Every breath you take

Every breath you take may not be cleaner than the air outside. With the issue of air pollution making the news every day, are we really safe in the confines of our homes?

As you step out in the morning on your way to work, you can’t help, but notice the thick blanket of smog over the city. You rush to work so you can get into the safety of your air-conditioned office. But is the air in your office any better?

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Delhi and Cairo have the worst PM10 pollution levels out of the world’s megacities. The study further reveals that indoor air pollution contributes between 22 and 52 percent to the overall pollution levels.

Barun Aggarwal, CEO, Breathe Easy Consultants, opines that while the composition of indoor air is different from outside air quality, it can be equally harmful. “Air pollution is dynamic. In India, Particulate Matter (PM) is extremely high in most cities. And since most of us spend almost 90 percent of our time indoors (office, schools, home), the risk of getting exposed to it is high.”

A WHO study states that air pollution is responsible for the deaths of seven million people worldwide each year; most of them residing in Asia and Africa. Of the seven million, 3.8 million were from indoor air pollution ( due to cook stoves), which is a huge problem in India.

Indoor quality is determined by Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), bio-aerosols and nitrous oxides (cooking gas), and is also influenced by pollution caused by vehicles and industrial plants. Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) air pollution programme explains, “The main culprits are VOCs that may be released by various sources including paints, glues, resins, polishing materials, and furnishings as well as a lack of proper ventilation and breeding of moulds. Hence, it is important to pay attention to the materials we use indoors since the ability to avoid pollution here is in our hands.”

The Centre introduced several measures and programmes to improve air quality indoors.

One such initiative was providing around 37 million poor women with free gas connections to encourage them to switch from coal/dung-fired clay ovens to cooking gas. However, in an urban setting, it is not just cooking that we need to worry about.

Rajat Malhotra, COO for IFM in West Asia and head of JLL points out, “CO2 levels in our bedrooms are more than six times the CO2 levels outside. Air quality within our office/ workspaces and rooms is much unhealthier. Till the WHO report was published, we were kept blinkered and blindfolded for so many years. Today, people want to know what is happening.” However, Roychowdhury asserts that built-in design intervention in buildings is a critical aspect.

“It is essential to pay a lot more attention to the architectural and building design, and it should become a part of the building by-laws to ensure that they meet the health indicators associated with the indoor air quality,” she explains, adding that despite guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board, there is still no active implementation.

On the same note, Sujatha Ganapathy, VC – WELL AP, Knight Frank India, concludes, “At the government level, better transportation and construction methods will help control pollution levels. That means using low VOC content in buildings, and reducing the creation of dust in constructions, which is classified as PM10 and can cause a wide range of health problems including respiratory illnesses.”

Solutions:Use a dehumidifier and/ or air conditioner to reduce moisture;

Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests;

Minimise air freshener use;

Ensure that exhaust fans are functional in your bathrooms andkitchen;

Avoid scented candles;

Keep plants indoors, which can significantly reduce indoor air pollution;

Using LPG instead of biomass fuel for cooking can significantly reduce the level of indoor

Deborah Pereira, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

Five décor mistakes to avoid – 360 Property Management

Five décor mistakes to avoid


1. Matching-matching

Matching your décor with your accessories gives it a well-rounded look, but do not go overboard. Break the pattern or add an accent colour. If you are planning to opt for a nude colour palette, add colours that pop by incorporating colourful cushions or a solid colour carpet or even a few vases.

2. Over accessorising

Do not go overboard with the accessories and use only those you need. Too many elements in the house can make it look cluttered and eat into your space.

3. Fake greenery

Fake flowers and plants don’t add much to the room. They accumulate dust and aren’t as aesthetically-pleasing as real flowers. Instead, opt for real flowers and plants as they make your space look alive, provide a lingering fragrance and help purify the air. You can also incorporate a fruit bowl as the center-piece on your table. The natural colours add life to the table and you will always have a healthy snack at hand at all times.

4. Lacking personality

Not adding enough elements to personalise your home may end up making it look like an apartment. The home may also lack the welcoming and homely vibe. Add a few pictures, display your awards, paintings or wall hangings that you may have taken up as a hobby, or show off your guitar in a corner. The point here is to not be perfect, but make your imperfections a part of your home.

