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Friday, March 29, 2013

Sakinaka firm may have flouted fire brigade safety regulations

Mumbai: The pressure dye casting unit in Sakinaka where a nitrogen cylinder burston Friday morning,killing five people, may not have had the mandatory licences and may have flouted safety rules prescribed by the fire brigade. 

    The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's shops & establishments department issues licences for small scale units, but the fire brigade's NOCis needed beforethat. 
    Among thefiresafety measures that a small unit must adhere to while operating are having cement and brick, and pressure-relief walls, periodic maintenance of machines and regular checkson electric wirings. But fire officials say these are nottaken seriously. 
    "The measures were flouted in the Sakinaka incident. We are trying to access records andseeif theowner had applied for permission," a senior civicofficialsaid. 
    With civic staff not working on account of the Good Friday holiday, it was difficult for officials to ascertain the 
extent and nature of violations. They will sift through the records on Saturday and only then decide on whether totake action againsttheowner. 
Harshad Kale, assistant municipal commissioner (L ward), said the BMC had raided such units and begun prosecuting owners. Deputy commissioner of
police (zone X) Mohankumar Dahikar said an FIR will be registered after the civic body and industry inspectors providetheir reportson theunit's violation of safety measures. 
THE PRICE OF HUMAN FOLLY 
RULES FOR SMALL ENTERPRISES 
Before setting up a small scale unit, the owner needs permits from the shops and establishments department, senior inspector of licenses and director of industries, and a no-objection certificate from the fire brigade 
    FIRE SAFETY NORMS FLOUTED 
An establishment with machines must have cement-and-brick and pressure relief walls, maintain machines periodically and conduct regular checks on electric wiring. Officials say these measures were not taken 
    PUNISHMENT 
The civic body can initiate prosecution against the owner. The maximum punishment is of two years with a fine of Rs5,000 
CYLINDER BLASTS 
Mar 8, 2013 | Twelve people are injured after a gas cylinder filled with helium explodes at a scrap shop in Kandivli (West). The injured are mainly children from the vicinity who were playing near the shop and local residents
May 30, 2012 | Four people are killed and 40 injured as a gas cylinder explodes in a bakery in Trombay. A portion of the building housing the bakery had collapsed after the explosion


Thursday, March 28, 2013

How safe is the school bus policy? Mahesh Benkar

 Just when schools and parents had moved on from the case of a three-year-old girl being molested by a school bus cleaner, another case has shaken everybody. This is the third of its kind reported this year and parents and schools are quickly becoming more apprehensive about the concept of the school bus safety policy which has been implemented in all three cases. 

    "In my experience as a school principal, I have never heard of such a case. It is something unimaginable and we can come to conclusions only once there is some clarity. We are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our children," said Lalitha Hariharan, principal, Rizvi Springfield High School, Bandra (W). She added that at her school, as prescribed by the bus policy, there is a rule that a child should be handed over only to the parent/guardian at the time of dropping them off after school or be brought back to school. "Almost all schools are following all rules and still such incidents take place," she added. 
    Many schools have started discus
sions with parents about installing CCTV cameras on buses. At Utpal Sanghavi School, Andheri (W), parents have formed a system wherein they travel with students on the bus everyday. "It was difficult to start the process but we realized there was no other way out. Even today we face difficulties when some parents can't make it on time but somehow, another parent fills the space," said Rusit Patel, PTA member from the school. He added that as a pilot project, two buses have been fitted with CCTV cameras and other buses will follow suit. 
    The police security and protection department recently advised schools to install the cameras on school buses to increase security of children. They also advised schools to ensure background checks on drivers, cleaners and attendants before hiring them. However, not many schools are following this advice. "We depend on bus contractors to do background checks. Since we don't own a fleet of buses, it should be the contractors' responsibility to hire people who can be trusted with the safety of children," said the principal of a Navi Mumbai school. 

HOW IT WAS DISCOVERED 

    The victim's mother suspected something wrong in his behaviour. Her suspicion grew when he insisted that he did not want to go to school. This had been going on since March 18 but he didn't reveal anything out of fear 
    The matter came to light when the victim's family doctor checked him for fever and found injuries on his private parts on March 25. The boy had nightmares and cried in his sleep 

    The mother gained her son's confidence and he revealed that the lady attendant of the school bus, after picking him from the crèche, use to hand him over to a man midway to school 
    The man, after allegedly sexually abusing the boy for three hours, would return him to the attendant when she picked students to drop them back home. The police arrested the 18-year-old attendant 
PAST CASES AND STATUS 
February 21, 2013 | Malad cops arrested Sandeep Mandhare (23), a school bus cleaner, for molesting a 3-year-old pre-school student. Girl's parents suspected something amiss when she kissed them like an adult. She said'bus uncle' had taught her that. Mandhare was released on bail two days after his arrest 
January 15, 2013 | Parents of a KG student of a Juhu ICSE school filed a police complaint against the bus conductor. The 4-year-old 
kid told the parents about being 'inappropriately touched'. The father complained to the school. The father and school filed an FIR against the conductor, Ramesh Rajput (35), who was arrested. He is in judicial custody SCHOOL BUS POLICY 
    Onus of children's safety lies equally with school and bus contractor 

    But once the bus leaves the school premises, if an untoward incident takes place, the contractor is solely responsible for the safety and security of children 
SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS 
    Ban on private vehicles ferrying children. Parents should be encouraged to send children only in buses approved by the school authorities 
    Compulsory background checks of school bus personnel, 
including lady attendant 
Need for CCTV cameras on school buses 
Presence of parent on school bus, especially those ferrying tiny tots, from first till last stop 
WHAT USED TO HAPPEN The victim's mother complained that the lady attendant in the bus used to handover her son to a man in an auto-rickshaw midway to school. The man used to allegedly take him to a house, where he used to sexually assault him for three hours before returning him to the attendant. This had been happening for a few weeks. 
NATURE OF INJURIES 

