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Chembur pool revamp to be floated before civic panel in Mumbai

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 31 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A proposal to repair and reconstruct an Olympic-size swimming pool in Chembur is finally expected to come up before the civic standing committee on Friday. The pool has been shut since 2007.

The pool will be renovated at a cost of Rs 19 crore and equipped with an audience gallery, water filtration plant, canteen, garden, fire-fighting system and CCTV cameras.

Joint municipal commissioner (in-charge of gardens and swimming pools) S S Shinde, confirmed the plans. The renovation work is expected to be completed in two years.

The BMC manages four pools—at Dadar, Kandivli, Ghatkopar and Chembur.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Young city designer dies at Goa dance fest

CALANGUTE/MUMBAI: A 27-year-old Mumbai fashion designer died after collapsing due to exhaustion at the Supersonic electronic dance music (EDM) festival in Goa's Candolim on Monday night. Isha Mantry's death sparked allegations as Congress and NCP linked the EDM with drug abuse and called for banning it.

This is the second such EDM-related death in Goa. A young female techie from Bengaluru had died under similar circumstances in 2009.

Police said Mantry's friends ruled out a drug angle in their statements to cops. She had attended the event along with 13 people.

Mantry's friends told police she was indisposed when she arrived in Goa and was feeling unwell the day they attended the festival, where they had beer.

Her postmortem would be conducted after her parents arrive in Goa on Wednesday afternoon from Odisha.

Mantry's friends told police she fell unconscious just before the festival was to end. She was taken to a first aid centre from where she was shifted to a private hospital, where she died.

SP (North) Priyanka Kashyap said they have registered a case of unnatural death and are conducting further investigations.

Mantry had worked as a costume designer for movies like 'Mary Kom'. "We worked very closely during the making of 'Mary Kom'. She was a joyous person. So it is really sad news what has happened,'' said film-writer Saiwyn Quadras. "It is always a real tragedy when life is cut so short. She was good with everyone on the set, very dedicated, very hardworking. People only speak about her in high regard.''

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Growing meth addiction in city has doctors concerned

MUMBAI: The reason Mumbai's youth consume the deadly meth or M-cat is simple: in the short-term, these drug release high levels of neurotransmitter dopamine. A hormone, dopamine is associated with pleasure that one draws from happy activities such as eating one's favourite dish, watching a favourite movie or being in the company of a loved one and so on.

The reason doctors are worried about meth and other such "middle-class cocaine alternatives" is also obvious: these lab-drugs are highly addictive and cause a host of physical and mental problems. 'Meth mouth', characterized by tooth decay and fall, is one of the obvious side-effects. Psychosis, along with hallucinations, is another big worry. Newer research in the US where meth was banned long back show structural changes in the brain areas associated with emotions and cognition.

"Around 80% of addicts admitted for rehabilitation in state government-run GT Hospital near CST as well as Masina Hospital in Byculla are meth addicts," said psychiatrist Dr Yusuf Matcheswalla. He said many of the addicts become prone to lung infections because of rampant meth and M-cat usage. The show of aggression, the frequency of nose bleeds and the odd convulsions is the price that many of these addicts pay, said Dr Matcheswalla.

"In the early eighties, we saw brown sugar addiction. Now, it is addiction to the amphetamine family of compounds such as crystal meth or M-cat," said psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. "It was previously believed that an idle mind is a devil's workshop, but nowadays an empty house is a devil's workshop. Youngsters look for such empty houses because they get access to drugs, games and porn,'' he added.

Doctors say these lab-grown compounds are cheap to make: literally cooked in a pressure cooker and dried in the open. "Having a mephedrone fix costs Rs 15 which is equivalent to buying vada pav," said Dr Yusuf Merchant who runs the NGO Drug Abuse Information Rehabilitation and Research Centre (DAIRRC).

At a press conference held on Tuesday, he said M-cat had become popular because "it is legal in India, it doesn't have to be smoked but can be sniffed or eaten. It is a sexual stimulant. It is cheap costing Rs 150 for one gram." Dr Merchant estimates that 30,000 teenagers in Mumbai alone are addicted to mephedrone. Dr Shetty saw six youngsters on Monday who want to break the habit. "Today, I saw three more with a similar request," he said.

DAIRRC has petitioned the government to add drugs such as M-Cat and meth to the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act). Last week, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the state would appeal to the Centre to add such drugs to the Act. At present, the Mumbai police book those found with this substances under section 328 of the IPC that forbids the consumption, possession or transportation of a poisonous substance.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Centre, private companies to fund smart police stations

MUMBAI: After announcing the smart city initiative, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has now drafted a plan to set up citizen-friendly smart police stations in each state.

For the first time, setting up of a police station will be funded by the Centre and the private sector's corporate social responsibility programme.

A month ago, addressing a high-level meeting of DGPs, Modi had made it clear that police personnel should be SMART—sensitive and strict, modern with mobility, alert and accountable, reliable and responsive and trained and techno-savvy.

A senior home department bureaucrat on Tuesday confirmed that the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has asked the state to set up a comprehensive proposal for a smart police station in Maharashtra. "We are in the process of submitting a proposal to set up a smart police station in Mumbai," he said.

The bureaucrat said that Modi wanted the smart police station to be citizen-friendly, clean and one that meets operational and welfare needs of police personnel. It should have basic amenities for visitors, a waiting area, toilets and drinking water facility, rest rooms for constables, separate facilities for women police personnel, besides natural light, proper ventilation, solar lighting and energy-saving features.

It has also been to set up a state-of-art CCTV network, safe armoury, record room and automatic kiosks for filing of complaints by public and a back-up for follow-up. "Police station is a primary point of interaction between the public and police personnel, as such, it should be citizen-friendly," he said.

An IPS official said while the concept is novel, it was high time the state initiates an action plan to provide basic amenities in the existing police stations. The official felt that CM Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the home portfolio, should take a review of police stations across the state. "Fadnavis must ensure that police station's across the state are enabled with state-of-the-art technology. Our crime data has still not computerized and hence there is no data sharing," he said.

There was also an urgent need to review manpower deployment, he said.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Pizza Hut serves detergent water to customer

MUMBAI: An afternoon meal on Monday at a famous global pizza chain located in a Vashi Mall turned out to be a horrid experience for Dombivali resident Avinash Pai after he was allegedly served water that seemed to have been contaminated with dishwashing detergent.

Pai registered a police complaint with Vashi police station for being threatened and being served contaminated water. He has filed a written complaint with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well.

"I had gone to Pizza Hut on Monday for lunch at Inorbit Mall, Vashi. I was served water after finishing my lunch around 2.20 pm or so. I felt nauseated as soon as I drank it. The water served in the glass was not only foul smelling but extremely pungent and bitter. While I had gulped down some quantity, I spat the rest out as my mouth turned foul with the taste and questioned the waiter, who said that the water might have been served from a jar containing lemonade," Pai said.

He added that the lame excuse irked him further and he demanded an answer to what he was served and asked for someone senior to get clarity as it was a question of his health. "A floor manager who identified himself as Savio came to me and after some discussions, smelled the water and tried to convince me that it was nothing but later told me that the dishwashing detergent might have gotten mixed by mistake and refused to clarify on what was actually served. I asked him to show me the bottle of that detergent to understand the contents but he flatly refused," Pai said, adding that he decided to call the police and soon a constable reached the outlet. What further shocked Pai was after the constable's arrival, the floor manager gave me the phone to speak to someone.

"That man on the phone simply started talking rudely to me and claimed that I had complained previously as well and even threatened me. I finally went to the Vashi police station with the sample of the water that the constable had poured into a bottle and the cops registered a NC and told me that I would have to complain to the FDA," Pai said.

He was further confused after being told by a senior staff, who was called at the police station, that the person with whom he spoke over the phone was from "legal side".

Pai emailed a complaint to FDA on Tuesday. He said that he was being directed to food inspector who would take the complaint to pursue his case against gross negligence by such a famous pizza chain.

"I was extremely disappointed with the way they dealt with the mistake they had committed. I was told later that the liquid was Suma Bac but I was not shown what I had been served," Pai said.

In an email response, a Pizza Hut spokesperson said, "We at Pizza Hut would like to reiterate our commitment to the quality of our products and the well being of our customers. We maintain high quality and hygiene standards to ensure food safety at all stages of preparation including measures to ensure that the utensils and food products are clean and perfect for usage. As a responsible brand we truly value our customers and take all essential measures for their well being. We are investigating the matter."

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Vintage clock to chime on New Year's Eve after being stuck in time for ages

Vintage clock expert Mohammed Ibrahim Damani has been struggling to design a "badam". That's his casual name for an almond-shaped cog, which controls the number of times a clock chimes every hour. About a year ago, the Mumbai Port Trust appointed the 68-year-old to repair Sassoon Dock's 140-year-old timepiece. As soon as he inserts this almond-shaped wheel - he's had to discard a few earlier versions - the mechanism will work like clockwork.

The plan is for the repaired timepiece to ring in the New Year with twelve chimes. However, the deadline for it to start working round the clock is January 26, 2015 after the tower's restoration is complete.

