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​Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation: They got enough warning

Written By Unknown on Senin, 29 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is firm in its resolve to demolish the 140 flats on the 35 illegal floors in the seven buildings in Worli's upscale Campa Cola society. It rejected the affected families' contention that the demolition scheduled to start this week is rushed. Or that the 48-hour eviction notices were unreasonable.

Residents of the unauthorised floors say they were caught off guard by the notices. Particularly since the municipal corporation had earlier given the impression that it will take at least three months for the demolition. The civic body had, in fact, mentioned that tenders would be invited for the action and a contractor appointed.

"The notices were craftily and hastily served during the weekend, leaving us no recourse. The municipal body is behaving as if we are slumlords," said a resident.

Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani countered the residents' arguments. "It was not something that residents learnt of 48 hours in advance. The order was passed in 2005 and the Supreme Court upheld it in February. The residents were also asked to demolish the illegal construction on their own," he said.

When asked about a review petition pending in the SC, Adtani said, "The residents have exhausted all options."

The additional municipal commissioner explained the demolitions will begin "either on Monday or Tuesday, depending on police protection". "It can start with any building. We will use diamond-cutter technology and vibrators for removing slabs."

Estimated to cost Rs 1.5 crore, the demolition will be undertaken in three phases. In the first phase, internal walls will be removed; in the second, slabs; and in the concluding stage, pillars and beams.

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​Worli residents to ask HC to quash eviction notices

In a last-ditch effort to save their apartments from BMC demolition, 140 families in Worli's upscale Campa Cola society will file a petition on Monday in the Bombay high court to seek the quashing of the municipal corporation's 48-hour eviction notices. They will move the court at 11am, the same time as when civic officials are expected to enter the society premises under police protection with bulldozers.

The BMC's eviction notices, which were issued on Friday, will be challenged on the grounds that they denied the families "the basic right to exhaust all legal remedies available to them to avert the demolition". The residents of the 140 flats on the 35 illegal floors of the society's seven buildings had on April 1 filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its February 27 judgment. In that verdict, the apex court had cleared the razing of all storeys above the five legal floors in the seven buildings.

The residents will plead in the HC petition that the notices to evict within 48 hours flats that were occupied for over 25 years were "draconian" and "opposed to any democratic process or principle of justice and fair play".

The petition will underscore that the society has among its residents senior citizens, patients and children —all of whom have no second homes to go to. Further, it will challenge section 488 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, under which the eviction notices were issued.

"This section does not contemplate eviction in such a hasty and unreasonable manner. It states that the commissioner or general manager can enter any building or land... in order to make an inspection... to execute any work authorized by this Act," said a legal eagle representing the affected families.

On Sunday, the society's affected residents staged a peaceful march to Worli Seaface for the second consecutive day. Meanwhile, resigned to their fate, some summoned movers.

Families said they have received information that the BMC may not demolish complete flats on Monday but may make them inhabitable by breaking down doors, kitchen platforms and toilets. Vidya Srinivas, a resident of Midtown building's 19th floor, said she has not received an eviction notice, but "those living on floors six to 18 of the building have". "Is the civic body considering creating a hawa mahal by first demolishing the floors below mine," she said.

Devyani Tibrewala, a resident of the 12th floor of Orchid Apartments, said, "I don't know what to starting packing. There are women, senior citizens and children crying. It feels like a war, where you leave things behind and do not have a place to go to."

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Rs 65 for cattle feed, Rs 21 for kids

MUMBAI: Critics find the state's priorities hard to digest. While the government forks out Rs 65 per day per animal as subsidy for fodder allocated to fully grown cows and buffaloes in fodder camps, it provides a paltry Rs 21 per day per head as grant-in-aid towards meal expenses for kids housed in various shelter homes in the state.

At stake is the nutrition and well-being of about 80,000 kids sheltered in 1,100-odd children homes. Four meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening snack, are covered under the food expenses grant, which is pegged at Rs 635 per child per month. Child care and protection norms require these child care institutions to ensure that "hygienic food of the right nutritional value" is provided to these kids in "adequate quantities".

On condition of anonymity, senior state officials admitted that these standards and requirements often remain unmet and also conceded that the meagre grant-in-aid had a role to play.

In 2011, citing price rise and inflation, a panel headed by the chief secretary proposed that the food grant be increased by another Rs 200 per child per month.

Interestingly, even the state cabinet approved this raise in November 2011.

However, a year and a half later, the decision is yet to be implemented.

In sharp contrast, the fodder subsidy has been reworked four times in the recent past; with the amount being increased on three occasions. Sources said alliance politics between the Congress and the NCP is to blame for non-implementation of the cabinet decision.

Sources said that deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar (NCP)-led finance department has objected to the move. It has claimed that in 2008 (when Congress minister Harshavardhan Patil was in charge of the women and child development department), sanctions for 589 new children homes were granted without its consent. Having initially opposed the release of additional grants to these institutions entirely, the department has now asked WCD to check the eligibility of kids admitted in all homes before the grants are released.

The WCD, which is now headed by another Congress minister, Varsha Gaikwad, has objected to this rider. Claiming that the child welfare committee, which has powers of a judicial magistrate, oversaw the eligibility process, the WCD has claimed that any such drive would amount to questioning the CWC's decision making. It has further claimed that a drive to close down homes found violating norms were already on.

Sources in WCD accused the finance department of deliberately blocking the proposal. The department has now approached CM Prithviraj Chavan to resolve the stalemate. Until then, however, kids' daily diet will continue at Rs 21!

Meal Plan For Kids In Children's Homes

Morning breakfast: Milk with items such as kanda poha, misal, eggs, biscuits, etc

Lunch: Chapati, rice, one vegetable, dal. Sweets to be given along with other items on one day of the week

Evening snack: Milk with items like eggs, biscuits, poha, etc

Dinner: Chapati, rice, one vegetable, dal. Sweets to be given along with other items on one day of the week.

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Doctors in dock for giving anaesthesia, causing death

MUMBAI: Dubbing a doctor a "quack" for administering anaesthesia despite not being qualified to do so, the state consumer commission has observed that no doctor can do a specialized job if he or she does not have the necessary qualification.

The case pertains to a woman who died days after giving birth to her child 10 years ago following anaesthesia-related complications. The commission relied on Supreme Court judgements which observed that "unless the person holds a necessary qualification, he should not perform the job of the specialist".

The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission upheld a district forum order which found the doctors guilty of negligence. It directed gynaecologist Dr Sujata Rathod and physician Dr Vasant Kumar Jog to pay the victim's family Rs 6.6 lakh as compensation.

—husband Shashikant Vichare, minor daughter and mother-in-law—Rs 1.1 lakh and Rs 5.1 lakh respectively.

The commission observed that Rathod was aware that Jog did not hold either a post-graduate degree or diploma in anesthesia which is a mandatory qualification for an anaesthetist as per the Medical Council of India

The commission also referred to an expert committee observation which stated that a quack is a person who does not have knowledge of a particular system of medicine but practises in that system, and is a mere pretender of a medical knowledge or skill—in effect, a charlatan.

In the complaint filed before the forum in 2004, Vichare had alleged that his wife Shashikala was pregnant and was registered as a patient with Rathod. She was trying to get pregnant for 10 years. On July 7, 2003, when Shashikala was examined, Rathod told her that there was foetal distress and she needed to undergo an emergency Caesarean section.

While Rathod performed the surgery, Jog administered the anesthesia.

Vichare stated that the baby was born at 9.50pm and by 10pm both doctors left the nursing home. He alleged that the doctors examined her only on July 8, 2003 and did not administer post-operative care. After this, the patient was left in the care of an RMO, who was not an allopathic doctor but a homeopath. Vichare said that although Jog was not an anaesthetic doctor and Rathod was aware of this, she let him conduct the procedure. He stated that Jog administered the wrong anesthesia, which caused chest congestion. After a month's treatment, Shashikala died on August 9, 2003, at the hospital due to bilateral pneumonia with impending adult/acute respiratory distress (ARDS).

Vichare submitted a report of the committee of experts, which supported the family's claim. Among its various observations the committee had said that when a patient had respiratory tract infection it is a standard practice to administer spinal anesthesia to minimize the complications. Despite this, in Shashikala's case, general anesthesia was administered, the committee said.

Rathod however contended that when Shashikala came to her for a check-up in June 2003, she was treated for cold, cough and fever. Even after the operation, she repeatedly checked on the mother and baby, and both were healthy, she submitted. Rathod stated that she got to know of Shashikala's death only on August 10. Jog argued that there was no negligence in the administration of the anesthesia. He further argued that as an anaesthetist he had examined the patient and had also seen the medical treatment papers and found that she was fit to be administered anesthesia.

In November 2011, a district forum passed an order in favour of the Vichares. Aggrieved, the two doctors filed an appeal. The commission dismissed the appeal.

Experts back kin's claims against doctors

The state consumer disputes redressal commission has awarded the family of Shashikala—her husband, minor daughter, and mother-in-law —Rs 6.2 lakh, for her death from complications caused by the administration of anaesthesia during her childbirth. The commission observed that gynaecologist Dr Sujata Rathod was aware that physician Dr Vasant Jog did not hold either a PG degree or diploma in anaesthesia.

In the complaint filed before the forum in 2004, Vichare had said his wife Shashikala was pregnant and was Rathod's patient. She was trying to get pregnant for 10 years. On July 7, 2003, when Shashikala was examined, Rathod told her that there was foetal distress and she needed to undergo an emergency Caesarean section. While Rathod performed the surgery, Jog administered the anaesthesia. Vichare said though Jog was not an anaesthetic doctor and Rathod was aware of it, she let him conduct the procedure.

He said the baby was born at 9.50pm and by 10pm both doctors left the nursing home. He alleged that the doctors examined her only on July 8, 2003 and did not administer post-operative care. The patient was left in the care of an RMO, a homeopath. He stated that Jog administered the wrong anaesthesia, which caused chest congestion. After a month's treatment, Shashikala died on August 9, 2003.