    The family doctor revealed that the boy had injuries on his private parts. The police are awaiting the medical report to confirm the complaint 
TEEN HELD FOR SODOMY Ateenager has been arrested by the Valiv police in Vasai (E) for sodomising a minor boy. The victim's father, in his police complaint, stated that their 16-year-old neighbour abused his 11-year-old son near their residence. The victim, who confided in his father, has been sent to the Bhiwandi children's home. The accused has been arrested under section 377 (unnatural sex) of the Indian Penal Code. TNN



The parents of a 6-year-old student of a Kurla international schoolsuspected something was wrong when he got nightmares and used to cry at night


The family doctor checked him for fever and discovered that he had injuries on his private parts. This is when the boy revealed what was happening everyday


The police said the bus owner, driver and cleaner had been summoned for questioning, while the 18-year-old attendant, Farah Khan, had been arrested

SELF-DEFENSE IS THE KEY KBS International organised a self-defense programme on the occasion of International Women's Day

 With the rise in crime against women, learning self-defense techniques has become a need of the hour. To spread this message among the women of today, Kohinoor Business School (KBS) 

organised a self-defence programme "The Art of Survival" for its female students/faculty and staff members on the occasion of women's Day recently at the KBS campus. 
    Around 20 faculty members and 100 students participated in this workshop. From young girls to middle-age women, everyone learned various techniques of self-defense under the guidance of a martial art and selfdefense expert Dr Sudhakar Upadhyay. 

    Apart from giving the practical training, he also presented few skills to handle stress management, common medical emergencies as well as highlighted the legal aspects and implications in crimes against women, and the related psychology and 

management of emotions. "At KBS we have taken this initiative as we believe that intelligence, good communication skill, smartness is important, but our students should also learn self-defense as it will help to protect themselves and establish their identity," says Dr Bharati Deshpande, Associate Professor & HOD at KBS. 
    In today's era of modernization and globalization as the percentage of working 
women is increasing so is the need and concern for their safety, security and health. "A woman is dynamic in the many roles she plays. Even though women have achieved success in all walks of life; we have simultaneously witnessed a substantial rise in the atrocities 
against women in our society. In Kohinoor Group, the respect and security of women employees are strongly promoted, and therefore we conducted a selfdefense programme that would empower women to face the present challenges," says Monica Eyles, HR manager, Kohinoor Education Trust. 
    The event received a good response. Many students were elated to learn some defense 
techniques for it built self-confidence in them. "This programme was a wonderful gift that one could give to the budding female managers and entrepreneurs. I had a terrific experience as this session groomed us physically, mentally and emotionally, and has made us stronger. Now, I can protect myself, without calling out to people for help," said Pavitra Shetty, KBS management student.







Wednesday, March 27, 2013

FROM HOMEMAKERS TO BREADWINNERS


Several women have had to suddenly wake up to the challenge of earning for their families after being wives and mothers for over a decade. Their household incomes stolen by tragedy, these victims of fate turned victorious


    Amid the teeming millions in India's economic capital, there remain a large number of women who have joined the workforce after a prolonged domesticated existence. Seldom had most of them stepped into a bank or written a cheque until circumstance forced them to do so. But once they had to overcome their diffidence, they faced the challenge and took charge of their own fate. 
    A young widow with two small children, whose businessman husband was killed in the 26/11 attacks, found herself thrown into the deep end all of a sudden. She had till then led a protected existence in upscale south Mumbai. Life revolved around overseeing the children's education and extra-curricular activities. She socialized with a privileged peer group that discussed finances, mostly with reference to luxury purchases and foreign holidays. The November '08 terrorist attack brought this dream world crashing down. 
    "Apart from the trauma of losing my husband in a brutal manner, what petrified me was that I knew nothing of his business. I had never signed a cheque before. Fortunately, my husband had a loyal staff who showed me the ropes when I took his chair a year later," says the woman who wished to remain unnamed. Four years later, the company has recouped and is running as it did in his time. 
    Women from all sections of society have faced the challenge of suddenly having to step out of the house and fend for their families in the working world. 
    Urmila Salunkhe, programme officer at Akshara, an organization working for women's empowerment, said, "A whole generation of middleclass Maharashtrian housewives suddenly found the home economy rudderless when their husbands lost their jobs as textile workers after the mills closed down in the early 1980s. Many women did what they could do best to keep the home fires burning. They either became domestic workers or began to run 'khanavals' or tiffin services for migrant workers whose families had not accompanied them to Mumbai. Here, too, there was vast competition from roadside eateries and small hotels. House
wives found themselves at a disadvantage because they were not savvy at marketing their skills." 
    Salunkhe said the homemaker who has never been part of the workforce is plagued by self-doubt. "Often she is not well educated, does not have her own bank account and is not exposed to the wide world. Domestic violence is also a grim reality," she said. 
    It takes one spark to light a fire, though. A former millworker's wife now leads a self-help group for a whole community in Prabhadevi. Rekha Devre, who knew little beyond home and hearth when her husband became unemployed, has become a beacon for others facing a similar predicament. 

    "The BMC runs a project known as the Mahila Bachat Gat, which empowers women by getting them to put aside small savings and obtain subsidized loans to set up private enterprises," she said. 
    Devre said scores of women, some above 50, who had never stepped outside their homes, are now the main breadwinners for their families. The Mahila Bachat Gat runs training programmes in making and selling various items, like chocolate, incense sticks, candles, washing powder and other household items. "Where the women once found stepping into a bank a daunting task, now they do not bat an eyelid while dealing with policemen," she laughed. 

