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Friday, December 26, 2008

Britons to be warned of nuclear disaster by SMS

London: A text message will be sent to 20,000 families living near a nuclear facility in the event of a radioactive disaster or emergency.
    The new 'emergency notification system' will be put into place next year to replace an existing siren that sounds in the event of a crisis.
    The current siren is regarded as an inadequate way of warning people living in Plymouth, Devon—an area which is described as "hazard rich"—due to the dockyard's nuclear facilities, its Royal Navy weapons depot, a large petrol terminal, a fuel depot and a gas pipeline. So in the event of a nuclear leak, residents living within a 2kilometre zone around the site will receive
a text message warning them of the danger, reported the Daily Telegraph.
    The messages will be sent to mobile phones and landlines, giving information on the incident and advice on what to do in order to protect themselves.
    Giles Perritt, Plymouth City Council's lead officer on civil protection, said: "It will be a warning not just of radiological threats but anything in that part of the city. "We have identified that the dockyard siren does not really do the trick in terms of letting people know quickly."
    Some residents have dismissed the idea as "ridiculous". Paul Jones from Plymouth, said: "What if your mobile is off or you're on the landline? AGENCIES

‘Next Asian disaster could kill a million’

Oz Report Says Population, Climate Change Will Only Add To Toll

Sydney: Asia-Pacific faces an era of large-scale natural disasters which could kill up to one million people at a time, with Indonesia, the Philippines and China most at risk, according to an Australian report.
    The Sydney Morning Herald cited a scientific report which found that the impact of natural events such as earthquakes and tsunamis would in coming years be amplified by rising populations and climate change.
    The paper said the report, by government body Geoscience Australia, had prompted prime minister Kevin Rudd and Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to create a joint disaster training and research centre. Geoscience Australia could not be reached for comment on Friday.
    The Herald said the Australian scientists had analysed the likelihood of earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis and volcanoes occurring in the region and then estimated the likely casualty toll.
    The study found that cities in
the Himalayan belt, China, Indonesia and the Philippines could experience earthquakes where the death toll could top one million.
    Indonesia and the Philippines were was also at risk of volcanoes which could affect hundreds of thousands of people while a low-lying country like Bangladesh could be ravaged by tsunamis, floods and cyclones.
    The study, part of an assessment by Australia and Indonesia on humanitarian crises, said catastrophes which killed more than 10,000 people were likely to occur several times each decade and there was the potential for events to affect more than one million people.
    The paper said that rising populations, climate change and food shortages could exacerbate natural events. Geoscience Australia scientist Alanna Simpson said the analysis looked at the data of natural events from the past 400 years to predict the likelihood of future events.
    "Whilst the incidence of nat
ural hazards themselves — earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the like — hasn't really changed, the sheer number of people living in the Asia-Pacific region means any earthquake has the potential to affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions," Simpson said.
    "If we worked out that parts of Alaska, for instance, are likely to have a volcanic eruption every 100 years, the impact of those events would be pretty low because there is no one living in those parts of Alaska, whereas the same frequency in Java will have a huge impact." AFP

DANGER ZONE: The temblor that struck China's Sichuan province in May took a heavy toll. The report says Indonesia, the Philippines and China are most at risk from natural disasters 

