Soft Squid Ink Sac Claimed to Be 150 Million Years Old

first_img51; The BBC News announced the discovery of a fossil squid with its ink sac still intact.  “The fossil, thought to be 150 million years old, was found when a rock was cracked open, revealing the one-inch-long black ink sac.”  The ink has been sent to Yale for analysis.  An article on the Daily Mail UK shows a close-up of the ink sac and a drawing being made with the ink.  Reporter David Derbyshire wrote, “The odds of finding something as delicate as a squid’s ink sac intact after so long are put at a billion to one,” but he did not explain how the odds were calculated.    Dr. Phil Wilby of the British Geological Survey (shown in a report on the Metro UK explained why this fossil was so surprising.  “They can be dissected as if they are living animals, you can see the muscle fibres and cells.  It is difficult to imagine how you can have something as soft and sloppy as an ink sac fossilised in three dimension, still black, and inside a rock that is 150 million years old.”A group of old men were spinning their best yarns at a reunion, playing “Can you top this?”  The prize went to old Charlie, who said, “When I was a young scuba diver, I found an old Spanish galleon off the coast of Bermuda.  It was dark and cold and looked downright haunted.  So I slithered through an opening and got inside.  Then I saw a faint glow and went toward it, and…”  The others leaned forward with anticipation.  “So what did you find, Charlie?” asked Hubert.  “I went around a corner, down a hatch, and found this old lantern, and the light was still lit!”    If you don’t believe Charlie’s story, then why would you believe Uncle Phil’s tale that this ink sac is 150 million years old, and “The structure is similar to ink from a modern squid so we can write with it.”  Indeed, the article features a sketch made of the creature, with its Latin name, drawn with the ink they found in the fossil.  Try writing with one of the old dried up pens in your desk.  Inventing a term “the Medusa Effect” for the long-lasting fossilization of soft tissue is a euphemism for “We haven’t got a clue!”    What does this tell you about the so-called Jurassic Era you’ve heard about all your life?  What does this do to the rest of the geologic column?  What does this do to the evolutionary belief system built on the vast ages of time they treat as scientific fact?  Get real.  If fossil squid ink is still writeable today, we’ll give him a few thousand years, but not millions.  We know old Charlie had a knack for stretching the truth.(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

England’s Fisher claims Tshwane Open

first_img “It’s been coming for some time, but the putting has just let me down a bit. This week I holed more putts than I have for a very long time. I’m excited for the rest of the year.” Van Tonder’s best Van Tonder achieved his best ever European Tour finish after closing with a six- under-par 66, while Hoey finished with a four-under-par 68. Fisher is up to 14th place in the Race to Dubai standings after his victory. Nedbank Challenge winner Thomas Bjorn occupies first place, followed by Sergio Garcia, Victor Dubuisson, and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.LEADERBOARDRoss Fisher (Eng) 268 (-20) 66, 65, 67, 70Danie van Tonder (RSA) 271 (-17) 66, 70, 69, 66Michael Hoey (NIR) 271 (-17) 69, 65, 69, 68Carlos Del Moral (Esp) 272 (-16) 68, 65, 71, 68Hennie Otto (RSA) 273 (-15) 71, 65, 69, 68Chris Wood (Eng) 275 (-13) 67, 68, 72, 68Darren Fichardt (RSA) 275 (-13) 66, 68, 71, 70Kevin Phelan (Ire) 275 (-13) 68, 69, 68, 70Merrick Bremner (RSA) 276 (-12) 69, 69, 67, 71Trevor Fisher jnr (RSA) 277 (-11) 65, 69, 71, 72Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 277 (-11) 70, 65, 70, 72Simon Dyson (Eng) 277 (-11) 65, 68, 71, 73 5 March 2014 Englishman Ross Fisher brought South Africa’s domination of European Tour events hosted in the country to an end when he captured the Tshwane Open at the Els Club at Copperleaf on Sunday. Fisher’s victory came after Dawie van der Walt (Nelson Mandela Championship), Louis Oosthuizen (Volvo Golf Champions), George Coetzee (Joburg Open) and Thomas Aiken (Africa Open) had won the four previous European Tour tournaments in South Africa. South African Sunshine Tour events The Tshwane Open, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, brought to a conclusion a record number of eight European Tour events hosted in South Africa on the 2013/14 schedule. Of the eight events played in the country since the season-opening South African Open in late November 2013, five were won by South Africans, the other winner being Charl Swartzel in the Alfred Dunhill Championship. The victory was Fisher’s fifth on the Tour and his fifth in a different country, following his wins in the KLM Open (The Netherlands) in 2007, the European Open in 2008 (England), the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2009 (Spain), and the Irish Open in 2010 (Ireland).Winning total After leading by five shots heading into the final round, he finished on 20-under-par 268, after rounds of 66, 65, 67 and 70, three shots clear of South Africa’s Danie van Tonder and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey. “I would have liked to have had all four rounds in the 60s, but I’m really pleased to be getting the trophy,” Fisher told the Sunshine Tour after securing the title. “I knew I could win, given my third place in the Alfred Dunhill Championship and top 10 in the Joburg Open. I was playing very well, and everything about the way this week unfolded just felt right,” he added.last_img read more