Vichare submitted a report of the committee of experts, which supported the family's claim. Among its various observations, the committee had said when a patient had respiratory tract infection it is a standard practice to administer spinal anaesthesia to minimize the complications. Despite this, in Shashikala's case, general anaesthesia was administered.

But Rathod said when Shashikala came for a check-up in June 2003, she was treated for cold, cough and fever. Even after the operation, she repeatedly checked on the mother and baby, and both were healthy, she submitted. Rathod said she learnt of Shashikala's death only on August 10. Jog argued that there was no negligence in the administration of the anaesthesia.

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Biology to be made compulsory for first year BTech students at IIT-B

MUMBAI: The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) will be introducing compulsory courses in biology and physics for all first-year students from the next academic year.

The decision, taken by the institute's senate last week, is aimed at producing well-rounded engineers.

A professor mentioned that it could be the first IIT to recognise the need to know biology for engineers.

It is an essential component for a basic sciences foundation, added the professor. This was part of "fine-tuning" the syllabus, which had last been revised about five years ago.

However, the decision will only be formalised once the minutes of the meeting are out. "These areas [biosciences and bioengineering] are becoming increasingly important and are areas in which engineering graduates might later work," said another professor. He added that basic sciences courses had been in the curriculum until some years ago.

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Capital fund for 'low income group' entrepreneurs

MUMBAI: Be Fund, a risk capital fund and a non-profit enterprise that provides capital to people from low income groups for solving local problems, has now been launched in Mumbai.

By the end of the year, it will select 25 people from the state to receive its funding. These entrepreneurs are low-income people without collateral or land. They receive seed money to start their businesses from Be Fund.

The fund has only selected and worked with entrepreneurs from Karnataka till now. Recipients of the seed money must be between the ages of 18 and 29, be from a low-income group and not possess any land or capital.

These are generally people who would not get loans from banks. Entrepreneurs will be selected after a three-tier process, with the first batch of state awardees being rolled out in a month.

Those selected can get up to Rs 5 lakh worth of funding from the enterprise. Once they recover their initial investment, entrepreneurs repay the loan, thus supplementing the fund for future entrepreneurs.

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Cancer unit at GMC: State govt gives Rs 378.47crore proposal to Centre

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 27 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A three-month long waiting list exists in the Nagpur and other parts of Vidarbha, it has now emerged.

The state government has forwarded Rs 378.47crore proposal to the centre for funding aid to establish a comprehensive cancer unit in the Government Medical College, Gavit said, adding that the government was hoping for the funding support this year. Congress legislator Manikrao Thakre had raised a calling attention motion objecting to delays in the cancer unit proposal, which was first proposed in 2010.

Gavit admitted to the delays. Thakre claimed that cancer patients were forced to travel to other parts of the state as even the existing facility for cancer detection and treatment at the Government Medical College was non-functional. Gavit said that a new linear accelerator is proposed to be purchased next year.

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Ex-BJP chief Nitin Gadkari inaugurates food processing unit in Devgad

MUMBAI: Former BJP president NitinGadkari along with leader of the Opposition in the state legislative council VinodTawde inaugurated a food processing unit in Devgad (Sindhudurg) district on Saturday. Devgad is famous for its mangoes.

During the inauguration, Tawde stated that coastal Konkan region in Maharashtra has tremendous potential for food processing units especially for business of cashews, mangoes and sea food.

BJP which has good presence in the region has been asking the ruling DF government to announce special package for the Konkan region and take measures that will help the food industry to grow in the coastal belt.

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Maharashtra taps Japan to boost investment

MUMBAI: The state has added another feather to its tag as the most favoured investment destination in the country.

The state government earlier this month signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) for industrial investment.

According to the terms of the MOU, the government will facilitate investment from Japanese firms by identifying and allotting plots in MIDC areas.

State officials said that the government is eyeing investment mainly along the investment nodes planned as part of the ambitious Delhi Mumbai industrial corridor.

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Two-day NCP meeting concludes

MUMBAI: Two day meeting of NCP leaders concludes here in Mumbai on Saturday. Party chief SharadPawar had called meeting of all NCP ministers and party leaders to discuss the poll strategy ahead of the general elections scheduled in early 2014. In fact Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar recently speaking to media persons in Mumbai had not ruled out possibility of early polls.

"The message in the meeting was clear and loud. Pawarsaheb wants party workers to gear up for the elections," said a senior NCP functionary.

Following withdrawal of the DMK from the Congress led UPA government, the speculations are rife that there could be early parliamentary elections. Even Pawar has been quoted saying that UPA has become vulnerable after the exit of the DMK from the Centre.

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Concentrate on your constituencies: Sharad Pawar to party workers

MUMBAI: NCP chief SharadPawar has asked party rank and file to concentrate on citizens issue in their respective assembly and parliamentary constituency, it is reliably learnt. The suggestion from union agriculture minister comes few months ahead of the general assembly elections. The parliamentary elections are scheduled in early 2014, but there is buzz in the political fraternity about possibility of early polls.

"NCP chief have asked its leader to concentrate on development work in their constituencies," said a key NCP functionary. The strong Maratha leader---Pawar in Mumbai held at two day long meeting with party workers and leaders. On Friday, the first day of the meeting Pawar discussed the poll strategy with party ministers in Maharashtra. On the second day of the meeting, the NCP patriarch met party officer bearers to take first hand information about the party's performance at the ground level.

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Congress-NCP at loggerheads

MUMBAI: The Congress and the NCP are again at loggerhead, this time over the ZillaParishad elections in Nagpur.

The rift between the ruling DF partners surfaced on Saturday when Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakre expressed displeasure with its poll ally NCP for betraying the former in the ZP elections. "Such things should not be repeated again," Thakre said while speaking to reporters on the ZP election issue.

Earlier too on several occasions the Congress and the NCP have left no stoned un-turned to take pot shots at each other. The Congress and the NCP formed an alliance in 1999 to keep the Shiv Sena-BJP saffron at bay.

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Airports have to go a long way to reduce carbon emissions: Airports Council of India

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 26 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Airports across the world are looking for carbon accreditation. This year, Airports Council of India (ACI) accredited 74 airports in Europe and eight in the Asia pacific region. These airports have been ranked based on the efforts taken to reduce carbon footprints. While global aviation has woken up to carbon emissions in the sector, a lot needs to be done to bring down emissions from aircraft and allied activities, feel experts.

Among European airports, ACI ranked 27 at the mapping stage. This means that these airports are actively trying to map and make an account of the emissions. At the next stage are 21 airports which have mapped the emissions are now taking steps at reduction. Further on top are 12 airports which have reached the optimization stage, followed by 14 European airports at the neutrality stage.

In the Asia Pacific region, eight airports have been accredited. At the mapping stage are Abu Dhabi, Changi and Suvarnabhumi airports. Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad are at the reduction level. Only Hong Kong international airport has made it to the optimization level.

Industry observers said that Indian airports still need to take many steps to reduce their carbon foot print. "A change has started. There are policies being drafted which also look at reduction in emissions and optimum use of energy. Hopefully it will be a better scenario in the next 10 years," said an official at Mumbai airport.

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Rental housing project: Govt revises floor space index

MUMBAI: Bowing to the pressure from local civic bodies, the state government finally reduced the floor space index (FSI) for its ambitious rental housing project.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has now revised the policy and reduced the FSI to three. Local civic corporations in the MMR region complained FSI four would put an unbearable load on their infrastructure as many developers had planned to build high rise buildings in such areas.

The plan was to be implemented in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), but never took off in the past five years because the unusually high FSI of four offered to builders would have strained the civic infrastructure. FSI defines how much can be build on a plot. FSI 4 means one can construct 4,000 sq m on a 1,000 sq m plot.

Housing experts had warned the population density would have increased alarmingly with such high FSI. It would have led to 1,200 flats coming up on just one acre of land. Now with FSI 3, the number of flats will be around 600. The government also realised there would be few takers for rental flats which are just 160 sq ft each in size. It has now increased the size to a more liveable 320 sq ft.

Under the new model, developers will utilise FSI 1 to build tenements for rental housing and hand them over free of cost to the government. As compensation, developers can utilise the remaining FSI 2 to build houses that they can sell in the open market.

The rental housing scheme is crucial because it will offer some hope to lower and middle-income people who cannot afford a home in Mumbai, where property prices are some of the highest in the world.

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NRI Sunil Abhichandani's bail rejected

MUMBAI: Non- Resident Indian (NRI) Sunil Abhichandani alias Sunil Dubai, wanted by the Mumbai crime branch in a cricket betting racket, became the first person to file an anticipatory bail from Mumbai session court sitting from Dubai.

Abichandani's lawyers argued that the case against him was false and fabricated. In 2012, the crime branch had arrested his partner Prakash Chandanani, producer of the anti-corruption film Gali Gali Chor Hai for allegedly diverting the cricket betting money into Bollywood. Abhichandani and Chandanani's name cropped up when the property cell of crime branch arrested two main bookies, Devendra Kothari and Sonu Jalan. The court rejected his bail after Mumbai police strongly oppose it.

The police stated Chandanani and Abhichandani were key players in the international cricket betting racket. The police had issued a lookout notice against both of them as Chandanani worked under Sunil and controls the Dubai operations of the betting racket. Chandanani and Abhichandani are well-known figure in Bollywood parties who shuttles between Mumbai and Dubai During the course of investigations police had learnt that many Bollywood personalities paid money through a hawala operator after they lost the bets in the IPL.

Sonu and Kothari, who are now operating from Goa reportedly told police than that one Subhedar and Dr Riyaz from Pakistan were the main players in the racket and police believed Subhedar was a Chhota Shakeel aide.