Schools step up disaster management

Crisis preparedness for students

Nirali Dixit-Hathi

Mumbai: While the debate of a mandatory military service for every Indian makes it to coffee-table discussions, the next best step being adopted in schools across Indian cities is setting up Disaster Management cells.
    Increasing incidents of natural calamities such as monsoon flooding, fire accidents, and now, terror strikes has lead to schools proactively training students and staff for such emergencies. Suggests Archana Tyagi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Mumbai Western Region), "After the 26 / 11 terror attacks, there was a spate of bomb hoaxes at educational institutes. Schools with disaster management in place are better equipped to avoid panic and control the situation till official security agencies and police reach. Schools must regularly conduct mock evacuation drills or even make disaster management a part of their curriculum, so that students can act quickly in an emergency.
    Be it CBSE centres across the country or the Council of the Boards of School Education, imparting formal training in disaster management to students of at least senior classes has now become the norm. Lectures on risk assessment and practicals on mock drills are in the syllabus in Ahmedabad schools under the Gujarat School Safety Initiative (GSSI) programme. Students learn first aid, fire safety, search and rescue operations too. In Chandigarh, basic lessons for junior classes, such as ducking for cover during a terror attack, not picking up any unidentified object and moving in a group in an emergency has been taken up. Going a step further, some school even teach students to be tolerant towards all religions and have feelings of national pride.
    States Joint Chief Fire Officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade, P D Karguppikar, "Installing public address systems, CCTVs and security systems in schools is a must, as is training staff to handle emergencies. Disaster management has to be integral into the educational system, with mock drills at least twice a month, if need be with assistance from the Fire Department or police."
    Several public schools, as well as government-aided and municipal schools in Mumbai are realising the need of being equipped for emergencies, especially after the 2005 deluge. Says Narendra Verma, Chairman, Jankidevi Public School, Mumbai, and President, International Schools Principal Management Foundation, "We had a bomb hoax call recently, and only because of our disaster management plan did we avoid panic among students. We took up a detailed disaster management plan after the July 26, 2005 flooding, when many schools had students stuck for almost three days without any facilities. Now, we have enabled a system to evacuate students and staff to safety."
    Adds Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Education), Mumbai, C B Rokde, "We are approaching Senior Police Inspectors to conduct mock evacuation drills in 1, 350 Mumbai schools for over four lakh students. Headmasters, teachers and other staff members will be trained for different emergencies, such as flooding and bomb hoaxes. We are also installing public address systems across schools in the coming week. Even disaster management workshops are planned from January 2009 onwards." Presently, in Maharashtra, a disaster preparedness project is also being formulated for schools. Says Suman Shinde, Education Inspector, South Mumbai region, "Deluge, riots and terror attacks have made students safety a priority. Thus the need for disaster management to be imbibed in curriculum has risen, and our project will take off in a fortnight."
    Sums up a child counsellor, "Training students for emergencies is necessary. However, schools must ensure they do not instil fear in students in any way. It should be done in a very matter-of-fact manner to avoid anxiety entering a child's mental framework."

Disaster management demonstration being carried out by Fire Brigade in a Mumbai school

Lack of TV norms lets terror take toll on kids

Post-26/11, 25% Rise In Children Suffering From Anxiety, Insomnia

Kounteya Sinha | TNN

New Delhi: India does not have a national guideline to regulate TV viewing among children. And it's seriously affecting the country's youth. Live images of Mumbai's recent siege by terrorists on TV—gun shots, bomb blasts, raging fires and charred bodies—have caused serious mental trauma among kids. Psychiatrists are seeing a 25% increase in the past one month of children suffering from anxiety and insomnia.
    Parents have no idea how much TV is safe. This made them allow their kids to stay glued to the TV, watching as Mumbai bled. Paediatricians, on the other hand, have no official regulation to refer to when examining children addicted to TV.
    Psychiatrist Dr Jitender Nagpal from Vimhans said, "Following the Mumbai attacks, we are seeing a stark increase in children suffering from insomnia, fear of going to school and anxiousness. WHO's recent report 'Violence and Health' clearly states how sounds of gunfights and its images can give kids nightmares, seriously putting at risk their personality development and affecting their sleep, appetite and motivation."
    "It is imperative that India comes out with guidelines specifying how much TV should children be allowed to watch and
what programmes are good for them."
    Paediatrician from Apollo hospital Dr Anupam Sibal said with changing social norms, largely unsupervised children are addicted to TV. "It's cutting down their physical activity, making them prone to obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The Mumbai attacks have shown us that time has come to develop TV viewing norms fit for Indian children," Dr Sibal said.
    Several western countries have in place such regulations. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2004 recommended that chil
dren under the age of two not be exposed to TV at all, while youngsters over the age of two be limited to no more than two hours of TV per day.
    Officials of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) also says it has similar regulations in place. But a funds crunch has jeopardized its efforts to popularize the regulations. Dr C P Bansal, head of IAP's adolescents wing, told TOI, "At present, we prescribe no TV for pre-school children and half-an-hour to one hour of TV viewing for children aged 2-18 years of age. No TV should be allowed in the children's bedroom. Children should sit at least 6-7 feet away from the TV screen."
    "Last year, we disseminated the guidelines in 13 states but could not continue because of lack of funds," Dr Bansal said.
    Paediatrician Dr S C Arya said the guidelines should be nationally propagated. "Parents must take active interest in monitoring TV viewing of their kids from early childhood. Parents must fix TV viewing hours per day/per week and adhere to them strictly. They must also approve the programmes children watch."

