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Prompt service commission makes lives easier

When it comes to citizens applying for services under the Right to Services (RTS) Act, the response is spot on, say many.It is so prompt that many citizens compared the speed to services under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In both, a number of them managed to get the needful done the moment they approached the RTC commission — an independent office, as compared to appeal-stage one that are part of the government — when they did not get the services they applied for.Only RTS is a more direct Act and was enacted to ensure that notified services were delivered to eligible citizens on time, while the RTI Act entitled citizens timely information that aided transparency and accountability. Under the RTI Act, a number of citizens managed to get services the moment they sought information under the RTI, which was not delivered on time. Penal action lead to officers providing services.”In most cases, citizens have written to us stating that they managed to get services after our intimation for hearing was sent to the officers,” said Swadheen Kshatriya, chief of the RTS commission.Some cases in point are about shop licences, which were not given even after the government took several initiatives towards “ease of doing”. Rushi Chavan from Pune did not get ac shop license certificate. In the first appeal stage, order was given that services be rendered. The second appeal stage too had a similar response. However, Chavan did not get the info and officers said that his application was not available. The moment the case reached the the second third appeal (commission) stage, Chavan replied that he got the certificate.In two more cases, also from Pune, authorities did not issue a license, stating that documents were not proper. However, no such reply was given in writing to the applicants. Only when the commission sent a notice for hearing were the licenses given. In all three cases, applicants said that since they got the service, a third appeal was not needed.Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner, said, “An average citizen will not pursue it but the commission should ask for explanation and penalise officers. After all, the third appeal stage is laborious. Ideally, at this stage if they feel that the designated officer has a good case, he should be spared, otherwise they should be penalised to create a fear of the law. Else, there will be cases piled up at the commission.”

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
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Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
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Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
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Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Centre working on data protection law, better connectivity

In the wake of continuous cyber threats, the government is working on a law for data protection, Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed Rajya Sabha on Friday.He stressed on the need for cyber security and clarified that there was no proposal to make internet availability a fundamental right. However, he said that the government is committed to providing easy access of internet to all.Responding to queries, he said a committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice BN Srikrishna has been set up in this regard.”We are in the process of framing a data protection law. The paper has been circulated and field hearing is going on and very soon, we will come up with a data protection law,” he said.”We are alive to cyber security and our Prime Minister has said publicly that cyber war is a bloodless law,” he added.The minister said the government is working towards 100 per cent internet connectivity and encouraging competition in the sector to ensure better services.He said that in 2011, there was a plan to connect every village in the country to internet and optical cable fibre laying, but it did not go anywhere. However, since NDA government came to power, 2.53 lakh kms of optical cable fibre has been laid.

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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
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
“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?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Permissions to rooftop restaurants will be made more stringent, BJP’s answer to Kamala Mills tragedy that killed 14

The fire that engulfed Kamala Mills late Thursday and claimed 14 lives has left the city reeling and leaving its citizens asking questions.On Friday, Mumbai BJP President Ashish Shelar said that one needed to review several parameters before handing over permissions to rooftop restaurants in future, while the owners of the Mojo, which is located a floor below 1 Above, where the fire broke out said, “We are extremely saddened by the incident. Mojo’s has all its fire safety norms, certificates and procedures in place. The staff are thoroughly trained in fire drills hence our staff were able to evacuate all our guests and themselves out to safety with zero injury. There were NO cylinders on our premises. We are fully complying with the authorities to help in anyway we can.”Also readMumbai fire| Kamala Mills is a death trap, BMC responsible for ‘murder,’ says BJP’s Kirit SomaiyaIf you look at Mumbai’s history when it comes to fire-related tragedies, they have mostly been due to lack of fire-safety norms. The BMC and the fire brigade on Friday suggested that 1 Above had flouted the norms while setting up the rooftop bar. A similar case was reported when Escobar, a popular nightclub in Bandra was gutted in October 2014. Then, too, it was discovered that the pub had flouted fire-safety regulations. With Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray announced that he was working towards making Mumbai a 24×7 city, people rejoiced. However, if this dream is to be a success, there is a major need to ensure restaurants and hang out spots meet all necessary norms, and those who flout them are immediately shut down.Also readKamala Mills Fire: ‘Postmortem reveals all the deaths due to suffocation’ in MumbaiIn 2013, a building in Kemps Corner caught fire resulting in the deaths of seven people. At the time, fire officials stated that the building, which was constructed in 1984, had no refuge floors for emergencies. But fire isn’t the only problem that has plagued Mumbai. Earlier this year, a stampede at Elphinstone Road station that killed 23 and injured over 30, highlighted the high-handedness of the railway authorities. The pedestrian bridge that would shake due to the high influx of individuals moving in and out of the station was dangerous, and the perils had been highlighted to authorities for the past several years. However, it was only after the stampede that the authorities sprung into action.Earlier this week, another incident, this time on Mumbai’s Harbour Line shocked the citizens of the island city. Services were stopped after a power failure near CBD Belapur. However, a video shared by veteran railway journalist Rajendra Aklekar highlighted how an accident was waiting to happen. The video shows a train moving, but the electric cables that usually power the locomotives dangerously close to the coaches, which could have resulted in a major accident.People still talk of the spirit of Mumbai. There was never any spirit. The city is reeling and nobody seems to care. It’s an ‘I need to rush so that I am first’ syndrome that is taking the city nowhere.Related Photos
5 Pics
In Pics: Massive midnight fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound kills 14; many restaurants gutted And with this attitude, forget Shanghai. Mumbai will no longer be Mumbai.

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
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“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?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Come 2019, paper pattern for Class 12 can be picked

In a move that would be a relief for over 5 lakh students, the state education department will allow students to pick between an easier and a slightly difficult paper pattern for class 12 board exams from 2019. State Education Vinod Tawde announced on Thursday that the government is considering to offer students a choice to pick the difficulty level depending on whether or not they want to appear for competitive exams like JEE, NEET etc.On Thursday, DNA had reported about the state board’s move to make the paper pattern for class XI tougher with a view to prepare students for national level competitive exams. The same would be extended to class 12 from 2018 after the government comes up with a revised curriculum fore the grade. However the move was slammed by educationists stating that it would affect students who have no plans to take up national entrance exams in class 12 as their scores would be affected as per the new pattern.Tawde said that considering the case of such students, the education department is thinking of offering two options from 2019. “The idea behind having a tougher pattern was to make our exams at par with national level entrance tests so that students can prepare for both at once. However there might be students who do not want to pursue medical or engineering and want to do other traditioanal courses instead. Keeping that in mind, we are thinking of giving them an option to opt for the old pattern at the time of filling the class 12 board forms” he added.”To begin with the paper pattern is itself different as competitive exams have objective questions while there are subjective questions in the boards, ” said Subhash Joshi, Trustee, Science Parivar.

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
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“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
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Sushma Swaraj’s speech in Rajya Sabha on Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family: Full text

India today slammed Pakistan for making “absurd” charges of a chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the footwear of the wife of imprisoned Indian Kulbhushan Jadhav and said Islambad was on to a mischief after showing discourtesy towards his family.Making a statement on the meeting of Jadhav with his wife and mother in Islamabad earlier this week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said it came after 22 months and was “misused by Pakistan as an instrument to further its propaganda.”Here’s full text of her Rajya Sabha speech:STATEMENT BY EAM IN LOK SABHA ON THE MEETING OF THE FAMILY OF Mr KULBHUSHAN JADHAV WITH HIM AND THE SITUATION ARISING FROM THEREMadam Speaker,I rise to apprise the House of recent developments pertaining to Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national in the illegal custody of Pakistan. As the House is aware, his mother and wife met him on 25 December 2017 in Islamabad. The meeting was arranged through diplomatic channels.2.In April 2017, I had made a statement in this House underlining the Government’s determination to do everything possible to ensure Shri Jadhav’s well-being and secure his release from illegal detention. Since then, the House is aware that we approached the International Court of Justice and obtained provisional measures that stayed the execution of the death sentence that was passed on Shri Jadhav through a farcical Pakistani military court process. While the imminent threat to Shri Jadhav’s safety was averted as a result, we are now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the International Court of Justice.Madam Speaker,3: I had also conveyed that we were in constant touch with the family at this difficult time. It was, therefore, natural that we took up the cause of family members who sought access to Shri Jadhav with a view to ascertaining his well-being for themselves. These efforts were pursued persistently through diplomatic channels. As a result, this month, the Pakistani authorities consented to a meeting between Shri Jadhav and his mother and wife.4.While the meeting could have been a step forward, it is a matter of great concern that there was departure from the agreed understandings between the two countries in the conduct of this meeting. The emotional moment between a mother and her son, and a wife and her husband after a period of 22 months, was misused by Pakistan as an instrument to further its propaganda. The Ministry of External Affairs has stated our position in this regard publicly day before yesterday. Our concerns arising from this meeting were conveyed to Pakistan through diplomatic channels yesterday. I would like to highlight a few of them in this House:There was a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access to the mother and wife of Shri Jadhav. However, not only the Pakistani press was allowed to approach family members closely, but the family members were also harassed through use of offensive language by the media. The Pakistani media hurled false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav;Under the pretext of security precautions, even the attire of the family members was changed. Mr Jadhav’s mother, who wears a Sari only, was instead given Salwar and Kurta to wear. Bindi, bangles and mangal sutra of the wife were removed; The mother of Shri Jadhav wanted to talk to her son in mother tongue Marathi, as this is clearly the natural medium of communication between a mother and son. However, the mother of Shri Jadhav was not allowed to speak in Marathi. While doing so, she was repeatedly interrupted by the two Pakistani officials present in the meeting. When she persisted, the intercom was closed and she was prevented from proceeding further with the conversation in Marathi; The family members were taken for the meeting through a separate door without informing the Deputy High Commissioner of India, who had accompanied the family members for this meeting. Consequently, he could not see that the family members were being taken for the meeting after changing their attire and removing their bindi, bangles and mangal sutra. Otherwise he would have objected then and there. The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials;The car for the family of Mr Jadhav and accompanying Indian diplomat was delayed after the meeting so as to give another opportunity to the media to harass them;The shoes of the wife of Shri Jadhav were removed before the meeting and she was given slippers to wear to the meeting. The shoes were not returned to her despite her repeated requests after the meeting. The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a Note Verbale yesterday. 5.The mother and wife, after their return, conveyed to me that Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav appeared under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. As the meeting evolved, it was clear to them that his remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well being.Madam Speaker,6.The meeting of Mr. Kulbhushan Jadhav with his mother and wife was portrayed by Pakistan as a humanitarian gesture. However, the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting that was arranged on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. There was a serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of Shri Jadhav and an intimidating atmosphere was created for them during this meeting. There are not enough words to condemn the same.Madam Speaker,7. I am fully confident that this entire House and through this House, the people of India, strongly condemns, in one voice, the obnoxious behaviour of Pakistan and affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family.

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JMC meets in its general clamour, passes 26 bills

Allegations, noise, disruption and adjournment marked the Jaipur Municipal Corporations general body meeting held on Wednesday.Despite the ruckus, Jaipur mayor Ashok Lahoti was able to secure approval of 26 of the 31 proposals tabled. Where two other proposals were sent for concerned committee for review, discussion could not be held on three proposals related to sewerage system, parks and Smart City works due to chaos at thehouse.Getting the proposals cleared was not a tough task as BJP dominates numbers among the 91 corporators at the corporation. However, the BJP mayor also faced opposition of some corporators of his own party.Congress councillors on the other hand were seen protesting from the very beginning of the meeting. One of the councillors startled the rest when he started beating self with a shoe, “This is how the public will treat us for not fulfilling the work expected,” said councillor Mukesh Chapol of Congress.The protest, however, turned tense in the evening when congress councillor Dharam Singh attempted to climb up mayor’s table and was apprehended by security personnel. While mayor suspended him for three board meetings, the meeting was adjourned as dispute deepened over the suspension.HighlightsFormer UP governor, BL Joshi paid homage. Now, procuring fire NOC a must for all institutions developed over 1,000 square meter area and offices on plot size above 100 meters. Fire NOC charges raised for commercial buildings. The proposal to levy charge on fire NOC on events cleared with amendment. Only commercial events to come under the tax ambit now. Cong councillor Dharam Singh Singhania suspended for three board meetings.

