Monday, July 13, 2009
Thousands of enthusiasts from different walks of life and age groups participated in the annual 'Varsha Marathon' or, the Monsoon Marathon held at Thane in Maharashtra on Sunday.
This marathon race is reckoned to be one of the biggest sporting events of Thane, located on the outskirts of Mumbai.
The 'Varsha Marathon' is hosted with to encourage youngsters to be more health conscious and sports-oriented.
For Rashmi Srivastava, one of the girl participants, this marathon run has been an index of unity and human strength to achieve the impossible, individually as well as collectively.
"Here people of all ages, old and young alike, are running for unity. It sends a signal that we all should unite to fight for something and to achieve something. We should always be united, come what may," said Rashmi Srivastava, a young participant.
The annual 40-kilometres marathon is two decades old and it was started by Shiv Sena. However, this year, Maharashtra Navanirmana Sena (MNS), the breakaway faction of Shiv Sena led by Raj Thackeray, was in the forefront in organising this event.
Interestingly, it is for the first time in 20 years that the marathon was held with the weather gods playing truant! The founder and chief of MNS, Raj Thackeray flagged off the race with hardly any clouds in sight.
"This marathon takes place every year. Though the name of the marathon is 'Varsha (monsoon) Marathon', however, this year it is only marathon without the rain. We hope it will rain," said Raj Thackeray.
This year the race was open to competitors from all over India despite MNS being allergic to people who are not 'Marathi Manoos' (non bona-fide residents of Maharashtra).
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has recently uploaded over 1.5 lakh invaluable weather charts on the web. The aim is to preserve the charts which can prove to be handy in analysing the weather situation in future.
Director of the National Data Centre at IMD, G Krishnakumar told DNA that the main object of the project titled 'Digitalisation of Indian Ocean Southern Hemisphere Analysis Charts (INOSHAC)' is to preserve the charts from 1932 till date for weather analysis in future. They will be available to various government agencies like water resources department, town planning department and individual researchers and institutes.
Others like the civil aviation and shipping companies also often require weather charts.
"We had initially undertaken a pilot project where we uploaded 15,000 weather charts," he said, explaining that the digitalisation of weather charts in the form of reports and symbols can now be easily accessed with just the click of a mouse.
"In the next phase of the project, around one lakh charts - ranging between 1932 and 1962- were digitalised and uploaded," he said. The third phase involved uploading 50,000 weather charts from 1990 to December 2008.
"With the help of these charts, individual researchers and research institutes can analyse the weather pattern in the particular period," Krishnakumar said, adding that around Rs17 lakh have been spent on the project so far. He said city-based software company Virtual Infosoft was assigned the task to upload the charts.
President of Virtual Infosoft Manish Patel said, "Before uploading the charts, we had to take their digital photos to maintain the clarity of the same."
Saturday remained cloudy but showers gave the city a slip till evening. Humidity recorded between 59 and 83 per cent, making it sticky and uncomfortable. The India Met Department predicts a cloudy Sunday without possibility of rain
Over to the weatherman: "Most parts of India are receiving moderate to heavy rain but monsoon system over Delhi is very feeble. We can't predict whether we will be able to catch up with last year's rainfall"
Delhi received 143.7 mm rain last July
DEMAND peaked at 3.58 pm on Saturday at 4,041 MW.
Average demand was around 3,600 to 3,900 MW
NO SHORTAGE reported; there was no load-shedding on Saturday, say discoms
LEVEL OF YAMUNA at Wazirabad pond showed an upward trend on Saturday: it stood at 673.6 feet, against Friday's 673 feet.
TOTAL PRODUCTION of potable water went down to 670
million gallons (MGD), against 685 MGD on Friday
Due to low level of water in Western Yamuna Canal, production dipped to 203 MGD at Haiderpur water treatment plant, against 202 MGD produced on Friday
If prices of tomatoes are pinching your wallet blame it on the rain gods. Lack of monsoon showers has reduced tomato production in Himachal Pradesh by 35-40 percent, triggering a massive price hike for the vegetable in north Indian cities.
"Lack of pre-monsoon and monsoon showers in the tomato-growing belt of the state in the past two months has hit its production by 35-40 percent," Additional Director (Agriculture) H.R. Sharma told IANS on Saturday.
He said the tomato crop was badly damaged in Solan, Sirmaur, Shimla, Hamirpur and Bilaspur districts.
Rahul Jaiswal, a seller at the Solan wholesale vegetable market, said tomato prices have shot up more than three-fold in just a few weeks due to low supply.
"Tomato prices have skyrocketed these days to more than three-fold. These days it is selling between Rs.35 and Rs.40 per kg in Chandigarh and Delhi markets," he said.
Himachal Pradesh is the major tomato-producing State of the region.
According to Jaiswal, the situation will remain the same till the arrival of the new crop.
Sharma attributed the decline in tomato crop to lack of moisture in soil.
"Because of inadequate rain this season, the moisture content in soil has reduced drastically. The sudden rise in day temperature in June has further made the situation precarious," he said.
"If there is not sufficient rain in the next few weeks, the prospects of another flush of tomato are bleak. Some of the farmers have managed to protect the crop by using irrigation systems," he added.
About 81 percent of the total cultivated area in the state is rain-fed.
According to the meteorological office here, Himachal Pradesh has received the lowest rainfall in the past 20 years this monsoon.
"The overall monsoon situation continues to be precarious. Large parts continue to be deficit," Met office Director Manmohan Singh said.
"The deficiency in the cumulative rainfall from June 1 to July 8 is more than 69 percent. The state has received (during this period) just 45.1 mm rainfall against the average rainfall of 145.2 mm," he added.
S.P. Bhardwaj, joint director at the Solan-based Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, said some rain in the past two-three days has raised hopes of a good tomato harvest again.
"Rain in the past two-three days, though much delayed, will be beneficial for the crop. If this process (rain) continues, then another flush of tomato in the next few weeks will be good. The present plantation would continue to bear one or two more flushes," he said.
Added a satisfied Sukh Ram, a farmer from Solan district: "The recent rains have cheered us. Now we are hoping to get another crop if the weather remains favourable."
Solan district is the major tomato-producing area in the state, with more than 90 percent of the produce going to markets in northern states.
Tomato is grown in about 955 hectares in the state. In 2008-09, the total production was 336,287 metric tonnes.