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PMO prods Centre to scan 17 irrigation projects in state

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Pushed by the Prime Minister's Office, the Union water resources ministry wants the Maharashtra government to account for 17 irrigation projects worth over Rs 28,000 crore "immediately'' . These projects are partly funded by the Centre. Sources said the PMO had taken an "extremely serious'' view, considering that many of these projects are located in distressed and droughtprone regions of Maharashtra.

High-level sources said the Centre has sent a letter to all the five irrigation corporations of the state, seeking details of the projects, names of contractors and the status of the work. The Gosikhurd National Irrigation Project in Vidarbha, whose cost shot up from Rs 372 crore to Rs 7,777 crore, will also be scrutinized. "The Centre's directive is unusual because this is the first time it has sought such in-depth information,'' they said.

TOI has also learned that a Central Vigilance Commission team collected data from the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation HQ in Nagpur a few days ago. Sources said the CVC's inquiry could be a precursor to a much larger CBI probe in the future.

The move is the latest fallout of the mega irrigation scam, exposed through a series of TOIreports over the past six months. The exposes led to the resignation , last month, of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who headed the state water resources department between 1999 and 2010. TOI's investigations revealed that as much as Rs 35,000 crore could have been siphoned off by a politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus on dud irrigation projects.

The Central Water Commission has asked for information on contracts, expenses and irrigation potential created under the acclerated irrigation benefit programme (AIBP).

Money down the drain? PMO Pushes For Info On:

Gosikhurd | Bawanthadi | Lower Wardha | Khadakpurna | Bembla | Lower Pedhi | Upper Penganga | Lower Dudhana | Nandur Madhmeshwar | Warna | Sangola branch canal | Tarali | Dhom Balakwadi | Krishna Koyna lift | Waghur | Punad | Tillari

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Soon, hsg plan for Thane dist slumdwellers

THANE: Thousands of families living in over one lakh slum tenements and chawls built prior to 1995 in Thane, can expect a rehabilitation plan soon after chief secretary Jayantkumar Banthia on Monday directed officials here to prepare a road map for their housing under an ambitious rehabilitation programme within a month.

The chief secretary held a meeting of Thane collector and municipal commissioners in the district at Mantralaya on Monday to discuss a strategy to deal with the long-pending issue. In the absence of a clear strategy, the issue has turned vexed as the once illegal buildings, chawls and slum colonies are in a dilapidated state and pose a serious threat to life.

Banthia was briefed about the drive initiated by the municipal corporations and councils in Thane district to pull down the illegal structures which have come up post-1995. Officials said more than 1.01 lakh homes built on state-owned plots or private land were regularized in accordance with the state's cut-off date of January 1995. Post 1995, as many as 1.25 lakh structures are said to have mushroomed with the highest encroachments on lands belonging to the state government and on MIDC plots.

Statistics show that the district administration has failed to ensure that their plots remain free of encroachments as over 41,000 illegal structures are occupying state land across Thane district. The MIDC plots have recorded illegal structures in excess of 34,000 as of today. Unless, there is a concrete plan to rehabilate the regular structure and pull down the illegal shanties or chawls the problem will continue to rear its head time and again,'' an official said.

The district administration and the corporation here had initiated a major demolition drive last year, but the drive lost its steam due to interference from political parties as also voluntary organizations who pointed out to the plight of the families who would dishoused.

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Explosion in Vasai factory kills three

MUMBAI: Three persons were killed and two others injured in an explosion at an industrial unit in Vasai on Tuesday.

The unit's owner and manager have been booked, but no arrests have been made yet. The incident took place around 7.45am when five labourers were waiting outside the unit for their supervisor to arrive. The unit, Nakoda Extrusion, hadn't opened for work as the supervisor only arrives by 8 am. It is an aluminium profiles manufacturing unit, located at Sheetal Swapna Industrial Estate.

"As part of the manufacturing process, material has to be heated upto 200 degrees in large boilers inside the unit. So, for three nights a week, the boilers are kept running overnight. This was done on Monday night. It appears that the pressure in the boilers increased and led to the explosion," said a senior police official from Thane rural.

There was a deafening sound and the five labourers were flung to a distance due to the impact.

Two of the labourers, Sudhir Yadav (33) and Nirmal (34), died on the spot, while the third worker, Kanhaiya (30), succumbed to his injuries. Their bodies were sent for an autopsy.

Two other labourers, Praful and Kailash, suffered injuries. While Praful suffered leg fractures, Kailash sustained injuries to his eye. The police are probing the exact cause of the incident. A probe is also being conducted as to whether LPG gas cylinders were being illegally used.

"No fire fighting equipment was installed in the unit. We have registered a case under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), section 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), section 338 (causing grievous hurt) of the IPC. The owner, Jeevan Jain, and the unit manager, Jeetu Chanchad, have been booked," an official said.

Senior officials from the Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health ( DISH), Vasai, visited the site on Tuesday.

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2 kids flee shelter, one found dead

NAVI MUMBAI: Even as the reputation of several shelters and orphanages in the state recently came under a cloud because of incidents of abuse, two boys were reported missing from a prominent street children's shelter in Koparkhairane.

The two boys-Manoj Kadam (11) and Akash Pawar (15) -had reportedly walked out of Mermier Bal Ashram in Sector 11, Koparkhairane, on October 17. Two days later, shockingly , Manoj's body was discovered in the creek at Vashi while Akash continues to remain missing.
The reason behind their sudden disappearance from the shelter remains a mystery.

Boy who died was at shelter for 7 years

When TOI contacted Mermier Bal Ashram, its officials confirmed that the boys went missing and Manoj was later found dead. "On our CCTV records, the boys were last seen walking out of the ashram on October 17. The two were not close friends so we don't know why they did this," said ashram administrator N Sawant.

Manoj, who was taken into the ashram as his mentally unbalanced mother could not take care of him, had been at the shelter for seven years, while Akash was there for nine. "Akash's parents were very poor and would camp at railway stations," said Sawant. "They were at Grant Road station, then at Malad and then Mira Road." The ashram, run by Jan Vikas Society, was founded in 2001 to shelter and educate poor street children. Now, it has 35 boys who go to day and night schools in the area.

The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Thane has initiated an official inquiry into the incidents . When asked if the boys were facing any problems in the shelter or had had a fight with other boys there, Sawant said: "Sometimes, the kids do have petty fights over minor issues like sharing pencils and crayons. But we don't know of any particular reason why these two kids went missing; the CWC is investigating that."

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HC throws out builders' plea against VAT levy

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday dismissed a bunch of petitions challenging the state government's decision to charge builders a 5% Value Added Tax on buildings that were under construction from June 20, 2006 to March 31, 2010. The ruling came a day before the October 31 deadline to pay the tax.

"There is no merit in the challenges," said a division bench of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice Rajesh Ketkar, while adding, "A wide degree of latitude was enjoyed by the legislature in tax matters." The court held that the composition scheme formulated by the state in two circulars of August and September 2012 were not against the Constitution.

Builders had challenged the state's decision on grounds that it discriminated between buildings built before and after 2010. As per the state's composition scheme, developers of buildings under construction from 2006 to 2010 should pay VAT at 5% of the Works Contract, which includes the cost of construction and excludes the land value, amount paid to subcontractor , service charges, etc. But for buildings under construction from April 2010, builders have to pay VAT of only 1% of the total agreement's value.

No respite for flat buyers

Flats sold in buildings under construction from June 20, 2006 to March 31, 2010 will attract VAT of 5% of the Works Contract Flats sold in buildings under construction from April 1, 2010 will attract VAT of 1% of the agreement value Builders must pay VAT on the 2006-10 flats by today or pay annual 15% penalty Builders say they will pass on cost to buyers
'Assessing officer can decide on contract type'

Buyers who purchased flats that were under construction from 2006 to 2010 are seeing builders pass on the costs to them. There have been reports of builders demanding that flat buyers deposit the money with them or face a penalty. While the builders are supposed to pay VAT of 5% on just the Works Contract, experts say that flat buyers are being charged 5% on the total agreement of the flat.

The VAT applies only to under construction buildings and not those that were ready with Occupation Certificates when flats were sold.

The builders were led by the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry-Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (MCHI-Credai ) and Pune-based Marathi Bandkam. The court said that it was "far-fetched" to assume that the government had applied the April 2010 date inadvertently. The court ruled that the state had the right to frame a scheme and determine the cutoff date for bringing it into effect.

However, the court held out a ray of hope by saying the order would not come in the way of the state taking any decision to hear the pleas of developers who wanted the post-April 2010 scheme made applicable to buildings under construction from 2006 to 2010.

The court also said that, if the builder raised the issue, the assessing officer (sales tax) could decide on whether a particular type of development contract was not a Works Contract. VAT would not be applicable if it was not a Works Contract.

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Special cell to keep tabs on irrigation projects in state

MUMBAI: In a letter issued to water resources secretary E B Patil early this month, the Central Water Commission, which comes under the Union water resources ministry, has asked the Mahrashtra government for information about all contracts over Rs one crore linked to these 17 projects across the state.

Sources said that the Centre has formed a cell consisting ten officers of the Central Water Commission and recommended a senior CVC official to monitor irrigation projects in the state. "The mandate of the cell will not be just restricted to performance audit, but also to inquire and investigate into various irregularities. The factual position of these projects will decide the course of future funding from the centre,'' said sources.