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Central govt in no hurry to push through Women’s Reservation Bill

Despite overwhelming numbers in the Lok Sabha, there seems to be no urgency by the Centre to seek passage of 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill or the Women Reservation legislation to reserve 33% seats in elected bodies for fairer sex.On Wednesday, Minister of State for Law and Justice, PP Chaudhary, ducked a question in Lok Sabha, saying the government was awaiting a consensus among all political parties to seek passage of this Bill. The proposed legislation was passed by the Upper House seven years ago. Since then it awaits the nod of the Lower House, where the ruling BJP and its allies have an overwhelming majority. The number of MPs from the SP, RJD, BSP, who had been opposing the Bill, has trickled down.The minister told the House that the government endeavoured “to provide for reservation of one-third seats for women in the House of the People and the State Legislative Assemblies”. However, he conveniently passed the buck and placed the onus of passing the Bill on consensus among all parties.Being a Constitution Amendment, it requires a special treatment for its passage — that is a majority of the total membership of the House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the House present during the time of voting. A total of 63 women are MPs against 471 men. And women account for 21.6 per cent in the Cabinet — of the 37 members, only eight women hold various portfolios in the Lok Sabha, which means women representatives are at a mere 11.80 per cent.

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New Bill simplifies bamboo farming

The Parliament on Wednesday passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that will omit bamboo from the definition of trees and allow its cultivation and trade on non-forest areas without permits. The amendment was earlier adopted in the Lok Sabha on December 20, and it was passed by a voice vote after a short debate in the Rajya Sabha.Minister of Environment and Forest Dr Harsh Vardhan sought to assure and remind the House that the amendment was meant only for bamboo grown on non-forest areas and thus bamboo grown on forest land will continue to be protected under forest laws. However, opposition members from the Congress, SP and BJD questioned Centre’s haste in promulgating an ordinance on the issue, just weeks before the Parliament convened. They expressed concern that the Bill would only benefit private players, ignoring the demands of tribal communities.”It is impossible to think that there was some exigency, there was some emergency unless there was pressure that was coming from some private industry to allow non-forest areas for bamboo cultivation,” Jairam Ramesh of Congress said while terming the Bill as misleading.In his reply, Dr Harsh Vardhan said: “I am shocked to see that you (opposition) can’t see the benefit of tribals and poor farmers who are going to benefit after the bill is passed.” He argued that the Bill will help farmers double their income and also aid in increasing forest cover. Prior to the vote, Ramesh and other opposition members walked out.

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Anti-eve-teasing squads to keep eye on eve-teasers among new year revelers

In order to avoid eve teasing instances during the new year celebrations, the Mumbai police would be setting up Anti-Eve-Teasing squads at Gateway of India and Marine Drive. The statistics provided by Mumbai Police revealed that there has been over 2000 molestation cases already registered in the city this year till November. However, police sources confirmed that the idea of using drones to keep a check on the activities of party goers at Gateway of India has been dropped.”The anti-eve-teasing squads would have women police persons too. Their primary responsibility would be to keep watch on movements of revelers and to take action against those who harass women. The utmost priority is towards women safety. Those in this squad will roam in public places like Gateway of India, Marine Drive and Girgaum Chowpatty in plain clothes and would keep eyes on anti-social elements. Action will be taken on those who are found indulging in any crime. ,” said a senior police officer.According to the statistics from Mumbai Police, from January till November this year 2046 molestation cases were registered and 1667 persons were arrested in these cases in the city.”The squad is particularly important to ensure women are safe in the crowded places as in the past there had been instances of women being groped by a group of men on New Year night in the city,” said the officer.WOMEN’S SAFETYStatistics provided by Mumbai Police reveal that there have been over 2,000 molestation cases already registered in the city this year until November. As such, anti-eve-teasing squads will be deployed

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Blocked by Sushma Swaraj on Twitter for asking ‘tough questions’: Congress MP Bajwa

Sushma Swaraj has gained fame in the Twitterverse for always coming to help of Indians and foreigners stranded, who are in need of visa or any diplomatic assistance. Infact, External Affairs Minister’s Twitter diplomacy has earned her bipartisan praise and even applause from international quarters. However, there seems to be one politician who is unhappy with Sushma Swaraj’s Twitter habits. It is senior Congress leader from Punjab and currently Member of Parliament, Partap Singh Bajwa. On Wednesday, Partap Singh Bajwa from his verified handle posted a screenshot of being blocked on Twitter by External Affairs Minister. Bajwa claims that he was merely asking questions about the missing 39 Indians in Iraq. MEA so far has said that according to their last known information, the Indians are alive, but they haven’t been able to locate them. Bajwa claims that he was blocked merely for asking ‘tough questions’. Now, politicians in general and even Sushma Swaraj have resorted to blocking abusive trolls and sometimes people who constantly pester with similar rants. But this is probably the first time when a MP has been blocked by his colleague. Swaraj is currently followed by 10.8 million people. Probably in the torrent of replies she gets with every tweet, the fact that a MP was being blocked was overlooked.

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Noida: Bodies of two teenage sisters found hanging from tree outside their house

Bodies of two teenage sisters were on Tuesday found hanging from a tree outside their house in Baraula here, police said.SP City Arun Kumar Singh said the girls were were identified as Laxmi (18) and Nisha (14). Their father hailed from Bulandshahr and the family was living in a rented house here in Sector 49. The police received information about the sisters this morning following which a team reached their house. They pulled down the bodies and sent them for post-mortem, he said. While Nisha was studying in a school, Laxmi was working with a private company.The police detained Kulbhusan for questioning who claimed that his elder daughter was in love with a youth, Prem, and She had eloped with him ten days ago. However, she returned home a few days ago following which he had scolded her. Kulbhusan alleged that the girls had bolted the room, where he and his wife were sleeping, from outside last night and committed suicide by hanging themselves with stoles, the SP said. The official said the matter was being investigated from all possible angles, including murder and honour killing.

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Maharashtra cheer as beer prices fall in state

There may be good news for beer lovers in Maharashtra before New Year as the hike in prices are being cushioned and supplies being restored.The state government’s decision to allow beer manufacturers to hike MRP on strong beer to 4.6 times the production cost (up from 4.25 times) and 3.75 times for mild beer (as against 3.5 times), may end its impasse with beer manufacturers.In October, the state excise department had hiked excise duty on mild beer to 175 per cent of manufacturing cost or Rs 42 per bulk litre, whichever is higher, as against 150 per cent or Rs 33. For strong beer, it was 235 per cent or Rs 80 per bulk litre, versus 200 per cent or Rs 60.This led to breweries scaling down or even stopping production, affecting supply of beer before Christmas and New Year, when the demand for the drink rises. Industry sources claimed the duty rise would have squeezed margins and operating costs and increased beer prices, thus diverting people to hard liquor.“Earlier, the MRP hike would have been extraordinary. It will be reasonable now… For instance, prices of a 650ml bottle from a popular brand may have gone up to Rs 180 from Rs 145. It may now be around Rs 157 after the change in the MRP formula,” an industry source explained. Production was likely to restart immediately after necessary approvals from the department. However, considering the present levels of de-stocking at the retailer and distributor levels, full supply of beer may be restored in January, he added.“The MRP is based on the manufacturing cost and is derived through backward calculations,” explained an excise official, adding the formula would also cushion the MRP hike. Another official said the new MRP formula would also lower the rate hike for beer in the premium and normal segments which would have come about in the old formula.In 2016-17, beer sales fell by 0.95% to end at 3,285.78 lakh bulk liters (LBL) against 3,317.32 LBL in the previous fiscal. In contrast, sales of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), wine and country liquor (CL) had shown a rise.Excise duty on mild beer was last hiked in 2011.

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Travelling from Borivili to Churchgate in a Mumbai local has never been cooler

The silver-blue exterior of the country’s first AC local train was gleaming as it arrived at Borivili station’s platform 9 at around 10.10am on Monday. On the inside, it is furnished with the same blue and grey polycarbonate seats found in the second class compartments of a regular local which was disappointing considering I expected better after paying Rs 165 for a one-way journey. Fortunately, there was ample place to sit despite it being the maiden journey as the ticket collector asked travellers without a ticket to alight before the train finally departed right on time.This being the first AC local train, I was keen on walking down the vestibule coaches from end to end and experience the frenzy. While the Railways have provided separate coaches for women and reserved seats for physically challenged passengers and senior citizens, one tends to miss the difference as you walk into the coaches. The Western Railways may have to better demarcate the coaches reserved for women, like in the Metro.The luggage racks, although sturdy, are too low. Most importantly, the coaches of the AC local need CCTV cameras which the administration has promised to install soon.The air conditioning was pleasant and the fans complimented the cooling. However, the far ends of the coaches, particularly near the motor coach, it seemed a bit warm. Each coach is equipped with two fire extinguishers, a talk back system with instructions to ensure the safety of passengers, notices regarding pulling of chain, and a list of dos and don’ts.

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The Long and Short of Gujarat elections

