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Online Submission of House Applications by Urban Poor from Thursday under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

Beneficiaries have to visit the nearest CSC for seeking assistance for seeking benefits of PMAY(Urban) online

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Representational Image, Wikimedia

New Delhi, Nov 2, 2016: The government on Wednesday announced that online submission of applications by the urban poor for affordable houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) will be enabled from Thursday.

An agreement in this regard was signed by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Common Services Centre e-Governance Services India Limited of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in the presence of respective ministers M.Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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“Out of the over two lakh common services centre across the country, about 60,000 located in urban areas will enable online submission of applications from November 3, 2016 at a nominal cost of Rs 25 per application,” said an official statement.

“As per the agreement, CSCs will also facilitate printing of the acknowledgement receipt with beneficiary photograph which helps applicants in tracking application status,” it added.

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Beneficiaries have to visit the nearest CSC for seeking assistance for seeking benefits of PMAY(Urban) online.

“In case the beneficiary does not have Aadhar Card, CSCs will enable beneficiaries acquiring them. This process of applying online is e-KYC (Know Your Client) enabled which means applications are submitted after due verification,” said the statement. (IANS)

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“Save Yourself From Sun” : Heat Waves in India Affects the Urban Poor Hardest, says Study

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FILE - Indians reach for a cold drink being freely distributed on a hot summer day in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. Most parts of northern India are experiencing intense heat wave conditions with the temperature crossing 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). VOA

In summer, life becomes intolerable for rickshaw puller Mohammad Khan.

“I keep running into the shade to save myself from the sun,” he said as he waited for mid-afternoon customers in a busy New Delhi market.

Like millions of others, Khan is experiencing on the ground what a recent study has highlighted: Heat waves in India have become deadlier and further global warming could take a “relatively drastic” human toll in the coming years.

Amir Aghakouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine who co-authored the study, said they found that even small variations in temperature are causing the change.

“While mean temperatures from 1960 to 2009 increased by around 0.5 C degrees, both heat waves and mortality have increased substantially,” he said.

FILE - A girl cools off herself in the waters of the river Ganges during a hot summer morning in Allahabad, India, May 31, 2015. Temperature in Allahabad on Sunday is expected to reach 46 degree Celsius (114.8 degree Fahrenheit).
FILE – A girl cools off herself in the waters of the river Ganges during a hot summer morning in Allahabad, India, May 31, 2015. Temperature in Allahabad on Sunday is expected to reach 46 degree Celsius (114.8 degree Fahrenheit). VOA

 

Grim warning

The India-specific study is the latest grim warning of how new deadly summer highs are affecting India, where millions cope with perennial shortages of water and power.

Spring became summer when temperatures crossed 40 degrees Celsius in March in several parts of the country this year. Last year was declared the warmest year on record since 1901, and in May 2016, the northern town of Phalodi shattered the national heat record when the mercury touched 51 degrees Celsius. In 2015, the world’s fifth deadliest heat wave seared large swathes of India, claiming about 2,500 victims.

The director of the Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar, Dileep Mavalankar, said, “heat waves are the single most important reason of disaster-related deaths in India in the last few years although only the tip of the iceberg is getting reported.”

Focus on poor people

As record-breaking heat becomes a fact of life, the focus is turned on millions of poor people who are impacted the most by more intense summers, particularly in urban areas.

According to Aghakouchak, “adverse effects are pummeling the world’s most vulnerable populations.”

They are wage workers, such as construction laborers, rickshaw pullers, hawkers and vendors who toil outdoors in the day and live in sweltering slums. And in sprawling cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, where the population tops 20 million, the only shelter people on the street often find is in metro stations or under road bridges.

The deputy director at New Delhi’s Center for Science and Environment, Chandra Bhushan, said what is called an “urban heat island” effect is taking a huge toll on the health, productivity and livelihoods of poor people in cities.

“It’s a concrete jungle where heat gets trapped and many studies indicate that the temperature in city centers is 5 degrees, even 7 degrees higher than the ambient temperature,” he said.

Shorter work days

A report by the U.N. Environment Program last year said workers such as farmers or construction laborers will have to shorten their work days within four decades, simply because it will be too hot outdoors. That could result in significant economic loss for poor people in countries such as India.

Researchers in New Delhi say that is already happening. Studies have demonstrated that street hawkers and others lose three to four hours of work a day because even acclimatized populations are unable to cope with the spiking temperatures.

On a hot summer morning, 17-year-old Anil Kumar, is downcast. He usually hangs around Delhi’s popular landmark India Gate, hoping to make some money taking photos of visitors, but the crowds are much thinner than usual.

“I have come since the morning, but have not got a single customer. It is so sunny, people don’t come,” he said.

FILE - An Indian auto rickshaw driver, right, drinks sweetened water being freely distributed by the wayside on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017.
FILE – An Indian auto rickshaw driver, right, drinks sweetened water being freely distributed by the wayside on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2017. VOA

 

Heat Action Plan

As studies highlight that the high temperatures are here to stay, there have been growing calls for the government to draw up contingency plans to cope with heat events in the same manner as natural disasters like earthquakes and cyclones.

A handful of cities are now launching a Heat Action Plan begun five years ago in the western Ahmedabad city that has helped bring down heat-related deaths.

Mavalankar said it involves public awareness campaigns, setting up cooling spaces in public buildings, training doctors and alerting supervisors on how to protect laborers.

But the efforts are sporadic and more programs need to be implemented nationwide, experts say.

“You don’t allow people to work in the afternoon, you have availability of water and shelter, you have emergency medical response and office timings are changed,” Bhushan said. “In long term in urban areas, there is a lot of talk of having more greenery in the city to reduce the impact of heat island effect.”

A small start has been made. Last year, the Indian meteorological department began putting out temperature advisories from April to June for 100 Indian cities to encourage people to stay indoors on very hot days. However that is unlikely to help rickshaw puller Khan or photographer Kumar, who have no option but to earn their livelihood under a blazing sun. (VOA)

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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