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Maharashtra: Man held for 11 house-breaking thefts in Thane

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 32-year-old man was arrested for his alleged involvement in around 11 house-breaking thefts in the district, police said on Wednesday.Acting on a tip-of, Mukesh Balsaraf, who was out on bail, was apprehended by sleuths of the Crime Branch’s unit 5 near Titwala railway station in Thane district on December 12, senior inspector Kishore Pasalkar said.During interrogation, it was revealed that Balsaraf was out on bail since April this year and was allegedly involved in 11 house-breaking thefts in areas like Vartak Nagar, Wagle Estate, Daighar, Dombivili, Manpada, Kalyan and Kolsewadi, said the officer.Stolen jewellery worth around Rs 4.56 lakh was recovered from his possession, Pasalkar said.Balsaraf was earlier arrested for allegedly committing crimes in Rabale, Koparkhairne, CBD Belapur, Vashi, Nerul, Borivili, Dahisar, Khar, Tardeo, Malad Boisar, he added.

dna investigation: IRB Infra has different tales on toll evaders

IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd seems to have different versions on its toll operations for the Dahisar-Surat Highway stretch.With government authorities it has been maintaining that lakhs of motorists are not paying toll, but to dna it said evasion was rare. IRB Surat-Dahisar Tollway Private Ltd had shot off letters to four police stations asking them to book and collect toll from over 6 lakh motorists.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per data accessed by dna, the private agency, in letters to officers attached with Virar and Kasa police stations in Maharashtra as well as Navsari and Pardi police stations in Gujarat, not only asked the cops to register First Information Reports (FIRs) against toll evaders but also to assist them in recovering the unpaid toll.While asking police officers “bound to assist toll collectors when required” to recover toll from non-paying motorists, the correspondence reads, “…under the Indian Tolls Act, 1951, the state is authorised to collect such toll…The toll tax levied is public revenue, and, hence, collection of toll is in the nature of public duty, which is to be performed by the agents appointed by the state government, and, in this case, the company and its officer collecting toll.”In the correspondences, the company say 6,05,695 persons passed the four (Khaniwade, Charoti, Bhagwada and Boriach) toll plazas on the Surat-Dahisar stretch without paying toll between March 14 and April 10. The maximum evaders were at Bhagwada (2,42,349), followed by Boriach (1,95,474).The details of the toll-evading motorists were shared with the Virar, Kasa, Pardi and Navsari police stations but questions on the FIRs or cases registered with police were not answered by IRB Infrastructure Developers.IRB’s statement to dna was “all our toll plazas / nakas are functioning efficiently. We have no major problems on toll collections at any point. Some motorists may resist but our staff manages to convince them to pay as per rules for highway users. But such incidents are rare and negligible. The police take care if there is any law-and-order issue.”Activist Sanjay Shirodkar alleged that the difference in stance by the private agency is nothing but a “conspiracy to ensure that the tenure or concession period is extended by showing lesser toll collections”.It is also doubtful whether the letters to the police station will be of any help. “We haven’t registered any offence on toll evasions as they are non-cognisable complaints and do not call for FIRs. We cannot take action. The private agency has to approach the judiciary to recover toll against the offenders. They need to file a complaint with the court,” said Ravi Magar, inspector at Kasa police station.TOLL EVADING MOTORISTSTOLL PLAZASPOLICE STATIONSOFFENCE AGAINSTDATES / DAYSKhaniwadeVirar1,13,718March 14 – April 10CharotiKasa54,154March 14 – April 10BhagwadaPardi2,42,349March 14 – April 10BoriachNavsari1,95,474March 14 – April 10TOTAL6,05,69528 DAYS