This will be the first time Colaba residents will hear it chime in at least two decades. No one can recall exactly when the clock stopped though rumours abound - some say it died the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, others on the day India became a republic and still others say it was vandalized during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War because the dock was built by Albert Sassoon, a Baghdadi Jew in 1875.

"The decision to restore and repair the clock and the heritage tower was taken in late 2013 and supported by the chairman Ravi Parmar," says Dilip Vishwanathan, convenor of the Port Trust's Heritage Committee. It cost approximately Rs 1.5 lakh to repair the clock, while the restoration of the tower will come to around Rs 25 lakh. "The roof tiles and much of the wooden floor had to be replaced, and the balcony had to be reinforced after it caved in," explained the project's contractor Sunil Bhatia. Once the work is complete, the Port Trust is contemplating leasing out the tower and its neighbouring four structures. "A night restaurant can be run on the top floor of the tower, a museum on the ground floor and a fish retail outlet in the rest of the complex," said Vishwanathan.

Dilip Vishwanathan spearheaded the project. (TOI photo by Rizwan Mithawala)
Its new avatar will be in keeping with the dock's grand legacy .Though small by today's standards, Sassoon Dock was the city's first wet dock. Messrs David Sassoon and Company excavated it out of solid rock and designed it to accommodate five 1,000-ton ships. In 1879, it was purchased by the government on behalf of the Bombay Port Trust and was often used as a landing place for troops.

Damani, whose father also repaired clocks, has fixed heritage timepieces for Fort's St Thomas Cathedral and Byculla's Magen David Synagogue. While repairing this one, he had to replace 43 missing parts. This ate into his profit but he persevered partly because of his history with the timepiece. As a teenager, he worked for the Eastern Watch Company and was in charge of servicing this very mechanism. So when the Port Trust approached him, it was like winding back the clock.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Rules ‘flouted’, fire-hit Western Railway highrise gets civic notice

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 30 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A fortnight after a fire broke out at a 21-storey railway officers' quarters at Mumbai Central, the fire brigade has slapped a notice on Western Railway (WR) about "inadequacies" in fire prevention noticed during the fire-fighting operation. WR has a week to comply.

A nominated fire officer had also inspected the building on December 22. The notice refers to deviations vis-a-vis prevention of basic requirements to regarding prevention of fires and life-safety measures.While portable fire extinguishers provided on every floor were not checked and refilled since 2006, the fire alarm system was not functional. Besides, the refuge area was not in keeping with fire safety norms for high-rises.

Deputy chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said, "We hope they comply within one week... If not, action will be taken."

Western Railway's divisional railway manager Shailendra Kumar said he would file a reply by Tuesday. "We have found that some of the existing fire-fighting equipment were already under repair and efforts were being made to ensure that they are in proper working condition," said Kumar.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Developers fear January ready reckoner hike

MUMBAI: Expect more stamp duty and registration charges for property transactions in 2015. Developers expect ready reckoner rates to go up from 5% to 40% in January , though an official announcement will come only in the first week of 2015. They feel the hike may prove a dampener for the industry as they are already paying up to 33% income tax on a difference between the agreement value and the ready reckoner (RR) value.

The RR is the base rate of property which determines stamp duty and registration charge collected by the government.

Devang Trivedi of the Progressive group said the state was planning to increase the RR in areas, between 5% to 40%. "Builders are not opposed to stamp duty . But they as well as their buyers or investors have to pay income tax of 33% each on the difference between actual agreement and RR rate. For a Rs 1-crore property ,a tax of about Rs 7 lakh each has to be paid by the developer and buyer, besides stamp duty ," he said. Developers said such transactions mostly affect schemes in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli etc.

Vinod Sampat, president of the Registration Fee and Stamp Duty Payers' Association expected the RR hike to be between 20% and 25%. "Whatever the situation in the real estate sector, I don't think the government will consider a major reduction, rollback or postponement as it is the second biggest source of revenue," he said.

The state government had increased RR rates by up to 20% in municipal corporation areas of Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Mumbai from January 1. But it was withdrawn partially following pressure from the builders' lobby . Developers fear this year the government might reintroduce the partial rollback. "If this happens, RR for schemes with swimming pools and other luxurious facilities will go up. This will make the deal costlier for buyers," said developers.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

BMC red-flagged for not heeding green diktat

MUMBAI: The state pollution watchdog has issued prosecution notices to 20 municipal corporations for their failure to submit a resolution, committing to earmark 25% in their budget for the next financial year (2015-16) for sewerage and solid waste management. An official of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, or MPCB, said the prosecution notice had been issued after the local bodies failed to respond despite being sent a notice and a reminder about the budget allocation.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation as also Thane Municipal Corpoation are among those which have been issued the notice.

The MCPB, in charge of implementing environmental legislations, has jurisdiction over 26 municipal corporations. A senior MPCB official said that corporations generate 80% of sewerage. The MPCB had issued them notices in June about reserving 25% of budgetary provision for sewerage and solid waste management. Besides, reminders were issued in September, the official added.

"But 20 of the 26 corporations did not respond appropriately. Nor did they submit the resolution approved by the local body for making budgetary provisions," this official said. "Given the local corporations' negligent attitude towards environmental rules, the prosecution notices were issued."

Of the six corporations, which have submitted the resolution that was sought for, include Vasai-Virar, Kolhapur and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Among those municipalities which have failed to comply are Kalyan-Dombivli, Mira-Bhayandar, Pune and Nagpur besides Thane and Mumbai.

The MPCB official said they are hopeful that the corporations respond within a fortnight so that they are not compelled to take any action. "The reason we are keen on them taking this step is that every time we go to [municipal] corporations, they are enthusiastic about issues pertaining to environmental protection but they do not have the budget for the same."

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

From next week, 3 one-stop centres for rape survivors

MUMBAI: In the first week of January, three civic hospitals will start their one-stop crisis centres for survivors of sexual assault. This is in response to the Centre's directive to set up Nirbhaya crisis centres at hospitals to help rape survivors and gather evidence for speedy justice.

However, there is no clarity over whether these Mumbai centres will be called Nirbhaya, as directed by the Centre. There also is no sign of the central funds promised to set up and operate these centres.

On Monday, additional municipal commissioner (health) Sanjay Deshmukh said woman doctors would head the crisis centres to make the survivors feel comfortable.

The first centres at BMC's three big hospitals—KEM Hospital in Parel, Nair hospital in Mumbai Central and Sion hospital—will begin "immediately", with a fourth one scheduled to come up soon at the newly spruced-up Cooper Hospital in Juhu. Plans are also afoot to set up a few more such centres in other suburban civic hospitals.

Incidentally, an one-stop crisis centre, called Dilaasa centre, set up in civic-run Bhabha Hospital over a decade back served as a model for the Nirbhaya centres. In fact, the Dilaasa model had been recently praised by the Lancet medical journal (see box).

Deshmukh said the new centres would operate on the lines of Dilaasa and they will have counsellors to help the survivors. "We will largely follow the state government guidelines for intervention and medical assistance for survivors," he added. "The centres will have counsellors trained from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar."

But civic officials said that a group of doctors were against according names to such centres. A source said, "Having a name or a dedicated space for such a centre could lead to labelling for the people visiting it." The source added that the Union government, which was supposed to release funds for these one-stop crisis centres, would not be doing so this year.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Probe stayed against Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd, govt officials in alleged Slum Rehabilitation Authority scam

MUMBAI: In a major relief to real estate major Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL ) and two senior government officials, the Bombay high court has stayed a recent sessions court order to file an FIR and initiate investigations against them for alleged irregularities in a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project in Motilal Nagar slums in Bandra.

This is the third case registered by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) in which probe has been stayed. Earlier, the HC had stayed investigations into an alleged BMC e-tendering scam and a complaint filed by constable Baban Jadhav against former police chief M N Singh and former joint commissioner of police Ahmad Javed.

TOI was first to report that ACB was in a fix over how to probe complaints against government servants on December 22.

On December 3, the sessions court directed the ACB to register an FIR against HDIL group chair man and its 10 directors, principal secretary (housing) Debashish Chakrabarty and principal secretary (woman and child development) Ujjwal Uke, after a shopkeeper filed a complaint under CrPC 156 (3). According to the complaint, the government officials, in connivance with HDIL, had allegedly forged documents and not allotted him a shop though he was eligible.The shopkeeper also alleged that they had fraudulently sold the plots to non-eligible members.

The high court recently stayed the probe after HDIL filed a writ petition challenging the validity of the FIR. The HC noted that two high-ranking government officials were among the petitioners. "In view of a Supreme Court judgment, prior sanction is required to be obtained from the competent authority before issuance of order directing investigations in a private complaint under Section 156(3) of the CrPC," said the bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai.

The HC then issued notices to the ACB and the complainant and asked them to appear before the court on January 19.

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22.23 | 0 komentar | Read More

Cops bar boat parties in Mumbai on 31st night

MUMBAI: Taking a serious view of Sunday's blast in Bangalore and terror alerts by various intelligence agencies, the city police have decided not to allow any party on cruise ships, boats or yachts as part of New Year's celebrations.

