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Thursday, August 30, 2012

‘Post-1995 slums will not get individual water connections’

Officers Who Fail To Check Illegal Slums Face 3 Months In Jail: Govt


Mumbai: No individual water connections will be given to post-1995 slumdwellers, the government emphasized before the Bombay high Court on Thursday. 
    The state said civic corporations have been asked to appoint designated officers to deal with the issue of illegal slums and such officers could face a jail term of up to three months and/or a fine of Rs 20,000 for failing to take action against unauthorized construction. 
    Hearing a PIL filed by Pani Haq Samiti challenging the state's decision to deny water supply to post-1995 slums, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar asked the BMC to file its response. "All municipal commissioners and chief officers of the state were instructed to ensure that no (individual) water connection was given to unauthorized constructions," an affidavit filed by Seema Dhamdhere, joint secretary in the urban development department, said. The affida
vit was submitted by assistant government pleader Milind More. 
    "Slumdwellers living in structures that have come up after 1995 have no locus standi and those structures are expected to 
be demolished. Individual post-paid water connections should not be given to nonprotected (post-1995) slumdwellers as it would create problems in recovery of water bills if these hutments were to be demolished," said the affidavit, justifying a 1996 circular. According to the government, local municipal authorities had been asked to provide drinking water in such slums through a common connection or public water booths. 
    The affidavit further said municipal bodies in the state have been asked to appoint zone-wise designated officers to remove illegal structures. "The main intention behind the circular was to prevent unauthorized construction and encroachments on public land in municipal areas in the state, which are a matter of serious concern," said the affidavit by Dhamdhere. 
    If new illegal constructions come up, then such officers could be placed under suspension and subjected to a departmental inquiry. Failure to take action could result in prosecution under the BMC Act. 

STRINGENT MEASURES 

• No individual water connections for post-1995 slumdwellers 

• Post-'95 slums to have only common connections or public water booths 

• Designated officers to be appointed to tackle illegal slums 

• If any new illegal structure comes up on the watch of the designated officer, s/he will face suspension and a departmental inquiry 

• On being convicted for failure to take action against encroachments, the officer concerned can be punished with a prison term of up to three months and/or a fine of up to Rs 20,000

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

MMRDA plans elevated road to decongest island city traffic

Mumbai: In the absence of the controversial coastal road between Worli and Cuffe Parade and the Pedder Road flyover, there is relief in sight for peak hour suburban traffic headed to and coming from South Mumbai via the congested Marine Drive and Pedder Road. 

    The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to appoint a developer by the yearend to build a 4.5km elevated road from Sewri to Worli, near the end of the sea link, at a cost of about Rs200crore. 
    The road will be attached to the upcoming eastern freeway, between Princes Dock (towards Colaba) and Chembur. The Chembur end will eventually be connected to the Eastern Express highway in Ghatkopar and Mankhurd on the Sion-
Panvel highway. 
    Similarly, the elevated road will have connectivity with the proposed sea link between Sewri and Nhava, also known as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL). Connectivity will be through a rotary or cloverleaf 
structure, offering entry and exit towards all four ends: Worli, Chembur, Navi Mumbai and Colaba. 
    While the Pedder Road flyover is being opposed by South Mumbai residents and is yet to be approved by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), the coastal road will require amendments in the Environment Act itself. Permission for both is expected to take two to three years. In the meantime, MMRDA officials said they can 
build the elevated road. 
    "Instead of taking the traditional Marine Drive-Pedder Road route, traffic on the western corridor, over probably three years, will be signal-free between Worli and Princes Dock through this connector," said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana. 
    "Although railway permission is not yet in to build a bridge above Elphinstone bridge, work will start by January 2013 to avoid delay. The
bridge portion will be built only when permission is given," said another MMRDA official. 
    "The project will decongest Pedder Road in the absence of the 4km flyover and nearly 10km coastal road between Worli and Cuffe Parade," said a senior MMRDA technocrat. While the eastern freeway too will decongest Dr Ambedkar Road, Eastern Express highway and Sion-Panvel road, the sea link will bring Navi Mumbai closer to South Mumbai. 

WORLI-SEWRI CONNECTOR 

    By year-end, developer could be in place 
    Will be attached to eastern freeway from Princes Dock to Chembur and Nhava-Sewri sea link with clover-leaf 
    Railway permission to build 27-metre high bridge above Elphinstone bridge awaited but work will start early 

    Expected to decongest Marine Drive and Pedder Road traffi c as people may prefer signal-free Princes Dock-Freeway-Sewri-Worli route 
    Can serve purpose till coastal road from Worli to Cuffe Parade and Pedder Road flyover is a reality 
    Eastern freeway is expected to start by Jan '13

MMRDA plans elevated road to decongest island city traffic

Chittaranjan Tembhekar TNN 


Mumbai: In the absence of the controversial coastal road between Worli and Cuffe Parade and the Pedder Road flyover, there is relief in sight for peak hour suburban traffic headed to and coming from South Mumbai via the congested Marine Drive and Pedder Road. 
    The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to appoint a developer by the yearend to build a 4.5km elevated road from Sewri to Worli, near the end of the sea link, at a cost of about Rs200crore. 
    The road will be attached to the upcoming eastern freeway, between Princes Dock (towards Colaba) and Chembur. The Chembur end will eventually be connected to the Eastern Express highway in Ghatkopar and Mankhurd on the Sion-
Panvel highway. 
    Similarly, the elevated road will have connectivity with the proposed sea link between Sewri and Nhava, also known as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL). Connectivity will be through a rotary or cloverleaf 
structure, offering entry and exit towards all four ends: Worli, Chembur, Navi Mumbai and Colaba. 
    While the Pedder Road flyover is being opposed by South Mumbai residents and is yet to be approved by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), the coastal road will require amendments in the Environment Act itself. Permission for both is expected to take two to three years. In the meantime, MMRDA officials said they can 
build the elevated road. 
    "Instead of taking the traditional Marine Drive-Pedder Road route, traffic on the western corridor, over probably three years, will be signal-free between Worli and Princes Dock through this connector," said MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana. 
    "Although railway permission is not yet in to build a bridge above Elphinstone bridge, work will start by January 2013 to avoid delay. The
bridge portion will be built only when permission is given," said another MMRDA official. 
    "The project will decongest Pedder Road in the absence of the 4km flyover and nearly 10km coastal road between Worli and Cuffe Parade," said a senior MMRDA technocrat. While the eastern freeway too will decongest Dr Ambedkar Road, Eastern Express highway and Sion-Panvel road, the sea link will bring Navi Mumbai closer to South Mumbai. 

