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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Now, SMS alerts to help you track car registration

Mumbai: Close on the heels of a car dealer delivering an unregistered Audi 6 to the Pedder Road accident victim recently, state transport commissioner V N More has decided to introduce a four-level text message alert for all car registrations in Mumbai. 
    The alerts will help citizens track the status of his/her car registrations, and whether the registration number has been allotted by the RTO or not. This will be for the first time that the RTO will be informing citizens through text alerts. 
    The alerts will be at four different stages—car registration fees 
paid, inspection of vehicle done, road taxes paid and car number/ registration allotted, sources said.In the case of Peddar Road accident victim Phorum Ruparel, 
the new Audi 6 was delivered to 
her residence on Tuesday. But little did the family realize that the car was unregistered and the number plate on it was, therefore, illegal. This was highlighted by TOI, following which the Wadala RTO took suo motu cognizance of the case and had imposed a compounding fine of Rs 2,000 besides charging a penalty interest of Rs 13,220 for road tax not being paid by the dealer. 
    "Though the family claims that it had paid the tax, the car dealer had failed to deposit it with the RTO. This attracted the penalty interest charges. Besides, the dealer had also failed to get the car inspected and the registration number was not allotted, causing embarrassment to the car owner," an RTO official said. 
    More now wants every car 
owner to be on alert and keep tabs on the registration process. "From next week, we will introduce the SMS service not only in Mumbai, but in other districts of Maharashtra," he said. For example, once the car is inspected and the taxes paid, there will be SMSalerts. The moment the dealer deposits the registration fee, there will be another text message forwarded to the mobile number of the car owner. 
    The SMS alerts will also be introduced for licences sent by speedpost. "The moment your licence or RC smartcard is ready for dispatch, you will receive a text message on your mobile," More added. 


The moment one buys a car, the dealer will ask the RTO for an inspection. Once inspection is done, he/she will receive a message 
    The dealer will have to deposit the road tax with the RTO. Once the 
money is credited to the RTO account, the owner will get a text message 
Payment of registration fee will also be confirmed through a text message 
Once the registration number is allotted, the owner will get an SMS, after which he can affix a numberplate on the car 
    The Mishras from Thane whose Elantra car was hit by the speeding Aston Martin on Pedder Road on December 9 say they have no clue about any new car being registered in the name of Smriti Mishra at the Thane RTO this week. However, the family has expressed anguish over different versions 
being presented by media about the incident. "Even the model of our car was wrongly reported. It was not a Corolla but an Elantra," Smriti told TOI. — Manoj Badgeri

TOI report on Jan 27

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

State lost more than 2,100 sq km of forest area in past 2 decades

Mumbai: Maharashtra has lost a staggering 2,116 sq km of forest area or an equivalent of three Tadoba forest reserves in the span of two decades, reveals a report tracking climate change in India released recently by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation. 

    The state has also gained 5,030 sq km of forest cover in the period covered by the report (1987-2011). However, forest cover is not the same as forest area; mapped by satellite imaging, it includes zones such as rubber and teak plantations which do not deliver the ecological benefits that natural forests do. 
    The Centre's report warns that forest loss tilts the ecological balance, contributes to climate change and man-made carbon-dioxide emissions and reduces carbon stock. 

Loss in forest area in Maharashtra (1987-2011) is 2,116 sq km The state has lost an equivalent of three Tadoba forests since '87 It has gained 5,030 sq km of forest cover between 1987-2011 National policy says one-third of India's geographical area should be forest. Currently it is about 17% 
Loss of forests hits water reserves and air quality 
Experts Say Green Cover Converted Into Agri Land 

has lost a mind-boggling 2,116 sq km of forest area in the last 20 years. D Stalin of voluntary organization Vanashakti said much of the forest loss in the state is owing to sustained conversion of forests into agricultural land such as sugarcane plantations. "Developers have taken over environmental issues. The loss of forests compromises the state's water security," he said. 
    Maharashtra already has the highest number of polluted rivers in the country—28—and such deforestation further affects the 

