Nepali Times

Googling Everest

Thursday, March 19th, 2015
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Professional mountaineers and trekking enthusiasts from all over the globe have been flocking to the Himalaya for years, but now for the first time people can experience the Everest Base Camp Trek from the comfort of their homes.

Google’s Street View has introduced a virtual tour of the Everest region, allowing viewers to navigate through rugged terrain around the world’s highest mountain.

In collaboration with Kathmandu-based start-up Story Cycle and 21-time Everest summiteer Apa Sherpa, a Google team of backpackers and photographers trekked 100 horizontal and 2.5 vertical km from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and captured more than 45,000 panoramic images along the way. The team used two single-lens tripod cameras and a 15-lens custom-built ‘Trekker’ unit.

Apart from the usual popular sites from Lukla to Everest Base Camp, the Street View captured images from Apa Sherpa’s hometown of Thame and high altitude communities at the base of Mt Everest such as Phortse, Dingboche and Lobuje.

Scrolling through a slideshow of 360-degree views of various areas, visitors to the site get the chance to experience the Everest region from the trekkers’ point of view minus the strenuous walk. Of course, nothing can beat the real thing, but the site can be an excellent primer for those who are planning the trek.

Not only do these high definition panoramas stir wanderlust amongst us who have rarely visited the Himalaya, but they also educate us about the difficulties faced by the communities living in the region. The aftermath of last year’s avalanche on Everest, which killed 16 Nepali high altitude workers, is one of many tragedies that have highlighted the region’s precarious dependence on adventure tourism.

While the Google team has done a magnificent job in documenting the Everest region, there were a few inaccuracies. In the Google Street View of the Hilary Step, the GPS lag still places it on the South Face of Everest instead of the SE Ridge. Such issues are mostly present in street views which appear narrower and aren’t evident in panoramas of the mountains.

Google’s Street View of the Everest Trek is probably the best thing that happened to Nepal’s adventure tourism brand since the Imax film in 1997. The site itself is an experience in itself, and much more immersive than photographs in a guidebook. Rather than replacing real trekkers with virtual trekkers, it will probably bolster the popularity of Nepal’s most famous destination.

For more information, click here.

Ayesha Shakya  


Nepal knocked out

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
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Nepal has been knocked out of the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after the team’s second leg match against India ended in a goal less draw at Dasarath Stadium on Tuesday.

Nepal needed a 3-0 win against India to progress to the second round of the qualifiers after losing to India 2-0 in the first leg played at Guwahati earlier this month.

Although the home team was off to a good start, it couldn’t cash in on multiple goal opportunities. The Nepali players missed a lot of free kicks.

The much-anticipated game drew a large crowd of home supporters. According to ANFA 10,000 tickets were sold for the game.

Nepal Team: Kiran Chemzong, Sagar Thapa, Sandip Rai, Bikram Lama, Rabin Shrestha, Bhola Silwal, Bimal Gharti, Rohit Chand, Biraj Maharjan, Bharat Khawas, Santosh Shahukhala, Bharat Khawas

India Team: Subrata Paul; Pritam Kotal, Arnab Mondal, Sandesh Jhingan, Saumik Dey; Francis Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Lalrindika Ralte; Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh


Deal inked for Fast-Track DPR

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
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The government on Monday assigned India-based Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Services (IL and FS) to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track.

According to the agreement, the Indian company will have to prepare the DPR within four months at its own cost. The DPR will include the tentative cost and technical details for constructing the shortest road connecting the capital to Nijgadh, Bara.

Chief of Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track Project, Satyendra Shakya and Executive Director of IL and FS, Mukunda Sapre signed the agreement.

With the agreement for DPR in place, the much-anticipated project is finally moving forward. The project is based on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) model.

According to the government, the agreement is limited to preparing the DPR and only if the two parties fail to come to an understanding in the future, they can choose not to work with each other. If this happens, the process will start from scratch.

The government has not ruled out the possibility of building the Fast Track on its own, if the initial plan does not work out.

The government had called a global tender for expression of interest (EOI) for the project. According to Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, Secretary Ministry of Physical Planning and Infrastructure: out of three Indian companies that submitted the EOI,  IL& FS’s proposal beat the others.

Minister of Finance Ram Sharan Mahat said, “Since the Indian company is willing to work for free, it is only natural that we select them.”


18 dead in bus mishap

Monday, March 16th, 2015
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Eighteen people have been killed and fourteen injured in a bus accident at Raralihi, Jumla. The passenger bus carrying 29 people was en route to Kalikot when it overturned at Raralihi, and plunged 200 meters down the road into Tila River at 8.30AM Monday morning.

Photo: RSS

Photo: RSS

According to Police Inspector Indra Bahadur Saud, 13 people were killed on the spot while five others died during treatment. Three of the critically injured have been taken to Kohalpur Hospital in Banke for treatment while remaining passengers are being treated at Karnali Academy of Health Sciences. Only one passenger was unhurt in the accident.

Police have identified all eighteen deceased including bus driver Sagar Buda and conductor Harka Buda.

Police suspect the bus may have overturned due to slippery road but the full detail of the accident is yet to come out. Passengers say that the bus was over speeding and lost control at a turning.

Road accidents are common in the highways of Nepal. Most of these accidents are blamed on reckless driving, overcrowding, poorly maintained roads and the terrain of the country.


