Monthly Archives

October 2018

Sc. & Tech.

German tech firm Graforce produces fuel from wastewater

The German technology company Graforce has introduced a unique technology: Plasmalysis saves resources in its highly efficient generation of hydrogen from industrial waste water. Mixing in biogas produces hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG) – a cost-effective, environmentally friendly fuel for vehicles that also generates electricity and heat. The technology not only converts wastewater pollutants into valuable energy, but also reduces emissions (CO2, CO, HC) by 30 to 60 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions are also reduced by up to 60 percent. Graforce’s partners include carmaker Audi and Berliner Wasserbetriebe.

“The technology we’ve developed is capable of cleaning wastewater and producing a low-cost, low-emission fuel from it,” says Graforce founder Dr. Jens Hanke at today’s launch of a demonstration plant in Berlin. “This lets us contribute to solving two pressing problems at once: air pollution and wastewater treatment.”

Cost-effective fuel with lower emissions

Graforce produces hydrogen using the plasmalysis process in its demonstration plant in Berlin. The process uses electricity to split wastewater obtained from biogas, sewage treatment and industrial plants into oxygen and hydrogen. Mixing hydrogen with biogas produces HCNG, which can be used as fuel in natural gas vehicles and in block heating and gas power plants. Only purified water and oxygen remain as waste products. Hydrogen production using plasmalysis is 50-60% cheaper than with conventional processes.

Audi tests wastewater use of methane production with e-fuels

German carmaker Audi has also been committed its reliance for many years to alternative, synthetic fuels. One of the biggest challenges to e-fuel production is the wastewater produced by biogas plants. It requires very expensive cleaning or disposal. Integrating plasmalysis technology into Audi’s e-fuel plants repurposes the wastewater into hydrogen production while purifying it at the same time. This enables Audi’s systems to be used more efficiently. “Graforce’s plasmalysis is an important contribution to low-emission fuel production while boosting the economy and efficiency of biogas and power-to-gas plants,” explains Dr. Hermann Pengg, Head of Project Management for Renewable Fuels at Audi and CEO of Audi Industriegas GmbH.

By Tech Observer Desk

International

Water levels reducing in Siang and Brahmaputra river

People in Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and several districts in Assam heaved a sigh of relief as water level in Siang has significantly reduced on Sunday.

Arunachal Pradesh water resources department secretary, Bidol Tayeng said that with the danger of flash flood over, the situation has come to
normal now in all the vulnerable districts.

Assam water resource minister, Keshav Mahanta said, “The government has posted an officer in Pasighat to update the government of
situation. In Assam the water level are receding.”
Ferry services were resumed between Dibrugarh and Dhemaji on Sunday. This service was suspended after flood alert. The water level
in Dibrugarh increased by 1.16 metres from 103.32 metres to 104.48 metres in the last 24 hours upto 7am on Sunday which is below the
danger level of 105.70 metres.
After 7 am the water level has started decreasing by 4 to 6 cm every hour.

People in Siang in Arunachal Pradesh and several districts in Assam heaved a sigh of relief as water level in Siang has significantly reduced on Sunday.
Following landslide in China’s Yarlung Tsangpo and threat of water bomb, six districts in upper Assam had been put on high alert. Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sivasagar and Golaghat have been put on a high alert by the state government. Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has gone on alert after the formation of an artificial lake on the Yarlung Tsangpo River after a cliff fell at Milin section of the river, 70 km from Nuxia Hydrological Station in Tibe. East Arunachal Pradesh MP, Ninong Ering said that, “It seems the danger is over. The water level of Siang started receding from Saturday, and went down further on Sunday. So, the imminent threat is no more now. Much water has already flowed down by now.
Hence Siang is calm now.”
In Siang water receded to about 145 meter on Sunday from some 152.97 meter on Saturday at Pasighat. Tsangpo is known as siang in Arunachal Pradesh and Brahmaputra in Assam. On Thursday, Chinese government
informed India that a landslide on the river in Tibet region might burst any time.
In Arunachal Pradesh eight companies of NDRF were airlifted from Bhubaneswar and deployed at various vulnerable areas. Arunachal
Pradesh water resources department secretary, Bidol Tayeng said that with the danger of flash flood over, the situation has come to
normal now in all the vulnerable districts

Assam water resource minister, Keshav Mahanta said, “The government has posted an officer in Pasighat to update the government of
situation. In Assam the water level are receding.”
Ferry services were resumed between Dibrugarh and Dhemaji on Sunday. This service was suspended after flood alert. The water level
in Dibrugarh increased by 1.16 metres from 103.32 metres to 104.48 metres in the last 24 hours upto 7am on Sunday which is below the
danger level of 105.70 metres.
After 7 am the water level has started decreasing by 4 to 6 cm every hour

By Bikash Singh,

Chinese media reports: 

More than 6,000 people were evacuated and more will follow after a barrier lake was formed following a landslide that blocked the Yarlung Tsangpo River in the Tibet autonomous region on Wednesday morning. Its water level continues to rise, local authorities said on Thursday.

