Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
How a local dog helped eight stranded trekkers survive in snowy conditions
Manali : Man's best friend stood by stranded trekkers in the Himachal snow, but was left behind to fend for himself after the eight were airlifted to safety.
 
Four days after the culmination of the three-day-long search and rescue operation, the incident continues to haunt the eight -- seven students from Punjab's Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology and their trekking instructor -- who were stranded on the snowy heights of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh.
 
"A local dog, possibly a stray, accompanied us for four days. He followed us when we were on the way to Chanderkhani peak from Bijleshwar Mahadev temple," student Saurabh Sharma told IANS.
 
The trekkers tried to shoo away the friendly dog but he refused to go. Soon, he became the ninth member of the trekking team and tagged along as they trudged across the steep terrain.
 
"We offered food to the dog but each time he refused. We don't know the reason. When the weather turned hostile and snow started falling, we lost our way. However, the dog didn't lose patience and was, in fact, leading us," he said.
 
Sharma said that after heavy snowfall, they were stranded at an isolated place some eight km from Bijleshwar Mahadev temple -- locally known as Bijli Mahadev. 
 
They pitched a tent, but the dog preferred to stay outside even at night and despite the falling snow.
 
After the students were stranded for more than 78 hours without adequate food and mountaineering apparatus, they were evacuated on March 14 along with their trekking instructor from the snow-bound 12,000-ft Chanderkhani peak, despite hostile weather.
 
A search-and-rescue operation was launched on March 11 by Swiss mountaineering experts of private company Himalayan Heli Adventures Private Ltd, hired by the district administration. They found them after two days of intensive search operations and finally airlifted them to safety over two days.
 
The local administration got over 100 trekkers, comprising police, residents and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, involved in the rescue operation.
 
Anil Kumar, another trekker in the group, said the Bijleshwar Mahadev temple was 15 km from Kullu town. The dog led them through steep hiking trails and thick forests. "Even after a fair amount of snow got accumulated in the area, he continued to lead us."
 
After two days of waiting, they noticed a helicopter doing a recce. "We raised an alarm and waved our blankets. The dog also started barking," he said.
 
Officials involved in the rescue operation said they tried to rescue the dog but failed.
 
A rescuer reached the spot by rappelling down a rope from the chopper and physically lifted six students on the first day. The next day, the remaining two were evacuated.
 
"The dog was wrapped in a blanket and as it was about to be lifted the knot opened suddenly and it jumped out of it. Since the weather was turning hostile, we preferred to leave him behind," said a rescuer.
 
He said they had less than an hour to complete the operation as the dense clouds dispersed for only a brief period. They also had to return to the base camp set up near Manali, some 300 km from the state capital, within that window.
 
The trekkers had to be hauled up because the chopper could not land on a slope.
 
The ground parties too trudged to the hills at a height of 11,000 feet and went on the slopes with a gradient of 70-80 degrees in an avalanche-prone area.
 
They fought against the odds of hostile weather, steep gradient, narrow gorges and crevices.
 
"I am feeling guilty that one of our team members (the dog) was left behind. I don't know whether he was able to survive in the harsh climatic conditions," Sharma said.
 
Locals, who were assisting the district administration in search operation, said the stray dogs in the high mountains are sturdy and familiar with the local trekking routes.
 
The trekkers were discharged from the government hospital in Kullu after first aid. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Cheaper renewable energy has soared past nuclear
Renewable energy in India has overtaken nuclear power as the country seeks carbon-free sources of energy to balance its reliance on coal. Such energy generation in India is higher than its nuclear power generation and is growing at a much faster pace because it is cheaper and quicker to install. The cost of renewable energy is now lower than the cost of nuclear power and does not come with attendant risks, such as this week's radioactive fuel leak in Gujarat.
 
Renewable-energy generation in India was 61.8 billion units, versus 36.1 billion units of nuclear-power generation during the financial year (FY) 2014-15. Renewable energy accounted for 5.6 percent of electricity generated in India, against 3.2 percent for nuclear power.
 
Renewable energy has been growing at a faster pace than nuclear power over two years. During 2013-14 and 2014-15, renewable energy grew at 11.7 percent and 16.2 percent, respectively, while nuclear-power growth has been almost flat over the same period.
 
