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Western Railway faces real test as AC local runs up to Virar today

The Western Railway (WR) braces for a challenging first day of 2018 as it is the D-Day to operate the newly inaugurated air-conditioned local train up to Virar. On Sunday, WR officials were busy with the final checks of the AC locals as beginning Monday, the local will run for 60 kms.Over the past two days, the WR carried out basic maintenance checks and inspection in the AC rake. “Primary checks were carried out. The AC train will run on the Churchgate-Virar route as scheduled,” said Ravindra Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.After its launch on December 25, up to December 29, the AC local ran six services daily which will be upped to 12 services from January 1. Of these, eight services will run the Churchgate-Virar stretch and the remaining on the Churchgate-Borivali route. As per the decided schedule for the AC local, authorities will operate one service each during the morning and evening peak hours.Initial runs from the last week have mostly received negative feedback from commuters owing to the high fares, while some are of the opinion that the AC local is eating into the regular train services. “By replacing the existing local train services on the Churchgate-Borivali route with the AC train, almost 50,000 people have been affected,” said passenger activist Anil Galgali. Authorities are even more concerned about reactions once the AC local runs up to Virar.”The Railways should have at least lowered the fares. Who will spend Rs 205 one way from Virar to Churchgate when a second class season pass can be bought in almost the same amount,” said A Parab, a resident of Virar.A monthly pass for the AC local from Churchgate to Virar will cost Rs 2,040, fortnightly Rs 1,555, and weekly Rs 1,070. The daily ticket up to Vasai and Bhayander will cost Rs 195 and Rs 175 respectively. Between Churchgate and Virar, the AC local will halt at Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Bhayander and Vasai. Similarly, three fast services will run between Churchgate and Borivali and the remaining one service will run as a slow service from Mahalaxmi to Borivali.AC LOCAL PERFORMANCE (DEC 25-29)Tickets sold 2037Passengers 6717Earnings Rs 4,14,053Without ticket cases 48

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AC local: WR may install barricades to separate ladies coach

The air-conditioned (AC) local train inaugurated by the Western Railway (WR) will soon have barricades between general coaches and coaches reserved for ladies. The WR has planned to introduce this on the lines of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro corridor.As the coaches of the AC local train are interconnected, the WR said that it may install barricades to help commuters in identifying coaches reserved for ladies. Currently, coaches for ladies and seats earmarked for senior citizens and divyangs are different from the arrangement in the non-AC local trains. The first and 12th coaches at the Churchgate end are earmarked as ladies coaches and seven seats in the second and 11th coach at the Churchgate end are earmarked for senior citizens, and fourth and seventh coach from Churchgate end for divyangs.A K Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway, said, “We are constantly getting feedback for the recently launched AC local train, and a decision will be taken on a particular that has maximum feedback. One of it is that we may install Metro train like barricades for ladies coaches.”The WR has also said that they are are planning to have sun blinders on the windows of the AC local. DNA had reported on Thursday that the railway officials spoke to commuters travelling inside the AC local who shared that the sunlight filtering in was an issue as it warmed up the atmosphere inside the train.The AC train is currently being operated on a trial period between Churchgate and Borivli.

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Western Railway to deploy 232 MSSC staff for women’s safety

In the backdrop of the Elphinstone stampede killing 23 commuters and injuring to nearly 40, the Western Railways (WR) on Thursday said that it will deploy 232 Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) personnel and 97 female home guards for strengthening security and managing crowds of suburban commuters especially women commuters.This will be in addition to the existing manpower of the Railway Protection Force (RPF). A K Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway (WR), said, “Security in trains and on platforms has always been the requirement. We hope that deployment of the additional security staff will help the RPF to monitor security more efficiently.”Gupta added, “Prior to this, we installed CCTV cameras. We also have a dedicated application and a 24-hour helpline for the safety of commuters, especially women commuters. With the additional security arrangements, we are going to increase our security by nearly 33 per cent.The additional security force was given a two-day induction by the RPF before their deployment. The additional security force will also control and monitor crowds during morning and evening peak hours, apart from guarding isolated spots on the western line.The WR said that it has identified around 37 vulnerable stations. The stations where additional security force will be deployed include Churchgate, Grant Road, Charni Road, Mumbai Central, Elphinstone Road, Dadar, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road, Santacruz, Jogeshwari, Andheri, Goregaon, Malad, Borivali, Bhayandar, Nalasopara and Virar.SAFE COMMUTE PLANThe additional security force was given a two-day induction by the RPF before their deployment. The WR has identified 37 vulnerable stations. Some of them incude Churchgate, Grant Road, Charni Road, Mumbai Central, Elphinstone Road, Dadar, Mahim, Bandra, Khar Road.

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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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During 1947, leadership was influenced by western ideology: Suresh Joshi

The number two leader of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Suresh (Bhaiya JI) Joshi said that the development model adopted in the country after independence is not our model. This is a foreign model. After independence, the leadership of the then country was influenced by western ideology.Bhaiya Ji was addressing the lecture organised on the topic “Relevance of Ekatma-manavvad (integral humanism)”. Joshi said that Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay has done the task of keeping basic thinking in front of the society, and that is what we know as integral humanism.The country became independent, but we could not distinguish between the Suraj and the Swaraj. Therefore, the need for remembering those great men once again was needed. Pandit Upadhyay placed this thought in front of everyone. An opportunity came in 1947. Considering all the development plans taken on the basis of contemplation of Western thought could have been the matter of adding to the original stream. But unfortunately, this country’s leadership of that time was influenced by western ideas and western education. Considering the development model which was going in the world that time, it was accepted in the country also. From the legal point of view, India emerged as an independent country, but our country did not run independently nor did it run on its ideology. There was an opportunity in 1947 which we lost. Following west became our destinyExpressing his concern over environmental damage due to modernity and industrialization, Joshi said that we have to work for the reconstruction of the environment. The more you take, the same should be taken from nature.On this occasion, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, President of Ekatm-Manvvad Research and Development Institute, said that the path Independent India should follow was shown by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. DIGNITARIES PRESENT DURING EVENTChief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Vice-Chancellor of Rajasthan University Prof RK. Kothari, RSS leader Durgadas and Nimbaram and other dignitaries were also present during the occasion. Expressing his concern over environmental damage due to modernity and industrialization, Joshi said that we have to work for the reconstruction of the environment.

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Railways gangmen hold protest for your safety

The men who take care of Mumbai’s lifeline — the local trains — went on a dharna at Mumbai Central station outside Western Railway’s (WR) office on Friday to protest poor quality of work tools, lack of safety, inadequate pay and poor quarters. Easily identified by their bright orange shirts and khaki trousers, gangmen and trackmen walk along rail lines looking for anomalies on the tracks or malfunctions which could jeopardize the smooth working of the trains.The gangmen and trackmen of Western Railway are protesting inadequate facilities and poor quality of the equipment — such as hammers, tongs and even their uniform and boots — needed to maintain tracks.There were joined by railway staff belonging to Western Railway Employees Union (WREU), and raised 15-points of concern, which were submitted to railway authorities. They also protested poor salaries and bad infrastructure of their staff quarters.”The administration should have a standard of quality for the tools. Sometimes, they even break when the gangmen hit the tracks to rectify or repair them,” said J Bhosale, general secretary of WREU.The inability of gangmen and trackmen to carry out their tasks properly compromises safety of commuters as it could result in derailment, problems with signals and overhead cables. “They walk many kilometers every day, but their boots are of poor quality. At times, they are forced to even wear chappals,” adds Bhosale.The huts along the tracks, which are meant to store the heavy tools of trade, do not have electricity and water connection, and cannot be used to rest in. “The buildings leak and are in dilapidated condition,” said one gangman. “The contract with private hospitals for emergency treatments have also not been renewed.”Gangmen also risk their lives while on duty. Although there are no official numbers, it is estimated that at least 10 workers die at work each month across India. On Thursday, at a meeting with the Railway Board, workers unions demanded that gangmen be honoured when when they die in the line of duty, similar to military personnel. The body of the dead workers should be respectfully escorted to their homes.

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SC to hear pleas on deportation of Rohingya Muslims in January

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear on January 31 a batch of pleas, including that of two Rohingya refugees who have approached it against the Centre’s decision to deport Rohinigya Muslims to Myanmar.A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it would also hear on the next date the interim applications seeking to be impleaded as parties in the ongoing case.”We are not rejecting any of the impleadment application before us in this matter. We will hear it on the next date,” the bench said.On November 21, the apex court had agreed to defer the matter for hearing it on Tuesday.Two Rohingya immigrants, Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir, had approached the apex court opposing the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.Various other petitions, including those by former RSS ideologue and Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader K N Govindacharya, the CPI(M) youth wing Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the West Bengal child rights body and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, have been filed in the apex court on the matter.The top court had on October 13 said the Rohingya refugee problem was of a “great magnitude” and the state would have to play a “big role” while dealing with the contentious issue.It had earlier decided to give a detailed and holistic hearing on the government’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, observing that a balance has to be struck between national interest and human rights as the issue involved national security, economic interests and humanity.The court had suggested to the Centre not to deport these refugees, but the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta had urged that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record would have international ramifications.The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, were settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.In a communication to all states, the union home ministry had said the rise of terrorism in last few decades had become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants were prone to recruitment by terrorist organisations.It had directed the state governments to set up a task force at district level to identify and deport illegally- staying foreign nationals.
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Amid China’s naval build-up, India begins project to build 6 nuclear-powered submarines

India has kick-started an ambitious project to build six nuclear-powered attack submarines that is expected to boost the Navy’s overall strike capabilities in the face of China’s naval build-up and increasing military manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific region.Confirming the launch of the mega project, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba also gave a clear indication that Indian Navy was ready to play a bigger role including under the proposed quadrilateral coalition among India, the US, Australia and Japan. In a press conference on the eve of Navy Day, Admiral Lanba also touched on a range of key issues confronting the Navy including acquisition of a range of submarines, warships and weapons systems, asserting that it was ready to face any traditional and non-traditional threats.”It has kicked off and I will leave it at that. It is a classified project. The process has started. I will not comment further,” Admiral Lanba said, replying to a question on the project.On the evolving security scenario in the maritime sphere around India, he said it was odd for China to deploy submarines for anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean region and that a threat assessment is being carried out by the Indian Navy on it. “We are all aware of the prevailing security scenario in our maritime domain. The continued presence of both traditional and non-traditional threats in the maritime domain demand constant attention and robust mitigating measures,” he said. He also spoke about possible security challenges in case of presence of Chinese warships in the strategically-important Gwadar port in Pakistan which is being developed by China.”It will be a security challenge. We will have to look at it and mitigate,” he said.Also readWho is Shubhangi Swaroop? 5 things you must know about Indian Navy’s first woman pilotThe Navy Chief said eight ships of Chinese PLA Navy were deployed in the Indian Ocean region at any point of time and that there was a unique situation in August when the numbers had gone up to 14. Additional deployment of Chinese warships and submarines were reported during the over two month-long standoff between Indian and Chinese armies in Doklam. On expanding the Indian Navy’s presence in critical sea lanes, Admiral Lanba said it was gradually increasing its deployment in Andaman seas, Malacca Strait, Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, North Arabian and Sunda and Lumbok.”In short, our ships and aircraft are deployed from the Gulf of Aden to the Western Pacific on an almost 24×7 basis,” he said. Referring to the bilateral naval agreement between India and Singapore providing for deeper cooperation including logistics support, he said similar agreements are being negotiated with a number of countries. “We are negotiating similar pacts with a number of other countries,” he said adding the Navy has activated the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US by taking fuel at sea from the US three months ago.Also readIndian Navy’s pilotless aircraft crashes in KochiTalking about the controversy in the Russian media that a US team was allowed to board nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, the Admiral said “No US official has even seen it from close quarters.” Talking about modernisation of the Navy, he said 34 ships are under construction and projects worth Rs 40,000 crore have been identified for participation of the private shipyards. He said 23 Indian private sector shipyards have qualified for participation in indigenous shipbuilding projects on the basis of their capacity, capability and infrastructure.The Navy chief said work on Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, IAC 1, is progressing well, adding he was hopeful that the ship would join the Navy by 2020. He said steps have been taken to bolster the aviation arm of the Navy by induction of new fighters, surveillance aircraft and ship-borne helicopters. “The Indian Navy is at the threshold of joining a select league of navies capable of providing Submarine Search and Rescue in the Indian Ocean Region with two Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel Systems scheduled for induction next year,” he said.
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BJP leader’s murder: Week later, cops still can’t find main accused

