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Kandivli school’s noon schedule upsets parents

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 31 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Thakur Public School's decision to change the hours for its primary section from the coming academic year seems to have upset the parents, more than 100 of whom converged on the campus on Thursday to express their dissent. According to a directive issued by the Kandivli institute on January 29, the school will start at 11am instead of 7.45am and end at 5pm instead of 2.45pm.

The parents are opposed to the afternoon session as that would disturb their schedule. "On their way to work, many drop their kids to school and ask the domestic help to pick them up in the afternoon. If the schedule changes, working parents will have to depend on the help for both times," said a parent. Collecting signatures, guardians hope the school would consider their request. "We have time to discuss and the school is ready to address our issues," said a parent.

The circular also declared the school's plan to shorten the timings for the primary section from seven to six hours. Signed by principal Reetu Duggal, the circular had 10 points, including helping students with more sleep, exclusive buses for the kids, possibility of eating home food for lunch and more activities for the kids. Duggal could not be reached.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

EX-MD of Birla firm held in cheating case

MUMBAI: The economic offences wing on Thursday arrested PVR Murthy, former managing director of Birla Power Solutions Pvt Ltd, for his alleged role in a cheating case registered against several directors of the company.

The Marine Drive police on December 30, 2013, registered a case against Birla Power Solutions for allegedly duping a Worli businessman, Bhavin Seth, of Rs 1 crore by not repaying his FD investment on maturity.

Additional commissioner of police Rajvardhan Sinha confirmed Murthy was arrested late on Thursday. "Illegal transfer of funds from Birla Solutions to other companies took place when Murthy was the chief financial officer. He was mainly responsible for the transfer," said Sinha.

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From 2015-16, schools in Maharashtra need to admit RTE students first

PUNE: The admission process in 2015-16 for 25% reserved category under the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, will be conducted first followed by admissions to the remaining seats, education commissioner S Chokallingam said.

As for the 2014-15 academic year, schools have been conducting the process for 75% seats from October 2013. The state education directorate has stated that admissions for 25% reserved seats would be held two months before schools open in June.

"The schedule for the admission process for RTE seats would be announced soon. Schools will have to follow the schedule for applications, submissions, lists and the final allotment," Mahavir Mane, state director of education (primary) said. Many students who are eligible for 25% reserved seats have secured admissions fearing they may lose out on a year if they do not apply in the desired schools.

Sonali Kunjir, RTE activist said several parents have admitted their wards to schools as soon as the admissions opened. "They feared that the 25% admission process later may not help. However, despite taking admission, parents have said they will apply under 25% reserved seats and if they get admission under this category, they will withdraw the earlier application," she added.

Chokallingam said they had chalked out a well-thought out plan for 2015-16 admission. "We will be announcing a schedule for both 25% reserved and 75% open seats at the beginning of the academic year. All schools under the RTE Act, irrespective of their boards, will have to follow this schedule. By conducting 25% admissions earlier, we will ensure that maximum students eligible under this category benefit," he said.

The state directorate of education has also decided on an online and centralized admission process for the 25% reserved seats. The website to carry out the procedure is under construction and the schedule dates will be declared soon.

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BMC to kickstart Marine Drive resurfacing project today

MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to begin the resurfacing of the iconic Marine Drive on Friday night.

Crack-mapping will be done on parts of the existing Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Road. The civic body will first fix the cracks on the surface of the road. The BMC will start the resurfacing work from Tambe Chowk to Princess Street to minimize traffic disruptions. Work on the central part of the road will be done during daytime.

This is the second time since 1939 that the five-km stretch of Marine Drive will be resurfaced.

"There are vertical cracks on Marine Drive. It was first resurfaced in 1939. It has been extensively repaired several times and a lot of patchwork has also been done. Previous resurfacing has outlived its capacity. Now, cracks will be mapped, filled and then actual work of relaying of road will begin," said S V R Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner.

In between the cracks, geo-synthetic mesh will be placed that will be covered with a layer of bitumen. "We are also planning to take central two bays along the median of Marine Drive. Most of our work will be done during night time but work on the central portion of the road will be done during daytime," Srinivas said.

As per the plan, 70% of the stretch from Girgaum Chowpatty to Madame Cama Road will be resurfaced with mastic asphalt, while the rest will be concretized. This is expected to increase the road's lifespan by five to seven years.

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Siblings can’t identify teacher who locked them up in storeroom

MUMBAI: A day after a girl and her brother claimed they were locked up in their school's storeroom for almost three hours as punishment, the children on Thursday failed to identify the female teacher who they alleged had confined them. The police have also found several holes in the kids' version. Their father, however, maintained the siblings were indeed locked up, but relented that the woman might have been a parent.

"An identification parade was held for all our teachers on Thursday. But the children could not point out who had locked them up. I'm certain they were never confined at all," said principal of the secondary section P K Tiwari.

Students of classes VIII and V in the Hindi-medium section of Sheth Nihalchand Laloochand High School in Malad, Ritu Singh (14) and her brother Ganesh (11) live in the vicinity with their parents. Their father, Anil, is an electrician with the defence forces at INS Hamla.

According to the siblings, Ritu was skipping in the school ground during the recess on Wednesday when a schoolmate got hurt from the rope. He apparently complained to a female teacher from the Gujarati-medium section and she allegedly asked Ritu and Ganesh to fetch their bags from their class. Around 3.15pm, she confined the two to a classroom, used for storage, and then forgot about them, the children said. "Ritu said after a long time, through the crack of the door, she spotted PT teacher Sujeet Surve pass by and raised an alarm. She said Surve let them out around 6.15pm. But Surve has refuted it," said investigating officer Vinod Patil. "Moreover, the storeroom keys are kept with principal Tiwari, and he was the last to leave at 6.10pm."

The siblings claimed the teacher wore a pair of jeans, but only formal clothes are allowed for staffers. CCTVs on the ground also did not capture anything.

Tiwari said the children could have cooked up the story. "I learnt around 4pm on Wednesday that Ganesh was not in his class and his teacher called up his father about it. Later, I learnt that Ritu was also absent and assumed that the two might have left together. The two possibly made up the story to evade a scolding by their parents for missing class," he said.

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Nation’s first monorail to zip through skies in Mumbai on Sunday

MUMBAI: Sunday will change the way Mumbaikars commute. The country's first monorail will roll out of Wadala for an 8.8-km run till Chembur. With its air-conditioned coaches, access to which will be through smart-card tickets, lifts and escalators at overhead stations, it promises to change the way Mumbaikars travel. A month later, a Metro train will hit the tracks between Versova and Ghatkopar. Work on the Metro began earlier than on the mono, but it is also a more elaborate project.

The inauguration of the monorail will be on Saturday by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan at an event in Chembur. "Initially, the service will be operational between 7am and 3pm. The frequency of the trains and the number of coaches will be increased gradually, depending on demand," said MMRDA commissioner UPS Madan.

The monorail will be extended to a 20-km corridor, with work on the remaining stretch—Wadala to Jacob Circle—expected to be completed by March 2015. The Phase I stretch has seven stations, with fares ranging between Rs 5 and Rs 11. "A person will be able to travel by mono by buying tokens or smart cards at every station," Madan said.

Mumbaikars are also awaiting the launch of the Metro. Work on the first phase—Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar stretch—began in February 2008. "Trials are underway, after which approval of the commissioner of metro rail safety (CMRS) will be sought," said a senior MMRDA official.

The project has missed several deadlines, but authorities maintain that the delay is on account of an absence of right of way and the wait for the CMRS's clearance. The Metro passes from above railway tracks in Andheri.

An MMRDA official said there can be no comparison between the Metro and mono projects. While the Metro is a mass rapid transit system (MRTS), the mono is a light rapid transport system (LRTS). Also, the mono has been built on a relatively less congested stretch, while the Metro has been constructed on one of the busiest stretches of Mumbai. Also, the Phase I mono does not pass above railway tracks, unlike the Metro.

Additional metropolitan commissioner Ashwini Bhide said efforts have been taken to ensure bus connectivity with every station through feeder routes. Auto and taxi stands, too, will be provided.

22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

RTO’s online licensing system drives out touts; new issuance drops 62%

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 30 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Before the new transparent online system of issuing driving licences was launched , the city seemed to have been overrun with illegal motor vehicle schools and unscrupulous agents who did not think twice about forging documents to procure licences for candidates in exchange for money.

But realizing the criminal impact corruption had on society—people with zero knowledge of driving or traffic rules hold driving licences, putting citizens' lives at risk—the regional transport office launched a crackdown on illegal schools and started a new licensing system that completely bypasses agents and touts. The RTOs' drives seemed to have yielded results with 200 unauthorized driving schools in the western suburbs being shut down in two years. Now, the stretch has only 150 schools, and even the number for new driving licences being issued annually has dropped from 4 lakh to 1.5 lakh.

"We have repeatedly exposed a racket at driving schools. Agents would forge seals and signatures of RTO inspectors. During the application for a driving licence, they would submit papers with the forged signatures and seals to get the clearance of fake documents, such as a candidate's residence proof and education certificate. After our crackdown and the new licensing system, agents are not required and there has been a decline in such applications," a senior RTO official said.

Now, the dishonest practices might have been cut down on but not quite rooted out. One such case was detected on Tuesday . "In the learner's licence section , the applicant bypassed the first stage of getting documents verified and went to pay the licence fee. That is where he was caught," an official said. An FIR was lodged against the manager of the driving school, who officials said, sent the applicant with papers bearing bogus seal and fake signature. Andheri RTO chief P G Bhalerao said staffers now also scrutinize the papers at different levels, throwing out applications that do not confirm to the rules ; it has brought down the number of licences being issued. The RTO's drive against illegal schools is still on. "Driving schools operated out of paan shops and travel agencies. We have shut them and our drive is still on," an official said.

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Malad schoolteacher locks 2 girls in class, forgets to let them out

MUMBAI: A teacher from a Malad school locked two girls inside a classroom as punishment on Wednesday and forgot to let them out, even after the school hours.

The girls, aged 13 and 9, were locked in around 3 pm during their physical education period.

The school shut around 5.45pm. The girls, who were locked in, kept banging the door to draw the attention of their PT teacher, who finally let them out around 6.15pm.

The girls' parents approached the Malad police station to file a complaint against the school authorities late at night. The police were recording their statements at the time of going to the press.