On May 17 last year the crime branch had raided a flat in Kandivli and arrested Kothari and Jalan; it also seized laptops, voice recorders and 25 mobiles. During investigation, the police arrested their associate Feroz Farid Ansari alias Todki, who used to transfer calls from Subhedar to Kothari and Jalan.

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Government hospitals to have hi-tech security system

MUMBAI: State government on Friday announced that it has made budgetary provision of Rs 2 crore to enhance the security in the government hospitals.

In a meeting with medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, the delegation of the Maharashtra association of resident doctors (MARD) raised the issue of poor security in the hospital premises. "Doctors were concerned about the growing incidence of patient's relative attacking the medicos. I have assured the delegation that state government will take best possible measures to enhance the security system and infrastructure at government hospitals," Gavit said, adding, "Process of installing closed circuit cameras in the hospital premises has been initiated in many of the hospitals."

According to medical education department the state has made budgetary provision of Rs 2 crore for upgrading security system in the government hospitals.

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Mega block on three suburban lines on Sunday

MUMBAI: Services on all the three suburban lines in Mumbai will be affected due to megablock on Sunday. A CR official said, "Up fast line services leaving Kalyan from 10.30 am to 3.33 pm will be diverted on Up slow line between Kalyan and Thane stations.

During this period, services will halt at all stations between Kalyan and Thane. These would be further re-diverted on Up fast line." Up fast line services will halt at Mulund, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Dadar and Byculla between Thane and CST Mumbai and will arrive CST 20 minutes behind schedule.

Down fast line services will halt at hatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Mulund stations in addition to their respective scheduled halts and will a arrive their destination 15 minutes behind schedule. He further said that all slow locals arriving or leaving CST between 11.00 am to 5.00 pm will be running 15 minutes behind schedule.

On Harbour line, Down line services to Panvel / Belapur / Vashi leaving Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from 10.23 am to 3.01 pm and Up Harbour line services towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus leaving Panvel / Belapur / Vashi from 10.20 am to 3.04 pm will remain suspended. Up Down Harbour line services will remain suspended between Mankhurd and Kurla during the block period. However special trains will run on Harbour line sections of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus - Kurla and Mankhurd - Panvel during the block period.

CR said that due to these blocks, suburban trains are likely to be more crowded than usual. A jumbo block of four hours from 00.40 hrs to 04.40 hrs in the night on Sunday, on Up and Down Local lines will be taken between Vasai Road and Bhayandar stations. During the block all Up and Down trains will be worked on Through (i.e. fast) lines between Vasai Road/Virar and Borivali.

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State looking for a long-term solution to avoid doctors strike in future

MUMBAI: The state government is planning to work out a long term solution to avoid situation where doctors have to go on strike for a wage or stipend hike.

"We are contemplating to set up a committee of experts to find a solution that will help avoiding situation where doctors have to go on strike," medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit said. The statement to this effect was made by minister on Friday after making announcement that government has succeeded in convincing resident doctors of the state and civic hospitals to call off their strike. The resident doctors were on strike from April 23 as their demand to hike stipend by Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 was not accepted by the state government.

Stating that doctors going on strike is not a good sign, the minister said, "Residents doctors are important for smooth functioning of the hospitals. If they have genuine problems government will certainly consider them, but making patient suffer for their demands will not be tolerated."

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​Rs 330cr con probe: Central agencies to be roped in

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 25 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The crime branch of Mumbai police will seek assistance from central government agencies in an investigation into a complaint by HSBC on Tuesday in respect of a Rs 330 crore fraud by a city-based company.

HSBC has alleged that Mumbai-based Avitel Post-Studioz Ltd, with its sister companies in Dubai and Mauritius respectively, made a false representation that it had won a contract from the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) to upgrade the broadcaster's library from 2D to 3D format.

HSBC said the company raised funds on the pretext of purchasing required equipment to fulfill the contract. A police officer said that HSBC accused the company of misleading it at every stage. The fraud included arranging a meeting of HSBC's official with a conman in London posing as a BBC representative. Following the investment, HSBC discovered that no contract was awarded by BBC to Avitel. All the documents were found to be forged.

A crime branch officer said, "The fraud money transaction investigation involves overseas countries and we are planning to ask central government agencies for their assistance." He added that there is a likelihood of foreign nationals being involved and the police was ascertaining their role.

Avitel has its offices at Mahim and at JVPD in Vile Parle (W). On Wednesday, both the offices were open but the employees refused to comment on the issue, saying they were not authorized to do so. Although employees said that a spokesperson would provide the company's version, no statement was forthcoming until late Wednesday. HSBC, too, refused to comment over the issue.

The private equity arm of HSBC had made public its investment in Avitel in June 2011.

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​Anti-local body tax road rally freezes south Mumbai traffic

Traffic in south Mumbai was paralyzed through the day on Wednesday as traders led a car and motorcycle rally to Azad Maidan to protest against the imposition of local body tax (LBT).

A few hundred businessmen riding cars and motorcycles began heading towards Azad Maidan around 10am and were joined by hundreds more en route. The rally culminated at Azad Maidan around 5pm.

LBT is a tax that is levied as a replacement to octroi and will be implemented in Mumbai on October 1. It has already been introduced in various parts of the state, including Thane and Navi Mumbai.

Traffic snarls were reported near Siddhivinayak temple at Prabhadevi, Century Mills and Podar Hospital, Worli. Movement slowed to a crawl at locations such as Haji Ali, Pedder Road, Kemps Corner, Sukhsagar junction, Girgaum Chowpatty, Sunder Mahal junction and Metro Cinema at Dhobi Talao.

"We diverted motorists from Chowpatty to M K Road," said a traffic police official. "Every area through which protesters passed suffered as jams stretched from one-two km. The snarls peaked between 11am and 2pm," said deputy commissioner (traffic-south) Subhash Nilewad.

"There was a skirmish with the police at Marine Lines due to traffic disruption but the situation was defused by timely intervention," said Arun Doshi, senior vice president, FAM (Federation of Associations of Maharashtra) that organized the rally.

DCP Sanjay Shintre said, "No permission had been granted for the mammoth rally but the task of the police is to prevent escalation of trouble. We used our judgment and decided to allow them to march peacefully rather than risk violence or unruly behaviour. Mumbai is a city of traders, after all."

Meanwhile, BJP promised support for the cause. "Newly anointed state president Devendra Fadnavis lent a shoulder and agreed that the party was against both octroi and LBT," Doshi said.

The agitation will peak on Friday as thousands of businessmen from all parts of Maharashtra will descend upon Azad Maidan for a 'maha morcha' called by FAM. Unlike wholesalers, Retailers Association of India has chosen to not close shop. "We believe LBT is a better method of taxation than octroi," said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO.

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PhD entrance test ordinance to be finalized today

MUMBAI: In a meeting on Thursday, the Mumbai University will be deciding on a fresh date for the PhD entrance test, which was earlier postponed. The PhD entrance test (PET) which was to be decentralized from this year, will be conducted by the Mumbai University only, to avoid misuse of power by research centres.

This year, the PET was to be conducted by research centres affiliated to the university. To make provisions for the decentralization of the test, the vice-chancellor's directives (VCD) had to be changed, and therefore, the test date was postponed.

However, the UGC guidelines states that conducting PET is the responsibility of the university. "If research centres are given the authority to conduct the exam, it can be misused. Therefore, we have decided to bring about a permanent ordinance empowering only the university to conduct the PET.

The papers will be assessed by PhD guides as it will be mandatory," said an official. While it was discussed in the dean's meeting on Wednesday, an official decision will be taken on Thursday. The tentative date for this year's PET is on May 26.

However, the officials have to finalise the date taking into account the schedule of other university or public exams to avoid a clash, said the official. A student said, "It is strange that the university is going through the UGC guidelines at this stage. This should have been taken care of before announcing the exam dates."

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Non-reporting of air-safety lapses a worry

MUMBAI: Two consecutive incidents in Mumbai, where pilots attempted to hide the air-safety lapse, have raised serious concerns. The attempt at covering up shows the lack of responsibility on part of the pilots as well as the airlines involved.

Last month, an Indigo flight had veered off the runway and the incident came to light only when the airport inspection team saw some lights broken on the runway. An unauthorised landing by an Air India (AI) aircraft ten days ago also showed how lax the administration is when it comes to air-safety issues. The pilot involved was allowed to fly the next flight despite the goof-up.

Officials at the airport said that the attempt to cover up may create serious situations and may set a bad precedent. "Why would a pilot try to hide an incident? Only because he or she knows that they can get away easily despite violations," said a senior airport official. Officials said that things won't improve unless the investigation is clear and quick at all levels.

"The airline involved has to duly report and take necessary action of de-rostering the pilot so that investigation can proceed. All proof should be provided so that corrective action is taken duly," said a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official.

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Helicopter pilots unhappy with Juhu redevelopment plan

MUMBAI: The go-ahead for the Juhu airport redevelopment plan has upset many pilots flying out of the aerodrome. Most feel that the plan would spell the death of the airport which currently handles about 100 helicopter movements currently. As per the plan, the secondary runway of the airport would be closed and converted into a taxiway.

Pilots said that closing the runway would partially close the Juhu aerodrome and leave it at the mercy of flight movements at Mumbai airport. The main runway at Juhu airport is parallel to the main runway at Mumbai airport. However, when Mumbai uses its secondary runway, the operations at Juhu will have to be closed.

"If we don't have a secondary runway at Juhu, the main runway cant be used during secondary runway operations at Mumbai. The flight paths will converge. Hence, when secondary runway is in use at Mumbai, Juhu airport will have to be closed," said a senior pilot.

Another helicopter pilot said that they will protest against the plan. "It is detrimental to the helicopter operations in the city," the pilot said.

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Mumbai mill workers to get relief in housing loan

MUMBAI: In a news that will bring more cheer to hundred of mill workers, the Mumbai district cooperative bank has decided to waive off the processing fees and lower the interest levied to mill workers.