The landslide struck around 5 am on Wednesday near Gyalha village in Manling county, plugging the river that originates in Tibet and flows to India, according to the regional emergency response department.

By 7 am on Thursday, the water level of the lake had risen to 59 meters, and the amount of water reached 360 million cubic meters. The water level had been rising at an average speed of about one meter an hour from midnight to 7 am, the department said around noon.

More than 20,000 people in Manling and Medog counties were affected by the barrier lake and more people will be evacuated due to the risk of the barrier lake bursting.

The regional government has activated the highest level of emergency response for geological disasters and evacuated 6,000 residents.

The Ministry of Water Resources also required the regional government to provide hourly information of the water level of the Yarlung Tsangpo River at observation stations upstream and downstream of the barrier lake to Indian authorities.

A 12-member local work team consisting of hydrological and geological experts had arrived at the site by Wednesday. A six-member team sent by the Ministry of Natural Resources arrived at Menling county around 8 am on Thursday, the regional emergency response department said.

Wu Yingjie, Party chief of Tibet, urged the authorities to closely monitor the barrier lake and issue warnings on possible disasters. He also required them to evacuate residents who are threatened by the disaster.

It was the region’s second major geological disaster less in a week. On Oct 11, the Jinsha River, in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, was blocked by a landslide, creating a barrier lake in Chamdo.

Water from upstream has burst through the blockade in the Jinsha River, causing the water level in the barrier lake to drop significantly, signaling an easing of risks for the lower reaches of the river. But the Ministry of Emergency Management warned on Saturday that the possibility of another landslide near the first landslide site has grown.

International

Hydrological Data Sharing Leads India-China Toward Better Trans-Boundary Water Cooperation

After long efforts from diplomats, experts, activists and journalists China has agreed with request from lower riparian India and Bangladesh and the the country with headwater of Brahmaputra is providing data. “It is a positive sign towards a good trans-boundary river management. Extending cooperation will definitely lead towards better cooperation among neighbouring countries. Exchange of hydrological data and weather forecasting are very important since a trans-national river belongs to many countries. Exchange of hydrological data and weather forecasting are very important since a trans-national river belongs to many countries in the region” said Chandan Kumar Duarah, a science journalist and coservation activist based in Assam, India. Not only the Brahmaputra, five rivers originating on the third-pole, the Himalayas. They are the Yangtze, the Indus, the Mekong, the Salween, and the Ganges – rank among the world’s ten most endangered rivers, he writes in Eurasia Review.

Some science and environmental journalists had opportunitities to meet Chinese journalists and experts through the different programmes. The Thirdpole and Earth Journalism Network (EJNet) gave them opportunity to interact with Chinese counterpart and we insisted Chinese experts and journalists to work with a view to have bilateral or multilateral transboundary river management pact. Ninong Ering, a member of parliament from Arunachal, was among the first to officially acknowledge that China’s early warning helped, enabling residents of the East Siang district of Arunachal to move to higher grounds.

Despite the Chinese authorities released 9020 cumec of water on the Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet, China, due to heavy rainfall in Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam had nothing to worry. For at Pashighat, in Arunachal Pradesh, the Siang is 756 metres. And at Jonai, where the river enters Assam, the width of the river is around 4 km and hence the water level of the river would rise only 30 cm there. The Union Water Resources Ministry official said Indian experts have analysed the data shared by China and came to the conclusion that the effect may not be so strong in the country even through it was an alarming situation in China.

The early warning China issued to India in August on the rising waters of its Tsangpo river – which hit its highest level in 150 years – gave the Indian authorities enough time to prepare. Thousands of people in scores of districts in Assam and Arunachal have been affected in the latest floods, but the losses are minimal in comparison with the devastation last year, which killed 130 people and left three million people stranded.

