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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oct 31 digital TV deadline can’t be pushed back: Bombay HC

Several Have Already Made Switch: Court

    Mumbai is set to go digital from Thursday. The Bombay high court on Wednesday refused to extend the deadline for cable operators to implement the digital system and install set-top boxes for its viewers. 

    Though the multi-system operators tried to raise the prospect of a TV blackout in the city when analog signals are discontinued after the October 31, 2012, deadline, a division bench of Justice Dhananajay Chandrachud and Justice Rajesh Ketkar questioned the conduct of the petitioners who had shown no commitment to installing set-top boxes despite the extension of an earlier deadline. The court's order came even as the Madras high court gave a five-day breather to cable viewers in Chennai to install set-top boxes. 
    "A certain degree of inconvenience is inevitable in the enforcement of any deadline and whenever there is a change to a new regime. The government has taken this decision with a view to provide quality service to consumers. Individual business hardships must give way to public interest," said the judges. The court, however, was aware that ultimately it will be the viewers who would be affected. 
    "We do not want people's Diwali to be blacked out. Television these days is the only source of entertainment for the average middle-class. We are not concerned about the operators or broadcasters, but the viewers," observed Justice Chandrachud. The court got the Union of India and the additional solicitor general to agree that care would be taken to ensure that the common man's Diwali would not be disturbed due to the TV blackout. 
    The court was hearing a petition filed by Bhawani Rajesh Cable and Digitech, a multi-system operator, challenging a notification of June 2012 setting the deadline of October 31 for cable operators to install set-top boxes. 
    Accusing the DTH lobby of pushing for digitization, the petitioners sought a two- to four-month extension. 

    ASG K Setalvad along with advocate Dhiren Shah, who represented the Union government, informed the court that the earlier deadline of June 2012 had been extended to October 2012. The ASG pointed to an information and broadcasting ministry press release which said that 100% of the declared households in Mumbai had already installed set-top boxes. The petitioners, too, claimed that 85% of cable viewers had already shifted to set-top boxes. The court said that since a substantial 
number of cable viewers had already shifted to the new system, the remaining could also do so as the government had assured the court that sufficient number of set-top boxes were available. Times View: The viewer shouldn't be inconvenienced 
    The cable TV industry has been held hostage by local operators for far too long. Local politicians control a significant portion of this money-spinning industry, which explains the operator's clout. Reports coming in from the ground, about consumers being denied set-top boxes by these operators, and politicians asking the centre to extend the deadline again fall into a pattern. Cops and the government should ensure that the change of regime happens as seamlessly as possible with minimum inconvenience for the viewer. 
Kolkata cablemen threaten to block digital TV 
Kolkata: Cable operators in the city have threatened to pull the plug on all cable channels if broadcasters stop analogue transmission from Thursday. In a meeting convened by Cable Operators Digitization Committee, a forum set up by operators who fear public ire if analogue transmission stops, operators said they would stop digital transmission as well if the Centre stuck to the October 31 deadline. 
    With no indication of a relaxation from the Centre, the administration deployed additional forces in all 65 Kolkata police station areas, with special focus on the southern fringes. The other potential problem areas were identified as Howrah, Bidhananagar, Barrackpore and Hooghly. 
    The Madras HC on Wednesday extended the deadline in Chennai to November 5. 
    "If the Centre goes ahead with digitization despite CM Mamata Banerjee's warning of massive unrest and a law-and-order problem, we will have no option but to shut down digital transmission as well. We can't have a situation in which some people get to see TV and others do not. That will trigger anger and violence," said forum member Swapan Chowdhury. 
    Mamata held a meeting with urban development minister Firhad Hakim to check if TVs in the city would continue to beam channels and discuss a strategy to quell violence should it erupt. Hakim, who is overseeing cable TV digitization, had earlier met MSOs and operators, and stressed upon the need to keep channels switched on. 
    "If the Centre does not listen to reason and forces the issue, we will counter it in the interest of our people," Hakim said, reiterating supply of set-top boxes needed to improve. He also called for EMI schemes so that viewers from all economic sections could avail of it and not be deprived of entertainment simply because they did not have the means to pay.


4 die, 5 missing as Nilam hits TN, AP Oil Tanker Runs Aground Off Chennai Coast

Chennai: Cyclone Nilam crashed into Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday evening, bringing heavy showers and gusty winds but causing far less destruction that many had feared, especially after the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy. 

    One sailor was killed while five others are missing at sea and are feared dead after a large oil tanker beached off the Chennai coast as the cyclone churned the sea waters. In AP, three people were killed in rain-related mishaps.

Fishermen try to rescue sailors of oil tanker MT Pratibha Cauvery

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cyclone Nilam to hit TN, Andhra today 1.5 Lakh People Evacuated From Coastal Areas

Visakhapatnam/Chennai: 

Cyclone Nilam is expected to make a landfall between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday afternoon or evening, bringing with it heavy torrential rains in the coastal region. Squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55kmph will hit southern Andhra Pradesh and the gust could hit a speed of 65kmph off northern Tamil Nadu by Wendesday morning. 
    No loss to life or property was reported after heavy rains lashed coastal Andhra on Tuesday evening. The state government set up control rooms to monitor Nilam's path. About 1.5 lakh people along the coast have been
evacuated to safer areas. 
    Wind speed is expected to increase gradually as Nilam nears the coast. The sea will be very rough along Nellore and Prakasam districts and fishermen have been told not to venture into the waters. According to the IMD, the cyclonic storm is located 450km south-southeast of Chennai. 
    Most of Tamil Nadu received heavy rain from Sunday night. In Nagapattinam district, two fishermen went 
missing at sea, and about 25,000 fishermen have stayed on shore after the administration issued a cyclone alert. Heavy rain was recorded in Tiruvarur, Trichy, Thanjavur, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Karur and Pudukkottai districts, and in the Union Territory of Puducherry. Cyclone shelters and relief centres are being prepared in Puducherry. 
    The Chennai port has issued a level 7 danger warning — warnings are measured on 
a scale of one to 11, with 11 denoting failure of communication due to a cyclone. Nagapattinam port has put out a level 5 warning and the same warning signal was also hoisted at Puducherry and Cuddalore ports. 
    The Chennai Port Trust sent 10 vessels to the outer seas following the cyclone alert on Tuesday. "It is a precautionary decision to send all vessels to the outer seas during bad weather to avoid 
collisions and damage to the port infrastructure," said Chennai Port Trust chairman Atulya Mishra. 
    "Rainfall will increase from scattered to heavy and extremely heavy in both AP and TN. The rains will lash for the next 36 hours," said M Mohapatra, director of IMD's cyclone warning division in Hyderabad. He said when the cyclone makes landfall, there would be a surge of tidal waves up to a height of 1 metre. 

