Tiny tsunami reaches Japan; Pacific damage small

Local residents in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture (state), northern Japan, look at a wave washing stairs built on the shore at a fishing port on Sunday. The initial waves which struck Japan did not cause any damage

The tsunami from an earthquake in Chile hit Japan’s main islands on Sunday, but the initial waves washed ashore without causing any damage after sparing most of the Pacific islands that were in its path.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the biggest wave in the initial tsunami following the magnitude 8.8 quake off Chile was recorded in northern Japan. It was 35 inches (90 centimetres) high. Another, measuring about 12 inches (30 centimetres), was observed in Hokkaido, also to the north. There were no reports of damage.

As it crossed the Pacific, the tsunami has dealt populated areas — including the U.S. state of Hawaii — just a glancing blow.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre already lifted its warning for every country but Russia and Japan, though some countries in Asia and the Pacific — including the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand — were keeping their own watches in place as a precaution.

The tsunami initially raised fears that the Pacific could fall victim to the type of killer waves that killed 230,000 people in the Indian Ocean in 2004 the morning after Christmas. During that disaster, there was little to no warning and much confusion about the impending waves.

Officials said the opposite occurred after the Chile quake: They overstated their predictions for the size of the waves and the threat.

“We expected the waves to be bigger in Hawaii, maybe about 50 percent bigger than they actually were,” said Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the warning centre. “We’ll be looking at that.”

But Japan, fearing the tsunami could gain force as it moved closer, put all of its eastern coastline on tsunami alert Sunday and ordered hundreds of thousands of residents in low-lying areas to seek higher ground as waves generated by the Chilean earthquake raced across the Pacific at hundreds of miles (kilometers) per hour.

Japan is particularly sensitive to the tsunami threat.

In July 1993 a tsunami triggered by a major earthquake off Japan’s northern coast killed more than 200 people on the small island of Okushiri. A stronger quake near Chile in 1960 created a tsunami that killed about 140 people in Japan.

Towns along northern coasts issued evacuation orders to 400,000 residents, Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, said. NHK switched to emergency mode, broadcasting a map with the areas in most danger and repeatedly urging caution.

As the wave continued its expansion across the ocean, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said its tsunami alert applied to its entire Pacific coast, with the waves expected to be biggest in the north. It said a tsunami of up to 9.8 feet (3 meters) could hit the northern prefectures of Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi, though the first waves were much smaller.

People packed their families into cars, but there were no reports of panic or traffic jams. Fishermen secured their boats, and police patrolled beaches, using sirens and loudspeakers to warn people to leave the area.

Elsewhere, however, the tsunami passed quietly.

By the time the tsunami hit Hawaii — a full 16 hours after the quake — officials had already spent the morning ringing emergency sirens, blaring warnings from airplanes and ordering residents to higher ground.

The islands were back to paradise by the afternoon, but residents endured a severe disruption and scare earlier in the day: Picturesque beaches were desolate, million-dollar homes were evacuated, shops in Waikiki were shut down, and residents lined up at supermarkets to stock up on food and at gas stations.

Waves hit California, but barely registered amid stormy weather. A surfing contest outside San Diego went on as planned.

In Tonga, where up to 50,000 people fled inland hours ahead of the tsunami, the National Disaster Office had reports of a wave up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) high hitting a small northern island, deputy director Mali’u Takai said. There were no initial indications of damage.

Nine people died in Tonga last September when the Samoa tsunami slammed the small northern island of Niuatoputapu, wiping out half of the main settlement.

In Samoa, where 183 people died in the tsunami five months ago, thousands remained Sunday morning in the hills above the coasts on the main island of Upolu, but police said there were no reports of waves or sea surges hitting the South Pacific nation.

Villagers living close to the Philippines’ eastern coast were advised to move to higher ground, said Renato Solidum, the chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. He said a wave of about 3.2 feet (1 meter) high could hit early in the afternoon.

“We’re not expecting any huge tsunami so we’re just urging everybody to take precautions,” Solidum told The Associated Press.

On New Zealand’s Chatham Islands earlier Sunday, officials reported a wave measured at 6.6 feet (2 meters).

Oceanographer Ken Gledhill said it was typical tsunami behaviour when the sea water dropped a meter off North Island’s east coast at Gisborne then surged back.

Several hundred people in the North Island coastal cities of Gisborne and Napier were evacuated from their homes and from camp grounds, while residents in low-lying areas on South Island’s Banks Peninsula were alerted to be ready to evacuate.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management downgraded the national warning to an advisory Sunday afternoon and in the Cook Islands police issued an all-clear midmorning Sunday.

In Australia, the Bureau of Meteorology reported a tsunami measuring 1.6 feet (0.5 meters) off Norfolk Island, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) northeast of Sydney. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Quake jolts North Pakistan, Afghanistan

A moderate earthquake has rattled northern Pakistan and Afghanistan but there are no reports of injuries or damage.

A Pakistani government meteorologist Qamar Zaman Chaudhry says the quake happened at 4:21 a.m. Pakistan time on Sunday (2321 GMT; 6:21 p.m. EDT on Saturday).