The Union government has already suspended financial aid for state irrigation projects under the accelerated irriga-tion benefit programme (AIBP). The Centre's contribution is believed to be over Rs 2,000 crore annually for Maharashtra . The AIBP scheme, commenced in 1996, provides 25% of the project cost. This aid is primarily meant for projects stalled for want of funds. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited Vidarbha region in 2006 and announced a special grant of Rs 2,177 crore to complete major, medium and minor irrigation projects in the next three years. This aid was to mitigate the distressed farmers. However, these projects are still incomplete.

A special performance audit of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), submitted to the state assembly early this year, stated that of the 27 selected projects in six districts of Vidarbha, the distribution network including canal works and field channel works, were not started at all.

"Due to non-acquisition of land, forest clearance, non-rehabilitation of PAPs and non-completion of the projects already taken up within stipulated period of three years, the objective of the PM's package was not achieved. It also resulted in a cost overrun of Rs 415 crore up to March 2009, which further increased to Rs 811.89 crore by November 2011,'' said the CAG report.

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Irked by delays, PMO pushes state on elevated rail corridor

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 30 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

In a rare intervention, the Prime Minister's Office has stepped in to push through a vital project meant to decongest the city's suburban rail traffic after differences between the state government and Western Railway ensured that the plan remained on paper even five years after being conceived.

Sources said the PMO has made clear its dissatisfaction over the delay in signing the support agreement by which the two sides would enter into a formal arrangement to implement the 63-km Oval Maidan-Virar elevated corridor project. It has asked the state government to resolve the differences and ink the deal on or before November 15.

While WR will execute the Rs 21,000-crore project, the state government will need to assist it in acquisition of land, relief and rehabilitation of the project affected people, temporary diversion of roads, and deciding on the extent of commercial utilization (allot additional FSI) of stations and certain other railway-owned land parcels to raise funds for the project.

The PMO's intervention seems to have worked. The state government has set up a high-level committee to finalize the agreement draft submitted by WR and sought opinion from other stakeholders. The sources said CM Prithviraj Chavan is monitoring progress.

It is believed that senior railway officials approached the PMO as talks between WR and state officials were stalling. Planning Commission member Gajendra Haldea accompanied railway board chairman Vinay Mittal for the latest round of meeting on October 15 and, sources said, sought an explanation on the delays. When state functionaries spoke about their concerns, the sources said Haldea shot back, citing instances of similar agreements in two dozen port and road construction projects.

WR officials blame the bureaucracy for the delay. On July 24, T C Benjamin, then additional chief secretary of the urban development (UD) department, had assured that the agreement would be inked in 15 days. Three months later, there's no sign of it, point out railway officials. The UD department is now headed by principal secretary Manu Kumar Shrivastava.

On the other hand, UD officials say the project is not progressing due to a lack of clarity from WR on the financial model and the relief and rehabilitation plan. They claim that a detailed financial model is yet to be submitted though WR has sought commercial exploitation to the tune of 1.30 lakh sq m along the route to fund the project.

"They (railways) are demanding an FSI of 5 to exploit certain land parcels. How can such blanket permissions be granted without the financial feasibility being in place?" asked a state official.

WR officials argue that such a model cannot be devised until the state's FSI is clear. "The standard practice is to finalize such a model after the support agreement," a WR official said, adding that while Chavan was pushing the project, UD and MMRDA officials were posing hurdles.

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RTE confusion delays school admissions

MUMBAI: Pre-primary admission to non-state board schools in the city that usually start in the end of October or beginning of November has been postponed at least till December over continuing confusion on the latest amendment to the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

"There are confusing and contradicting views and we are not sure how or when to conduct our admission session. We have yet to decide the admisson dates as we are hoping for some clarity soon," said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal of Jamnabai Narsee School in Juhu.

In April 2012, the Supreme Court said all schools, except unaided minority ones, had to keep aside 25% seats at entry level (pre-primary or class I) for children from socially/economically backward sections under the RTE Act. Later, an amendment to the law said only madarsas and Vedic pathshalas can skip reservation. All other schools (including unaided minority schools) will have to keep aside 25% seats during admissions for next year.

The Mumbai International Schools Association (MISA) in a recent meeting decided to postpone admissions to December this year and has blamed it on the lack of clarity on the RTE reservation clause.

"Though the government says the Act has been amended, it can't include minority institutions in the law's ambit as this will go against the constitutional rights given to every minority institution. However, for the time being, we have made an announcement on our school website that we will entertain admission queries only by the end of November," said Rohan Bhat, chairperson of Children's Academy group of schools.

Some schools will start only admission to siblings of current students and children of ex-students in November. "The final admission process will begin only in December since we are still not clear about the policy," said Kavita Aggarwal, principal of D G Khetan School in Malad.

The Private Unaided Schools Forum is seeking legal advice as well as the opinion of member schools. "In all probability, the forum is seeking legal intervention on this new amendment. We need to put an end to the confusion that has been looming over minority schools for the past three years now," said the principal of an ICSE school on condition of anonymity.

The education department, however, is very stern with this policy and is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the admissions for the next academic year go as per the RTE norms. "The ruling is very clear and has come from the central government. Schools will receive an official circular within the next couple of weeks," said Anil Kale, director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan.

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‘Bulbs in a bottle’ to light up Mumbai shanties

In 2002, Alfredo Moser, a mechanic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where power outages are a regular feature, realised that a plastic bottle full of water, when teemed with sunlight, could light up his dark atelier. For developing and under-developed nations of the world, the discovery of the bottle bulb, also known as the solar water bulb or water bulb, was nothing short of a 'eureka' moment.

MUMBAI: Ten years after the light was first thrown on the idea of the bottle bulb, the first batch of these 'lights' will be installed in Mumbai's slums. This week, students from the University of St Gallen, Switzerland , and St Xavier's College , Mumbai, will come together to plant the first seeds of an international grassroots movement in power-starved India.

In 2002, Alfredo Moser, a mechanic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where power outages are a regular feature, realised that a plastic bottle full of water, when teemed with sunlight, could light up his dark atelier. For developing and under-developed nations of the world, the discovery of the bottle bulb, also known as the solar water bulb or water bulb, was nothing short of a 'eureka' moment.

Without doubt one of the most cost-efficient and green ways to light up a space, the bottle bulb requires a one-litre plastic bottle full of water, bleach to keep the water from growing green and an adhesive of good quality. The bottle full of water should be stuck into the roof in a manner such that the top half of the bottle is exposed to the sun and the bottom half is in the room underneath . When the water in the bottle above catches the sun, it lights up the room underneath like a 55-watt bulb.

Moser's invention was taken up by his neighbours, but according to Geraldine Ludi of Liter of Light Switzerland, the idea's breakthrough came about only last year, when Illac Diaz installed the first bottles in the slum of Philippines.

"The Strategy International Management (SIM) students from the University St. Gallen heard about this idea and founded Liter of Light Switzerland (today Liter of Light Europe) in November 2011," she says. "The idea is to evolve a worldwide movement , spread the word about Liter of Light and illuminate millions of homes."

A Filipino entrepreneur, the work of Diaz, who spearheaded the campaign, caught the attention of four college students in Mumbai.

"A friend showed me a demonstration video and I, in turn, shared it with three other friends. We were all immediately taken in by it and decided to start work in Mumbai's slums. Our project is called 'Jal Jyoti: Lighting lives, One litre at a time' . We're really fortunate that Liter of Light Switzerland announced its decision to visit Mumbai around the same time we started our groundwork," explains Sanjna Malpani of Jal Jyoti.

Ludi says, "We see ourselves primarily as incubators, hence apart from installing bottles we work towards making the project self-sustaining . We do not want the project to crash when we leave; a local base is really important to establish a grass-roots movement."

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Oral care market growing on rising per capita consumption and premiumization

Namrata Singh, TNN | Oct 30, 2012, 04.57PM IST

MUMBAI: Per capita consumption appears to be rising, leading to high penetration levels for the toothpaste category in India. This has resulted in higher volume growths for leading players, Colgate-Palmolive (India) and Hindustan Unilever (HUL) in the second quarter ended September 30, 2012 (Q2FY13). What has further enhanced growth and premiumization in the category is creation of new segments like sensitive toothpastes and mouthwash.

As the trend is expected to continue, industry analysts expect more marketing battles in the oral care market with advertising spends rising on this count, going forward.

Despite some effect of CSD (canteen sales department) slowdown (contributing approximately 6% of sales), Colgate clocked 10% year-on-year (YoY) growth in overall volume in Q2FY13. While its toothpaste posted a 11% YoY growth in volumes, Colgate's strongest competitor in the toothpaste category, Hindustan Unilever's oral care portfolio grew in double digits YoY (largely volume led) backed by robust growth in Close Up (re-launched in Q1FY13) and the Pepsodent brands (driven by premium range). On the other hand, Dabur's toothpaste category growth at 10.2% YoY was moderate due to Company's realignment in focus from volume to margin play. This resulted in under performance of its discount brand Babool (contributing approximately 50% of Dabur's oral care revenues). Its premium segment (Meswak and Dabur Red toothpaste) posted good growth,'' said a report by Edelweiss Securities.

