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Disaster, Environment

5 Bodies Recovered, Over 150 Missing in Flash Flood Triggered by Nandadevi Glacier Break in Chamoli; Uttarakhand -=====5 Bodies Recovered , 100 feared to death as Nanda Devi glacier broke and crashed into the dam in Chamoli district :——————A part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke off at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on Sunday, leading to a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and causing large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalaya. Over 150 labourers working at a power project in Tapovan-Reni are feared dead, an Indo Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said while quoting the project-in charge. Five bodies were recovered. The power project was swept away completely, added state Director General of Police Ashok Kumar while describing the situation as under control. Homes along the way were also swept away as the waters rushed down the mountainsides in a raging torrent. There were fears of damage in human settlements downstream, including in heavily populated areas. Many villages were evacuated and people taken to safer areas. Connectivity with some border posts was “totally restricted” due to a bridge collapsing near Reni village, an ITBP spokesperson said.

Several districts, including Pauri, Tehri, Rudraprayag, Haridwar and Dehradun, that were likely to be affected were put on high alert and forces of the ITBP and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) rushed in to help with the rescue and relief effort. I am constantly monitoring the unfortunate situation in Uttarakhand. India stands with Uttarakhand, prays for everyone’s safety, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. News that the 150 labourers at the project on Rishi Ganga were affected had come in the early in the day. Representatives of the power project have told me that they are not being able to contact around 150 of their workmen at the project site,” said State Disaster Response Force DIG Ridhim Aggarwal. The waters in the Dhauli Ganga, a tributary of the Ganga, was flowing two to three metres above normal, the official added. Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and assured him of all possible support to deal with the situation arising from the glacier burst and the resulting floods. In a series of tweets in Hindi, Shah also said teams of the NDRF were deployed for rescue and relief operations of the affected people while additional troops of the force were being airlifted from Delhi

Disaster

Air India Boeing skidded off the runway and broke into pieces in Kerala: 18 Killed including both pilots

The pilots of the Boeing 737 aborted two landings due to tailwind and circled the airport several times before the final landing, which saw the plane overshoot the runway and roll 35 feet downslope.

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: An Air India special assistance team has reached Kerala to coordinate relief and counselling for families members of the 190 people who were on board the Air India Express flight from Dubai that crashed at Kozhikode airport on Friday evening. Eighteen people, including both pilots, were killed after the Boeing 737, skidded off the runway and broke into pieces during a landing attempt at the Kozhikode airport.

The special assistance team, called “Angels of Air India”, were flown from Mumbai to coordinate relief and counsel the injured passengers as well with the family members of the injured as well as dead passengers, Air India Express said.

“The Go Teams and Angels of Air India have reached Calicut for being with the injured passengers as well as with the family members of the injured as well as dead passengers,” Air India Express said in a statement.

Two special relief flights have been arranged from Delhi and one from Mumbai for humanitarian assistance to all the passengers and their family members, Air India Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the national carrier, said.

“The Emergency Response Director is coordinating with all the agencies in Calicut (Kozhikode), Mumbai as well as Delhi, Dubai for effective emergency response,” it said in a statement.

Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal, and Air India Express Chief Executive Officer K Shyam Sundar have already reached Kozhikode, according to the statement.

“The Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, Chief Executive Officer of Air India Express, Chief of Operations as well as the Chief of Flight Safety of Air India have already reached Calicut,” it said.

The pilots of the Boeing 737 aborted two landings due to tailwind and circled the airport several times before the final landing, which saw the plane overshoot the runway and roll 35 feet downslope. The Kozhikode airport has a tabletop runway, one of those located on the top of a plateau or hill with one or both ends adjacent to a steep precipice which drops into a deep gorge.

The airport is located on a hill, and several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets into Kozhikode due to safety issues over the length on the runway.

“According to weather radar, approach was for runway 28 but as pilots found difficulties they went around twice and came from the opposite side on runway 10 and the plane crash-landed,” news agency ANI quoted an investigator of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as saying.

