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									                                                                                      Building a Disaster Free India

DISASTERS UPDATE                       Issue No.1408                     Date: 01.5.09
                             TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS


Heat Wave intensifies across India
Friday 01 May, 2009. DD News
                            Severe heat wave conditions prevail in entire
                            Northern region and many parts in Deccan Plateau
                            and Tamil Nadu, which has affected the normal life
                            and transportation.
                            Mercury further shot up in most parts of Rajasthan, with
                            Churu being the hottest at 46.2 degrees Celsius.

                                Heat wave swept across Punjab and Haryana on Thursday
                                with mercury soaring to 45.4 degrees Celsius in Hisar.

Temperature rose across Uttar Pradesh sharply with Jhansi being the hottest place in the
state at 44.4 degrees Celsius. Searing heat condition has claimed five more lives in Orissa
on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Delhi government has asked schools to close for summer vacation from 1st or
2nd May in the wake of extreme heat wave conditions.(AKS-01/05)

Heatwave claims 11 lives in Orissa
01 May, 2009. newsonair

Orissa is reeling under severe heatwave with day temperature crossing 45 degree Celsius
in some parts of the state. Day temperature in cities like Talcher, Sundargarh, Titlagarh,
Angul, Bolangir and Jharsuguda has crossed 45 degree Celsius. In coalfield areas of
Talcher, it has even crossed 50 degree Celsius making the lives of people miserable.
However, cities like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur which were reeling under the
heat wave for the past few days have come down to 40 degree Celsius on Thursday. The
State Government has put the casualty due to sunstroke at 11, even as the unofficial
sources say the scorching heat has so far claimed 67. According to Bhubaneswsar
meterological office, the heat wave in Orissa is likely to continue for 48 hours more.
Heat wave may singe crops, send veggie prices zooming
1 May 2009, 0237 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Political parties wondered about the impact of the heat wave on the third
phase of the parliamentary polls and electrical appliance sellers rubbed their hands in glee
as the weather reports promised a prolonged spell cutting across most parts of the

For consumers in the city, scorching heat promised more than unbearable weather with
experts warning that continued heat wave could impact the vegetable produce in some
parts of the country threatening price lines for select foods.

Over the past week, mean maximum temperatures have ranged between 42 to 46 degrees
Celsius over parts of Maharashtra, Marathwada, Vidarbha, Madhya Pradesh and
Chhattisgarh and 34 to 38C over most parts of Kerala, Coastal and South Interior
Karnataka, some parts of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand,
West Bengal, Coastal Orissa, Coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Heat wave conditions are expected to prevail over parts of Jharkhand, Orissa, Gangetic
West Bengal, Telangana and Coastal Andhra Pradesh during next two days. The
possibilities of rains are minimal in these areas over the next few days.

But the sceptre of a general rise in prices, observers assured, was a bit far and still
unpredictable and one would have to wait for the sowing season to see how the monsoon
sets in.

While India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted a `near normal' monsoon
across the country, it is yet to come out with it second prediction which also suggests the
date for the onset of monsoon. For farmers waiting to sow after the harvest, the date when
rains arrive are as important to get a good crop as the intensity and frequency of rains

While the harvest of wheat and other vegetables has progressed in parts of the country,
there are other parts where the horticultural and vegetable crops are hitting maturity.

The IMD's agromet section has already put out a warning to farmers to apply irrigation to
cover up for lack of moisture in the soils.

"If the heat wave continues, then some late crops can be hit despite irrigation," said Dr R
P Samui of IMD, Pune.

While scientists warned not to presume a direct relation between the abnormal heat wave
to a the larger climate change process, the director-general of IMD had earlier in the
month warned that analysis of the period from 1901 to 2008 showed an increase of 0.52
degrees Celsius over 100 years with the rise becoming more apparent since the 1990s.

Out of the 14 warmest years since the start of this century, nine have been since 1998, he
pointed out.

But Krishna Kumar, project manager for climate change, Indian Institute of Tropical
Meteorology , Pune, pointed out: "The recent rise in temperature in most parts of the
country is not unusual. These were normal weather changes. "The flow of hot air from
Rajasthan and its nearby areas was primarily responsible for the increase in temperature
in Maharashtra and some southern states."

Update on Swine Flu Situation as on 30th April 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009, PIB Press Release
World Health Organization has reported human cases of Swine Influenza A [H1N1]
caused by a re-assorted Swine flu virus. As on 29th April, 2009 nine countries have
officially reported 148 cases of swine influenza A/H1N1 infection with 8 deaths. USA
has reported 91 laboratory confirmed human cases, with one death and Mexico reported
26 cases including seven deaths. The other countries which have reported laboratory
confirmed cases with no deaths are: Austria (1), Canada (13), Germany (3), Israel (2),
New Zealand (3), Spain (4) and the United Kingdom (5).

World Health Organization has raised the pandemic alert from phase 4 to phase 5
implying wide spread human infection.