Volume growth would also remain robust riding rise in both penetration and per capita consumption. Also, new categories like sensitive toothpaste and mouthwash will further enhance growth and premiumization. However, higher competition will induce Colgate to increase its brand spends, which could cap its margins,'' said the Edelweiss report on Colgate-Palmolive.

Colgate is India's biggest oral care products company with more than 95% of its sales coming from this product category. Colgate is market leader in oral care category with around 54.5% market share in toothpaste category.

HUL, the second largest player, had taken certain marketing actions to get back to competitive growth with the re-launch of Close Up. However, a report by Motilal Oswal on HUL, said, more needs to be done in oral care''.

Another report by Motilal Oswal on Dabur India said oral care remains a concern.

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New non-monsoon time-table of Konkan Railway

MUMBAI: Konkan Railway was following the Monsoon Time-Table from June 15 to October 31, with a view to ensuring safety and punctuality as well as customer satisfaction. But, beginning November 1, Konkan Railway will switch to the non-monsoon time-table on its routes.

With the ending of rainy season, it has now been decided to introduce the new time-table for the Mail / Express and Passenger trains on Konkan Railway. The passengers who have purchased their tickets in advance for their journey on and after 01/11/2012 on Konkan Railway stations are requested to kindly re-confirm the Arrival-Departure timings of trains.

The new detailed timings can be viewed on Konkan Railway's official website www.konkanrailway.comor can be confirmed on the phone number 139.

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For the third time in a row, 'Deccan Odyssey' wins Asia's best luxury train award

MUMBAI: The Indian Maharaja- Deccan Odyssey has won the Asia's Best luxury Train Award at the 19th World Travel Awards in the category of 'Asia's Leading Luxury Train-2012'.

The Indian Maharaja won the same award in 2011 and 2010 as well, said a release issued by Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). "It had always been a close contest as the other contenders in the race were equally powerful. The nominees for the award included, Eastern & Oriental Express, Palace on Wheels, The Golden Chariot Train and The Viceroy of India," it added.

The week-long tour of The Indian Maharaja covers several exotic destinations in north western India, including the cities of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur, Aurangabad and Mumbai. The royal retreat at the train for passengers include, Library, Bar, Ayurvedic Massage Centre, Steam Bath, Gymnasium, Beauty Parluor, Business Centre, Special Suite for Physically challenged, Fully loaded mini pantry in each coach, Telephone in each saloon, Television in each coach, Plasma TV in Lounge Car, and Music Systems. The Indian Maharaja - Deccan Odyssey has 21 coaches out of which 11 are passenger cars with 4 coupes each. Additionally, there are 2 Presidential Suite Cars with 2 coupes per car. There are 2 restaurant cars, 1 lounge/bar car and a Spa Car.

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A month on, no trace of missing boy from Kandivli

Written By Unknown on Senin, 29 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Nineteen-year-old Sudhish Nair left his Mira Road home in the evening to play with friends on September 18. A month on, his parents are yet to hear from him.

Before disappearing, his status message on an instant messaging application was 'I quit' , claim his friends. Sudhish , a SYBCom student of Thakur College of Science and Commerce, Kandivli, did meet his friends that evening, but left his cellphone at home after removing the sim card.

His father, NK Kutty, who works as the executive assistant of an academician, said, "He did not show any signs of unhappiness. In fact, he would go out in the evenings to meet his friends regularly. That evening , he asked for extra money and his mother obliged. She raised an alarm when he did not return till night. We inquired with all his friends and even tried calling him. His phone remained unavailable for a long time. After searching his room, we found his mobile phone, but the sim card was missing."

The police complaint filed at Kashimira police station is yet to yield any result. Inquiries at college revealed nothing out of place. A police officer said, "We have spoken to all his friends. He changed the status message of an IM service to 'I quit' before he switched off his phone and left it at home. He apparently even deleted his Facebook account. He did not seem to be too depressed according to his friends. We are still looking for him."
He was last seen wearing a pair of blue jeans and a roundneck light grey t-shirt.

His college principal, Chaitaly Chakraborty, pointed out that Sudhish's disappearance came just days before exams and that he was irregular in attending classes as well. In case of any information on Sudhish, contact his father on 9869229977 or 022-29451431

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'30% cable TV connections yet to go digital'

MUMBAI: Cable operators dismissed the state government's claim that close to 90 % television connections in Mumbai had been digitalized . They said the actualfigureis around 70%.

Presidentof Cable Operators' Association Anil Parab said if the government stopped analog signals to the TVs of the remaining 30 % homesin thecity from November 1, there would be no channels to watch, which may lead to widespread anger on the streets , especially againsttheoperators .

Over 3,000cableoperatorsledby Parab reviewed TV digitalization at a meeting on Sunday with only three days to go for a 'blackout' of analog signals by the Centre in four metros of the country, including Mumbai . "Who will takethe responsibility of attackson operators ? Because of poor awareness about digitalization among the low-income group ,theconfusion over shareof operators and consumers in the paid channels , and the shortage of Set Top Boxes (STBs ), the switchover has been delayed ,"he said .

Parab demanded that the date of 'blackout' fixedfor analog signalson the midnight of October 31 st should be extended till midnight of December 31 so that in the new year only digital signals are allowed in the metro. "By that time we hope to achieve digitalization as cable operators are not opposed to it," he said.

Abhay Dudhale of Maharashtra Navnirman Cable Sena and Jagdish Joshi of Eastern Cable Operators Welfare Association demanded more time to bring transparency in revenue sharing and to achieve total digitalization. In the analog system the cable is directly attachedtotheTVto get you 100channels atRs 150to200 per monthbutwithout any interactivesystem .However ,in a digitalized system there are two types - direct to home (DTH) and Digital Access System (DAS ).

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Conserve & Grow: The challenge is to think fresh

Environment and the idea of environmentalism — both face serious challenges in India today. The demands of a surging economy require natural resources to be used and exploited at an unprecedented rate. In a populous and poor country, these new demands on resources - land, water and what lies underneath - have aggravated the contests between different stakeholders. Villagers who want to hold on to their lands and water sources are pitted against industries that require raw material. Many of these contests are taking a violent turn. Expanding cities are eating into agrarian land. Industrial hubs are becoming public health nightmares.

The forest and environmental clearances given by the Union government in recent decades are an indicator of the rate at which resources are being consumed. In the past 30 years, about 1.6 lakh hectare of forest land has been diverted for mining. Of this, about 48,537ha was diverted in the 11th fiveyear Plan alone — 30% of the total forest land diverted for mining.

While policymakers face the challenge of ensuring sustainable development , the idea of environmentalism itself is also in a state of flux. The era when the poor could be squashed between demands of industrial growth and imported ideas of conservation is over. A changed polity today has greater space for the most vulnerable communities to argue, fight if required, and demand their own collective and individual rights. The environment cannot be protected in the name of the poor anymore. The green movement today needs to find a way to ensure that the environment is not exploited in the name of the poor either.

Then there is also the greater challenge that links nations and communities across the globe - climate change. The warming of the atmosphere threatens everybody and makes poorer people more vulnerable. Countries need to take collective action to reduce emissions from fossil fuel burning. But India and its environmental movement will have to ensure that these actions do not come at the cost of a better life for the poor.

The strains and stresses of rising and highly varying consumption levels are now visible on natural habitats as well as on the poor. For them, more than anyone else, a healthy environment is a prerequisite for survival and livelihood. Clearly, people, communities and corporate houses need to abandon the fallacious debate of growth versus environment ; those who can find ways to marry the two for the benefit of the less privileged are the environmentalists this era requires.


In the 11th five-year Plan period, 276 thermal power plants of 2.2 lakh MW capacity, 203 steel plants of 132mn tonnes per annum capacity and 112 cement plants with capacity to produce an additional 202mn tonnes cement every year, have got environment clearance

8,734 projects have been granted forest clearance and 2 lakh hectares of forest land have been diverted

119 coal mining projects have got forest clearance during this period, diverting 31,500ha of forest land — the highest number cleared in any five-year Plan since 1981

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'Broadcasters to wait for fate of adult film'

MUMBAI: Both buyers and sellers of satellite rights of films are likely to get affected by the decision of broadcasters not to buy films with adult content.

Industry pundits feel that broadcasters will wait and watch when an adult film is released before making a procurement decision . This will affect producers, who will be unable to de-risk their projects prior to releasing them in theatres. Broadcasters, on the other hand, won't enjoy the pre-buying price advantage in the event of the film succeeding at the box office. They will end up competing with each other to buy films that are box office hits, further pushing up acquisition prices.

Jayantilal Gada of Zee said, "Both buyers and sellers will suffer as we will have to go back to the old model of buying after the theatrical release. The TV premiere of films will be pushed to 90 days after the release, stretching telecast windows." He added, "The price I paid for Desi Boyzand Jokerhad to be revised after their poor performance at the box office. We didn't have an inkling that DesiBoyzwould get an adult certificate. Joker, of course, had poor content."

Says Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, "Producers may need to stop producing even the occasional adult film altogether , or produce an adult film on a budget that is small enough to not require dependency on satellite revenues."

It may be recalled that the film industry had opposed the CBFC's stand on provisionally refusing to accept applications for the re-certification of A-films into U/A for television viewing. In September, the CBFC convened a meeting with the film industry where it was stated that the CBFC would not be a stumbling block in restricting re-certified films from being showing on television. Afilmmaker said, "CBFC had recommended the formation of a special panel to review specific films with adult themes."