The Air India Express flight IX-1344 from Dubai to Calicut was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of coronavirus lockdowns. The Air India Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, has only B-737 aircraft in its fleet.

There were 184 passengers on the plane, including 10 babies and 4 cabin crew members. Many passengers were workers returning home after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.

(with inpus from PTI)

Disaster

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas donate to Assam flood relief; say ‘They need our attention and support’

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas, who are one of the most loved couples in town, are currently in Los Angeles amid lockdown. Earlier, the couple made donations to PM CARES fund and UNICEF to help the daily wage workers and their families amid the coronavirus pandemic. Now, they have come forward and made a contribution towards Assam flood relief.
Priyanka and Nick have also asked their fans to help during the time of crisis. They took to social media and shared a few organisations to make the donations. Taking to her Instagram story, Priyanka wrote, “While we are all still dealing with the effects of the global pandemic, the Indian state of Assam has been grappling with another major crisis. It has been devastated by floods triggered by heavy monsoon showers affecting the lives of millions. The impact to life and land/property is unimaginable. The rapidly rising water level has also flooded the Kaziranga National Park, one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in the world.”

She further wrote, “They need our attention and support. I’m sharing details of a few credible organizations that are doing some good work on the ground in Assam, and Nick and I have made a donation to each. Let us support them so they can continue to help those in need.

Even Nick shared the same on his Instagram story and urged his fans to come forward and help the people.
Meanwhile, Priyanka recently celebrated her birthday with Nick and her family in the US. She even took to Instagram and shared a cozy picture with Nick and wrote a sweet note for him. She wrote, “To the greatest joy of my life. 2 years ago on this day you asked me to marry you! I may have been speechless then but I say yes every moment of everyday since. In the most unprecedented time you made this weekend so incredibly memorable. Thank you for thinking of me all the time. I am the luckiest girl in the world! I love you @nickjonas

Disaster

At least 8 people, including 8-month-old, killed in Arunachal Pradesh landslides

Landslides, triggered by incessant rainfall, claimed the lives of at least eight people in two separate incidents in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday amid India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) forecast for heavy rains in the coming days, as the Central Water Commission (CWC) warned of a severe flood situation in the sparsely populated remote border state.

In the first incident, four members of a family, including an 8-month-old baby, were killed in a landslide in Papumpare district of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday at around 2:30 am.

The incident took place at Tigdo village near the state capital, Itanagar. All four victims were buried alive while they were sleeping. Later, the bodies of the victims were retrieved from the debris.

“Saddened by a tragedy that struck Tigdo village in Papumpare district this morning, where four members of a family perished in the landslide,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu tweeted.

In the second incident at Modirijo, located between Itanagar and Naharlagun, four persons were buried in another landslide that occurred at 12:30 pm.

According to a state government report, bodies of three of the victims have been retrieved, while efforts are underway to recover the fourth person.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.

“Incessant rain for the last couple of days that triggered landslides and floods has left trails of large scale devastation in the entire state,” Khandu was quoted in a release from CMO.

“Reports have been pouring in about landslides in various locations from around the state capital. Road communication has been badly affected by nature’s fury,” he added.

The CM cautioned that as per IMD, there is a likelihood of heavy rain across the state in the next few days. He requested everyone to take precautionary measures and refrain from staying at vulnerable locations.

Instructions have been issued to all the districts to keep a strict vigil and continuously monitor the situation to avoid largescale devastation and loss of human lives, he added.

Disaster

Young artist Priyanka Boro killed in landslide

Guwahati: A woman student,youth artiste Priyanka Boro killed in a landslide near Raj Bhawan on Sunda. Ms Boro was a student of Guwahati College and also an accomplished dancer who performed at various events across the country. The administration has asked people living in vulnerable areas to move to safer places, officials said.
The administration also closed down a hospital temporarily near Raj Bhawan, a guard wall of which has become vulnerable due to gradual sliding of land, they added.