WORLI-SEWRI CONNECTOR 

    By year-end, developer could be in place 
    Will be attached to eastern freeway from Princes Dock to Chembur and Nhava-Sewri sea link with clover-leaf 
    Railway permission to build 27-metre high bridge above Elphinstone bridge awaited but work will start early 

    Expected to decongest Marine Drive and Pedder Road traffi c as people may prefer signal-free Princes Dock-Freeway-Sewri-Worli route 
    Can serve purpose till coastal road from Worli to Cuffe Parade and Pedder Road flyover is a reality 
    Eastern freeway is expected to start by Jan '13


Tackle traffic snarls & curb noise pollution, BMC, cops told


Mumbai: The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board issued a notice to the BMC commissioner and the traffic police commissioner to tackle traffic congestion as it was causing environmental pollution. The notice was issued under the Environment Protection Act following a complaint by former corporator and activist Nicholas Almeida. 
    The Andheri resident had earlier complained to joint commissioner traffic, Vivek Phansalkar, to remove illegal parking in Andheri (East) that was leading to traffic congestion. Almeida had also filed a complaint with the high-powered committee set up by the Bombay high court to resolve the issue. "Since no one seems to be interested in 

resolving the problem, I complained to the MPCB and the National Green Tribunal about how traffic congestion resulted in noise and air pollution and was harming citizens' health,'' said Almeida. Advocate Godfrey Pimenta, representing Almeida, said the Green Tribunal rejected their complaint as the data to back their complaint could not reach in time. "However, it allowed us to file a fresh application, and we are in the process of doing so. We hope the authorities will now do something to resolve the issue,'' he said. 
    Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation, said the government fails to acknowledge that many diseases originate due to pollution. "We have new vehicles with better emission norms. The emission per car may have gone down but then number of vehicles has gone up, so overall pollution has not decreased but rather increased."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mobile case that curbs radiation exposure by 95%

STAY CONNECTED

Melbourne: A new smartphone case, made up of same material as Nasa spacecraft, claims to reduce cellphone radiation and cancer risks as it cuts the exposure by up to 95%. Although it still remains unclear as to exactly how bad the problem of cellphone radiation is, the WHO has already reclassified it as "potentially carcinogenic for humans". 

    The manufacturer claims to resolve the problems associated with mobile devices of emitting microwave energy as majority of it is absorbed by the heads and bodies of phone users while making calls. The accessory is available for a range of different smartphones. According to the company's chief technology officer, Ryan McCaughey, their invention doesn't make empty promises to ward off deadly radiations, and the case has been rigorously tested to check its effectiveness. "The scale we base our research is the industry standard of SAR. What we do is compare the effect of a cellphone on SAR with and without the Pong case," he said. PTI 
'One drink a day ups cancer risk' 
    
Binge drinkers are not the only ones who need to worry about thehealth implications of alcohol, even light drinking increases the cancer risk significantly, a new study has claimed. According to the study led by researchers from the University of Milan, just one alcoholic drink a day may increase the risk of cancer, adding that light drinking is estimated to be responsible for 34,000 deaths a year worldwide. PTI


Saturday, August 25, 2012

1 in 7 cardiac arrest patients is below 40


Mumbai: An estimated one out of seven individuals who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest is under 40, city doctors told TOI. Today, even those in their late 20s have been known to get cardiac arrests. 
    Doctors blame the frightening trend on rising stress and sedentary habits. What is required is higher awareness. Though a cardiac arrest may occur because of heart attack or a coronary blockage 80% of the times, a cardiac arrest, unlike a heart attack, can cause brain death within four minutes. 
    Dr Ameya Udyavar, consultant cardiologist and electrophysiologist at P D Hinduja Hospital, says in a car
diac arrest, the heart's electrical function suddenly stops. "Because of this, blood circulation stops and if the patient is not revived — on his own or with the help of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) — then it may even cause brain death. It is thus important for a person to understand when to seek medical help," he said. 
    Dr Ganesh Kumar, chief interventional cardiologist with L H Hiranandani Hospital, said most people mistake cardiac arrest for gas. "We get at least five patients below the age of 40 years each month who suffer from cardiac problems. Even if a person gets a sudden excruciating pain in the chest, which is very different from what they have suffered ever before, they call it 
gas and sleep over it. What they do not want to accept is that they may have a heart condition at their age." 
    A young heart is far more damaged and suffers a more dangerous heart attack than that of an older person. In an older person, calcium settles on cholesterol over a period of time and the heart gets used to the condition. In younger people, even if the vessel has little cholesterol, it bleeds; as a result, arteries expand and the heart suddenly suffers an attack. 
    Dr N O Bansal, head of cardiology at J J Hospital, blames sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure and arterial blockages. "More and more women too suffer from cardiac problems these days."

Mumbai’s H1N1 cases cross 300 mark this year

Mumbai: With the H1N1 influenza virus making a surprising comeback this year, the number of positive cases in the city so far has crossed the 300 mark. Till Saturday, 308 Mumbaikars had tested positive for the virus as against six in the previous year. This, when the monsoon is not yet officially over. 