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VC funding in wind sector gained momentum in Q3 2012, with deals amounting to $57 million in Q3 2012

Namrata Singh, TNN | Oct 29, 2012, 03.28PM IST

MUMBAI: Venture Capital (VC) funding in the wind sector amounted to $57 million in six deals in the third quarter of 2012 as compared to a weak second quarter where $17 million went into three deals, according to Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm.

Disclosed VC deals this quarter included $21.5 million raised by Mainstream Renewable Power and $15.3 million raised by Trishe Developers, both wind project developers.

Announced large-scale project funding in Q3 2012 totalled $1.1 billion in 11 deals, all going to onshore projects, said the report.

Top large-scale project funding deals announced in the third quarter included $350 million raised by Nareva Renouvelables and Kharabel FZE for its 300 MW Tarfaya Wind Project in Morocco, $165 million raised by Alto Holding for its 120 MW Karaburun Wind Farm in Turkey, and $141 million raised by NuPower Renewables for its 150 MW onshore wind farm in India. Other top deals were $86 million raised by InfraVest and wpd for its 53 MW Tongyuan Wind Project in Taiwan and the $85 million loan to Newcom for its 50 MW Salkhit Wind Farm in Mongolia.

Corporate M&A activity in Q3 2012 amounted to $53 million in 11 transactions compared to $93 million in five transactions in Q2 2012. Mercom said there were four debt funding deals announced in Q3 2012 totalling $359 million. Of these, Suzlon Energy raised $281 million in short-term loans to repay holders of its foreign convertible bonds, signing an 18 month loan facility with 11 lenders. Mainstream Renewable Power, on the other hand, secured a credit facility of $51 million from Macquarie Group. Broad Wind Energy closed on a $20 million credit facility with AloStar Business Credit, and Wind Power Energia received a $7 million loan from Inter-American Investment Corporation.

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Strong momentum continues in September with growth of over 14%

MUMBAI: The strong momentum in domestic pharma retail market continued during the second consecutive month, with September recording a growth of over 14%.

The robust double-digit growth in September follows the recovery in August, and further establishes that the retail market has bounced back. In August, the market had registered a strong growth of nearly 10%, recovering from a dip of 3.6% witnessed in the previous month, July.

The recovery is attributed to growth in acute therapies including anti-infectives and pain medication, while the dip in the market is being attributed to lower sales of acute therapies due to poor monsoons across India.

The industry grew 14.3% in September, data from market research firm IMS showed. The last 12 months rolling growth of the industry is 11.3% (in line with analysts' estimate of industry growth).

Companies like Glenmark (30.3%), and Lupin (16.2%) outperformed the industry growth. While Wockhardt (4.6%), Ranbaxy (10.4%) and GSK (12%) were the key players which underperformed the industry in terms of growth.

For the last nine months, Glenmark has recorded an substantial growth in the domestic market according to the IMS data. This points to the fact that secondary sales momentum in India continues to be strong for the company and will be reflected in primary sales going forward, an analyst from Macquarie says.

Glenmark's India business (25% of top line) grew by 24% year-on-year in Q1FY13, and around 19% year-on-year in FY12.

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Armed with phone clip of tryst, youth coerced & raped woman

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 27 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

After almost three years of a coercive relationship which she had begun of her own free will on the internet but soon got trapped into and was sexually exploited, a polio-afflicted woman has got her 'friend' arrested on charges of rape and cheating.

Abhijeet Mandhre, 27, a call centre employee, is accused of promising the woman marriage and coaxing her into a physical relationship. He secretly recorded the tryst and used it to blackmail the victim and rape her several times. He has been booked for rape, cheating and criminal intimidation by the Gorai police and remanded in police custody.

The 30-year-old woman who works with a private firm met Mandhre in an internet chat room in 2009. Soon, they found out they were both from Charkop and exchanged cellphone numbers. A few days later, they decided to meet up.

"In their first meeting offline, they went to Gorai beach and sat down for a while. As high tide was coming in, Mandhre suggested they should move to a shack, which would be more secure," said senior inspector Manik Bakhre of the Gorai police.

At the shack, Mandhre tried to get cosy and the woman was surprised to find that he had come prepared with contraceptives. The youth convinced her that he loved her and would marry her. The woman gave in.

"The victim later recollected having seen Mandhre plant his cellphone vertically on a chair near the bed. When she asked him about the phone, Mandhre told her to ignore it. A week later, while going through his cellphone, the victim found a video of their tryst," added Bakhre. When she confronted Mandhre and asked why he had shot the video without her permission, he brushed aside her protest, saying they were anyway going to spend their lives together.

The couple met a few more times, during which she found another pornographic clip on Mandhre's phone. She couldn't recognize the people in the clip.

Soon, the woman realized Mandhre was taking her for a ride as he would never encourage any discussion on their wedding. She stopped meeting him. At this point, Mandhre threatened to circulate the video, said a police official.

The woman submitted to the blackmail and was taken on Mandhre's bike to various hotels in Gorai, Mira Road- Bhayander and Ghodbunder in Thane, where she was raped. After enduring the ordeal six to seven times, she narrated her plight in a letter to the Charkop police station. After the intervention of the deputy police commissioner, the letter was converted into an FIR and transferred to Gorai on Thursday.

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Bidushi death: Call records may hold clue

Actress-model Bidushi Dash Barde's communication with two persons days before her death could hold the key to the case, police sources told TOI on Friday. Bidushi had spoken to a merchant navy friend and a hotel owner about her suicidal feelings. Her body was found on Monday night next to a broken showcase amidst glass shards. It is in this light that the police are trying to unravel another mystery - that of a bathroom mirror which had developed a crack threefour days before her death.

Bidushi's husband Kedar Barde, son of a retired army officer, found her body in their rented flat at Manish Nagar, Four Bungalows, Andheri . Glass shards had pierced her cheek, jaw, neck and arm; her neck was found resting on the lower part of the showcase's iron frame.

The D N Nagar police have registered a case of murder but are yet to find a strong evidence to support it. At the same time, forensic experts who examined the spot have said that this is a case of homicide. The police got the detailed postmortem report on Friday, which stated that she died an unnatural death following internal wounds.

The police have formed five teams, which are veering towards the theory that she may have died after accidentally falling over the showcase or by hitting herself against it. A police officer, though, said they have not ruled out the possibility of murder. Kedar told investigators that contrary what they have learnt, he and Bidushi did not have major marital problems. Only, he had recently started saving some money from his salary which Bidushi did not like. An officer said that Bidushi wanted to maintain their lifestyle despite their precarious financial condition.

As reported earlier, Kedar had told the police that his wife had a history of fainting. She had diabetes, hypothyroidism, low blood pressure and was on anti-depressants .

The police have learnt that she had shared her suicidal feelings on chat with a merchant navy friend a month ago. A neighbourhood restaurant owner, from whom she ordered regularly, called her up a few days before her death. He asked Bidushi to pay her bills that had crossed Rs 60,000. Bidushi bought time saying she was like his daughter, and added that she had no work and "had a few days left in this world" .

A model coordinator who sent her threatening messages said it was "a routine" matter; he had requested her to take up assignments only thro ugh him. He had arranged a few meetings with producers but said that Bidushi fainted during auditions . The police also questioned another model-coordinator who had received SMSes from her asking for work and money.

During the probe, the police found the cracked mirror and that she had called a person to fix it the day she died. The basin below it also had a minor crack. The police are investigating whether this has any connection with the case.

Meanwhile, in an added twist to the case, the police are re-examining all the evidence . The police had arrived at the homicide angle on the basis of the forensic report and the eyewitness account of a maid.

The 65-year-old maid, who is employed at a clinic in the same building, reported to work on Sunday and left only on Monday afternoon.

The maid told the police on Tuesday that around 9.30am on Monday, while she was on her way out of the building to buy milk, she saw a man "push" someone inside Bidushi's flat. She said at that time, the security guard was standing in the lobby having tea. She assumed that someone was playing with a child in the flat and told the police she did not hear any sound.

The guard, though, said he did not see anyone enter the flat and that he does not even like tea. The police, though, are not completely convinced about his statement.

The police said they have verified the CCTV footage of a bank that covers one gate of the building, but did not find anyone known to the Barde family or the suspects, such as the model coordinator, enter.

Kedar said he hugged his wife while leaving for work. Now, the police are re-examining the maid's statement to find out whether she had seen Kedar hug his wife instead and got her timing wrong.

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Fire in multi-storeyed building in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Fire broke out on Saturday in an eleven-storeyed building in Nagpada area in South Mumbai.

The blaze erupted at Abdul apartments next to Crystal Tower in the area, fire brigade sources said.

Seven fire engines have been rushed to the spot.

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, they said.

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Cyber police gets HC rap over illegal impounding of passports

MUMBAI: Bombay HC has rapped the cyber police asking how it could seize and impound the passports of two Air India cabin crew and retain them for over five months without any order from a court.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sadhana Jadhav on October 25, 2012 heard a petition by K V J Rao (50) and Mayank Sharma (30), officer bearers of Air India Cabin Crew Association. The Cyber Cell, Bandra Kurla Complex had booked the duo for posting "lasvicious and defamatory material'' on social networking sites Facebook and Orkut. Rao and Sharma have contested the charges.