Toll Tales | Huge rise in number of exempted vehicles in just a year: IRB report

In the 130km stretch between Charoti and Boriach on the Dahisar-Surat highway, the number of vehicles being exempted from paying toll has only gone up, in some cases by a whopping 1,48,440%.As per the rules of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), vehicles exempted from paying toll tax include those of the president, vice-president, Central and state ministers, leaders of Opposition, MPs, speakers of Union and state legislatures, foreign dignitaries on state visit, lieutenant governors of Union territories, defence, police, emergency, and central and state government vehicles on duty, among others.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Maharashtra, the number of vehicles exempted from toll at the Khaniwade plaza has shot up tremendously. This was observed during a traffic count done between February 22 and March 20 in 2016. During the same period last year, only 20 vehicles were allowed to pass without paying toll. In 2016, however, the number swelled to an astonishing 29,708 – a rise of 1,48,440%.Also read: Toll Tales | Motorists argue and drive away without paying toll on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway: IRB reportAs per the data accessed by dna, between February 22 and March 20, 2015, a total of 3,672 vehicles were exempted from paying toll at Boraich plaza near Valsad in Gujarat. This number swelled to 13,100 this year – a rise of 256.75%.At Charoti plaza near Dahanu in Maharashtra, there was a 9.25% increase in the number of exempted vehicles in a year. Last year, 10,738 automobiles were given free access as compared to 10,738 vehicles between February 22 and March 20 this year.What is interesting to note is that the vehicles falling under the exempted category also include buses, trucks, light commercial vehicles and Multi-Axle Vehicles (MAV). For example, during the same spell of 28 days last year, only 25 MAVs were exempted as per the NHAI rules, but this year, the figure rose to 432. The movement of cars, too, increased manifold, from 3,054 last year to 11,368 light utility vehicles.The IRB Surat-Dahisar Tollway Private Limited is handling the data and toll management on the highway, and this period will expire on February 19, 2021. The agency has maintained silence over the subject of exempted vehicles.

Maharashtra: Dahisar citizens panel resolves civic issues with Whatsapp

While most activists remain at loggerheads with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) over their civic complaints not being resolved, a Local Area Citizen Committee (LACC) from Dahisar has decided to lead the civic body by example.To reduce the waiting period for the issues to be resolved, the LACC for ward number 1 in Dahisar have launched a WhatsApp group, which has as its members not only the activists from Ward 1 but also BMC officials from the R-North ward office, including the assistant municipal commissioner. According to sources, since the group’s launch in March, almost all smaller issues, which earlier used to be discussed during the LACC meeting, get resolved on the group itself. Only bigger developmental issues and plans are now discussed during the meetings.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to LACC convenor Harish Pandey, theirs is one of the very few wards across Mumbai where regular LACC meetings are held to resolve the citizens’ complaints. “We meet every first and third Saturday of the month, along with the BMC officials from various departments. Every LACC member brings a task slip, which lists the issues. It is handed over to the BMC official concerned.””We, however, realised that for some complaints to get resolved, activists had to wait for almost 14 days or more,” added Pandey. That is when the decision to launch the Whatsapp group was taken.Activists from the area said they were extremely happy that civic officials agreed to be a part of the initiative. “It’s a quick way to highlight day-to-day problems, such as water leakage, missing manhole covers, debris dumping and other issues. Problems are resolved quickly and one need not run around, make several phone calls or write letters. Now, we simply take a picture and put details on the group. The BMC officials then take prompt action,” said Shrikanth Mududi, a resident of Kanderpada, Dahisar (W), who recently posted about debris being left near Dahisar RTO, which was cleared the same day itself.Pandey further said they have decided to not allow any political leaders or elected representatives in the group, as they only wanted to interact with the BMC officials. “Citizens need to push authorities for better governance. With so much technology available, one need not run around with complaint letters. The group has responsible citizen activists, who raise valid and relevant issues. That is the reason even BMC officials, including the ward officer, have been extremely positive,” said DA Kossambe, a resident of IC Colony.Meanwhile, Vijay Kamble, assistant municipal commissioner for R North ward, agreed that the basic issues were now getting resolved at a quicker pace. “It’s, in a way, good that citizen activists have a way of directly interacting with the BMC and informing us about these issues,” he said.

