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Dorian Hurricane over Bahamas – looks horrible

Hurricane Dorian has made landfall in the north-west Bahamas as a monster category five storm with sustained winds of up to 180mph (285km/h).

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Dorian Hurricane over Bahamas

The “extremely dangerous” storm is the strongest hurricane on modern record in the area, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) says.

Grand Bahama residents have been evacuating from its predicted path.

A storm surge could be life-threatening and as high as 23ft (7m) in places, officials warn.

The storm made landfall at 12:40 (16:40 GMT) on Elbow Cay in the Abaco islands, northern Bahamas, the NHC said.

Local residents posted footage showing floodwaters engulfing some homes, their rooftops blown off.

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Auto

Historic fall in India vehicles sales enters 11th month

Besides, two-wheeler sales – often tracked to analyse the rural markets health – were also down 22.09 per cent.

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Auto sector slowdown

New Delhi, Oct 11 : Despite a 135 basis point interest rate cut since February and a number of measures announced by the Central government, including a sharp corporate tax cut, domestic vehicle sales plummeted for the 11th straight month in September.

Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) data released on Friday showed that total commercial vehicle sales — a proxy for the economy’s commercial health — steeply fell by 39 per cent to 58,419 units in September.

Rating agency ICRA had, earlier this month, said its outlook on the domestic commercial vehicle sector was negative, considering the sharp correction in vehicle sales amid slowing economic growth, overcapacity and tight financing environment.

Signs that the customers were still away from showrooms was clearly visible in passenger vehicles sales data, which witnessed a decline of 23.69 per cent to 223,317 units this September.

Passenger cars sales witnessed de-growth of of 33.4 per cent to 131,281 units. In August, sales were down 41 per cent.

SIAM President, Rajan Wadhera, however, told reporters that the festive season retail sales that are monitored on a regular basis is “good” but avoided giving any sales forecast.

“The Navaratri sale has also been good and if we compare it to the sales from last year, the sale has been nearly 10-12 per cent better,” he said.

Wadera stressed that owing to number of government steps and ongoing festive season, the consumer sentiments have improved. Consumer confidence, the Reserve Bank of Indian showed, dipped to six-year low in September.

Besides, two-wheeler sales – often tracked to analyse the rural markets health – were also down 22.09 per cent.

Three-wheeler sales declined by 6.66 percent in April-September 2019 over the same period last year. Within three-wheelers, passenger carrier sales registered a de-growth of 6.37 percent and that of goods carriers declined by 7.98 percent in April-September 2019 over April-September 2018.

In the two-wheeler segment, sales registered a de-growth of 16.18 percent in April-September 2019 over April-September 2018 while in the segment, scooters, motorcycles and mopeds declined by 16.94 per cent, 15.24 per cent and 25.33 per cent, respectively, in April-September 2019 over the comparable period last year.

Overall domestic automobile sales fell 22.41 per cent in September 2019. In August, the sales data had showed that overall sectoral offtake in the domestic market had plunged 23.55 per cent.

This level of downturn was witnessed only once earlier, in December 2000, when the de-growth was registered at 21.81 per cent. The available data series commences from 1997-98.

However, exports across categories inched-up by 0.68 per cent to 417,232 units from 414,428 units shipped-out during September 2018.

The sales decline has forced several auto markers were forced to announce production cuts and slash workforce in order to cut losses.

Automobile production declined by (-)18.29 per cent in September to 2,406,640 units across segments and categories.

“There is a small element of positive performance, if one were to look at the volume growth, on a sequential basis across segments and this is coming out of some new introductions and discounts offered. But this is nowhere near the volumes seen in the previous year,” Grant Thornton India LLP Partner Sridhar V. told IANS.

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Disaster

Millions in California may lose power

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California Fire

San Francisco, Oct 8 (IANS) California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has warned that it might shut off power this week in nearly 30 northern counties in the state northern region in response to strong and dry winds that poses a high risk of wildfires.

The anticipated power outage, which may take place from early Wednesday through late Thursday, will impact vast areas in northern and central California, as well as almost every county in the Bay Area, Xinhua news agency quoted PG&E as saying on Monday.

More than 600,000 PG&E customers could be affected by the power cutoff in an unprecedented scope, but the company said it will continue to monitor weather conditions and offer timely updates to families.

“Due to the forecast extreme weather conditions, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety, and implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff” across those regions, said the utility, which was held responsible for poor management of its power lines that sparked fatal wildfires in Northern California and killed 86 people last year in what was called Camp Fire, the single-deadliest wildfire in the state’s history.

Several lawsuits and other requests for compensation from wildfire victims that amounted to billions of dollars forced the embattled California utility to claim bankruptcy early this year.

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Pathways to Permanence: Need for a strong disaster resilient housing policy

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Lakhisarai: A view of the flood-affected Lakhisarai, Bihar on Oct 3, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

flash floods and earthquakes The displacement of communities on account of natural calamities like rain-triggered floods has assumed catastrophic proportions in ecologically sensitive zones (ECZs) across the country.

Rehabilitating displaced communities and restoring normalcy in their life is of paramount importance in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Safe, decent shelter provides the platform upon which much of post-disaster assistance is built: health, water, sanitation, livelihoods, safety, education and so on. The need of the hour is to build nation-wide ‘pathways to permanence’ focused on placing the disaster-affected families on a path to durable, permanent and sustainable disaster resilient shelter solutions.

While responding to natural disasters, a phase-wise disaster management approach is required as there are multiple pathways toward permanent, durable shelter. In the initial phase of ensuring immediate relief, government agencies like the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) provide the first level of on-ground rescue and relief operations. The nodal agency responsible for disaster management operations in the country helps in the provision of essential supplies and basic necessities like food, water, medicines and clothes. NDMA also plays an instrumental role in setting up relief camps and emergency community dwellings for ensuring safety and security of families and prevention of any outbreak of diseases. NGOs also support the rescue and relief operations through the provision of humanitarian aid kits, clothing, clean water, hygiene material and other essentials.

In phase two of the relief effort, relief agencies like NGOs and grassroots-level local self-governance bodies like Gram Panchayats are involved in setting up transitional shelters to support the displaced families. In the final phase of development work, leading disaster response organizations undertake home repairs, core house construction, disaster mitigation training at the community level to help families rebuild their lives.

There is a need to constitute a Rapid Response Disaster Financial Pledge – a financial commitment required to support a disaster response initiative. The seed capital for the pledge can be provided by the government. Socially responsible corporates can come forward and pledge a part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) spend towards the fund.

The startup fraternity in the country also needs to be increasingly engaged in helping displaced communities through technological support. The emphasis should be on gathering real time data, building prefabricated, sustainable and cost effective shelters and sanitation units. The government should come up with schemes to incentivize such startups to formulate innovative housing solutions for disaster-affected populations.

In any disaster situation, families and communities should not be viewed as victims of a disaster, but as partners in their redevelopment process. Interventions in either a development or disaster response setting are more successful when the affected population participates in the decision-making process. During the flash floods in 2018 that affected millions of families in Kerala, the participation of the government, local authorities and the community played a vital role in rebuilding the lives of people. Key agencies like urban local bodies, corporates and NGOs complimented in the state disaster providing relief to millions of families affected by the floods.

The term Pathways to Permanence refers to the process of reducing vulnerability and supporting disaster-affected families and communities using holistic program interventions that enable incremental progress toward the achievement of permanent, durable shelter and settlements. Government agencies, non-govermental organisations (NGOs), the corporate sector and the community have a crucial role to play in disaster response.

(Rajan Samuel is managing director, Habitat for Humanity India. The views expressed are personal)

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