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Residents burn proposed Dharavi Redevelopment Plan documents

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 31 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Residents of Dharavi led by the Shiv Sena burnt copies of the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan outside Sion railway station on Sunday.

The state government has decided to undertake Dharavi's redevelopment through the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority ( MHADA) rather than through private developers. It plans to carry out redevelopment of the over 500 acre slum in phases. It has decided to take up sector V first as most of the land belongs to various government authorities and there is very little private land here.

Residents are demanding larger homes than the promised 300 sq feet and have therefore been opposing the redevelopment. Since Dharavi also houses several small manufacturing units, residents want their workplace to be part of the redevelopment scheme.

``It is a conspiracy to oust the old and poor residents and replace them with affluent people who work in the Bandra-Kurla complex which is a financial hub. The government is not interested in listening to our point of view and is thrusting down the redevelopment plan,'' said former Sena MLA Baburao Mane.

The residents are now planning a Dharavi bandh on April 9, said Mane.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Rape of a minor sparks political battle in Thane

THANE: The inhuman rape of a three-year-old girl allegedly by a 23-year-old Hitendra Singh at Kopri in Thane (east) last week triggered outrage here even as political parties tried to exploit the sentiment and indulge in bashing up north Indian community members.

Singh who resides in the Anand Nagar area of Kopri was picked up by the police for sexually assaulting a three-year-old girl from the same neighbourhood. The girl was rushed to the Thane civil hospital after she complained of severe pain and told her parents that Singh had lured her to his house.

Immediately after his arrest, political parties in the city raised their voice against the migrant north Indian community accusing them of contributing to the rising crime in the city.

The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) called for a bandh in the Kopri area and targeted members of the north Indian belt. Tension escalated in the area late on Friday after MNS activists launched a physical attack on the Hindi-speaking residents of Kopri and forcefully entered their home and ransacked their belongings.

The Thane police, however, swung into action immediately and additional SRPF personnel were deployed to ensure that the situation does not go out of hand.

The rape of a three-year-old is not just shameful but a heinous crime which no one will endorse. However, some representatives of political outfits tried to give it a community colour and exploit the situation. We have, on our part, cautioned the members of the north Indian community to avoid any confrontation. We condemn the rape and are equally eager to ensure that the guilty is given sever punishment,'' said A Shukla, a local here.

The Shiv Sena, which is the ruling party in the Thane municipal corporation, was equally charged up on the issue and its activists destroyed the stall where Singh was working as an errand boy.

Singh is remanded to police custody and the victim is undergoing treatment at the civil hospital here.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Absorb contract workers employed in education department: Mumbai mayor

MUMBAI: Mumbai mayor Sunil Prabhu has directed the civic education department to moot a proposal to absorb into the workforce contract workers employed under the Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan.

Mayor Sunil Prabhu said the workers have been working in the BMC at various levels for the last eight years. ``They have contributed to bring more students into the education mainstream and their services continue to be required to provide quality education to the students. Hence, it is appropriate that they should be made permanent,'' he said, adding the Thane Municipal Corporation had already done it.

He asked the BMC education department to send a copy of the proposal to him and to the municipal commissioner so that the matter can expedited.

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Thane minor raped by spurned lover

THANE: Incidents of crime against women continue unabated here as the city police has arrested a 22-year-old youth and are on the lookout for his friend who assisted him in kidnapping and raping of a 16-year-old minor girl from the lake city.

Manish alias Mashal Gangaram Shingne was said to be in a relationship with a 16-year-old who resided in the Waghbil area at Kasarvadavli. Police claimed that Shingne along with his friend Dheeraj Kolekar waylaid the school-going girl while she was on her way home last week.

The two who were on the motorcycle forced the girl to sit pillon and rode away with her to a secluded spot at Wagbil. Police said though Shinge and the girl were familiar with one another, she had off late refused to meet him and this probably irked the 22-year-old youth.

"While the boy was desperate to meet her, she had turned down his earlier request. Apparently, Shingne had abused her and her family and this was the reason for her disapproval of him. The more she avoided him, the more he was desperate to get even with her. On Friday when she was on her way home, Shingne and Kolekar stopped hr and forced her on the motorcycle,'' a police official from Kasarvadavli police said.

The girl was taken to an isolated place near Waghbil Lake where Shinge forced her into a house and is said to have raped the girl. Later, he instructed his friend Kolekar to hail an autorickshaw for himself and asked him to drop the girl home on the motorcycle, police said.

On reaching home, the victim complained of stomach ace and informed her parents of the sexual assault by Shingne. A complaint was registered against the boy and his aide following which Shinge was arrested from his residence and booked under the IPC for kidnapping, wrongful confinement and rape, under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

Kolekar, however, managed to escape and the police are on the lookout for him for his involvement in the crime.

Shinge has been remanded to police custody till April 5,

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Thane doctor charges realty firm of cheating

THANE: A medical practitioner here has complained against a real estate firm for allegedly duping him of lakhs of rupees paid towards booking amount of two flats at an under construction site near Bhiwandi by-pass.

Dr Shekhar Suradkar, president of the Thane chapter of Indian Medical Practitioner Association, said he will take the realty firm to court on charges of cheating. He said the construction giant cancelled the allotment of his two flats stating that there was a delay in releasing the next installment to the firm.

Dr Suradkar said he had booked two flats in an upcoming township project near Bhiwandi by-pass in 2012 which is being developed by a prominent housing construction firm. A cheque payment of Rs five lakhs was made to the developer firm at the time of the booking. On April 9, 2012, the construction firm issued an allotment letter to Dr Suradkar and asked him to release the next installment after registration of the flat.

However, I fell ill sometime in June 2012 and I was required to rest at home for a long period. As my movement was restricted I communicated to the company about my ill health and informed them about my inability to pay the first installment as per the scheduled date,'' Dr Suradkar said.

The company officials are understood to have responded to Dr Suradkar's letter and asked him to pay his installment by July 27, 2012. However, to my utter shock I got a mail from the company on July 20, 2012 informing me about the cancellation of both the flats due to non-payment of the first installment. I was surprised as to how the company could issue two contradictory letters and sought a clarification on it,'' Dr Suradkar said.

When he went to the company office to deposit his first installment, an official there is understood to have told him that the allotment has been cancelled and the deposit amount of Rs five lakh has been forfeited.

It is nothing but daylight robbery and that to by a construction firm of a high repute. I am filing a criminal complaint in the court against them. A delay of two days in payment of installment has resulted in cancellation of flats and non-refund of the booking amount. It is a criminal offence and I will fight against the injustice and such intimidatory tactics of the developer,'' Dr Suradkar said.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Minor sons of DCP Banerjee echo claim of accident death

THANE: The two minor children of DCP Sanjay Banerjee are understood to have told the Kapurbawdi police here that their father's death was an accident as the bullet fired on its own after falling off the holster.

The brothers, Arjun (14) and Ashutosh (7) were having their lunch with their parents at Goa Portugesa hotel on March 23 when the police officer is believed to have pulled out his service revolver and shot himself dead. The two children and their mother Sushmita are eye-witness to the entire incident.

Police officials said the two children were echoing the same statement made by their mother who revised her earlier statement and subsequently claimed that her husband's death was an accident and not suicide.

Sushmita is an educated women and the family is aware of the legal and police procedures. There is a possibility that she is being tutored to give a statement which is safe and does not put the spotlight on either the department or on his personal life,'' a police officer associated with the investigation told TOI.

She had initially told the police that DCP Banerjee was under tremendous work pressure and this could have provoked him to take the extreme step. It is learnt that DCP Banerjee was not paid salary for over four months as his post in the Anti-Terrorism Squad was still to be ratified by the state finance department. The needle of suspicion for DCP Banerjee's violent end was sought to be put towards the state department and the police force.

However, we have another key witness who has seen DCP Banerjee hold the pistol to his head and shoot himself. The hotel manager Vikas Nimkar has recorded his statement giving a detail account of what transpired since the Banerjee family walked into the hotel at 3 pm for their lunch. The DCP had gulped down four to five tequila shots and also consumed two bottles of beer before he pulled out his pistol and fired a shot at himself. He slumped down and there was a blood on the dining table, wall and the floor,'' a police official said.

Meanwhile, the investigation team is unwilling to accept the claim of accidental death as is being stated by the Banerjee family. It is an impossible that the Austrian-made Glock pistol would fire on its own after falling off the holster. Police officers always keep their service pistol locked as a safety precaution and Banerjee would not be an exception to the rule. Also the pistol was tied to a rope entangled on Banerjees body and is unlikely that it could fall on the floor,'' an official said.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Housing developers' body to ensure speedy approvals

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 30 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Mumbai's leading developers' association has said it is committed to bring the industry back on track by ensuring speedy approvals for ongoing projects. Several small-time builders have been complaining of slow clearances from the government resulting in delay of a projects. Lalit Jain, new chairman of Credai, said the body has been campaigning for long for streamlining the approval processes across the country.

"In fact the centre should issue guidelines to states regarding online approvals and single window system," he said and pointed out that the states like Punjab which have implemented Single window system are doing very well. This will help check corruption to a large extent and the money saved would definitely benefit the end buyer, he added. Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India has over 10,000 members across 20 cities.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

UN regrets Canada's withdrawal from drought convention

MUMBAI: The United Nations today conveyed regret over the Government of Canada's withdrawal from the UN Convention to Combat Desertification The convention is the only legally legally binding instrument to addresses desertification, land degradation and drought.

""The Convention is stronger than ever before, which makes Canada's decision to withdraw from the Convention all the more regrettable,"" the UNCCD secretariat said in a press release from Germany. ""We believe Canada will seize every opportunity to support efforts to sustain the implementation of the Convention for the good of present and future generations,"" the UNCCD said.

