Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chennai - No sign of thunder cell till 6pm, So hopes of a shower has been reduced to 5%.
Heavy rains over Central India ..
Heavy rain forecast over Madhyapradesh, Bangladesh, Bihar and UP in another 48 hrs.
RT @GCPworks: India Panics Over Swine Flu Toll (Forbes)
City of Mumbai say they will close all schools, colleges and cinemas as they seek to control the spread of the H1N1 virus..
RT @yukti: Bangalore much much better than Chennai.. lovely weather :))
RT @yukti: Shifted to Bangalore ... Bangalore much much better than Chennai.. lovely weather :))
RT @ibnlive: H1N1 claims ninth victim in Pune, India's toll 16
#swine flu tip:: "Use 2 drops of eucalyptus oil in your hanky and wipe your face every 30 min" .. National Institute of Virology.
#chennai - a lone Dead thunder cell has enveloped the Sun in west. Bit too early for a thunder cell to materialize. Should wait till 6 pm.
RT @CNBCTV18news: F&C Invst Says :: Expect India To Underperform On Monsoon Scare
chennai - Good cloud formations from west.. and temperature is 32.4°C. Chances of rain is increasing to 80%
One Quarter of India Faces Drought Threat ...

One Quarter of India Faces Drought Threat

In India, a deficit in annual monsoon rains has left nearly one-quarter of the country facing the prospect of a drought. The government is taking measures to stave off food shortages, but fears are growing that the poor monsoon will adversely impact economic growth.

For more than two months, farmers across India have been waiting for annual monsoon rains to drench parched fields so that they can sow crops such as rice, sugar and oilseeds.

But many have waited in vain, as rains have been elusive in large parts of the country, since the monsoon season began in June.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday that nearly one-quarter of the country faces the threat of drought. He says the area cultivated with Summer crops is down by 20 percent, compared to last year.

Less than half of India's farmland is irrigated.

Mukherjee says the government can manage the situation and that a contingency plan is in place.

"About 161 districts already have been declared drought prone," Mukherjee said. "This country has the experience, capability of handling the situation, and I will advise not to press the panic button."

The government says surplus harvests in the last two years mean they have sufficient stocks of food grain to distribute through drought-affected areas.

The government is also taking steps to import food items such as sugar and lentils, which could be in short supply.

Food prices are already climbing. But the prime minister says the government will ensure than no citizen goes hungry.

The areas affected by drought include some of the country's most populous and poor states, such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

Economists have warned that the deficit in farm production will hurt rural incomes and pull down economic growth in the country at a time when hopes were growing that India was puling out of the slump which followed the global recession.

However, Mukherjee hopes that India's growth will not be hurt.

"What would happen [we] shall have to accept," Mukherjee said. "But Reserve Bank's latest assessment is it would be six plus [percent]. I am still sticking to that."

The agriculture sector is vital in India because it sustains nearly two-thirds of the country's more than one billion population.

Indian Stocks Fall on Monsoon Rain Concern

India's benchmark stock index fell on concern the weakest monsoon rainfall in five years will slash farm output and spending.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., the nation's largest tractor maker, slid 3.3 percent after the government said yesterday as many as 161 of India's 626 districts have been declared drought- prone. Jaiprakash Associates Ltd., the biggest maker of dams, lost 2.1 percent amid concern the country's 7 percent economic growth target may be jeopardized. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., the No. 1 copper producer, retreated 3 percent after metal prices declined.

"The rain gods continue to play hooky," said Rajeev Malik, a regional economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Singapore. A poor monsoon that results in a sizeable shortfall in farm production would "definitely reduce economic growth," he added.

The Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensitive Index, or Sensex, fell 280.7, or 1.9 percent, to 14,793.89 at 12:10 p.m. in Mumbai. The S&P CNX Nifty Index on the National Stock Exchange lost 1.5 percent to 4,403.95. The BSE 200 Index decreased 1.4 percent to 1,816.07.

Overseas funds sold a net 2.27 billion rupees ($47.5 million) of Indian stocks on Aug. 10, the Securities and Exchange Board of India said on its Web site. The funds have bought 350.4 billion rupees of Indian stocks this year to date, compared with record net sales of 530 billion rupees for the whole of 2008.

Mahindra lost 3.3 percent to 760 rupees. Jaiprakash fell 2.1 percent to 203.45 rupees.