MMRDA puts 86,000 sqmt of TDR on sale to fund projects

In order to raise funds to finance various big ticket projects within Mumbai, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has come up with sale of another of its assets. This time, it has put up over 86,000 sqmt of Transferable Development Rights (TDR) that it generated over a period of years on sale.The officials expect to fetch a minimum of Rs315.62 crore only if the entire 86,828.12 sqmt of TDR is picked up by the private developers. The reserve price has been kept at Rs36,350 per sqmt.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Out of the 86,828.12 sqmts, the largest chunk of 36,160.26 sqmt is from Majas in Jogeshwari (E), followed by 33,524.28 sqmt from Hariyali Village in Vikhroli (E), while the remaining were from Ghatkopar and Goregaon areas,” shared a senior MMRDA official.The previous attempt to sell the TDR was made in January, wherein the MMRDA had come out with sale of 30,000 sqmt of TDR with an expectation to earn a minimum of Rs154 crore. But it did not receive enough response from the realty market to buy the entire 30,000 sqmt. It sold just over 15,000 sqmt to five private companies at an average price of Rs38,000 per sqmt against the reserve price of Rs36,350 per sqmt. Therefore, generated around Rs59 crore.The latest revenue raising attempt was made in the previous month when it put up for auction one of its biggest plot in financial district of Bandra Kurla Complex for 80 years of lease. From this plot, spread over 12,486 sqmt marked for “Commercial Purposes”, it anticipates to garner at least Rs1,479 crore as it has permissible built up area of 50,000 sqmt and reserve price being Rs2,95,800 per sqmt.For the current fiscal year, MMRDA’s budget has swelled to Rs6,647.67 crore to implement various projects in Mumbai, which includes Mumbai Trans Harbour Link between Sewri and Nhava, Dahisar-DN Nagar and Andheri East-Dahisar East and Colaba-Bandra-Charkop Metro rails, Mumbai Monorail between Wadala Depot and Jacob Circle, Chheda Nagar Junction flyovers, Santa Cruz Chembur Link Road Extension, etc. Thus, requiring funds by selling off its assets (land banks) to achieve the goal of upgrading city’s transportation and infrastructure network.

MHADA housing lottery to be declared in April

Come May and around 1,100 homes within the city will be sold through a lottery draw by the Mumbai Housing and Area Development Board (MHADB). According to sources, the affordable housing lottery draw will be announced sometime in the first week of April, and the advertisements will be published just before mid-April.The applicants will have to send online applications for close to 1,084 tenements in various areas, such as Sion, Dahisar, Mulund, Goregaon, Chembur and so on. After accepting the online applications for just over a month, the lottery draw will be held on May 31.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last year in May, the draw was conducted at Rangsharda Auditorium in Bandra for 997 homes. At that time, there weren’t any homes for the High Income Group (HIG), and this year as well, MHADB officials may disappoint the HIG applicants.Over the years, the housing stock for the lottery draw has been dwindling, primarily due to lesser land bank available with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and the lottery draw being held annually since 2008.If tenements and flats put up for lottery, including those within the Greater Mumbai limits and outside Mumbai (Mira Road, Virar and Vengurla) are put together, till February this year, a total of 24,047 units were sold. However, some of the buyers surrendered their apartments to MHADA later due to varied reasons, making them available to be sold once again.No. of homesNovember 2008: 870May 2009: 3,863May 2010: 3,449May 2011: 4,034May 2012: 2,593 = (867 Mumbai + 1,726 Mira Road)May 2013: 1,259May 2014: 2,641 (814 Mumbai + 1,827 Virar & Vengurla)May 2015: 1,063February 2016: 4,275 (Thane, Mira Road, Virar & Vengurla)Total: 24,047

Modi’s message to Bihar voters from Mumbai in 2015 cost exchequer Rs 3 crore!

During the Bihar elections, how much did prime minister Narendra Modi’s message to Bihar voters from Mumbai cost the public exchequer? The October 2015 event cost a whopping Rs 3,36,81,366 and the expense was borne by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The figure did not even include the expense on security arrangements, sprucing up the city and sundry expenditures, which were borne by the civic body and the state government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On October 12, 2015, Modi addressed a gathering at MMRDA Grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), clarifying his party’s stand on reservation – the most discussed election point in Bihar – and said reservation was here to stay. He was in the city to lay the foundation stone for four projects – India’s largest container port at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Memorial at Indu Mills, Dahisar East-Andheri East Metro line and Dahisar East-DN Nagar Metro.Right to Information (RTI) activist Anil Galgali then sought details of the event from the MMRDA. He found that Rs3,33,900 was spent only on designing and printing 3,000 brochures for the foundation stone laying ceremonies. Similarly, Rs34,62,180 was billed to MMRDA for banners, podium logo, backdrop, welcome-thank you panels and direction boards.The authority spent Rs93,35,070 on the waterproof tent erected at BKC for the event. The tables, chairs, seats, carpet, chemical toilets and so on were hired for Rs1,12,97,104. Temporary electric installation, public address system, video walls, etc. cost a further Rs71,67,465. Another Rs20,85,647 was spent on full-page advertisements published in newspapers about the “foundation stone laying event”, which turned out to be a political rally to woo Bihar voters.Galgali said, “The state has been in deficit. It is facing acute funds crisis, coupled with drought. The government could have avoided the public rally and the funds could have been put to better use.”