Farm income tax webinar

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Are you getting the most from your tax return? Farmers and farmland owners wanting to increase their tax knowledge should consider a Monday, Jan. 13, webinar that will address tax issues specific to this industry.Content will focus on important tax issues and will offer insight into new tax legislation and further guidelines that have been released this year.The live webinar will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. and is being offered by OSU Income Tax Schools, which are a part of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and Ohio State University Extension, which is CFAES’ outreach arm. If you are unable to attend the live webinar, registered participants will receive a link to view the recorded webinar at a time of their convenience. The link will be available throughout the tax-filing season.The two-hour program is targeted toward owners who file their own farm taxes or who simply wish to arm themselves with more tax information that will help them better plan for tax filing.Topics to be discussed during the webinar include:• tax-planning in an unusual year (prevented planting crop insurance indemnity payments, Revenue Protection crop insurance payments, Market Facilitation Program payments, cost-share payments, and disaster-aid payments) • like-kind exchanges (farm machinery and equipment are no longer eligible for this provision, which is a significant change), how the change in like-kind exchanges might affect state income tax, and how that change might affect Social Security credits and eventual payments • an estate and gift tax update • C Corp to S Corp conversions • qualified business income deductions, which will impact most farm businesses • qualified business income deductions for sales to cooperatives, which is different from the qualified business income deductions for sales to noncooperatives and is much more complex • which farmland lease income might qualify for a qualified business income deduction • tax issues related to getting out of the farming business • tax from income related to pipeline construction and easements • other tax strategies to consider under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act The cost for the webinar is $35. Register at go.osu.edu/farmertaxwebinar.For more information, contact Julie Strawser at strawser.35@osu.edu or call the OSU Extension Farm Office at 614-292-2433.last_img read more