The results of the 2017 Gujarat assembly election results were something that both BJP and Congress would be happy as well as sad about. The BJP would be happy, because it won for the sixth straight time in the state despite strong anti-incumbency and other challenges, and the Congress would be pleased as it managed to give the BJP a run for its money in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.Why would the BJP be sad with the results? The answer is that Gujarat has been its fortress since the mid-1990s. Even when it barely had presence in other states, Gujarat was its stronghold. The party would be worried as the election results expose the chinks in its Gujarat armour, especially just a little over a year before the elections. The results take away the aura of invincibility from the formidable combination of Modi and Shah, and show that they can be beaten. The reason Congress would be sad is because it was a case of it being so close and yet so far from that elusive victory in Gujarat. In spite of several so-called missteps of the ruling BJP, Congress could not finish the job, so to speak.When the election results were announced on December 18, the BJP was declared the winner in 99 out of 182 seats. This was 16 seats less than the party had won in 2012, and its lowest in any assembly election in Gujarat since 1995, when it first stormed to power. The Congress, on the other hand, won 77 seats, which was 16 more than it had won five years back. The Congress’s allies won three more seats, including Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani from Vadgam seat, effectively taking its tally to 80.The BJP increased its vote-share marginally from 48 per cent in 2012 elections to 49 per cent in the latest polls, but Congress saw its vote share rising from 38 per cent to 41.4per cent . With its allies, the vote-share was more than 42 per cent.BJP biggies had it easyKey BJP candidates such as chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, and state unit chief Jitu Vaghani were among the key winners. However, many other partyv leaders such as health minister Shankar Chaudhary, assembly speaker Ramanlal Vora, and energy minister Chiman Sapariya ended on the losing side.Cong leaders swept awayThough Congress was surely buoyed by its overall performance in the crucial elections, the loss of its entire leadership in the state, including the likes of Shaktisinh Gohil, Arjun Modhwadia, Siddharth Patel and Tushar Chaudhary, came as a huge shock. Their defeats has led to calls to groom other leaders who can lead the party in the future.Paresh Dhanani, Mohansinh Rathwa and Kunvarji Bavaliya were among the senior Congress leaders who won in the elections. Dhanani is seen as a front-runner for the post of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader in the House.36 sitting MLAs lostAs many as 121 sitting MLAs were in the fray in the 2017 polls. However, of them, 36 ended up losing, with remaining 85 getting re-elected. Of the 85 re-elected MLAs, 58 are from the BJP, 25 from Congress, and one each from NCP and Chhotu Vasava of Bhartiya Tribal Party (BTP).Incidentally, BJP had fielded seven Congress turncoats as its candidates. Five of them, viz. Tejshree Patel, Raghavji Patel, Ramsinh Parmar, Amit Chaudhary, and Mansinh Chauhan, lost. Only two of the turncoats, viz. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and CK Raulji made it to the 14th Assembly.Three Muslim MLAsThe Congress had fielded six Muslim candidates, of whom three emerged as winners, and three came up short. Gayasuddin Sheikh and Imran Khedawala won from the Dariapur and Jamalpur-Khadia seats in Ahmedabad respectively. Sitting MLA Mohammed Javid Pirzada won again from the Wankaner seat. Congress’s Muslim candidates in Bharuch, Bhuj and Surat West seats lost.Close call in 27 seatsThough the difference in number of seats, BJP’s 99 and Congress’s 77, would suggest that BJP notched up an easy victory, the elections were far more closer than the numbers suggest. As many as 27 seats were won or lost with a margin of less than 3,000 votes. Of these, the BJP won 15 seats, while the Congress bagged 12. The victory margin in seven seats was less than 1,000, which means they could have gone either way, but for a few votes.NOTA bad at allAs many as 5.51 lakh voters, or nearly 2 per cent of the 2.98 crore who voted, chose None Of the Above (NOTA). In spite of the presence of Nationalist Congress Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party, it was NOTA that bagged the highest number of votes after BJP and Congress, and in fact, in nearly 30 seats, NOTA votes numbered more than the winning margin. Again, another indicator of how close the elections really were.For Congress, the biggest positive from the 2017 elections was its performance in Saurashtra, where it improved its tally from 11 in 2012 to 27 in 2017, even as BJP’s tally fell from 29 to 21.The Congress did reasonably well in north Gujarat, where it won three more seats than in 2012. In south Gujarat too, it won two more than the last elections, but it won two less in central Gujarat.Near-sweep in cities saved BJPIn the overall analysis, it was its near-sweep in the four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, that saw the BJP home. Out of 36 seats on offer in these cities, Congress won just four, all of them in Ahmedabad. The party came a cropper in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, even failing to open its account.While it won more rural seats than BJP, the urban seats again proved to be the Achilles Heel for the Congress, once again, where the results turned out to be a lopsided affair.Advantage Cong in RS pollsIf assembly results are anything to go by, the Congress would seem to have the numerical advantage in 8 to 9 Lok Sabha seats, especially the ones in Saurashtra and north Gujarat, when they go to polls in early 2019. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had won all 26 seats in the state.While these are based on conjectures, the results would definitely boost Congress’s strength in Rajya Sabha. Four seats in the Upper House from Gujarat are set to fall vacant in April. Incidentally, all four Rajya Sabha members who are slated to retire are from BJP, viz. Arun Jaitley, Mansukh Mandaviya, Parshottam Rupala and Shankar Vegad.Considering its reduced strength of 99 in the assembly, BJP would be able to fill only two of the four vacant seats, while Congress is assured of the remaining two. However, this could change if elections were held and in the unlikely scenario of massive cross-voting.Hardik fails to deliverPatidar reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel’s roadshows attracted large crowds, but the results show that only few actually voted for the Congress. The second possibility probably explains the lower turnout in many of the Patidar dominated urban seats.“Even with the simmering anger among Patels, we could not win a single Patidar dominated seat in Surat or Ahmedabad. This is a big worry for us, and needs to be addressed immediately,” said a senior Congress leader.Fairer sex strength down to 13Thirteen women were elected this time, three less than in 2012 when the number was 16. Nine of the female MLAs are from BJP, including five sitting MLAs, and four new ones. Four women were elected to the assembly on Congress ticket, including sitting MLA Chandrika Bariya from Garbada.Modi, Rahul slogged it outThough stakes in the Gujarat elections were very high, both for BJP, which was keen to hold on to its traditional stronghold, and Congress, seeking to challenge the ruling party in its own den, the campaign was surprisingly low-key. This in spite of extensive campaigning by both prime minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.Modi addressed more than 30 rallies across the state, while Gandhi undertook yatra in all corners of the state and also addressed several rallies and public meetings. The Congress’s campaign mainly centred on the Centre’s alleged mishandling of the economy with moves such as demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST, which Gandhi dubbed as Gabbar Singh Tax. Gandhi also attacked Modi for devoting his speeches to the Congress party, while failing to utter a word about his vision for Gujarat’s future.Modi’s speeches, on the other hand, talked about the work done by him while he was the CM and now as PM, and also targeting the Congress for its alleged anti-Gujarat and anti-Gujarati mentality. He also likened Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress president to Aurangzeb-raj, seen as an attempt to polarise voters.Neech, Pakistan,and what notThe election speeches, however, got nastier after the first phase of polling was over, especially after now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comment used the word ‘neech’ for the PM. Modi brought up the word in speech after speech to attack the Congress.However, what led to a major controversy, and was seen by many as an attempt to polarise voters by bringing the Pakistan angle, Modi alleged that Aiyar had hosted a secret meeting with some Pakistani officials a day before calling him ‘neech’, and also accused Congress of conspiring with the enemy country to install senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel as Gujarat chief minister.While it is difficult to say if the episode influenced voters in any way, the election results suggest it did, as the BJP fared much better in the second phase than in the first one.The last of the Pakistan angle is yet to be seen as it later emerged that former PM Manmohan Singh, and former vice president Hamid Ansari were among those who had attended the dinner meeting at Aiyar’s residence. The charge, which Congress alleges amounted to Modi accusing Singh, Ansari and others of treason, continues to paralyse Parliament with the Opposition seeking an apology from the PM, and the BJP ruling out any such possibility.Vikas went missing, crazyThough the Gujarat election was supposed to be contested on the issue of development, the word Vikas somehow did not figure much in election speeches, especially those of BJP leaders. This was quite ironic considering that BJP’s election slogan was Hun Chhu Vikas, Hun Chhu Gujarat (I am development, I am Gujarat).Many believe that this was because of the Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe (Development has gone crazy) campaign that went viral on social media a few months ago. The campaign made BJP the butt of jokes, and also inspired several memes.BJP sought to hit back with the Pappuone Pachtu Nathi (Pappus cannot digest this) and other campaigns, but frankly, they didn’t catch people’s imagination.1,444 lost deposit1,444 of the 1,828 candidates who contested in the Gujarat polls lost their deposits. An analysis of the results reveals that in 172 seats, all candidates barring the winner and loser, lost their deposits. In the remaining ten seats, the third-placed candidates won more than one-sixth of the total votes polled, and hence their deposits would not be forfeited.HOW THE RESULTS WERE EXPECTED & UNEXPECTEDEXPECTED BECAUSEBJP was expected to win, it did It was expected to win less seats than in 2012, it did Congress was expected to put up a fight, it did BJP was expected to sweep urban seats, it did BJP was seen as losing ground in rural areas, it did UNEXPECTED BECAUSEBJP tally was expected to fall, but not below 100 seats, but it did The kind of reverses BJP suffered, especially in Saurashtra, were unexpected Loss of four top Congress leaders was unexpected Patidar anger failed to hurt BJP, or benefit Congress, much, quite unexpectedly POLLS IN FIGURESBJP 49.1% 1,47,24,427Cong 41.4%1,24,38,937Ind. 4.3%12,90,278BTP 0.7%2,22,694BSP 0.7%2,07,007NCP 0.6%1,84,815NOTA 1.8%5,51,615

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Gujarat jitters: Maha govt to soothe farmers’ nerves

After BJP’s poor performance in cotton belt of Gujarat in the recent Assembly elections, the Fadnavis government in Maharashtra has decided not to allow a repeat of it in the state. To nip the anger of the cotton growing farmers in the bud, it is planning to dole out compensation and relief to the farmers before the state and Lok Sabha elections.Large parts of Maharashtra — Vidharba, North Maharashtra and Marathwada — are major cotton growing belts in Maharashtra. In 2014, the BJP got as many as 56 seats out of its total 120 seats in this region. This year, due to the bollworm insecticide, majority of the farmers’ cotton crops got damaged and they suffered huge losses.The BJP is expecting that its announcement of Rs 37,000 per hectare compensation for non-irrigated cotton farms and Rs 38,500 for farmers whose crops were damaged by bollworms will help it stave off any setback in elections.“Besides, the farmers are not getting fair price for their produce. Currently, cotton has been sold at Rs 4,500-Rs 5,000 per quintal against Rs 6,000-7,000 during Congress regime. There is a huge anger among farmers and that will reflect in the coming elections against the BJP government,” said Nawab Malik, spokesperson of NCP.Malik said in Gujarat elections also, the BJP, out of 127 rural — cotton and peanut growing belt — seats, got only 56, while the Congress outperformed with 71 seats. The Congress’ total tally is 80 in the 182-member Gujarat assembly.“We expect same in Maharashtra in rural belt. Despite being PM Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s home state, farmers decisively voted against BJP in Gujarat. Chief Minister Fadnavis had promised the farm loan waiver. What happened? Hardly any one benefitted,” said Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Congress chief.“The Congress and the NCP are trying to fan out the uneasiness in the sector. They even called a Halla Bol protest there recently. However, we are confident of applying balm on the anger,” said a senior BJP leader on condition of anonymity.GUJARAT LESSONSThe BJP mainly lost in the rural belt in the recent Gujarat Assembly polls. Of the Congress’ total tally of 80 in Gujarat, 71 seats are from rural sectors. BJP wants to avoid any repeat of this in Maharashtra’s rural belt.

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38-year-old man killed after being hit by speeding car

A 38-year-old man was killed after he was hit by a speeding car on Outer Ring Road near Mukundpur Chowk on Saturday evening. It was found that the errant driver was in an inebriated state at the time of the accident and even tried to flee from the spot. However, he was caught by the public and his vehicle was set afire.The deceased was identified as Sanjeev Singh, who worked as a labourer and was a resident of Jahangirpuri. According to the police, the incident took place around 9 pm on Saturday night when Singh was trying to cross the road near the chowk. Witnesses told the police that he was hit so hard that Singh was thrown meters away and he sustained critical injuries.”They said that the driver, who was later identified as Ashok Kumar, was drunk at the time of the accident. Kumar tried to flee from the spot after the mishap but was chased and nabbed by the locals, who first thrashed him and then set his car on fire. Kumar was coming from Burari and was heading towards Mukundpur when his car hit Singh. Locals called up the police and the victim was rushed to a nearby hospital but he had succumbed to the injuries by that time,” a senior police officer said.Police said that the accused appeared to be drunk and later a medical examination confirmed that he had consumed alcohol. A case of rash driving and causing death due to negligence and other relevant sections was registered against Kumar at the Jahangirpuri Police Station and he was arrested.Kumar works for a private company.”Singh’s family has been informed and the body was sent for a post-mortem examination,” police said.Police have also registered a separate case of arson against the mob for burning the car and said that efforts to identify the miscreants are being made.

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I ‘prefer’ Indira, but not against BJP either: Shatrughan Sinha

Disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who had earlier refused to comment on politics earlier from the dais of Ajmer Literature Festival, expressed his liking for Indira Gandhi while speaking at the concluding session of the festival.”I would have rather followed Indira Gandhi, however, after her death I decided to join BJP and learned much from senior leaders of the party,” said Sinha.Sinha had earlier turned down politics oriented questions stating that the literature festival was a platform for ‘creativity’ and not ‘politics’. However, he continued to talk around the political lines.”People assume that I speak in disagreement with the party, but it is not so,” Sinha said. “Party is like a family and if a member is more attached to one member it does not mean he is against other,” he explained further without taking any names.As he reinstated that the party is like ‘mother’ and that he is not against ‘BJP’. He could not help comparing the party’s leadership face Narendra Modi. Even as he spoke high of Modi as prime minister, he left room open on the debate stating that Modi is ‘Nayak’ (leader) while Jai Prakash Narayan was ‘Maha-Nayak’ (great leader).Sinha was among the panelist on the concluding session of the Ajmer Literature festival that concluded on late Sunday evening.

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Sabang bypoll: Seven-fold increase in vote-share for BJP augurs well for its future

Sabang, in West Midnapore district of Bengal, has been largely in the news in the past for occasional political skirmishes. A Congress bastion, it has been for long the pocket borough of senior leader Manas Bhunia. He retained his seat even when other Congress stalwarts fell by the wayside unable to withstand Mamata wave. Thus when he switched party this year, it was a foregone conclusion that TMC will win the seat. The party had nominated Manas Bhunia’s wife as the candidate, and she indeed won with a handsome margin of 64 thousand votes. The real toss-up was who would end up in the second spot. And, somewhat unexpectedly CPI(M) candidate Rita Mandal Jana ended up the first runner-up getting 41,000 votes. However, the BJP which invested a lot of man-power in this election wasn’t far behind with Antara Bhattacharya winning over 37 thousand votes. It’s a massive leg-up for the party in a rural seat like Sabang where it got only 5610 votes in last year’s assembly election. The party this time won 18.23% of the votes, up from 2.60% in 2016. Congress ended a poor fourth, with its vote bank virtually collapsing post the exit of Manas Bhuniya. While Sabang is a single assembly bypoll, but it leaves some important pointers for next year’s Panchayat polls in Bengal. The Left’s core vote is still intact in rural Bengal. It has depleted from its past highs but is still enough to earn sizeable number of seats in the Panchayat poll. The BJP undoubtedly is gaining ground rapidly in interior Bengal. After a promising performance in Kochbehar LS bypoll and Kanthi Assembly bypoll, the party has again punched way above its weight and narrowly ended third. The fact that Sabang is in South Bengal shouldn’t be missed. An impressive BJP show here means the party is now present in all the major regions of the state. Also readSabang bypoll: TMC wrests seat from Congress, Gita Rani Bhunia wins by 64 thousand votes Sabang was the first election after Mukul Roy joined the BJP. He was Mamata’s former close aide, who knows how to build organisation and run a successful campaign. He alongside Dilip Ghosh and Babul Supriyo did their best to canvass for the party, and managed a positive result in a place where the party has very little ground game. BJP can take lot of heart from this result and work towards becoming the second biggest party in the next panchayat polls. But it would find it difficult to match the organisational prowess of the ruling party. TMC is the party to beat in Bengal with very little indication of it being closely challenged in the upcoming polls. The race is firmly for the second spot in Bengal.