Around 15,000 people take part in walk demanding clean-up of rivers in Mumbai

Around 15,000 Mumbaikars braved the heat and humidity on Sunday morning to walk for 5km alongside the four rivers of Mumbai, in what could easily be termed as the beginning of one of the biggest citizen movements demanding the rejuvenation of these water bodies.Led by the ‘Waterman of India’ Rajendra Singh, the initiative was started by River March, a community of a few like-minded people who planned this ‘Dandi March’ to highlight the sorry state of rivers such as Dahisar, Poisar and Oshiwara, as well as the Mithi river. In fact, on Sunday, around 7,000 people reportedly walked along Dahisar river, 3,000 people walked along the Oshiwara one, around 2,000 people walked along the Mithi river, while 3,000 people walked along the one at Poisar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh, the winner of the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, said that he was delighted with the way Mumbaikars, and especially schoolchildren and women, participated in the walk, thus sending a strong message to the state government as well as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation that they want the rivers to be cleaned up.”I would urge all those who walked along the four rivers to write a letter to the chief minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, as well as prime minister Narendra Modi informing them about how you walked along the river and saw the condition and how you now seek the revival of these small rivers of Mumbai. It is not a very difficult task and hence it should be taken up at the earliest on a priority basis,” Singh said, adding that if people across the country want their rivers to be in a clean condition, they will have to come out in large numbers.Even as Singh walked along the 5km stretch of the Dahisar river, he said that the entire 14km stretch along the river is in its worst state once it emerges out of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “I have walked along the entire stretch too and there are four or five easily identifiable problem areas that are causing the degradation of this river, including a dhobi ghat and tabela and areas with slums and buildings from where waste water is emptied directly into this river,” he said.Avinash Kubal, the deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP), which was one of the partners for the River March, said that the entire focus at present is on Dahisar river as important data and a survey of the issues of the other three rivers is being awaited. “We have several suggestions ready and will be discussing it with the right authorities. The main aim of this walk was also to let people see for themselves how they are playing an active or passive role in the pollution of this river, which affects their health too in the long term. We are sure that all those who took part in the walk will neither throw nor allow anyone else to throw any garbage in any water body.”

Group resorts to Gandhigiri to revive Mumbai’s rivers

Rivers March, a community-driven initiative started by a few like-minded people, has planned a “Dandi March” to put forth their demand for rejuvenation of rivers. The group has invited citizens to walk 5km along the four rivers of Mumbai on March 6 to demand not just technical restoration of rivers but an aesthetic rejuvenation as well.Rivers March founder member Gopal Javeri said, “We have been having a lot of discussions about river restoration but nothing seems to be happening on ground. Since we believe in the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, we decided to organise a 5km walk along all four rivers. First, we want locals staying in close vicinity around these four rivers to understand that the flowing ‘sewer’ they have been seeing in their neighbourhood for a long time is actually a river. Then there will be a louder voice raised, seeking revival of these rivers.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The organisers are already coordinating with schools and colleges located in the vicinity of the path of rivers, so that there is a long-term commitment. They have also started using social media to spread the word about the walk.”We have already finalised the routes. The Dahisar march will begin from Rustomjee School and head towards Dahisar village. The Poisar march will start from Poisar village and end at Mith Chowky. The Oshiwara march will be from Ram Mandir to Lokhandwala lake, and the Mithi march will start from Maharashtra Nature Park and end at BKC,” said Javeri, adding that they have already tied up with Rustomjee School and Khalsa College, and their students would be a part of the walks.In addition, there are plans to hold a detailed cleaning drive and discussion along the Dahisar river. As per plans, 2015 Stockholm Water awardee Rajendra Singh has agreed to be the face of the movement, and he will participate in the Dahisar river march.”There are talks by the government about cleaning up rivers such as Ganga and others on priority. So, our question is, can’t Maharashtra state government ensure that these four small rivers of Mumbai are properly restored and not just by building embankments but also ensuring that the flowing water is of good quality,” said Javeri.Deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park, Avinash Kubal, said, “We recently held a symposium titled Reviving and Nurturing River and other Urban Water Ecologies of Mumbai. The idea was to hold talks and initiate a discussion on rivers’ revival. The march is the next step to build awareness about how locals will have to play an important role in the revival of rivers.”