Flock Goes Chrome

first_imgTags:#Browsers#social networks#Social Web#web But perhaps the most notable feature in Flock is its social search functionality. Something the major search engines are still experimenting with themselves, social search is smartly incorporated into the new browser.If you want to perform a typical Google search, you would just type it in the combo address/search bar as you would in Chrome and hit enter. However, for social search, Flock’s auto-suggest feature retrieves results from your network of friends and presents these options as clickable items below the traditional search options and suggestions that appear. For instance, I typed in “droid x” and was shown the three most recent tweets about this latest Android phone. Beneath these, there’s a link to see what all my friends are saying, which pulls back older tweets and other social updates, too. Had my friends been posting on other social networks like Facebook and YouTube, these results would have displayed as well. Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification A Winner? As with any new software, it’s too soon to know if Flock’s latest update is a winner. The overhauled, revamped browser seems stable, simpler and more functional than before, but more thorough testing is needed to say for sure. Of course, any additional feature requests will have to be carefully considered by Flock – the company went overboard with features last go-round and likely doesn’t want to do the same again. We do have to share one major drawback we discovered immediately, though: Flock is lacking a bookmark editor! Our carefully organized folders have turned into chaos in Flock, so be warned. Early reviews offer a wide gamut of opinions from one saying that the new Flock is now just a “very good plugin for Google Chrome,” to another saying Flock has a chance at becoming the writer’s browser of choice. Given that it’s in beta status right now, we’ll hold off on a final opinion ourselves, but we can at least say this: Flock has made itself worthy of a second look, if not a total switch. Flock is available as a Windows download only for now, from here. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts sarah perez Flock, the “social” Web browser formerly built on top of Mozilla’s Firefox, has just made a radical change. It’s now powered by Chromium, the same technology found in the underpinnings of the speedy (and rapidly growing) Google Chrome. Long decried among many early adopters as slow, busy and buggy, Flock today aims to change those former perceptions with the launch of its overhauled browser. The company describes the new Flock as “simple,” “clutter-free” and “lightning fast.”Flock’s New PitchThe headline on Flock’s new beta download page says “better than Internet Explorer,” but that’s not how the alt Web browser Flock used to sell itself. It used to describe Flock as a “social browser,” one that kept you in touch with your social networks from a central location. Today, the focus of the sales pitch seems to be less on the “social” elements and more on the browser improvements themselves. We don’t blame them. After all, the audience of early adopters Flock is aiming to please had effectively written it off years ago. In fact, last May, we asked our readers “why don’t you love Flock?” and ended up with 115 reasons in response, most of which boiled down to issues with the browser’s bugs, clutter, speed and design. But today, everything you hated about the old Flock is gone. Flock is now just another port of Chromium, although one which still seems to have its own take on certain design elements, including default fonts and button styles. Chrome’s separate controls and settings menus are combined into one, for example, in order to make room for the sidebar toggle button which alternately displays or hides the right-side column which houses the ever-updating social stream from your connected networks. New Features: Posts, Groups, Social SearchThat’s not to say that Flock isn’t still focused on the social. That remains its key differentiator. But let’s be clear, if you you only hear one thing about Flock today, the company wants you to know it’s “all new and improved!”, not that it’s a “social browser.” We did want to know about the social elements, so we took the new Flock for a spin. Besides the sidebar, another new feature lets you organize people from across your networks (think Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) into “groups” labeled as you choose. You could have a group for work, one for family, etc. It’s like Twitter lists, but for all your networks. And you can choose to just display one group in your sidebar instead of all your friends. This, obviously, is a bit labor-intensive to set up, especially if you follow hundreds or thousands on Twitter. It would be better if Flock could retrieve your Twitter lists and let you add to them instead. Maybe that’s a feature for another day, though. No good social browser would be without a status update box, so of course Flock includes one. You can tweet or post to Facebook by clicking the conversation bubble icon next to the address bar. This lets you immediately share the page you’re currently visiting with your friends and the link is automatically shortened using bit.ly’s URL shortener for your convenience. last_img read more

