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Monday, March 31, 2014

Airlines find a smart way to cut carbon footprint

Mumbai: When GoAir’s twoengine A320 and Air France’s four-engine, double-deck A380 leave their parking bays for the runway, there is a common practice pilots of these disparate aircraft follow. Till the aircraft enter the runway, they are run on only half their number of engines. Passengers barely perceive the difference, but for airlines it does matter: lower fuel consumption and thus a lighter fuel bill, and also reduced emissions. 

    “Potential fuel savings in terms of carbon emission reduction can be approximately 26,000 kg per aircraft per year,” said Giorgio Deroni, CEO, GoAir. The low-cost carrier operates a fleet of 18 A320 aircraft, which adds up to a total emission reduction of 4.68 lakh kg per year. By a conservative estimate, each Go aircraft would achieve an emission reduction roughly equivalent to 52 Mumbai-Delhi flights. 
    For a decade now, several airlines the world over have adopted the practice of shutting down one engine (two in the case of four-engine aircraft) after landing, in a practice called single-engine taxiin. With airports becoming congested, necessitating newer parking bays that are far away from the runway, the time taken by an aircraft to reach a bay from the runway is on the rise, resulting in greater fuel burn. As per the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 1995, an aircraft after landing took an average of 5.5 minutes to reach the parking bay. By 2007, this had gone up to 6.9 minutes, a 25% increase. 
    Which is why, the latest trend of `single-engine taxi out’’__starting only one or two engines till the aircraft enters the runway, that is__has taken off. That is a huge leap, as naysayers say, there are air safety issues involved. But the perception is fast changing. And engineering the change are aviation regulators the world over, and airlines like Air France, Go Air. In India, the procedure was green signalled by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in July last year. Currently, Go Air is the only airline in India that does both single engine taxi in and out for most of its flights. 
    What makes single-engine 
taxiing attractive is that airports in metro cities the world over turn aircraft into fuel guzzlers. Delhi airport’s runway 28 is especially notorious. It is the worst punishment an air traffic controller can give to a Jet Airways or an Air India aircraft, which are docked at terminal T3: it takes 30 minutes to reach runway 28 from T3. “About twice a year, I get assigned runway 28. After the 30-minute taxiing, if there is a further wait for takeoff, I need to return to refuel,” said an airline commander. In India, refuelling because of a long wait on the ground was unheard of a decade ago. “Single-engine taxiing is the trend of the future. Eventually, every airline would catch up,” he said. 
    On the practice of singleengine taxi-out, critics have pointed out safety concerns like tailpipe fire—fire that breaks out when an engine is 
started. The cockpit gets no warning, and the fire can be detected only visually. This is why, before takeoff, all engines of an aircraft are started at the parking bay, with ground personnel present to detect tailpipe fire. 
    But an Air France-KLM spokesperson said the airlines has never faced a tailpipe fire problem. “We have decided not to opt for single-engine taxiing by A320s after a six-hour stop, when an aircraft is “alone” on the tarmac or not in sight of the control tower. We opt for zerorisk situations.” 
    An A340 commander said, “That is a strong message to airlines the world over. Most who do single-engine taxi operations, limit it to after-landing situations (taxi-in). Single-engine taxi-out comes with complications. But if Air France has managed to address them, so can the others.”

Warming may push India into war with neighbours: IPCC

New Delhi: Asia is facing the brunt of climate change and will see a severe stress on water resources and foodgrain production in the future, increasing the risk of armed conflict among India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, the latest report of a UN panel has warned. 