capacity of the groundwater to absorb and store water, Stalin pointed out, adding that denuding natural green reserves also results in rising temperatures or global warming. 
    Environmentalist Debi Goenka believes the depleting forest area is a cause for worry especially in the context of the increasing population. 
    "Forests are the most efficient converters of carbon dioxide into oxygen. It is time we start acknowledging that they are not a luxury but a necessity. The loss of forest area only reiterates there is 
no political will to protect forests or wildlife," Goenka said, citing how similar apathy was shown in the planning of the Navi Mumbai airport. 
    The rapid takeover of forest lands for development, be it roads, power plants or airports, comes despite the existence of the Forest Conser
vation Act, 1980, that imposes strict restrictions on dereservation of forests. States are also given funding for regeneration of forests under the National Afforestation Programme. 
    Stalin said the government must rethink its forest compensatory policy and emphasized the need to re
generate forests and not merely compensate the loss of natural reserves with plantations. 
    Chief forest conservator NVasudevan said the national policy has underlined the need for one-third of the total geographic area to be forest. 
    "Forests currently make up about 17% of total area in the country, which we need to take up to 33%. The solution may not necessarily be to declare more land as forest areas but to encourage citizens to plant trees or take measures such as greening of wastelands," he said. 

Forests are considered 'lungs' of the earth as they absorb carbondioxide and replenish oxygen in the environment. Forest loss aggravates pollution 
    Denuding of forests leads to a rise in temperatures and global warming 
    Forest areas act as a check on soil erosion, regulating rainfall and helping to conserve ground water 
    They are also reserves of raw materials such as wood, lumber and paper, the absence of which has effects on human and animal life 
Forest cover mapped by the Forest Survey of India doesn't distinguish between the origin of tree crops, whether natural or man-made. Forest cover could thus include rubber or sugarcane plantations which do not provide the oxygen-replenishing benefits of natural tree cover 

TIMES VIEW : Constantly diminishing forest area is a ticking time bomb and it's imperative the government realises this. Denudation of forest cover cannot be blamed on the irresponsibility of a few; it's rather the work of an organised, well-networked mafia, which only concerted effort and monitoring by government agencies can thwart. The sooner they get their act together, the better it will be for Maharashtra.

Monday, December 23, 2013

City parents spend 10-11 hrs on phone a day, 3-6 with kids

Mumbai: If you were asked to choose between the company of your child and technology, what would your answer be? In a survey conducted in the city to gauge the relationship between parents and children, more than 70% of working parents said they end up spending 75-80 hours on mobile phone every week, and spend only between 20-40 hours with their children at home. 

    Surprisingly, the scene did not change for stay-athome mothers either as almost 65% said that even though they spent close to 50 hours with their child every week, they spent more time on their mobile phones. 
    Conducted over a period of two months, the survey by Podar Education Network interviewed 5,600 parents and 1,900 children. 


•76% of stay-at-home mothers spend over 68 hours a week on their mobile phones 

•70% of the 1,900 children interviewed said their parents talk on the phone while crossing the road and driving a car 
Both working & stay-at-home parents put phone before family, finds survey 
Experts Warn Of Radiation, Strain On Family Ties 

