|2007-08-27||HC asks illegal constructions in Ulhasnagar|
The issue of unauthorised constructions in the satellite township of Ulhasnagar has come back to haunt the state government. The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the government and the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (UMC) to explain what action they proposed to take against over 1.13 lakh unauthorised buildings that are yet to apply for regularisation.
In order to provide relief to residents of Ulhasnagar, the government had enacted a special law in January last year to protect unauthorised constructions carried out before January 2005. They had asked building occupants to apply for regularisation. However, of the 1.40 lakh unauthorised constructions, 1,13,767 buildings/tenements are yet to apply for regularisation, despite the expiry of a deadline.
Justice JN Patel said the state government and the UMC are too busy blaming each other to take any real action.“”Time is only being spent in conducting meetings without any real results”” he said. Dismissing the affidavits filed by UMC as“”eyewash””, Justice Patel said,“”If the government is satisfied of the incapacity of the UMC, nothing stops them from taking over the administration of the corporation, rather than expressing their helplessness.”
Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Hari Tanwani, a resident of Ulhasnagar, a division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Amjad Sayed asked the state and the UMC to respond to allegations of failure to take action against illegal buildings that have come up after January 2000, despite court orders.
In its affidavit, the UMC had claimed that it had demolished 942 structures in the past two years. Tanwani, however, disputed this assertion and pointed out that neither had the UMC given details of the structures demolished nor had panchnamas or first information reports been filed by the police, as is mandatory in such cases.
The petitioner brought to the court’s notice that of the 131 building plans approved in the past two years, 87 did not possess a plinth certificate while 103 were not issued completion/occupation certificates. The court has also asked the UMC to submit details of the action taken against civic officials who were held responsible for unauthorised buildings by the Nandlal committee.
|2007-08-25||400 meter stretch road has 90 potholes!|
The heavy rains that batter the suburbs leave their mark on the roads. The crumbling infrastructure is left at the mercy of the corporation which does very little to concretise them. The 400 metre stretch of the road connecting Ulhasnagar east to west testifies that. The road which is temporarily repaired by UMC every year only gets worsened due the patch work.
The commuters residing not only in that area but all over Ulhasnagar using this road are inconvenienced by the rocky ride. "Why is UMC taking its own sweet time to repair such an important stretch of road," asks an irked Mukesh Malani. "It takes almost 6-7 minutes to cover the whole road instead of 2-3 minutes," he informs.
The other largely affected lot is the rickshawallas, who are witnessing an increase in the maintenance cost of their rickshaw. "It is such an inconvenient road that every now and then there is some problem with our rickshaws, sometimes the engine is damaged and other times some parts like shock absorbers crash down. Tyre punctures have become an everyday thing thanks to the deadly potholes," says Vijay Podhare, a rickshaw driver. The roads have also lead to more fuel consumptions and regular traffic jams. According to Podhare, the rickshaw union has filed a written application requesting the UMC to look into the matter at the earliest.
The road is totally chaotic with at least 90 pot holes and seven speed breakers. Also the footpath is covered by the shopkeepers, which forces the pedestrians to use the road, adding to the mess.
DK+ contacted Baccharam Rupchandani, corporator and PWD chairman at UMC. He said "We are trying our level best to improve the structure of the road. We have sent a proposal to the state govt. not only for this road but for the entire Ulhasnagar. It will take at least 2-3 months for the proposal to be approved."
Speaking about this road he explained that the road was repaired two years ago but due to heavy traffic that plies on this road it is difficult to keep it in shape. He however promised that the road will be taken care of as soon as the proposal is passed.
Shil Phata road finally ready
After months of delay the shil phata roads have been concretised, reports V Ulaganathan
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) recently finished the repair work of shil phata road. The road was in dire state for months before it was finally taken up. Says corporator of the area, Vishnu Kotkar, "The road was in a bad condition for the past five to six months. Occasional repairs did take place but they did not last. School going children and motorists were often affected due to this jerky ride. Hope the repair work this time lasts us long".
A contractor on condition of anonymity says, "The tar used in the construction of these roads is of third grade and cannot last for even a month on a road like Shil phata that has a traffic density of about 40000 vehicles per day. "
Shil phata road is of prime importance as it is the only road connecting Dombivli to Thane, NaviMumbai and Mumbai. It also connects to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway.