    GOING BACK TO SCHOOL 
    WAS HER CLASS ACT 
    
Life gave a rude jolt to Thane resident Sucheta Khot after her husband's flourishing business went bust overnight in 2007 and the family stared bankruptcy in the face. "We were living in luxury—a sprawling home in Vasant Vihar, a car, jewellery, the best of comforts—and suddenly the party came to an end. We were not prepared for it. Our children were growing. We had to sell the flat and buy a smaller tenement," said Khot. 
    The homemaker and mother of two—and master's degree holder in industry psychology—decided to roll up her sleeves and take things head-on. 
    "Initially, I took up assignments with the HR division of companies in Thane, but my husband disliked the idea of me working in the daily grind. So I took up teaching assignments in schools and trained girls in classical dance. But, my true calling was psychology. So I teamed up with a clinical psychologist, and we decided to set up our own centre," Khot said. 
    The timing was inauspicious, given a series of personal tragedies. Moreover, her friend called off the partnership, leaving her to try her entrepreneurial skills alone. "I could not practise as a counselor, as I was not a clinical psychologist. Moreover, I was saddled with additional bills for the rented commercial space. I then chanced upon phonetics and took up classes to train children in speaking and introducing them to books through storytelling and songs," Khot said. From an initial enrollment of four children, she now heads a full-fledged institute that offers a bouquet of courses, from improving vocabulary skills to playing with colours. —Nitin Yeshwantrao 

    CATERING TO THE HOUSEHOLD'S NEEDS 
    
For Medha Deshpande, once a SoBo resident, life came full circle when her husband lost a high-paying job in 2000. The hopelessly optimistic Deshpande then took to being a multitasking businesswoman. A resident of Garden Enclave, Thane, she used her culinary skills to keep the home fires burning. 
    "It has been a long and tough journey over 12 years. Today, I run a small food empire, with assistants and a vehicle. My turnover is in lakhs," said Deshpande. "It was not all that rosy at first. My son and I went from house to house dropping pamphlets and urging people to give me business. We would get small orders and my son delivered parcels on his bicycle." 
    Life was tough given her husband's unemployment, ailing health and monthly commitments. "I was very difficult as my husband suffered a heart-attack and close relatives and friends virtually shunned us as they considered my work menial and lowly. But, there was no other option other than fight it out," Deshpande said. 
    Today, the gritty businesswoman has earned respect from her family and as an entrepreneur. "There was a time when we had no money to make purchases to complete a catering order. I would take an advance from clients to buy the goods. There were no utensils. If there was a big order, my son carried the cooker to the client's home and emptied the contents into their vessels." Deshpande recalled. 
    Her fingers, badly bruised from cutting, chopping and cooking, are a reminder of her years of toil. —Nitin Yeshwantrao

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Sucheta Khot teaches a class of students at her institute in Thane. (Left) Medha Deshpande has put together the right ingredients to make her catering business a success




2012 third most expensive year for insurers

Mumbai: The year 2012 was the third most expensive for insurers in terms of disaster claims. Large-scale weather events in the US pushed the total insured claims for the year to $77 billion. For insurers, this is a big setback considering that it comes on the back of $126 billion of record catastrophic claims in 2011 following the Japan earthquake and floods in Taiwan. 

    Unlike 2011, when GIC booked record losses of Rs 2,490 crore due to reinsurance cover it had provided to companies with exposure to Thailand, this year's disaster claims won't have a direct bearing on India. However, they will have an indirect bearing on the insurance business worldwide. High claims are a factor in hardening of reinsurance rates. Sinceinsurance companies in India buy backstop protection from international reinsurers they are affected as well. 
    According to Swiss Re's annual disaster report, natural catastrophes and manmade disasters in 2012 caused economic losses of $186 billion, with approximately 14,000 lives lost. Nine of the 10 most expensive insured loss events happened in the US in 2012 with Hurricane Sandy topping the list followed by drought losses. High insurance penetration in North America meant that $65 billion, over half of the $119 billion in economic loss
es in the region, were covered by insurance. The drought in US resulted in agricultural losses of $11 billion, the highest ever recorded loss in farm insurance
    In India, Swiss Re has classified the collapse of the northern grid in 2012 as a weather-related disaster. "Weak monsoon rains forced farmers to pump water to 
their fields causing three of India's interconnected power grids to collapse for several hours one day in summer. As a result, northern India suffered the largest electrical blackout in history, affecting an area encompassing 670 million people," the report said. 
    "The severe weather-related events in the US provided a reminder of the value of insurance and the vital role it plays in helping individuals, communities and businesses to recover from the devastating effects of catastrophes. However, large parts of the globe that are prone to weather extremes were not able to rely on financial relief due to lowinsurance penetration," said Kurt Karl, Swiss Re's chief economist.



Monday, March 25, 2013

‘Till NH-17 is widened, put reflectors, add dividers to curb fatal accidents’

Experts Ask Govt To Slam Brakes On Overtaking

    The Mumbai-Goa Highway, one of the country's busiest and the state's biggest killer, is at most 6 metres wide in most stretches and yet only two phases of widening have been cleared so far. As the road continues to claim lives, experts want some immediate safety measures introduced to cut casualties till the highway is widened to four lanes with proper dividers. 

    Among the suggestions is using reflectors and fluorescent paint to mark the edges of the road, checking vehicles, especially their lights and drivers, and stopping traffic from overtaking at night. These immediate measures can reduce the rate of mishaps on the Mumbai-Goa highway to half till the time in the distant future when the road is four-laned, said the experts in road transport engineering. 
    The spot of Monday morning's mishap at Goregaon in Mahad on the highway is not only narrow but had blind turns and an uneven surface. The Goa highway, experts said, has over 100 risky stretches and several hair-pin bends as it criss-crosses the Western Ghats. 
    "In the night, visibility is always poor and since the road is narrow and has twists and turns, it is necessary to have catseye reflectors or fluorescent paint to mark the lanes. The state should also appeal to people not to overtake during night," said transportation expert Jagdeep Desai, adding that the final goal for safety was achieving fourlaning of the highway. 
    Senior transport expert Ashok Datar said the government should immediately identify the risky stretches and put makeshift dividers to avoid head-on collisions, most of which occur on the narrow highway because of drivers' error. 
    According to them, overtaking in the night was dangerous and stringent punishment should be given for not maintaining front and rear lights. "Even the signage instructing and warning drivers about the road condition, speed limit and directions are poor," said Datar. 
    "The government should have widened the Goa highway first before going for expansion of the Pune expressway. I think traffic is paying a huge price for such wrong decisions by those at the helm of affairs," said Desai. 
    Between January 2006 and December 2012 the highway has seen 7,721 mishaps killing 1,731 travellers.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maha tops census list with 21k slum blocks in India

1 Out Of 6 Urbanites Live In Slums Across Country, Shows Data

New Delhi: Nearly one in every six urban Indian residents lives in a slum, newly released census data shows. The new numbers are significantly lower than the slum growth that had been projected for India. 

