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Monday, December 31, 2012

Blood-on-call in Mum, Pune before March

Mumbai: The state government will roll out the blood-oncall service in Mumbai and Pune before the end of this financial year (March 2013). 

    "The department is ready to execute the proposal to deliver blood directly to hospitals. To ensure smooth functioning, the implementation will be done in phases," public health minister Suresh Shetty said on Monday. "A special helpline number would be set up for the "dial-a-blood-bag" project, so that patients or their kin do not have to run around for blood," Shetty said. 
    A meeting, chaired by Shetty, to review preparation of the project was held at Mantralaya on Monday. It was attended by additional chief secretary (health) T C Benjamin, secretary (health) Meeta Lochan and other seniorhealth department officials. Shetty also took stock of other health programmes, including Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya 
Yojana with CEO of the scheme Dr K Venkatesham. 
    Once the project is implemented, anyone who needs blood will have to dial the helpline number and place a request. Blood packages will be delivered to the specified hospital or clinic by delivery boys. The requested pouches will be delivered from the district blood bank to the nursing home or hospital located within a radius of 40 km or 1-hour distance. "The delivery would be done on motorcycles, which 
will have cold storage facility to maintain the blood temperature," the minister said, adding, "The transportation will be outsourced. Training will be given to those hired for transportation." 
    A health department official said Mumbai and Pune figure in the phase-2 list of the dial-a-blood-bag project. The first phase will be flagged off from rural areas in January, starting with chief minister 

Prithviraj Chavan's hometown Satara and former chief minister and senior Congress leader Narayan Rane's hometown Sindhudurg. 
    "The first phase was to take off by 2012-end, however, it got delayed by a fortnight due to technical reasons. Now the first phase will start from January," the official added. 
    Another official said the system will curb malpractices. "There is no system to keep a tab on how much blood was donated and where it was utilized. Some times, blood banks demand exorbitant amount," the official said.

A TOI report on July 1

Saturday, December 29, 2012

At 13.7°C, Saturday was city’s coldest this season

Mumbai: Mumbaikars woke up to a chillier morning on Saturday, even as night-time temperatures dipped to as low as 13.7 degrees Celsius, though not low enough to make it to the lowest five December temperatures of the decade. Saturday's minimum temperature is this season's lowest, so far. 

    While Colaba recorded a minimum temperature of 18.6 degrees Celsius, Santa Cruz's 13.7 was nearly four degrees below normal. 
    V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast at Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Mumbai, said that the dip was because of two systems in the north. "A western disturbance is approaching Jammu and Kashmir. However, another induced disturb
ance has culminated over Rajasthan. Together, these are causing a chill in the respective regions, which is being carried forward to the city by winds that are northerly to north-easterly," he said. 
    A western disturbance is an extra-tropical storm or a low pressure system which originates in the Mediterranean Sea and moves eastwards, causing rainfall in Iran, Pakistan and India and snowfall in some parts of India. Many parts of Maharashtra also saw below-normal temperatures. Ahmednagar recorded a minimum of 6 degrees Celsius, while the temperature in Pune was 10 degrees Celsius. 
    In Mumbai, not only night-time temperatures, but also maximum temperatures dipped. On Saturday, Colaba recorded a day-time temperature of 29 degrees Celsiuswhile Santa Cruz recorded 30.2 degrees Celsius. Humidity levels have also had a role to play in this, said the meteoroligical department.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

High drama at 30,000ft as girl’s BP dips alarmingly


Nirbhaya Fights On In Singapore Hospital ICU As Govt Fights Another Embarrassment 
Doctors Create Arterial Line To Revive Her Mid-Air


New Delhi: There was nerve-wracking drama at 30,000 feet when Nirbhaya, the 23-year-old Delhi gangrape survivor, went into a near-collapse in the air ambulance on the night of Wednesday-Thursday as she was being ferried on a six-hour flight to Singapore's Mount Elizabeth hospital. 
    Nirbhaya's blood pressure suddenly dipped alarmingly, and in what is being considered a medical feat, critical care specialists Dr P K Verma of Safdarjung hospital and Yatin Mehta from Medanta Medicity created an arterial line to stabilize her. An arterial line is a thin catheter inserted into an artery—used mainly in intensive care —to monitor blood pressure real-time, rather than by intermittent measurements. 

    Explaining the mid-air crisis, Dr M C Mishra, chief of AIIMS' trauma centre said, "We had explained to the girl's family the potential risks of transporting her to Singapore. She could suffer a cardiac arrest or her blood pressure could fall alarmingly. After discussions, we took a calculated risk by creating an arterial line." He added: "Monitoring blood pressure from the arms can sometimes give false readings up to 20mm which could be critical in such a delicate case. Dr Verma is well-versed with hemodynamics (study of blood flow) and is well aware of Nirbhaya's condition while Dr Mehta is highly experienced. They did a great job." 
    Nirbhaya was wheeled into Mount Elizabeth hospital at 9.10am (SST). She underwent a full CT scan and was taken to the ICU. Dr Mishra said that the doctors in Singapore have told him that Nirbhaya's blood pressure is now under control and her condition although critical, was stable. 

TRANSIT BATTLE WON, 
WAR AHEAD 

    Air ambulance, bound for Singapore, takes off from Delhi around 11.30pm 
    Mid-flight, Nirbhaya's BP drops alarmingly 
    At 30,000 feet above ground, doctors create an arterial line—a thin catheter inserted into an artery to monitor BP realtime—and stabilize her BP 
    At Singapore's Mount Elizabeth hospital, 
Nirbhaya's condition turns critical again. 
Her ejection fraction (EF), 
a measure for determining how well the heart is pumping out blood and for diagnosing heart failure, drops to 25%. 
    Her EF count before leaving was around 50%. The EF reading for a normal heart is around 70% 
    On Wednesday, she suffered a heart attack which could have caused brain damage because doctors could not detect her pulse for nearly three minutes

Members of the team that accompanied Nirbhaya leave Mount Elizabeth hospital on Thursday

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rape is fastest growing crime in the country

TOP ISSUE THROWN UP BY NIRBHAYA CASE


New Delhi: Rape is a notoriously under-reported crime, thanks to its social stigma and because the culprits in most of the cases are known to the victim. Yet, of all the major crimes, the incidence of rape has registered the highest growth in the country in the last four decades. 