In a closed door meeting with the delegation of mill workers and representatives of the Mumbai co-operative bank, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar urged the bank to consider loan applications of mill workers with sympathy. "The deputy chief minister asked the bank to lower the interest rate and waive off the processing fees on the loans given to mill workers," said a senior official attached to Pawar's office.

The meeting chaired by Pawar was attended by former Shiv Sena MP Mohan Rawle and leaders from the mill workers fraternity.

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Cidco warns of illegal disposal of biomedical wastes

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 24 April 2013 | 22.23

NAVI MUMBAI: The city and industrial development corporation (CIDCO), which is the civic authority for major part of Navi Mumbai, has appealed to the medical practitioners to dispose bio-medical waste according to the norms meant for waste handling and disposal.

It is has been noted by the Public Health Department of City and Industrial Development Corporation that Medical Practitioners were disposing Bio-Medical waste in the regular Municipal Solid waste bins.

Bio-Medical Waste is by law required to be disposed off separately as per the set norms of Bio-Medical Waste Handling & Disposal Rule, 1998.

"Bio-Medical Waste disposal in regular Municipal Solid waste bins are a major health hazard to the society and therefore CIDCO is appealing to all medical practitioners, hospital owners, pathology labs and diagnosis centres to dispose the Bio-Medical waste collected at their premises as per the Bio-Medical Waste Handling & Disposal Rule, 1998," a Cidco release stated.

"They are also directed to get authorisation from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and duly inform the Public Health Department of CIDCO," it stated further. The department has warned of strict actions against anybody who violates the Bio-Medical Waste Handling & Disposal Rule, 1998.

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Mumbai restaurants oppose double taxation

MUMBAI: City's over 9000 restaurants, hotels and bars have strongly condemned the recent move of the union government to charge double tax on all air-conditioned or partly air-conditioned restaurants across the country.

"We are paying VAT on our whole transaction and therefore the total transaction is a sale. There is an incidence of transfer of goods from the hotelier to a customer. Therefore it a pure sale and once we pay VAT on 100% value of the goods, there nothing remains to be taxed," said a statement issued by Ahar, an association of restaurants and bars in the city.

"We are a given an abatement of 60%, treating the same as a deemed sale and required to pay Service Tax on 40% of the total bill. The policy of taxation very clearly says that the intent is to tax only service component and not the deemed sale. Therefore, logically the VAT should be levied only on sale part i.e. 60% of the total bill which Supreme Court has upheld in the recent BSNL case. However, VAT department is not accepting this and we are paying double tax on 40% ; one as VAT and another as Service Tax. By no stretch of imagination a transaction can be both service and sale at the same time," the release stated further.

"Two Restaurants situated in same area; One having a partly a/c section whereas other one totally non air conditioned. Partly a/c restaurant can challenge levying Service tax on its non a/c section on the grounds of unfair competition and discrimination in taxation in two identical cases," the release said further flaying discrimination among the same strata of businessmen in the hospitality industry.

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Mumbai to host musical show on Thursday to help drought-affected

MUMBAI: The MarathwadaParivaar and Mantra Foundation have organized a unique musical evening featuring "Sitar Funk" in aid of Marathwada Drought Relief Fund.

The Marathwada region of Maharashtra State, in particular the districts of Beed, Jalna and Osmanabad have been facing severe drought. The immense water scarcity has severely affected the lives of the villagers; the severity of the drought is so intense that the villages get water only 20 minutes a week. Adding to the woes, these villages have inadequate water storage facilities. Notwithstanding the best possible efforts from State Government of Maharashtra, there is still an acute shortage of water and therefore various private NGO's like Marathwada Pariwar have taken up the responsibility to mitigate the hardship caused by the drought.

Marathwada Pariwar, has tied up with Mantra Foundation, to help alleviate the problems of the drought affected areas by supplying the plastic water tanks of capacities ranging from 2000 to 5000 liters and make arrangements for huge cement tubs to protect the cattle life.

To help in this endeavour, Pancham Nishad Creatives has organized a musical evening featuring "Sitar Funk" a group of extremely talented musicians who aim to raise maximum funds for this cause by graciously accepting to be a part of this fund raiser event. The event is scheduled to be held on the 25th of April, 2013 at the Shanmukhananda Auditorium, Sion from 7:30 p.m. onwards without an interval.

Sitar Funk is a young group of extremely talented musicians namely Niladri Kumar (Sitar/ Zitar), Gino Banks (Drums), Satyajeet Talwalkar (Tabla), Sheldon D'Silva (Bass Guitar) and Agnelo Fernandes (Keyboard). Niladri Kumar leads the group with energetic melodies.

The group effectively blends Indian Classical Music with Global Music to create musical sound seldom heard. The son and disciple of Sitar Maestro Pandit Kartick Kumar, Niladri has undoubtedly made his mark, as one of the finest young Sitar Virtuoso. Niladri brought about the initiative of extending the boundaries of his musical realm. He combined his understanding of diverse Indian musical gharana styles with world music styles, through imaginative experiments.

Mantra Foundation is a charitable organization established in the year 2000 to work in the area of education, medical relief and constructive endeavour in mitigating the hardships resulted from calamities like drought, earthquake etc. Marathwada Pariwar is a recently set up group of Mumbai based professionals and individuals who either have the origins from or have intense love & affection for the Marathwada Region.

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation blacklists two UID operators for fleecing people

MUMBAI: TheBrihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has blacklisted two operators of the companies running UIDenrolmentcentres after it found that money was being demanded for jumping the queue at those two centres.

The BMC after finding out this suggested to the Unique Identification Authority of India ( UIDAI),that the operators (the person who feed in the data in the UID machine) should be blacklisted; this means that these two operators will not be able to take up the data enrolment job anywhere in the country.

These two centres were being run in Govandi and Walkeshwar. The local citizens complained to the BMC who then inspected these centres and found that they were indeed asking for money to jump the queue.

"If citizens find any such centres where touts are demanding money then they should report on the helpline number or should complain to the BMC. We will take action against them,"said Prachi Jambhekar Assistant Commissioner, planning.

Officials have urged the public to not pay for getting enrolled as in Mumbai, out of 1.25 crore, almost 80 lakh have enrolled and that the rest will get enrolled easily as the BMC is planning to add more centres.

Officials from the state government said that they have installed 4,500 machines and orders have been place for 2,000 more, this will reduce the rush and also the waiting period.

Rehman Shaikh of Kurla, said, "An UID centre has been set-up in a ward office on S G Barve road in Kurla. A tout approches people outside the ward office asking them to oat Rs 250 per person for out-of-turn numbers in a queue."

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Seminar to discuss new amendments in cooperative law

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association has organized a full-daybasic training programme in cooperative housing society laws which will mainly discuss various implications of 97th Constitutional Amendment of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, and Model Bye-laws. The event is on Sunday, April 28 at Laram Centre, opposite platform 6, Andheri (W)

"The co-operation sector is in turmoil. Many legal changes are in progress, and many things are moving in opposite directions at different levels. The 97th Amendment has been challenged in Gujarat High Court, and it is convincingly argued that the Parliament may have overstepped its legislative powers," association release said.

Simultaneously, Maharashtra Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 is in force, but it is under review by a Select Committee, and substantial changes may happen before it is ratified by the State Legislature in July.

And in the meantime, Co-operative Housing Societies (CHS) are under pressure to adopt the new Model Bye-laws before 30th May. Large numbers of societies are holding Special General Meetings this week, to comply with the earlier 30th April deadline issued by the State Co-operation Department.

It is crucial to understand what is going on! We all have a chance to meaningfully intervene in law-making, which will make a difference in the way we will live together in housing societies for the next few decades! With every passing month of inaction and indecision, we are forgoing precious opportunities to make representations and participate in law-making.

For registration interested members can contact Vishal Bamne on 9823911027 or 42551414, or email on mswa.hsg@gmail.com to confirm their participation.


Managing committee members of Housing Societies, as they will have to make many adjustments in their style of working due to sweeping changes in the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies (MCS) Act, 1960 and New Model Bye-laws. Henceforth, elections must be held under supervision of the State Co-operatives Election Authority, and statutory returns need to be filed to the Registrar, failing which the managing committee will be disqualified and debarred.

Society members with grievances, as they can get speedy relief owing to extension of Right to Information to co-operative societies, and also Grievance Redressal and Dispute Resolution Committee to be appointed. But first, they will have to understand their new rights and duties!

Ordinary members & associate members, who are required to actively participate in the society's affairs, failing which they may forfeit many rights and privileges.

Women, who will enjoy two reserved seats on the managing committees, as against one formerly. But they must earn the respect of the men on the managing committee by getting thorough knowledge of the various aspects of running a housing society.

Members of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, etc., who will get three reserved seats - enabling active participation in their society's governance.

Chartered Accountants, Advocates, Tax Practitioners, Society Managers and other professionals , who will play an expanded role in housing societies. They will have fresh avenues for earning by rendering new service, but they must understand their statutory responsibilities and legal liabilities, and also guide the office-bearers. The penalties for negligence and failure are steep! Professionals must have a thorough grip of new laws and rules.


· Historical background of co-operative movement, land owners' societies & housing societies.

· Objectives & scope of 97th Constitutional Amendment.

· MCS (Amendment) Ordinance 2013.

· New features of amended MCS Act 1960, their Impacts on co-operative enterprises and on housing societies.

· New model bye-laws for CHS, highlights & impacts.

· Positive & negative effects of the recent amendments on various stakeholders.

· Further changes in MCS Act in near future -- What is needed, what is likely scenario.

· Members' rights & responsibilities -- active members, associate members, nominal members, etc.

· Managing committee & office-bearers duties & responsibilities.

· Audit, AGM, Election Authority& Election Rules, filing of Annual Returns & consequences of non-compliance.

· Seat Reservations for Women, SC/ST/OBC etc. - how to implement.

· How to set up Grievance Redressal & Dispute Resolution Committee, and how it will function.