NDMA issues cyclone alert 
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued an alert regarding Cyclone Nilam, which is likely to lash parts of TN, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry by Wednesday. It has put two battalions of the National Disaster Response Force — one in Andhra's Guntur and another in Chennai — on stand by to meet any eventuality. TNN

Fishing boats beached on the Bay of Bengal coast in Chennai on Tuesday. Southern states have asked fishermen not to venture into the sea



BMC orders fire safety review in all schools

Mumbai: BMC officials on Tuesday decided to hold a fire safety audit in all schools, starting with educational institutes run by it. 

    This move comes barely two days after a survey conducted in 300 city schools by the PTA United Forum showed gross violations of the fire safety rules and regulations. 
    "We collectively decided that fire audits have to be conducted in schools. Even though we will start with BMCrun schools first, eventually all schools will be covered," said Manisha Mhaiskar, the BMC's additional deputy commissioner. 
    Some BMC officials also added that a circular has already been sent to schools and they will have to comply with the fire safety norms. "Fire audits have to become a regular feature and schools have to take this seriously," said Suhas Joshi, chief fire officer. 
    A total of 300 schools (100 BMC, 100 aided and 100 unaided schools) were 
surveyed by the forum and were found violating the fire safety guidelines. According to the survey results, almost all schools had no emergency routes to leave the building, less than 10% of schools conducted regular fire drills. Moreover, only 8% aided and 5% unaided schools had a list of emergency telephone numbers displayed on the premises. It was also observed that close to 
50% teachers were unaware about school safety norms. 
    Taking objection for neglecting mandatory fire audits of schools in the state, MNS president Raj Thackeray also threatened to start a statewide protest against the erring administration. The party's student wing on Monday issued a news release, asking the school administration and educational institutes to conduct fire safety audits.

Sewerage-contaminated water supply drives Marine Drive residents to hospital

    Several residents living near Marine Drive have been hospitalised for diarrhoea in the last two weeks, as their water supply lines have been contaminated due to leaks in underground sewerage lines in the area. 

    For over two weeks, Oval Cooperage residents in Churchgate have been battling water contamination. The BMC suspects that a leakage might have occurred from one of the supply lines. 
    Persis Kothawala (75) said many residents in her building Queen's Court complained of severe loose motion and vomiting and had to be admitted to hospital. One of them, Perin Mani (77), is in Parsi General hospital for four days with complaints of diarrhoea. A security guard in the locality has been complaining of vomiting and abdominal pains. "It's Mani's fourth day in hospital and doctors said the cause is polluted water in the area," said Kothawala. 
    Ashad Mehta, president, Oval Cooperage Residents' Association said the problem 
has reached serious proportions as the civic body is unable to detect the source of contamination. "It started around two weeks ago where there was severe sewerage contamination in our supply line and the odour and colour of water changed. When contacted, civic officials promptly arrived, detected contamination near Eros and said the problem was solved. Thereafter, for four days the water was clear," said Mehta. 
    But four days later, the 
problem resurfaced in the affected buildings including Windsor House, Empress Cour t, Swastik Cour t, Queen's Court facing Oval maidan on Maharshi Karve Road. "Once again the civic officials came and said another leak was found and had been plugged," said Mehta. 
    Yet, for the third time, residents received contaminated water on Monday night. "The BMC's underground pipes are old and corroded. With the problem recurring a third time, residents are up in arms," said Mehta. "We can't even clean utensils lest the bacteria stays behind. Much as I appreciate that the BMC is prompt, a kind of fear has crept into residents' minds," he added. 
    A civic official from the BMC's hydraulic department said, "We have detected three points and closed them. Old service pipes generally near drainage lines of the building are corroded. Ten days back the sewerage lines department dug up a trench on Veer Nariman Road and was repairing damaged lines. We are taking precautionary measures like flushing out dirty water with pumps." 

NOT A DROP TO DRINK 
OCT 11 Water supply lines to some Marine Drive buildings like Windsor House, Empress Court, Swastik Court, Queen's Court, got contaminated by sewerage lines due to a trench that had been dug up by the civic body to repair sewerage lines. BMC officials said the source of the problem was near Eros and plugged the leak OCT 20 | As the problem resurfaced, the BMC dug trenches at several spots on Veer Nariman Road and near Eros on Maharshi Karve Road among others, to find the source of the contamination and claimed to have plugged it OCT 29 | On Mondaynight, after residents received contaminated water for the third time, the BMC said it will detect and plug the leak by Wednesday



WATER WOES: Swastik Court (top) and Windsor House are among the affected buildings where residents have to rely on bottled water (below); The BMC is trying to trace the leak (above, right)





