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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Five Indian cos in global list of firms fighting climate change

Have Moved On To Low-Carbon Growth Path, Says Report
At the time when the government is exploring various options to move on to a low-carbon growth path, five Indian companies have made it to the global list of firms that have shown leadership in adopting measures to cut their climate-damaging emissions.

The list reveals which companies around the world are doing the most to combat climate change.

It has 187 companies from across the globe that illustrate that a low-carbon future does not mean low profit. Most of the companies performing better in terms of their efforts to combat climate change are in Europe, followed by the US and Japan.

The Indian companies that made it to the list -CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index 2014--are: Essar Oil, Larsen & Toubro, Tech Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro. This new global index has been prepared by the CDP-an international not-for-profit organization -at the behest of 767 investors who represent more than a third of the world's invested capital. The CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) is the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. "Awarded an `A' grade for their performance, they (the companies in the list) earn a position on the first global ranking of corporate efforts to mitigate climate change", said the organization in a statement while releasing the report comprising the names of the companies and the parametersmethodology followed on Wednesday.

It said, "Collectively the climate performance leaders have reduced their total (absolute) emissions by 33 million metric tons in the past reporting year, equivalent to turning London's car owners into cyclists for twoand-a-half years".

Paul Simpson, chief executive officer of CDP said, "The businesses that have made it onto our first ever global list of climate performance leaders are to be congratulated for their progress; they debunk economic arguments against reducing emissions. However, global emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate.Businesses and governments must raise their climate ambition."

"The data shows that there is neither an excuse nor the time for lethargy," he added. The India 2014 report titled "Indian companies decouple business growth from carbon emissions" reveals that energy efficiency is the key means by which companies are acting on climate change.

"Over 60% of surveyed companies are introducing process energy efficiency initiatives, consequently, 24% have reduced their absolute emissions and an additional 26% have reduced their emissions intensity while driving business growth and profitability", said the report.

The report that analyzed the responses from the top 200 Indian companies by market capitalization found that the companies are now better at identifying and prioritizing the climate change issues they want to actively manage.

The occasion also saw release of the CDP India 200 Climate Change Report 2014, showing how the Indian companies are using their increased commitment to climate change action to drive innovative sustainable businesses processes.

According to the report, the Indian companies expressed their eagerness to engage with the government to keep abreast with regulatory changes.

This will ensure that they can take necessary precautions and proactively maintain their competitive advantage and brand image.


Friday, October 3, 2014

CHANGEMAKERS HEALTH - Frontline fighters in good health crusade

Across India, battles are being fought and won to deliver efficient healthcare. Here's a look at some steps taken by people and NGOs who've won a Social Impact Award
Building trust and boosting tribal development

Bangalore: Thirty-four years ago, some doctors and activists trekked deep into the forests of Karnataka's BR Hills in Yelandur Taluk, 180km from Bangalore, to reach medical help to tribal set tlements.

They found only old people and leprosy-affected children. The rest had fled in fear of the disease. The team led by Dr Sudarshan stayed back and ensured the tribals overcame their fear and approached them for help. This formed the genesis of Karuna Trust, winner of the TOI Social Impact Awards for 2012. Today , the trust has transformed foul-smelling primary health centres (PHCs) into pleasant facilities."It implemented a PPP model leveraging government investment in public health infrastructure complementing it with a not-for-profit, competent management team," said Sudarshan, honorary secretary of the trust. As many as 13 Karuna Trust managed PHCs in Karnataka were granted ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Innovations like repositioning of family planning, distributing birthing kits and baby warmers helped reduce maternal and infant deaths. Sudarshan says "the challenges and changing dynamics in the sector have made us stronger and helped us stay grounded."

Sudarshan launched Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK), a movement for integrated tribal development. An eight-bed hospital was started in BR Hills. Realizing that healthcare alone was not enough, VGKK formed the Karuna Trust in 1986 to provide education and help marginalized people. TNN

Boon of flood-proof handpumps

Bahraich: Every year, floods put people here to the test. They struggle for food and water. Food packets are para-dropped as the Ghaghra burst its banks. But safe drinking water is a challenge easier met because of flood-proof hand pumps installed at many places in the district.

These are normal pumps installed in 2010-11 by the local administration on concrete by the local administration on concrete platforms using NREGA funds. The 2.5-3.75-metre platforms ensure the hand-pumps don't go under water easily. This serves two purposes -guaran tee safe drinking water and serve as permanent structures that help people find a place to toehold when everything else floats.

Former DM Rigzin Sampleal led the project that proved effective in the 2011 floods and thereafter. It bagged the 2011 TOI Social Impact Award. Ghaghra's fury engulfed the city this year too. Once again, the hand-pumps came in handy .A visit to marooned Gangapurva village in Mahasi tehsil proved the point. Of its 10 flood-proof hand-pumps, seven were working.

"This year flood water swelled to over two meters in places. One hand-pump went under.Two others were partially inundated. The rest seven worked as usual," said Ghan Shyam, subdivisional magistrate, Mahasi. Some of these 1,000 hand-pumps were installed in villages along motorable roads. People in the interior villages waded through the submerged link roads to fetch safe drinking water.