    While the incidence of positive cases is surely seeing a downward trend in the city, experts say people should not drop their guard. The virus had affected seven persons in March and 20 in the following two months. The number started multiplying with the onset of monsoon with 35 cases being reported in June. It, however, peaked in July when 151 or 49% of this year's positive cases were reported. 
    Civic reports suggest the virus is on its way out, given the drop in the number of positive cases in August (95). On Saturday, three persons, including a four-year-old boy from Borivli, tested positive. An 82-year-old man from Mahim had to be admitted to a private hospital while a 45-year-old woman from Andheri was treated on an OPD basis. Over 655 positive cases and 36 deaths have been reported across Maharashtra since April. 
    Explaining the spurt in H1N1 cases this year, the director of Parel's Haffkine Research Institute, Dr Abhay Chowdhury, said, "The trend 
in the number of people getting affected will be different every season. Yes, it was more this year but nothing unusual. Influenza B, which is a milder strain, is as much in circulation as H1N1," he said. "Virologists have not noticed any major changes in the behaviour of the H1N1 virus." 
    Despite scanty rain, two confirmed deaths were attributed to the influenza virus in August. 
    Infectiousdiseasesexpert Dr Om Srivastava said since H1N1 is an influenza variant, one must always be careful. "Any delay in seeing a doctor could complicate cases," he said, adding, "In another coupleof weeks,the virusshould not pose much of a threat."



Demolitions in Mantralaya compound for the free movement of fire tenders

Garages, a fair price shop, a Bank of Maharashtra branch, a few stalls, and some portions of the main garden to go


 Caught unawares by the blaze that gutted four floors of the Mantralaya building two months ago, the state government has ordered a makeover of the entire complex in order to ensure that the seat of the Maharashtra government is more accessible to fire-fighters. 

    Demolition has been ordered of several garages in the compound, a fair price shop, a Bank of Maharashtra branch, a few stalls, and some portions of the main garden, in order to facilitate the free movement of fire tenders. Chief Secretary Jayant Banthia, and several senior officials, took a round of the complex on Thursday, when the structures that needed to be razed were identified and later finalised. 
    The demolition work, said an official who was part of the team, will begin in the next couple of weeks. 
    On June 21, when the fire had broken out at Mantralaya, it had taken nearly half an hour for the turntable ladders to be put up because the gardens and the garages had offered a very small turning radius. This had 
emerged as one of the biggest problems for the rescue of nearly 100 people who were stuck in the building. The fire eventually claimed five lives. 
    "We have to be better prepared for such emergencies in the future. Freeing up space in the compound is an important part of that," an official said, adding that this issue had been one of the main points to have emerged during discussions about the Mantralaya renovation. 
    "Removing the garages on the western side of the main building, which also houses the Bank of Maharashtra branch, some gardens 
near the annexe building, and a few small stalls is imperative for the free movement of emergency vehicles," Ulhas Debadwar, the chief engineer of the Public Works Department, confirmed to Mumbai Mirror. 
    In addition to this, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has suggested that a cabinet for gas cylinders in Mantralaya's main canteen be shifted immediately because it is a major hazard. This cabinet, on the eastern side of the building, stores at 20 LPG cyliners at any given time. 
    While renovation work is yet to start, Chief Minister Prithviraj 
Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar will be shifting to the first floor of the Mantralaya building this week. Chavan will operate from the chamber of Health Minister Suresh Shetty, and Pawar will sit in the Rural Development secretary's office. 
    A senior PWD officer said that the refurbishment of Mantralaya, which costs approximately Rs 110 crore, has been approved by the government and pre-qualification bids have been invited. 
    The rebuilding work is expected to start at the end of September, and go on for at least four months.





On June 21, it took half an hour for firemen to put up turntable ladders. Below (L&R): The offices on the Mantralaya premises that will have to go when renovations begin

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quit spanking kids in public


According to a study, parents tend to get physical while reprimanding their children in a social setting. Experts explain why doing so, can do the children more harm

Lisa Antao 



    It's not an uncommon sight to spot parents embarrassed of their child's naughty behaviour in public. In some cases, parents are oblivious to their child's bad behaviour and as a result, don't correct them and in turn encourage them. However, in many cases one gets to see that parents are overly strict with their child in public. For example, when eating at a restaurant or while visiting a relative/friend's place, if the child engages in some mischief, parents tend to discipline him/her in a very harsh manner — by either scolding the child in front of everyone or, worse, by spanking him/her. Research too, supports this fact. 
    According to a study, parents get physical while misbehaving with their kids. The findings of the study shows that 23 per cent of 
children received some form of "negative touch" when they failed to fufill parental request in public places like restaurants and parks. This negative touch includes pinching, pulling, spanking and slapping, too. BT sought an analysis from experts as to what makes parents so strict with their kids in public and how the behaviour can affect the children in turn. 
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? 
When children go out of house or are in a public setting, they tend to get insecure and do certain activities or behave in a way which gives them more pleasure or a sense of security. For example, thumbsucking or cuddling to the parents. The child behaves nicely at home but at an insecure place he/she shows signs of social distress that make the parents panicky and they fail to stop the kid from being errant, explains consultant psychiatrist Dr Dhananjay Gambhire. 

    Clinical psychologist and trauma expert Seema Hingorrany agrees with the study. "Parents are more strict with their children in public, as their parenting skills are in question. Also, they feel their child's behaviour in public, speaks volumes about his/her upbringing. Some parents are frequently frustrated themselves and are trying to live their own dreams through their child. In such cases social pressures are very 
high," she says. 
COMMON AMONGST URBAN WELL-TO-DO 
    FAMILIES 

Hingorrany often sees this amongst urban well-to-do families vis-a-vis lower strata families. That's because the former ones are more uptight when it comes to their social image. Also, it is commonly seen that in such families, people generally discuss and dissect each other's children's behaviour in public. For example, "Oh look, this child still cannot eat with a knife and fork. What have the parents taught him/her?" The 
public is too 
judgmental 
a n d 
con
stantly waiting to catch the parental flaw, which is not as common in middle-class families as they are too busy making their ends meet. For them, a social gathering or visit to a park is not a priority. 
    Agrees Dr Gambhire. He recounts the case of a patient: "A four-year-old girl was brought to me for passing urine all the time whenever she went out with her parents and the mother was very irritable. However, when the father went alone with the daughter she didn't face any problems. Later, we counselled the mother to respond to the daughter's nature's call in a positive manner and the problem was resolved in a span of three months." 
REPERCUSSIONS ON 
CHILDREN 
Parents should be cautious while disciplining their kids in public and not pressurise them so much. Dr Gambhire warns that this has a 
    very negative impact on 
    children's psychological 
    health. It leads to anger, 
    frustration and withdrawal from social 
    situations, which 
    further lead to iso
lating behaviour and selfstimulation like thumb sucking to avoid nonacceptance by 
parents. 