    The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its report assessing the impact of climate change on human health, settlements and natural resources, carried a dire warning: The worst is yet to come if no measures are taken to curb the ill-effects of global warming. 
    The report, released on Monday, said India, like other developing economies, may lose up to 1.7% of its GDP if the annual mean temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrialization level, hitting the poor 
the hardest. It also predicted a rise in extreme weather events like the flash floods in Uttarakhand and cyclone Phailin if steps were not taken to check the rise in temperature. 
More extreme weather events in most parts of the globe in coming years 
Maldives, China, India, Pak, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka among most affected in Asia 
Possible armed conflict over fresh water resources in South Asia and China (Himalayan river basins) by middle of 21st century 
Impacts of climate change will touch everyone: Pachauri New Delhi:Warning of tough times if temperatures are allowed to rise, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change R K Pachauri said on Monday, “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” 
    He made the statement while releasing the IPCC's report in Yokohama, Japan. The report warned that a rise in 
temperatures would also affect ‘beach tourism’ in many countries. India stands out as the most vulnerable among 51 countries where beach tourism is an important sector. 
    Climate change is not just about the future. The IPCC said people around the world were already getting hit as it directly affects livelihoods, reduces foodgrain production, destroys homes and raises food prices. These trends will accelerate if climate change is left unchecked. Among other things, the report warned that climate change would increase the risk of armed con
flict around the world because it would worsen poverty and economic shocks. “Climate change is already becoming a determining factor in the national security policies of states,” said a statement issued by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which has been working to arrive at a global climate deal by 2015 to fight the menace effectively through combined efforts of nations. Though the report does not have countryspecific predictions, its region-wise findings brought out many eye-opening conclusions for India. 
    Aromar Revi, lead author of one of the chapters of the report, said the impacts of climate change would be felt severely in the Indo-Gangetic plains, affecting poor people in 
the region. “The areas which are facing frequent floods these days may face droughtlike situation. We cannot ignore the changes which are taking place either in the Indus river basin or in Brahmputra river system over the longer period,” said Revi, explaining the implications of the report in Delhi. 
    Another lead author, Surender Kumar, explained how climate change would affect the poorer nations. He said if mean temperatures increased beyond 1 degree C, it would knock 3% off the GDP of developing economies.

The report warned that climate change will hit livelihoods, reduce foodgrain production and increase risk of armed conflicts for resources

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Natural disaster risk: Kolkata ranks 7th in global city list

London: Kolkata has emerged as the world’s seventh riskiest city — the only entry from India — when it comes to being under threat from all types of naturaldisasters. 

    An assessment of 616 cities around the world for their risk of earthquake, hurricanes and cyclones, storm surge, river flooding and tsunami has found 17.9 million Kolkatans face serious risk from natural disasters. When it comes to only the threat of river floods, 10.5 million Kolkatans are at risk, but the city is also fifth in terms of tsunami risk, with more than half a million people exposed. It is also threatened by hurricanes. 
    When the analysis looked at urban storms only as a form of natural disaster, two new Indian cities figured in the list as most threatened — Mumbai is ranked eighth with an expected 4.3 million people at risk, while Chennai 
is ranked ninth most threatened with 4 million people expected to bear the brunt. 
    Tokyo is the riskiest city in the world from all types of natural disasters. With 37 million inhabitants living under the threat of earthquakes, monsoons, river floods and tsunami, 29 million people in this region are potentially exposed. 
    Manila is second followed by the Pearl River Delta in China, Osaka, Jakarta, Nagoya, Kolkata, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Tehran. The report released on Wednesday shows storms endanger mostly urban areas on the coast. 
    For the full report, log on to www.timesofindia.com 


Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan Manila, Philippines Pearl River Delta, China
(Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Macau & Ghangzhou) Osaka-Kobe, Japan Jakarta, Indonesia Nagoya, Japan Kolkata, India

Monday, March 24, 2014

Egypt court sentences 529 Morsi supporters to death

Cairo: An Egyptian court sentenced 529 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to death for murder and other offences on Monday, in a sharp escalation of a crackdown on the movement that is likely to fuel instability. 

    Family members stood outside the courthouse screaming after the verdict — the biggest mass death sentence handed out in Egypt’s modern history, defence lawyers said. Supporters set fire to a nearby school in protest, state television reported. 
    Turmoil has deepened since the army overthrew Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July. Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood members in the streets and arrested thousands. 
    Most of the defendants at Monday’s hearing were de
tained during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on August 14. 
    Islamist militants have also stepped up attacks on 
the police and army since Morsi’s ouster, killing hundreds and carrying out high profile operations against senior interior ministry officials. “The court has decided to sentence to death 529 defendants, and 16 were acquitted,” defence lawyer Ahmed al-Sharif said. The condemned men can appeal against the ruling. State television reported the sentences without comment. 
    A government spokesman did not immediately respond to calls. The Muslim Brotherhood, largely driven underground, responded by calling for the “downfall of military rule” on its official website. Mohamed Mahsoub, who served as minister of legal affairs under Morsi, described the court’s decision “a ruling calling for the execution of justice” on his Facebook page. REUTERS

LEGAL SHOCK: A relative of a Muslim Brotherhood member breaks down outside the court after Monday’s verdict

Illegal immigrants can 'buy' Aadhaar for 500: Sting op

New Delhi: The UPA government’s much-hyped Aadhaar card is available at a price even to illegal migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to a sting operation by investigative website Cobrapost. 