It was felt in northern Pakistan and in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

The U.S. Geological Survey says it was a magnitude 5.7 quake, and was centred in the Hindu Kush mountains, 110 miles (175 kilometers) northeast of Kabul.

More than 300 dead in massive Chilean earthquake

A collapsed bridge over the Claro river is seen near the town of Camarico, Chile on Saturday. An 8.8-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami killed more than 300 people in Chile

Chilean authorities were assessing the damage from a massive earthquake that killed more than 300 people, as Asian nations braced Sunday for the resulting tsunami that was still racing across the Pacific Ocean.
Hundreds of people were missing and feared trapped under the rubble of buildings that buckled under the force of the 8.8 magnitude quake, the strongest to hit the South American nation since 1960.
The earthquake occurred at 3:34 am (0634 GMT) Saturday, some 90 kilometres north—east of Concepcion, a city of 630,000 in Chile’s central coastal region.
Significant damage was reported in the capital Santiago, 320 kilometres north of the epicentre, affecting buildings, roads and closing the international airport.
Waves of 1.5 metres or less were reported in Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia. Comprehensive coastal warnings were issued in Japan, where the Chilean tsunami was expected Sunday afternoon with a height of up to 3 metres, and coastal residents on the Philippines Pacific shores fled for high ground in fear of the waves.
Some coastal areas of Chile were quickly struck by a post—quake wave, devastating some communities.
A wall of water swept across the Chilean island of Robinson Crusoe, 670 kilometres off the coast. Three people were reported missing on the island.
President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of disaster in the worst—hit regions south of Santiago. “I have no doubt that we will make it through this,” she said in a nationally televised address.
Sebastian Pinera, who takes over from her as head of state on March 11, appealed for solidarity.
The death toll rose throughout Saturday, reaching more than 300 by sundown. Authorities warned that more fatalities were likely.
In Conception, 150 people were feared trapped in a fallen, 14— storey apartment block.
“From the street we can hear the screaming of those who were caught under the new, 14—floor building,” one man said looking at the pile of rubble.
There were reports of unrest in one Santiago neighbourhood over shortages of water and power outages.
Santiago’s international airport was ordered closed to incoming and outgoing flights for at least three days, with a collapse reported in the terminal building. The city’s underground rail network was also closed.
Overturned cars littered motorway flyovers, which buckled and crumbled during the quake.
Power lines were down, water supplies were cut and burst gas pipes raised fears of explosions. Internet communications were disrupted and mobile phone networks badly damaged.
In Concepcion, damage was widespread. The offices of the region government were reported to have been destroyed, and the walls of the city’s prison collapsed, with hundreds of convicts reported to have escaped.
Chilean television showed footage of collapsed hospitals, burning buildings and wrecked bridges.Modern, high—rise buildings in Santiago were relatively unscathed by the quake and the scores of aftershocks.
With Chile’s prosperity and seismic history, the country has for decades required new construction to conform to earthquake-zone engineering standards.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered “rapid assistance” if sought by Chile. In Washington, President Barack Obama offered to deploy US resources “should the Chilean people need our help.” The quake was 50 times more powerful than the one that claimed more than 200,000 lives on January 12 Haiti, said the head of the University of Santiago’s Seismological Institute, Sergio Barrientos.
The worst earthquake to hit Chile occurred in 1960, when a 9.5—magnitude quake and tsunami claimed 6,000 lives.

Moderate earthquake hits Kashmir

An earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale hit Kashmir valley in the wee hours on Sunday, but there was no report of any loss of life or damage to property, officials said.
“The 5.7 magnitude quake, with its epicentre located in the Hindukush mountain range of Afghanistan, hit Kashmir valley at 4:51 am,” Aamir Ali, spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir government disaster management cell, said.
However, there was no report of any casualties or damage to property so far, he said.

Chile Earth Quake Photos/Images/Pictures—Image Gallery(A Collection)

Asia braces for tsunami after Chile quake

This TV grab shows people looking through the rubble of a home in Santiago, Chile, following an earthquake early on Saturday morning

 Wide swaths of the south Pacific, Asia and Australia braced for a tsunami after a devastating earthquake hit the coast of Chile on Saturday.

Officials in Japan and Australia warned a tsunami from the earthquake was likely to hit Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores within 24 hours. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning that included Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and many island nations in the Pacific. A lower-level advisory that a tsunami was possible was issued for northern Pacific locations, including the U.S. West Coast and Alaska.

“Sea-level readings confirm that a tsunami has been generated which could cause widespread damage,” the center said in a bulletin after the 8.8-magnitude quake. “Authorities should take appropriate action to respond to this threat.”

The center noted that the first waves after a quake are not necessarily the largest and said tsunami wave heights are difficult to predict because they can vary significantly along a coast due to the local topography.

Earthquakes across the Pacific have had deadly effects on Asia in the past.

A tsunami after a magnitude-9.5 quake that struck Chile in 1960, the largest earthquake ever recorded, killed about 140 people in Japan, 61 in Hawaii and 32 in the Philippines. That tsunami was about 3.3 to 13 feet (one to four meters) in height, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.