· Forums of redressal for various disputes & grievances outlined in Model Bye-laws e.g. police, consumer court, co-operative court, civil court, office of dy. Registrar - Theory & Practical Realities.

· Importance of people's participation, how & where to make representations about MCS Act, how to create a public campaign to inform, educate & participate.

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Patient awareness camp organized on occasion of World Hemophilia Day

MUMBAI: To mark the occasion of World Hemophilia Day (April 17, 2013), Hemophilia Society, Mumbai Chapter organized a patient awareness camp and discussion session for the patients on Hemophilia and its management.

The hemophilic patients were given training and exercises under the esteemed guidance and supervision of Dr. Jayashri Kale, Professor and Head Occupational Therapy. Over 400 people attended the awareness camp held at KEM Hospital, Mumbai.

This patient awareness activity organized by the Hemophilia Society, Mumbai Chapter aimed to raise awareness about the Hemophilia disease, its diagnosis and available treatments providing them total care through continuous education, training and rehabilitation.

This was followed by the inauguration of the first wellness centre for the hemophiliac patients at KEM Hospital by Dr. Ankita Kar & Dr. Supriya Mahabaleshwar from the Interdisciplinary school of Health Science, Pune University. Of the existing 11,200 haemophiliacs in Maharashtra, only 2,500 exist on the registry of the State Blood Council. Discussions and deliberation held at the awareness camp enumerated there is a need for more awareness about the hemophilia disease.

Lack of awareness about this genetic disorder leads to several complications among patients, not just in rural areas but in cities as well. Despite the efforts have been made by the state government in making the availability of replacement therapy of deficient coagulation factor (VIII or IX or Inhibitors) to the patients most patients do not have the money to buy factors. The major challenge for these chapters is treating poor as most of the patients are from poorest of poor background and more than 80% of patients suffering from Hemophilia are undiagnosed.

This awareness camp made a fervent appeal to the government to take notice of the hemophilia patients who are in dire need and require support.

It urged to set up more day care centres with proper infrastructure and facilities to mitigate the sufferings of this lot. Furthermore under the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevadayi Arogya Yojana, the scheme brought into effect by the state government since July last year covers over 900 diseases, with Hemophilia being one the key diseases demanded the availability of free diagnosis, free treatment and free medicines to hemophilia patients.

The current data in the region shows that there is need setting up better infrastructure and day care centers that will offer proper care and rehabilitation to these patients. Indira Nair, president of Hemophilia Society, Mumbai Chapter said, "Not only we want to raise the awareness about the Hemophilia disease among physicians and the public, but also to provide patients who suffer from Hemophilia a total care. We are thankful to the government for making the availability of factor VIII and IX concentrates as the safest treatment option for patients with hemophilia. We are hopeful that the government will continue to support with the availability of free treatment to patients with hemophilia at all the government hospitals. Improving Infrastructure and establishing hemophilia treatment centre's can be one step to ensure these patients get the best care. The next step would be a creating more awareness about the disease and providing comprehensive psycho-social care mechanism for the PWH in the state."

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NUSI inaugurates facilitation centre in Goa to assist seafarers

Written By Unknown on Senin, 22 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The Maritime Administration has introduced new guidelines regarding issuance of Indian CDC's for eligible seafarers working on Cruise ships and Merchant Navy Foreign Flag Ships and also for new entrants as per the request of NUSI on April 9.

To provide particulars and assistance for the seafarers working on cruise ships, NUSI has started a "Facilitation Centre" at NUSI Goa office located at River Sal Estate, Khareband, Benaulim, Phone no 0832 2734712/ 2715638. The NUSI "Facilitation Centre" in Goa was inaugurated at hands of a Cruise seafarer in the august presence of hundreds of seafarers and their family members.

The Maritime Administration guidelines for issuance of Indian CDC to eligible seafarers were explained in detail and at length by NUSI General Secretary-cum-Treasurer, Abdulgani Y Serang to the gathering on the occasion of the inauguration of the "Facilitation Centre".

Serang stated that "the "Facilitation Centre" in Goa is initiated by NUSI with a view to provide guidance and assistance to the seafarers from Goa who wish to avail Indian CDC". The seafarers who had come in large numbers to the "Facilitation Centre" are very happy from this development and the information about the guidelines was very useful for them.

Serang said that the widows of seafarers who are presently getting Rs. 200/- will now be getting Rs. 400/- from the Seafarers Welfare Fund Society (SWFS) with effect from February 1, 2013 as per guidelines. He further informed that that "NUSI through the NMB Trust has given an amount of Rs 1 crore in an effort to increase the corpus of the SWFS to augment the welfare efforts.

The beneficiaries of the various NUSI welfare initiatives, through the Trusts, like financial medical assistance, educational scholarship grant, educational financial assistance and interest free loan to become officer also received financial assistance on the same day.

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Alleged cops rob jewellery shop employee on a busy Mumbai road

MUMBAI: The DB Marg police are searching for two unidentified men for allegedly robbing Kashinath Sardar, an employee of a jewellery making firm, of gold ornaments worth Rs 12.55 lakhs on April 19. The accused claimed to be cops intercepted Sardar at Opera House area in south Mumbai and robbed away with the valuables.

The two accused warned Sardar against spitting on the road before looting him. "The accused told the victim that he would be fined for spitting on the road. Frightened Sardar defended self saying that he did not spit. The two then asked him to show his bag. After realising that bag contained jewellery, the duo escaped from the busy lanes of Opera House," said a police officer.

Sardar had come to deliver gold pendants, ear-rings and bracelets collectively valued at Rs 12.55 lakh to one of their clients when he was robbed.

"I was returning back with the valuables after the client refused to accept the delivery of the valuables citing some problems. I was taking it back to my Santacruz office when I was robbed," Sardar mentioned in his complaint. Investigators said the accused are aged between 38 to 40 years. Investigators are trying to find out if the incident was captured in the CCTV footages installed in the area.

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Maharashtra launches tourism project at Kanhoji Angere Lighthouse

MUMBAI: The Minister of State for Shipping MilindDeora launched the project of development of tourism at KanhojiAngere Lighthouse project on KanhojiAngre Island, 23 KM away from Gateway of India, Mumbai, on April 5.

Officials said that the decision to explore the tourist potential of lighthouses particularlyKanhoji Angre Island Lighthouse - named after the Great Naval Admiral of Shivaji for visitors of Mumbai and around has been taken as the lighthouses have been found to be serene and extremely environmentally friendly destination.

The island, previously known as Khanderi (Kennery) Island, is a small Island about 11NM South of Colaba Point. The island had strategic importance for stakeholders the Portuguese, the English and the Marathas as it commanded the entrance of the Mumbai Harbour from the South.

The British thought that it belonged to them as an appendage of Bombay and had not occupied it, unaware of its importance. The Marathas quietly and without prior notice occupied these islands placed so strategically which created a hurdle for quite long for the English.

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Two held for allegedly raping bar dancer

MUMBAI: The Pant Nagar police recently arrested two people allegedly for gang raping and robbing a 21-year old bargirl after spiking her drink. A bargirl was also arrested for aiding the accused in committing the crime. The accused picked up the victim girl from Pantnagar locality in Ghatkopar (East) on March 18 on pretext of attending a party and took her to a hotel in Thane where she offered drinks which was spike before raping her and made away with her jewelleries.

Police arrested Ali Shah (30), Tariq Ansari and Ruksana Shah alias Priyanka (21) based on the vicitm's complaint. "The victim and Shah works as bar dancers in Sandeep Bar located in Kurla (West). Few days ago Shah told the victim that March 18 is her birthday and she has organized a party in a Hotel in Thane. She lured Asha that many rich people will attend the party and she can make good use of the opportunity. Shah also told Asha to wear expensive clothes and jewelleries to attract customers. The victim agreed to go with her," said a police officer.

On March 18, Shah along with her boyfriend and his friend, picked up the victim Asha from Ghatkopar (west) bus depot and took her to a hotel at Thane-Ghodbuner road. In the hotel room, accused discretely laced the victim's drink with sedatives and after she loses conscious in the night they raped her. Accused then took all the jewelleries.

Investigators said later in the night accused dropped victim to her resident at Parksite. Asha was sleeping the whole day of March 19, but when she did not awake next day her uncle suspect something fishy and rushed her to a private hospital. When she gained conscious she experienced severe pain in her private parts and narrated entire incident to her uncle.

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'Stop illegal animal trade at crawford market'

MUMBAI: Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), an umbrella body of animal protection groups from across the country, has urged the Mumbai police as well as Brihanhumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to completely ban the sale of birds and animals at Crawford Market in south Mumbai.

According to data with the ministry of environment and forests, a total of 8000 birds were seized and rescued from Crawford Market in the last 20 years, since 1993. Many wild and exotic species are also sold here," said a FIAPO member.

Despite the Wildlife Protection Act, which bans the trade and trapping of all indigenous birds, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which restricts the trade of foreign birds, a black market in birds thrives openly in many places including Crawford market, involving many of the country's estimated 1,200 species. Laws designed to protect India's birds are well intentioned but rarely enforced.

Munias, parakeets, peacocks, weaverbirds, koel, mynahs, and owls are commonly sold even though they are protected under the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972. So are animals like star tortoises.

Regarding parakeets, it is estimated that for every single bird sold in the market, two die en route. Baby fledglings are stolen from their nests and smuggled in cartons, tiny boxes and even rolled up inside socks and brought to cities. Captive birds' wings are crudely cut with a pair of scissors so that they cannot do the one thing they most long to do: fly. The life of these birds are limited to tiny cages in which they can hardly stretch their wings.