If the 2022 solar target is met, it will become India's second largest energy source. The bulk of India's renewable energy comes from wind, but solar energy is growing faster with installed capacity reaching 5,775 mega watts (MW) in February 2016. The national solar mission has set a target of 100,000 MW of solar power by 2022. If this target is met, renewable energy will become the second largest source of power for India after coal, and ahead of hydropower, natural gas and nuclear energy.
 
Nuclear power capacity in India is 5,780 MW. Another 1,500 MW is under construction and another 3,400 MW has been cleared -- a total of 10,680 MW by the end of the decade. Renewable energy's growth is propelled by the falling costs of solar and wind energy, as IndiaSpend reported.
 
In November 2015, US based SunEdison offered solar electricity in India at Rs.4.63/unit. In January 2016, this was followed by a Finnish company, Fortum Finnsurya, offering solar power to the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for Rs.4.34/unit.
 
At these prices, solar electricity is already cheaper than electricity coming from newly built hydro- and nuclear-power plants. For instance, India is now starting work on a Rs 39,849-crore expansion (2 units of 1,000 MW each) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Tamil Nadu, due to be completed by 2020-21. Electricity from these reactors-if they are completed on time-will cost Rs 6.3/unit.
 
Past experience in India and elsewhere suggests this is unlikely. Work on Units 1 and 2 of the Kudankulam Power Plant began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed by 2007 and 2008. Unit 1 began commercial operations in December 2014 while Unit 2 is yet to be commissioned.
 
This experience is mirrored in other countries: a power plant being built by the US firm Westinghouse is more than three years behind schedule; a French company, Areva, is building a reactor in Finland, about nine years behind schedule. Both Areva and Westinghouse are among the four foreign companies that want to build reactors for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.
 
While nuclear power plants typically take more than a decade to build, solar farms and windmills can be erected in a few weeks to a few months, with capacities that range from 0.1 MW to 1,000 MW.
 
Also, nuclear power plants are owned and operated in India by one company, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Solar and wind-energy installations have been set up by private individuals, airports, banks, oil companies and educational institutions.
 
Apart from shutdowns -- such as this in Kundakulam and the one referred to in Gujarat -- making nuclear power more expensive, there is also the issue of nuclear liability: Who pays in case something goes wrong? Foreign companies want to build reactors in India, but don't want to face resultant liabilities, as IndiaSpend reported.
 
But renewable energy has its own problems. The single biggest problem of renewable power is its intermittent nature. The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow.
 
So, 1 MW of renewable energy generated 1.43 million units of electricity from April 2015 to January 2016. Over the same period, 1 MW of nuclear power generated 5.85 million units of electricity. A nuclear power plant can operate round-the-clock and can supply electricity at night.
 
There is currently no cost effective answer for supplying renewable energy round-the- clock.
 
An interim solution can be to use renewable energy when it is available, and turn to natural gas, a fuel much cleaner than coal, at other times. India has more than 24,000 MW of natural gas-fired power plants -- enough to supply almost 10% of current electricity demand -- mostly idle due to lack of cheap fuel. The drop in international gas prices offers an opportunity to fire them up again, as IndiaSpend has reported.
 
Solar power also needs a lot of land. Putting up 1 MW of solar power requires two hectares of land. This means large-scale solar power plants should only be put up on land that has no value for agriculture or wildlife. This restricts large-scale solar power to the arid areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Small-scale rooftop solar plants can, however, be installed in cities.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

9 months ago

very goood one!!!

Nifty, Sensex may drift higher subject to dips – Weekly closing report
Nifty has to stay above 7,550 for the index to head higher
 
We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex were in no man’s land and that the indices were probably waiting for global cues. In a week of volatile trading in India and favourable macroeconomic data from India and abroad, the major indices of the Indian stock markets rallied to gain around 1% on a weekly basis. Bank Nifty, in particular, gained 3.21%. The trends of the major indices in the Indian stock markets over the week’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
On Monday, the major indices of the Indian stock markets opened higher based on foreign institutional investors’ interest and higher global markets on Friday and Monday. But it could not gain momentum and closed marginally higher over Friday’s close. The minor rally was led by Tata Motors, after it posted robust sales for February and on improved global risk appetite after gains on Wall Street and in Europe last week. 
 