The tsunami from Saturday’s quake was likely to be much smaller because the quake itself was not as strong.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted earthquake experts as saying the tsunami would likely be tens of centimeters (inches) high and reach Japan in about 22 hours. A tsunami of 28 centimeters (11 inches) was recorded after a magnitude-8.4 earthquake near Chile in 2001.

The Meteorological Agency said it was still investigating the likelihood of a tsunami from the magnitude-8.8 quake and did not issue a formal coastal warning.

Australia, meanwhile, was put on a tsunami watch.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for a “potential tsunami threat” to New South Wales state, Queensland state, Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island. Any potential wave would not hit Australia until Sunday morning local time, it said.

The Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology issued a low-level alert saying people should await further notice of a possible tsunami. It did not recommend evacuations.

The earthquake that struck early on Saturday in central Chile shook the capital for a minute and a half. 

 

Quake kills 78 in Chile, triggers tsunami

Vehicles are seen overturned on a highway near Santiago which collapsed during the earthquake in Chile

 A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, killing at least 78 people, collapsing buildings and setting off a tsunami.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 660 kilometers off the Chilean coast, said President Michele Bachelet.

Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.

“It has been a devastating earthquake,” Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.

Bachelet said the death toll was at 78 and rising. She declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile.

“We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks,” Bachelet said from an emergency response centre. She urged Chileans not to panic.

“Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We’re doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately,” she said.

Eleven aftershocks reported

In the 2 1/2 hours following the 90-second quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, five of them measuring 6.0 or above.

Bachelet urged people to avoid traveling in the dark, since traffic lights are down, to avoid causing more fatalities.

Chilean television showed images of destroyed buildings and damaged cars, with rubble-strewn streets. Dozens of people were seen roaming through the streets, including some wheeling suitcases behind them. There was a fire burning in one street with people sitting nearby trying to keep warm.

The quake hit 325 kilometers southwest of the capital, Santiago, at a depth of 35 kilometers at 3:34 a.m. (0634 GMT; 1:34 a.m. EST), the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The epicenter was just 115 kilometers from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river, and 60 miles from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.

Marco Vidal, a program director for Grand Circle Travel traveling with a group of 34 Americans, was on the 19th floor of the Crown Plaza Santiago hotel when the quake struck.

‘Thought it was a train’

“All the things start to fall. The lamps, everything, was going on the floor. And it was moving like from south to north, oscillated. I felt terrified,” he said.

Cynthia Iocono, from Linwood, Pennsylvania, said she first thought the quake was a train.

“But then I thought, oh, there’s no train here. And then the lamps flew off the dresser and my TV flew off onto the floor and crashed.”

“It was scary, but there really wasn’t any panic. Everybody kind of stayed orderly and looked after one another,” Iocono said.

In Santiago, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. An apartment building’s two—level parking lot also flattened onto the ground floor, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms and horns rang incessantly. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.

In the coastal city of Vina del Mar, the earthquake struck just as people were leaving a disco, Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa in Santiago. “It was very bad, people were screaming, some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them.”

President declares ‘state of catastrophe’

Ms. Bachelet said she was declaring a “state of catastrophe” in three central regions of the country, and that while emergency responders were waiting for first light to get details, it was evident that damage was extensive.

Several hospitals have been evacuated due to earthquake damage, she said, and communications with the city of Concepcion remained down. She planned to tour the effected region as quickly as possible to get a better idea of the damage.

Tsunami strikes island, no initial reports of damage

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for “urgent action to protect lives and property” in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, Bachelet said. There were no immediate reports of major damage there, she added.

“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.

The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the west coast of the United States.

8.3-magnitude earthquake hits Chile

An 8.3—magnitude earthquake struck southern Chile early Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. A tsunami warning was issued.

The quake hit 197 miles (317 kilometers) southwest of the capital, Santiago, and at a depth of 36.9 miles (59.4 kilometers) at 3:34 a.m. (0634 GMT; 1:34 a.m. EST).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a warning for Chile and Peru, and a less—urgent tsunami watch for Ecuador.

“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours,” the centre said.

The U.S. west coast tsunami warning centre said it did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.

Mild tremors in Kadapa district

Mild tremors shook some villages in Rayachoti, Chinnamandem and Veeraballe mandals in Rayachoti area of Kadapa district in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday morning.

The tremors that lasted for two to three seconds caused panic among people. Most of them stayed indoors on account of the holiday for Milad-un-Nabi.

Many of ran out of their houses in panic but soon returned when they realised there was no damage. The tremors reportedly caused minor cracks on the walls of some houses in villages bordering Chittoor district.

Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) said it recorded an earthquake measuring 2.5 on the Richter scale in Kadapa district. According to the officials of the institute’s seismic observatory, the earthquake was located near Rayachoti around 10.51 a.m. and the location was being monitored.

For a safe and colourful Holi

HOLI HOLI: Children smeared in colours

The exuberant colours of Holi exude the vitality of spring, the vibrancy of life and a celebration of the richness of harvest. The festival arrives when the placid winter fades away and the effervescence of spring adds fresh colours in nature. With nature blooming in all its hues, the time is perfect to colour the atmosphere with the fun filled colours of Holi.