    For charges ranging between Rs 500 and Rs 2,500, those dealing with the project “agreed to make Aadhaar cards for applicants without any proof of identification or address,” the website said in a statement. “These are the same people who have been entrusted to securely collect and send the biometric and demographic data of an individual to UIDAI’s data collection centre in Bangalore, Karnataka.” 
    The sting came on a day when the Supreme Court res
trained the government from sharing Aadhaar card details with other agencies. 
    The website claimed that almost anyone, “be it Indian or an illegal immigrant can get an Aadhaar card made 
without any proof of identity. More importantly, they get an Indian identity.” 
    Supposed to be a unique identification number providing identification and access to a host of government benefits and services to Indian residents, Aadhaar has almost unvaryingly been extended to immigrants who have illegally crossed over the Indian border, the website said. 
    A reporter, posing as a conduit for refugees from Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, approached a dozen Aadhaar offices across India. He told officials that these immigrants have no proof of identity or proof of address but need help in getting an Aadhaar card. 

Aadhaar card can’t be mandatory: SC 
he SC has directed the Centre to withdraw any order issued by it making the Aadhaar card mandatory to avail of government services. Staying an order of the Bombay HC’s Goa bench on sharing of data collected for the card with the CBI in a rape case, the SC said biometric or any other data should not be shared without the written consent of an accused.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

424 of 593 'dangerous' bldgs in city still occupied

Mumbai: As many as 424 buildings in the city declared dilapidated and considered very dangerous by the BMC continue to be inhabited. 
    In the wake of the recent building collapse at Vakola, the civic body has classified 593 buildings under the C1 category, which means they are in a very dangerous condition and need to be demolished. Of these, only 41 municipal buildings, 125 private buildings and three government buildings have been vacated so far. 
    The civic body’s efforts to get these unsafe buildings demolished and prevent further deaths from building collapses have been stymied by the refusal of the inhabitants to vacate them. The BMC has so far disconnected water supply to such 26 civic and 85 private buildings in its efforts to get them vacated. 
CIVIC BODY TO MEET RESIDENTS Societies reluctant to carry out building audits 
Mumbai: A total of 817 buildings in the city are classified C2, meaning they require major structural repairs; 267 have been given permission for repairs. 
    The civic body has classified106 buildings as C3, or needing minor repairs. 
    Buildings are classified based on a two-step inspection process by the civic body’s engineers and a structural audit report. The engineers look for cracks in 
the columns and beams, condition of the concrete and slabs, shrinkages or foundation settlement. Diagonal cracks are considered most dangerous to the structural integrity of a building. 
    There are 32,429 buildings older than 30 years in the city and the BMC has sent notices to 13,779 of these under section 353 (B) of the MMC Act to conduct structural audits. The notice states that if the building is more than 30 years old, it is the responsibility of the 
owner to carry out structural audits. “We issued notices to buildings which are more than 30 years old. The public response was very poor. Only 12% of society residents are responding. They are 
submitting a visual report. It is visually audited which is not acceptable to us. What is required is a visual report and a non-destructive test,” said a senior civic official. A 
non-destructive test includes taking some portions, such as the core from columns and beams, and sending them for lab testing. 
    “So, we write back to them to submit a proper report. Some societies complain about the cost factor. It costs approximately between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh to conduct these audits. There is reluctance on part of societies to spend so much,” said the civic official. Other reasons for delay in audits include disputes 
between owners and tenants. “Nobody wants to shell out money. The owner wants tenants to come forward and vice-versa. Also, all the buildings constructed between 1980 and 1983 used adulterated cement and are prone to dilapidation and collapse. So our prime focus is also on such buildings,” said the official. 
    Due to poor response from societies, D Jain, assistant commissioner P (north) ward, has called for a meeting of all societies this week.

Monday, March 17, 2014

NIRBHAYA REPLAY? Girl thrown off B'lore bus after sexual assault

Bangalore: A Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) driver allegedly pushed a 23-year-old student from Haryana out of a moving bus after sexually assaulting and verbally abusing her. 