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Shocker from Gurugram! Medanta Hospital charges Rs 16 lakh for dengue treatment, child dies

The series of shocking incidents in the hospitals from Delhi-NCR are no close to stopping. In another bizzare episode, it’s Gurugram’s Medanta hospital, which is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. The hospital has reportedly charged around Rs 16 lakh for the treatment that continued for 21 days from the family of an eight-year-old boy, who was suffering from Dengue. The child, however, later on died. As the reports suggest, the boy’s family shifted him to a different hospital after Medanta hospital charged them an exorbitant amount. Also readFortis raked in moolah of up to 1,737% in Adya Singh case: NPPA”My child was there in the hospital for 21 days, the hospital gave us a bill of Rs 15.88 lakh. We had to request people for money; the hospital has looted us in the name of treatment,” the father of the eight-year-old said.Earlier, Fortis hospital in Gurugram billed a family close to 16 lakhs in 15 days as their baby girl Adya succumbed to dengue shock syndrome, post which Union Health Minister JP Nadda asked for an inquiry to be instituted to investigate the case.Also readComplaint of overcharging against Fortis Gurgaon and the Park HospitalDNA had first reported the story of deceased baby Adya on November 20. The story can be read here. However, the hospital has refuted the allegations levelled by the family. According to the hospital, the girl was admitted with dengue shock syndrome and her condition was extremely serious. “The girl came to us without the medical advice of the previous hospital. As soon as she came to us, we had incubated her. On September 14, she was put off the ventilator as suggested by the family and against the doctor’s advice,” said a senior doctor from Fortis hospital. Also readDengue Death Costing Rs 16 lakh: Investigation nails unethical acts of Fortis Explaining the situation further, the doctor added that a multi-disciplinary team of doctors was formed to look into the case. “Clearly, everything is planned. The girl passed away on September 14 and the family is making the false allegations after two months,” added the doctor. Jayant ended up paying the highest for expensive branded drugs, close to Rs 4 lakh when cheaper options for drugs were available. Cost of Medical consumables including up to 2700 gloves billed at Rs 17,142 came up to a whopping Rs 2.73 lakh, while medical investigations including blood tests cost him another Rs 2.17 lakh. Diagnostics are though billed separately from investigations, adding another Rs 29, 290.

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Cabbie & friend kidnap, gang-rape Thane woman

A 25-year-old woman from Thane was allegedly kidnapped, gang-raped and then thrown out of the car by two men near Vajreshwari in Virar. The woman got into the cab marked Ola, thinking it was part of the radio cab company’s fleet. However, police have found that the driver had not been working with the company for a week due to a money dispute.Kashimira police have arrested two men — the driver Suresh Gosavi (32) and Umesh Zala (31) – and seized the car. When the woman hailed the cab, it was already occupied by another man. Instead of ferrying her to Thane, the duo took her to Vajreshwari. They raped her at a lodge. She then alerted the owner. “We traced them through the CCTV cameras on the highway,” said Mahesh Patil, DSP, Thane Rural. “We suspect they have committed a similar offence earlier.”An Ola spokesperson said, “We confirm this incident has not occurred on the Ola platform. We have extended all support to authorities.”

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Mumbai: Fire in under construction building in Saat Rasta

A major fire broke out at an under construction building near Kasturba Hospital along Saat Rashta in Mahalaxmi on Friday night. The fire was reported around 9.50pm and it was brought under control within an hour.According to an official from the Mumbai Fire Brigade, timely action by fire department prevented the fire from spreading in nearby locality. A total 8 fire engines and 4 water tankers were pressed into service. “The fire has been doused and now the cooling process is going on,” said an official from the Fire Brigade. He added that no one received major burn injuries except some minor scratches on peple when they were coming out in hurry from the building. The exact cause of the fire is not known. However, the fire department suspects that busting crackers might have caused the fire as people had heard fire crackers sound. “There was wooden construction materials and tarpaulins that immediately caught fire,” added the official.

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Mumbai- Nagpur expressway to have 31 toll plazas, toll activists stage protests

While the state government’s ambitious Samruddhi Mahamarg, the Mumbai- Nagpur super communication highway is facing stern protest from farmers, this information about the highway under RTI may spark new controversy. According to the information, the 710 kilometre proposed highway will have as many as 31 toll plazas which toll activists are already opposing.The Samruddhi Mahamarg (prosperity highway) will run through ten districts and connect Mumbai and Nagpur. It is also considered as a dream project of the state government as once it is completed, the highway will connect backward regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha with growing regions of Mumbai and Thane. However, since the most part of the land which is to be acquired for the highway is agricultural land, the farmers community has been staging protests against the proposed highway and state government is trying its best to pacify the protest.Also readMumbai-Nagpur E-way: Trust deficit hits land acquisitionNow amidst the protests and government’s countering strategy, Pune based toll activist Sanjay Shirodkar had filed RTI with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) seeking details of projected toll plazas situated on the proposed Samruddhi Mahamarg. In the reply to his RTI, he has got the information that the proposed highway will have 31 toll plazas. Speaking to DNA, Shirodkar said, “While feasibility study and other such reports related to the proposed highway are yet to be completed, the state government has already finalised the locations of toll plaza on the highway which is still at the primary stage.”Also readNo runway on Mumbai-Nagpur E-wayAfter finding out that the highway will have 31 toll plazas, Shirodkar claimed that finalising 31 toll plazas on 710 kilometre highway is a clear violation of the state government’s toll policy. “In 2009, the state government came up with toll policy. According to the policy, the distance between two toll plazas on the same highway should not be less than 35 to 40 kilometre. However, if we calculate the number of toll plazas against the total length of the highway, the distance between two toll plazas on Samruddhi Mahamarg will be around 22 kilometres only. It clearly suggests that the state government is violating its own toll policy,” Shirodkar said. Shirodkar who has been fighting against the toll collection at various highways has filed some public interest litigation in the court, particularly in connection with toll collection of Mumbai- Pune expressway. Shirodkar stated that the present government in the state came to power by promising that they will be ending the toll culture in the state, however, now instead of shutting down toll plazas, they are opening new ones. “This information of RTI clearly shows that the government before coming to power had given false promises of shutting toll plazas. They are not bothered about the common people. They are more concerned about toll collection and therefore the first thing which they have done is to finalise 31 toll plazas on the proposed Samruddhi Mahamarg,” Shirodkar said.

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DNA Edit: A Zero-Sum trial

Years wasted, business ventures stalled/finished, reputations tarred -in some cases, forever. This, in 11 words, is the sum and substance of what we all know as the 2G scam, post the judgement delivered by Special CBI Judge OP Saini on Thursday morning.Was there a scam? Yes, most certainly. After all, rules aren’t changed overnight, unless to give undue advantage to somebody. But, it was the CBI’s and Enforcement Directorate’s job to follow the leads and deliver a water-tight case. That they didn’t proves, for the nth time, that the country’s premier investigating agencies don’t deserve the “premier” tag.Was the scam really worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore? Ask Vinod Rai, the then Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who came out with this figure.Today, when the Special CBI Judge OP Saini acquitted every accused, including politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats in the 2G spectrum allocation case dating back to the UPA-1 era, the main question that requires an immediate answer is: Who killed the telecom sector, or at least pushed it back by several years? Shouldn’t Rai be answering questions on the ‘presumptive loss’ theory? Shouldn’t the CBI and ED officers be held accountable for the shoddy probe that has allowed the accused to get away?A single sentence in the 1,552-page judgment is enough to indict the CBI and ED: “However, by the end, the quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident.”It is not without reason that Judge Saini laments: “For the last seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open court from 10 am to 5pm, waiting for someone with legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain. Everybody was going by rumour, gossip and speculation.”Another line in the judgment that merits some thought is: “Thus, some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels.”There are many who seem enraged by the fact that Judge Saini acquitted all the accused. They forget that a judge delivers a judgment on the basis of material before him, without falling for “rumour, gossip and speculation”. The job of convincing the court about the illegality and arbitrariness of a decision was left to the prosecution and its lawyers.Judges, not all unfortunately in these media-driven times, are seldom impressed by big numbers, unless they come with enough proof.Now that both CBI and ED have announced their intention to appeal against the judgment in the high court, one only hopes the premier agencies would do a better job there.

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Businessmen continue to hide as defaulters

A year after demonetisation situation is still grim as businessmen particularly builders and jewelers are on the verge of defaulting on loan and interest repayments.The local financial market is in a tizzy after rumour of a handicraft businessman defaulting on loan repayment of Rs 585 crore even after a year. He said to have sought more time in a meeting held at his residence last Sunday.Similarly, a jeweller on JLN Marg owes Rs 70 crore. There are reports that he settled dues by selling his property to the creditors at throwaway prices. But, not everyone is a gentleman as a builder said to have hired bouncers to keep lenders and brokers away. He reportedly owed Rs 150 crore. Some other real estate developers who have business across the country and borrowed billions are unable to pay installments on time. Same goes for jewelers in C-Scheme, shyam Nagar, Bani Park, Vaishali Nagar and in the walled city. The jewelers are not even paying interest leave alone principal. A side effect of this crisis is that some jewelers are now resorting to cheating by selling synthetic colour stones in the name of real ones. One jeweller is now facing a police case. There was a time when these businessmen because of their goodwill used to get concession on the prevailing interest rates in the parallel financial market. Now, instead of getting fresh loans, they are being pressurized for repayment. The lenders are now putting pressure on the brokers for the recovery.Those in the trade said that there is nothing lenders can do but to wait. Business is bound to get affected when money is squeezed out of circulation. The problem is that the situation has not normalized even a year after demonetisation. “Unless the property market improves there is no possibility for the creditors to get their money back,” a broker said.There are at least 20 finance brokers operating without any registration in Jaipur. Transaction trickEntire money transaction is being done in cash and based on trust and verbal commitment. However, the business is kept away from prying eyes of income tax department. To avoid trouble from income tax department, the actual transaction is many times more than shown on the slip.

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2 pupils critical after boy turns gun on girl

Panicked parents of the 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, waited for news of their children’s health which is stated to be critical. The girl had been shot by the boy in the Vasundhara area of Ghaziabad who then turned the gun on himself. Police have registered an FIR in this matter against the boy, following a complaint by the girl’s uncle.According to police, the girl sustained two bullet injuries to her head. The boy later shot at himself with the same weapon and had left the spot. He was later found injured state just 100 meters away from the girl’s body.”The doctors have removed the two bullets from the girl’s head and a bullet from the boy’s body. However, both of them are still critical and have not gained consciousness. They both are still in Intensive Care Unit, the girl is more critical as her wounds are stated to be deeper,” said a senior police officer.On Wednesday, around 7 pm the two were going for tuitions at Vasundhara Sector 4 on a scooter when the boy shot her after an altercation, with his father’s licensed weapon, police said. The minors are residents of Vasundhara.The boy studies in class 11 at a private school in Vasundhara while the girl, police said, is a class 10 student at a Geeta Colony school in east Delhi.Initial investigation has revealed that the boy fired two bullets at the girl and she fell unconscious. He then went to a nearby place and shot himself. The two were rushed to a hospital where both underwent operations.Police also said that the crime seemed planned as the boy had taken his father’s licensed weapon in his bag.”The weapon is licensed in the name of the boy’s father and he has joined us for questioning. We have registered an FIR against the boy on the basis of the girl’s uncle’s complaint. We will initiate the investigation once the boy gains consciousness,” an officer added.Police said the boy stole the gun from his father’s almirah. His father is a property dealer while the girl’s father is an engineer with a private firm.MODUS OPERANDIOn Wednesday, around 7 pm the two were going for tuitions at Vasundhara Sector 4 on a scooter when the boy shot her after an altercation, with his father’s licensed weapon, police said. The minors are residents of Vasundhara. The boy is in class 11 and the girl in class 10

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CBI, ED to appeal against verdict

Shocked over the special court’s judgement to acquit all the accused, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) stated that they had been filing monthly status reports before the Supreme Court and the investigation was appreciated at every step. However, sources said they fail to understated why the judgement went against them. The agency decided to appeal against the court order.Also Enforcement Directorate decided to appeal against the order. ED said the Special Court appears to have failed to appreciate the money laundering offence that probed by it should have held ground and not linked to CBI’s corruption case.”Besides the observation and findings of the Supreme Court in this case appear to have not been considered by the Special Court,” the ED added.Sources in the CBI said, “Our key contention was not taken into account by the special court. We are going through it for as it is lengthy judgement. The key points which struck us immediately was that there written and documentary evidence and it was not given due to importance.”Sources further pointed out that the court has relied on oral evidence of the accused and also failed to see the bribe trail wherein Rs 200 crore ‘pay-off’ happened wherein a company take loan on 14 percent and given at 5 percent. “We had documentary evidence running into lakh of pages, the court relies on accused statements,” the source said.CBI in a statement said, “The judgement relating to 2G scam case today has been prima facie examined and it appears that the evidence adduced to substantiate the charges by the prosecution has not been appreciated in its proper perspective by the Learned Court. CBI will be taking necessary legal remedies in the matter. In due course, CBI will be filing an appeal.”In the meantime, ED pointed out that the Special Court prima-facie appears to have failed to appreciate the offence of money laundering as defined under Section 3 is, based on the term proceeds of crime.ED also said the special court has appreciated the material evidence qua offence of money laundering at the time of framing of charges against the accused persons but the same material appears to have not been considered while deciding the prosecution complaint under PMLA and the accused persons have been acquitted from the offence of money laundering only on the basis of no commission of offence and not the occurrence of criminal activity.”We have decided to move in appeal against the judgement of the Special Court on a number of grounds based on the facts as well as legal provisions,” the ED said in a statement.

