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Excerpts from UAE Daily

Files pile up as tenancy dispute committee reels under shortage of staff

ABU DHABI — May 05: The Tenancy Disputes Committee (TDC) in Abu Dhabi is under intense pressure as the number of cases filed or referred to it has been spiralling, resulting in incovenience to both landlords and tenants.

As many as 2,200 cases were referred to or filed with the committee in the first four months of the year. About 4,500-odd people were involved in 2,500 cases.

The TDC, set up six months ago, is the only authority that deals with property disputes in the capital. Besides receiving fresh applications, the committee also handles cases referred to it by the courts in Abu Dhabi.

"Like other residents of Al Ain, I do suffer a lot as I have to travel many times to Abu Dhabi to follow up our tenancy suits. We wish more branches of the committee are opened in Al Ain," Mohammed Matter Al Nuaimi, a national, said.

"I feel pity for the TDC employees. Hundreds and even thousands of applicants from all parts of Abu Dhabi visit them on a daily basis. Opening of new branches has become very essential. The TDC does not have enough staff for handling such a big number of cases and disputes," Mattar Al Darmaki, another national, pointed out.

While pointing out that there wasn't enough staff to handle the increasing number of cases, Khamees Al Husni, Head of Tenancy Disputes Section at the TDC, said, "Two branches will be established soon in Al Ain and the Western Region to put an end to the sufferings of applicants from those areas."


Schools gobble up significant amount of water, electricity

DUBAI — May 05:
Despite sustained campaigns by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to promote awareness about the saving water and electricity in the emirate, schools continue to consume a significant amount of water and electricity.

Though there is no specific statistics of the consumption levels, an official source conceded that schools, especially private schools located in huge campuses with hi-tech facilities, do consume a lot of water and electricity.

Abdullah Al Hajri, Senior Manager, Corporate Communication and Occupational Health and Safety, DEWA, told Khaleej Times, "The commercial facilities' consumption of electricity in 2006 was 42 per cent and private schools fall within these facilities. However, the consumption of electricity by miscellaneous institutions, part of which are government schools, was about seven per cent."

While the water consumed by commercial institutions in 2006 was 24.66 per cent the consumption by the other facilities was 10.92 per cent.  "As we may see from these statistics, schools consume a significant percentage of the total consumption of water and electricity in Dubai. That is why we deem it proper to target students in order to raise awareness among them and to encourage them to utilise the basic needs sparingly," noted Al Hajri.

He also observed that the reduction in consumption of resources by public facilities and departments led to a whopping Dh12 million saving. DEWA, in fact, launched a campaign, "Start with yourself and make a difference...our resources are a trust to be kept," earlier this year to create awareness about the importance of preserving natural resources.

It has been organising lectures, conferences and other events in private and public schools right from kindergarten classes.

Interestingly, the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi and about 20 private and public schools in the emirate shut off their power for an hour on Earth Day recently to save electricity. Inspired by this gesture, many of the schools are now planning to do it on a regular basis.

Schools and DEWA staff emphasise the need to switch off air-conditioners and turn off water taps when they are not required. Aziz Akthar, principal of Our Own Indian School, Dubai, said, "We have an environment club and a number of students are members, hence environmentally conscious. The students in each class ensure ACs and lights are switched off when not required."

He added that he personally monitors the school's electricity and water bills and tries to nring them down every month.

Similarly, Sharjah Indian School regularly instructs its students to close taps when not in use.

However, consumption of water and electricity differed from one school to another depending on many factors, including the size of the school, the number of students and the quality of the equipment used.


Food packed in plastic could be risky: doctors

DUBAI — May 05: The plastic bottle that you have kept in your car for a frequent drink can make you real sick. If one goes by what the doctors say, plastic water bottles and foodstuff packed in plastic could be hazardous for your health.

With the use of plastic, reportedly very high in the region, the doctors say that people should actually avoid its use.

Commenting on the use of plastics, officials of the Dubai Municipality said they are currently studying the issue and would be arriving at some decision soon.

As Khalid Mohammed Sharif, assistant director of the Public Health Department and Head of Food Control Section and Public Health, said, "We are always keen to safeguard the health of the people of the emirate. Only recently we ordered several food companies to use a more healthier way of transporting food items. The municipality is presently studying and evaluating when it comes to plastic and we would arrive at some decision very soon," he said.

Doctors, however, feel the use of plastic should be checked. As K. Sukumaran, a doctor at Al Rafa Hospital said, "Plastic can be very dangerous for humans. Plastic consists of two chemical compounds, namely, phalates and bisphenol. Phalates are meant to give flexibility to plastic. This is carcinogenic by nature. It can also cause birth defects and infertility in the case of women. Bisphenol can cause enlargement of prostrate in males. There are other serious problems, too, like a decrease in sperm count and cancer," he said. "Plastic, when in contact with fat and heat releases dioxins which again are highly toxic to human cells. Many people pack food items in plastic packets. This carries the risk of cancer," he added.

"Plastic is toxic. We are particularly concerned about the labourers who pack food items in plastic bags. If kept for long, the food tends to get stale. The use of plastic needs to be stopped immediately," said Zohur Al Alam, paediatrician at Al Majid Clinic in Deira.

Most of the people have little or no idea about the ill effects of plastic. "I was also not very aware of the risks. But, in Dubai, we don't have much choice  because use of plastic packaging is significantly very high in this country," said Manish Sinha, an employee with Mashreq Bank. 

However, bottled water companies using plastic bottles claimed that they use plastic which is not dangerous and has been approved by local and international  health organisations.

Diego Bregenza, Commercial Manager of Jeema mineral water company, said, "Most of the major mineral water companies use plastic made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate).

This is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family that is produced by the chemical industry and is used in synthetic fibres, beverage, food and other liquid containers. The best thing about this is that it can always be recycled. Moreover, it is approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This is not harmful at all."


17 die in traffic accidents

ABU DHABI — May 05: At least one person lost his life every alternate day on Abu Dhabi roads during the last month, according to figures released by the traffic department.

Citing official statistics, Al Ittihad Arabic daily reported yesterday that among the total 17 fatalities across the emirate, 14 were in the capital city. The remaining three cases of death were reported from the western region.

As part of an intensive traffic awareness programme, scores of huge hoardings have been erected along the roads in the emirate, flashing up-to-date figures of road fatalities.  During the same period, over 300 casualties were also reported from various parts of the emirate, among which 50 were serious injuries.



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