This is the time when everyone drowns in the mirthful revelry of the festival of colours. While it stands for “party time” for the city slickers, celebrating the onset of springtime is the real essence of the festival of colours. Soaked in the joyful spirit, the faces go beyond recognition with sprayed colours, clothes looking like drenched unacceptable rags, hair in disarray – but the spirit soaked in the joyful essence of the festival with laughing eyes, gyrations to music and utter glee on the faces. This is Holi.

Essentially a North Indian festival, it has been a while since the festival’s presence has been felt in South India. Today, Gujaratis, Marwaris, Sindhis, Punjabis and Bengalis in every city of the South have still retained their customs and bring in the festival in their own colourful way.

Traditional colours

Amid growing awareness about the dangers of using Holi colours due to presence of chemicals, most people prefer to use dry colours made of flower petals or other herbals. The colours used in the past had therapeutic values. Traditionally the colours known as gulal were made at home from the flowers of ‘tesu’ or ‘palash’ (flame of the forest). Turmeric, ‘mehendi’, banana leaves, ‘majishtha’ were also used to extract beautiful hues.

The colours used now have many chemical ingredients that are hazardous to health. Dry colours are made with asbestos and chalk powder, and silica. Alkaline-base is used in watercolours, which can cause serious eye diseases. Paste colours are mixed in a base of engine oil that can result in skin disorders. As these colours seep into the earth they pollute the soil and water as well. The eco-friendly colours of the past can be prepared with simple preparations at home too.

Tips

While gulals or dry powder colours are a safe choice, there is a range of herbal colours also available in the market. Made from flower petals and other herbs, they are available in vibrant colours. Screaming pink, marigold yellow or grasshopper green – these herbal colours are relatively safe and don’t burn the skin. However, dermatologists and beauticians warn that extra care has to be taken for sensitive skins. They suggest the use of an antiseptic cream or lacto-calamine ointment for hypersensitive skins before venturing out. While a coat of oil is a must, sunscreen lotions help against burns if there is prolonged exposure to the sun. Stay away from the silver liquid colour as that can play havocs to your skin.

While removing the colours, soap may not be a good option, as it tends to cause dryness. Instead, a cleanser is a better option. Follow this up with lots of moisturiser, specially one that is meant for sensitive skin. Use lots of water as it retains the PH balance of the skin, skin experts suggest. The colours can damage hair to a large extent. Use of hair oil will prevent the chemicals from penetrating in the hair. A mild shampoo with a good conditioner should be used to remove the colours.

Two die in landslide near Vaishno Devi cave shrine

Two pilgrims on way to Vaishno Devi cave shrine died in a landslide triggered by rains in Reasi district, police said on Saturday.

As the pilgrims were proceeding towards the cave shrine in Trikuta hills from Katra base camp, they were hit by falling boulders at Hathi Matha on Friday night.

A woman and a labourer suffered injuries and died on way to hospital, they said.

The deceased have been identified as Prabha Devi of Mumbai and Abdul Hamid of Reasi district, police said, adding the bodies have been handed over to their families after post-mortem.

Twitter wants users to update personal info

Twitter is prodding its users to update their personal settings to create more ways for people to connect on its communications service.

The request will pop up when Twitter users log into their accounts. Among other things, Twitter is encouraging people to allow their e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers to be included in the service’s search index.

To address privacy concerns, Twitter says it won’t publicly display e-mail addresses and mobile numbers even if the service gets permission to use the information as search tools.

Some accountholders have already seen the information boxes, labeled “Be found on Twitter.”

A Twitter spokeswoman said on Friday that the box is coming soon to all accountholders. More than 73 million people worldwide used Twitter in January, up from 6 million at the same time last year, according to the Internet research firm comScore Inc.

The growth is making it more challenging to find and track friends, family and people with similar interests on the service.

Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, broadcasts people’s messages in bursts of 140 characters or less.

Users can choose to have all the posts of specific people delivered to their Twitter pages or sent to a mobile phone. But Twitter users must be found before their messages can be automatically followed.

Live telecast of heart surgeries to stop

The live telecast of heart surgeries for publicity is likely to end as the Asian Society for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery and Indian Association of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons came up on Friday with guidelines recommending end to such practice.

“Live telecast of heart surgeries for the purposes of publicity is certainly not acceptable. I am confident that a strict implementation of these guidelines will go a long way in curbing practices that enhance the risk component in complicated heart and vascular surgeries,” said Sampath Kumar, one of the authors of the guidelines.

Hundreds of heart surgeons from India and abroad are in Delhi currently for the four-day combined annual meeting of the Asian Society for Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery and the Indian Association of Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgeons, that began Feb 26.

They are to deliberate on the several issues related to heart surgeries across the world and devise a plan for effective implementation of the guidelines.

Relief to tax-payers in budget; Re.1 hike in petrol, diesel

The 2010-11 general budget on Friday provided considerable relief to income tax payers by raising the slabs at two levels but hiked the central excise duty on non-petroleum products across the board from 8 to 10 per cent and the basic duty on crude and petroleum products besides effecting an one-rupee increase per litre on petrol and diesel.