The governor’s residence located in Kharghuli area of the city, however, is safe.

Another incident of landslide took place at Gita Nagar locality. A road and a house were damaged but no casualty was reported from there.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah called up Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and assured him of all help.

Officials said the college student Priyanka Boro was outside her home when a huge chunk of landmass from the hill above came down and buried her, killing her instantly.

“Due to incessant rainfall for the last few days in Guwahati city, several incidents of landslides have occurred, leading to loss of lives and property. Moreover, there is every possibility of occurrence of more such landslide incidents in the coming days,” an official said.

The authorities of Kamrup Metropolitan district, which primarily comprises Guwahati city, ordered the closure of Borthakur Clinic and Hospital at Kharghuli and asked for shifting of its patients to nearby facilities immediately.

The hospital is located just below the backside of Raj Bhawan, a guard wall of which is vulnerable due to erosion of land.

“The guard wall may fall at any time and may cause damage to the lives and properties of patients, doctors, paramedical staff of the hospital,” Kamrup Metropolitan Deputy Commissioner Biswajit Pegu said.

He also appealed to the people residing in landslide- prone areas to vacate their houses and shift to safer places till the monsoon season is over.

Following the landslides, the Union home minister talked to Mr Sonowal and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to enquire about the incident and the flood situation in the state.

“Spoke to Assam Chief Minister Shri @sarbanandsonwal and Shri @himantabiswa to take stock of the alarming situation in Brahmaputra river and landslides near Guwahati. All possible help has been assured to the State. Modi government stands firmly with the people of Assam,” he tweeted. Altogether 18 people have died in the flood which affected nearly 9.3 lakh people in 23 districts of the state.

“Thank you Shri @AmitShah ji on behalf of the people of Assam. With your support and guidance, we will surely overcome every challenge that we are facing at this moment,” Sonowal said on Twitter:

Mr Sarma too tweeted about Mr Shah’s call and his assurance about all support from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

“I express my heartfelt gratitude to @AmitShah ji for his concern for the people of Assam in this hour of distress,” he added.

Disaster

Large plume of Saharan dust to make for hazy skies, potentially vibrant sunsets this week

by Eric Jeansonne |
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – While it is typical for tropical waves to roll off the African coast this time of year, it is also common to for large plumes of dust to come off the coast as well.

According to NOAA, these large plumes of dust are part of a dry, dusty air mass that forms over the Sahara Desert from extreme heat and dust storms. This air mass is called the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) and can extend 5,000 and 20,000 feet in the air.

Large plume of Saharan dust to make for hazy skies, vibrant sunsets this week
NASA Satellites have been tracking several plumes moving across the Atlantic over the last couple of weeks and one plume is forecast to move over the Gulf of Mexico and into South Mississippi over the weekend into early next week (June 22-25).

NOAA Satellite image on June 22, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking into the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern US.
NOAA Satellite image on June 22, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking into the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern US.
NOAA Satellite image on June 21, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking across the Caribbean.
NOAA Satellite image on June 21, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking across the Caribbean.
NOAA Satellite image on June 20, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking into the Caribbean.
NOAA Satellite image on June 20, 2019 captures a large plume of dust from the Sahara Desert tracking into the Caribbean.
How does it get all the way to South Mississippi?

When dust is lofted that high into the atmosphere, it can get carried by winds around high pressure and sometimes make it as far west as the Gulf Coast, including South Mississippi. Each year, NOAA says, over one hundred million tons of dust is carried from Africa across the Atlantic.

So will the skies darken?

Not quite. When dust makes it to the Gulf Coast, it typically results in hazy, milky white skies during the day if clouds are not present. Sunsets can appear more vivid and redder when the view is not blocked by clouds.

Will it make it hard to breath?