TIPS FOR PARENTS 


• Do not set very stiff and unachievable targets for them. Help them set achieveable goals so they can achieve it. 

• Never reprimand the child in public for his behaviour as the child's self-esteem completely gets eroded. 

• Teach the dos and don'ts of public behaviour slowly and gradually as a learning process, not as a strict rule they have to comply to. 

• Give them proper explanation to their questions as to why they need to have a certain decorum in public and different behaviour at home. 

• Be a good role model yourself. Children are a reflection of their parents and usually behave the way their parents do. 
    — Seema Hingorrany, 
    clinical psychologist and trauma expert

CAUTION: Never reprimand the child in public for his behaviour as the kid's self-esteem gets eroded completely




IT'S TRUE: Well-to-do families are more uptight when it comes to their social image




‘CP’s transfer unfair, will send wrong message’


Mumbai: Retired police officers and security experts on Thursday questioned the rationale and timing of the decision to transfer Arup Patnaik. 
    The move came just two days after Raj Thackeray slammed Patnaik and home minister R R Patil over the way the August 11 violence was handled and demanded their resignation. On Thursday, though, the government sought to clarify that the transfer was part of a"systematic procedure". 
    Former IPS officer Y P Singh said it appears that the government wants to promote Raj in order to tackle the Shiv Sena. "Patnaik's transfer has sent the wrong message and is unfair. If the government wanted to transfer Patnaik, it could have done so after a thorough inquiry. It clearly looks like a punishment transfer and promotion. Patnaik has been made the scapegoat," added Singh. 
    Former Mumbai police commissioner M N Singh said the August 11 episode might not be the only reason for Patnaik's transfer. "I would not like to give credit to Raj Thackeray, he is just trying to gain political mileage. He had demanded the home minister and police commisioner's resignation, but I don't think the decision was taken due to any political pressure," he said. 
    Singh further said: "I understand the proposal for Patnaik's transfer and promotion was already in the pipeline. It looks like he has been eased out. The police handled the situation very effectively and tactfully on August 11 and we should give them credit for the same. However, Patnaik also fired a DCP in front of everybody that day. Then, a member of his force offered a rose to Raj Thackeray a 
few days later, which was the height of indiscipline. I suspect these incidents did not go down well with the government." 
    Last week, former director general of police S S Puri sent an SMS to Patnaik, appreciating the handling of the violence. The SMS was printed on the first page of the police bulletin meant for internal circulation. 
    A senior police officer said the decision seemed hurried. "The promotion and transfer file was pending with the government; it could have waited for a few more weeks. Now, some parties will take advantage of the move. Patnaik was handling the city effectively and knew how to manage big crowds." 

'Tough man who did some good work' 
Arup Patnaik's transfer evoked mixed reactions from members of the police force. While a section of senior officers said he was a hard taskmaster, lower ranked cops remained tightlipped. 
    Sources said Patnaik did a lot of good work. "He was tough on his men as he wanted to enforce discipline. He wanted the police station to be like a corporate office and give policemen a clean and healthy environment. Patnaik took several initiatives and started at least two good canteens at the police headquarters and the Esplanade court, with subsidized and healthy food. He wanted his men to stay in shape," said an officer. 
    Patnaik went to cop quarters to check the living conditions there and even paid surprise visits to police stations to check if they were clean. "The only problem with Patnaik was that he could be really rough," said a senior officer.—S Ahmed Ali

Smart move to drive cadaver donations


Your Driving Licence Will Soon Double As Organ Donor Card; GR Likely In A Month


    In a ground-breaking move that hopes to lift the state's dismal cadaver donation count—which stands at less than 300 organs in the past 15 years—the state government will soon make it mandatory for a driving licence-holder to mention his or her consent to organ transplantation in the licence itself. 
    This is to ensure that in the event of a person's death in an accident, there is no delay in retrieving organs for transplant as well as to forestall opposition from relatives, if any. 
    This was one among several major decisions taken at an advisory committee meeting held on Wednesday on the Transplantation of Human Organs Act. Officials said the decisions are in consonance with the Central government 

Act. "All that the state government needs to do is issue a government resolution allowing it. The GR will be issued within a month,'' a senior Mantralaya official told TOI. 
    In a long to-do list to facilitate human organ transplantation in the state, particularly cadaver donations, the public 
health department will also discuss with the home department ways in which a postmortem and organ retrieval can be done at the same time, sources said. 
    "The government will designate a non-transplantation hospital with an intensive care unit and an operation theatre 
as an organ retrieval centre to increase the 
number of retrieval centres. The condition of a minimum of 25 beds applicable in Tamil Nadu will not be applied here." 
    In an effort to ensure better coordination and dissemination of information, a transplant hospital will have to inform all other registered transplant hospitals about a braindead person and provide organs on the basis of the waiting list. The government will not only revive the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre at Pune, but also set up new ones at Amravati and Nashik. It will work on providing wide publicity to the issue and publicize the good results. 
    Besides additional chief secretary (public health) T C Benjamin, the committee comprises the director of Directorate Medical Education and Research, secretary of medical education, Hinduja Hospital medical director Gustad Daver, former medical education secretary Aziz Khan and former dean of Sion Hospital Dr Armita Fernandes, among others. 