Increasing Customer Engagement: Five Tactics to Use

first_imgStop for a second and think about how nice it would be if you could boost your company’s profits by 95 percent. Or let’s be conservative and ask for a smaller number like 25 percent.The truth is that all it takes is a 5 percent increase in your customer retention rates, according to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (who invented the Net Promoter Score, so he knows a thing or two about the relationship between customer experience and business growth).Nurturing existing customers is not as sexy as getting new ones, but it is far easier and more important for a business than fishing for new buyers.At the heart of this nurturing is customer engagement. Think Apple fanboys during the Steve Jobs era, or the cult following of Zappos. When customers identify with a brand and engage with it, good things happen for that brand.So if you want profit increases like Reichheld predicts, here are five tactics you can use for increasing your customer engagement. JT Ripton Related Posts Tactic #2: Nurture Customers Instead of Selling ThemWe’ve reached a saturation point as a society when it comes to marketing and sales. People are fed up, and they see right through sales-driven customer engagement. It just doesn’t fly any longer.Thankfully, there’s another way: Make your company a friend, not a transaction.As Gary Vaynerchuk hammered home in his classic book with the funky title, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, you don’t make and keep customers by just selling to them every second. Instead, you build loyal customers by offering value again and again. Only every once in awhile do you slip in a sales pitch.So don’t make your social channels all about pushing your brand (or even with your email campaigns). Offer up interesting or useful information instead, nurturing your customer until they are loyal and trusting. You’ll get the next sale from them. You just have to have patience and faith enough to not over-sell. Tactic #3: Implement Live ChatI know what you’re thinking: Live chat? Really? Slack I can see, but live chat is just icky.You’re not alone in having that first response. But look again, because companies like LiveAgent have overhauled it to rock for customer engagement.“Live chat is one of the quickest methods of customer service, but it used to be horrible,” marketing guru Neil Patel noted in his paean to the need for live chat functionality on your company’s site. “That’s not the case anymore. In fact, it’s become the exact opposite.”That’s because customers don’t like to wait, and modern live chat properly implemented is an extraordinarily simple way to enable customers to interact immediately with a brand when they have a question, comment, or need some help. AI is Not the Holy Grail of Sales, at Least Not… Tactic #4: Make Customer Stories Easy to TellSocial proof is a powerful force in marketing. It also builds great customer engagement, because customers are fans for live when you feature their comments on your site. By including their testimonial or story, you help them identify with your brand because they’re now a part of the brand’s story.So make it easy for these customers who want to share their tale.One easy way to build engagement with your customers through the stories they tell is by having a page on your site where customers can easily submit their stories and thoughts on your brand. Don’t hide this submission page, either—promote it in every marketing communication and receipt.Another good way to encourage stories about your brand from customers is to ask for it on your company’s Facebook page. Just ask. It is that simple. JT is a business consultant and freelance contributor for sites like Business Insider, Entrepreneur, The Guardian, Tech Radar, and ReadWrite. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tactic #5: Run Collaboration ContestsFinally, a good way to increase customer engagement is to build collaborative contests between your brand and the customer—then reward those customers who enter the contest with something like a coupon or special offer, encouraging further purchases subtlety while rewarding customers for engaging at the same time.A good example of this was the Domino’s Pizza Mogul campaign.The pizza company offered customers the opportunity to make their own pizza offerings and then share and sell their recipes on social media, paying customers between $0.25 and $4.50 every time someone bought one. More than 204,700 customers engaged with the campaign, according to Domino’s, earning themselves roughly $965,925.That is a lot of customer engagement!So the next time you sit down to plan your sales and marketing strategy, stop to give your existing customers some love. Encouraging customer engagement doesn’t sound as impressive as nabbing a host of new customers, but it sure is good business. Tactic #1: Create a Slack Channel for Your CommunityIf you run a business based in Silicon Valley or have even a single Millennial employee, you probably use Slack today. The communications software has become almost as important as email for many companies when it comes to collaboration and communications.But Slack isn’t just for your internal team. It also can be a useful tool for creating community and engaging with customers.Businesses like social media posting tool, Buffer, have found great success by creating a lively forum for their customers through a public Slack channel, and other businesses such as Crispy Mountain are doing the same. Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star…last_img read more