"We have not given permission for any party in the sea," said DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, the police spokesperson. This is the first time after 2008 and 2009 that the police have disallowed boat parties. Last year, the police did give permission but only on the condition that they get prior sanction from the excise department.

READ ALSO: Stretched cops not keen on allowing boat parties

The state home department had earlier instructed the Mumbai police to turn down applications for parties on yachts and boats reason being security fears post-26 /11.

"After the 2008 terror attack, we were given strict orders to monitor all parties held on boats and cruise ships. If the organizers wished to get alcohol on board, we were told to deny them the licence. If some partygoer falls into the water in an inebriated condition, who will take responsibility for the accident ," said inspector S Bhandari of the Yellow Gate police station.

READ ALSO: No takers for year-end cruise parties

The Port Zone police stations have got more than a dozen applications, asking for permission to host a party on a cruise ship or a yacht. Most of the applications have been rejected since the organizers wanted consent for liquor to be served on board. "This is a threat to security. It becomes difficult to monitor the guest list and the commodities being taken on board. Persons under the influence of booze cannot be trusted on water," said DCP (Port Zone) Tanaji Gharge.

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Locals step in to clean up Mahim beach

Written By kom nampultig on Senin, 29 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Following the recent Versova beach clean-up, wherein the area was cleared of encroachments, residents around Mahim beach approached the civic administration, seeking to clean their neighbourhood too.

On Saturday morning, a part of the beach was cleaned by locals and G-North ward officials and several kilos of garbage was cleared from the shore. Those residing at Lady Jamshetji Road and others gathered on the beach for the clean-up operation which lasted for over two hours.

A solid waste management official from G-North ward said that while they clean the beach every day using mechanized technology, residents volunteered to help them in the exercise to clean a portion of the beach behind the Mahim Dargah. "Mechanized cleaning can be carried out smoothly on smooth sand surfaces like at Girgaum chowpathy but at Mahim, the beach has numerous rocks. Therefore the beach also needs to be cleaned up manually," said a BMC official.

Residents said they assisted civic workers in picking up plastic, paper and flower wastes from in between the rocks.

Farooque Dhala, a local, said that the civic authority had placed heavy cement blocks to stop waves from depositing waste on the seashore. "However, this garbage gets collected near these blocks and keeps piling up. This garbage could cause breeding of mosquitoes. Therefore, we were keen on getting the area cleaned up," said Dhala, who too participated in the beach clean-up operation.

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Archery & aerobics take front seat, make super Sunday a hit

MUMBAI: Despite holiday season, Mumbaikars made sure they arrived bright and early for the eighth Sunday of the Equal Streets initiative. There was Kedar Ranade who came with his family from Vile Parle, collegians Stuti and Pankaj who made the trek from Borivli, and Bandra residents Preeti and Ruchi for whom it was the fourth such visit.

"It's a lovely idea. Our favourite activities are yoga and dancercise," said Ruchi. "I have been trying and trying to get a hold of the cycles but they get rented out almost immediately. Hopefully, next time!"

The cycles were the main incentive for businessman Deepak Saroopa and his 10-year-old son Anshul. The duo was among the earliest to hire cycles from one of the docking stations along the 6.5km Bandra-Santacruz stretch. "Last Sunday, we had brought his younger brother, who is 7. We got his tiny cycle along and he learnt how to ride it here," said Saroopa, laughing. "The idea of closing the roads to cars every week is a great one. It's a nice feeling to be able to walk and cycle without feeling that you'll be run over any second."

Kids and adults alike cycled, played pickle-ball and badminton, took part in impromptu drum circles and dance aerobics. There were painting, clay modelling, origami and archery sessions. Kick-boxing and martial arts drew in the crowds, as did yoga workshops. Mumbaikars trooping in from across the city made the most of the Equal Streets initiative, which encourages citizens to re-imagine their roads as open-air dance studios, art hubs, yoga institutes and gymnasiums. The designated area runs from the HP Junction at Bandra (W) to Santacruz police station via Linking Road. It takes a right towards the Standard Chartered Junction before looping back to HP Junction via SV Road. All activities along the stretch are free.

"We get at least 200 people for our yoga sessions every Sunday," said Chandrakala Prasad, instructor at the Yoga Institute. "It's fantastic to see people of all ages coming in early on a holiday and making this kind of commitment to their health."

While most kids learnt to cycle or rollerskate, eight-year-old Kedar decided to perfect his tree-climbing technique. "He doesn't get to do that too often in our building," said mum Prachi, grinning. "How often will you get to climb a tree in the middle of a Mumbai road? This is the perfect time to try it!"

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In death, two give gift of life to six

MUMBAI: Two people, in their death, gave life to six others last week as cadaver donations touched a record high this year. While private hospitals have shown remarkable improvement with cadaver donations, performance of public hospitals has been far from encouraging.

The kidneys and liver of a 40-year-old Ulhasnagar resident benefitted two patients at Fortis Hospital, Mulund and one at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra. The donor, an accident victim, was battling for his life since December 23 at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. With two donations last week, the hospital made six cadaver donations this year.

Last week's second donation came from a 67-year-old Ghatkopar resident who died of brain haemorrhage. The donor's liver and one kidney were used for patients at Fortis while the other kidney was given to Jupiter Hospital, Thane. The recipient, a 64-year-old woman, was awaiting a kidney for 14 years.

"She has been on dialysis for more than 10 years. She lived in Chennai before coming to Mumbai," said Anirudh Kulkarni, transplant coordinator at Jupiter Hospital. She had registered for a kidney in March last year. All the patients are doing well after the transplant surgeries.

With 39 cadaver donations, this is by far the best year for organ transplant programme in the city. "This year, the trend was much better. But we need to do more. We need more public hospitals to come forward and start taking the initiative," said Dr Sujata Patwardhan of Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC). Of all registered public hospitals in the city, only KEM Hospital at Parel has made two cadaver donations this year with no contribution from JJ, Sion and Nair hospitals.

"Things can be better if intensivists are motivated to convince patients," said a transplant coordinator.

This year, the trend was much better. But we need to do more. We need more public hospitals to come forward and start taking the initiative.

Dr Sujata Patwardhan|Zonal Transplant Coordn Committee

With 39 cadaver donations, this is by far the best year for organ transplant in the city. Private hospitals have shown improvement with cadaver donations, but the performance of public hospitals has been far from encouraging.

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Pune man promises cheap trip to Dubai, nabbed for 7L con

MUMBAI: A travel agent, Sameer Tamboli (40), who promised several families a nine-nights-and-10-days tour package to Dubai and duped them collectively of about Rs 6.75 lakh was arrested.

Tamboli, a Pune resident, has been sent to police custody till January 5. The complainant, Rinki Dharamshi, a Mumbai resident, met Tamboli when she was looking for an agent who could arrange a group trip to Dubai at concessional rate. "Tamboli promised a trip to Dubai for the Dharamsi couple and their son at Rs 1.42 lakh, inclusive of tickets, visas, food and accommodation. She had deposited the amount in Tamboli's account," said the police. tnn

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Man, 2 sisters held for duping store of 7 lakh necklace

MUMBAI: A 55-year-old man, Surendra Punjabi, and his sisters—Mini (21) and Nili Pandey (22)—were arrested on Sunday for duping a jewellery store at a five-star hotel in Colaba of a necklace worth Rs 7 lakh.

On June 11, the three siblings went to the shop claiming to buy jewellery for Punjabi's daughter's anniversary and selected the necklace. He told the manager that he wanted to make payment through a demand draft and gave his mobile number and Boisar residential address.

On June 15, he gave a Rs 7-lakh DD and took the necklace. He promised to fax his PAN card copy. When the employees tried to realize the DD, they found it to be fake.

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Man runs over pup, booked

MUMBAI: A Mira Road resident, Sandeep Maheshwari, has been booked for rash driving after he ran over a month-old puppy. The incident took place on Friday when Maheshwari was driving out of his building at 5pm.

Salim Charania, president of the Peace for Animals Welfare Association, lodged a complaint after another building resident, Namrata Kotak, informed him of the incident. Kotak was feeding strays outside the building when the mishap took place. tnn

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Have a blast on New Year in the comfort of your housing society

Written By kom nampultig on Minggu, 28 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The humble New Year's Eve party organised in the compound of housing societies is slowly becoming an elaborate affair. Some apartments conduct auditions for the entertainment show of the evening while others devise multi-course Italian and Thai buffets that would cost a small fortune in five-star hotels.

Over the years, several Mumbaikars prefer to ring in the New Year with neighbours for several reasons, including never-ending traffic snarls and the police crackdown on drunk driving.

In Oshiwara, Samarth Aangan society is hosting one of the largest compound parties in the city, which is expected to be attended by around 800 members.

Society chairman Prabhat Singh says, "The party begins around 8.30pm with games, DJ music and dinner. We have a fine caterer who has devised a full menu of starters, Indian and Chinese dishes, fast food and a chaat counter. Last year he even included Thai and Italian items." Samarth Aangan's compound was decorated with fairy lights at Christmas.