Areas under rice cultivation have declined 20 percent to 22.82 million hectares, the farm ministry said. Agriculture makes up about a fifth of the Indian economy, according to IIFL Ltd. in Mumbai.

Metals Rise

"The monsoon concerns will not let the market go higher from here," said Alex Mathews, head of research at Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services Ltd. "There is no positive bias for the market."

A below-average monsoon may shave as much as one percentage point off India's growth in the year to March 2010, Raghuram Rajan, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund said on Aug. 10. India's economy, the third-largest in Asia, may expand 6 percent in the current fiscal year, Rajan said.

Sterlite retreated 3 percent to 616 rupees. Hindalco Industries Ltd., the biggest aluminum producer, fell 2.6 percent to 102.7 rupees. Tata Steel Ltd., the biggest producer of the alloy, lost 5 percent to 439.95 rupees.

Copper in Shanghai fell for the second day as a decline in China's new loan growth in July stoked concern that investment demand for the metal may slow. November-delivery copper on the Shanghai Futures Exchange fell as much as 1.2 percent.

A measure of six metals traded on the London Metals Exchange, comprising copper, aluminum, lead, tin, zinc and nickel, fell 2 percent yesterday.

The following are among the most active on the exchange:

Infosys Technologies Ltd. (INFO IN) lost 1.9 percent to 2,044.4 rupees. India's second-largest software exporter said it doesn't see an "explicit pickup" in information technology spending. Executives spoke at a technology conference in Boston yesterday.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP IN) gained 1.9 percent to 1,231 rupees. India's most valuable drugmaker won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an anti- cancer drug, the company said in a statement to the exchange.

Important Information for Swine Flu Treatment ..

Important Information for Swine Flu Treatment in Chennai

The Union Government has identified the Communicable Disease Hospital, 87, T.H. Road, Tondiarpet, as the isolation facility, for testing and isolation of suspected swine flu patients in Chennai. The government has set up a screening facility at the Chennai International Airport for all the inbound passengers to prevent the spread of H1N1. Doctors from the Hospital are round the clock screening the passengers at the Airport.

Communicable Disease Hospital,
87, T.H. Road, Tondiarpet,
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Ph- 91-44- 25912686/87/88

The Government has also identified the following hospitals as the facilities for Swine Flu testing

Chennai King Institute of Preventive Medicine
(24/7 Service) Guindy,
Chennai - 32
Ph- 91-44- 22501520, 22501521 & 22501522

Government General Hospital
Opp. Central Railway Station,
Chennai - 03
Ph- 91-44- 25305000,25305723,25305721,25330300

Please visit for more information.

We Can Handle Drought, Says Government ...

Typhoon Morakat Hits Taiwan

Hundreds of New Species Found in Warming Eastern Himalayas

The world's smallest deer, a new species of monkey, and a flying frog are among the 353 new species that have been identified in the Eastern Himalayas between 1998 and 2008, but conservationists warn that global warming is threatening to alter the native habitats of these unique plants and animals.

The discoveries by scientists from dozens of different institutions include 242 plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, two birds and two mammals, and at least 61 new invertebrates. The new species were found in a region stretching across Bhutan and northeast India to the far north of Myanmar into Nepal and the southern Tibetan plateau.

Miniature muntjac deer, called leaf deer (Photo © Alan Rabinowitz courtesy WWF Nepal)

"This enormous cultural and biological diversity underscores the fragile nature of an environment which risks being lost forever unless the impacts of climate change are reversed," said Tariq Aziz, leader of WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative, which Monday published a new report compiling all these discoveries, "The Eastern Himalayas - Where Worlds Collide."

One of the two new mammals is the world's smallest deer species, a miniature muntjac, standing 60 to 80 centimeters (23 to 31 inches) tall and weighing about 11 kilograms (24 pounds). It was first seen in 1999 by a team of scientists in the Himalayan region of northern Myanmar.

Examining the carcass of a deer they believed to be the juvenile of another species, the scientists were astounded to learn that the carcass was of an adult female of an unknown species.

Obtaining specimens from local hunters, scientists conducted DNA analysis in a New York laboratory, confirming the so-called "leaf deer," Muntiacus putaoensis, as a unique species.