* It takes almost 6-7 minutes to cover the whole road instead of 2-3 minutes
-Mukesh Malani, a resident
* This 400-metre stretch of road connecting Ulhasnagar East to West reportedly has 90 potholes!
|2007-08-20||Abu Salem aide arrested in Ulhasnagar|
The Ulhasnagar Crime Detection Branch arrested a gang of five robbers, including Rajesh alias Raju Hatankar, a sharpshooter and one-time close aide of gangster Abu Salem.
The five were allegedly behind a robbery at a teacher's house in Vitthalwadi area of Ulhasnagar in 2005. Robbers had held the family at gunpoint and decamped with cash and valuables worth Rs 5.03 lakh.
Sambhaji Pawar — a renowned Badlapur developer — was also among those arrested. The police seized a country-made revolver, cash and valuables worth Rs 5.78 lakh.
Inspector JD More of Ulhasnagar Crime Detection Branch said Thakur was arrested in another robbery case by the Kashmira police in Mumbai three months ago, and confessed about the Vitthalwadi robbery. The Ulhasnagar Crime Detection Branch on Tuesday arrested Thakur, who was out on bail, in New Delhi.
Thakur allegedly named his accomplices as Hatankar, Ravindra Malik, Dilip Sardar, and Pawar. More said five murder cases and seven extortion and robbery cases were registered against Hatankar in various police stations.
|2007-08-19||10-year-old student beaten in school|
A 10-year-old student of a municipal school in Ulhasnagar was beaten up ruthlessly by his teacher and later locked in a room for more than five hours, all because he failed to do his homework. When the child narrated the incident, his angry mother got together other women from the area, rushed to the school and thrashed the teacher.
The incident took place on Thursday afternoon at Ulhasnagar’s municipal school no. 20.
Recounting the horror, victim Ganesh Dudhsakhre, a Class IV student, said, “He [teacher Dhangar] started hitting me with a scale. He kept hitting me even after I pleaded for mercy. After beating me on my legs and back, he locked me up in a room for several hours.”
On reaching home, Ganesh lost consciousness. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was admitted for a day. On Friday morning, when he regained consciousness, he told his mother Sunita about the incident.
“What else do you expect us to do? The child was beaten so badly that he had scars on his legs. He was barely able to speak. This is no way to treat a child if he fails to do homework,” said a resident of Shahad Phata, who was part of the group that beat up Dhangar.
The women, led by Sunita, then approached the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), an NGO working in the area. “We advised the family to register a case with the police. Beating up a child is an offence and such teachers should not be spared,” said Manisha Kadam, an HRF office-bearer.
Together with social workers, Dudhsakhre’s family registered a case against Dhangar. Dhangar too filed a complaint against Sunita Dudhsakhre and others for assaulting him.
Ulhasnagar police arrested Dhangar late on Friday evening. He was booked under Section 324 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for assaulting Ganesh. On Saturday afternoon, Dhangar was produced before the first class judicial magistrate’s court and released on bail.
Meanwhile, Ganesh who is recuperating from his physical and mental scars at home, has said he does not want to go to school ever again.
The memories were live. The tears were real. The agony was haunting. On Thursday, August 9, R K Talreja College organised a moving and offbeat 3-day symposium on Partition: History, Literature and Scars, an inter-disciplinary, multi-department and multi-media event that left the young audience stunned and teary-eyed. Dr. Charu Gidwani, the main organiser and senior teacher of English, was profusely poetic about the agenda of the meet that brought survivors, literary texts and movies, on a single cultural platform. "Partition was a blow to the entire Sindhi community from which it could never recover fully. This community is like an uprooted tree that could not grow its roots elsewhere. The Sindhis are like scattered leaves, the older ones withering and the younger ones blown in every direction," said Dr Gidwani.
The first morning session of two hours was cathartic as displaced and graying veterans, tried to recall the emotional scars of the partition.
"Partition left all of us shocked. On August 13th, 1947, Jinnah made a secular speech. Sadly, it was followed by bloody riots. My family had to flee from our ancestral home under most horrible conditions," a broad view shared by Tanumal Changlani, another senior speaker. For Nandlal P. Hinduja, 68, partition was a terrifying experience. "We left hurriedly in a train for Karachi. We went from Karachi to Mumbai in an overcrowded ship, carrying all memories. Slowly we rebuilt our lives here from a scratch." For Motiram Hiranandani, 74, it was the same process: "It was a great agony and still is. I still have a great longing for my lost home in my Sindh province. I got the opportunity to visit my ancestral home. I could feel a chunk of my childhood coming back in that house of mine. That beautiful house lingers in my mind to this day. We all lost innocence and precious childhood in the aftermath of those blood-soaked days."
