|2010-12-31||Duru Bar had a secret door behind a refrigerator|
Mumbai: What should have been a routine raid for an experienced posse of police personnel turned out to be a scene from a James Bond flick.
The police were watching Duru Bar, a notorious bar in the Ulhasnagar area, for sometime. But each time they conducted a raid, they found no incriminating evidence to press charges.
Following the raids, the bar owner filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court alleging police harassment and stating that the only entertainment at the Duru bar was an orchestra and not dance bar as suspected.
When questioned, senior inspector Deepak Kurulkar informed the court that he had raided Duru Bar on orders from Police Commissioner SPS Yadav.
The case was still unsolved and Commissioner Yadav decided to use the oldest trick in the book he used an informer, posing as a client, all the while passing on vital information of how the bar owners and his clients were evading the dragnet.
Acting on information that several policemen, politicians and bookies were being entertained by bar dancers while gambling, the police team decided to conduct the raid.
Thane police commissioner SPS Yadav and his experienced team had conducted several raids in the past; however, nothing could have prepared them for what happened next.
According to one officer, the drama unfolded around midnight when the squad headed by Assistant Commissioner of Police VM Rathod raided the bar, but unknown to them, someone had tipped off the bar workers about the raid.
Their initial search within the bar came up with nothing incriminating; however the informer posing as a client, confirmed the presence of a large number of clients of questionable character.
After a thorough search, the police team discovered a secret doorway concealed behind an unused refrigerator that led through a wall, which then led to a staircase.
It was through this door that the bar girls had managed to slip away seconds before the raid began.
The police team rushed to the terrace and was soon halted in its tracks by two menacing
Dobermans. One team member was almost mauled by the ferocious dogs.
The drama continued after the cops managed to subdue the dogs and they realised, to their horror, that five bar dancers were balanced precariously on the fourth storey terrace wall and were threatening to jump off if attempts were made to arrest them.
After much convincing, Rathod and his men managed to get the dancers to come down from their dangerous perch.
During the round up after the raid, 27 bar girls and 72 clients were arrested. "We have arrested 27 bar girls and several customers including the bar manager," said Rathod.
"Yes, it is true that the police team encountered fierce dogs on the terrace," he added.
|2010-12-28||Owner foils Margao jewellery heist|
MARGAO: Attempts by a gang of four to lift gold ornaments from a jewellery shop at Gandhi market on Monday were foiled, after police arrested one woman from the gang and recovered the stolen items found on her.
The police revealed the name of the accused arrested as Kalpana Shinde, aged about 35 years, and a resident of Ulhasnagar, Thane.
According to police sources, three women accompanied by one male member, entered the jewellery shop and began making inquiries with the shopkeeper pretending to be interested in buying some of the gold jewellery. While the rest kept the shopkeeper engaged in sales talk, Shinde pinched some jewellery and attempted to flee. Suspecting the theft of some items, the shopkeeper raised an alarm. The other three also tried to make good their escape, but the people managed to nab Shinde and hand her over to the police.
The Margao town police have booked an offence against Shinde.
Read more: Owner foils Margao jewellery heist - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Owner-foils-Margao-jewellery-heist/articleshow/7174962.cms#ixzz1AQwG9cW1
|2010-12-16||Thane wants Ulhasnagar like Regularization|
NAGPUR/NAVI MUMBAI: Families occupying about 2 lakh illegal slum tenements and buildings in Thane can breathe easy. The government announced in the Assembly on Wednesday that illegal structures which came up before December 31, 2000 in the district will not be demolished.
"The government will ensure that those residing in these structures are not left without shelter," industries minister Narayan Rane said in the House. "The matter has been discussed in the cabinet and we are in the process of changing the rules (to regularize the structures)."
Nevertheless, the minister said, the government will not take decisions that go against high court orders.
The issue of illegal structures and the government's stand on it was raised by four MLAs: the Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde and Pratap Sarnaik, and one each from the BJP and the NCP.
"If illegal constructions in Ulhasnagar can be regularized, why not those in Thane?" Shinde asked.
Minister of state Bhaskar Jadhav replied , saying Ulhasnagar and Thane are different cases. Pandemonium reigned in the House following this remark by Jadhav, who added: "In Ulhasnagar, the unauthorized constructions were on private land and hence they could be regularized. But this is not so in Thane."