Hours to TV blackout, cable confusion persists

Mumbaikars Rush To Meet Digital Deadline


    Prasannarajan Pohire, a resident of Kandivli, and his neighbours are running pillar to post to save their television sets from going blank from Wednesday. 
    Their analog signals will become a thing of the past from midnight of October 31 and only digital signals for cable TVs will be allowed to be pass through first the broadcasters, then multi-system operators (MSOs) and finally local cable operators (LCOs), who distribute signals to subscribers. 
    Cable operators' associations say around 30% homes in Mumbai have yet to get digital connections though the government claims it was 100% complete. Non-digitalised homes have nearly 30 lakh viewers whose small screens will go blank from midnight on Wednesday. Revenue department officials said of nearly 20.48 lakh households in the suburbs, 12 lakh have digital connections and around 3.5 lakh have direct-to-home (DTH) connections. In South Mumbai, around 75-80% of over 10 lakh homes have got digitalized. 
    "We admit there was a lack of awareness on our part, but operators should have popularized set-top-boxes (STBs)," said Pohire. "Thousands of homes across the city still rely on cable operators. Now with barely a day remaining for the STB regime, TV sets in our homes will stop working," laments Ajinkya Mohite and his neighbours in Bhandup. S Lad, a resident of Bhoir Nagar in Mulund, said a pricing war between cable and DTH operators left him confused and hence he could never decide which one to opt for. Several families in the Gavanpada area of Mulund said operators 
now cite shortage of STBs and lack of time as reasons for not installing them. 
    Worli resident Himanshu Saha said operators in his area always cite shortage of STBs. "Our area witnessed a war between DTH and cable operators," he added. Abhinandan Godse, a resident of Sion, said operators were quoting extremely high prices for STBs. 
    Anil Parab, president of the Cable Operators Association said the deadline should be extended by two months and 
claimed even cities like Kolkata and Chennai were demanding the same. "There could be anger on the streets as many viewers will not be able to watch television from Thursday. There is also no transparency in share and pricing for consumers and cable operators," warned Jagdish Joshi of Eastern Cable Operators' Welfare Association. 
    Ashok Mansukhani, president of the multi-system operators alliance, said MSOs had increased the supply of STBs to avoid a shortage. 

FOR A CLEARER PICTURE 
MUMBAI 
Cable households | 35 lakh* 
Total cable connections | 3 million* 
Analog cable connections | 
30% 
Digital accessible system | 
50% 
Direct to home | 
20% 
Local cable operators | 3,000* 
Multimedia service operators | 25* 
(*Approximate figures; Source: State revenue department) 

DIGITAL DEADLINE 
OCTOBER 31, 2012 
Delhi, Mumbai, 
Kolkata and Chennai 
MARCH 31, 2013 
Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Kanpur, Jaipur, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna, Indore, Bhopal, Thane, Ludhiana, Agra, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Vadodara, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Rajkot, Meerut, Kalyan-Dombivli, Varanasi, Amritsar, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Solapur, Allahabad, Jabalpur, Srinagar, Visakhapatnam, Ranchi, Howrah, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Mysore and Jodhpur 
SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 
All other corporation, 
municipality areas 
DECEMBER 31, 2014 
Rest of India 

WHY THE SWITCH 
Cable operators won't be able to hide subscribers from distributors, so it will increase revenues and bring transparency. Customers will get more channels of choice, improved clarity and valueadded services 
LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO GO 
Today, October 31, is the deadline in the four metros—Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai—to switch from analog mode. Ask your cable provider to install a set-top box or get a DTH connection 
POST-NOV 1 SCENARIO 
    If digitisation remains incomplete and government refuses to extend the deadline, TVs of many viewers may 'blackout' in the city 
    Collector's offices in island city and suburbs will monitor disconnection of analog connections

Maharashtra and Mumbai have 13% of cable TV viewers in the country, the third-largest after Andhra Pradesh & Tamil Nadu

Millions powerless as Sandy brings New York to its knees


33 Killed As Storm Lashes East Coast

Chidanand Rajghatta TNN 


Washington: A broken crane dangled atop a 75-storey high-rise, snapped like a twig by high winds. Storm waters swept through streets and rushed into some of the city's subways and tunnels. Power stations exploded and an elite hospital even lost its backup generators, forcing the evacuation of newborn babies and terminally ill seniors. 
    The epic storm that lashed eastern United States killed some 33 people (at last count) and left millions of others powerless (literally and metaphorically) and bereft. 
    But it was the plight of one of the world's greatest cities, iconic New York, which drew maximum attention. Home to much brio and bravura, the al
ways-swaggering city took it in the gut, Hurricane Sandy bringing it to its knees with a sock that turned out to be milder than forecast. 
    Scenes of damage and destruction, amplified by social media and television repeats, coursed across the country and the world, bearing the unmistakable message—nothing, absolutely nothing, can stand up to Mother Nature's mysterious, and sometimes malevolent, moods. 

    Many areas, notably around Washington DC, dodged nature's bullet, but the New Jersey and New York area up north took the brunt of Sandy storm, which made landfall near the gambling mecca of Atlantic City, as if to express disapproval of human avarice and excess. 
    The famed boardwalk where tourists and tramps, gamblers and gambollers, walk side-by-side was ripped apart. 

Cyclone Nilam to hit AP, TN today 
    
Cyclone Nilam is expected to make a landfall between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday. Squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55kmph are expected to hit southern AP and the gusts could hit a speed of 80-90kmph off northern TN in the next 12 hours. P 11 

A NATION INTERRUPTED 
    
Trading at NYSE cancelled again on Tuesday, the first back-toback shutdown for weather since 1888 
    President Obama calls off 3rd straight day of campaigning, cancelling appearances in key battleground state Ohio. Romney going ahead with Ohio events

Residents, including a child, are rescued from flood waters in Little Ferry, New Jersey


Sunday, October 28, 2012

‘Bulbs in a bottle’ movement to light up shanties in town

    Ten years after the light was first shown on the idea of the bottle bulb, the first batch of these 'lights' will be installed in the Mumbai slums. This week, students from the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, and St Xavier's College, Mumbai, will come together to plant the first seeds of an international grassroots movement in power-starved India. 