On May 11, 2012 the cyber police picked Rao and Sharma on a complaint by an ex-union office bearer Sagar Karnik. According to Karnik's complaint, they had posted blogs criticising politicians, the PMOs office and the Supreme Court and insulted the national flag. They were released on bail by the sessions court on May 22, 2012 observing that the police to get their first remand had invoked a non-bailable section even thought all the charges were bailable.

Their petition in HC said the investigating officer Sunil Goshalkar who visited their residence at 1.30 am insisted they carry their passports and identity card along. Further, that neither the police nor the court can impound the passport under the Passports Act and even the Supreme Court has upheld the same.

Their advocate Ashok Shetty argued that their passports could not have been illegally impounded by the police. He pointed out that since five months his clients are unable to carry out their flying duties as cabin crew. "One (Rao) has put in nearly 25 years of service with the company,'' said Shetty. The judges questioned why the passports were impounded.

Additional public prosecutor Purnima Kantharia said the passports were found in their pockets when they were arrested. She said they must go before magistrate to get it back. The judges said this would not be necessary that there is no order by any court directing the passport to be impounded. "There is no order by anybody (court). Ask your officer when he'll return the passports,'' said Justice Oka. Kantharia submitted that Goshalkar shall return the passports and identity cards the following day. The court recorded her statement and disposed of the petition.

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Nine complaints against noise pollution during Navratri

MUMBAI: Mumbaikars now seem to be taking charge of the noise pollution in their locality on their own. Be it measuring the noise levels, or making a complaint, residents of various housing societies have taken a step towards monitoring the unnaturally high decibels during Navratri. Awaaz Foundation, an NGO fighting against noise-pollution, received nine complaints since October 16, the first day of Navratri, about high noise levels. Four people notified that they had downloaded free phone Apps to monitor the levels in their locality.

The complaints came from across the city, including areas like Bandra, Juhu, Chembur and Ghatkopar. People also said that they had got the Apps to check levels and eventually report violations, if any, to the local police. Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation, said that the next big step would be reporting the high disturbing decibel levels to the police.

"People should also make an official police complaint. Since, a police complaint can be made anonymously, no one needs to fear. Individual complaints filed with the police will eventually count and authorities realize that high noise levels beyond a certain time limit are not favourable," said Abdulali. Abdulali said that among the complaints received by Awaaz Foundation, many are by anonymous senders

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It is time for Mumbai to introduce dedicated bus lanes

Delhi is currently in the process of restoring its BRT plan on 14 routes. BRT is also being implemented in over 25 Asian cities currently.

MUMBAI: The Delhi high court gave public transportation in the political capital a major impetus with its ruling favouring mass transport particularly the Bus Rapid Transport System this week. It is worth questioning why the financial capital of Mumbai fails to take a cue and dithers over introducing BRT at least in a phased manner.

The BMC has this week suggested reviving the plan but it is essential that such talk be converted into action on a war-footing. Civic officials have said they will conduct a feasibility report, but it is perhaps time to move beyond promising projects on paper.

After all, the suggestion for BRT isn't new. The plan for BRT in Mumbai has been in the deep freeze for over a decade. BRT consists of creating dedicated lanes for public buses on existing roads and would facilitate the movement of over 25,000 commuters in one direction. Earlier proposals have mooted the introduction of the BRT on the express highways, both in the western and eastern suburbs. A feasibility study was already conducted four years ago and the metropolitan agency MMRDA was to experiment with introducing BRT on one stretch in the western suburbs last year, but that too was dropped before it could pilot.

Following the court ruling, Delhi is currently in the process of restoring its BRT plan on 14 routes. BRT is also being implemented in over 25 Asian cities currently. Mumbai too should get on with implementation rather than draw out another plan. Or are we waiting for a public interest litigation?

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State BJP leaders are ready to defend Nitin Gadkari, but not Purti.

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 26 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra BJP leaders have decided to distance themselves from the Purti Power and Sugar Ltd firm row. The party leaders have even issued a diktat that no leader will speak on the controversy.

Defending BJP president Nitin Gadkari, leader of the opposition in the state legislative council and senior BJP leader Vinod Tawde said, nearly year back Gadkari had resigned as chairman of the Purti firm. As BJP has no links with the firm, the party has decided that it will not issue any statement on the Purti Power and Sugar Ltd row. "Why should the party (BJP) rush to defence of Purti firm. The management of the firm should come out with clarification, if they feel to do so," Tawde added.

TOI in Tuesday s edition had questioned over the source of funds for Purti Power and Sugar Ltd firm controversy. The controversial firm is said to be controlled by BJP president Nitin Gadkari.

Further speaking on the issue another senior party functionary stated that the party has even issued a gag order on the entire episode. The party leaders have been instructed that they should not make any statement on the controversial firm. But, if there is any query pertaining to Gadkari, then the leaders should address the issue, the senior BJP leader stated.

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Woman shot by lover

MUMBAI: Sewri police are searching for a 30-year-old Bhiwandi resident for allegedly firing two bullets at point range on the forehead of a 28-year-old homemaker on Wednesday. Probe has revealed that the accused identified as Abbas reportedly had an illicit relationship with the victim Shabana Shaikh. It is suspected that the accused had a fight with the victim minutes before she was killed.

Shaikh was found lying in a pool of blood by one of her daughters who returned back from a shop minutes after the incident. "The daughter is the prime witness in the case. Because she had seen her mother and the accused sitting together outside Sai Baba temple premises around 8pm. The accused asked the minor girl to get him a cigarette and asked to leave the place. On her return she found her mother lying in a pool of blood and there was no trace of the accused," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port Zone) Tanaji Ghadge.

The accused and the victim's husband are truck drivers and are known to each other for the last several years. "The victim, mother of four girls, got into relationship with the accused after he frequently visited their home at Haji Bunder with her husband. The accused has not reached his Bhiwandi resident for the last two days. His arrest will give the precise reason behind the killing," said a Sewri police officer.

Locals rushed the victim to Sion hospital but was declared dead before admission.

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Youth held for unnatural sex with child

MUMBAI: The Chembur police on Wednesday arrested a 25-year-old youth for allegedly taking a 10-year-old class III girl to an isolated place and had unnatural sex with her in the night on October 17. The accused befriended the girl by claiming her that he is closely known to her father and he has come to take her to play dandiya at Chembur Camp where her father is waiting for her.

Believing the accused claim, the girl went with him after buying dandiya sticks. "The accused took the girl to an isolated place behind Ashish Theatre in Chembur and forced her to remove her clothes and had unnatural sex with her. The accused threatened the minor girl with dire consequences before she was let go," said Chembur police senior inspector Bhimdev Rathod.

The incident occurred when the minor girl's father took her mother to hospital for check up. "The victim left her home after informing her grandmother. The girl initially kept the matter hidden but got scared when she saw the accused in the school premise. She narrated the entire incident to her parents and lodged a complaint," said Rathod.

Based on the description provided by the victim, the accused, a daily wage worker, was caught from Chembur locality. He is in custody till October 29.

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P&G to invest heavily in India and other emerging markets

MUMBAI: Procter & Gamble said emerging markets contributed 38% of business even as the world's largest household products maker company faced a moderate slump in sales in China, Russia, Turkey and Brazil.

The India market, on the other hand, grew 25% year-on-year organically, the maker of Tide detergent said while announcing its results for the first quarter of fiscal 2013. Revenue came in line with market expectations at $20.74 billion but was down 3.7% year-on-year. Organic sales rose 3% against Unilever's 5.9% from last year, primarily driven by price hikes.

For rival Unilever, emerging markets now contribute more than half of its sales at 54.5%.

Thus, to enhance contribution of emerging markets, P&G is planning to introduce 20 new categories and is building 15 plants in these markets P&G plans to invest Rs 1540 crore in the Indian home products business). The company also launched Oral-B toothpaste in Venezuela, Greece, Portugal and Israel, and aims to launch it in several more markets over the next six months, a report from Edelweiss Securities, a domestic brokerage firm said.

P&G is facing several headwinds related to costs and slower growth in developed countries and China, which has put the company on the backfoot. However, given its vast product portfolio and enforcing its plan to cut costs by $10 billion by 2016 it is expected to help the company improve profitability. P&G is also stepping up activities in emerging markets and has guided for 8-9% organic sales growth in developing markets for the fiscal year.

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Maharashtra PWD lands in yet another controversy

MUMBAI: Nothing that the state public works department (PWD) does seems to be right. The department has had a dubious reputation when it comes to awarding multi-crore contracts.

It is embroiled in one controversy or another. The latest one involves the Mantralaya renovation contract.

The PWD outsourced the work to an independent architect despite having a full-fledged wing that deals with architectural designs headed by the chief architect. But what has raised eyebrows is the high cost of bids which were received from the qualified contractors.

The lowest bid was Rs 163 crore as against the official estimate of Rs 110 crore to restore and renovate three damaged floors of the state headquarters.

The lowest bid by Unity Infrasprojects works out to a phenomenal Rs 13,000 a sq ft for the renovation and restoration of about 1.25 lakh sq ft of space. Experts said a decent quality job could be done at half the rate.