    "Our own projections were that the all-India slum population would be 27.5% by 2011, so the new data comes as a pleasant surprise," Arun Kumar Misra, secretary in the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, said. Slum populations in individual cities like Mumbai was also lower than expected, Mishra said. 
    The census defines a slum as "residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation" because they are dilapidated, cramped, poorly ventilated, unclean, or "any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health", registrar general of India C Chandramouli said. 

    Roughly 1.37 crore households, or 17.4% of urban Indian households lived in a slum in 2011, data released by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner's office showed. The new data is difficult to compare with previous years, 
because the 2011 Census covers all 4,041 statutory towns in India, as compared to 2001 when only statutory towns with population over 20,000 were covered. The 2001 data had set India's slum population at 15% of the total population. 
    The census counted slums notified under various acts, those recognized by governments but not notified, and those that were in no way accepted by state governments, but fit the definition of a slum. Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation minister Ajay Maken said that the high proportion — over 37% — of slum households in this last, unrecognized, category was a serious problem, and committed to his ministry extending benefits like the Rajiv Awas 
Yojana to such slums too. "State governments are unwilling to admit to their being more slums in their cities because then they will have to provide these slums basic services like water and drainage," Maken said. 
    With the exception of sanitation, the indicators on housing amenities for slum and non-slum households in most of India are more similar than most would expect. Over 77% are permanent and 70% are owned, and not rented. Close to half are made up of just one room and most are home to one married couple. Over 70% of slum households get their water from a tap but just half get water inside their homes. Over 90% get electricity and most use LPG for cooking; 70% 
have a TV and 10% even a computer. The census data seems to indicate that the "more cellphones than toilets" line might be wrong for urban India: two out of three slum households have a toilet within the premises, while slightly fewer have a mobile phone. 
    More than one in five urban households in AP, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra lives in a slum. In absolute terms, Maharashtra has the highest number of slum blocks of any state – over 21,000 out of a total of just over 1lakh for the whole country. 

    Over a third of India's slum population lives in its 46 million-plus cities. Of the metros, Mumbai has the highest proportion of slum-dwelling households (41.3% of its population). Kolkata is next at nearly 30% with Chennai not far behind. Delhi has 14.6% of its households living in slums. Bangalore is best off of the five metros at less than 10%. 
    Among all million-plus cities, Vishakhapatnam has the highest proportion of slums (44.1% of households). However, Census authorities were treating with skepticism the unexplained spurt in slum populations across cities in AP.


One in every 10 slum dwellings in Mumbai

New Delhi/ Mumbai: New census data shows that India's slum population may be stabilizing, but Maharashtra has a lot to be concerned about. Not only does the state have the biggest slum population, its slums also seem to be in a far worse condition than the rest of India's slums. 

    One-fifth of India's slum population lives in Maharashtra. One in every ten slum-dwelling households in India is from Mumbai. But most worryingly, while slum and non-slum urban households in the rest of India seem to have comparable standards of living, in Maharashtra this is not the case. 
    This is most starkly the case for sanitation. For instance in Kolkata, 96.2% of non-slum urban households have a toilet within the house, and for slum households, this figure is 92%. In Chennai too, over 90% of both non-slum and slum households have a toilet within their homes. But for Maharashtra's million-plus cities, the disparity is stark. 
    While over 75% of nonslum households in Greater Mumbai have a toilet within the premises, just 32% of slum households have the same facility. The only other million-plus cities in India with a worse sanitation situa
tion are other Maharashtra cities – Kalyan-Dombivli, Nashik, Navi Mumbai and Pimpri-Chinchwad. 
    Just 66% of slum households in Greater Mumbai get water within their homes, while this proportion is less than half in Vasai-Virar, Navi Mumbai and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Over 90% of non-slum households in most these cities get water inside the house. 
    Close to 10% of slum households in most of Maharashtra's million-plus cities live in a house that has no exclusive room – the kitchen, living and sleeping quarters are all part of one room. Delhi, in comparison, this figure is just over 2%. 
    Rajendra Bhise, programme director, Yuva, a voluntary development organisation working for poor and marginalised communities in Mumbai attributes the poor living conditions in slums to 
the 1995 cut-off date imposed by the state government for the recognition of slums. "Slums post-1995 are not given basic amenities such as water or sanitation which has resulted in poor living conditions. Even Delhi gives land tenure to its slum dwellers till 2009," he says, adding that the Census data reflect the fact that the Maharashtra government has given priority to real estate development over affordable housing. 
    Moreover, the state and industry have turned their backs on their obligation to provide affordable housing, says Bhise. 
    Dr RA Potdar of the Centre for the Study of Social Change which works in the slums of Bandra (E), one of the most sprawling informal settlements in Mumbai says that their cramped existence poses major health hazards including reproductive and urinary problems for slumdwellers.

Just 66% of slum households in Greater Mumbai get water in their homes


TOI’s free health check for women this weekend

Mumbai: The age of women falling prey to this lifestyle disease has been declining. On March 23 and 24, women can get themselves tested for cardio, orthopaedic and gynaecological problems. TOI is holding health camps where women can get free consultation and get their BP, BMI, ECG, bone densitometry, pap smear and breast examinations done. 

    Saturday's health camp will be held at Fortis Hospital in Mulund from 11am to 3pm. To register, SMS TOIMFW<space->OD<space>your name and send it to 58888. Sunday's camp will be held at Fortis Hiranandani, Vashi from 12 pm to 4pm. To register, SMS TOIMFW-<space>GY<space>your 
name and send it to 58888. TNN

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Stressed 24-yr-old suffers heart attack

Mumbai: When Anirudh Singh (24) woke up with an uneasy feeling on March 5, he had no idea that it could be something more serious than an oncoming bout of fever. Not only did the discomfort continue until the evening, the event management executive also began feeling breathless and had a severe pain in the chest. By the time his friends rushed him to a nearby nursing home, Anirudh was on the verge of collapse. Diagnosis by doctors revealed that he had suffered an acute heart attack. 

