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Author: Virat A Singh

Activists file police complaint against bullock cart race

An animal rights activist has lodged a complaint with Kashimira police station after a video of bullock carts racing on the Mira-Bhayander Road went viral on social media. The 28-second long video was shot on December 25.”I was shocked on watching the video as the race was being carried out on the busy Mira-Bhayander road at around 4.30 pm. It was fortunate that an animal lover who saw this happening decided to shoot the video otherwise there would have been no proof. What is even more appalling is the fact that the police had no information about it,” said Shakuntala Majumdar, President of Thane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Animals (TSPCA) who submitted a formal written complaint on Sunday.The video captures two bullock carts racing on the stretch of road between D-Mart towards Silver Park signal, while the audience shouts and cheers. One cart has three men riding it while the other has four. As they ensure that the bullocks run as fast as they could, the cart with four men skids and one by one all the four fall even as the bullock with the cart swerves left.Majumdar said that the entire act is not only a violation of the order dated October 2017 of PIL No 23132 of 2017 of Bombay High Court which bans bullock cart racing in Maharashtra unless permissions have been granted by the authorities.”Apart from being a contempt of court, this activity is completely illegal as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. Going by the fact that there is evidence that the bullock cart slipped and people fell off, I have also asked the cops to register a case under Section 188 because the race on a public road could have caused danger to human life and safety,” added Majumdar and stated that the cops now need to investigate the matter and take action as per law.A cop from Kashimira police station said that they were busy with security deployment for New Year’s Eve and would investigate the matter from Monday.

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Tiger from Bor tiger reserve killed in road accident

A young dominant male tiger from Bor Tiger Reserve became the latest casualty of ‘killer highways’ after it was found dead after being knocked down by a vehicle around 7.30pm on Friday, on the Nagpur-Amravati Highway stretch around 40 kilometers away from Nagpur.While the forest department claimed that as per primary investigations the tiger seems to be T2 but the confirmation would only be given after a detailed study of the stripes pattern during the post-mortem. However, wildlife experts and photographers confirmed that the tiger was T2 who was also famously nicknamed as Bajirao and several photographers had clicked his image.Digamber Chable a wildlife lover claimed that the tiger was hit by a vehicle on a dark patch near Bazaargaon area and it seems that it died immediately. “It was a young tiger and it’s sad that Maharashtra is losing tigers who are in their prime to road accidents,” he said.Also readAssam Shocker: Five elephants mowed down by train Dr Anish Andheria, President, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) who has been one of the strongest voice demanding proper mitigation measures near wildlife corridor took to social media stating, “T2 (called Bajirao) was the most dominant male tiger of Bor, holding a huge territory that extended all the way to Kalmeshwar, a forest patch over 30 km from Bor. He shuttled between the two forests, unaware that the road that he crossed often will take his life.” He also said that the NH6 cuts vital corridor between Bor and Melghat and despite repeated appeals by conservationists no mitigation structures were built on not only this but also most of our killer roads. Wildlife experts have been calling for the need to build elevated roads near wildlife corridors. “We only wake up when a Tiger or Elephant is dead after being hit by a vehicle or Train but one should understand that over 90% of roadkills are never reported. No one accounts for the smaller mammals and reptiles that die traumatic deaths after coming under speeding vehicles,” said a wildlife conservationist adding that wildlife lovers and experts now need to show their force to the Government and demand that first no road be built through an important wildlife corridor and if there was no other option it be allowed only after proper scientific mitigation measures are adopted.As per Tigernet- the official database of the National Tiger Conservation Authority a total of 17 tiger mortality has been reported in the year 2017 making this the 18 death in Maharashtra.

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Declare my area as Silence Zone: Sumaira Abdulali

Anti-noise pollution activist Sumaira Abdulali has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation Chief seeking that the Nargis Dutt Road in Bandra West, where she resides, be declared as a Silence Zone and a No-Honking Zone. This has come after the BMC failed to take any concrete steps to begin re-notifying silence zones in the city, four months after the Maharashtra State Government de-notified all the existing silence zones of Mumbai.Explaining her stand she said that under the existing Noise Pollution and Motor Vehicles Rules, citizens can apply to have their residential or mixed areas be declared as Silence Zones/No-Honking Zones.”I have recommended this road as its a residential area and the people living in various buildings here including me are getting affected by the high decibel levels and hence I have decided to take a lead. I have also made it clear that this should be done after proper consultation with the residents living here,” stated Abdulali. She has been urging citizens to make similar applications to the BMC for a declaration of their areas as Silence Zones/No Honking Zones and that authorities should realise that citizens need their silence zones back.As per State Government’s interpretation of the Noise Rules amended on August 10, 2017, silence zones earlier identified and declared by the BMC were no longer in operation as they had not been specifically notified by the State Government. “In the period from August 2017 till date, silence zones have remained unprotected and there is not even clarity about whether loudspeakers can be used or needs to be removed and in all there is lot of confusion, which has been causing great hardship to residents of Mumbai and making them vulnerable to health issues caused due to noise pollution,” shared Abdulali.Several other anti noise pollution activists also alleged that they have no clue about steps being taken by BMC doing about notifying silence and no honking zones in the city as the civic body seems to have completely forgotten about this issue.The silence zone rules were first implemented in September 2, 2003 after Bombay High Court ordered the police to verify and certify before granting any loudspeaker permissions in a Silence Zone as defined under the Noise Rules.Infact on July 18, 2005, the Supreme Court of India ordered other noise sources such as honking to be added to the prohibitions in Silence Zones. In February 2009, the Court ordered the Government to identify and put up Silence Zone boards within one week after which the Ward offices of the BMC identified more than 1200 Silence Zones in Mumbai and put up boards on site with the help of citizen groups.

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SGNP officials nurse two abandoned leopard cubs

Officials at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) are currently nursing two- approximately month and half old abandoned leopard cubs, which were brought to the park by forest officials from Ahmednagar on December 20.As per forest officials it was a local farmer from Nandgaon village in Ahmednagar district who found two leopard cubs in his sugarcane farm on November 20, a decision was taken to send them to Manikdoh Rescue Center, in Junnar after several attempts to re-unite the cubs with the mother failed. However soon realising that the centre had no space to accommodate more leopards the cubs were sent to SGNP.According to Dr Shailesh Pethe, Veterinary Officer, SGNP the cubs might have been abandoned or separated from their mother and both-one male and another female were brought in quite a delicate condition.”The cubs that are separated from their mothers have very low immunity and hand raising them is not as simple as it sounds. They are currently coping up to the new environment and will require several weeks to settle down,” shared Pethe adding that a lot of precaution were being taken and they were even being monitored round the clock.As per the expert Vet, for the good health of these two cubs and to ensure that they do not catch any infection they have been kept in a restricted area and maximum precautions were being taken by not even allowing any visitors to see these cubs. “We are keeping them away as they are at a very vulnerable stage and only people involved in their care taking are allowed to go near them. “Anwar Ahmed, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and Field Director for SGNP said, “These two cubs had to be brought to SGNP as Manikdoh Rescue Center, in Junnar has no space to take more leopards. Our team is taking good care of these cubs and at the moment they are in good health.”Forest officials from SGNP said that in the past that several leopards have been successfully hand raised and some have even unfortunately died few months after they were brought due to various infections resulting due to low immunity.NO REUNIONA local farmer from Nandgaon village in Ahmednagar district found two leopard cubs in his sugarcane farm on November 20. A decision was taken to send them to Manikdoh Rescue Center in Junnar after several attempts to re-unite the cubs with the mother failed. The centre had no space to accommodate more leopards

Join the discussion<!–end of artlbotbor–>
Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
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“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
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Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
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Rescue centre for beached mammals awaits State’s nod

Maharashtra Mangrove Cell has written to the State Government to allot them a suitable piece of land near either Juhu or Versova beach for setting up Mumbai’s first rescue and medical aid center for turtles and other marine mammals found stranded on the beaches of Mumbai.Prashant Deshmukh, Range Forest Officer (RFO), Mangrove Cell said that as a majority of stranding of marine mammals happen on the Western coast it was decided to build a fully equipped marine rescue center in Mumbai where these mammals can be treated and released back in the sea.”We began scouting for a 1200 square meter plot and found two suitable locations at Juhu beach itself – one near the Shivaji statue and another near the garden close to the main entrance. We have also found a piece of land near Versova beach close to the Versova police beat chowky,” he said adding that the land at Versova belongs to Mumbai Maritime Board and they have even written to them for allotting the land. Juhu remains the first preference, though.Deshmukh shared that they have been regularly following it up with both the authorities and are hopeful that the land will be allotted by either January or early February. “Once we get the land it will only take a month for us to set up the centre,” he said.Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Mangrove Cell, N Vasudevan said, “The centre will have four tanks that can accommodate injured turtles and even a dolphin if required. There will be separate holding tanks especially for turtles and they can even be tested for their swimming abilities before releasing them in the sea in the bigger tanks. The center will also feature a fully equipped operation theatre with important equipments like X-ray machines and other facilities for carrying out treatment of injured marine mammals.”

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Mumbai’s first AC local train to begin operations tomorrow

The first Air Conditioned local train will depart on its historical introductory run on Monday from Borivali station at 10.30 am for the Churchgate station. After the introduction, the AC local train will be operated on an experimental basis between Churchgate and Borivali stations till December 29 wherein only 6 services shall ply per day.After reaching Churchgate, the train will depart for Borivali again within 5 minutes of its arrival. This train will follow a schedule of 6 services – 3 services each towards Churchgate and Borivali – until December 29.The train service will have halts at Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri. It will then be monitored during the weekend. From January 1, it will have 12 services each day. Those having existing first class tickets and season passes wouldn’t be allowed to travel in AC rake but those with AC ticket/passes can travel in regular first class.People have been given option of buying daily tickets — for instance a journey between Churchgate to Borivali will cost Rs 165 which is Rs 15 more than the daily ticket price of regular first class.It will cost more to travel shorter distances. For instance, a Churchgate-Dadar/Bandra would cost Rs 85 (Rs 30 more than the regular first class). There is also an option of buying weekly, fortnightly and monthly passes.The Churchgate-Borivali weekly pass will cost Rs 855 as compared to Rs 755 for monthly pass for a regular first class on the same route. The fortnightly pass will cost Rs 1245 and monthly will be Rs 1640 for the same route of this AC rake. For those on Churchgate-Andheri route, AC passes will cost Rs 655, Rs 945, Rs 1240 for weekly, fortnightly and monthly respectively. In comparison, it costs Rs 670 for monthly first class pass on same route. The Churchgate-Dadar/Bandra would cost the same at Rs 445, Rs 630 and Rs 820 for weekly, fortnightly and monthly respectively.The coaches reserved for Ladies and Seats earmarked for Senior Citizens/Divyangs are different from Standard Configuration. 1st and 12th coach from Churchgate end are earmarked as Ladies coaches and 7 seats in 2nd and 11th coach from Churchgate end are earmarked for Senior citizens while 10 seats in 4th and 7th coach from Churchgate end are earmarked for Divyangs.

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Locals seek respite from wildfire

Residents living in MHADA colony and Nagari Nivara at Goregaon east have raised their concern about the thick vegetation growing on the nearby hillocks being set on fire. Last Sunday several residents complained that soot covers their buildings as well as bungalows. They have demanded a probe in the matter as the fire resulted in severe air pollution.Sharad Marathe a resident of Garden Hill building that overlooks the hillocks, which is also the point of origin of Oshiwara river, said that around 3 pm he noticed the flames sweeping and the blaze engulfing the thick carpet of shrubs and tall plants that had grown during the rains, and rapidly started covering the top of the hillock.”We immediately alerted the police who called the fire brigade and a team of firemen went up to extinguish the fire. However. a huge amount of ash and fine soot spread all over the place due to the breeze and our terrace was full of such burnt vegetation,” said Marathe adding that forest department and the cops need to investigate the matter.Social activist Sandip Sawant who stays in Chitrakoot building in Nagari Nivara said, “These wildfires are being purposely set. It kills and affects the micro and macro fauna including insects and reptiles. These fires are a regular feature in winters yet neither the forest department nor the police investigate the matter,” he said adding that he will be sending letters to Environment department demanding a probe and if nothing is done till January 26, the residents will be forced to start an agitation.FLORA, FAUNA HITSocial activist Sandip Sawant who stays in Chitrakoot building in Nagari Nivara said, “These wildfires are being purposely set. It kills and affects the micro and macro fauna including insects and reptiles. These fires are a regular feature in winters yet neither the forest department nor the police investigate the matter.”

