Wednesday, July 12, 2017


SRA project: Another Adarsh scam in Making

Mumbai: In a shocking case, the controversial Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project at Ghatkopar was awarded to a construction firm in which the wife and daughter of Vishwas Patil, SRA Chief Executive Officer, are shareholders. An inquiry in the project has revealed that around 115 occupants were given houses on forged documents and documents of more than 30 occupants are still being probed. Rockline Properties was awarded the project in 2008 while Patil was a suburban collector at that time. According to an ownership document of Rockline properties, Chandrasena Vishwas Patil is one of the directors of the company. The Letter of Intent (LoI) was issued by SRA to the developer for Rs 450 crore SRA project.  Around 160 slum dwellers of Pankeshah Baba Dargah were denied houses and 115 names were included in the list of eligible beneficiaries on forged documents.
The 160 slum dwellers claimed that they had approached Patil time and again to look into the matter. They further claimed that they were named in the list of eligible beneficiaries, but then they were ruled out from Annexure 2.
Nasir Khan, a resident of the slum, said, “Instead of including our names in the list, the flats are allotted to each family member of the society’s committee. Parvez Khan, son of the chief promoter of the society, was allotted a flat on the basis of a driving license. Unfortunately, an authority that is responsible for rehabilitating the original residents have given their flats to unauthorised occupants.”
Khan further added, “We want an investigation into the matter since the SRA officials are clearly involved in carrying out irregularities in preparing the list of eligible beneficiaries. Also, a structural audit of the rehab building should be done. The developer has clearly used substandard materials because of which the occupants have been facing problems.”

“Manual Scavenging is still a scourge in India” NHRC

New Delhi: Terming manual scavenging as the “worst example” of violation of right to life, the NHRC has issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government over reports of the plight of people employed in such jobs in the country, including 30 women in Meerut.
Taking suo motu cognisance, the National Human Rights Commission has issued notices to the secretary, Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh.
The commission said it has sought, within six weeks, a detailed report in the matter along with the steps taken or proposed to be taken to deal with the situation and measures employed for relief and rehabilitation of such victims.
“Narrating the plight of the 30 women manual scavengers in Radhna Inayatpur village of Mawana in the district (Meerut), of whom many have grown old doing this work, the media report, carried on June 15, says that they are paid as little as between Rs 10 and Rs 50 per month, per household to clean the dry latrines and sometimes, as a bonus, they are given stale leftover food and worn-out clothes,” the NHRC said.
Due to exposure to filth, most of them have multiple health issues, such as vomiting, constant headache, skin and respiratory diseases, trachoma, anaemia, carbon monoxide poisoning and diarrhoea, including infections like leptospirosis, hepatitis and helicobacter, the commission observed.
“To avoid the stench, they often smoke beedis. One of the women has contracted tuberculosis, forcing her to stop working as a manual scavenger. The worst happens during rainy season, when the excreta slip from the basket on their hair and shoulders,” the NHRC said.

Girls lock school in protest

Himachal Pradesh: Students of Dabat’s Government High School in the Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh are up in arms against the Department of Education for not fulfilling their demand of improving their school’s facilities despite public announcements made by the Chief Minister. The girl students, who have been protesting for a long while, were sitting on a hunger strike outside the school gate. They locked the school gates and did not allow anybody to enter the premises.
After persuasion and assurances by the Deputy Director of Education, the girls agreed to sit for classes on Thursday. The Chief Minister, who has been announcing the upgradation of a number of schools in the election year, had also announced the elevation of this school to 10+2 level sometime back. Whereas most beneficiaries of the announced upgradation have preferred to remain silent and were satisfied by the logic of “no budget” with the government, the girls of the Dabat school chose to question the authorities and protest instead.
There are 118 students and just five teachers in the Dabat High School up to Class X. The 10+2 Senior Secondary School at Majri is about 6 km away via thick forests, a route that is unsafe for girls to take.