Times View: Strike a balance 

    Organ transplants are a sticky domain, where the government and doctors have to deal with difficult ethical issues that have no black-and-white solutions or answers. The government is bound by law and ethics to prevent forced donations. But things could become a little simpler if every party in a transplant, including the government and potential donors and recipients, starts with a fundamental premise: No emergency patient should be denied a transplant for delay in paperwork. There needs to be a fine balance between the two necessities, preventing forced donations and saving lives by effecting speedy transplants. 
RED-TAPE & LONG WAIT 
    Surat's Mohammed Arshad (32) was asked to go for a kidney transplant five months ago. His wife is ready to donate her kidney but Arshad first had to get a state NOC from Ahmedabad, a character certificate from the police and one more from the taluka and an NOC from Bihar where he lived earlier. He finally got the NOC, but not yet from the hospital committee. 

    Sabera Khokar (28), a Kenyan national, has been waiting since four months to donate her kidney to her husband (32). But unlike other women, she decided to swap her kidney with a Kenyan donorrecipient duo due to certain medical reasons. Though they have the required documents and even a consulate NOC, they are finding it difficult to get one from Rajasthan, from where they hail. "They called us three times for meetings but have not given an NOC yet." 
WHAT THE LAW SAYS ON TRANSPLANTS 
Kidney donations fall under three categories under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act: Cadaveric, live related and live unrelated donations 
Live include the closest family — a patient's mother, father, siblings and spouse 
Unrelated include the extended family, including uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends 
Cadaveric donations are coordinated in Mumbai by the Zonal Transplantation Coordination Centre 
that uses a computer-based points programme to decide who will get a kidney, liver, lung or heart 
Live-related donors are cleared at the hospital level, if from the state 
Unrelated donors from outside the state face problems with paperwork, which delays transplant 
Unrelated donors must have an interview with the authorization committee to establish that the donor isn't being coerced to donate

WHY DRIVING LICENCE AS DONOR CARD? 
    This would ensure that in the event of a person's death in an accident, there is no delay in retrieving organs for transplantation as well as to forestall opposition from relatives




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

City finds 1,407 patients with drug-resistant TB

2nd Door-To-Door Survey To Start On Sep 1


    Six months after a special plan to combat tuberculosis was introduced in the city, there is an estimate of just how widespread the deadly drug-resistant variety of the disease is in the community. Of 6,561 people screened for the disease across the city, 1,407 tested positive, said BMC officials on Tuesday. 
    "The numbers are higher this year because of better diagnostic and treatment facilities introduced in the city," said additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar. In 2011, only 354 people were tested, of whom 181 emerged positive. Ever since Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, made public in January 2012 its experience with 12 patients with extremely extensively drug-resistant TB, the spotlight has been on Mumbai's TB epidemic. The Centre has given funds and special status to help check the spread of the disease. 
    A central team, along with experts from Centers of Disease Control (US) and UNAIDS, will begin a visit to the city on Wednesday to look at the progress made. 
    The BMC, which has been partnering the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP), has in the interim got a TB control officer with 24 deputies in each ward. "We have increased treatment units in the city from 27 to 59. The Sewree TB Hospital will get extra beds and an improved laboratory," said a city health official. 
    The BMC now plans to hold door-to-door surveillances every quarter. The next survey will begin on September 1. "If we cannot cover every ward, we will at least cover high-risk areas," said another official. The BMC also plans to enlist the help of counsellors in 
the TB control programme 
to ensure that people do not 
drop out of treatment; dropout has been traced as one of the reasons for the emergence of the drug-resistant strain. 
    Mhaiskar said, "We have found drug-resistant patients who were previously not part 
of the healthcare system. This is because we increased diagnosis facilities." The city got a high-tech GeneXpert, which detects drug-resistant strains in two hours. The capacity of J J Hospital's laboratory to test has increased from 15 to 60 a day. Another factor that helped the city is door-to-door surveillance for TB patients in all 24 wards. "We found 458 new patients of tuberculosis, of whom 452 have already been put under treatment," said Mhaiskar.


Raj defies govt, flexes muscle, paralyses city

Attacks R R Patil, Police Chief For Aug 11 Violence


Mumbai: For the second time in 10 days, south Mumbai was paralysed as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray defied government orders to lead a 40,000-strong rally from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan on Tuesday. The 'illegal' protest march to demand the resignations of home minister R R Patil and police commissioner Arup Patnaik over the August 11 violence disrupted the normal lives of lakhs of citizens. 
    Thackeray accused Patnaik of demoralizing the police force by not 'rescuing' the women constables and other policemen who were assaulted. He questioned the government's decision to deny permission for his rally, while Raza Academy, with its "dubious track record", was given the goahead on August 11. 
    "We are not here to smash cars and torch public property. Our only target is Patnaik and Patil," he said. 
    The police later booked MNS secretary Shirish Sawant, who had sought permission to hold the rally, for violation of prohibitory orders.

The MNS rally winds its way from Girgaum Chowpatty to Azad Maidan




Monday, August 20, 2012

Disaster Awareness: Downpour lifts dampened spirits, but not water levels in reservoirs

Disaster Awareness: Downpour lifts dampened spirits, but not water levels in reservoirs

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Downpour lifts dampened spirits, but not water levels in reservoirs


  Mumbaikars woke up to heavy rains and cool temperatures on Sunday morning. But the relief in a season marked with parsimonious showers did not extend to the lakes supplying water to the city (see graphic). 

    The average rainfall recorded at 8.30am in Santa Cruz was 82.8mm and Colaba 27.4mm. At 8.30pm, the readings were 5.9mm and 1.4mm, respectively. An official from the meteorological department said the morning readings were to be considered in declaring the day as the season's wettest. 
    "A low pressure area formed in the Bay of Bengal, adjoining the Orissa and West Bengal coasts. This low pressure moved inland and westwards," said V K Rajeev, director of weather forecast. 
    He said that generally when one observes a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal, westerly winds over the Konkan get strengthened and intensified. "That is the reason why the Konkan, including Mumbai, is getting rainfall. We expect this rainy weather to continue for two days, depending on when the low pressure gets dissipated. Over a period of two or three days, it may become weak." 
    Meanwhile, one person was killed and three were injured, including a 10-yearold boy, when heavy rains caused a building to collapse in Bhiwandi on Sunday afternoon. The building, Ganesh Bhuvan on Bhiwandi-Kalyan road, was constructed 28 years ago and had 25 flats and a few shops. The police said repairs in a bar on the ground floor led to a crack in a wall on Saturday, leading to residents vacating the building. 
    When the building collapsed, Udesar Paswan (38), was working inside a shop. He died in hospital. Among the injured, the adults received wounds deep enough to require admittance in hospital. 
    Inputs from Pradeep Gupta 