The common palpable pain and enduring personal narratives of loss and recovery, despair and hope, struggle and eventual success in alien lands, mirror exactly the stories of refugees everywhere in the world. The remaining two days of the symposium were devoted to readings and screenings of partition-related literatures and films. More than two hundred students-many from nearby colleges-attended the unique event and felt benefited by this rewinding of history.
|2007-08-14||Sindh connection: Life after partition|
Sixty years after partition, NDTV brings you some of Partition's untold stories.
They came as refugees when Sindh became a part of newly created Pakistan. Many headed for Bombay and started their lives all over again. But their success over the last six decades has come at a price.
Every Sindhi wants to fit into the shoes of the czar of construction, Niranjan Hiranandani, who in many ways personifies the Sindhi success story.
Just 60 years ago, his community, mostly of rich landholders, came as refugees from Sindh in Pakistan.
''I think Sindhis as a community are very entrepreneurial. You find a Sindhi anywhere in the world who is able to be businesslike, thrive and adapt. They just put their noses to the ground and get to work. Beyond a point Sindhis didn't look back at all,'' said Niranjan Hiranandani. MD, Hiranandani Group.
But for 75-year-old Anjana Tejwani, it is a different tale.
Barely 15, she was a child bride when her zamindar family fled overnight from Sakkur in Sindh leaving behind a three storey house and a lifetime of riches.
All that to start a new life as refugees in army barracks of Ulhasnagar, just outside Mumbai. Despite the hard work, the family has not been able to regain its prosperous past.
''The rich somehow got lost in the race when they came to India. We were ashamed to do hard work, unlike the poor who just did what they had to and are now more successful than us,'' said Anjana.
Her 32-year-old daughter Julie Tejwani desperately tries to keep alive pieces of Sindhi culture.
She is part of a young Sindhi theatre group that is struggling to revive interest in her mother tongue through drama.
''It is difficult to get a crowd. We barely manage 4 to 5 shows of one play, that also because it is totally sponsored. But no one is willing to buy a ticket for this kind of theatre,'' she said.
Many debate that this erosion of culture and tradition is natural because they do not have a state or even a piece of land to call their very own to preserve and nurture their distinctive identity.
Sindhis may have prospered in their many adopted countries and as the popular Sindhi saying goes ''have made gold out of ashes''. But this hardy and affluent community is slowly losing out on something even more precious- its distinctiveness, its culture, language and music.
|2007-08-11||Papu Kalanis Liquor sales double in 18 months|
Bar owners and the excise department, often on opposing sides of the fence, can take cheer from the latest liquor consumption figures. Mumbai and neighbouring Thane district have been steadily consuming increasing quantities of alcohol over the past five years. In fact, 8.52 crore bulk litres (BL) of beer were consumed in these areas in 2006-’07, a whopping 2.65 crore BL more than in 2002-’03.
The consumption of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) in the same five-year period for these two regions jumped to 3.94 crore BL in 2006-’07, 86.7 lakh BL more than in 2002-’03.
Such jumps in drinking have occurred despite the steadily rising price of alcohol. In Mumbai and its suburbs, 5.3 crore BL of beer was drunk in 2006-’07, 1.34 crore BL more than the amount in 2002-’03. The consumption of IMFL in the same period jumped to 2.63 crore BL in 2006-’07, about 44 lakh BL more than five years earlier.
Ulhasnagar MLA Pappu Kalani, who manufactures Negro rum and a couple of other brands, told TOI, "My sales have doubled in the last 18 months. These days, people just find a reason to drink. The number of people going for weekend outings and parties have also increased. Earlier, the sales used to go up during New Year’s Eve and Gatari Amavasya. Nowadays, sales shoot up on Saturdays too."