    If there's one big issue raised by Nirbhaya's tragedy, it 
is the high incidence of rape and a low conviction rate for the crime, often caused by a long-winded and lethargic legal process. So, while the current focus is on protests against the bus rape, we can't move our attention from the really big issue arising from it—how to curb the incidence of rape in the country. 
    According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of rape cases registered in India has increased by 
873.3%—from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011. In comparison, murder cases have risen 250% from 1953 to 2011. 
Times View 
    
Nirbhaya's agony will be in vain if we don't focus on the bigger issues raised by it. The biggest, it seems, is that rape is on the rise in India and only a few get punished for the crime. So, the top-most task is to improve the conviction rate through better investigation and to ensure speedier justice so that rapists know they will be punished sooner than later. Many states have a far worse track record than Delhi in crimes against women. There must be fast-track courts in all states. The government must earmark the necessary financial and manpower resources for these courts and announce a time schedule for setting them up. The here and now must not divert our attention from the lasting solutions. 
Fast-track courts must for rape cases 
New Delhi: According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the number of rape cases in India has gone up 873.3% from 1971. Symptomatic of the traditional neglect suffered by rape is the absence of statistics for the crime in the 1950s and 1960s. 
    The NCRB started collecting data on rape only from 1971. 
    This, despite the fact that the conviction rate for rape at the national level is lower than the average of 11 "violent crimes" (28%). While the conviction rate for murder in 2011 was 38.5%, it was substantially lower at 26.4% for rape in the same year. 

    Since delays are one of the main factors affecting the conviction rate, the appointment of five fast-track courts for rape cases in Delhi, in the wake of the public outrage over the Nirbhaya case, is a long overdue measure. 
    Such priority treatment is 
required to be given in the rest of the country too, although 
equally serious crimes 
against women in outlying areas typically get less media attention. 
    Delhi has earned the odium of the "rape capital" with an incidence of 572 rape cases 
in 2011. But in the same year, it was Madhya Pradesh that reported the highest number of cases for rape (3,406), molestation (6,665) and import of girls (45), accounting for 14.1%, 15.5% and 56.3% of the respective national totals. 
    And when it comes to sex
ual harassment or "eveteasing", 
Andhra Pradesh reported 3,658 cases, accounting for 
42.7% of the total number booked in the country. Uttar Pradesh has the dubious distinction of topping the states in dowry deaths as its 2,322 cases accounted for 26.9% ofthe national tally. 
    After Madhya Pradesh (3,406), the states that reported the highest incidence of rape cases in 2011 were West Bengal (2,363), Uttar Pradesh (2,042), Rajasthan (1,800), Maharashtra (1,701), Assam (1,700) and Andhra Pradesh (1,442). 
    In keeping with a long-established pattern, offenders were known to the victims in 92.9% of the rape cases booked across the country (22,549 out of 24,270). 
    Among the 53 mega cities surveyed by the NCRB for all crimes against women, including rape, Delhi accounted for 13.3% (4,489), followed by Bengaluru 5.6% (1,890) and Hyderabad 5.5% (1,860).



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Heat on Delhi police chief as Capital turns ‘Nirbhaya’

Panel To Explore More Stringent Punishment For Rape


New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Sunday gunned for police commissioner Neeraj Kumar's head, seeking his immediate removal besides suspension of some more policemen for dereliction of duty. 
    "Dikshit placed her demand before home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and sought fixing of responsibility at senior levels when she met him after holding her Cabinet meeting over the rape incident," a top government source said. 
    However, a section within the government ruled out Kumar's removal as it would demoralize the police force which has been trying to defuse the crisis. 
    They, however,did not rule out the possibility of taking action against some senior policemen. Dikshit's demand came on a day when several policemen were seriously injured while battling protesters. One constable is in critical condition. 
    Asked about Kumar's fate, Dikshit told reporters, "I am not someone who is to take the decision." She, however, emphasized that removing one or two constables would not instil confidence. 
    The highest officer in charge of the area where the incident took place should be held responsible to restore public confidence, she said. 
    The police commissioner, on his part, ruled out resigning over the gangrape. "I don't believe in quitting. I am not a quitter," Kumar told a TV 
channel, emphasizing that he will continue in his job as long as he is asked to. 
    Besides demanding Kumar's transfer, Dikshit also sought immediate setting up of fast-track courts to try rape cases with provisions in law even for death penalty in rare cases like the one that shocked the Capital and called for a "serious look" at VIP security deployment in the city, saying it cannot be an "excuse" for 
not providing security to the common man. 
    She said her government would urge the Delhi high court chief justice for immediate setting up of fast-track courts to try rape cases and to get justice in a time-bound manner. 
    The Centre, meanwhile, set up a three-member committee — comprising former CJI J S Verma, Justice (retired) Lalita Seth and former 
solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam — to examine the possibility of enhancing punishment for rape and give its recommendation within 30 days. 
    The panel will also inquire into how such an incident happened and why it could not be prevented and what measures should be taken in Delhi and the rest of the country to improve the safety of women. It will also look into whether there were any lapses. 

POWER IN YOUR PALM FIVE APPS THAT WOMEN CAN DOWNLOAD FOR THEIR SAFETY

Circle of 6 
Availability: Free. Requires iOS 4.0 or later 

As its name suggests, this app lets you choose six trusted friends to add to your circle. If you get into an uncomfortable or risky situation, use the app to automatically send a preprogrammed SMS alert message with your exact location to your circle of friends


bSafe Availability: Free for Android, iOS and BlackBerry phones and tablets 
This is a GPS based safety alarm that sends SOS messages during emergencies to the mobile numbers you have previously chosen. All you have to do is press a big red button on the app for them to be alerted. The app also allows selected friends to follow you live from a distance with real-time GPS tracing


Life 360 Family Locator Availability: Free for Android 
This app, too, uses GPS tracking technology. Apart from its basic function of sending SOS messages to chosen numbers, it can be used for other purposes,
such as saving your most commonly visited locations, receiving automatic alerts when family members arrive or depart and viewing sex offenders and recent crimes in your neighbourhood


SOS Whistle 
Availability: Free 
SOS Whistle does not send an SOS or let your friends 
know where you are. Rather, as its name suggests, the app has a very simple function. It triggers a whistle. In fact, it can trigger a whistle sound even if the phone is in silent mode. Just tap the screen and the app will start an alarm


Fightback 
Availability: Paid. Works 
with all smartphones and Javabased feature phones 
Fightback is an India specific application that uses GPS, SMS, location maps, GPRS, email and Facebook to inform your friends and family. When the 'Panic' button is pressed, the portal alerts page gets updated and even shows the location of the alert on Google Maps besides updating the user's Facebook status with a SOS message



24x7 mental health helpline from Jan

Mumbai: The BMC's 24x7 mental health helpline will be operational from January. The helpline is aimed at counselling patients. It will also refer patients requiring medical help to civic hospitals. 

