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PIL says over Rs 650 crore due as stamp duty, Bombay HC seeks state reply

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 08 November 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday issued notice to the state government and called for its reply to a public interest litigation that highlights lack of stamp duty recovery in over 35,000 cases in three decades between 1970 and 2000. The PIL by RTI activist Sunil Kaushik points at lack of government action against defaulter including prominent builders, actors, leading companies, even the civic administration and state corporations.

The activist's lawyer Vedchetan Patil said that the reports by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) between 2001-12 reveal stamp duty evasion of over Rs 675 crore over the years. Air India, The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, State financial corporation, oil companies and banks are among those who haven't paid stamp duty for over two decades for properties they purchased, said the PIL relying on data posted on the government deparment's website. Kaushik seeks a probe into the government's inaction.

The plea is also for digitisation of stamp duty records. It also said the losses to the state exchequer could be higher, even over Rs 5,000 crore, if pending cases and possible undervaluation is considered.

The registration and stamps department website showed most defaulters belonged to Borivli and Andheri areas.

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Petition in high court for proper safety arrangements at Kumbh Mela

MUMBAI: A petition has been filed in the Bombay high court by the Hindu Janajagruti Samit with regards to ensure that there are proper safety features at the grand Kumbh Mela which will be held in Nashik in July 2015. In the earlier Kumbh Mela held in 2003, 29 devotees had lost their lives while 118 were injured in a stampede.

Matter came up for hearing on November 7 before the bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Burgess Colabawalla. The bench ordered Central Government, State Government and Nashik Municipal Corporation to file their say in this regard. Next hearing will be held on December 15.

Due to lack of advanced preparations and pre-planning, the tragic stampede had occurred in 2003 at the Nashik venue. Nearly 50 lakh devotees had visited Kumbh Mela in 2003. This number may well be much higher in 2015, since the religious event is held only once in 12 years.

A press release of Hindu Janajagruti Samiti stated that for the advance preparation for Kumbh Mela in the year 2003, government had planned to acquire about 300 acres of land for the accommodating sages, saints, akhadas and devotees, and process to reserve the land around Nashik area for this purpose was in progress. However, only 58 acres of land could be acquired.

The Government has taken no action in this misappropriation nor initiated any steps to acquire the necessary land. While the administrative budget to conduct Kumbh Mela in the appropriate manner was for Rs 4,105 crores, not a single rupee was allotted by the union government,'' said a Samiti spokesperson.

He added that Hindu Janajagruti Samiti was forced to file petition in the high court in order to pressurize Central and State Governments to fulfill their responsibilities to ensure that Kumbh Mela is conducted properly.

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Dengue claims Mumbai’s 5th victim in 7 days

MUMBAI: The ravaging dengue crisis in the city claimed its fifth victim within a span of just seven days taking the death toll to 12. The latest casualty is a four-month-old child who died at Parel's KEM Hospital, which has emerged as a hotspot for the looming viral epidemic.

Kurla girl Samiya Shaikh's death was both intriguing and sudden, said KEM doctors. The toddler was rushed to the hospital with myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle), fever and breathing difficulty but none of the classical dengue symptoms. Her platelet or white blood cell count remained normal, giving away little that dengue could be at the root of her condition. Doctors still carried out the dengue rapid test which came positive.

Her breathing difficulty was attributed to a congenital heart condition. "It looked like a cardiac condition at the beginning but then she tested positive for dengue," said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, dean, KEM Hospital. The child was brought to the hospital's cardio-vascular thoracic surgery department on November 2 and was later shifted to the pediatric intensive care. She passed away early on Thursday. Doctors stated her cause of death as 'cardio-respiratory failure in a clinical case of dengue fever'.

Shaikh is the second child to die of dengue since Thursday when three-year-old Manasvi Devrukhakar from Andheri east also succumbed to the viral infection at the Holy Spirit Hospital. The civic authorities said that they were yet to access the complete medical records pertaining to Shaikh's case and therefore could not attribute her death to the city's dengue toll as yet. Shaikh's death though has brought the city's toll to that of 2013 when Mumbai's dengue menace became a national talking point.