The treaty essentially seeks to safeguard key resources such as food, water and energy security, and to build the resilience of rural ecosystems to absorb climatic shocks like droughts.

Canada contributed around three percent of the total convention's budget.

Only time will tell what implications this withdrawal would have on countries like India which are signatories to the treaty. This is perhaps all the more pertinent at a time when at least four states are in the thick of a drought.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Developers' lobby to lobby with finance ministry

MUMBAI: The apex body of developers in Mumbai has said it is lobbying hard with the finance ministry for relaxing certain norms. C Shekar Reddy, newly elected national president of CREDAI, said the apex body has been campaigning with the ministry and RBI for reducing the risk weightage given for funding the real estate projects.

The current negative approach is helping neither the banks nor developers, he said. "CREDAI will focus on educating the fellow developer community on developing green buildings, using non-conventional energy sources and water conservation. Recycling of water for flushing and gardening purposes should automatically be part of all new projects," Mr Reddy said.

On skill development, he said the industry would need close to 40 million skilled workers on an incremental basis in next ten years or so.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Does a rise in incentives to pregnant women truly reflect better maternal healthcare?

MUMBAI: The ministry of health and family welfare released new figures this week towards implementation of the Janani Suraksha Yojana(JSY), a scheme aimed at reduction in infant and maternal mortality by improving coverage of institutional delivery among pregnant women.

"From a modest figure of 7.39 lakhs pregnant women as beneficiaries in 2005-06, JSY has achieved a phenomenal success by providing cash assistance to nearly 109.37 lakhs pregnant women in 2011-12," stated the ministry. The scheme's financial expenditure has increased from 38 croresin 2005-06 to 1,552.85 croresin 2011-12.

While the figures are certainly encouraging, the ministry ought to also evaluate the scheme on its grassroots functioning. Beneficiaries of the JSY often face delay in receiving their payments, and it would be worth analysing whether the payment still serves its purpose as an incentive.

In areas where public hospitals are dilapidated and under-staffed, does the mere number of deliveries in-hospital serve as a sufficient indicator of success? Should we factor in the suffering of pregnant women or their newborns towards truly improving maternal health in the country?

The JSY is implemented under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) since 2005-06. The scheme provides for cash assistance to all pregnant women for giving birth in a health facility in the eight EAG States (i.e. Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, OdishaRajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand) and in Jammu & Kashmir and Assam. In other States, pregnant women belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) and those who are from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) are eligible for the conditional cash transfer if they undergo institutional delivery in a health facility.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Assault on Punjab cop has a demoralizing effect on the forces

MUMBAI: In an unhealthy trend that seems to be growing momentum across the country, an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) of the Punjab Police allegedly died following a scuffle with a truck driver near Sidhuwal village of the district.

Preliminary reports indicate that the incident occurred after ASI Ravinderpal Mangat, (37), signalled a speeding truck to stop at a check point near the campus. The speeding driver allegedly failed to slow down, following which Singh gave him a chase which led to a scuffle. The ASI was allegedly hit with an iron rod.

The incident bears close resemblance to assault on a cop in Maharashtra. Sub-inspector Sachin Suryavanshi of the Mumbai police was allegedly thrashed by elected representatives in the legislature, for previously stopping an MLAs car on March 18. The incident has resulted in a tussle between the local police and legislators resulting in the suspension of the policeman for want of evidence about the assault on him.

Incidents like these lower the morale of the entire police force, a profession that is already suffering from conditions of overwork and frugal pay. Furthermore, it will dis-incentivise policemen from initiating action on offenders for fear of a backlash like these incidents.

While the police force might face its own shortfalls, such attacks must be condemned and action initiated against culprits at the earliest.

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Have the courage to innovate: R Chidambaram

MUMBAI: Eminent scientist of BARC, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, Professor Padmavibhushan Dr. R Chidambaram has kept his view on Research and Innovation System under EYES Series Lectures Organized by University of Mumbai on Saturday he says if we want to become a knowledge driven economy then we should also have the courage to be the initiators of new advance technologies.

While talking about the critical technologies for India he included Strategic ones such as nuclear space, defence related technologies, those related to energy, security food and nutritional security health and water security, environmental security, advance material and knowledge based securities such as Nano tech, IT etc and while talking about component of an excellent research ecosystem he said that we must encourage talented young people and build high quality facilities in schools. Adquate funding, strong infrastucture, an appetite for risk taking are a must, he added. "We must support both Basic and Applied Research for National Development."

While talking about great scientists and researchers, he said that leaders create their own ecosystem, just as Srinivasa Ramanuja the magical genius, C V Raman who created next generation of Physics, Homi Bhabha who created an entire field of Atomic Energy and J.N. Tata who went on to be an indigenous manufacturer

While talking about great and excellent institutions, he mentioned the name of Gottingen University in Germany which is Associated with 45 Nobel Laureates. While closing his lecture he talked about the National Knowledge Network and how it is important for developing countries which that can further the cause of education.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

BMC plans to make south Mumbai parking costlier

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 29 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The BMC plans to introduce variable parking rates in the city. It is working on a new policy to revise parking rates and make them area-specific. The rates will be higher in areas like Nariman Point where there is a greater demand for parking.

In the same policy, the BMC is also looking at fining vehicle owners who park illegally. People manning parking lots would be given handheld devices with inbuilt cameras with which they will be able to take pictures of illegally parked vehicles and also note their numbers. If it would be impossible to recover the penalty from the vehicle owner on the spot, the data could be sent to the regional transport office, which would be able to recover the fine once the owner came to renew the vehicle's registration.

"We are in the process of finalizing a new parking policy, in which a lot of things will be worked out to minimize illegal parking," said additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta; the number of parking and no-parking zones in the city would be revised and areas looked at where public parking lots can be opened.

There are approximately 6.5 lakh cars in the city and over 14 lakh two wheelers. But the number of public parking lots is a mere 93.

On Thursday, the BMC made a presentation to standing committee members on how the hi-tech web-based parking system would work. Printed receipts will be generated by the handheld device. The data of the receipts will be transferred to the central BMC server. The system includes an option to book parking slots online.

The system failed to impress corporators, who said they would take a decision once the BMC was ready with the new parking policy.

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40 new locals on Western Railway from today

MUMBAI: Western Railway will introduce 40 new services, including 16 fifteen-car services and two ladies specials, on Friday. The time table has been planned in a manner to bring relief to commuters staying between Borivli and Virar.

Of the 40 services, 19 are up and 21 down trains. While four services are between Andheri and Churchgate, two are between Bandra and Churchgate. The remaining 36 will cater to Borivli-Virar , which has witnessed a huge growth in the commuter population in recent years due to an increase in residential settlements. These services will originate or terminate at Borivli, Andheri, Dadar and Churchate.

WR's general manager Mahesh Kumar said, "With this, the total number of WR services will increase from 1,250 to 1,290. It will create an additional carrying capacity of 1.75 lakh per day."

WR's chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, "During the evening peak hours, we had at least one ladies' special service between 5pm and 7pm. The new service will run between 7pm and 8pm."

In the up direction, the new ladies' special will start from Vasai Road at 9.56am. In the return direction, it will start from Churchgate at 7.40pm.

WR had also decided to convert 10 nine-car services on the main line to 12-car ones. Of the 40, nine will run during peak hours, including six 15-car services. Chandrayan said that most of the newly introduced 15-car services would either operate or terminate at Dadar and Virar.

WR is yet to formalize plans to run services up to Dahanu.

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Mumbai wall collapse kills 5

MUMBAI: Five persons were killed and three others injured after an explosion occurred in an industrial unit in Sakinaka area of the city today, fire brigade officials said.

A fire broke out in the unit following the explosion which was reported at around 2 AM in the industrial unit in Andheri, they added.

Four fire engines and three ambulances were rushed to the spot, the official said, adding that eight persons, who were injured, were rushed to Rajawari hospital, where five were declared dead.

The exact cause was not yet clear but officials suspect it might be due to a cylinder blast.

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Explosion in Mumbai's industrial area kills 5

MUMBAI: Five persons were killed and three others injured after an explosion occurred in an industrial unit in Sakinaka area of the city today, fire brigade officials said.

A fire broke out in the unit following the explosion which was reported at around 2 AM in the industrial unit in Andheri, they added.

Four fire engines and three ambulances were rushed to the spot, the official said, adding that eight persons, who were injured, were rushed to Rajawari hospital, where five were declared dead.

The exact cause was not yet clear but officials suspect it might be due to a cylinder blast.

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Teenaged girl kidnapped, murdered in Ratnagiri

RATNAGIRI: A teenaged girl was allegedly kidnapped and later murdered by an unidentified man here, police said today.

The 14-year-old victim was kidnapped by a person when she was returning home from school at Sangalat near Khed in Ratnagiri district yesterday.

Later, when the villagers searched for her they found the body, bearing wounds apparently inflicted by a sharp weapon.

A case has been registered in this regard, Khed police said, adding that a search for the killer was on while they were also trying to find out if the girl was sexually assaulted before being murdered.

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Mumbaikars take part in Earth Hour

MUMBAI: Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. (RInfra), the leading power distribution company in Mumbai, in solidarity with the Earth Hour initiative followed across the globe, ensured maximum participation of its consumers in the campaign to save energy.

RInfra spokesperson informed that Mumbaikars in suburbs voluntarily switched off the power supply to their premises for one hour saving a large amount of energy. According to sources suburbs saved around 35 to 40 MW of the total 71 MW saved by Mumbai during the Earth Hour last Saturday between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm.

Spokesperson, RInfra, while commenting on the initiative said, "We had requested all Mumbaikars, irrespective of their service provider, to come together for the cause and unequivocally support the cause by switching off all their non-essential appliances and gadgets during the hour." He further added, "RInfra was committed to the cause through its various initiatives in conservation of energy, food, water, paper, etc. that contribute towards the cause."

Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that urges households and businesses across the world to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour at the appointed time to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Retd teachers may check university papers

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 28 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: If the government has its way, then it will be the second year in a row for Mumbai University to have its exam answer sheets evaluated by temporary, contractual and maybe even retired teachers. The government has taken this decision to finish evaluation on time across all universities in the state, not ready to depend on teachers who are boycotting exam work.

Though academicians and students are apprehensive about the suggestion, some believe the government resolution, issued on March 20, is a precaution and the matter will be resolved subsequently.

"Last year, Mumbai University had lowered the bar for the qualification of evaluators. According to the rule, the minimum teaching experience for an evaluator is supposed to be three years, but last year, those with one-year experience also assessed papers," a principal said. "The move had raised doubts about the quality of evaluation. It will be a repeat of last year, if seasoned teachers do not correct papers." Complaining that the government did not seem to have higher education as priority, she said if papers were assessed by temporary teachers, the universities would need senior teachers for moderation.

A TYBCom student, Rajan N, said, "We will question the assessment quality if last year's process is repeated. Many may go for revaluation."

St Andrews College principal Marie Fernandes said, "I have only three teachers in my degree college for exam work, against the requirement of 18. We do not even have question papers ready for the first- and second-year exams."

Usha Mukundan, principal of RJ College in Ghatkopar, seemed confident of teachers resuming work. "The teachers will definitely participate in assessment." Another principal said several teachers were upset by the turn of events. "With the government not showing sign of resolving the issue, many teachers don't want to extend the boycott. If exams are postponed, it will affect the students as well as their vacation plans," said the principal.

Times View: Students don't deserve this

Is a hassle-free examination and evaluation process asking for too much? This is the second in a year in a row when the evaluation process is under a cloud, primarily because of fears that the regular evaluators may not do the job. This is not a comment on the merit or the qualification of stand-in evaluators; but students do not deserve a system that cannot guarantee them a regular, no-tension evaluation process.

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Govt heat on netas aiding dance bars

MUMBAI: Admitting that dance bars continued to operate in certain parts of the state, the government on Tuesday warned of strict action against public representatives found supporting such illegal activities.

Home minister R R Patil made the announcement during a discussion on law and order in the legislative council. He said there was "some rise" in crimes against women, but "compared to other states, Maharashtra was more secure for women and people from socially disadvantaged sections.

Shiv Sena's Anil Parab had shared a list of functional dance bars. Patil said warning had been issued to 125 senior inspectors in whose jurisdiction complaints of bars being functional had been received. Action has been taken against 211 cops, he said. Promotions of 41 inspectors have been put on hold, 14 have been fined and 31 have been issued warnings, he informed. Patil said a paucity of funds had impacted certain police reforms.

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Sight lost, her securities are hard work & resolve

MUMBAI: It Bait was a mid-November afternoon in 2012. Vishakha More was in Jaipur, combining post-Diwali celebrations with a family reunion. She then got a call from a friend who informed her that she had been given the Best Employee Award by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. About three months later, More, an assistant general manager for market regulation at Sebi, was at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, where she received the citation from President Pranab Mukherjee.

It was a high point in the 41-year-old More's career, who, before joining the regulator in 2004, had struggled for years to get a permanent job despite having excelled in academics and extra-curricular activities. More has been disadvantaged because of her blindness, which had developed during her early years.

In 1993, she graduated in political science (honours) from Delhi's Hindu College. Three years later, she completed her part-time MBA from Delhi's Fore School of Management, where she was a gold medallist. Outside of academics, she also completed a special course in trekking from the world-famous Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling and subsequently trekked at an altitude of about 13,000 feet in the Himalayas.

After joining the regulatory body, her life changed completely, so much so that she now says she can't think of life beyond Sebi and doesn't even want to. At work she uses two softwares, JAWS (Job Access With Speech) and OCRS (Optical Character Recognition Software), to read files and emails, while her notes and markers are in Braille. With anything handwritten she receives help from colleagues.

"My success, my 100%, is always a combination of the efforts of the people I work with and those of my own," More said when a colleague pointed out that she was one of the most capable officers in Sebi's market regulations department.

After spending nearly 14 years in the city, she calls herself a Mumbaikar and feels strongly about the sense of safety the city offers -- from travelling to buying vegetables, to shopping and so on. Of late, however, with all the cases of atrocities against women in the news, she's slightly perturbed. "I feel strongly about those who do not have the facilities that I enjoy," More said.

Does she miss anything? "Yes. I miss long walks. I want to walk alone around the place I live. But whenever I have tried I have almost always ended up at a wrong place," she said. So, what's the solution? "I think the roads should be more straight than what they are, which would be of great help to people like me. My feeling is such sensibilities will develop over time."

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Making a mark on a man’s turf

MUMBAI: Horseracing is a rugged sport. Horses are strong athletes; they possess raw pace packed into a muscular powerhouse of 400 kilos that gallops at top speed. The image of those in the business of horseracing, then, ought to be macho. However, there are those who stand apart in this male-dominated sport. Over the years, there have been ladies in this profession.

Currently, there are two female racehorse trainers in Mumbai. One fell in love with horses at a very tender age; the other grew up amidst horses. For Nina Lalvani it was a grind right from start, whereas Nazak Chenoy is the daughter of leading trainer Bezan Chenoy. Despite having only a few horses in their care, both Nina and Nazak are slowly, but steadily, making their mark in the field.

"I wish I had more horses to train," says 39-year-old Nina, who has been at it for 13 years. "The challenge is to keep working with whatever I have and strive for better results." Nina has 20 horses in training.

"It is all about a passion for equines," says Nina who got hooked to magnificent thoroughbreds at the age of five when she learned riding at the Amateur Riders' Club nestled in a corner of the Mahalaxmi racecourse. Nina secured a trainer's licence in 1999 after working as an assistant for six years under two different trainers.

How do they compete against their male counterparts? "It's all about the kind of horses you have. It's a good horse that makes a great trainer," observes 30-year-old Nazak, who is one of the most qualified trainers in Mumbai. She has completed a four-year BSc course in equine science from the Royal Agricultural College, in Cirencester, England. The course involved topics like nutrition, genetics and physiology, breeding and racing.

Lady trainers have not been too successful in Mumbai. Nazak says, "Not many women have tried their hand in this profession." Two others, Irene Patel and Aarti Doctor, did not make a big impact. While Irene retired about a decade ago, Aarti moved to Kolkata at about the same time and now trains there.

A trainer's office begins 4.30am. Work means overseeing horses go through their daily exercise, which includes the trot, canter, gallop or even swimming, depending on how soon they have to get racing fit. After this routine gets over at around 9.30, there is paperwork.

Quality time is spent on planning strategies to place horses in races. This goes on until noon. A few hours break and they are back at the stables. The evenings are set aside to meet owners and discuss plans to run their horses.

"This profession takes a toll on your social life, but you learn to live with it," says Nina, without regret.

Do horses respond differently to the touch of female trainers? "No," says Nazak, "They respond to both male and female trainers neutrally. They don't care who you are, but they certainly understand how much you care for them," says Nazak, who trains 14 horses.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

From homemakers to breadwinners

Amid the teeming millions in India's economic capital, there remain a large number of women who have joined the workforce after a prolonged domesticated existence. Seldom had most of them stepped into a bank or written a cheque until circumstance forced them to do so. But once they had to overcome their diffidence, they faced the challenge and took charge of their own fate.

A young widow with two small children, whose businessman husband was killed in the 26/11 attacks, found herself thrown into the deep end all of a sudden. She had till then led a protected existence in upscale south Mumbai. Life revolved around overseeing the children's education and extra-curricular activities. She socialized with a privileged peer group that discussed finances, mostly with reference to luxury purchases and foreign holidays. The November '08 terrorist attack brought this dream world crashing down.

"Apart from the trauma of losing my husband in a brutal manner, what petrified me was that I knew nothing of his business. I had never signed a cheque before. Fortunately, my husband had a loyal staff who showed me the ropes when I took his chair a year later," says the woman who wished to remain unnamed. Four years later, the company has recouped and is running as it did in his time.

Women from all sections of society have faced the challenge of suddenly having to step out of the house and fend for their families in the working world.

Urmila Salunkhe, programme officer at Akshara, an organization working for women's empowerment, said, "A whole generation of middle-class Maharashtrian housewives suddenly found the home economy rudderless when their husbands lost their jobs as textile workers after the mills closed down in the early 1980s. Many women did what they could do best to keep the home fires burning. They either became domestic workers or began to run 'khanavals' or tiffin services for migrant workers whose families had not accompanied them to Mumbai. Here, too, there was vast competition from roadside eateries and small hotels. Housewives found themselves at a disadvantage because they were not savvy at marketing their skills."

Salunkhe said the homemaker who has never been part of the workforce is plagued by self-doubt. "Often she is not well educated, does not have her own bank account and is not exposed to the wide world. Domestic violence is also a grim reality," she said.

It takes one spark to light a fire, though. A former millworker's wife now leads a self-help group for a whole community in Prabhadevi. Rekha Devre, who knew little beyond home and hearth when her husband became unemployed, has become a beacon for others facing a similar predicament.

"The BMC runs a project known as the Mahila Bachat Gat, which empowers women by getting them to put aside small savings and obtain subsidized loans to set up private enterprises," she said.

Devre said scores of women, some above 50, who had never stepped outside their homes, are now the main breadwinners for their families. The Mahila Bachat Gat runs training programmes in making and selling various items, like chocolate, incense sticks, candles, washing powder and other household items. "Where the women once found stepping into a bank a daunting task, now they do not bat an eyelid while dealing with policemen," she laughed.

