the hurdle race, and enjoy every moment of their lives

 EACH one of us has felt it — the sheer exhaustion that envelops us as we rush through the day completing chores at home, beating the traffic, meeting deadlines in office and multi-tasking. At the end of the day, we may realise that we have matched the pace of the ticking clock, but lost a lot in the bargain — whether it's peace of mind, our health or the satisfaction that one derives of a job done well or a day spent well. Fareed Zakaria, one of the most-respected journalists in the world, after being recently accused of plagiarism, and being too busy to check the details of his column, said, "It forced me to rethink my heavy workload and slow down." Pop diva Rihanna said in a recent interview that she was so overworked during the making of her recent album that instead of a creative high that every artiste has the right to experience and enjoy, she felt sick. "I realised I needed to cut back on work, slow down," she said. TV actor Sanjeeda Sheikh explains, "People like us in the television industry are always on the run because there is this feeling that if we slow down, we will miss out." 

Why go slow? 
H owe ve r, that life in a hurry is superficial is being felt by people these days, and it's because of this rea
son that the 'The Slow Movement' (see box), a cultural revolution that began in the West in the mid-1980s, is fast catching up. The basic idea is to cut back on speed, slow down and derive satisfaction out of work, rather than just finishing it in a hurry. 
    Mumbai-based textile designer Padmaja Krishnan is part of this global movement. "Slow Fashion looks at all that's useless and discarded. I choose techniques that are slow and not fully controllable. I'm against mass consumerism and don't believe that you need 20 outfits. My fashion doesn't follow trends or seasons. I take time and joy in making clothes," says the head of Transit Studio. Jogi Panghaal, a slow design activist from India, says he has bridged the gap between traditional craft and modern design by being a part of the same movement. "I learn the traditional skills of tribal artisans and combine them with modern technique. Our process is slow and we believe in conserving," says the NID graduate. 
    In 2001, Time magazine rated the Slow Food 
Movement as one of the 80 ideas that shook the world. The movement has found its takers in India too. Vandana Shiva, who owns Slow Food Café, in Delhi, says, "We make food from organic produce and use ingredients that are fast disappearing from India. For eg, we make pizzas and crêpes from ragi and upma." 
    Fad or necessity? 
Slowing down isn't just a fad or a luxury. Neither does it mean one's inefficient or ineffective. It's more of a necessity. Believing in this movement does not mean one undoes all the advantages technology has offered to make life easier; it simply professes one should live life fully, at a slower pace. It asks each individual to 
own his existence. The aim is to find the right pace for each part of our daily routine. 
In a recent poll, half of the British adult population confessed that their hectic life caused them to lose touch with their friends. Latest neuro-scientific research too suggests that the human brain is not very good at multi-tasking. Says psychiatrist Dr Avdesh Sharma about multi-tasking, which is professed as a super-positive trait in today's world, "There's a tendency for people to be less and less mindful. Texting while driving, eating while talking on the phone, reading and listening to music at the same time… it's exhausting. And you derive pleasure out of none of the activities that are keeping your mind occupied. What's the point?" 
In his best-selling book, In Praise of Slow: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Canadian journalist and author Carl Honore talks about the negative impact 
of life in the fast lane. "Today, one can do a course on speed yoga, speed dating, speed meditation, but the fact is that you can't hurry up relationships." He says in the bargain, parents and adults apart, children also suffer. "Children need slowness even more than adults do. It's in the moments of quiet, of unstructured time, of boredom even, that kids learn how to look into themselves, how to think and be creative, how to socialise.We are doing a great disservice to our children by pushing them hard to learn things faster and by keeping them so busy. They need time and space to slow down, to play, to be children." 
    Rushing against time also has medical repercussions. Cardiologist Dr Anil Bansal explains as we inch closer to the World Heart Day (September 29), "Fast-paced 
life isn't heart-friendly. Stress increases cortisol in the body and puts one at an increased risk of a heart problem." 
Slow is the new fast 
The cult of speed actually ends up slowing us down, because a slightest hiccup may stress us to the extent that we lose our temper, and instead of thinking of solutions, we slow our minds down with more problems. Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author of Power of Slow, says, "Slow is actually faster whilst fast is merely exhausting! When you slow down long enough to actually think, you make smarter decisions, that leads to better outcomes and thereby saves you time in the long run. You learn the art of managing expectations." 
    As Gandhi once said, "There's more to life than increasing its speed." 