A senior doctor from KEM Hospital said babies too should be adequately protected from mosquito bite as the immunity they get from their mothers may not be enough. "If a mother got dengue very recently, she as well as the baby may have antibodies. That may extend the child some immunity from that particular strain but not the other three strains that cause dengue," the doctor added.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met health authorities on Friday to review dengue prevention and control plans. BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte briefed Fadnavis about the efforts being taken by the city administration. The civic administration has the mammoth task of checking and fogging areas involving 10.50 lakh houses.

Fadnavis said awareness should be created by roping in celebrities and social media, besides radio and TV. A senior official who attended the meeting said the awareness campaign would mainly focus on replacing, removing or treating stagnant water with anti-mosquito sprays in and around the residential areas.

So far, 26 people have succumbed to dengue in the state. The disease has infected nearly 5,400 people across the state, including 2,700 people in corporation areas.

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Targeting entrenched Gujaratis in Mumbai not easy, netas only venting frustration

MUMBAI: "Wanna take part in Swacha Bharat abhiyan n start from mumbai!! Wanna start cleaning up all the Marathi hating gujjus from there once for all."

With this infamous tweet earlier this week, first-time MLA Nitesh Rane not only exposed himself as a political novice with bad grammar, he also took the regressive, rabble-rousing route that Marathi netas have taken whenever it suited them.

But Gujaratis in Mumbai are scarcely like the impoverished south Indians migrants of a few decades ago or the north Indians now who can be beaten into submission. Gujaratis have been associated with Mumbai from the beginning, they form the backbone of trade and commerce in the city, speak Marathi and finance many Marathi politicians.

"I wouldn't take these comments against Gujaratis too seriously. This is posturing to retain Marathi constituencies," said Suhas Palshikar, political science professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University.

Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray had attacked Gujaratis in the past, but they were weak attacks. "Otherwise, the attacks were always on south Indians and later, north Indians."

Of late, the attacks have been coming faster. The coincidence with a significant election year cannot be dismissed. A few months ago, Sena mouthpiece Saamna slammed Gujaratis for being opportunists who made their money in Mumbai and left the "original residents" impoverished.

MNS's Raj Thackeray said Maharashtra's Gujaratis did nothing during the Marathwada quake.

Nitesh's father Narayan Rane, a senior Congress leader, recently cautioned against key institutions being shifted out of Mumbai.

Morarji Desai had tried to isolate Mumbai and connect it with Gujarat, and the new PM would do so too, he added.

"Gujaratis are attacked as they are largely a community of traders and money lenders under whom many Maharashtrians work. A similar phenomenon was seen in Europe from the 13th to the 20th century with Jews, who were also a trading community," said Vibhuti Patel, head of economics at SNDT University.

The grudge that Maharashtrians bear Gujaratis is an old one. "The Shiv Sena refused to call former PM Morarji Desai anything other than Moru. When Bal Thackeray was asked to comment on him during his funeral, he said: 'He lived to be 100. That's all'," said historian and senior journalist Aroon Tikekar.

But after Narendra Modi and the BJP's victories at the Centre and state, many believe politicians trying to play the Marathi manoos card are on a sticky wicket. "A new generation of Maharashtrians knows that it will have to compete in the modern economy to succeed in life. The Marathi manoos card will not work for them," said Tikekar.

Patel believes Maharashtra's neo middle-class wants more than vada pav and zunka bhakhar. "Maharashtrians have long prided themselves on a spartan lifestyle and looked down on the ostentatious Gujaratis. But with upward mobility, they want just that. The BJP, backed by large industrialists, promises just such a life," she added.

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Maharashtra frees no-development zones with FSI of four

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra urban development department has taken the first step to throw open no-development zones in Mumbai, allowing 10-20 times the construction currently permitted.

The move has raised suspicions that it could be tailor-made for a clutch of builders. Several control large swathes of NDZs in Oshiwara, Malad and Powai, but are unable to utilize their development potential because of restrictions. Building activity has always been severely restricted on NDZs because of environmental concerns.