As China informed India about heavy rain in Tibet or probable flood in downstream areas, the Indian Government informed and cautioned Arunachal Government. A senior official of the Union Water Resources Ministry said it was an unprecedented situation on the Chinese side where Tsangpo broke a 150-year record with swollen waters and hence China has shared the information with India.

Anyway, Delhi should inform or involve Assam with the process equally with Arunachal Pradesh. Assam been victim of devastating floods of every year. Thousands of hectares of land has been affected by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Since, vast floodplains and flood effected areas belong to Assam, the state need more time to be prepared after getting the flood warning. The annual rainfall in many parts of the northeast is much higher than the southern coastal State. The densely populated floodplains of Assam thus have to worry because of changes in land use that have impacted the micro-climate adversely.

Both India and China are fast-growing economies and technological clout, and resources that can help resolve regional and global challenges. The Himalayas are now subject to accelerated glacial thaw, climatic instability, and biodiversity loss. What a difference a year can make in China-India relations. Some Indian media houses interpreted the release of water in a wrong way that might generate panic among people in the downstream. China did not respond or reacted any allegation about release of water from any dam.

As China is exploiting minerals from Yarlung Zangbor region in Tibet, India is building dams in Arunachal Pradesh to generate huge amount of hydropower. Most of river catchment is in Arunachal Pradesh, which is controlled by India but claimed by China. The region was militarised during the 1962 war, and has since been inundated by troops, roads, airports, barracks, and hospitals. These have caused deforestation, landslides, and river pollution.

All of this development and strategic activities along the border is built on the world’s third-largest ice-pack or in biodiversity hot spots. The environmental impacts of their continued entrenchment are rarely mentioned, despite the fact that they are significant and growing. The build-up of troops on the border has displaced local ethnic groups, and they have been encouraged to give up their grazing land to make way for intensive farming. Animal habitats have decreased and clashes with wildlife like tigers and snow leopards have increased. Population transfers and agricultural intensification have even heightened the risk that antibiotic-resistant super-bugs and other toxic pollutants will seep into the world’s most diffused watershed.

China’s leading English daily, The South China Morning Post writes “Just a year ago China was being blamed for a deluge in northeastern India. Now, following its tip off about the rising waters of the Tsangpo, it is being praised for minimising the damage”. Just a year ago China was being blamed for a deluge in northeastern India. Now, following its tip off about the rising waters of the Tsangpo, it is being praised for minimising the damage. Anyway, the latest fruitful data sharing opens the door of better understanding on river, dam as well as trans-boundary river management.

Early warning is must to cope with floods and people along the Brahmaputra heaved a sigh of relief as authorities in Indian states of Assam and Arunachal geared up to face any eventualities. This simply did not happen in the preceding weeks, when people in Kerala or in Nagaland and Assam were caught off guard in some of the worst man-made disasters.

This year the Meteorological Department has been warning of a deficit monsoon and there prevailed a drought-like situation in many parts of upper Assam. In the eastern part of the Golaghat district villagers resorted to the age-old practice of Bhekulir biya (marrying of frogs) to satisfy the rain gods! When conditions were such, the news of the Dhansiri river breaking the highest flood level mark at Numaligarh in Golaghat district in the early hours of Aug 2, 2018 not only confused the weather forecasting authorities, but caught almost a million people off-guard. It was simply unprecedented.

Going by the IMD’s daily district level rainfall, there has not been unprecedented rainfall in the Dhansiri River catchment in the preceding week of August 2. Rather the unprecedented flash floods in Dhansiri and the Doyang rivers that flow through Nagaland and Assam was brought by the Doyang dam situated on the River Doyang, a tributary of the River Brahmaputra, located in Wokha district of Nagaland.

The 75 MW Doyang Hydroelectric Power Project owned by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO)– the Central government company that owns and operates the dam wreaked havoc downstream claiming five lives as NEEPCO opened the gates of the dam.

By August 6, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority put the number of affected persons at 87,300 and 7,086 hectares of land in Golaghat district were under water. The deluge left a trail of destruction ravaging some 120 villages. Sediment and slush filled up hundreds of wetlands in the catchment.

