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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

200 Metro services to run daily on Versova-Ghatkopar section The First Phase Of Mumbai’s Much-Delayed Metro Railway Will Be Operational Within A Week After It Receives Safety Clearances

Metro One plans to operate around 200 services every day on the 12-km long Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor, which is likely to open for commuters this month if it receives the safety certification. 

    "During peak hours we will run trains every four minutes, at other times the frequency will come down to 8-10 minutes," said Abhay Kumar Mishra, chief executive officer of Mumbai Metro One Private Ltd (MMOPL). The Rs 4,321-crore project promises to reduce travel time between the eastern and western suburbs, bringing the Andheri-Ghatkopar commute down to 21 minutes. Mishra said the Metro will initially handle around 7 lakh commuters every day. The line is estimated to cater to nearly 11 lakh passengers daily when the number of coaches are increased to six. 
    While final safety inspections of the Metro have been concluded, it is waiting for the certificate to begin operations. "Commercial operations can begin in seven days from the date of receipt of the safety certificate from the Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS)," Mishra said. 
    The CMRS completed the safety inspection on April 28. Sources said he was waiting for certain approvals, regarding rolling stock and electricals, from the railway board before issuing the certificate, adding the process may take at least a week. 
    The Metro has a total of 16 rakes in its fleet, each fitted with advanced systems to ensure zero collision. The fully air-conditioned coaches are built with fire-retardant material and have wheelchair facilities for the differently abled. The trains will also have additional features like 
dynamic route maps and LED destina
tion signage. 
    Officials said commuters will have multiple ticketing options. "Apart from tokens and smart cards, commuters can also buy tickets from ticket-vending machines that can accept all forms of currency, except Re 1 coins which are smaller in size and weight," an official said. 
    MMOPL officials said the company has tied up with several health care agencies and instituted measures to evacuate people within four minutes in an emergency like a fire, over-crowding and other major technical breakdowns. 

In the event of an emergency, stations will be evacuated in 4 minutes 
Victims/patients will be shifted to the nearest hospital in 10 minutes, owing to tie-ups with ambulance services along the route 
Platforms and concourse will have emergency remotecontrolled doors, which can be opened in case of smoke 

THE METRO STORY JUN 21, 2006 | Prime Minister Manmohan Singh carries out bhoomipujan FEB 8, 2008 | Work starts MAY 1, 2013 | Trial run from Versova to Azad Nagar, flagged off by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan JUNE 2, 2013 | Trial run extends till Airport Road NOV 9, 2013 | Trial run conducted on entire stretch 

After several missed deadlines, the route is expected to be commissioned by May 2014

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weak monsoon may hit recovery India Inc Fears ‘Below Normal’ Rains Will Affect Demand, Sentiment

New Delhi: With the economic growth hovering around 5% and the job scenario remaining weak, a "below normal" monsoon will be the first challenge awaiting the new government that will take charge just before the rainy season sets in. The already-stretched finances of the Centre will only add to the pressure. 

    While economists warned that below normal rains do not necessarily mean a drought or significantly hit the growth rate, Corporate India is already talking about the monsoon further denting the already-battered sentiment and impacting sales at a time when it was sensing a reversal in fortunes. 
    Private agencies had warned of the monsoon being 
below normal and, on Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast that rains will be below the average level. Coupled with that is the fear of the El Nino weather phenomenon impacting precipitation further. 
    Videocon Group chairman V N Dhoot said that a bad monsoon may impact demand, especially in rural areas that depend on the farm sector. "It's not good news at all. Even though the dependence on monsoon has gone down, it will affect sentiments and it will come at a time when we are a little optimistic about a turnaround," added Anil Dua, senior vice-president (marketing & sales), Hero MotoCorp, the country's largest two-wheeler maker. Rural areas account for 48% of the company's sales. 
    Pravin Shah, CEO of Mahindra & Mahindra's automotive business, said, "It doesn't 
have an immediate impact but it does impact sentiments." Hero's rival and former partner Honda isn't reworking its targets just yet, although Y S Guleria, the head of sales and marketing at HMSI, says that monsoon and economic growth are inseparable. 
    Economists are also not changing their forecasts just yet. "The government should be on alert, we should prepare ourselves to deal with the prospects of below normal rains but there is not need to panic," said Ashok Gulati, chair professor for agriculture at the 
Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). 
    There may, however, be some impact on inflation. While north-west India, which has better irrigation facilities, may not be affected significantly, Gulati said there may be some impact on the western region which grows oilseeds, cotton, sugarcane and onions. 
    With record food stocks, the government seems to be wellpositioned to deal with demand for grain. But a prolonged dry spell does impact milk production and may even hit prices of vegetables such as onions, which has been a political hot potato in recent years. 
    "It is early to assess the impact on growth, but it is a warning signal and there is a need to keep a watch on food inflation. It will be an important issue for the new government and it will have to take 
steps from day one," said A Prasanna, chief economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership. 
    But the impact on overall growth is not expected to be significant. "If the total rainfall is 95% of the average with even spread of space and time, then the impact will not be very significant on agriculture production," said D K Pant, chief economist and head (public finance) at India Ratings, while sticking to his forecast of 3% farm sector growth this year. 
    Dhoot cautioned that the government may have to increase spending in the rural areas to counter any negative fallout if the rainfall is highly deficient. Typically, in a raindeficient year, the government gets banks to restructure farm loans and spends more on job-generating schemes in areas where there is severe shortfall.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tsunami-proof floating N-plant designed Surrounding Seawater Will Automatically Cool Reactors To Prevent Melting Of Fuel Rods