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Airport may shift some carriers to int’l terminal

Domestic passengers flying out of the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (SVPI) here can now expect a few of their flights operating from the international terminal. With the city airport set to upgrade the existing infrastructure at the T2 international terminal by installing two new aerobridges, they are hinting at shifting some domestic operations to the international terminal.Manoj Gangal, Airport Director, said, “The two aerobridges will come up at the international terminal by the end of this year. Depending on time slots and a discussion with immigration, Customs and CISF, we may shift some operations, keeping airlines’ interest in mind.”Sources say that the international terminal is huge and remains non-operational for nearly six hours until the first flight of the day operates for Dubai in the afternoon. The terminal can easily be utilised for easing out some traffic at domestic terminal.Airlines Operator Committee (AOC) Chairman Shalin Joshipura said, “As of now, Air India and Jet Airways operate from T2. Once the aerobridges come, airlines might be interested to shift some of their flights to this terminal.”He added, “A lot of positive initiatives are being taken at the airport off late. This too will be an added feature.”A source said, “An international flight of SpiceJet that departs from Ahmedabad late in the evening comes from Chennai. As it has to fly abroad, it is parked at T2 and the domestic passengers are then taken to T1 by bus. This setting would surely be beneficial not just for the airlines but also convenient for the passengers.”However, while appreciating the effort, another official said, “Utilizing space is a good option but to maintain infrastructure as per standards of international airport would be a concern. Since Customs and immigration is critical points, extra care will have to be taken.”WINTER SCHEDULEFor winter schedule, Jazeera airways has commenced its operations from city whereas Air Arabia and Ethopian airlines are set to add new flights to the existing lot. Last week, SpiceJet also started Ahmedabad-Bangkok flight.

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Jignesh Mevani asks PM Modi to retire, go to Himalayas

Dalit activist and newly elected MLA Jignesh Mevani asked prime minister Narendra Modi to retire and go to the Himalayas. Mevani contested in the elections from Vadgam (SC) seat of Bansakantha as an independent candidate, but with Congress’s support.”I want to tell Modi ji that we are done with you. You now bore us. You should go to the Himalayas, find a Ram Temple and ring bells,” Mevani told a news channel on Wednesday, a day after returning to his home at Ahmedabad. However, Mevani’s comment did not go down too well with many in the social media criticising him for his language.In his comment Mevani also said that the BJP, which was talking about winning 150+ seats in the state, had to eat the humble pie by being restricted to under 100 seats.”We are going to fight against the BJP in 2019, and the same will happen then. We will intensify our movement, both in the assembly and outside to corner the BJP,” he said.Mevani, along with Patidar reservation agitation leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, are seen as three youth leaders in Gujarat. While Mevani and Thakor were elected as MLAs, Hardik had only campaigned for the Congress.(With agency inputs)

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Dawoodi Bohras extend helping hand to community members

With an aim to help the underprivileged families from their own community, the Dawoodi Bohras have organised a five-day ‘upliftment’ drive from Thursday. While it is the third edition of the project, this is the first time that over 21,000 members from the community have come together voluntarily to take part in the novel initiative.According to the members of the community, people from across the country as well as among those staying abroad have joined to volunteer in the project. During the last edition of the project, over 4,000 community members volunteered. However, in the third edition of the initiative, over 21,000 members volunteered.Speaking about the initiative, a spokesperson of the community said, “While there are various initiatives organised for the five-day upliftment drive, the major activity is House upliftment. Through these initiatives people from our community who are less fortunate will be helped by the volunteers. The upliftment drive involves various works like repairing or cleaning homes, providing food, giving basic necessities, building toilets if required, providing sanitation and providing education facilities. This will ensure that livelihood facilities for the families are available.”In Mumbai, the house upliftment project will be mainly organised in Marol, Mumbra, Dombivli, and Kandivli area among others. Volunteers from the the community include clergy and community officials, doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, businessmen, homemakers, and students.”The aim is to improve the well-being of members of the community as well as society at large. Beside house upliftment, every night there will be workshops on health, sanitation, education at religious centres across cities,” added the spokesperson.

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Doc of private hospital misappropriates funds, held

The Bhoiwada police have registered a cheating case against a doctor of a private hospital and two others for allegedly misappropriating funds related to providing security guards to Tata Memorial Hospital at Parel.According to the police, a firm of three partners called Rapid Guard Security Force had bagged the contract for providing security to Tata Memorial Hospital through connivance with the doctor working in the said hospital.The police alleged that the doctor had taken money from the partners for giving them the contract, however, later two of the three partners with the help of doctor duped the third partner, who was also the investor in the said firm.The complainant in the case, Qaisar Khan had invested in the firm and had signed partnership deal with the two accused. However, later the doctor started transferring payments to the different bank account instead of the partnership bank account to cheat Khan.After the accused persons did not give Khan his share, he approached the police. “We have registered a case of cheating against the doctor and other two partners of Khan. The doctor was asked to resign from the job by the hospital authorities after he was found giving illegitimate favors for allotting contract to the security agency. The alleged scam is between Rs 75 lakhs to Rs 1 crore,” said a senior police officer.Swami Mhatre, spokesperson of Tata Memorial Hospital, refused to comment when contacted.

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City govt tests anti-smog gun to ‘shoot down’ hanging pollutants

The Delhi government on Wednesday tested yet another method of beating the air pollution in the Capital with the trial of an anti-smog gun at Anand Vihar – city’s pollution hotspot. The experiment was conducted when the city witnessed haze and fog throughout the day with the air quality deteriorating to ‘very poor’ level at 359 units. However, the viability of the device to be used as an anti-pollution measure will be decided after a feasibility study is conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). Anand Vihar inter-state bus terminus (ISBT) has been identified as a major pollution hotspot by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).The cannon sprays atomised water, making the pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) 10 absorb it, thus clearing the air. The real-time data gathered by the DPCC during the experiment between 10 am and 2 pm from the spot, however, showed that the pollution levels did not fall much, and rather rose as the day progressed.According to the DPCC officials, the hourly-readings of PM 10 recorded were – 630, 608, 736, 842 and 702, and for PM 2.5 – 444, 421, 476, 509 and 460. The units are measured in microgramms per cubic meters.PM 2.5 – ultrafine particles causing respiratory problems – is the most prominent pollutant in Delhi-NCR. The prescribed standards for PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 60 and 100, respectively.The PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentrations at Anand Vihar in the evening were recorded at 426 and 671, respectively.“The gun must be used and will be effective only during low wind speed. The wind speed during the trial was 3 kmph. The atomised water can hit the PM 10 pollutants and make them absorb the water. However, since PM 2.5 particles are ultrafine, the spray will not be able to hit them. This kind of cannon was first used during the 2010 Commonwealth Games to clear outdoor venues like stadiums of the dust. It can be a good initiative to mitigate city pollution,” said a senior officer. Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain, who was present during the experiment said,“This was the first of its kind field experiment and in the coming days the department will conduct many such experiments to ascertain which equipment will be best to control major contributors of air pollution.”Meanwhile, with fog returning to the national Capital, the visibility in the early morning hours was reduced to 500 meters. The cannon sprays atomised water which helps absorb particulate matterAIR QUALITYDelhi 359 (very poor)Ghaziabad 473 (severe)Noida 378 (very poor)Gurgaon 322 (very poor)

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Horse dies after drowning inside Thane’s Masunda lake

In a shocking incident a horse died after drowning inside Thane’s Masunda lake on Wednesday afternoon. While the animal rights activists have alleged negligence by the owner, police officials have so far registered a case of accidental death.According to cops from Naupada police station, the horse owner claimed that they had just purchased the 14 year old horse named Baba from Kalyan on Tuesday. “The owner said that due to the road journey the muscles of the horse were stiffened and it was finding it difficult to move. As a traditional practice the handlers decided to splash some water from the lake on its body and as the horse was standing on the edge of the lake it slipped and since its leash got stuck in its feet it fell on its back,” according to a cop. By the time some bystanders could help pull out the horse from lake, a lot of water seemed to have entered its lungs and it died as it was being rushed to the animalhospital.However several animal rights activists have raised questions over how could the handlers take the horse so near to the lake. “We are sure they wanted to give the horse a proper bath and being noon with less people near the lake they decided to quickly allow a dip and the horse must have slipped causing its death,” said an activist adding that there have been several complaints about the horse owner who runs horse carriages during the evenings.Dr Suhas Rane a Vet and Secretary Thane SPCA said that ideally the owner or handlers should have consulted a vet or even if they wanted to give it traditional treatment they could have relied upon hot fermentation rather than risking its life by taking it to a lake.Meanwhile another cop from Naupada said that the owner informed them that due to this incident he has suffered a huge financial loss as the horse was just bought. “We have simply taken the statement of the owner and made a diary entry about the accident. However if animal rights activists come forward and lodge a complaint we will surely register a case,” said the cop.

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Max Hospital resumes operations today after ‘stay’ on licence cancellation order

Max Healthcare claimed its hospital in Shalimar Bagh in the city has resumed operations from Wednesday after an “appropriate” authority “stayed” its licence cancellation, though the appellate body did not confirm it.A week ago, the hospital group had filed an appeal in the the Court of the Financial Commissioner against the cancellation of the licence of its hospital in north-west Delhi by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) of the city government.Max Healthcare in a statement issued on Wednesday claimed, “Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh has resumed its operations from today, following a stay order issued by the appropriate appellate authority to whom an appeal was made.”However, an official from the Court of the Financial Commissioner, when contacted, did not share the copy of the stay order, saying, it can only be issued to the parties concerned.Max Healthcare authorities, when contacted also declined to share a copy of the stay order.”We are fully focused on providing quality care to all our patients and honouring our commitment of ensuring free treatment to the economically weaker sections of the society,” the private hospital group further said in its statement.The Financial Commissioner is a statutory post and the incumbent exercises the powers of the Lt Governor or Chief Commissioner, delegated under various statutes, according to details on the website of the Financial Commissioner.The DGHS of the Delhi government’s health department had cancelled licence of the hospital for multiple instances of alleged medical negligence, including a case in which one of the twins was found alive after being declared dead by the facility.The licence cancellation case pertains to the premature twins, one of whom was wrongly declared dead on November 30 at the hospital where he was born, and who died during treatment at a nursing home in Pitampura a week later.Both the babies were declared stillborn by the hospital and handed over to the family allegedly in a polythene bag. But to their utter horror, they found that the boy was still alive, while they were on way to do their final rites.