Keeping in view the global scenario, Government of India has instituted a series of
preventive actions that include surveillance at Ports and International Airports,
Surveillance through Integrated Disease Surveillance units in the States and travel
advisory for those traveling to the affected areas to defer non essential travel. Health
screening of passengers has been started at International airports at Delhi, Mumbai,
Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

A passenger, aged 27 years, returning from Texas, USA reached Hyderabad on 28th
April, developed symptoms of common cold reported to a private hospital for check-up
wherein he was referred to the Govt. Chest Hospital, Hyderabad where he failed to
report. This passenger has been tracked to his residence. He was found healthy with no
symptoms of flu and is being followed-up. His clinical samples have been taken and
being sent to the identified laboratory. No other suspect case been identified in the
screening. The states have been advised to review their preparedness to investigate and
contain any suspected cluster of Influenza like Illness. Central Government has issued
necessary guidelines to all States and Union Territories. The stock of medical supplies
like Oseltamivir capsules, personal protective equipments, N-95 masks and three layered
surgical masks have been decentralized and is being kept at Regional Director offices of
this Ministry located in 19 cities to meet any emergent requirement of the States.

The situation is being monitored.

No suspected case of swine flu in India: Govt
Friday 01 May, 2009. DD News

The Government on Thursday said it was screening around 50,000 passengers
coming from swine flu-affected countries even as it assured that there was no
suspected case of the disease in the country as of now.

"There is no suspected case of swine flu in the country so far," Joint Secretary Ministry
of Health, Vineet Chaudhary told reporters in New Delhi.

The clarification came in the wake of reports that a Hyderabad resident had come back
from Mexico with flu like symptoms.

"The patient is not showing any symptoms now. In fact he had reported to a nearby health
centre for check up after he developed flu like symptoms after coming back from
Mexico," Chaudhary said.

The Centre has also decided to increase its Tamiflu stalk from one million to 10 million
doses over the next seven days, he said, adding the stockpile would be decentralised all
over the country so that any emergency situation can be dealt with quickly.

A total of 50,000 passengers who have come from countries affected by swine flu have
been traced and checks would be carried out on them.

Chaudhary said 8 counters have been set up at the Delhi airport and each counter will be
manned by one doctor and two nurses.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation on Thursday said India has "tremendous
capacity" to deal with the situation in the event of an outbreak of the influenza.

"India has not reported any case of swine flu. For that matter, none of the South East
Asian countries have reported any suspected case," Dr J P Narain, Director,
Communicable Diseases, WHO, South-East Asia region, said.

"They (India) have tremendous capacity to deal with any kind of situation and it is very
much in the forefront of prepardeness... capacity is very much there... we have absolutely
no doubt about that," he told reporters.

Asked whether the WHO was satisfied with India's response so far, Narain said, "India
has surveillance and also the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the
country followed all the steps."

He said the IDSP has an "excellent system" of connectivity between districts and states
and the country was in the forefront in preparedness.

Responding to a question, he said the WHO regional office has 3 million stockpile of
Tamiflu treatments and the world health body's headquarters has an additional 3.5 million
Tamiflu treatments. (AKS-01/05)

Seminar on Ozone Depleting Substances
Thursday, April 30, 2009, PIB Press Release

With an aim of phasing out of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) in the defence sector,
a one day seminar on “Combating Climate Change by Management of ODS in Defence
Applications” was conducted at HQ Technical Group, EME, here as a major initiative
towards addressing a vital environmental issue, which concerns not only the Defence
Forces but the entire international community. Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj, Vice Chief of
Army Staff was the Chief Guest of this seminar. A large number of renowned
personalities consisting of senior Defence service officers, senior civilian dignitaries from
Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ozone Cell, eminent scientists of the Centre for Fire
Explosives and Environment Safety (CFEES), DRDO and domain experts who are
closely involved with the issue of ODS phase out participated in the seminar.

The earth’s ozone layer is currently in the most fragile state in the recorded history of the
planet, leaving the earth exposed to unprecedented levels of harmful ultraviolet
radiations. These radiations at the earth’s surface have been causing damage to quality of
air, biological life, materials and human health.

The Montreal Protocol was an epoch step in the direction of limiting the destruction of
our fragile environment. The Protocol was to limit the substances that deplete ozone and
the international community chipped in with commendable efforts, the developing
countries took major steps towards implementing the protocol by limiting and even
stopping production of ozone depleting chemicals. It is important that under the Montreal
protocol ODS phase out is completed with a Zero Tolerance Policy. This can only be
achieved through committed leadership, international cooperation between developing
and developed nations and provision of finance under Montreal protocol Multilateral

The terminal objective of the Seminar is to draw out strategies to enhance awareness
levels, increase synergy between various stake holders, evolving a road map for
management of ODS in In-service equipment and measures to be adopted for future
induction of weapon systems in Defence Forces.

Sensitising students to climate change

Madhur Tankha, The Hindu, Friday, May 01, 2009
Films on environment to be screened in government schools

The aim of the project is to help teachers in the schools’ eco-clubs

To impart a more holistic approach towards environmental education

NEW DELHI: As part of its “Low Carbon Future” initiative, British Council in
collaboration with non-government organisations Earth Matters Foundation and
Television for Environment is launching 15 films on environment and climate change at
its premises here on Friday.