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Khairani: Fire waiting to happen, claim locals

Members of Swachh Chandivali, a resident’s organisation, are irked by the fact that it took a fire, that claimed 12 lives, for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to finally inquire into the glaring irregularities in safety norms by a majority of the establishments — most of them running small scale industries from the slums — on Khairani Road in Saki Naka.The residents had been repeatedly warning the concerned authorities about a potential high-risk fire waiting to break in the slum area, and had written several letters to the BMC and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on the same. In September, the residents escalated the matter by writing to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.Based on their complaints, the MPCB carried out a site visit in September and submitted a report in November, which clearly states the violations that some of the establishments were engaged in. The board found that the units were operating without any documents. In fact, MPCB officials stated that a majority of the small scale industries in the area were operating illegally.”The report asked BMC to take action and ordered closure of 18 such industries. If properly surveyed, all the units operating in these slums, which has turned into an industrial area over the years, will be found violating safety regulations as well as labour laws. These units are a ticking time bomb and are endangering the lives of people,” said Dr SL Dhingra, member, Swachh Chandivali.Lavita Powell, another member of the group, said that Monday’s fire only goes to prove that many more such disasters can occur in the area.Demanding action against the authorities, former Councillor Ishwar Tayade said, “We wrote to the civic body and the police to take action against the illegal activities taking place inside these industrial units but they kept turning a blind eye.””We had received complaints from local residents about air pollution from the small scale industries operating on Khairani Road. After a survey, several violations were observed based on which we directed the BMC to disconnect water and electricity supply for 18 of the units,” said MR Lad, Regional Officer (Mumbai), MPCB.

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Mumbai NGO writes to BMC over LED light pollution at Juhu beach

Worried over the implications of Light pollution- due to high-mast lights put across Juhu Beach, Mumbai’s Awaaz Foundation, after measuring the ‘lux levels’, has written to the BMC as well as the environment department, stating that the difference between illumination levels throughout the beach highlighted the inability of these lights to provide security.In October this year, the BMC had installed LED lights at Juhu Beach that could change colour. The purpose was to beautify the beach and for safety purposes – a move that several environmentalists have been opposing. However, ever since the lights have been installed Juhu residents whose houses overlook the beach have been complaining about light pollution.Awaaz Foundation used a lux meter to measure and record light levels at Juhu Beach at about 7.15pm on Wednesday and it was found that the lux level underneath the mast light was 67,000 lux (equivalent of direct sunlight) and the lux level near the water’s edge was 0.03 lux (equivalent of a moonlit night.) “The great difference between the recorded lux levels throughout the beach highlights the inability of the installed lighting fixtures to provide lighting that will ensure safety as only limited portion of the beach was illuminated leaving several dark patches. This completely negates the biggest claims that of security by BMC for installing these lights on the beaches,” said Sumaira Abdulali, Convenor of Awaaz Foundation questioning that whether BMC conducted any study to understand the impacts of these lights on locals and the environment.She added that the high intensity of LED lighting in its immediate vicinity was causing disturbances to residential buildings that could lead to adverse health effects and was also blocking out the natural views of the stars and moon.Abdulali stressing on the need for a policy to regulate intensity or uniformity of lighting and specific lighting plan shared, “Through the letter we have requested BMC as well as the environment department to consider the harmful effects of light pollution while formulating any policies or projects for beautification of beaches or other natural areas, especially those placed close to residential areas and to also consider framing a suitable policy to regulate light pollution in Mumbai from various sources including street lighting, private security lighting, hoardings, beautification projects and others,” she said.Juhu based Filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit said that the beach has lost its sanctity. “It’s a natural place where one visits to be closer to nature and these lights have completely taken away the feel. There is no doubt that Juhu beach needed lights as there are often chain snatching and other cases of crimes reported but certainly not these kinds of light that have taken away the beauty of our beach,” he said.

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‘Winter’ is coming: Mumbai records coldest day of season at 15.8 degrees celsius

Mumbai recorded the coldest day this season, with minimum temperatures dropping to 15.8 degrees CelsiusThe 24- hour temperature recorded between 8.30 am on Wednesday to 8.30 am Thursday saw the minimum temperature dropping to 15.8 degree Celsius at Santacruz, while the minimum temperatures recorded at Colaba was 18.8 degree Celsius.“Mumbai does not experience a winter as compared to the northern states but at times due to northerly winds during the night and the effect of snow fall in Jammu and Kashmir it has phases where the minimum temperature sees a drop for few days,” said an official from the Regional Meteorological Centre, Mumbai adding that due to the temperatures seen dropping on Thursday the city was experiencing cooler breeze even till noon.Karan Rane a Borivali resident said that it was quite chilly in the wee hours of Thursday. “I was returning home around 2am from work and I was almost shivering in the auto rickshaw.”Meanwhile several morning walkers too claimed that they suddenly felt the nip in the air on Thursday morning as the temperature drop was quite evident.In fact in December 2016, the coldest day was recorded on December 11 when the minimum temperatures dropped to 15.0 degree Celsius while the coldest day of December 2015 was on December 24 when the minimum temperature recorded was 11.4 degree Celsius. However the all time record for coldest day in December was on December 20, 1949 when the minimum temperature recorded was 10.6 degree Celsius.According to IMD officials till date Mumbai’s three of the coldest days have been in January 1962, when the minimum was recorded as 7.4 Celsius, In February 2008 when the minimum mercury reached 8.5 degree Celsius and in February 2012 when the minimum temperature recorded was 8.8 Celsius.

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2 IIT-B students told to help out at animal NGO

In what might be the first-of-its-kind step taken by an educational institution in the city, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay asked two of its students to serve a total 72 hours of community service with animal welfare organisations after they were found guilty of being party to an animal cruelty case.As per sources in IIT-B, the incident took place on the campus last year and a disciplinary committee was set up immediately to investigate it. While the committee did not charge the main accused due to lack of evidence, two students, who were found guilty of abetting the crime were sentenced to carry out community service.Shakuntala Majumdar, President of Thane SPCA said, “They were given tasks from cleaning animal enclosures to cutting vegetables and even assisting in providing medical treatment for injured animals,” she said, adding that the person clearly seemed shocked to see and learn the animal suffering and even narrated how he developed a change of heart.Majumdar is also planning to write to the University and other major institutions to take strict action against students found involved in animal cruelty cases as well as those abetting or supporting it.

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Parking menace near NMIMS refuses to die

A move by the traffic police to dissuade illegal parking opposite Mithibai College at Vile Parle seems to be backfiring, residents have alleged.Tired of the perennial issue of vehicles being parked illegally near the eateries adjacent the gate of NMIMS college, the Santa Cruz traffic division decided to place barricades tied with ropes to ensure motorists do not park there. However, the move has failed to make an impact.”People are now parking their vehicles next to the barricades, which is causing more traffic snarls at the corner. There is a bus stop a little ahead, and auto rickshaws too wait for passengers — this adds the chaos,” said film-maker and activist Ashoke Pandit, adding that while the traffic police might have had a good intention, the move has only increased the problem.Pandit said that this road is extremely important as it leads to Cooper Hospital and ambulances use it frequently. “The road has become a mess due to the illegal parking menace. It also puts at risk students who are studying in these colleges,” he said.Meanwhile, local MLA Ameet Satam (BJP) said that one of the biggest problems was the eateries lined up near the college. “Most of them are Aarey stalls. I will be writing to the Dairy department to either cancel their licences or shift them elsewhere. If they move away, there will be no parking issues,” he said.A senior police officer from Santa Cruz traffic police station said, “We have placed our constables to ensure vehicles are not parked. We also expect people to have some civic sense.”

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BMC apathy and marine pollution kills hundreds of fishes in Sion pond

Residents and elected representatives are up in arms against BMC’s apathy after around hundred odd fishes have been found floating dead in the polluted Sion pond during the past two days. The pond had last witnessed a mass fish deaths in 2012 where almost all the fishes in it died.Former principal scientist at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), Dr Vinay Deshmukh said that one of the most common reasons for fishes dying in water bodies specially ponds and lakes is due the lack of oxygen. “I have not visited the spot but going by the photographs and information , it clearly seems that the deaths are due to the increase in the organic pollution, which reduces the dissolved oxygen levels. Most of the fishes that are dead are species of cat fish, which are already sensitive,” he said stating that the pond water must be getting contaminated with sewage or other pollutants.Meanwhile BJP councillor of ward 172 Rajshri Shirwadkar expressed concerns over the death of fishes. She said that people immersed floral offerings as well as coconuts in the pond and despite repeated reminders BMC did scant action to save this historic pond. “It was first on Sunday morning that around 40 odd fishes were found dead and floating in the water and similarly around 50 were found on Monday and most of these fishes are fully grown and over 10 to 20 kg,” Shirwadkar said adding that the last clean up of the pond was done in around 2011. It has never been cleaned since then despite regular idol immersions happening in the pond.Deshmukh informed that a pristine fresh water body has around 6ml of oxygen per litre of water and the oxygen level can drop to less than 1ml of oxygen per litre of water in very polluted water. “Due to the pollution the dissolved oxygen reduced and it is lowest during early morning and hence most of the fishes are found dead during early morning period and this phenomenon is quite common during winters,” he said adding that some one needs to do a detailed study of the pond its water quality and not simply test the BOD, which might not result in proper results.Dr MJ Pravin Bhatt who is a priest in the nearby temple was pained by the death of the fishes. He bought an aeration machine to increase the oxygen in the pond. “Its a painful sight to watch these fishes that are dying due to lack of oxygen, hence I decided to buy this machine and installed it,” he said.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of F-North ward, Keshav Ubale said, “I have received a complaint from citizens that few fishes have died in the lake. Following residents complaints the pond water will be tested. We do not have any contractor for the maintenance of the lake, it is a natural body and has aquatic animals like fishes and tortoises.”

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Western Railway move can promote solar energy in Mumbai: Experts

Even as experts on solar power cheered the move by Western Railways of going for solar rooftops by setting up solar panels on top of the platform sheds, they also said that this move could also end up becoming the biggest promotion for solar rooftops in Mumbai.”The solar rooftops at Lower Parel station are being viewed by lakhs of commuters daily and it will atleast provoke them to think or get more information about solar energy. Infact we would suggest that every station going for solar rooftop should display information on benefits of solar power,” said a senior official working with Government of India to promote solar rooftops.Infact officials as well as environmentalists who have been promoting solar energy said that despite so much awareness and having the facility of Net-metering’ ,which enables to send the unused or excess electricity generated by solar plant back into the grid of the energy supply and even earn credits still there was not much demand for solar rooftops and only very limited buildings or societies were coming forward.”There will have to be a policy making it mandatory for a building or a commercial space of a particular area and depending on their electricity usage pattern to compulsorily have solar rooftop installed and only then the rise in solar rooftops will see an increase,” said another solar expert working with a solar energy provider firm.Infact environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal who has been promoting solar rooftops said that it was strange that while Mumbaikars actively speak about reducing carbon footprints and search for means of reducing their electricity consumption yet there was not a sharp rise as expected in solar rooftops in the city. “BMC or the The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) needs to study what was the factor that was stopping people from going for solar rooftopsA study initiated in 2015 to assess the solar rooftop potential of Greater Mumbai had shown that Mumbai has a potential of generating 1720 megawatt (MW) of solar energy across rooftops including residences, educational institutions, government buildings and industry. Infact one of the key highlights of the study was that it provided a ready database of the solar capacity that can be generated on rooftops to BMC or any other Government organisation. The study listed out structures with good rooftop potential and it includes hospitals, commercial buildings, Government offices, railway stations and even industries. The rooftop solar generation was also presented wardwise.Unfortunately experts claim that BMC and government offices themselves are yet to go for solar rooftops despite being obligated to do so and those who have already done it were not bothered promoting it amongst those visiting these offices.WHAT IS NET-METERING:Under net-metering, customers who generate their own electricity using solar power can send the unused or excess electricity generated by their solar plant, back into the grid of the energy supply provider and even get compensated for it. However the compensation is not directally monetary but the energy provider simply reduces the units of power send to the grid, which helps reduce the energy costs. Net-metering was approved by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) in 2016

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Thane forest dept needs trained vets

While the leopard that ventured into a preschool in Andheri East on Sunday was rescued successfully by the same evening, the incident has exposed the lack of trained wildlife veterinarians that plagues the Thane forest department.While the leopard entered the preschool’s premises around 7 am, the rescue was completed only around 6.30 pm — after a eopard rescue team from SGNP led by Shailesh Deore, Superintendent Lion and Tiger Safari and Dr Shailesh Pethe, Veterinary Officer, SGNP, reached the site. The reason for the delay was that the Thane territorial team does not have a trained wildlife veterinarian to tranquillise and carry out a rescue operation, thus they had to wait for the SGNP team that was returning from Chalisgaon after being called in for another leopard rescue operation.“What would have happened if the SGNP rescue team was still stuck in Chalisgaon or the leopard escaped from the area which is far from a forest? This incident highlights the pressing need for Thane territorial forest department to strengthen its rescue team as the cases of human-animal conflicts have been increasing in its area and it is evident that the SGNP team cannot do everything single-handedly,” said a wildlife activist.Pawan Sharma, Honorary Wildlife Warden, Thane said, “The number of human-animal conflict cases in Thane’s jurisdiction have been increasing and apart from that the vet could also help in taking care of the animals that are rescued or seized by the anti-poaching team.”Currently, the SGNP leopard rescue team ends up travelling far and wide as it is the only team that has a wildlife vet.