    Anirudh's lifestyle shifted gears about two years ago when he moved to Mumbai to make a career in event management. 
    During busy periods—usually more than three days a week—he would go without proper sleep, surviving only on cups of coffee and energy drinks. "I even skipped meals many a time while trying to achieve my goals. And since my job is very demanding, I would hardly get time for anything else. It was a case of running around continuously, until the day I felt the chest pain," the Santa Cruz resident said. 
    After the diagnosis, the doctors in the nursing home he was taken to administered a clot-bursting injection. However, it did not make much difference to Anirudh's condition. 
    The nursing home then referred him to SevenHills Hospital in Andheri. 

PRESCRIPTION FOR A HEALTHY HEART 
Get a good night's sleep Stay slim Quit smoking Drink adequate waterAvoid excessive consumption of sweetened drinks, alcohol Eat fruits and vegetables Take up stress-busting activities like a hobby or yoga 
Young person's heart at greater risk 
Mumbai: According to Dr Saurin Patel, cardiologist at SevenHills Hospital in Andheri, stress had taken a toll on 24-year-old Anirudh Singh and he was critical when he was brought to the hospital. "We realized that he was suffering from acute myocardial infarction. His blood pressure and oxygen levels were low. We admitted him in the ICU and gave him intra-venous medication. When his condition improved a little, we conducted an angiography on him, which revealed a 90% blockage in the main artery which supplies blood to the front wall of the heart," Dr Patel said. 
    The doctors then performed a procedure to remove his clot. " We then conducted an angioplasty and put a stent," Dr Patel added. 
A young person suffers a more dangerous attack than an older person and there is greater damage to the heart. In an old person, calcium settles on cholesterol and theheart 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 JJ Hospital, says sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure and arterial blockages are major factors leading to a cardiac arrest. "We have all been seeing incidence of heart diseases going up in younger people," he said. After spending more than a week in the hospital, Anirudh was discharged on Friday. The doctors have advised him to take it easy for a few days. "I will be taking rest for a few days. After the next check-up, I will come to know the activities I can start again," Anirudh said. 
    (The name of the patient has been changed to protect his identity) 

HEALTHY HEART | KEEP THE BEAT 

WARNING SIGNS 
Slight palpitations 
Small shoots of pain in the chest 
Difficulty in breathing while walking or performing other physically exerting tasks 

DOS & DON'TS 
Do not assume that chest pain is because of gas/ acidity 
Always get an ECG done 
Consult a cardiologist as general physicians may not always be able to recognize a cardiac arrest 

STAY HEALTHY Avoid Stress | Take some time off. Sleep adequately Eat Right | Eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day Get Active | Even 30 minutes of activity can help 
Kick The Butt | Risk will be halved in a year if you do not consume tobacco products 
Watch Your Weight | Weight loss equals lower blood pressure 
Limit your alcohol intake




Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Average of 4 rapes a day in state: Patil


Mumbai: The state witnessed 1,704 incidents of alleged rapes last year, or an average of four such incidents a day. Among those, minor girls were victims in 924 instances: These figures were provided by home minister R R Patil in the legislative assembly on Monday. 
    Between 2005 and 2011, 10,837 cases of rape were reported, stated Patil in a written reply to the Lower House. Legislators cutting across party lines had raised the issue of rising incidents of violence against women in the state. Last year, 127 sexual assault cases were reported that were committed on victims below the age of 10, and another 188 incidents were reported where the victims were between 10 and 14 years. 
    Till the end of 2012, 14,414 cases of rape, 31,412 of molestation and 9,480 of harassment had been pending before courts. "The government has set up 13 special courts to try the cases. Hundred fast-track courts will be set up, among which 25 will hear cases related to women. All fast-track courts will run for the next five years," Patil said.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nearly 15k HIV deaths in 3 yrs

Mumbai: The danger of HIV continues to haunt the state, where more than 14,700 lives were lost to the virus from April 1, 2009, to September 30, 2012, the government has admitted. 

    In a written reply to a query sought by legislators, health minister Suresh Shetty said on Friday that over 1.69 lakh new cases of HIV-infected people were recorded during the period. He also admitted that out of 38 community care centres set up for HIV-positive people, 15 had shut down over quality checks and resignations. 
26 med colleges under lens 
    
In another written response, medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit has admitted that 26 private medical and dental colleges were under the scanner for fraudulent practices and violations of norms during admissions in
2012-13.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

RTO wants senior citizens to keep tabs on errant drivers

Mumbai: In an attempt to rein in rogue drivers who flout traffic rules with impunity, the RTO is planning to rope in senior citizens to be its eyes and ears on the street. 

    A senior RTO official confirmed to TOI that a proposal in this connection has been sent to the transport department and is yet to be approved. "We want the senior citizen groups to act as watchdogs and alert us about nuisance elements on roads," the official said. The RTO also plans to take the assistance of traffic police personnel in cracking down on the offenders. 
    The official said that once the scheme is implemented, there will be a dedicated helpline and email address on which citizen groups will be able to lodge complaints by providing details such as the location, time and nature of offence (speeding, playing 
loud music, jumping signal) and the vehicle number. 
    "Once a complaint reaches our desk, we will use our computerized records to find out the motorist's address. In case it is an old vehicle (prior to 2006), we will look up our manual records," another official said. The RTO will then send a warning letter to the of
fender. "In many cases, underage drivers take their parents' car out for fun rides. In such cases, though the letter will be sent to the youngster's parents, it will be a warning for the child," the official said. 
    "We will seek help of traffic police to keep a watch on junctions which witness most violations," said the official. 
SILVER LINING 
THE PLAN 
    
The RTO has sent a proposal to transport department 
to involve senior citizen groups to keep a watch on rash driving and other traffic-related offences 
    If the plan is implemented, the RTO will set up a dedicated helpline and an email address on which the groups 
can lodge complaints 
CITIZENS TO KEEP TABS ON 
Rash driving 

Playing loud music in the car Signal jumping Racing car or bike


Congestion fee will free up roads, panel tells HC

Acongestion charge to restrict the number of vehicles in Mumbai to tackle its traffic problems is one of the top recommendations of a high-powered committee appointedon theinstructionsof theBombayhighcourt. The panel submitted a 51-point action plan before a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta on Wednesday. 