Irked Opposition MLAs demanded that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan be called to the House to answer Shinde's question. They said that since Chavan heads the urban development department, therefore he should be answering questions on the "sensitive issue" . Assembly proceedings were adjourned for 10 minutes as the Opposition members stuck to their demand.
Deputy speaker of the assembly Vasant Purke intervened, saying Chavan cannot be expected to be in the House to speak on every issue. "Senior minister Rane is present to give a reply on the government's behalf."
The next contribution to the debate was by MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar, who said: "If the government can regularize the Lavasa lake city and Adarsh, why is it not applying the same yardstick to Thane?"
In his reply, Rane said the issue should not be politicized. "Even the government is of the opinion that there should not be any family without shelter. Despite the high court's orders, I have given directives to stop demolition."
Shinde then mentioned Thane's dilapidated buildings and demanded more FSI. Rane said: "To find a solution to this issue, a meeting of the chief minister with Thane MLAs will be organized on Thursday."
The housing problem in Thane has its roots in the massive influx of industrial labour in the 1980s. The state's failure to anticipate this and plan residential townships resulted in the illegal use of land for constructing houses. Proximity to Mumbai and a growing middleclass just added to the frenzy, with farm lands overnight turning into unplanned chawls and ugly buildings.
Meanwhile, demolition has begun on more than 23,000 illegal structures in Navi Mumbai. The buildings include 500 which violated FSI (floor space index) norms.
Bhaskar Wankhede, commissioner, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), told TOI: "The demolitions are as per court orders."
Sanjay Banait, assistant director, town planning, said the list of illegal structures was prepared after a six-month inspection of constructions in the city. "We came across buildings with balconies altered to increase room space, terraces and flowerbeds misused, parking spaces converted for other purposes. All these illegal structures will be demolished."
But the residents of such buildings are crying foul. "For a long time, municipality officials did not act. This encouraged people to break FSI rules. The demolitions are sudden and are tough on the common man," said an affected Nerul resident.
Manohar Shroff, secretary, Navi Mumbai Chamber of Housing, said: "The problem would not have reached such proportions had the NMMC been strict with the builders and not granted them OCs (occupation certificates)."
Read more: Pre-2001 illegal bldgs in Thane get a bail-out - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Pre-2001-illegal-bldgs-in-Thane-get-a-bail-out/articleshow/7109368.cms#ixzz18uZVGMdf
|2010-12-08||No law unbroken by Ulhasnagar builders|
The lobby exploits the loopholes in the system while civic officials choose to look the other way
Posted On Wednesday, December 08, 2010 at 02:39:46 AM
Despite a special reprieve in the form of an ordinance passed by the state in 2006, things haven’t changed one bit in Ulhasnagar. If anything, they have gone from bad to worse in the last four years with more and more structures mushrooming on open spaces and the township getting increasingly congested.
Earlier, ordinance developers and architects colluded to erect illegal structures and civic officials turned a blind eye. It was only after a Public Interest Litigation was filed in Bombay High Court in 2003 and the HC took a stern view of the situation that the civic body decided to take action. Three buildings were bulldozed and there was panic in the otherwise peaceful township.
In 2006, state decided to put an end to the ongoing demolition drive and passed an ordinance to regularise 1,40,000 odd illegal structures in the 13-sq km township. It was decided that structures would be regularised after accepting a nominal fine from the residents. HC too ratified the ordinance stating that the regularisation process should be completed within 18 months.
However, barely few months after the ordinance was passed the regularisation process came to a halt. By 2007, only 6,000 cases were scrutinised by the expert committee for regularisation and 100 cases were greenlighted. The process lost steam after the district collector found several lacunae in the system and felt that most cases were not fit for regularisation.
Worse, developers once again started constructing on plots reserved for public amenities. This time they had the support of civic officials who sanctioned such structures with impunity. Other than “legally” encroaching on public spaces, developers have now started adding floors to old structures. In this too they “manage to get clearances” from the civic body.
Even as the inquiry report is awaited, another PIL has been filed in Bombay HC by Ashok Bodha,
a Ulhasnagar resident. He has alleged rampant corruption in the town planning department of UMC, which has in the recent past allowed constructions in complete violation of laws. Bodha has cited 12 such cases of violation in his petition and claims many more will be brought to light once a thorough investigation is carried out.