The SAL can have an impact on air quality. However, by the time it gets to the Gulf Coast and South Mississippi, the dust is usually not in as high of a concentration to cause extreme issues. However, for people who are unusually sensitive to air pollutants, it can make breathing difficult. This includes those with lung and heart disease and COPD.

Can it impact hurricanes?

NOAA research over the last few years has found that the SAL can temporarily suppress hurricane and tropical storm activity. That is because the SAL is very dry and prevents thunderstorms from developing. The dust also aids in the sinking motion of air and reduces the ability for thunderstorm updrafts from forming.

Disaster

Development Versus Environment: Dilemma or Death Trap?

These days it is difficult to distinguish the legitimate from the criminal elements, so it is up to the Supreme Court to rebuke and punish the guilty parties.
Hiren Gohain ;
Hearing a PIL for an order to ban mining for oil and coal within the boundaries of the proposed Dehing Patkai tropical rain-forest of Tinsukia district of Assam, and specifically in the Saleki elephant reserve, coming in the wake of the devastating fire at Baghjan oil well, a Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India observed that saving the environment should not come at the expense of economic development, while conceding that there should be a balance between the two ends. In their own words, “There has to be some method by which economic development is not retarded as this has a direct impact on poverty in the country.”

The extent of the damage by the accident at the Baghjan well has shaken Assam as never before. All the experts are agreed it is a man-made disaster. Rapacity for oil, the slack supervision in ensuring that proper preventive measures were in place, the casual outsourcing of the work of drilling for gas to a private party called “John Energy”, all the circumstances conspired to bring it about.

The result was not simply irreparable destruction of a wide swathe of forests and water bodies rich in bio-diversity, but permanent and crippling injury to the livelihood of neighbouring villages. Metropolitan readers have little idea of the close symbiosis between humans and such forests in traditional native way of life of Assam. The water-bodies here are not isolated pools but are annually replenished by the Brahmaputra making them rich in feedstock and aquatic life.

That is how the Gangetic Dolphin, which is also a native species here, occurs in them. They naturally provide livelihood to neighbouring villages with inexhaustible supply of fish. Forests around them also grow lush and supply forest-products. All that will now be lost for ever as after such devastation it might take decades for nature to regenerate. Indeed, it might not recover at all from the injury.

Apart from the calamitous fire which experts agree will take more than a month to tame, the explosive eruption of gas condensates for twelve days have polluted the atmosphere for miles around. Leading medical experts are of the firm view that thousands of people who are breathing this toxic air are bound to suffer eventually from severe respiratory and pulmonary ailments putting their lives at risk.

It is unacceptable that rapacious miners of such lush regions of Assam will pack up and leave unceremoniously when all the underground wealth is drained and vast regions turn barren and bleak. It may also be added that a vast army of illegal miners and transporters are working in the shadows under protection of political bosses and a section of the police, particularly in coal mining and trade.

But the way things are proceeding these days it is difficult to distinguish the legitimate from the criminal elements. Their lordships’ remark on probable adverse impact of a ban on such mining on “the poverty of the country” stirs our bemused wonder.

The government has jacked up oil prices seven times in as many months, jacking up prices and hitting the poor hard. Its outlook does not seem to differ from that of oil-crazy companies and illicit miners. The poor in India own a fast diminishing share of the country’s wealth even as their numbers are swelling.

To come back to the moot question, is the balance between development and environment today some fixed ratio which has been maintained voluntarily? Is it not an exceptionally unstable equation continually upset by profit-hungry and unscrupulous entities? There is no technology that can ensure such balance unless and until fossil fuels are totally eliminated and corporate greed curbed.

What we have witnessed today in America is a reversal of an earlier trend towards climate-friendly policy on industrial fuels and a state sponsorship of the highly polluting “fracking technology” in oil production. India seems to be desperate to follow that lead with corporates getting a free hand in mining coal in reckless defiance of ecological norms.