    The11-member panel,headedby additionalchief secretary (home)AmitabhRajan,hastwo ideas for imposing the congestion levy. One, a congestion chargeto restrictthe number of vehicles in certain areas, including the city's central business districts, and two, congestion pricing on certain goods in selectzones.Together,thesetwo measures "could be a possible solution for reducing vehicle density on congested roads", the panelsaid,suggesting a twoto-three-year timeframe for the introduction of congestion charges. 
    The panel has also recommended the imposition of "a sizable amount of cess on the consumption of petrol and diesel for cars in Mumbai city or the metropolitan region, and utilizing the proceeds for the improvement and strengthening of the public transport system". 
    Congestion pricing wasfirst introduced in Singapore in 1975, followed by Rome in 2001, London in 2003, Stockholm in 2007 and Milan in 2008. The system has reportedly reduced traffic on the roads of those cities by 10-30% and brought down air pollution. 
    Over a decade ago, another HC-appointed panel—the V M Lal committee—recommended introducing a traffic restraining scheme in Mumbai. The state shot down the idea as impractical; a PIL on the issue is pending before the high court. As of March 2012, Mumbai has over 20 lakh vehicles on its roads, with 450 new vehicles being added every day. The Rajan 
panel has diagnosed a range of contributing factors, including inadequate staffing of the traffic police, a lackof proper equipments, encroachment on roads and pavements, illegal parking, poor signage and marking on roads, pedestrians using the carriageway, improper parking by private andschoolbuses andmovementof BESTbuses. 
    Its recommendations include restricted registration of new vehicles, more traffic police manpower, automated signals, improved driving tests, an e-challan system, clearing roads of encroachment, laying footpaths and reforming the parking policy. 
COMMITTEE'S CONCERNS 
CONGESTION CHARGE | On vehicles entering select areas and business districts. Cess on petrol and diesel 
INTELLIGENT TRANSPORT SYSTEM | Automated traffic signals. Travel time information system near Mantralaya, and on Sion/ Panvel highway, Kandivali Link Road and airport corridors 
RESTRICTED REGISTRATION | 
Of all new vehicles in Mumbai 
HI-TECH MEASURES | 
Getting modern technology like CCTV networks and e-chalan system to bring traffic offenders to task 
ENCROACHMENT REMOVAL | From 165 roads in two phasesPARKING POLICY | Hiking parking charges, crackdown on illegal parking, online booking of parking space, special parking charges in 
congested areas and nighttime parking outside buildings 
LOCAL AREA TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT PLAN | Pedestrian access and new street design guidelines with emphasis on cycling lanes 
INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR BUS PASSENGERS | Real-time information about arrival and departure of buses 
INFRASTRUCTURE | Creating more bus terminals and taxi/ auto stands, improving areas near railway stations, and earmarking spaces below flyovers for utilities 
DRIVING TESTS | Bringing in modern technology for driving tests and refresher training courses for drivers 
TRAFFIC LAWS | 
Raising fines for traffic offences and imposing vicarious liability on owners of vehicles involved in accidents


Sunday, March 10, 2013

BEST buses may speed up to 90kmph; experts shocked

Mumbai: BEST has increased the speed limit of its buses from 50kmph to 65 kmph and plans to increase it further to 90 kmph. But experts questioned the wisdom behind BEST's step in a city where the average speed of vehicles is less than 20 kmph. 

    "It is ridiculous. How can BEST plan to increase the speed limit? A speed of 80-90 kmph is uncalled for," said transport expert and activist Krishnaraj Rao. BEST officials said an amendment to the central motor vehicle rules was on the cards, and speed limits could increase to 80-90 kmph. A senior official confirmed to TOI that the amendment would come into effect very soon. 
    Rao said BEST buses often met with accidents due to reckless and negligent driving, especially at road turnings. "The transport undertaking should curb accidents and sensitize drivers on safe driving before increasing speed limits of buses," he pointed out. 
    ABEST traffic department official said the limit was set at 50 kmph in 2012 after a hue and cry over accidents. "We had indigenously manufactured speed limiters (governors) and installed them in most buses. But drivers complained of 50 kmph being too slow on highways and empty roads early in the morning and late at night. So we decided to increase it to 65 kmph and warned drivers to drive slowly during peak hours," he stated. 
    Transport activist Sunil Mone said, "During peak hours, when BEST buses are 
required the most, the speed cannot exceed 20 kmph. There is no need to increase the limit. If you allow higher limits, drivers will be tempted to overspeed. You cannot issue a warning and expect them to obey it." 
    He stated that most roads in the island city and suburbs were congested and only a 20-
25-foot patch was available for traffic. "How can you expect buses to ply at 65 kmph when there have been accidents involving buses travelling at 50-60 kmph," he stated. A BEST double-decker bus had overturned near the Kalanagar traffic signal last year when it tried to increase its speed to over 40 kmph while turning. 
    BEST committee member Ravi Raja agreed there was a rise in bus accidents, and overspeeding, rash and negligent driving were the primary reasons. "We should allow buses to ply at an average speed. Sometimes, drivers hurry to meet deadlines. This is dangerous and a low speed limit is acceptable," he stated. 

TIME TO STEP ON THE GAS IN TIMES OF MISHAP? 