Mumbai: A survey conducted in the city has found that both working parents and stay-athome mothers end up spending more time on their mobile phones than with their kids. 
    Both parents and children were interviewed for the survey. Students were made to 
paint their thoughts on a sheet of paper and almost 70% of kids interviewed said that their parents talk on the phone while walking on the road, crossing the road and driving a car. About 68% of kids said their mothers talked on phone while cooking while 89% kids said their dads talked on the phone while eating at the dinner table and watching television. 
    Podar Education Network, which carried out the survey, interviewed over 5,000 parents and nearly 2,000 students in schools, trains, at malls and oth
er public places. "It is true that we are all dependent on technology but we should not let it override human interaction/emotion. Apart from this, radiation is one of the prime drawbacks of all such gadgets and we constantly urge parents to ensure that they keep themselves and their families' safe while using mobile phones," said Swati Popat Vats, president of Podar Education Network. 
    "We know that many times parents don't do this knowingly but it is our responsibility to point to them the same. We are 
talking about children who have 'mirror neurons' and they tend to follow what their parents or others in the surrounding do. Parents need be aware of this," added Vats, an expert in early childhood behaviour. 
    "Even five-year-old kids are aware of SMS and other messenger services. This is not a healthy trend," said Vats. 
    Health experts pointed out the growing dependence of parents as well as children on technology, leading to loss of quality time in families. "The dependence on technology is leading to 
many online addiction disorders and also loneliness after a point as people depend heavily on the virtual world and lose touch with what is real," said clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany. She added that she has counselled families where the dependence on technology has even led to marital problems. "It is about time we take charge of this situation before we become completely helpless. As clich├ęd as it sounds, no activity should supersede spending quality time with family," she concluded.

Monday, December 16, 2013

SPIKE IN OFFENCES: Victim Too Shocked To Note Down Vehicle’s Licence Number; Mumbaikars Find Suburban Locals Not Safe Either

Blogger takes auto to avoid 'creepy' men at Bandra, gets robbed by driver

Parts With 10,000 At Knifepoint; Cops Examine CCTV Footage

    In yet another instance of how unsafe Mumbai's streets are for women at night, a Santa Cruz resident hopped on to an autorickshaw after noticing suspicious-looking men outside Bandra Gymkhana only to be 
robbed by the auto driver at knifepoint late on Sunday. Worse, the crime took place on the busy Linking Road in Santa Cruz (West). 
    The Santa Cruz police have registered a case of robbery and are trying to ascertain the licence number of the auto with the help of CCTV footage captured at various spots between Bandra and Santa Cruz. 
"We have got some footage from Bandra which shows the auto but its number is not visible," said Arun Chavan, senior police inspector, Santa Cruz police station. Cops have approached a technical expert who is helping them trace the number from the footage. 
    The victim, Anisha Bangera, a blogger 
and content writer who is in her 20s, tweeted about the crime on Monday. Her followers have advised her to carry a pepper spray from now on. 
    Bangera, who had gone to attend a wedding at Bandra, boarded an auto around 11pm to reach her Santa Cruz (West) residence off Linking Road. 
    The driver did take the Linking Road towards Santa Cruz, but instead of turning into her lane, he sped on and took her to a relatively isolated stretch on the road to commit the crime, said D O Jadhav, 
ACP Santa Cruz (division). 
    The driver stopped the auto by the roadside, fished out a knife from his money bag and told her to part with her valuables. She handed over Rs 10,000 cash from her purse and got off. As the accused did not snatch her mobile phone, she called a friend for help and then approached Santa Cruz police to file an FIR. 
    The police immediately alerted the control room and launched a nakabandi in the locality to catch the auto driver, but in vain. 
    A shocked Bangera was unable to note down the auto's number, said the police and added that since there was no CCTV at the crime spot, they are examining the footage from various points between Bandra and Santa Cruz. The police have also started preparing a sketch of the accused with the help of the description provided by the victim; there was not a single eyewit
ness to the crime. 
    The police said no such case of auto theft has been reported from the area in the past and they have now increased patrolling in the locality.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

At -93.2°C, lowest-ever temp recorded in Antarctica 2010 Mark Helps Identify The Coldest Spot Which Is Chillier Than The Previous Record Holder (-89.2°C)