Going back to school was her class act

Life gave a rude jolt to Thane resident Sucheta Khot after her husband's flourishing business went bust overnight in 2007 and the family stared bankruptcy in the face. "We were living in luxury—a sprawling home in Vasant Vihar, a car, jewellery, the best of comforts—and suddenly the party came to an end. We were not prepared for it. Our children were growing. We had to sell the flat and buy a smaller tenement," said Khot.

The homemaker and mother of two—and master's degree holder in industry psychology—decided to roll up her sleeves and take things head-on. "Initially, I took up assignments with the HR division of companies in Thane, but my husband disliked the idea of me working in the daily grind. So I took up teaching assignments in schools and trained girls in classical dance. But, my true calling was psychology. So I teamed up with a clinical psychologist, and we decided to set up our own centre," Khot said.

The timing was inauspicious, given a series of personal tragedies. Moreover, her friend called off the partnership, leaving her to try her entrepreneurial skills alone. "I could not practise as a counselor, as I was not a clinical psychologist. Moreover, I was saddled with additional bills for the rented commercial space. I then chanced upon phonetics and took up classes to train children in speaking and introducing them to books through storytelling and songs," Khot said. From an initial enrollment of four children, she now heads a full-fledged institute that offers a bouquet of courses, from improving vocabulary skills to playing with colours. —Nitin Yeshwantrao

Catering to the household's needs

For Medha Deshpande, once a SoBo resident, life came full circle when her husband lost a high-paying job in 2000. The hopelessly optimistic Deshpande then took to being a multi-tasking businesswoman. A resident of Garden Enclave, Thane, she used her culinary skills to keep the home fires burning.

"It has been a long and tough journey over 12 years. Today, I run a small food empire, with assistants and a vehicle. My turnover is in lakhs," said Deshpande. "It was not all that rosy at first. My son and I went from house to house dropping pamphlets and urging people to give me business. We would get small orders and my son delivered parcels on his bicycle."

Life was tough given her husband's unemployment, ailing health and monthly commitments. "I was very difficult as my husband suffered a heart-attack and close relatives and friends virtually shunned us as they considered my work menial and lowly. But, there was no other option other than fight it out," Deshpande said.

Today, the gritty businesswoman has earned respect from her family and as an entrepreneur. "There was a time when we had no money to make purchases to complete a catering order. I would take an advance from clients to buy the goods. There were no utensils. If there was a big order, my son carried the cooker to the client's home and emptied the contents into their vessels." Deshpande recalled. Her fingers, badly bruised from cutting, chopping and cooking, are a reminder of her years of toil. —Nitin Yeshwantrao

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State or Centre to be blamed for Goa highway's bad condition?

MUMBAI: Experts in the transportation engineering sector have expressed surprise over the fact that national highway stretches in neighboring states were better in shape than those in Maharashtra and wondered whether their bad condition was the failure of the state government or the Centre.

"It is really surprising. How we can call Goa highway a National Highway if it does not have basic provisions such as Cat's eyes reflectors or dividers. Recent bus mishap which killed over 37 people a few days ago revealed that the bridge from which the bus fell down had only small pipe railings and did not have proper concrete railings or crash barriers," said A V Shenoy, a social and transportation activist .

"During my visit to Karnataka last month I saw both the National Highways as well as State Highways in will-maintained conditions. While returning to Mangalore in the night I saw the National Highway 13 beautifully asphalted (this I found on other State highways and most other roads also) and at all the blind curves there were cat's eye reflectors alongside and also on the divider line," he said. NH17 which runs ahead of Goa up to Mangalore is also in beautiful condition, he added.

"This brings up the question that whether it is the NHAI or the Maharashtra state which is responsible for the Mumbai - Goa highway's extremely bad condition? If National Highways can be maintained well in adjoining states, is it Maharashtra state which does not seem to bother about maintenance of roads such as NH17 thus resulting in so many accidents and deaths," said Shenoy.

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Holi celebrated with vigor in Mumbai

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 27 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Mumbai city and suburbs erupted in colours as thousands poured out of houses and building complexes from early Wednesday to play Rang Panchami.

Excited youngsters grabbed an early start in the celebrations, followed by youths and the elders who joined in later.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Mumai Police urged people to play a safe holi.

Keeping in mind concerns over water wastage, large crowds of Mumbaikars and people in Thane moved to the coastal areas and played holi on beaches.

Film and television stars have also appealed to people to celebrate a safe holi without using dangerous colours.

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J&K unrest forces corporators to scout for locations for educational tour

MUMBAI: When it comes to an educational tour, Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) corporators do not mind visiting any state or country.

Nine corporators of MBMC's Tree Authority Committee, along with six officials were to travel to Jammu and Kashmir on March 21, to study the environmental aspect of the state. An amount of Rs 15 lakhs was earmarked for the tour.

However, due to the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, the corporators have decided to cancel the tour. They have now begun scouting for other locations like Darjeeling and Sikkim for the educational tour. Some corporators have even suggested Nepal and Bhutan.

Congress corporators Suresh Mhatre, Dipti Bhat along with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) corporator Dinesh Jain had moved the proposal to tour Jammu and Kashmir. The proposal was cleared without any objections from the parties.

Last year the committee members had toured Himachal Pradesh. None of the committee members submitted a report on how the tour was beneficial for the MBMC.

Owing to the drought situation in the state, the civic administration has decided to send the educational tour proposal to the state government for final approval. The standing committee members of the MBMC are also awaiting the government nod for their Malaysia trip later this month.

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Mysterious fire ruins mango trees in Palghar

MUMBAI: Around 120 mango trees belonging to a retired school teacher were reduced to ashes in a mysterious fire which raged his orchard in Edwan, a small village in Palghar, around 100 kms from Mumbai. The cause of fire has not been ascertained.

Pramod Raut (70) a resident of Kandivali turned to farming after retiring as the head master of a Marathi medium school in Goregaon in 2002. He planted mango saplings in his 2.5 acres plot in the Edwan village.

Raut who focused on organic farming said, "I was shocked when I got a telephone call informing that my orchard was on fire," said Raut who along with his son rushed to Palghar to find his life's savings reduced to ask.

Raut said that though he did not suspect anybody he is certain that the fire was set by miscreants in the village who were upset with his trees. He suspects that the bundles of hay stacked in his orchard for organic manure may have been set on fire which engulfed the trees. A case has been registered with the Safhale police station.

Unfortunately for Raut he had failed to insure his trees against unknown calamities. He had planted varieties of mangoes including Alphonso, Kesar and Langda. The loss is estimated at over Rs 12 lakhs.

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Single mother brings her own reality to art

MUMBAI: Kolkata-based artiste Eleena Banik is holding a solo exhibition in Mumbai based on the theme of single motherhood drawing from experience. The show is being held at Jehangir Art Gallery from April 2-8.

Eleena says it was her own dilemma as a single mother that prompted her to highlight the issue. "I have a ten-month-old baby and I have been forced to be away from him for the first time owing to my work," she says. "It's not as if all my single mother artworks were created in the last ten months, though. I was fascinated by motherhood even before."

An alumnus of Viswa Bharati University at Santiniketan, Eleena underwent a divorce as the struggle to reconcile the demands of domestic life and a career as a painter became tougher by the day. Seeking quiet time to paint in the studio became difficult. "Art is my only source of livelihood so I need to market my paintings well," Eleena says.

Her web site classifies her art as "expressionistic". Her style has grown out of her "existential dilemma of living in a metropolitan city like Kolkata where she was brought up as the only child of working parents". For seven years she studied art at Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, where she became familiar with Rabindranath Tagore through art, literature and music. Eastern aesthetics, especially the Chinese Taoist philosophy, made an imprint on her.
Eleena has travelled worldwide doing solo and group exhibitions.

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Donate directly to CM’s drought fund

MUMBAI: Citizens who wish to contribute towards Maharashtra government's drought mitigation efforts can now directly deposit a cheque with the State Bank of India (SBI) or with the divisional commissioner or district collector.

In an effort to make it easy for citizens to contribute toward drought relief under the Chief minister's Relief Fund (Drought 2013), the chief minister's office has informed that a cheque for savings bank account no 32860305777, SBI, Fort Branch, can be deposited directly with any SBI branch. The contributor then needs to send a copy of the bank receipt to the accountant, drought relief cell, Mantralaya. A receipt will be issued against the same.

Divisional Commissioners and district collectors will have to ensure that cheques and bank drafts reach the cell at the beginning of every week, said the CMO. For more information citizens can all Ms Patankar (accountant) on 022-22793759/22026948/9833428046.

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Panel recommends action for violation

MUMBAI: The State Environment Appraisal Committee -2 (SEAC-2) has refused to appraise a construction proposal submitted by M/s Raheja Universal (Raheja International Corporate City-II earlier known as I Quest) as it had carried out the construction without environment clearance.

The company has constructed two incubation sheds at the Trans-Thane Creek Industrial Estate, MIDC, Navi Mumbai in 2009 and these will remain for the next ten years. The SEAC-2 before the project was submitted for an environment clearance said it is mandatory to obtain the clearance before undertaking construction. Thus the construction was in violation of Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006.

"The Environment department/State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) after due verification may initiate credible action under Environment Protection Act, 1986 as per the office memorandum dated December 2012 issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Further the proposal will be appraised only after due examination and appropriate action by the Environment department/SEIAA,'' said the report of the SEAC-2

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JJ dean in a spot after 3 sent to jail stay in hospital

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 26 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The hospitalization of three accused who were sent to judicial custody by a court has landed JJ Group of Hospitals dean Dr T P Lahane in a controversy.

A team of doctors from the government-run GT Hospital said in a report to the court that they admitted the three persons accused of involvement in naphtha and oil adulteration following instructions to the effect from Lahane, said special public prosecutor Pradip Gharat.

The CBI had complained to the court against the conduct of the accused and the hospital officials.