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s been over a week since a local BJP leader, and his security guard and driver, were shot dead in Greater Noida’s Bisrakh area but the police remains clueless as to the whereabouts of the main accused in the crime.Senior police officials says that they have formed several teams to search for the main accused and have sent several teams to Western UP for the same. “We have formed several teams which are working to arrest the shooters involved in the case. With the recent arrest of some criminals, we have found most that they hail from Western UP so we have sent several teams to nab the shooters and the main accused from there,” said Suniti, Superintendent of Police (Rural), Gautam Budh Nagar. Police say that a case has been registered against Sundar Yadav, Charan Yadav, Devender Yadav and Satyendra Yadav. Besides, this six unidentified persons have also been included in the FIR.”We have detained 8-10 people in connection with the murder and are continuously working on the case. The family has named these people as they had disputes with them earlier as well. We are in the process of questioning them,” Suniti added. Earlier, family members of the deceased have alleged the police of not working properly and demanded a CBI investigation. “It’s been a week since we have seen no progress in the case. We have no idea where this case is going and are wondering if the police will arrest the accused or not. We are demanding CBI to investigate the case,” said Yogesh Yadav, Shiv Kumar’s brother.EOMWhat happened?On November 16, a local Bhartiya Jaanta Party leader, Shiv Kumar and his security guard, Balli, were shot dead while his driver, Rashpal, was critically wounded and later succumbed to his injuries, when four men on two motorcycles rained around 40 bullets on their Toyota Fortuner car in Greater Noida’s Bisrakh. A 15-year-old girl also died when the car, during the attack, accidentally hit her.

Raj Thackeray-led MNS to fight illegal hawkers around stations through Whatsapp

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Raj Thackeray-led MNS has a new weapon in its fight against illegal hawking around Railway stations, religious places, hospitals and educational institutions.MNS functionaries across Mumbai have created helplines and WhatsApp groups for citizens to complain about such illegal vendors. These complaints are then forwarded to the police and BMC for action. In case these agencies drag their feet, activists of the party take “appropriate action.”Yashwant Killedar, who heads the MNS unit in the Mahim assembly segment, said they had created a WhatsApp helpline for citizens to complain against illegal hawking in these no-go areas in the constituency. “If people see any hawking here, they can click photosand send them to the helpline. We get many complaints at the rate of around 15 to 20 per day… The purpose is to create awareness in the people,” added Killedar.The Mahim assembly seat covers Railway stations like Dadar, Mahim and Matunga.Akhil Chitre, MNS leader from Santacruz, said the party unit had started “Feriwale Hatao” (Drive hawkers away) WhatsApp groups which consisted of both, MNS office bearers and local residents who were not affiliated to any political party.”This covers an area of 150 meters around Railway stations, hospitals, and educational institutions and foot over bridges in Bandra, Santacruz and Khar,” added Chitre, stating that citizens could send photos of any illegal vending in these areas instead of taking “individual action.”The photos are then sent to the police and BMC for action. In case these agencies drag their feet, MNS leaders said their activists visited the spots to chase the encroachers away. “Each WhatsApp group sees around five to six complaints daily, mostly in the morning or evening,” said Chitre.The Bombay High Court had said hawking would be permitted only in 221 designated hawking zones and disallowed near schools, hospitals, religious places, railway stations and on foot overbridges (FOBs).After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29 which killed 23 people, Raj, who had organised a morcha on the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot over bridges and premises. This would make stationssafer and easier to access for commuters.

Rohingya crisis: SC to hear plea against deportation on December 5

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today said it would next month hear the plea of two Rohingya refugees who have approached it against the Centre’s decision to deport Rohinigya Muslims to Myanmar.A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud agreed to the request of senior advocate Fali S nariman, who appeared for the Rohingyas, and deferred the matter for hearing on December 5. The apex court had on October 13 said the Rohingya refugee problem was of a “great magnitude” and the state would have to play a “big role” while dealing with the contentious issue. Two Rohingya immigrants Mohammad Salimullah and Mohammad Shaqir had approached the apex court opposing the Centre’s decision to deport over 40,000 refugees who came to India after escaping from Myanmar due to widespread discrimination, violence and bloodshed against the community there.Various other petitions, including those by former RSS ideologue and Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan leader K N Govindacharaya, the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), the youth wing of of the CPI(M), the West Bengal child rights body, and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, have been filed in the apex court on the issue. The top court had earlier decided to give a detailed and holistic hearing from today on the government’s decision to deport Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar, observing that a balance has to be struck between national interest and human rights as the issue involved national security, economic interests and humanity.The court had suggested to the Centre not to deport these refugees but the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta had urged that it should not be written in the order as anything coming on record would have international ramifications.The top court had made it clear that in case any contingency arose during the intervening period, the petitioners have the liberty to approach it for redressal. The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in the Western Rakhine State of Myanmar, were settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan. In a communication to all states, the union home ministry had said the rise of terrorism in last few decades had become a serious concern for most nations as illegal migrants were prone to recruitment by terrorist organisations. It had directed the state governments to set up a task force at district level to identify and deport illegally- staying foreign nationals.

Unusual spark in Monorail coach probable cause behind fire: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The cause behind India’s first Monorail corridor between Wadala-Chembur catching fire 12 days ago was due to unusual spark underneath the Monorail coach that got in touch with the heated tyre of Monorail further resulting in burning of two Monorail coaches, revealed the interim report submitted to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) by independent committee probing the cause behind fire.UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, said, “We have received the interim report prepared by the independent committee which said that the possible reason behind Monorail catching fire was due to unusual spark coming underneath getting in touch with the heated tyre. The committee will submit its final report in the next eight days and Monorail services will remain shut until then.”According to MMRDA officials, the reason why the tyre got heated was probably because the particular Monorail was being used the whole night for test runs before the fire. “The Monorail entered Wadala depot at around 4 am, after running for around 5-6 hours. A few minutes later, when it was being taken for its routine operations the accident occurred.”The final report is being prepared by the independent committee headed by PS Baghel, retired Commissioner of Railway Safety, Western Circle. “The reason behind final report taking time is because there are some materials such as rubber, steel that caught fire are being tested at forensic labs and it is after their report final findings would be concluded, said a MMRDA official. On early morning of November 9, an empty Monorail on its way from Wadala Depot to Chembur, caught fire at Mysore Colony Monorail station.However, no injuries were reported due to the accident. MMRDA officials also have maintained that still it cannot be concluded whether operation and maintenance contractor can be held responsible for the accident or not.“There are some suggestions by the independent committee that will have to be adopted now in future before making the Monorail operational,” Madan added.The first phase of Monorail between Wadala and Chembur was made operational in 2014 and the second phase between Wadala and Jacob Cirle is expected to be made operational within few months. Meanwhile, ever since the first phase of the Monorail was made operational in 2014, it has been in the news for constant breakdowns in the rakes.

Passenger’s death forces frugal CR to restart ambulance service

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The railways has claimed that each ambulance outside stations costs the state government Rs 2 lakh a month, which was why they were removed from stations like Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT). The Central Railway (CR) is now not only getting more ambulances but is also setting up emergency medical rooms at railway stations.The decision comes after a November 12 incident, when a passenger died while he was waiting to board 12542 LTT-Gorakhpur Superfast Express from Kurla LTT.Sources said that the 108 ambulance service was removed from outside the Kurla LTT railway station in September, as it was simply stationed outside the station premises along with a doctor and there already was another ambulance at the station.”We were informed that around Rs 2 lakh was spent each month on an ambulance provided outside railway stations, which was paid by the state government,” said a Central Railway official.However, after the death of a passenger Abdul Ansari (45) earlier last week, the Central Railway authorities asked the state Health department to provide more ambulances outside stations.”However, no provision has been made for an ambulance yet. Work on the FOB and an escalator is underway at the Kurla LTT, but proper barricading has not been done, putting commuters’ lives at risk,” said Ajay Bose, an RTI activist.There are currently nine ambulances for CR suburban stations.”We are procuring additional ambulances and even setting up emergency medical rooms (EMRs) at railway stations. In fact, at Kurla LTT, the EMR will be ready by November end,” said SK Jain, divisional railway manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.Around 30 more ambulances are expected to be deployed at various railway stations, while in the next few months, there will be at least 26 EMRs on the suburban system. At present, there are 14 EMRs operational, 16 more will be added, according to railway officials. The tender process has begun, but the railways is finding it difficult to get contractors interested in setting up EMRs, they noted.The reason for the poor response is that doctors are kept engaged for 7-8 hours of work-time while they get to attend to accident cases. People also go to them with basic ailments like cough and cold. To address this problem, the Western Railway has decided to allow doctors to practise at these EMRs, where they can treat regular patients for a nominal fee. The railways is also considering setting up of pharmacies at the same locations.”It is the state health department’s job to provide ambulances. We have been requesting them to provide it at all suburban stations as per a High Court directive. We don’t want to withdraw it. It is to be ensured by them (state government),” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway.LIFE LOSTOn Nov 12, passenger Abdul Ansari, who was waiting at Kurla LTT to board LTT-Gorakhpur Superfast Express, collapsed. He was reportedly moved from Kurla LTT after an hour

Bombay High Court allows MMRDA to fell 216 trees on WEH for Metro-7 work

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A two-judge committee of the Bombay High Court had in principle agreed to allow an application moved by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) which sought permission to cut 216 trees on the Western Express Highway (WEH) for the construction of the Metro-7 line.The committee comprising of Justice Shantanu Kemkar and Justice Bhushan Gavai during a meeting held in chambers recently has agreed to direct the tree authority of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to grant permission to MMRDA, after a survey to identify the trees that would be cut was carried out by officials of the Maharashtra State Legal Aid Services Authority.Advocate GW Mattos, appearing for MMRDA, said the court, after going through the court commissioner’s report, has agreed to allow the tree-felling application. “It also took into account our undertaking that we would replant the trees wherever the need may be,” Mattos added.Following a public interest litigation filed by one Zoru Bathena highlighting the issue of trees suffering from mealy bugs, the court had directed MMRDA not to cut any trees on the Western Urban Road, which is when the authority moved the court seeking permission to cut 216 trees.Mattos argued that the project was a part of the Pragati Portal of the Office of Prime Minister of India (PMO), and being a project of great eminence its timely completion was important and would ensure benefits to the citizens of Mumbai at large.As per the undertaking, MMRDA is willing to replant the trees elsewhere in the city and at a ratio which is higher than normal. As per the norms, three trees have to be planted elsewhere for every tree cut. However, previously when 25 trees were cut for the project, 154 trees were replanted.The authority felt that the balance of convenience lies heavily in their favour because if the said 216 trees are not cut down then the execution of the entire Metro-7 Line would be obstructed which in turn would entail heavy costs to the State Exchequer.REPLANT DRIVEAs per the undertaking, MMRDA is willing to replant the trees elsewhere in the city and at a ratio which is higher than normal. As per the norms, three trees have to be planted elsewhere for every tree cut. Previously when 25 trees were cut for the project, 154 trees were replanted.