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Mumbai granny recalls shots that killed Gandhi

MUMBAI: A Mumbai grandmother recalls the sound of Nathuram Godse's bullets 66 years ago to a day. The daughter of an Indian civil servant who once served Pandit Nehru, Indira Patel grew up in a sprawling bungalow in Lutyens' Delhi. Her father's home on Janpath was a stone's throw away from Birla House, the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

Aged four-and-a-quarter, Patel was playing in the garden around the bungalow when Gandhi was gunned down. The first thing she recalls after the sound of gunshots was the sudden flutter of birds as they rose to the sky in fear.

Though Patel was too young to understand what was going on, she remembers the chaos and confusion outside her house the evening Gandhi was killed. There was much commotion in her driveway, and a mad scramble on the road outside. She couldn't see her father around at the time and remembers being pulled into the house by her mother.

Much of that day was a blur. The next thing Patel knew (on what must presumably have been the following day), a man in uniform picked her and put her onto an army truck as Gandhi's funeral procession passed by her house, giving her a ringside view of one of the darkest moments of Indian history. Pandemonium is the word she uses to describe the scene at the time

This is the first time she has shared her story with the media. Gandhi's assassination remains a traumatic childhood memory for her, one that marked Patel's first encounter with death. "This was the first incident in my life where I was witness to such utter chaos. It was very traumatic for me. I knew that somebody had died and a funeral procession was going past my house. My father had the habit of explaining things to me at an early age, so I knew who Gandhi was," says Patel.

Looking back, she can now see just how intricately her childhood was bound to the early years of India's Independence. Saturday afternoons, for instance, were spent playing in Jawaharlal Nehru's house. As principal private secretary to the first Prime Minister, her father, HVR Iengar, was called to work on Saturdays, but protested as that was the day he promised he'd spend with his daughter. Nehru, known for his love of children, asked Iengar to bring his little girl along. Patel recalls Nehru picking her up, propping her on the banister at the top of the stairs in his house and watching her slide down at full speed.

Many years later, as an adult, Patel understood the significance of Nehru and Gandhi for India, something she was a tad too small to know when, at the age of four, she saw a funeral procession pass by her door.

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Rooftop travellers hold up Western Railway train for 20 minutes

MUMBAI: Two rooftop travellers held up a Western Railway local for 20 minutes and delayed other services on Wednesday morning, as they refused to come down despite authorities pleading with them. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) had to act with caution to ensure the duo didn't end up singing themselves. The two men were nabbed after a chase and penalized.

The duo, Lalji Gautam, 20, and Ajit Pandey, 23, were seated on the rooftop of an Up local illegally. When the train arrived at Borivali station around 9.25 am, someone reported them to the railway authorities. The train was detained while uniformed RPF personnel walked up to the compartment over which the duo was seated.

The RPF pleaded with Gautam and Pandey, even roping in other travellers to convince them to get down. A large crowd soon gathered at the spot. "We can't be too pushy in these cases as the crowd might just turn against the man in uniform," a source from the RPF said.

"As it was morning peak hour, the situation was growing chaotic. On noticing that the fast line on platform 5 was held up due to the rooftop travellers, office-goers started rushing towards the slow line on platforms 2 and 3. The narrow foot overbridges were teeming with people. Women commuters had a tough time as they were pushed around. People were shouting because everyone was getting late," said a media professional who witnessed the goings-on.

Witnesses said the RPF was preparing to climb onto the rooftop, when Gautam and Pandey finally began to descend. They tried to run but the RPF gave chase and nabbed the duo. They were booked under section 156 of the Railway Act and penalized Rs 500 each.

"Six trains were delayed due to the rooftop travellers' antics. On an average, trains were delayed by 10 minutes," said a WR spokesperson.

While Gautam is a Kandivali East resident, Pandey stays at Mira Road.

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Pvt power suppliers make tariff cut tough

MUMBAI: Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday accepted the fact that offering subsidy to consumers in Mumbai was a 'complex' issue due to involvement of private suppliers and that the legalities of various aspects and possibilities were being studied before arriving at a final model for its implementation. However, he maintained that state was committal on reducing tariff of Mumbaikars on the lines of 20% cut for state consumers.

Power tariff reduction for Mumbai is much more complicated than the one made for state consumers for various reasons. First and foremost, the Maharashtra tariff is highest in the state than the one of private suppliers in the city and so granting subsidy to MSEDCL to not increase the burden on consumers before the next coming tariff revision was a necessity in a poll year. Secondly, the MSEDCL is a state agency and so administratively implementing subsidy distribution was much easier for the government than to take a similar decision for Mumbai that involves several private players.

"Though state can extend subsidy any addition or reduction in tariff of private suppliers is the prerogative and jurisdiction of MERC and not state. State can't pay directly to private suppliers and will have to route subsidy to consumers upon MERC approval. Similarly, government is not sure whether it has powers to audit suppliers' accounts to suggest some measures to reduce tariff," said sources in the power ministry.

Powers to audit accounts of suppliers such as Reliance and Tata Power and asking them to reduce certain components of tariff are only with MERC and not with state. "And if at all MERC permits to pay subsidy to consumers through Aadhar, a separate mechanism and machinery will have to be deployed," sources said.

However, sources said, state could reduce taxes and duties charged by it on the power supplied by private players but then it would have to be implemented for rest of the state too which means even more subsidy to state power consumers who have already been awarded 20% cut. Experts with the state government are of the opinion that taxes and duties should not be touched as they are the foundation of the state's economy. "It could have been ideal had stated reduced taxes and duties by 10% and offered 10% subsidy to reduce burden on state exchequer. This is because state has already committed Rs 8400 crore to MSEDCL to reduce 20% tariff and has several financial constraints," said sources.

Independent experts said in case of BEST state could directly pay Rs 450 crore to meet the transport losses presently being recovered from power consumers. Interestingly, opposition leader Eknath Khadse has demanded withdrawal of these charges terming them 'unfair' and has threatened agitation.

"In case of R-Infra state can partly pay regulatory asset charges (Rs 460 crore out of total Rs 925 crore) which are being recovered from consumers every month to reduce tariff. In case of Tata Power and rest of Mumbai a certain amount of cheaper power from the central sector (the NTPC) or cheapest hydro power from Konya can be given to further reduce the tariff. Also standby charges of about Rs 500 crore recovered from the consumers across Mumbai can be subsidized by the government to offer up to 20% reduction," said experts.

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Nation's first monorail to roll out in Mumbai on Feb 1

MUMBAI: The country's first monorail service will commence operations next month on the 8.9km Wadala-Chembur section in the central-eastern suburbs of the metropolis after a delay of over two years.

The monorail service will be inaugurated on February 1 by Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan here and the commercial operations will begin from the next day, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) chief UPS Madan told reporters here on Thursday.

The Rs 3,000 crore mono rail project is being implemented in two phases. The first phase comprises the 8.9km long Wadala-Chembur section, which will be thrown open to the public on Saturday while in the second phase the services will be extended to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk in South Mumbai.

The Authority has fixed fares between Rs 5-11 for the first phase of operations, he said adding that MMRDA will operate six trains in the first phase, and another 10 will be added in the second.

To begin with, the services will operate with four coaches having a combined carrying capacity of 2,300 passengers at every 15 minutes, Madan said.

"We aim to provide a service at every four minutes going forward," he said.

The monorail project has been executed by a consortium of engineering major Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) and Malaysian firm Scomi Engineering and owned and operated by MMRDA.

The monorail is expected to reduce the travel time between Wadala and Chembur by almost half, from 40 minutes at present to nearly 21 minutes.

MMRDA has already spent Rs 1,900 crore of the Rs 3,000 crore allocated for the project, Madan said adding, "the civil work on the second phase of the project has been completed."

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Gulabi Yatra takes LGBT community on wild tour of 1980s meeting points

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 29 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: On Tuesday evening, Maheshwari Udyan at King's Circle stepped back into another decade. The neighbourhood's elderly residents ambling in for their daily walk and harried mothers calling out to kids running across the lawns might not have noticed anything out of the ordinary, but a motley crowd of 30-odd people were being transported back to Bombay of the 1980s.

They were part of Gulabi Yatra, a walk across city spaces that used to be popular meeting spots for the LGBT community.

Organized by the NGO Humsafar Trust and its youth wing Yaariyan, the route took participants from Maheshwari Udyan to Matunga's Z bridge, Cooperage Garden, Girgaum Chowpatty, and bars like Gokul. At these spaces, which functioned as cruising, or pick-up, spots, gay men and women met and even organized parties.

Without the internet to connect the community back then, gardens and clubs were vital, said activist Ashok Row Kavi. "In the late 1980s, there would be gay parties in places like Hotel Amigo in Dadar," said Humsafar Trust's CEO Vivek Anand. "Invariably they would get raided and people picked up by cops. The good thing about these places was that there was no class barrier."

There was a need to have spaces where gay people could meet and gardens like Maheshwari Udyan served that purpose, Anand said. "On Sundays, when the garden would be the most crowded, condoms would be distributed and safe-sex lectures delivered."

But it was restricted to gay men, said Row Kavi, laughing. "For lesbians, the Udupi joints around served the same purpose."

It was revealed during Gulabi Yatra, that the most intriguing pick-up place for gays is the "2 by 2" compartment of a local train. "It's the second compartment on the Churchgate side and you enter through the second door," said Humsafar's Sibi Mathen, who led the walk. "The compartment is usually filled with gay men making out during rush hour when there is hardly any space and they are pushed close to one another. I accidently walked into that compartment the other day and saw the same thing happening as old timers describe it."

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Times NIE newsmakers set to meet RBI governor

MUMBAI: In September last year, well-known economist Raghuram Rajan took over as governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), one of the youngest to head the country's apex bank at age 50.

On the very day of his appointment, Ratnottam Das, Times NIE student star correspondent from Apeejay School, Nerul, called in to ask, "Would it be possible for us to have an interaction with Mr Raghuram Rajan? We'd really like to meet him." Ratnottam was speaking on behalf of his batch of star correspondents from various schools across Mumbai, all of whom look upon Rajan—who previously taught at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business—as a role model.