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18th Sanctuary Wildlife Awards: From saving tigers to teaching wildlife conservation; know these green crusaders

From a Nagpur based lawyer whose legal acumen has helped in keeping poachers behind bars to a ‘bird nerd’ who became the first Indian to complete a ‘Big Year’ to a young wildlife biologist who has helped understand Mumbai’s leopards better-these are some of the environment protectors amongst others who will be felicitated for their exemplary and dedicated work towards protection and conservation of Indian wildlife by Sanctuary Nature Foundation on Friday.DNA lists some of the bravehearts and winners amongst the 13 who will be awarded the 18th Sanctuary Wildlife Awards who during a function at National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) on December 8, 2017 in Mumbai.Valmik Thapar- Lifetime Service AwardHe hardly needs any introduction and has been leading the battle to save the Tigers. Thapar has spent almost four decades tracking and protecting the most enigmatic cat and has taken their story to across the globe through his books and photographs. He has also served on over 150 committees of both central and state governments. His influence has been expansive, and though today he works almost exclusively in Rajasthan, with the state government, he has been instrumental in the revitalisation of other parks such as Maharashtra’s beloved Tadoba Tiger Reserve. Author of 32 books, including four on Africa, presenter of 16 international documentary films, and an excellent orator, Valmik Thapar’s gruff genius is what it took for India and the world to sit up and acknowledge the tiger’s magnificence, its predicament, and the urgency for conservation. Jayachandran S- Wildlife Service AwardsJayachandran S. has been at the forefront of the fight to save the Nilgiri and Sathyamangalam landscape in Tamil Nadu’s Western Ghats for over three decades. It was in 1990 that he started the Tamil Nadu Green Movement and, ever since, this people-powered initiative has stemmed the onslaught of unscrupulous industries and the timber mafia on this global biodiversity hotspot. He is a scrappy fighter, yes. But he’s also a solutions provider. By establishing a web of intelligence networks, he has been instrumental in helping the Kerala and Tamil Nadu Forest Departments bust poaching rackets, make seizures and apprehend hardened poachers. He has inspired many poachers to turn over a new leaf by surrendering their arms and ensuring alternate livelihood opportunities for them. Many of these ex-poachers today help the Forest Departments in blowing the cover on the modus operandi and operations of active wildlife criminals. Jayachandran is a hero whose contributions it is impossible to justly chronicle. He is a man in whose steps we hope many more will follow.Kartik Shukul- Wildlife Service AwardsIt was in the year 2013 that he managed to convince the judiciary that just because poaching attracted a sentence of seven years, it did not mean that the accused should be granted bail immediately. His legal acumen helped changed the perspective that the crime of poaching should be judged on the basis of its impact and it has ensured that several poachers not only went behind bars but also stayed behind it.A special public prosecutor for the State of Maharshtra, Nagpur based Shukul has ensured that in the year 2017 itself there were six convictions in tiger poaching cases. Despite the tedious rigours of his work, Shukul also manages to devote many hours every month to building capacity within members of the lower judiciary, police officers, Forest Department, and fellow lawyers by teaching them how to effectively wield his weapon of choice – the Wild Life Protection Act. Kartik Shukul is a man of integrity and intelligence, whose resilience is taking out wildlife criminals one court case at a time.Ramesh Pratap Singh, (IFS (Retd.)- Wildlife Service AwardsAfter serving in the Indian Forestry Services for more than three decades, R P Singh has worked through every tangent of wildlife conservation required to enable the revival of some of India’s most visited tiger destinations. His profound understanding of wildlife conservation, forest management, administration and law and his sensitivity to local communities, led to landmark developments across various Protected Areas. From voluntary relocations to wildlife crime control, Singh displayed exemplary management capability. R P Singh, in the pursuit of the preservation and protection of his beloved wilds, has left an indelible mark in India’s history of forest management and conservation, inspiring a whole generation of young officers.Shashank Dalvi- Wildlife Service Awards While birding at Jamnagar on the evening of December 31, 2015, Mumbai based wildlife biologist Shashank Dalvi spotted a Common Ringed Plover just an hour before dusk. While for others it might have been an end of a typical birding day, but for him it meant being the first Indian to not only successfully complete the prestigious ‘Big Year’ (an informal competition initiated in the United States amongst birders to check who can record the maximum number of birds in a span of one calender year) challenge taken up by birders but also recording a whooping 1128 birds in a calender year. Infact in 2016 he along with a team of scientists found a new species of bird- Himalayan Forest Thrush, a new bird species to science, and only the fourth bird to be described from India since its independence and named it after Indian ornithologist Dr Salim Ali. In 2012, he was a member of the team that discovered the shocking Amur Falcon massacre in Doyang, Nagaland, which catalysed an International conservation movement. A self-professed ‘bird nerd’, his long-term goal is to pioneer a nation-wide conservation programme for birds outside Protected Areas.KS Smitha- Green Teacher AwardSmitha’s passion for the wild coalesced with her love for children in 1997, the year she chose teaching as her profession. Ever since, Smitha has been an affable pied-piper, leading her students to the tunes of conservation. Having built a green army, she spares no opportunity in taking her regiments of future green activists out of the classroom to explore and marvel at the beauty of nature. In order to fulfill her fundamental agenda of connecting children with nature, she has created multiple nature clubs for her school. Smitha, along with her students, has even lead an agitation against the Kolkata municipal corporation when it decided bulldoze dozens of trees for a road-widening project. She petitioned, rallied and took concrete steps to stop the rampage. Nikit Surve- Young Naturalist Awards Nikit is credited with conducting the first-ever official, scientific census of leopards in the urban wilderness known as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and has been able to showcase how the leopards are co-existing with humans. At 25, Nikit is a Research Associate with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is working with dedication and passion on a complex and burning conservation issue – that of sharing space with our wild cat neighbours. Surve has also been helping the forest guards to understand more about leopards and engage them in understanding how camera trappings is carried out. He engages in impactful awareness campaigns based on his research findings that he conducts in schools, colleges and even in the remote sugarcane fields of Maharashtra, where communities live. Pandurang Pakhale- Special Sanctuary Tiger AwardsAn iron man of the Maharashtra Forest Department, he is presently posted at the Pench Tiger Reserve as a Range Forest Officer (RFO) of East Pench Range. He is responsible for the arrest of more than a dozen tiger poachers. He has continued investigations despite strong protests and police complaints – the result of political clout and support of fish mafia for the poachers. In January 2017, he took on pangolin traders and poachers whom he took to court and stood up to political leaders who demanded his arrest and transfer. He also busted monitor lizard poachers and arrested eight of them in June 2017.

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Fishes costlier after Ockhi leaves

Following Cyclone Ockhi, the fishing community has incurred severe losses as they couldn’t venture into the sea, and fishermen also fear that catch in the sea could reduce.Fishing unions claim that the overall losses incurred by 10 lakh people directly involved in fishing across Maharashtra is pegged at around Rs 1,000 crore. Akhil Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti President Damodar Tandel said that they will soon meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and seek a relief package.”During the cyclone, the fishing community could not venture into the sea and even lost boats and nets. Those who still dared to venture into the sea for an eight- to ten-day fishing trip came back empty handed. For the next one month, the catch will dwindle as the fishes would move to deeper sea,” said Tandel, adding that unfortunately the ministry supposed to take care of fishermen in Maharashtra was least bothered about their plight. Tandel added that Mumbaikars will have to brace for a price hike in the days to come.Bernard D’mello of Pali Macchimar Society from Uttan said that fishermen are not treated on par with farmers. “In Uttan, we are estimating a loss of Rs 60 to 80 lakh as several families involved in the drying of Bombay duck fish lost all the stock as well as the scaffolding on which fishes are dried.” Dileep Mathak, from the Vasai Fishermen society, added that the fishing villages in Uttan and Arnala have borne the maximum brunt.A marine expert working with the government body explained, “The cyclone churns the sea and the shallow area, as well as the substrate, is completely disturbed and become muddy, so fishes who come towards the coast to breed or lay eggs move deeper due to which the catch dwindles,” said the expert.Maharashtra has 23,000 fishing boats out of which 13,000 boats are mechanised, and the annual catch of around 3.5 lakh metric tonnes is worth Rs 4,000 crore of which Rs 2,000 crore is from exports.
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Groups on alert for marine carcasses

Following the discovery of an Indian humpback dolphin’s carcass, found washed ashore at Manori beach on Wednesday, experts believe more such sightings could be expected over the next few days as an impact of Cyclone Ockhi.While preliminary investigations did not reveal a direct impact of the cyclone on the dolphin that was washed ashore, groups of marine respondents consisting of marine biologists, marine life enthusiasts, animal rescue organisations and officials from the Mangrove Cell claim that they are keeping a close watch on the entire coast to ensure quick response in case beaching of live marine mammals is spotted.Pradip Patade, a marine enthusiast, said, “We will take regular walks as it is common for unknown and undocumented species to land up on the beach after such cyclones. We are also in touch with fishermen for updates and information.”
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BMC ignored NGT order on falling trees: Activists

Green activists are up in arms against BMC for failing to ensure tree safety as well as de-concretise the tree bases in the city, despite a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.In its order the NGT had directed the civic body to clear all concrete, paving blocks and rubble around avenue trees (those lining roads) and construct tree basins. “Removal of concrete from the base was to be done in a scientific way but the BMC seems to have thought otherwise and ended up doing a shoddy work and simply cleared one feet area around the tree. NGT clearly said that the basins should be provided with nutrient rich soil, which was ignored,” said Stalin D, Director Projects, Vanashakti an NGO which took the matter of trees dying in Mumbai to NGT.He added that a majority of the trees in Mumbai were not de-concretised and where ever authorities removed concrete it made the trees even more vulnerable in the absence of soil support.“We expect the number of trees falling to only increase now due to this unscientific approach,” alleged Stalin. He added that the de-concretising work was carried out properly only in a few places in Mumbai like Dadar, Sion Panvel Highway and Matunga.Experts opine that the concretised base or paver block that is set all around the tree trunk deprives it of soil and moisture and due to it the roots also get damaged and it finally results in death of the trees. “The rigidity of the trunk on account of cementing also does not allow trees to be flexible to winds, making them prone to falling,” said an expert botanist who claimed to have given a detailed presentation to BMC’s Tree department. Meanwhile environmentalists also blamed the tree trimmings carried out as another major factor for tree falling. “Unfortunately despite so many tree falling cases, BMC has still not been able to get its act right when it comes to tree trimmings. The staff that cuts the tree seems to be more interested in chopping the bigger and thicker branches. Due to wrong method of pruning the tree becomes unstable and is prone to falling,” said Rajesh Jain a Dahisar based activist who had taken up the matter of unscientific trimming of trees with local elected representatives. CHOKING IN CONCRETEVanashakti had presented the BMC with a 14-month study in collaboration with Jhunjhunwala College’s botany department showing that one of the main causes behind deteriorating condition of trees was extensive concretisation of their critical root zone, which leads to the tree being depreived of water and falls prey to pests and fungus. It also prevents aeration of roots and interaction with the soil. Unscientific tree pruning on only one side causes it to lose its centre of gravity, making it vulnerable Concretised base or paver block set around the tree deprives it of soil and moisture damaging its roots PAST MISHAPSJuly 21, 2017 Kanchan Nath, 57, is seriously injured after a palm tree falls on her at Swastik Park in Chembur. She dies on July 22. June 6, 2017 Naval officer’s son dies after a Gulmohar tree falls on him, causing serious head injuries.July 29, 2016 48-year-old accountant loses his life after a huge tree falls on the car while he was travelling in Malad. July 27, 2015 Incessant rains lead to a tree falling on a wall which collapses on a hutment in Vakola, Santa Cruz, killing four.June 23, 2015 A 25-year-old man dies after a tree falls on him near Sahakari Bhandar at Agar Bazaar, DadarJune 23, 2015 A 60-year-old man dies on the spot after a tree falls on his cab opposite LT Marg police station. Three others injured. DNA – Research N Archives
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Cyclone Ockhi: Mumbai records highest December rainfall in a decade

While Mumbaikars saw the city being lashed by moderate to heavy rains across the city as well as adjoining areas, officials from Indian Meteorological Department's (IMD) predicted moderate to heavy rains along with squally winds to continue throughout Tuesday too.

In fact, in the last 24 hours starting from 8 am on Monday to 8 am on Tuesday, Colaba observatory recorded a total rain of 22.6mm while the Santacruz observatory recorded a total of 22.0 mm. “This is a record for the last 10 years in December and the highest ever rain recorded in Mumbai in December was 31.4mm in December 1967,” said an IMD official.