Indian Railways takes steps to identify absentee workers, Mazdoor unions resent

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A government job is said to be cushy as apart from salaries, perks, and regular bonus; they have 7-8hours work shifts or even less. However, on November 13, the Railway Board in Delhi ensured that the 14-lakh staff working for the Indian Railways come out of their comfort zone. For the first time, supervisors who head departments will be issuing certificates stating that an employee was present at work.’All employees in control of staff should give a certificate that they do not have any employee on their rolls who do not physically exist,’ states a circular issued by the Railway Board to all General Managers across Indian Railways.The circular issued by the Member (Staff) DK Gayen – who heads the Human Resources department for the whole of Indian Railways – also stated that random surprise checks should be conducted by inspectors of Personnel department and respective department. It has also asked for reviewing and listing names of unauthorised absentees in each department and unit. A copy of this is with DNA.The officers and supervisors approving the muster role will also have to give a certificate that all the staff who are getting their salaries where physically present on duty during the period. Not just this, every department will review the attendance sheet and weed out employees whose presence is based on mere proxy marking on the muster. Sources said that the Chairman of Railway Board, Ashwani Lohani when he assumed charge, had told that steps would be taken to monitor the performance of people.This is an important step as the coach production units, workshops, and car sheds where rakes are maintained and upgraded comprise of huge working staff. With lesser people actually on the ground for maintenance and upkeep of rail assets; the quality of coaches, basic amenities inside like seats, toilet blocks, fans and linen provided to passengers gets ignored.”These staffs are our eyes and ears. If they aren’t present then it is bound to have severe repercussions even in areas that come under safety category,” said a senior railway official.There are instances where people come to work in the morning, sign muster and leave after a couple of hours either for personal work or for the affiliated rail unions. The end result is that the number of people needed to ensure quality work be it in production and upkeep of rail tracks, coaches, cables and signaling systems is insufficient.This circular is also a jolt to the railway unions who have been playing an active role in shaping the Indian Railways. The unions at these places of work result in employees not giving the desired time and effort. The administration will be monitoring people to see if they are skipping work to balance out time for these registered unions. In fact, recently the General Manager of Western Railway AK Gupta had made a surprise check in his own office building at Churchgate where he caught women staff from another department, chit chatting even after lunch hours. Praveen Bajpai, general secretary, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: The staff knows the responsibilities and job well. There is no need for anyone to monitor. Everyday railway men open ticket booking windows, loco pilots and guards run trains, gangmen maintain tracks and other employees do their work; without anyone from administration telling them. Rather the Railway administration should concentrate on filling up over 2.5 lakh vacant posts which are causing a burden on other rail employees.Ajay Singh, divisional secretary, Western Railway Mazdoor Sangh said: “This circular has asked to take action against those who go on unauthorised leaves of more than 21 days. It is not as if the staff sign on the muster and leave as there is a lot of work and the administration isn’t filling up posts which results in undue pressue”.

Differently abled in lurch after removal of Andheri Stn ramp

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

Mumbai Central station skywalk awaits Western Railway nod

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the need for better crowd management at and around railway stations has been in focus since the stampede at Elphinstone Road railway station that saw 23 persons die, a skywalk proposed outside Mumbai Central railway station is languishing on paper as a No Objection Certificate is awaited for the project from Western Railway.BMC’s D ward in 2016 had proposed a skywalk from Sane Guruji Marg directly connecting the two railway foot-overbridges (FOB) of Mumbai Central railway station. Around 90m long, the skywalk would have save commuters the trouble of crossing the road, giving them direct access to the railway platform. However, citing feasibility issues, the Western Railway (WR) has not sanctioned the No Objection Certificate.Assistant Municipal Commissioner of D-Ward, Vishwas Mote said, “In the past six months, there has been written communication with the Railways, but due to feasibility issues cited by them, the project didn’t take off. The skywalk will help in crowd management outside Mumbai Central railway station. The skywalk was proposed under a comprehensive traffic management project outside the station”.Another civic officer added, “The Western Railway asked for a ticket counter and public toilet on the skywalk which was not part of our project. The proposal has not been scrapped, but has been halted. The skywalk will help reduce traffic snarls outside Mumbai Central railway station. Now all commuters’ cross the road at Sane Guruji Marg, which obstructs road traffic. The skywalk will allow commuters to directly join the railway FOB and allow smooth flow of vehicular traffic outside the station”.Commenting on the skywalk proposal, WR spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar said, “I am not aware of this proposal. I will have to check with the concerned department what the reasons are if the proposal is not given the nob by the WR”.According to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm.BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.NEWS IN NUMBERSAccording to BMC’s presentation, which DNA has been able to access, Mumbai Central railway station has around 7,500 pedestrians from 7 to 10 am, while it has 10,500 pedestrians from 5.30 to 9pm. BMC already has the provision of Rs 50 lakh in its 2014-15 budget set aside for the proposed skywalk.

Slum dwellers return to Garib Nagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Their shanties may have been demolished by the BMC in the last week of October but the slum dwellers of Garib Nagar in Bandra east have returned; cooking and sleeping beneath tarpaulin sheets. The civic body had demolished nearly 400 shanties in the slum in order to secure the Tansa Pipeline following orders from the High Court.Halim Khan, the local Shiv Sena corporator supporting the slum dwellers, said, “The BMC had issued notices to 326 shanties but demolished an additional 124. A fire broke out which affected more shanties. The residents are adversely affected and forced to come back as they have no other option,” said Khan, who claims that he is distributing food to more than 1,100 of the affected families daily with the help of locals.According to Khan, 35 slum dwellers are eligible for alternate accommodation and 200 more will be eligible once the paperwork is in place. “Even the eligible slum dwellers aren’t being given alternative accommodation. When they use toilet facilities at the nearby station, they are being heavily fined by the Railways,” said Khan.The Railways have enhanced security in the area and started proceedings to get rid of encroachment on its land adjoining the station. Ravinder Bhakar, CPRO, Western Railway, said, “The station is for commuters and the facilities are for people with valid tickets.”Despite repeated attempts, BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta and local ward officer Alka Sasane were not available for comment.

Woman sees man molesting 2 women, police deny help

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Bhayander-based housewife, Vaidahi More, was in for a rude shock on Friday when she saw a man allegedly molesting and groping two women at Bhayander Railway station. More, along with one of the victims, approached the police, who were present on the platform to raise an alarm. However, the police refused to entertain the complainant.In a fit of rage, the woman shot a video and is seen threatening the police authorities to take the matter into her own hands and pick up weapons to fight the molester.More, a housewife, decided to confront the man with the help from other commuters and took the victim to the two police officers at the railway station. The police officers refused to help and asked her to catch hold of the person and bring him to them. More later found that the man had managed to escape after crossing tracks.”The policemen refused to nab the man and instead told me that we have other work to do. I came forward to fight after seeing the man molest other women. The attitude of police was pathetic and now I have decided that I will take the matter in my own hands and will attack men if they are found molesting women at public places,” an agitated More said.The housewife soon posted the video on social media and gained a huge response with over 8,000 people viewing it and a few others sharing it too. Purshottam Karad, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Western Zone, Government Railway Police, said, “We have got in touch with the woman and are also checking the CCTV camera footage.”

Ramp at Andheri station FOB a bane

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

Safety audit: NGO to identify issues at local railway stations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Commuters travelling in local trains and crowded railway stations have been facing harassment issues every day. Recently there have been instances where women commuters had come forward to report about the harassment they faced while commuting at the railway stations. In order to check how safe the railway stations in the city are, a group of activists along with citizens will be conducting a social audit called the ‘safety audit’ at three railway stations on the Western line.While the first safety audit was conducted on November 8, Wednesday at Goregaon railway station, the other two social audits will be conducted in the afternoon at Andheri station on Thursday and Borivali railway stations on Friday.The safety audit is organised by the NGO Safecity to evaluate and improve the safety of citizens by identifying problems and reporting it to the concern authorities.As per the organisers, the objective of the safety audits is to assess the railway stations from the angle of safety and existing infrastructure. The organiser, said, “We will be communicating with commuters of all genders at the stations to understand the occurrence of sexual harassment at these stations. We are building an understanding of the needs of people and infrastructure for safer public transport (railways) and look forward to your suggestions.”Other commuters who want to report any sexual harassment at stations can report it online at safecity.in.A few years ago, as per a study conducted by another NGO revealed that many women have a tendency to not report instances of sexual harassment. They have ignored sexual harassment faced by them or others out of fear of the consequences. It was also found that overcrowded trains, congested platforms, narrow footbridges make train travel more dangerous for women.

Railways on drive to remove anti-social elements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways are in the process of identifying stations where drug peddlars and addicts are often seen. On the Western Railway, they have received complaints from locals of these unwanted elements outside Grant Road station. Officials said that they are posting RPF staff to get rid of this menace. On the Central Railway, Masjid-CSMT is known for this menace.The WR officials said that during the multi disciplinary visits; the teams saw the presence of these anti- social elements who are threat to commuters. This is the reason the decision has been taken to evict these beggars, drug peddlers and other anti-social elements from Grant Road station premises. These people sit right outside platform 4 – where trains to Churchgate arrive – especially in the evenings.There is an old dilapidated railway yard right next to this platform, which officials state these people use to escape onto the road outside. “We have asked the RPF to monitor the stations where the elements are found and get rid of them,” said Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway.There is, at Grant Road station, a spot that is supported by six pillars as an extension to the station premises, with a ticket booking office next to this concourse where commuters are seen. Sources said that there is a proposal to shift the stalls inside the station present on the platform onto this concourse so that it doesn’t get encroached upon by anti-social elements.The BMC has already removed the beggars and as per the plans, No Hawking Zone has been created there. Sources said that there is an abandoned structure near the FOB on the same platform that too needs to be removed. The RPF officers claim that they are posting their staff at stations where the issue of anto social elements and hawkers have arise.On the Central Railway there are anti social elements that are seen between CSMT and Masjid stations. Sources agree that this stretch is well-known for these anti-social elements who operate despite action is taken from time to time. There is a proposal to remove the hawkers from both Churchgate and CSMT stations which are like hub for these hawkers.These steps are being taken to create more space on railway premises and on the outside so that people can walk freely. Over the past few days there have been demolition drives across various stations and its periphery. These critical actions taken by the government authorities is the outcome of the stampede at Elphinstone Road where 23 people lost their lives on September 29.

Girgaum residents raise issue of Charni Road station ATVMs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, a group of residents from Girgaum met the station master of Charni Road railway station and handed him a letter asking that an attendant be placed at the automated ticket vending machines (ATVMs) posted on platform number 4 of the station. Residents say they are facing a problem either using the machines or most of them do not have the card to get the tickets.After Charni Road foot-overbridge was shut owing to the collapse of a part of its staircase, residents are facing several problems in reaching the platform. Two weeks ago, residents had approached the local Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant seeking help. Following this, the zebra crossing and special exits and entry points at the stations were made.However, a fresh problem has cropped up now. Automatic Ticket Vending Machines are placed at the exit gates. “We gave the letter to the station master asking him to depute one person at the station to handle the ATVM machines. There are cases where residents were fined. These commuters wanting to get tickets entered the station, as the earlier ticket counter after the bridge was shut has been out of reach, and to get tickets one has to reach the other side. We informed him of all our problems,” said Gaurav Sagwekar, of Aami Girgaumkar.According to Sagwekar, many school students and senior citizens are complaining because they have to walk a lot to get tickets. “Many senior citizens and students do not know how to use the ATVM machines and if people are deputed to help them, it will ease the commute,” said Sagwekar.Repeated attempts to contact CPRO of Western Railway elicited no response.THE ISSUEATVM machines have been placed on the exit side of the station, causing a problem for senior citizens and students who have to walk a long way to get them

EPCA tells states to impose fines, hike parking fees

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, Delhi’s skies resembled a vast plume of dust as smoke emitted from farm fires across Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and moisture-laden winds enveloped the city in a thick layer of smog. The air quality of the Capital breached the ‘severe’ category, making it hazardous and unhealthy for even those without any respiratory ailments.The situation saw the Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) go into a huddle. The members have now directed Delhi and other NCR states to immediately roll out measures from the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). Apart from Delhi, authorities across Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan were also issued these directions.Chief among the directions were an increase in public transport services, including Delhi Metro, addition of more coaches in Metro, and a reduction in fares during off-peak hours, as long as the air quality was in the ‘severe’ category.To control the rampant dust pollution, the EPCA has directed all state pollution control boards to immediately impose fines on all road construction agencies found wanting in dust control. While discussing the quantum of fines, officials from CPCB and EPCA chief Bhure Lal said that using provisions of the Construction and Demolition Rules, a penalty of up to Rs 5 lakh can be imposed.”The EPCA is directing for a fine of Rs,50,000 to be imposed as penalty, per day, for inadequate road dust control,” EPCA member Sunita Narain said during the meeting.Meteorological conditions played a significant role in worsening Delhi-NCR air-quality, Central Pollution Control Board Member Secretary A.Sudhakar informed EPCA on Tuesday.”It is in the severe category primarily due to weather conditions. The Western Disturbance-influenced winds are bringing pollutants from Punjab and winds from eastern side are bringing in moisture,” A Sudhakar said.

