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New Kashmir tunnel: Commuters complain of high pollution, poor visibility

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Chenani and Nashri

Udhampur, April 16 : The state-of-the-art transverse ventilation system in the newly-opened 9.2 km Chenani-Nashri tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway may not be working effectively as commuters are complaining of high pollution levels, eye irritation and suffocation inside what has been labelled as one of India’s infrastructural wonders.

Some of the commuters using the strategically-important tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir on a regular basis told IANS that they were also battling poor visibility caused by high pollution levels inside what is India’s first and the world’s sixth road tunnel that uses a hi-tech ventilation system to extract polluted air and maintain a constant flow of fresh air.

Balvinder Singh, a Delhi-based orthopaedic surgeon from Jammu, said he suffered breathing problems when he was inside the tunnel, built with Austrian technology at a cost of Rs 2,900 crore ($450 million) and inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 2.

“The ventilation system inside the tunnel probably doesn’t work effectively. As soon as we enter the tunnel during peak hours, the visibility starts plummeting. If we travel with the windows down, the pollution level rises. It causes breathing issues as well,” the surgeon with Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital told IANS.

“It feels as if we are passing through a gas chamber,” the surgeon said.

Anil Manhas, who works with the Jammu and Kashmir Education Department, uses the tunnel that has reduced the 41-km distance between Chenani in Udhampur to Nashri in Rambhan to just 11 km, slashing his travel time from two-and-a-half hours to a mere 10 minutes.

“I took it lightly when I used the tunnel for the first time. I had irritation in my eyes. It was also smoke-filled. This is happening regularly now and I think the ventilation system is not working. If this prevails for long… there are chances of vehicles meeting with accidents due to poor visibility,” Manhas said.

Asked about the problem, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) spokesperson Vishnu Darbari said since Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) had constructed the tunnel, only they would be able to answer queries about it.

But Ashutosh Chandwar, Vice President, IL&FS, contended that the problem has to do with claustrophobia caused by travel though such a long and confined space.

“I do not know why the passengers are feeling such problems… There is absolutely no possibility of it. Whenever there is pollution inside the tunnel, its ventilation system will automatically start and exhaust out the pollution. What people are suffering is phobia of travelling through a long tunnel,” Chandwar told IANS.

He said the ventilation system of the tunnel was “well tested and can tackle every kind of pollution inside the tunnel”.

Environmentalist Vivek Chattopadhyay said pollution levels inside such a long tunnel were bound to increase but could be controlled if the ventilation functions properly.

The Programme Manager at the Centre for Science and Environment said such problems occur in hilly terrain and assimilation of pollutants often occur as these do not disperse easily.

“The problem of poor visibility due to pollution levels inside the tunnel is genuine and it is commonly seen. The problem can be solved only if the ventilation system works effectively,” Chattopadhyay told IANS.

Another problem commuters face on a routine basis is traffic congestion inside the tunnel.

“The traffic congestion due to the continuous flow of all kinds of vehicles is another major problem,” said Bhushan, a Jammu resident who works with the state government.

The NHAI had earlier said vehicles below BS-III engines won’t be allowed in.

However, the directive couldn’t be executed considering the volume of trucks that ply daily carrying essentials between Jammu and Kashmir, Chandwar of IL&FS said.

By : Rupesh Dutta

(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at [email protected])

Lifestyle

How active holidays can develop children’s all-round skills

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children school study education

Children used to spend their childhood in the playground – while playing with their friends, enjoying the rides or climbing trees. Thanks to the emergence of the television and video games and the digital media, along with increased school pressure, children today don’t engage themselves in too much outdoor play. However, it is important to realize that active vacations are essential for a child’s overall development, which includes studies. Let us see how –

Akash Korgaonkar, Founder of Ruggedian Lifestyle lists out many factors, such as  Increases their physical health.

Usually, children remain with their books and their muscles remain underdeveloped. Enrolling them in competitive sports will develop their endurance and flexibility, cause movement of large muscle groups, cause them to sweat and develop a healthy heart and lungs. Apart from this, a physical activity regulates blood pressure, strengthens the lungs, reduces blood sugar, reduces obesity, strengthens bones and improves energy levels in children,Korgaonkar said.

Try out – martial arts, skateboarding, roller-skating, dancing, swimming, jogging, skipping, basketball, etc.

Korgaonkar said , ” Develops social interaction with friends :Most urban parents now want their children to concentrate on their studies and extracurricular activities, forgetting that outside play is necessary as well. This way, the child will concentrate only on indoor activities which can make them unsocial and weaken their immune system. Encourage your children to engage in team-based or individual-based sports to increase motivation, commitment and discipline and team spirit.”

Try out – football, basketball, volleyball, kabaddi, kho-kho, tennis, badminton, playing tag, etc.

Korgaonkar said , ” Maintains a healthy body and strengthens their immune system-Today, it is difficult to get children off the screens and send them out to play. On the other hand, we must realise that physical activities maintain a healthy body weight due to the constant exercise and increase appetite in children. As a result, they do not spend their free time watching television and eat junk food but follow a balanced diet. Sports improve blood circulation, releases tension and improve their immune system.”