The official added that the city will be covered by dark clouds and can expect moderate rainfall all across along with heavy rainfall at few locations along with wind that can range from 50 to 60 kilometers per hours.
“This is likely to continue till Wednesday morning after which the weather will become normal again as the cyclone is likely to weaken,” said the official.
Meanwhile, the IMD has asked fishermen not to venture in the sea and even asked Mumbaikars to avoid going near the sea including some of the popular tourist sites as the beaches or seafronts citing that the sea will be rough and heavy wave activity will be experienced.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written ByVirat A Singh <!–end of artlbotbor–>Tuesday 5 December 2017 11:10 ISTMust readSingapore Airlines flight ‘mistakes’ Juhu airport as CSAICome to Byculla and attack hawkers: AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan dares Raj Thackeray<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The effects of Cyclone Ockhi closing in on near Mumbai not only saw temperatures taking a dip but also the city recording the highest rainfall for the month of December in the last decade.While Mumbaikars saw the city being lashed by moderate to heavy rains across the city as well as adjoining areas, officials from Indian Meteorological Department’s (IMD) predicted moderate to heavy rains along with squally winds to continue throughout Tuesday too. In fact, in the last 24 hours starting from 8 am on Monday to 8 am on Tuesday, Colaba observatory recorded a total rain of 22.6mm while the Santacruz observatory recorded a total of 22.0 mm. “This is a record for the last 10 years in December and the highest ever rain recorded in Mumbai in December was 31.4mm in December 1967,” said an IMD official. The official added that the city will be covered by dark clouds and can expect moderate rainfall all across along with heavy rainfall at few locations along with wind that can range from 50 to 60 kilometers per hours. “This is likely to continue till Wednesday morning after which the weather will become normal again as the cyclone is likely to weaken,” said the official. Meanwhile, the IMD has asked fishermen not to venture in the sea and even asked Mumbaikars to avoid going near the sea including some of the popular tourist sites as the beaches or seafronts citing that the sea will be rough and heavy wave activity will be experienced.
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Wildlife experts suspect that Chalisgaon leopard could have been ‘translocated’

Even as forest teams from around five districts are busy carrying out a combing operation in a five-kilometre radius near Chalisgaon, Jalgoan to either trap or shoot the leopard, which has so far killed six people, wildlife experts state that they suspect that this leopard could have been ‘translocated’ from a different area, as a similar situation had unfolded 12 years ago.The fact that locals from Varkhed village and other villages including Londhe where the leopard has been spotted frequently and even attacked people, claimed that they have never heard or faced any leopard conflict for years now only makes the suspicion of experts stronger.“In 2005 a female leopard was trapped in Junnar Forest Division and it was released more than 200 km away in Yaval Wildlife Sanctuary. When she was captured in Chalisgaon, she had travelled 90 km in the direction of Junnar and was responsible for many attacks on people in areas which had never reported human-leopard conflict before,” shared Wildlife biologist Dr Vidya Athreya adding that the situation unfolding currently at Chalisgaon seems very similar to what they faced in 2005 and there are chances that it could be a translocated leopard.Also readLeopard enters society, members mull awareness driveAthreya who has been working on measures to mitigate human leopard interactions shared that their own study had indicated that translocation ended up increasing leopard attacks on people in the vicinity of the release sites as these big cats have homing instincts and want to return back to their origin and while doing that they end up entering areas they do not know about and there is always a chance of conflict occurring.“We have data that around Junnar between 2001 to 2003 the leopard attack rose to 17 per year from an average of 4 per year for the around eight year period due to rampant translocation,” she said adding that the forest department will need to put its foot down and stop these illegal translocations.Also readWatch: CCTV footage of leopard that strayed into Maruti Suzuki plant in Haryana’s ManesarAnother forest official who has been using scientific approach in his own jurisdiction to mitigate human-leopard conflict shared that several forest division accross Maharashtra are involved in illegal releases of leopards. “if a leopard is spotted or there is a killing of livestock or human in a particular area there is lot of pressure on the Range Forest Officer (RFO) from locals and politicians to trap the leopard and ensure it is not released in the same area,” he said adding that in such scenario the RFO’s trap the leopard and at night travel to the areas on border districts or even different division and release the leopard there.Some of the officials also shared that this leopard was not getting trapped despite over 10 trap cages being set up, which also indicated that it has been trapped earlier and know about trap cages. A senior forest department official who is currently involved in the combing operations and himself has helped trap leopards that have entered human dominated areas shared that after speaking to the locals he too began suspecting that the leopard could have been translocated.“Its high time that Chief Wildlife Warden comes up with a proper policy on leopard translocation as it needs to be ensured that forest department stop such practises, which is done mostly under political pressure. Human-animal interaction is only going to increase in the coming days and it needs to be dealt scientifically,” he said.
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Excited stargazers wait for year’s only visible supermoon on December 3

This Sunday night, stargazers and sky-watchers will have their eyes glued to the sky to witness the first and the last visible supermoon of 2017.As per astronomers, the supermoon phenomenon is extremely popular with sky-watchers and has sky watchers community excited across the globe.“The supermoon occurs when the full moon is closest to the earth, thus appearing bigger and brighter. During this period the moon appears about 14 percent bigger and about 30 percent brighter than normal full moon as seen from Earth,” explained Arvind Paranjpye, Director of Nehru Planetarium.Interestingly, supermoons have different names based on months and the ones occurring in December are called the ‘Cold Moon’.He shared that enthusiasts can look at the supermoon on December 3 (which is the full moon day) and during this time the distance between the earth and moon would be around 3.75 lakh kilometres. Also readSupermoon: How ancient civilisations imagined, feared and worshipped the moon“The moon revolves round the Earth in an called elliptical orbit, thus as the Moon goes round the Earth its distance from the Earth keeps varying and at the point where the distance becomes closest the moon appears the biggest,” shared Paranjpye adding that, however, supermoon is not the technical term (the technical term used is perigee syzygy) but more of a term coined to make this event sound simpler to understand for the common man.As per the Indian calender, the full moon (purnima) is on December 3 the supermoon effect will be seen on December 4 too, Paranjpye added. Also readWhat is a Supermoon Lunar Eclipse and why should I care?Speaking about one of the best places to view and enjoy supermoon in Mumbai, he said it certainly was the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) structure as the moon appears to be extremely beautiful to photograph behind the well lit heritage building. “I mostly try and shoot it from there but another place is the Gateway of India too,” he said.Meanwhile, some weather observers are keeping their fingers crossed as they believe that the only dampener could be the cloudy sky due to the cyclone. “In fact, Mumbai city has a huge light pollution problem that takes the sheen away and one should try and watch the moon in a countryside or far off from the glaring lights to actually understand how beautiful the moon actually looks,” said a Mumbai based stargazer who is planning a trip to Vangani a town near Mumbai this Sunday.As per experts, it was the supermoon of November 2016 when the moon came the closest to earth since the one recorded in 1948.
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MLAs write to civic chief on marine litter

With marine litter and massive garbage dumping in Mumbai’s waterbodies becoming a talking point courtesy the Versova Beach clean up controversy, elected representatives too seem to now be taking the issue seriously and suggesting that measures need to be taken at the earliest to tackle the growing nuisance.Two MLAs — Ameet Satam from Andheri (west) who has Juhu Beach in his constituency and Dr Bharati Lavekar from Versova who has the Versova Beach in her constituency — have written to the Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta suggesting him to implement measures to ensure that the garbage dumped in the city’s four rivers and their tributaries does not enter the creek.While Satam spoke about the usage of trash brooms (floating barriers that block litter), Lavekar suggested using contraptions on the locations where the creek enters the sea, setting up toilets, and waste to energy plants close to beaches. “It’s time to come up with certain mechanisms to stop trash from entering our oceans. We have already shown BMC a demonstration of putting trash booms at points where our nullah’s enter the sea. The same trash can then be collected and excavated,” Satam said in his letter.Meanwhile, Lavekar in her detailed letter apart from talking about initiating the cleaning up of Versova Beach along with 19 other beaches emphasised on the importance of a systematic beach clean up plan. “There will have to be two kinds of clean up carried out on the beaches. One of them is placing contraption which might be as simple as a net to ensure that all the garbage and plastic coming from rivers does not enter the sea.”
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Rare wetland bird ‘Great Bittern’ spotted in city after 78 years

It is said that birding is all about luck and it was on the side of an Andheri-based birdwatcher on November 24. A random birding session at Vasai turned special after he managed to spot a great bittern, a rare wetland bird that was last seen in Mumbai nearly eight decades ago. Akshay Shinde, a zoology graduate and a wildlife enthusiast who is pursuing his MSc in wildlife from Bhavan’s College, said that he and few others were at Madhuban area in Vasai east, a popular birding hotspot.“I saw that two large birds came flying parallel to each other. The adult bird kept flying straight while the juvenile took a halt. That is when I got the moment to capture its images as I knew it was not a common bird,” Shinde said. He then approached experts who confirmed that not only was it the great bittern but also being recorded after 78 years.Quoting Sunjoy Monga, a renowned conservationist, photographer, and naturalist, Shinde said the last record of this species from Mumbai is from Vile Parle in 1939.The great bittern is a wading bird from the heron family. It’s a large brownish bird with amphibians and fish being its main diet. The bird is known to migrate from north western parts of Asia towards Sri Lanka to escape harsh winters and is known to make halts in India.“It’s a secretive bird that prefers the reeds and grasslands around water bodies and this is one of the reason it’s difficult to spot. It’s a wonderful record by Shinde and only proves that how the presence of such serious birders and the fact that more and more people are taking to birding will help us record more such rare sightings,” said Parvish Pandya, naturalist and vice-principal of Bhavan’s College.The discovery, Shinde said, was an indicator that the habitats of Vasai are still pristine enough to attract such rare migratory birds. “Vasai’s saltpans have a great bird diversity from six species of migratory ducks to some of the greatest migratory raptors, including the Amur falcon and the red-necked falcon.” The birdwatcher, however, is worried that several reed and grassland habitats are now under threat due to rapid urbanisation.
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Soon, take a walk through mangroves

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what would be a first of its kind initiative in Maharashtra, the State Mangrove Cell is planning to build a 2.8-kilometre boardwalk inside mangroves, which will be laid in a manner to resemble a flamingo.Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF), Mangrove Cell, N Vasudevan said that the boardwalk will be part of the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB) at Airoli, located within the 1,690 hectares of Thane Flamingo Sanctuary declared by Maharashtra government on August 6, 2015.Vasudevan informed that the boardwalk will lead into four different paths, while one will provide a view of migratory birds that flock the Thane creek during winter, others will showcase the mangroves, aquatic life as well as insects and reptiles dwelling inside the mangroves.The boardwalks will be made using environment-friendly materials and the path will have to be created ensuring that there is no damage to the mangroves. “A major challenge will be providing supports for the boardwalk, and hence it will take some time. We are hoping that it will be ready by early 2019,” said another senior official from the Mangrove Cell.In phase I, the Mangrove cell with the help of Indo-German project collaboration on Conservation and Sustainable Management of Marine Protected Areas has set up Maharashtra’s first state-of-the-art Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB) at Airoli, which has over 600 marine species displayed along with various interactive exhibits.

Birdwatchers and wildlife rescue groups demand action plan to protect migratory birds

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With migratory birds, which descend in and around Mumbai during winters gradually beginning to make their presence felt, birdwatchers and organizations working for protection of urban wildlife have asked Forest department as well as Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell to jointly put an action plan, which will ensure better protection of several species including flamingos, whose arrival in the city is being eagerly awaited.According to Pawan Sharma, Honorary Wildlife Warden of Thane and President of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW) between June 2016 and July 2017 they had rescued seven flamingos of which all were victims of wounds caused by pellet guns and only one of them survived. “Every winter there is large scale poaching and hunting of the migratory birds for meat as well as just for the fun of shooting them and forest department is yet to take this issue seriously. Flamingos and more migratory birds will begin coming down in bigger flocks soon and this was the ideal time to put in place an action plan,” he said adding that they have already written to both the Mangrove Cell as well as Forest department to be vigilant.In fact, Sharma pointed out that most of the hunting of these migratory birds were done in and around Vasai, Virar, Mahul and even at Thane Flamingo Sanctuary, which is a protected area and ideally the Mangrove Cell should begin intensive and regular patrolling along the creek, which will prove a major deterrent. “We have suggested that Mangrove Cell call a meeting of various birding groups, which regularly visits wetlands and other areas for bird watching and ask them to keep a watch but also promise them that their identities will be protected and also announce some incentives for those helping nab those involved in killing birds with proof,” he said adding that another suggestion was to also set up CCTV’s at strategic locations to monitor such illegal activity.A Thane-based birder said that it was a well- known fact that rampant hunting of migratory birds especially flamingos is carried out and despite knowing well the locations where poaching occurs Forest department doesn’t take any action. “On several occasions, we have told officials to keep a watch on a certain stretch of Thane creek where locals gather to hunt migratory birds but nothing was done. The birding community will always like to work with forest department in helping prevent such incidents of poaching but even the department should respond and be interested in nabbing the culprits,” he said.A senior official from Mangrove Cell said that they were carrying out patrolling but would like to work closely with birding community to crack a whip on hunting if any. “We will request birding community as well as fishermen living along the creeks to help us nab such offenders by alerting the forest department on the helping apart from intensifying patrolling,” said an official.As per birders Flamingos arrive between late October-early November and can be spotted at Sewri, Thane, and Navi Mumbai. However this year their arrival has been delayed so far.

Civic body to clear Versova beach garbage, finally

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after Versova-based lawyer Afroz Shah announced that Versova beach clean-up was suspended, and took to social media criticising the ‘administrative lethargy’ blaming BMC for not clearing the garbage collected through the drive, the civic body has decided to clear it in the next three days.On Sunday, which was the 109th week of the Versova beach clean-up, some locals from Versova jetty began abusing and even asking Shah and his team of volunteers to stop the cleaning work and blamed them for all the garbage that was collected.Volunteers say that BMC had stopped picking up the garbage that people were clearing from the beach. “All the garbage and plastic waste cleared from the beach were collected and kept at a designated spot near Versova jetty from where BMC used to take it. However, they suddenly stopped and the quantity of garbage kept growing in size,” informed Naresh Suri, an actor, as well as part of the clean-up initiative.Speaking to DNA, Versova MLA Dr Bharati Lavekar said that she held a meeting with BMC K/West ward officials and the issue has now been resolved. “Assistant Municipal Commissioner Prashant Gaikwad has promised that the entire garbage will be cleared in the next three days. Some officials claimed that the garbage had huge quantity of sand stuck on it and it needed to be cleaned by volunteers and we explained them that it was done,” she said.

