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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])

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Western Railway uses modern technique to scan old Mumbai bridges

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Western Railway

Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) After Railway Minister Piyush Goyal cracked the whip, the Western Railway (WR) launched a safety audit of all 445 bridges on the Mumbai suburban section, deploying modern techniques to scan some of the oldest structures, an official said here on Saturday.

The first to be inspected and audited was the 98-year old Mahalaxmi road overbridge (ROB) and later the Bandra ROB, with the new time-saving technique through the “tower wagon car”.

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“The tower wagon has been designed to save inspection time to two hours against the normal four hours by conventional methods and even perform urgent repairs,” said WR spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.

Image result for WR spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar.

Western Railways chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar

Conventionally, a long ladder was transported from Lower Parel station to the required station, shifted manually to the bridge site and only one person at a time could climb it, while clutching a load of equipment. The ladder needed to be shifted continuously for examining each girders, pillars or spans.

However, the new tower wagon allows the entire inspection team to climb to the targeted site armed with tools and machinery, and even carry out spot emergency repairs, making it a quick, safe and quality process, said Bhakar.

On the WR’s Churchgate-Virar sector, there are 29 ROBs, 110 Foot overbridges (FOBs) and four pipeline bridges, and the rest are on the Central Railway (CR), across Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts, catering to over eight million daily suburban commuters.

Top WR officials including General Manager A. K. Gupta, Divisional Railway Manager Sanjay Mishra, Principal Chief Engineer R. K. Meena and Chief Safety Officer Manoj Sharma were present when the inspections were carried out in the early hours on Saturday.

Image result for WR General Manager A. K. Gupta,

Western Railway top boss Western Railway GM A.K Gupta

Spelling relief, the Mahalaxmi ROB was found to be “structurally sound and in safe condition” at all its 15 girders and five spans after it was inspected in minute details by two tower wagons.

The 56-year old Bandra ROB with 13 girders and three spans was also found structurally safe and sound, the WR said.

Bouyed by the results, the WR will now carry out the safety audits of all the remaining bridges with tower wagons over the next three-four months, as resolved at a high-level meeting on July 5.

Following stringent observations by the Bombay High Court, a public uproar after the July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB which killed one woman, the beleagured WR, CR, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation along with IIT-Bombay experts launched the full-scale bridges’ audits.

Image result for July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB which killed one woman

July 3 crash of a portion of the Andheri FOB

It was decided to order repairs or reconstruct the stressed bridges on priority without procedural delays, with precedence given to the oldest structures, while ensuring complete coordination among various agencies.

The three organisations will also conduct regular monthly meetings of top officials, clear issues about designs, drawings, approvals, land issues, etc, to speed up the required works.

They would also explore the feasibility of creating a special corpus fund for the purpose of an appropriate amount, to ensure financial resources are readily available, especially for undertaking works of urgent nature or in emergencies.

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Lifestyle

30 per cent Indians planning couple trip during monsoon: Study

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Couple trip monsoon

New Delhi, July 10: With the onset of the monsoon, more and more couples are taking advantage of the pleasant weather and heading for short breaks with 30 per cent planning it with their better halves, says a study conducted by travel marketplace ixigo.  

The data reveals that 39 per cent Indians, travelling during the monsoon, are planning to travel as couples, followed by 24 per cent with family and 18 per cent solo, reads a statement.

Couples are planning short-stays that extend to about three or four days. Also, hotel searches for Goa show the maximum spike of 16 per cent from previous months, while Shillong and Guwahati follow with 11 per cent and 9 per cent spikes respectively.

goa-couple-on-beach

While about 25 per cent couples from Chennai and 18 per cent from Bangalore are booking a short vacation to Puducherry, about 14 per cent couples are travelling from Mumbai to Goa via train.

Commenting on the findings, Aloke Bajpai, ixigo CEO & Co-founder said, “With the arrival of monsoon across the country, millennial couples are now planning their bae-cations. Travel becomes far more affordable during the monsoon as it is a lean season in comparison to summer and winter.

“Major Indian airlines have announced their monsoon sales, offering big discounts on flights, reducing fares by almost 20 per cent. Goa remains to be the most popular destination showing an 8 per cent increase in in flight and 16 per cent increase in hotel searches. It is great to note, how owing to improved infrastructure and better flight connectivity, north-eastern destinations like Shillong and Guwahati are also becoming crowd favourites.”

IANS 

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Lifestyle

Why one should consider a beach holiday

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beach

New Delhi, June 30: Selecting your next destination isn’t easy and spending the month of June and July at home can never be treated as an experience. But then a beach trip can always be your escape! Right? Ditch the hills and snow when you can head out for a beach holiday.

Goa Beaches-wefornews

Jayant Singh, Founder and Managing Director, Karma Hospitality and Richa Khurana Singh, Travel Expert, share some insights why a beach holiday is the best way to refresh the mind.

* Beauty and the beach: The coming months are a good escape to beaches for people who want to travel and have an adventure at the same time. The temperature is not so hot and days are also the longest, which gives you more time to explore and party. The beauty of the beaches relaxes you and at the same time the rapids give the best adrenaline rush.

goa-nightlife

* Enjoy the festivities and the rains: June brings out the unseen views of beaches – especially Goa – that are usually absent during the summers. The beginning of the monsoon gives relief from the humid climate and a wave of new fresh air.

* Adventure be your saviour: It is not just about the beauty of the sea, but there is much more beyond that parties and beaches. June is the best time to enjoy for adventure lovers and they can enjoy the different water sports like jet skiing, water skiing, paragliding, scuba diving. Also, the beginners training for scuba diving can best learn in these months.

 jet skiing

* Affordable accommodation: October-January are the months when the tourist traction is huge for beach areas, but from June-September the areas are less occupied and you don’t have to spend much on travel and stay. Fares are affordable for luxury resorts and you can book your fairies and adventures at a low cost.

IANS

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