MMRDA slaps 5 lakh fine on firm for mishap on Metro-VII site

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Monday said that it has issued a notice to J Kumar Infraprojects levying a fine of Rs 5 lakh following an accident on Metro construction site of Andheri East-Dahisar East Metro-7 corridor a week ago. MMRDA spokesperson Dilip Kawathkar confirmed that a notice has been issued to the firm. “We have issued notice to J Kumar Infraprojects levying a fine of Rs 5 lakh for an accident at a Metro-VII construction site,” said Kawathkar.A week ago, a bunch of iron rods had come down tilting towards the ground near Aarey Colony on the Western Express Highway (WEH). However, this accident did not cause any injuries, but MMRDA had issued a show-cause notice to J Kumar Infraprojects and the general consultant M/s Aica Consortium.UPS Madan, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA, told DNA: “We will definitely take action against contractor J Kumar Infraprojects and have decided to levy a fine for the accident.”MMRDA had claimed that the accident took place due to a crane hitting the iron rods while work was in progress on a pier. According to an MMRDA official, “Following the accident, the driver who was behind the crane will be given lighter activities to do at the Metro construction site.”

Mumbai: That Whatsapp forward of a bomb blast in Bandra station is fake, confirms Western Railway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday, the Western Railway looked to scotch rumours of a supposed bomb blast that took place at Bandra Railway station. Several messages on social media for the last fortnight have claimed that a bomb blast had taken place in Bandra station.DCP Government Railway Police, Western Railway said it was a false message and no such incident had taken place.Purhosttam Karad told DNA: “A false message about blast at Bandra Railway station is being circulated in some group. No such incident had happened.”

Bombay High Court gets its own crèche

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at the inauguration of a crèche at the Bombay High Court for women court staff and lawyers, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday assured those in attendance that a bigger space for the court had been identified, and that “Mumbai will soon have a new High Court.” The crèche was inaugurated by Dipak Misra, the Chief Justice of India.Besides the inauguration of the crèche, a ceremony to mark the laying of the foundation stone for an alternate dispute resolution centre in the High Court, in order to address and solve the problems of the common man at a faster pace, was also held on Saturday afternoon.Also, present for the ceremony were Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Dr Justice Manjula Chellur and advocate Rajiv Chavan, the president of Bar Association of Western India, and other dignitaries.”No doubt the structure is a majestic one, but there are instances where the roof, the wall as well as the ceiling of the court has come down,” said Chavan, putting forth the condition of the High Court structure before the panel.Chief Minister Fadnavis informed the panel that a new location for the Bombay HC to has been finalised. “We have also given a timeline to Chief Justice Manjula Chellur for the same. Please be assured, we all love this historical place, but soon there will be a new Bombay High Court,” Fadnavis said.The crèche has been set up to aide women lawyers as well as court staffers when they appear before the court for arguments. The resolution centre is for dealing with the matters of the common man, where aggrieved parties can opt for settlement with speedy judgements.

Army chief pitches for Bharat Ratna to Field Marshal Cariappa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Army Chief General Bipin Rawat today pitched for conferring the country’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna on independent India’s first army chief, Field Marshal General K M Cariappa.”The time has also come to recommend Field Marshal Cariappa for the award of Bharat Ratna. If others can get it, I see no reason why he should not, a deserving personality for the same. We will shortly address the issue on priority,” he said.Gen Rawat’s comments came in response to a request by Col K C Subbayya from The Field Marshal Cariappa General Thimayya (FMCGT) forum about recommending the Bharat Ratna to Cariappa, who hails from Kodagu district in Karnataka.Rawat unveiled the statues of Cariappa and General K S Thimayya, also a former Army chief who hailed from Kodagu district in Karnataka, at a function at the Cauvery College at Gonikoppal, Kodagu district.Terming Kodagu (formerly Coorg) as a ‘land of warriors’, Rawat said he is proud, privileged and humbled for having got the opportunity to unveil the memorial in memory of Field Marshal Cariappa and General K S Thimayya.Kodagu continues to serve the nation with a large number of officers and men serving the Army, he said and voiced hope that “there will be more Chiefs in the future who will rise from this great land”.Cariappa was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and was conferred the rank of Field Marshal on April 28, 1986.He was also a recipient of the prestigious order of the British Empire (OBE) for his role in the Burma campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War.Cariappa also led the Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pak War of 1947.He held the five-star rank of field marshal, the highest honour in the Indian Army, which Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is the only other officer to have held.Cariappa, whose military career spanned over three decades, retired from the Army in 1953 and later served as the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand till 1956.He died in Bengaluru in 1993 at the age of 94.

MNS chief meets Fadnavis over illegal hawking issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid his party’s confrontation with the Congress over illegal hawking in the city, MNS chief Raj Thackeray met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday.The meeting comes after the Congress and MNS workers clashed over a morcha organised by the former at Dadar in support of hawkers on Wednesday.After the one-and-half-hour-long meeting, MNS leaders said Raj, who was accompanied by son Amit and party functionaries Bala Nandgaonkar, Shirish Sawant and Abhijit Panse, had not discussed the hawking issue. However, an MNS leader said the two had met one-on-one after the meeting.Nandgaonkar said they had raised the issue of redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings which had been constructed on the collector’s land in Kalyan and Dombivli, and the need for Maharashtra to have its own “start-up” policy which will create a favourable investment climate for young entrepreneurs.An MNS leader pointed to how the Bombay High Court had said hawking would be permitted only in 221 designated hawking zones but not near schools, hospitals, religious places, railway stations and on foot overbridges (FOBs).”For us, the issue of illegal hawking has ended. We have taken the agitation to a logical end. Lakhs of railway commuters will get relief,” he added.Activists of the MNS, which is known for its anti-migrant stance, had attacked and chased away hawkers from outside suburban railway stations after the Railway administration did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict these encroachers.After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road Railway station on September 29 which killed 23 people, Raj, who had organised a morcha on the Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate from the Metro Cinema had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, foot over bridges and premises. This would make stations safer and easier to access for commuters.TAKING A STANDMNS activists had attacked and chased away hawkers from outside railway stations after the Railways did not heed their party chief’s “ultimatum” to evict these encroachers. After the stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station, The MNS had given the Railways a 15-day deadline to remove hawkers at stations, FOBs and rail premises.

Churchgate taxi traffic issue solved

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The taxi menace outside Churchgate station has been taken care of by traffic police. They have regulated the movement of taxis and even BEST buses, which, for long, has been causing congestion outside the rail premises. Over the last few days, there have been red colour barricades placed on the road, meant to segregate flow of traffic.The presence of barricades might sound negligible, but in the morning and evening, when people rush to Churchgate station, this has brought respite. There is proper segregation of vehicular traffic unlike previously when traffic jams and chaos prevailed. The black and yellow taxis would park haphazardly on road, creating two or three parking lines.These cabs don’t move until they get a passenger, which causes a traffic nightmare. There is also a share-a-taxi stand which augments the problem on road. Drivers queue up till the bus stops, which make it difficult for the BEST buses.”We have been doing whatever possible to ease traffic on the roads,” said Ashok Dudhe, DCP Traffic (City).Now, ever since these barricades have been placed, the black and yellow taxis have been asked to drop passengers and move ahead without stopping. Buses find it easier to come all the way till the bus stops there and move forward towards Marine Lines.Sources from Western Railways said that this is part of the whole plan to ease congestion outside railway stations. The multi-disciplinary audit teams have suggested this to create space outside stations for free movement of people. “It has been found that people are forced to unnecessarily wait at bus stops, which creates more crowd at station premises,” said a WR official.NEW FOBMeanwhile, the Army and Railway authorities began preliminary work at Elphinstone Road. They began taking measurements for the new foot over-bridge (FOB) that will be extended from the existing Parel FOB. This 3.5-m wide FOB will have to cross seven rail lines and is expected to be ready by January 31.

Over 100% occupancy on Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor: WR clarifies RTI reply on Rs 30 crore losses

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after an RTI reply stated how the Mumbai-Ahmedabad train route had incurred losses of nearly Rs 30 crore with 40% of seats remaining empty, the Western Railway authorities on Wednesday clarified that there is over 100% passenger occupancy on Mumbai–Ahmedabad sector.Ravinder Bhakar, Chief PRO, Western Railway in a press release said that during these 3 months, the total earnings on this sector was Rs 233 crore. “There are 9 direct trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and back. Except for the Ahmedabad Duronto Express, the other trains have several stops.“The total available berths of these 9 trains from July 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 works out to 8,03,150 against which actual passengers booked were 8,30,978. Thus the total occupancy was 103%,” said Bhakar.He clarified that the reply given in the RTI query is against the specific question of number of passengers from only Mumbai Central to Ahmedabad and Ahmedabad to Mumbai Central stations. The information does not include information about enroute traffic.The Mumbai – Ahmedabad sector is one of the busiest routes of Indian Railways caterered by 9 direct trains between Mumbai and Ahmedabad and around 25 trains going to onward destinations via Ahmedabad. This sector also serves important enroute stations and industrial towns such as Vadodara, Bharuch, Surat, Vapi, Valsad etc.

After Elphinstone stampede, 3 Railways foot-over-bridges to be built by Army by Jan 31

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over a month after Elphinstone stampede, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that three railways foot-over-bridges will be constructed by 31st January with Army’s help.On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush hour stampede on a narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited the stampede site along with Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.Speaking to media, Fadnavis said, “After Elphinstone Stampede, we had asked for help from armed forces to which Defence Minister agreed and three bridges will be constructed by 31 January.””Bridges to be built in with cooperation with Army at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivali by 31st Jan 2018,” said Piyush Goyal.
ALSO READ Elphinstone Stampede | A disaster waiting to happen, yet govt springs into action only after 22 crushed to deathNirmala Sitharaman said that the Army visited the areas and assessed where the bridge is going to be built and they will be there at every stage of the work.”A call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter as Army has its role at the borders. Probably first time Army has been asked to come in to build what could otherwise be called civil work. But Elphinstone tragedy was so big, a call was taken to cooperate seeing the urgency of the matter,” she said.
ALSO READ Elphinstone Stampede: Western Railway inquiry report blames heavy rain, rumoursAn inquiry report has blamed the heavy rain for the tragedy. The panel, headed by the Western Railway chief security officer, submitted its report to WR General Manager Anil Kumar today after recording statements of 30 commuters who were injured.The report said people with heavy luggage lost their balance because of which the stampede may have occurred.

Private school van bursts into flames

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A private van, which was being used for transportation of school students, was engulfed in flames on Friday afternoon at the Western Express Highway at Goregaon. Fortunately, there were no students in the van when it caught fire, and no one was injured, said the police.According to the Dindoshi police, the incident took place around 1 pm on Friday when the driver of the van was going to pick up students from schools in Goregaon. While he was on the way, he suddenly realised that smoke was emanating from the bonnet of the van.”He immediately stopped the van and tried to open the bonnet, when the car caught fire. The locals immediately informed us and the fire brigade was alerted too. The fire was doused by the fire fighters and the van was cleared from the road. There were no casualties,” said a police officer from Dindoshi police station.”We have completed the panchnama and the van caught fire due to a possible short circuit. We have made a diary entry of the incident. There were no school students in the van at the time of incident,” said Rajaram Vithoba Vhanmane, senior police inspector of Dindoshi Police Station.”These private vans are not well maintained and no one keeps check on them. The parents should never send their kids to school in such private vans. It was fortunate that there was no one in the school van,” said Arundhati Chavan, President of Parent Teachers Association United Forum.Anil Garg, Chairman, School Bus Owners Association, said, “These small vans ferry children everyday across the city. They don’t follow any government rules and regulations and neither are they stopped by authorities from ferrying school children. Our association has been demanding for years that such school vans, that take children beyond their seating capacity, be stopped. Vans who do not sign a contract with the school as per the school bus policy, should not be allowed to transport students.”