“Improves their self-esteem and encourages body positivity:Intense sports activities have been proved to deal with issues like depression, obesity reduces insulin resistance and helps in anger management. Children start to feel a sense of personal achievement, autonomy and independence in them which gives way to confidence and self-esteem. It has been reported that children who were engaged in sports were well-adjusted in society, were healthier in general and were much happier in lives. When winning a sports competition, our brain releases beta-endorphins which give us the general feeling of being happy,” he said.

· Makes lifelong memories

Holidays are perfect for parent and child to catch up and make great memories. If you’re the active parent and want your children to follow, sign up for physical activity courses together while on vacation. Your children will definitely learn something new by the end.

Try out – canoeing, hiking, trekking, rock climbing, diving, extreme sports

· Develops sportsmanship

First things first, playing sports comes with defeat and winning – you cannot win every time. Sports teach your child sportsmanship, a respect for rules and the ability to accept defeat at times – and bounce right back into action.

· Promotes team spirit and acceptance

Your child needs to learn team spirit to build a harmonious environment with his friends and co-workers in later life. They learn to accept everyone with their own strengths and weaknesses and plan the best way to reach their goal and win the game. Working together is an important quality that they will need in life.

· Encourages them to try out new things

With children, all they need is some confidence in them. Active vacations help them de-stress and explore new places with curiosity. They bring out warm, loving feelings in children to help them bond with their parents over a happy memory. Trust me, you’ll find their love worth everything in the end.

Try out – adventure camps, wildlife safari, rope challenges, cave exploration trips

· Pushes them to challenge themselves

All of us are afraid of something – the heights, the water, insects, the darkness… adventure holidays are great to kick them out. Sign up for a physical activity about something that they fear the most and inspire them to break their fear. Though it takes time and patience, your child will come out as a much braver and confident person.

Try out – rock-climbing, snorkelling, races

It is wise to choose an active holiday plan that both of you will enjoy and treasure for a lifetime. Pack your bags, book a holiday and set out with a water bottle – making some amazing memories along the way.

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Cities

Train services partially resume in Amritsar; protesters booked

The people were watching the proceedings from the railway tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU (diesel multiple unit) train crushed them.

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Joda Phatak

Amritsar, Oct 21 : Amid tension and tight security, train services were partially restored on the Amritsar-Jalandhar railway section as the Punjab Police booked unidentified protesters on Sunday who clashed with the police at the spot where 59 people were crushed by a speeding train on Friday.

A near-empty passenger train was plied on the railway section amid tight security measures on Sunday evening.

Railway services on the track on this section had been suspended following the train disaster.

Punjab Police personnel stood guard on both sides of the railway tracks near Joda Phatak (railway gate) area of Amritsar to prevent any protesters from getting near the tracks.

Earlier in the day, railway authorities plied a cargo train on the same section. The cargo train also had empty bogies.

The police booked unidentified protesters who clashed with them on Sunday morning as the police began clearing the railway tracks in the area. The protesters were booked for rioting and attempt to murder.

The protesters indulged in stone-pelting, leaving at least half-a-dozen policemen injured. The police resorted to cane-charge and even arrested one person.

Protests staged by residents against the Punjab government and the railways turned violent on Sunday. Police had to rush reinforcements to the area.

The injured policemen, including a Punjab Police commandos, were rushed to a government hospital. Residents of the area threw stones at the police when the latter tried to remove them from the railway tracks where the tragedy occurred.

The protesters were demanding action against organisers of the Dusshera function near Joda Phatak for which hundreds of people had gathered to see the burning of the Ravan effigy.

The people were watching the proceedings from the railway tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU (diesel multiple unit) train crushed them.

Family members of the train tragedy victims said Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur, who was the chief guest at the Dusshera function on Friday, had not even bothered to meet them despite their loss.

The Punjab government headed by Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the train tragedy. The probe will cover if mandatory permissions for holding the function were given.

The railways said it was not responsible for the incident.

Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal demanded that a case of murder be registered against the organisers, who were mostly ruling Congress leaders.

IANS

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Cities

Hyderabad Airport terminal to open on Oct 23

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Hyderabad Airport terminal

Hyderabad, Oct 21 : The Interim International Departure Terminal at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here will be made operational on October 23.

According to GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL), the airport operator, all international departure flights will operate from this terminal with effect from 10:30 a.m. on October 23.

It has advised the passengers to check with their respective airlines before leaving for the airport. Passengers who are booked on Air India International flights AI 127, AI 952, AI 978, AI 988, AI 966 & AI 051 and travelling to domestic destinations are also advised to report at the Interim International Terminal (IIDT) as per their scheduled departure times, GHIAL said in a statement.

IIDT, which has been built to facilitate airport’s expansion, is located adjacent to the Haj Terminal and can be accessed from both Shamshabad and Srisailam sides of the airport’s main approach road via Rotary 1 (Cargo rotary).

A dedicated free shuttle service has been arranged between the existing terminal and IIDT for the convenience of passengers. This shuttle service will be available at the Arrivals Ramp and will operate at regular intervals.

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