Forest department wants BMC to handle monkey menace

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Forest department wants Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to play the lead role when it comes to dealing with the increasing monkey menace in Mumbai, citing its own staff crunch and the fact that across India it was the Municipal Corporations that were dealing with this issue.However BMC officials, DNA spoke to about this issue said that they lacked the skills to manage monkey issue in Mumbai and since the monkeys were coming from the forests and were also Schedule II animals, it was best that the forest department deals with the issue as even Fire brigade had its hand tied being an emergency service provider.In fact, the forest department’s emphasis that BMC takes up the responsibility also comes from the fact that the Thane territorial division has been in recent times flooded with calls from various areas complaining about monkey menace including Lower Parel where it took forest officials and Veterinarian Officer around eight days to trap a monkey.Meanwhile, animal welfare organisations claimed that despite receiving regular calls from citizens across Mumbai- dealing with stray monkey causing trouble in their area, BMC has been simply referring the citizens to contact the forest department, who in turn has been sending it staff or doling out numbers of private monkey catchers who at times even charge a hefty sum to trap these monkeys resulting in the problem not being addressed properly.“Monkeys are attracted due to improper garbage and people feeding them and this is a civic issue and just like BMC takes responsibility for dealing with stray dogs and even has a dedicated staff for it, now its time for them to have something similar for monkey or train the staff dealing with dogs in dealing with monkey’s,” said another forest official adding that they would be more than happy to even train the BMC staff and even pointed that BMC not only had several Veterinarians but also has a fully functional zoo that too can help.In fact citing example the forest official said that be it Delhi, Shimla or other important cities that are facing human-monkey conflict, its the local municipal corporation, which is managing the issue and are even looking at sterilization and other ways of birth control. “BMC can’t simply shun its responsibility,” said the official. According to Pawan Sharma, Honorary Wildlife Warden of Thane and president of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW) it was the time that BMC showed its responsibility. “In other states, municipal corporations have taken responsibility and are even working towards managing the population of monkey and the monkey issue will only rise in the city in coming years and hence it was important that Forest department and BMC stop passing the buck and work out a solution,” he said adding that BMC has resources and should even consider setting up a rescue centre at the Zoo, which is under renovation.A senior BMC official said that the Forest department had never approached them to discuss this issue. “We will support the forest department in the best possible way but they should meet our top officials and take the issue up,” said the official.

Rains returns to Mumbai, likely to remain cloudy for three days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as several parts of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and adjoining areas woke up surprised to find- slight to heavy drizzle, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) officials said that it was a result of two weather systems and the weather was likely to remain cloudy and there were chances of isolated rains.KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department (IMD) informed that the prevalent weather was due to two weather systems. “There is a cyclonic circulation over north Karnataka and there is also a trough of low mean sea level running from Maldives area to southeast Arabian Sea off north Karnataka coast, which we forecasted will cause isolated rains in Konkan, Goa and Madhya Maharashtra and few other areas till November 22,” he said adding that on Monday there were rains reported from various parts of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan, Ambernath and even Pune.According to IMD officials, Mumbai is likely to experience drizzle and cloudy weather on Monday as per forecast while various other parts of Maharashtra will see such rains and cloudy weather for next three days.Speaking about minimum temperatures dropping in Mumbai to 18.5 degree Celsius on Sunday, Hosalikar said that winter has not set in Mumbai and there are chances that the minimum temperature will see a rise.Meanwhile, social media was flooded with posts about early morning rains some questioning sudden rains and posting videos and pictures from their area.

Monkey that gave headache to many trapped

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After almost 10 days of trying to trap a male monkey which had residents of Lower Parel in jitters, forest department officials managed to tranquilise the monkey on Friday morning at Lower Parel station.The monkey had been raiding vegetables and fruits from vendors near the railway stations as well as nearby buildings and has also attacked couple of people. It also regularly visiting the platforms as well as FOB of Lower Parel railway station, and fearing an attack on commuters, the rail officials had lodged official complaints with the Thane forest department. A team from the forest department visited the station on November 9, and set up a trap cage near the Station Masters cabin on platform number 1.”I had been visiting the Lower Parel station every morning for past three days and the staff of Thane territorial has been trying to trap the monkey for past eight days but the monkey successfully managed to give a slip,” said Veterinary Officer for SGNP.

Differently abled in lurch after removal of Andheri Stn ramp

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A steep ramp built on the foot overbridge (FOB) at Andheri railway station to facilitate the movement of differently abled and senior citizens has finally been demolished by the Western Railway (WR).This ramp was not only termed ‘dangerous’ but also saw able-bodied commuters slip and fall. However, what continues to irk several commuters is that the ramp has now been replaced with stairs and no alternate arrangements for the differently abled.In a story published on November 10, DNA had reported the problems differently abled and senior citizens were facing while using the ramp. Located on the busiest Borivli end of the FOB that connects to the skywalk, the ramp was so steep that pushing a wheelchair on it was not an easy task.Speaking with DNA, Western Railway Chief Public Relation Officer Ravindra Bhakar said that the ramp was demolished after receiving complaints.”Due to the presence of a beam, the slope of the ramp could not be extended. Efforts were made to study various designs but it was not possible to build a ramp and a decision was taken to replace it with stairs,” he said, adding that grab rails have been provided to ease the movement of the differently abled.”It was very obvious looking at the ramp that it was built just to show that Railways provide ramps. However, it was not properly planned. This should be a lesson for the Railways in the future to incorporate proper designing or seek help from qualified architects. It was a good decision to remove the ramp as it was risky for differently abled commuters like me,” said Andheri (W)resident Rahul Deshmukh, adding that while it might seem like a small issue, it highlighted the mindset of various authorities when it came to providing facilities for the differently abled.”For instance, WR has provided an elevator only on the west side. More planning and sensitivity is needed when it comes to the differently abled,” he said.

Mankhurd land meant for mangroves cleared

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a series of efforts to clear encroachments on wetlands, the Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell cleared a five-hectare reserve mangrove forest land on Tuesday in Mankhurd after demolishing several illegal structures.”We carried out the demolition of around 108 houses, which were illegally built after destroying mangroves close to the creek at Mandala near Mankhurd. Notices were served to evacuate the structures four days back and finally with help from Mumbai police officials the demolitions were carried out,” said Makarand Ghodke, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Mangrove Cell.According to him, almost 80 per cent of these structures which were initially hutments were gradually converted to permanent structures. “Apart from the structures, an almost three-hectare land had been cleared and converted into a ground and it was obvious that these too would soon see the construction of hutments,” informed another official.In fact, in a bid to ensure that this land can be restored, the Mangrove Cell have created channels all along the area where demolitions were carried out. “These channels will help tidewater to enter the land and possibly even restore the area,” said Ghodke.

Maharashtra must pay Rs 100 cr to restore Ulhas without delay

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a major victory for NGO Vanashakti and environmentalists fighting for protection of Ulhas river, while hearing the river pollution matter on Tuesday, the Supreme Court made the Maharashtra Chief Secretary Maharashtra give an undertaking that it will disburse Rs 100 crore for the restoration of Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers.In fact, the SC bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta directed the State Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick to make a decision on the payment then and there in the court without any further delay, after which he agreed, and it was decided that the entire sum will be paid within two months with the first tranche of Rs 50 crore paid within four weeks.Zaman Ali, counsel for Vanashakti said this is a landmark decision, as it would be one of the highest compensation ordered by the SC to be paid by a government for environmental violations.”The bench was clearly very disappointed, as there were no steps being taken by concerned authorities to stop the irregularities and pollution of Ulhas and Waldhuni rivers,” he said.”In fact, when the state government on Tuesday asked for an additional three years for the restoration of the rivers, the bench rejected the plea, pointing out that they have done nothing over the past two years despite the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order for restoration,” said Ali, adding that the state had clearly been only seeking extensions and not even following their own deadlines that they have been citing in their affidavits.Meanwhile, the SC also has directed the Chief Secretary to take a decision on shutting all illegal industries immediately and action on disconnection of electricity and water supply to all jeans washing units in Ulhasnagar. “Most of these illegally operating units were directly releasing effluents in the river that had turned the water red. There was contamination of drinking water as well,” informed Ali.The amount will be deposited in an escrow account and the Chief Secretary, in suggestion with Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), will use the money for implementing the rivers restoration.A senior official from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said that the amount is the state’s commitment to improve the condition of the rivers. “MPCB has been directing the municipal corporations to strictly implement the directives to ensure that the quality of river water improves but its true that the local corporations had not been taking this issue seriously, but now with the SC orders, a lot of things will fall in place,” he said adding that MPCB has cracked on several unauthourised units and will direct the corporations to shut the illegally operating jeans washing units in Ulhasnagar.”It’s a major decision. The order comes as a big relief since we have relentlessly pursued this case for the past five years,” said Stalin D, Director, Projects Vanshakti.

WATCH: On Children’s Day, heartwarming video of leopard getting reunited with missing cubs goes viral

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three leopard cubs were reunited with their mother, four days after they were discovered by locals in a sugarcane field near Nashik.Locals from Brahmanwada village in Niphad had come face-to-face with leopards on previous occasions while harvesting their sugarcane. When the cubs were spotted on November 8 by a local farmer, he immediately alerted the forest department.However, as the news spread, locals demanded that the mother be trapped and removed from the village. Forest department officials thought otherwise, and began their hunt to reunite the cubs and the mother, as they felt that the adult leopard in the search for her children, may end up attacking humans.The forest officials made four unsuccessful attempts in reuniting the cubs with the mother, and eventually contacted senior veterinarian Dr Ajay Deshmukh from Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, which is run by the NGO Wildlife SOS. Deshmukh has successfully reunited several cubs with their mothers.“We travelled 150 km from Junnar on November 12 and reached the site. First, we had to pacify the locals by telling them that trapping the leopard would aggravate the problem. We told them that reuniting the mother with the cubs was crucial, and fortunately they agreed,” said Deshmukh.According to Deshmukh just like the domestic cats, leopards only search for their cubs at the site where they leave them. “We immediately called the person who had found the cubs and after some discussion we located the place where he had found the cubs, which was around 100 meters away from where the forest department team was leaving the cubs. We kept the cubs and covered them with a perforated plastic basket on the night of November 12 and after several hours of wait the mother walked in and removed the basket and took them away,” said Deshmukh adding that they had placed camera traps to capture the reunion.“We would like to ensure that leopard cubs that get separated from their mothers don’t end up in captivity if we can help it. We want them living freely in their natural habitat and hence our teams makes every effort to make such rescue and reunion operations possible,” shared Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder, Wildlife SOS. Watch the emotional reunion here

Mumbai: Following death of veteran cyclists, city riders call for precautionary measures

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai’s cycling community has mourned the death of Ashok Khale, a veteran cyclist who succumbed to his injuries late Sunday after being knocked down by a speeding vehicle a day earlier.The cyclists have emphasized that it was high time that their community took road safety seriously. They also stressed the need for authorities to acknowledge the presence of the increasing community in the city.According to cyclists, the year has been particularly bad for the community in terms of accidents. “Unfortunately, nobody has kept a record of accidents involving cyclists, but on an average we have been hearing of 5-6 such cases every month. Khale’s death has shaken most of us long-distance cyclists. The Mumbai traffic police and BMC have failed our community, as they haven’t even recorded the number of road accidents involving cyclists nor have they catered towards our safety,” said a cyclist who did not wish to be named.Firoza Suresh, an avid cyclist who commutes from her Juhu residence to her workplace at Dadar regularly said that riding in Mumbai came with its own set of challenges including the lack of apathy of motorists towards them as well as having to maneuver their bicycles on potholes, loose paver blocks as well as uneven roads.“We request the cyclists to wear helmets and carry some sort of identity tags that should include blood group and people to be contacted in case of any emergency. The most unfortunate part in the case of Khale was that since he had no identification on him due to which he was only found 12 hours later,” she said, adding that she has already begun working on creating awareness amongst cyclists.Firoza, who also heads the Smart Commute Foundation that promotes cycling to work place in Mumbai said that they also plan to meet the traffic police officials to initiate Road Safety Awareness dedicated to the cycling community, which should also include sensitising other road users about the cyclists.Oshiwara-based Karan Jotwani who is part of the Buddy Riders – a cycling group said that the number of cyclists is growing daily in the city and the worry is that many cyclists from the new breed who have just begun riding are often found to be reckless and do not take safety very seriously. “For past four months, we have made it a point to check that all those riding with us are wearing helmets and their cycles have a working taillight. If they don’t and if not we do not allow them to ride for safety reasons as Mumbai was becoming a scary place to ride,” he said adding that it was sad that a majority of motorists do not have any respect for cyclists and hence it was a duty of every cyclists to be very cautious while riding.Several veteran cyclists claimed that it was those cyclists who rode long distances for endurance or preparing for cycling events and hit the road early morning or late night were at very high risk. “Given the fact that during early morning and late night there is hardly any traffic, several vehicles move at extremely high speed putting a cyclists at higher risk and thus chances of fatal accidents only increase,” shared Firoza adding that during regular peak hours the cyclists were much safer comparatively and the best examples were the Dabbawala’s who hardly ever meet with accidents. In fact cyclists have been urging those riding long distance to never go alone but in groups so that in case of an emergency there is someone to respond.Meanwhile there are several cycling enthusiasts who have completely stopped riding on the streets of Mumbai due to fear of ending up in hospital. “I used to love riding in the city but after almost being knocked down on couple of occasions, I took a decision that riding on the streets of Mumbai was nothing sort of a suicide and then we decided to start a community- Mumbai MTB Off-roaders and now we put our cycles on our car and ride to some of the off-road sites including Aarey, Gorai village, Bhandup pumping station and others and ride there,” shared Goregaon based Manish Gadia.