Dr Lahane denied he had given instructions to admit the three accused to GT.

"They (doctors) informed me about the accused, so I told them that if they felt that admission was required, they should do it," he said. "I cannot just ask doctors to admit anyone. I have never asked anyone to admit somebody without necessity in the last 30 years."

The accused, Antim Totla, his father Bhagwandas Totla and brother in-law Prakash Jakethe, surrendered before the CBI court on March 14 and were sent to judicial custody. The judge instructed a medical examination be conducted, as is done in all cases.

"The three were taken to GT Hospital at 6.45 pm and later admitted for high blood pressure, chest pain, vomiting and several other ailments," said a doctor at GT Hospital. Kept in the ICU for a while, they were later transferred to the general ward.

They were discharged from hospital the next day and shifted to Arthur Road jail after the CBI complained to the court.

"When the trio was brought here, doctors felt they required admission and they were kept under observation," GT superintendent Dr Jitendra Sankpal said.

On why the three were not sent to the JJ Hospital prisoner ward, Sankpal said: "There was a court order to examine them in this hospital."

Gharat said: "The judge observed that the patients were examined by three doctors, who stated they admitted the accused after the dean asked them to do so. If so, it is a serious matter. The doctors informed neither the court nor the jail."

Gharat has asked the court to summon the doctors.

"I just want to know if they were so serious and admitted to ICU, then how come all three of them became alright and were discharged very next day?" Gharat said.

The court will hear the matter on Tuesday.

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Man sets own house on fire to vacate tenants

KALYAN: The Kolsewadi police arrested a Kalyan (E) resident, Masid Shaikh (45), for setting his house on fire.

Shaikh had rented out his house to one Narayan Shetty. According to the police, Shaikh set the house on fire on Sunday night as the tenants were not vacating it.

Shetty's family was in the house at the time of the incident but escaped unhurt. Shaikh has three houses in Nehru Nagar slum, Kalyan (E), out of which two have been rented out and he resides with his family in the third one, said the police.

Since the past couple of months, Shaikh had been asking Shetty to vacate the house. On Sunday at 7pm, an angry and drunk Shaikh came with a kerosene bottle and set the house on fire.

"Neighbours helped control the fire before it could spread," said sub-inspector V K Hire. On enquiring, the Shetty family came to know that Shaikh was behind the fire. On Monday, the family lodged a police complaint.

Shaikh was arrested and booked under IPC's Section 436. He was sent to judicial custody.

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Panel to check coastal pollution, if catch edible

MUMBAI: Acknowledging the rise in pollution of coastal waters that is affecting marine life and fishing, the state government on Monday appointed a high-level committee to check the problem and take preventive measures.

Fisheries minister Madhukar Chavan informed the legislative council that the committee, which will comprise representatives from the state pollution control board, revenue department, fisheries department and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), will meet once in three months to review the pollution.

NCP's Prakash Binsale said the government should check whether catch from coastal waters for fit for consumption, to which Chavan said this too would be done. A heated discussion on industrial and chemical pollution of coastal waters took place during the question hour. Initiating the discussion, BJP's Vijay Girkar claimed there has been a huge decline in fishing activity and sought compensation for fishermen. He said the fishing industry should be declared "drought-affected".

Chavan, however, said fishing activity in seas remained unaffected and there was no case to declare the industry as "drought-affected". But he acknowledged that discharge of industrial and chemical sewage into coastal waters in parts of Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg had led to decline in fishing.

He said nearly 24 sewerage treatment plants were operational in these parts to deal with the industrial sewage. Referring to a related court case, Chavan informed the legislative council that weekly water samples were being taken to monitor the pollution levels.

BJP's Ashish Shelar sought a financial stimulus for the fishing industry, while Vidya Chavan (NCP) said mangroves too were being damaged due to the industrial discharge.

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‘How is drought relief reaching the needy?’

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday directed the state to file an affidavit stating what mechanism it has in place to monitor whether drought relief is reaching the needy.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta heard a petition by advocate Machindra Patil for direction to the state to allow a private panel comprising five members to visit the drought hit area as observers. Patil's advocate Satish Borulkar said the state has spent Rs 1,354 crore on relief operations for cattle fodder and water tankers and plans to spend Rs 1,000 crore more.

"There has to be a civil society committee to observe if it has been properly disbursed. The team will work as a watchdog," he added, saying that the panel will not hamper relief work and will not be a financial burden. Retired HC judge Balchandra Vagyani is also part of the panel along with Patil, Borulkar, an MLA and a journalist.

The judges asked why the panel required a court order and could not approach the government directly. Borulkar said the government had not replied to their representation. "It does not want to create a parallel machinery. But where is the existing machinery?" asked Borulkar. A government's advocate said it is a policy matter and the petitioner must make a representation to the court. The judges told the government to file its reply and posted the next hearing on April 3, 2013.

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Breach of privilege case to get new amicus curiae

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC will appoint a new amicus curiae in a petition challenging breach of privilege notices issued to a caste scrutiny committee member after advocate general Darius Khambata sought a discharge.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta on Monday heard a plea by Shriniwas Karve, suspended vice-chairman of Scheduled Tribe Certificate Scrutiny Committee, to set aside the breach of privilege proceedings.

The motions were moved by legislative council opposition leader (BJP) Pandurang Phundkar, MLA (Cong) Yashomati Thakur and MLA (NCP) Suresh Dhas.

In 2012, the HC had appointed Khambata as amicus curiae. But, Khambata submitted that he has learnt that a breach of privilege motion has been moved against him in a Vidarbha case. "I have not yet received a notice. It is appropriate that I don't appear as amicus curiae," said Khambata.

Earlier, Karve's advocates Anil Anturkar and Shrishailya Deshmukh said as a member of the caste scrutiny committee, Karve is a quasi-judicial authority and his decision can be challenged only before a division bench of HC. They said Karve is also a judge under Judges (Protection) Act and when Phundkar demanded to know why Karve had given a decision against the former's supporter, the latter said he is answerable only to HC. He said the HC must decide whether members are entitled to privileges outside the House. "We are under the HC's protective wing under Article 227," he said.

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Mumbai slips to 66th rank among world's leading financial hubs: Survey

NEW DELHI: India's financial capital Mumbai slipped to 66th rank in the list of world's leading financial centres, but New Delhi failed to make a mark, according to the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) released on Tuesday.

GFCI which provides profiles, ratings and rankings for 79 financial centres worldwide ranked Mumbai at the 66th place, down three places from last year when it was ranked 63rd on the coveted list.

Mumbai is the only Indian city on the list, which was topped by London.

New York was ranked second in the list followed by Hong Kong and Singapore in the third and fourth place respectively.

Others in the top 10 are: Zurich (5th), Tokyo (6th), Geneva (7th), Boston (8th), Seoul (9th) and Frankfurt (10th).

Although New Delhi, the country's political hub, was added to the GFCI questionnaire recently and its progress was being monitored it failed to make it to the list.

Almaty, Baku, Busan, Guangzhou, Liechtenstein, New Delhi, Riga, Santiago, Tel Aviv and Tianjin have been added to the GFCI questionnaire recently and "we track their progress with interest" GFCI said, adding that "they have yet to acquire sufficient assessments to be included in the Index".

As many as 26 financial centres improved rankings from last year, 44 centres declined, 7 showed no change and 2 (Panama and Cyprus) entered the list for the first time.

All but six centres in the GFCI experienced a rise in the ratings.

According to the index, the 10 centres that are likely to become more significant in the next few years are: Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Luxembourg, Istanbul, Beijing and Moscow.

Interestingly, nearly 40 per cent of the centres included in the GFCI ranking are located in emerging markets as they gain prominence in the global economy and the financial world.

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Accused get copy of chargesheet in Juhu rave party case

Written By Unknown on Senin, 25 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Special NDPS court on Monday gave a copy of the chargesheet filed in a 'rave party' case to the accused, including IPL cricketer Rahul Sharma and actor couple Apoorva Agnihotri and Shilpa Agnihotri.

Mumbai Police had on March 6 filed the chargesheet in the case after which the court had summoned all the accused.

South African cricketer Wayne Parnell had been showed as a wanted accused in the chargesheet.

Sharma and the actor couple, along with others, had been rounded up after a raid on a suburban hotel.

The police had conducted a raid in May last year on a party at the hotel in suburban Juhu, where drugs were allegedly being consumed, and rounded up around 86 persons.

Police had filed a 1,200-page charge sheet against 86 persons while 35 accused, mostly foreigners, were shown as wanted, a police official had earlier said. The wanted accused include foreigners, who left the country after the medical examination.

The chargesheet named Vishay Handa, the Director of the hotel, DJs Deepesh Sharma and Rakesh Sharma, Agnihotris, and Sharma, among others.

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Juhu rave party: Rahul Sharma, Wayne Parnell charged with drug use

MUMBAI: The Special NDPS court on Monday gave a copy of the chargesheet filed in a 'rave party' case to the accused, including IPL cricketer Rahul Sharma and actor couple Apoorva Agnihotri and Shilpa Agnihotri.

Mumbai Police had on March 6 filed the chargesheet in the case after which the court had summoned all the accused.

South African cricketer Wayne Parnell had been showed as a wanted accused in the chargesheet.

Sharma and the actor couple, along with others, had been rounded up after a raid on a suburban hotel.

The police had conducted a raid in May last year on a party at the hotel in suburban Juhu, where drugs were allegedly being consumed, and rounded up around 86 persons.

Police had filed a 1,200-page charge sheet against 86 persons while 35 accused, mostly foreigners, were shown as wanted, a police official had earlier said. The wanted accused include foreigners, who left the country after the medical examination.

The chargesheet named Vishay Handa, the Director of the hotel, DJs Deepesh Sharma and Rakesh Sharma, Agnihotris, and Sharma, among others.