The entire opposition walked out of the Lok Sabha during the presentation of budget by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, dubbing it “highly inflationary” as he partially rolled back the stimulus by hiking the ad valorem component of excise duty on large cars and multi-utility vehicles by two per cent to 22 per cent.

The budget also raised the specific rates of duty on portland cement and cement clinker. The basic duty of 5 per cent on crude petroleum, 7.5 per cent on diesel and petrol and 10 per cent on other refined products is being enhanced.

The central excise duty on petrol and diesel is being enhanced by Re. 1 per litre.

The proposals relating to customs and central excise are estimated to result in a net revenue gain of Rs. 43,500 crore for the year. The proposals for service tax, in which government plans to bring in some more services, will result in a net revenue gain of Rs 3,000 crore for the year.

While direct tax proposals are expected to result in a loss of Rs 26,000 crore for the year, those relating to indirect tax are estimated to result in a net revenue gain of Rs 46,500 crore.

Taking into account the concessions and measures to mobilise additional resources, the overall revenue gain is estimated to be Rs 20,500 crore for the year.

The basic threshold limit for income tax exemption will remain at Rs 1.60 lakh. Under the new proposal, 10 per cent tax will be levied between Rs 1,60,001 and Rs 5,00,000, 20 per cent on incomes between Rs 5,00,001 and Rs 8,00,000 and 30 per cent above Rs 8,00,000.

The present income tax slabs and rates are 10 per cent for income between Rs 1,60,001 and Rs 3,00,000, 20 per cent for income between Rs 3,00,001 and Rs 5,00,000 and 30 per cent for income above Rs 5,00,001.

Proportionately, similar changes have been made in the taxes related to women and senior citizens aged above 65 years.

Mr. Mukherjee also gave another relief to individual tax payers by raising the existing limit of Rs 1,00,000 on tax savings by an additional amount of Rs 20,000 for investments in long-term infrastructure bonds.

Contributions to Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) have also been allowed as deductions within the overall ceiling for tax rebate besides contributions to health insurance schemes which are currently allowed as deductions under the Income Tax Act.

The budget also proposed a hike in defence expenditure from Rs 1,41,703 crore to Rs 1,47,344 crore, including Rs 60,000 for capital expenditure.

In the Budget Estimates for 2010-11, gross tax receipts are estimated at Rs 7,46,651 crore while the non-tax revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 1,48,118 crore.

Total expenditure is placed at Rs 11,08,749 crore, which is an increase of 8.6 per cent over the total expenditure in Budget Estimates of 2009-10. The plan and non-plan expenditures in Budget Estimates in 2010-11 are estimated at Rs 3,73,092 crore and Rs 7,35,657 crore respectively.

The fiscal deficit for 2010-11 has been pegged at 5.5 per cent and the rolling targets for 2011-12 and 2012-13 have been pegged at 4.8 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.

The fiscal deficit of 5.5 per cent of GDP in 2010-11 works out to Rs 3,81,408 crore. Taking into account various other financing items for fiscal deficit, the actual net borrowing of the government in 2010-11 would be of the order of Rs 3,45,010 crore.

In direct taxes, the Finance Minister proposed to reduce the current surcharge of 10 per cent on domestic companies to 7.5 per cent but at the same time raised the rate of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) from 15 per cent to 18 per cent of book profits.

In indirect taxes, Mr. Mukherjee made structural changes in the excise duty on cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, coupled with some increase in rates. He also proposed to enhance excise duty on all non-smoking tobacco such as scented tobacco, snuff and chewing tobacco.

In addition, he proposed to introduce a compounded levy scheme for chewing tobacco and branded unmanufactured tobacco based on the capacity of pouch-making machines.

Attempting to pay focussed attention to agriculture and related sectors, the Finance Minister proposed to provide project import status with a concessional import duty of 5 per cent for setting up mechanised handling systems and pallet-racking systems in mandis and warehouses for foodgrain and sugar as well as full exemption from service tax for installation and commissioning of such equipment.

A similar status on customs duty with full exemption from service tax will also be extended to initial setting up and expansion of cold storage, cold room and processing units for such produce.

Extending his goodies in excise duties in certain sectors, he gave full exemption to toy balloons and reduction in basic customs duty on long pepper, asafoetida and excise duty on goods covered under Medicinal and Toilet Preparations Act.

The Service Tax net is being expanded to include domestic and international air journeys of all classes, health check-up undertaken by hospitals for employees of business entities and health services provided under health insurance schemes offered by insurance companies.

Mr. Mukherjee said the budget aimed at focussing on inclusive growth and ensuring food security. These concerns for ‘aam admi’ have gone hand in hand for credible measures for improving investment climate, strengthening infrastructure and fiscal consolidation.

As the country looks to “quickly revert” to high GDP growth path despite uncertain times, concerns for inclusive growth targeting the disadvantaged sections form the defining features of the budget, he said.

Many new initiatives have been introduced for sustained and inclusive growth. These include the setting up of Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (Women Agriculturist Empowerment Scheme), Financial Stability and Development Council, Gold Regulatory Authority, National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms and National Energy Fund.