The arbitrary nature of the equation when corporate interest guides the state is demonstrated by the flagrant transgression of environmental concerns by the President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, particularly in the Amazon rainforest so often referred to as the “lungs of the global biosphere”. Its huge absorption of carbon has long been seen as the insurance against environmental catastrophe. But in the last two or three decades corporate greed for its mineral resources and land (for profitable use by corporate agribusiness) has encroached on it to such an extraordinary degree as to reduce it by one-third of its size.

Bolsonaro dismisses the threat to the Amazon as cavalierly as the threat of the Covid-19, which has made Brazil one of the worst-affected countries. Corporate greed has not only become a menace; it has a suicidal momentum today.

Hence the honourable judges are expected to deal with destruction of the ecosystem much more seriously, and not only protect the irreplaceable Dehing Patkai rain-forest from further depredation, but sternly rebuke and punish guilty parties for their truly “anti-national” and “ecoterrorist” crimes.

The author is a socio-political commentator and cultural critic. The views are personal

Disaster

Government, Oil India To Compensate All Affected In Assam Gas Well Tragedy

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said people affected in Oil India’s Baghjan gas well tragedy will be “adequately” compensated.
Mr Pradhan reached Assam on Saturday to review the situation arising after a blowout and successive inferno that killed two persons.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who accompanied Mr Pradhan to the disaster site and relief camps, said a model and a veterinary hospital, a higher secondary school and a skill development centre will be set up in Baghjan.

“Today I announce that the Baghajan embankment will be constructed at a cost of Rs 27 crore,” he said.

“We will compensate all the affected people. Tea gardens, betel nut trees, fishes, houses and any other properties that have been damaged will be compensated in consultation with the Assam government,” Mr Pradhan told people living in a relief camp.

After visiting the well site, the Union minister said the Centre and the state government are trying for a permanent solution to the disaster so that it never recurs.

“Oil India is an Assamese company. It has been working here for many decades. Both the Centre and the state have constituted high-level inquiry committees. We will punish the culprit for this disaster even if he is a powerful man,” Mr Pradhan asserted.

The company and the Tinsukia district administration have moved more than 7,000 people from nearby areas of the gas well site to 14 relief camps.

Mr Sonowal said all the affected people will be compensated after a thorough survey by the administration.

The chief minister announced that a concrete road between Baghjan and Tinsukia city will be constructed. A women self-help group of the area will be provided financial assistance.

“The Maguri-Motapung wetland is Baghjan”s property. Oil India will clean the wetland,” he said.

Mr Sonowal said experts are trying their best to douse the blaze as soon as possible for rehabilitating the displaced people.

Interacting with the two leaders, the locals submitted a memorandum with a host of demands for rehabilitation and compensation.

After reaching Guwahati on Saturday night, Mr Pradhan held a review meeting with Sonowal in presence of Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of State for Environment and Forest Naba Kumar Doley and BJP Lok Sabha Member Topon Kumar Gogoi.

The well number 5 at Baghjan has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 19 days and it caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

The blaze at the well is so massive that it can be seen from a distance of more than 30 kms with thick black smoke going up several metres high, endangering the local biodiversities.

Though there is no fire in the periphery of the well site at present, the company has declared an area up to 1.5 km of radius as “red zone” to avoid any untoward incident.

At present, five inquiries are taking place to find out facts — a three-member probe by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, a one-member probe ordered by the chief minister and an internal five-member inquiry by OIL.

Besides, two more crucial independent investigations of technical nature are being carried out by the Directorate General Of Mines Safety (DGMS) and Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD).

The chief minister also ordered the Additional Principal Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) to conduct a study on the impact of the explosion on the environment and ecology of the surrounding areas, including on flora and fauna in the adjacent Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

Already two officials of OIL have been suspended for alleged negligence of duty at the gas well site, while a show-cause notice has been to John Energy Pvt Ltd, the outsourced private operator of the well.

A case has also been registered against Oil India and John Energy over the incident.