Plea filed in Supreme Court for gender-equal bench to hear Sabarimala temple case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A fresh plea was today moved in the Supreme Court seeking setting up of a constitution bench with half of the bench being women judges or a special jury with eminent personalities to hear the case relating to women’s entry into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.The plea, filed by S Parameswaran Nampoothiri who is also a party in the ongoing matter in the apex court, said “only women can understand and feel better” on the issues pending before the apex court. It also referred to the fact that since 1950, only six woman judges have been appointed in the apex court and the instant matter relating to women, should be referred to a bench comprising 50 per cent of women judges or be sent to a special jury.The petition, while seeking to constitute a “jury” as an alternative to handle the PILs, also claimed that there was a “judicial emergency” due to delay in disposal of cases. The apex court had on October 13 referred to a constitution bench the contentious issue relating to the ban on entry of women between 10 to 50 years of age in Kerala’s historic hill-top shrine Sabarimala Temple. “Pass an order referring the above mentioned writ petition to a constitution bench of this court in which at least 50 per cent of the Judges are women.”Or in the alternative, refer the matter to a specially constituted jury consisting of people of eminence like retired judges of this court or the High Courts, historians, writers, etc. with a direction to take a decision in a particular time frame,” the plea, filed through advocate Wills Mathews, said. It also sought introduction of Jury system in India to deal with PILs to save time of the constitutional courts. “If we look at the present scenario of pendency of cases, the delay in disposal of cases, there exists a situation to declare ‘Judicial Emergency’, though in the Constitution there is no provision for it,” the petition said.The plea filed by the 85-year-old petitioner also said that religious practices, customs, usage and spirituality are not free from the test of constitutional validity. The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” on account of menstruation.A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra have framed five “significant” questions to be dealt with by the constitution bench, including whether the practice of banning entry of women in the temple amounted to discrimination and violated their fundamental rights.The court was hearing the petition filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association and others seeking to ensure entry of female devotees between the age group of 10 to 50 at the Lord Ayappa Temple at Sabarimala. On November 7 last year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple. Earlier a similar progressive stand was taken by the Left Democratic Front government in 2007 favouring women’s entry into the temple, which was overturned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front dispensation later. The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.

Maritime security top agenda for French minister visit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maritime security and technological partnership under the Make In India programme while keeping the Rafale fighter jets deal in mind will top the agenda during the two-day visit of French Defence Minister Florence Parly starting Friday. She will meet her counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.The possibility of selling more Rafale fighter jets to the Indian Air Force could also come up in the deliberations.Significantly, the French Minister will visit Mihan near Nagpur where she will participate in the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Dassault-Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL), a joint venture between the two companies that will carry out offset requirements as part of the Rafale deal.India has already finalised a deal for purchase of 36 French Rafale fighter jets, but with the Indian Air Force expressing the need for more, the facility can be used for future manufacturing.”DRAL will be part of the upcoming Aerospace Park in Nagpur and plans to develop an indigenous value-added supply chain, thereby building a strong base for the success of the Rafale programme under the Make In India initiative,” a statement from the French Embassy said.Cooperation on maritime security is crucial in wake of increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region.The French Minister will also visit Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) and the Western Naval Command in Mumbai. At MDL shipyard, she will visit the yard where Scorpene submarines are being made in India with transfer of technology under the P75 project by MDL. She will also board the INS Kalvari, the first of these six Scorpene submarines delivered to the Indian Navy.Joint exercises between armed armed forces of the two countries counter-terrorism will also be part of the defence cooperation initiatives that will be discussed.

Bandra slum fire disrupts Western Railway services

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Train services were affected on the Harbour line between Bandra and Andheri stations as slum dwellers came onto the tracks on Thursday, after a massive fire broke out in Garib Nagar slums (Behrampada) at Bandra East.The incident took place during a demolition drive ordered by the Bombay High Court, and slum dwellers were seen getting their furniture, TV sets, refrigerators, sewing machines and even gas cylinders onto the railway tracks and platforms 6 and 7 of Bandra station, blocking the fifth line meant for long distance trains, and also the Up Harbour line towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.The fire engulfed a portion of the skywalk near the eastern exit of Bandra station, causing that part to collapse. The ticket booking office and Automated Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) on the Foot-over-Bridge (FOB) on the east side were also damaged in the fire. Auto-rickshaw operations and bus services outside Bandra station were suspended.”The Up and Down lines were suspended from 4.25 pm to 4.50 pm,” said Sunil Udasi, chief PRO, Central Railway. The railways allowed services to run on the Main line.Following the Elphinstone Road stampede on September 29, in which 23 people died, BMC and the Railways have stepped up their demolition drives. In fact, a multi-disciplinary team formed by Western Railway had mentioned the need for fencing near the fifth line to avoid encroachment.At Bandra (East), the Railways have lost over 5000 sqmt of land to encroachment. “There are nearly 360 illegally slums on our land. These need to be cleared for safety purposes too,” said a Western Railway official. In Garib Nagar alone, there are 450 encroachers some of whom have occupied and obstructed the fifth rail line near Bandra station.This is the third incident of a fire at Garib Nagar, after fires broke out in the slums in June 2009 and March 2011.The fireThe fire broke out around 3:15 pm, following which 9 fire engines, 10 water tankers and other fire-fighting machinery was pressed into action. The fire was brought under control by around 7.30 pm. Two Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) officials, Arvind Parbhati Ghadge from Bandra and Ajay Ram Bandra from Marol were injured and admitted to Bhabha Hospital in Bandra. Their condition is stable.MFB officials said they would know the trigger for the fire only after investigation. However, locals say a cylinder blast could be the reason, as they heard a loud explosion before they noticed the smoke.MFB officials say they received a level-II fire call around 3.15 pm, and the intensity of the fire increased at around 4.30pm. Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale said the fire was declared level-IV after its intensity increased.According to the BMC, the fire consumed electric wiring and installation, garments, scrapped material, plastic, kerosene, household articles, wooden furniture, LPG Cylinders, rags, among others, in an area of about 20,000 sqmt, counting some ground-plus-two and ground-plus-three storey structures.”A demolition drive was being conducted as the area was within the buffer zone of the Tansa Pipeline,” said an official from BMC’s H-East ward.A senior fire official said that they faced difficulty while dousing the fire in the initial stage as a crowd had gathered to take selfies.”The BMC told us on October 24 to clear our houses in 48 hours, but we weren’t told they would demolish our homes,” said Farida Begum, who was sitting on the tracks along with her family. “Now my house has been gutted and I couldn’t even carry all my belongings.” Her shanty was right next to the FOB.

Mumbai: Massive fire breaks out in Bandra slum, reaches station FOB; no casualties reported

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A massive fire, which broke out in the Behrampada-Garibnagar slum area near the eastern side of the suburban Bandra railway station here, had been brought under control, a fire brigade official said.The fire-fighting team was making relentless efforts to douse the flames, he added.”The fire is almost under control and we have contained it from all sides,” the official said, adding that if everything went according to the plan, cooling operations would commence soon.The fire broke out at around 4.20 pm when municipal officials were carrying out an anti-encroachment drive outside the busy station.No casualties had been reported among the residents of the area, while a fire brigade personnel was injured, the official said.At least 16 fire engines and 10 water tankers were pressed into service to douse the flames.The blaze forced the Western Railway to stop the Harbour Line services between Wadala and Andheri, in both directions, between 4.25 pm and 4.50 pm. The services were resumed subsequently.The flames also touched the windows of the booking office at the south side foot overbridge (FOB) of the station.The hawkers and slum-dwellers bore most of the brunt, losing their belongings to the fire.”Some furniture and windows of the booking office at the south side FOB at the Bandra station got damaged due to the fire from the nearby slums…No casualty to railway staffers or passengers was reported,” a statement from the Western Railway said.Prima facie, it appeared that an explosion of gas cylinders, while the civic body officials were demolishing the encroachments in the congested area, led to the fire but the exact reason and extent of property loss would be known only after a detailed inquiry, officials said.

Train drivers wary as stone pelting cases rise

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The locomotive pilots of Ahmedabad Division Railways are wary of driving their trains, given a steep increase in incidents of stone pelting. 2017 saw more than 80 cases of stone pelting at engine personnel, with at least two pilots suffering eye injuries from shattered glass.According to a member of the Western Railway Employees’ Union (WREU), most incidents take place when trains pass residential areas of the city. Both children and adults are suspected of being behind the stone-throwing.Most number of incidents take place between Nadiad and Anand, Vatva-Maninagar, and Sabarmati-Chandlodia. Sanjay Suryabali, a member of WREU, said, “The incidents happen near the crossing gate areas. As per the Railway rule, the locomotive pilot has to start blowing the horn 250 metres before each crossing/gates,” he explained.”Since the horn is a high-pitched one, people living nearby get irritated and start pelting stones. At other times, however, children do it for fun.” The Railways authorities, he claimed, have not done anything yet to address the problem. In September, Nilesh Kumar, a pilot, suffered glass injuries to his eye after a stone shattered the window and hit his body. Kumar was treated at LG hospital and a case was lodged with the GRP and local police.Pradeep Sharma, Public Relation Officer(PRO) of Ahmedabad Division of Western Railway said, “Regarding the matter, we have increased the deployment of Railway Protection force staff at the particular location to put a watch during night and day.”BE AWARE!Most incidents take place between Nadiad and Anand, Vatva-Maninagar, and Sabarmati-Chandlodia.
Both children and adults are suspected of being behind the stone-throwing.

Pillion rider dies after biker rams into auto on highway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 16-year-old biker met with an accident leading to the death of the pillion rider on the Western Express Highway. The Kasturba Marg police have registered a case of causing death due to negligence against an unidentified biker. The police will also initiate action against the minor biker who had gone for a ride with his friend.According to police, the teen and his friend (also a minor) were residents of Railway colony in Dahisar. They went for a ride on the highway and stopped an autorickshaw near Devipada junction at Borivli. At the same time, a biker, who was riding rashly, rammed into the autorickshaw, which in turn, knocked the pillion rider from the bike that had stopped near the rickshaw. The pillion rider fell on the ground and died on the spot due to head injuries. The minor biker too sustained injuries on his leg.Satish Raorane, Senior Police Inspector, Kasturba Marg police station, said, “We have registered a case against unknown persons under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and are checking the CCTVs of the location.”