Civic body plans cloud seeding for September 
    
The BMC is gearing up for an experiment on cloud seeding in the Bhatsa and Upper Vaitarna catchments. A proposal to start the experiment on September 1 will be tabled before the civic standing committee this week. "We will get our own aircraft and the India Meteorological Department will provide the radar," said hydraulic engineer Ramesh Bambale. "The process will involve sprinkling sodium chloride or silver iodide crystals on clouds to induce precipitation and subsequently rain." TNN



JOY AND SORROW: While the city welcomed Sunday's rains, they also caused a building to collapse in Bhiwandi, killing one



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Less than one bed for 1,000 people in rural hospitals


New Delhi: Not just doctors, in rural India it's a scramble for hospital beds too. There's less than one bed — 0.9 by health ministry estimates — for every 1,000 people in a rural hospital. Worse, experts say that almost 50% of these are nonfunctional, either because of lack of manpower or shortage of equipment. 
    Releasing the latest statistics on Friday, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said a single bed in a government hospital caters to over 1,500 people in rural India. 
    The National Health Profile 2010 reported that India has a public sector availability of one bed for 2,012 people in 12,760 government hospitals: around 0.5 beds for every 1,000 people. 
    This, when India actually has a higher absolute number of hospital beds than many others. Dr K Srinath Reddy, who headed the Planning Commission's high-level expert group on universal health coverage says that in most countries, three beds are available per 1,000 population in the public sector. 
    "But in India, 0.9 beds are available per 1,000 population, far below the glo
bal average of 2.9 beds. We have to find how we can increase bed strength. But more important is to see how to make the beds already available, functional," he said. 
    Availability of public hospital beds in rural India varies widely: from just one bed per 4,471 population in central India to one bed per 1,650 population in the southern states, according to a study by a private consultancy. 
    Dr Reddy estimates India requires at least 2.1 beds per 1,000 population, as against the current 0.9. Since India is moving towards daycare facilities and
ambulatory care, which means shorter and fewer hospital admissions, the country will ideally not require three beds per 1,000 population, he said. 
    Dr Shakti Gupta of AIIMS added, "The thrust now is more on daycare centres. The concept is that patients should be investigated at daycare and once found fit for surgery should be admitted. The average stay of a patient should be around three to four days. Earlier, we would admit a patient, waste seven-10 days on diagnosing the problem and then take him for surgery." 
    Also, increased use of distance treat
ment options such as telemedicine will ensure people don't need to come to a hospital. "To reach the target of two beds, we will have to increase the capacity in our community health centres and district hospitals," said Reddy. 
    A recent Technopak study indicates hi-tech diagnostics and interventions will lead to a shift in healthcare delivery from predominantly in-patient to outpatient settings. The study predicts that 75% of all surgical procedures in India in 2020 will be conducted in outpatient ambulatory surgery centres. This will also cost 47% less than in-patient services. 

    Kavita Narayan, a hospitals and health systems expert at the PublicHealth Foundation of India said the real issue is lack of investment in publichealth infrastructure. "We spend less than 1% of our total GDP on health at present against over 20% GDP by the US. At least in this Plan period (2012 2017), we must spend a minimum 3% of GDP on health," she said. 
    Narayan said primary healthcare services at village level should be a pri ority, so that people don't need to visit hospitals. "It is of utmost importance that the government puts money in pri mary healthcare so that things like fe ver, diarrhoea, broken bones and dog bites can be fixed at a primaryhealth centre. Hospitals should provide higher end services." 
    In 1948, the Bhore committee on pub lic health had recommended one bed per 1,000 population. The population has skyrocketed, but "we still haven't been able to reach that target," Gupta said. 
    On roping in the private sector to ramp up health infrastructure, both Narayana and Reddy suggest multi stakeholder governing bodies that in clude patients for running hospitals. 

BED BOTHERS 
India has one of the lowest patient-to-bed ratios globally There are 0.9 beds per 1,000 population, way below the global average of 2.9 beds A 2010 study said India has a public sector availability of one bed per 2,012 population in 12,760 state hospitals. That makes it 
half a bed per 1,000 population Sri Lanka has 3.1 beds per 1,000 population, China has 3, Thailand 2.2, Brazil 2.4, US 
3.1 and UK 3.9 
Two beds per 1,000 by 2022 is the Planning Commission's target 
Availability of public hospital beds in rural India varies widely: from one bed for 4,471 people in central India to one bed for 1,650 in southern states 
Urban India has approximately one private sector hospital bed for every 422 people

A scene from the opening ceremony of London's Olympic Games


Save Oshiwara open plot: Locals

Mumbai: Residents of two housing societies in Oshiwara have written to BMC chief Sitaram Kunte and other civic officials on Saturday, questioning the approval for construction of a private institution on a plot, one-third of which is reportedly reserved for a municipal school and the rest for a playground, which was being leased to the school. 

    The residents said despite Mhada issuing a notice, the construction has not been stopped. 
    TOI on July 23 had reported about a protest by the Oshiwara Lokhandwala Citizens' Association (OLCA) against the private institute. A copy of the plot's previous layout showing the municipal school is with TOI. 
    The residents argued that while the municipal school was 
to be two storey, the private school is seven-storey high. "The access road is not wide enough for a small car, imagine the chaos if school buses start entering," said the residents. 
    Residents said if the building comes up, even emergency services vehicles would not be able reach their societies. They also pointed out discrepancies in the deal allowing the private institution's construction.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Illegal ‘Live’ Organ Trade on Rise as Donors Fail to Volunteer

A STITCH IN TIME

Getting right donor at right time remains a far cry here as superstitions, non-declaration of brain-dead patients make 1000s die for want of donors


As many as 1.25 lakh Indians died in road accidents last year, but only less than 20,000 of them had donated their organs — such as kidneys, liver, pancreas, heart, etc — for potential recipients. Thousands died either for want of donors or because they had to wait for too long, like former Maharashtra chief minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh had to: he got a donor, but it was too late. Lalitha Raghuram, country director, Mohan Foundation, one of the country's largest NGOs that promote organ donation, knows the hazards of doing what she does only too well. She says unlike in the West, most hospitals in India don't declare their 'brain-dead patients'— and that is one of the major wrenches in getting the right organ at the right time for the medically needy, she affirms. Mohan Foundation has tie-ups with many hospitals across seven Indian cities, including Delhi. 