Slow Food strives to preserve regional cuisine making optimal use of the local ecosystem. Slow Design includes materials and processes that are forgotten.Slow Cities are characterised by a way of life that supports people to live in the slow lane. These cities have less traffic, less noise, fewer crowds.Towns in Italy have banded together to form an organization and call themselves the Slow Cities, also known as Cittaslow. These apart, the concept of Slow Mail, Slow Music, Slow Parenting, Slow Homes, Slow Cars, Slow Travel etc.,are also catching up.

    — Mae West, actress/writer

— Edgar S Cahn, a pioneer of The Slow Movement, who asks people to invest time, instead of money

Water Matters

Not only is the human body composed primarily of water but water is one of the fundamental premises for life on earth across life forms; birds, bees and all things that breathe need water. Unfortunately, so do all other things such as agriculture and industry. Simply put, life is water intensive


    Earth is known as the blue planet because of the vast quantities of water that predominate the surface of the planet. It is surmised that life began in those waters. Regardless of how true that assertion is, the fact is that life on this planet is made possible through a combination of factors amongst which water is as critical as say oxygen or sunlight that is fil
tered to warm the earth without burning it. So having over 70 per cent of the planet's surface covered in water sounds good except that life is sustained on earth through freshwater and all the seas and oceans of the world are filled with saline water. And unlike the seawaters, freshwater is shrinking commodity. 
    Of the 71 per cent water covering the planet's surface, only 3 per cent is non saline. And that 3 per cent is distributed across the forms; glaciers, rivers, lakes and ground water. Not only is the human body composed primarily of water but water is one of the fundamental premises for life on earth across life forms; birds, bees 

and all things that breathe need water. Unfortunately, so do all other things such as agriculture and industry. Simply put, life is water intensive. Possibly the biggest problem we face is one that is entirely man made: pollution 
of water sources. Urban centres in India and in many other countries are faced with the mammoth task of not only providing access to clean drinking water but of dealing with the waste that is generated. Statistically, one of the biggest challenges in development around the world is posed by the need to provide everyone with access to clean water for consumption. Its lack equals a whole lot of diseases. A disproportionately large number of deaths can be related to water: lack of clean drinking water and sanitation is now the single largest cause of illness worldwide. It is estimated that by 2020, more people will have died due to water borne diseases and the lack of clean water than the HIV/AIDS pandemic. 
    The increasing pollution of our rivers, the overdrawing of water from underground sources which is leading to the lowering of the water table alarmingly, and the constantly increasing demand for access to clean water are all leading to a very severe crisis in the making - water scarcity. So how do we work towards averting that crisis even as we deal with the developmental challenge of providing people with access to clean water? 
    Conserve water: Every drop conserved is, in the long run more valuable than oil. So, make sure that your taps don't run while you brush your teeth, dripping taps should be fixed immediately and in every activity of daily life that needs water be conscious of how much you actually need and how much you waste thoughtlessly. Remember, water is a finite re
source; it will disappear thanks to our interruption of the water life cycle and when that happens you will regret every drop you wasted. On a more optimistic note, if each of us who are lucky enough to have access to running water around the clock undertook to reduce our consumption by a mere 1 litre per day (which, if you actually work it out, is less than the amount you waste in a day), it could make a substantial difference. It would ease the strain on the infrastructure and allow more people access to clean water since the same quantity would be able to serve more people. 
    Rainwater Harvesting: 
It is perhaps the simplest way of not only conserving water but of saving the planet in the long run. Rainwater harvesting is a method of channelling rainwater under the ground, allowing for the replenishment of the ground water table. In urban areas, as a result of concretisation and tarred surfaces, most of the water runs off into the sewage system instead of soaking into the earth. Given that it is our abuse of the water resources that is causing a crisis, it is our duty to do everything that we can to help the water cycle. And rainwater harvesting is amongst the easiest of solution. While it is now mandatory for government buildings, it can 
easily be implemented at the level of individual households too. And only then can it become effective. The problem is immediate, and if the solutions are not immediate then the future looks extremely dry.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bandh a flop in Mumbai, but may hit prices of vegetables