Some members have even cancelled plans to reserve tables in restaurants and will join the building party instead. "They feel it is better to spend New Year's Eve in comfort with friends and neighbours rather than negotiate traffic jams and large crowds. The anti-drunk driving campaign is also underway," says Singh. In fact, nearby junctions like Juhu Circle, Lokhandwala Road and Indian Oil are a motorist's nightmare and people stuck in traffic jams at these sites at midnight honk madly, if only to celebrate the moment.

Both adults and children in Bhandup's Kukreja Complex audition for the New Year Eve party's entertainment events. This large society of 575 members opposite LBS Road organises the event for nearly 12 years now. "Our dance and music programme focuses on Indian culture. A resident runs a class for classical dance and his students put up a splendid show. We are conscientious about not burning firecrackers as well so we welcome the new year with extra loud cheer and dancing," says committee member Deepak Mishra. South Indian and Marwari restaurants as well as fast food joints vie to set up stalls at the society's new year party.

Near D'Mart in Malad, a housing society with a conscience organizes personality development courses for its teenagers. Now the 200-odd members of Interface Heights will host their first new year party in the hope that youngsters will attend in large numbers. "We normally celebrate at Christmas, but this year we want them to overcome the temptation of attending boisterous parties on December 31. It is terrible to see people drink and vomit or pass out, so we want our children to remain on the right path. We will also organize simple games like antakshari, so that senior citizens do not feel left out," says society secretary Kirti Dubey. Interface prefers to keep it traditional and has roped in a 'maharaj' to prepare pure vegetarian food.

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Dance, music & debate rock IIT-B fest’s Day 2

MUMBAI: Day two of IIT-Bombay's annual cultural extravaganza, Mood Indigo, saw over 34,000 students from colleges across the country engage in various events and competitions.

Rajdeep Sardesai, who spoke at the LitFest, interacted with students and discussed politicization of media and how it was restricting the power of journalists. Day two also witnessed a grand cheese tasting session at the food fest.

The International Music Festival kicked off with two flagship events—The Los Dorados and Barmer Boys—taking place.

"A creative thriller presented by Mood Indigo was the Los Dorados, a band known for its creativity and innovation. The Barmer Boys, the rockstar band of Rajasthan, formed in 2011 is a leading example of Rajasthani folk and sufi music with touch of boisterous jams and beat-boxing," said a coordinator.

Students from various colleges participated in large numbers in Trashion, a recycled material fashion competition, where new and novel fashion designs created with recycled materials were presented by models. Another crowd-puller was Desi Beats, a Bollywood dance competition

Day three on Sunday will see a performance by popular band Epica, a theatre fest and a cooking session with chef Vikas Khanna.

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More than 8,000 to run for the education of girl child

MUMBAI: More than 8,000 people will start their new year with the Hiranandani Powai Run, powered by The Times of India, the lead cause of which is education for the girl child.

Organized by the Rotary Club of Mumbai Lakers on January 4, the run will be held for the fourth year. Runners can take part in any of the three categories: half marathon of 21km, Hiranandani Hop of 10km and a lakers' trail of 4km.

This time, the main cause of the event is Vidyasha, a project that targets to educate 500 girls. "But the funds that we collect will also be used for other projects that the club has already undertaken or will start," said Deepak Daryanani, CEO, Powai Run. Among the other projects are setting up of solar electricity facility in villages, eye camps, computer centres for underprivileged kids, support centre for special kids and aid for an orphanage for girls.

Several non-profit organizations are also part of the event, some of them being Udaan and Vidya which work for the education of underprivileged children, MBA Foundation that provides care to adults with special needs, Volunteer for Better India, which promotes the Save Aarey group, and Go Beyond that trains slum kids to run. Twenty-five visually impaired kids will walk in the 4km slot.

The event will not be without some fun. "A breakfast and a brunch will be organized at an open-air cafe. There will be music, performers and games for children," said Daryanani.

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Many in Dahanu look for licensed guns after double murder scare

MUMBAI: The murder of a senior citizen couple at their Dahanu farmhouse has brought to fore the vulnerability of those who stay in bungalows surrounded by vast acres of land. Owning a licensed gun for self-defence seems to be a popular decision.

This year, 2014, seems to be ending on a bad note for the small Parsi-Irani community whose members have begun talking about their security and feel the need to own licensed weapons. Ardeshir Mehta, who has a farmhouse between Dahanu and Gholvad, says that having a licensed gun can be the only deterrent. "Each farm has at least 1,500 trees. If someone sneaks into the farm, it is likely that they go unnoticed," said Mehta.

The couple—Naushir Irani (76) and his wife Nargis (74)—were killed on their farmhouse spread over 15 acres of chikoo plantation in Vangaon of Dahanu taluka. The accused, Ravi Thakur (30), gained entry into the farm almost two days before the murder on December 9.

Till a month ago, the chikoo growers used to move freely on their land without any fear. The Irani couple's murder opened their eyes to dangers lurking in their backyard.

"The murder opened our eyes. We now realize how vulnerable we are. We will discuss ways and means in which our families, who live on the farms, are protected," said Shahrukh Irani, who has a lychee farm in Gholvad.

Bomi Irani, who has a farmhouse in Dahanu city, admits that the couple's murder has made him a lot more alert. "Three years ago, the watchman at one of my farms was killed. The killers are still unknown," said Bomi, who got a licensed weapon 15 years ago after he had to fight intruders on his farm. Bomi says he now feels confident of taking on thieves because of the weapon.

Farm owners say that since the last several years not a single weapon licence has been issued. "It is ridiculous that a senior citizen has to get a fitness certificate to get a weapon licence, said a farm owner from Dahanu.

Farm owners say they may have to think of a strong room in their bungalows where they can escape in case of danger and call for help. "The police carries out night patrolling, most farms have dogs let loose in the night but these measures may not be enough," said Achyut Patil, a farm owner from Bordi. In the '70s and '80s, dacoits struck in the villages, now most of the crimes are carried out by known people, said Patil.

The newly formed Palghar district police is in the process of setting up a helpline number for senior citizens. Police officials say that once the elderly are registered with the local police station, it will be easier to keep tabs on them. As of now, there is no data on the number of elderly people staying alone in farmhouses and flats in the Palghar-Dahanubelt.

Farm owners are also discussing the need to instal CCTV cameras in their bungalows and leave the monitoring to their family and friends living in the cities.

Iranis had moved to Dahanu in the 1860s and started chikoo farming. Today, as the younger generation has moved away, most farmhouses have elderly occupants. Of these, barely 5% of old-timers have weapon licence. While getting a new licence is difficult, renewing an old one is equally difficult.

Said a farm owner, "It takes nothing less than two years to renew a licence. I don't think anyone in this belt has got a new licence for years together."

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Cops clueless about why youth scaled highrise

MUMBAI: The police investigating the death of the 23-year-old who fell off the 11th floor of a Borivli highrise while scaling the building's pipe are baffled.

"Only Paramjeet Singh knew why he was scaling the pipes. We have registered an accidental death case and nothing suggests foul play," said Narayan Khaire, senior inspector. The incident took place on Friday when Singh went to the building to meet his aunt who lives on the ninth floor there. A man spotted him scaling the pipes outside the bathroom of a 11th-floor flat and raised an alarm. Scared, Singh probably lost balance and fell, the police said.

No one from the building has come forward to with any information, said cops.

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Have a great Sunday with mix of fitness and fun

Equal Streets is back tomorrow. Last Sunday saw between 45-50,000 people swarming the 6.5km Bandra-Santacruz stretch that's closed to motorized vehicles from 7 to 11am. Now in its eighth-edition, the movement is brought to Mumbai by NGOs, think tanks, citizens' associations and cycling groups and supported by the BMC, Mumbai police and The Times of India. The goal is to remind Mumbaikars that pedestrians and cyclists should have equal access to public roads, which are currently dominated by cars.

The streets will play host to numerous activities including capoiera (a form of Brazilian martial arts), yoga, cycling, zumba, meditation, arts and crafts workshops, net cricket and football, amongst several others, offering up something for kids and adults alike.

One of the most popular workshops is Go Green's "Make Your Plants", which provides kids with indoor and outdoor plants for free, teaching them how to properly pot the plants. "We run out of 600 plants by 9am. So we've started carrying more with us every Sunday because even the adults want to take home a plant and we can't say no," said Mayuri Soni, the business coordinator of Go Green nursery.

For the artistically inclined, there are workshops on pop-up card and mask making, Origami art and street graffiti for children. And occupied kids often make for happy parents. Santacruz-resident Jankhani Patel, who had 2-year-old twins in tow, said, "Last time, I carried their tricycles and they enjoyed themselves. Prior to that we stopped at the tattoo stall and got stuff drawn on them. As long as they're happy, we'll keep coming back."

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Online Story

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 27 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Superstar Amitabh Bachchan admitting that he had contracted tuberculosis (TB) in 2000, will help to reduce TB related stigma and discrimination say experts.

Bachchan shared this hitherto unknown fact recently saying that " I was a TB patient years ago. I have never spoken about it on a public platform, but now is the time. If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone. But I have recovered and standing before you,"" said Bachchan.