Owner unknown, project cleared
The case pertaining to a 1,775 hectare plot in camp no. 5 takes the cake. The officials in Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) have sanctioned construction plans on the massive plot worth over Rs 10 crore. The civic body has even accepted development charges of Rs 18 lakh for the same.
While processing the application from a developer, UMC’s town planning department did not bother to carry out a mandatory check of the ownership of the plot. It was only after the plan was sanctioned and development charges accepted in October this year that a citizen filed a complaint. The resident, Kanhaiyalal Kataria filed an RTI and within days the sanctioned plans went missing. However, the civic body could not hide the development charges they had accepted for clearing the plans.
Interestingly, there is a long pending dispute in various courts pertaining to plots 900 and 901 over their ownership. In August HC ordered that the ownership be decided within next few months. But before it could be decided, the UMC cleared the construction on the plot.
“It is nothing short of a gross misuse of power. No construction should be sanctioned or development charges accepted till we are certain about its ownership. I have ordered a detailed inquiry”
- Ashok Rankhambh, Municipal Commissioner
New floors in 10-yr-old market
New construction at the 10-year-old Woodland market has raised many eyebrows. The three-storeyed building was recently granted permission to add a few more floors. The developers are quick to add that they have all the relevant clearances from the civic body, but experts believe such a construction cannot be allowed in the first place.
Documents in possession of Mumbai Mirror reveal that UMC’s town planning department allowed additional construction on the building with the help of a civic body resolution passed in 2009.
The resolution stated that buildings would be given free FSI for staircases, passage areas and other common areas. The free FSI was to be given only to buildings that came up after the resolution was passed. However, civic officials were quick to use the 2009 resolution on the Woodland market building, which came up in 1999.
“In this case the town planner allowed construction in complete contravention of laws. I have asked my deputy commissioner to carry out an inquiry and even register an FIR if necessary”
- Ashok Rankhambh ,Municipal Commissioner
|2010-12-07||The method behind Ulhasnagar madness|
Biggest land scams in this township involve plots earmarked for schools, recreational grounds
Posted On Tuesday, December 07, 2010 at 02:08:59 AM
Ulhasnagar had open spaces earmarked for recreation, public amenities and schools. As per the plans there are 145 such plots spread over 13 sq km. In 2003, civic body in its affidavit in Bombay High Court admitted that only seven such plots were developed while the rest were either encroached or unclaimed by itself.
Seven years later, all the open plots have been encroached. This time with the tacit support of the administration.
Unscrupulous officials often sanction construction on reserved plots and later if someone raises an objection, revoke the permit. By the time plans are cancelled the structure is ready and even sold to unsuspecting buyers. The developers then approach courts to obtain stay orders for demolition.
Another ploy is showing reserved plots with a few shanties occupying a small part of the land as being completely encroached. Developers get these shanties regularised with the help of a first-of-its-kind ordinance issued in Maharashtra for Ulhasnagar. (In 2006, the state had passed this ordinance to regularise all existing illgeal structures).
Developers then approach the civic body to construct multi-storeyed buildings to replace the regularised shanties. This time they submit plans for construction on the entire plot. Civic officials greenlight the projects without any ado.
In the last two decades two town planners - ST Shinde and Milind Sonawani - have been booked for allowing mass scale constructions to flourish in complete violation of norms.
Plot reserved for ground
Located in camp no 4, the four-storey commercial structure stands on a plot reserved for play ground as per the sanctioned Development Plan of 1974. Even in the proposed development Plan of 2001, the plot is reserved for a recreational ground. In short, no construction should have been allowed on the plot, considering a large part of the 261 square metre plot was vacant.
When the state passed the ordinance in order to give a fresh lease of life to Ulhasnagar, plot no. 11, had a small hut on it. Since the structure was on a reserved plot, the owners it regularised with the help of the ordinance. This only meant that the tiny structure was not to be demolished and the vacant plot to be taken over by the civic body to develop a play ground. However, instead of developing the much-needed play ground, the civic body allowed a building to be constructed.
Documents available with Mirror show that authorities were fully aware of the plot being reserved for a playground but allowed the four storey structure, which now houses a few prominent banks, to come up. The structure now has a basement, ground floor, mezzanine and first floor.
“The construction was allowed in complete violation of rules. Ideally the plot should have been taken over from the owners and a play ground developed in the vacant area. I have already ordered an inquiry and suitable action will be taken."
