Hyderabad City soaked in pre-monsoon showers

HYDERABAD: Pre-monsoon showers lashed through the twin cities on Tuesday bringing in the much-needed relief from the sweltering weather. Officials from the Met department said the rain was an indication of the ensuing monsoon. “These showers will continue till the onset of monsoon.

While the day time temperatures will continue to remain high, evenings will be cooler because of the pre-monsoon showers,” said R V Subba Rao, assistant meteorologist, Met department. On Tuesday, the maximum temperature was recorded as 42.3 degrees.

Officials said the rain was due to the trough from Chhattisgarh to south Tamil Nadu across Telangana and south coastal AP. The officials added that the rains are isolated. Following the showers, the GHMC’s emergency wing got complaints of water logging from Jubilee Hills, Lakdikapul, Chikkadpally, Secretariat, Osmangunj, Jambagh and Greenlands.

From TOI

Rain causes great misery

Cyclone weakens into depression; heavy damage to crops

HYDERABAD: There was relief in the State as the cyclonic storm ‘Laila’ weakened into a depression after hovering over Machilipatnam and later Kakinada.

RAGING RAIN: Anxious people watch the swollen Addavagu rivulet near Ongole town on Friday. PHOTO: SRINIVAS KOMMURI

But continuous torrential rain battered Prakasam, Nellore, Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari and Visakhapatnam districts, taking lives, flooding a large number of residential localities in cities like Vijayawada, besides causing extensive damage to crops.

After crossing the coast, the storm headed towards the north-northeasterly direction. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the depression would weaken further, travel up to Srikakulam or Balasore in Orissa before its possible re-entry into the Bay of Bengal and further movement towards Bangladesh. The toll in the cyclone-hit areas went up to 23 with Krishna accounting for seven, Prakasam 5, Nellore and Guntur 4 each, East Godavari two and Visakhapatnam one. Three fishermen were still missing, two in Krishna and one in East Godavari.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, who reviewed the situation with Ministers and officials twice during the day, directed district Collectors to be on alert for two more days as heavy rain was likely to continue, especially in Khammam and Warangal. They were advised not to hesitate to contact him on telephone even at odd hours if there was a need. Health officials were instructed to be wary as epidemics might break out in the rain-ravaged areas.

He would undertake an aerial survey over Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on Saturday, having cancelled it on Friday due to inclement weather. Three hundred Army personnel were dispatched to Ongole to help in shifting people from flooded localities to higher places and distribute food packets.

Train services between Vijayawada, a major railway junction touched by about 300 trains a day, and Chennai and other southern destinations were affected for the day. Railway authorities were confident of restoring the services by tomorrow. Briefing reporters, Revenue Minister D. Prasada Rao said over 71,000 people were being looked after at 300 relief camps in the affected districts. Crops over 30,000 acres were found damaged. Similarly, nearly 400 boats were lost and 1,460 others damaged. Over 1.7 lakh food packets and 6.3 lakh water sachets were distributed.

A picture of human misery unfolded in Prakasam district which bore the brunt of the fury on Thursday, with thousands of families being rendered homeless following inundation of many villages and towns. There was no access to food and clean drinking water.

Strong gales flattened banana trees and damaged mango orchards in Krishna, Guntur, West Godavari and East Godavari districts. A mango farmer committed suicide in East Godavari district seeing the fruits simply dropping. Several places plunged into darkness from Thursday night due to disruption in power supply.

Singh Nagar, Vambay Colony, Vidyadharapuram and several other low-lying areas in Vijayawada came under waist-deep water. A landslip killed four members of a family at Kothapet. Authorities were forced to open two gates of the Prakasam Barrage as heavy inflows reached the Krishna river from several intermediary sources.


‘Laila’ weakens slightly before hitting Andhra Pradesh

Rains, gale claim 13 lives, uproot trees, hit power supply; second cyclone ‘Bandhu’ spotted in the Bay of Bengal

HYDERABAD: Cyclonic storm “Laila” crossed the Andhra Pradesh coast near Bapatla in Prakasam district late on Thursday afternoon without causing much damage to life and property. It, however, continued to keep the State administration on tenterhooks.

After making a landfall amid torrential rain and strong gale with speeds of over 100 kmph in Ongole, the cyclone is moving in a path whose trajectory seems uncertain. Before hitting the coast, “Laila” weakened slightly and began travelling northwards. It is expected to re-curve north-easterly towards Orissa.

Meteorologists have cautioned against any complacency while the government has resolved to monitor the situation closely for the next 24 hours anticipating heavy rain in north Telangana.

A second cyclone named “Bandhu,” was noticed in the Bay of Bengal and the India Meteorological Department is still analysing its possible impact.

Laila’s landfall was accompanied by waves with heights of 1.5 to 2 metres and gusty winds that uprooted trees and disrupted power and communication networks.