    In 2010, the BMC had announced that it will launch the 'Life is Beautiful' helpline; however, the plan never took off due to administrative delay. But now, with the rising number of mental health cases, the plan has been revived. Head of psychiatry department at KEM hospital Dr Shubhangi Parkar will head the project. 
    Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said counsellors will be hired to work in three shifts. The helpline will also be linked to the police control room. 
    "We will target those in the vulnerable category and conduct seminars for them. We have planned 24 seminars in the next year," said Mhaiskar.

‘Low conviction rate spurring sexual assault cases in India’

In 2011, Only 25% Men Accused Of Rape Found Guilty


    Sexual assaults on women across the country increased by 25% in the six years to 2011 and a significant contributory cause of the alarming trend, legal experts believe, was the low conviction rate in rape cases. 
    According to data collated by the National Crime Records Bureau, 19,348 instances of rape were recorded in India in 2006. By the year 2008, the figure rose to 21,467, and by the year 2011, it was 24,206. This 25% rise in six years, legal experts assert, assumes more disturbing shades, given the poor conviction rate in sexual assault cases. 
    Last year, across India, the police filed chargesheets in nearly 94% of the incidents of rape but, separately, convictions were achieved in just 25% of the rape cases pending before courts. Compared to this, the police filed chargesheets in 85% of murder cases and convictions were realized in 40% of such trials before the judiciary. 

    This considerable variation puzzles legal eagles. They point out that the filing of a chargesheet means the police have thoroughly investigated a crime; it also signifies that law-enforcers have a prima facie case, with strong evidence, to establish that the accused person committed the offence. Why is it then, lawyers ask, that the police case so often falls apart when the trial starts in court? How are teams of defence lawyers so frequently able to punch holes in police contentions, eventually securing freedom for their clients? 
    "The police must ensure that they file the chargesheet as far as possible within the stipulated time limit of 90 days. Equally importantly, they should ensure that the evidence, gathered scientifically, is incontestable," said human rights lawyer Mihir Desai. 
    In Mumbai, a Right to Informa
tion Act (RTI) query revealed that between 2001 and 2010 there were approximately 400 unsolved murder cases and around 115 unsolved cases of sexual assault. 
    Activist Jeetendra Ghadge, who filed the RTI application, said, "The main problem is that, due to the abysmal conviction rates, there is no fear of law among criminals. A recent example of this was the sexual assault on a Spanish expatriate in the city. The accused there was out on bail for 10 different crimes involving break-ins." 
    When cases are not solved over a prolonged period, Ghadge said, the police can close them by filing 'A' summary reports. But when they make such a decision in a rape case, he continued, cops forget that they are deepening the trauma of the 
victim and leaving multitudes of women exposed to the unidentified sexual assaulter. 
    Women's activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes said her NGO Majlis has undertaken a study of rape cases in Mumbai and will soon compile data on convictions and acquittals. "The aim of the study is to examine actual cases that were tried, identify 
the loopholes in the system and find ways to plug them. This would help the prosecution in conducting better trials in future," explained Agnes. "The data and material gathered so far shows a very low conviction rate in rape cases." 
    In Maharashtra, the overall conviction rate stood at less than 9% in 2011. For this too, legal experts blame the poor coordination between the police machinery and prosecutors. 
    In an effort to bring in some change, the state government set up a committee two years ago. The panel recommended weekly meetings between police officers and prosecutors during investigations and later monthly meetings between senior policemen and prosecutors. The idea, unfortunately for the state, is yet to take root. 

TERRIBLE SHAME FOR SOCIETY DAMAGING THE CAUSE 

The low conviction rate in rape cases is owed to several reasons, primary among them being police ineptness. Lawyers say the men in khaki often fail to collect evidence properly, enfeebling the prosecution's case in court: 
Forensic evidence is vital in rape trials. That is why rules unambiguously state the procedures for evidence collection and analysis. Police are mandated to follow a process for custody and storage of samples of vaginal swabs, skin and other agents—but they seldom do. This disregard of rules causes trouble for the prosecution and frequently leads to acquittal of the accused 
Police do not get the victim's medical examination conducted in time. The delay leads to flawed results and erasure of cogent evidence, such as presence of semen 
Chargesheets are often filed late despite the 90-day deadline. To curb this trend, lawyers say, errant cops should be suspended and punished if they fail to provide suitable reasons for the delay 
Given the frequent bungling by cops, legal eagles suggest appointment of special prosecutors for rape trials to ensure that the evidence gathered by policemen in such cases is incontestable and incontrovertible 
Trial courts are occasionally faced with a peculiar situation. As the trial gets drawn out due to judicial backlog, the victim's statement at times slightly diverges from that recorded in the FIR or before a magistrate. Lawyers recommend fast
tracking rape trials—even establishment of a 60-day deadline—to avert this setback and to ensure that the victim's trauma is not played out in court for a prolonged period 
A major requirement in cases of sexual assault is sensitivity. Victims have to recount the trauma in court (even in an in-camera trial) for the judge. That is why, experts insist, it is imperative that prosecutors handle the victims with extreme sensitivity






Friday, December 21, 2012

2nd class local travellers from Churchgate to Virar to pay 14% more, 1st class only 3%

Distant Suburbs Residents Crib about Steepest Surcharge


    Aday after the announcement that Mumbaikars will have to pay more for travel by local trains in the new year, back-of-envelope calculations threw up an interesting quirk of pricing while voices rose from a section of commuters about what they perceived as unfair treatment. 
    From January 1, tickets for journeys beyond 10km will cost Rs 2-4 more thanks to the hike in surcharge, meant to bankroll World Bank loans for railways projects. 
    In percentage terms, it appears second class passengers will have to pay much more than first class travellers, who had to loosen their purse strings earlier in the year when fares were increased by Rs 4-14 and a service tax of 3.7% was slapped on the fare. 

    For instance, a card ticket for a journey between Churchgate and Dadar will now cost Rs 8 as against the existing Rs 6 by second class and Rs 64 compared to Rs 60 by first class. It means an increase of 6.7% in first class but a hike of almost 33% in second class. 
    Even for a longer journey of 60 km, the trend is the same be it a daily ticket or monthly or quarterly passes. Between Churchgate and Virar, a second class ticket will cost 14% more as a commuter will have to pay Rs 16 against the existing Rs 14. For the same distance, the first class fare hike is a mere 3% as the ticket will go up from Rs 144 to Rs 150. 