The UDD, through a notification, has proposed an FSI of four for developers wishing to construct exhibition-cum-convention centres and support services like hotels, food courts and convenience stores on plots of a minimum area of 25 acres. FSI is 0.2-0.4 at present on NDZs, mainly for ancillary services like golf clubs, amusement parks and IT parks.

The UDD notification was issued by the previous government a couple of weeks before the poll code of conduct came into force in September. But it was published a few days ago, leading many to believe that clearance has also been given by the new government. The UDD portfolio is with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

As per the notification, exhibition-cum-convention centres can be permitted on plots marked for residential and industrial purposes. It has invited the public to offer objections and suggestions before the government modifies the development control rules.

"At present, there is no world-class convention-cum-exhibition centre in Mumbai. The government permitted additional FSI for such a centre in the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport notified area, but there is no provision for granting additional FSI and other concessions elsewhere in Mumbai," says the notification, adding that the "government is satisfied" that the move is in "public interest". Currently, the Reliance Group is building a convention-cum-exhibition centre at the Bandra-Kurla Complex.

According to an estimate, around 40% of Greater Mumbai's 457 sq km land area is believed to comprise NDZs, which includes salt pan lands, Aarey Milk colony and areas around creeks and mangroves. In 2005, the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh publicly commented that reservations pertaining to NDZs are not sacrosanct. "No-development zone does not mean it is a never-development zone," he had said. Over the last decade, the government used its authority to convert large tracts of NDZ land into residential zones. One of the first to be "de-reserved" was a 20-acre lush green NDZ plot near Fantasy Land in Andheri (East); it was converted to residential zone plot.

Environmentalists say planning decisions need to be taken very carefully since decisions concerning the environment and public health have to be taken into account, especially in a city that has the lowest ratio of open spaces per 1,000 people. NDZs are vacant lands and thus are necessary for absorbing rainwater and re-circulating air.

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Dance trainer’s dog-bite selfie blows up into ‘rape’ allegation against him

MUMBAI: Merely sharing a selfie on a mobile messenger group has turned out to be nightmare for dance instructor Piyush Sen.

The well-known trainer, whose students have won several television dance shows, last Thursday shared a picture of his face with a bloody gash after his Saint Bernard accidentally bit him. Less than a week later, Sen got the shock of his life to find the same selfie, which he had shared only with his doctor and a closed group of friends, doing the rounds with the message that the injury was caused when he was caught trying to rape a student.

The message added that this was the third time something like this has happened to Sen.

By Thursday evening, the message was all over social networking sites and messenger groups. Over 700 parents, whose children learn dance at his various academies, had called him to check the veracity of the messages.

Sen, who was recuperating at a Kalyan hospital after getting 63 stitches on his face, had to plead with doctors to discharge him so he could go out and quell the rumours. By Friday evening, Piyush had personally met over 200 parents to tell them it was just a rumour.

"I was bombarded with calls on Wednesday," said Sen, who is on painkillers and speaks with difficulty. "Everybody wanted to know if I had committed the crime. I did not even understand what they were talking about until a parent came to meet me at the hospital and showed me the message."

Sen has filed a complaint with the Mahatma Phule police station in Kalyan, under whose jurisdiction his residence lies. Senior Inspector Dinesh Katke said, "We have started working on the complaint. We will seek the Cyber Cell's help and once they get to the bottom of things, we will register an offence."

While the perils of sharing intimate photos or text messages over phone are well known, this is one of those incidents where a simple act like seeking help in an emergency has been misused to malign a person. The incident occurred last Thursday night when Piyush accidentally stepped over Bravo, his two-year-old Saint Bernard, while walking towards the bathroom in the dark at his Kalyan home. "I didn't see him sleeping on the floor," said Sen, who shot to fame 15 years ago when he won the solo title in the dance show Boogie Woogie. "When I tripped, Bravo lunged and bit me on the face. I started bleeding and called up my doctor."

Sen also shot a selfie of his bloodied face and sent it to his doctor to check if he needed immediate medical attention. He also posted the picture on a Whatsapp group that has 30-odd members he knows from his dance classes.