Volunteers to help forest dept collect forensic evidence on

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Thane forest department has started an initiative under which it will train a team of volunteers who are locals from Aarey Milk Colony in the collection of forensic evidence of leopards involved in cases of human-animal conflict, as most of the locals are often the first to reach the site.On Thursday, in a first of its kind session, Himanshu Chhattani, an expert, explained to the volunteers not only the importance of collecting samples like saliva, scat and hairs of the big cat from conflict sites but also the correct procedures to be followed, which could help in identifying the animal involved in the conflict.”We were trained on how to use swabs to get saliva samples if a leopard has attacked a livestock or human,” said Satish Lot, a resident, adding that the collected sample could then be matched with samples of the trapped animal to complete the identification process.The fact that the forest department has begun taking wildlife forensics seriously is the result of several activists and wildlife experts emphasising on the need of proper identification of leopards that are termed ‘problem animals’ and trapped. After a recent spate of attacks, Honorary Wildlife Warden (Mumbai city) Sunish Kunju had written to the forest department questioning if the trapped leopard from Film City — suspected to be behind four attacks and one death — had any proper scientific basis as one could not always rely on camera trap images.A senior forest department official from Thane said, “While we are also planning to train our own staff, we thought of initiating trainings with volunteers from Aarey as they are often the first to reach the site of conflict.”

Mumbai: Starting 2018, forest officials to ban vehicles from SGNP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Forest department officials facing fire from environmentalists, nature lovers and officials from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, are working towards banning entry into Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).The officials are now awaiting a go-ahead so that they can begin work on a parking area outside the park’s premises.The final hurdle in the path of the parking lot was cleared this month after BMC gave a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the proposal that will see a construction of a parking area to accommodate 300 cars just outside SGNP, in place of an existing garden.“Our proposal was lying with BMC for over a year now but it has been finally cleared and we have now submitted it for a final approval so that we can start the construction work by November end and complete it by early 2018. Once the parking area is ready all the vehicles will be parked outside and not allowed to enter the gate,” said Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) and Director of SGNP, Anwar Ahmed.“We are sure that by early 2018 SGNP will indeed be ‘car free’, visitors coming to SGNP can take a tour using electric buses, which will be run by MTDC that will be used inside the park. This will not only reduce pollution, but will also add to reducing congestion in the park premises,” a forest official told DNA. Sources in the Forest department said that due to the delay in getting permission for constructing the parking area where even these electric buses would be parked as well as bay would be created for charging them even the MTDC officials who had signed an MOU in 2015 to run these buses were losing patience. Meanwhile, nature lovers who have been long demanding SGNP be made free of private vehicles said that they hope that the project isn’t further delayed. “The project has been delayed by over two years now and several animals are being killed due to speeding vehicles inside the park. As per information under RTI we found out that four large mammals were killed between January to June this year and hence we want to ensure that forest department ensures that the parking lot is built as quickly as possible so that all private vehicles can be banned from entering,” said Gopal Jhaveri, a nature lover and member of morning walkers club in SGNP.

Ramp at Andheri station FOB a bane

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A ramp built on the foot overbridge (FOB) at Andheri railway station to facilitate the movement of the differently abled and senior citizens has not only been termed ‘dangerous’ by them, but is also seeing able bodied commuters slip and fall.The ramp located on the busiest Borivli end of the FOB that connects to the skywalk seems to have been designed ignoring the fact that the differently abled, the elderly or those with knee issues would find walking on such a steep ramp even more challenging than stairs.In fact, this FOB sees maximum footfall as it also leads to the skywalk as well as the Andheri Metro station. Andheri west resident Rahul Deshmukh, who suffers from polio, said that the ramp was nothing short of a joke played on those with a disability.”I take the two stairs to alight and never use the ramp as I ?feel it’s risky. I find it sad that while other nations take so much effort to design public spaces to ensure the disabled are not inconvenienced, we can’t even design a ramp properly,” he said.Architect Pranav Naik said that this is a problem that comes from the apathy of the people who designed the two bridges, and that the ramp was an afterthought. “The slope (1:2) is too steep for any person to walk safely. The only solution now would be to make steps in its place, or break a larger portion of both bridges and make a ramp with the correct slope (1:12). This problem cannot be solved without extensive structural changes,” he said.Jitendra Satam, a senior citizen who almost slipped while taking the ramp, said that those who design such a flawed public amenity should be fined.”I would have certainly twisted my ankle as I slipped while walking down the ramp. Also, some tiles are missing at the end of the ramp,” he said adding that it’s surprising that the Railways has not even bothered to rectify this ramp.Meanwhile, Western Railway Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Ravindra Bhakar said that the ramp will be broken and replaced by a proper slope. “We have received complaints and it will be rectified soon,” he said.WR REACTSWR Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Ravindra Bhakar said that the ramp will be broken and replaced by a proper slope.

Poisar river clean-up gets new lease of life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>River March, a community-led initiative to save the rivers of Mumbai, inspired by Versova-based lawyer Afroz Shah’s biggest beach clean-up drives in the world is planning to replicate a similar model along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure a complete clean up of the Poisar river.”Every year, we hear of multi-crore contracts being allotted to clean up Poisar river and its tributaries, but it is never effectively carried out. Garbage and trash collects all over the stretch right from the mouth of the river near Kranti Nagar and the plastic and other waste simply ends up in the creek after being washed down during rains,” said Sagar Vira, a River March volunteer and Kandivli resident, adding that inspired by Shah, they too have decided to initiate a detailed Poisar River Clean up campaign with help from the BMC and the community.In fact, members of the March had started a clean-up drive at the mouth of Poisar river in April this year, but it did not yield the expected result due to lack of support from the BMC. “We are preparing a detailed plan, which is to divide the entire campaign into phases. While cleaning of the existing waste in and around the river along with the BMC is the most important aspect, we also have to ensure monitoring of the cleaning carried out by contractors pre-monsoon,” said Vira.”There also has to be an emphasis on awareness dissuading people living along the river bank from throwing waste into the river,” he said.The team has already sent letters to BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis, who has been taking a keen interest in the river rejuvenation plan.”We cannot leave things to the BMC and wait for them to clean up our river and hence we as citizens will have to actively take part in ensuring that we save Poisar river. We are also planning to meet the CM to personally brief him about the campaign to ensure BMC’s participation,” said Gopal Jhaveri, founder of River March movement.The team that will be surveying the entire 14-kilometre stretch to suggest interventions required under the campaign is also eager to pick up locations along the river that can be beautified and information about Poisar river and its relevance can be shared along with also using social media to spread information about the campaign.

As temp drops, city to see hazy days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Mumbaikars are beginning to worry about the air quality in days to come, air quality experts say that their worst fears might come true once temperatures begin to dip.According to experts, high temperatures being witnessed by the city the during the day helps keep the air quality in the ‘Good’ category but once maximum temperatures begin to reduce, the air quality will only worsen and smog and haze could become a regular feature.Gufran Baig, Project Director, System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) explained that the particulate matter (PM) levels of Mumbai are relatively higher between 3 am to 7 am currently due to the temperatures reducing slightly, and this resulted in smog and haze early in the morning.”However, since the temperatures begin rising during the day, the air quality has improved but we can expect this trend to change in days to come when the temperatures begin dropping in the city,” Baig said adding that in last two days, interestingly the air quality has been quite good.An air quality expert working with a government organisation based in Mumbai said that this year, the city might face heavy smog gives the fact that a lot of construction work including that of the Metro rail is ongoing across Mumbai.”The levels of PM 2.5 which include extremely fine dust particles is already quite high. Once the mercury drops, it is bound to get attached to water molecules in the air and form layers of smog which is not only known to adversely impact those suffering from respiratory illnesses but also cause allergies and illness amongst others,” said the official, adding that Mumbai’s rising vehicular population has also been aiding air pollution.WINTER IS COMINGExperts say that high temperatures being witnessed during the day help keep the air quality in the ‘Good’ category. However, once temperatures begin to drop, the quality will only worsen, making smog and haze a regular feature.

Illegal parking haunts Dahisar wetland again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Environmentalists and residents of Dahisar Link Road who fought a long battle to save 15 acres of wetland, which was being used for illegal parking of tourist buses, are now planning to file a contempt of court petition. The aggrieved people are mulling to file the petition against the authorities who have failed to not only restore the wetland but also could not keep it encroachment-free.It was under the directions of the Bombay High Court hearing, a PIL filed in 2013 and several months of constant follow-ups by members of New Link Road Residents Forum (NLRRF), that a joint operation was launched in February 2016. The BMC, the police and the suburban collector’s office not only vacated around 350 buses which were parked illegally but also cleared the garages and paver block manufacturing units in the area. However, the joy of the residents was shortlived. Only six months after the exercise, buses started thronging to the wetland again. “Despite lodging several complaints about the improper restoration, including that of the waterbodies which existed till 2005, nothing has happened. Even now, several buses are parked illegally in the area. The authorities are not even bothered. In fact, the Tehsildar’s office has stopped taking our complaints seriously. Now, we have no other option but to approach the court again,” said Harish Pandey, president of NLRRF. Since the authorities did not protect the land, all efforts made by the citizens and environmentalists — some of whom even put their lives at risk fighting to save the land — has been wasted. A senior official from Mangrove Cell said, “It is the responsibility of police as well as BMC and Tehsildar to ensure that the buses are not parked illegally.” Meanwhile, cops at MHB police station said they were unaware of any illegal parking issue in the wetlands and assured that immediate action would be taken if anybody files a complaint.

After snake bite, Basanti roars back to life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Basanti was bound to live. Even though the 15-year-old Royal Bengal Tiger at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) was bitten by a snake last month, it survived. The credit, however, must be given to the forest department officials who quickly swept into action after receiving the news.According to Shailesh Deore, Superintendent of the Lion and Tiger Safari, the big cat was in its secondary cage when it was bitten by the snake on October 26, around 5 pm. The incident took place just after the last tourist bus had left that day after seeing Basanti. Reportedly, the big cat was fine till the visitors left.”The animal-keeper opened the primary cage where the tigers return for being fed and rest during the night. The tigress had been profusely salivating even her gait had lacked in unco-ordination. The animal had somehow managed to enter the primary cage and collapsed on the floor. The cage-keeper alerted us immediately. We rushed to the cage and informed Dr Manish Pingle, a consulting veterinarian,” he said.Seeing the animal writhing in pain, Pingle said the symptoms were clear that tigress was bitten by a snake and that the venom was neurotoxic.”The first thing we did was giving Basanti a universal antidote, a life-saving drug. Later, we put her on fluids to ensure that she could flush out the toxin. Basanti had even lost her vision by then. We were worried as she was not responding to the treatment initially,” said the Vet, adding that it was only after 24 hours that Basanti started responding to the medicines.According to Deore, who along with Pingle and other staff, spent three nights in the treatment cage area where Basanti was kept. The animal started eating from the second day itself and, by October 30, 90 percent of her vision was restored, he added.”We are happy that she is hale and hearty. However, we are keeping a close watch on her and conducting regular tests,” he said.”According to test reports, Basanti was bitten by a snake when she was in the open Safari. However, we did not find any bite mark on his body. It is possible that Basanti was bitten in the tongue while it tried to eat or fight with the reptile,” said chief conservator of forest (CCF) and director of SGNP, Anwar Ahmed.Veterinary Officer for SGNP Shailesh Pethe said the team of Vets handled the situation very well. “Her vision is slightly blurred. We are sure that it will be perfect by the weekend,” he said.There are six Royal Bengal Tigers, including Basanti and her cubs Yash, Anand and Laxmi along with Bijli and Mastani, at the reserve. They were brought from the Pench Tiger Sanctuary.