    While first class regulars can take cold comfort, people living in the far northern suburbs like Ambernath, most likely because of unaffordable housing in the city and its contiguous suburbs, are getting all hot under the collar as they will end up paying the steepest surcharges. Sentiments are wrought, considering they get the most modest services. 
    Shyam Pandya, a Mira Road resident said, "The formula devis
ed to levy surcharge is not practical. I feel that the longer one travels in a suburban train, the lesser should be the surcharge." 
    Rajesh Sawant, another com
muter, added: "Those staying in the extended suburbs have a tough time getting on to a train because services to these parts are fewer. For example, it is much easier for a person to travel by train from Thane or Kurla as compared to those from Ambernath or Diva." 
    But a sizeable section of travellers did not mind paying a bit more for better travel. Sachin More, a Mulund resident, said: "I do not mind paying a higher fare as the money is being use to improve our travel needs. I think the railway fare is really low compared to taxi/auto or even BEST fare." Some like Subash Gupta of the Rail Yatri Sangh felt a surcharge hike would have been justified only after the work was completed. 

15-car rakes to halt at Mumbai Central 
Mumbai: All six 15-car trains plying on Western Railway will halt at Mumbai Central station in both Up and Down directions from December 22. Currently, these rakes do not halt between Churchgate and Dadar as platforms are not long enough. WR, which introduced 15-car services in 2009, initially ran the trains only between Dadar and Virar. The services were extended to Churchgate in January 28 after extension of platform No. 3 and 4. — Manthan Mehta


This yr, teen rape cases in city rose 29%

Mumbai: There was a 29% rise in the number of rapes of teenaged girls in Mumbai in 2012, highlighting the need for increased security for young women—especially school and college girls. State home department data, made available to TOI, shows that 80 cases were registered in 2011 for rapes of minors, while 103 cases were registered this year till December 16. 

    Experts say that minors are more vulnerable because they are not as mature as older women, are less aware of their rights and tend to have a risky lifestyle. Young rape victims face more trauma 
Mumbai: Psychiatrists, social science experts and state officials said that teenagers are at a higher risk of molestation and rape because of their immaturity, lack of awareness of their rights and their compratively carefree lifestyles. Police said many rapes are committed by perpetrators known to the victim. 
    In contrast to the rise in the number of rape cases for minor women, there was a fall in cases registered for the rapes of women aged 18 to 30. While there were 94 cases last year, only 55 cases were registered till December 16 this year. 

    Overall, there was practically no difference in all rape cases (all age groups) between 2011 and 2012, with 219 cases registered last year and 213 registered so far this year, showing that policing hasn't been beefed up as needed. 
    Furthermore, a social service expert said that the actual number of cases would be much higher. "Our findings show that cases of rape go unreported in rural areas as well as in Mumbai. There are two primary reasons—one, the police do not take cases of crime against women seriously and handle them sensitively, and two, the victim or her family fears being stigmatized or targeted by the culprits," said Sana Syed, director, Help Mumbai Foundation. The foundation has filed a PIL in the Bombay high court in connection with the safety of women. 
    Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime), 

told TOI that elders should pay attention to the people girls associate with. "The statistics indicate that teens are more vulnerable. The police will take measures needed for dealing with such issues. But, if guardians and school or college authorities take periodic audits of the people around their children, it would help curb such crimes," he said. 
    A senior home department official said teenagers can live in a risky environment. "Several people around teenagers may be criminally minded. Due to a lack of understanding and immaturity, teenagers may fail to understand these threats," he said, adding, 
"Teenagers may also party and travel overnight. They may keep parents in the dark. Some people around youngsters may try to exploit such situations." 
    Asked about the rise in minor rapes despite the drop in cases filed for women aged 19 to 30, the official said it was a surprise. "I received the figures recently and have not analyzed them yet, but the reason needs to be found." He added, "When there is a rape case in any part of the country, the media starts 24/7 coverage and such news bombardment may help create awareness among older women." 
    Harish Shetty, a Mumbaibased psychiatrist, said that 

because minors were not developed emotionally, physically or spiritually, the trauma would be higher for them than for adults. "Teenaged victims of rape need to be handled very sensibly," he said. 
    Asha Bajpai, dean of the school of law, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said, "Working or college-going women are capable of handling their security and know their rights, which is not the case with teenagers. Hence, there are more victims among minors. She added, "Even today, Mumbai is safe in comparison to other metros. Kids go alone to school and tuitions and even for shopping. This was not the case 

earlier. One cannot stop anyone from going out, but parents and teachers should teach children how to take care of their security and handle crises." 
    Young females are at risk abroad too. A few years ago, a report of the US justice department said that females aged 16 to 24 were more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group. In Mumbai, in October, a 14-year-old resident of Malwani, Malad was allegedly gangraped by three youths on P D'Mello Road. In May, two auto drivers raped a 14-year-old from Madhya Pradesh who boarded the wrong train and landed at Bandra station.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crimes against women up 39% in a yr

Lawyers Say Trials Must Be Time Bound


Lucknow: By the time you will finish reading this report, at least one woman would have been raped, molested, harassed or even murdered somewhere in India. An unprecedented increase of 39% has been witnessed in crimes against women in 2011 as compared to the previous year. While cases of molestation have gone up by 5.7%, rapes have shot up by 9% — highest-ever annual jump since independence. 
    If one takes the decadal figures between 2001 and 2011, the jump in crimes against women is staggering — almost 100%. Delhi and UP have the dubious distinction of having the highest increase in the cases of rape between 2010 and 2011 — 12%. Maharashtra was a distant second with a 
6% increase. West Bengal, with 2,363 cases, topped the list of states in terms of total rape cases though the increase was a little over 2%. 
    While there is a clamor for capital punishment for rapists, legal experts believe that even existing laws are 
sufficient if time-bound trial is introduced. 
    "There is death penalty for murders. But it hardly serves as a deterrent for any murderer. This is because, he is sure that by the time the case will be decided, if at all, he would have died a natural death due to old age," said lawyer I B Singh, who has handled some of the most high
profile cases pending before the Allahabad high court. "It is not about the quantum and nature of punishment but the time taken to deliver justice that matters." He said the time limit for investigation and trial in crimes against women would have a multipronged impact on the entire justice delivery system. 
    "Time-bound trials will 
virtually compel the police to maintain the quality of investigations that they are expected to," said Atul Verma, another lawyer. "Suppose a rape case trial concludes within three months of the incident, the investigating officer will ensure that the accused is convicted. Otherwise once reported in the media, he will have a tough time facing his bosses and the public," he said. 
    "Today there are cases where IOs have retired from police services and the trials are still continuing. In over 70% of the cases, by the time the trial gains momentum in court, the IO is transferred elsewhere." 