Prakasam district bore the brunt of the cyclonic storm with Ongole town receiving 320 mm of rain and two other places 350 mm. Water overflowed the Chennai-Kolkata National Highway 5 near Ongole. The rains and gales claimed 13 lives, three each in Nellore and Krishna, two each in Visakhapatnam, East Godavari and Guntur and one in Vizianagaram. A mother and her son were electrocuted when they came in contact with an electric pole in Visakhapatnam. Two fishermen were reported missing in Krishna district. Crops over an area of over 19,000 acres were damaged. Despite stiff resistance, officials evacuated over 50,000 people to 250 relief camps.

As many 107 trains were either cancelled, partially cancelled or diverted as the South Central Railway feared possible damage to the track. About 10 helicopters and over 500 boats were kept ready for rescue and relief operations while the government rushed additional police forces to assist district administrations in emergency operations.

Chief Minister K. Rosaiah reviewed the situation with Ministers and senior officials twice during the day. He later briefed UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the devastation caused by the cyclone, besides speaking to Defence Minister A. K. Antony for assistance from the armed forces.

Meeting in New Delhi

New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

The Centre on Thursday convened a meeting of the national crisis management committee in New Delhi to discuss the effects of the cyclonic storm.

Rajat Bharghav, Resident Commissioner of the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan, attended the meeting. He sought more helicopters for the State to supply and airdrop of food and water in the inundated areas.


Hyderabad: Weathermen sound a warning

Temperature continues to soar; sun-stroke deaths reported

HYDERABAD: As temperatures continued to soar, heat wave conditions aggravated across the State with sun-stroke deaths being reported from some districts.

no respite:Women cover their faces in Hyderabad on Thursday. —Photo: Mohd Yousuf

A warning has been issued that Telangana and Kadapa and Chittoor districts in Rayalaseema will be in the grip of heat wave. The State’s highest temperature of 46.4 C was recorded in Nizamabad for the day. Hyderabad recorded 42.9 C.

With three sun-stroke deaths being reported from Mahabubnagar district, the government has asked all district Collectors to verify such deaths and submit a report.

Weathermen warned that the State could come close to record temperatures of the past. It was on March 3, 1945 that Gannavaram in Krishna district recorded a temperature of 48.8 degrees C, the highest in the State’s history. Similarly,

Bhadrachalam and Rentachintala in Khammam and Guntur districts reported the second and third highest temperatures at 48.6 C and 48.3 C around the same time in 1952 and 1936 respectively.

Many places in the State these days are experiencing temperatures at levels close to these, thanks to the gusty dry winds blowing from the north-west without a let-up.

The soaring of the mercury over the State has been attributed by weathermen to global warming, air pollution caused by the enormous quantities of automobile emissions, depletion of vegetation and paving of the roads. G. Sudhakar Rao, director, State Met Office, said high temperatures are also due to hills left bald without foliage.

Hyderabad, which was once known for its salubrious weather, experienced 44.5 C on May 11 whereas the highest in its recorded history was 43.3 (April 30, 1973).


Hyderabad: Water problem gets worse in city

Hyderabad: A demonstration with empty pots may be an annual ritual for public representatives, but for many residents in the State capital they are becoming a harrowing fact. With summer peaking, the elixir of life is getting scarcer by the day. Notwithstanding what the Water Board says, the supplies have suddenly turned short and erratic.

DESPERATE SITUATION: A migrant worker tries to collect water from a leaking main line for his daily needs on the Banjara Hills Road.

Complaints of insufficient supplies are pouring in from several areas. “We are getting water alright but it is very meagre,” is the refrain. Some areas are experiencing the problem of supplies suddenly stopping without notice. For instance, in parts of Nehru Nagar in East Marredpally several houses went without water for two days recently.

Crisis in Malkajgiri

The situation in Malkajgiri is simply worse. Nearly 40 per cent of the area is getting water once in 10 days, forcing residents to depend on tankers. The problem has arisen due to supplies stopping from the Defence Colony reservoir consequent on water level in the Singur reservoir dropping. The other reservoir at Gowthamnagar gets Krishna water. “We tried to represent the problem to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, the other day when he visited A.S. Rao Nagar, but we were not allowed to meet him. In fact the police beat up women who wanted to submit a representation,” said B.T. Srinivasan, vice president, United Federation of Residents Welfare Association.

Situation acute

Same is the case in the surrounding localities. The problem is more acute in parts of the old city like Sultan Shahi, Gowlipura, Lal Darwaza, Uppuguda and Lalitabagh. The main problem here is of low pressure. Recently the supply was switched to alternate day. “But now it is restored”, says Adil of Falaknuma.

In interior areas like Bandlaguda, Hashamabad, Errakunta one can see residents fetching water from far off places. The area being hilly, houses here have problem getting water. As such, some residents have constructed sumps at lower levels to collect water. In peripheral areas too, it is an endless struggle for water. Long rows of empty pots are a regular feature here.


UNICEF launches TV serial

The serial is dubbed from Hindi version ‘Kyonki Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’

It will be telecast from May 3 on DD Saptagiri at 8 p.m. on weekdays

HYDERABAD: The UNICEF’s ‘Television for Social Change’ initiative took a step ahead on Saturday with the launch of their Telugu TV serial, ‘Idey Mana Jeevita Lakshyam’.