"General perception is that TB is disease of poor. But fact is that TB does not make any discrimination and even rich people can get TB. However, rich and famous people prefer private treatment and never come on government record of TB patients. Bachchan's statement will help to demystify misunderstandings about TB" said state health officials.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) note against discrimination of TB patients state that TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that any person can get. It is not a hereditary disease or a curse of God. It can be completely cured by taking regular and complete treatment. Stigma and discrimination against people diseased with TB can occur in many settings at the workplace, health care facilities, or within the community. Its manifestation can be as dramatic as physical violence or as subtle as avoidance. However, it is totally unnecessary and primarily based on myths.

" Stigma is totally unnecessary and primarily based on myths. Beyond the economic consequences, stigma and discrimination against people with TB have a devastating social and psychological impact. Such attitudes obstruct health care providers in delivering effective treatment. Stigma often prevents people from seeking health care attention, which constitutes a direct public health threat to the community" states the WEF note. It adds that even when patients attend treatment, social disapproval of their family or community members decreases compliance with treatment. Proper adherence, however, is critical to avoid the development of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Social isolation, experienced rejection, shame and blame due to TB diagnosis can lead to psychosomatic stress, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness.

Various studies have demonstrated that despite good performance of Revised National TB Control Programme the stigma in tuberculosis still remains a problem and we need to supplement the efforts in advocacy, communication and social mobalization for reducing the stigma problem among TB patients in effective control of tuberculosis.

TB Alert, a charity organization says that in some cultures, TB is associated with witchcraft. TB can be considered a 'curse' on a family, as the illness often affects multiple generations. TB is often associated with factors that can themselves create stigma: HIV, poverty, drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness, a history of prison and refugee status. People who are discriminated against may be isolated socially, particularly in small communities - even entire families may be shunned. Women are often blamed as the source of TB, and those affected by the illness may be divorced or considered unworthy of marriage. Fear of discrimination can mean people with TB symptoms delay seeking help, making it much more likely that they will become seriously ill and infect others.

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BEST school buses will now need women attendants

MUMBAI: BEST buses dedicated to ferry schoolchildren will have to compulsory have a woman attendant on board once schools reopen in January. The Mumbai District School Bus Safety Committee, chaired by the city police chief, made this decision at a meeting on Friday.

BEST operates about 200 services to ferry children from home to school and back. Deploying these buses costs the parents half of what private operators charge, said sources.

BEST officials, who did not wish to be quoted, said their conductors are trained to ensure the children's safety and there was no need for a woman attendant. "But if a woman attendant is indeed needed, it will be the parents' responsibility to hire one," said a BEST official.

A senior RTO official present at the meeting, said that every school will now come under the purview of the Motor Vehicle Act and "can be held responsible for flouting the School Bus Policy".

Committee member Indrani Malkani said these requirements are already in place in the policy. "The transport department will circulate the amended rules and regulations to schools," said Malkani.

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Journalist’s lens, cameras worth 7 lakh stolen

MUMBAI: A photojournalist's work equipment worth Rs 7 lakh was stolen from an overhead rack of a train on Central Railway recently.

The photojournalist had boarded a fast train from CST around 1pm on Tuesday. His bag containing two cameras and two lenses was placed on the rack. The train's next halt was at Byculla. After the train left Byculla, the photojournalist was worried as he could not spot his bag on the rack. A fellow commuter told him that a man had picked up the bag and got off at Byculla.

The photojournalist alighted at Dadar, the next halt, and informed the police. An FIR was registered by the railway police at CST on Thursday. No arrests have been made. The railway police have gone through CCTV footage at Byculla station where the thief had alighted.

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With ‘local’ as railway minister, city can expect goodies

MUMBAI: Next year may prove to be a landmark and path-breaking one for Mumbai's suburban railways. Suresh Prabhu's elevation as Union railway minister may not only help expedite capacity expansion projects but will also improve the efficiency of suburban train operations on Western and Central Railway.

Trials of a fully air-conditioned suburban rake may begin by March. The feasibility report for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor also expected to be submitted by May 2015. Thereafter, the government will speed up the projects to bring their status from the drawing board to execution.

A senior WR official said, "The railways has very peculiar way of doing things. It devotes maximum time, energy and resources to the city or state from where the railway minister hails from. For bureaucrats in Delhi, suburban operations in Mumbai are like a small dot on a vast canvas even though it is the engine of growth, being the lifeline of the city."

Prabhu has expressed his intention to the go vertical, to create additional corridors. A WR official said, "The board has invited foreign direct investment (FDI) for the CST-Panvel high-speed corridor. We can expect movement on the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor too."

Mumbaikars have been awaiting the fruits of projects that were scheduled by 2015. However, none has seen the light of the day due to lack of coordination between the railways and state government, or a delay in getting approval from the board in Delhi.

A CR official said, "Within weeks of Prabhu's appointment, we decided to test-charge the 25KV AC traction between CST-Thane. We can hope to see full conversion to AC traction on the Main line in a few months. This will allow the railways to discard old and inefficient rakes for modern and faster ones."

The AC conversion may not mean much if the Bombardier rakes, scheduled to run by now, do not come quickly. An MRVC official said, "The blame lies with the railway brass in New Delhi. They should ensure faster clearance. The delay is embarrassing."

The board has sanctioned the fifth and sixth lines between Kurla-CST. But due to land acquisition problems, it will originate from Parel, which will get upgraded as a terminus. The project is expected gain pace as the state and central government seem to be on the same page, an official added.

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10 arrested for horse cart racing

MUMBAI: Ten people were arrested in a crackdown on horse cart racing along the Western Express Highway near Dahisar between Thursday night and early Friday. The accused have been booked for cruelty to animals, negligence and rash driving, the police said, adding that they have rescued 10 horses and confiscated five carts.

Zonal deputy commissioner Panjabrao Ugle said they had received information about horse cart races being held on the Western Express Highway at night.

"In order to make the horses run faster, the riders used to whip the horses," said Ugle, adding that the police teams conducted a raid between 8pm on Thursday and 8am on Friday.

The cart riders were rounded up by the police and brought to the police station where the cases were registered against them, he said.

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Bachchan’s admission on TB will help reduce stigma

MUMBAI: Superstar Amitabh Bachchan admitting that he had contracted tuberculosis (TB) in 2000, will help to reduce TB related stigma and discrimination say experts.

Bachchan shared this hitherto unknown fact recently saying that " I was a TB patient years ago. I have never spoken about it on a public platform, but now is the time. If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone. But I have recovered and standing before you,"" said Bachchan.

"General perception is that TB is disease of poor. But fact is that TB does not make any discrimination and even rich people can get TB. However, rich and famous people prefer private treatment and never come on government record of TB patients. Bachchan's statement will help to demystify misunderstandings about TB" said state health officials.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) note against discrimination of TB patients state that TB is an infectious disease caused by bacteria that any person can get. It is not a hereditary disease or a curse of God. It can be completely cured by taking regular and complete treatment. Stigma and discrimination against people diseased with TB can occur in many settings at the workplace, health care facilities, or within the community. Its manifestation can be as dramatic as physical violence or as subtle as avoidance. However, it is totally unnecessary and primarily based on myths.

" Stigma is totally unnecessary and primarily based on myths. Beyond the economic consequences, stigma and discrimination against people with TB have a devastating social and psychological impact. Such attitudes obstruct health care providers in delivering effective treatment. Stigma often prevents people from seeking health care attention, which constitutes a direct public health threat to the community" states the WEF note. It adds that even when patients attend treatment, social disapproval of their family or community members decreases compliance with treatment. Proper adherence, however, is critical to avoid the development of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). Social isolation, experienced rejection, shame and blame due to TB diagnosis can lead to psychosomatic stress, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness.

Various studies have demonstrated that despite good performance of Revised National TB Control Programme the stigma in tuberculosis still remains a problem and we need to supplement the efforts in advocacy, communication and social mobalization for reducing the stigma problem among TB patients in effective control of tuberculosis.

TB Alert, a charity organization says that in some cultures, TB is associated with witchcraft. TB can be considered a 'curse' on a family, as the illness often affects multiple generations. TB is often associated with factors that can themselves create stigma: HIV, poverty, drug and alcohol misuse, homelessness, a history of prison and refugee status. People who are discriminated against may be isolated socially, particularly in small communities - even entire families may be shunned. Women are often blamed as the source of TB, and those affected by the illness may be divorced or considered unworthy of marriage. Fear of discrimination can mean people with TB symptoms delay seeking help, making it much more likely that they will become seriously ill and infect others.

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CBSE schools shut, good governance drive fizzles out

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 26 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: It was Christmas as usual for most CBSE schools in the city on Thursday, notwithstanding the weeklong confusion and debate over keeping educational institutions open to celebrate December 25 as Good Governance Day.

The circular first issued by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti to its schools stated that as part of the birthday/birth anniversary celebrations of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Madan Mohan Malaviya on December 25, the human resources development ministry wanted the institutions to observe it as Good Governance Day and set down certain activities for the students. Following an uproar among Rajya Sabha members and Christians, the ministry clarified that schools would not have to remain open and students could participate in an essay contest online.