In B'lore, 17 minors raped in 8 months 
    
Eight months, 17 children raped. That's an average of two chilling crimes every month, a peak in Bangalore's record of child rape cases. The statistics are for April to December 2012. 
    There's a bigger shock in store: These are only figures from the Child Welfare Committee, a quasi-judicial body. City police records show 61 rape cases till August 2012, but there's no break-up of how many of these were children. 
    Children are being raped at places once considered safe, and by those considered to be their protectors. School principals, caretakers, baby sitters, teachers and even fathers. With one victim forced to leave the city after she was raped by a school bus attendant, the question arises: Where are our children safe? TNN


Anger Rises As Girl Sinks Shaken By A Tsunami Of Protests, Govt Comes Out With Some Half-Measures



Protesters Force Meet With Shinde; Besiege CM's Home, Police HQ

Jayashree Nandi & Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN 


New Delhi: Protests over Sunday's brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old grew in strength and fury on Wednesday, assuming unprecedented proportions in the national capital even as demonstrations took place in other parts of India. 
    On Wednesday evening, the angry voice of Delhi's students quite literally shook the seats of power. Hundreds of students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Milia Islamia, along with many concerned citizens, stormed the Central Secretariat at 
Raisina Hill and forced a meeting with home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, seeking an explanation on the security lapses that led to the assault. 
    Earlier in the day, protesters laid seige to the CM's residence and police chief's office, pressing ahead relentlessly until panicky cops opened up water canons against them. The protesters, drenched to their bone on a chilly winter day, refused to budge. Meanwhile, the cops had cordoned off most of central Delhi to prevent more protesters from joining in. 

    What started as a spontaneous protest march at India Gate around 6pm, suddenly gained momentum when students marched straight up to the Raisina Hill, jumping police barricades and blocking traffic. The police force guarding the high security zone did little to stop them, looking shocked and overwhelmed by the protest. The students finally gathered in front of North Block, filling the air with slogans such as 'home minister hai hai, home minister jawab do'. They demanded a meeting with the home minister, threatening to continue the protest at the spot until he obliges. 

Carry chilli powder, says Thane top cop 
ith crimes against women rising, Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh has directed DCPs to look into all complaints filed by women personally. He also said FIRs in such cases must be filed without delay. Meanwhile, his Thane counterpart K P Raghuvanshi has urged girls to avoid night travel and carry chilli powder for self-defence. P 2 'It's police who must do their jobs' 
    It is a historic moment for students here. We have pushed aside barricades and have gheraoed the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Now they have to answer. We will not move from here," said VLenin, president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Association (JNUSU). Student union members said the protest was not just meant to demand an explanation for the recent gangrape in Delhi but about the complete failure in ensuring safety for women around the country. 
    "What about the gangrapes in Haryana? How many of them get reported? What about Chhattisgarh activist Soni Sori who was brutally assaulted by police? We demand an answer for everything. Can you imagine that only 12% of the rape cases get converted to FIRs?" said activist Albina Shakeel. 

    The students also said that the culture of blaming women for 'provoking' sexual violence by being out late or wearing certain kind of clothes had to stop. "Women have the right to wear what they like, go out when they want. It's the police who need to do their job," said another protester. 
    Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde agreed to meet some of the students who went to his residence and submitted a 10-point memorandum. It included suggestions on sensitizing the police force and fasttracking the investigation and judicial process. 
    "It's a shame that our home minister doesn't have any idea of the conviction rate of 26% on sexual offences or that just 12% complaints are converted into FIRs," said Lenin after meeting the minister. The crowd that had also gathered in front of Shinde's house promised to continue protests in coming days.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Enough talk. Make women safe Horrendous Rapes, Followed By Platitudes. But Nothing Really Changes

    Every time there is a rape in the city, we cringe at the reports in shame, wring our hands in frustration, and often cower in fear because our daughters, sisters and wives go out for work taking the very same routes stalked by depraved men who think nothing of violating, maiming and torturing helpless women. 

    There is the usual press conference by politicians, briefing on the investigation by the police and protest by women's groups. Sometimes the culprits are nabbed, sometimes they get away without a trace 
and a closure report is filed. Then there is another rape. Without any time to recover. And the whole process of quiet acceptance enacts itself all over again. 
    It's as if there's no getting away from this sordid, fearful reality of daily life in our metros. But does it have to be so? Can't we say enough is enough? Can't we put in place an action plan that protects 50% of the population, the women of our country, better? We can. 
    First, the law must prove a stronger deterrent to sexual crimes. Parliament on Tuesday demanded the death penalty for rapists. 
    However, women's rights grou
ps warn that this might actually increase the risk for the victims. Since both murder and rape will carry the same maximum punishment, rapists will be tempted to kill their victims in order to obliterate the eyewitness. POINT ACTION PLAN Harsher punishment There was demand in Parliament for capital punishment for rapists. Women's groups say this might actually harm women as rapists may kill their victim to snuff out evidence. So, why not chemical castration of the rapist which will make him incapable of sexual arousal Sensitise police Victims think a hundred times before going to the cops to complain about sexual harrassment. Cops have to be sensitized – there's nothing like 'eve-teasing', it is sexual crime. Raise number of women cops, especially at police stations Fast-track courtsSushilkumar Shinde has announced fast-tracking of this case. But we must set up special courts to deal with all rape cases and other sexual offences speedilyBetter patrolling There's urgent need to increase patrolling vans Use technology Use GPS in all public transport — buses, public or private, autos, cabs — so that they can be tracked. Plus there should be extensive use of CCTVs on roads and buses and metro Database of public transport personnel 
Today, your maid will be verified by police but not the driver who takes your kid to school. There must be comprehensive 
verification for drivers, conductors and cleaners 
OUTRAGE IN PARLIAMENT, ON STREETS 
Fourth gangrape accused, Vijay Sharma, an assistant gym instructor, arrested from Rajasthan; hunt on for two more 
Main accused Ram Singh in 5-day police remand 
Protesting JNU and DU students block traffic near Munirka crossing 
Parliament rocked; MPs demand capital punishment for the rapists 
Home minister Shinde says trial will be fasttracked with daily hearing 
Police commissioner says 4,000 more CCTV cameras will be installed 

    MUMBAI ISN'T THAT SAFE EITHER 
    
Sunday night's dastardly crime has caught the nation's attention, but Mumbai, which once prided itself on being safe for women, is becoming dangerous too 