Holding most open spaces, Shiv Sena in no mood to return

Despite holding the most number of open spaces in the city, none of the Shiv Sena leaders have come forward to return their plots to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). While Sena leader and minister of state (MoS) for housing Ravindra Waikar has offered to return the plot that his Matoshree Arts and Sports Club holds in Jogeshwari, he wants the civic body to pay him Rs14 crore that he reportedly spent on the plot.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the BMC issued notices to 36 organisations asking them to return the plots on Tuesday, no Sena leader holding a plot was issued any notice. dna on Tuesday had reported that with over 12 lakh square feet of prime open spaces under the control of its leaders, Sena had emerged as the biggest villain in the political tussle over the contentious open space policy passed by the BMC.“I am willing to return the plots provided they (BMC) pay me back the money I spent. It was around Rs14 crore, since I built the entire facility, including the swimming pool. I did my duty towards my area and gave people a great facility. Let the BMC take the plot back and maintain it the way I did. Let’s see if they can keep it encroachment-free,” said Waikar.He added that the civic body must come out with a concrete policy. “The BMC must have a policy, only then will I return the plot. Even the court had said the same thing. Why should I return the plots when they don’t even have a policy in place? They should open up the space and make it free, but have a policy first. Matoshree’s plot is under litigation, so BMC can’t touch me,” Waikar added.According to BMC records, almost all political leaders have usurped open spaces but Sena leaders are the biggest holders of recreational and play grounds. While the Sena was keen to get the new policy approved, the BJP managed to distance itself from it by demanding that it be scrapped. Eventually, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a review of the policy and BJP leaders took credit for the move. BJP MP Gopal Shetty had on Monday offered to surrender plots held by his Kamla Sports Foundation and Poisar Gymkhana.While Sena president Uddhav Thackeray hit out at the BJP and claimed that the Sena was batting for open spaces, party leaders in the BMC were backing the policy throughout. Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray wrote to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta on Monday, suggesting certain key changes in the open space policy.“Why should we return the plots? The old policy is anyway going to come up for discussion in the BMC. We will discuss it then and see,” said Trushna Vishwasrao, Sena leader in BMC.Sena’s open space bankSena MLA Sunil Prabhu and MP Gajanan Kirtikar’s Ms Aarey Bhaskar plot in Goregaon, measuring 2,500 sqmtSena leader Vinod Ghosalkar’s Ms Dahisar Sports Foundation. Three plots in Dahisar, measuring 30,000 sqmtSena leader Amarnath Patil’s Ms Amarnath Patil Trust plot in Govandi, measuring 9,400 sqmt Datta Dalvi’s Ms Shree Datta Krida Prabodini plot in Bhandup, measuring 1,803 sqmtSena minister Ravindra Waikar’s Ms Matoshri Arts and Sports Club plot in Jogeshwari, measuring 56,137 sqmtSena Minister Subhash Desai’s Ms Prabodhan plot in Goregaon, measuring 12,885 sqmtTrushna Vishwasrao’s Ms Madhukar Vishwasrao Shikshan Sanstha plot in Wadala, measuring 3,384 sqmtDilip Nerurkar’s Ms Shiv Seva Samajik Shikshan Sanstha plot in Borivli, measuring 3,023 sqmtRamesh Prabhu’s Ms Chattrapati Shivaji Smarak Samiti Trust plot in Vile Parle, measuring 9,200 sqmt

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed: A master politician who tried to nurture true Indian constituency in Kashmir

Many may see him as collaborator and Delhi’s man in Srinagar, who rocked democratic process in Kashmir, be in withdrawing support to Sheikh Abdullah government in 1978 and dismissal of Farooq government in 1984, but his aides say, the post 1999 Mufti had switched loyalties, but continued a single most threat to Abdullah family. It is not a coincidence, that doctors attending to him at the AIIMS had diagnosed his suffering form septicemia and opportunist infection, a medical term, meaning infection that occurs because of weakened immune system. Only history will judge him: whether he was an opportunist of politician with heart at the right place for Kashmiri people, who are still waiting for a genuine democracy to take roots in Kashmir to empower them.

Iftikhar Gilani
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