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New ATC tower to be inaugurated by October

MUMBAI: The new ATC tower at Mumbai airport is likely to be inaugurated by October this year.

The new tower is being constructed near the current domestic terminal.

According to officials at Mumbai airport, the tower is likely to be ready for handing over to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) by the end of March.

However, the installations for ATC management are likely to take another five to six months.

Officials said that once the tower in ready, it will be given to the ATC so that all the necessary equipment can be installed.

ATC officials also said that they would need to train their staff as per the requirements of the new tower.

"The entire process will take about six months," an official said.

Officials said that once the new tower is operational, the existing one can be demolished as it is a notified obstruction the flight path of the secondary runway.

"Many airlines, like Singapore airlines, do not land on secondary runway due to the presence of the tower," an airport official said.

Also, the view of the airport's operation area from the new tower would be much better. "Currently, there are many areas and parking lots which are beyond the controller's ambit of vision. The new location is likely to facilitate better view," said an ATC official.

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Citizens should spare a thought about water wastage this Holi

MUMBAI: As Mumbai gears up to celebrate Holi, the festival of colours, it is imperative that citizens don some responsibility and spare a thought about the colossal wastage of water during their celebrations. This is more pertinent as over 16 districts of Maharashtra, excluding the financial capital, are facing one of their worst droughts since 1972. Even drinking water is being rationed to such an extent, that many villages do not receive a single drop for a week, on end.

Here are some statistics to put the issue in perspective. A report recently released by the public policy think tank Observer Research Foundation showed that Mumbai wastes over 900 million litres of water every day. This is in fact, more than the water supplied to the entire city of Pune, everyday.

It is in the light of these glaring disparities that a number of social organizations have appealed to the public to douse their festivities with a dose of civic consciousness. "Let's be responsible citizens and do our part to conserve water by avoiding water-based colours this Holi," states an appeal from the Volunteers for a Better India.

While many believe socially-conscious appeals dent the spirit of popular festivals, it is up to citizens to adopt public-spirited measures.

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Murder of RTI activist in Bihar re-ignites calls for whisteblower protection act

MUMBAI: The murder of yet another Right to Information (RTI) activist, this time in Bihar, has re-ignited the calls for a national legislation to protect the rights of whistleblowers. Ram Thakur (48), a member of the Bihar NREGA Watch (to monitor the working of the government's flagship employment scheme) was allegedly shot dead on the evening of March 23. Thakur had allegedly been receiving death threats for speaking up against corruption in his village.

"The continued attack on whistleblowers underscores the urgent need for a strong whistleblower protection bill. However there has been no movement on the whistleblower bill for more than one year," says Ruchi Gupta of the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), adding that a weak whistleblower bill was introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session of 2010, and was passed in the Lok Sabha in the winter session of 2011.

The delay in the passage of the bill comes even as hundreds of activists across the country have been assaulted and some killed in the course of their exposes of corruption. To name a few was Satyendra Dubey, an IIT-Kanpur civil engineer who accused his employer, the national highway authority of widespread corruption and was killed in 2003 and S Manjunath, an Indian Oil corporation manager who exposed a racket in adulterated petrol and was shot dead in 2005 and Satish Shetty.

Transparency in governance is one of the hallmarks of a good democracy and it essential that the rights of those who work towards bringing such transparency are safeguarded. That is precisely why the Whistleblowers Protection Bill 2011 has been mooted. It seeks to establish a mechanism to register complaints on any allegations of corruption or willful misuse of power against a public servant. The bill mandates that any person making a public interest disclosure must identify himself and the vigilance committee shall not disclose his/her identity. Such laws are already in place in a number of countires including UK, USA, Canada and even smalle countries like Uganda and New Zealand.

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Assault on woman officer in Gadchiroli: HC notice to R R Patil

MUMBAI: Taking 'suo motu' cognisance of a media report of assault on a woman official in Gadchiroli district on the International Women's Day, the Bombay high court today issued notices to Maharashtra government and state Home Minister R R Patil.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta also issued notices to the Director General of Police, the Gadchiroli Zilla Parishad executive officer and the district deputy superintendent of police.

"We are taking suo motu cognisance of the issue of assault on a lady official on the International Womens' Day in Gadchiroli," the judges said.

On March 8 this year, the official, associated with the Centre-sponsored National Rural Health Mission and responsible for recruitment in the district, was called for a meeting of the health committee at the Zilla Parishad office.

At the meeting, she was allegedly abused by the ZP office-bearers for certain decisions related to the recruitment process.

The woman further claimed that while returning home, she was assaulted by some persons.

The district, located on Andhra Pradesh border, is a hotbed of Naxal activity. The woman had said in her complaint that `political goons' in the district were a more menace than Naxals.

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Delhi first on international tourists list: Study

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 24 Maret 2013 | 22.23

NEW DELHI: The national capital, Delhi, is the most preferred Indian destination among international travelers. A recent report released by an online hotel booking portal reveals that the Delhi ranks top among the list of places international tourists want to visit on their holiday to India.

The report released by Hotels.com shows Delhi on top of the international traveller's list followed by the financial capital Mumbai. Goa, the most popular beach destination stood third in the list. Industry experts said that Delhi and Mumbai bagged the first place also because they are the transit hub for international travelers.

"Most international flights land and take-off from Mumbai or Delhi. Hence, these two cities are the first stop-over for most tourists," said a Fort-based travel agent. Fourth on the list was Bengaluru followed by Chennai. Other popular tourist destinations like Jaipur and Agra occupied the sixth and the seventh spot respectively. The south Indian cities like Cochin and Thiruvananthpuram soccupied ninth and tenth spots.

"After Goa, Jaipur is very famous among tourists. Agra is mostly on most international tourists' list due to Taj Mahal being an attraction," said a travel agent. " After these places, only half the tourists make to beaches down south. Kerala is a big attraction for those looking for ayurvedic spas and quiet beaches," he added.

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HC to hear PIL for compensation to rape victims

MUMBAI: Bombay High Court is slated to hear on Monday a public interest litigation for setting up of scheme to compensate victims of rape and sexual assault.

The PIL, by Forum Against Oppressionof Women, has urged direction to the State government to constitute a Victim Compensation Fund as mandated by a 1995 judgment of the Supreme Court to all states. The NGO's petition said while Maharashtra drafted a scheme for relief and rehabilitation for rape victims it did not constitute the Fund.

The petition states that a vast majority of rape/sexual assault victims in India are poor and illiterate and unware of their legal rights and the laws must provide them with legal help from the time of registering a first information report upto the end of trial. It also adds that failure to constitute the compensation scheme will result in grave injustice to such victims. The PIL will come up for hearing before a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta.

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More than one crore Indian tourists visited Kerala in 2012

The charm of Kerala seems to be growing for international travelers if one would go by numbers. According to the latest figures, the God's own country had 7.94 lakh foreign tourists visiting for holiday in 2012. This is a small but significant jump from 7.33 lakh tourists the year before.

In a recent press meet, Kerala tourism revealed its total revenue, both direct and indirect, to be 21,125 crore in 2012 compared to Rs 19,037 in 2011. The state also saw a spike in the number of domestic tourists in 2012. As per the tourism figures, more than one crore Indian tourists visited key locations in the state for holiday. This figure is up from 93.88 lakh domestic tourists in 2011.

According to travel experts, Kerala had always been a hot favourite among Indian travelers. Places like Kovalam, Allepy, Munnar etc have been favourite haunts for holiday makers. "The steady rise in the tourists can be attributed to the fact that people are now travelling more and exploring destinations within the country as well,' said a Fort-based travel agent. "With many star hotels coming up in the state and mote tourist friendly facilities available now, international tourism has also got a boost," he added.

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Kalwa residents protest for Project Affected People status

THANE: Hundreds of locals from the Kalwa-Kharegaon townships here marched on the streets recently and staged a demonstration demanding the status of Project Affected People (PAP) and a share of the controversial land which houses the closed unit of Mafatlal Mills.

Local leader Dashrath Patil and the Sangharsh Kruti Samiti have been fighting for the rights of the people whose land was acquired by the government way back and given to the Mafatlal mills as part of the strategy to promote industrial growth.

However, the heavy industry shut down its operations in 1989 following bitter and violent conflict between the labour unions and the mill management. The 200-acre-plus mill plot has been lying idle since then and is mired in litigations.

The land has slowly been encroached upon by slums and illegal settlements and the heavy machinery was stolen and sold off by the locals.

The Sangharsh Samiti argued that the land once-tilled by the Kalwa-Kharegaon farmers was acquired by the state government and virtually gifted to the Mafatlal's for setting up a mill. The slum dwellers have been demanding legal status and implementation of the Centrally-aided Rajiv Awas Yojna, while the mill workers who were rendered jobless after the close down of the mills have demanded a cash compensation from the mill owners after sale of the mill land.

The Samiti has also stepped up its agitation and voiced their demand for a share in the land which originally belonged to them. The land was acquired for a specific purpose to create employment and set up a manufacturing unit. Now that the industry is closed and they are talking of selling off the land then as original owners of the land we have full right over this land. Just as the way CIDCO offers developed land parcels to PAPs the same logic should be applied to people of Kalwa-Kharegaon,'' Patil said.

The Samiti has also demanded that the land be utilized for setting up industrial unit and IT parks as it will help generate more employment for the locals. The protestors blocked the road for over two hours.

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Recent spate of gold smuggling at the airports, a cause of worry for airport officials

MUMBAI: The recent spate of gold smuggling through airport has made the authorities wonder if the laws are stringent enough to keep smuggling down. Many customs officials feel that not so strict laws are the reason behind the increase in smuggling.