MARCH 2 | 25-year-old motorcyclist comes under front wheel of BEST bus in Andheri (E). He dies on way to Cooper hospital. Driver is arrested 
JANUARY 22 | BEST driver arrested for injuring two girls and their cousin near Worli naka. Released on bail of Rs 5,000. Transport body conducting probe. Nine passengers and conductor also sustain injuries after doubledecker bus hits private bus in Andheri 
MAY 21, 2012 | BEST driver loses control of vehicle and rams it into wall of Ramtek, bungalow of NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. Three passengers injured
APRIL 22 | Bus No 83 hit by bus No 84 Ltd in Worli. Four passengers and bus driver injured 
APRIL 19 | Two BEST buses collide with each other near Bandra Reclamation 
APRIL 6 | Double-decker overturns near Kalanagar, killing biker and injuring more than 18 (photo above, left)


BEST buses may speed up to 90kmph; experts shocked

Somit Sen TNN 


Mumbai: BEST has increased the speed limit of its buses from 50kmph to 65 kmph and plans to increase it further to 90 kmph. But experts questioned the wisdom behind BEST's step in a city where the average speed of vehicles is less than 20 kmph. 
    "It is ridiculous. How can BEST plan to increase the speed limit? A speed of 80-90 kmph is uncalled for," said transport expert and activist Krishnaraj Rao. BEST officials said an amendment to the central motor vehicle rules was on the cards, and speed limits could increase to 80-90 kmph. A senior official confirmed to TOI that the amendment would come into effect very soon. 
    Rao said BEST buses often met with accidents due to reckless and negligent driving, especially at road turnings. "The transport undertaking should curb accidents and sensitize drivers on safe driving before increasing speed limits of buses," he pointed out. 
    ABEST traffic department official said the limit was set at 50 kmph in 2012 after a hue and cry over accidents. "We had indigenously manufactured speed limiters (governors) and installed them in most buses. But drivers complained of 50 kmph being too slow on highways and empty roads early in the morning and late at night. So we decided to increase it to 65 kmph and warned drivers to drive slowly during peak hours," he stated. 
    Transport activist Sunil Mone said, "During peak hours, when BEST buses are 
required the most, the speed cannot exceed 20 kmph. There is no need to increase the limit. If you allow higher limits, drivers will be tempted to overspeed. You cannot issue a warning and expect them to obey it." 
    He stated that most roads in the island city and suburbs were congested and only a 20-
25-foot patch was available for traffic. "How can you expect buses to ply at 65 kmph when there have been accidents involving buses travelling at 50-60 kmph," he stated. A BEST double-decker bus had overturned near the Kalanagar traffic signal last year when it tried to increase its speed to over 40 kmph while turning. 
    BEST committee member Ravi Raja agreed there was a rise in bus accidents, and overspeeding, rash and negligent driving were the primary reasons. "We should allow buses to ply at an average speed. Sometimes, drivers hurry to meet deadlines. This is dangerous and a low speed limit is acceptable," he stated. 

TIME TO STEP ON THE GAS IN TIMES OF MISHAP? 

MARCH 2 | 25-year-old motorcyclist comes under front wheel of BEST bus in Andheri (E). He dies on way to Cooper hospital. Driver is arrested 
JANUARY 22 | BEST driver arrested for injuring two girls and their cousin near Worli naka. Released on bail of Rs 5,000. Transport body conducting probe. Nine passengers and conductor also sustain injuries after doubledecker bus hits private bus in Andheri 
MAY 21, 2012 | BEST driver loses control of vehicle and rams it into wall of Ramtek, bungalow of NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal. Three passengers injured
APRIL 22 | Bus No 83 hit by bus No 84 Ltd in Worli. Four passengers and bus driver injured 
APRIL 19 | Two BEST buses collide with each other near Bandra Reclamation 
APRIL 6 | Double-decker overturns near Kalanagar, killing biker and injuring more than 18 (photo above, left)


‘Coal pollution led to 1L early deaths’


Nagpur: When the government is going all out to fasttrack power generation, it might as well pause to think of its serious public health effects. A study has revealed pollution caused by coal-fired plants in the country has resulted in an estimated 80,000-1,15,000 premature deaths and more than 20 million asthma cases in 2011-12. It cost the public and the government an estimated Rs16,000-Rs23,000 crore. 
    The study 'Coal Kills: An assessment of death and disease caused by India's dirtiest ener
gy source' was conducted by NGOs Conservation Action Trust (CAT), Mumbai, Urban Emissions, Delhi, and Greenpeace, Bangalore. 
    It also reveals that at least 10,000 kids (under 5 years) died during the last year with millions taking impact on respiratory system, chronic bronchi
tis, chest discomforts, asthma attacks etc. 
    Studies in the US and Europe have already established that emissions from coal-fired power were responsible for significant levels of illness and premature death. However, such data are hard to come by in India. The study was carried for the first time to address this deficiency, the NGOs who released the findings said. 
    Debi Goenka of CAT said Urban Emissions developed estimates ofhealth impacts using a well-established and extensively peer-reviewed methodology based on concen
tration-response functions established from epidemiological studies. 
    "The data in this study are derived from a database of coal-fired power plants compiled by Urban Emissions for the operational period of 2011-12 and takes into account a total of 111 coal-based plants representing a generation capacity of 121 gigawatts (GW)," Goenka said. 
    The largest impact of these emissions is felt over the states of Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, MP, Chhattisgarh, Indo-Gangetic Plain, and most of the Central-East India.

City sees 600 blazes every month, has only 133 beds for burn victims

Mumbai: Three major fire incidents in a month that claimed seven lives and left more than 20 injured, have turned the spotlight on the dismal state of burns' care facilities in Mumbai. For a city that witnesses more than 600 fire incidents every month, both major and minor, there are just about 133 beds for the victims. 

    If not for the single-largest 50-bed private facility in Airoli, the number of beds would dip further to 85. Over the years, the bed count for burns' patients has remained critical with the private sector shying away from offering or even setting up any such facility. Experts said there is an urgent need for an equal number of beds to be added to the pool so as to boost the survival of patients who have sustained more than 50% burns. 
    Following the very recent LPG tanker explosion at Mankhurd, 15 patients with varying degrees of burns were rushed to the civic-run Sion Hospital. Only four patients with 100% burns could be accommodated at the isolated burns' unit ICU for want of vacant beds. Six other patients were given first-aid and covered in sterile sheets but admitted in a makeshift ward for mass casualty. They were later shifted to the dedicated burns ward after other patients got
discharged. Dr Meena Kumar, the hospital's head of surgery, said there was a need for more beds as public hospitals are always packed to capacity. 
    The 15-bed burns' unit at Sion Hospital and 25-bed unit at Kasturba Hospital are almost always fully occupied, with the result that the patient load often spills over to the gen
eral wards. This could prove detrimental for a burns' patient, who needs a sterile environment more than anything else. 
    Dr Sunil Keswani, secretary of National Burns Centre in Airoli and a cosmetic surgeon, called the scarcity of burns' facilities a complex social problem. "Most burns' victims are from lower socio-economic 
strata, and therefore better burns' management has remained low priority for the state." Keswani further said that new policies are required to deal with the cost factor in burns treatment that can go up to Rs 7 lakh for over 60% burns. 
    Dr Madhuri Gore, who started the country's first skin back at Sion Hospital, said that 
a more structured approach must be adopted. 
    "There is a need to divide patients according to severity of burns and that way the patient load can be taken away from the tertiary care hospitals." Keswani cautioned that in the event of a mass burns incident, the city may drastically fall short of beds. 