No wonder that a high-level committee headed by the state chief secretary is contemplating cancelling the bids unless the contractors reduce their price. Another suspicious thing about the project is when the state's chief architect Bipin Sankhe was asked by his superiors not to attend official meetings to discuss the renovation proposal. Sankhe wrote a strongly-worded letter to the PWD secretary, complaining that while his juniors were allowed to participate in the discussions, he was being kept out.

Earlier this year, the PWD's decision to award a little-known contractor to build a new Maharashtra Sadan building in Delhi created a storm in political circles after it was revealed the obscene profits the contractor would make from the project.

The opulent state guesthouse in Lutyen's zone is already mired in controversy following revelations that companies owned by the state PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal's family and associates were involved in its construction. The minister denied the allegation. The inauguration of the complex was indefinitely postponed because of the controversy surrounding it.

Three years ago, the PWD faced flak for the manner in which the the Mantralaya redevelopment project was handled. Rival builders complained they were not offered a level-playing field and the tender document was ambiguous about the development potential of the project. The state government was then forced to shelve the plan. Given the slew of scams in the recent past, the government needs to ensure total transparency in handling such large proj

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BMC to dole out Rs 140 crore as Diwali bonus to employees

MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC), the richest civic body in the country will pay out Rs 140 crore in bonus to 1.3 lakh employees for Diwali this year. The decision was taken after a marathon meeting between mayor Sunil Prabhu and municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte.

The civic body will pay 10% more as bonus as compared to last year. Municipal employees will receive Rs 12,500 as bonus while teachers and employees of civic aided private schools will receive Rs 6050, health workers Rs 3,300, Dattak Vasti yojana volunteers Rs 1,980 and contract labourers Rs 4,678. The amount will be paid in November prior to Diwali.

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Price rise to hurt during festive season

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 25 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Citizens will need to watch their spending this festive season. The prices of eight essential commodities like condiments & spices, pulses, wheat, sugar, edible oil, tea, coffee and milk have risen by 18% on an average from September 2011 to September 2012 while per capita income of an average Indian went up by 10%, according to an analysis carried out by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Price rise coupled with increased demand is likely to hurt the common man during the festive seasons, said ASSOCHAM.

"The good demand due to upcoming festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali, inflation has taken several essentials like spices, edible oil and milk out of the common man's reach", said Mr. D.S. Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM.

While prices of spices, pulses, wheat, sugar have become dearer by 30%, 29%, 19% and 18% respectively, other essentials like edible oil, tea, coffee and milk saw upward moment in the range of 11%, 10%, 9% and 7% respectively.

Commodities like various types of edible oil have become dearer by 25% to 65%. In addition, prices of milk, ghee, onion, maida, wheat and other items have risen by a minimum of 10% to a maximum of 60%.

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German girl wins Horse Fancy Dress competition

MUMBAI: Isabella Brucke, a little girl from Germany and her mare Roxy won the Horse Fancy Dress Competition organized by the Amateurs Riders' Club (ARC) on the occasion of its annual Dusserah Carnival at their riding training school inside Mahalaxmi Race course late on Wednesday evening.

Isabella and her parents had decorated their mare as 'Candy Fairy' which won the event.

The Dusserah celebrations also included annual Ashwa Pooja. ARC president, Raj Shroff performed the Pooja. "The aarti and garlanding ritual during Ashwa Pooja teaches the children to respect and honour their horses," said Shroff.

The entire event was organized with great pomp and show to honour the magnificent horses. Many horses were lined up for the Pooja. The Ashwa Pooja was followed by the highlight of the evening, the "Horse Fancy Dress Competition".

The members of the ARC and their children selected themes and dress their horses accordingly. The children were seen enjoying themselves with candy floss, popcorn and attractive tattooing.

ARC was established on September 24, 1942 and is one of the oldest and largest private riding clubs in India, promoting equestrian sports like dressage, show jumping, tent pegging, polo etc.

Situated in the heart of Mumbai at Mahalaxmi race course, ARC has riding arenas for beginner and advance riding for members and non members. The ARC also has a large polo ground in the middle of the racecourse where annual polo tournament is held in the month of March every year.

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FIAPO joins Humane Society International to campaign for cruelty-free cosmetics

MUMBAI: Humane Society International has announced that the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has become a formal partner of its Be Cruelty-Freecampaign to end animal testing for cosmetics in India. FIAPO is a national collective of animal protection organisations in India and includes groups such as the Blue Cross of Hyderabad and CUPA in Bangalore.

FIAPO is thrilled to be a part of Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Free campaign to end animal testing for beauty products ,"said FIAPO Chief Executive Arpan Sharma. Statistics on animal testing in India are unclear, so whilst we do not know how many poor creatures are being used to test cosmetics, we do know they are suffering unnecessarily because India has yet to fully utilise available non-animal alternatives. Humane methods of testing are at the forefront of modern science and together with Humane Society International, we look forward to the Be Cruelty-Freecampaign encouraging India's laboratories to embrace these advanced methods and to India's laws mandating their use,'' he added.

FIAPO has identified safety (toxicity) testing as a priority area of work, so joining forces with HSI to tackle cosmetics cruelty is a logical campaign fit. Together, FIAPO and HSI will raise consumer awareness of cruelty-free cosmetics and lobby India's policy makers to bring about a change in the law. Be Cruelty-Freeis a global campaign running across several parts of Asia, Europe, North and South America, Australia and beyond.

Humane Society International's Be Cruelty-Freecampaign will be greatly strengthened by our alliance with FIAPO ,'' explained N G Jayasimha, India director for HSI. While we have much work to do, we know that the Indian public cares very deeply about animal suffering and we hope that our lawmakers will join in our determination to make India a world leader in safety testing without animals,'' he further stated.

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Glock confident of better show from Marussia

MUMBAI: The Indian GP is three days away and there are a few more eage for D-Day to arrive than Timo Glock. The German driver from team Marussia failed to finish at last year's inaugural GP at the Buddh International Circuit, and Glock can't wait to turn things in his favour this time around. "To go out last year was unfortunate. Let's see what we can do this year," said Glock who was in the city on Wednesday.

The lack of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in the Marussia cars is a disadvantage that Glock knows he has to deal with but the German is confident of putting up a decet show. "We're not a team with a massive budget like most others and the KERS is an expensive affair. The only way to deal with this is to do better at the other aspects of the race," said Glock.

Glock's 12th place finish at the Singapore GP was his best this season and feels a tenth place finish is what would be the team's practical target.

The German, who started his F1 career in 2004 with Jordan and later moved to Toyota, said the Marussia team is a bit different."It is very different. At Toyota we had a lot of possibilities, big budget, lots of people working. It was a different scenario. Things changed and Toyota decided to step out which was a shame, I think, at that time. It is different here. But still I see possibilities here to move up and make it better," Glock insisted.

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Mumbai Police still clueless in model's murder case

23-year-old Bidushi, a former Miss Chennai and South Indian film actor, was found dead in her rented apartment in suburban Andheri on Monday night.

MUMBAI: Two days after model Bidushi Dash Barde was found murdered here, Mumbai police today recorded the statement of her software engineer husband, but is yet to make any headway in the probe.

Police have not got any definite clues about the culprits, sources said. They, however, said that a statement of Bidushi's husband Kedar was recorded today.

23-year-old Bidushi, a former Miss Chennai and South Indian film actor, was found dead in her rented apartment in suburban Andheri on Monday night.

Her husband found her body, with injury marks inflicted by a sharp-edged weapon on neck and chin. Robbery was ruled out as the motive as no valuables were missing, nor were there any signs of forced entry.

According to police sources, a neighbour had told the investigators that she had seen a man at the house for a while on Monday afternoon.

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Kalina Village Boys emerge champions in the 13th Kalina Football League

MUMBAI: Kalina Village Boys halted the winning streak and dashed the title hopes of Indian FC. The Village Boys carved out a 3-1 win over a young, spirited Indian FC in a well-contested final of the 13th Kalina Football League (KFL) organised by the Sports Committee of Our Lady of Egypt Church and played at the church ground, Kalina.

Kingsley Rebello struck a brace and Karan Pal got the third for the champions, while Akash Chavan scored the consolation goal for the runners-up.

Had it not been for the gallant efforts of goalkeeper Vikram Singh under the Indian FC bar, the margin of defeat could have been much bigger. Vikram affected quite a number of timely saves to restrict the more experienced opponents Village Boys to three goals. His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was later adjudged the 'Best goalkeeper of the tournament'.

Prakash Sonawane and Pawan Rawat, both of Indian FC were declared as the 'Player of the tournament' and 'Most promising player of the tournament respectively. Kingsley Rebello for his twin strikes was named 'Player of the final'.

Results: Men: Kalina Village Boys 3 (Kingsley Rebello 2, Karan Pal) beat Indian FC 1 (Akash Chawan).

Highest goal scorer: Bhomeet Vakharia (Egyptian Boys); Most promising player: Pawan Rawat (Indian FC); Player of the tournament: Prakash Sonawane (Indian FC); Best goalkeeper: Vikram Singh (Indian FC); Best defender: Danston Rodrigues (Kalina Village Boys); Player of the final: Kingsley Rebello (Kalina Village Boys).