"Participation is voluntary" seemed to be the most important bit of the circular issued later. "We had told our students about the online contest but since most of them are away on trips, we did not expect them to participate," said the principal of a CBSE school.

The board uploaded the essay topics for the three age categories on its website December 24 and also mentioned that the date for the essay contest had been extended to December 26 following a Delhi high court order. The circular said, "In compliance with the instruction of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court, the online essay competition on Good Governance being held on 25th December, 2014, as a part of the CBSE Expression Series, will now be extended to 26th December."

But principals feel the extended period was not likely to attract more students. "Schools are shut for Christmas and it is not likely that those who did not take part the first day will be motivated by the extra day," said Ganesh Parameswaran, principal of Bal Bharti Public School, Kharghar. Also, classes X and XII students skipped the contest as their board exams are in a few months. "We are preparing for the board exams and the prelims at school are not too far off. Making time for an essay contest is not possible," said Ujwal Vij, a Class XII student of Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri.

But some schools did have a handful of kids participating. "Around 35 of them took part. Kids are enthusiastic about competitions and had it not been a vacation, the participation would have been much better," said Jose Kurian, principal, DAV School, Nerul.

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Delhi fog grounds flyers in Mumbai

MUMBAI: Dense fog in Delhi hit travel plans of thousands of flyers in Mumbai as a number of domestic and some international flights were delayed inordinately leaving the holiday revellers stranded at the airport for hours on Thursday.

Aviation weather reports have forecast fog-related, visibility problems for Friday morning as well. Visibility stayed low throughout the day and hit departures out of Delhi from Thursday morning onwards sending a cascading effect across airline flight schedules.

Delays continued in the evening as well and aviation weather reports have forecast a further fall in visibility post 11.30pm. "Quite a few international departures were hit as well. A number of stranded Air India passengers were assembled in the duty-free shopping area and there was chaos," said an airport source. Among the delayed domestic departures of Mumbai were Go Air's 7.50pm flight to Delhi, which was rescheduled for a 8.45pm departure. Similarly, IndiGo's 8.05pm departure to Hyderabad was moved to 9pm, Air India's 5pm arrival from Vishakhapatnam landed an hour and half late, Jet's 6pm flight landed about 30 minutes late.

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Maharashtra ranks 2nd in no. of vehicle thefts in India

MUMBAI: Despite tall claims made by law-enforcing agencies of their success in reining in car thefts, information tabled in the Lok Sabha shows that as many as 1.65 lakh vehicles were stolen in a single year—2013. Also, Maharashtra has achieved the dubious distinction of leading states with the highest number of vehicular theft cases, after Uttar Pradesh.

Lok Sabha member P P Chaudhary had sought information on cases registered during the past three years and whether there was a proposal to create a portal at the national level for better coordination among state governments.

In a written reply, Union minister of state for home H P Chaudhary said a total of 1.51 lakh cases of vehicle thefts were registered in 2011 and the number rose to 1.54 lakh in 2012 and 1.65 lakh in 2013. "We have developed and hosted a website—Vahan Samanavay—for coordination of stolen and received motor vehicles as well inquiries in this regard," he said.

Transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade expressed concern over the spurt in vehicle theft cases. "It's certainly a matter of concern. We will have to bring in new technology to halt incidents of vehicle theft. As transport commissioner, we will step up vigil across the state to curb vehicle theft incidents."

Known for bringing in innovative concepts in administration, Zagade said it will have to be examined whether a radio frequency identification plan is taken up on a pilot basis for the purpose. "We will have to examine it. If we are able to introduce the radio frequency identification plan and locate the vehicles, it will be a huge achievement."

A former DGP said it was high time the wireless network was strengthened to locate stolen vehicles. "We will have to build a strong CCTV network across the state. We have toll plazas at several places. At least at these places, there can be a state-of-the-art CCTV network. In my opinion, once a case of vehicle theft is lodged at a police station, a message should be delivered at all toll plazas to locate the vehicle immediately."

He further said in ,Mumbai too, the proposed CCTV network will help find stolen vehicles. "We are in the process of installing a CCTV network in Mumbai. We should have a software on stolen vehicles, too. For the purpose, we can study the system adopted by the UK and the US for detection of stolen vehicles."

Secondly, the former DGP said in recent past, there was talk of high security number plates with holograms. "We should develop new technology. Once we feed the number of a stolen vehicle, the vehicle should be detected the moment it passes through a toll naka."

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Mumbai Metro smartcard goes online

MUMBAI: Commuters need not stand in queues at Metro stations to top up smartcards. Mumbai Metro launched a commuter-friendly service on Christmas day, which will enable them to recharge smartcards and check the balance on internet-enabled mobiles.

Over 50 banks will offer the facility to recharge smartcards online.

"The service is offered to commuters at no additional cost. One can also use credit and debit cards to top up the money on smartcards. You can check the card balance using the same service," said a Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd spokesperson. "This is the latest addition to commuter-friendly and innovative products introduced since the launch of Mumbai Metro. We will continue to bring value addition and ensure comfort to commuters with the help of technology," he added.

The 11.40km-long Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor provides seamless connectivity between western and eastern Mumbai. The corridor, which has 12 stations, has reduced Mumbaikars' travelling time from 90 minutes to just 21 minutes.

MMOPL has been awarded the contract to run the services for 35 years.

Hitesh Thakkar, a regular commuter from Ghatkopar, said, "The Metro service is very organised and there is discipline while boarding and alighting the trains. The same can't be said about the connecting suburban trains."

Another commuter said Metro trains too were packed during peak hours. "But we do not mind travelling in a crowd as long as we are assured that we will reach the destination on time and without any interruption," he said.

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No help for girl who traced, returned bag with 80,000 to owner

KALYAN: Bhiwandi's 13-year-old Monali Adhari, who found Rs 80,000 on the road and returned it to its owner, and her supportive family have become the area's local heroes. That's just about it, though.

Apart from assurances of help, the impoverished family that lives in a Bhiwandi slum has got nothing concrete or monetary as reward for their honesty. The teen, though, says she will repeat her act if faced with a similar situation.

Her parents continue to work as daily wage earners and the girl goes to a municipal school. Her father Sadu Adhari, who helped his daughter return the money to its owners, is under heavy debt as he had taken a loan for his elder son Mahesh's engineering studies. Besides, he spends 70% of what he makes on Mahesh's education.

Sadu and his wife Lata together manage to earn Rs 100 to Rs 200 a day by working in a vegetable shop. They use their meagre earnings to run their home of eight members, including six kids.

Sadu told TOI: "I am happy that my daughter chose to be honest and told me about the incident. She also urged me to help look for the bag's owner. I have told her to continue to be honest in future."

In the first week of December, Monali and her friend Aniket Bhoir (11), who also lives in a slum, found a bag containing Rs 80,000. They decided to trace its owner, thinking that someone somewhere must be looking hard for it.

Later, Monali, a class seven student, took her parents' help to find the bag's owner. Her father searched the bag and found a passbook belonging to one Afzal Khan. He borrowed a cellphone from a neighbour and gave missed calls on the numbers mentioned in the passbook.

Khan, a retired teacher, later returned the call and found out about the bag. After getting it back, Khan offered the two families Rs 100 each as a token of appreciation.

Interestingly, after news of Monali's honesty spread, she and her family became local heroes and many people came forward and gave them assurances of help.

A local organization has decided to felicitate Monali during a function to teach other kids the value of honesty. Monali has also become hero in her school where teachers felicitated her.

Monali's mother Lata said, "Even though we are poor and no one has come forward to help us, I am proud of my daughter's honesty as due to her work, people in our area appreciate us."

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State government announces guardian ministers for 36 districts

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena leader and Industries minister Subhash Desai will be the guardian minister for the Island City of Mumbai while Education minister Vinod Tawade will be the guardian minister for suburban city.

State government announced guardian ministers for 36 districts on Friday. Public Works minister Eknath Shinde will look after Thane as guardian minister. Shinde hails from Thane and has been leading Shiv Sena in the de past over two decades.

Similarly, tribal development minister Vishnu Sawara will lead the newly carved Palghar district as its guardian minister, for the neighbouring Raigad district Prakash Mehta, the housing minister, will be the guardian ministers. Guardian ministers lead the district committees which ensure disbursement of fund for various schemes and projects and have major say in the development of that district. Since the number of ministers is less as compared to the number of districts, a few ministers have been given two districts as the responsibility.

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Rocky road ahead for Maratha quota?

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 25 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: The state government may have got the Maratha reservation bill passed in the assembly, and it may even get a smooth passage in the council as well but the route after that may be rocky as every effort to enact a 50%-plus reservation law across states has attracted a stay by the Supreme Court.

Though there is some scope under the Mandal commission judgment to cross the 50 percent Constitutional bar as held by the Supreme Court, but that can be only for groups which the state has to prove with proper quantifiable data are truly backward and have so been for decades. Besides, the conclusion that such a group is backward and requires reservation to uplift them socially and educationally has to be made by the Backward class welfare commission such as the Justice Bapat commission which had given no such recommendation to the Maratha reservation.