Flood in Tran-boundary Rivers

Effected states in India has been witnessing such disasters due to most of trans-boundary rivers. The high waves of Siang (the Tsangpo or Yarlung Zangbo in China) reminded inhabitants of June, 2000 midnight when 30-feet high wave of Siang had submerged the historic township killing at least 30 people and more than 100 had gone missing. People were fast asleep and none expected flood as there was no rain. Siang is the main headwater of the Brahmaputra and it contributes at least 20-30% percent of water to the Brahmaputra. Flood and its effects are very much seen in Assam. It is the ninth largest river in the world with 19,800 cubic metre per second by discharge and the 15th longest is also one of the few rivers in the world that exhibit a tidal bore. It is said that water breaks some natural dam formed in the Himalayas and heavy water has been contributed to the Siang and flow with high waves and becomes turbulent.

It is believed that the latest turbidity of the Siang water is connected with the landslide dams that developed on the course of the river in Bayi District and rampant mining in southern China. Tensions rose when China unveiled a new mine in Lhunze, near the de facto border with India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, east of Bhutan. The mine sits on a deposit of gold, silver, and other precious metals worth up to $60 billion.

Dams on Brahmaputra or on its tributaries either in Tibet, China or in Arunachal Pradesh, India are a matter of grave concern. The study of the December 10, 2017 satellite imagery captured by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel -2 undertaken by research scholars Chintan Sheth of the Bengaluru-based National Centre for Biological Research (NCBS) and Anirban Datta-Ray of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) had led to the conclusion that three dams were formed on the Yarlung Tsangpo, in the Bayi District of Nyingchi County of Tibet.

Downstream people in India are against building dams either in Chinese or Indian side. The lingering bitterness resurfaced late last year, when the more raucous sections of the Indian media began to buzz with a new China conspiracy story – the blackening of the Brahmaputra river in northeastern India. Seizing on a lawmaker’s allegation that Chinese excavations were releasing extraordinary levels of slag in the water, several media outlets saw in the discolouring a “sinister plot” from across the border. China and India’s geopolitical-resources rush threatens the safety of this entire river system. The new Lhunze mine’s position among the Brahmaputra’s headwaters is so precarious that its owner, Hua Yu Mining, was allowed to mine there. .” The mine is liable to be damaged by the region’s frequent earthquakes. It was suspected that any toxic leak from Lhunze flowed straight into the Brahmaputra.

An Indian television channel, Times Now, for example, claimed “exclusive” laboratory results to “expose” China’s evil design to “poison” and “divert” the river through mining and dam-building. China eventually refuted the media reports, saying an earthquake in Tibet that had caused large-scale landslides was responsible for the change of colour, a view echoed by the Indian government. This incident again revived demands for China to share hydrological data, with Indian lawmakers alleging that China was using its status as an upper riparian state to punish India.

New Delhi had then blamed China for breaking an earlier agreement to share hydrological data. In 2006, India and China had signed a pact under which China would share hydrological data from May 15 to October 15 every year for the Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers, both of which originate in Tibet. The two sides renewed the agreement in memorandums of understanding signed in 2013 and in 2015. But when floods struck northeastern India last year, reports surfaced that China was not adhering to the agreement. There was speculation that China held back on the data in retaliation for the 73-day military stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Doklam near Bhutan around the same time. On its part, China said its hydrological systems were washed away by floods, as a result of which it was unable to share data.

In October-November 2017, the Siang turned dark with sediment, so much so that fish and animals were dying. As the turbidity of the river began before it entered the Indian territory, there was much speculation about Chinese activity being behind the change which prompted political leaders from the region to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to take up the matter with China. Experts, journalists and activists from Assam demanded for trans-national cooperation for agriculture, meteorology and flood mitigation and other purposes.

It is a wholly different story this year, which marked a high point in bilateral relations when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in May for an “informal summit” to reset strained ties. One of the two key pacts reached at the end of the summit requires China to provide hydrological data during the flood season from May 15 to October 15 every year, and if water levels exceed mutually agreed limits during the non-flood season.

The river had turned muddy and got cleaned by April 2018. Several scientific studies in subsequent periods held an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale in Tibet as a strong reason for generating enough dirt to turn the colour of the water from crystal clear to black. It is worth mentioning here that two Indian scientists working on the Brahmaputra had found three artificial, landslide-induced dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo (the Chinese name of the Siang), containing an accumulated water of around one billion cubic metres. The dams were formed following the November 17, 2017 earthquake of 6.4-magnitude that shook the Nyingchi County of Tibet.