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Hyderabad shocker: Woman’s body found chewed up by rats in Osmania Hospital morgue

In a shocking incident that once again highlights the callousness of hospitals, the body of a 21-year-old woman that was stored inside a mortuary of Osmania General Hospital was found allegedly chewed by rats.However, the hospital superintendent has played down the incident saying someone forgot to shut the door properly while preserving the body. “I went to forensic dept & found that all freezers are working in good conditions, no holes for rats to enter. Maybe they didn’t properly close door while putting body in. It doesn’t occur frequently. We are conducting departmental inquiry,” said DR. B Narendher, hospital superintendent.Hospital callousness has been a concern across the country. Only recently, Max Hospital in the national capital was in the news for wrongly declaring a baby dead. The doctor in that case was suspended, and the hospital subsequently lost its licence. However, 10 days later, the hospital resumed services, after presenting its case to the finance commissioner. “The operation of impugned order is stayed till the next hearing,” says the order by Finance Commissioner. The next hearing is on January 9.A preliminary report submitted by a panel of doctors to the Delhi government had found the hospital guilty of not having followed the prescribed medical norms in dealing with a pair of newborn twins.“Max Hospital Shalimar Bagh has resumed its operations from today, following a stay order issued by the appropriate Appellate authority to whom an appeal was made. We are fully focussed on providing quality care to all our patients and honouring our commitment of ensuring free treatment to the economically weaker sections of the society,” the hospital said in its statement on Wednesday morning.However, Delhi government is still waiting for the order to examine the further course of action.“We were present in the hearing and the commissioner had not given any relief to the hospital. We are checking with our legal team,” said Dr Kirti Bhushan, director general of health services, Delhi government.The three-member panel had submitted the report after scrutinising hospital records and meeting with the staff concerned. After the infant’s death, investigation into the alleged medical negligence case was transferred from the northwest district police to the Crime Branch.

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Three die as car burst into flames

Two women and one child died when the car in which they were travelling burst into flames on the road going to Bakhasar of Barmer from Chitalwana of Jalore on Tuesday.The car driver, Deeparam Prajapat, a resident of Seswa village in Chitalwana area of Jalore, was returning home on Tuesday afternoon after showing his sick child to a doctor when the car caught fire. The bystanders tried to extinguish the fire by water and took out two children from the car, However, Deeparam’s wife and her relative who were sitting in the back seat could not be saved.After getting the information, Chitalwana police reached the spot, but by then, the women had died. Deeparam and his two sons were taken to the hospital where one of his sons died. Deeparam and his other son were referred to Gujarat after first aid. The caseThe car driver, Deeparam Prajapat, a resident of Seswa village in Chitalwana area of Jalore, was returning home on Tuesday afternoon after showing his sick child to a doctor when the car caught fire. The bystanders tried to extinguish the fire by water and took out two children from the car, However, Deeparam’s wife and her relative who were sitting in the back seat could not be saved. fter getting the information, Chitalwana police reached the spot, but by then, the women had died.

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Violent protests, chakka jam against sand policies in Bihar

The demonstrations against sand mining policies of the Government of Bihar, turned violent at several places with the protesters raising anti-establishment slogans, burning effigies and tyres and damaging property at several places across Bihar on Tuesday.In the state capital, the Danapur area was affected for several hours when agitators blocked the roads and went on a rampage looting shops breaking windscreen of four-wheelers. “The government is targeting people of a particular community with its new policies. We will not let it happen,” they chorused. The police had to resort to lathicharge to bring the situation in control.In Maner, the crowd burnt police vehicles and pelted stones on cops, after they fired in the air to disperse them. Around 10 people sustained injuries. The mining and related construction activities are on a virtual standstill in the state, though people in the business claim that illegal mining is on as usual.The truck owners association have also effected a complete “chakka jam” beginning this week and parked their trucks to disrupt traffic on all major state and national highways in Bihar. Among the major affected areas were Koilwar bridge (Bhojpur), Maner, Munger, Barh and Sheikhpura. Long queues of bigger vehicles could be seen on these roads and commuters faced much trouble.At several places, the protesters offloaded their trucks and spilled sand on the roads while many of the masons and daily wage labourer blocked roads using their tools and other equipment. They have also restricted the entry of trucks arriving from other states, resulting in upping of prices of groceries and some essential goods.Meanwhile, Patna High Court on Tuesday deferred the pleas of truck owner association regarding the mining policies till the first week of January. However, the labourers, sand traders and truck owners said they will continue with their protests till the government met their demands and withdrew the new sand policy. The Opposition RJD has also called a Bihar-bandh on December 21 in this matter.BLOCKED ROADSAt several places, the protesters off loaded their trucks and spilled sand on the roads while many of the masons and daily wage labourer blocked roads using their tools and other equipment.

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History books to teach about independence struggle that happened before 1857

Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided to teach students about the struggle against British rule that happened before the 1857 revolt— the Paika Rebellion, which occurred in 1817 in Odisha.A chapter on Paika Rebellion will be added in Class 8 books of National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Minister of State for HRD, Satyapal Singh shared this information in the Parliament in a written reply, calling it the beginning of rebellion against British rule.”Keeping in mind that Paika Rebellion was the beginning of a rebellion against the British, it has been decided that a chapter on it will be added in Class 8 History textbooks. It will be added in form of a case study which is related to the 1857 revolt,” Singh said in a written reply.”It was one of the first struggles off independence against the British rule, which started in 1817 and ended in 1825. It brought all communities together to fight against the British rule. However, later the 1857 revolt saw a much larger struggle. From the historical point of view, one can say that Pain Rebellion set examples which were later followed,” he added. The Paika Rebellion, also called the Paika Bidroha, was an armed rebellion against the British in 1817. The Paikas, which were the traditional landed militia of Odisha rose in rebellion and spread across the entire state.Changes in History books of NCERT has been a subject of discussion ever since the NDA government came to power in the year 2014. Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological concern RSS has been giving a number of suggestions to the government to be included or removed from the syllabus. However government has always maintained that the syllabus will only be updated as per the rules, following advice of education experts. Recently, government took an overall review of NCERT textbooks, correcting errors if any and updating the syllabus.

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Rajasthan doctors ordered back to work today

A division bench of Rajasthan high court on Tuesday directed agitating doctors to resume duties immediately, ending their 5-day strike. The bench made it a pre-condition to no arrest, too.”We mandate that the doctors must resume duties from tomorrow (Wednesday) and it would be a condition precedent that in case they report back tomorrow, they shall not be arrested by the State,” reads the high court order.The order was passed on an application moved by Dr Abhinav Sharma, who filed the PIL alleging that the doctors are striking against the transfer of other agitating doctors — Dr Ajay Choudhary and Dr Durga Shanker Saini. They are also leading the association of in-service doctors.The bench observed that the doctors have no right to go on strike, especially when all of their demands have been met with, while some demands need consideration at the government level. Meanwhile, the agitating doctors contended in court that they have been addressed as ‘ants’ and ‘mosquitoes’ by the health minister, due to which they are on strike. However, the bench observed this cannot be grounds to strike, even though its incorrect that any side use unparliamentarian language against each other.The bench re-notified the matter for January 3 when the prayer for contempt and stay will be taken up for consideration.

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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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Robbers leave empty-handed from PL Deshpande’s Pune flat

The locked house of noted writer and humorist late PL Deshpande was broken into by a gang of unidentified burglars on Monday. However, the burglars were disappointed as all they found in the house was the author’s treasure of books. Incidentally, the same house was burgled around five years ago. The burglars had to leave empty-handed on that occassion as well.The incident took place at Malati Madhav apartment situated on Bhandarkar Road in Deccan area at around 2 am on Monday, but according to the residents of the building when they went to the police to lodge the complaint, the police officers did not pay much attention. It was only after the writer’s relatives came down to Pune from Mumbai and contacted senior police officers, the police took cognisance of the incident.The late writer, popularly known as Pu La, has two flats in the apartment and both the flats were locked.

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20-year-old BMC cleaner dies in an accident

A 20-year-old man, who was traveling by a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s clean up van died after the vehicle was hit by a speeding trailer on Monday afternoon.The deceased has been identified as Rizvan Shaikh. a cleaner of BMC.According to the police, the incident took place around 4:30 pm on Monday when Shaikh was seated beside the driver of the vehicle. Near the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link road, when the cleanup van was taking right turn, a speeding trailer came from behind and hit the van injuring Shaikh fatally. The police said, Shaikh had sustained a severe head injury and was immediately rushed to nearby hospital. However he succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday morning.The driver of the trailer fled from the spot,”We have registered a case of rash driving and causing death due to negligence. The victim was a friend of the driver and would come to help him. They were going home when the incident took place. We are trying to trace the vehicle that hit the van,” said a police officer from Tilak Nagar police station.

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Narrow escape for jodi no 1 in Gujarat

Gujarat was indeed tough for BJP. And the ruling party knew that very well. No wonder Jodi No 1 – Narendra Modi and Amit Shah once again led from the front and saved BJP from blushes. Had this invincible Jodi taken this election for granted, the outcome would have easily been termed as referendum against Modi’s radical reforms including GST and demonetization. But the thin margin of 19 seats is enough to trigger a panic button for BJP, which is slated to face stiff challenge from rejuvenated Congress in major states like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.The results have been a set back for BJP as it was claiming 150 seats but failed miserably to even touch the three figure mark. This is termed as a victory of two individuals rather than the party’s. The Jodi has so far created a record of sorts by winning 13 elections out of 15. Gujarat’s result may not savour well for BJP but it will definitely germinate internal democracy in the party. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are likely to be more flexible and receptive to ideas of other senior leaders. A green shoot was evident when Amit Shah, in a press conference allowed reporters to ask questions in otherwise what used to be one-sided press conferences.For Congress, this was a moral victory and led to an emergence of a strong leader in party. Rahul Gandhi, who had been relegated as a flop leader after a series of drubbings, is now being hailed as a leader who revived the ailing Congress. He showed consistency, maturity and quick decision making in his 40-day long campaign. For the first time, he looked like throwing direct challenge on Modi. With Rahul, Congress also discovered a shrewd strategist in Ashok Gehlot, who charioteered the election rath of Gandhi. People are saying that Gehlot may take up role of Ahmed Patel but it is not easy to replace Patel. However, still Gehlot might have a major say in Rahul’s decision making process in coming days.There’s much to cheer for Congress but the magic of Jodi No 1 is there to stay. At this moment, there is no apparent challenge to the domination of Modi-Shah, but the tight finish of Gujarat elections has given them enough food for thought ahead of 2019.

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15-year-old rape survivor moves Delhi HC seeking permission to abort 26-week pregnancy

A 15-year-old rape survivor moved the Delhi High court on Monday seeking to terminate her over 26-week pregnancy after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) refused to conduct the abortion of the minor.A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice PS Teji sought a reply from the Centre and the Delhi government following the plea. It also directed the officials of AIIMS to present before the court the medical opinion rendered by them.The bench also directed that since the co-ordinate bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice I S Mehta has been dealing with this matter, so it be listed before the concerned bench after taking orders from the Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal.Also readBombay High Court allows 26-weeks minor rape survivor to terminate pregnancyThe matter came up for hearing after it was urgently mentioned in the court. According to the plea filed through her father, the minor sought urgent directions to allow her to medically terminate her pregnancy.The plea, filed through advocate Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, said the victim was missing since March 31 after she left home following an altercation with her mother. An FIR in this regard was lodged on April 1 at the Sarita Vihar police station. A habeas corpus petition was filed on November 21 following which she was recovered on November 26.Also read12-year-old rape survivor delivers baby after abortion denied by Madhya Pradesh High CourtThe accused was arrested a day later on November 27 from Narora village, district Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh.The plea alleged that the police’s version of the minor eloping with the accused is false. On the account of the ordeals as narrated to her parents, the plea said that she was taken away by a woman who further sold her off to a family in Etah, Uttar Pradesh allegedly to be married off to a handicapped person. A fake court marriage was conducted following which she was made to live with the family.Also readSupreme Court allows 13-year-old rape survivor to abort pregnancyOn her recovery, the minor had refused to go with her parents following which she was sent to Prayas Juvenile Home. However, her parents were allowed to meet her. A few days later, she visited her parents and expressed her desire to terminate the pregnancy.On December 8, the Child Welfare Committee (South East District) recorded that the child is pregnant and wants to terminate her pregnancy and therefore referred her to AIIMS. However, it was informed to her on December 15 that she is not allowed to terminate the pregnancy.“The petitioner is before this Hon’ble court not only to seek an order directing termination of her own pregnancy but to pass a specific guideline with regard to the termination of pregnancy of any rape survivor specifically if minor whatever may be the age of the foetus,” the plea stated.

