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Western Express Highway choked as work begins on Kherwadi flyover

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 23 Oktober 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Motorists complained of bumper-to-bumper traffic along the entire Western Express Highway on Wednesday as the city's development agency began work on the north-bound arm of the Kherwadi Junction flyover in Bandra (E). The traffic police faced a tough time clearing the jams along the highway, which connects Bandra to Dahisar.

Motorists can expect traffic snarls on the Western Express Highway for a few months.

The 580m southbound arm of the Kherwadi flyover was opened in June, easing traffic congestion between Kalanagar and Western Express Highway. "The south-bound carriageway has led to a signal-free drive from Dahisar to Worli," said an official of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Nearly 5,000 vehicles cross Kherwadi junction during peak hour per hour every day.

"The 580-m north-bound stretch will be completed by April 2015. The south-bound arm was completed in 225 days; we aim to finish the north-bound lane on schedule," said Dilip Kawathkar, joint project director, MMRDA. "The advantage in case of this arm is that the precast concrete girders for four of the five spans have already been casted at the Wadala casting yard. This arm comprises of a total 25 precast girders of which 20 are ready. The span at the junction is the biggest, and girders for this span will have to be casted at the project site."

Traffic has already been diverted to the 600m stretch on the service road on the west side of the highway. Besides, the traffic police will keep one lane of the south-bound arm open for north-bound traffic during peak hours.

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Parsi couples settling down get preference for flats: BPP

MUMBAI: Bombay high court has rejected the plea of Dahanu resident Rohinton Taraporewala for a house meant for the poor among Parsis in Andheri.

In his plea challenging the Bombay Parsi Punchayat's decision not to allot him a flat, Taraporevala said he preferred to be in Mumbai as he had high blood pressure, heart and prostate problems and diabetes while his wife suffered from depression and anxiety.

The punchayat countered him, saying he was "adequately housed" in a two-storey, 2,000-square-foot bungalow, was not a resident of Mumbai and "on his own showing lived at Dahanu, close to the Gujarat border". Further, it pointed out that Taraporewala's son and daughter were settled in the UK and the US with their families. The trustees said they had adopted the criteria after the high court in October 2009 allowed them to sell flats in two buildings on an ownership basis. Also, that preference was to be given to those who wanted to settle down after marriage.

In their order, a division bench of Justices S J Vazifdar and Revati Mohiti Dere noted that Taraporewala had an income far in excess of Rs 90,000 as well as assets worth a lot more than Rs 25 lakh. They said his application form for allotment of a flat itself discloses that he owns 17 acres of land outside Mumbai, which he has valued at Rs 51 lakh. "It is, in fact, doubtful if the land is worth only Rs 51 lakh. The fact that it is ancestral land makes no difference. The petitioner admittedly owns the same," the judges wrote.

They also noted that Taraporewala's income-tax returns indicated a net income of more than Rs 11 lakh for 2008-09. "The petitioner is, therefore, neither poor nor needy nor deserving for the allotment of a flat. The petitioner, therefore, is not entitled to an allotment as per the criteria," the court ruled.

The judges declined to hear Taraporewala's challenge to the trustees' decision to reserve 26 flats as a transit accommodation for the poor, needy and deserving Parsis whose flats are undergoing repairs. "Even assuming that the same is contrary to an order of the division bench of this court, we are not inclined to exercise our writ jurisdiction at the instance of the petitioner, who admittedly does not fulfil the criteria of a poor, needy and deserving Parsi,'' the judges concluded.

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Fewer test days will push aspirants to far-off CAT centres

MUMBAI: IIM aspirants who are appearing for the common admission test (CAT) in November said they got far-off centres this year as changes were introduced. CAT will be conducted on two days in four slots, unlike last year, when IIMs had a 20-day testing window and 40 slots. The organisers claim many students applying from urban centres had to be accommodated, causing minor inconvenience, but no requests for change of centres will be entertained.

CAT aspirants from engineering colleges affiliated to Mumbai University have to deal with another problem this year after slots are reduced. The seventh semester engineering exams start in the same week as CAT, adding to their woes. While the engineering exam for final year students will begin on November 21, two slots of CAT will be held on November 22. "Till last year, students could choose their slots to avoid clashes with university exams. This year, it was not possible as the exam will be conducted only on two days and the organisers have allotted slots to all," said Hemang Panchmatia, from a coaching institute in the western suburbs. Students are worried about coping with both examinations.

Last year, since there were more slots, IIMs conducted CAT at 45 testing centres countrywide. This year, there will be 357. Still, many students have ended up with far-off centres. Rakesh M, a chartered accountant, who is appearing for CAT, said, "I stay in Andheri but I got a centre in Thane. A friend who stays in Malad got a centre in Ulhasnagar. We have to report to the centre at 1pm for the exam at 3pm, for security reasons. We will be out since 11am and will be exhausted by the time we attempt the paper." A student from Vasai got a centre in Vidyavihar.

Another student pointed out that if the testing window stayed the same, they would have probably not suffered.