Virulent Siang River

The Yarlung Zangbo in Arunachal Pradesh, India turned virulent with unusually high waves in last July. But the reason behind such changes in the river, which generate the major chunk of flow of the Brahmaputra, could not be determined. The water of the river had also turned blakish with high turbidity again. The Central Water Commission (CWC) maintained that since the end of the part of July, the river is behaving such a manner and also carrying turbid water. Many residents they had such waves in the rive never in their life and were not sure of the reasons behind such phenomenon. The causes of the unusual behavior could either be man-made or natural. Last year, China clarified that it would not pollute its own river, Yarlung Yarlung or Tsangpo in Tibet.

However, the high waves of the river are confined only to river’s reaches in Pasighat area of Arunachal Pradesh and no impact of this changed behaviour of the river is felt in the downstream areas of Assam. The Yarlung Zangbo takes the name of Siang as it enters India at Geling in Upper Siang district. Two other rivers– Lohit and the Dibang –join the Siang at Kobu Chapori in Assam about 30 km downstream of Pasighat, which is about 230 km from the international border to form the mighty Brahmaputra. The unusually high waves in the Siang river have created fear among the people of the two Arunachal Pradesh districts and the administration had cautioned the people to refrain from venturing into it for fishing, swimming and other activities.

Nobody could detect the cause of this and we had been very worried with the phenomenon. The Chinese side neither react nor informed about natural or unnatural activities on their side. After around one month later China informed Delhi as well as Indian Government that it had been heavy rain in Tibet or South China region and it may cause flood in downstream areas in India. The unusal waves had been seen since July, 2018.

On August 29, 2018, China alerted India of a massive cloudburst in Tibet that forced the Chinese authorities to release more water down the Brahmaputra than at any time over the last 50 years. The discharge was measured at 9,020 cubic metres per second (cumec) at 8 a.m. on August 29 and led to huge waves on the Siang in Arunachal Pradesh. Eyewitness said the wave heights at up to four metres, uncharacteristic of a river. It gave hydrological data and flood warning to the Government of India. As soon as Delhi received these information, the concerned department sent the message to State Government of Arunachl Pradesh as it is the immediate bordering state of China.

The East Siang Deputy Commissioner (DC) Tamiyo Tatak in a circular issued on 29th of August stated that the Tsangpo river has been swelling with a discharge of 9,020 cumec on August 29th morning, which broke the record of last five decades. The very next day of the flood alert, the Indian Air Force rescued 29 people stranded in an island of the Siang.

Following the report of heavy downpour in the Tsangpo basin in China, which was relayed to the Arunachal government by the Government of India, sounded alert of possible deluge by the Siang river and asked the people residing in low lying areas to refrain from venturing into the river and nearby water bodies to prevent any eventualities.

Dhemaji and Dibrugarh in Assam had sounded alert of deluge due to unprecedented rise of water in Siang River, creating panic among the people living in downstream Assam. The Dibrugarh district administration referring to a report warned the people of unprecedented rise of water level in the Brahmaputra river that might cause severe flood on the left bank. The administration in an order
issued today also asked the government officials not to leave the district headquarters and stay alert to deal with the situation.

Dhemaji district administration asked the people of riverine villages to be ready for shifting to safer places. The district administration, however, asked the people not to panic as the water resources department is keeping a vigil on the situation and any impending danger would be informed to the people in advance. Downstream, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) warned the district administrations in the eastern part of the state to be on high alert on August 30.

There was nothing to panic as the Central Water Commission (CWC) had reported that the water level at the Grand Canyon of Tsangpo on August 14 was 8070 cumec and an increase should not inflict severe damages, Arunachal government officials said quoting the Chinese communication. Of course, Indian Air Force helicopters rescued 19 people stranded on an island in the Siang in the Sille-Oyan area on the morning of August 31.

As per Ravi Ranjan, superintendent engineer of the Central Water Commission (CWC) – It’s certainly a relief. “The overall flood situation in Brahmaputra and Barak basin is well within control, there is no need for any alarm, all the tributaries are running well below danger levels. Real-time information sharing by China has certainly helped prepare better.” Ninong Ering, a member of parliament from Arunachal, was among the first to officially acknowledge that China’s early warning helped, enabling residents of the East Siang district of Arunachal to move to higher grounds.

It has been a hurdle for riparian countries to mitigate water and weather related problems without a proper mechanism data sharing, weather forecasting and flood mitigation. And for the first time Indian state governments issued flood alerts based on data received from China. The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) agreed the alert from China but “made a difference”. ASDMA officials said although India had developed its own hi-tech satellite imaging systems which could pick up disturbances on the ground, the information was insufficient without ground data from China.