LEDs to counter leopard attacks

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the entire country is gradually switching over to LED lights as its known to consume lesser energy and increase savings, the forest department too is experimenting its role in keeping leopards at bay.In a unique experiment being carried out inside Aarey Milk Colony, which has recently seen several cases of human-leopard conflict, the forest department is distributing specialised red LEDs which keep blinking.In fact, across several parts of Maharashtra, the forest department has been trying this experiment and has even seen some success.”The human-leopard conflict in Aarey is a very serious concern and we are constantly trying to have a dialogue with locals from various tribal hamlets on things to be done to ensure the conflict can be avoided. It was during one such meeting we decided to try and replicate the LED-light model in Aarey,” said Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Thane territorial.He said the blinking will make the leopard think there is some activity. “A leopard is a very smart animal and research shows it does its best to avoid humans. We have, as of now, distributed 20 LED lights and will take feedback from locals,” he added.Meanwhile, locals said while this is still experimenta, they needed their hamlets to be well lit up.The incidentsMarch 22 3-year-old boy attacked at Chafyachapada, AareyMay 15 3-year-old boy injured after attack at Khadakpada, AareyMay 27 4-year-old boy from Royal Palms attackedJuly 22 Two-and-half-year-old boy died after being attacked near Film City

Goregaon residents lend a helping hand to traffic cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the traffic police banned four wheelers from using the Aarey Colony Road to commute between the western and eastern suburbs due to ongoing bridge repairs, residents from Royal Palms in Goregaon have been volunteering during peak hours to help manage the traffic.The residents hold placards informing motorists about the bridge repairs and ask them to use the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) instead. The residents even have to bear the ire of angry motorists who don’t want to take the congested JVLR. They even help the cops in checking the identity cards of Aarey Colony residents whose vehicles are permitted on the road.”The traffic police has put up small boards but several motorists ignored them, creating traffic jams. The cops told us they are short on manpower thus we had no option but to volunteer,” said Rajesh Shetty, a resident of Royal Palms who has been volunteering daily. He added that around 20 residents have been volunteering for the past few days. “In the morning we stand at points near the Aarey junction of Western Urban Road while in the evening we stand near the picnic point junction” said Shetty, adding that they are planning to put up large across the road hoardings.Ashima Avasthi, another volunteering resident said that the repairs are going to take three months, “While it’s a terrific gesture on the part of the community, the traffic cops will have to come up with a permanent solution.”An official from the Dindoshi traffic division said that the residents’ help has been very effective.

This Diwali, Mumbaikars may not be able to purchase ‘Lar’ series firecrackers. Here’s why…

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A joint exercise conducted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and Awaaz Foundation checked to see the decibel level of firecrackers.The exercise that was conducted on Wednesday revealed that single crackers were within the permissible noise limits, but the series of firecrackers violated them. The readings showed the series of firecrackers had a noise level of 140 decibels, while the prescribed level is 105 decibels.According to Awaaz foundation, the MPCB officials have stated that they will recommend to the Controller of Explosives that these be banned.“A total of 25 firecrackers of different types, which were purchased from the open markets were tested. The highest noise level recorded for the single bombs (permissible limits of 125 dB) manufactured across the brands was 119dB and though it was below the permissible level it was higher than the maximum noise level recorded in 2016, which was 117dB,” shared Suraiya Artes from Awaaz Foundation. According to Artes, the major worry this year could be the series firecrackers if not brought within the permissible noise levels as the highest noise level recorded for series bombs such as the 10000 Lar- manufactured by Win Fireworks violated the prescribed limit for series firecrackers. “While the noise levels prescribed is 105dB, the lar measured 140.5 dB, which is a major concern,” informed Artes.Another concern raised by officials of MPCB was that in general, the smoke and dust pollution caused by all crackers seemed to be higher than last year. “The firecrackers will also be tested for their chemical composition to determine other pollutants,” said a MPCB official adding similar tests will also be carried out all over the State and a report will be shared with Controller of Explosives.As per its standard procedure MPCB will measure noise levels during the Diwali period between October 19 and 22.

Soon, forest dept to get forensics training

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Thane forest department is planning to begin training its staff in collecting forensic evidences of leopards involved in cases of human-animal conflict, which will aid in correct and scientific identification of the leopards involved in such cases.Recently animal activist and Honorary Wildlife Warden (Mumbai city) Sunish Kunju had written to the forest department questioning if the trapping of the leopard from Filmcity — suspected to be behind four attacks and one death in and around Filmcity and Aarey — had any scientific basis.”One cannot only rely on camera trap images to pinpoint a ‘problem leopard’ as chances are that one animal, which is not involved in any attack could be present at multiple locations, and if it is trapped an innocent wild animal will end up spending its life in captivity, or in worse case be shot dead,” he said.He added that he it is a huge step that the forest department is finally ready to begin work on wildlife forensics, and it should be made part of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).Sunil Limaye, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Thane territorial said that he had seen the letter by Kunju and agreed as there was a need for better scientific interventions in dealing with conflict situations, “We are already planning a special workshop for our staff to help them understand wildlife forensics.Training will be given to them in understanding how to go about collecting important evidences like urine, scat, fallen hairs and even saliva from the places where the animal might have eaten the victim’s body, and by carrying out DNA sampling we can always match if the animal trapped was the one actual animal involved.”

Elphinstone stampede: Will survey all dangerous railway FOBs and submit report, says Sanjay Nirupam

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking former Railway Minister Suresh Parabhu for not paying attention to several complaints by commuters about over crowding at Elphinstone-Parel railway Foot Over Bridge (FOB), Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam said that he will soon lead a survey of all such dangerous railway FOBs and submit a detailed report.“Commuters used to daily tweet to Suresh Prabhu photographs as well as complaints about this FOB and how it could lead to a stampede but all these complaints were ignored and it was due to this apathy of the Railways that 22 innocent lives perished on Friday for no fault for theirs. It’s a shame that while on one hand railways cannot manage safety on its FOBs, it wants to start Bullet Trains from Mumbai,” said Nirupam who visited the Elphinstone station on Saturday morning for a condolence meet.Nirupam also shared that he along with his team will begin visiting all railway stations and conduct a detailed survey of such FOBs that were narrow and overcrowded, since they were sitting ducks for similar stampedes. The report will be compiled and submitted to both Western and Central Railway. “We don’t want a repeat of such tragedies, several places like Elphinstone, Curry Road, Lower Parel and others, which used to see a footfall of less than 75,000 now have over three lakhs commuters moving in and out as offices and other commercial spaces have shifted here. However railways have not upgraded the infrastructure of several stations like these as per the increasing footfalls thus putting the life of commuters at risk,” he alleged stating that they will pressurise Railways to take this issue seriously.Citizen Mahesh Walawalkar who commutes daily to Elphinstone from Jogeshwari said that it was sad that politicians were using this tragedy to gain brownie points. “Why were they waiting till now for carrying out such a survey. Things will only change if murder charges are filed against top railways officials as well, as only then due to fear they will take these issues seriously,” he said.

Mumbai: Predator and prey trapped after Russel viper and rat get stuck on glue trap

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In yet another incident highlighting the perils of the rampant usage of glue traps, a one-and-a-half-foot long Russell’s viper got stuck while trying to hunt a rat that incidentally was also stuck on the same glue trap.Mahesh Ithape, a rescuer with Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), said that he received a call from Director General Quality Assurance, Complex at Vikroli West informing about the snake around 10am on Wednesday. “I first asked them to send me a photograph of the snake so that i could identify if it’s a venomous or a non-venomous. As soon as they sent me the photograph, I identified it as the highly venomous Russel’s Viper. I then instructed the the people to not touch the snake nor try to help it free as the snake could bite in defence,” he said.After reaching the spot, Ithape using oil and water first safely managed to free the snake whose lower body was completely stuck on the glue trap along with it jaws and then even released the rat. “The snake had to be removed very carefully as handling a snake that is stuck and is covered with oil is not easy. Once it was freed, I rushed it to a veterinarian for treatment,” he informed.Dr Deepa Katyal who treated the viper said that it was a juvenile snake and was lucky to have been rescued at the right time. “The lower jaw of the snake is thin and had it struggled any more, its skin might have peeled off. The rescuer also did a very good job while freeing this snake from the glue trap and ensured there was no damage to its skin. We have cleared all the glue from its skin and it is now healthy for release,” she said.Honorary Wildlife Warden Pawan Sharma said that the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had asked that these glue traps be discontinued as it was inhuman way of catching rodent and also dangerous for other animals getting caught. “In recent times we have rescued several animals and birds getting stuck on these glue traps including kingfisher, owls, squirrels and others and hence it is important that they be completely banned. While a combination of awareness and writing to authority will help, however in the long term only if people stop using it the problem can be completely resolved,” he said.

SGNP’s toy train to be back on track in a week

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tourists visiting Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will have to wait for at least a week more to take a ride on the toy train, which is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the tourism area of the park. The toy train track was damaged after heavy rains and flooding on August 29.According to Range Forest Officer (RFO), Rajendra Pawar, in charge of Krishnagiri Upavan tourism area in SGNP, the joy rides were discontinued from August 30 itself due to the flooding. Around 200 metres of a portion of the tracks were washed away along with the collapse of a retaining wall. “In fact, this happened around 400 meters away from the Krishnagiri station from where the toy train starts, there was also a small bridge that gave way. We got in touch with the contractors who have been carrying out rectification work and it is likely to be completed by early next week,” he said.Pawar also explained that once the work is completed they plan to get railway engineers to carry out safety inspections. Once it’s approved, the toy train will be open for tourists.“The sale of tickets on a Sunday is around Rs 20,000. While on a weekday it is around Rs 3,000. Apart from the financial loss, several tourists were upset that they could not ride the famous Vanrani — the toy train,” said a senior SGNP official.

BMC and Zero Bite Initiative tie up to provide quick and efficient treatment of snakebite victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as BMC’s health department has joined hands in a community led initiative, which aims at reducing snake bite deaths in Mumbai, by encouraging hospitals to provide quick and efficient treatment to victims in and around Mumbai, experts during a joint workshop stressed on the urgent need for having a standard protocol at BMC run hospitals for treating snakebite victims.On Wednesday a first of its kind session was organised by the Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Centre (HBTMC) and co-ordinated by Department of Forensics, Dr RN Cooper Hospital (RNCH) attended by around 60 doctors from three Municipal hospitals where a detailed discussion took place on ‘Advances in Snakebite treatment’ to help save lives of as many as snakebite victims possible by adopting right methods of treatment.Speaking to the doctors, Kedar Bhide a well known herpetologist and founder of Reptile Rescue and Study Centre (RRSC) shared that as per statistics available there was one snake bite death for every two deaths resulting due to AIDS or Malaria in the country yet the issue was not given the kind of attention it deserved. Infact he claimed that it comes as a surprise to many but snakebites and even deaths resulting due to it were quite common in the urban Mumbai, which was a major reason for initiating the Zero Bite Initiative in the city.“Doctors should not be wasting time in trying to identify the snake species first but should start the treatment by diagnosing the symptoms shown by the victim as most of the time snake identification was not easy or reliable if one is not an expert,” he shared with the doctors gathered stressing on the need for a standard protocol, which will prove to be extremely effective in treating victims.Meanwhile Dr Freston Sirur, MD in emergency medicine who has been working extensively on treating snake bite victims addressing the doctors during the session also discussed several ways and methods to be followed while treating the patients even specifying about the doses of Anti Venom Serum (AVS) to be given. “Its extremely important to keep monitoring the patients health condition even after the AVS doses are given,” he said.Bhide speaking to DNA said that there was already set protocol for treating snakebite victims by World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as a National Protocol and now that BMC had shown such positive attitude towards this initiative, the Zero Bite Initiative team plans to meet the top brass of the medical department to push for setting a protocol at BMC level hospital and other necessary changes that will help in managing the snakebite cases effectively.Dr. Ganesh Shinde, Dean HBTMC and RNCH said that it was important for the medical practitioners to keep themselves updated with the current research in the field of snake bite and its treatment. “We have assured them of full support in the future and we work towards organising more such sessions and work closely with an aim of saving as many as snake bite victims as possible,” said Shinde.Dr Rajesh Sukhdev, Head of Forensics at Cooper hospital said that the entire session was very informative and a sort of eye opener even for the doctors.What is Zero Bite Initiative:The Zero Bites Initiative, Aarey Chapter is a campaign initiated by various animal welfare organisations, herpetologists and like minded individuals to create awareness about snakes and reduce snake bites and severity of the bites in and around Aarey Colony. The initiative is supported by the Thane Forest Department.

Mumbai: Heavy rains overnight sees a 5 degree drop in temperature

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After facing sweltering heat and humidity for the past couple of days, Mumbaikars woke up on Wednesday to not only thunders and heavy rains but also saw the day temperatures in the city dropping by almost five degrees.As per officials from Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the city witnessed a massive rainfall between 3 am and 5 am. “Santacruz recorded 103mm of rainfall while Colaba recorded 59mm of rains,” said the official adding that these weather conditions left the city weather pleasant.On Tuesday, the maximum temperature at Santacruz was recorded as 35.9 degree Celsius, but Wednesday the mercury dipped by 5.2 degree Celsius as the maximum temperature was recorded 30.7 degree Celsius. Similarly, Colaba on Tuesday recorded a temperature of 33.5 degree Celsius, which reduced to 29.8 degree Celsius on Wednesday.As per Skymet Weather portal, these weather conditions have been attributed to the presence of a trough which is extending from the North Madhya Maharashtra region to Southeast Arabian Sea across Konkan and Goa in proximity of Mumbai more rains are likely to be expected in the city.Senior IMD officials said that Mumbaikars needs not worry as monsoon is still very much.

