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Kerala bypolls outcome could be a harbinger of things

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Even though the outcome of the five Kerala assembly by-polls is not going to make any difference to the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government, as it has at present 91 seats in the 140-member Kerala Assembly, this could well be the harbinger of the upcoming polls – local body – next year and the 2021 assembly polls.

With the campaign entering the last phase as the polls will be held on Monday, the three political fronts are hoping against hope that, all of them will have something to cheer, when votes will be counted.

After the shock defeat of the UDF candidate at the Pala Assembly by-election, last month, the Congress-led UDF camp had turned jittery, as out of the five that goes to the polls, four of them are presently held by the UDF and the CPI-M , holds one seat.

While four seats fell vacant after sitting legislators won the Lok Sabha polls, at Manjeswaram constituency, sitting UDF legislator of the Indian Union Muslim League passed away.

As things stand now, the contest at Ernakulam seat, which is a stronghold of the Congress party for several years, it continues to hold that dominance as its candidate T.J. Vinod is sitting pretty, with the Left-backed independent candidate Manu Roy, a practising advocate by profession, is doing its best to alter things.

At Manjeswaram, the northern most assembly constituency in the state, for the past few elections, it has been a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP.

At the 2016 assembly polls, the BJP leader K. Surendran, lost by a margin of just 89 votes to the IUML candidate P.B. Abdul Razack and this time too the fight is a direct one between these two parties and at the moment, IUML’s Kasargode district President M C Kamarudheen appears to have the edge and is ahead of BJP leader Ravisha Tantri Kuntar while CPI-M nominee Shankar Rai is also doing his best to make it a triangular one.

At Aroor constituency in Alappuzha, the fight is a direct one between the Congress candidate Shanimol Usman, who lost the recent Lok Sabha polls to sitting Aroor legislator and CPI-M leader A.M. Arif.

Here the CPI-M has fielded a local youth leader Manu C. Pulickal and for the CPI-M this is a prestigious fight, as Usman at the Lok Sabha polls had got the better off of Arif by 648 votes and it turned out to be a shocker for the CPI-M, as Arif had won this seat at the 2016 assembly polls by a staggering margin of over 38,000 votes.

Coming to the Vatiyoorkavu seat in the state capital, it’s a battle royal that’s currently on after the CPI-M brought in young Thiruvananthapuram Mayor V.K. Prasanth turning the poll battle into an exciting triangular contest, with the Congress fielding a former legislator K.Mohankumar and the BJP its District President S. Suresh.

The scene is no different at the Konni constituency, which has been the domain of now Lok Sabha member Adoor Prakash for the past 23 years and with the entry of Surendran of the BJP and the fielding of young local boy K.U. Jenish, it has become alive.

For Vijayan, the outcome could well be a decider and if he manages to retain Aroor, and wrest Vatiyoorkavu, he could well be on the road for more success in the upcoming local body polls, where the Left already has a strong grip.

If by any chance, things do not go Vijayan’s way, his position could well take a beating, even though he through his indomitable style managed to hold on despite winning just one of the 20 Lok Sabha seats.

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Covid-19 corollaries on the dairy sector: CRISIL

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

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dairy industry

New Delhi, May 26 : Supply chain disruptions in the early weeks of the nationwide lockdown, and bread-and-butter issues for hotels, restaurants and cafes, have materially reduced demand for dairy products.

This is despite supply of most dairy products continuing during the lockdown, since they are categorised as essentials.

The shuttering of hotels and dine-ins has also dried up off-take of skimmed milk powder and khoya.

According to report by CRISIL Research on the state of dairy industry and supply chains, products that can’t be made at home easily – such as cheese, flavoured milk and also khoya – haven’t found their way back to the dining table in the same quantities as before the lockdown.

Demand for ice creams, which usually peaks in summer (accounting for 40 per cent of annual sales) has just melted away. Rural areas, which are feeling the income pinch more, seem to be staying off butter and ghee, the report by global analytics firm has said.

To be sure, since the third week of April, supply chains have turned smoother, so demand for staples such as milk, curd, paneer and yogurt are expected to see a quick rebound, leading to on-year expansion in sales, CRISIL said.

The pandemic, however, may sour the business for unorganised dairies because of pervasive contamination fears.

Conversely, as consumers shift, revenues of organised dairies and packaged products should fatten.

Overall, demand for milk and dairy products would be lukewarm in the near term, so prices are unlikely to boil over, according to the report.

Large brands such as Amul and Mother Dairy had already hiked retail milk prices by 4-5 per cent last fiscal. They may not serve an encore.

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445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Arogya Setu App

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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Rising urbanization likely cause of heavy rainfall in South: Research

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

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IMD heavy rains predict

Hyderabad, May 26 : A team of researchers at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have discovered a link between heavy rainfall in several parts of south India and a growing urbanisation in the region.

A team led by Prof. Karumuri Ashok from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad, examined whether a common factor, the changing ‘land use land cover’ (LULC) in these states, has any implications for the heavy rainfall events.

Over the past few years, many heavy rainfall events have been reported in cities of south India. Prominent among them are the extreme rainfall that created havoc in Chennai and nearby areas of Tamil Nadu in December 2015, the heavy rainfall over Hyderabad and adjoining regions in Telangana in September 2016, and the extreme rainfall event in Kerala in August 2018.

Notably, these three states differ in their geographical locations, and also the season in which they receive rainfall. Kerala, located on the southwest Indian coast off the Arabian Sea receives heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon from June-September.

Tamil Nadu, off the Bay of Bengal, receives rainfall mainly during the northeast monsoon (October-December). The land-locked state Telangana receives the bulk of its annual rainfall during the summer monsoon season.

A UoH statement stated that their study showed the precipitation during heavy rainfall events in these states has significantly increased from 2000 to 2017. Using the LULC data from ISRO, and by conducting 2 km resolution simulation experiments of twelve heavy rainfall events over the states, the researchers found distinct LULC changes in these three states, which led to higher surface temperatures and a deeper and moist boundary layer. These in turn caused a relatively higher convective available potential energy and, consequently, heavier rainfall.

The study also suggests that increasing urbanization in Telangana and Tamil Nadu is likely to enhance the rainfall during the heavy rainfall events by 20%-25%. Prof. Ashok feels that improving the density of observational rainfall and other weather parameters may help in forecasting extreme rainfalls at city level.

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

Prof. K. Ashok and his Ph.D. student Mr. A. Boyaj who is the first author, are both from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad. The work was done in collaboration with Prof. Ibrahim Hoteit and Dr Hari Prasad Dasari of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia.

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