"Till last year, Prometric conducted the exams, so they were held at testing centres where they had tie-ups. This year, IIMs have given the contract to TCS, so testing sites will be chosen by them," said the candidate who appeared last year too. Though students are told to fill in their address in the application forms, the preference for centre is broad-based-students have to fill in major cities as options, such as Mumbai, Navi Mumbai or Pune.

Prof Rohit Kapoor from IIM-Indore and also convenor of the exams said no changes can be made to centre allotment now. "There have been minor problems at urban centres as more students are appearing. We had to accommodate all depending on the centres' capacity. We also had to accommodate students in four slots this time, which students were told about before," said Kapoor.

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Activists brace for Diwali cracker scare

MUMBAI: Come Diwali week and noise pollution in the city reaches a high. People complained on Wednesday about how the loud noise of firecrackers woke them up early morning. Activists said greater civic sense needs to prevail among people so that firecrackers do not disturb those who don't light them.

Serina Lopez, a resident of Hill Road, Bandra, said that on Tuesday night she was surprised to hear the sound of firecrackers, much before Diwali day. "I generally go out to feed stray dogs in the area from Bandra (West) to Matunga every night. On Tuesday, when I was near St Michael's Church, Mahim, I saw a group of boys who were bursting firecrackers like bombs. These scared the dogs so much that they were afraid to even come and eat what I was offering them. It's difficult to understand why people spend so much money over something that goes up in smoke."

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) would begin monitoring noise pollution from Thursday for three days. The board will monitor noise levels at 45 locations in Mumbai. Of them: 15 are in the island city, including Colaba, Mazgaon, Girgaum, Prabhadevi, Mahim and Parel; 15 are in the western suburbs, including Sahar, Santa Cruz, Vile Parle, Bandra, Goregoan and Juhu; and 15 are in the eastern suburbs, including Chembur and Wadala.

Colaba activist Kunti Oza said that on Wednesday, right from 6.30 am she could hear the noise of firecrackers near her home at Electric House. "I am sure more noise will follow. This is only the beginning. I have been sending Diwali greetings, asking people to light fewer firecrackers."

Anti-noise pollution activist Sumaira Abdullali said, "Complaining to the authorities does not prove to be fruitful because by the time they reach a spot, the offenders flee."

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Week after Nigerian teen was molested, cops register case

MUMBAI: Nearly a week after a 19-year-old Nigerian national was sexually assaulted by three youths in Nalasopara, the police on Wednesday registered a case of molestation against the unidentified youths, and have launched a manhunt for them.

According to the girl's complaint, around 7pm on October 16, the youths passed lewd remarks and touched her inappropriately as she and her mother were on their way home. The girl has, in her complaint, said that when her mother objected to the youths' behaviour, they assaulted her. The older woman managed to click a photo of one of the youths on her cellphone.

At Nalasopara police station, and even handed over the photo of one of the youths to them. The girl said that the women were turned away due to shortage of women police personnel who were deployed on poll duty who had been "deployed on election duty". A diary entry of the incident was made at the police station.

The girl, who has just finished her exams, approached the police again on Wednesday.

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Man cooks up fake don link to extort, held

MUMBAI: A four-day stint as cook was all it took this 24-year-old to gather enough information about his employer to extort from him. Hailing from Amravati district, Suraj (identified only by first name) was arrested from Buldhana on Wednesday for allegedly threatening his employer, a Charkop resident, by claiming to be from the underwold.

According to officials from the crime branch of Mumbai police, Suraj took up a cook's job at a household in Charkop, Malad (W), in August this year. Barely four days later, he had an altercation with his employer and left on a bitter note, said senior inspector Vinayak Vast. "In just four days, he learnt enough about his employer that soon after reaching Buldhana, he started making threat calls claiming to be a don's aide," said Vast.

After his employer lodged a complaint, the police traced his calls to Buldana district. "When he came to collect his first instalment in Buldhana, he was arrested," said a police officer, adding that Suraj had taken up employment at a hotel in Buldhana.

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BEST committee demands EOW probe into smartcard fraud

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 22 Oktober 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: BEST committee members have sought a probe by the city police's economic offences wing into the alleged misappropriation of crores in a "smartcard fraud" detected a few years ago.

Committee member Suhas Samant on Tuesday said the role of a few officials was under the scanner. "An inquiry was instituted against them, but no action has been taken," he said at the panel meeting on Tuesday. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said, "We are awaiting the inquiry report, based on which we can take action. But we haven't found any incriminating document, hence it will be premature to approach the cops," he said.

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Dedicated helpline for cable fires or powercuts during Diwali in Mumbai

MUMBAI: The power utility firms in the city have set up dedicated helplines in case there are cable fires or powercuts during Diwali.

Said a Tata Power spokesperson,"As part of contingency plan, consumers can reach us on 25774399 or 1800-209-5161 — dedicated helpline for reporting any fire or accident. Reliance Energy consumers can call on dedicated helpline 1800-200-3030."

The firms will have a special team patrolling during the weekend. "Also, all meter cabins will be checked by meter readers to avoid any cracker dumping," said a TPC official. "All fire extinguishers have been thoroughly checked and placed at all power supply sub-stations." A Reliance official said that citizens should not light crackers near electrical installations like meter cabins and junctions boxes.