Free WiFi ups crowd at stations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Free WiFi at railway stations has become a reason for a major crowd. According to the audit report of Western Railway, non-commuters also stand at the end of the foot-over bridges (FOBs), staircases and use the WiFi, which causes congestion.The audit report mentions the misuse of free WiFi provided at important suburban stations. In Mumbai, there are 19 railway stations where WiFi network have been set up. Those stations are Mumbai Central, Kurla, Thane, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), Bandra Terminus, Vashi, Kalyan, Panvel, Borivali, Churchgate, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Byculla, Khar Road, Dadar (Central Railway), Dadar ( Western Railway), Andheri, and Bandra.Senior WR officials said that they are now planning to restrict its frequency. They have found that some unscrupulous elements even watch pornography using the free WiFi at rail stations. The audit team observed that people just stand near the entry or exit of stations without any intention to travel.”Hence, it is recommended that the availability of WiFi should be restricted to main concourse hall and not on all platforms/FOBs. A provision shall also be made to switch off the WiFi during the night,” mentions the report.This decision has been taken as one of the ways to decongest railway stations. The authorities will also clear unwanted structures, boxes, toilet blocks, and food stalls that block free movement.Apart from this, they have also made it mandatory to have anti skid material and roughened granite on the landings of FOBs. All new FOBs should be planned with both side landings with a provision of ramp landing at either side for convenience of Divyang passengers. Also, staircase landing of FOBs and entrance should be made uniform.NEW VIDEO SYSTEMPresently, 1060 CCTV cameras are available at 30 suburban stations that provides live video feed which is monitored at every station either by RPF staff or station masters. The requirement to comprehensively cover all the 30 stations of Suburban section has been assessed as 2729 cameras.
In the new system, live video feed of CCTV cameras shall be monitored at every station in the Divisional Control Room at Mumbai Central. The newly proposed Video Surveillance System shall include video analytic software with facility for generating alarm for people crossing the tracks at Platform ends, people entering Railways operation areas, object/baggage left behind at Platform/waiting areas/ticketing counters and overcrowding at stations.
Face recognition software shall also be provided which shall capture faces from live video modes and generate alarm if black list match is found. The system shall be able to make suspected faces from pre-recorded video feeds. All these upgrade has been sought by the audit teams which were created on both WR and CR after the Elphinstone Road stampede that left 23 people dead.

India-China border: Govt wants temperature-controlled posts for ITBP jawans

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government is looking into a proposal for 50 temperature-controlled posts along the India-China border for ITBP jawans who guard the Himalayan heights in sub-zero temperatures, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Tuesday.Addressing personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, established on this day 56 years ago to guard India’s borders with China, the home minister announced a slew of other measures to boost the capabilities of the force.These include the construction of 25 border roads in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.There are 176 border posts along the India-China border, from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh.According to Singh, the government is considering using technology to maintain a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius in the proposed new posts. These will be located in high-altitude areas where ITBP jawans have to bear the brunt of snow blizzards and sub-zero temperatures.”We are committed to enhancing your operational and infrastructure capabilities. Recently, we got a proposal to build 50 new border posts for the force and we are working on it,” the home minister said.The setting up of more posts is aimed at ensuring that they are not abandoned during extreme snow and cold.The government is also considering special lightweight winter clothing for troops deployed above 9,000 feet and an enhanced fleet of snow scooters to patrol the high-altitude areas of the 3,488-km Sino-Indian frontier.The force guards the border in altitudes ranging from 9,000 feet to 18,700 feet in the Western, Middle and Eastern sectors of the Indo-China Border.Singh said he is not satisfied with housing and infrastructure facilities and is “seriously” working to improve these areas.The minister said 35 old border posts in very high- altitude areas are being upgraded as “composite” units.”We are working to enhance road, mobile and satellite connectivity in the border areas for the ITBP,” he said.The minister asked ITBP troops to ensure and build good relations with border dwellers as they are “strategic assets” of the country and important stakeholders in keeping the borders safe.Singh lauded the ITBP for introducing Mandarin during basic training of its troops. This was done so they can converse with the Chinese Army during face-offs.He also asked ITBP officers to take the responsibility of at least one family of those killed in the line of duty.The ministry is working to help jawans who have suffered 50 per cent disability during operations through the Bharat Ke Veer benevolent fund, he said.ITBP Director General (DG) R K Pachnanda said the force has been nominated as the “nodal agency” for obtaining and channelising satellite communication for all border-guarding forces in the country.He said the home ministry has also approved the ITBP’s proposal to hire helicopters for high-altitude border posts.The paramilitary is enhancing its intelligence set-up, Pachnanda added.

Deja vu for commuters: WR gets back old rakes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It’s been more than a fortnight that 37 lakh people are forced to travel crammed in the rickety and slow moving rakes; and this is because the Western Railway (WR) has brought back the old rakes and included them in their fleet.These are the rakes which have less appealing coaches, fans that hardly circulate air, cob-webbed tube lights, smaller windows and crammed doorways. The officials from WR said that they have inducted these old BHEL-make rakes as the number of daily services has been increased to 1,355 from October 1.“We have 100 rakes in our fleet, of which 14 per cent is kept for routine maintenance. But now we have increased our fleet for operations to 89 rakes,” said a WR official.Until September, WR used to run 86 rakes that operated 1,323 services every day. But as they have increased the number of services by 32, they are pressing the older rakes into operations. For the past few years, WR had been operating only the new trains that can touch 100kmph unlike these older rakes that don’t go beyond 80kmph.“We have to be perfect as far as maintenance of rakes is concerned. We cannot afford more rakes to have technical failures and have margin of error, else we will lose the daily punctuality count,” said a WR official.These BHEL-make rakes are known to undergo technical failures and breakdowns, especially during monsoons. Moreover, the remaining codal life — each rake can operate for 25-30 years depending on the maintenance — is barely 6-8 years for these rakes.

Western Railway audit: Reduce luggage weight of commuters, instal escalators

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The best way to prevent people from standing on stairways of foot over bridges (FOBs) is to replace them with escalators. Not just this, the Western Railway (WR) in its audit report has suggested reducing the weight of bags and luggage carried inside local trains. Both these factors were among the reasons behind the Elphinstone Road stampede, when the smooth movement of people on the staircase of a foot over bridge was hindered by luggage and sacks carried by commuters.The audit report of WR has suggested that the size and weight of bags carried by commuters in local trains should be reduced drastically. Sources said that at present a commuter travelling first-class can carry up to 50 kg and a second-class passenger can carry 35 kg. “We have proposed to bring it down to 15 kg for first-class and 10 kg for second-class,” said a WR official.Just before Diwali, the Central Railway gave a proposal to the Railway Board in Delhi seeking permission to construct 214 escalators in Mumbai. At present, there are 22 escalators on CR and 32 escalators on WR. This is apart from the ongoing work on 52 escalators on CR. “We are also working at erecting these 52 escalators by June 2018,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.The recent audit of stations done by the different teams had also asked the CR authorities to build 67 new escalators. These too have been included in the 214 escalators that have been sent to Delhi. The cost of each escalator is Rs 60 lakh that has annual maintenance contract of 3 years.The WR on the other hand is constructing 18 escalators and has asked for 80 more escalators across all the stations. Apart from this the CR will also construct 12 new FOBs.NEW MEASURESCCTVs planned to cover escalators. 12 new FOBs are being built at a cost of Rs 180 crore.
Special CCTVs will be placed that will capture the crowded locations and send a beeper to the RPF control room

Sachin Tendulkar sanctions Rs 2 crore from MP fund to fix bridges in Mumbai’s railway stations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cricket icon and Rajya Sabha member Sachin Tendulkar has sanctioned Rs 2 crore from his Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund for revamp of rail foot overbridges in Mumbai here in the backdrop of the Elphinstone Road station stampede.On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush-hour stampede on a narrow foot overbridge (FOBs) linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.Tendulkar, in a letter to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, said he is requesting the Mumbai suburban district collector to authorise Rs 2 crore for constructions.He said Rs 1 crore each be alloted to Western Railway and Central Railway from his MPLADS fund “towards immediate revamp and construction of FOBs in as many high density, single bridge stations on the Western, Central (Main) and Central (Harbour) lines” that the official may deem urgent.”The recent incident at the Elphinstone Road station on Western Railway where innocent lives were lost in a stampede was devastating and I am moved to offer immediate support for the improvement of services for our Mumbaikars,” he wrote.”For the families RPT families of those affected, it is not a happy Diwali in any sense, we must do all we can as responsible citizens to ensure this never happens again on any network in India,” Tendulkar said in the letter dated October 16.In the letter, also sent to the Mumbai suburban district collector, Tendulkar said he has asked the Railway Ministry, Railway Board and zonal heads “to study the possibility of creating two separate independent zones for the suburban services, a request that has been made by several experts, passenger and civil society groups.””I think there is a merit in this request as it will bring dedicated manpower, funds and focus on the suburban network which ferries millions every single day,” he wrote.Every year, MPs are allotted Rs 5 crore under the MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) Scheme, primarily to take up development projects in their respective constituencies.The fund has been increased over time, starting from Rs 5 lakh in 1993-94 to Rs 5 crore at present.

Despite eviction, hawkers back on Rly premises; vigil intensified

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite the Elphinstone Road stampede in which 23 persons died, hawkers and vendors continue to encroach on railway station premises despite being evicted time and again.While the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers went on a rampage on Saturday to drive out hawkers outside railway stations, Railway authorities say they have already taken several steps to ramp up their vigil against hawkers.Both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) claim that they have posted additional RPF staff whose job is to identify and evict hawkers from the rail premises. Since the Elphinstone Road stampede, the WR authorities have posted additional RPF staff to manage crowds and for removing hawkers at 34 locations while the CR has placed staff at 13 railway stations. Not just RPF staff but ticket collectors and staff from the commercial department too have been asked to identify spots where hawkers are present, block entry/exit points and even videograph them.”We are doing our best to remove the hawkers from the demarcated railway premises,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, CR.CR officials claim that they have registered 22,863 cases between January and September against hawkers and collected fines of up to Rs 1.14 crore. During the same period in 2016, the CR has registered 16,731 cases and collected fine to the tune of Rs 61.25 lakh.RPF officers claim that they have intensified checks time and again but hawkers return to the station premises — the concourse area on the FOB to sell their wares.Illegal hawkers make it difficult to walk and the passenger associations claim that it is nothing less than a sham.The Railways also requested a dynamic monitoring mechanism consisting centralised Control Room of the BMC with a helpline number so that complaints regarding hawkers can be immediately conveyed and resolved.

Churchgate to get reflective zebra crossing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, a zebra crossing in the city will now be painted with reflective paint that will shine at night. This is being done at the junction outside Churchgate station by the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA). The association completes 99 years on October 17.It is for the first time that radium will be used to paint zebra crossings in the city. The radium will help the crossing to glow in the dark which will assist motorists in low light.”We have written to the traffic police and the BMC about these reflective zebra crossings. We are working out a pilot project at the Churchgate station junction in this month,” said Nitin Dossa, president, WIAA.There are four heavy traffic junctions at Churchgate that are likely to be painted by the WIAA. Depending on the pilot project’s success, the government agencies will consider taking it forward in rest of the city.Zebra crossings across the city continually get wiped off and are barely visible. These reflective ones will be similar to the side barriers seen on highways.Members from WIAA said that they have planned many more activities in the coming months as part of the association entering its centurion in 2017-18. Plans are being chalked out so far.Some of these activities will take up issues of parking, decongesting and other traffic-related concerns of south Mumbai.For this purpose, the WIAA will install electronic notice boards at various junctions in south Mumbai that will display the status of congested roads in real-time.This is likely to start in the first week of November. The electronic notice board will also show other information such as diversions to be taken during heavy rains or at the time of accidents.The display boards will also have slogans and traffic rules showcased on them.

Charni Road FOB stairs collapse

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A portion of a staircase of a foot-overbridge collapsed at Charni Road station. This bridge belongs and is maintained by the BMC. The incident happened around 8.45pm on Saturday when portion of a staircase, having its landing on the footpath, collapsed.”One person received minor injury and the person was sent to GTB Hospital,” said an official from the BMC. The civic body’s disaster control department sent their staff to take cognisance of the situation. The local residents said that the bridge has been shut for a few months now.”It was being maintained by the BMC,” said a Western Railway official. The condition of another FOB connecting the platforms at the station, too, is in a precarious condition. Local groups have been protesting about the poor quality of FOB at Charni Road for the past two days.