Times NIE took up this request with the RBI, and we're happy to report that Rajan has graciously agreed to meet the youngsters who look upon him as a hero. The RBI governor will preside over The Times NIE Newsmakers' Meet, sponsored by Cello pens, to be held at the Birla Matoshree auditorium from 9.30am on Friday, January 31.

At this meet, young readers of Times NIE will get an opportunity to interact with him, pose their questions directly to him and learn from him. It will be a rare chance to hear from him his ideas for rejuvenation of the Indian economy.

Schools which haven't registered for the meet can still communicate with Times NIE authorities (last date for registration is January 30) and be a part of this meet. Please note: entry to the event is only for those participating in The Times NIE Newsmakers' programme.

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Airbus superjumbo will be a boon for limited capacity Mumbai airport: Experts

MUMBAI: Unlike the Airbus 380, all passenger aircraft that were game-changers, such as the Boeing 747 jumbo jet or the Concorde, looked elegant from any angle. The A380, on lateral view, appears short and stocky. The first reaction the aircraft's double-deck, heavy fuselage elicits is disbelief: there is no way the behemoth can lift off, let alone fly non-stop for over 16 hours. It may be strange looking, but aviation specialists say the A380 can bring respite to the congested, land-starved Mumbai airport.

On Monday, the ministry of civil aviation allowed foreign airlines to launch commercial A380 flight operations in India. Aviation sources said Mumbai airport is likely to be the first to handle the aircraft. A foreign airline has had a meeting with the airport's operators in this regard.

"The A380 is the world's most fuel-efficient aircraft in service. It has the lowest operating cost per seat and the highest revenue generating potential, which benefits airlines and the travelling public," said Kiran Rao, executive vice-president of strategy and marketing for Airbus.

Capt G R Gopinath, founder of the now-defunct Air Deccan, India's first low-cost airline, said, "If an airline puts only economy seats all throughout the A380, it can ferry 853 passengers. The Rajdhani Express, on the other hand, carries only 750."

In 2007, Deccan had done a cost analysis and found that with an all-economy class A380, airlines can offer a uniform fare of Rs 2,200 on the Bangalore-Delhi route. "This aircraft has the potential to completely transform Indian aviation," Gopinath said.

Amber Dubey of global consultancy KPMG said, "The only way Mumbai can improve capacity is by encouraging large aircraft like the A380."

The problem with Mumbai airport is that unlike other major airports that service metro cities the world over, it cannot have parallel runways because of land constraints. With its cross runways, it can at best handle only 50 landings or take-offs per hour. Thus, A380s can increase Mumbai airport's efficiency.

"A day might come when we may see 800-seater full economy A-380s operating between the key metros of India," said Dubey. "Many airlines use A380s for flights that are as short as two or three hours. China Southern flies A380s on the Guangzhou-Shanghai and Guangzhou-Beijing routes; Thai, Bangkok-Hong Kong; Emirates, Dubai-Jeddah; Qantas, Sydney-Auckland."

It was in May 2007 that the A380 first flew to India. The Toulouse-based Airbus brought the superjumbo and operated it on the Delhi-Mumbai route. In the immediate future, Emirates and Singapore Airlines may operate some of their Indian flights with the A380.

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Rs one lakh compensation for man who gulped needle during root canal

MUMBAI: Upholding a district forum order, the state commission has directed a dental hospital and a dentist to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to a man who accidently swallowed a needle during a root canal procedure in 2009. The panel also reprimanded the hospital and dentist for relying on the defence that the complainant was drunk at the time of the incident. "When the respondent was under influence of the alcohol, the appellants should not have carried out the treatment," the commission said.

Balaso Patil had approached dentist Prashant Wale of Smt Mallavvabai Valyal Charitable Dental Hospital for the treatment on September 19, 2009. Wale took an X-ray and told Patil to come back for a root canal the following day. In the complaint filed before the district forum in 2009, Patil alleged that while carrying out the root canal, a needle from an instrument broke and went into his abdomen. The dental hospital then referred Patil to another hospital where an endoscopy was carried out. Alleging deficiency in service, Patil filed a complaint.

The opposite parties contested the complaint, alleging that when Patil arrived for the root canal, he was under the influence of alcohol and did not co-operate with the treatment. They further claimed that Patil was directed to keep his mouth open but he swallowed the needle instead. The dentist and the hospital said it was they who sent Patil to the other hospital to remove the needle and that he had returned to them for further treatment.

On June 28, 2011, the district forum directed the opponents to pay the compensation. They filed an appeal in the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. It said that the fact that Patil had taken further treatment for the dentist and the hospital did not absolve them of their responsibilities. "The appellant failed to prove that there is no negligence in service," the commission said.

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Bus collides with diesel tanker on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway, seven dead

MUMBAI: Seven people were killed and around 14 injured when a luxury bus in which they were travelling collided with a fuel tanker at Manor on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway early on Wednesday.

The bus belonging to Pune-based Purple Travels was on its way to Ahmedabad.

The bus is believed to have collided with the BPCL diesel tanker near Kude village at around 1.30 am. It is not known whether the dead included the driver of the bus. Eyewitnesses said that the bus caught fire after the collision.

The dead were charred in the fire. The injured are being treated at the Manor rural hospital.

Traffic on the highway was affected. Senior police and government officials are on the spot.

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Maharashtra NCC Directorate adjudged best for fifth consecutive time

MUMBAI: During a glittering Prime Minister's Rally at New Delhi held on 28 January 2014, the National Cadet Corps (NCC), Maharashtra Directorate was adjudged the best directorate for a record fifth consecutive time.

The rolling trophy and coveted Prime Minister's Banner was received by Major General S Sengupta, Additional Director General NCC Maharashtra from Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister. The event was witnessed by a host of senior civilian and military dignitaries.

The Maharashtra contingent would be arriving in Mumbai on 01 February 2014 for the felicitation ceremony. The Maharashtra NCC Directorate grooms around one lakh students towards becoming responsible citizens of the country by instilling national pride, good values and discipline.

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Spend more time on your game : HC tells shuttler

Written By Unknown on Selasa, 28 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Bombay high court has told shuttler Prajakta Sawant to spend more time on the badminton court than in the court.

Since over a year the court is hearing a petition by Sawant alleging harassment and discrimination by Badminton Association of India and chief coach P Gopichand and despite being represented by an advocate, she has been appearing and arguing her case. The court has earlier rapped BAI saying prima facie all is not well in the manner in which it dealt with Sawant.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklech's advice to the shuttler came after they were informed on January 27, 2014 by her advocate Piyush Shah that as she lost in the second round in Syed Modi International Grand Prix she is not selected for forthcoming All England Open Badminton Championships. Addressing Sawant who was present, Justice Shah said, "Spend more time on the badminton court. This cannot go on and on. Put an end to this," said Justice Shah. Since there are two tournaments in Cochin and Bangalore and her performance in them will be assessed for participation for next international tournament, the judges adjourned the hearing to February 10, 2014 to dispose of the petition.

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Mulund colony residents despise check-naka divide

MUMBAI: The toll naka at Anand Nagar, Mulund, is perhaps the most hated of all as a few hundred residents who live in the vicinity have to pay toll every time they cross the booth, despite living in Mumbai.

"The worst is the case of Hari Om Nagar residents, who cast their vote in Mulund assembly constituency once in five years. But everyday, they have to enter Mulund through the toll plaza. When your police station is Mulund East (Navghar) and constituency is Mulund, which is in Greater Mumbai, why should you be made to pay toll?" said Mulund East resident Makarand Karve.

Local civic activist Viral Shah, while condemning the collection of toll, said, "It is frustrating paying toll every time you leave Mulund and enter Thane, and vice versa. I have received complaints from several families/motorists in my area. Also, there seems to be a monopoly at most toll plazas , with the same toll firm collecting money for several years. We (residents) demand an audit of every toll booth, specially the one in Mulund West (LBS Marg) and Mulund East (Eastern Express highway)," he said, adding he has been paying the toll for over 20 years.

Anmol Bhushan, member of the Highland Park ALM, said, "We strongly oppose the toll collection at Mulund, but don't support the violent methods of MNS workers. We want the government to conduct a survey of local residents, most of whom are angry at paying toll for travelling just a few kilometres and back." He said residents often travelled to Thane. "If I pay toll, I should get better roads. But in the recent monsoon, the worst stretch of road was near the Mulund toll plaza," said Mulund resident Rajesh Thakkar. "If the government is unable to maintain roads, why charge toll?" said activist Sunil Mone.

Another businessman Dharmesh Somaiya said he prefers going to Thane by train to avoid paying toll. "Why should we pay toll for crossing from one part of the suburbs to another? Thane is now considered to be part of Mumbai region , so there should be no toll in the entire MMR," he said.

Stop collection: BMC panel chief

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale has written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, demanding that toll collection while entering the city must be stopped. He said the city must be toll-free as the government had collected more that what it had spent on the construction of roads and bridges. Shewale said the government had to recover the construction cost of 55 bridges, which was Rs 1,250 crore, but had collected Rs1,500 crore so far. Shewale, who may be the Shiv Sena's Lok Sabha candidate from Dadar, said the BMC must be incharge of roads in the city.

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Esther killing: More auto, cab drivers detained

MUMBAI: The police investigating the death of software engineer Esther Anuhya (23), have sounded an alert across the country, asking electronic gadget dealers to contact them if anyone tried to sell a secondhand Mac laptop. Anhuya was sexually assaulted and killed after she got off a train from Hyderabad at LTT on January 5. Her body was found off the Eastern Express Highway on January 16. But her laptop and mobile were missing.

The police have rounded up more than a dozen auto and taxi drivers with past criminal cases. The additional commissioner of police (east) has formed a special team. "We are also questioning drivers who lied about their whereabouts on the fateful day, " the police said.

Abraham Mathai, former vice-president of minorities commission, plans a protest outside CST on Tuesday, demanding speedy arrest of the culprit.

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Sailing expedition by naval cadets

MUMBAI: 2nd Maharashtra Naval unit, Ratnagiri has embarked on a Sailing Expedition from Ratnagiri to Mumbai and back from 18 to 28 January 2014. The Expedition team namely Konkan- Kesari participated by the Senior Division boys and girls, cadets of 2nd Maharashtra Naval unit NCC under the command of Commander SD Singh, Commanding Officer of the unit. The team will proceed on the final leg from Dhabhol to Ratnagiri tomorrow on 28 January.