Former judge of the Bombay high court B H Marlapalle said the state is trying to bring in the reservation despite overwhelming findings against such reservation. He pointed that not only Bapat commission held that Marathas are in fact not backward, even the Supreme Court in the Mandal Commsision and subsequently Nagraj judgments had held that Marath community in Maharashtra did not qualify or pass the test of backwardness as required to carve out any reservation for them. The Narayan Rane Committee report is lacking in actual quantifiable data and as held by the Bombay high court in its interim order staying the ordinance, the committee had completed its study in hasty manner and based it on Talati's reports.

The SC had refused to entertain a plea by the state to challenge the stay granted by the HC earlier this week after observing that the high court's order was well reasoned. Besides the group of public interest litigation challenging the Maratha reservation is scheduled for a hearing in January first week in the HC.

The road ahead for the state which was well within its right though to place the bill in the House, is that it may seek an expedited hearing in the high court. The Governor is free to give assent to the bill once both Houses pass it. Right now only the Assembly has.

The state cabinet had in June first approved the populist proposal with an eye on the ensuing assembly elections to provide 16% reservation for backward Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in education and government jobs. As a result, the total reservation in the state went up to 73 per cent. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, reservation has crossed the mark of 83 per cent, while in Tamil Nadu, it is 69 per cent. In both these cases the higher judiciary had stayed the reservations.

The reservation for Marathas is in addition to the existing 52 per cent reservation for reserved communities.

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CM nod to ACB to carry out 23 open probes

MUMBAI: A month after granting permission to the anti-corruption bureau to conduct a probe against senior NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Sunil Tatkare and Chhagan Bhujbal, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday cleared all 23 proposals of the agency for an open inquiry against two former ministers, a senior bureaucrat and over 100 officials.

A senior bureaucrat told TOI on Thursday that this was the first time in ACB's history that a CM has cleared such a large number of proposals and that too within a month. "It reflects the political will of Fadnavis to take on corrupt politicians and bureaucrats," he said.

While Pawar and Tatkare are being probed for their alleged involvement in the irrigation scam, Bhujbal has been blamed for the rampant irregularities in the construction of Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi. "All these proposals were pending with Prithviraj Chavan-led Congress-NCP government. No decision was taken on the proposals for obvious political reasons. But after Fadnavis took over, in less than a month, he permitted the ACB to conduct probes against the erring politicians," the bureaucrat said.

He added that besides the Pawar, Tatkare and Bhujbal probe proposals, the ACB, between January 2012 and December 17, 2014, submitted 23 proposals to conduct open inquiries against two senior politicians and over 100 state officials. According to rules, the CM has to approve the probe in case of elected representatives and gazetted officers.

The bureaucrat said during the Congress-NCP rule, crucial proposals were lying in the office of then home minister R R Patil for a long period and later in the CM's office.

He said while CM's order on the 23 proposals is yet to reach the ACB, it appears that he has approved open probes against then SRA chief executive officer Ujjwal Uke, former ministers Harshawardhan Patil and Laxman Dhoble, Mhada officials involved in Magathane SRA scheme, Mhada officials involved in redevelopment of 11 chawls on Grant Road, executive engineer of water resources department R H Chavan, principal chief conservator of forest R N Choudhary, and chief conservator of forests Sanjay Thakre.

As an open inquiry is a long-drawn procedure, the bureaucrat suggested that the ACB will have to draft a schedule to complete the probes on time. "It will be a litmus test for ACB director Pravin Dixit. Since ACB has sought permission, all cases will have to be taken to logical conclusion," he added.

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RBI cell claims it is out of RTI purview

MUMBAI: The Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) cell of the Reserve Bank of India has refused to answer queries under the Right to Information (RTI) on the grounds that it is not a public authority. RTI activist and former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, who sought information on the cell, has accused the body of acting like a khap panchayat, evading public scrutiny and acting like a law unto itself.

"How can a body which uses public money to restructure private debt not fall under the purview of the RTI?" asks Gandhi. The CDR website shows that 505 cases of corporate debt restructuring have been approved till date, totaling around Rs 3.7 lakh crore. "If such a body is not held accountable, it will have serious implications on India's economy," said Gandhi. CDR members listed on its website include 21 public sector banks, 5 associated banks of the State Bank of India, 11 financial institutions and only 14 private sector banks.

Gandhi's RTI query and first appeal were rejected by CDR. He has now filed a second appeal.

The reply to his RTI query said, "CDR cell is neither established nor constituted by or under the constitution or any other law made either by parliament or by state legislature and it is also not made by notification issued or order made by the appropriate government (sic)," further stating that CDR was a 'self-empowered body.'

However Gandhi, argues that, under section 2(h)(d) (i) of RTI, the words 'public authority' include any body or institution owned, controlled or substantially financed by the government, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government.

Gandhi argues in his appeals that the CDR cell is controlled by the government as five of seven members of its core group "are public servants and get their salaries from the government." He goes on to argue that "13 out of 19 employees (of the CDR) are also government servants who get their salaries from the government."

"The core group members and other employees certainly would be representing the government. Any other assumption would be an unfair slur on their integrity. The core group members are there because of their positions as government servants and hence exercise control on behalf of the government. To claim that the appropriate government does not control the CDR cell would be to negate the truth," adds Gandhi.

When contacted by TOI, RBI did not comment on the matter.

In a reply to Gandhi's first appeal, CDR said, "..the core committee members or the employees do not determine the character or nature of the control excercised by the appropriate government. The control of the government in the management or the functioning of the body is more relevant than the number of public servants working in the CDR cell." The reply further stated that the bank officers were considered "public servants" only for limited purpose.

In his second appeal, Gandhi quotes an RBI circular which shows that the initial finances for the CDR were provided by IDBI (a public sector bank) and over 75% of subsequent finance was from public sector banks and institutions. Gandhi argues that the CDR is both controlled and substantially financed by the government.

"It is also noteworthy that it does not appear to have any legal structure and despite being created by an RBI circular, claims a virtual presence not accountable to anyone. If such an argument is accepted, all government organizations could create such virtual cells and deny information and accountability," says Gandhi's appeal.

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It’s cold out there, and your pets too feel the chill

As the winter sets in, it's not just you who feels the chills, pet animals too get affected. The dip in mercury levels calls for special care for the four-legged creatures. Precisely the reason that animal rights activists of Humane Society International-India (HSI) have put out an advisory for pet owners and animal lovers in general on how to keep animals warm and safe.

Navamita Mukherjee of HSI pointed out that it is advisable to keep your pets indoors, especially after sundown, "That's the time the cold gets too much. Almost all pet animals like dogs, cats, rabbits and various birds are sensitive to drops in temperature which can cause shivering, wheezing and even flu-like symptoms. It's better to keep them indoors as far as possible during winter," said Mukherjee.

Animal activist Anarjit Chauhan advised that owners should drape keep their pets in shawls or blankets of their size to keep them cozy. "If your pet is especially susceptible to illness during winter time, immunity booster shots can be also given to them at a veterinary clinic," said Chauhan.

Fur, a natural warmer, should not be snipped off animals, said activists. Dogs and cats are blessed with thick fur that keeps them warm naturally. Activists also said that dogs should not be taken out for a walk immediately after a bath. Their fur coat should be allowed to dry completely before taking them outdoors, added activists.

Mukherjee also advised caution about animals scouting for some warmth beneath parked vehicles. "For stray cats, dogs, other smaller animals and even wildlife species like snakes, animal lovers must note that such creatures often slip under cars to bask in the warmth of the engine to keep out the cold," said Mukherjee. "So, motorists must take special care while starting their vehicles. To avoid harming them, drivers should knock on the car's hood to alert them before starting the vehicle."

These days, Panvel resident Vishnu Gavali often cautions taxi drivers, asking them to look beneath before turning on the ignition key. "In this season, you often find animals hiding underneath. They shouldn't be harmed just because we're in a hurry," said Gavali.

Activists also said that pets need plenty of food and water in winter. "Routinely check your pet's water dish to ensure the water is fresh and not too cold," this activist said.

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Court lets ayurvedic doctors prescribe drugs

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to stay an amendment to laws on medical practice in the state that permits integrated ayurved practitioners to prescribe allopathic medicines to a limited extent. The court was hearing a petition filed by allopathic practitioners objecting to the amendment as lacking in legislative might.

Justifying the amendment, state advocate general Sunil Manohar said the state had legislative competence to modify the law. He said data showed that MBBS doctors fall far short below the WHO-prescribed standards in rural areas and that in most health centres ayurveda doctors provide the manpower.

Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, counsel for the integrated ayurvedic practitioners association, said they were allowed to prescribe allopathic drugs to the extent of their training.

The amendment for homoeopathic practice contemplates a two-year course in phamaclogy for them to practice. A section of homeopaths through counsel Pankaj Savant said they were opposed to such integration.

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Dabbawalas join Swachh Bharat drive

MUMBAI: Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to nominate them to join the Swachh Bharat campaign, the 'dabbawalas' of Mumbai said they will leave no stone unturned to make Modi's dream of clean India come true.