International

Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper force lands in Arunachal Pradesh

Itanagar: Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter force-landed in the west of Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district on Thursday, a Defence Ministry official said.

The incident took place when the MI-17 chopper was on a routine mission from Tuting IAF Advanced Landing Ground, an official said. All 16 people on board are safe, the official said. (IANS)

HELICOPTER AIRCRAFT

The IAF’s helicopter fleet has steadily increased in numbers over the past few years, blossoming from a handful of U.S. types in the 60s to over 500 French, Indian and Soviet built types. The pride of the force is, undoubtedly, the Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter which has been operated by No. 126 HU with outstanding results in the mountains of Northern India. The bulk of rotorcraft are Medium Lift Helicopters (MI-17/MI-17IV/MI-17V5 and Mi-8s) well over two hundred of these types serving in helicopter units through out the country, playing a vital logistic support role. Induction of the latest machine, the Mi-17 V5, is a quantum jump in our Medium Heli-lift capability in terms of the avionics, weapon systems as well as its hot and high altitude performance. Medium Lift Helicopters of IAF are operated for commando assault tasks, ferrying supplies and personnel to remote mountain helipads, carrying out SAR (Search and Rescue Operations) and logistic support tasks in the island territories, Siachen Glacier, apart from armed role.

The Chetak/Cheetah helicopter fleet has been the backbone in SAR, Casualty Evacuation and RTR (Route Transport Role) role in the IAF. To augment Cheetah helicopter operations in OP Meghdoot sectors, indigenously modified re-engined Cheetal have been inducted in the fleet. This indigenous helicopter has proved its worth and apart from reliability it has shown better load carrying capacity.

Of late, India has taken a conscious decision to go the indigenous development way in so far as procurement of military hardware is concerned. This can be best leveraged in the helicopter capability, as HAL has shown significant capability generation in the successful design and development of the ALH (Dhruv). ALH fleet in IAF has steadily grown from conventional ALH Mk-I to state of the art ‘Glass’ cockpit ALH Mk-III. ALH Mk-I has been effectively utilized for communication, SAR, Cas Evac roles.

It is also the prime machine for Sarang Helicopter Display Team, which projects the capability of indigenous helicopter apart from skill, motivation and training of IAF pilots. ALH Mk-III has been recent induction which undertakes SAR, Cas Evac and RTR. The Weapon System Integrated version, the ALH Mark IV, is also likely to be inducted into the IAF by 2017.

The first Attack Helicopter Squadron of IAF was raised as 125 (H) Sqn (GLADIATORS) on 01 Nov 1983 and equipped with Mi-25 helicopter Gunships. The Mi-35 was inducted in Apr 1990. 104 (H) Sqn was re-equipped with Mi-35 in 1990.

The Attack Helicopter fleet of IAF has a rich history of participating in operations since its induction. The AH has been deployed in IPKF operation in Sri Lanka, under UN at Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo under Chapter 7 of UN for Peace Enforcement. The machine and men of Gunship Sqns have done Yomen service for Indian Air Force and provided Tactical Foot Print to the Air Power.

The rotary wing capabilities of the IAF are poised to undergo a paradigm altering growth. Induction of the Chinook helicopter will be a boost to the nation�s heavy heli-lift capability. The planned induction of Apache Attack Helicopters is yet another instance of the shift in the technology and capability level of the rotary wing fleet by IAF. The prowess of our Helicopter operations have been demonstrated in Uttarakhand very recently, and with all these new capabilities and systems being added on, the IAF will be truly poised to take on any challenges.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-25/MI-35 : Twin engine turboshaft, assault and anti armour helicopter capable of carrying 8 men assault squad with four barrel 12.7 mm rotary gun in nose barbette and upto 1500 Kg of external ordnance including Scorpion anti-tank missiles. It has a max cruise speed of 310 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-26 : Twin engine turboshaft, military heavy lift helicopter of Russian origin with carrying capacity of 70 combat equipped troops or 20,000 kg payload. It has a max speed of 295 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

MI-17 V5 : The Mi-17 V5 is a potent helicopter platform, equipped with modern avionics and glass cockpit instrumentation. They are equipped with state-of-art navigational equipment, avionics, weather radar and are NVG-compatible.

Helicopter Aircraft

Chetak : Single engine turboshaft, light utility French helicopter with capacity of 6 passengers or 500 kg load. It has a max speed of 220 km/hr.

