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June 11, 2007

26 Pages

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Late City


High-rises are not safe
Chennai, June 10: Almost 80 per cent of the multistoreyed buildings in the city - which falls under high seismic risk zone - could collapse in the event of an earthquake, according to a study. With an increased perception of seismic threat to many areas of the country, the city-based Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC) — a national laboratory under CSIR actively involved in seismic evaluation, structural testing and research — undertook a random survey of tall structures across the city from Adayar to Anna Nagar, about a year ago. ‘‘The random survey, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), revealed that about 80 per cent of the buildings were unsafe,’’ said a top official in the SERC. ‘‘We could not cover all the buildings. About 30 high-rise buildings were tested,’’ he added. The builders were given an undertaking that the identity of the buildings would not be revealed and only locations would be mentioned in the report. The drawings of the buildings were obtained and then a team inspected the sites. The ‘‘soft storey’’ buildings, with the car parking in the basement, are the most vulnerable, according to the official. In such constructions, the builders had failed to follow seismic regulations making them totally unsafe.


Chennai falls under Zone III (high seismic risk) of the Bureau of Indian Standards classification. According to the Anna University’s Centre for Disaster Mitigation and Management (CDMM) seismic micro zoning profile of 2006, parts of the city such as areas in and around Adyar, Guindy, Vadapalani, Nungambakkam and Vyasarpadi may well fall within Zone IV (high to very high seismic risk). Till 2002, Chennai was under Zone II (moderate).

Asia’s MS Dhoni plays a shot during his whirlwind knock of 139 not out against Africa in their third ODI at MAC Stadium, Chennai, on Sunday. Report P14 Asia won by 13 runs — Express photo by B A Raju

Spain’s Rafael Nadal returns to Swiss Roger Federer in the French Open final at Roland Garros, Paris, on Sunday. Nadal won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to Report P15 complete a hat-trick of French Open titles — AP

In Ahmedabad, 90 per cent of the ‘‘loss’’ in the last earthquake was reported from such ‘soft storey’ buildings, the official said. The SERC submitted the report to the DST and the findings have not been published yet.

News @ a Glance Four more Indians dead in Oman cyclone
New Delhi: Four more Indians have died in the devastating cyclone that hit Oman early this week, taking the toll of Indians to six even as six others remain missing~PTI

For the comfort of fighter pilots
Kochi, June 10: What does a fighter pilot do if he wants to piss during missions? The Indian Air Force is now toying with an out-ofthe-box concept to help fighter pilots ease themselves during sorties, by providing them with a special plastic bag coated with chemicals that can turn urine into crystals. ‘‘The need was first felt after the life extension works on Jaguar aircraft was completed. The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited came up with indigenous solutions to replace its archaic avionics and flight control systems including auto-pilot mechanism. These aircraft can now carry out midair refuelling enabling it to fly extended hours. This automatically raised concerns about pilot comfort,’’ sources told Express about the thought that led them to the disposable plastic bag. As it’s difficult to spend three hours without passing urine we had to provide them with some solution. They can urinate into these bags after switching on the auto pilot. The bag can be cleared from the cockpit once the mission is over. Following successful tests, the idea now awaits clearance of the Air Force. The pilot has to open straps of his special flying suit to urinate. As opening straps of the special suit during flight is a strict no-no the Air Force top brass has to take a call. ‘‘We’ve taken up the case with the Air Force HQ. They are examining its pros and cons. Once we get a clearance, use of these bags could be extended to all the three forces,’’ sources said. Dornier is the smallest aircraft that has a special box at the rear. Air Forces around the world have developed several techniques to add to the comfort of their pilots. The US, sources said, uses a special type of diapers.

Lanka Govt apologises for evictions
Colombo, June 10:The Sri Lankan Government on Sunday apologised to the ethnic minority Tamils for evicting them from the capital and promised that there would be no repeat of the ‘‘big mistake’’ in future. ‘‘It was a big mistake,’’ Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told reporters here, referring to Thursday’s expulsion of hundreds of Tamils at gunpoint from Colombo. ‘‘We accept responsibility. I express regret and apologise to the Tamil community on behalf of the government,’’ he said. Dismissing claims by the country’s police chief Victor Perera today that there was no ‘‘forceful expulsion’’ of Tamils, he said the government stand was that the police action was ‘‘wrong.’’ ‘‘You cannot justify it under any circumstances,’’ he said adding ‘‘we want to tell the Tamil people that everyone has a right to live anywhere.’’ The Prime Minister said the government would also consider compensation for the Tamils who were forcibly removed ~ PTI