Created by the UNICEF and produced by Miditech, the serial is set in an Indian village where it traces the lives of six protagonists, including an Anganwadi worker, an oppressed woman sarpanch and a dedicated teacher. It has been dubbed from the Hindi version, ‘Kyonki Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai’, which has aired in six States.

Strong message

Although styled as a soap opera, the script has a strong social message focusing on health-related issues such as safe motherhood, breastfeeding, nutrition, immunisation and malaria among others. It is based on the book, ‘Facts of Life’ published by the UNICEF, WHO and UNESCO.

Beginning May 3, it will be telecast in the State on Doordarshan Saptagiri at 8 p.m. on weekdays.

“This serial is dedicated to all the grass root functionaries whose hands we want to strengthen,” Michel Saint-Lot, Chief of Hyderabad Field Office, UNICEF told media persons. “There are so many people working in the field but there is still a huge gap in the delivery mechanism.”

He said the serial is an attempt to bridge this gap so that more people realise that they have a right to government services.

“Decades have passed, but we have made little progress in crucial sectors like healthcare,” Chaya Ratan, Principal Secretary, Women and Child Development Department said. “I fully support this initiative by the UNICEF because we need the power of media to reach out to people who have been excluded.”


Hyderabad: Zoo mates falling prey to pollution

HYDERABAD: It was in the run-up to the Bakrid festival when the city zoo lost six black bucks last November within five days. The veterinary doctors at the zoo were surprised that the animals had died due to foot and mouth disease, which is caused by a virus that had been eradicated from Andhra Pradesh many years ago. And that’s when they realised how the virus had gained entry into the zoo: illegal slaughter houses that had mushroomed around the zoo unchecked had brought cattle and sheep from neighbouring states for the festival. Officials said the epidemic was contained and thus other animals saved.

Nevertheless, of the 24 animal deaths at the Nehru Zoological Park in the last one year, 18 have died in the last three months alone. Two animals, a fox and a mouse deer, died last week. But these deaths were not due to the virus. The fox was found dead in his burrow with maggot wounds and the mouse deer died due to a rare urine retention illness.

Clearly, there are more factors leading to deaths in the zoo than just the deadly virus. When founded in 1965, the 300-acre zoo was located on the city outskirts and its animals lived in mint fresh environs. If slaughter houses around it are making unwanted donations of the foot and mouth disease virus that travels into zoo at the speed of 60 km/hour, the vehicles moving inside the zoo are ensuring a rise in pollution levels as well. In addition, many animals are reaching their longevity and their deaths are natural. In some cases, however, the animals are lonely, having been couriered from other zoos to Hyderabad, alone. And there is a crunch in the number of animal keepers, with just about 57 animal keepers for the 1,390 animals living in the zoo.

But to start with, it is pollution that is the zoo’s biggest problem. If the road outside it has become busier, dirtier than ever, with it now leading to the Shamshabad airport, the number of vehicles moving inside the zoo have also shot up, despite the entry for vehicles priced at Rs 500. Zoo authorities say that 650 vehicles enter the zoo on ‘peak days’ such as holidays and weekends. On regular days, around 300 vehicles move around the zoo premises.

“The noise pollution because of vehicles is definitely having an impact on the animals who are not used to this kind of atmosphere. Especially primates and herbivores are very sensitive,” said Farida Tampal, state director of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Pollution, both noise and air, may not kill animals but lowers their resistance, say experts. Tampal says that a suggestion was made to the zoo to operate more battery operated vehicles and restrict the entry of vehicles further. Given that the zoo earns an annual revenue of Rs 5 crore from its visitors, the suggestion to restrict entry of vehicles could be difficult to accept. After all, the zoo spends a lot too, Rs 11 lakh alone on the diet of the animals every month.

“I would not say that the zoo officials are negligent. But the zoo was once in an isolated place and now the traffic has compounded,” said Vasanti Wadi, secretary, People for Animals. Wadi goes on to point out another crucial issue— loneliness— that is casting a shadow on the animal’s longevity. “There are a few animals living alone. Every animal requires company,” she said, questioning why these animals were brought alone from other zoos.

Zoo officials say that acquiring animals for the zoo is a big problem, cumbersome too. “We got a giraffe from Delhi but a single one. What is the fate (of the animal),” wonders Dr M Navin Kumar, consultant with the Hyderabad zoo and also its former deputy director. The enclosures are such that two different kind of animals cannot be accommodated in one. Dr Kumar, who is also on the evaluation team of the Central Zoo Authority, says that zoos should always acquire an animal with its compatible breeding pair, which does not always happen.

Objectively speaking, the number of deaths even in the financial year 2008-09 were also 20 and this year the number has shot only by four. But that, say experts, is not the point. The fact that deaths have been clustered in a quarter is reason for concern. “There is a need for more animal keepers as well. We had 120 animal keepers in the 1980s but now we don’t even have half that number for 150 animal enclosures,” said an animal keeper at the zoo.

Experts say that the zoo’s mortality rate is the same as that of other zoological parks but admit its time its surrounding environment was cleaned to make the zoo livable for its animals.

From TOI