Inflation data was available from the government on Monday and WPI (wholesale price index) inflation remained in the negative zone for a 16th month at (-)0.91% in February as food articles, mainly vegetables and pulses turned cheaper. The Wholesale Price Index-based inflation was (-)0.9% in January. In February last year, it was (-)2.17%. This is the 16th straight month since November 2014 when deflationary pressure has persisted. Food inflation stood at 3.35% in February compared with 6.02% in January, showed official data. Inflation in pulses and onion eased to 38.84% and (-)13.22%, respectively. The rate of price rise in the case of vegetables was (-)3.34%, and for fruits, it stood at (-)1.95%. Price rise in potato was (-)6.28% while that of egg, meat and fish came in at 3.47%.
 
On Monday, it was reported that rain and hailstorms had hit parts of northern India since Friday, which had flattened wheat, mustard and coriander crops in states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. BP Yadav, director of India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that while crops had been affected, full damage could not be quantified. Rains were expected to halt for two to three days in the states of Punjab and Haryana, but would resume post March 17th, Yadav said adding that there were worries on the eastern side of the country. These worries are likely to reduce agricultural income and aggregate demand in the country and thus apply pressure on corporate revenues. This will, in turn, apply pressure on the possibility and extent of a bull market in the Indian stock markets for the next few months.
 
On Tuesday, inflation data analysis revealed that after five months of steady rise, the CPI (consumer price index) had dropped, to 5.2% in February, from 5.7% in January, making the case stronger for another repo rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). “The Budget’s focus on fiscal consolidation had already created conditions for the RBI to cut rates; we expect the policy rate to be sliced by 25-50 basis points (bps) in 2016. A benign inflation climate further allows for this; CPI, we believe, will stay soft at 5% average, unchanged from our estimate for fiscal 2016, if India is blessed with a normal monsoon. Given the excess industrial capacity, weak demand and soft commodity and crude oil prices, the impending Seventh Pay Commission payouts are unlikely to swing inflation away from the RBI’s glide path,” said CRISIL in its forecast on inflation.
 
Other macroeconomic data which was available on Tuesday included IIP (Index of industrial production) data. It dipped for the third month in January, reporting -1.5% growth, compared to -1.2% in December. This was led by a steep fall in manufacturing activity, mainly in industrial and investment related goods. Capital goods continued to be major drag on industrial activity reflecting the investment lull in the economy, while consumer durables output was flat on-year reflecting weak demand. The major indices suffered a sharp correction, and closed about 1% lower than Monday’ close.
 
Key Indian equity indices were trading in the red during the afternoon session on Wednesday ahead of another crucial meeting of the US Federal Reserve later in the evening. Later in the day, buying resumed and the indices improved to close in the green. On Thursday, it was reported that the US Federal Reserve had kept its benchmark short-term interest rates unchanged amid potential risks to the US economy, signalling the central bank would slow the pace of future interest rate hikes this year. In a statement released after a two-day policy meeting, the Fed said US "economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace despite global economic and financial developments in recent months," but these developments continue to pose risks. In December, the Fed had raised its target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 0.25%-0.5%, the first rate hike in nearly a decade, marking the end of an era of extraordinary easing monetary policy. But the turmoil in financial markets and a slowdown in global economy since the start of the year had raised increasing concerns about the strength of the US economy, forcing Fed policymakers to hold off on any further rate hikes since then. In its January policy statement, the Fed had declined to make a judgement about the balance of risks to the US economy, an indication of the uncertainty about the impact of global economic and financial turbulence on the world's largest economy. The changes in the statement on risks signalled that Fed officials were inclined to wait for more time to assess the US economic outlook before raising interest rates again.
 
On Thursday, Nifty traded above 7,550 for much of the day, following a strong opening, but ended flat. The Sensex also ended flat. Key Indian equity indices were trading in the green during the afternoon session on Friday on positive global cues. The postponement of the interest rate hike on the part of the US Federal Reserve has kept the fixed income-equity investment balance for investors in favour of equity and the global markets have resumed active trading without the earlier ‘wait and watch’ attitude. Foreign institutional investors were also found showing interest in the Indian stock markets. The major indices rallied to close more than 1% over Thursday’s close. Throughout the week, the Bank Nifty and the S & P BSE Bankex were seen improving based on news of government reforms and strict action taken by State Bank of India on Mallya (of Kingfisher Airlines) to recover bad loans.

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