London: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists have designed the world's first floating nuclear plants — platforms modelled on those used for offshore oil drilling — that would be automatically cooled by surrounding seawater in case of a major tsunami like the one in Japan in 2011. 

    They say when tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex; neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the lack of cooling for the reactor cores, due to a shutdown of all power at the station, which caused most of the harm. In case of floating nuclear plants, during such a worst-case scenario, the surrounding sea water would indefinitely prevent any melting of fuel rods, or escape of radioactive material. Also, a floating platform several miles offshore, moored in about 100 metres of water, would be unaffected by the motions of a tsunami as earthquakes would have no direct impact at all. 
    Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael Golay and Neil Todreas will present the concept of the design this week at an American Society of Mechanical Engineers symposium. Buongiorno sees a market for such plants in Asia, which has a combination of high tsunami risks and a rapidly growing need for new power sources. "It would make a lot of sense for Japan as well as places such as Indonesia, Chile and Africa," he said. Buongiorno 
said such plants could be built in a shipyard, and then towed to their destinations five to seven miles offshore, where they would be moored to the seafloor and connected to land by an underwater electric transmission line. 
    The concept takes advantage of two mature technologies: light-water nuclear reactors and offshore oil and gas drilling platforms. "Using established designs minimizes technological risks,'' said Buongiorno. The concept also makes it easier to do away with the plants at the end of its lifetime or decommissioning. This could be accomplished by simply towing it away to a central facility, as is done now 
for submarine reactors. That would rapidly restore the site to pristine conditions. 
    This design could also help to address practical construction issues that have tended to make new nuclear plants uneconomical. Shipyard construction allows for better standardization and the allsteel design eliminates the use of concrete which Buongiorno said is often responsible for construction delays and cost overruns. "There are no particular limits to the size of such plants,'' he said. "They could be anywhere from small, 50-megawatt plants to 1,000-megawatt plants matching today's largest facilities. It's a flexible concept."

MIT's new plan can help avoid Fukushima-type disasters 

12 Sherpas die in deadly Mt Everest avalanche

Kathmandu: In one of the most distressing tragedies en route to Mount Everest, 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides were killed while four were missing after an avalanche swept down on them on Friday. Officials said the Sherpas had gone up to fix ropes and were carrying tents and food ahead of the main climbing season starting later this month when they came under the heavy snowslide. 
    The death toll is expected to rise as several bodies are yet to be retrieved from under the snow because of inclement weather. 
    The avalanche hit an area called Popcorn Field below Camp 2 at an elevation of around 6,400m on the 8,848m -tall peak. The area has boulders of ice on the way leading to the treacherous Khumbu icefall. A news agency quoted an injured survivor as telling his relatives that the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche. 
    The survivor was among four injured who were airlifted to a hospital in Kathmandu. Climbers with less serious injuries were treated at the base camp. Rescuers reportedly plucked survivors from under mounds of snow. 
Everest toll may rise as search resumes today 
Kathmandu: The death toll in the Everest avalanche tragedy is expected to rise as several bodies are yet to be retrieved from under the snow. Search operations for four missing guides had to be called off on Friday as the weather worsened. 
    Four survivors were airlifted to a hospital here, while others were treated at the base camp. "The search will continue on Saturday morn
ing," said mountaineering official Dipendra Poudel. Eyewitnesses, he said, had reported more bodies. 
    Hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews are currently at the Everest base camp preparing to summit when weather conditions improve early next month. Eight climbers had died in the last major disaster on way to Everest on May 11, 1996. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

8.2-magnitude quake triggers tsunami in Chile, 6 killed

Santiago: An 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit northern Chile’s Pacific coast on Tuesday, killing at least six people as tsunami waves of more than two metres lashed the shore. The quake sent panicked residents pouring into the streets, with over 900,000 people along Chile’s coast heeding government orders to evacuate their homes. 