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28 more winter special trains on Konkan Railway

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 24 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: In addition to the 88 Winter Special Trains already announced on Konkan Railway Route recently, in co-ordination with Northern Railway, Konkan Railway has now introduced the following 28 additional AC Superfast Express Winter Special Trains between New Delhi and Madgaon for the convenience of its passengers. The trains will have halts at: Nizamuddin, Agra Cantt., Jhansi, Bhopal, Bhusaval, Nasik Road, Kalyan, Panvel, Roha, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kudal, Thivim and Karmali Stations. The train will have 14 coaches.

With these additional train services, the total number of Winter Special Trains being run on Konkan Railway Route during winter season rises to 112.

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One-way roads, parking restrictions for Dasera, Durga immersion in Mumbai

MUMBAI: The traffic police have made four roads one-way, restricted parking on seven roads and banned heavy vehicles on seven roads to ensure smooth flow of vehicular traffic during Dasera followed by Durga immersion.

* Some of the roads made one-way are:
1) Prakash Pethe Marg, Ramabhau Salgaonkar Marg in Colaba
2) Jagannath Shankar Sheth Road in Tardeo
3) Bapurao Jagtap Marg in Nagpada
4) 60-feet Road in Matunga

* Parking will be prohibited at:
1) Nathalal Marg, Ramabhau Salgaonkar Marg and Captain Prakash Pethe Marg in Colaba
2) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road in Tardeo
3) Veer Savarkar Marg
4) Ranade Road
5) Mori Road
6) Bal Govind Road
7) Dyneshwar Mandir Marg and NC Kelkar Marg in Mahim

* Ban on goods vehicles:
No heavy vehicles will be allowed on Veer Savarkar Marg, Gokhale Road (south and north), Lady Jamshedji Road, Senapati Bapat Marg, Mori Road and NC Kelkar Marg and Tilak Bridge in Mahim.

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Luxury bus breaks down, jams Western Express highway.

MUMBAI: A luxury bus breaking down on the Vakola flyover led to a massive snarl between Kherwadi and Kandivali on the Western Express Highway on Monday morning. Motorists complained that with peak hour rush, it was a chaotic situation.

Around 10 am on Monday, a luxury bus broke down on the south-bound stretch of the Vakola flyover. A hippo crane was rushed to the spot. But the bus was too heavy to be towed. So, officials had to resort to changing its wheels on the spot. The bus was fixed only by 1 pm, following which the huge backlog of traffic gradually eased out.

Motorists complained that they took way longer than usual to reach their destinations as there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway for at least three hours in the morning.

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Man held for abetting wife's suicide in Mumbai

MUMBAI: A 24-year-old man was arrested for abetting the suicide of his wife on Tuesday. The deceased, Swati Shete, 23, used a saree to hang herself from the ceiling fan while she was alone at home. The accused, Pandit Shete, 28, runs a vegetable stall at Gorai.

Officials from the Borivali police station said that Swati had tied the knot in 2008 and did not have any kids. The couple stayed at Gorai. Around 10.15 am on Tuesday, Pandit left to purchase vegetables for his shop while his mother was minding his stall.

When Pandit returned, he found the door locked from inside. He knocked at the door but received no response after which, with the help of neighbours, he broke in the room only to find Swati hanging from the ceiling. The locals informed the police about the incident and she was taken to Bhagwati hospital. Doctors declared her dead on arrival.

Swati's sister, Sangeeta Jadhav, alleged that Swati was being harassed physically and mentally by her husband, as he suspected her character. Sangeeta also stated that Swati had complained to her about the harassment over phone. But being unwell, Sangeeta couldn't visit her sister.

"Swati s family has complained that she was beaten and taunted for not bearing a child. We have registered a case under section 306 (abetment) and 498 (A) (subjecting spouse to cruelty) of IPC against Pandit," a police official said.

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Two jockeys suspended for careless riding

MUMBAI: The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has suspended two jockeys for careless riding during races took place on October 7.

The stewards of the RWITC suspended jockeys Tushar Nemane and Akshay for a day each for causing interference to many horses in the upper division of the Hawk Bay Plate. Jockey Prabhu Naidu, who was riding Mzima, nearly survived a fall after his horse suddenly stumbled.

In that race, approaching 900 metres from the winning post, Nemane, riding Mountain Song, shifted his horse out and carried another horse Afsoon (jockey Nikhil Bhujbal) further out.

At the same time Akshay, riding Silver Silver, shifted his horse in and forced Apocalypse (jockey S Mosin) to shift in which in turned forced Afsoon to shift in. As Afsoon shifted suddenly in, another horse Mzima, who was racing behind Afsoon, clipped the hind heels of Afsoon and stumbled, nearly dislodging its rider Naidu.

Stewards called both the jockeys along with their spokesmen for an inquiry last week. According to a statement issued by the RWITC, stewards heard them and saw the recording of the race.

The stewards were not satisfied with the explanation tendered by both the jockeys and held them guilty of careless riding on their mounts. Both the jockeys were suspended for the opening day of the upcoming Mumbai Season which starts on November 18.

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ITC's FMCG business expected to turnaround in Q4 FY13

Namrata Singh, TNN | Oct 24, 2012, 07.04PM IST

MUMBAI: Industry analysts expect ITC's FMCG business to turnaround in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year. ITC, which posted about 19% growth in revenues year-on-year (YOY) and a 21% growth in profit during the second quarter ended September 30, 2012, reported a 26% growth in FMCG sales with 237 basis points YOY margin expansion.

FMCG losses were down about 46% YOY and the division's net sales during the quarter were Rs 1,691 crore. We expect this business to turnaround in Q4FY13,'' said a report by Edelweiss Institutional Equities.

Sales of value-added and premium products, which continued to grow at a faster clip, helped portfolio premiumisation and enriched sales mix. Improvement in profitability was further aided by smart commodity sourcing, better market servicing and strategic cost management initiatives. During the quarter, ITC cut grammage across its biscuit portfolio to meet the new packaging norms, resulting in price increase. Sunfeast brand sustained its growth trajectory and gained leadership in the premium cream biscuits segment,'' said Edelweiss.

ITC's skin care category, on the other hand, witnessed strong performance of Vivel Luxury Creme and Vivel Clear variants. The quarter saw the launch of Exotic Dream, transparent gel bar, in select markets under the Fiama Di Wills brand.

ITC's numbers for the second quarter ended September 30, 2012 (Q2FY13) surpassed analysts expectations, although its hotel business disappointed with flattish sales and a 65% dip in profit, reflecting slowdown in the hotel industry. The company posted a 21% growth in net profit at Rs 1,836 crore, while total income rose 19% to Rs 7,227 crore during the quarter. ITC delivered a stellar set of numbers which was ahead of our estimates. EBIT losses of other FMCG business stood at Rs 30 crore, down from Rs 56 crore in 2QFY2012. We have a neutral view on FMCG sector due to the high valuations,'' said V Srinivasan, research analyst, Angel Broking, which maintains a neutral view on ITC as well due to its rich valuations.

ITC's results in 2QFY13 were well ahead of our expectations. Results shall likely lead to earning upgrades; however, valuations are demanding,'' said Ritwik Rai, FMCG Analyst, Kotak Securities.

National roll-out of 64 mm cigarettes, and impact on volume/margin trajectory are said to be key factors to watch for.

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Hijack threat call delays Jet Airways flight

Written By Unknown on Senin, 22 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A hijack threat call delayed the departure of a Jet Airways flight from here to Bangalore this afternoon.

The Mumbai-Bangalore flight 2301 was delayed by over two hours after a call centre of the carrier received an anonymous call that the aircraft would be hijacked, Mumbai airport sources told .

The call was received around 3:40 pm, 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of the flight with around 50 passengers and crew.

The aircraft was moved to a remote parking bay and checks were being carried out as per the standard operating procedure, the sources said.

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Blackstone-Embassy SPV to look at REIT listing in Singapore

bangalore: Private equity giant Blackstone Group and technology park developer Embassy Property Developments will look at listing a real estate investment trust (REIT), which owns and operates income yielding office space portfolio, on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

REITS are companies that hold real estate investments in rent income assets.

Last week, Blackstone sealed a Rs 1,015 crore deal with Embassy for a 50% stake in Pune Dynasty Projects, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which Embassy holds three of its FDI-compliant commercial business parks.

The business parks include Manyata Embassy Business Park and Embassy Golf Links Business Park, in Bangalore, and Embassy TechZone in Pune. Together, the three business parks yield annual rental income of about Rs 700 crore.

This news of Blackstone investing in Embassy's tenanted office portfolio was first reported by TOI on July 11. "We are looking to build the commercial rentyielding assets in this SPV and at a later date will look at making this entity into a REIT, which can be listed," said Jitendra Virwani, CMD, Embassy Group. In 2007, Virwani tried a REIT listing in Singapore. But at that time the markets tanked and the issue did not happen.

The Pune Dynasty Projects SPV has a commercial rent-yielding portfolio of 13.5 million sqft, which over the next couple of years is expected to increase to over 25 million sqft, as more commercial space is constructed at Manyata Embassy Business Park and Embassy TechZone.

The SPV is also charting an aggressive acquisition road map to increase its asset base. "Our focus will be on buying assets that have a ticket size between Rs 300 and Rs 500 crore," said Virwani. He said the SPV was close to acquiring 1 million sqft of commercial business space in the central business district of Bangalore for about Rs 500 crore.

"The due diligence process has started," he said.