The muntjac group, with its 11 known living species, is the oldest known deer group, first appearing in the fossil record 15 to 35 million years ago.

In 1999, scientists believed Muntiacus putaoensis to be found only near the town of Putao in Myanmar, where it was first discovered. Then in 2003, a team of Indian scientists reported that the leaf deer also inhabits the rainforests close to Namdapha Tiger Reserve in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The first identification of the species in India, it was the only addition to the ungulate fauna of the Indian subcontinent in the last century.

Arunachal macaques (Photo © Anindya Sinha courtesy WWF Nepal)

The other newly discovered mammal is a monkey - the Arunachal macaque, Macaca munzala - found in 2005 in the high altitudes of western Arunachal Pradesh.

At the time, it was the first new monkey species identified anywhere in the world in over a century. The newly described macaque is stocky in build and has a darker face than other closely related species. It is the highest-dwelling macaque in the world, living between 1,600 meters and 3,500 meters (between one and two miles) above sea level.

The status of the new monkey is not yet fully known, the report explains. Field studies have documented a total of 569 individuals in the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Although new to science, locals are familiar with the macaques, which they blame for damaging their crops. As a result, the species, known locally as "mun zala" or deep-forest monkey by the Dirang Monpa people, is vulnerable to hunting in the only two places it is known to live.

Most of the 16 new amphibians also are found only in areas of highly specialized habitat.

The bright green, red-footed tree frog, Rhacophorus suffry, is called a flying frog because its long, webbed feet allow the species to glide when falling. This frog has been found in just five sites, including the Suffry tea estate in the Indian state of Assam, where it was originally found.

One of the most significant findings, WFF says, is a 100 million year old gecko, the oldest fossil gecko species known to science, discovered in an amber mine in the Hukawng Valley in Himalayan regions of far northern Myanmar.

Threats to the Eastern Himalayas detailed in the WWF report include "forest destruction as a result of unsustainable and illegal logging, leading to floods; shifting cultivation; unsustainable fuel wood collection; overgrazing by domestic livestock; illegal poaching and wildlife trade for pelts and traditional Asian medicine; mining; water diversion and pollution; tourism; and poorly-planned infrastructure, especially dam and road construction."

The region is among the most vulnerable to global climate change, which conservationists say will amplify the impacts of these existing threats. "Only 25 percent of the original habitats in the region remain intact," according to the 2009 study "Biodiversity Hotspots: Himalayas" by Conservation International, which is quoted in the WWF report.

Flying frog (Photo © Totul Bortamuli courtesy WWF Nepal)

"People and wildlife form a rich mosaic of life across this rugged and remarkable landscape, making it among the biologically richest areas on Earth. But the Himalayas are also among the most vulnerable to global climate change," said Aziz.

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to reach an agreement on a new climate agreement to replace the existing Kyoto Protocol.

"Only an ambitious and fair deal based on an agreement between rich and poor countries can save the planet and its treasures such as the Himalayas from devastating climate change," said Kim Carstensen, leader of the WWF's Global Climate Initiative.

The Eastern Himalayas are now known to hold 10,000 plant species, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 types of freshwater fish. The region has the highest density of the Endangered Bengal tiger and is the last bastion of the Endangered greater one-horned rhino.

Rugged and inaccessible, the Eastern Himalayas have posed obstacles to scientists undertaking wildlife surveys, and as a result, large areas are still biologically unexplored.

Children in India, where some new species were discovered (Photo © Dhilung Kirat courtesy WWF Nepal)

WWF aims to conserve the habitat of endangered species such as snow leopards, Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, red pandas, takins, golden langurs, rare Gangetic dolphins and one-horned rhinos as well as the thousands of plant and animal species believed to be still undiscovered in the Eastern Himalayas.

In the report, WWF suggests that to achieve effective conservation, the governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal, who already recognize the importance of the Himalayas at a national level, develop a shared three-country vision for the region as a whole.

"This will result in a unified conservation and sustainable development plan that ensures the connectivity of landscapes within the Eastern Himalayas, allowing for the free movement of wildlife across political borders and combating illegal trade at a regional level," the report states.

WWF advises that "broadening the scope and scaling up the local stewardship of forests, grasslands, and wetlands" would assure the future of the wildlife that live there because the people who share these lands would then have a vested interest in species survival.