Helicopter Aircraft

Cheetah : Single engine turboshaft, FAC/casevac helicopter of French origin having capacity to carry 3 passengers or 100 kg external sling loads. It has max cruise speed of 121 km/hr and can climb to 1 km in 4 minutes.

Economy

Petroleum issue in Bhutan border causing heavy revenue loss for India

It is an issue of international border. Despite not being illegal in the eyes of law, it is eating up mammoth amount of government revenue. The loss is going up every day with steady upward journey of oil price in India. Petroleum dealers in Bengal now want Government of India to take up the matter with Bhutan for a resolution.
The issue has its root in on NH31, popularly referred as Assam Road that connects India’s North East region with rest of the country while traversing through extreme northern part of West Bengal(WB) in East-West direction. At places, it comes closer than even 10 km from Indo-Bhutan border.
Priced at Rs. 64 and Rs. 72 a liter in Bhutan, diesel and petrol both are now cheaper by Rs. 12 a liter there compared to pumps in WB. The difference is also steadily increasing as Bhutan does not change oil price every day. Almost all Indian vehicles, travelling through NH31, run a few km extra to get into Bhutan to refill instead of refilling at Indian pumps,” said S. Palchoudhury, President, North Bengal Petrol Dealers Association(NBPDA).
Under Indo-Bhutan friendship treaty, no visa is needed to cross the border. Moreover, Indian currency, an official tender within Bhutan, always carries same value as Bhutan currency Ngultrum. “Thus, this easy refilling from Bhutan is not illegal. But causing revenue and sales loss for us,” said a senior oil dealer in Hasimara an Indo-Bhutan border town in India.
As NBPDA estimation goes, near 150 outlets on NH31 are losing around 20% of their total sales. The estimated loss is around 250 kiloliter (KL) of diesel and 135(KL) petrol per day. “With state Govt. revenue component of around Rs 10 per liter of diesel and Rs. 16 for petrol, annual loss is Rs. 176 crore while our sales loss is Rs. 750 crore. Centre is also losing revenue,” said Palchoudhury.
“Introduce fuel log card for vehicles entering into Bhutan can be a solution. In that, Bhutan pumps will write refill volume for Indian authority at border to charge revenue based upon that. A share of this collection can be passed on to Bhutan pumps as reward for this support. By equalizing net price in both sides, this system can save our sales as well as Govt. revenue. We are preparing a proposal in that line,” he said. (Source: ET)

International

China accelerates army activity in Tibet Autonomous Region

Increasing Chinese military activities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has set alarm bells in India. While its air presence has been a matter of concern over past several years, latest reports suggest construction of underground bomb-proof shelters to house fighter jets at Lhasa Gonggar airport.

So far intelligence report and images available through satellites suggested that airfields in Tibet were not optimised for offensive operations. But a recent report has suggested that the airports were being converted into military airbase. There are also reports of constructions of bomb-proof hangers dug deep inside the mountains nearby to hold around three squadrons of fighters or about 36 aircraft.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (Air Force) has such facilities along its border with Russia. The underground bomb-proof facilities along the India-China border in the TAR region is a “new development”, defence sources admitted.

In addition, Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) bases near some of the airfields is also being augmented and expanded along with helicopter bases. The SAM base near Shigatse airfield situated across Sikkim in Tsang province of Tibet has also been augmented.

The new helicopter bases allow helicopters to take off and land with full payload. India has also been upgrading Advanced Landing Grounds (ALG) along its northern borders. These temporary airfields located in Walong, Mechuka, Tuting, Pasighat and Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh were built during the Second World War and have now been refurbished.

There are also reports of deployment of its Sukhoi-27 and J-10 fighter aircraft fleets for continuous operations during winter months in TAR that gives Chinese a “year round capability”. This is an important development because in the past China would only occupy forward airfields during the summers.

China PLA Air Force is also on a modernisation spree to ensure that more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft. “It has a credible mix of multi-role fighter and strike aircraft. They have got adequate reserve to replenish after attrition. They have multi-layered air defence systems and rocket forces that allow them (read China) to fight a ground campaign even without a decisive air victory,” sources added.

News To Worry

Chinese Air Force is on a modernisation spree to ensure more than 50 per cent of its fleet comprise advanced multi-role combat aircraft to enable them in fighting ground campaign as well.