Huge Shortage 
"Of 20,000 Indians who require a new liver, only 500-600 of them get it. Of 50,000 patients who need a new kidney, only 5,000-7,000 of them get it," says Avnish Kumar Seth, director, gastroenterology & heptobi
liary sciences, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon. Seth was previously with the armed forces where he helped set up AORTA (armed forces organ retrieval and transplant authority), which, formed in 2007, is active in many cities across India. The goal of organisations, such as Mohan Foundation and AORTA, is to identify potential 'brain dead' donors—brain-death is a condition which is irreversible, but where the vital body functions can be briefly 'maintained' in an ICU. "Only the organs—liver, pancreas, kidneys, eye, heart, lungs etc—of a brain-dead or a live person and not a person who dies of a cardiac arrest are useful for a recipient," says Seth. In India, it is the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 that legalised the concept of 'brain death' for organ donation. Such donations can't be charged a fee. 
Brain-dead vs Live 
The case of 'live' donors is an altogether a different story. Though many of them donate organs of their own volition, illegal trade in 'live' human organs flourishes in many parts of the world, including in India, where a kidney sells for a price as high as . 1,50,000; the donors are typically paid as low as . 5,000. Dr Naresh Trehan, Delhibased cardiac surgeon and chair
man of multi-specialty medical institute Medanta, says lack of awareness is a big obstacle to getting potential donors. "It is tough to ask a grieving family to donate the organs of their loved one to a strange patient. Counsellors do manage it. But it is tough," he says, emphasising that it is easier to 'handle the situation' if the brain-dead person "has already pledged his organs in the event of his brain-death". 
The Act of Pledging 
How do you pledge your organ then? Well, you can log on to websites such aswww.mohanfoundation.org or www.dorso.org (launched by the Delhi government) and pledge your organs. AORTA also offers a similar option. Typically, you have to take a print out of the donor card that is created once you fill up the form and keep it with you—and inform members of your family about it; Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences is in charge of supervising Dorso (Deceased Organ Retrieval Sharing Organisation). "These donor cards are not mandatory for donating your organ. It is just an expression of your interest in donating your organs. Once it is retrieved from your wallet or your pocket (after you are brought brain-dead), the hospital
knows that you wanted to donate your organs," says Manisha Gupta, Gurgaon-based programme manager at Mohan Foundation. 
Opt-in & Opt-out 
In fact, India follows an 'opt-in' system of organ donation—which means you are a donor by consent (for example, being a recipient of a donor card). But your family can still decide to donate your organ even if you haven't expressed your intention to do so—but that is their wish. Most countries abroad follow the opt-out system—which means if you hadn't objected to organ transplant, your organs are donated to a recipient. 
Transplant Coordinators 
Most counsellors who are tasked with convincing families to donate the organs of their loved ones are trained. Seth calls them transplant counsellors. Mohan Foundation offers one-month workshops to a oneyear diploma for counsellors across categories. Trehan says they are doing a good job in hospitals that have created such a tough job category. He adds, "Luckily, more and more people are becoming donors. Hospitals and governments should be in the forefront of the campaign to spread awareness about organ donation." Meanwhile, he cautions 
about using un-transplantable organs. Gupta explains, "Those are organs that are unhealthy before the brain-death of a person. Ours is the diabetic capital of the world and so many hearts are not transplantable… it is a specialised team of doctors who evaluate an organ before it is transplanted." This process of evaluation is as crucial as declaring a person braindead. Typically, it is a panel of four doctors—which includes a neurologist, a neuro-surgeon besides an authorised specialist and a hospital's medical officer—who confirms brain-death. 
Religion as Hurdle 
Dr Ashok Seth of Fortis Escorts Heart Institute says what is crucial is that healthy organs should be transplanted as soon as possible from a donor to the recipient. "As of now, there are many hurdles in finding donors, including superstitions … some people think you won't attain moksha (salvation) without an organ and with another person's organ. These must be overcome through constantly educating people," he says. "Then only can we build a robust donation system here as in the West… Then only can we save more lives," he adds. 
ullekh.np@timesgroup.com 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cancer patient battles through 30 surgeries in 3 years, clears MCom


    Battling bone cancer for the last 13 years, brave Ankit Brahmbhatt, 25, went against his doctor's advice to sit for his MCom Part II exams in May – a week after a bone cancer surgery, fighting acute pain and with a doctor in tow to the exam centre. Last week, the Mithibai college student scored 77 per cent, much to the surprise of his doctors, and more so, himself. 
    And the courage shown by this Vile Parle resident is nothing but a small footnote in his overall struggle against bone cancer, which has plagued him since he was a 12-year-old. He spent six years after being first diagnosed of cancer in his left leg in 1999 taking chemotherapy, undergoing implants, about 40 surgeries, and facing multiple complications that meant that he was operated upon 30 times only in the last three years. 
    In 2000, Brahmbhatt's first year as a teenager, the cancer was surgically removed from his left leg, and the three bones from knee to ankle – patella, tibia and fibula – were replaced with titanium rods. The rest of 
his teens were spent under the influence of heavy and exhausting dose of chemotherapy drugs. 
    The complications, however, started spiralling out of control three years ago. The areas around the titanium implant grew septic, and, he says, there was a period when he was more times on an operation table in a month than in his classroom. 
    On May 11, the doctors operated him again to fix a new implant, and suggested a month of strict bed rest. 
    "Just 10 days before my exams, my doctors told me that they will have to undergo a surgery to save my limb," Brahmbhatt told Mirror. 
    "After the surgery, the doctors told me 
that it will take another month to heal the wound, and had asked me to not get out of bed. They were not in favour of my exerting myself by travelling to the exam centre, but I didn't want to waste my year so I went against their advice," he said. 
    "Every day I used to travel to my centre through cab, accompanied by a doctor and my mother. After finishing my exams, I had to visit my oncologist at Hinduja for check up," said Ankit, whose father passed away when he was two years old. 
    "I was in a severe pain and couldn't even move my leg, but I was happy that I could give my four papers. I never thought I will score so much. I hardly got time to study due to my continuous surgeries and hospital visits," he added. 
    "I used to study while sitting on the hospital bed," he said. 
    His doctor for 10 years, Dr Manish Agrawal, Orthopaedic Oncologist of Hinduja Hospital, said, "He has an very strong will power and it is commendable how he continued to pursue his education despite his condition and surgeries. I have lost count how many times I have operated on him. I am very happy for his achievement."