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‘6-month breather for BJP if it wins trust vote’

MUMBAI: If BJP does not come forward to stake claim to form the government, governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao will have to invite it to do so on the ground that it is the single largest party, said a senior BJP leader, while explaining rules that give an idea of why, if at all, BJP may eschew Shiv Sena's support.

"As per convention, when Rao invites BJP—if he does so —he will give the party a timeframe to prove its majority on the floor of the House. Once the majority is proved (maybe with NCP's help), there is no question of anyone moving a no-confidence motion for the next six months," said the BJP leader. He pointed out that BJP secured 123 seats in the assembly elections, leaving it in need of the support of 22 more legislators to achieve clear majority. "We have received the backing of some independent legislators, but we are still short of the magic number."

Opinion in BJP is split over whether to build a coalition government with Shiv Sena or to take external support from Sharad Pawar's NCP, the senior leader said. "It won't be surprising if Sena asks BJP for deputy CM's post on the basis of the 1995 power-sharing formula between the two parties."

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Devendra Fadnavis to be CM next week; no deputy CM or big berths for Sena

NEW DELHI: BJP's Devendra Fadnavis is likely to take over as chief minister of Maharashtra on Monday, that is, immediately after Diwali, irrespective of whether Shiv Sena comes on board.

Sources said the central BJP leadership has decided to go ahead with government formation in the state without waiting for Sena to offer support because of the yawning gap between their estimate of the conditions on which Uddhav Thackeray may agree to support a BJP-led government, and what they could offer.

BJP feels that although it is short of the majority mark of 145 (with allies, it has 123 now), the deficit cannot be an impediment because the 41-member-strong NCP, after having extended unconditional support, is unlikely to oppose the trust vote. BJP has also reached out to Independents and smaller parties and reckons that 15 MLAs might agree to support a BJP government.

READ ALSO: Maharashtra govt formation: Uddhav blinks, to visit Delhi for talks with BJP top brass

As per Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha, which applies also to states, a government which clears the numbers test can be made to take another one only after a gap of six months.

BJP strategists feel this window will be big enough for it to find the missing numbers.

The presence of NDA appointee C Vidyasagar Rao in Raj Bhavan can only be a help, feel BJP tacticians.

BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis with supporters after party's victory in the Maharashtra Assembly election in Mumbai.

Sources said BJP, at least at this point in time, is in no mood to offer Sena the deputy chief ministership, the post of Speaker or any of the eight "heavyweight" portfolios and recognizes that its offer might fall way short of expectations.

BJP sources said the party would like to keep eight portfolios — home, finance, revenue, urban development, agriculture, irrigation, public health and public works — which will be crucial for its ambition to provide "good governance" but which have for decades been seen as "money-spinners".

Although there have been no formal power-sharing negotiations between the two sides, sources in BJP spoke of a stalemate in terms of attitude. They said Sena, which relished playing 'Big Brother' for 25 years, has not yet reconciled to the new reality where it cannot hope to have the upper hand any more.

BJP itself, which smarted under the humiliation of having been reduced to an adjunct to Matoshree, is now unsentimental about leveraging its superior numbers and just-acquired status as the dominant political formation in Maharashtra.

READ ALSO: Gadkari in race for Maharashtra CM's crown

BJP sources asserted that a rapprochement with Sena can only be on BJP's terms and ruled out the possibility of the party giving in to Sena's "gunboat politics."

Sources said BJP is giving the impression that it is engaged with Sena as it doesn't want to come across as being unreasonable. It also doesn't want to take the blame for failure of the political detente effort because it feels there is a constituency, a Hindutva-minded section, to be tapped even among Sena supporters.

The realization about the deadlock appears to have led BJP to plan for Fadnavis to be sworn in as CM by October 27. BJP's decision to act only after Diwali is also clear from the postponement of the Mumbai visit of Union home minister Rajnath Singh and BJP general secretary J P Nadda, who have been appointed observers for the meeting of the party's legislature group where Fadnavis is likely to be "unanimously" elected the leader. Singh and Nadda were set to leave for Mumbai on Tuesday.

Another indicator of BJP's decision to sit tight until Diwali came when the party leadership sanctioned "leave" to Om Prakash Mathur and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the party observers who were stationed in Mumbai all through the poll campaign.

Meanwhile, agencies quoted Om Mathur as saying on Tuesday that BJP was the new "big brother" in the state and others should not think themselves bigger when "the people's verdict is otherwise".

Union minister and senior party leader Arun Jaitley told a TV channel on Tuesday, "We have two proposals at hand. Sena has been a natural ally, NCP has announced unconditional support... For BJP and Sena to become allies in the Maharashtra government could be a matter of course but if there is some difficulty that arises, you also have the unconditional offer as far as NCP is concerned."

He said there has been "not much" talk with Sena but said the parties are still together at the central level as well as in the Mumbai civic body. "Surely, in two out of the three tiers of government, we are allies... the fact that we are congratulating each other itself is a signal," he said.

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