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‘Superbug’ first identified in Delhi surfaces in Arctic region

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An antiobiotic-resistant gene first discovered in India has been found some 13,000km away in the Arctic region, triggering concerns about the speed with which superbugs can spread across the world.

Researchers found the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (blaNDM-1) gene, which helps bacteria produce an enzyme making it immune to one of the world’s last line of antibiotic defence (carbapenems), in Svalbard, an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

“Polar regions are among the last presumed pristine ecosystems on Earth… Encroachment into areas like the Arctic reinforces how rapid and far-reaching the spread of antibiotic resistance has become,” the agency quoted David Graham, a professor at Newcastle University which was part of the research team, as saying.

The findings were published in the journal Environmental International.

The researchers analysed DNA from 40 soil cores at eight locations along the Kongsfjorden region of Svalbard, where a total of 131 antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) were detected.

The place where researchers recovered the samples is marked by rugged, remote terrain with temperatures varying from 3°C in summers to -20°C in winters, and have almost no population except for visiting research groups.

This provides “for a platform for characterising pre-antibiotic era background resistance against which we could understand rates of progression of AR ‘pollution’”, said Graham.

“Encroachment” into such areas, he added, underscores the need to fight antibiotic-resistance at a global level “rather than in just local terms”.

While the team was yet to determine how the NDM-1 gene was found in the Arctic, scientists said that such spreading is not unusual and can happen even due to migratory birds in cases of areas where human population is low.

“Migratory birds and people tend to intrude into the ecosystem and contaminate it,” said Dr Chand Wattal, chairman, department of clinical microbiology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

“We have had similar examples in the past wherein resistant genes were found in remote areas with barely any population. It is a phenomena that keeps happening in nature as nature has its own way of maintaining ecological balance,” he added.

NDM-1 is carried in the gut of animals and people, and Graham’s team too believed that it could have reached the Arctic through faecal matter of birds, other wildlife, and human visitors to the area.

The gene was first discovered in 2008 in a Swedish patient who had been to New Delhi, but got attention in 2010 when researchers published a paper on it, and detecting it in water supply and around hospitals in several countries, including India.

The “New Delhi” name had triggered protests from experts and officials in India, who called it “malicious propaganda”.

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Do you want electric buses to operate in your neighborhood too? Send your suggestions here.

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Image Source: PTI

A survey is being conducted in Delhi to initiate small-sized electric neighborhood buses on congested roads. The Delhi Transport Department has commenced an extensive ground survey to determine suitable routes for neighborhood bus services in different areas of Delhi. This survey will run from June 1st to June 15th, with 23 technical teams deployed in various locations across Delhi for study purposes.

Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot stated that the Delhi government has never purchased more than 2000 feeder buses before this initiative. The 9-meter buses will operate on routes where 12-meter buses are unable to reach. Delhi residents can also share their feedback and suggestions regarding the neighborhood buses at mohallabusfeedback [at] gmail.com.

To ensure the inclusion of public suggestions, teams have been formed by the Transport Department to gather insights from the people of Delhi. This will guarantee that all significant routes are covered by these neighborhood buses.

The technical teams involved in the survey will visit metro stations, bus terminals, bus stops, and different areas of Delhi. The survey will focus on the following four aspects:

  1. Assessment of travel demand: The survey teams will examine last-mile connectivity in each area and study the transportation needs of the general public for such connectivity.
  2. Road network: The survey teams will assess road width, encroachments, and obstacles encountered during bus operations.
  3. Public transport connectivity: All teams will determine the distance travelers need to cover to reach public transport. A Pakistani team will also investigate the availability of other public transport options in the area.
  4. Para-transit connectivity: The availability of options such as e-rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, and other para-transit services in specific areas will also be surveyed.

According to the information received from the Transport Department, the data collected during this survey will be digitized. It will be used to determine the origin and destination of proposed neighborhood bus services in each area. Additionally, the survey aims to identify potential routes that will benefit the maximum number of passengers through neighborhood buses.

It should be noted that Kailash Gahlot, Delhi’s Finance Minister, who also serves as the Transport Minister, announced the Neighborhood Bus Plan in the budget speech. The objective of this plan is to deploy 9-meter-long electric buses to provide local or feeder bus services. The Kejriwal government has planned to operate a total of 2,180 such buses by 2025. The neighborhood buses will be specifically operated in those areas of Delhi where road width is limited or regular operation of 12-meter buses is difficult due to congestion.

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Delhi’s Coolest May in 36 Years: Record-Breaking Temperatures and Abundant Rainfall

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Image: PTI

Delhi has recently witnessed a remarkable drop in temperatures during the month of May, marking it as the coolest May in the past 36 years. This significant shift can be attributed to the abundant rainfall that showered the city over the course of two weeks.

Surprisingly, Delhi encountered an unusual 11 days of rainfall, which is quite uncommon for this hot summer month. Data provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reveals that the average maximum temperature recorded in May this year was 36.8 degrees Celsius, the lowest since 1987. It is worth mentioning that in May 1987, the Safdarjung weather station recorded an even lower average maximum temperature of 36 degrees Celsius, according to IMD scientist Kuldeep Srivastava.

To put things into perspective, the average maximum temperature in May last year was a scorching 40.1 degrees Celsius. The stark contrast in temperatures this year can be attributed to the five active western disturbances that affected the northwest plains of India. Srivastava highlighted that while the region usually experiences two to three western disturbances during this period, this year marked the fifth one.

Delhi received a staggering 111 mm of rainfall in May, which was 262 percent above the normal average of 30.7 mm for the month. The city has also witnessed above-normal rainfall in March, April, and May, accumulating a total of 184.3 mm during the pre-monsoon season. This figure represents an excess of 186 percent compared to the average of 64.4 mm.

Furthermore, the Safdarjung weather station did not record any instances of a heatwave throughout May, although other weather stations in the vicinity reported heatwave conditions. The copious rainfall and gusty winds not only provided relief from the scorching heat but also improved Delhi’s air quality. On Wednesday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 85, falling under the ‘satisfactory’ category. In contrast, on May 23, when there was no rainfall, the AQI soared to 198, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Remarkably, data from the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) shows that the average PM10 and PM2.5 levels from January to May this year have been the second lowest since 2016. The lowest levels were observed in 2020 due to the summer lockdown.

In conclusion, Delhi’s unusual weather patterns in May, marked by the lowest temperatures in over three decades and abundant rainfall, have brought relief from the scorching heat and improved air quality in the city.

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Delhi Government Introduces Small Electric ‘Mohalla Buses’ for Improved Public Transport.

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Image: PTI

The Delhi government is taking a big step towards improving the city’s public transportation system by introducing small-sized electric “Mohalla Buses” on the streets. To make sure they identify the areas where these buses are needed and determine the best routes for them, the Transport Department has launched a comprehensive 15-day evaluation campaign. Starting from Thursday, teams of experts will be deployed in different areas until June 15 to conduct the study.

This means that soon we’ll have these convenient and eco-friendly buses operating throughout Delhi! Isn’t that exciting?

But that’s not all! The government has also come up with a plan to purchase over 2,000 feeder buses. These buses will serve routes where the regular 12-meter buses can’t go. So, it will make traveling much more convenient for all the bus commuters out there!

To ensure that they cover all the important areas and connect the major attractions in the city, They are forming teams across Delhi to gather feedback from the people. Their input will help them determine the most suitable routes for these Mohalla Buses. After all, They want to make sure that everyone benefits from this new and improved public transport system!

So get ready, Delhiites! Exciting changes are on the horizon, making your daily commute more comfortable and sustainable.

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