Tendulkar is professor of batting: Kirsten

first_imgIndia coach Gary Kirsten on Sunday paid rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar for scoring a historic 50th Test ton in Centurion, describing him as professor of batting.Terming Tendulkar’s feat of scoring a half century of centuries as incredible, Kirsten credited his unmatched success to his sound technique, ability to play almost all the shots in the book and diligent preparedness.”It is an incredible feat. It must be a special one and he deserves it. He has the techniques to play almost all the shots in the book. He is the professor of batting,” Kirsten said, praising Tendulkar on becoming the first cricketer to score 50 Test tons here.”The key to his success is his approach to the game, his humility to learn and try to do better all the time. He diligently prepares for every match. For him, a Test match begins two days earlier, preparing for it. I am privileged to have associated with him for the last three years,” Kirsten said.”His success at the top level under the huge expectations in India is remarkable. It is quite different in India than other countries and the adulation he got there is amazing. At any time, Tendulkar will be surrounded by 300 people,” he said.Kirsten said despite the seniormost player in the team, Tendulkar was the one who spends most time at the nets and faces maximum number of balls.”He wants to face the maximum number of balls at the nets. You will not see him play a loose shot at the nets. He is focused all the time, he wants to do better all the time,” said Kirsten.advertisement”He has been phenomenal this year. I think he is playing better than ever. He is enjoying his cricket at present,” he said.The former South African opening batsman said despite his personal achievements, Tendulkar was a perfect team-man who wants to do his best for the team’s cause.”He is a perfect team-man and he always gives his best every time he goes out to a cricket field. He has been a huge motivational factor in the side in the past three years I have been associated with the team,” Kirsten said.About India staring defeat in the Test, Kirsten admitted South Africa are in a strong position.”We have a lot to work tomorrow. South Africa are in a strong position. But let us see what happens tomorrow. May be there is help from rain also,” he said.”But, the players have done well in the second innings.They have shown we can also play on equal terms. The strong batting display in the second innings will boost the confidence of the players in the series,” he added.- With PTI inputslast_img read more