The increased consumption here has given the state’s excise department reason to smile. The state, which is the eighth largest consumer of alcohol nationally, collected Rs 3296.44 crore in excise revenue in 2006-’07, which is 17.09% more than the previous year.
|2007-08-11||Plastic Menace Unchecked In Suburbs|
The state government has banned the usage of plastic bags of less than 50 microns all over the state and it has also asked all the concerned authorities to impose heavy fines on those violating the order. However, the reality is different from the rules made in the books, in the KDMC jurisdiction at least as per available facts.
Only a negligible number of people and suppliers are following the norms. In KDMC area no one pays heed, although KDMC’s conservancy workers, sanitary inspectors and higher authorities cry foul over rampant use of these thin bags. "It’s a very serious problem and the KDMC should tackle with it on a war footing measure. These bags also cause health hazard. KDMC area is more prone to this situation as the authorities are not so strict, and one can find these bags at every vendor’s stall and shops. People are also to be blamed as they are so used to these bags that they never bother to carry eco-friendly bags. It can only stop if the KDMC takes stern action against both the users and shopkeepers," says 60-year old Sridhar Shetty from Khadakpada a campaigner for clean Kalyan.
"I totally blame the KDMC officers for not being very strict and if everything goes on like this, it is another 26\7 like situation waiting to happen. Now that the KDMC has backing from the state government, it should go to the manufacturers and stop them from making these thin bags. Taking actions against the suppliers and users will not show impressive results; they should nip the problem in the bud," complains Sushma Nair from Kalyan East, who always try to use ecofriendly bags and also advices people in the locality to use cotton bags.
Most of the hawkers at market places hide the bags as soon as they see KDMC’s staff but start giving the stuff in thin plastic bags after the staff leaves. "If I don’t give the customers a plastic bag, they buy goods from the one who gives them the bag; this way Ioose customers. Secondly these bags are very cheap they cost Rs 10 for 100 pieces, which is affordable whereas bags of more than 50 microns cost about Rs 50 per 100 bags. So we will land up paying Rs 100 per day only on bags and the customers will not even pay anything extra," informs Rajesh Yadhav a banana vendor.
When contacted assistant public health officer Mahesh Kotwal of the KDMC said, "We are dealing with the situation efficiently. We have increased our vigilance and have involved maximum staff from our department to take actions against erring public. This way we have already confiscated 500 kg of thin plastic bags and also collected Rs 2 lakhs as fine. In future the fines will be increased to Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 if caught repeatedly. We have also requested octroi agents not to allow this stuff in the KDMC area, they too have promised to co operate." Kotwal also informed that the KDMC has formed a special squad with their sanitary inspectors and other staff to keep a watch on the users and fine them on the spot without any excuse.
Assistant commissioner of solid waste management department Sunhash Bhujwal said," We are very serious this time about this issue. Our commissioner has already written a letter to the commissioner of Ulhasnagar requesting him to stop the supplies and manufactures of these bags. Ulhasnagar is the biggest supplier of these bags to Kalyan. Using these plastic bags will be a thing of past very soon as we are going to step up our vigilance team. Also stern action will be taken against the one who uses these bags." He said the effort would be successful only when the public gives its support.
|2007-08-11||3-year old recruitment scam resurfaces|
The proof of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation’s (UMC) alleged recruitment scam has surfaced once again. In 2003, as per the state government directive, the UMC recruited around 400 employees from the reservation categories. After this recruitment drive, serious allegations of corruption and nepotism had surfaced. Local media including the DK Plus had reported the matter in a previous issue. The allegations ranged from bribe and unwarranted involvement of senior state bureaucrats in the recruitment procedure. Also the involvement of certain politicians had come under the media scanner.
All these while, the politicians and bureaucrats have rejected all the allegations as baseless at all possible platforms. However, now one evidential proof has surfaced to prove the involvement of politicians and bureaucrats in the recruitment procedure of 2003.
Alka Pawar, a senior clerk, who was recruited in the special recruitment drive of 2003, recently received punishment transfer from her higher ups. But no sooner than the punishment order was issued, the UMC has received a communication from the Mantralaya saying that she should not be shunted out of the Ulhasnagar corporation.
Pawar was appointed as a senior clerk with the corporation on July 31, 2003. In March 2007, one of the labour unions in the UMC complained that the woman secured the job by producing a bogus experience certificate. Pawar had produced a certificate showing she worked with a Kalyan-based school. The union alleged that the certificate was a forged one.