Some friends came over and rushed Sen to a private hospital in Kalyan from where he was shifted to an Andheri hospital, where he was administered 63 stitches. He was then sent to the Kalyan hospital to recuperate. Unknown to him, the malicious message had started doing the rounds by then. Over the next six days, the message reached thousands of his students, their parents, school mates and even his friends in Bollywood.

"I was shocked to the core and insisted on getting discharged immediately," said Sen, sitting in his 5,000 sq feet dance academy in Kalyan. "Most people who know me have reposed faith in me, but there are those who are finding it difficult to believe that this is nothing but mischief. Several parents have approached me and said that if the allegations are proven they will stop sending their children. My reputation built over 16 years is at stake.

The stream of visitors at his home is never ending. As group after group of parents come visiting, Sen pops a painkiller and patiently explains the sequence of events.

"I have learned my lesson," said Sen, who graduated in IT engineering. "Social networking sites and chat applications may be great to communicate but it is also very important what you send out or say. I would appeal to others that they must very careful before posting anything personal as it can be misused."

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Dengue brings an entire family to hospital, robs others of support

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 07 November 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Dengue has left many families in the city crippled, as several members of the same family have been admitted to hospital at the same time. Among the worst hit is an eight-member family from Kalina, seven of whose members suffered from dengue and were admitted to a private hospital in Vakola between October 14 to 29.

The Sheikh family, which lives in a chawl in Kalina gaothan, described their fortnight-long experience as 'traumatic'.

Irfat Sheikh (44), said the first to fall ill was her sister's son Tehsin (30), who lives with her. "I would get severe headaches and a day before being admitted to hospital I felt like my head would burst. The pain was unbearable so I was taken to the hospital where tests indicated that I was positive for the dengue NSI antigen," Tehsin said.

Immediately the next day, his aunt Irfat fell ill with the same symptoms and was taken to hospital. She was followed in quick succession by her son and daughter who also had to be admitted. Next to be taken to hospital was Tehsin's sister Nafisa. The siblings live with Irfat and her children since their mother passed away.

Finally, Irfat's sister in law was the last victim. "As a family we were troubled. In fact we believe that many of the old homes in our area which are lying lie vacant could be breeding spots for the mosquitoes. I hope that the authorities step up their efforts to curb this menace," said Irfat's daughter Aqsa, who recently recovered from the disease.

The only person in the family left unscathed by the disease was Mansur Sheikh (65), Irfat's brother.

The Sheikhs are not alone. Two families from Khar were hit hard by the disease last month.

A 51-year-old man and his 58-year-old elder sister were admitted to a private nursing home in Khar after they tested positive for dengue. "It was around Diwali. Initially the throat pain did not feel severe, however the fever was very high and doctors asked me to take a blood test. I tested positive for dengue. The next day my sister started vomiting and had high fever. She too tested positive for dengue. We both ended up being admitted to the same hospital," said the man. They even had trouble initially finding a bed in any private hospital, as most of them were occupied.

He said the disease hit the family hard as he and his elder sister were the only support for other family members. Their father suffers from dementia and their mother too is very old. "Although we have a full-time maid at home, we would not otherwise be out of home for so long. While checking the premises for possible breeding spots all we could recollect was some water below the lift area, considering we had cleaned the place recently," he said.

Another family of four in Khar was hit by dengue as two of its members tested positive for the disease. The two 29-year-old women, who were diagnosed with dengue were reluctant to take admission in hospital, and their parents weren't amenable to the idea too, so they set up a temporary care facility at home, including intravenous drips. "Although my daughters have recovered now, we had a really anxious time. We got them treated at home itself," said the father of the two women.

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Most schools can’t afford to spend week on cleanup

MUMBAI: While schools across the city have welcomed the government's Bal Swachchta programme, most will not be able to follow the prescribed five-day plan as it would interfere with their celebrations and the academic calendar.

On November 5, the school state education department issued a letter to state board schools asking them to implement the Bal Swachchta programme between November 14 and 19. Schools have to undertake activities such as a clean-up drive, visit a health centre and a water purification centre, hold competitions on the theme of cleanliness, and make presentations on maintaining personal hygiene, keeping toilets clean and the importance of clean food.