Source: DNA with inputs from agencies

International

India to deport 7 Rohingya Muslims lodged in Assam jail

India plans to deport seven Rohingya Muslims, who have been in the country since 2012 and served jail terms for illegal entry. The Indian authorities are planning to send all of them back to Myanmar where violence against the ethnic minority has spiked in the Rakhine region.

The move of the government — which considers Rohingya Muslims illegal immigrants and a threat to national security — has drawn criticism from the United Nations, which said their forcible return could mean a violation of international law. The men were held at a detention centre in Assam’s Silchar on charges of illegally entering India and are due to be sent back on 3 October, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Tendayi Achiume, said Tuesday. “Given the ethnic identity of the men, this is a flagrant denial of their right to protection and could amount to refoulement,” Achiume said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a fresh plea was moved in the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking to restrain the Centre from deporting the seven. A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which made it clear to lawyers at the outset that it will not allow urgent mentioning of matters till the framing of “parameters” on such cases, said that it would take a decision on urgent hearing in this issue after perusing the application.

The bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, was told by lawyer Prashant Bhushan that some Rohingya refugees were on the verge of being deported and the matter required urgent hearing. “No mentioning. We will work out the parameters, then we will see as to how mentioning will be done,” the bench said, adding that matters like execution of a death row convict, eviction cases can be heard urgently.

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

Initially, the bench asked Bhushan to file the plea and on being told that the application has already been filed, it said, “We will peruse the file and the decide.”

“The Indian government has an international legal obligation to fully acknowledge the institutionalised discrimination, persecution, hate and gross human rights violations these people have faced in their country of origin and provide them the necessary protection.” Achiume said New Delhi was obliged to refer Rohingyas under its custody to the UN refugee agency to assess their protection needs.

More than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya fled an offensive by Myanmar troops launched nearly a year ago in reprisal for attacks on border posts by Rohingya rebels who took up arms against the ill-treatment of the stateless minority. The United Nations has termed the repression “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”.

Myanmar’s army has denied nearly all wrongdoing, insisting its campaign was justified to root out Rohingya insurgents. The UN expert said she was “appalled” at the amount of time the seven men from Kyauk Daw township in central Rakhine state had been detained.

“Prolonged detention of this kind is prohibited,” Achiume said. “It could be considered arbitrary, and could even fall under the category of inhuman and degrading treatment.”  The seven people would be handed over to the Myanmar authorities and sources said that Myanmar was satisfied with all documentation and their identities.

The scheduled deportations follow an Indian government order last year to return Rohingyas, but the Supreme Court is still considering a petition challenging the order on the grounds it was unconstitutional. The UN expert said nearly 200 Rohingyas are known to be detained in India on charges of illegal entry.

“We urge the government of India to abide by the international norm of non-refoulement and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees including Rohingyas,” she said. While successive waves of Rohingyas have fled into Bangladesh, small numbers have found their way to India and Nepal while a small community has also been established in Pakistan.

The interim plea, seeking urgent measures to stop the proposed deportation of seven Rohingyas, has been filed in a pending PIL. The PIL was filed earlier by two Rohingya immigrants — Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir — challenging the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination and violence against the community.

The fresh plea said that the decision to deport was in “grave violation” of India’s international obligation and moreover, the situation in Myanmar was extremely dangerous for the Rohingyas to return and they are likely to be subjected to torture and even killed.

“Pass an order restraining the Union of India from taking any steps towards the deportation of any Rohingya refugees lodged in jails or detention centres in Assam or other parts of the country in contravention of non-derogable principles of customary international law and during the pendency if the case,” the plea said.

Issue direction to officials of prison at Silchar Central jail in Assam and Union Home Ministry to “allow and facilitate the detenues in question as a well as other detenues on other prisons in Assam to approach the UNHCR in New Delhi to determine/ascertain if they are in need of international protection as refugees within its mandate and for grant of refugee identification cards,” it said.

The plea also referred to alarm raised by United Nations Human Rights expert over the proposed deportation of seven Rohingya to Myanmar, saying their forcible return could constitute “refoulement” which was violative of international law.

Earlier, the apex court had appointed area Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) as nodal officers who could be approached by the Rohingya immigrants living at Kalindi Kunj in Delhi and Mewat in Haryana with grievances relating to health care, water, sanitation and education.

The bench was hearing petitions including the two filed by Zaffar Ullah and two Rohingyas — Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir. While one plea challenged the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India, the other has sought several human and civic rights for the immigrants in New Delhi.

The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.

The First Post with inputs from agencies