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Bombay natural History Society in support of Supreme Court decision on translocation of Asiatic lions from Gir

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 21 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Bombay natural History Society (BNHS) announced support to the Supreme Court's recent judgment permitting translocation of some of the endangered Asiatic lions from Gujarat's Gir National Park to KunoPalpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. BNHS said that it was a good and essential step for the long-term survival of the species. BNHS India, terms this type of re-introduction as "Human Assisted Dispersal", which means re-introduction of a species to some part of its former range through human intervention. The belie is that many other threatened species can be conserved using this approach wherever it is necessary and appropriate to do so.

The re-introduction of Asiatic Lions in some part of their former range, which once existed from West Asia to eastern parts of India, has long been debated at various levels. Commenting on the re-introduction of Asiatic Lions in Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, Asad Rahmani, Director, BNHS said ""It is a very good development and we welcome the move. Relocating some lions is a wonderful idea for the long-term survival of the species and should have been done much earlier".

Explaining the rationale, he added that the region where the re-introduction would take place was formerly a part of the natural range of Asiatic Lions. Lions are adaptable animals and can withstand high temperatures that are observed in central India. They were also found in a wide range of habitats and climatic conditions in their former range across Asia.

A BNHS statement said that whenever natural dispersal of wild species is not possible any longer due to lack of habitat corridors because of human activities and settlements, it is essential to have Human Assisted Dispersal. Rahmani said that although there has been good growth in the numbers of Asiatic Lions in Gujarat following conservation measures, there are no forest corridors available at present for the animals to disperse to other areas of their former range in other states. In such cases Human Assisted Dispersal is required. The same can be used for other threatened species on case to case basis.

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Sparrow shelters bring cheer to bird lovers

MUMBAI: Once a ubiquitous bird, the house sparrow, is gradually disappearing from the city for loss of habitat and nesting sites. On World Sparrow Day last month, various conservationists and bird lovers lamented the drop in the number of sparrows compared to more resilient birds like pigeons and crows. However, there are many Mumbaikars who refuse to let go of the bird so easily. In a bid to ensure that sparrows do not fly out of their neighbourhood, many houses have put have sparrowshelters and feeders. For some it is a way of preserving the disappearing bird in the city, for others it's sheer joy of having birds for neighbours.

K Munshi, a retired army officer, brought a sparrowshelterin his Kandivali house about eight months ago. It was his love for birds which prompted him to purchase the wooden box for sparrowhomes. As many sparrowcouples made it their home, the shelterbecame part of the family. "I did not want my children to grow up without birds around. It was an attempt to bring birds closer home," said Munshi. His daughter Tanya said she learnt her lessons in parenting from the sparrowcouples who raised their young ones in shelter. "It was a learning experience to just watch the birds take care of their baby. I was expecting a baby myself and it was inspiring to watch these birds take care of their babies," she said. "It like having another family around," she added.

An engineer working and living in the eastern suburbs said that the sparrow shelteradds, in a small way, to nature. "Since I got the sparrow shelter, many of my neighbours also got inspired and put up feeders. Some of them even leave sparrowfood out on the window sill. This has increased the number of sparrowsin the area," he said. ""Its a small thing, but it keeps the chirruping of the birds alive,"" he added.

Though massive destruction of green patches and new-age urban housing has send sparrowsin search of new habitats, many Mumbaikars are still working to create nesting space for the birds in various neighbourhoods. Sunish Subramanian, a resident of Bhandup, started keeping small water containers for sparrowsnear his window sill. When the birds started flocking the area, he also made a container and kept grains for them.

"Sparrowsneed the right food and a place to nest. If these things are available, they will flourish," said Subramanian, who also founded the Plants and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS). He has, along with volunteers from schools, has given sparrow shelters to more than 2,000 homes in the area in the last two years.

"You create nests for them, they will come. In Mumbai, there are very few places for sparrowsto make nest," he said. "Once the birds take up the wooden nest, most people develop an attachment towards them. Only then do they realise what they were missing out on," he added.

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Land-locked infrastructure, overlapping schedules root of flight delays at Mumbai

MUMBAI: Over-lapping flight schedules, on-going construction activity and a unique land-locked location are some of the reason behind perennial delays at Mumbai airport. Though the situation has improved drastically over the last couple of years, flights during peak traffic hours still choke the airport and lead to prolonged delays. However, airport experts feel that it would be unfair to compare Mumbai with other metro airports as it faces major space constraints and handles the second highest passenger traffic in the country.

Mumbai has always been a land-locked airport, located in the heart of the city and flanked by slums and residential areas and roads. Over the last seven years, it has witnessed an almost threefold increase in passenger traffic. It currently handles 30 million passengers, next to Delhi airport which caters to a little over 34 million annually. In terms of area, however, the Mumbai airport is spread over 1190 acres which is only one fifth of Delhi's 5,000 acres. Apart from that, other airports like Bangalore, Chennai and even Kolkata handle only 5-10 million passengers.

"On one had we are land-locked. On the other, we are constructing a new terminal and developing the air-side while the airport is still operational," said a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL). "The flight handling capacity has already gone up at Mumbai from 36 flight movements per hour to 45. It will go up further once the network of taxiways is ready," he added.

Airport officials said that one has to look at delays with respect to scheduing of flights as well. During peak hours (9 am-12 noon and 8pm to midnight), the slots allotted in Mumbai are more than the handling capacity. Officials said that there are multiple flights slotted at the same time, making delays inevitable. ""No two flights can land or depart at the same time. This creates a bottleneck during morning and evening when flight movement is high," said a senior Air Traffic Control (ATC) official. Also, due to the on-going construction on a taxiway network, some important taxi tracks are currently closed. "This is why departing flights sometimes take 10-11 minutes from the apron to the runway holding point instead of the usual five minutes," he added.

Also, the runways at Mumbai airport are intersecting and not parallel. ""This is why simultaneous landing and take-off is not possible,"" said another official. Officials said that the OTPof airlines will improve once the airport masterplan, with parallel taxiways on both runways is ready. ""Airlines also have to pull up their socks and train pilots to vacate the runway quickly. Sticking to schedule is a collaborative process. Airport operator, ATC and airlines will have to achieve it together,"" said an official who works for a private carrier.

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Umeed project for Bandra's slum children

MUMBAI: The project Umeed, as the name suggests focuses on fulfilling the hopes of children and the communities in Bandra. Umeed project hopes to enhance the lives of urban slum children in the areas of child protection, education, vocational training, child participation and health in the project area.

With this aim the Umeed project is being implemented since June 2009 and reaches out to approximately 1800 families (specifically in four communities in Bandra named Garibnagar, Pipeline, Patel nagar and Kherwadi). 'Basti Ki Dhamal' is an event organized to let the community and stakeholders (children, women, parents, local groups etc) get a platform to bring the community together and create a space for innovative expression.

The entire program has been panned with active participation from community members who will be part of event committee. The event is ongoing in the week of April 15-20. The last day i.e. tomorrow, they will be concluding with Snehasammelan where Umeed and community members are going to participate in a discussion with local governmental authorities like rationing officers, community development offices (H ward MCGM), Police, councilors etc. The topic of the discussion will be status of services provided by these systems and challenges faced by community.

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AAP supports traders to oppose local body tax

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra State Government is replacing Octroi with Local Body Tax (LBT). Aam Aadmi Party supports the traders across the State who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the way LBT is being made applicable and enforced.

While it is that the Octroi system needs replacement, the LBT in its present avtaar will invite more complications due to double, even triple taxation on all products. This will cause a serious hike in prices.The State has to create a one time tax system otherwise even a ubiquitous "vada pav" will become a luxury for the common man.. the potato, wheat whole sellers will pay LBT, then the potato, wheat retailers will pay LBT, then the pav walla will pay LBT, then the vada pav vendor will pay LBT. How many times will tax be charged on one item?

"We can see that all parties are united in their support for LBT because it opens a huge window for corruption at every level and no one is concerned about the price hikes that will make life untenable for Maharashtra citizens. The smallest of vendors whose daily turnover is more than Rs. 300 will fall under this net, like vegetable vendors, tea stall owners,"said Preeti Sharma Menon, AAP member. AAP will join all peaceful protests, that do not hinder the society, to support the cause of the traders and the citizens.

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NGOs join hands to save forest land in Aarey

MUMBAI: Volunteer for a Better India (VBI) , alongwith the Walker's Club, Aarey is initiating a long term phased out environmental campaign with a view to protect, revive and conserve the rare and precious green zone of Mumbai.

The objectives of this initiative are to conserve the forest land of Aarey, preserve the bio-diversity of Aarey and make it a plastic free zone. Additionally the initiative aims to provide health, hygiene and nature education to the residents and sensitise visitors towards the natural environment of Aarey.

As a first step forward, a clean up drive is being implemented jointly with Walker's Club, Aarey and other groups, societies, organizations, companies who are coming forward to volunteer. The plan is to clean approx. 4.6kms stretch of hostel road adjoining New Zealand hostel given the large quantity of garbage, plastic waste, plastic wrappers that harm ecology and the natural environment. Some groups who have given confirmations are NSS Aviation Thakur college, NSS NM college Arham group, students of New zealand hostel.

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Central Railway rake with clubbed ladies coaches to arrive only after June

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 20 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Central Railway's plan to introduce a 15-car rake in which all the five ladies coaches are clubbed together has been delayed. The rake, which was proposed to be launched on April 15, will now roll out only after June.

The clubbing of all five ladies coaches is expected to ensure better security for women passengers.

Subodh Jain, member (engineering), said, "We are retrofitting the rake to enhance its capacity. We hope to complete this work by June 30 after which the rake can be introduced."

Jain, who holds the additional charge of CR general manager, said, "We have also decided to switch to 25 KV alternating current from 1,500 volt direct current between Kalyan and Thane as well as Thane and LTT on May 3."

Under the existing system, the ladies compartments are located in the middle as well as both the end of a rake. In these 15-car rakes, five coaches on the northern end of the train will be reserved only for women commuters. If the experiment is successful, the system can be implemented in 12-car train too in future

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New norms for sensitive treatment of rape victims

MUMBAI: The comprehensive protocol on the examination of sexual assault victims has recommended doing away with the insensitive two-finger test and unscientific practices such as giving undue importance to the build of the victim. The protocol, drafted by a panel set up by the state public health department, will pave way for more sensitive treatment of rape victims, and lays down guidelines on the collection and preservation of samples.