Garbage collection resumes

Monday, March 16th, 2015
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The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has resumed garbage collection after an agreement was reached between the KMC and the workers’ unions on Monday.

The agitating KMC employees agreed to start work after their demands for better security and new equipments for transferring waste were addressed.

Photo: Kenji Kwok

Photo: Kenji Kwok

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Prakash Man Singh on Sunday, had urged the government, KMC and Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan officials to work towards resolving the issue.

The 11 workers unions of the KMC employees had stopped collecting garbage from Thursday after Sisdole locals torched KMC vehicles worth Rs 40 million and manhandled workers at Okharpauwa landfill site.

Irate locals had set fire to excavators, dozers and loaders belonging to KMC after a truck, owned by a private company used for transferring garbage crushed four-year-old Rijan Balami to death on Wednesday.

The employees had called an indefinite strike accusing the government of not proving adequate security to the staff and the vehicles ferrying waste.

Following the strike garbage in Kathmandu and Lalitpur remained uncollected for four days. Around 600 tons of garbage is disposed at the landfill site everyday.


Maoists announce fresh stir

Sunday, March 15th, 2015
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The opposition Maoist-Madhesi parties have announced a fresh protest to increase pressure on the ruling NC-UML for a consensus on the contentious issues of the new constitution.

A meeting of 30 political parties led by the UCPN (Maoist) on Sunday unveiled a series of protest programs against the ruling parties.

As part of their agitation, the Maoist-Madhesi alliance has threatened to call a three-day general strike in the first week of April. “If the NC-UML parties do not show flexibility, we will call an indefinite general strike,” said Rajendra Shrestha of Federal Socialist Party Nepal, which is a constituent of the 30-party alliance.

The Maoist-Madhesi parties have announced protest programs like obstructing vehicular movement of ministers and top bureaucrats, encircling government offices and disrupting revenue collection at customs offices.

The opposition parties say they were forced to announce a fresh protest as the ruling parties did not show sincerity to constitutional negotiations.

“Even while carrying our protest programs, we will be sitting in talks with the ruling parties,” said Shrestha. “We have not turned our back to negotiations.”

In February, the Maoist-Madhesi parties had completed the first phase of agitation that culminated in a show of strength in Khula Manch, Kathmandu. After showing their strength by bringing thousands of cadres to the capital, they had decided to resume talks with the NC-UML.

Last week, ruling and opposition parties also held a few formal talks that ended inclusively.

“Prime Minister Sushil Koirala often talks of ‘win-win situation’ and ‘give and take’ but is not serious about what he says,” said Shrestha. “He is in the shadow of the UML Chair KP Oli. Hence, our new protest.”

The ruling and opposition parties mainly have disagreements on the basis and number of new federal units.

 

 

 


Nepali leads leukemia discovery

Sunday, March 15th, 2015
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A Nepali PhD student Sewa Rijal is among a team of researchers from Monash University who has recently discovered a gene in leukemia patients that causes resistance to chemotherapy. sewa Rijal

The discovery of the INPP4B gene was based entirely on Rijal’s PhD thesis, which she did under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Wei.

Rijal did her A levels in Budhanilkantha School before completing a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Science in Monash University, Melbourne, where she eventually pursued her PhD in Medicine.

The discovery of the INPP4B gene was published in the prestigious medical journal ‘Blood’. According to Rijal, the gene can be a new indicator of leukemia and might guide scientists to discover future treatment options other than chemotherapy.

Nepali Times’ Sahina Shrestha talked to Rijal to find out more:

Nepali Times (NT): How did you feel when the leukemia gene was discovered?

Sewa Rijal: This finding was not something that was discovered overnight, it took five years of hard work from the entire research team at Monash.

The feeling that you have contributed to knowledge in the field of cancer such as leukemia (which is incurable in most cases) gives one a lot of satisfaction.

NT: How does the discovery of the protein help the leukemia patients?

Sewa Rijal: This protein can be a novel biomarker of the disease, guide treatment options and help avoid the unnecessary toxicity that comes with chemotherapy.

NT: Can you tell us about your current work?

Sewa Rijal: Our current work is focused on understanding how this protein works to cause resistance to chemotherapy. If we understand this, we can target the protein and the pathway that it involves to cause pathogenesis, which can help treat acute myeloid leukemia more effectively.

NT: How did your interest in the area begin?

Sewa Rijal: I was always interested in cancer research as there is so much to know and discover in this field.

NT: Do you plan on coming back to Nepal?

Sewa Rijal: I do plan to return to Nepal when I have enough experience to initiate cancer research in the country.

NT: How do you plan on establishing a cancer research facility in Nepal, where biomedical research is still in its infant stages?

Sewa Rijal: This is several years down the track. To start off, I would like to establish a research center where we can have access to cancer tissue samples from hospitals around the valley and scientific equipments to carry out the research.

I think this will require international collaboration with a university that is well-known for cancer research such as Monash University.

NT: What are the major challenges you foresee?

Sewa Rijal: The main challenge would be funding. Hopefully the government can contribute to medical research as in most developed countries. We can also get funding from international sources and charity organisations.

NT: Who do you attribute your success to?

Sewa Rijal: My parents Rajendra Rijal and Prava Rijal, they have always encouraged me to pursue higher education.

NT: Other than leukemia patients, who do you hope this discovery will impact?

Sewa Rijal: I would like my story to be an inspiration to girls in Nepal to pursue higher education and lead the way.


 

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