The aim of the expedition is to expose NCC cadets to the adventure of ocean sailing so as to bring out courage and instill bravery at sea. The expedition also enhances thinking ability and surval at sea. It also gives exposure to cadets regarding life of the people along the coast and experience diversity of the country. The cadets had opportunities to interact with villagers about the unity & diversity and encourage them to join the armed forces.

The expedition sailed from Ratnagiri on 18 Jan 14 and reached Mumbai on 23 January 2014 after completing first leg of 300 km of the expedition. A total of 44 NCC cadets, 06 Naval Sailors and 02 instructors participated in the?expedition. In addition, 01 Boat Keeper, 03 Helpers and 06 other office staff along with 02 vehicle drivers have been the supporting staff of the expedition.

The expedition was carried out under the aegis of Maj Gen S Sengupta, VSM Add Dir Gen NCC Maharashtra supported by Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Maharashtra Maritime Record, Dir Port Trust, Custom Development and Police.

The details of the route for the expedition are as follows:-

Phase I:-

Ratnagiri to Jaigad - 18 Jan 14

Jaigad to Harnai - 19 Jan 14

Harnai to Shrivardhan - 20 Jan 14

Shrivardhan to Revdanda - 21 Jan 14

Revdanda to Mumbai - 22 Jan 14

Phase II:

Mumbai to Alibag - 24 Jan 14

Alibag to Agardanda(Murud) - 25 Jan 14

Agardanda(Murud) -to Bankot - 26 Jan 14

Bankot to Dhabhol - 27 Jan 14

Dhabhol to Ratnagiri -? Jan 14

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Forum for Fast Justice to organize dharna on Jan 30 for demanding speedy justice

MUMBAI: Forum for Fast Justice will organize first ever dharna of its kind for demanding speedy and affordable justice to all citizens of the country on Thursday, 30th January 2014 during 2pm to 6.30pm at Azad Maidan.

Speakers are retired judges of the high courts, president Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa, president Bombay Bar Association, president Western India Advocates Association, president Bombay Lawyers Association, president City Civil Court Bar Association, heads of several NGOs, leaders of political parties and eminent citizens of the city. The event will be inaugurated by Justice Suresh Hosbet. There will be speeches, songs skits and slogans.

The inauguration will be done by Justice Suresh Hosbet (Rtd).

Two car rallies, one from Vashi to Azad Maidan and another rally from Dahisar, Dadar, Girgaon to Azad Maidan, will merge into a protest meet of about thousand participants.

Two teams will go to submit memoranda on judicial reforms to Chief Justice and chief minister.

The OP Monga Award of Rs 1 lakh for outstanding services in judicial reforms will be given at the hands of Justice Kamleshwar Nath to Shri Pravin Patel of Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, a great motivator and an ardent crusader of protection of forests and rights of adivasis.

A resolution on demands will be adopted and will be forwarded to Supreme Court, all high courts, bar councils and the central & state governments.

The steps on intensifying the agitation of 'Save judiciary-save' nation will be declared.

The programme of two day's National Convention on Judicial Reforms to be held at Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh during 28th February and 1st March 2014 will be announced by Pravin Patel.

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Bandra-Worli sea link toll booth vandalized

MUMBAI: Continuing their anti-toll agitation for the second day, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) activists on Tuesday vandalized a toll booth at the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra-Worli sea link here.

Mumbai police detained at least 25 MNS activists who tried to flee after vandalizing the toll booth.

The attacks on toll booths run by the government or authorized private agencies were launched on Sunday night in at least eight cities across the state.

Over the past two days, more than 70 political activists have been taken into custody even as chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and home minister R R Patil appealed against violence and targeting of toll booths.

The latest attack came after a speech by MNS president Raj Thackeray, who called upon people to refuse to pay toll and oppose any force by toll collectors and not bother about traffic jams resulting from their protests.

Stressing that hooliganism will not be tolerated, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Monday warned that if the vandals did not end their activities, police "will not handle the situation softly".

He also said the government will study Thackeray's speech and initiate legal action against him if he was found instigating people to resort to violence.

There are 145 toll booths in the state, including 28 run by the National Highways Authority of India, 61 by the Maharashtra State Roads Development Corporation and 56 by the Maharashtra Public Works Department.

Initiated during the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party regime in 1995, the daily average collection at each toll booth is around Rs 9-10 million, contributing significantly to the state exchequer.

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Powai residents chalk out waste disposal plan

Written By Unknown on Senin, 27 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Eager to make their area a zero-waste zone, citizens of the S'ward in Powai have chalked out a plan for a more efficient waste disposal system which includes special attention to garbage on roads and CHS.

Over 150 citizens were educated on garbage segregation by the chief of Advanced Locality Management (ALMs) Seema Redkar of the BMC in Powai.

Advanced Locality Management is local management of solid waste by citizens who organise themselves to manage their waste.

For the very first time the chiefs of the CHS Cop-operative housing societies were invited to officially register and join the ALM s of Powai, so that under their leadership the entire lane or society can segregate wet and dry garbage. Some housing societies in Powai have special house keeping management, therefore it is important for the managing committees of each building to educate the its members to segregate at source.

Powai under the leadership of Punish Sharma chairman of the ALMs of Powai initiated this concrete move to kick-start a membership drive for more new active members to join, "We want to make buildings zero garbage.The Bombay High Court recently stressed the need to reduce the burden on dumping grounds. How can this be achieved? Citizens like you can help us achieve the objective. Segregation and recycling of waste at the source will reduce the amount of waste transported to the landfill sites. So simply dump your CHS garbage into to 'dry' and 'Wet' bins.

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Shri Ramshet Thakur Social Welfare Organisation organised Malhar Mahotsav in Navi Mumbai

With several mahotsavs in row, the city is being treated to various cultural events in the recent past. These events are efforts to bring local people together, and one such events is the Malhar Mahotsav which is being organised at New Panvel. This grand cultural extravaganza has been going on in the city and showcases various cultural aspects.

Jointly organised by Shri Ramshet Thakur Social Welfare Organisation and Panvel Taluka and City Congress Committee; this fest is slated to have some major attractions like 'Malhar Idol' and Nandesh Upam's 'Mi Marathi'.

"The Mahotsav is organised to give the residents an insight into the rich cultural heritage of Maharashtra as well as India as a whole. The programme are planned in a such a manner that every performance will have an ethnic significance to it; from the programme that will display the cultures of different regions of the country to a traditional Lavni performance," says an organiser.

The prime attraction of this five-day long fest is the solo singing competition called 'Malhar Idol' on 24th January from 5 to 8 pm, where local talents will be able to display their singing skills. While, another interesting programme 'Mi Marathi' an event that will give an insight into the history and cultural heritage of Panvel as well display various hues of Maharashtra and its vibrant ethnicity and lineage is also one of the events.

The Mahotsav was attended by residents and cultural enthusiasts of various nodes of Navi Mumbai. The inaugural evening saw a felicitation ceremony of achievers from various walks of life by the Panvel and Raigad Gaurav Award. The fest will also have talent shows for localites where residents will compete against each other for various competitions like theatre, solo dance, classical, folk, spiritual as well as patriotic songs, instrumentals, poetry reading, Lavni, etc. On Republic Day; patriotic songs as well as dance competition will be held; while the grand finale on 26th January will have an interesting performance where dancers will take the audiences through the cultural journey of various regions of India, thus depicting national integration.

"Several committees have been formed for the smooth execution of all the events; all these committees namely organisation, cultural, security, price distribution, etc will work on different fronts to ensure that the fest is a success. Our aim to promote local talent and to bing forth and felicitate those who have not gained recognition so far. So come and be prepared to have a great time at Malhar Mahotsav," said MLA Prashant Thakur.

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Women marathoners create breast cancer awareness

MUMBAI: " HCG Pinkathon, International Women's 10km Run," was held in Mumbai today, to create awareness on breast cancer and promote health and fitness among women. Almost 3,000 women from corporates, colleges, nurses, social clubs and doctors participated in the run under various categories. The event was flagged of by Gul Panag, actor, Milind Soman, actor, model and ultra marathoner, Dinesh Madhavan, director - HealthCare Services, HCG and Ms. Deveika Bhojwani, Founder, WCI. The money raised out of the event would be used to treat economically challenged cancer patients.

In the 10km category, the prize was won by Jayshri Borgi with second runner up being Sunita Wagmode and Sweta Devraj as third runner up. In the 5km category, the prize was won by Jyoti Punjabi and 3km category, the prize was won by Sheetal Chavan.

According to population based cancer registry/ICMR Study, the incidence of breast cancer in Mumbai - 31 per 1, 00, 000/new cases are diagnosed per year and by 2015 we will have 1, 06, 214/ new cases every year in India.

Milind Soman, Marathon Runner and Founder, Pinkathon, said, "I'm happy to see so many women coming to lend their support. Awareness is the key, and events such as these go a long way in creating awareness, early diagnosis and helps in the fight against breast cancer."

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State level 'Recovery Plans' envisaged for bustard species

MUMBAI: After decades of destruction, although nature and wildlife conservation are slowly getting the required attention, the focus largely remains on the forested habitats and the mega fauna that inhabits them. Many other vital and bio-diverse habitats such as grasslands and species inhabiting them continue to remain neglected. The various bustard species in India continue to suffer. However, the latest initiative by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department brings some hope for the bustards.

Recently, a state level workshop was organized on December 2 by Madhya Pradesh Forest Department. Government officials and scientists from organizations such as BNHS-India and WWF-India participated in discussions to draw up a 'Recovery Plan' for the conservation of Great Indian Bustard (GIB) and Lesser Florican (LF) in Madhya Pradesh. The workshop discussed various conservation issues related to both the species of bustards and the need to draw up an appropriate conservation policy. Government officers and conservationists from other bustard range states also attended the workshop.

The proposed plan will aim at long-term conservation of both the bustard species found in Madhya Pradesh. With this state level initiative, it is expected that the conservation of LF and habitat restoration for GIB, will get a boost.