    Similar warnings were issued in a ripple effect up the Pacific coast of South America and into Central America. 
    But about 10 hours after the two-minute quake, the Chilean government lifted what remained of a nationwide tsunami alert. People began trickling home after spending hours outside in 
the middle of the night although the interior ministry asked them to remain on alert, as sea levels will remain as much as a metre higher than usual. Some fires broke out, roads were damaged and power was knocked out in the northern city of Arica, although there was no widespread destruction, said thedisaster relief agency ONEMI. The government said that so far there have been 17 aftershocks and there will be more in coming days. 
    President Michelle Bachelet declared parts of northern Chile to bedisaster zones and said soldiers will be dispatched to the areas to prevent looting and disorder. 
    In the city of Iquique, closest to the epicenter, some 300 prisoners escaped from a jail amid the chaos triggered by the new tremor. 
    A total of 39 of them have been recaptured, the interior ministry said. AFP

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A disaster waiting to happen - again

This monsoon, a repeat of the aftermath of the 26/7 deluge could occur in the Bainganwadi slums of Govandi, thanks to the dangerously choked up Mithi River

One shudders in fear when one thinks of the 26/7 deluge of 2005 that swept Mumbai. In that great flood, a choked up Mithi River in Kurla played a major role, due to which the entire area including Air India colony in Kalina and other parts of Kurla remained submerged in water for ten days.

Now, local residents of Bainganwadi area in Govandi fear the repeat of a Mithi river this monsoon unless civic authorities wake up. Areas like Chikalwadi, Kamla Raman Nagar, at the back of the Anjuman Rafiqul Islam School, and Adarsh Nagar Road No.12, all  exist right below the mountain of garbage that is the Deonar dumping ground. In the middle of Chikalwadi and Kamla Raman Nagar, there exists a 12-feet-wide nullah, which has been filled with debris and leveled, allegedly by local land mafias, say locals. Unauthorized shanties too have come up on either side of this choked up canal. And each of them is sold for Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh to unsuspecting slum dwellers.

The nullah water that used to flow down to the creek cannot now join with it, thus posing an immense hazard to the surrounding area during the monsoon.Thuis is in addition to the health issues caused by diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid and asthma among the local populace, especially children.

When ADC spoke to Ram Kadam, Asst. Engineer (Bldg & Factory dept.) of M-East ward, he said, “We take action on illegal slums by demolishing them. But if we demolish these huts in the morning, by evening they are rebuilt again. We have informed Shivaji Nagar police to book these local land mafia under the Zopadapatti Dada Act. But police seldom take action. When we demand police protection during our demolition drives in the area, Shivaji Nagar police is unable to provide it to us.”

Not surprisingly, disgruntled locals have another version. One of them, Salim Khan, laments, “We have complained verbally and in writing repeatedly to M-East ward officials but in vain. Many anti-social elements like tadipars, (externees) and those listed in attempt to murder cases thrive in the area and grab land illegally to construct these unauthorized shanties. When we complain to M-East ward officials, they only take action against poor slum dwellers and contract laborers constructing these shanties, instead of catching land sharks.”

Locals also allege that the personal assistants of some corporators of the region are also involved in land grabbing and illegal construction of shanties. The corporators themselves turn a blind eye to this activity of their so-called assistants. And then there are the electricity mafias who run riot in these slum pockets and  who provide illegal connections to these unauthorized shanties.

When contacted in the matter, senior police inspector Radheshyam Agarwal of Shivaji Nagar police station said, “We give police protection to BMC demolition squads every time they ask for it. However, within 10-15 days after a demolition drive, the shanties are erected once again. When BMC approaches us again, we inspect the illegal sites, carry out panchnamas and tell them to file FIRs against known land mafias. But BMC officials develop cold feet as they do not want to get into the wrong books of these mafias. We ourselves can’t file an FIR against anyone. Only the BMC can tell us about the illegal shanties as they have special teams to inspect such constructions. Most of these officials are hand-in-glove with local land mafias as they receive a cut from each and every illegal shanty. Without the BMC’s knowledge, not a single unauthorized construction can occur in Mumbai slums.”

Speaking about the health of slum children in these localities, Dr Etheshan Shaikh, director of S N Hospital in Govandi, states, “As children play around in the dirt and filth covered soil of the nullah level with the garbage dump, they are infected with diseases like dengue, malaria, typhoid and asthma.” Garbage vehicles, instead of dumping their loads in the the dumping ground, also drop garbage in the nullah . This should stop, declared yet another local resident.

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