Muddy, stinky water in Fort taps, BMC clueless

Around 700 families have been receiving discoloured water for past 20 days; fear ruptured pipe could have contaminated water supply


    Around 700 families residing at Perin Nariman Street in Fort, abutting Bora Bazaar, have been complaining of receiving discoloured and smelly water supply for the past 20 days. They have alleged that contaminated water has resulted in people suffering from throat infections and diarrhoea. 
    The residents said that they complained to the BMC a number of times over the past two weeks, even submitted written complaints at the BMC headquarters barely 100 metres away, but neither have they received a satisfactory reply, nor has the problem been solved. 
    They fear that a sewer pipe has ruptured, and has contaminated the water supply. The BMC officials admitted they haven't been able to locate the 
source of the problem. 
    There are public toilets right outside the entrance of the Bora Bazaar lane, opposite the General Post Office building at CST. The residents said one of the explanations given to them by a BMC employee was that a public toilet pipe 
could have got damaged. At least 40 buildings in Perin Nariman Street have been affected, forcing people to buy bottled water, the residents said. 
    Bhimji Gala, a resident of Satya Niwas, who runs a stationery shop on the ground floor, said: "We are forced 
to spend hundreds of rupees on bottled water every day. Some are considering the option of calling for water tankers. The water looks like it has been mixed with tar, and emanates stench. We are sure that sewer water is getting mixed with the drinking water supply." 
    Gala said the residents ran the risk of contracting jaundice and typhoid, and many were already suffering from infections. Diamond trader Jagat Shah, a resident of Prabhu Kunj building, is one of those ailing, allegedly because of dirty water. "I'm suffering from severe throat infection, which I am sure is because of the contaminated water," he said, "Ours is one of the oldest streets in south Mumbai, and it's ridiculous that we have to put up with such civic apathy." 
    Khyati Nisarg from Tagdi Manzeel said, "When we began receiving water that was yellow in colour and had a foul smell, we suspected a sewer line 
had ruptured and contaminated our supply. We immediately informed the BMC about it." She said that the BMC assured them the complaint would be looked into. "But a few days later, when the problem persisted, we were told to allow three to four buckets of water to flow away before using the water. That was no solution," she said. 
    A BMC official told this newspaper that an inspection was carried out, but the source of the problem could not be detected. "Officials from the Water Department tried to find the leakage and dug trenches at the connecting points of the pipeline, but the problem could not be fixed." 
    Corporator Ganesh Sanap promised the problem will be solved soon. "The pipelines are old, and could have corroded, leading to the sewer water getting mixed with drinking water supply. I'm in touch with the ward officials," he said.

One explanation by a BMC employee was that a public toilet pipe had been damaged

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mobile radiation relief from Sept 1


Radio Frequency Exposure Limits To Be Slashed To 1/10th Of Current Levels


New Delhi: India is all set to clamp down on excessive radiation emanating from cellphones and towers. According to the new norms coming into effect from September 1, the radio frequency (RF) exposure limits to be lowered to 1/10th of the existing level. 
    It will also become mandatory for the specific absorption level (SAR) — the rate at which RF energy is absorbed by the body — to be embossed and displayed on mobile handsets. SAR levels shall also be limited to 1.6 watt/kg, averaged over a mass of 1 gm of human tissue. Handset made and sold in India or imported will now be checked for compliance. 

The government is also amending the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, to ensure that 
only handsets satisfying radiation standards are imported/ made or sold in India. MoS for communications and IT Sachin Pilot said, "Necessary changes in the design and packaging for compliance with this instruction will have to be in place on or before September 1. More stringent self-certification will become mandatory for every tower and mobile handset." He added, "The ministry will conduct random checks for RF exposure. Violation of radiation limits or non-certification will entail a fine of Rs 5 lakh per tower. Stricter action will be taken against repeat offenders." 
    The new norms stipulate the mobile handset booklet to instruct use of a wireless hands-free system (headphone 
or headset) with a low-power bluetooth emitter to cut radiation to the head. It will also say, "When buying a cellphone, make sure it has a low SAR." The booklet will have to tell the consumer to either keep their phone calls short or use SMS, especially for children, adolescents and pregnant women. 
    Manufacturers must also instruct people with medical implants like pacemakers not to keep their phones in shirt pockets. Instead, they will have to keep their cellphone at least 30 cm away from the implant. 
    The International Agency for Research on Cancer — an arm of the World Health Organization had recently classified cellphone radiation, alongside gasoline engine ex
haust, lead and DDT, as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" that increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer. 
    Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Tuesday, "Many countries have developed their own health-based precautionary guidelines where the exposure limit of these radiations is very low." 
    The ministerial committee's report said, "The area of concern is the radiation emitted by base stations and their antennas. This is because, in contrast to mobile handsets, it is emitted continuously and is more powerful at close quarters."

The manufacturer's handset booklet must ask consumers to use a wireless hands-free system with a low-power bluetooth emitter to cut radiation to the head


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