BIG BLAZES IN RECENT PAST 
March 4, 2013 
Seven people were killed and nine injured after an LPG tanker crashed into safety pillars along the Sion-Panvel highway 
November 26, 2011 A fire broke out at Sara Sahara Market in Crawford Market, Yara Shopping Complex and spread to Manish Market, reducing over 500 shops to ashes 
June 21, 2012 Fire engulfed Mantralaya. Sensitive documents were destroyed and two died 
March 4, 2011 A major fire destroyed Garib Nagar, which adjoins Behrampada slum outside Bandra (East) railway station. Eleven people were injured as the inferno claimed 2,000 shanties


Friday, March 8, 2013

Rising mercury lowers pollution levels March Hotter Than Feb, But City Breathes Cleaner Air

The sudden rise in temperatures in the last few days is driving Mumbaikars up the wall, but the good news is that Mumbai is breathing cleaner air. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board's (MPCB) statistics show that pollution levels have actually gone down since February. 

    Last month, suspended particulate matter (SPM) levels were three times higher than the ideal limit. While Mumbaikars are breathing air more polluted than ideal levels, it is considerably cleaner than February, thanks to the consistently high temperatures. "Anything above 100 micrograms of SPM and 80 micrograms of NOx in a cubic metre of air is bad for human health," said an MPCB official. 
    In the first few days of March, nitrogen oxide levels ranged between 117-184 micrograms per cubic meter. Though the ideal limit should be 80 micrograms per cubic meter, the current levels are much better than 230 units in the first half of February. 
    SPM levels in March ranged between 200-270 micrograms per cubic meter, an improvement over more than 300 units in February. SPM is a mix of solid and liquid particles, including dust, sand, smoke, lead, nickel and arsenic. It lodges in lung tissues and causes respiratory problems, aggravated asthma and acute respiratory symptoms including difficult or painful breathing, chronic bronchitis and decreased lung function. 
    Nitrogen oxides, on the other hand, include poisonous gases like nitrogen diox
ide and nitrogen trioxide. The former is more dangerous. The reddish-brown toxic gas with a sharp, biting odour, makes children susceptible to respiratory diseases. 
    Dr Rakesh Kumar, of the National Environment Engineering Research Institute, said the heat has been instrumental in lowering pollution levels. "Temperatures have gone up and the strong winds helped dilute pollutants by blowing them away." 
    In February, pollution levels were high due to low temperatures. Normally, the air near the earth's surface is warmer than in the upper atmosphere. During inversion, however, there is cold air 
near the surface, which gets trapped under warmer air. "At such a time, hot and cold air don't mix easily in the upper atmosphere. Because of this, pollutants get trapped in the lower atmosphere," explained Dr Kumar. 
    Doctors however say pollution affects Mumbaikars through the year. "Pollution norms for vehicles may be in place, but their sheer numbers in Mumbai add to SPM levels," said Dr Neelam Rane, professor of physiology at DY Patil Medical College. "Also, there is always some construction, renovation or restoration work, which is an even greater source of pollution," she added.


Police alert over water war in state

Mumbai: With the state facing one of the worst droughts since 1972, the police force has been put on alert fearing fierce clashes over water. In an internal circular, Ahmad Javed, additional DGP (law and order), has warned that there may be a "law and order problem" as there might be a "conflict of interest over use of available water for agriculture and drinking purpose". DGP Sanjeev Dayal said the circular has been issued to ensure that the police machinery at the "local level is prepared if any problem arises in the state". 

    Meanwhile, people have begun migrating from Marathwada and parts of western Maharashtra to Mumbai and neighbouring states.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Special cell for crimes against women to finally take off today

Mumbai: The Mumbai police's crime against women cell (CAWC) will start functioning from Friday. The special cell will probe cases of rape, molestation, dowry and other atrocities against women. TOI was the first to report on the state's initiative to start a separate investigation wing to probe cases of crimes against women. 

    While the state government had decided to set up the cell in January, the idea remained only on paper. On Wednesday, TOI reported that the cell had not been set up even 40 days after the proposal was cleared. 
    Home minister R R Patil will 
officially announce the formation of the cell at a function at the Gateway on Friday. The first-ofits-kind crime detection cell for women will be headed by a DCP. 
    "DCP Sharda Raut, who currently holds the charge of the police HQ, will hold the additional 
charge of this cell till we find an appropriate officer to lead it," said a source. 
    The cell will be monitored by the joint commissioner of police (crime). It will have one DCP, two assistant commissioners of police, six police inspectors and 
two dozen police constables. The total strength of the CAWC will be 65. Police inspectors Sangita Patil and Neeta Phadke are the women officers selected to the cell. "The officers of this cell will be specially trained to tackle crime against women," said Addl CP (crime) Niket Kaushik. 
    The functioning of the CAWC, which will have two units, will be similar to that of other crime branch units, which conduct parallel probes into major crimes in the city. "While one unit will probe cases of rape, kidnapping, molestation and harassment, the other unit will investigate cases like dowry and harassment by in-laws," said JCP (crime) Himanshu Roy. 
    The CAWC will have its office in the upcoming building at the police HQ. Till then, it will operate out of the old administrative building. 

FAIR PLAY FOR FAIR PROBE 

    The first-of-its-kind crime detection cell for women will be headed by a deputy commissioner of police. It will have two units 
    The functioning of the cell will be monitored by the joint commissioner of police (crime) 

    It will have one DCP, two assistant commissioners of police, six police inspectors and two dozen police constables 
    The total strength of the special unit, which will comprise mostly women, will be 65

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