The absence of a specific protocol had come into sharp focus during the death of three minor sisters in Bhandara in February. The department's report said the sisters were sexually assaulted and murdered, while forensic experts stated that they had drowned. The government ultimately had to accept the report of the forensic experts.

In several other cases of sexual assault, too, the evidence submitted by the public health department was found to be grossly inadequate.

Faced with criticism by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court, the department set up a five-member panel headed by forensic expert Sudhir Nanandkar to draft a new protocol. The court directive came after Nagpur-based social worker Ranjana Pardhi brought to the notice of the high court that there was absolutely no uniformity in the procedure followed in the examination of sexual assault victims, resulting in confusion over the reports submitted by medical officers. It was contended that by and large, the reports were casual and there was a lack of seriousness in examining the victims.

Apart from Nanandkar, the panel comprised gynaecology professor Rekha Davar, associate professor A P Khandekar, medical officer Ashok Nandapurkar and police surgeon S M Patil. The committee's report draws from the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, the report of the Justice J S Verma panel and the new criminal law.

"It was assumed that if the victim's build is strong, then the chances of sexual assault were low. The panel found that such a concept was unsound, since even if a woman is of strong build, she will not raise an alarm if she is terrorized," a senior bureaucrat told TOI on Thursday.

Also, in a first, elaborate instructions have been given on how to collect samples and preserve them. "So far, there were no guidelines. As a result, the medical officer on the spot used to take his own decisions. Now, we have prescribed specific procedures for collection and preservation of samples, along with a comprehensive check list," he said.

Secondly, the bureaucrat said, the medical officer will now have to record the type of assault and injuries of the victim, whether it was a normal intercourse or non-penetrating assault and any signs of struggle. The medical officer will also have to submit a specific report on sexual assault instead of just observing that there was doubt over sexual assault on the victim.

"In several cases, it was found that the medical officers had submitted almost identical reports, saying just one word 'habitual'," the bureaucrat said. The allusion was that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, weakening sexual assault charges. "Now such reports will not be accepted. We have given them a permutation and combination of 12 options. They will be able to conclusively say whether a woman was sexually assaulted or otherwise," he said.

Above all, the bureaucrat said there will be no need for a victim to approach the police for requesting a medical examination. Instead, she can directly approach the public health centre or a hospital for examination and then inform the police.

"We will submit the recommendations to the high court and then issue a notification. It will then be applicable all through the state. As a result, there will be uniform examination of victims of sexual assault, and the accused too. Since a specific format has been proposed, there will be no scope for either wrong or casual reporting," he said.

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Politicians gang-up regardless of colour

MUMBAI: Maharashtra politicians show an amazing propensity to close ranks and turn adversity into advantage. The latest example is social activist Medha Patkar's allegations against several political heavyweights, including BJP's Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde, deputy chief minister of the NCP Ajit Pawar and the former Congress Sunil Deshmukh in the canal graft.

Quoting income tax report, Patkar alleged on Thursday that Munde, Gadkari and Pawar received kickbacks from an irrigation contractor who heads a company which in joint venture build a branch canal in Vidarbha.

Munde immediately issued a statement denying involvement in the kickback scam. Describing Patkar's charges as baseless, state BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, too, dismissed the alleged involvement of Gadkari and Munde in the Ghodjari branch canal project.

Toeing a similar line, Ajit Pawar said there was no substance in Patkar's allegations.

"The government has ordered a probe... We will come to know about the truth once the probe report is out," he said, promptly distancing himself from the "scam".

Sunil Deshmukh, the Congress rebel, too, offered an identical rebuttal. Stating that he was minister of state for water resources between 2004 and 2008, Deshmukh said, "I was not in-charge of the portfolio during the period which Patkar is referring to."

"The uniformity in politicians' neatly scripted reaction to Patkar's allegation is proof of how survival instinct prompts them to sink party differences and stay united to protect their glass houses," said a political observer.

Recalling the recent incident of Sachin Suryavanshi case -- a traffic cop being assaulted by several legislators in the foyer of the Vidhan Bhavan -- political observers said that all MLAs were quick to set side their party differences and turn the tables on the policeman during discussion in the assembly.

"It's hardly surprising that the assembly probe panel to inquire into incident has blamed the cop and two MLAs. Three MLAs who were also reportedly involved in the assault have been absolved of the charge," the observer added.

Finally, Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant on Friday questioned the authenticity of the document on which Patkar allegations were based. Similarly NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase has sung a similar tune which may be music to the ears of Munde, Gadkari and Ajit Pawar. "It will be early to hurl allegation. We should wait for SIT probe. Names in a diary do not say much. Any one can scribble down names of political stalwarts in a personal diary."

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Truck carrying beer bottles turns turtle in Kurla

MUMBAI: Traffic movement was affected after cartons of liquor spilt on the road as a truck carrying them turned turtle in Kurla West early on Friday. The incident was reported between 5.30 am and 6 am at the Surve junction on LBS Road, said the Kurla police.The truck, which was carrying cartons of beer, was traveling from Sion towards Bandra-Kurla Complex."

When the driver tried to take a left turn at the Surve junction, he lost control, causing the truck to overturn. Beer cartons spilt over the road. Vehicular traffic was shut for five hours for 200 meters around Surve junction. The spillage was cleared around 11 am. The lane was then made available for motorists," a traffic police official said.

The road has two lanes that move in the direction of Bandra-Kurla Complex. Only one of these two lanes were shut. The driver abandon the vehicle that was loaded with beer bottles after it turned turtle while trying to take sharp turn at the junction. We have made a dairy entry of the accidental incident. No casualty neither anyone was injured in the incident. The driver said he got scare which made him to flee from the spot,"" said Kurla police senior inspector LC Bhalerao.

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Mira-Bhayander chief fire officer takes VRS

MUMBAI: The Chief Fire Officer (CFO) of the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) fire brigade Classo Fernandes has taken voluntary retirement from service.

The general body of the MBMC on Thursday approved his VRS. Fernandes who has completed over 20 years of service and is holding the in-charge post, had been asking for the confirmation of his post. Fernandes also holds the additional charge of the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) fire brigade.

Civic sources said that Fernandes was seeking voluntary retirement, as all his efforts to get the post confirmed had gone in vain. Fernandes had a few years ago, written to the state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan challenging the recruitment process of firemen in the MBMC.

His decision to approach the government directly had not gone down well with corporators and civic officials. Lamenting the quality of firemen recruited, Fernandes had asked the CM not to hold him responsible for any "untoward" incidents during emergencies due to the poor skills of fire fighters.

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36 convicts of 1993 blasts shifted to two jails

MUMBAI: The Prison authorities have started shifting the 1993 serial bomb blasts convicts who have surrendered before the Tada court till Friday. Prison sources said that 15 convicts have been shifted to Nashik central prison while 21 have been sent to Kolhapur central prison; both have factories where convicts work. Initially, the prison authorities had decided to shift 18 convicts to Nashik jail but only 15 have been shifted while it had planned to shift 22 to Kolhapur.

"The shifting began on Friday and the convicts who have surrendered been shifted to two jails. Two women convicts will be sent to Yerawada's women prison while two men will be sent to Yerwada central jail," the source said. Sources in the jail said that political influence seems to have been working since there are talks that convicted actor Sanjay Dutt and his close friend, Yusuf Nullwala, will not be sent to Kolhapur or any other prison. "Most likely they will be kept in the Yerwada jail. We have heard about it," the source added.

Dutt and around half a dozen others have got interim relief to surrender before the court due to various reasons. Dutt had earlier spent three months as a convict in Yerawada jail and chose to work as a chair maker in the jail factory. "It becomes very difficult to pass the time and hence if the convicts work, it helps them to keep themselves busy. Moreover, they sentenced rigorous imprisonment have to work in the jail," a source said. Skilled labours will get Rs 40, semi skilled Rs 35 and untrained Rs 25 a day for working in the jail factory," said sources.

The jail officials were not willing to share information about the convicts who were shifted. "We cannot reveal their identities due to security reasons. We always have to think from the security point of view. We cannot divulge information about the convicts' names and where they have been shifted to," he added.

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1993 blasts convicts don't know which jail they are headed to

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 19 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Though the state prison authorities have finalized where to keep the 1993 serial blast convicts, who surrendered before the court on Wednesday and Thursday, the convicts won't know which prison will host them till they reach their destination. Officials say total secrecy will be maintained till the convicts reach the prison, as the government is worried about their security.

"We have enough space to accommodate all of them. The senior officials have decided where to keep the convicts. However, we don't want to speak about who will be kept in which jail, since the transportation and shifting process is yet to begin. Sending convicts safely to other jails will be our priority," said a jail officer.

Till date 36 convicts have surrendered, and they will be serving their remaining jail term. The jail officials have indicated that the convicts will be sent to three jails; Pune's Yerawada, Kolhapur central prison and Nashik central prison.

"There have been cases of convicts and inmates fleeing while being escorted to other jails and hence we are busy in chalking out plans on how to transfer them," the officer added.

Mumbai police commissioner Satya Pal Singh has been requested to provide adequate manpower from the local arms unit while transferring the convicts. "We have written letters to the city police and will be getting the LA staff for escort duty. Due to assembly bandobast and Ram Navmi, we did not shift the convicts. However, this thing will be completed within two days from now," said another officer.

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1993 Mumbai blasts convicts don't know which jail they are headed to

MUMBAI: Though the state prison authorities have finalized where to keep the 1993 serial blast convicts, who surrendered before the court on Wednesday and Thursday, the convicts won't know which prison will host them till they reach their destination. Officials say total secrecy will be maintained till the convicts reach the prison, as the government is worried about their security.