WWF warns that development initiatives, particularly in the energy and tourism sectors, must take the environment into account to prevent irretrievable damage to the very resources on which economic development depends.

Ensuring that communities are supported to cope with the "inevitable" effects of climate change, such as floods from glacial lake collapse and changing weather patterns, is crucial, WWF recommends.

The global conservation group advises, "Water availability will be a key concern and, since major rivers rising in the Eastern Himalayas support millions of people downstream as well as the rich biodiversity, so river management will need to take place at a regional, river-basin scale, if it is to meet the needs of all."


Strong Meteor Shower Expected Tonight

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good show this week for those willing to get up in the wee hours of the morning and wait patiently for the shooting stars.

In North America, the best time to watch will be between midnight to 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12, but late Tuesday night and also Wednesday night could prove fruitful, weather permitting.

The Perseids are always reliable, and sometimes rather spectacular. The only things that puts a damper on the August show are bad weather or bright moonlight. Unfortunately this week, as the Perseids reach their peak Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the moon will be high in the sky, outshining the fainter meteors.

Still, skywatchers around the globe will have a good chance of spotting the brighter meteors. Some already are enjoying the show.

Already underway

The Perseids are bits of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has laid down several streams of debris, each in a slightly different location, over the centuries as it orbits the sun. Every August, Earth passes through these debris streams, which spread out over time.

"They are typically fast, bright and occasionally leave persistent trains," says Joe Rao,'s Skywatching Columnist. "And every once in a while, a Perseid fireball will blaze forth, bright enough to be quite spectacular and more than capable to attract attention even in bright moonlight."

Low numbers of Perseids, including some bright fireballs, have already been reported as Earth began entering the stream in late July. Seasoned observers have counted up to 25 per hour already, or nearly one every two minutes.

Most meteors are no bigger than a pea. They vaporize as they enter Earth's atmosphere, creating bright streaks across the sky.

The Perseids appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which rises high in the sky around midnight and is nearly overhead by dawn. Like most meteor showers, the hours between midnight and daybreak are typically the best time to watch, because that's when the side of Earth you are on is rotating into the direction of Earth's travels through space, so meteors are "scooped up" by the atmosphere at higher rates, much like a car's windshield ends the lives of more bugs than does the rear bumper.

Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. But many of the fainter meteors will simply not be visible due to moonlight, and rates will go down even more for those in urban areas. More likely a typical observer under reasonably dark skies might hope to see a meteor every couple minutes when the bursts come, and fewer during lulls.

When to watch

The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn Wednesday. Forecasters say the best stretch could come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET (1-2 a.m. PT), which would be after daybreak in Europe. Some Perseids might be visible late Tuesday night, and Wednesday night into Thursday morning could prove worthwhile, too.

Meteor forecasting is still in its infancy, however, so the best bet for anyone truly hungry to spot shooting stars is to get in as much observing time as possible from around 11 p.m. Tuesday night until dawn Wednesday, and if you miss that show, try the same time frame Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

Meteors should be visible in the pre-dawn hours, weather permitting, all around the Northern Hemisphere.

"Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on Aug. 12," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour."

Viewing tips

The best location is far from city and suburban lights. Ideally, find a structure, mountain or tree to block the moon. Then scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they'll all point to the constellation Perseus.

People in locations where any chill might occur should dress warmer than they think necessary to allow for prolonged viewing.

Seasoned skywatchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars.

Avid meteor watchers might want to try scanning the northeastern horizon from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. local time (your local time, wherever you are) for Perseids that graze the horizon.

"Earthgrazers are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond," Cooke explained. "They are long, slow and colorful - among the most beautiful of meteors." He notes that an hour of watching may net only a few of these at most, but seeing even one can make the whole night worthwhile.

RT @BBC_News_World: Drought grips many Indian districts: More than a quarter of India's districts are affected by..
chennai - Already (11:51am) we have good signs of Thunder cell formation over head of Chennai.
Heavy showers over East Rajasthan, North-west M.P, Kerala coast is getting active ..
Monsoon worries and dollar's strength are also going to weigh on the currency. The range for the day is seen between Rs 47.95-48.30 per $

Spiralling `dal' price and looming drought

Pained by the common man's plight in a drought year when prices of food articles have skyrocketed, with `dal' selling at an unaffordable
Rs 100 per kg, the Supreme Court on Tuesday called for all out efforts "in the spirit of patriotic duty" to counter the looming danger.