Railway officials struggle to keep up with FOB deadline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Union Railways Minister, Piyush Goyal, set a one-year deadline for completing the new foot-overbridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road station, senior railway officials told DNA that the FOB will take over one-and-half years to be built and be functional. They confirmed that they will struggle to meet the deadline.Western Railway ordered an inquiry on Friday when a woman was injured after a piece of granite tile, with cement chunks, fell on her forehead at Elphinstone Road station. A fortnight ago, 23 people lost their lives in a stampede on a FOB at the station.Senior railway officials said that under normal circumstances, a regular FOB takes more than 1.5 to 2 years to complete, and in this case, despite making it their top priority, they would not be able to complete the project within a year.The Western Railway (WR) authorities, meanwhile, have called for private contractors, architects and civil engineers who can help them with the latest technology for building new FOBs and reconstruct the existing ones as soon as possible.Both the Western and Central Railway (CR) are working on this new Rs 11.38 crore FOB connecting Elphinstone Road and Parel stations. It is also part of the proposed Parel terminus — which is being constructed by CR —and is delayed by 5 years or so. The WR officials are also blaming the CR for delaying work on this terminus which is stuck due to internal permissions and clearances.”We have to take care of minute details while constructing this new FOB. There are two different railway authorities involved in building this FOB, while a railway terminus is also planned there, which too has seen delays,” said a WR official.

Ban on women’s entry: Supreme Court refers Sabarimala temple case to constitution bench

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday referred to its constitution bench the matter pertaining to a ban on the entry of women at Kerala’s historic Sabarimala temple.A three-judge bench headed by Chief justice Dipak Misra framed several questions to be dealt with by the constitution bench, including whether the temple can restrict women’s entry.The apex court also framed a question whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution.It said the constitution bench will also deal with the question whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.The court had on February 20 reserved its order on whether to refer the matter to a constitution bench.The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” on account of menstruation.The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple.On November 7 last year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.Initially, the LDF government had taken a progressive stand in 2007 by favouring women’s entry into the temple, which was over-turned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation later.The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.

Elphinstone Stampede: Western Railway inquiry report blames heavy rain for tragedy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An inquiry report on the September 29 Elphinstone bridge stampede in Mumbai that killed 23 people has blamed heavy rain for the tragedy, officials said on Wednesday.The panel, headed by the Western Railway chief security officer, submitted its report to WR General Manager Anil Kumar today after recording statements of 30 commuters who were injured.It has also examined video footage of the incident, officials said.According to the report, the stampede was caused by heavy rains which forced people outside at the ticket counters to rush to the already jammed staircase for cover.It said the constant flow of passengers arriving at the station compounded the problem.The report said people with heavy luggage lost their balance because of which the stampede may have occurred.The probe also said none of the witnesses supported the claim of a short circuit on the bridge leading to the chaos.The probe panel has recommended that passengers be prevented from carrying heavy luggage during peak hours.The movement of commuters, mainly vendors, carrying baskets stuffed with goods during peak hours should also be restricted.Other recommendations by the panel include relocating the elevated booking office to widen the staircase (the elevated booking office is adjacent to the staircase where the stampede occurred).An additional staircase can also be provided, the panel has said.It has suggested that officials use a quick mode of communication apart from mobile phones to ensure timely reaction.Wireless handsets can be provided to station and security staff, the report said.On September 29, 23 people were killed in the rush hour stampede on a narrow overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations during heavy rain.

Nirmala Sitharaman says integration of the armed forces is Centre’s top priority

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday complimented the Army for its professionalism in handling the Dokalam standoff and other challenges such as containing insurgency in the northeastern region.In an address to the top commanders of the Army, she said enhancing capacity of the Army was a major focus of the government and promised close monitoring of improving strategic infrastructure.”She conveyed admiration of the nation for the professionalism of the Indian Army during events like Dokalam standoff, response to natural disasters and keeping the situation of insurgency in the North East states fairly under control,” the Army said in a statement.On the second day of the week-long commanders conference, the top brass of the Army deliberated on a broad range of operational issues, including security challenges along the borders with China and Pakistan.In her around half-an-hour-long address, the defence minister also referred to her visits to the forward areas and called the meeting with the troops as “eye-opening”.Sitharaman said keeping morale of forces at the highest level was among the priorities of the government.Welcoming Sitharaman, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat told the commanders about the extensive travel undertaken by her to forward posts including Siachen.”He also expressed pleasure on the fact that Sitharaman had already travelled extensively in border areas of the North-East and also across the border in Tibet,” the Army statement said.When asked about Rawat’s comment about her visit across the border to Tibet, an Army spokesperson later said Sitharaman has extensively travelled in Tibet before taking over as defence minister and the reference was about that.Sitharaman had visited various forward areas along the Sino-India border, including Nathu La in Sikkim, on Saturday.The defence minister said modernisation of the Army was a priority for the government and that all the “deficiencies” will be addressed to strengthen its combat capability.Sitharaman also assured the Army commanders that all service related matters will be resolved. In this regard, she talked about long pending force modification requests, welfare of serving army men and their families.Listing her top priorities, Sitharaman said integration of the armed forces was essential particularly in the domain of training, communication, logistics and cyberspace for preparation for any future conflict.”She called upon Indian Army to continue leveraging its strength in diplomatic defence cooperation with neighbourhood and in the region,” the Army said.The Northern Command, the Central Command and the Western Command made presentations today on a range of issues having a bearing on the field formations of the Army.In its presentation, the Northern Command highlighted the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

DNA Impact: Churchgate stn free of illegal hutments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BMC has demolished a toilet block and removed vagrants from right outside Churchgate station. This comes after the Western Railway (WR) and locals had objected to these illegal encroachments outside the prime railway station. The BMC demolished these structures on October 7. DNA had reported on it, titled ‘Encroachers occupy Churchgate stn footpath’ on September 14.The WR authorities claimed that these vagrants had built temporary sheds using blue-coloured sheets and occupied the footpath right outside the station. This encroachment left little space for people to walk on the footpath, apart from being a serious security hazard. The illegal structures were occupied by vagrants that were built next to platform number 1 of Churchgate station opposite Government Law College.Kiran Dhigavkar, Assistant Commissioner (A-ward) said, “The toilet block was being occupied by vagrants. These people have been removed from the area in the past but yet they always return. Since there are provisions for toilets inside the station premises, this block was not serving any purpose to commuters and hence was being encroached upon”.The civic body, on the other hand, claims that these vagrants usually put up these sheds outside the station during monsoon for protection against the rains. There are several food stalls and cigarette vendors that are operating outside the station as well. There are also railway residential quarters opposite Churchgate station, yet the authorities are being proactive.

Mumbai’s lifeline turns fatal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In April 1853, Mumbai’s first train made its humble beginning as it chugged between Boribundar and Tanna. Over the century, Mumbai’s suburban railway system evolved into a lifeline for commuters in the metropolitan city. However, the Railway’s apathy in carrying out much needed upgrades and maintenance has led to a crumbling infrastructure that deteriorates with each passing decade, snuffing out lives of Mumbaikars. The over 76 lakh daily commuters on the suburban system have a battle on their hands each day, as the Railways struggles to expand its network in Mumbai and the city’s extended metropolitan region.An emergency meeting on September 30, a day after the tragic stampede at Elphinstone Road station that claimed 23 lives, called by Union Rail Minister Piyush Goyal focused on the dire need for extensive input into the city’s suburban rail system. In the mishap’s wake, authorities have now been forced to swing into action in an effort to clean up the mess.DNA does a deep dive into analysing the possible reasons that are leading to the systematic collapse of this critical mode of transport in the nation’s financial capital.Trains that can’t keep up with commutersAs if to reiterate the fact that Mumbai’s suburban rail system is the city’s lifeline, in the last 10 years, the number of daily train services operated by Central (CR) and Western Railways (WR) has increased by 125 per cent.It has proven to be a major challenge for the Railways to ferry daily commuters whose numbers have gone up by 112 per cent during the same period. This leaves little space inside trains as people travel to and from work cramped like cattle.In 2007-08 there were 67.82 lakh people travelling everyday which went up to 76.22 lakh daily commuters until September this year.Despite the railways augmenting from 9-car to 12-car on Main and Harbour lines, it hasn’t come as respite from the overcrowding inside coaches. The WR authorities, with little capacity to augment on existing lines, have been struggling more than the CR.Inside a general compartment, the railway authorities claim that the space has been augmented to 21 persons per sq meter from the earlier 16 persons per sq meter. Ideally this means that the capacity of each compartment of a 12-car train has risen from 450 per coach to 593 per coach. At the start of the decade, in 2009-10 the WR were operating 1,210 services which has increased to 1,355 services until September this year. In the same period, the CR’s daily services have increased from 1,412 to 1,660.”In the new timetable, we have used the fifth line between Andheri and Virar so that more services can be put into service. There is little scope of curtailing the headway that stands at four minutes,” said a senior WR official.Surprisingly both CR and WR have seen a fall in daily commuters after 2014-15 that stood at 75.58 lakh to 74.14 lakh in 2015-16.It took nine years for both CR and WR authorities to augment by 500 services. Such is the case despite more and better rakes being bought under phase 1 and 2 of Mumbai Urban Transport Projects. Both the railways together are operating five 15-car trains – of which four are operated by WR – in a bid to supplement capacity by 33 per cent. Even the Railway minister Piyush Goyal had demanded more 15-car trains though certain sections of his own department believe that such a move would kill the rail schedule.Passing the buck between agenciesThe coordination between various agencies like Central and Western Railways, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Government Railway Police, Urban Development Department and other departments of the state government form the cogs of a wheel that never runs smoothly as each of these agencies have their own unresolved issues.The latest example was in the aftermath of the stampede at Elphinstone Road station. The WR is unable to get BMC land for construction of a new FOB. This, despite the fact that it has been a year since the erstwhile Railway minister Suresh Prabhu gave his clearance for a new bridge.The bureaucrats heading these agencies rarely accommodate projects implemented by other organisations. This is one of the most significant reasons behind inordinate delays of multi-crore projects which lead to loss of public money. In 2014-15, a joint fortnightly meeting was to be held between various agencies. However, within a few weeks, inter-agency issues persisted.On September 30, railway minister Piyush Goyal highlighted this shortcoming and its repercussions. According to sources, at the meeting Goyal questioned the heads of BMC and Railways for a solution to waterlogging on rail tracks. Both agencies brought forward flaws like narrow uncleaned culverts and garbage thrown on tracks. Railway officials said that Goyal directed both organisations to resolve the situation before next year’s monsoon. The organisations have now started working on identifying problematic spots.Vacating illegal homes, rehabilitating people and acquiring land for rail projects is the toughest task for state agencies as they are busy identifying the owners of these lands which are encroached upon. For instance, after the land slide on Parsik Hill in 2015, which tumbled down on rail lines, the next few days passed in deciding whether the Thane Municipal Corporation or Forest Department owned the land. In another case, an entire slum pocket of Behrampada in Bandra east belongs to the Railways but due to inter-agency apathy and lack of political will, demolition proves futile.Railway tracks that killOvercrowded coaches, poor infrastructure at stations and red tapeism is the concoction that leads to deaths on the railway tracks. On one hand we call the suburban railway system the city’s lifeline but unfortunately at least 8 to 10 people die on the rail tracks of Mumbai everyday. One of the biggest reasons is trespassing which contributes over 65 per cent of the deaths.”The teams that are scrutinising the railway stations over various safety parameters are also checking points where trespassing is heavy,” said a railway official. Most of these happen near slum pockets that are close to the railway lines. On the Western Railway, these are areas like Mahim, Bandra, Santacruz, Jogeshwari, Malad, and Virar while on Central Railway, Kurla, Govandi, Mankhurd, Diva and Wadala have slums and buildings close to the rail lines.The solution to this problem requires multiple agencies. In such cases, the BMC is expected to demolish illegal slums, MMRDA is expected to rehabilitate the people and then hand over the land to the railways. Political parties are equally responsible for disallowing government machinery from doing their work as many of these slums are also vote banks.Then is the overcrowding inside trains which usually happens during morning and evening peak hours. In the past, there have been cases in which people have fallen off running trains while hanging dangerously on crowded foot-boards and at times even hitting the pole. Railway officials claim that the number of deaths due to overcrowding has reduced after upgrading the trains to 12-car.In 2012, there were 3,543 deaths; in 2016, 3,208 people died on the tracks; and the number of deaths on rail premises up to September this year stands at 2,221. The year-on-year figures show that the number of deaths on tracks are falling however the number of people injured remains more or less stagnant. In 2012, at least 3,707 people were injured, which came down to 3,451 in 2016 and until now 2,519 commuters have been injured.In 2017, the GRP station at Kalyan station has registered the maximum deaths with 286 cases followed by Kurla (248), Thane (240), Dombivli (124), Wadala (116), CST (100), Panvel (55) on the CR while on the WR, Borivli saw 222 registered cases of death followed by Vasai (169), Mumbai Central (112), Dadar (87), Andheri (84), Bandra (79) and Churchgate (33).Crumbling infrastructureMany stations in Mumbai’s suburban areas have been constructed during the British era and feature old stone and metal framed foot (FOBs) and road-overbridges. The stone-walled barracks (turned into offices now), arched roofs, pillars, benches and clocks still have GIPR (Great Indian Peninsular Railway) inscribed all over them. The tragic incident at Elphinstone Road station was a cruel reminder of the crumbling infrastructure that shouts for urgent repairs.Staircases of these old FOBs are barely two meters wide while the pathways are supported by rusty railings, most of which lead to commercial offices and skyscrapers. People are forced to push and nudge fellow commuters while climbing the staircases on FOBs on their way to narrow and crowded platforms and pathways. And during the annual monsoon, the situation only worsens.”We have constructed 20 FOBs and nearly 15 escalators in last three years,” said an official from Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, the planning agency for the metropolis. These are apart from those built by WR and CR authorities. The new ones are up to 12 meters wide but their staircases continue to be narrow.Although the condition of a few stations in the city has improved in recent years with better inter-connectivity, FOBs and waste bins; spitting and garbage thrown on railway premises continues to be a problem. Other components like leaky and incomplete roofs, broken tiles on platforms and staircases make stations wholly inconvenient to daily commuters.The quality of rakes, its speeds and seats have improved after the Railways procured newer ones under MUTP-1 and 2. However, the maintenance of rakes, tracks, overhead wires and signals continues to be an issue resulting in constant failures, frequent derailments, rail fractures, unit failures and OHE cables snapping.Over the past few months there have been several derailments across Indian Railways which proves the apathy runs across the national system. The slow pace of improvement works namely addition of tracks and rail lines worsens the situation. Even passenger amenities like ATVMs have become a joke with many not functioning and cash-coin-vending machines more or less out of operation which forces people to wait in serpentine queues for their tickets. In the meantime, the MUTP phases have witnessed escalation of crores of rupees of public money since 2006.NO SOLUTION IN SIGHTDespite the railways augmenting from 9-car to 12-car on Main and Harbour lines, which increased the capacity of each compartment in a 12-car train from 450 per coach to 593 per coach, it hasn’t come as a respite from the overcrowding inside coaches as the number of daily commuters has steadily risen over the yearsOLD AND OVERLOADEDSeveral stations in suburban areas have been constructed during the British era and feature old stone and metal framed FOBs and road-overbridges. The stone-walled barracks, arched roofs, pillars, benches and clocks still have Great Indian Peninsular Railway inscribed on them. Staircases of most these old FOBs are barely two meters wide, forcing commuters to push each other during peak hours, while the pathways are supported by rusty railings.WHO IS TAKING OWNERSHIP?After the land slide on Parsik Hill in 2015, which tumbled down on rail lines, the next few days passed in deciding whether the Thane Municipal Corporation or Forest Department owned the land. In another case, an entire slum pocket of Behrampada in Bandra east belongs to the Railways but due to inter-agency apathy and lack of political will, demolition proves futile.