 The ice 'event' that recently swept across the United States brought with it temperatures of -41°C. 
    Chilly, no doubt, but nothing compared to the record low temperature that researchers claim to have recorded near a ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau. Newly analysed data showed the temperature plunged to -93.2°C (-135.8°F) in August 2010 breaking the previous record for the coldest-ever recorded temperature. 
    Researchers from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, joined a team of researchers reporting the findings on Monday at the American 
Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. They made their discovery by analysing global surface temperature maps using data from remote sensing satellites. 
    After studying 32 years' worth of data they found that temperatures had plunged to record lows on dozens of occasions on a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji on the East Antarctic Plateau. The new record low temperatures smash the previous low of -128.6°F (- 89.2°C), set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. 
    The report also maintains that the "winters of 1997, 2001, 2003, and 2004 showed several temperature minima below -90°C." 
    Ice scientist Ted Scambos, at the 
US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, announced the cold facts at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco. "It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles," Scambos said. "I'm confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth," he said, adding, "Thank God, I don't know how exactly it feels." But he said scientists do routinely make naked 100° below zero Fahrenheit (73° below zero Celsius) dashes outside in the South Pole as a stunt, so people can survive that temperature for about three minutes. 
    In temperatures as low as the reported record researchers needed to breathe through a snorkel that brings air into the coat through a 
sleeve and warms it up "so you don't inhale by accident" the cold air, Scambos said. 
    Waleed Abdalati, an ice scientist at the University of Colorado and Nasa's former chief scientist, and Scambos said this is likely an unusual random reading in a place that hasn't been measured much before and could have been colder or hotter in the past and we wouldn't know. "It does speak to the range of conditions on this Earth, some of which we haven't been able to observe," Abdalati said. 
    Despite the new recorded low it will not be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records because the temperatures were satellite measured, not from thermometers, Scambos said. THE INDEPENDENT

FREEZE ZONE: An ice scientist said that they do routinely make naked dashes outside the South Pole at -73°C as a stunt, but people can survive that temperature for only 3 min

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Europe faces worst storm in 60 yrs Travel Chaos, Outages Follow After Hurricane-Force Winds Slam Scotland

London: Hurricane-force winds disrupted transport and power supplies in Scotland and threatened coastal flooding in England as they closed in on north Europe in what meteorologists said could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the continent in years. 

    Winds of up to 142 miles (228 kilometres) per hour battered northern Britain while authorities evacuated residents and boosted flood defences in lowlying areas across the region. 
    Dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed in the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland, while rail services were shut down in several countries and one of Europe's longest bridges — connecting Sweden to Denmark — was to close. 
    Tens of thousands of homes were also left without power as so-called Storm Xaver tore through the area. 
    In Scotland, a lorry driver was killed when his vehicle toppled onto a number of cars near Edinburgh, while at least two other people were injured by 
falling trees, police said. Two sailors were reportedly swept overboard from a ship 14 miles off the southern Swedish coast on Thursday. Air-sea rescue services failed to find them. 
    British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had con
vened a meeting of the government's emergency committee to ensure necessary measures were being taken. The biggest fear across Europe was from a storm surge set to hit later on Thursday which will coincide with high tides in many areas. 
    British authorities said they had evacuated homes in Great Yarmouth, eastern England, and warned that people's lives could be at risk. They said it could be the biggest storm surge for 60 years. 
    In the Netherlands — where 
27% of the country lies below sea-level — the landmark Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier has been closed off for the first time in six years. The barrier was built after a storm in 1953 killed almost 2,000 people. Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning. 
    Belgium is expected to experience a storm surge of up to 6.1 metres, "the highest for 30 years," said Carl Decaluwe, the governor of West Flanders province. Germany reinforced emergency services in and around the northern port of Hamburg and cancelled lessons at several schools, while Swedish authorities also issued flood warnings. 
    The storm was causing transport chaos across northern Europe. Flights from Amsterdam, Hamburg, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen were cancelled. Rail travel was hit, with all train services in Scotland cancelled. Ferries to Germany from Sweden and Denmark were cancelled. AGENCIES

SURGING PROBLEM: Rescue workers evacuate residents from a flooded street in Rhyl, north Wales, on Thursday

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