APMC Threatens Indefinite Stir If FDI Not Rolled Back

    The bandh called by the BJP to protest against the diesel price hike and FDI in multi-brand retail had little impact in Mumbai and its neighbouring regions on Thursday as public transport ran as normal and public life largely remained uninterrupted. Among the few places that felt the tremors of the agitation was the APMC market in Vashi, where shopkeepers struck work to express their opposition to the FDI. 
    The wholesale market did not receive essential goods all through Thursday due to the transporters' strike, which coincided with 'Bharat Bandh'. Due to this cut-off in supply, sources said, prices of vegetables, fruit and grains may fluctuate. The distress will be worsened by the transporters' decision to increase freight charges by 15%, which will inflate vegetables' prices by next week. Sanjay Pansare of the APMC threatened the markets may go on an indefinite stir if the FDI 
policy is not rolled back. 
    In Mumbai Metropolitan Region, close to 10,000 shops were shut in support of the bandh, including at Crawford market, Fort, Dadar and Matunga. Crowds on the streets and railway stations too were noticeably less, but that was because Thursday was the second day of Ganeshotsav when families immerse household idols. 
    Among the major parties in the state, the bandh was supported only by the BJP. The Shiv Sena and the MNS stayed away from the stir in view of the ongoing Ganesh festival. Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde participated in a morcha to Mantralaya, where he placed a symbolic lock to condemn the ruling DF government. Munde said the UPA at the Centre and the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra had lost their moral right to continue in office. 

    The Marine Drive police detained eight BJP workers, including Munde, over the protest but released them later. Similarly, 43 people were detained at Mulund and 57 at Malwani but released later. There were small protests in other parts of the city too, including outside a Dadar mall. 
    Terming the bandh in Maharashtra a failure, state Congress president Manikrao Thakre hit out at the BJP for its "duplicity". "During its reign at the Centre, the BJP hiked diesel prices on 11 occasions. The party included FDI in retail reform in its election manifesto. Knowing this, people stayed away from the bandh." Thakre added that non-participation of the Sena and the MNS showed they were in favour of the FDI reform. 


    Oil companies have so far issued no instruction on capping the number of subsidized LPG cylinders per household per year at six 
    The Congress high command on Wednesday asked party-ruled states to raise the ceiling from six to nine. The subsidy for the three additional cylinders will be shouldered by the state government 

Following the directive, the Maharashtra government has set the ball rolling. Its computation shows the subsidy bill will be 2,052 cr 

    Beyond the cap, a consumer will have to pay the actual price of a cylinder, which in Maharashtra is 

    Officials warn that until the cap officially comes into effect dealers cannot deny consumers cylinders nor can they charge anything but the subsidised 
price of 425 
(With inputs from Nitasha Natu & Sandeep Ashar)

CLOSED FOR THE DAY: (Top) Thousands of truckers did not operate on Thursday to protest the diesel price hike; a row of closed stores in Crawford Market

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

40% of Mumbai’s seniors live alone Helplines For Elderly Getting More Calls

Mumbai: The death of an elderly couple in Kandivli and the murder of an octogenarian in Chembur have yet again put the spotlight on the loneliness and isolation senior citizens in Mumbai contend with every day. At least three senior citizens have been murdered in the city this month alone. 