As part of improving investment environment, the minister said a number of steps have been taken to simplify the foreign direct investment scheme by making it user-friendly by consolidating all regulations and guidelines into one comprehensive document.

Towards strengthening the banking system, the Budget provides for Rs 16,500 crore as Tier-I capital to ensure that PSU banks are able to attain a minimum eight per cent Tier-I capital by March 2011.

In agriculture, a four-pronged strategy would be followed to spur growth in the sector. The budget provides for Rs 400 crore for extending Green Revolution to eastern regions, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, eastern Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.

The budget provides Rs 1,73,552 crore for infrastructure, accounting for 46 per cent of the total plan allocation. The allocation for road transport is being raised by over 13 per cent from Rs 17,520 crore to Rs 19,894 crore.

The plan allocation for power sector is being more than doubled from Rs 2230 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 5130 crore in 2010-11.

Under inclusive development, the budget allocates Rs 1,37,674 crore, representing 37 per cent of the total outlay to be spent on social sector programmes.

Plan allocation for school education is being increased from Rs 26,800 crore to Rs 31,036 crore to support the children’s right to free and compulsory education. In addition, states will have an access to Rs 3,675 crore for elementary education under the Finance Commission grant for 2010-11.

Rs 66,100 crore have been provided for rural development.

NREGA gets Rs 40,100 crore and Bharat Nirman programme Rs 48,000 crore.

Indira Awas Yojana gets Rs 10,000 crore. The unit cost under this scheme is being raised to Rs 45,000 in plain areas and Rs 48,500 in hilly areas to cover the increase in cost of construction of houses.

Petrol prices to rise by up to Rs 2.67 a litre

Petrol and diesel prices will go up by Rs 2.67 a litre and Rs 2.58 per litre, respectively, after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday raised customs and excise duties on the two

Petrol and diesel prices will go up by Rs 2.67 a litre and Rs 2.58 per litre, respectively, after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Friday raised customs and excise duties on the two, virtually putting the Kirit Parikh Committee report on fuel price in cold storage.

Customs duty on petrol and diesel were hiked to 7.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent while excise duty was raised by Re.1 a litre to Rs 14.35 and Rs 4.60 per litre on non-branded (normal) petrol and diesel respectively.

The incidence of customs and excise duty would result in petrol prices going up by Rs 2.67 a litre in Delhi and diesel by Rs 2.58 per litre with effect from midnight tonight.

Petrol, in Delhi currently costs Rs 44.72 a litre and diesel Rs 32.92 per litre.

Mr. Mukherjee also imposed 5 per cent import duty on crude (currently nil), a move that would impact refiners like Reliance Industries and Essar Oil with their input cost going up.

Reliance Industries’ 33 million tons a year refinery catering to domestic market would alone have to bear Rs 5,100 crore because of higher rates. Its other 29 million tons unit is only for exports and does not pay customs duty.

The rates hike virtually put the Parikh report on fuel pricing reforms in cold storage as implementing the expert group report on freeing petrol and diesel prices would mean a further Rs 4.94 a litre increase in petrol and Rs 3.20 per litre hike in diesel rates.

New Income Tax rates table

In a relief to individual tax payers, the Government on Friday changed the slabs cutting the rate to 10 per cent for income up to Rs 5 lakh, while leaving the threshold limit for tax-free income unchanged at Rs 1.6 lakh.

Income between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh will attract 20 per cent tax against the current slab of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Hitherto, the income between Rs 1.6 lakh and Rs 3 lakh was taxed at the rate of 10 per cent.

In case of income over Rs 8 lakh, tax would be levied at a rate of 30 per cent — which was hitherto applicable on income above Rs 5 lakh.

The tax concessions would put more money in the hands of consumers.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also extended income tax exemption to investment in infrastructure bonds by up to Rs 20,000 over and above the existing limit of Rs 1 lakh.

In a major relief to the corporate sector, the Government proposed to reduce the surcharge on corporate tax to 7.5 per cent from 10 per cent now.

However, it has increased the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) from existing 15 per cent to 18 per cent on book profits of those companies which do not pay tax because of various exemptions.

New Income Tax slabs

General tax payers

Up to Rs 1,60,000 — NIL

Rs 1,60,001 to Rs 5,00,000 — 10 per cent

Rs 5,00,001 to Rs 8,00,000 — 20 per cent

Rs 8,00,000 and above —30 per cent

Women

Up to Rs 1,90,000 — NIL

Rs 1,90,001 to Rs 5,00,000 —10 per cent

Rs 5,00,001 to Rs 8,00,000 — 20 per cent

Rs 8,00,000 and above — 30 per cent

Senior citizens of 65 years and above

Up to Rs 2,40,000 — NIL

Rs 2,40,001 to Rs 5,00,000 — 10 per cent

Rs 5,00,001 to Rs 8,00,000 — 20 per cent

Rs 8,00,000 and above — 30 per cent

IT rate cut for income up to Rs 5 lakh

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee presents the Budget 2010-2011 in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Friday

In a relief to individual tax payers, the Government on Friday changed the slabs cutting the rate to 10 per cent for income up to Rs 5 lakh, while leaving the threshold limit for tax-free income unchanged at Rs 1.6 lakh.