Karnataka CM Gundu Rao charged with irregular allotment of cement by PAC

first_imgCement. This is the word that is being whispered fearfully in the corridors of power today. After A.R. Antulay of Maharashtra went down in a maze of cement bags and writ petitions, the plague shifted south and last month.Gundu Rao of Karnataka became the latest chief minister to defend himself,Cement. This is the word that is being whispered fearfully in the corridors of power today. After A.R. Antulay of Maharashtra went down in a maze of cement bags and writ petitions, the plague shifted south and last month.Gundu Rao of Karnataka became the latest chief minister to defend himself against allegations that he had distributed the precious and controversial commodity to big builders for what one opposition leader called “extraneous considerations”.”If anybody proves any quid pro quo I will resign immediately. There is no diversion and I have used my discretion to allot the cement. What is wrong with that?”R. Gundu RaoThe media had led the attack on Antulay; in Gundu Rao’s case, it was the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by Janata Party MLA S.R. Bommai, that indicted him for “highly improper and injudicious” allotment of cement.In a hard-hitting 4,500-word report, the PAC scored a major political victory when it succeeded in sullying the image of the chief minister, who has never been involved in such sordid tangles since 1980 – unlike some of his cabinet colleagues, who have yet to be cleared of financial and administrative lapses.The very fact that the burly Gundu Rao was the target caused the political fireworks to be brighter and noisier than when former industry minister C.M. Ibrahim and the dreaded Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka F.M. Khan faced the heat of corruption charges.The PAC report earned respectability because nine of the committee’s 15 members are from the ruling Congress(I). By convention, an opposition member is the chairman. The nine Congress(I) members are B. Basavalingappa. S.S. Mahajan Shetty, S.V. Naik. S. Shaft Ahmed. Lmakant Borkar.advertisementDamodar Mulki, A.B. Bedge. Ramesh Kumar (all MLAs) and Abdul Nazir Sab. MLC. Only one of the nine has. so far. opposed the ‘unanimous findings’ – officials, however, refused to disclose his name. It is the first time in the history of the legislative assemblies that ruling party members are signatories to a demand for a high-level probe against the action of their chief minister.Major Scandal: The report rounds off its explosive findings with a succinct: “This is a fit case for enquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act headed by no less an authority than a judge of the High Court which should thoroughly probe all the findings and issues listed out in our report.”This joining of hands on both sides caused even a Congress(I) MLA to chuckle: “Our MLAs behaved like football players who carry the attack into their own territory.” Thundered A.K. Subbaiah. the fiery Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president: “Gundu Rao must quit. It is a major scandal involving the chief minister personally.” Adds Laxmi Sagar, the soft-spoken leader of the Opposition in the Assembly: “Since the report is based on the evidence tendered by the officials it cannot be wrong and the chief minister must hang his head in shame for soiling Karnataka’s image.”It was Gundu Rao’s bad luck that the PAC stumbled on wheeling and dealing while it was quite innocently fulfilling its statutory obligations. In the course of a routine probe into the delay in the completion of irrigation projects the committee discovered that erratic supply of cement was the chief villain of the piece.Veerendra Patil: Earnest lobbying for the buildersIt began to smell other villains when it found that the explanation of the Irrigation Department that cement meant for canals and suchlike was being diverted to private builders, was correct. Though the PAC could not prove that the department’s falling behind schedule was due to a cement shortage, it did conclude that the release of over 4,000 tonnes of cement to 32 leading builders was done after reducing the quotas of various government construction agencies.The important allegations of the report are:4,000 tonnes of cement was diverted to the builders from an additional allotment meant exclusively for government works;The list of builders approved by thechief minister included names which had jumped the queue in the list maintained by the Industries Department;The prior approval of the Central Government was not sought for diverting the cement from government jobs to bulk users;The minister not in charge of cement distribution recommended allotments overruling objections by the Industries Department;There has been a progressive decline in the allotment of cement meant for government departments and public sale, favouring bulk consumers and hindering residential construction.The 4,000 tonnes of cement put under the microscope by the PAC is only a fraction of the 1,20,000 tonnes distributed in 1981. It appears, however, that the committee has chosen to focus on this 3.3 percent, although doubts dogged the allotment of the larger part also, to make its point by concentrating on the sneaky fashion in which the cement was doled out. The doling out in Bangalore coincided with Antulay’s liberal munificence in Bombay in return for donations to his famous trusts.advertisementConstruction Frozen: According to opposition leaders, Gundu Rao’s cement saga began when the state Government put the screws on the builders by withdrawing construction licences and freezing the new building plans in November 1980.On November 18, 1980, all leading builders were served notices at their residences late in the evening. ordering them to stop further construction. The Bangalore Municipal Corporation recommended to the state Government that these builders not be given cement. As a result, even a 50-tonne quarterly allotment was stopped.There are over 80 apartment builders in Bangalore – seven from Bombay and Delhi and the rest from neighbouring states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. After the state Government shut off the cement. 40 apartment promoters formed the Karnataka Ownership Apartment Promoters Association (KOAPA), after securing a stay order from the High Court.KOAPA’s members are buildjng over 3.000 fiats in 45 residential complexes with a total covered area of over 36 lakh sq ft. No builder has been able to complete his complex. because of the non-availability of cement.Says K.K. Malpani, vice-president of the association: “Our real agony starts when we apply for cement and during the last three years we have received only 13 per cent of our total requirement.” Adds H.N. Anantraman, secretary of the KOAPA : “If we go by the Government’s supply schedule, we will not be able to complete our project even in 20 years.”In fact, the builders had to stop work for over six months from October 1980 to March 1981 because of the cement shortage. Against their requirement of over 8,000 tonnes a quarter, only 97 tonnes of cement was given to them in the first three months of 1981. In the next quarter the quota was raised – to 861 tonnes.It was KOAPA’s desire to finish their apartments in a reasonable period of time and the Government’s commendable willingness to “help them out to remove unemployment among the construction workers” which led to the additional allotment of the all-important material.Hectic Lobbying: The association started sending representations to the Central Government, the state Government and leading Congress(I) MPs from the state. They pleaded their cause vigorously with Union Industry Minister for State Charanjit Chanana, Union Minister of State for Railways Jailer Shariel and Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Manek Rao Patil. In fact, it was Patil who took up the cudgels on behalf of the KOAPA and made at least three trips to Delhi which he followed up with long letters in support of his plea for extra cement.As a result of all this earnest lobbying, even more earnest correspondence grew. Patil requested Chanana in his letter dated March 3, 1981 (reference number MCFS/376/81) to “enhance the state quota of cement from 2.5 lakh metric tonne to 3.25 metric tonne per quarter to meet the growing demand” and also requested him to make an ad hoc allotment of 2.04.364 metric tonne for “clearing the back-log accumulated in various categories”.advertisement It took Chanana over two months to draft a reply in the negative (letter number CC/C0121 (30)80 dated May 15. 