Last week, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officials arrested a man carrying five gold biscuits concealed in his rectum. The man had landed in Mumbai from Dubai and was planning to smuggle gold out to earn a profit. Officials said that though it was a serious offence, he culprit was out on bail the next day. "Most smugglers do not fear the law when it comes to smuggling of gold. They all know that after being presented in the court, the carrier would be out on a bail," said a senior customs official. "This is why, despite strict vigilance, gold smuggling never abates," he added. The officials said that compared to gold smuggling, narcotics laws are more stringent and hold fear among smugglers.

"This is why big consignments of drugs are rarer," said an AIU officer. Officials said that most of the gold cases come from passengers landing from Dubai. "People can buy gold at a cheaper rate and make a straight profit by selling in India," said a customs officer. "While some cases include lay passengers who only want to evade duty, most are smugglers who are carrying gold to be sold in the market. The latter ought to be punished more severely," he added
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Thane officials under scanner for illegal tree cutting

THANE: A top official of the Thane tree authority is under scrutiny for his role in the illegal chopping down of more than 70 huge trees by a prominent builder who is developing a green pocket near Brahmand complex along the Ghodbunder road.

Sanjay Gavande, who is heads the tree authority of the Thane municipal corporation, is accused of being present at the Shelke Compund site when the developer's men were cutting down trees which were obstructing an upcoming residential project.

It is learnt that on April 14-15 Gavande was among those present supervising the tree-cutting at Shelke Compund. An alert citizen Rupesh Kumar Kawle who saw the tree cutting operations promptly got his camera and clicked pictures about the presence of Gavande at the spot. A copy of the pictures were forwarded to municipal commissioner RA Rajeev indicting the role of his official in the illegal activity.

RTI activist Chandrahas Tawde has secured detailed information about the exact number of trees on the plot and also sought information about the action taken against Gavande.

The TMC officials have responded to my queries and said that the Shelke compound plot has close to 1,000 trees and the developer was cutting trees from the rear end of the plot. The information states that more than 60 to 70 trees have been cut down without seeking the necessary permissions from the Tree authority,'' Tawde told TOI.

Municipal commissioner RA Rajeev has taken cognizance of the Tawde's complaint and has ordered Gavande to probe the issue in detail and to register an offence against those involved in illegal tree cutting.

It is learnt that Gavande has clarified to the municipal commissioner that he has no role in the illegal tree-cutting by the developer. His photograph, Gavande is understood to have told Rajeev, was taken when he had gone to the site for inspection following a complaint of illegal tree cutting.

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Censor board member held for stealing panel list's 5L jewellery at screening

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 22 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A censor board member who allegedly stole her colleague's rings and a gold chain collectively worth Rs 5.25 lakh during a movie screening was arrested by the police recently.

The accused, Minakshi Mohan Singh (56), was granted bail on March 17 and the jewellery has been recovered from her. According to the police, the incident happened on March 4 at Eros theatre where five panel lists had assembled for a screening.

The complainant, Kiran Srivastav, went to the washroom after leaving her purse behind. Later, when Srivastav reached home she was shocked to find her jewellery missing. She lodged a complaint with the Marine Drive police.

"We got leads from the CCTV footage although it was dark. When we questioned Singh she admitted to the crime," said assistant commissioner Shivaji Kolekar.

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World tuberculosis day on Sunday: Civic body to step up TB-control programme

MUMBAI: The game-changing tuberculosis control programme that got underway in January 2012 will get a further shot in the arm on Sunday.

On the occasion of World TB Day, the BMC will announce the "stepping up" of the city's TB-control programme . Quicker and high-tech diagnostic facilities, introduction of counsellors to motivate patients and better monitoring are on the way, said BMC officials. "We have prepared a twoyear-long plan to step up the Mission Mumbai for TB Control," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaishkar. The seven-point programme will be flagged off by mayor Sunil Prabhu.

"The main focus will be on 50 highrisk corporator wards where the incidence of TB is high," said Mhaiskar. Health camps will begin along with active surveillance by community health workers. The BMC surveys have shown 12 wards in the Kurla, Ghatkopar and Govandi stretch as high-risk zones with over 1,000 cases of TB at any given time. There are eight other wards identified as moderate risk with over 500 patients.

The second focus will be on getting high-tech diagnostic facilities, with eight Gene Xpert machines to be added this year. A GeneXpert can detect drug-resistant TB within two hours. The first such machine was installed in Sion last year and the second will be inaugurated at Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi on Sunday.

"The Centre has said that counsellors are important to hold a patient in the TB control programme. From Sunday, we will begin enlisting voluntary peer educators and counsellors into the programme," said Mhaiskar.

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Four women constables suspended after women inmates escape from Mira Road lockup

MUMBAI: Four women police constables from Thane rural police headquarters have been suspended after eight Bangladeshi women escaped from the Mira Road police custody on Thursday morning.

According to police sources, the Bangladeshi women who were arrested from Bhayander (east) on Wednesday broke the iron bars of the window of the lock-up and escaped in the wee hours.

The four women constables who were assigned the duty of guarding the Bangladeshi women allegedly locked the room from outside and went off to sleep.

The accused women took advantage of the fact that they were not been guarded. On Thursday morning when the lady constables returned to the women's lock up to check for the accused, they found the Bangladeshi women missing.

A search was launched for the accused till evening. The four lady constables have been suspended. The Navghar police had picked up 21 illegal Bangladeshis including the eight women. They were illegal working on a construction site.

The police had even arrested the contractor who had emplpyed them. The Bangladeshi women were staying at Nalasopara, Virar and Mira Road. The eight women were lodged in the lockup at Mira Road police station.

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Maharashtra house adjourned over demand for suspension of traffic cop

MUMBAI: Maharashtra legislative council was adjourned for the day today after opposition members and treasury benches stalled the proceedings while demanding the suspension of traffic police officer Sachin Suryavanshi for allegedly misbehaving with MLA Kshitij Thakur.

Suryavanshi had on March 18 stopped the vehicle of Kshitij Thakur, a Bahujan Vikas Agadhi MLA from Vasai, on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link when the latter was on way to attend the assembly session, slapped a fine for speeding, and also allegedly misbehaved with him.

On March 19, the police officer was beaten up inside the Vidhan Bhawan by a group of legislators.

NCP legislator Hemant Takle, through point of information, raised the issue on the floor of the house asking that why the two MLAs were produced in court instead of being heard through video conferencing.

"This type of act of police personnel is highly objectionable. The proceedings of the house will not take place until Suryavanshi is suspended," Takle said.

Following this, chairman of the upper house, Shivajirao Deshmukh, adjourned the house for 15 minutes.

He then extended the adjournment for another 15 minutes and 30 minutes, and finally adjourned the house for the day.

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Mira Bhayander corporators choose Malaysia for study tour

MUMBAI: The state may be facing one of its worst droughts. But that does not prevent corporators and officials of the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) from travelling to Malaysia on a study tour.

The 16-members standing committee and four officials have submitted a proposal to travel to Malayasia and its neighbouring countries.

An amount of Rs 18 lakhs has been set aside by the standing committee for the travel which will cover air fare and accommodation.

The proposal was proposed by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator Bernard Dmello and seconded by Shiv Sena corporator Sandeep Patil.

The proposal was approved by corporators of all the parties.

The proposal will now need the sanction of the MBMC commissioner. Nine corporators of the Tree Authority Committee, along with six officials of the department have already headed for an education tour to Jammu and Kashmir on March 21.

The committee incurred an expenditure of Rs 15 lakhs for the tour. While developmental work has been suffering in the region, corporators ensure that they take their annual national and international study tours.

Last year, members of the Tree Authority committee had taken off on a two-week tour to Himachal Pradesh.

Except for boasting about the climate of the state, the committee members did not even submit a report of what was achieved out of the tour.

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CCTVs in Mira Bhayander civic headquarters

MUMBAI: As a part of security measure, the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) has mooted the idea of installing closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) at the civic headquarters in Bhayander (west). The cameras will be placed at strategic locations in the corridors of the four storey administrative building.

The parking areas will be also be kept under survelliance. A total of 22 CCTVs are likely to be installed in the premises. The civic administration will incur a cost of Rs 2.75 lakhs to install and maintain the CCTVs.

Last year, the civic administration had made a budgetary allocation of Rs.75 lakhs for the installation of CCTVs in crematoriums for facilitating live streaming of funeral rites on the civic body's official website www.mbmc.gov.in.

The plan was to install CCTVs in the 15 crematoriums in the regio to enable family and friends who miss funerals of their near and dear ones to catch up with the final rites on the website. The proposal met with a lot of criticism from the general public who lamented the poor state of the crematoriums. The plan was later shot down by the state government. Former BJP corporator of MBMC Om Prakash Garodia had installed CCTVs in his ward in Balaji Nagar using his corporator's fund in 2011. The civic administration has also been toying with the plan to install CCTVs in crowded locations in the Mira-Bhayander region.

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Non-bailable charge not in FIR against MLAs

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 21 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A team of the crime branch, which is following up on the FIR against 15 MLAs for the assault on a traffic police-man, collected CCTV footage from five cameras on the as-sembly premises. "We have just got the CCTV footage and are trying to identify people (involved in the assault) be-sides MLAs Ram Kadam and Kshitij Thakur," said joint commissioner Himanshu Roy.

A top officer said though various IPC sections like caus-ing grievous hurt and wrong-ful assembly have been applied on the MLAs, cops have not included the tougher and non-bailable section 332—voluntar-ily causing hurt to deter a public servant from his duty. In the House, a resolution for suspension was moved by parliamentary affairs minister Harshvardhan Patil and adopt-ed by voice vote. "Their action has lowered the dignity of the august House and for it, the Vidhan Sabha expresses regr-et," Patil said, adding that Sachin Suryavanshi was beaten up when he visited room 114 around 12.50pm during a breach of privilege hearing over an altercation he had with MLA Thakur near the Bandra Worli Sea Link last week.