Nearly 5 horrific womenrelated crimes are reported in Mumbai daily. Many more go unreported 
Maharashtra has the lowest conviction rate for IPC crimes 8 (NATIONAL 
AVERAGE IS 41) 
Needed: Quick justice, more women cops 
    So, it would be a better idea to forcibly make rapists undergo chemical castration. What does it do? With the help of antiandrogen drugs, this reduces sex drive, compulsive sexual fantasies, and the capacity for sexual arousal. It is a practice used in many countries. 
    However, any punishment can come only if there is conviction. Therefore, we also need special courts to deal with sexual crimes speedily. Quicker trials are likely to lead to higher conviction because if cases drag on indefinitely the complainant often loses her zeal to pursue it. 
    Next, the administration should ensure better patrolling of our city streets. A high police visibility is an immediate deterrent. In Delhi, for instance, the police have about 80,000 personnel but a huge chunk of it is involved in VIP duty or attached to special units, leaving just 22,000-25,000 active policemen on city streets. The pattern would be the same in other cities. 
    Similarly, with just 635 PCR (police control room) vans for a megacity the size of Delhi, there is an acute shortage of vehicles, especially on stretches in the fringe areas. There's need for more vehicles and spreading them out more evenly so that all parts of cities are patrolled. 
    Another thing that will help immensely is sensitizing the police force about sex crimes. At present there's a tendency to wink at 'eve-teasing'. The term 'eve-teasing' should be banished, for this is nothing 
but a sexual crime and brooks zero tolerance. Also, it is a double trauma for victims to narrate their complaint of sexual harassment or worse to male cops. So, there should be more women cops in our thanas. At present, it's only 7-8%. The immediate target should be 20%, and more won't hurt. 
    In India technology, too, can come into play. It doesn't take much to arm DTC and cluster buses, chartered and school buses, autorickshaws and taxis with GPS. And the recent CCTV footage of the bus in which the 23-year-old medical student was gangraped has brought into sharp focus the need for such cameras. 
    We have laid out this action plan in the hope that some of it will see the light of day. For, a country that cannot protect its women is only half a country. And India can do far better than that.



Moving scene of crime





Monday, December 17, 2012

Mumbai’s lifeline is a big killer Railway Mishap Toll Crosses 2,500 This Yr

Mumbai: Five commuters died on Saturday following injuries sustained in railway mishaps, according to the government railway police (GRP). The number of accidental deaths on the railways had crossed 2,550 till September this year, with more cases being reported on the Central line than on the Western line. 

    Jagbahadur Meher, a senior citizen, was knocked down by a Harbour local while crossing the tracks near Airoli station around 7am. Dhanji Maro (26) was knocked down by a train near Mahalaxmi station around 5pm. Around 11.35pm, Sanjay Ravat (20), a resident of Ambewadi, was killed while crossing the tracks near Cotton Green station. 
    Two other mishap victims succumbed to injuries on Saturday. Habib Moghal
(36) had fallen off a crowded train at Govandi on the Harbour line a few days earlier. Moghal, a resident of Kamla Nagar, was pronounced dead by doctors on Saturday. Balu Patil (42), who had fallen off a running local at Karjat, succumbed to his injuries in hospital on Saturday. 
    The railways have been undertaking measures to curb deaths on tracks. Railway protection force (RPF) personnel on the Central line, for instance, have been organizing lectures in schools and colleges to discourage students from performing stunts or leaning out of running locals. 
    Pamphlets with graphic images of accident victims are being circulated among students. 
    On the Western line, the RPF had conducted a study and found out which locations were more prone to accidents due to line-crossing and at what time. A list of 10 locations has been drawn up and personnel are posted there to discourage trespassing.


Friday, December 14, 2012

WOMEN UNDER ATTACK City women unsafe in all public spaces, finds survey

Mumbai: Is Mumbai no longer safe for women? A survey conducted by Akshara, a women's NGO that works towards gender sensitization, 

has now documented that the city's women increasingly feel unsafe in all its public spaces—be it railway platforms, subways, skywalks, inside buses, at bus stops, in the market place, open grounds and even on the beach. 
    In December 2011-Janu
ary 2012, the NGO undertook a Safety Walk Project along with National Social Service (NSS) students from five colleges. They selected 19 disparate locations to understand the physical and social factors that make a public space unsafe for women. 
    "It is not just social but also physical factors that lead to violence against women,'' said Nandita Gandhi, co-director, Akshara. 
    Students carried out the survey in each area during the day as well as after dark, as the place's character changes at different times. 
Many don't know of 103 police helpline 
Mumbai: Fifty per cent of women in Mumbai are unaware of 103 — the police helpline for women, children and senior citizens in distress. 
    Not surprising then that there are more calls about street fights and fracases to the number. 
    In November 2011, women's NGO Akshara carried out a survey among 5,000 women to know if they had heard about the number and which public place they found most unsafe. 
    "Fifty per cent of the women said they had not heard of the number and 65% of the women surveyed said they found crowded buses and bus stops the most unsafe. This was followed by crowded railway platforms," said Nandita Gandhi, co-director, Akshara. 
    Launched more than four years ago, the workstation at the main control room in the city police commissionerate gets, on an average, 10 calls a day from women seeking help. 
    "All these calls pertain to domestic violence, sometimes physical but, more often, mental harassment. The women often call seeking advice on what they should do. Since the police cannot resolve cases of mental harassment, we provide them with numbers of NGOs, lawyers and the family court where they can seek redressal. Complaints of sexual harassment are very rare," said a woman police officer who mans the number. Currently, there are two workstations in the main control room to man the number 24 hours; the rest are for 100. 
    "Overcrowding is one of the principal reasons for sexual harassment in public spaces. But even a deserted street is equally unsafe. Th ere has to be a balance for women to feel sa fe,'' said Gandhi. Often women do not complain about sexual harassment, not knowing whom to approach or where to complain. 
    "If the number were widely publicized, it would certainly help women as it is meant for preventive action,'' she said. Currently, the number is publicized on the sides of 2,000-odd police patrol vehicles and on the back of the BEST bus. "The government should make it mandatory for TV channels to carry social messages as corporate social responsibility." 
    Women police officials said while 100 was ingrained in people's minds, this was not the case with 103. "Better publicity will certainly help us reach out to the genuinely needy,'' one said, adding that sensitizing school and college students to such a facility would certainly help. 
    In September, Akshara trained BEST's master trainers on how to handle sexual harassment on buses, who, in turn, will now train the 
bus conductors. Himanshu Roy, joint commissioner of police (crime), said 103, on an average, received 30,000 calls a year. "It is a specialized service that ensures immediate response. We would be happy if all women are aware of the number and we shall focus on giving it more publicity.''

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Typhoon toll rises to 477, Philippines pleads for help

NEW BATAAN The Philippine government appealed for international aid on Thursday after a quarter million people were left homeless and 477 confirmed dead after the country's worst typhoon this year. 

    TyphoonBophaploughedacross Mindanao island on Tuesday. Officials said many of the 477 dead were poor migrants who had found work at landslide-prone sites. Rescuers said they were looking for 380 missing while seeking help for more than 250,000 others sheltered in schools and other buildings. President Benigno Aquino sent supplies by ship to 150,000 people on Mindanao's east coast. 
    SocialWelfareSecretaryCorazon Soliman said the government had asked the Switzerland-based InternationalOrganizationforMigration to help it build bunkhouses to ease pressure on evacuation camps. The US, Japan and Singapore have offered emergency assistance, while International Federation of Red Cross has appealed for more aid.

