Thursday, March 18, 2010

Delhi to phase out auto rickshaws?

If the state government has its way, the three-wheeled creatures will soon walk into the sunset. Chief minister Sheila Dikshit told the state assembly that their "service is very poor."

"It is not acceptable. We are exploring ways to phase them out," she said.

"Government was in touch with auto-makers Honda and Bajaj to provide battery-operated, eco-friendly vehicles so that the existing CNG autos could be replaced," the chief minister said.

However, the auto drivers are not obviously amused. They said they would bring the city to a standstill, if the government goes ahead with the proposal.

Reacting to Dikshit's statement on the floor of the House on Wednesday, Delhi Auto-rickshaw Sangh general secretary Rajender Singh Soni said that the government cannot target all of them for the "wrongdoings of a couple of bad fish in the pond."

"It's not a joke. Today they say we are replacing autos. Tomorrow they will say we want to replace battery-operated vehicles. They can not punish all of us. The city government is playing into the hands of few brokers," he alleged.

"The government should first look into the real problems. There is shortage of CNG filling stations. Auto fares are very low. Majority of the autos are owned by a couple of influential people," said Dharmendra Kumar, who runs an auto on rent.

The auto rickshaw union said that they would hold a dharna outside the Delhi Assembly on March 22.

The commuters gave a mixed reaction to the development. "I am glad if such a thing is happening. City auto drivers have made our life hell," said Snigdha Kumari, a fashion designer who lives in south Delhi.

"It's good that government has finally decided to rein them in. But no decision should be taken in haste. The government should formulate a policy so that the new mode does not go the same way," said Sidharth Kumar, an IT professional who lives in Laxmi Nagar.

Beginning in the summer of 2000, Hong Kong airport began operating a 16-passenger Mitsubishi Rosa electric shuttle bus, and in the fall of 2000, New York City began testing a 66-passenger battery-powered school bus, an all electric version of the Blue-Bird TC2000. A similar bus was operated in Napa Valley, California for 14 months ending in April, 2004.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics used a fleet of 50 electric buses, which have a range of 130 km with the air conditioning on. They use Lithium-ion batteries, and consume about 1 kW·h/mi. The buses were designed by the Beijing Institute of Technology and built by the Jinghua Coach Co. Ltd. The batteries are replaced with fully charged ones at the recharging station to allow 24 hour operation of the buses.

World's hottest chilli in a hand grenade

It's ready to explode and not just in the mouth. The 'bhut jolokia' - recognised as the hottest of spices - will pack a punch when mixed with hand grenades to deal with terrorists, as trials by Indian defence scientists have shown.

A defence spokesperson said scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Tezpur in northern Assam were making a trial run of the hand grenades and other repellents by using the bhut jolokia.

"The chilli grenade is a non-toxic weapon and when used would force a terrorist to come out of his hideouts as the smell is so pungent that it would literally choke them," R.B. Srivastava, a senior scientist and director of the DRDO, told IANS.

The DRDO scientists had already carried out trials for the hand grenades mixed with the world's hottest chilli and so far the tests have been satisfactory.

The bhut jolokia belongs to the capsicum Chinese family and is native to Assam. It is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest of all spices.

The hotness of the bhut jolokia, measured in Scoville heat units was 1,001,304. It's nearly twice as hot as Mexico's red savina (577,000), the variety it replaced as the hottest. By comparison, a New Mexico green chilli contains about 1,500 Scoville units, while an average jalapeno measures at about 10,000.

"Work is on to develop other such things using bhut jolokia for effective utilisation by the security forces in dealing with riots and tackling insurgency and terrorists," Srivastava said.

The non-lethal grenades devised by the DRDO could numb the enemy and immobilise them without seriously wounding or killing them.

"There are other applications as well, what we call women power. A specially made chilli powder could act as a tool for women to keep away anti-socials and work in this regard is also on," he said.

There were also plans to use bhut jolokia paste or powder in teargas shells for dispersing violent protesters or rioters.

"We are also trying for a scientific validation to find out if bhut jolokia could be incorporated into the food menu for soldiers in higher reaches to keep them warm. Physiological studies are on in this regard," Srivastava said.

And the chilli powder would also be rubbed on the fences around army barracks in the hope the strong smell would keep animals out of bounds.

"The chilli paste could also act as a major repellent against wild elephants in some parts of Assam and other northeastern states," the scientist said.

A kilogram of bhut jolokia sells at about Rs.300.
raja mirchi

More trouble ahead for mobile phone users in Delhi

New Delhi: Mobile phone users in the Capital may be in for some inconvenience in the coming days with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Wednesday instructing its officials to speed up sealing of unauthorised cell phone towers.

MCD Commissioner K S Mehra directed Deputy Commissioners of the civic body's 12 Zones to take measures to seal 1,532 unauthorized cell phone towers operating in the city.

These cell phone towers have been issued notices and have not replied to the same.

The city has a total of 5,364 mobile towers out of which 2,952 are unauthorized. The MCD has so far issued show cause notices on 1,532 towers to cell companies besides sealing 226 in the past few days.

"I have instructed the Deputy Commissioners to expedite action against unauthorized towers. We had given them one month time to reply. The time is out," Mehra said.

The issue was raised today in the Standing Committee of the MCD which endorsed the sealing action.

The MCD wants cell companies to apply for putting up towers on buildings in the Capital.

According to the new policy cleared by the MCD, cell phone operators will now have to pay Rs three-five lakh to the civic body for installing a tower. Presently, cell companies have to pay Rs one lakh in this regard.

These new rated will apply to legal towers when they apply for renewal as well.