"Team work helped. A villager sug gested the idea, which the administra tion implemented with help from headmen and officers," says Sampheal, now posted as special secretary to UP CM Akhilesh Yadav .

The Elevated Flood-Proof Bahraich Model hand-pumps are installed two to four meters above ground. When the river breaches, people come on boats to fetch water from these pumps.Today , it's recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority and replicated by several districts on pilot basis. TNN

The silent observer that helped save many a girl child

Kolhapur: In June, Kolhapur's sex ratio crossed 900, an adverse number that a unique technological initiative, painstakingly implemented, corrected in five years.

In 2008, then Kolhapur collector Laxmikant Deshmukh got ultrasound machines in the city to fix a device that recorded sonography images and linked them to an online portal, `save the baby girl'. An awareness drive was launched, doctors asked to fill in details of each pregnancy case they received.Within three years, the drive instilled fear among families wanting to check a fetus's sex.In 2011, Deshmukh won the TOI Social Impact award for the initiative. Two years later, the state scrapped the model, and asked doctors to file online details on sonography machine use. By then, the award had given the model national recognition, which encouraged the city's medical fraternity to embrace it.

"The award boosted the morale of the administration and those in the project. Other states approached the Kolhapur administration for details and implemented it," says Deshmukh. The silent observer model was replicated in Rajasthan, Goa, MP and it got implemented in 200 districts across the country . Kolhapur's medical fraternity still uses it, despite annual maintenance cost ranging between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh. "Kolhapur had become notorious after the 2001 Census, when sex ratio dropped to 829. The silent observer device changed everything," said Ajit Patil, senior Kolhapur gynaecologist. TNN

Changing the face of ambulance services

When it bagged the TOI Social Impact award in 2012, Ziqitza was already a superstar in the country's emergency medical aid sector.Its ambulance services operated locally in Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab and Orissa. Mobile medical units brought healthcare to the less accessible regions of J&K, Kerala and Jharkhand, working with states and corporate entities. Ambulances were equipped with life support, paramedics, resuscitation kits, oxygen cylinders and defibrillators. Free clinics, staffed by a medical team, conducted awareness programmes. Two years on, 1,200 Zi qitza ambulances operate across 18 states, providing medical care to about "3.2 million, delivering over 8,000 babies on board", says co-founder and CEO Sweta Mangal.The organization continues to grow.

"When we started in 2004, the (ambulance) industry didn't exist," says Mangal. "We were one of a few organized players." The team, which included her, Shaffi Mather, Naresh Jain, Ravi Krishna and Manish Sancheti, worked closely with the government to ensure standards were established. "Earlier, anybody could buy a vehicle, put a stretcher inside and call themselves an ambulance service." There was no accredited course for paramedics, and dialling 102 (ambulance service number) often connected you to the cremation grounds. TNN Its services proved invaluable when Cyclone Phailin hit Orissa last year. Ambulances transported the injured and also food. "Everything else was shut but we were on high alert. A baby was born in an ambulance, he was named Phailin," recalls Mangal. The organisation made it to the Limca Book of Records last year, for their free, first-aid responder training workshops. Over 5,000 participants were trained in a year, across school and colleges in Punjab. TNN






Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New toll rates chaos, holiday rush cause 7-km snarls

Lack of information and the resultant confusion over the revised toll rates, which came into effect from Tuesday midnight, led to massive traffic snarls at the five toll plazas as motorists argued with the staffers on Wednesday . What compounded the problem was the rush of people heading out of the city to enjoy the extended weekend--from October 2 to 6.

"Between 9am and 11am, which are peak hours, vehicles were backed up over a 7-km stretch on the Sion-Panvel Highway from Nerul flyover till the Vashi toll plaza as most motorists argued over the revised rates," said police inspector Shirish Pawar of the Vashi traffic unit in-charge. The five entry points to Mumbai saw bumper-to-bumper traffic on all the arterial roads and highways leading to the toll plazas on Wednesday as commuters argued with toll staff over increased fare.

"We had to convince the toll plaza management to allow 70-80 vehicles to pass without paying the charges as the queues were getting longer and longer. Only then, were we able to ease the traffic movement on the lanes heading towards Mumbai," said inspector Shirish Pawar, Vashi traffic unit in-charge.

The snarl left regular commuters coming to Mumbai in a soup. "At Vashi, it took me almost one hour to cross the toll plaza," said Amay Khade, a Navi Mumbai resident. Traffic was crawling at Dahisar and Airoli too. Many took to social networking sites to warn about the traffic snarls at the toll booths.

But a Mumbai Entry Points Ltd (MEPL) spokesperson said, "We have deployed ade quate additional manpower to handle the toll collection in a swift manner." He said they had also made available sufficient quantity of Rs 5 coins and notes to tackle the demand for change. "Toll rates are revised every three years since 2002 as per the decision taken by the government," the spokesperson added.

MEPL has been assigned the contract of collecting toll at Vashi, Airoli, Mulund (Eastern Express Highway), Mulund (LBS Road), and Dahisar.

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