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BMC's preparatory report for 'Development Plan' made public

MUMBAI: The Municipal Corporation has undertaken the work of revision of the 'Development Plan' for Greater Mumbai for the 2014-2034 period (20 years). The work of revision of the 'Development Plan' is being carried out by municipal engineers, urban planning consultants and M/s Groupe SCE(I) Ltd. As a part of this exercise, the work of Existing Land Use survey (ELU) was completed in the year 2012 and the same was also thrown open to the public for comments till March 30, 2013. The comments received from the public were also examined and the replies to the comments were also uploaded on the Municipal website for the information of the public.

The study report envisages dividing the city and suburbs into 151 planning sectors.

The assessment of the existing situation has been conducted at City level, Ward level and at planning sector levels. The sector-wise demand for land and floor space for housing, education, health care and recreational facilities and public services has also been addressed to in the report by considering appropriate planning standards.

On the basis of the ELU data, a Preparatory Study Report is prepared which includes assessment of the existing situation, growth scenario, vision and objectives of the 'Development Plan' for the next 20 years, challenges and development strategies for attaining the vision. The copy of the report is submitted to chief minister, mayor of Mumbai, minister of state (UD), and deputy mayor of Mumbai.

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Directors' association to release CD of event organized to pay tribute to Farooque Shaikh

MUMBAI: The directors' association, which had organized a touching tribute to Farooque Shaikh, has decided to release the recording of the event.

The hour-long CD will be interspersed with vignettes from Farooque Shaikh's films.

On Tuesday, January 28, it will be a month since the death of Shaikh Sahab.

"We will produce the CD within a fortnight and distribute it among members of the film industry and close friends. We are even thinking of approaching television channels to broadcast it. Besides the directors' narration, we will insert clips and songs from Farooque Shaikh's pictures," said Ashoke Pandit, president of the Indian Film and Television Directors' Association (IFTDA).

The event was organized at Bhavan's College in Andheri on January 16.

IFTDA had invited 11 directors including MS Sathyu ('Garm Hawa'), Muzaffar Ali ('Gaman', 'Umrao Jaan', 'Anjuman'), Raman Kumar ('Saath Saath') and Pankuj Parashar ('Ab Ayega Maza', 'Peechha Karro') to recall the life and times of Farooque Shaikh. His co-star in nine pictures Deepti Naval and writer Javed Siddiqi relived their decades-long friendship as well.

Shaikh Sahab's daughters Shaista and Sanaa, his sister, as well as a few family members attended the two-hour event.

Large photographs of him wearing the classic black sherwani of 'Tumhari Amrita' were pasted at the entrance of the hall. Below the speakers' podium there was a blow-up of the actor with his head bent, clutching a book on Jagjit Singh.

Sepakers remembered Farooque Shaikh and showered praise on him. Be it the young brigade of Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan ('Lahore'), Shona Urvashi ('Saas Bahu Aur Sensex'), Sanjay Tripathi ('Club 60') Avinash Singh ('Listen Amaya') and Suhail Tatari ('Kashmeer'), or the veterans of the '70s and '80s, each director praised Shaikh's boundless generosity and concern for the film unit.

The actor's fondness for serious reading and his grasp over national and global affairs did not escape his colleagues' attention. His mastery over Urdu and English blessed him with such eloquence that they never heard an indelicate word slip from his lips.

By all accounts Farooque Shaikh was a namazi whose conduct in daily life conformed to the true spirit of Islam. His principled stand against alcohol often prompted friends to tease him in a good-natured manner. But once they regained sobriety they acknowledged that he stood head and shoulders above the rest in his ability to resist temptation.

Whether it was a high-profile film premiere or a cosy interview with Vividh Bharati, he travelled by autorickshaw or taxi and chose from his wardrobe of embroidered white kurta-pyjamas. Money is something one utilises not worships he said, and lived by the maxim.

Shaikh Sahab picked one film a year based on the script and the sensibility of the director. He reportedly declined lucrative offers to judge reality TV shows.

Ashoke Pandit said that IFTDA would continue to organize similar gatherings to honour not only those artistes who have passed on but indeed living legends. "We mourn great actors and directors after they are no more but seldom acknowledge those who are still present among us," he said.

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Maha rural artisans weave Gandhi’s dream into khadi

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 26 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Republic Day, like other national days, may have been reduced to tokenism in public life, but an army of rural artisans keeps the spirit of nationalism alive every day. Clusters of weavers across India are living Mahatma Gandhi's ideal through handspun, handwoven khadi. Gandhians say Bapu used the charkha as a weapon to drive the British out of India.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) coordinates the manufacture and sale of khadi products. "The skill of India's weavers is part of folklore. They crafted such fine muslin saris that six yards of fabric neatly fit into a matchbox when it was folded," says a KVIC official. "The British invaders cut off their arms so that the East India Company could import cloth from England and take over the vast consumer market in India. It was then that Mahatma Gandhi gave the call to adopt Swadeshi cloth. He spun khadi on the charkha to ensure employment for local artisans. To this day, mechanization is taboo for us."

The award-winning Marathwada Khadi Gramodyog unit achieves an annual turnover of Rs 2.25 crore. Headquartered in Nanded, this is one of the largest manufacturers of the national flag. "We employ 500 weavers' families, and most are women. They use twisted yarn to make khadi from locally sourced material," says Gandhian Ishwar Bhosekar (78)who helms the unit.

Marathwada supplies the tricolour within Maharashtra as well as to Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The flags conform to BIS specifications. "Khadi by its nature is long-lasting and does not fade. Our kurtas are popular because they keep the body cool during summer and warm during winter. People buy our dhotis, designer shawls because we use natural yarn that does not irritate the skin," Bhosekar says. Old-time Gandhians, however, feel the authorities could do more to promote Bapu's best loved project. For the past 50 years, Meghshyam Ajgaonkar, the executive secretary of Mani Bhavan, has been wearing only khadi. He rues the fact that Maharashtra has stopped giving the customary 20% rebate where Kerala and Bihar offer 25%-35% off.

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‘Youth run after career, have no time for relations’

MUMBAI: Lamenting the current trend of marriages falling apart within a month of the wedding, a family court has granted divorce on grounds of cruelty to a Powai-based woman whose husband deserted her to work abroad within 10 days of her marriage.
The court said the deprivation of conjugal bliss amounts to cruelty.

Observing that matrimonial ties are not so weak that one can break them as per one's wish, the court said, "In today's world, the priority of the young generation has changed. Many matrimonial disputes arise within a month of the marriage when one spouse gives priority to the career and not to the pious relations."

In the petition filed by the 38-year-old woman in February last year, she said the marriage took place at Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, on November 19, 2008. She further stated that on November 29, 2008, her husband left for the US. The woman alleged that the man was always aloof and neglected her. In 2009, the man returned to India and called the woman from New Delhi, seeking divorce. The woman called him several times and e mailed him, but got no response. Further, when she went to her in-laws' home, she was insulted and abused. Aggrieved, the woman filed the petition.

As the man did not respond to the summons by the court, an ex parte order was passed against him.

The court observed that in all, the man had cohabited with the woman only for a total of 20 days and that too in her parental home. It further stated that since the man had not even bothered to defend the case, his behaviour corroborated the woman's case. The court observed that the case and nature of evidence appeared to be natural and there is nothing to disbelieve the woman's evidence. "The dream of a happy married life was broken within the short time. The evidence shows that the petitioner was never at fault. The respondent's behaviour was not only irresponsible but also inhuman," the court said.

A woman, whose husband deserted her to work abroad within 10 days of her wedding, has been granted divorce. Stating that the deprivation of conjugal bliss amounts to cruelty, the family court said many disputes arise when one spouse gives priority to career and not to the relationship.

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Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor proposed via Thane

MUMBAI: A proposal is under consideration to link Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor with bullet trains Via Thane and Virar in Maharashtra.

The feasibility study for 535 km Mumbai-Ahmedabad Hi-speed train is expected to be complete by May 2015 by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The JICA team was in Mumbai to meet state government and railway officials to discuss the details of the project, which is estimated to cost Rs 63,000 crore.

WR's divisional railway manager Shailendra Kumar said, "The train is likely to originate from BKC."

However, the team has drawn up other options for originating destination in Mumbai at either Bandra Terminus or LTT if BKC option does not work out.

The high-speed train will run at a Maximum speed of 320 KMPH. A senior railway official said, "The train will have the ability to traverse the 534 km distance in two hours."

As of now, the fastest train to run on this sector is Duranto and it takes close to 7 hours reach Ahmedabad from Mumbai Central. This train runs non-stop between these two cities at a maximum speed of 120 kmph.

As per the tentative alignment finalised, the train will originate via BKC or Bandra Terminus and will have halts at Thane and Virar, from where it will run parallel to existing WR alignment upto Ahmedabad."

There are a total of 11 stations, of which 7 are in Maharashtra.

The official said, "The idea behind linking the route via Thane is to keep the option open to link this High-speed train to Pune. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad route will primarily benefit Gujarat more as three of its premier city's, including Vapi, Surat and Vadodara get connected, while none of Maharashtra's major city except Mumbai gets the benefit."

A pre-feasibility study for the Pune-Mumbai-Ahmedabad route was conducted French consultancy firm Systra. Indian Railways has however decided to abandon the Pune-Mumbai leg of this stretch as it could turn to be loss-making proposition due to poor patronage.
An official said, "The project is likely to be implemented on PPP model with Maharashtra and Gujarat as stake-holders. Maharashtra would definitely look at the cost-benefit ratio before whole-heartedly commiting to the project."

The official said the feasibility study will include alignment survey. The official said, "It will check if the quantum and locaction where land-acquisition is necessary, building of tunnels and bridges, etc. It will also ascertain environmental challenges, if any while building the route."

The feasibility study will ascertain the traffic demand and suggest a financial model based on fare and non-fare box revenue.

Former Railway Board Member VN Mathur, who has been roped in as advisor by JICA for the project said, "The details of feasibility study are yet being work out."

The cost of the study, for which an agreement was signed in October 2013, will be shared 50:50 between India and Japan.

As of now, around 25 services operate between these two destinations. These includes, Shatabdi, Duronto and mail/ express services. Even then, the passenger demand for trains on this route has not ebbed.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad High speed

Length - 534 km

Estimated cost : Rs 63,000 crore

Estimated travel times : 2 hours

Maximum Speed : 320 kmph.