1981) which said “for reasons of less availability it has not been possible to meet these requests. In view of the foregoing. I would request you to bear with us till the overall availability of cement improves in the country.”The state Government did not give up and Patil continued his battle for cement. He came to Delhi in May 1981, met Chanana and persuaded him to release an extra quantity. Soon after his return to Bangalore he sent a frantic message to the industry minister which said crisply that “cement supply position has become very precarious. Virtually large number of constructions have been held up throwing hundreds of people out of jobs. Kindly allot at least 10,000 tonnes of additional quota during current quota so that minimum requirement could be met”.Inexplicably, a copy of the telex was sent to Sharief although there are two ministers from Karnataka in the Union Cabinet – Transport and Shipping Minister Veerendra Patil and Health and Family Welfare Minister B. Shankaranand. According to opposition leaders, Sharief had become close to Chanana and Antulay and was chosen by the state Government to look after its interests in Delhi.The hospital which is incomplete because of the cement shortageCement Released: Chanana’s response to the appeal was a 180-degree change of tack. On July 2, 1981 he replied saying: “Instructions have been issued for additional release of 10.000 tonnes of cement to Karnataka from Krishna/Vijayawada to be collected for the government departments for immediate lifting by road.”Patil then forwarded a list of 32 builders to the chief minister for a total quota of 3.704 tonnes of cement to which Rao agreed. Interestingly, the list included names not on KOAPA’s roster and against whom charges of misappropriation of cement were under investigation (see chart).Indeed, while the PAC has taken exception to the out-of-turn allotment to 32 builders, it has not included 18 other private parties who were also given cement – this omission has raised doubts about its credibility.The total allotment was far more than the 4.000 tonnes mentioned in the report – 5,380 tonnes of cement was allotted to bulk consumers of which 4.055 tonnes was handed out in one quarter alone.Other beneficiaries of the chief minister’s largesse were Express Newspapers Public Limited (50 tonnes). Life Insurance Corporation Employees, Deepanjali Housing Cooperative Society Limited (50 tonnes) and the Kudremukh Employees Cooperative Society (50 tonnes).The PAC report stressed the fact that the bulk consumers had prospered at the cost of government works and residential construction. While the per quarter share of bulk consumers rose from 12,470 tonnes in January 1981 to 20,941 tonnes in October 1981, the quantity of cement for public sale declined from 1,05.195 tonnes to 82,000 tonnes in the same period.Sagar charges that “the bulk consumers never had it so good” and the cement usually went to people close to the powerful VAK Exports(P) Ltd, owned by Sharief supporter Mohammed Sadekh Khaleed, got 250 tonnes, though his name was not recommed by KOAPA. For a similar reason. Usha Devi, owner of an apartment complex coming up on Museum Road, got 30 tonnes.Deserving Ignored: On the other hand, 11.428 persons with a total requirement of 1,99,990 tonnes for small residences were given only 8,600 tonnes, although many of them registered as early as 1979 Religious philanthropic and sports organisations have also been ignored, among them the Mahavir Jain Trust which is building a 250-bed hospital and the Bangalore football stadium’s new building. Says an employee of the Jain Trust: “If we have to do underhand dealings for charitable trusts, it is better to abandon them.”The lucky ones have gained in another way. Though the priority allotment is a small fraction of their total 50,000-tonne requirement, it has covered up for cement supplies from elsewhere – pilferage from government works and from the mini-cement plants.Ofice bearers of KOAPA: Getting construction mcningA government spokesman claimed that the builders were buying in black from four mini-cement plants in the south – Rs 30 was allegedly being demanded as premium added to the official rate of Rs 30 a bag.The target of the attack is unrepentant. Challenges Rao: “If anybody proves any quid pro quo. I will resign immediately. There is no diversion and I have used my discretion to allot the cement. What is wrong with that?” Adds Patil: “Under what regulation can we deny them the cement?After all they have been able to construct more flats in two years than state government agencies like Bangalore Development Authority and the Karnataka Housing Board have built in five. Opposition leaders have alleged that only rich people will benefit which means rich have no right to live. If I accept that proposition then we shall have to hang the Tatas and the Birlas.”Both Rao and Patil demanded Bommai’s resignation for political use of the PAC and asserted that they had allotted cement to each category of consumer proportionate to their requirements.Says Patil: “I don’t favour anyone. But there will be a hue and cry because I cannot give cement to everyone. I receive only half of my quarterly requirement of 5 lakh tonnes of cement from the Centre. The demand has zoomed because of growing construction activity in the city. But we are getting cement at the basis of 1976 allotment.”Corruption: The builders are onto a good thing – at the end of February, 93 commercial and residential complexes with a covered area of over one crore square feet were in the pipeline – at the going rate of about Rs 250 a square foot, total turnover will be over Rs 250 crore. The municipal laws and the civil supply rules are tailor-made for milking the cow. Said a building contractor: “Everyone looks at us with expectant eyes. Nothing moves until we shell put something for getting even legitimate jobs done.”There is in fact a set pattern of payoffs. The rules of the game are as follows:Corporation officials allegedly charge Rs 5 a sq ft to clear the building plan. Total amount allegedly paid this way: Rs 5 crore;Rs 18 as premium for each bag. Rs 15 allegedly goes to the concerned politician, and Re 1 each to the industry and commerce department, the party high command, and miscellaneous expenses. Total: Rs 250 lakh during 1981;Rs 20,000 for a water connection at start of construction and Rs 25,000 for an electricity connection;Rs 50.000 for getting clearance under the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Total money paid by the builders exceeds Rs 30 lakh.Sharief (left) and Charanjit Chanana: ConnectedThe builders, on their part, are keeping an eye on the future, at the rate land prices are rising, and ironically, delay could mean more money in the bank. The ultimate sufferers will be the citizens in the street, without access to politicians and cement. They might even have caused more trouble for themselves following an October 1980 campaign against high-rise structures.The resulting scarcity of flats has resulted in a rise in rents. Says M.N. Srinivasan, KOAPA joint secretary: “Who stands to gain by these rules? No one. But they will cause an artificial scarcity of both commercial and residential space in the city. If they clear all the plans, the prices will fall by over 40 per cent.”That is most unlikely. With elections to the state Assembly round the corner, the multi-crore construction industry will be under pressure to fill party coffers. If the entire business is subjected to a set of rules. the chances of making money on the side diminish drastically. No one, understandably, wants that to happen.last_img read more