According to LCF head, Dr. Sudhanshu Sinha, these films have been produced by British
Council in association with the two NGOs.

“These films will be shown in government schools where children normally don’t have
access to quality films. We will also organise discussions in schools. In fact, the DVDs of
these films will be distributed free of charge to 5,000 government schools in Delhi,
Chhattisgarh and Chennai and other cities in Tamil Nadu as a contribution to
environmental education in schools. The respective State governments in Delhi, Tamil
Nadu and Chhattisgarh are important stakeholders in this project.” he said.

The aim of the project is to help teachers in the school’s eco-clubs. Often because of
funding constraints, the teachers, while delivering the curriculum on environment, are
restricted only to the textbooks. Because climate change and environment are dynamic
subjects, it is essential to discuss the recent and relevant topics in the classroom. By
incorporating these films in the school curriculum the eco-club teachers will be able to
inspire students and impart a more holistic approach towards environmental education.

Pointing out that visual media such as films act as powerful influencers in initiating
students to commit and act for the cause, Dr. Sinha said: “By using these films as
teachings aids, teachers in government schools across three States will be reaching over a
million students and sensitising them on various aspects and impacts of climate change.”

For sometime now, British Council has been using films as a tool to sensitise audiences at
large on various aspects of climate change. The Wildscreen Film Festival recently held in
February is one such endeavour, the other being the UK Environment Film Fellowships
(UKEFF). While the former targets audiences at large by screening award winning
documentaries, UKEFF aims to encourage and grow the environmental filmmaker
community across the country.

Students and teachers from over 30 of Delhi’s best government and private schools will
be participating in the launch of the films for schools project at British Council.

The launch will host a panel discussion on “Role of visual media in environment
curriculum” which will be followed by a film screening.

The films are all in English, however, most of the films have also been dubbed in Hindi.
To ensure the success of the project, the teachers will be asked for a feedback by
submitting a report stating the response of the students and the follow up activities done
after viewing the films.

Swine Flu fear spreads to Europe even as Mexico begins to shut down
Friday 01 May, 2009. DD News
                     The World Bank has transferred 25.6 million dollar to Mexico
                     to buy drugs and ramp up testing for the deadly H1N1 flu.
                     The funding is part of a larger 205 million dollar World Bank loan
                     promised to Mexico at the weekend as the new flu strain spread
                     and the poverty-fighting institutions mobilize funding to help
                     developing countries prepare for the flu.

Meanwhile, World Health Organisation has said that there have been no new confirmed
deaths attributable to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico.

Director-General Margaret Chan said that for the first time, the world community has
been able to track the evolution of a pandemic in real term.

As the World Health Organization raised the pandemic alert to its second highest level,
governments across the world are activating their emergency plans.

Nearly every country has surveillance and response plans and has stockpiled antiviral

Key developments on swine flu outbreaks worldwide
Friday, May 1, 2009: 1110 Hrs, AP

Key developments on swine flu outbreaks, according to Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, World Health Organization, and government officials:

   Deaths: 168 in Mexico, 12 confirmed as swine flu. One confirmed in U.S., a 23-
month-old boy from Mexico who died in Texas.
   Sickened: 2,955 suspected and 300 confirmed in Mexico. Confirmed elsewhere: 131
in U.S.; 34 in Canada; 13 in Spain; eight in Britain; three each in Germany and New
Zealand; two in Israel; one each in Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands.
   The World Health Organization increases its tally of confirmed swine flu cases around
the world to 257 from 148.
   WHO says it will stop using the term ``swine flu'' to avoid confusion over the danger
posed by pigs. It will instead refer to the virus by its scientific name, ``H1N1 influenza
     The U.S. government comes out against closing the U.S.-Mexico border. Vice
President Joe Biden says it would be ``a monumental undertaking'' with limited benefit.
   Public health emergency declared in the United States.
   Two leading U.S. makers of respiratory masks ramp up production to meet heavy
demand from pharmacies.

US to buy 13 million anti-viral flu treatments: Official
1 May 2009, 0948 hrs IST, AFP
WASHINGTON: The United States will purchase an additional 13 million antiviral
treatments to help ward off swine flu and plans to send 400,000 of the treatments to
Mexico, officials said.

"The 13 million additional treatment courses that we will purchase will allow us to
replenish our national stockpile and further ensure we are prepared to provide the
American people with the treatments they may need to stay healthy," health and human
services secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

"Today HHS began moving 400,000 treatment courses to Mexico to help stop the spread
of the virus. The 400,000 courses represent less than one per cent of the total American
stockpile," she said.

The $251-million purchase replaces 11 million treatment courses the government has
already offered to US states and buys an additional two million courses.

The move ensures the United States resupplies and boosts its approximately 50 million
courses of antiviral drugs in the "Strategic National Stockpile."

Stockpiles in individual states hold an additional 23 million treatment courses.

Sebelius explained the move to send a small fraction of treatments to Mexico by saying
that "flu viruses don't stop at the border, and it is imperative we do whatever we can to
slow the spread of the virus and help stop this outbreak."

                                                                                   AD Kaushik


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