5. Pushed to the wall

This is a common setup that can be observed in an ideal Indian home. Give that a break; arrange the furniture in a different way; move your couch and chair to the centre and add a rug beneath it, thus creating a seating area for conversations. Opt for a table, which is the same height as your couch and place it behind the couch; now you have an additional table-top, which also hides the back of your couch.

Pooja Mahimkar, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai

All you need to know about Single emergency helpline number ‘112’

Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

Single emergency helpline number '112' launched: All you need to know

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Single emergency helpline number ‘112’ launched: All you need to know

India is finally getting its single emergency helpline number. The number is similar to ‘911’ in the United States. Launching the helpline number, the home minister Rajnath Singh said, “The helpline number ‘112’ will be activated across the country by next year and anyone in distress can reach the helpline by pressing a single key on phones which will be pre-programmed.”

Here’s all you need to know about the single-emergency number …

'112' is pan-India single emergency helpline number

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‘112’ is pan-India single emergency helpline number

The ‘112’ emergency number has been launched under Emergency Response Support System (ERSS).

The '112' emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

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The ‘112’ emergency number will connect to Police, Fire, and Women helplines (for now)

The ‘112’ number is an integration of Police (100), Fire (101) and Women (1090) helpline numbers. The aim is to provide all these emergency services through a single number.

The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

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The Health helpline (108) will be integrated with it soon

According to officials, the Health helpline number ‘108’ will be integrated with this soon.

This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

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This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers

With the new single-emergency number in place, citizens will no longer have to remember multiple helpline numbers.

The '112' number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

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The ‘112’ number has been launched today in 16 states and union territories

The emergency number ‘112’ has been launched in 16 states and union territories. These include Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman, Dadar Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Jammu and Kashmir.

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How it works

To access the ‘112’ emergency services, a person can dial the number on a phone or press the power button three times quickly to send a panic call to the Emergency Response Centre (ERC).

Long press '5' or '9' on feature phones

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Long press ‘5’ or ‘9’ on feature phones

In case of feature phone, a long press on ‘5’ or ‘9’ keys too will activate the panic call function.

'112' helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

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‘112’ helpline has already been launched in Himachal Pradesh and Nagaland

Himachal Pradesh became the first state to launch the emergency number ‘112’ in November 2018.

The emergency number will be gradually rolled out across the country.

A century-old residence gets a makeover in Chennai

Art of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon DaruwalaArt of fine living The original porch was given a glamorous touch (above and left) while the living room turned more vibrant (right). The library (extreme right) began to let in more light and look trendier. Photos: Pallon Daruwala

A century-old residence gets a makeover, yet retains its glory at the hands of architect Husna Rahaman who deftly plays with hues and patterns. By Nandhini Sundar

When faced with a century-old residence or even one that is half the age, the immediate reaction is to demolish and develop the site or build a fabulous contemporary dwelling, money and space permitting. Restoring such a building to its former glory is beyond the radar, especially given the economics behind such an initiative. The state of the structure and the lifestyle the interior facilities offer, further promote this inclination.

Old living room

Old living room

Yet, one such stately colonial residence came up, not for being rebuilt, but for restoration, keeping intact the fibre of the structure while infusing just the right level of contemporary comforts.

When architect Husna Rahaman of Fulcrum Studio was given the century-old sprawling 7,000 sq. ft colonial home for restoration, the structure essentially a no-nonsense load-bearing piece of engineering that cannot be tampered with on whim, she realised that strategic alterations, if any, could happen only where absolutely necessary.

New-look living area

New-look living area

The entire restoration thus occurred on a delicate balance of reverence and relevance, the regal aura retained while the modern functional quotient was brought in where relevant.

Profusion of hues, patterns

In tune with the era it related to, the residence came with its accompanying hues and patterns that literally saturated the spaces, the patterned antique floor and wall tiles engulfing the ambience. Without shunning this past grandeur, Rahaman set about managing deftly the play of hues and patterns where they would enchant and refresh, without submerging the senses.