Stations : 11

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They recreate the world using tiny, building blocks

MUMBAI: The first ever brick of Prasanna Patil's yellow Alibaug bungalow was made of plastic. Even before his architect could start work, SantaCruz based Patil had presented her with a tiny model of the two storeyed bungalow he had in mind. It had a red sloping roof, a black garage, a chimney and a lawn with grey flowers. While this house now stands in Alibaug minus the chimney, the plastic model sits in his Santa Cruz man cave along with dozens of colourful buildings, model trains, ships, bikes and little people.

Forty three year old Patil is an unembarrassed member of a global species called AFOL ( Adult Fans of Lego) which, for some reason, is pronounced 'awful'. This community comprises serious adult collectors and builders of the popular line of Danish toys that have graduated from being a set of clunky blocks with immovable yellow men to tediously minute pieces with sophisticated mini figures. At 5,922 pieces, the Taj Mahal Lego set, for instance, is the biggest in the world and costs in the region of Rs 30,000.

In the world of the AFOL, who globally contribute to 5% of the Danish company's income, "elements" almost always mean colourful bricks and "studs" refer to the round protrusions on top of these bricks. Though they like building huge sets, they find true joy in defying the instruction manual to come out with original structures. The glass centre table at 34 year old Dominic David's modest home in Malad holds within it an entire city that stemmed from his imagination. It started with a church and later, expanded to accommodate a pizza corner, a fire station, an antique shop, a departmental store, a bank among other things. "This is now my one year old daughter's learning table," says David, a VFX artist who has collected 450 LEGO sets since 2005, most of them from the Star Wars and Cars stable.

In a Batman t-shirt and chequered shorts, David looks young for a 34 year old - a fact he attributes to his passion. But there was a phase when he would feel embarrassed purchasing these toys whose age bar used to be "upto 14". "I used to get them gift wrapped on purpose," he says.

There are times when these fans, who can now identify a mini figure merely by feeling its packet, buy an entire set for just one element. Patil, who wanted to imitate the art decor elements of South Mumbai buildings, embellished his ornate KFC building with Lego dragon heads and elephant teeth sourced from different sets. The logo on the building came from deliberately consumed KFC ketchup packets.

Space, of course, is a perennial issue for these AFOLs. Both Patil, who has spent close to Rs 20 lakh on his collection so far, and Bangalore's John Seemon, who owns 15 of the world's top 20 Lego sets including the Sydney Opera House, have broken down walls and merged two flats to display their creations. Seemon, one of India's "master builders", is a techie who even uses Lego as a learning aid for corporate training and also schoolchildren. "It is a great way to get kids to read," says Seemon, praising the intuitive ability of children. Once when he asked children to make a bridge, a bunch of them, who ran out of blue bricks, fused the river with brown bricks and called it "a contaminated river". Another bunch added a spiral staircase near the bridge "in case of an emergency".

While building, these adult fans go into a trance-like state. Patil's mind doesn't register his wife's comments while David's tummy forgets it's hungry. Lego's tagline 'Just Imagine' is something the Patils have adopted as their spiritual mantra. "We visualise every job being done," says Patil, who is planning to come out with a Lego museum in Alibaug. Their preoccupation with structure, order and symmetry makes these AFOLs immune from the vagaries of work life. When Dominic David was going through a turbulent phase at work, a while ago, friends found his calm unsettling. "I am happy. All my money is in front of me," says David, who has spent almost Rs 5 lakh on Lego so far. "Even after I go, my wife can sell this off."

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Map entry and exit points to avoid risky crowd crushes, say experts

MUMBAI: When Keith Still read media reports of the stampede in Mumbai that killed 18 people ahead of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin's funeral, he found a familiar error. A 'stampede' implies the crowd is misbehaving. "But indications in the press talk about suffocation, which is characteristic of overcrowding," says Still, who calls the incident a "crowd crush".

Still is a UK-based professor of crowd science, who has trained organisers and planners for global events including the Olympics and the Haj pilgrimage. In his workshops, the professor insists on the importance of "visualizing risks" by mapping entry and exit points and anticipating crowd flow. From the video clips of Saturday's incident, he gathered that the area was too small. "The images show crowd density and talk of gates being shut on crowds. This can result in severe crushing," says 55-year-old Still, adding that the authorities need to understand basic crowd management techniques.

The best strategy is "to plan for different scenarios, train staff and invest in real-time data," says Fiona Strens, CEO of CrowdVision, a UK-based firm whose software has been used at Mecca and the London 2012 Olympics. The company's software processes video feeds from busy locations to get information about crowd size and danger levels.

"Technology is of value as police can react to that information quickly," says Neil Wain, a researcher with the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University. Recently, Wain delivered a lecture on crowd control at the National Police Academy in India. "I witnessed some excellent management by the police at last year's Maha Kumbh Mela," says Wain, who attributes this to meticulous planning by an experienced officer, who had exposure to international methods. "It is important to liaise with the organisers before the event," says Wain, adding that this type of policing is used in the UK. During major public gatherings in London, the police "frequently defer to individuals and organisations that have crowd management skills," says Emma Parkinson, a senior lecturer in Crowd Safety Management at Buckinghamshire New University.

There is evidence that using social media to monitor and connect with crowds is effective. "It is useful in sharing information with the crowd that may influence their behaviour," says Parkinson. The Mumbai incident, she says, raises questions such as why the authorities were unprepared and why the mourning was allowed to take place in an area known for its small streets and relative lack of accessibility. In the face of numerous mass crowd incidents at religious gatherings across India, "one must learn from history and come up with emergency response plans," says Parkinson.

The recent incident in Mumbai is a case of overcrowding and not a stampede. They could be avoided if authorities understand basic crowd management techniques and safety measures, which are all relatively low cost .

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With deep pockets & love for fitness, Mamils put pedal to metal

In February last year, Tirath Singh, 43, took his bicycle—a Trek Madone 5.5—to Munnar and set out on a biking trip to Kanyakumari with 10 friends. They covered the distance of about 400km in four days. Later that year, he participated in the qualifiers for Race Across America—a biking ultra-marathon considered to be among the world's toughest—and narrowly missed making it.

Parvinder Singh, 42, head of IT services at Max Life Insurance , biked around Garudtal -Nainital-Mukteshwar , covering about 120km last May. This proud owner of four bikes —a Cannondale Scalpel mountain bike, a Dahon folding bike, a Giant Yukon modified hybrid and a Trek Domane road bike—is planning a trip to Manali later this summer. For Mamils, biking is the new golf .

A growing section in India is turning to bicycles to pursue its passion for fitness and travel. Meet the Indian Mamils aka the Middle-Aged Men in Lycra . Aged between 35 and 45 — a few are pushing 50 — these men are part of an affluent demographic that likes to splurge on fancy bicycles rather than cars and motorbikes . Kitted out in cycling tees, spandex , gloves and helmets, they ride bikes that cost anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 10 lakh. The bikes are fitted with spiffy instruments like GPS and cyclocomputers (a digital speedometer that measures a range of things from speed and distance to altitude and heart rate).

The term Mamil was coined in 2010 when a UK-based market research firm, Mintel, noted the existence of a group of well-off cyclists in a report on the bicycle industry. As the document explained, "Thirty or forty years ago, people would ride a bike for economic reasons, but our research suggests that nowadays a bicycle is more a lifestyle addition, a way of demonstrating how affluent you are."

Such is the bike bromance that the market for imported bikes has opened up over the last 10 years, bringing into India names like Trek, Specialized, Giant, Kona, Schwinn and Bianchi. Before that all one could find were staid old models from native brands like Hero, Atlas, Hercules and Avon.

The Indian bicycle industry, which sells 15.5 million units annually, throws up some interesting statistics. While common bicycles are selling less, the mid-premium and premium segments are growing . According to industry sources, black bicycles accounted for 65% of the total sales in 2007, but this number slipped to 55% in 2011 and is expected to fall further to 45% this year. But sales in the mid-premium segment rose from 34.5% in 2007 to 44% in 2011, and are expected to touch 53% this year. In the premium segment, sales rose from .5% in 2007 to 1% in 2011and is expected to reach 2% this year.

This trend has lured many Indian bicycle manufacturers into the premium and mid-premium segments. Hero and TI Cycles have launched their own upmarket brands, Urban Trends and Montra, respectively . Other Indian manufacturers have tied up with foreign firms to import and distribute their bikes—Atlas with Merida, TI Cycles with Cannondale, Mongoose, GT and Schwinn, and Firefox with Trek.

Though there is no specific demographic data, industry insiders say that a large chunk of the premium bike market is dominated by Mamils. "Based on empirical evidence, I'd say Mamils comprise 65-70 % of the premium bike market," says Pravin Patil, MD and CEO, Sprint Sports Pvt Ltd, a manufacturer of premium bikes and the South Asia region importer and distributer for bicycles made by the Taiwanese company, Giant.

The reason for the trend is not hard to trace: this is a demographic segment with high disposable income and growing fitness concerns. "As a kid, everyone is a cyclist , but as they reach college, most gradually give up cycling and switch to other modes of transport like cars and motorbikes . Fitness concerns too are not that severe in the 20s. But they become important during one's 30s and 40s, which is when a lot of people return to cycling," says Shiv Inder Singh, MD, Firefox Bikes.

For Mamils, cycling is an integral part of their lives. "I find myself stiffening up if I don't ride for long," says Anand Sinha, 44, who works as a senior programme officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation . He points out that the biking fraternity shares a certain mindset. "They are all outdoor-oriented , care for fitness, the environment , and like discovering new places."

That makes it a great networking sport, like golf. "Biking is the new golf," says Tirath Singh, a chef on the management board of the Delhi-based health food retail chain, Whole Foods. His involvement with Whole Foods was the result of interactions with other bikers in his group who had set up the chain. There is another similarity between avid golfers and cyclists, says Singh. "Just as there are golf widows, there are cycling widows too," he quips.

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Corporators want action against telecom company

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 25 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Corporators have alleged that a telecom company who is currently installing 4G network in the city has duped the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)by laying more cables than the permissible limit. They have demanded strict action against the company for violating terms and conditions for the installation of 4G network.

Senior Shiv Sena corporator and house leader Yashodhar Phanse said, "The BMC had given permission to the company to lay just four cables for setting up 4G network in the city. Of them, one cable was supposed to be kept for the civic body. However, the company has laid seven cables across the city."