    In 2002, Alfredo Moser, a mechanic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where power outages are a regular feature, realized that a plastic bottle full of water, when teamed with sunlight, could light up his dark atelier. For developing and under-developed nations of the world, the discovery of the bottle bulb, also known as the solar water bulb or water bulb, was nothing short of a 'eureka' moment. 
    Without doubt one of the most cost-ef
ficient and green ways to light up a space, the bottle bulb requires a one-litre plastic bottle full of water, bleach to keep the water from growing green and a good-quality adhesive. The bottle full of water should be stuck into the roof in a manner such that the top half of the bottle is exposed to the sun and the bottom half is in the room underneath. When the water in the bottle above the roof catches the sun, it lights up the room underneath like a 55-watt bulb. 
    Moser's invention was taken up by his neighbours, but according to Geraldine Lüdi of Liter of Light Switzerland, the idea's breakthrough came about only last year when Illac Diaz installed the first bottles in the slum of Philippines. "The Strategy International Management (SIM) students from The University St. Gallen heard about this idea and founded Liter of Light Switzerland (today Liter of Light Europe) in November 2011," she says. 
"The idea is to evolve a worldwide movement, spread the word about Liter of Light and illuminate millions of homes." 
    A Filipino entrepreneur, the work of Diaz, who spearheaded the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) campaign, caught the attention of four college stu
dents in Mumbai. "A friend showed me a demonstration video and I, in turn, shared it with three other friends. We were all immediately taken by it and decided to start work in Mumbai's slums. Our project is called Jal Jyoti: Lighting lives, One litre at a time. We're really fortunate that Liter of Light Switzerland announced its decision to visit Mumbai around the same time we started our groundwork," explains Sanjna Malpani of Jal Jyoti. 
    Since the 'technology' is as simple as it is, there are several pioneer projects which have evolved independently in places like Egypt and Peru. Networking platforms and the like are a great asset. Facebook, for instance, enables the various chapters to exchange information, complications, ideas and so on. 
    Malpani adds, "We plan to use the Swiss chapter's expertise and technical know-how to advantage while providing them with an inlet into the city's slums as also helping them access recycled bottles, materials and so on. We also plan to conduct a workshop in St Xavier's College on October 29 to teach more students interested in Jal Jyoti how to make these bottles 
as well as carry out actual fieldwork to install them." The two groups will be working through this week in the slums at Backbay Depot, Cuffe Parade and Antop Hill. 
    Lüdi concludes, "We see ourselves primarily as incubators, hence apart from installing bottles we work towards making the project self-sustaining. We do not want the project to crash when we leave; a local base is really important to establishing a grass-roots movement. 
    "We are in close contact with the students from St Xavier's College. Together, we are working on the logistics, where they are a great help; we, on our part, are providing them with our expertise and experience so that they can take over when we leave. We are also in touch with NGOs such as IKYA Global Foundation (IGF) and Teach for India, which are helping us reach out to the slums."

ILLUMINATING IDEAS: A group of students will bring the movement to Mumbai's slums this week

Friday, October 26, 2012

STUB IT OUT Quit smoking before 40 and gain 10 years of life, study says

New Delhi: Indian women can live 10 years longer if they quit smoking before their 40th birthday. The largest-ever study on hazards of smoking and benefits of quitting for women has shown that female smokers lose at least 10 years of lifespan, but stopping before they turn 40 avoids more than 90% of the increased risk of dying caused by continuing to smoke. And, quitting before they turn 30 avoids over 97% of the risk. 

    The author of the study, Sir Richard Peto from the University of Oxford, said, "If women smoke like men, they die like men — but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra 10 years of life." 
    Sir Peto collaborated closely with Indian medical researchers in 2008, and co-authored a landmark study showing that during the 2010s there would be a million deaths a year from smoking in India. He added, "Our new study shows that if Indian men or women stop smoking before age 40, and preferably well be
fore 40, then they will gain about an extra 10 years of life expectancy — and, stopping earlier is even better." 
    Smoking is eight times more prevalent among Indian men than women. But interestingly, an average Indian female smoker puffs away more cigarettes per day (7) than a male (6.1). Also, an average woman in India is taking up smoking as early as 17.5 years of age as against 18.8 years among men. 
    Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, said while tobacco use among men has dipped from 51% to 48%, it has actually doubled among women — from 10% to 20%. "Women and girls are the new target of tobacco companies," Dr Reddy added.

Still on analog TV? Get ready for ‘blackout’


Mumbai: This Diwali, get ready for a blackout on your TV screen if you still have not switched over to a digitalized cable system. In the last three days, four channels have disappeared from the TV screens of Kandivli resident Amit Raje and his neighbours. They are not alone; many of the forty lakh TV viewers in the eight lakh homes that subscribe to analog cable TV in the Mumbai region are witnessing a daily loss of one or two channels. 
    This exercise is a voluntary initiative by some broadcasters in the runup to achieve a total 'blackout' of analog signals from November 1 in Mumbai. Local cable operators (LCOs) say around 35% cable television subscribers in the low income group will have to face a total TV blackout from November 1 as a large number of subscribers have not yet switched over to digitization through either set-top boxes (STBs) or direct to home (DTH) connections as mandated by the government. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry sources, there will be no extension to the November 1 deadline. 
The impact of this decision on subscribers and LCOs is yet to be seen. 
    According to sources, there are around 1.5 to 2 million cable viewers in the Mumbai region (including Thane and Navi Mumbai), of which 50% have analog cable connections, 30% have digital access system and 20% are direct to home (DTH) consumers. There are over 3,000 local cable operators with more than 25 multimedia service operators (MSO) providing 
services in the region. 
    President Ashok Mansukhani of the MSO Alliance confirmed that some broadcasters, with the help of MSOs, were voluntarily withdrawing 
analog signals of certain channels in phases and the complete blackout of analog signals will be achieved from midnight on October 31 according to directives. "This time, the deadline has not been extended," he said. The last deadline of June 30 had been extended to October 30 by the I&B ministry following demands by LCOs. 
    However, Anil Parab, president of 
the cable operators' association, said the LCOs had already requested the state for security cover from November 1 as consumers may not take the 'blackout' well. Parab said there was no transparency on part of the government and MSOs about how much subscribers have to shell out for paid channels and how much will go to LCOs, who have to manage connectivity. 
    "The government should disclose payment schedules to consumers and LCOs and create awareness among subscribers, specially those living in slums, about the advantages of digitization. There is currently a shortage of set-top boxes. These are some of the reasons why around 35-40% subscribers in Mumbai have not yet switched over to the digital system," he said. However, government data says that around 85-90% viewers in Mumbai have already switched over to digital. 