Bhopal gets India’s World-class railway station

Bhopal: The Habibganj railway station which is among the two railway stations that Bhopal has, would soon have a glittery and glitzy transformation by becoming the first world-class station in the country under an ambitious project of the Indian Railways. The mammoth transformation of Habibganj into a world-class railway station would add another feather to its hat after becoming the first ISO certified railway station in India.
The Indian Railway has decided to develop 400 stations across India as world-class stations and Habibganj has been given the pole position in this regard. The Railways launched the project of developing it as the first world-class railway station of India in July 2016. Aiming to provide world-class facilities to the passengers visiting Habibganj station and generate revenue the Indian railways launched the Rs450-crore project under a public-private-partnership (PPP) model. To implement the project, it awarded the prized contract to Bansal Group which formed a new company along with Prakash Asphalting and Toll Highways named Bansal Pathways Habibagnj Private Ltd to work on the project.
“The whole design of the station is inspired from Berlin Hauptbahnhof which is the mail railways station of Berlin in Germany. The main entrance near platform number one would be a glass dome like structure. After getting fully developed, Habibganj railway station would hopefully serve an example for all the other stations which are going to be developed as world-class stations on the similar tracks,” said project head Abu Asif while speaking about the ambitious project adding that the new station complex would boast of restaurants, shopping centres, hospital, spas, convention centre and other facilities which one can avail in airports.
He told that the prime focus of the whole project is to ease the entry and exit of the passengers in the ISO certified station. “The pivot of the project would be to segregate the way of entry and exit of the passengers to avoid congestion in the station premises. The passengers de-boarding the trains at the stations would be taking escalators towards a subway which would lead them to the exit point of the station. While, the passengers entering the station to board their trains would enter from either platform number one or five with the help of escalators. There would be a high-class fully air-conditioned waiting lounge in the station complex where the passengers waiting for their trains to arrive can rest,” he added.
Asif further said that the soon to be developed facility would be a completely covered one. “The project which is being developed under the design-finance-build-operate-transfer model will comprise the new station fully covered from end to end to avoid any problems to the passengers irrespective of any weather conditions. Except the train operations and ticketing, all the other operation which include maintenance, parking, advertising, catering etc would be looked after by the developing group.
The Rs 450 cr project is divided into two segments, Rs 100 cr for station facility while the remaining Rs 350 cr would be for the commercial facility. The station facility would be developed within next three years while the commercial facility comprising shopping centres, restaurants, spas and others would be developed in the next eight years,” said Asif. “Under the project the developer would get about 13 lakh hectares of land near the station on a lease of 45 years on which the commercial facility would be developed. As it would be a huge investment from the developer, it will earn profit from the commercial facilities as return on investment (ROI). This project would surely lead as a magnificent example for the other station on how a world-class station should be developed,” added Asif.
The residents of Bhopal are also visibly happy as Habibganj is the first station in the country to be developed as world-class station. “Habibganj station is already known for various things like cleanliness, catering. It already has the privilege of becoming the first ISO certified railway station of India and after being transformed in a world-class station, it would not only become a jewel of the railways scenario in Bhopal but the whole state. It would definitely become one of the main attractions for the people coming to the capital city,” said Kamal Nagar, a resident of Bhopal.
The officials of west central railways under which Habibganj railway station falls are also very sure that the world-class station would enhance the name of WCR.
“It is obviously a matter of great prestige that Habibganj railway station was chosen to be the first station to be developed as world-class station with top-class facilities to passengers comparable to none but airports. Habibganj had earlier put the name of WCR prominently on Indian Railways map and this project would only concrete its reputation further,” said public relation officer, WCR, I Siddiqui.

Increase in conviction rate deters drug trafficking

Mumbai: Mumbai has been the hotbed for the drug trafficking industry for decades. According to the latest data by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2015, total 24,018 cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 were registered in 53 mega cities (having population of 10 lakh or more). Out of 24,018, Mumbai registered the highest number of such cases (18,628) followed by Kochi (654 cases) during 2015.
The reason behind the rise in drug crimes in Mumbai was low conviction rate, said Shideep Lande, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC).
Lande, who is popularly known as the ‘robust’ police officer, said that the conviction rate in NDPS cases has gone higher by 36% in 2017 as compared to a minimal 6% the previous year.
“Total 50 cases of NDPS went to trial in 2016. Of these 50, the accused in only three cases got convicted and three cases were abated due to the death of the accused. However, in 2017, total 24 cases of NDPS went to trial till date, out of which accused in eight cases have been convicted and two cases have been abated,” said Lande.
Earlier accused in NDPS cases were acquitted due to the lack of evidence and failure in follow-up procedures. But the scenario has changed now as Lande has been studying the previous cases of NDPS and closely monitoring the cases.
“I personally review every case even after filing charge-sheet in the case. We follow court directions like time to time we produce the witnesses as well as accused in the case. Earlier the witnesses used to turn hostile in the cases. But the close monitoring in the case has helped us in getting the accused convicted,” said Lande.
Those who have been convicted include Indians as well as foreign nationals too. The rise in conviction rate has deterred traffickers from peddling drugs from other Indian cities and foreign nations, said Lande, adding, “Earlier the narcotic substances like cocaine, hashish, marijuana, brown sugar, etc were pushed in the city but now party drug meow meow is the top drug being sold in Mumbai. This year we have seized meow meow drug worth Rs 7 crore.”
All the units of ANC in Mumbai have made elaborate arrangements to keep hawk eyes on drug peddlers. “We have tightened the noose of peddlers selling meow meow in the city. Now the peddlers have resorted to push cocaine from foreign nationals,” said Lande. The ANC registered total 114 cases in 2016 and 95% of these were of small quantity cases in which the accused easily get bail and the punishment is up to just 6 months. However, the data for 2017 till date is comparatively impressive after Lande took charge of ANC.
This year ANC has registered 35 cases and more than 90% are commercial cases in which it is tough for accused to get bail and the punishment is up to 20 years, said Lande.

Has NDA dumped Swaminathan report?

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the BJP has submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, stating that it won’t implement the Swaminathan Committee report, which promises 50 per cent profit to farmers.
Speaking at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s National Farmers’ Conclave, the Chief Minister said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power promising to implement the report and now by denying it, “they’re cheating farmers”.
“No one knows about this. Every farmer should be told how they’ve been cheated. We want to take this affidavit to every farmers’ house and this will be our first job,” Kejriwal said.
He added that farmers were not asking for alms but only compensation for their work. “Everyone should take a vow that Swaminathan Committee report will be implemented. It’s our responsibility to ensure that farmers get proper price for their produce.”
The conclave, which began at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Constitution Club of India here, saw the participation of farmers’ representatives from 20 states and top AAP leaders.
In the first half of the conclave, farmers’ problems were discussed and in the second half, solutions were worked out.
Kejriwal said that the conclave came to the conclusion that cold storage markets should be set up for marketing and procurement of farm produce. He also said that agro processing industries should be created near villages. “This will provide employment to youth in villages and they won’t have to go to cities for jobs.”

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