Phanse alleged, "The company laid three extra cables for other companies and later pocketed nearly Rs 1500 crore from each of them. By doing this, the company has duped the BMC for crores of rupees." He also demanded to lodge a criminal complaint against the company

When asked, additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas assured to look into the matter. "I have asked the roads department officials to probe the issue by finding out where exactly the cables are being laid. If the allegations are found to be true, we will take serious cognisance of it," he added.

In telecommunication systems, 4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone communication technology standards. It is a successor to the third generation (3G) standards. A 4G system provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices.

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Amul hikes milk prices by Rs 2 again

MUMBAI: Dairy producer Amul on Friday increased milk prices by Rs 2 per litre. This is the fourth such increase since April 2013 and has pushed up prices by Rs 8-10 per litre since that time.

Amul's Taaza brand of toned milk that sold for Rs 34 now costs Rs 36. In early 2013, it was available for Rs 24-26 per litre. Amul Gold, the full cream variant, now costs Rs 46 over Rs 44. The rate in 2013 was Rs 34-36 per litre. The Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which owns this brand, has been increasing rates with alarming frequency. It has cited a familiar argument of "hiking prices to benefit dairy farmers". On Friday, its Mumbai representative could not say if the farmers, who constitute this wealthy cooperative, had demanded an increase or were granted it voluntarily.

The dairy blames "increased cost of cattle feed and fodder" for each spike.

"For every rupee taken from you, almost 80 paise is paid back to dairy farmers who are our owners. It is the best consumer-to-producer price ratio in this part of the world," read an advertisement by Amul on October 15. The argument of farmers' welfare was first advanced by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar when he permitted dairies to frequently increase prices in 2006. This is the 19th hike since that time. Until 2006, milk prices had remained stable for years. Other dairies are likely to follow Amul's lead as they always do. In October 2013, Mother Dairy had increased rates by Rs 2 per litre within a fortnight of GCMMF doing so, bringing rates at par.

Amul's Mumbai office admits consumers are calling to complain about the frequent increase in prices.

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Railways allot Rs 60 crore to raise height of platforms

MUMBAI: The railway ministry has agreed to allow heights of platforms in Mumbai's suburban rail network to be raised to 920mm. The work will take three years and Rs 50-60 crore. The ministry has also announced Rs 5 lakh for Monika More, the college girl who lost her arms under a train after falling into a pit on a Ghatkopar platform on January 11. The money will be in addition to Rs 4 lakh that she is entitled to as compensation from the railway claims tribunal.

"Work will be taken up to raise the height of 74 platforms in suburban stations. It will be done in a phase-wise manner," railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge said on Friday. Central and Western Railway have been asked to divert funds for the work from their allocation for passenger amenity-related projects.

Raising the height of platf orms has been a long-pending demand of city commuters.

On Monika, Kharge said, "Compensation for her has been approved on compassionate grounds, treating her case as special." On Thursday, Monika's father had met the minister and sought assistance.

Kharge asked the state government to look for sponsorship from the private sector under corporate social responsibility (CSR) to finance prosthetic arms for Monika.

He also urged the state government and corporate houses to come up with suggestions and help for a "unified transport solution" for Mumbai. He said he will write to the Prithviraj Chavan government for allocation of space outside stations to park ambulances. He was speaking at a function to dedicate the Kalyan-Thane-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus DC-AC conversion project to the nation.

The decision to raise the heights of platforms has been taken after longstanding demands that the gap they form with the footboards of train compartments be reduced. Every year, hundreds of people lose lives and limbs after falling into the footboard-platform gap while trying to board crowded local trains. The gap has increased considerably after the introduction of new rakes by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation. Compartment footboards of these rakes are higher because of the new suspension coil springs they use, among other factors.

According to standards specified by the railway board, the height of platforms should be in the range of 760-840 mm. But this is a lot low for the new rakes, which require a platform height of around 920 mm for commuters to board them easily.

"We have asked the two zonal railways to begin work on the platforms. A formal letter of approval will follow soon," said railway board member (traffic) D P Pande.

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Man returns after terror charges dropped in Spain

MUMBAI: Roshan Jamal Khan, now 56, who spent six years in Spain jails, returned home this week after his jail term was reduced with the government dropping charges of terrorism and planning to bomb metro trains in six countries. Khan and his family say they did not receive any cooperation from the Indian Embassy and that they are preparing to file a defamation suit and demand for compensation from the Spain government.

Jamal, a St Xavier's College graduate, went to Spain in January 2008 to look for options for Olive oil trade. On the night of January 17, he was picked up from Tarique Bin Ziyad mosque in Barcelona along with an Indian and 12 Pakistanis.

"I was reciting Qur'an since it was Ashur a, the 10th day of Muharram (the first Islamic month). All of a sudden, I heard an explosion on the mosque door and some masked people, holding guns, abusing devotees, handcuffed and blind-folded everyone present and whisked away," said Khan on Friday addressing media people near Metro cinema in south Mumbai.

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Army refuses to be led by cops on Republic Day parade in Mumbai

MUMBAI: With the state planning an extravagant show on Marine Drive for the first time, the army and the navy have managed to completely sideline the police in their own state capital.

The top brass of Maharashtra police is miffed with the state government for submitting to what they call the armed forces' "unreasonable diktat" to marginalize the state police's role in tomorrow's Republic Day Parade.

The Republic Day Parade is happening on Marine Drive for the first time this year. Till last year, only the navy and the police used to participate and the parade was led by a police officer. This year, the state government wanted an extravagant parade on the promenade and decided to include the army and air force and a display of their artillery.

Sources in the know said the navy agreed to participate on the condition that only a defence officer will lead the parade, while a police officer could be the second lead.

After the state agreed to this condition, the army stepped in, saying the armed forces contingent will not march under the leadership of a police officer, even if he was the second lead. The state, sources said, meekly agreed to this condition also. The navy then delivered the final blow, compelling the state to discontinue the traditional ceremony of distributing medals to police personnel during the parade.

The state police was stunned by this sharp departure from the nation-wide tradition of parades in state capitals being led by the local police. Till late on Friday, the police bosses were so miffed that they were bent on withdrawing the police contingent from the parade.

But top bureaucrats intervened and convinced the state police to acquiesce to the armed forces' demands, resulting in discontent in the police rank and file against the state government for the shabby treatment.

"The naval contingent never objected to a police officer leading the parade till now," said a senior IPS officer who did not want to be named.

"Thus, though we were surprised by their demand that they will lead the parade, we agreed to it. But the navy's second demand was outrageous and unacceptable. They forced the state to discard the traditional ceremony of presentation of medals to policemen. Then the army came in and deprived the police of the second lead also. Worse, the government agreed to all these things despite the strong objection of top police officers."

Sources close to state Home Minister RR Patil said he was kept in the dark about the developments. They said he, too, lodged a strong protest during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday when he was informed about the plan.

But state government officials insisted there was nothing wrong with the arrangements. "I attended the full dress rehearsal on Friday morning and I feel there is no problem," said Chief Secretary JS Saharia.

Protocol Minister Suresh Shetty and additional chief secretary (protocol) Sumit Mallick refused to comment on the issue. Director General of Police Sanjeev Dayal was not available for comment.

Lieutenant General P R Shankar, commanding officer, Maharashtra-Gujarat-Goa, told Mumbai Mirror, "We will follow the same protocol as is done for the Republic Day parade in Delhi. There will be no deviation from it."

Thirty-four platoons, including 10 from the police and 10 from the armed forces, will participate in the parade.

Personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force, the state excise department, school students and differentlyabled children will also participate.

While the army will parade its artillery, the air force will deploy a lone helicopter and the navy will line up its fast attack craft along Marine Drive.

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to sign MoU with British Council

MUMBAI: In a bid to improve the education standard of civic students, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will sign a memorandum of understanding ( MoU) with the British Council on Friday at the civic headquarters.

Mayor Sunil Prabhu and municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte will be present on this occasion. Under this project, experts from British Council will give lessons to municipal school teachers about how to teach in English language.

The civic body will pay British Council Rs 3.5 crore for this exercise. According to the civic officials, English language training programme will be implemented phasewise. In the initial phase, 30 civic teachers will be selected.

They will be trained by British Council experts for 60 days this year and another 60 days next year. Selected master trainers from this first batch will be asked to train other 2400 teachers in English. The civic body has aimed to train 9600 teachers in next five years under this training programme.

"The training by British Council is basically for semi-English pattern, under which subjects like maths and science will be taught in English language after the eighth standard," said Manoj Kotak, chairman of civic education committee.

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Hatekar effect? Mumbai University to scan faculty emails

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 23 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Mumbai University's all-faculty email account has been blocked by the administration, which feels it is vital to pore over communication among professors before it gets out.

The group email id, allusers@mu.ac.in, encompasses all faculty members, totalling about 100. Any professor could freely reach out to the entire teaching fraternity via the ID, which is hosted on the university's server. The discussions include issues like academics, infrastructure, governance and finance. The reason for move is unclear, but some say the authorities feel threatened by teachers' unity, as reflected during Prof Neeraj Hatekar's suspension.

"Welcome to censorship! History is replete with examples of how such attempts by even more powerful tyrants have ended. I am sure the faculty will not take this lying down," said a senior faculty member.

"On Wednesday afternoon, when I tried to send an email to discuss an academic matter, it didn't go through the system. On inquiring, I was told a new process was in place," said a professor.

Sources said from now on professors must send their emails to the common helpdesk, which will filter the content and then forward it to the persons concerned. Enraged faculty members said they can create a common group on any online platform and discuss matters. "The all-users group was a free and democratic one. If it had members who were critical of certain matters, it even had faculty who defended the university's policies," said a faculty member.

The vice-chancellor and the pro-vice-chancellor did not respond to TOI's calls for comment. The university's PRO said, "The group (allusers) has been created for varsity officials and it is on." When TOI tried to send a mail to the ID, it did not go through. The mail delivery failure message read, "We're writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (allusers) may not exist, or you may not have permission to post messages to the group." The message contained other details about why the mail was not delivered: "You might have spelled or formatted the group name incorrectly, the owner of the group may have removed this group, you may need to join the group before receiving permission to post or this group may not be open to posting."

Teachers said there were rumours that the authorities felt the group was leading to "discontent on campus, which was spreading like wildfire", but they had no idea the group would be pulled off the server.