- Ashok Rankhambh Municipal Commissioner
Plot reserved for school
A five storeyed residential building stands on a 6,600 square meter plot. As per both the sanctioned Development Plan of 1974 and proposed Development Plan of 2001, plot no. 92, located in camp no. 4, is reserved for a school. The plot originally had two small structures, with a large portion of the plot vacant. The two structures were regularised by the owners after the ordinance was passed.
Ideally civic body should have taken over the plot from the owners and developed a school. Experts point out that the two structures that were regularised should have been left untouched and the plot taken over by the civic body.
However, the civic body allowed construction of a residential building here in 2008. Documents available with Mirror show that the town planners knew the plot was menat for a school and yet cleared the building which today houses several families.
"Nothing else can come up on a plot reserved for school. This is a new modus operandi deployed by developers. I have ordered an inquiry to find out how town planners allowed the construction."
Ashok Rankhambh Municipal Commissioner
|2010-12-07||Curious incident of a groping doc |
Curious incident of a groping doc in the night-time
Posted On Tuesday, December 07, 2010 at 02:09:14 AM
Ulhasnagar’s Central Hospital is grappling with the strange case of a phantom doctor who visits the female ward only at night and disappears without a trace.
The Central Hospital at Ulhasnagar
Several female patients in the 200-bed hospital have complained of being woken up in the middle of the night and being groped by the stethoscope wielding man in the ruse of an examination.
Despite the hospital authority’s attempts at catching the man red-handed, he has managed to give them the slip so far.
“For over a week now we have been receiving complaints from the female wards about an unknown doctor disturbing them at night,” said Janardhan Nimbhore, resident medical officer, Central Hospital, Ulhasnagar.
“This doctor visits the wards between 12 am to 3 am when the female patients are fast asleep. He is well-dressed, has short, neatly-cropped hair, wears spectacles and carries two mobile phones. He also carries a stethoscope,” said Nimbhore.
A patient in one of the affected wards confirmed the developments. “In fact only last night there was chaos at midnight as a man who looked like a doctor misbehaved with a patient and ran away,” she said.
The phantom doctor strikes at a time when none of the hospital doctors are doing their rounds, clarified the resident medical officer, adding that house doctors finish their rounds well before midnight.
The hospital had twice set up traps for the intruder, but he managed to disappear before the guards could reach the spot. “As it is a female ward the hospital does not have any CCTV cameras in the three wards where he has struck so far. But we have now decided to install cameras at the doors of these wards,” said Nimbhore.
“The hospital has requested for five female constables and some armed police men,” said an officer from Ulhasnagar’s Central police station, adding, “From Monday we will deploy our officers in the female wards at night. We hope to be able to catch the culprit soon.”
|2010-12-06||It’s still illegal in Ulhasnagar (and this time, t|
Last week, about 30 residents of a building in Ulhasnagar, 60 kms from Mumbai, gheraoed the municipal commissioner and mayor demanding an explanation for two additional floors sanctioned on their four-year-old, five-storey building.
They didn't budge until Municipal Commissioner Ashok Rankhambh assured them the floors wouldn’t be allowed as it was ‘prima facie’ in violation of norms.
This seemingly commonplace battle against two illegal floors has opened a Pandora's Box in Ulhasnagar, from which several cases of unauthorised construction have started tumbling out, with plots reserved for public utilities being indiscriminately handed over to private builders.
Four years ago, the state government had passed an ordinance to regularise rampantly mushrooming illegal structures in the congested township.
A Mumbai Mirror investigation has revealed, however, that the problem is back and is worse than ever - for this time, the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation’s role is actually proactive.
In part one of a three-part series, we look at two separate plots that were set aside for a post office and a playground respectively. Both received sanctions for private construction.
Until four years ago, Ulhasnagar, the congested township spread over just 13 sq kms was a hotbed for illegal construction.
The local administration turned a blind eye while developers raised multi-storeyed buildings flouting norms.
Then, in 2006 the government passed an ordinance to regularise the illegal structures so Ulhasnagar could get a fresh lease of life. However, four years later, Ulhasnagar is still the hotbed of unauthorised construction.
The already crammed township is losing the little breathing space it has. Local activists have protested and filed complaints but in vain.
Mumbai Mirror decided to get a close look at the builder-bureaucrat nexus by exploring the routes they use for this kind of short-sighted development.
Plot reserved for post office
In the heart of Ulhasnagar, lies a 31,215 square feet plot, which according to the sanctioned Development Plan of 1974 is reserved for a post office.