Income between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 8 lakh will attract 20 per cent tax against the current slab of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Hitherto, the income between Rs 1.6 lakh and Rs 3 lakh was taxed at the rate of 10 per cent.

In case of income over Rs 8 lakh, tax would be levied at a rate of 30 per cent — which was hitherto applicable on income above Rs 5 lakh.

The tax concessions would put more money in the hands of consumers.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also extended income tax exemption to investment in infrastructure bonds by up to Rs 20,000 over and above the existing limit of Rs 1 lakh.

In a major relief to the corporate sector, the Government proposed to reduce the surcharge on corporate tax to 7.5 per cent from 10 per cent now.

However, it has increased the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) from existing 15 per cent to 18 per cent on book profits of those companies which do not pay tax because of various exemptions

Cars, cigarettes, TVs, jewellery to cost more; toys to cost less

Cars, along with their fuel, TVs, cigarettes, tobacco, air-conditioners, and gold and silver jewellery will cost more due to hike in excise duty.

Consumers will have to pay more for petrol, diesel, cars, TVs, cigarettes, tobacco, air-conditioner, gold and silver as the Government on Friday announced hike in excise duty as part of a partial roll back of stimulus measures announced for reviving the economy.

On the other hand, mobile accessories, medical equipment energy efficient CFL lamps, set top boxes, compact disc, toys and books will be cheaper on account of some tax concessions offered on these items by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Union Budget for 2010-11.

“Symptoms of economic recovery are widespread and more clear now,” he said.

Before announcing the tax measures, Mr. Mukherjee substantially cut income tax rates along with other direct tax concessions that would result in a net loss of Rs 26,000 crore to the exchequer

Looking for a space-saving desktop PC?

More often than not, the first accessory people purchase with their new desktop PC is a computer trolley. Though space consuming, this is a necessary evil to hold the different PC components together. Also, the matrix of wires running at the back of a desktop PC is an eyesore. In a world where space and electricity are getting expensive by the day, a smaller, power-efficient PC will make sense to many. Let’s look at the way the desktop PC has evolved into different space saving formats and understand what you’ll gain or lose if you plan on buying these.
 
Net-tops
 
Net-tops are tiny desktop PCs that came into existence after manufacturers found roaring success with netbooks. Their goal was to bring the best of what a netbook has to offer — price, power efficiency and size — onto a desk. They have petite dimensions and some can even be mounted at the back of an LCD monitor. These ones mostly have an Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, Wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity; basically the guts of a netbook.

Net-tops are just about powerful to surf the internet, use office productivity apps and other work that’s light on the resources. It can even playback standard-def movies, but forget about running that 3D modeling app or a 1080p HD movie on it. Gaming is also out of the question since it’s generally powered by Intel’s paltry on-board graphics. Also, be warned if you use CDs and DVDs on a regular basis; many of these net-tops do not sport an optical drive. But transferring of data between PCs is possible via a handful of USB ports on it. Thanks to the low-power components, they consume way less electricity than your typical desktop PC. For example, an Asus Eee Box B202 consumes just 20 watts of power under full load.

Upgradeability is only limited to RAM and the hard drive; much like laptops or netbooks. Also, many will have 2.5-inch laptop hard drives, which are more expensive than 3.5-inch desktop hard drives while upgrading. Therefore the bottom-line is – net-tops will make sense to people who have limited computing use. It’d also be a good download rig thanks to its low power consumption. Now that similarly powered netbooks sell for a little above Rs. 15,000, the ideal pricing for a Net-top (without a monitor) should be in the range of Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 12,000 at the most. 
 
If we were to choose, we’d check out the Asus Eee Box B202 (without monitor) for Rs. 13,500. The only thing missing from it is a DVD drive. If you desperately need one, a Dell Zino has a DVD writer and a 17-inch LCD monitor for Rs. 16,000. One thing we didn’t like about the Zino is that you have to compulsorily buy a Dell LCD monitor with it.
HD-capable mini PCs
 
These are similar to net-tops, but with one extra functionality. Instead of Intel’s under-powered on-board graphics, they come with a more powerful GPU from either NVIDIA or ATI. They also have an HDMI port to connect to an LCD TV. These graphics chips aren’t as powerful to handle heavy-duty games with ease, but powerful enough to play back hi-def movies smoothly. This combination of a low-power processor like the Atom, with moderately powerful graphics is dubbed as ION by NVIDIA, while ATI calls it VISION Premium. These machines have slightly powerful processors and double the RAM (2GB). If you want to suck the life out of your internet connection, downloading HD movies and watching them on your LCD TV all the time, then such a PC will do wonders for you.  

Since these PCs have power-efficient internals, using them as a 24/7 download rig will be eco and wallet friendly. Games from a couple of years ago should work smoothly on low or medium detail settings, but don’t expect to do hardcore gaming on this. Again, some of these HD-ready mini PCs won’t come with an optical drive. If you don’t care about this, then a Zotac MAG (without monitor) is available for Rs. 17,500, which is a sweet deal. A good alternative to the Zotac MAG is the Acer Aspire Revo. It is bundled with a comfortable wireless keyboard and mouse, webcam and stereo speakers; thus driving the price up to around Rs. 20,000.