Moulting penguins give zoo officials a headache

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The moulting Humboldt penguins at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale (VJB) Zoo have been driving officials at the penguin enclosure to their wit’s end. The officials have constantly been busy clarifying it to the concerned tourists that the Penguins weren’t suffering from any skin disease but were shedding feathers as per their annual cycle.Dr Madhumita Kale, Head Veterinarian, in charge of the Penguins, said that this is the most stressful time for penguins as they become aggressive. “Out of seven Penguins, five have completed the entire process. Bubble is going through moulting at the moment while Olive remains to moult,” said Kale, adding that a lot of eager tourists were questioning about the health status seeing the conditions of the feathers but we explained that it is a normal cycle penguins’ lives.Kale also explained that the successful moulting is a good indication of health as penguins only moult if in good health.During the moulting, penguins also lose their appetite. On an average, a penguin consumes 800 gm of food but during moulting, each one eats only 300-500 gm. However, the Penguins increase their fat content by drastically increasing their appetite prior to moulting.An animal welfare activist said that the Byculla zoo has missed a very good opportunity to educate the tourists. “The zoo officials should have put up boards about the moulting process and educated the tourists. Sadly penguin enclosure is merely a place to view penguins but not learn anything about them” the activist added.

City’s visarjan noise levels hit all-time high

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbaikars made sure that the Supreme Court stay on a High Court order restoring silence zones is made proper use of in the city when they bid a cacophonous farewell to Lord Ganesha on Tuesday.Noise-level readings carried out by Awaaz Foundation recorded the maximum noise level at 119.8dB during this year’s Ganpati visarjan compared to 116.4dB in 2016.Of the 25 locations in the city where noise levels were recorded, Dadar topped the charts at 83dB, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board officials said. Sumaira Abdulali, Convenor of Awaaz Foundation, said noise levels outside some major hospitals were extremely high and that there was extensive use of noisy firecrackers.“While there was less use of DJs, brass bands and drums were used throughout the city. Metal cylinders beaten with metal hammers were used extensively,” she said.Anti-noise pollution activists have asked for a complete ban on firecrackers and beating of metal plates, which are the biggest contributor to noise pollution.MPCB joint director V M Motghare said that the noise levels had come down compared to last year as fewer DJ were seen with loudspeakers. “The noise levels is still a concern but there has been a lot of awareness which is showing on the ground as people are preferring less noisy processions,” he said.

Scaling up: India gets its first website on reptiles

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, a team of researchers using the citizen’s science programme have decided to bring together the Indian herpetology community by setting up a dedicated ‘crowd-sourced’ website on reptiles, which will also prove to be a critical resource.Speaking to DNA, Herpatologist Varad Giri said that the website — Reptiles of India — serves three basic objectives: First, to consolidate available information on Indian reptiles and make it freely available on the website, secondly, to actively collect new information on all aspects of Indian reptiles through research, and thirdly, to communicate this information to policy-makers and work with various governing bodies so that the information is used to conserve reptiles and their habitats in India.”Several people and amateur reptile enthusiasts used to take photographs of various reptiles — some even extremely rare, but nothing was done apart from sharing it on social media. But here it was decided to provide such people a platform to upload their photographs of different species and to help create a bank,” said Giri, adding that the website already has around images of 240 reptile species of the 615 found in India.Akshay Khandekar, one of the curators of the website along with Giri, said that for each reptile species, one can also see their early stages, distribution, identification, status habitats and habits. “Its a one stop information site and we urge people to contribute as it will make this website a very strong resource. Every single image sent is first curated and the species is identified. Only then is it uploaded to ensure there is no mistake,” he said.The portal features various reptiles including crocodiles, lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises. “We have received images of several rare reptiles, including Jaipore ground gecko, Jerdon pit viper, spotter eastern ghat skink and others. While we encourage those uploading images to add the location too, in case they feel they don’t want a rare species to be disturbed, they can give a broad location like the district too,” shared Giri.The website was the idea of naturalist Krushnamegh Kunte, Varad Giri, Akshay Khandekar and has been designed by Purnendu Roy.

‘Cops not measuring noise levels’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anti-noise pollution activists are irked that they have not seen Mumbai police officers take down noise level readings, or direct revellers to lower the din during visarjan. Earlier, they had found that noise levels on the first of day of Ganesh immersions were higher than those recorded on the last day of immersions in 2016.Activist Sumaira Abdulali says that she found that the highest noise levels on the seventh day of immersion (Thursday) were recorded at Worli flyover, and that too in the presence of cops. She measured them at 111.5dB.”I did not come across any cops recording noise levels on the second day as well as the seventh day,” says the convenor of Awaaz Foundation, “This is surprising as they are supposed to be recording them and if found high, they should ask revellers to lower volumes.”However DCP (Operations) Rashmi Karandikar, refuted the claims, saying that they had been taking readings and will send them to the court.Abdulali also found that at many processions, participants would stop playing instruments the minute the caught sight of the decibel meter. At some processions, she saw participants hammer a sheet of metal or metal bell just to create noise. There were also reports of animals such as horses and bullock being used, as well as noisy firecrackers.On Thursday, Abdulali measured 109.2dB at around 8.22 pm at Koliwada, 110.7dB near Shiv Sena Bhavan, and 108dB at Tardeo. At 11:31 pm, noise levels near Hinduja Hospital reached 107dB.The noise levels at several other locations were found to be well above 100dB. As per norms, noise levels in a residential zone cannot be above 55 dB during the day and 45 dB after 10 pm.

Watch: Moon-like craters in Dadar makes communting a pain for Mumbaikars

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Huge craters formed on the road as one alights the Dadar flyover towards Elphinstone, have left not only motorists but also the Mumbai traffic police hassled. While motorists are finding it extremely difficult to navigate the potholes, the traffic cops are having to deal with long traffic pile-up.“I felt that the suspension of my car got wreaked after the left side wheel almost sank in the deep crater despite the fact that I was driving slowly and it’s not just one crater that one has to avoid here but there are a series of them as soon as one drives down the Dadar flyover,” said Manoj Mistry who commutes daily on the Tulsipipe road to Lower Parel. He added that it was a shame as recently he had seen the entire patch being repaired. It’s not only Mistry who seems to be agitated about the craters but every motorist who navigates it. “Riding this crater is surely damaging my vehicle but before that I was stuck in a major traffic pile up that took me 30 minutes to cross the flyover. The craters have come back since last week when it started pouring heavily and for past three days I have seen it getting worse but no repair work being undertaken,” said Mohan Raut, a banker who works at Elphinstone.Meanwhile officials from Dadar traffic police chowky too complained that despite repeated reminders to the BMC officials about the huge craters the situation has remained the same. “It’s becoming extremely difficult to manage the traffic situation. With Ganesh Chaturthi the flower market is already crowded causing traffic jam and congestion and now on top of that there are these big craters and potholes formed since it began raining heavily causing traffic pile up,” shared Sanjay Kale, Senior Police Inspector, Traffic for Dadar traffic police chowky adding that they have requested BMC to fill up the craters.Ramakant Biradar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, G/North ward said that given the fact that the road sees high volume of traffic there is barely time to carry out repair work. “We are beginning work starting 2am on Tuesday to fill the potholes. It’s a very old road and there are also plans to begin road work from October 1 after which this problem will be permanently resolved,” he said.

Ganesh Chaturthi: Day 1 of Visarjan makes loud noise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anti-noise pollution activists measuring noise levels across Mumbai on the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi immersions on Saturday found the decibel levels to be even higher than that recorded on the 10th day immersion in 2016.Activist and convenor of Awaaz Foundation Sumaira Abdulali, who recorded noise levels across Mumbai on Saturday between 10 pm and 12 am found the highest noise levels of 116.8 dB where near Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar (reading taken at 10.49 pm), where drums and metal cylinders/plates were being played post 10 pm. “All the readings were taken in the extended time period of 10 pm to midnight in residential areas that has educational institutions, hospitals, religious places and courts,” she said.Abdulali shared that there has been an increase in noise levels this year where the one and half day of Ganpati, (which is comparatively silent than the other days) was found to be noisier than all the days of last year’s Ganpati festival. “It can be seen as a direct result of the State Government’s reluctance to curb noise pollution. Suggesting that there are no silence zones today would send a message as if all hospitals, educational institutes and courts vanished over night,” she said.She said that it was extremely important for all citizens and institutes adversely affected by the increased noise levels from any source to complain directly to the Chief Minister and make their displeasure known.Even the twitterati was busy complaining about the high noise levels across Mumbai. National Award winning film-maker Apurva Asrani tweeted: “11pm, Kokilaben hospital in Andheri, Mumbai. Critical patients unable to sleep due to loud music from processions downstairs.” In another tweet, he reached out to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, saying, “My father is in the hospital ICU and unable to rest due to noise from processions. Hospitals must be notified as silence zones.”Noisiest areasMatunga 10.42 pm – 103dBOpposite Sena Bhavan, Dadar 10.49 pm – 116.8dBNehru Centre 11.07 pm – 101.4dBTardeo 11.16 pm – 103.4dBBabulnath 11.28 pm – 109.9dBGirgaum 11.37 pm – 101dB

Borivli locals raise stink over dung dumping

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a unique protest against cattle sheds dumping cattle dung in Dahisar River, citizens of a Borivli housing society along with members of the River March raised quite a stink at the BMC office on Wednesday by starting a Gobar Andolan. They presented the BMC R/Central ward officer Atul Rao with a box full of cattle dung.Citizens met Rao to protest against the tabelas that have been violating solid waste management rules and dumping dung directly into the river along with carcasses of the animals. The BMC had even installed grills twice to prevent them from dumping waste into the river but the grills were stolen.“We are facing a health scare. Residents of our building are forced to keep their windows shut throughout as the stench is unbearable,” said Pankaj Trivedi a resident of Shrikrishna Nagar Complex, Borivli, located adjacent to the river. Local BJP leader Vikram Chogle who has been supporting the River March movement launched by residents said that the citizens have started the Gobar Andolan to draw the attention of BMC officials to their problem.“We wanted BMC officials to understand that if they do not like dung in their offices, citizens too do not like seeing it being dumped in their rivers. BMC needs to begin taking up strict action against tabela owners who are violating the rules set,” he said.Gopal Jhaveri, Founder of River March, which is fighting for the revival of Dahisar river said that Rao assured them that the ward office will take action and send notices to all the tabelas.

Speeding vehicles in SGNP worry animal lovers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Environmentalists have raised questions over the safety of wildlife inside protected areas after information procured under the Right To Information (RTI) Act by a Borivli resident has shown that four large mammals have died between January and June in hit-and-run cases inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).Tejas Shah, who sought information under the RTI, said that he was concerned about reckless driving by tourists as well as vehicles belonging to government agencies in the park.”It is shocking to find out that speeding claimed four lives showing how wild animals are under threat in their own habitat,” he said.According to the RTI reply by the forest department, in January and February two langurs fell victim to speeding vehicles, and were found dead in Tulsi range by staff. On April 26, a spotted deer was found dead near Trimurti junction, and another accident of a wild boar being crushed by a vehicle on June 2. “Three incidents of the four have happened on the Tulsi lake road, which connects Borivli to Mulund and Powai and is also the core area of SGNP. Only government vehicles have access to this road. It is evident that the forest department has not been able to enforce speed regulation inside the core area,” Shah added.Sources in SGNP claimed that there was no denying in the fact that speeding vehicles on the Tulsi lake road include government officials such as the police, BMC, forest department and politicians too, who, to save time, use this road to travel between Borivli and Mulund.”All the four animals had spinal and head injuries and the pelvis of the wild boar was crushed. Also in all the cases the carcass was found by the forest department clearly indicating that the drivers never reported the accident but simply sped away,” said a forest department official.A senior forest official said that the only solution was installing speed rumblers every 500 meters along with barricades to ensure that vehicles cannot speed on the tulsi lake road. Hefty fines should also be imposed on vehicles found breaking the speed limit.Pawan Sharma, Honorary Wildlife Warden for Thane said that the RTI reply was indeed worrying. “While we know that four mammals died after their carcasses was found, one can simply imagine the number of smaller fauna like snakes, frogs, turtles being killed daily by speeding vehicles. Due to their size, they must be going unnoticed. We cannot allow such killing of wildlife and hence stringent measures needs to be taken to restrict vehicular speed, not only on the Tulsi lake road but also all over SGNP,” he said.Meanwhile, in a fresh case on Tuesday, a spotted deer was the latest victim of a hit-and-run. Its carcass was found by forest officials with its skull fractured near Chinchpada.

Activists protest delay in re-notifying silence zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting with shock at the state government’s move to re-notify silence zones in Mumbai and rest of the state, anti-noise pollution activists have slammed the decision and said that they will not allow the government to jeopardise the health of citizens.As of August 10, there are no areas notified as silence zones in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra, as the state government will re-notify these areas. Until then, even the 100-metre zone around hospitals, courts, religious places and educational institutions have ceased to be mandatory silence zones. Unless and until any area or zone is notified by the state, they will not be considered as silent zones.Reacting to the development, Sumaira Abdulali, Convenor of Awaaz Foundation, said, “We heard about the state government writing to the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change to relax noise norms for festivals but the government’s failure to notify silence zones is shocking. It is sad that politicians are putting the health of citizens at risk for their own gain.”The Bombay High Court is hearing a petition filed by Awaaz Foundation, which highlights the issue of high decibel levels in and around the city during religious and cultural functions.Abdulali said that it was important for the citizens to start using social media or write to the Chief Minister to demand that noise pollution laws be implemented in totality, and avoid tampering with the sanctity of silence zones. “I urge everyone to tweet to the CM and the PM asking them not to allow the killing of silence zones in Mumbai or the state,” said Abdulali.

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