Though a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and A K Ganguly was hearing a PIL on solving the growing water crisis, the prevailing situation in the country on account of a deficit monsoon did not escape its attention.

It commended the work initiated by a technical expert committee headed by science and technology secretary T Ramaswamy in starting the mission to make saline water drinkable through a cheap process and asked the Centre and the states to fully cooperate with it administratively, financially and technicaly to achieve the objective.

But, having touched upon the "terrible situation" arising out of monsoon failure, the Bench went on to tell the technical expert committee to look for ways and means to alleviate the condition of people staring at an "immediate crisis".

The Centre had on Monday told the SC about its ambitious technology mission "WAR for water" and said that it had already set up a technical expert committee focusing on converting sea water into fresh water to solve the severe shortage of drinking water in the country.

"The technology mission `WAR for Water' is developed on the principle that timely, urgent, cost effective, socially viable and sustainable techno-management solutions are required for solving problems of water scarcity," the Department of Scince and Technology said in an affidavit before the SC in response to the PIL filed by advocate M K Balakrishnan.

The Centre constituted a Technical Expert Committee on `WAR for Water', which stands for `Winning, Augmentation and Renovation for Water', on June 29 and its first meeting is scheduled for August 25, the department said.
Rice production may drop by 30% this Kharif on monsoon blues ...
AHMEDABAD: Monsoon has taken a break and there has been not a single spell of shower since July 27
AHMEDABAD: Monsoon has taken a break and there has been not a single spell of shower since July 27

Weak rains forecast in India's cane, oilseed regions

India's weather office has forecast poor monsoon rains in most sugarcane and oilseed growing areas for the next five days.

Rains will decrease in central and northwestern areas of the country after the next 40 hours, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The weather office has forecast August rains to be 90 percent of the long-period average, down from 101 percent announced earlier.

The country's annual June-September rains -- lifeline to the trillion-dollar economy -- would be 87 percent of the long-period average, against a prior forecast of 93 percent, the IMD said.
Coming months, It's going to be hell for India -- "Swine Flu" and "Drought"
RT @raj_ab: Chennai heat and traffic... Wat a start ! Its like hell . .

Precautions can prevent flu

There is absolutely no need to worry about the spread of the H1N1 flu. There have been 40 cases and one death reported in a population of 66 million
people in Tamil Nadu. And there are background medical conditions in the reported death.

In the UK, different strains of the flu come every year and the treatment is medication as well as quarantine for up to five days after the symptoms have subsided. We recommend the same here and advise that the person under treatment for H1N1 be looked after by only one person. We also advise home quarantine over hospitalisation for milder cases. The patient also needs to wear an N-95, which has to be kept on when the caregiver is in the room. Caregivers are also advised to wear masks as an extra precaution. The caregiver is also under surveillance for the virus.

There are certain precautions to be observed though Chennai weather is not conducive to the growth of the virus: First, people need to maintain a social distance of one metre. Second, practise cough etiquette placing a handkerchief or tissue over your mouth when you cough. Also, it is not very safe for all those who suspect that they have swine flu to queue up close to each other outside hospitals because they increase the chances of transmission. Either they need to wear a triple-layered mask or cover their mouths with two handkerchiefs to filter the air they breathe.

Signs to watch out for are a fever of more than 100 degrees F, and at least one of the symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or cough. The only ways to clinically confirm H1N1: Real Times PCR test; viral culture, which is expensive; and two serum samples taken ver the course of a few days.

The reason the government is not releasing the tablets to the public is to prevent stock-piling and black-marketing as well as to prevent the indiscriminate and inappropriate use of the medication, which can lead to the virus becoming resistant.

However, the government has to supply masks and tablets to government and private medical colleges and hospitals, especially where isolation wards have been created to treat the flu. Government and private hospitals need to work in tandem. At CMC Hospital in Vellore, we have testing kits that have been approved by ICMR and the government has given the virology department clearance to test for H1N1.

Again, right now, there is no cause for panic but there is a heightened need for awareness and prompt reporting of the disease.

(Dr Dilip Mathai, Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine-1 and Infectious Diseases Training and Research Centre, CMC Hospital, Vellore)
History Offers Hope Swine Flu Won't Gain Strength In Fall ..