    Abhay Dudhal of the Maharashtra navnirman cable sena said Kolkata and Chennai had also not achieved digitalization targets and hence the deadline should be extended. 
    Jagdish Joshi of the eastern cable operators' welfare association said LCOs are getting such a low share that they won't be able to manage the maintenance and quality of connections. 
    Mansukhani claimed that there was absolutely no shortage of set-top boxes in the market and the government had made the sharing ratio for MSOs and LCOs very clear. "For each Rs 100 bouquet of free-to-air channels, MSOs will get Rs 45 while LCOs will get Rs 55. For paid channels costing minimum Rs 150 a bouquet, LCOs will get 35% of the amount while MSOs will get 65%," said Mansukhani. 

YOUR GUIDE TO PICKING THE BEST DIGITAL TV EXPERIENCE 

What are your choices? 
ANALOG CABLE TV SYSTEM 
A cable is directly attached to your TV and you can watch up to 100 channels. Monthly fee ranges from Rs 150-200. However, there is no interactive system for value-added services 
DIRECT TO HOME (DTH) 
DTH, which uses dish antennas, is facing heat from digital cable service providers. Up to 500 channels are available on DTH and signal quality is good. It offers value-added services and the monthly fee ranges from Rs 200-600 
DIGITAL ACCESS SYSTEM 
Once a set-top box is installed, the choice of channels rises to 1,000. It enables access to valueadded services. Monthly fee ranges from Rs 200-500 

WHY SWITCH TO DIGITAL? 
Switching over to a digital service will mean more channels to choose from, improved clarity, value-added services and less maintenance. Monthly charges will rise, though 

HOW DO YOU EXECUTE THE CONVERSION? 
Before October 31, you have to ask your cable provider to convert the cable connection into a digital one by installing a set-top box, which you will receive in seven days. You can choose your channels, after which your cable operator will activate the set-top box with the help of distributors. For this conversion, you have to fill up an application form and provide an identity proof 

BENEFITS OF DIGITIZATION 
    
Cable operators won't be able to hide subscribers from distributors, so every signal, subscriber and channel will be accounted for 
    Other than creating increased revenue through fees and taxes, digitization promises to bring transparency to the business 
    The government will get 45% taxes per television set in corporation areas, and 30% and 15% respectively in council and rural areas 

HOW DOES MUMBAI FARE ON DIGITAL SCALE? 

Total cable 
connections 
Over 1.5 million 

Of these, analog cable connections 
50% 

Digital Access System connections 
30% 

Direct To Home connections 
20% 

Total local cable operators 
Over 3,000 

Total multimedia service operators 
Over 25 
(Data for Mumbai region, which includes Mumbai, Thane & Navi Mumbai)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

FOR A FARE RIDE RTO nets 467 drivers for not carrying original tariff card

Mumbai: Regional transport offices across Mumbai have stepped up their campaign against erring drivers of taxis and autorickshaws for not carrying or displaying the original tariff card. 

    Since October 15, as many as 207 drivers in the Tardeo RTO's jurisdiction faced action for not displaying or carrying theoriginaltariff card. Similarly, action was taken against 94 
drivers in Andheri RTO's jurisdiction while the Wadala RTO penalized166drivers. 
    SinceOctober 15,207drivers also faced action for carrying a photocopy of the tariff card instead of carrying original tariff card and not displaying the tariff card in the vehicles in the ju
risdiction of the Tardeo RTO. Likewise,AndheriRTOtook action against 94 auto drivers, while Wadala RTO penalized 166 drives for not displaying the tariff card. 
    Meanwhile, the recalibration of the meters in autorickshaw andtaxiis gradually picking up in the suburbs as well as theislandcity. 
    An official said, "In Tardeo RTO, 209 taxis had come for recalibration of meterson Thursday. In Wadala, 71 taxis and 444 autorickshaws carried out the recalibration of meters." 
    More than 11,000 vehicles, including 8,696 autorickhsaws, have recalibrated their meters 
till date. As for taxis, the official said, 2,480 meters have been recalibrated since the new tariff hike. The number of autorickshaw meters that have been recalibrated in Andheri and Wadala RTO is 3,327 and 5,369 respectively. 
    The number of taxi meters recalibrated in Tardeo Andheri, Wadala stood at1,977,169 and 334 respectively. 
    Meanwhile, the transport department has decided to undertake recalibration of meters even on the weekend and the Eidholidayin order tocomplete the process within 45 days from the October 11 when the new farehikecameintoexistence.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Airbags save mgmt students on speed trip

Mumbai: A management student was arrested early on Wednesday in Vasai for rash driving after he, allegedly in a drunken state, broke through a police barricade in a sedan and rammed it into a road divider. Such was the speed of the car that it turned turtle on impact. A bigger tragedy was averted because the vehicle's airbags got activated. 

    Aniruddha Shashidharan, the 21-year-old son of a Virar-based industrialist, was driving a borrowed grey Mercedes. In the vehicle with him were Monish Rathod (21) and Gaurav Shroff (22), both sons of local builders. The three are secondyear management students at Viva College in Virar (West). 
    On Tuesday, police said, the three youngsters stopped at a restaurant in Bhuigaon in Vasai for drinks and then headed towards Mira Road to pick up the owner of the sedan. Cops identified the owner as Vaze. The group's plan, officers said, was to travel to Mumbai to party. 
    At Babula naka in Vasai, the speeding sedan nearly brushed against a police vehicle on patrol. Immediately, Thane Rural additional superintendent of police San
gramsinh Nishandar, who was in the police vehicle, alerted the control room and beat officers, who chased the vehicle. Still, the youngsters did not let up. 
    Shashidharan drove the sedan to Ambadi Road in Vasai where a barricade had been put to catch the speeding vehicle. According to Nishandar, Shashidharan broke through the barricade and drove past the policemen. He then took a steep right towards Range Naka, in the process losing control. The sedan hit the road divider before turning turtle on Sativali Road in Vasai at around 3am. The youths' lives were saved because the car's airbags got activated 
on impact. 
    Police said the Mercedes' speed at the time of the accident was 120 kmph. They arrested the three youngsters and impounded the vehicle. 
    Blood tests of the students showed they were drunk. Shashidharan was arrested under sections 279 (rash driving), 427 (mischief) of the IPC and allied charges under the Motor Vehicle Act. Rathod and Shroff too were charged. They were released on bail by Vasai holiday court. 
    Police have written to the Thane Regional Transport Authority to cancel the licences of the three. The owner of the vehicle will be summoned for questioning.

