The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has put in place an action plan to tackle the air pollution in the city, an official said.The Air Quality Index in several automated air monitoring stations in the city had hovered between 200 and 350 (PM 2.5) in the first week of November, which was categorised as ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ but then improved substantially as Cyclone Bulbul lashed the city and washed away the particulate matters in air for next few days. A WBPCB statement said on Friday, although the levels of PM 2.5 during summer and monsoon remain within the prescribed standards, it exceeds during the winter months due to various factors and an air quality action plan has been put in place to address the situation. An Air Quality Index from 0-100 (PM 2.5) is considered satisfactory and within prescribed limits. The WBPCB statement attributed road dust as “having contributed substantially to air pollution” in recent times and said the WBPCB has provided ₹6 crore to Kolkata Municipal Corporation for procurement of 10 water sprinkling vehicles. Ten ‘mechanical sweeping vehicles’ which will sweep dust from road in a mechanised manner will also be procured by KMC for containing dust, the statement said. Three water sprinkling vehicles, apart from the 10 to be procured later, are already being put in service by the WBPCB in the eastern parts of the city from Friday, a WBPCB official said. All these water sprinkling vehicles and mechanical sweeping vehicles, when together put in service, will cover the airport to Garia stretch via EM Bypass, Garia to Tollygunje Phari, Tollygunje to Rashbehari via Mominpur, Thakurpukur to Taratala via Behala, Esplanade to Shyambazar, Dunlop to Chiria More, the official said. The water sprinklers will help in a great way to contain particulate matters gathering in air and bring down air pollution to a great extent, he added.
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At an age when youngsters usually prepare to take admission in colleges, Shiva Thapa, the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics, has a much bigger task to handle.When the quadrennial sports extravaganza begins in London next month, Thapa, 18, will be one of the boxers touted as a strong medal prospect, that too in a category (56kg category) which is considered as the most competitive in the sport.Thapa is aware of the enormity of the task he is expected to handle in London. But he says philosophically he will deliver his 100 per cent and the rewards will automatically come his way.”Every Olympian goes into the Olympics with an aim to win a medal and my target is also the same. Whenever in the ring, I give my 100 per cent and that has always helped me achieve whatever I have so far. I’ll do the same thing at the Olympics and I believe if I play up to my potential I can get a reward in form of a medal,” Thapa told Mail Today.Does he feel nervous going into the Olympics at 18? “It’s going to be my first Olympics, but there’s always a first time in whatever you do. I’m not nervous, but determine to do my best and leave the best impression,” he said.”Before the qualification my father used to say that 18 is too young an age to qualify for the Olympics. But I told him that at this age boxers have won Olympic gold. I take inspiration from young achievers in order to keep my morale high,” he said.advertisementThapa first hogged headlines when he won the silver at the Youth World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games in 2010. Then, in his first senior tournament in 2011 in Belgrade, Serbia, he created a bigger flutter by showing the door to world champion Delakliev Detelin of Bulgaria on way to clinching the gold.The victory made him a sensation. When seasoned boxerAkhil Kumar failed to make it to the Olympics in the first qualifying tournament, the Indian Boxing Federation selected Thapa for the second and the final qualifier. In one of his most inspiring display of talent, he upset a stellar field and qualified for the Olympics with a gold medal.Thapa says he will not let such victories go in vain and will take an inspiration from them. “I have beaten some of the toughest boxers and that has given me a psychological edge at a young age. I am sure I won’t feel nervous if I fight against them in London. But I am not complacent. I know those who I beat are eager to take revenge. So, I’m doing my level best to prepare.”With less than 40 days to go for the Games, he is trying to avoid all kind of distractions. “Qualifying for the Olympics is bound to attract a lot of attention and a lot of people want to communicate with me. But, for the time being, I want to have limited interaction with the outside world as it will help me keep the preparations on track,” he said.To give his preparations finishing touches, Thapa, as part of the India team, is now in Dublin, Ireland, on a training-cum-competition trip. After spending a few days at home, the team will go to London. “Ireland and London trips are very timely. Since both the places have cold weather, the trips are expected to help us adjust to the local conditions that we are expecting during the Olympics,” he said.It will be interesting to see if Thapa becomes the youngest Indian medallist in boxing – and make history.