Typhoon Bopha flattened towns, leaving a quarter of a million people homeless

WOMEN UNSAFE ON TRAINS? WOMEN UNDER ATTACK ACROSS MUMBAI

Nov 2012, Tilak Nagar 

Starlet Neelam Singh gets into an auto driven by Anil Sharma outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in Tilak Nagar. Sharma's friend Satish Singh also boards the auto. Neelam suspects they are taking a circuitous route and calls a friend for directions. At this, Satish Singh attacks her, Sharma also harasses her. Sharma and Satish Singh arrested the same day 
Nov 2012, Parel 
Mona Chaudhary, 20, is attacked with a blade by Prashant Hule, also 20, while on her way to Dr Shirodkar junior college at Parel. Hule, who inflicts deep cuts on Mona's face, says he did it at the behest of her friend Jayesh Patil, who had proposed marriage to her. Patil says he offered a contract to six people to attack her; all arrested 
Oct 2012, Andheri 
Preeti Margappa, 17, is on her way to a phone booth around 8.30pm when she objects to a pass made at her by Varish 
Qureshi, 22, near Juhu Galli in Andheri (West). Qureshi repeatedly slashes Margappa's face, causing deep cuts. Arrested 
Jan 2012, Goregaon 
Aarti Thakur, 22, is at Goregaon station, speaking to her fiance on the phone and about to punch her coupons, when a man flings acid at her and flees. She sustains severe injuries on her face, chest and arms. The police find out that the landlady of Thakur's house in Malwani hired the man to take revenge 
after a fight with her. Culprit and conspirators arrested 
Feb 2011, south Mumbai 
Anita Rane, head of the Ancient Indian Culture department at St Xavier's College, abused and attacked by an inebriated eunuch on a local train after she asks the person to vacate the ladies compartment. Rane protests on finding two eunuchs sprawled on the seats in the first-class compartment of a Borivli fast local at 8.21pm. She finds no cops on the train or Churchgate station. Eunuchs picked up 

ACTION TAKEN BY AUTHORITIES 
Women's cells at every GRP outpost, comprising female 
officers and constables, take complaints where women are victims. The idea is that women would find it comfortable to talk to female cops 
Two GRP night escorts deputed in 24-hour ladies compartments of every rake 
Increased prosecution by the RPF against men travelling in ladies coaches 
RPF's Mahila Vahini squads deployed in ladies compartments on CR 
RPF has formed two patrol teams on the Western line—between Churchgate to Bandra and Virar to Borivli


Another dengue death in city, deceased’s wife, child infected

Mumbai: A 32-year-old tax agent from Malwani became the latest victim of dengue, the mosquito-borne ailment that recorded an astonishing 118% rise in the city this year over last year. At the state level too, over 100 deaths and 2,000 cases have been reported, both much higher than incidences in the last five years. 

    The civic body on Thursday insisted that Tariq Jafari was the fourth in the city to succumb to the sting of the aedes aegypti mosquito. It is yet to add the name of filmmaker Yash Chopra to the list of dengue fatalities. 
    While Jafari died at the Kokilaben Ambani hospital on Wednesday night, his four-year-old daughter Tas
neem, admitted in the same hospital, remains critical. His wife Shakila, too, has tested positive for dengue. She took discharge against medical advice after hearing about Jafari's death. 
    Hospital executive direc
tor Dr Ram Narain said Jafari was admitted on Wednesday morning in a critical condition with a diagnosis of dengue shock syndrome and multi-organ dysfunction. "He was admitted to our ICU and despite all medical efforts, he passed away at 7.45pm on Wednesday," said Narain. Tasneem, also diagnosed as suffering from dengue, is undergoing treatment at the paediatric intensive care unit. 
    Jafari's sister Momina Khan said he developed fe
ver last Friday and was taken to the family doctor, who prescribed medicines and called for tests. But Jafari's condition worsened and he was taken to Suchak Hospital, where he tested positive for dengue. The family later shifted him to Kokilaben hospital. 
    The Jafaris' neighbours claimed despite several cases being reported, no vector control measures had been taken. "At least 10 more people have been diagnosed with dengue in the vicinity in the last two weeks," said a Malwani resident. 
    The BMC did not agree. It carried out a rapid survey of 1,000 houses in the area around Samuha Society in the Mhada complex where the Jafarais stay and came back with only a handful of fever cases. Head of epidemiology cell Dr Mangala Gomare said: "We found about 7-8 fever cases but none were cases of dengue. Besides the survey, we have also carried out vector control activities like fogging in the area."


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Juvenile crime in the city went up by 13% in 2 years 16% Spurt In No. Of Serious Offences: CID

Mumbai: In a city obsessed with how high its towers, and the sensex, have climbed, a sinister monolith is spearing up from its dark underbelly: the number of juveniles arrested for violent crimes in 2011 jumped a scary 16% in just one year. In two years between 2009 and 2011, the figure rose 13%, says the 14th annual crime report compiled by the state CID and released last week.

    The shocking incident in Dombivli on Monday, when four minors and an 18-yearold stabbed a youth to death, underscores the fact that far too many of Mumbai's young are not only restless, but merciless too. In 2011, 804 teens were arrested for serious offences like murder, attempt to murder, robbery, rape, molestation and rioting against 693 in 2010 and 711 in 2009, the report points out. 
    Under India's juvenile justice laws, widely perceived as being liberal, many of the de
linquent youngsters are likely to be released back into society soon. A possible lack of repentance could spell further trouble for the crime-plagued city. 
    Particularly disturbing for the law-enforcing agencies and Mumbaikars is the growing number of teen arrests in assault crimes and group violence using weapons. 
Youth relying on crime to make a fast buck: Cops 
Mumbai: In 2011, 327 teenagers were held for murder, attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt and rioting in the city. These crimes comprise about 40% of all juvenile arrests in the year and have risen by almost half from the figure for 2009 (218). 
    "It's truly a grim situation as the arrests in acts of extreme violence shot up by 50% between 2009 and 2011," said a police officer. 
    Alarmingly, youths in the city have shown a prominent tilt towards property offences as 51% of all juvenile arrests in 2011 were for burglary, robbery, theft and kidnapping, suggesting a strong impulse to make fast money and relying on crime to achieve that goal. In 2010, the number of arrests for such crimes stood at 379 but zoomed to 418 the next year. 
    "In most cases, it seems the money was needed to 