    Officials at HelpAge India, a voluntary organisation which works for the welfare of senior citizens, estimate that nearly 39% of the elderly in the Maximum City live alone or with their ageing spouses. "Many of them live, suffer and die alone," says HelpAge's director Prakash Borgaonkar. 
    Borgaonkar points out that many ageing couples' children are working and settled abroad. Or the children have moved out and are living separately in the suburbs, with little regular contact with their parents. 
    Left confined within the four walls of their homes and devoid of company, many seniors are pushed into a cycle of loneliness and despair. "Loneliness is a major problem among this demographic group and it often leads to depression, which makes senior citizens even more reticent and withdrawn from the society," says Dr S Kinjawadekar, president of the All India Senior
Citizens' Confederation. 
    The despair is reflected in the growing number of calls received on helplines for the elderly. The police helpline for senior citizens got 24,863 calls in 2011, up from 18,300 in 2008. While this may be an outcome of more awareness about the helplines, counsel
lors believe it also indicates a growing want among seniors to reach out for help. Both Dignity Foundation and HelpAge India receive about six calls on their helplines daily where the old just want to speak to someone. "Longevity is increasing and those beyond 80 feel more lonely," says Dr Kinjawadekar. 
    Sheilu Sreenivasan, founder of Dignity Foundation, believes the elderly—even those living alone—can get more positiveness in their lives through willpower and effort. "Much of old age is in one's own hands and unrelated to money or chil
dren. It is entirely up to you how you grow old and not get old," she says. Sreenivasan recommends that senior citizens should get out of their homes, seek volunteers' help and enrol in elderly associations and peer groups. 
    Geriatricians list the host of alternatives availa
ble to the elderly. They can join laughter clubs or walkers' groups, where friendships are formed. "Senior citizens should also keep in touch with relatives or neighbours occasionally so that someone would be alerted if they feel unwell or need help," advises Borgaonkar. THE FAMILY Maneklal Shah (76) and his wife Surbala (66) lived in a ground floor flat in Park View building in Kandivli (West).Maneklal was a homeopath doctor but had given up the practice due to old age. Police said the couple mostly ordered food in. Maneklal's elder brother is also a doctor; he lives in Mumbai The Shahs adopted Neeraj from an orphanage when he was two. Now 23, he lived with the couple and perform most of the household chores. He worked in a general 
    store across the road from the Shahs' residence. According to police officers, Neeraj is mentally unsound 

HELP A CALL AWAY 24-hour police helpline for senior citizens | 1090 
HelpAge India (toll-free) (Monday-Saturday; 9.30am to 5.30pm) | 1800-180-1253 
Dignity Foundation (Monday-Friday; 3pm to 6pm) | 
Population of senior citizens (above 60) in Mumbai 
10 lakh 

Estimate of 
seniors living 
alone in the city 

Calls received on 
police helpline 
in 2011 
    Inform the local police station so that beat officials can drop by and keep a check 
    Join a senior citizens' association in the neighbourhood to network with other elderly people 

    Register the local domestic help with the police station 
    Lonely elders can call any of the several helplines and anonymously share their concerns 

    Seek entertainment by joining a laughter club, a walkers' club, a card-playing club, etc. 
    Keep in touch with neighbours or relatives so that any change in the daily routine is noticed

Bed-ridden for months, Surbala Shah (66) asked son Neeraj, who police described as mentally unsound, for water on Sunday evening

Neeraj said he spoke to his 76-year-old father, Maneklal Shah, on Monday afternoon. Maneklal too was unwell since a while

On Tuesday morning, Neeraj tried waking up his parents. When the two did not respond, the 23-year-old got confused and decided to seek help

Neeraj ran across the road from his Kandivli residence and alerted the owner of a general store where he is employed as a delivery boy

The storeowner found a strong stench emanating from the house. He immediately informed the police and the couple's relatives

Popular Posts

Slide Presentation


Enter a Youtube URL to download:

Powered by KeepHD.com
Custom Search

Daily Green News


blogger templates | Make Money Online