Matrimonial disputes harming kids: HC
New Delhi: The trauma of children whose parents are involved in matrimonial disputes has drawn the attention of the Delhi high court which said such couples often remain unmindful of the psychological, mental and physical impact it has on kids. "They are not only deprived of the love, care and affection of one of their parents but practically become targets for the parties to score over one another in this mad race and obsession to win possession, exclusive control and custody of the children,'' the HC said in a recent judgment. "Children whose parents seek divorce witness negative family interactions prior to the divorce and experience strained familial relationships after the divorce.'' AGENCIES

Now, liquid wood to replace plastics

 German researchers are ramping up a manufacturing technique for making intricate Nativity figurines, toys, and even hi-fi speaker boxes from a renewable and surprisingly versatile source: liquid wood.
    The bio-plastic dubbed Arboform, derived from wood pulp-based lignin, can be mixed with hemp, flax or wood fibers and other additives such as wax to create a strong, nontoxic alternative to petroleum-based plas
tics, according to its manufacturers.
    Crude oil is the basis of the chemical for plastics, said Norbert Eisenreich, a senior researcher and deputy of the directors at the Fraun
hofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Pfinztal, Germany.
    As the price of crude oil increases, he said, so does the price of plastics — and the interest in
finding replacements.
    The growing list of health concerns linked to plastic ingredients, such as heavy metals and softeners known as phthalates, also has increased the impetus to find a good substitute for manufacturing toys and other products.
    Liquid wood, Eisenreich said, combines the high stability and good acoustical properties of wood with the injection-molded capabilities of plastic. AGENCIES

Return of bird flu in Bengal worries min

New Delhi: Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Monday said the government is concerned about the recurrence of bird flu in West Bengal and asked all states to draw up plans to fight it.
    At a meeting attended by officials of health, home, environment, I&B and agriculture ministries, Ramadoss said he would write to all CMs and health ministers to upgrade the preparedness to deal with the disease.
    Expressing concern over the recurrence of bird flu in West Bengal, the minister appealed to the state government "to scale up its preparations and efforts to deal with the situation". He advised the state to carry out a "regular drill to deal with the disease, irrespective of the outbreak conditions".
    Last week, Bengal confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza and has so far culled 22,000 poultry in Malda. In early 2008, the disease had hit 13 districts following which over 200,000 birds were culled. Health authorities maintained that people in the affected areas are not cooperating with the culling teams, as poultry is a source of livelihood in several villages. IANS

A Ramadoss


From Constructing Dams To Building A Wax Museum On The Lines of London's Madame Tussauds, The BMC's Projects—If Implemented Diligently—Will Change The Face Of Mumbai