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Sanjay Nirpam begins hunger strike for power tariff cut in Mumbai

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday sat on an indefinite hunger strike in Mumbai demanding cut in power tariff in the city.

The Congress MP had earlier led a protest along with Priya Dutt at Reliance's regional office in Kandivali demanding power subsidy.

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Bank manager, consultant nabbed for cheque fraud

MUMBAI: The economic offences wing (EOW) of the city crime branch has arrested a bank manager and an auto consultant for stealing cheques from the press, opening accounts in banks, forging signatures and withdrawing money.

The accused, Hiren Deepak Shah (34; customer service manager at a bank) and Amardeep Srivastav (33; auto consultant who resides at Mira Road), siphoned off Rs 1.45 crore from the accounts of three companies: Bhushan Steel, Archies and Earth Infrastructure, all based in New Delhi.

"A gang of six to eight people came in touch with Srivastav. The gang members, who are yet to be caught, told him to befriend a bank manager in Andheri (East). The gang would steal cheques from a printing press at Marol in Andheri (East) and Navi Mumbai," said a police source. "They would open envelopes containing cheque books and tear cheques at random. They would then seal the envelopes back. The cheque books with missing cheques would go from the press to the bank to customers through courier companies."

He said people generally do not count cheques in a cheque book or check if they are arranged according to serial numbers. "The gang took advantage of this."

Explaining how the gang was busted, the police source said the bank received a cheque of Rs 9 lakh, issued by one of the three firms. But the firm stopped payment. When bank authorities spoke to the firm, they were told that the firm did not issue a cheque. The bank inquired about Pankaj Kamal Khanna, under whose name the cheque was issued: the account was opened in September 2013 and till December, Rs 70 lakh had been deposited.

The matter was referred to the EOW. After going through records, including Khanna's contact details, the police zeroed in on Srivastav, who spilled the beans on Shah.

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Cheap airfares elude tourist destinations

MUMBAI: All through Wednesday, one could book a cheap air ticket on quite a number of flights, including those departing during peak morning and evening hours. But such fares were hardly to be found on flights to certain tourist destinations, like Goa.

On the Mumbai-Goa route, flights that land around noon are the most preferred; on the return journey, early morning flights are the most in demand. But on Wednesday, there were no cheap fares for any of these. Attractive rates were to be found only on late-evening flights. The cheapest, all-inclusive fare (available till Wednesday evening) for a one-way Mumbai-Goa flight was around Rs 2,000 for a 6.35pm landing—not a preferred time if one needs to book into a hotel for a holiday. The next cheapest fare was Rs 3,500, for a 5pm landing.

Fares for direct flights landing in Goa around noon, which coincides with hotel check-in timings, started at Rs 5,000. This cannot be regarded as cheap, considering that it is a 30-day advance purchase fare. For the return journey (Goa-Mumbai), the fare for an early morning flight was Rs 5,700.

"There is hardly any inventory on offer on flights to or from Goa, especially during the weekend around Holi, which falls on March 17, a Monday,'' said Anoop Kanuga of Bathija Travels.

Only 5-10% of the market would respond to the cheap fares as they are valid only till mid-April, said Jay Bhatia, co-chairman, airline council, Travel Agents Association of India. "Domestic air travel peaks after that, during school and college vacations."

Rajesh Rateria of Cirrus Travels said 20-25% of passengers who have booked cheap tickets will cancel or reschedule flights. "Unless they are going to attend a wedding or a conference, the possibility of cancelling or rescheduling is high. The cancellation charge per ticket is about Rs 1,700."

Suraj Nair of Thomas Cook said the discounted fares were a strategic move to fill up inventory during the lean season. "With increasing competition in the Indian aviation sector, such tactical offers will play an even more significant role in the near future," he said.

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Sanjay Nirupam begins hunger strike for power tariff cut in Mumbai

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday sat on an indefinite hunger strike in Mumbai demanding cut in power tariff in the city.

The Congress MP had earlier led a protest along with Priya Dutt at Reliance's regional office in Kandivali demanding power subsidy.

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Sanjay Nirupam begins hunger strike for cut in power tariff in Mumbai

MUMBAI: AICC secretary Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday began an indefinite hunger strike to demand reduction in power tariff in Mumbai.

Nirupam started his agitation outside the Reliance Energy divisional office at Kandivali in north Mumbai.

Mumbai was excluded from the 20 per cent cut in power tariff charged to domestic consumers, industries and power looms by the state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran), he lamented while addressing his supporters.

The Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North said he would continue his agitation till the demand was met.

The Cabinet had last week decided that the concession of cut in power tariff by 20 per cent would be applicable to consumers with consumption of less than 300 units.

The cut in power tariff will not be applicable in Mumbai where there are players other than MahaVitaran supply power. Mumbai consumers get power supply from Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure and BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking, the government had said.

Flaying the opposition BJP for alleging that the decision by the Maharashtra government to reduce 20 per cent power tariff charged to domestic consumers, industries and powerlooms was taken ahead of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had said the government has fulfilled its assurance given in November last year.

He said the state government had on November 19 last year assured to fulfil the promise to reduce power tariff by 20 per cent.

He had said the state government will have to bear an additional burden of Rs 7,200 crore on the state exchequer.

Nirupam, who along with party's Lok Sabha member Priya Dutt had been "protesting" and demanding reduction of electricity bills for power consumers especially in Mumbai.

Nirupam had also written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanding a power tariff cut, reasoning that if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi could do so, why could it not be replicated in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Their party, the Congress, leads the coalition government in Maharashtra.

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Senior journalist, activist Doiphode dead

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 22 Januari 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Senior journalist from Nanded in Marathwada region, Sudhakarrao Vinyakrao Doiphode passed away on Wednesday. He was 77.

Doiphode, who was part of Nanded's social, political and economic spheres since last forty years, died at Hyderabad, family sources said.

He was chief editor of Nanded city's popular news paper "Dainik Prajawani" and wrote articles regarding issues concerning railway development in Marthawada region and water management.

He was a former president of " Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Patrakar Parishad" held in 1984 at Parbhani and received the "Nanded Bhushan " award in 1999.

He published " Shabdaban", a collection of selected editorials published in Dainik Prajawani from 1960 to 1995, and " Pratyardanache Diwas", a book on contribution of Nanded district in Marathawada freedom struggle against the then Hydrabad Nizam state.

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Cross-dressing cop faces action for sex abuse

MUMBAI: Proceedings to suspend of an inspector accused of having unnatural sex are now underway at the Chunabhatti police station, said an officer on Tuesday.

Inspector Mahesh Jadhav was accused in October by two youths of calling them to his cabin at the Chunabhatti police station and sexually exploiting them while dressed as a woman.

Additional commissioner of police (east region) Quaiser Khalid said that an FIR had been registered and papers recommending Jadhav's suspension were being prepared to be sent to police commissioner Satya Pal Singh.

"After going through the complaint, an assistant commissioner of police conducted an inquiry and prima facie, we found substance in the allegations," Khalid said.

Salim Qureishi, a social worker who helped the victims bring the matter to the notice of the police, said he had been threatened, abused and even offered allurements by Jadhav's colleagues to withdraw the complaint.

"Finally after three months, there is an FIR," Qureishi said.

Jadhav was booked under sections 377 (unnatural sex), 355 (assault or criminal force with intent to dishonour person), 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave) and 503 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

TOI reported the case in its October 24 edition, after the complainants approached the police.

Two young men from Kurla had alleged that a crossdressing Jadhav had been sexually exploiting them for months. In a written complaint to the police, they said Jadhav forced them to come to his cabin at the police station, where he dressed up like a woman, danced in front of them, touched them inappropriately and had 'unnatural' sex with them.

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One killed, 2 hurt in train mishaps near Mumbra

MUMBAI: One person died and two were seriously injured when they fell off overcrowded trains between Mumbra and Kalwa in three incidents within a 30-minute span during Tuesday morning peak hour. While the GRP registered cases, railway officials denied any knowledge of the mishaps.

Mumbra resident Aslan Ansari (19), who worked with a gas cylinder company in Kalwa, reportedly lost his balance and died after falling on the tracks between Mumbra and Kalwa around 8.45am. His neighbour informed TOI that he left home around 8.30am for work. "We had dinner together on Monday and I couldn't believe it when I heard of his death this morning," said the neighbour. "He must have fallen down due to overcrowding. He was found near pole number 37/12-13 near Mumbra," informed head constable Ramesh Yewle of Kalwa GRP, who picked up Ansari's body from the tracks.

Another Mumbra resident, Moin Shaikh (22), left for his Thane office around 8.45am but his family received a call from the police a while later saying he had fallen off the train. He was admitted to the civil hospital and later shifted to Sion Hospital, where he is still in a critical condition, said his uncle Qaid Ahmed.

The GRP registered cases for both mishaps. The third incident, which was yet to be registered by the police, involved a youth identified as Mohd Ashraf Khan (21), who also fell on the tracks between Mumbra and Kalwa at around 9.15am. However, he had not suffered any major injuries and was taken to hospital by some locals. "An injured commuter was admitted to our hospital from where was referred to Sion Hospital in the morning," said an official from Kalwa hospital.

Interestingly, the railways denied any information of these accidents even late in the evening. "There are some rumours doing the rounds about such mishaps. We have not been informed of any such accidents by the GRP. The police normally keep the station authorities informed who then issue a memo to attend to the victims," said Atul Rane, CPRO of Central Railway.

But J Pawar, ACP with the GRP's Thane division, denied his men would have acted against the prescribed norms. "There could be a delay in registering cases but we always follow the procedure and inform the railways," he said. Moreover, head constable Yewle, who picked up Ansari's body from the accident spot, claimed he had been issued a memo from the Kalwa station authorities.

Commuters say more services are required on the stretch between Kalyan and Mumbra. "Though there is a train every five minutes, it is inadequate," said Ramesh Joshi, a commuter from Badlapur who travels daily to Thane. "The 15-car rakes should be immediately introduced on this stretch at least during peak hours. Commuter density at stations like Mumbra and Kalwa has increased manifold," said Nandkumar Deshmukh, a railway activist from Thane.

"We have to always travel in the opposite direction till Dombivli to board a train for CST during peak hours. The railways should ensure intermediate stations also get adequate train services," said Imran Shaikh, a resident of Mumbra.

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