CPM wants Somnath to be vice-president
New Delhi, June 10: The CPM is making serious efforts to evolve a consensus on Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s nomination for the post of vice-president which falls vacant in August. Chatterjee, whose name figured prominently in the beginning for the post of the President along with those of Pranab Mmukherjee, Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh, has, however, yet to give his consent to the proposal, sources said today. The meeting between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee late last night where the presidential elections figured prominently assumes significance in this respect as the Left party could pitch for some sort of understanding in lieu of its support to the UPA presidential candidate. Recently, CPM patriarch and former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu reportedly spoke to the party leadership over phone in support of the move to field Chatterjee for vice-president. While a senior CPM leader said his party had thrown the idea but had not thrown the hat as it was necessary to seek the mind of Chatterjee, a CPI leader said the CPM had yet not spoken to them on the subject. ‘‘The Left is of the view that with the presidential candidate being the Congressman, the vice-president also need not be a Congressman,’’ the CPI leader added. Interestingly, the UPA’s strong southern ally the DMK may also demand the vice-president’s post even as the Left leaders, including Prakash Karat, have already stated that this was not in their knowledge and it was later clarified by the DMK leadership that their support to the UPA was unconditional. While the Election Commision has yet to announce the election schedule for the post of the president, the present incumbent Dr A P J Abdul Kalam’s term expires on July 24 ~ UNI

TN geared up to prevent chikungunya
Chennai: Even as Kerala is struggling to tackle the chikungunya menace, the Tamil Nadu Government is fully geared up to prevent the spread of the disease in the State, Health Minister KKSSR Ramachandran said adding that there was no trace of chikungunya in the State~ENS Details P3

The UPA will announce its candidate by June 15
- Ram Vilas Paswan, LJP president

Jaya blames MK for AIADMK cadre’s death
Salem: AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa on Sunday held DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and his government responsible for the death of her party cadre Sukumaran. Deatils P5

No possibility of supporting the UPA’s candidate
- Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, BJP leader

Will go by the UPA decision
- Tariq Anwar, NCP general secretary

Lalu won’t vote for Shekhawat on account of his ‘‘personal rapport’’
- Raghuvansh Pratap Singh, RJD

Candidate will have to convince Sena chief Bal Thackarey
- Sanjay Raut, MP andSaamana editor

Pranab for right to reprocess spent fuel
New Delhi: India-US nuclear deal, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said he is ‘hopeful’ the deal will go through but it was ‘absolutely necessary’ for the US to give India the right to reprocess spent fuel before they seal a bilateral pact~IANS Deatils P9

Chennai youths blog, laugh their way to bank!
Chennai, June 10: Ramanajum is entering his final year of engineering at Sai Ram Engineering college but till he gets a ‘real’ job, he has found a way to make money doing what he loves -blogging. One of the participants at held in Chennai over the weekend, Ramanujam started writing sponsored reviews on his blog only last month and earned about 500 dollars for his pains. ‘‘I have been blogging for one and a half years now and spend at least two hours a day reading blogs which is how I got involved in writing sponsored reviews,’’ he explains. What he does is review a product or software passed on involved in the process - Ramanujam subscribes to the world’s top blogs, including Problogger and Techcrunch. ‘‘It’s not a job or anything, but more like a lucrative hobby,’’ he grins. Karthik should know. Writing on the English part of his brother Vignesh’s (one of the founders of the Knowledge Foundation which came up with Podworks.In) blog, Karthik has been earning between Rs 15,000 and 20,000 during the past four months blogging on automobiles. The fresh-out-of-college automobile engineer with two job offers on hand identified a lacuna in the blog world and made the most out of it. ‘‘If you want reviews of bikes or cars in India online you have to subscribe to one of the auto magazines. Or you get news items on the same. There are no blogs on automobiles,’’ he explains. And so Karthik makes the effort to call up dealers of new bikes or cars and test drives them before posting a review on the blog. He also does in-depth product comparisons, generating two lakh hits a month and is now considering videocasting the reviews. Keys to his success include taking the blog seriously and updating regularly. Google’s adsense and other advertisers take care of the rest. ‘‘I want to expand the scope to include everything to do with automobiles,’’ he says. And then again there are a few like Kaushik Krishnasayee ( who, inspired by friends, chose to ‘‘monetise’’ his blog. He’s still waiting for a cheque. More stories on City Express

Participants at Podworks — Express photo by S L Shanth Kumar
to him through an advertiser and post the review on his blog. Next is to wait for the money to come in. ‘‘Some of them ask for positive reviews but others generally ask you to be a critic,’’ he adds. Of course there is a bit of work

Today’s issue: 26 pages, including 4 pages of Career and 6 pages of City Express