Dell’s Zino HD starts from Rs. 20,900 and comes with an optical drive. You can even get the Zino HD configured with a Blu-ray reader/DVD writer drive. With ATI’s Radeon 4330 graphics and a blu-ray drive, it will cost you around Rs. 32,000. Again, like the Dell Zino, you have to compulsorily buy a Dell monitor with the Zino HD.

Another mention in this category is the Mac Mini. It comes with more powerful hardware than the ones mentioned above and runs Mac OS X. But no HDMI port, blu-ray support and a comparatively high price keep it from being recommended as a decent HTPC solution. But if you want the cheapest way to go Mac, then this is it.

NetOn
 
NetOn’s are basically All-in-one PCs that bear the internals of a net-top. All the peripherals are built right into the LCD panel frame, which make it quite a space saver. They are supposed to be cheaper AIOs. This segment hasn’t become popular and there aren’t many models to choose from. Plus, you don’t get value for the price being demanded. NetOns like the MSI AP1900 or Asus EeeTop are sold at Rs. 30,000 and upwards. But the net-top-like internals will always limit the usage of the PC to comparatively lightweight tasks. Instead, one can pair a good net-top with a larger Full HD (1920 x 1080) LCD monitor for that price, whereas most NetOn’s will have just an HD-ready (1366 x 768 pixel) resolution. Also, there isn’t really a good NetOn worth recommending in the market currently. You’re better off with a NetTop + LCD monitor combination mentioned above.

All-in-ones  

All-in-ones or AIOs became popular with Apple’s iMac range of computers many years ago. Other makers followed suit and now you see a healthy range of such machines. All-in-one PCs have the internals of a laptop fitted into the LCD chassis. These have much better processing power than net-top/net-ons. They generally come in screen sizes of 20 inches and above, and have either a 1600 x 900 or a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution, which calls for crisper image quality. Most have built-in optical drives at the side. Also, contained in them are fairly potent graphics chips for running full HD movies smoothly. However, they may not be too powerful to run modern games in their full glory.

Pricing starts at Rs. 50,000, in which you could build a powerful desktop PC these days. But All-in-ones have a certain style and flamboyance that no cabinet-monitor combination can supersede. Of the AIOs in the market, we liked the new iMac. Starting at Rs. 65,000, it is still expensive for the masses. But considering Macs, you now get more value for money than before. It has a sleek-n-sexy design, a stunning display and potent hardware. Plus, the Mac OS X makes using this machine a lot more fun and easy.

If you are not a Mac fanatic, then have a look at the Lenovo IdeaCentre A600. It’s not too far behind in terms of power when compared to the iMac. The best accessory with this PC is its multi-function remote. It acts as a media center remote, an air mouse (which lets you control the pointer by simply point-and-tilting the remote — no surface required) and a VOIP phone. You also get a wireless keyboard with a built-in touchpad at the side, which is great to entirely control the A600 from say, a couch. A newer model on the website also claims that its GPU has been upgraded from an ATI Radeon 3650 to a 4650. The latter is fairly powerful to run games at a fair pace. It sells for roughly Rs. 58,000.

Lastly, we’ve been seeing a lot of All-in-one PCs with touchscreen. In our experience, the touchscreen seems very gimmicky and we doubt whether it serves any practical purpose. Think about it, how many times are you going to stretch your hands and use the screen, when the same thing can be done faster with a keyboard and mouse? We feel spending money on such models is not worth it. 

So, this is how our beloved desktop PC has morphed into various iterations. It is obvious that building a desktop PC is going to be cheaper, but then if small dimensions, energy efficiency or flaunt value intrigues you, then the PCs mentioned above could be worth your attention.
—-techtree.com(Rohan Naravane, Feb 09, 2010 )

4,000 AP youth to get rail jobs

With the changes in the recruitment policy of the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB), as announced in the Rail Budget 2010, hundreds of unemployed youth are likely to get jobs in Andhra Pradesh itself.
As many as 4,000 posts, which are lying vacant in the South Central Railway (SCR), are likely to be filled by candidates from the state.
So far, AP candidates have not been allowed to sit for the RRB exams in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Mumbai and other places because applicants from those states have not allowed it. They have threatened and harassed AP candidates, and the police of the concerned states have generally been of little help. Candidates from other states, however, come to Hyderabad and sit the exams for vacant posts in the SCR without being threatened in any way.
The railway ministry has now proposed to conduct the examinations on the same day in all regions.
Candidates can, therefore, choose only one place from which to write the exam whereas earlier, when exams were conducted on different days in different places, a candidate could sit for several exams. The railway board has also waived the examination fee for women, minorities and economically backward class candidates.
The AP Backward Classes Welfare Association president, Mr R. Krishnaiah, welcomed the decisions.
“In the old system, candidates used to appear for multiple RRB exams and were often selected from different regions. However, they could opt for only one region, resulting in backlog vacancies in other regions. In the new method, there is no chance for backlog.”