    The incident occurred on Friday and the driver has been arrested. The driver, who was on probation, was allegedly drunk and was involved in a similar offence in 2012. 
    According to the suo motu complaint registered by the police, A V Siddartha threw the student out of the moving bus before fleeing the spot. 
    The girl is in the ICU for head injuries she suffered due to the fall. Siddartha has been remanded in judicial custody and sacked by BMTC on Monday. HS Revanna, DCP (Bangalore South), said the girl had landed at the Bangalore City Railway Station around midnight from Mumbai. She then took the bus from Kempegowda bus station to her relative’s house in South Bangalore. 
    Although BMTC’s rules state that there should be a conductor in every bus, Siddartha 
was allowed to leave the station without a conductor at 12.30am. 
    All the passengers except for the student got down at the last stop. The survivor who did not know Kannada told Siddartha that officials at the bus terminal had told her that she would be dropped near Deve Gowda petrol pump. He refused and turned the bus around. The student told police that whenever she asked him to stop, he abused her and tried to touch her inappropriately. 
    Around 1.30am the student was allegedly thrown out of the bus by Siddartha and he sped away. The girl was taken to the hospital by a passer-by. 

ATM guard rapes minor, forces abortion 

Dehradun:A 25-year-old security guard at a bank’s ATM has been arrested on charges of raping a Class XII student and then forcing her to undergo an abortion, police said. 
    The 16-year-old girl had met the accused, Pintu alias Karan, about a year ago through her uncle. After initial exchanges, Pintu forcibly got into a physical relationship with her. When the minor got pregnant, he allegedly forced her to abort the foetus. TNN

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

17 dead in Maharashtra hailstorms 800Cr Worth Crops Damaged In Entire State

Kolhapur/Aurangabad/ Nashik: Seventeen persons have died and standing crops worth over Rs 800 crores destroyed following unseasonal rain and severe hailstorms in Maharashtra over the past two weeks. The loss has been acute in the state’s Marathwada region, where crops worth close to Rs 600 crore have been damaged, officials have said. 

    Two persons were killed and one injured when the wall of a house collapsed on a bakery in a hailstorm in Paithan taluka, 50km from here, early Tuesday morning, taking the toll to 17. 
    The spell of unseasonal rain and hailstorm that continues even after two weeks has caused the maximum damage to ready-to-harvest grape, wheat and pomegranate crops in the rain-hit areas of the state. 
    In Sangli district, the worst-affected in Western Maharashtra, grape plantations spread over an estimated 5,600 acres have been ruin
ed in the rains. Similarly in Nashik, grape crops on around 500 hectares have been damaged. Wheat crops in both Nashik and Marathwada regions have been damaged in the rain. Onion crops too have been damaged in Nashik, which might trigger a hike in prices again. 
    Other horticulture crops damaged in the rain in these parts include pomegranate, watermelon and banana. Agricultural crops including wheat, jowar and gram too have been damaged. 
    Officials peg the total rain-lashed farmland in Kolhapur district at 8,000 hectares, where there is no possibility of any yield now. Sangli district collector Deependrasinh Kushwah said farmers make an estimated Rs 10 lakh from each hectare of grape cultivation, which puts the total loss at 
around Rs 800 crore. 
    In Marathwada region, farmers who were preparing to harvest their wheat crops are now counting losses. Jowar and gram crops too have been washed away in the rain in this region. The Aurangabad agriculture department has estimated crop losses to the tune of Rs 600 crore in Marathwada. Joint director of the agriculture department (Aurangabad division) Janardhan Jadhav said crops and fruits on 5.91 lakh hectares of land have been affected between February 22 and March 8. With an estimated average loss of Rs 10,000 per hectare, the total damage is estimated at about Rs 591.25 crore. 
    People in the region panicked as winds at 100-150 km blew away asbestos sheets covering homes. The sudden heavy rainfall and 
hailstorm left many exposed. More than the loss of crops, loss of lives has hit people hard, Jadhav said. 
    Officials in Nashik said the crops that have been affected were being cultivated for the Rabi (summer) season and were in the flowering stage. The harvest season was expected to start by month-end. Officials said the state government grants Rs 20,000 per hectare for areas that have suffered more than 50% damage of crops. 
    Officials said the devastation caused due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm was worse than drought. The process of conducting panchanama has already been initiated. They said that if enough labour had been made available, about 25% loss could have been saved as many of the crops had reached harvesting stage.

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