Fleming backs Team India to bounce back against England in the ODI seriesMS Dhoni may just be two tests losses away from touching Stephen Fleming’s ignominious record of most away test defeats as captain but he finds support from his CSK coach who advocates Indian cricket stakeholders to take a balanced view of things over their next test captain.In an interview to India Today.in Fleming backs the Dhoni led Indian one day outfit to bounce back against England, although he admits they will be uncomfortable after the test losses. Counting himself out in the race for Indian coach, he also says it would be in the best interest of Indian cricket if Virat Kohli strives to be the best batsman he can be and not necessarily the skipper.Q. Stephen, you have said you spend three months a year in India with the CSK. Would one get to see a lot more of your here? Should an opportunity arise would you want to be Indian cricket coach?A. No. I am happy with the CSK role. It works well with the family situation. I know how much travelling is there with Indian team and that’s not me for the moment.Q. You have spent a lot of time with Dhoni as a CSK skipper. Do you believe he is still the right man for the job. Also do you think test captainship comes naturally to him?A. I don’t know if test captainship comes naturally to anyone. It’s hard work and when your team does not do well you feel the pressure and responsibility. He batted well which is a good sign. If he was playing badly and the team was doing badly he would be under some real pressure. He’s got that decision along with the BCCI as to what future holds for him whether its all forms of the game or just the shorter version with the World Cup coming up. There are lots of questions I am sure which are being asked and he’s in the best place to answer it.advertisementQ. Virat’s worst test tour has coincided with India’s poor loss to England. Else do you think it could have been a case for him taking test leadership over from MS Dhoni?A. Virat will be dissapointed with his show. There are very high expectations of him and he is one of the best players in the world which he still is, a bad series in England or anywhere else does not make you any lesser. He will make some adjustments and will be better off for it. Whether that takes him to captainship, I am not sure. Being the best batsmen he can will be the best thing for Indian cricket right now.Q. How much of a blame should Duncan Fletcher take for India’s losses? The test team has never won away during his reign.A. I am a coach, and am not going to bad another coach. But more seriously it’s a hard job. Responsibility lies with the players which often gets overlooked. The coach and the captain gets targeted. But the players will be dissapointed with the way they played. There was a lot expected of Virat and Pujara. Vijay played quite well but there are some real high profile players who have put some good numbers in the past 12 months and collectively they have had a very bad tournament. How deep you want to run with that whether it’s support staff whether it’s your academies that’s a case for the BCCI.Q. Do you think the test loss will hurt their chances in the one dayers?A. No I don’t think so. They will be looking forward to the one dayers. It’s generally agreed that they are more suited to the one day game at the moment. They are world champions and they will be on the run. But they will be uncomfortable just like England were in the second half of the test series. They will come bouncing back and I would be surprised if they didn’t.
Between politicians who fog the truth and the ones just in a fog, Chris Ragan wants to fan fresh air into a carbon tax debate that is clouding Alberta’s provincial election and drifting into an upcoming federal campaign.“It’s pretty clear this issue is warming up politically,” said Ragan, head of Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, a non-partisan group of academics and business leaders focused on economic and environmental solutions.“We have been sorry to see that there’s a bunch of stuff out there that is either misunderstanding or poorly explained. There are a bunch of myths out there.”The commission has just published a report on carbon tax misconceptions.The worst, Ragan said, is that a carbon tax doesn’t work.“If you look at B.C., if you look at California, if you look at the U.K, if you look at Quebec, these policies do work. What they don’t do is work overnight.”At least five different published studies have found British Columbia’s carbon tax, introduced in 2008, has cut overall emissions, reduced per capita gasoline use by seven per cent, improved average vehicle efficiency by four per cent, cut residential natural gas use by seven per cent and diesel use by more than three per cent.Meanwhile, the province enjoyed about three per cent annual economic growth between 2012 and 2017.Other jurisdictions that have successfully used carbon taxes to reduce emissions include Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, several U.S. states, the U.K. and the European Union.Three separate studies found B.C.’s tax either didn’t affect jobs or added them. A fourth found a small decrease in jobs for less-educated workers. Studies in the U.S. or the U.K. found little or no impact on job numbers.The commission’s report finds that far from hurting families, 70 per cent of Canadian households will receive more in carbon tax rebates than they pay.Energy economists such as Mark Jaccard at B.C.’s Simon Fraser University argue that regulations get faster, bigger results and are politically easier to enact. The big cuts to Canada’s carbon emissions, he said, have come from closing coal-fired power plants and clean fuel rules.“Some people will tell you you have to have carbon pricing,” he said on a recent podcast. “That’s not true. You could do it all through regulations.”You could, concedes Ragan. But that would cost the economy more. Besides, he said, bringing in carbon taxes gives governments an opportunity to cut other levies such as income tax.Albertans who believe the province could escape a carbon tax by rescinding provincial legislation may also be mistaken.Martin Olszynski, a University of Calgary law professor, said all Ottawa would have to do is pass an order in council to bring Alberta under the same federal tax that recently came into effect in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. None of those provinces had its own tax.“It’s a matter of getting cabinet together and writing the order,” Olszynski said.Looking to the courts to block Ottawa’s tax is an iffy bet, he suggested.In court hearings on Saskatchewan’s anti-tax constitutional challenge, Olszynski said, judges asked if allowing Ottawa to regulate greenhouse gases as a matter of “national concern” would impede provincial efforts to do the same.“If you recognize this matter as a matter of national concern, you would strip away the provincial ability to regulate these things,” he summarized.But Olszynski notes that courts have recognized that many issues — especially environmental ones — are best managed jointly between national and provincial governments.Other federal arguments in favour of a national carbon tax are backed by decades of case law, Olszynski added.Ragan said the debate over carbon taxes is as important to Canada’s future as debates over the GST or free trade with the United States.“It’s a big policy issue and it’s appropriate that we’re talking about it now.”Ragan just wishes the debate wasn’t so mythical.“We live in a democratic society where people play partisan politics. Those political debates don’t always stick to the facts.”— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960Bob Weber, The Canadian Press