splurge on alcohol or bikes or to impress girls. Such crimes were not restricted to those living in slums or born into families with modest means. The trend seemed all-pervading as youths from the middle class and the upper middle class too had taken to crime, either for the thrill of it or to be able to afford bigger, flashier lifestyles," said a senior officer from Thane. 
    A high delinquency was reported in offences registered under Sections 325 and 326 of the IPC, where the victim is grievously hurt to the extent that his life could be endangered. "As many as 240 teenagers were arrested for causing grievous hurt in 2011 against 166 in 2009. It's a dangerous reflection of the
temperament of Mumbai teens who resort to mindless bloodshed on provocation, which in most cases, is absolutely trivial," the officer explained. 
    Arrests in sexual crimes like rape, molestation and sexual harassment touched 59 in 2011, a rise of 40% over 2009's figure of 42. Of the 804 arrests last year, a vast majority belonged to the 16-18 age group while around 200 were between 7 and 16. 
    Neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai also recorded 10% and 4% increase in juvenile arrests in 2011 as compared to 2009. Thane police arrested 513 youths in 2011 compared to 464 held in 2009, while the number of arrests in Navi Mumbai rose marginally to 108 in 2011 against 104 two years ago.




Monday, December 3, 2012

Cuffe Parade blaze a fire alarm for Mumbai

Fire Brigade's Ladders Reach Up To Only 68 Metres. In June, 78 Proposals For 70-Metre-Plus Buildings Were Cleared


    Sunday's fire at the residential Jolly Maker-1 tower in Cuffe Parade exposed how ill-prepared Mumbai is to fight highrise blazes on two counts. First, the fire brigade is too poorly equipped to respond to emergencies on higher floors. Second, despite the tony, 26-storey building having an internal fire-fighting system, it turned out to be useless as it was not kept in functioning condition. Shockingly, residents said the building had recently installed the fire-fighting system. 
    It is important to fight fires from within the building as also from without, but Mumbai appears to be not up to the challenge even as the high-rise committee -- which has a fire officer on board -- continues clearing proposals for even taller buildings. 

    While the fire brigade has ladders that reach up to only 68 metres (20 to 25 storeys), there are around 1,200 buildings taller than 70 metres in the city. In June this year, Retired Justice Shafi Parkar, the high-rise committee chairman, and municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte cleared development proposals for 78 skyscrapers taller than 70 metres. Parkar said the fire brigade's preparedness is taken into account when clearing a proposal for a skyscraper. However, it took fire-fighters four hours to fight Sunday's blaze, which was on the 19th floor. 
    The BMC will soon be spending Rs 15 crore to obtain advanced aerial ladders that can reach up to 90 metres (around 30 storeys). 
When Suhas Joshi, Mumbai's chief fire officer, was asked how fires would be handled in buildings of 30 or more storeys, he said, "Under such circumstances, firefighters depend heavily on internal systems installed by the developers so they can fight the fire from the inside." However, as the Jolly Maker-1 blaze showed, internal systems are not inspected often enough. 
    According to the BMC's esti
mate, there are over 5,000 highrises (buildings taller than seven storeys) in Mumbai and the number keeps increasing. 
    Despite a senior fire official telling TOI that the fire brigade is equipped to handle fires as high as 68 metres, fire-fighters were in September seen struggling with 
hydraulic ladders that refused to reach even the 12th floor at BKC. A fire had raged for two hours at the First International Financial Centre (FIFC) building. After some trial-and-error tactics, three hydraulic ladders with different heights were used to reach the 12th floor. In June, the fire brigade took over 12 hours to douse a raging inferno that spread through the upper floors of the state secretariat, Mantralaya. 
    "One can't object to high-rises, per se," said city-based architect P K Das, member, Indian Institute of Architects. "But the fact is that we, as a city, are ill-equipped and incapable of dealing with emergencies in high-rises. Our infrastructure is also not designed to handle high-rises. Having isolated high-rises in parts of the city proves counter-productive. There has to be a larger vision for Mumbai. When the state's high-rise committee approves proposals for skyscrapers, it must look at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's preparedness, infrastruc
ture and the carrying capacity of the areas in which the buildings are proposed. There should be a comprehensive study and not one based on an individual plot or building." 
COLABA PROBE YET TO FINISH 
    
Aday after a major fire broke out on the 19th floor of Jolly Maker-1, a Cuffe Parade residential tower, the fire brigade was yet to conclude its investigation and ascertain the cause of the blaze. Fire brigade officers said they are in the process of giving the society's management a notice for the defunct fire-fighting system in the building. The nonfunctioning equipment delayed getting the blaze under control. Senior fire brigade officials said the most likely cause of the blaze would be a short-circuit in the AC unit of the house on the 19th floor. On Monday, residents were returning to their homes, which they had left following the fire early on Sunday morning. TNN 

WHAT THE FIRE DEPARTMENT HAS 
20 aerial ladders, some reaching up to 68m, others up to 42m Advanced rescue tenders Advanced water tankers with high pressure jets Advanced pumps Turntable ladders Hydraulic platforms 
WHAT THE DEPT NEEDS 
Hydraulic ladders reaching up to 90m (under process) Adequate staff, including firemen Special cell to inspect high-rises, malls, multiplexes and commercial complexes (to be ready by next year) 
Most importantly, fire-fighting needs to be done from within, with fire-safety engineering done during construction. A high-rise can have fire-fighter & safety lifts, protective lobbies, refuge areas, emergency power and water, emergency lights at exits and direct exits



BURNING ISSUE: It took the fire brigade four hours to battle a blaze on the 19th floor of the 26-storey Jolly Maker-1, thanks to poor equipment and a non-functioning fire-safety system in the building


PETRONAS TOWERS 
(KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA) 
IN-BUILT SAFETY 
Fire-fighting shafts with elevators 
There is an In-built Building Control System (BCS) for central management of power and ACs, which is linked to a life-safety system activated during emergencies. If a fire breaks out on a floor, the BCS provides for a pressure differential between that and other floors to contain the flare-up 
A 190-foot-long sky-bridge connects both towers on the 41st and 42nd floors, ensuring that people can cross over to the other tower in case one catches fire 
Regular fire drills with evacuation pegged at 20 minutes


BURJ KHALIFA 
(DUBAI) 
IN-BUILT SAFETY 
Fire-fighters' elevator with a capacity of 5,500 kg allows firefighters to transport equipment. Some other elevators are also programmed for controlled evacuation with emergency power 
Pressurized air-conditioned refuge areas every 25 floors and fire-proof stairways 
LCD panels display emergency updates specific to each floor 
Multi-alarm sensors with smoke, heat and optical sensors are present on each floor



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