"We have enough space to accommodate all of them. The senior officials have decided where to keep the convicts. However, we don't want to speak about who will be kept in which jail, since the transportation and shifting process is yet to begin. Sending convicts safely to other jails will be our priority," said a jail officer.

Till date 36 convicts have surrendered, and they will be serving their remaining jail term. The jail officials have indicated that the convicts will be sent to three jails; Pune's Yerawada, Kolhapur central prison and Nashik central prison.

"There have been cases of convicts and inmates fleeing while being escorted to other jails and hence we are busy in chalking out plans on how to transfer them," the officer added.

Mumbai police commissioner Satya Pal Singh has been requested to provide adequate manpower from the local arms unit while transferring the convicts. "We have written letters to the city police and will be getting the LA staff for escort duty. Due to assembly bandobast and Ram Navmi, we did not shift the convicts. However, this thing will be completed within two days from now," said another officer.

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Two men posing as cops flee with ornaments

MUMBAI: Two men in plain clothes who claimed to be officers of Mumbai police duped an employee of a jewellery shop and took away his bag containing gold ornaments worth Rs 12.55 lakh near Grant Road in south Mumbai. The incident took place at around 6.30pm on Thursday. No arrest has been made yet.

The DB Marg police said that the complainant, Kashinath Sardar, employed with Solitaire Jewellery factory in Santacruz, was on his way to his office when the incident took place near Roxy cinema. Sardar told police that his employer had given gold ornaments to a gold designing unit in Grant Road for some new designs.

However, the designing unit informed Sardar's employer that they could not complete the designing and that they wanted to return the jewellery. Sardar was sent to collect the ornaments. "After collecting the ornaments from the Grant Road shop, Sardar was on his way back towards the Grant Road railway station to catch a train, when an unknown person approached him. The man stated that he was a policeman and questioned Sardar about the bag in the latter's mother tongue, Sindhi. Later, another man appeared who claimed to be a senior officer," the police said.

The duo asked Sardar to hand the bag over to them since they were doing some inquiry. Right after Sardar handed them the bag, they fled on a motorcycle. Sardar told police that he was too scared and could not raise an alarm since he did not suspect any foul play. After sometime Sardar realized that the bag had actually been stolen, he called up his employer who asked him to go the police station. "Sardar did not note down the registration number of the motorbike on which the accused fled from the spot. Sardar could have raised an alarm or at the least tried to question the two men. There are many policemen who patrol that area. Had Sardar questioned any of the policemen, the two men would have been arrested from the spot," said Ajit Surve, senior inspector of DB Marg police station.

Police have registered a case of theft and impersonation against the two accused. Police are also probing if some insider is involved in this case who might have tipped the accused.

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Wipro consumer care profit rises 26%

BANGALORE: Despite a slowing economy, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting (WCCLG), the FMCG arm of Wipro, has reported a 26% growth in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) at Rs 142 crore in the January to March quarter of 2012-13, compared to Rs 113 crore in the same quarter of the previous year. Revenues in the same period stood at Rs 1,135 crore, a growth of 25% over Rs 907 crore.

The revenues were driven by the personal care business, which consists of brands such as Yardley, Santoor, and Enchanteur.

For the fiscal ended March 31, the company's revenues stood at Rs 4,150 crore and EBIT at Rs 509 crore, a growth of 24.25% and 28.86% respectively.

The figures include the numbers of LD Waxson, a Singapore based company that WCCLG acquired in the preceding quarter.

During the year, WCCLG's business in Indonesia reported the highest growth at 35%, followed by China 31%, Middle East 26%, and Vietnam 25%.

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Aam Aadmi Party demands Ajit Pawar’s dismissal

MUMBAI: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday demanded the dismissal of Ajit Pawar from the Maharashtra state cabinet.

The demand follows a series of expose of the Rs 70,000 irrigation scam as well as the Comptroller and Auditor-General's (CAG) report tabled in the state assembly on Thursday. The party has asked citizens to rise against corrupt politicians by completely boycotting Pawar.

"The CAG reports and the expose of the kickbacks by Mahalakshmi Infraprojects leave no more room for Pawar to continue as deputy chief minister of the state. AAP demands immediate dismissal of Ajit Pawar and an impartial judicial inquiry into the irrigation scam," said a press release.

Activists said that the state was currently reeling under drought, a direct consequence of ill-devised projects that has not only bled the exchequer dry but also the soil; completely draining it of its ground water supply.

"There are no words left to describe the inhuman greed of Maharashtra politicians. And it is clear that there is complete collusion among all the parties, from scams to the 'goondaism' displayed in the Vidhan Sabha; they are all in it together,'' said a press release.

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MHCC exhibits rare pictures of heritage buildings in the city

MUMBAI: On the occasion of the World Heritage day the Mumbai heritage conservation committee (MHCC) has set up an exhibition in the BMC hall showcasing the photographs and rich history of the city and the different ways on how they can be restored.

The exhibition will be there for the public to view till the end of this week. It's in the MHCC hall on the sixth floor of the BMC building.

Chairman of the committee, V Ranganathan said that the exhibition is aimed at showcasing the rich history of the city and also different ways to up keep the listed structures have been enlisted.

There are over 500 listed structures in the city and another 948 new structures have been added in the proposed extended heritage list that is yet to get an approval from the state government.

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Over 90,000 visitors converge at MCHI-CREDAI Property 2013

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 18 April 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The country's largest real estate exhibition, MCHI-CREDAI Property 2013, lived up to its theme 'Mumbai makes me happy' as more than 90,000 'happy' prospective customers thronged the property show during April 11-14, 2013.

According to senior authorities of Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI-CREDAI), developers and buyers struck several deals, including spot bookings, during the exhibition. The premier property show also witnessed good enquiry for luxury properties as more and more people are keen to experience global living standards and life style, MCHI officials added. As such, the leading developers were inundated with site-visit requests from potential customers.

Paras Gundecha, President, MCHI-CREDAI, said, "The property show was a success. We received innumerable enquiries from potential customers on properties that were priced rightly. One and two BHK flats, in particular, generated huge enquiries. The huge number of walk-ins on all four days and decent booking figures has confirmed that substantial demand for housing existed in various categories at numerous locations across the country. It gives us great pleasure that we have managed to change the perception of analysts and critics. Importantly, the exhibition has added optimism among every stakeholder of the real estate sector."

Bandish Ajmera, Chairman of the exhibition committee, said, "I am particularly happy that this year's exhibition drew a quality crowd and serious buyers. This year, our special amenities included an enormous cafeteria, a conference hall, a luxurious VIP Lounge, and even a kids' zone to look after the children. It was the collective effort of the team that transformed the MMRDA exhibition hall into a swanky business centre."

The timing of the exhibition was a significant contributor to its success. The four-day property extravaganza was carefully designed to include holidays such as Gudi Padva and the second Saturday (a government holiday), which translated into a long weekend for interested visitors and prospective buyers. The relative ease in entering the premises was another enabling factor. Organisers said that entry was completely hassle-free despite the huge footfalls. Online registration helped a lot to avoid the rush, they added.

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‘Killer’ NCP leader’s son out on bail

AURANGABAD/MUMBAI: The 17-year-old son of Maharashtra NCP vice-president Abdul Qadeer Maulana and their car driver were on Wednesday released on bail by a local court, even as the politician denied that his son was driving the SUV that killed a two-year-old girl on Tuesday.

The accident at the TV Centre Square in Aurangabad on Tuesday morning had sparked off tension in the area , with an angry mob roughing up the NCP leader's son and the driver, besides attempting to set the car on fire.
The victim, Navya Prakash Sonawane, was crossing the road along with her uncle and three-year-old sister when the SUV knocked them down. While Navya was killed on the spot, the other two were injured. The incident was captured on CCTV cameras.

DCP Arvind Chavaria said, "We are in the process of recording the statements of eyewitnesses. We are also trying to ascertain other details like ownership of the car." Speaking to TOI, Pratap Baviskar, senior inspector, Cidco police station, said, "We are not sure if the car is owned by Maulana. We have sought information from the RTO. If Maulana is the owner, we will take action for negligence."

Crucially, a senior official said attempts were made to weaken the case, but alert police officials foiled the attempts . "We will ensure that if Maulana is proved as the legal owner of the car, we will certainly book him. Allowing a minor person to drive a vehicle too is an offence," the official said.

The police had initially said that the Maulana's minor son was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. The driver, Mohammad Amar Chaus (23), was sitting next to him. On Wednesday, however, Maulana, denied this. Asked why Chaus had said that the minor was driving the car at the time of the accident, Maulana said, "The driver must have got panicky after being roughed up by the mob and might have said that my son was driving the car."

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Auto union claims costs risen from Rs 9.86 to Rs 10.39 per km

MUMBAI: The Sharad Rao-led auto union has petitioned the state transport department that the cost of operating autos has gone up from Rs 9.87 per km to Rs 10.39 per km. Based on its calculations; the union has now demanded a fare hike of one rupee in fares from May.

TOI has a copy of the petition, which mentions that the cost of interest and depreciation of vehicle has risen from 51.8 paise per km to 59.19 paise per km.Similarly, the fuel costs have gone up from Rs 1.64 to Rs 1.69 (five paise) per km.

The repairs and maintenance costs of autos had shot up from 65 paise to 70 paise per km and the cost of living has risen from Rs 6.95 to Rs 7.27, the petition stated.

It suggested that the overall costs had risen from existing Rs 9.87 to RS 10.39 per km.

"Hence, for the first stage of 1.5 km, the fare should be Rs 16 instead of the present Rs 15," the petition demanded.

When contacted, state transport commissioner V N More declined to comment, stating that the matter was being heard in court. The consumer activists have challenged the previous fare hike of October 2012. Said activist Shirish Deshpande,

"We have challenged the Hakim committee formula and will ask the court to intervene and prevent another fare hike from being announced in May," he added.

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