The 21-year-old driver of the sedan broke through a police barricade in Vasai and banged it into a divider, causing the car to turn turtle

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If decibel limits are reasonable, more revellers will fall in line: HC

    The Bombay high court on Tuesday said that if the cap on decibel levels was raised to a reasonable limit, it would be possible for more people to adhere to the revised ones. The court was hearing a petition filed by a Mulund-based Navratri mandal seeking permission to organize a dandiya event in a silence zone. 

    On Saturday, the court had granted the mandal permission subject to certain conditions. On Tuesday, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar was informed by Awaaz Foundation that the Navyuvak Mitra Mandal had violated the permissible 50 dB sound limit and had not used a distributed sound system. The mandal also played music beyond the 10pm deadline. Awaaz's advocate Ishwar Nankani said the sound level recorded was 95-97 decibels. 
    This prompted the court to ask Awaaz Foundation's convener Sumaira Abdulali about the effectiveness of distributed sound systems with low voltage speakers and sound barriers. Abdulali informed the court that these were effec
tive in lowering decibel levels. 
    The mandal's advocate, M S Karnik, said the government had allowed all mandals to play music till 12am on the eight and ninth day of Navratri. "The mandal has been organizing the event at this location for the past 15 years. 
It was only this year, and that too on the first day of Navratri, that we were told the area is a silence zone," said Karnik. 
    Turning to the police department and the BMC, Justice Shah said, "Why are you always giving permissions at 
the last minute? Now we'll set out a timetable for people to apply for permissions and for you to consider their applications. The groups that get permission would then know they have to make preparations." The court directed that the police and civic body should accept applications 45-60 days in advance and should decide whether to permit or reject them at least 30 days before the festival. 
    "How will people celebrate festivals? Everybody does not go to 5-star hotels to celebrate and dance," said Justice Shah.


Monday, October 22, 2012

MC asks hospital to report cause of Chopra’s death

Mumbai: As Yash Chopra's death triggered fears of the city being in the grips of an outbreak of dengue, the BMC on Monday asked Lilavati Hospital in Bandra for a report about the exact cause of the veteran filmmaker's death. 

    The death audit, as such exercises are called, follows union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's statement in Chennai that every dengue death should be audited. TOI had reported last week that private labs in Mumbai have been seeing more than a thousand cases of dengue per month. The BMC figures, meanwhile, were 242 in September and 198 in October tillMonday.Againstthisbackdrop, experts feel it is prudent that an audit is carried out in Chopra's case. In fact, reports said the Centre has asked the BMC for Chopra's audit report. 
    Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar told TOI that Lilavati Hospital would soon submit its report after analysing the cause of death. Chopra was admitted to the hospital on October 13, where he was diagnosed with dengue and immediately admitted to the ICU and put on ventilator. BMC officials pointed out that dengue usually has low fatality, but it could be fatal for patients who are old and have chronic diseases such as diabetes. 

    A spokesperson for Yashraj studios said on Monday that Chopra had succumbed to a combination of dengue and pneumonia. 
    But BMC health officials are not too impressed with the demand for making dengue notifiable. They noted that for all practical purpose it does micro-map the disease; every doctor sends a copy of dengue diagnosis to the local BMC health office, which in turn carries out surveillance and fumigation operations in the locality concerned. 
    Mhaiskar said, "At the ward level, we have been getting data on all dengue cases even from private hospitals and labs, so that we can do better micro-mapping of the disease. Whenever we find more than five dengue patients from the same area or a cluster of breeding sites, our teams go there for vector control anyway." 
    The BMC is applying the same plan of action it had successfully applied to bring down malaria in the city two years ago. The only difference is that it is the well-to-do 
sections of the society that seems to be the victim this time round. "Malaria was more rampant in slums and construction sites. But even though our micro-mapping exercise has showed dengue to be prominent in the same areas where malaria was seen earlier, it is the middle and upper middle class,thatissuffering from dengue in the same areas," she said.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

SMS perverts use fake papers to hoodwink cops

Mumbai: The incessant ringing of her cellphone in the dead of the night woke up Reema (name changed) from her deep slumber. The Chembur resident, who works as an executive with a private firm, answered the phone, only to hear the maniacal laughter of aman. A few days later, Reema received an obscene text message from the same number. To make matters worse, Reema's two female flatmates also started receiving vulgar SMSes from the same number. They then approached the police. "The man told us the cops will never find him as he had procured six SIM cards using fake documents," said Reema. 

    The cops traced the number to a Goregaon man and learnt that he was unaware that his papers had been used to obtain the SIM card. 
    Reema and her flatmates are not alone. Many women are still waiting for the per
verts, who harassed them through obscene SMSes and emails, to be brought to justice. Investigators, too, admit that very rarely do such persons get caught. "Mobile service providers do not thoroughly check documents while giving out SIM cards. This negligent approach helps the perverts get away with their crime," said an officer. 
    According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Mumbai has the maximum number of registered cases of sexual harassment or obscenity through SMS, MMS or email. Between 
2007 and 2012 (till August), 84 such cases were registered in the city. When it comes to states, Maharashtra, too, doesn't fare better. The NCRB data shows Maharashtra has the third highest number of such cases (169) registered in the country in the same period. 
    JCP (crime) Himanshu Roy said, "We will take up the matter with the information technology ministry so that proper action is taken against erring service providers." 
    A spokesperson of a leading telecom operator said the cops were trying to pass the buck by blaming operators. 
Times View: Crack the whip oth service providers and cops need to be more proactive when it comes to helping victims of online/mobile sexual harassment. The trauma that the victim goes through should not be compounded by official apathy and the gloves should be off while dealing with these predators. They are a real enough menace though they may be operating in the virtual world.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Now, chain-snatchers hop off bikes & knock on victim’s door