Sharad Vyas | TNN

The coffers of the country's richest municipal corporation may not exactly be swelling in the wake of the economic crisis, but despite setbacks, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to embark on some of its most ambitious initiatives in the coming year. From laying the foundation stone of the state's biggest and tallest dam to constructing a wax museum, on the lines of London's Madame Tussauds, on the anvil are projects which, if implemented diligently, will change the face of the city.
According to officials, the focus is on upgrading infrastructure and, at the same time, providing improved civic services to citizens. Come January you will be able to log on to a citizens'
portal and assess your property tax, obtain birth and death certificates, etc. For those who don't have access to the Internet, the reach of the civic Citizen Facilitation Centres (CFCs) will be extended to 90-odd Sify cyber cafes. Bill payments, including water charges, will also be made easier: an SMS to 57575 with details of your bill number will initiate the process.
    "With minimal expenditure, these simple steps will help citizens save on time, as they will no longer be required to run from one civic office to another to secure different permits, licences, certificates or to make bill payments,'' said V Radha, joint municipal commissioner.
    There's good news for vendors, too. From 2009, the BMC will also stagger its licencing system over three months, and provide an allin-one licence to vendors. At the moment, vendors have to queue up at the end of year to re
new or obtain multiple licenses, such as, a permit from the health department and trade licence in order to conduct business. "With the all-in-one licensing system, and staggering that over three months, this is set to change,'' said Radha.
The BMC is also thinking big in its infrastructure projects. It will be ushering in major multi-million infrastructure projects of water supply, sewerage and storm water drains, and so on.
Cynics, however, may raise an eyebrow or two, as collections from the BMC's two major sources of revenue—octroi and property tax—are plummeting. While the former's growth rate has dropped to around 15% from last year's 21%, collection from the latter has almost come to a standstill with a slump in the property market. But officials are confident that the pace of the projects will not slow down.
Funds are likely to flow under the Centre's Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM): alre a dy, work is underway on three major projects, including the Middle Vaitarna Water Supply Project, Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project II and Brimstowad, which promises to augment the city's storm water drains. "The focus next year will be on these three important projects. Even though these are expected to run into 2011, we don't want to relax and slow their growth. More pipelines will be laid, and shafts will be constructed to lift water from Middle Vaitarna. All this will gain more momentum next year,'' municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak told TOI.
Report card for 2008
Closure of the 25 hectare Gorai dumping ground at the cost of Rs 50 crore Introduction of smart cards for vehicle owners at five octroi nakas Measures were implemented to ensure that no flooding occurred in low-lying areas like Juhu Sterilisation of 13,152 strays Removal of 800 unauthorised structures as part of Brimstowad Collection a premium of Rs 74 crore on the additional .33 FSI on construction projects 119 owners of unauthorised hoardings were served with notices Under a BMC drive, 13,300 shop owners were prosecuted for not putting up Marathi name-boards

What the BMC has in mind for 2009
Expect better water supply under the Middle Vaitarana Water Supply Project. Costing over Rs 1,600 crore , major work will include the construction of a tunnel from Malabar Hill to Cross Maidan and a 500m dam on the Vaitarna River With the aim of upgrading the city's sewage system, several priority works are in the pipeline, such as the development of new pumping stations and treatment plants under the Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project (MSDP) II Several areas will get relief from floods as parts of Brimstowad projects will be implemented next year. A new reservoir at Worli—budgeted at Rs25 crore —will provide water to areas in Prabhadevi and Worli Citizens will be able to visit local Sify centres and log online to pay taxes, obtain certificates, etc An SMS to 57575 with your bill number will be enough to make payment. However, citizens will have to register for an ITZ card pre-paid card to avail of this facility. Vendors will no longer have to obtain separate licences to conduct business Major concretisation (CC) and asphalt works will be completed next year. In the Western and Eastern suburbs, 22- 24 roads will be concretised. Another 90-odd roads will be paved with asphalt. In the city, seven CC and 60 asphalt road projects will be taken up in South Mumbai

Sunday, December 14, 2008

BMC to upgrade fire alarm systems in city

The Rs 80 crore automated system will cut time it takes to reach areas of distress

