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Monthly Archives: MARCH 2016


After 115 Years, Scotland Is Coal-Free
30.03.16 - ALEJANDRO DAVILA FRAGOSO*
After 115 Years, Scotland Is Coal-Free



 For nearly 50 years the Longannet power station in Scotland burned coal for energy. The plant, the last of its kind in Scotland, closed Thursday.
 
After some 115 years, Scotland has burned its last lump of coal for electricity.
 
The Longannet power station, the last and largest coal-fired power plant in Scotland, ceased operations Thursday. What once was the largest coal plant in Europe shut down after 46 years before the eyes of workers and journalists, who gathered in the main control room.
 
"Ok, here we go,” said one worker moments before pressing a bright red button that stopped the coal-fired turbines that generated electricity for a quarter of Scottish homes.
 
Longannet’s closure comes as Scotland, a country of some 5 million people, aims to have enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its electricity demand by 2020. And while Europe has lowered its investment in renewables recently, Scotland seems well on its way to meeting its green energy goals. Renewable electricity output has more than doubled since 2007 and is equivalent to half of the electricity consumed. This surge in renewables follows a massive investment in onshore and offshore wind, which has established Scotland as a renewable energy leader in the region. In fact, Scotland’s largest wind farm is also the largest in the United Kingdom. Whitelee Windfarm near Glasgow has a 539-megawatt capacity and generates enough electricity to power just under 300,000 homes.
 
The end of Longannet was long expected. Two years ago, Scottish Power, which owns Longannet, said regulations made the plant too costly to operate. According to the Guardian, the plant bowed to a mixture of old age, rising transmission costs and higher carbon taxes. The energy burden will now fall on the shoulders of nuclear and gas plants, as well as renewable energy, particularly wind farms.
 
"Coal has long been the dominant force in Scotland’s electricity generation fleet, but the closure of Longannet signals the end of an era,” Hugh Finlay, generation director at Scottish Power, told the Guardian. No decisions have been made on what will be done with the site, though several proposals are under discussion, including one that would make Longannet a center for renewable energy expertise. Scottish Power said they will outline a plan before the end of the year.
 
For their part, local environmentalists welcomed the end of Longannet, noting the station burned around 4.5 million metric tons of coal a year, and was responsible for a fifth of Scotland’s climate change emissions. "For a country which virtually invented the Industrial Revolution, this is a hugely significant step, marking the end of coal and the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Scotland,” Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said in a statement. With the closure of Longannet, the only major fossil fuel plant in Scotland is a gas plant at Peterhead, in the northeast.
 
In the United States, the Sierra Club also praised the plant’s closure. "Scotland is done with coal,” Maura Cowley, director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate and Energy Campaign, said in a statement. "The U.S. is moving beyond coal with 232 plants announced for retirement, and just today China announced new measures to stop unnecessary new coal plants.”
 
Indeed, China’s National Energy Administration ordered 13 provincial governments to stop approving new coal-fired power plants until the end of 2017, according to published reports. Yet even approved coal-fired power plants aren’t safe there, as 15 provinces were told to stop building new plants. A Greenpeace analysis says this could affect up to 250 Chinese coal plants.
 
Coal may be under stress in much of the world, yet the role of fossil fuels is expected to remain strong for some time, according to multiple reports. That’s despite scientists saying global emissions need to substantially drop to avoid the most dramatic effects of climate change. Renewable energy is, however, expected to continue the surge it has been enjoying. In fact, a new United Nations-backed report found that coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half the investment made in solar, wind, and other renewables in 2015.
 
(Courtesy :*thinkprogress.org)




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Two residential towers engulfed in flames in Ajman, UAE
29.03.16 - pt team
Two residential towers engulfed in flames in Ajman, UAE



Two residential towers have been engulfed in a huge blaze in northern UAE emirate of Ajman.
 
The fire had reportedly erupted at a building in the Ajman One residential cluster of 12 towers and spread to at least another tower yesterday.
 
The residents were evacuated and the blaze was brought under control.
 
The Emirati Interior Minister, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, rushed to Ajman to help co-ordinate the response to the blaze, Ajman police said, reports news.com.au.
 
Those who sustained injuries were immediately given medical assistance.
 
The image of the fire surfaced in social media showing bright yellow flames spreading up the side of a building.
 
Ajman is home to many commuters who work in the Gulf commercial hub of Dubai. Like Dubai, it is one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE federation.
 
Tenants braved the situation as they rushed for safety. They later gathered around the complex as the buildings burned.
 
The UAE has been facing series of tower fires in the past.
 
During the 2016 New Year's celebrations, a fire broke out in a luxury 63-storey hotel near Dubai's tallest building.
 
In February, a huge fire gutted one of the emirate's tallest buildings, destroying luxury flats in the Torch tower and triggering an evacuation of nearby blocs in the Dubai Marina neighbourhood.
 
Last year too in November and October, two different fires in three residential blocs in central Dubai and high-rise residential tower in the Emirati city of Sharjah were engulfed with fire.
 
Building and safety experts say that material commonly used to cover the buildings known as aluminIum composite panel cladding is the reason for the fires.
 
Some panels used in buildings in the Emirates contain a flammable core that can burn rapidly one ignited, allowing fires to spread quickly on buildings.
 
However, it was not clear if the skyscraper in the Ajman fire had similar cladding. 