They Target Ground-Floor Flats, Chawls In Bylanes


    In a disturbing trend, emboldened motorcycle-borne thieves have now started landing up at a victim's doorstep. They call a victim out of her home on the pretext of asking for a random address. They typically target those who live in chawls and groundfloor flats of old buildings situated in narrow bylanes and quiet streets. The pillion rider keeps the victim engaged by asking confusing questions and suddenly lunges for her gold chain and quickly flees on the bike with the booty, the police told TOI. 
    The thieves have started resorting to this new modus operandi following the police crackdown on the chainsnatching menace. They have been finding escaping from highways, main roads and even deserted stretches difficult due to regular police bandobast and patrolling of vulnerable locations. Their numbers have, therefore, dwindled. (See: 'Crime on the street'). 
    "They knock on doors of residences after conducting a recce. They zero in on those who live alone or are on their own at a particular time of the day. It is our prime responsibility to safeguard women and their mangalsutra. Stern action is being taken so that the chain-snatchers remain behind bars for a longer period of time," said joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy. 
    Last Tuesday, around 9.30am, two bikers allegedly targeted Vikhroli resident Kalawati Swamy (60) and fled with her gold chain worth Rs 1.35 lakh. She lives in a ground-floor flat at Tagore Nagar society. In her complaint, Swamy said, "When I opened the door, a youth asked for some unknown person's whereabouts. He kept 
me engaged by repeatedly pointing out the address that he had scribbled on a piece of paper. Suddenly, he simply snatched my chain and ran towards a bike which was waiting outside. Both vanished before I could even shout for help." 
    Vikhroli police senior inspector Mahapat Indalkar said the biker keeps the motorcycle ready to flee at any point. "The new method of chain-snatching started after tightened police bandobast." 
    Suggesting a solution, IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said, "Storing extensive crime records, analyzing the modus operandi, fixing responsibility on beat marshals and extensive usage of closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras can go a long way in tackling this menace." 
THE NEW MODUS OPERANDI

Two bikers enter a chawl or a single building adjacent to a quiet, narrow bylane or street


The pillion rider knocks on the door of a residence occupied by a person who is alone


On the pretext of asking for an address, he engages the victim and keeps her busy


Suddenly, he lunges at her gold chain and snatches it; and speeds away on the ready bike



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blanket ban on plastic bags at malls, markets

State's latest proposal – where shopkeepers won't even be allowed to stock good quality plastic bags – comes after previous measures have failed to reduce usage


    The state government is all set to introduce even more stringent measures to curb the use of plastic across Maharashtra, one of them being a blanket ban on plastic bags at malls, markets, educational institutions, government offices, tourist and heritage spots and eco-fragile zones. 
    While this may not be a complete ban on plastic, the state's idea to target areas where plastic bags are used and sold the most is sure to drastically bring down their use. Another factor that will boost their effort is a proposal to fine individuals carrying really flimsy, non-recyclable plastic bags (or those weighing less than 50 microns). 
    On Thursday, a meeting regarding amendment the Maharashtra Non Bio-degradable Garbage (Control) Act of 2006 to introduce these new measures, was held at state environment minister Sanjay Deotale's office. "We had a discussion on how we could make the current regulations stronger," Deotale told Mumbai Mirror. 
    Theamendmentproposalislikely to be placed before the cabinet in the next fortnight. 
    The move comes on the heels of the BMC's recent decision to ban all plastic bags on their premises. That rule, officials in the civic body said, proved extremely effective. The state government has basically decided to adapt that plan on a bigger scale. "Therewillbeacompletebanonplastic in malls, so shoppers will have to carrytheirownbags–plasticorotherwise," a environment department officer told Mumbai Mirror. 

    A leading mall owner, however, said the State would find it hard to go through with their plan. "This ban willaffectmostshops.Wearesurethe plastic industry and retailers will appeal this ban," he said. 
    The first steps towards decreasing the use of plastic in Mumbai had come in the aftermath of the 2005 floods, when the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had issued a complete ban on plastic bags (which had clogged the drains and escalated the crisis). 
    Soon after that ban, however, plastic-bag manufacturers met cabinet ministers and convinced them to dilute the ban. It was now alright to 
carry bags that weighed more than 50 microns (the sturdier ones that could be used more than once). 
    More recently, the union envi
ronment ministry came up with a directive asking shopping establishments to charge for plastic bags. 
    But none of these measures have made a big dent in the use of plastic, forcing environment department officers to propose these fresh measures. 
    "Apart from the ban at malls and other places where use of plastic is high, we are going to insist individual users are penalised. Hopefully, this will ensure people stop using flimsy plastic bags," an official said. 
    Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal said, "This is a commendable move, butauthoritiesmustdoeverythingin their power to enforce the ban."

A file photo of visitors leaving plastic bottles and bags at the entrance of the Byculla zoo, where a ban on plastic is in place

15-yr-old killer inspired by TV


Mumbai: Officers probing the abduction and murder of 8-yearold Dheeraj Pandit had to interrogate the accused—his cousin Gopal (15; name changed)—for several hours before the latter admitted to the crime. 
    "The accused told us he had watched six episodes of a popular crime show on TV, where he picked up the nuances of abduction. This is the second case in the Borivli-Kandivli belt where a juvenile became delinquent after getting influenced by TV crime shows. We intend to write a letter to the producers to filter content," said DCP Mahesh Patil. 
    Officers said Gopal cooked up stories when they asked him what he had been doing the day Dheeraj disappeared. The accused and his father stay next door to Dheeraj's family in 
Bheem Nagar, Gorai. 
    The boy's body was fished out of a nullah on Wednesday. Gopal said he strangled the boy with his necktie on Sunday, stored the body in a box and flung it into the nullah early on Monday. 
    "We had to use a different line 
of interrogation as the accused is very young and we couldn't be harsh with him. Our officers convinced him that they could make out whenever he lied. This made him slightly nervous. We then discussed his religious beliefs. Eventually he said he would speak to a couple of officers and wanted the other members of the investigating team to leave. He was also afraid of the way his relatives would react once the true facts emerged," said a senior police officer. 
    Gopal , a class-VII student in a convent school in Gorai, withdrew Rs 50,000 from his father's account over three months to fund his passion for making helicopter models and to splurge on friends. "We will go through his father's bank statements," said inspector Ravi Adane. 