"When the PM of this country nominates common people like us to take part in his (clean India) campaign, it is a matter of honour for us," Raghunath Medge, head of Mumbai Dabbawala Association said.

"The team of 5,000 dabbawalas supply food to around two lakh office goers every day. We will make sure that we do our bit in helping Modiji's dream of a Swachh Bharat comes true," he said.

The dabbawalas will work hard to ensure that people are made aware of the dangers of littering garbage on the city's streets and in housing colonies, he said.

"The members of our association had even visited Prince Charles' wedding on his invitation. We have seen the world and hence know how beautiful cities look when they are kept clean," Mr. Medge said.

"We do not have financial backing, but if private organisations are willing to come out with pamphlets depicting the harms caused by filth, we will support it whole-heartedly and distribute it among our clients," he said.

Mr Modi visited his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi today to mark the 'Good Governance Day' on the occasion of the 90th birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

He nominated some organisations including Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Eenadu and India Today groups besides Mumbai dabbawalas, to join the 'clean India' campaign, launched by his government on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2.

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Thane sisters 'beaten by cops' to seek high-level probe in case

Written By kom nampultig on Rabu, 24 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Four sisters, who alleged on Monday that they were beaten up by cops when they went to the Kolsewadi police station to lodge a complaint against their neighbour after a dispute, have decided to approach the Thane police commissioner, demanding a high-level inquiry into the matter. They said they do not have faith in the local police.

The police have also booked the four girls for rioting in the police station and maytake action against them.

Kalyan ACP Chandrakant Thorat, who is conducting a departmental inquiry against the Kolsewadi police, has recorded the statements of five witnesses who visited the police station on the day of the incident. The ACP claimed that the girls were at "fault".

According to sources, the witnesses told the police that the girls had first abused woman constables. When other poliecmen intervened, the girls started hurling stones at them. However, the girls are claiming that the investigators are trying to help the police personnel. "We do not have faith in the local investigator. This is the reason we have decided to meet the Thane police commissioner for justice," said one of the four girls.

Residents of Kalyan (E), the girls said one of them had taken a loan of Rs 2,000 from a neighbour. On Sunday, there was a dispute when the neighbour demanded the money back. Both parties went to the police station, and cross-complaints were lodged. The victim said when they visited the police station on Monday to get a copy of the FIR, cops supported their neighbour. When they protested, cops started beating them. The women later approached Kalyan DCP Sanjay Jadhav, who ordered the ACP to conduct a probe.

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‘Metrology department can’t certify area’

MUMBAI: The construction industry on Tuesday challenged the legal metrology department's authority to certify the measurement of flats sold to buyers. The department's chief Sanjay Pande had announced his office will entertain complaints from flat purchasers, against developers who cheat them on floor space.

"This department has no authority to invoke provisions for sale of flats," said advocate and housing expert Vinod Sampat, adding, "Weights and measurements are linked to moveable objects where weight can be quantified, unlike a flat." But the department claimed selling space was within its purview.

Experts said buyers who are cheated can approach the consumer court, Competition Commission of India, city civil court or metropolitan court with their complaints.

Builder Sunil Mantri said the department would send notices and fine builders who announce apartments in square feet instead of square metre or square yard. "This is the first time it wants to certify carpet area of a flat. This is already done by the BMC," he added. Builders said they will meet the CM on the issue.

Architect Manoj Daisaria said the housing regulator to be appointed under the new Housing Regulation Act will be the competent authority to deal with this problem.

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Constable, teenager killed in separate railway accidents

MUMBAI: In three separate rail mishaps, a constable, Anil Mane (30), and a collegian, Keshav Ballal (18), lost their lives on Monday. while a Kurla resident, Sikandar Khan, suffered injuries.

Mane, who is attached to the Naigaum police and resides at Vitawa, was walking on the tracks between Thane and Kalwa when a train ran him over.

In another incident, Ballal was knocked down by a train between Mulund and Thane. The incident took place at 10.45pm. Khan, meanwhile, was found injured on the tracks between Thane and Airoli. He was admitted to a hospital and discharged later.

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Parents on edge after ISIS detention news

KALYAN: The speculation about which one of the three Kalyan youths—who are still in ISIS-controlled territory—is in the terror group's detention for attempting to flee has their families worried.

Intelligence agencies say the detained youth may be in Mosul. It is suspected that ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or simply Islamic State) strengthened monitoring of the youths after the fourth, Areeb Majeed, fled to India via Turkey in late November. The parents of the remaining three—Fahad Shaikh, Aman Tandel and Shaheen Tanki—are worried by reports that ISIS has executed around 100 members for trying to flee their bases in Al Raqqa.

"We are constantly praying that our boy is safe," said a doctor close to one of the youth's family. Tandel's friend Sohail said Areeb's return gave the families a ray of hope, which is increasingly turning to despair. A relative close to Tanki's family said, "We have faith in Allah that he will save our boy and he will come back."

After Areeb's return, the parents of his mates have been in touch with Indian security and intelligence agencies in the hope that they will be able to secure their release.

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Prabhu, CM may hold talks to resolve deadlock over bullet train project

MUMBAI: Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu is likely to intervene in a bid to resolve the deadlock facing India's first bullet train. There is a possibility of Prabhu meeting chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in this regard.

A few days ago, the MMRDA had refused to hand over its plot at the Bandra-Kurla Complex to the railways for setting up a terminal for the bullet train project, putting the project in limbo.

The bullet train is proposed to start from a swanky terminal at the BKC and run parallel to the Western Railway all the way to Ahmedabad. Sources hinted that if the deadlock continued, the project may be shifted to another state. However, with Prabhu now likely to meet the chief minister to discuss the issue, there seems to be some hope, said an official, who did not wish to be named.

An MMRDA official, however, suggested that the railways could shift the alignment either to Bandra Terminus or Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. If this is done, it will be feasible for the railways to integrate various modes of transit and help in seamless travel, the official stated. MMRDA officials said they have written to the railways and informed them that it will not be possible to part with the land at BKC. Railway officials were unavailable for comment.

The Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is one of the ambitious projects promised by the Narendra Modi government and is on the priority list. The project cost is pegged at around Rs 70,000 crore, according to the interim estimates given by Japan International Co-operation Agency.

When contacted, Prabhu said, he frequently meets the CM to discuss routine matters. He did not elaborate on the bullet train issue.

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International airline to pay for serving non-veg food to vegetarian flyer

MUMBAI: A consumer forum on Tuesday directed Swiss International Airline to pay a compensation of Rs 30,000 to a vegetarian flyer for inadvertently serving him non-vegetarian food on a Zurich-Mumbai flight in 2011. "It is just to award Rs 20,000 for hurting the religious feelings of the complainant. Besides, the complainant is entitled to the legal expense of Rs 10,000," the forum said.

The same airline was also ordered to pay a compensation of Rs 60,000 for causing mental agony to another flyer after his bag was lost on a Mumbai Dublin flight in 2012 and it was returned the next day. The bag contained papers, which the complainant, Tardeo resident Rukshad Davar, needed for a conference. The airline has also been ordered to pay Rs 7,650 as reimbursement for the money that Davar had to spend on buying essential items in absence of his bag.

In the first case, Amit Jain said that on his flight from Zurich to Mumbai on May 6, 2011, he was served non-vegetarian food in spite of him booking a Jain vegetarian meal. He alleged he realized it was non-vegetarian only after eating a morsel; a fellow flyer also alerted him. Jain claimed the flight attendant did not apologize and the airline tried to shrug it off as a "human error". He lodged a complaint at the Central Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal forum in 2013, seeking a compensation of Rs18 lakh on the grounds that the airline hurt his religious sentiments. He also claimed legal expenses of Rs 1 lakh. Admitting that Jain did opt for a vegetarian meal, the airline said the non-veg meal was i nadvertently served owing to unwitting human error by the flight attendant who was on her first flight to India. The airline said the food was replaced with a Jain meal and the attendant apologized.

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Ravi Pujari’s wife, son held at Mumbai airport

Written By kom nampultig on Selasa, 23 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari's wife Padma and his 14-year-old son were detained at Mumbai international airport late evening on Monday, after they arrived from Singapore. Though Intelligence Bureau sources said the duo was deported to India, Mumbai police maintained they were arrested when they landed from Bangkok.

Their arrests are likely to build pressure on Pujari, who in the last two years has threatened at least 47 people in Mumbai Pune, Bangalore and Mangalore. Unconfirmed reports said he may be deported soon.

Police said Padma was on a red corner notice and was detained as soon as she landed.

Senior police officials refused to clarify whether the duo was caught while shuffling from Australia to Singapore or Bangkok and then deported to India.

Interestingly, his wife and son's deportation has come on the day when JJ Marg police registered a fresh case against Pujari for threatening Gulzar Azmi, secretary of Jamiat Ul-ulemma's legal cell, for representing suspected terrorists in court.

Former encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma had arrested Padma in 2005 in a fake passport case. Padma had forged documents to obtain her passport and those of her two daughters. She was released on bail after a month, but she fled the country within six months by secretly making another passport from Mangalore. Since then, a lookout notice was issued against her.

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