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60 sports teachers for over 9 lakh students in 1700 govt schools

Even as the AAP-led Delhi government has been promoting public schools and sports in the city, the situation of sports facilities of schools operating under the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) tells a different story. Hundreds of these government-run schools do not have a basic working playground.As per the recent data released by an NGO, 24% schools from North MCD, 11% from SDMC and 12% from EDMC did not have playgrounds in the academic year 2016-17. The schools operating under the MCDs offer education till class V.Even the number of physical education teachers in these schools is surprisingly low, prompting a call for a massive recruitment drive.”There are only 60 Physical Education Teachers for over 9 lakh students in 1,700 MCD schools,” said Ramniwas Solanki, general secretary, Municipal Corporation of Teachers’ Association.”When the schools across the world are promoting extra-curricular activities, we are depriving our children by not even providing the teachers,” he added.In a bid to apprise the authorities about the situation, the association had also written to the commissioners and mayors of the three civic bodies but to no avail. However, officials at the civic bodies, claim that the process of hiring new teachers is”underway”.”With no physical education in hundreds of MCD schools, students are neither getting proper physical training nor getting a chance to participate in any recreational activity. Many of these kids are from poor families and if we don’t channelise their energy, there is a risk of them getting involved in anti-social activities,” said a teacher at an MCD school in east Delhi’s Patparganj.MATTER RAISEDIn a bid to apprise the authorities about the situation, the association had also written to the commissioners and mayors of the three civic bodies but to no avail

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Kim Jong-Un in Kerala? BJP’s Sambit Patra tweets CPM poster featuring ‘Rocket Man’

BJP spokesperson Samit Patra on Sunday shared a picture on his Twitter timeline of a place, reportedly in Kerala that had a poster of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The poster also shows the ruling CPM colours, promoting Patra to lash out at the party. However, the authenticity of the picture is still not known.“Kim Jong-un finds place in CPM’s posters in Kerala!! No wonder they have converted Kerala into Killing fields for their opponents! Hope the left is not planning to launch :rocket: missiles at the RSS,BJP offices as their next gruesome agenda! (sic)” he tweeted on Sunday.BJP has alleged that as many as 120 BJP workers, 84 in Kannur alone, have been killed in Kerala since 2001. It has claimed that 14 of these killings have taken place since Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan took over the reins of the government last year. The CPI(M) has in turn, accused BJP and RSS of resorting to violence and denied the involvement of its government and leadership in political killings.The murder of the activist in November promoted BJP President Amit Shah to ask Kerala CM , and asked what his government was doing to “curb criminal elements” in the ranks of his CPI(M).Shah blamed Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the political killings in the state and said that “More than 120 BJP and RSS workers have been murdered in Kerala so far. CM Vijayan is directly responsible for it.”“Look at the situation of West Bengal Tripura. Communists ruled in these states for longer time,” Shah added

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Toll booths on Bandra-Worli Sea Link to go solar

In the next six months, the toll booths on Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) will get electricity supply from the solar panels to be installed on the Sea Link. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had announced the installation of solar panels earlier this year. However, now it seems electricity generated from solar panels will only be used for toll booths and not the street lights on the Sea Link.The toll operator of the sea link has said that they would be able to have panels installed in the next 3-6 months. Jayant Mhaiskar, managing director at MEP Infrastructure Developers, toll operator, said, “Our concession period has started from October 07, 2017 and as per the concession agreement we will be in a position to install solar panels in the next three to six months.”Mhaiskar, added, “As per the concession agreement, the electricity generated from the solar panels will be used for toll booths in the day and for the night hours we will have to use normal electricity connection as we do not have a power storage facility in India.”The MSRDC’s aim is to bring down their electricity bills and will also promote the Central government’s initiative of promoting solar energy and to cut down carbon footprints.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Stars point at close contest, with an edge to BJP

The elections to the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat seems to be a close contest between BJP and Congress, with the ruling party having a slight edge, said a study by astrology portal Ganeshaspeaks.com. However, it also said that the results can throw up a surprise.Transits that favour BJP: The ruling Dasha period of Sun-Venus favours BJP. However, the last phase of Saade Sati and Dasha Chhidra indicate the BJP may suffer to an extent.Margin of victory may be narrow: The voting date charts favour BJP more. However, it indicates a neck and neck competition in many constituencies and the victory margin will be narrow.Transits that favour Congress: The ruling Dasha period of Jupiter-Venus and double transit impact are favourable to the Congress to make a comeback in Gujarat. However, Congress might suffer due to unfavourable effect of Venus.Rahu and Ketu may confuse voters, and results may be unpredictable: The transiting Moon in the Nakshatra ruled by Ketu and Rahu on voting dates indicate the confusion of voters. The voting pattern will be highly unpredictable and may bring unexpected results. It also indicates huge voting in favour of one party. Gujarat State foundation chart indicates the state is undergoing a transition phase.Polls may throw up surprises: The Sun-Saturn-Moon conjunction on the counting date also indicate a close contest between both parties. It is also to be noted that the entire election process for the Gujarat Assembly right from the date of announcement, first phase and second phase of voting and the date of results, the transiting Moon is under the influence of Rahu and Ketu ruled Nakshatra. Hence, the results of the forthcoming elections will have “a surprise element”. The results will either go heavily in favour of one party or it will be a very, very close mandate as per the vote share.Cosmic configurations indicate a win for BJP: Considering all the parameters, it seems BJP will win the contest and is likely to form the next government in Gujarat.

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Indian carol singers arrested after ‘conversion’ complaint

The incident occurred in Madhya Pradesh state, which is known for its strict anti-conversion laws.

Soon, ancient havelis, forts to be in commercial use

Ancient heritage havelis and forts can be used for commercial purpose now, with a rider of not altering their traditional look. The user will have to file affidavit for this. Soon, the state government will implement state heritage conservation and protection rules.Local self-government department has prepared draft of state heritage conservation and protection rules for conservation of heritage buildings, folk art, culture, dance and paintings. The proposal has been sent to LSG minister Srichand Kriplani’s approval.The BJP government had tabled Rajasthan heritage conservation bill in the state assembly two years ago. However, it faced opposition from its own ministers and MLAs who belonged to erstwhile royal families. They were not happy about government interference in conservation of private heritage buildings forcing the government to withdraw the bill.Now, the government has come up with state heritage conservation and protection rules, which unlike the bill does not have strong provisions regarding government interference.Notably, any heritage building can be used commercially, even if it is in non-commercial zone in the master plan.The owner of the building will have to give affidavit for not distorting the heritage look of the building. However, repair will be allowed, keeping the traditional look of the building intact. While the owner will get 25% rebate in urban development tax for conservation of building. All concessions entailed in tourism policy will be extended to heritage conservation projects. While the proposed state heritage council can enter an agreement with the building owner for heritage conservation, government will not be responsible for heritage conservation of private buildings. Also permission for commercial use will be withdrawn if the heritage look is distorted.Highlights of rules to beState heritage council to be constituted Principal Secretary LSG will head the council Council will categorise heritage on basis of aesthetics, history, culture, scientific, social and spirituality State heritage centre to be formed to give technical advice Heritage buildings will receive grades 1, 2 and 3 City heritage cell to be constituted in all cities headed by municipal body chairman Unified building bylaws to be issued for construction in heritage buildings and their vicinity Construction permission as per advice of council Conservation area to be notified in periphery of the building

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Apex court gives Parsi woman interim relief

A Parsi woman on Thursday won her right to enter the Tower of Silence despite marrying outside the religion after the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust filed an undertaking permitting Goolrukh Gupta and her sisters to enter the Tower of Silence to offer prayers and participate in rituals in the event a family member passes away.For the moment, the Trust has extended its permission strictly limited to the petitioner and her sisters and not for all Parsi women who have married outside the faith. However, Gupta has not lost faith. Reacting to the news, the 51-year-old Mumbai resident is hopeful that Parsi women from small towns who have married outside the faith will be accorded the same right she has won today.”This is merely an interim order,” Shiraz Patodia — one of Gupta’s sisters and the advocate in this matter said. “The fate of other Parsi women and their rights will be decided when the court will hear the matter in the entirety,” she added.Goolrukh Gupta married her husband Mahipal Gupta, a Marwadi, more than 25 years ago, however in all that time she never forgot her faith and hardly ever skipped the daily ritual of tying the sudreh and kusti. The daughter of a trustee from Valsad, Gupta had the liberty to follow her religion, despite marrying outside the faith. However, things changed when the trustees changed.However, 15 years ago when a trustee, who had just then taken over — sometime in 2002-2003, took the hardliners approach, he all but excommunicated Gupta. Since then, Gupta was not allowed to enter the agyari (fire temple), nor participate in any religious rituals henceforth.Gupta had then filed a petition in court which, over the years finally reached the corridors of the Gujarat High Court. In their judgment, a three-judge bench 2:1 held that a Parsi woman who marries outside her faith ceases to be a Parsi. Dissatisfied with the verdict, Goolrukh had then approached the Supreme Court, challenging the HC judgment.”The last time I entered the Tower of Silence in Valsad was in 2003 when my maternal uncle passed away, Gupta said. That was also the last time she entered the fire temple there to attend the four-day prayers held for him.Thursday’s victory brings hope and cheer to the tiny, dwindling Parsi community which is under the threat of extinction. Numbering less than 50,000 now, an urgency has crept in among them. While some have taken refuge in the literal teachings of the text, others believe that Parsis need to reach out into the beyond. After all, they all want to survive.Last week, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had observed that a woman does not mortgage herself to a man by marrying him. She retains her identity, including her religious identity, even after she exercises her right to marry outside her community under the Special Marriage Act.The top court’s observation came when a five-judge bench was hearing Gupta’s matter.Couples from different faiths who wish to retain their individual religious identities may opt for a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which ensures religious protection.Prima facie, the top court did not adhere to the principle of merger relied upon by the Gujarat High Court in denying Gupta the right to practice her faith.Representing Gupta, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had sought the court’s indulgence to treat this case as an endorsement of inter-faith marriages. Those who marry outside their faith should be saddled with any disabilities, she added. Government data suggests that the Special Marriages Act is not used as often as it should be, she said.”The Tower of Silence is not a mutt or a citadel of a cult. It is a place to offer prayers to the dead. Can such a right of a woman be guillotined? It is part of her Constitutional identity,” CJI Misra had observed.The court’s decision favouring the Parsi woman’s right will create a paradigm shift for women within the minority community. Earlier this year, the top court recently ruled in favour of Muslim women by striking down instant triple talaq as unconstitutional.

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BMC to give 89K vendors hawking spots in city soon

Around 89,000 hawkers out of the city’s 99,435 hawkers who were surveyed in 2014 by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will get designated hawking spots in the city in the next couple of months.The civic body has already put up around 24,000 pitches for objections and suggestions from citizens while another list of around 65,000 hawking pitches is also ready. These hawking pitches are spread across all wards in the city. In its crackdown on illegal hawkers over the past two months, the BMC had driven out over 22,000 hawkers from across railway stations, foot-overbridges and skywalks following the fatal stampede at Elphinstone Road station.However, soon after the hawkers were removed, hawkers associations as well as political parties demanded their immediate rehabilitation.In 2007, the BMC had to declare ward-wise hawking zones following an order from the Bombay High Court. Around 23,950 pitches were declared in 222 roads across the city. However, over the period, many of roads have become no-hawking zones. Moreover, the civic body has put up the same list on a public domain to seek public opinion.“The additional 65,000 hawking pitches will be available for objections and suggestion on December 19,” said a civic official.FACTS OF THE MATTERHawking is not allowed within 150 metres of railway stations, hospitals, religious places and schools. The total number of hawkers in the city is around 3 lakh. Out of these, the number of licensed hawkers is 15,159 The BMC can allow two hawkers at the same place in an area provided they have different timings. The BMC has decided to issue identity cards to hawkers. The civic body has also planned for biometric registration of hawkers.

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Maharashtra to legalise all slums built till 2017

Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to extend the cut-off year to regularise 3.5 lakh unauthorised slums in the city to 2017 from 2011.According to senior government officials, the proposal for this was already approved by the cabinet last Sunday. “The proposal will now be tabled and approved at the ongoing state Assembly session in Nagpur. This move of regularising 3.5 lakh slums will benefit a total 18 lakh slums dwellers,” says BJP MLA Ashish Shelar.Meanwhile, state minister for Housing Ravindra Waikar feels BJP is in hurry to take the credit for the move. “We are not happy with BJP’s decision to leak this proposal to the media,” he said.”We have been working on it jointly for a long time. We are still preparing rules and regulations, and we have to also see that this move does not encourage people to create new slums. We should have surveyed the slums, then taken a phase-wise decision. We will take this up with the higher authorities.”Waikar pointed out that in 2003, the government had submitted an affidavit in the High Court that no slums should be regularised after 2005. “We have to check the details of the law before announcing such major decisions,” the Shiv Sena MLA said.Shelar feels this move will simplify slum rehabilitation projects. “Those ineligible under the redevelopment scheme create hurdles,” he explains. “Sometimes, one resident is eligible, but another from the same locality can be disqualified. Around 30 per cent of the population from a segment set for redevelopment would be disqualified. Then, these residents go to court and litigation delays the project indefinitely. By extending the cut-off date to 2017, a majority of the slum dwellers will be eligible and they will realise their dream of getting a pakka house.”Shelar also points out that this move could curb corruption that sprouts while drawing up a list of eligible slum dwellers. “The Collectorate, SRA and BMC officials demand incentives from slum dwellers to put their names on the list,” he said. “Now, there will be no corruption and a majority of the projects will be executed on time. This move will also help boost redevelopment projects such as like Dharavi. It’s a step in the right direction to realise the PM’s goal of giving everyone a home by 2022 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.”As per the government decision, slum dwellers will only have to pay construction cost in the redevelopment project. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has given a Letter of Intent (LOI) to 1531 SRA projects in the city, which will yield about 4.41 lakh new houses.Pankaj Kapoor, chairman at property research firm Liases Foras, welcomes the decision. “However, at the same time, this should not become a trend to increase slums in city and become an avenue for vote-bank politics,” he says.