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Pak SGPC president Sham Singh no more
27.03.16 - pt team
Pak SGPC president Sham Singh no more



Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Sardar Sham Singh, who put the Sikh shrines and their upkeep on world front, breathed his last on Sunday at the Combined Military Hospital in Lahore.

He was not well for the last one month and admitted in the hospital for a prolong illness. He was the first president of the PSGPC, formed by the Pakistan Government in 1998, and was elected for various terms to head the bodies that look after the Sikh shrines spread all over the neighbouring country especially Pakistani Punjab.

Born on December 11, 1936, Sham Singh, an agriculturist who hailed from Faislabad, was chosen to head the body which was carved out by the Pakistan Government to take control of the Sikh Gurdwaras which were earlier being looked after by the Amritsar headquartered Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the premier body of the Sikhs.
The PSGPC was brought under Pakistan Evacuee Trust Property Board, which was then headed by former ISI chief Javed Nasir.

Sham Singh would be remembered for face lifting of Sikh Gurdwaras and bringing large number of pilgrims from across the world to visit Pakistan.

Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, Gurdwara Babye Nanaki, Gurudwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Dass and many more were declared open for the pilgrimages unlike the previous times when Pakistan allowed devotees to visit only a couple of Gurdwaras in Pakistan where as there are about 172 historical Sikh shrines in the country.

Sham Singh's tenure was also marked by some controversies. After his appointment as the PSGPC chief, the then president of the SGPC Bibi Jagir Kaur stopped sending jathas (groups of pilgrims) to Pakistan in protest.

She also objected to the appointment of Sham Singh as the PSGPC president. But many Sikh organisations, including Delhi Sikh Management Committee, American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Sikh Committee of Switzerland, Canada and many more endorsed Pakistan Committee and Sham Singh as its president.

Later, the SGPC also recognized the existence of the PSGPC. Though both committees still holds different opinion over the dates of celebrating the Sikh dates and functions.

Sham Singh was firm over observing the Sikh religious functions according to the original Nanashahi Calendar, which was released by Akal Takht in 2003 whereas the SGPC has adopted the amended but controversial Sikh Calendar.

The Sikh world condoled the death of Sham Singh. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh condoled the death of the departed soul. Harcharan Singh, the chief secretary SGPC, said that he was saddened over Sham Singh's demise.

DSGMC chief Manjit Singh GK also expressed grief over the demise.

AGPC chief Jaswant Singh Hoti and coordinator Pritpal Singh recalled the services of Sham Singh, saying he was able to protect the Sikh shrines and worked hard to safeguard the interest of the Sikhs in Pakistan as a community.

Paramjit Singh Sarna, the president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi), said that Sham Singh was a pillar of strength for the Sikhs in Pakistan and he held a prominent place amongst the Sikh institutions.

Sham Singh, a farmer, belonged to village 62 Chak Kadrabad in Ukara tehsil of Mintgmri in (Faislabad). He is survived by his son Sikandar Singh and daughter Simran Kaur who live in Pakistan.

Condolences were also expressed by Daljit Singh Bedi, secretary public relations of the SGPC and Kanwerpal Singh from Dal Khalsa.

Talking to ANI from Pakistan, Sikandar Singh said that his father was ill for more than months and he breathed his last early this morning. He added that the family was around him when he breathed his last.

He said that his father wished to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple but he was not able to visit Amritsar due to health problems.

Sham Singh used to actively participate in Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Sikh inter-faith meetings organized in Lahore and other cities of Pakistan.

He was involved in the arrangements for the stay of Sikh pilgrims from India to celebrate Gurpurbs and other Sikh religious functions.




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At least 53 dead after explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore
27.03.16 -
At least 53 dead after explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore



At least 53 people, including children, were today killed as a powerful blast triggered by a suicide bomber ripped through a crowded public park in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, capital of Punjab province.

According to NDTV report, the explosion occurred at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in a posh locality near the city's centre.

Eyewitnesses said there were pools of blood and scattered body parts in the park, where a large number of families, especially women and children, were present on a Sunday evening.

The crowd was "unusually large" because of Easter, an eyewitness was quoted as saying by the Dawn.

Iqbal Town Superintendent of Police Muhammad Iqbal said that the explosion was a suicide attack.

There was no security present in and around the park, the report said.

Rescue officials and police rushed to the explosion site in a renowned residential area of Lahore.

An emergency has been declared at all government hospitals in the city, and a heavy contingent of police has cordoned off the area.
 
(Courtesy : NDTV)




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PAK: 17 Hindus dead, 9 critical after consuming hooch prepared for Holi
22.03.16 - pt team
PAK: 17 Hindus dead, 9 critical after consuming hooch prepared for Holi



A Pakistani police officer said at least 17 Hindus have died after consuming illegally-made alcohol during religious celebrations in southern Pakistan.

Niaz Shah said Tuesday that 37 people from the Hindu community in Tando Muhammad Khan district were rushed to hospital on Monday.

He says they consumed the hooch during preparations for Holi celebrations, which will begin Wednesday.

Shah says 11 people have since been discharged, but nine remain in a critical condition in hospital. He says four people have been arrested over brewing the illegal drink.

With the exception of a few licensed shops permitted to sell alcohol to non-Muslims, it is against the law to drink or sell alcoholic drinks in Pakistan. Numerous incidents of mass poisonings from homemade alcohol have been reported in the past.
 
(Representational Image)




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