The commissioner then constituted an inquiry and after investigation, the inquiry officer reported that the said certificate was missing from the employee’s personnel file with the UMC. The officer also mentioned about several corrections made to the contents of the file. Based on this report, the commissioner ordered to transfer Alka, who worked in the general administration department where the personnel files are kept.
However, a few days after the commissioner issued the transfer order, he received a directive from the urban development department of the state government asking him not to shunt out Pawar from the UMC headquarters.
The union has alleged that the findings of inquiry officer and the latest intervention from the state government are evidence enough to prove that the allegations of corruption and involvement of bureaucrats in the recruitment procedure are true. "There are several issues pertaining to the UMC pending before the urban development department. The officials are not taking any decision in these matters. However, they have enough time and interest to intervene in the daily administration of the corporation. If this isn’t corruption, then what it is," asks Babu Shinde, secretary of the labour union.
One can spot hundreds of transmission towers owned by various cellular firms lining up the sky in Ulhasnagar. These towers are standing tall from the terraces of several buildings across the city causing a number of concerns to the residents, including health issues. Now an interesting but startling fact has come to light about these obstructing and harmful towers. According to information furnished by the town planning department of the corporation, none of these towers have the permission of the UMC. The information was received by a corporator of the UMC during one of the general body meetings.
The issue has come to light after Hema Shirker, a resident of Balaji building in Ulhasnagar objected to erecting one mobile company’s transmission tower on the terrace of her building. The woman lived in a terrace flat. The UMC failed to stop the company from installing the tower despite repeated complaints. The woman objected to the tower on the grounds of possible leakage from the terrace.
As the UMC failed to help her, she sought help from the judiciary as well as local corporator. Hearing her plea, the Ulhasnagar’s civil court ordered the UMC to stop the erection of the tower on the terrace of the building. In the meanwhile, the corporator also sought a written answer from the town planning department about the number of permitted transmission towers in the city. To this, the UMC department replied that none of the towers in the city had the permission from the corporation.
Now armed with the UMC’s reply, the woman has approached the court seeking action against the responsible officers of the civic body. "The officials kept blind eye when these mobile towers sprouted on the terraces in the city. Also they kept mum even when I complained about the installation of the tower on my terrace," she says.
When contacted, S A Pathan, deputy municipal commissioner, UMC, said his department did not take action because of a circular from the sate government. "We have a circular from the state government dated January 21, 2007, which has asked us not to disturb the mobile transmission towers even thought it has nor permission from the corporation. So we didn’t act," he says. However, the woman is not ready to buy this explanation. "I read the circular carefully. It pertains to the existing mobile towers in the city. It has no mention of the new towers. So, they refused to take action with certain hidden intention," she charges.
|2007-08-11||Rafi Remembered by Fan Club|
On July 27, 1980 soul of the great singer Mohammad Rafi left for heavenly abode, but his immortal voice is alive in the memory of the young and the old alike. The golden voice that suited every actor, be it a sad song or a fast number, still haunts his fans all over the world.
Mohammad Rafi Fan club of Ulhasnagar also celebrated Rafi’s twenty seventh death anniversary at Town Hall on July 29. The event was aptly titled, Bikhre Moti. All the Rafi fans gathered there to pay respect and remember the legend. The evening was marked by singing Rafi’s sad songs. One of the best music director’s of yester years and a very close friend of Rafi, Ravi was the chief guest at the event.
"Rafi saab suffered three severe attacks in five hours and gave away early morning at the Bombay hospital. He was buried at Bandra graveyard, his grave is like that of an ordinary person," said advocate Naresh Shah from Kalyan, a great fan of Rafi with grief written on his face. He further added, "That saddens me very much and very often I think I should do something in memory of this legend. If I succeed I’ll think I have shown some love towards Rafi saab."
"Rafi had sung 237 songs for Ravi and acted in three films Laila Majnu, Jugnu and Samaj ko badal dalo in his young age. His favorite song was Suhani raat dhal chuki, na jaane tum kab aaoge," informed Dr Prabhu Ahuja from Ulhasnagar.
Whenever Rafi sang in a programme he mesmerised everybody. Listeners would go in trance while listening to him. "Most of his fans never consider Rafi dead. He is alive, he is with us everywhere come along I’ll show him singing in my house, in my office and in my heart," said Holaram Makhijani, who considers himself from Mohammad Rafi Gharana.