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State govt considers ban on plastic use by shopkeepers

The neighbourhood grocer may not be able to sell your monthly supply of staples in plastic bags. Apart from a blanket ban on plastic bags, the state government’s proposed curbs will also include the use of plastic in bags used by shopkeepers for packaging groceries like rice and dal, flex boards, clings for covering fruits and vegetables, buntings and flags.Packaged and mineral water manufacturers may also be asked to establish recycling and processing plants for used plastic bottles under their extended producers’ responsibility.”Apart from plastic bags, spoons, disposable plastic and thermocol plates and cups, we also plan to include plastic for secondary packaging (plastic packaging that is not done at the manufacturers end or for use in logistics and export), plastic clings, flex boards, buntings and flags and non-woven polyester bags in the ban’s ambit. However, we may have to cover this in phases,” said an official from the state environment department.Environment minister Ramdas Kadam has spoken about banning plastic bags from Gudi Padwa (March 2018) considering its environmental impact, while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised a complete ban on plastic in six months with alternatives being put in place.The state also plans to ban water packaged in PET bottles for sale in starred residential hotels and for serving in government and semi-government offices, educational institutions and their functions.In the later phase, plastic bottles in restaurants, private offices and mass functions may be banned. This will reduce the use of plastic bottles which are discarded, unlike glass bottles which are recycled.CHOKING ON PLASTICMaharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) officials estimate that around 3-5 per cent of municipal waste generated consists of plastic. While the MPCB will oversee plastic manufacturers, municipal bodies will regulate shops with the ban on dispensing plastic bags being built into license conditions.

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MMRDA writes to state govt over fare hike of Metro-1

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has written to the state government to ask the Central government to form a new fare fixation committee (FFC) to decide on the proposal of increasing fares for the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro-1 corridor.Reliance Infrastructure-led Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL), had proposed to increase fare for Metro-1. The FFC formed earlier too had also suggested an increase in the fare. However, a week ago, the Bombay high court had quashed the recommendation of the FFC along with the proposal of MMOPL. The court had also directed the formation a new FFC to decide on the fare structure for Metro-1.Currently, the fare slab is Rs 10,20,30,40 for the 11.4-km-long route, the MMOPL had proposed the fare slab of Rs 10,20,25,35 and 45. The fare fixation committee (FFC) had recommended the fare to be between Rs 10 and 110.”We have written to the state government, who will ask the Centre to form a new FFC in order to decide the fare structure of Metro-1. The high court has asked to form a new FFC in one month, and decide on the fare structure in the next three months,” UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, told DNA.The MMOPL has been citing losses and has appealed for an increase in fare rates. However, the MMRDA had challenged the MMOPL’s proposal to increase fare citing that the concession agreement signed between MMRDA and MMOPL says that Metro-1 fare should be between Rs 9-13.

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Aligarh: BJP corporators create ruckus after BSP member insists on taking oath in Urdu

Unpleasant scenes marred the swearing-in of newly-elected members of the Aligarh Municipal Corporation after BJP corporators allegedly created a ruckus when the lone BSP corporator, Musharraf Husain, insisted on taking the oath in Urdu.Husain was allegedly beaten up.Some district officials intervened and managed to defuse the tension yesterday, before the situation could get worse.Husain later told newspersons there was a conspiracy to kill him, and had the officials not intervened he might have had to pay with his life.Some miscreants also threw brickbats at Aligarh’s new mayor Mohd Furqan’s car but he escaped unhurt.Furqan today expressed his “sense of distress” at the unsavoury incidents.”I do not think it is proper to derail the development agenda of the government by throwing up unnecessary controversies based on language, caste and religion,” he told PTI.”I can understand the BJP workers’ anger on losing a seat, which they have held for the past 20 years, and I was apprehending some trouble at the oath-taking ceremony. I had therefore asked all the BSP members to take oath in Hindi and avoid controversy. However, despite my advice, one of our corporators chose to take oath in Urdu. This, however, was his constitutional right and if he did so, there was no reason to whip up emotions”, he said.He also said that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Yogi Adityanath government in the state have come to power on the plank of development. “I can assure them that I will fully cooperate to make a success of all their attempts in making Aligarh a Smart City.” Regarding the allegation made by some BJP members that BSP members did not show respect to ‘Vande Matram’, Furqan said: “The entire proceedings have been videographed and barring perhaps two or three persons, the entire hall which was occupied mostly by BSP members, paid full respect on this occasion.”When contacted, Aligarh District Magistrate Hrishikesh Bhaskar Yashod told PTI, “I would not like to comment on the incident at this stage because so far no group or individual has filed any report with the police. However, the controversy over singing of ‘Vande Matram’ does not have substance because 99 per cent of the audience was on its feet when the song was being sung.”He said the mayor is fully empowered to take cognisance of whatever took place and the situation does not entail any justification for the district authorities and the police to intervene at this stage.Meanwhile, some BJP members have demanded that a case of treason be filed against the BSP member for showing disrespect to Hindi language.

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RTI reply: 19000 Kashmiri migrants moved to Delhi, 40000 still settled in Jammu

Since 1990, due to militancy issues in the Kashmir valley, 61,000 Kashmiri Pandit families along with some Muslim and Sikh families have migrated from the valley. However, surprisingly 40,000 are still residing in the state, and are in Jammu, while 19,000 have come to Delhi and remaining 2,000 to various other parts of the country. This has been revealed in an RTI reply from the Ministry of Home Affairs (Jammu and Kashmir Division), Government of India. The RTI was filed by a Pune based entrepreneur Prafful Sarda seeking details on how many Kashmiri Pandita have been affected by the militancy. He had posed an array of questions, of which the ministry replied only this much. For the remaining ones he has been asked to apply under RTI rules prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir state, which is different from the rest of the country. The RTI reply reads, “Due to militancy in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the early 1990s most of the Kashmiri Pandit families along with some Sikh and Muslim families migrated from the Kashmir valley to Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country. More than 40,000 registered Kashmiri Migrant families are residing in Jammu, about 19,000 registered Kashmiri Migrant families are living in Adelphi and about 2000 families are settled in other states.” Also readKashmiri pandit’s sweet gesture: Candies for Eid processionSarda claims his reason for seeking this information was that, “With this RTI figures, I wish to highlight our courts do have time to know and understand Rohingya Muslims issue but the citizen of this country “Kashmiri Pandits” are fighting for justice and courts have not given any firm decision in last 30 years.”

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Will Vadodara give a shocker to the ruling party this time?

Vadodara, the cultural city of Gujarat, has a typical pattern of politics and is believed to be an invincible fort of BJP. After delimitation, it has five seats and all five had gone to BJP in the in 2012 polls which were held for the first time after the realignment. Congress has been in opposition in civic body polls since long, and no caste equation dominates here as the city has the mixed population of upper caste, OBC, SC, ST, minorities and others.Besides Gujarati, Maharashtrian community also lives in Vadodara for centuries as the princely state Baroda was ruled by Gaekwad dynasty. However, the Hindu-Muslim rivalry becomes evident many times in a year and many pockets are categorised as sensitive. The communal clashes are more often inspired by political rivalry and that is why the politics in Vadodara is peculiar in nature. Amidst this, BJP has successfully retained the position here.Even in local government body, BJP has been exceling. It was only once, a third party came to power in Vadodara Municipal Corporation and that was Savdhan Party formed by former IPS officer Jaspal Singh. Later, Singh also joined BJP and then elected as MLA thrice from Sayajigunj seat in 1990, 1995 and 1998 polls.This time Rajesh Ayre, former BJP leader has been posing challenge on the same seat as his party has good hold over the poor community and Maharashtrian voters. However, this could worry both Congress and BJP as polarisation of votes does not have fix design giving benefit to any of the two parties.Besides, Sayajigunj, there are other four seats: Vadodara city, Akota, Raopura and Manjalpur. The Congress has been trying to raise the local issues and the ordeals citizens of Vadodara passed through and that was bad roads, water logging during monsoon, and lack of cleanliness.The vice-president of Congress, Maulin Vaishnav said, “Vadodara seems BJP’s fort but there are local issues that people of this city are reeling under. We have tried to raise these issues in Vadodara this time.”The MP of Vadodara and city BJP president, Ranjan Bhatt said, “There is no impact of agitation here and all Patel voters from North Gujarat, Saurasthra and Central Gujarat are with BJP. The local government body ruled by BJP has made many developmental work and people are happy. Booth level workers are easily approachable. That is why we are confident that all five seats will be of BJP again.”

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Centre to decide if Ram Kishen Grewal’s family will get Rs 1 cr relief: Delhi High Court

The Centre will now decide whether ex-serviceman, late Ram Kishen Grewal who had committed suicide during the One Rank One Pension (OROP) stir, would get Rs 1 crore from the Delhi government, said the Delhi High court on Tuesday.A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar disposed the plea filed by advocate Avadh Kaushik who had challenged the Delhi government ‘s decision to grant compensation to Grewal’s family stating that it cannot pass any order since the matter is now pending with the Centre.The bench refrained from passing any order after the Delhi government had informed in a counter-affidavit that the decision of the Delhi cabinet of granting Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of ex-serviceman Late Ram Kishen Grewal was rejected by the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of Delhi four times.The L-G had stated that the specific case did not fall within the parameters of the scheme concerned. Delhi government had announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore to Grewal declaring him a ‘martyr’. However, the court while disposing of the case also expressed its displeasure and asked that how a person who has committed suicide be termed as a martyr. “You are laying a wrong precedent because then people will come to Delhi, commit suicide in the hope that their family gets money,” the court told the counsel appearing for Delhi government.The court held that the matter has been rejected by the LG and it is now pending with the Centre. So it is still at a premature stage. Following this, on March 3, 2017, CM Arvind Kejriwal met the L-G and requested that the Cabinet decision be implemented. Baijal, however, refused to do so, stating that the specific case did not fall within the parameters of the scheme, i.e death occurring in the discharge of official duty.

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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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Enrolment to Std I in BMC schools sees sharp drop

Enrolment to Std I in civic-run schools in Mumbai has come down to 32,218 in 2016-17 from 63,392 students in 2008-09, according to a study by Praja Foundation. This is apparently due to fall in the quality of education provided by the BMC schools.Overall dropout rate was 8 per cent in 2016-17, down from 15 per cent the year before. English medium schools seem to be a better job on this front with a dropout rate of 2 per cent, shows the data released on Tuesday.Praja Foundation had commissioned the to Hansa Research which was conducted in March-April across Mumbai over 20,317 households. Out of this, a total of 3,081 households have children in the age group of 3-15 years and 2,768 households had school-going children. Nearly 400 households surveyed sent their children to municipal schools.If the current trend continues, the enrolment figure will come down to nearly half of the enrolments in 2008-09, says the survey.The study also reveals that compare to private school candidates appeared for scholarship and scholarship holders are very less in MCGM schools. If in private schools candidates appeared for scholarship are 14,690 in 2016-2017, then in MCGM that figure is just 3,276 candidates and scholarship holders in private schools are 10.9% then in MCGM schools are just 0.6% in same year.The total number of students appeared for Secondary School Certificate (SSC) in MCGM in March 2017 were 11,972 whereas this number in private schools are 135,392 and the pass percentage in MCGM is 68.91% whereas in private school is 91.81% shows the study. A fall in the total percentage of MCGM students passing the SSC exam points to a fall in outcomes for municipal school students.Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee of Praja Foundation said the BMC must push for penalising teachers for poor student performance. “However, it should ensure that teachers and principals are provided the necessary training, authority and capacity building mechanisms with reference to their school and students.”

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