Rain gods bring smiles light showers to continue across DelhiNCR this week

first_imgNEW DELHI: Heavy rain lashed Delhi and the NCR on Tuesday with monsoon remained active as it passes through its normal position over north and central. The Safdarjung observatory, the recording of which is considered official for the city, received 12.6 mm rainfall till 8.30 am. The Palam Observatory received 38.5 mm rainfall. Humidity was recorded at 97 per cent. On Monday, the national capital recorded a low of 27.2 degrees Celsius and a high of 37.4 degrees Celsius. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderDelhi has recorded just 1.2 mm of rain against the 30-year average of 49.3 mm — a shortfall of 98 per cent — in August so far. The city gauged 199.2 mm rains in July, which is five per cent less than the long-term average of 210.6 mm. Forecaster Skymet Weather’s Vice President Mahesh Palawat said that the monsoon turf has moved to North India and the weather will continue to remain the same till Wednesday, following which it will move to South India. “The rains will be back in the national capital from August 12 onwards,” he added. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsThe regional met centre forecasts moderate to light rains across Delhi-NCR this week with heavy rains at isolated places. The cloudy skies and the humid conditions are likely to induce warmer than actual ‘feel-like’ conditions in the capital, especially during the night time. The strong winds forecast during the day time may provide some respite. “Further, by August 7, the axis of Monsoon Trough will once again shift southwards due to the formation of a Low-Pressure Area that would be travelling to the central parts of the country. Due to this movement, the weather of Delhi and NCR area will once again go dry, however, isolated pockets may continue to get rain. Another spell of rain is expected around August 11 or 12” observed the Skymet weather forecaster.last_img read more