Outside, as police teams sought to arrest the MLAs, it was learned that Mumbai po-lice commissioner Satyapal Singh, speaker Dilip Walse-Patil and CM Prithviraj Chavan had hammered out a for-mula whereby Thakur and Kadam would surrender on Thursday morning. In the evening, Singh denied it. "There is no question of the MLAs offering to surrender. My teams are hunting for them but as of now, we have not made any arrest," he said.

Sources said two teams of senior police officers had gone to Vidhan Bhavan and another team was sent to Virar to ar-rest Thakur. But they were unsuccessful. Kadam and Thakur's cell phones were switched off, and there were reports that they would file for anticipatory bail on Thursday. The sources said the case against Kadam and Thakur was strongest as in the FIR Su-ryavanshi has said that Kad-am first slapped him and tried to strangle him while threat-ening that "wherever you go, I will kill you". Thakur joined Kadam and kicked him in his groin and threatened him.

The IPS officer's associa-tion on Wednesday met to con-demn the attack, but seemed to have been mollified by the gov-ernment action. "We were told appropriate action has been taken. The government has stated in the House that they have suspended the MLAs...," said secretary P K Jain. However, the suspension angered the opposition, which claimed Congress-NCP legisla-tors had been spared. "We had advocated strict action against our own MLAs... but it's unfair that the Congress-NCP spared its own MLAs who had threat-ened to stall budget proceed-ings if subjected to the embar-rassment," said MNS leader in the house Bala Nandgaonkar.

(With inputs from Ambarish Mishra)

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Maharashtra govt needs to rehabilitate over-aged inmates from children's homes

MUMBAI: The convictions handed out by the Bombay high court for the sexual abuse of inmates in a mentally-deficient home in Panvel should serve as a wake-up call towards the management of state-run and state-registered children's homes in Maharashtra.

One of the pressing concerns is the rehabilitation of inmates over 18 years who are housed in these juvenile homes, an issue highlighted by TOI on several occasions. An audit by a high court-appointed committee (under Prof. Asha Bajpai of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences) shows that over 37% of residents in the 23 mentally-deficient homes in the state are above 18 years of age.

The need to rehabilitate these adult victims has been highlighted by not only the Bombay high court in various directives. The Maharashtra State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights in an order in June 2012 too directed the state to shift older inmates to a home run by the government.

The presence of older inmates, after all poses a safety challenges for younger inmates. Besides, the needs and challenges of adult children are distinctly different from the rehabilitative needs of younger children.

Housing both together merely reflects the lack of political will to truly rehabilitate and reach out to this vulnerable group.

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Dental Council bans use of animals in training

MUMBAI: After hearing from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, the Dental Council of India (DCI) officiating secretary Dr SK Ojha has informed the group that animals will no longer be used to teach both undergraduate and postgraduate dental students. Writes Ojha, "I am directed to say that the Executive Committee of the Dental Council of India in its meeting held on February 22 at New Delhi considered your email dated 8.2.2013 thereby inter-alias asking to remove the procedures that require the use of animals from the practical curriculum for training dental students and after discussion & deliberations decided for promulgating/use of animals for teaching & training dentistry to the dental students."

"This is a tremendous victory for animals who will no longer be killed to teach dentistry students when humane, non-animal teaching methods have proved to be superior,'' said PETA India Science Policy Advisor Dr Chaitanya Koduri who has also previously practiced as a dentist. "PETA commends the Dental Council of India for modernising its teaching policies by no longer forcing students to be complicit in the painful deaths of animals."

The Dental Council of India joins the Medical Council of India, the Pharmacy Council of India and the University Grants Commission which - following an extensive PETA campaign and efforts by progressive scientists, MP Maneka Gandhi and other caring groups or individuals - were issued guidelines by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to stop dissection and experimentation on animals for training both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Wrote MoEF Secretary Dr Tishya Chatterjee, "Nowadays effective alternatives in the form of CD's, computer simulations, mannequins/models, in-vitro methods, etc are available and they are not only effective and absolute replacements to the use of animals in teaching anatomy/physiology but they are also superior pedagogic tools in the teaching of Pharmacy/Life sciences.'' Despite these guidelines, several universities continue to use animals. PETA has forwarded several complaints received from whistleblowers to the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experimentation on Animals.

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BMC to give civic students chikki instead of flavoured milk

MUMBAI: After several instances of food poisoning among civic school students after consumption of flavoured milk the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to give Chikki to students instead of milk.

The decision to provide chikki, which will be as nutritious as milk, was taken based on the recommendations made by an experts' committee appointed by the BMC to look into the issue. Headed by the director of medical education and major hospitals Dr Suhasini Nagda, it was formed to come up with suggestions after members of the civic education committee raised concerns earlier this year.

The BMC had been supplying flavoured milk to students the last six years. But the scheme had been drawn into controversy after several instances of food poisoning were reported.

Following this, members of the standing and education committees suggested giving the students nutritious biscuits and rajgiri ladoos, besides chikkis.

The BMC had allotted Rs121 crore for providing flavoured milk to over four lakh students from the BMC's primary and secondary schools during the ongoing fiscal.

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation bags 'The Best City Pavilion Award'

MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has bagged 'The Best City Pavilion Award' at 11th Municipalika International Exhibition held in Delhi.

The civic body had set up a stall in the exhibition, at which details about BMC's projects were given.

According to the civic officials, information about health, education, water supply, environment, hospitals, solid waste management, roads and other projects was exhibited in the stall.

The exhibition received tremendous admiration from the other civic bodies who had participated in the same competition.

The BMC has set up its kiosks with posters and digital photos of the various successful schemes undertaken by the civic body. A live model of rain water harvesting, powerpoint presentations of the new technologies being used by the BMC were also given at the kiosks as a part of information exchange.

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Bank of Maharashtra contributes Rs 2.5 crore for Maharashtra drought relief

MUMBAI: Bank of Maharashtra has contributed Rs 2.51 crore towards drought relief to the chief minister's Relief Fund of Maharashtra. The cheque was handed over to CM Prithviraj Chavan by Narendra Singh, chairman & managing director of the bank, in the presence of senior bank officials Thursday.

A press statement issued by Bank of Maharashtra pointed to the fact that the state is reeling under the worst drought of the last 40 years. Approximately 123 talukas out of the total 353 are facing severe drought conditions. The state government has initiated multiple programmes, including drinking water supply through tankers, to cater to this basic requirement of residents in the affected villages. Yet, news reports have shown that there are villages in Jalna that receive water once in 33 days.

Bank of Maharashtra as convener of the State Level Bankers' Committee (SLBC) claims it has taken various initiatives for farmers. It has agreed to sanction fresh loans to existing as well as new borrowers to resume productive activities immediately.

It also plans to restructure existing loans with a further extended repayment period of upto five years. It will also provide the affected farmers various types of term loans for developmental purposes such as minor irrigation, and purchasing bullocks and milch cattle. The bank said it will ensure the rehabilitation of small-scale and cottage units, sanction need-based consumption loans without any collaterals and empower branch managers with adequate discretionary powers to speed up the rehabilitation process.

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Widening of state's killer highway awaits Centre's nod since 2009

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 20 Maret 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Centre has already approved four-laning of an 8,000 km stretch of national highways across the country, but shockingly the state's highest killer, the 475 km Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH17), is not part of it. The state submitted a proposal in 2009 to widen the highway, which is 6 meters at most stretches, but only two phases have been approved by the Centre. Tuesday's mishap again highlighted that the expansion project is long overdue.

Experts and officials blame recurring accidents, like the one that occurred on Tuesday, on the Centre's delay in funding the expansion programme. Built in the British period it is still strong enough to carry traffic but is one of the busiest national highways in the country. A 391-km stretch of the NH17 which passes through hilly terrain and over rivers and creeks is actually a two-lane road. Work on expansion of 84 km between Panvel and Indapur, approved in 2011, has just started and will take two years for completion. Between January 2006 and December 2012 the highway has seen 7,721 mishaps killing 1,731 travelers. Most vehicles now take the Pune-Satara-Kolhapur route to reach Sindhudurg.

"The Centre has approved certain other smaller works such as improvement of curves, hair-pin bends, black spots and uneven stretches. We will implement it, but it is not a permanent solution to the growing mishaps and hence road widening is inevitable," said a source.

While all highways leading to Mumbai from Surat, Nashik, and Pune have been widened, experts expressed surprise over the delay in widening the equally important Goa highway. "Even if the Centre now approves the four-laning following Tuesday's mishap, work can't be completed at least till 2018. Several other permissions have to be obtained before work can even start," said sources in the state public works department, which maintains national highway stretches in the state.

Moreover, NH-17 does not have trauma centres or well-equipped ambulances resulting in increased casualties due to lack of timely medical aid. On Tuesday, the driver virtually broke the railings after losing control of the vehicle. "We have installed signs to warn of the narrow bridge ahead. Such spots will be safer only when the expansion programme is implemented. In the project we have already proposed another two-lane bridge parallel to this existing bridge," said an official linked to NHAI.

In fact, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation recently invited tourist operators to run its five new multi-axle Volvo tourist buses across the Konkan. However, only one transporter approached the MTDC, as most operators felt the buses were too big to ply on the narrow Goa highway. MTDC managing director Jagdish Patil said a tourist operator would be finalised soon and the buses would run only on wide enough stretches.

Times View

Speed up the widening work

The Mumbai-Goa National Highway is important on several counts. Besides being one of the busiest highways in the state, the profile of users - tourists from within the state, Indians from other states and foreigners - also adds to its importance. It's unfortunate that expansion plans for this highway have been on hold for years. A highway, actually, is a misnomer for a road that, for major stretches, has just two lanes. The government should speed up the expansion plans and focus on other safety measures, including lights and dividers for the accident-prone zones.

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