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Spate of property launches in Bangalore

BANGALORE: It's the start of the festive season and property developers are keeping the spirits high with a host of new product launches. Much like what is being seen in the automotive space. n under 30 days, the city has seen some five new residential launches by A-grade developers, a trend last seen prior to the 2008 downturn.

The new launches range from 2-BHK apartments to 4,000-sqft villas, with prices starting at Rs 37 lakh.

"In the first quarter of this financial year, Bangalore was the single largest market in terms of volume. The real estate market in the city has been robust despite the subdued marco-economic sentiments," said Pirojsha Godrej, MD of Godrej Properties. The Mumbai-based developer launched two residential projects in the city in under two-weeks.

On Thursday, Godrej launched a 1-million sqft project, called Godrej E-City, in Electronics City Phase-1, which offers 2, 2.5 and 3-BHK apartments, with floor spaces ranging from 964 sqft to 1,625 sqft, at prices starting from Rs 37 lakh.
Prior to this, the company launched a niche villa project, Godrej Gold County, on Tumkur Road, which comprises of 87 units priced above Rs 2 crore.

Mayank Ruia, head-residential of The Phoenix Mills, said, "In under a month we have sold close to 350 units of the 400 units on offer in the first phase of our project." The Mumbai-based developer has launched an ultra-high end residential project, One Bangalore West, in Rajajinagar, which has apartments ranging in size from 2,400 sqft to 4,000 sqft at a price of Rs 8,400 per sqft.

In a similar price bracket is Embassy Group's luxury residential project Embassy Lake Terraces at Hebbal. This new project has apartment sizes ranging between 3,500 sqft and 9,900 sqft. Prices start from Rs 3 crore.
Puravankara Projects launched an ultra premium property, Purva Whitehall, on Sarjapur Main Road, which offers buyers only 3 and 4-BHK apartments.

Jackbastian Nazareth, CEO, Puravankara Projects, said "The number of enquiries for luxury projects (priced above Rs 2 crore) has increased by close to 30% in the last six months." Nazareth added, "The demand for luxury projects is being fuelled by first generation entrepreneurs, senior management from the IT/ITeS sector, and the larger HNI and NRI base in the city."

In order to showcase to buyers the breadth of offerings now available, Times Property is launching the 8th edition of its property expo, Home Affairs. The expo will be held on October 20 and 21 at The Lalit Ashok.

COMING BACK TO LIFE Projects nearing completion in South East and North Bangalore witnessed an increase in capital values of 10 15% during the first half of 2012 During the January to June period capital values of mid-segment residential units in South East, East and Off-Central locations increased by around 4-8%, while those in the Central, North and South Bangalore were higher by 1-4% as compared to the same period a year ago

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Kingfisher offers 3 instalments of dues to staff before Diwali

KFA offers 3 installments of dues to staff before Diwali

KFA offers 3 installments of dues to staff before Diwali

MUMBAI: A fresh bid was made on Monday by Kingfisher Airlines to resolve the 23-day-old impasse with its striking employees by offering upto three instalments of their salary dues before Diwali but the protesters insisted on a written assurance alleging that the management had earlier backtracked.

The offer was made to the employees representatives, who have been demanding payment of pending salary dues of at least four out of seven months before they resume work, held a meeting with management representatives at the Kingfisher House in Mumbai.

"There has been no written communication from the management in this regard. We don't know about any such offer," a pilot, who was part of the meeting, told when asked whether the management had offered to clear two-three instalments of salary dues before Diwali in November.

"We cannot trust their words. They have gone back on their verbal promises earlier. We need a clear-cut written assurance," he said.

Airline sources, however, said such an offer was made to the employees during the discussions today.

The agitating staff have already planned to hold demonstrations and other protest actions, especially during the upcoming Formula One motor race in which UB Group chief and Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya is involved.

The meeting came in the backdrop of the airline losing its licence to fly with aviation regulator DGCA suspending it last Friday, capping three weeks of lockout in the beleaguered carrier.

Ahead of the talks, a company spokesperson had said, "it is our endeavour to restart operations at the earliest and we assure you we are working towards achieving this."

"We have in any case always maintained that once the issues with the employees are resolved, we will first present our resumption plan to DGCA for review, before resuming operations," he had said.

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Blood donation drive at Navi Mumbai and Mumbai

MUMBAI: A total of 669 Nirankari volunteers donated blood at four camps organized in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai on Sunday, October 21. With this drive, the Sant Nirankari Mandal has achivied a tally of 5148 blood units in 24 camps since April this year in Mumbai metropolitan region. In Maharashtra (other than the Mumbai) over 100 camps were organized with a collection of more than 10,000 units.

In Navi Mumbai the camp was organized at Sant Nirankari Satsang Bhawan, Sathe Nagar, Airoli where 75 Nirankaris donated blood. The J.J.Mahanagar Blood Bank collected the blood. This camp was inaugurated by Shri Purushottam Karad, Sr.Police Inspector of Rabale Police Station. Shri Nasir Pathan, Rev. Manohar Sawant, were also present.

In other three camps in Mumbai, one was organized at Sewree in Koli Samaj Hall wherein 232 Nirankaris donated blood. The blood was collected by JJ Metro Blood Bank and the camp was organized by Shri Gorakhnath, Ex-Vice President of the Koli Samaj organization. The second camp was organized at Sheetal Plaza, Kurla (West) wherein 200 Nirankari devotees donated blood. The blood was collected by Lokmanya Tilak Hospital, Sion and it was inaugurated by Rev. Virendra Bamne, Convener of the Mumbai Zonal Committee of the Mandal. The third camp was organized at Ganesh Nagar, Kandivali, wherein 162 units of blood were collected and the collection was made by Cooper Hospital (105) and Bhabha Hospital (57).

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Norms for development of plots in Bandra-Kurla Complex relaxed

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has relaxed the requirement of development of a plot within of four year to six years, without having to pay any penalty.

The decision was taken at the authority meeting held under the chairmanship of chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in Banda-Kurla complex on Monday.

A senior offcial said, The plot holder was required to pay 10% of the auction amount per year, for 3 years as penalty for failure to complete construction within a period of 4 years. The new policy will be applicable to the present plot holders who are holding plots for less than 4 years. The plot holders who have exceeded the period of 4 years, but within 6 years, will have to pay a penalty of 10% of the auction amount for the delayed construction to be entitled to the new policy. All new purchases will enjoy a construction period of 6 years.

The MMRDA also offered an additional built-up area of 5.45 hectares (about 54,000 square meters) in the E Block predominantly commercial zone of the Bandra-Kurla Complex.

The official said, As there are no vacant plots available in E Block, the additional build-up area is offered to the existing plot holders at a premium of 200% of the ready-reckoner rate.

The Authority has further decided to waive of 5% of premium for additional basement parking in BKC. The Complex with its planned development has been enjoying the status of a business hub and facilities such as parking are being underlined. The decision has been arrived at only to cater to the parking needs of the Complex.

The Authority, during its meeting, also granted ex-gratia amount of Rs.16,500/- to the MMRDA employees.

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Noise levels during Janmashtami and Ganapati festivals go up in Mumbai

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 21 Oktober 2012 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The noise levels during Janmashtami and Ganpati festivals went almost twice that of the prescribed tolerable levels this year as well. Decibel levels recorded by the Awaaz Foundation, an NGO working against noise pollutions, showed that the dB levels were way above the levels prescribed by the World health Organisation (WHO).

According to Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, the noise readings at Janmashtami this year were highest in many years at 117.3 dB. Levels recorded during Ganapati festival were 121.4 dB. These levels were recorded at residential places in many instances.

As per WHO, the dB levels in residential areas have to be in the range of 40-45 dB. "Levels higher than this can make people living in the area prone to irritation, annoyance and unexplained anxiety. If closer to the source of noise, the ear drum can also get perforations," said a noise-pollution expert. The dB levels during the ongoing Navratri festival have also gone up significantly.

Activists said that people can measure the dB levels in their areas and can file a complaint with the police as well.

"Anyone who has an android phone, and iphone or an iPad can download a free application to measure noise levels. It would be very useful if complaints can be made to the police on 100 with decibel readings," said Abdulali in a press release sent to the media.

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Noise levels during Janmashtami and Ganapati festivals go up in Mumbai

MUMBAI: The noise levels during Janmashtami and Ganpati festivals went almost twice that of the prescribed tolerable levels this year as well. Decibel levels recorded by the Awaaz Foundation, an NGO working against noise pollutions, showed that the dB levels were way above the levels prescribed by the World health Organisation (WHO).

According to Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation, the noise readings at Janmashtami this year were highest in many years at 117.3 dB. Levels recorded during Ganapati festival were 121.4 dB. These levels were recorded at residential places in many instances.

As per WHO, the dB levels in residential areas have to be in the range of 40-45 dB. "Levels higher than this can make people living in the area prone to irritation, annoyance and unexplained anxiety. If closer to the source of noise, the ear drum can also get perforations," said a noise-pollution expert. The dB levels during the ongoing Navratri festival have also gone up significantly.

Activists said that people can measure the dB levels in their areas and can file a complaint with the police as well.

"Anyone who has an android phone, and iphone or an iPad can download a free application to measure noise levels. It would be very useful if complaints can be made to the police on 100 with decibel readings," said Abdulali in a press release sent to the media.

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