Following stampede at Elphinstone Road, railways start drive to evict hawkers on pedestrian bridges

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to prevent incidents like the Elphinstone station stampede that claimed 23 lives, the railway administration has undertaken a drive to evict illegal hawkers from the entry and exit points of the station as well as from the foot over bridges (FOBs) to ease commuter movement.Twenty-three people were killed in the stampede on a FOB linking Parel and Elphinstone Road last Friday during rush hour.“Though action against hawkers is undertaken on a regular basis, from October 1, this drive has been intensified with a combined operation launched by the RPF and GRP, and moreover they will also be patrolling the FoBs,” said chief spokesperson of the Western Railway Ravinder Bhakar.However, passengers and railway representatives want permanent eviction of hawkers and have warned the railway officials that they would report to the Railways Minister if the hawkers return to do business at these spots.Bhakar said Western Railway administration is soon going to demarcate the railway area to stop this menace forever.He said, “Most of the complaints against hawkers we receive, fall under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) area where we do not have our administrative control.”So we are blamed unnecessarily. Therefore, we have decided to demarcate our periphery and we will keep full vigil within our jurisdiction.”The Central Railway too has launched a drive against illegal hawkers at several stations including Ghatkopar, Kurla, Byculla, Mulund.Eviction of hawkers paved way for smooth movement of commuters near railway stations and on foot overbridges.Senior PRO of Central Railway A K Jain said, “Though our security forces, keep driving away unauthorised hawkers, they have been now been asked to deal strictly with them.” Rajiv Singal, who has been a member of Railway Users Consultative Committees in Central Railway and Western Railway, however, dubs this exercise of evicting hawkers as merely an “eyewash”.Singal said, “This is simply dressing up and no permanent cure. It is showoff because audit team is doing their job and media pressure is working. I can bet you, hawkers will be back again.””Until and unless, disciplinary action is not taken against the senior RPF officials in whose jurisdiction hawkers operate, nothing is going to change,” Singal said.T N Dubey, former member of Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committees in Western Railway, said, “If hawkers come back, we will write to the Railways Minister and draw his attention to the issue.”

Activist rakes up 2016 RTI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Western Railway (WR) in February 2016 had responded to an RTI saying the bridges on Churchgate-Virar route are safe. After the stampede massacre at Elphinstone Road, the RTI activist, Sharad Yadav, who had filed the RTI, has decided to move court and rake up the issue.”I had asked the WR authorities about the condition of bridges between Churchgate and Virar in February 2016. They had then said that all bridges on this section are safe and that the old bridges are replaced in a programmed way before they become unsafe,” said Yadav.The RTI has said once they notice the defect, it is rectified immediately or within a time frame. The reply further states that repairing and reconstruction is planned each year after inspection of the bridge.

Railways mulls single food stall at all stns

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a significant change of policy change to create more space on platforms, the Railways will soon start removing extra food stalls from platforms. Instead, it will have a single stall, creating more space for commuters.The other part, the hungry passengers would have to do away with buying their favourites such as samosa, vada pav, ragda, cold drinks and other eatables from the platforms. The railway authorities also claimed that during recent inspections, they have analysed the condition of the food stalls that have been leased on a contract basis.This will include length and breadth of the food stalls on platforms and its concourse area, its total number at every station, number of daily commuters using a station, et cetera.The officials said that the stalls attract a large number of buyers, thereby creating a congestion during peak hours.Railway minister Piyush Goyal, on Saturday, had spoken about decongesting railway stations and make it easy for the mobility of passengers.”The stations in the suburban section is mainly used by office-goers. We need to cater to faster dispersal and passenger movement rather than providing food,” said a senior railway official.”A concept, Multi-Purpose Stall (MPS), has already been approved by the Railway Board,” said a senior railway official “This is to ensure availability of space and decongesting at stations”.The single-stall would keep packed food, medicines, newspapers, books and magazines, milk and cold drinks. The Divisional Railway Manager of each division (the Central and Western Railways has each DRM for Mumbai) will decide the number of MPS and forward it to the Chief Commercial Manager for approval and calling tenders. Once the safety studies are complete, this mechanism would be put into force.

Expand packed Churchgate subway, authorities urged

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Transport experts and citizens want a better passegners dispersal system at Churchgate, the terminating point for the Western Railway which ferries 37 lakh people every day.Churchgate station is among the most crowded spots in Mumbai. Owing to inadequate infrastructure, the subway leading to the terminal is of little use as it gets congested during morning and evening peak hours, leading people to spill out onto the roads. Besides, shops and hawkers plying trade inside the subway also eat into the space.“This further curtails the space to walk. There is a need for the authorities to have a traffic signal only for pedestrians,” said Nayana Kathpalia, trustee, NAGAR, and a resident of Churchgate. The residents have been asking the authorities to come up with solutions to the crowding. They claim that several years ago there was a foot overbridge to the station. The transport experts are of the view that the authorities like BMC and MMRDA, which is constructing the Metro in south Mumbai, should coordinate with the Indian Railways to improve the dispersal system.They want subways with escalators connecting the proposed Metro stations with the existing subway and create more openings towards the Bombay High Court till Flora Fountain. “Now that Metro is being constructed, this is the time for the authorities to expand the subway so people need not come onto the roads,” said AV Shenoy, member, Mumbai Transport Forum.The MTF stated they are working on the passenger dispersal system and will write to the government and civic authorities to ease the situation at Churchgate.

Rs 29,000 cr for elevated tracks futile

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Railway minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday questioned the need for spending Rs 28,500 crore to run the AC trains on the ambitious Bandra-Virar and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Panvel Elevated rail corridors. The minister also directed the railway officials here to revise the plan and roll non-AC trains the project.The minister is expected to meet the Western Railway, Central Railway and Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation officials on October 4 along with the Urban Development Department to chalk out plans for the two elevated projects. The plans for the corridors have been drawn and redrawn for more than 6-7 years now until this route was frozen.The estimated cost of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train is Rs 216 crore per km, while that of the Bandra-Virar elevated corridor is Rs 464 crore per km. Also, the cost of CSMT-Panvel corridor per km estimated at Rs 302 crore.”The minister was of the view that an alternate option for travel in the suburban system was needed. A simple elevated rail suffices, which could be completed at a cheaper rate and finished faster,” said a senior railway official who was present at the meeting.The cost of Bandra-Virar elevated rail is around Rs 16300 crore, while that of the CSMT-Panvel elevated route is Rs 12200 crore. According to sources, Goyal also asked the officials to cut the cost of the two projects by one-third. It was difficult for the private companies to invest as the estimated cost of the project was very high, sources added.The minister also added that when the metros had AC coaches, there was hardly any need to built AC coaches for the railways to built AC coaches.Off trackThe plans for the corridors have been drawn and redrawn for over 6-7 years now. Goyal also asked the officials to cut the cost of the two projects by one-third.

BBC to launch new Indian services: What you need to know

Here are a few interesting facts about the four regions where the BBC has launched new services.

Mumbai: Two arrested for assaulting KEM doctor who ‘numbered’ Elphinstone victims

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two of the accused, who allegedly attacked the forensic head of the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Dr. Harish Pathak, and tried to scribble a number on his forehead, have been arrested by the Bhoiwada Police.An FIR was registered on complaint of Dr. Harish Pathak under sections 353, 145, and 149 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).The accused that attacked the forensic head were agitated by the hospital’s decision to identify the victims of the stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone station by marking a number on their foreheads.23 people were killed and over 39 got critically injured in a rush-hour stampede at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station’s foot-over bridge.Meanwhile, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said 20 new foot-over bridges have been approved in the Central Railways and 10 new foot-over bridges in the Western Railways. Apart from this, 13 foot-over bridges have been approved for widening.He said the 40 maintenance yards across the country will be upgraded and will be laced with modern technology for maintenance for wards, locomotive in a better way.“I have sanctioned 15 car platforms for extension in the Western Railways, which will be beneficial for speeding up the process in the slow corridor,” he said.Earlier in the day, Goyal empowered the Railways’ General Managers to spend whatever is necessary on safety.Goyal took this decision, while chairing a meeting with the senior officers of the Railway Board at Western Railways headquarters at Churchgate. Various major decisions were taken in the meeting, wherein passenger safety has been accorded the highest priority.For the next 18 months, General Managers of Railway Zones have been delegated powers without limit for safety-related issues. They shall intimate the Financial Commissioner (FC) within a week of sanction for provision, and the FC shall confirm the same within 15 days. In case of disagreement, the matter shall be put up to the Railway Board for final decision within the same 15 days.Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had expressed sadness over the Mumbai stampede, assuring that a strict action will be taken against the culprits.

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