Porch after restoration

Porch after restoration

“It was literally a riot of colours and this base was used as a spring board to complement the residence where it is not eliminated but used to balance”, she explains. Keeping this intent in perspective, an elegant network of wood verticals and horizontals were brought in to frame the length and breadth of the expansive living area. A new set of chandeliers were added, yet the design of these were kept deliberately colonial in keeping with the structure.

The rich flooring was retained, along with the porcelain tile dadoing on the walls, both in the living area as well as rest of the residence. A refreshing contemporary twist was brought into the space by introducing metal motifs on the walls, the motifs reflecting the existing patterns. While the walls and ceiling continue to accommodate the wooden columns and beams, a reminder of the colonial past, the contemporary flavour wafts into the spaces through concealed lights and metal motifs.

Contemporary upgrade

The living area reveals the presence of two groups of furniture, each connected by a large back-to-back sofa cluster. The unusual blend of materials and styles seen in the living area and carried methodically into the rest of the residence, where luxury is paired with minimalism and exquisite Indian crafts tie in seamlessly with streamlined forms, reveals a reverential contemporary upgrade of a glorious past.

Lovely library

Lovely library

While the strong imperial character of the structure has been reverentially retained, the spaces have been infused with warmth to address the home it ultimately is. This has been successfully achieved through application of soft roses on the walls, neutral colours with subtle pops of colour in the rugs, strips of wallpaper and cushions in shades of pink and orange.

Likewise, the spatial poetry of the house, an element lacking in modern crowded structures, has been preserved to integrate the multiple rooms, where the past meets the present, opening the spaces to surreal vistas.

Infusing metal

Given the era of the residence, metal does not figure in its construction. Yet, a contemporary twist has been brought in by infusing metal craftily into the stately space, lightening the palette. The floral medallion in the living area serves as a symbolic confluence of the metallic motifs used in the rest of the residence. Metal also features as an artistic railing for the staircase, replacing the previous cement and brick staircase. The terrace further reveals a stunning dark grey metal gazebo to unwind and relax, besides serving as an entertainment zone when need arises.

Sun room

The first level of the building came with narrow spaces, yet the interiors were filled with abundant natural light. Rahaman decided to capture this effectively to create a sunny library. “The room came with its quota of colours and patterns like the rest of the house and the space was converted into a turquoise library with a western exposure by merely introducing rugs into the space.”

The ‘sun room’ reveals rugs in intense hues of ochre and turquoise blue, soaked in geometric patterns where they define the floor, with the turquoise blue and wood verticals on the walls complementing the same. Vibrant in conception, the space greets with a burst of exuberance, the twin daybeds created between the columns further enhancing with their presence.

Source The Hindu

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

Lower GST will lead to greater alignment in real estate: SBI Chairman

A lowering of goods and services tax for under-construction houses would bring about greater alignment in the real estate sector, said SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar.

In an exclusive interview with ETNow, the SBI chief said: “GST on non-affordable housing rate may fall to 5 percent and that of affordable housing to 3 percent. The move will bring alignment in the real estate sector.”

His remarks come against the backdrop of a panel, headed by Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, favoring a cut in GST on under-construction residential properties to 5 percent, from 12 percent currently. In its first meeting, the group of ministers (GoM) also pitched for slashing GST on affordable housing from 8 percent to 3 percent.

The GoM was set up last month to examine tax rates and issues and challenges being faced by the real estate sector under the GST regime.

The Chairman of the largest state-owned bank hoped that any such decision by the GST Council in its next meeting will lead to faster clearance of houses.

A build-up in inventory and subdued prices have long been a pain for the realty industry. Reflecting the state of affairs, industry body Credai said people are postponing their decisions to buy under-construction flats because of high GST rate of 12 percent and 8 percent on affordable homes.

About RBI’s recent surprise policy move to slash benchmark lending rate in a bid to boost lending and lift economic growth, Kumar said the benefit will be passed on to borrowers “if our marginal cost of funding comes down”.

Bankers are reluctant to pass on all of 25 basis point rate cut because of loads of bad loans and the high cost of deposits, according to Reuters. For the banks, any cut in loan rates will have to be accompanied by a corresponding fall in deposit rates, which is linked to a significant improvement in cash conditions.

Banks price their benchmark loan rates, known as the marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR), mainly based on the cost of deposits.

Source: Economic Times