In the proposed Development Plan of 2001, it has been set aside for public utilities like a fire brigade, cemetery, police station, etc.
This piece of land, better knows as Plot no 161, is located opposite Central Hospital.
In August 2009, the owners of the land submitted a plan to construct a five-storey building on it.
In October 2010, civic officials stated categorically in their paperwork, which Mumbai Mirror has a copy of, that the plot was reserved for a post office and that the owners had no choice but to hand over the plot to the government and claim floor space index (FSI) to be used elsewhere in lieu of it.
However, in the same note, officials, including town planner and assistant director of town planning, have sanctioned the construction of the five storey residential building as if there is no contradiction in both stands.
The only condition the two officials put forward was that the developers hand over 25 per cent of the built up area to the Post and Telegraph Department.
The developers were asked to draw up an agreement with the postal department and the structure was cleared.
This is a complete violation of the law as a plot reserved for public utilities must be handed over to the government free of cost. The owners have no right to construct anything on such plots.
Plot reserved for playground
Plot No 162, located not too far from Ulhasnagar railway station, is reserved for the postal department as per the sanctioned Development Plan of 1974. In the proposed Development Plan of 2001, the plot is reserved as a playground.
In 2009, the owners submitted their plan for a multi-storey residential building on 4,300 square feet of the plot. In May 2010, the town planner granted sanction to the construction.
The planner even gave a commencement certificate so the work could begin. The authorities have spared no thought to the fact that the area does not have an open ground.
Immediately after the plan was sanctioned, activists objected. Former deputy Mayor of Ulhasnagar Vinod Talreja too filed several complaints against the plan. With pressure mounting on the civic body, the town planner issued a stop work notice to the building.
Talreja also demanded a high level probe into the matter against town planner A P Gurgule. He shot letters to the Town Planning Department, which, in principle, agreed the construction had been sanctioned in violation of laws but refused to take further action against the errant officials.
|2010-12-03||Man plans own kidnap to swindle dad|
MUMBAI: In a strange case, a 26-year-old planned his own kidnapping to get money from his father.
Ravi Khatri, son of Ulhasnagar businessman Mohan Khatri, went missing on November 18. His sister Hema got a call from an unknown person who said Ravi had been kidnapped and would be freed after the Khatris paid Rs 25 lakh. After a day, even Khatri started receiving SMSs asking for the ransom to save his son's life. He registered a complaint with the police. ''This person always communicated through SMSs when he contacted Khatri. We decided to track the phone,'' said Sarang Awad, DCP, Ulhasnagar.
The police traced the mobile to a hotel in Virar. But, by the time the cops reached the hotel, the culprit had gone. Eventually, the number was traced to Kalyan and the police were surprised to find Ravi with the phone.
''Ravi said he escaped from the kidnappers, but later confessed he planned the entire plot himself. He changed his voice while speaking to his sister,'' said Awad. The police have booked Ravi and will arrest him after taking permission from the court.
Read more: Man plans own kidnap to swindle dad - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Man-plans-own-kidnap-to-swindle-dad/articleshow/7031675.cms#ixzz17DZZkvqz
|2010-12-02||Lawyer gets taste of road rage mob|
What started off as a minor accident in which nobody was hurt, turned into a full-blown fight late on Tuesday night at Ulhasnagar.
Enraged by the accident, a group of youngsters ruthlessly beat up an advocate and his associates and even ransacked his office.
The incident took place around 7 pm in camp no. 5 when Advocate Charan Penthalia was returning home from Ulhasnagar court. When he was near his house, a biker rammed into his car.
Under normal circumstances both parties would have assessed the damage and moved on. But in this case, several youngsters known to the biker soon gathered at the spot and abused Penthalia.
"After a small argument, we left the spot. Two hours later, around 15-20 boys came to my office and started hurling abuses.
Before I could react, they started ransacking my office. Some of the boys started hitting me, my associates and my brother," said Penthalia.
Penthalia, who sustained severe injuries to his head, legs and hands, has been admitted to the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
The police have registered a case against seven youngsters identified by Penthalia.
"It started as a minor case of an accident which got blown out of proportion," said a senior police official from Hill Line police station. "One of the accused persons has been arrested."
Meanwhile, advocates across Ulhasnagar have announced that they would not attend court and boycott work on Thursday.