    The police are trying to find witnesses. "The accused told us that a couple had passed by while he was flinging the gunny bag containing Dheeraj's body into the nullah. But when we questioned the couple, they said they hadn't paid much attention to what the accused had been up to," said an officer. 

DISTURBING CRIME TREND 

Cases of kidnap and murder involving accused who are 
minors or young adults 

AUG 2012 | Ganesh Sriram (20). His friends Kalpesh Saroj and Ravindra Yadav allegedly lured him from Mira Road to a forested area in Naigaon, clobbered him to death and then demanded a ransom of Rs 8 lakh from his father 
AUG 2007 | Adnan Patrawala (16). Five acquaintances, including a minor, allegedly strangled this son of an Oshiwara businessman in Navi Mumbai after their ransom ( 2 crore) plan went awry. Adnan's body was found in his car on Palm Beach Road, Vashi 
JUNE 2007 | Parth Panchal (9). His 16-year-old neighbour strangled him in Dindoshi, wrapped the body in a plastic sheet and kept it locked in a cupboard for two days before it was discovered. The police said the accused was depressed because he had learnt he was an adopted child



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Crime against kids rises 16% in 2 years in Maharashtra


Madhavi Rajadhyaksha TNN 


Mumbai: Maharashtra is becoming increasingly unsafe for children, with violent crime against them increasing by 16% from 2009 to 2011. Worryingly, the conviction rate for the same showed a near fourpoint drop in this period. 
    Police records show that 201 children were murdered, 858 kidnapped and 818 girls raped in 2011. 
    While 2,894 instances of violent crime against children were recorded in 2009, the number grew to 3,362 in 2011. But the conviction rate fell from 13.6% to 9.9%. 
    "It is a sad state of affairs. People get away with such crimes and others are afraid to report them," said Asha Bajpai, dean, school of law, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. 
    Advocate Flavia Agnes of voluntary organization Majlis believes children of both sexes need to be sensitised from a young age. "Most children do not know what to do; precau
tionary measures are generally lacking in society today," she said, suggesting that children should be taught to respect the body at the school stage and taught about abuse or assault and who to approach if they feel violated. 
    Child rights activists also say that police figures of crime against children are often underreported and the real picture may be more disturbing. 
    Bajpai said the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, is likely to offer succour as it offers legal protection for children, which was missing till date. "The law would incorporate childfriendly provisions, extend protection to child witnesses and ensure mandatory reporting of such crimes by anyone who comes across them." The bill provides for separate courts, thereby ensuring speedier justice. Information about it needs to be widely disseminated so that everyone is aware of the provisions, Bajpai said.


Save The Ganga Failure to preserve the river will undermine India’s future industrial growth

In a severe indictment of efforts to clean up the Ganga, a study conducted by the National Cancer Registry Programme has found that those living along the banks of the river are more prone to cancer than others in the country. Thanks to years of relentless discharge of effluents, including toxic industrial wastes such as arsenic, fluoride and other heavy metals, cases of gall bladder cancer along the course of the river are the second highest in the world while incidence of prostate cancer is the highest in the country. The authorities take little cognizance of the Ganga being the most important river system in India, with almost half the population of the country dependent on its waters. 

    Despite spending an estimated Rs 2,000 crore under Ganga Action Plans I and II, the sewage treatment capacity and other pollution abatement infrastructure along the Ganga remain woefully inadequate. It must be understood that cleaning and preservation of the Ganga represents much more than saving a river. The government's poor track record in managing the impact of industrialisation on the environment and the health of people is precisely the reason industrial and energy projects are feared by many, witness the ongoing protests over the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam. The new Mission Clean Ganga approved by the National Ganga River Basin Authority mandates an investment of Rs 15,000 crore over the next 10 years to clean the river. Failure to fulfil this goal would not only create the world's worst health disaster zone but also spike India's industrial and economic growth.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Every hour of TV you watch shortens your life by 22mins

Melbourne: Couch potatoes, watch out! Every hour that you spend in front of the 'idiot box' could be taking 22 minutes off your life, a new study has warned. Australian researchers have found that watching television could be shortening your life by 4.8 years. 

    Researchers have found that for every hour of television viewed by a person over the age of 25, their life expectancy is reduced by 22 minutes. The study was based on an average six hours viewing per day, compared to a person who watches no TV, News.com.au reported. 
    Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, the researchers generated life-expectancy tables based on the viewing habits of average Australians. 
    "TV viewing time may be as
sociated with a loss of life that is comparable to other major chronic disease risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking and obesity," the study found. "These findings suggest that substantial loss of life may be associated with prolonged TV viewing time among adults," it said. The research claims that a sedentary lifestyle is as bad for health as smoking and obesity, because of the dangers posed by inactivity. PTI

TIME TO TURN OFF THE IDIOT BOX

‘Polluted Ganga is the biggest source of cancer’

he holy Ganga is a poisonous river today. It's so full of killer pollutants that those living along its banks in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal are more prone to cancer than anywhere else in the country, says a recent study. 

    Conducted by the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) under the Indian Council of Medical Research, the national study throws up shocking findings. The river is thick with heavy metals and lethal chemicals that cause cancer, it says. "We know that the incidence of cancer was highest in the country in areas drained by the Ganga. We also know why. Now, we are going deeper into the problem. Hopefully, we'll be able to present a report to the Union health ministry in a month or two," NCRP head ANandkumar said. 
    The worst-hit stretches are east Uttar Pradesh, the flood plains of Bengal and Bi
har. Cancer of the gall bladder, kidneys, food pipe, prostate, liver, kidneys, urinary bladder and skin are common in these parts. These cases are far more common and frequently found here than elsewhere in the country, the study says. 
    What's more frightening is the finding that gall bladder cancer cases along the river course are the second highest in the world and prostate cancer highest in the country. The survey throws up more scary findings: Of every 10,000 people surveyed, 450 men and 1,000 women were gall bladder cancer patients.


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