Schools said emphasizing on cleanliness is a good idea, but they may not be able to spend an entire week on it. "We like the idea that the government wants to inculcate the virtue of cleanliness among children and wants them to learn through site visits, but it might not be practically possible to implement all the guidelines suggested," said Rajesh Pandya, teacher, Fatima Devi High School, Malad. He added that students might miss out on class work due to the week-long celebration. "We will not be able to involve all the children and hence those who are part of the activities will miss out on what is taught in class."

Some teachers, though, said the government is trying to leave an impression on young minds through these activities. "Activities such as personal hygiene and cleanliness have always been a part of school activities. By taking an initiative and sending circulars, the government wants to create a good image for the future vote bank," said a teacher of a Dadar school. Many are yet to receive the circular as they are on a Diwali vacation.

Principals said schools should be given the freedom to celebrate important days in their own way. "The situation in rural and city schools is very different from each other so blanket orders for all schools don't work well. Schools best know the issues that are important for them and must be allowed to decide on their own," said Prashant Redij, principal, Hilda Castelino High School, Kandivli.

Schools affiliated to CBSE and CISCE are yet to get any instructions. "We haven't received any circular yet but we have already planned that the teachers will put up a performance for students," said Avnita Bir, principal, R N Podar School.

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Builder held for duping 425 people in Kalyan

KALYAN: The Mahatma Phule police in Kalyan have arrested a builder who duped more than 425 people and swindle Rs 4.25 crore from them by booking flats in Ambernath. The builder who had promised to handover possession by Diwali, shut offices in Kalyan and disappeared one day before the diwali.

The police said arrested builder Rakesh Singh along with some more partners were running firm named Akruti builders and Developers in Kalyan and hunt for other partners is also on.

The cop have also sent notices to four nationalised banks to freeze company's bank accounts so the money cannot be withdrawn. The police said Akruti builders and developer's office was situated near Oakbuag area in Kalyan. For the past two years builder were showing some sample flats constructed by them to people in Nevali Naka situated in Ambernath Taluka and were taking money from them with promise to give them possession by end of Diwali festival however when people found office was shut after Diwali on Monday around 325 people approached to local Mahatma Phule police and lodge case with them. However till Tuesday the numbers of cheated people reached up to 425.

Deepak Katke, senior police inspector of Mahatma Phule police station said, "We are also probing role of gram panchayat as primary probe suggest that entire project was illegal and land belongs to the gram panchayat".

Police are also checking if it's officials were involved in to scam.

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BMC yet to get reports of dengue’s latest casualty

MUMBAI: ManasviMangeshDevrukhakar, the three-year-old girl from Andheri, who died of dengue on Thursday, is yet to be confirmed as the city's latest dengue victim by the BMC.

She was taken to Holy Spirit Hospital on Wednesday and immediately transferred to the pediatric ICU. However, she passed away on Thursday afternoon. Tests done in the PICU established the dengue diagnosis, which was conveyed to the local BMC office late in the evening. However, BMC epidemiology officer Dr Mangala Gomare said her office had not received any report from the hospital despite personally calling up for information.

BMC's doctors say that dengue's sting has been worse this year because of the delayed winter—the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not breed or fare too well in cooler climates. This, combined with the fact that people allow fresh water accumulation, which helps these mosquitoes breed, has lengthened dengue's assault on Mumbai. BMC's ward offices are carrying out awareness programmes and holding rallies asking people to be aware about breeding in their potted and feng shui plants and balconies. In fact, a BMC survey of seven lakh houses each month has revealed 51% of the breeding spots are located in high rises, 10% in slums and remaining in slum-like or chawls.

On October 27, KEM Hospital resident doctor Shruti Khobragade died in Hinduja Hospital, while a civic official's husband, S Gaikwad, died in Nair Hospital on November 1. Shubham Tiwari (20) and new mother Nisha Chavan (26) passed away in KEM Hospital, Parel, and Dalvie Hospital, Peddar Road on Sunday and Monday respectively. Meanwhile, seven resident doctors from KEM Hospital who have been living on the campus have been hospitalized with the disease. One, Dr Vruj Dhruve, was transferred to Hinduja Hospital.

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