The BMC is set to upgrade the fire alarm systems in the city, in a bid to reduce time taken by the fire brigades to get to areas where a fire may have broken out.
    The civic body will introduce the 'wireless addressable emergency communication system' with centralised monitoring, which are equipped to detect fire and relay such information to nearest fire stations, besides sending a message to the main control room at Byculla.
    "We have received the proposal from Electronic Corporation India Ltd. We will have the system in place
shortly, as soon as all the formalities are completed. The system will be installed at the cost of Rs 80 crore," said Kishore Gajbhiye, additional municipal commissioner.
    He explained that at present, information about fire are first relayed to the main control room, who in turn, inform the closest fire station. However, the new system will automatically relay such messages simultaneously to the nearest fire station as well as the main control room at Byculla.
    Installation of the system will occur in a systematic manner. In the first phase, BMC will install the systems at all ward offices, BMC hospitals and
auditoriums in the city. In the second phase, the devices will be connected to local fire stations or base stations. In the third stage, the base stations will be connected to a centralised monitoring system at the main fire control room at Byculla. In the last stage, all the stations will be connected to the main disaster management cell or BMC headquarters.
    "The system will be especially effective during public holidays. As they are automated, they can detect and send messages on their own. We will also ask residential complexes, educational institutions, multiplexes, malls and private hospitals to install them," said Gajbhiye.

The main control room at Byculla will receive the automated messages from the system

Are you a worrywart?

Security from terror and the economy may be our first concern today, but a survey of the average Indian's worry index gives Times Life some interesting insights, reports Nona Walia

 IT'S 3 a.m., and you're awake — palms sweaty, mind racing. You're worried about your life. Your kids. Your parents. Your promotion. What are people thinking about you? The sad truth about modern life is: We're becoming worrywarts! We worry about everything! We worry about the 'what-ifs' in life. In an all-India survey by Times Life across eight cities, we asked worriers to write down everything that bothered them; 80 per cent people worried most about their family, 75 per cent about relationships. All Indians were worried about losing their self-esteem!
    Risking one's self-respect is sure to result in tense moments. Says actor Zulfi Sayed, "When we were inside Bigg Boss in confinement, we worried about our image. How are we being shown, what are people thinking about us? It became an obsession."
    Top worries are personal health, money, relation
ships followed by crime, the cost of living, terrorism and children's future. But silly worries count too: A teenager worries that her mom may find her secret diary, another schoolgirl worries about her dog being fat.
    Interestingly, 80 per cent people in
Mumbai w o r r y about m o n - e y o ve r family or relationships. They are also concerned about what people think about them. While 80 per cent Delhiites and Bangaloreans worry mainly about relationships, people in A h m e d - abad really w o r r y about losing their self-respect.
    Interestingly, in his book, The Worry Cure, author Robert Leahy writes, worriers respond differently to frightening situations than other
people. They stay upset, rather than becoming less anxious over time. According to Psychology Today, worry is often like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn't necessarily get you anywhere. Says spiritual guru Ma Naina, from Osho Delhi, "To put an end to worries, you have to live in the present — then, there's no past and no future!"
Says spiritual guru Thich Nhat Hanh, "We spend spirit energy when we worry. It saturates us."
So, are we wired to worry? In these terror times, we're all worried about our security. Says Poonam Verma, vice-chairman of Property Guards, security agency, "I've had women wanting to know how to safeguard themselves, how to use weapons, men wanting to know if sniffer dogs can protect them, parents wanting to train kids to deal with panic. Corporates are worried about bomb threats." There are different kinds of worriers too. Chandrashekhar H. Panara, 21, a mountaineering instructor says, "I worry about small things that I can't control!"
The good thing about worrying is it can mobilise us into action. Like
Anuja Chauhan, author of Zoya Factor, who worries about whether her kids are eating right. "I don't worry about long-term stuff," she says.
Most worry today is about everyday
things rather than longterm threats. Says classical dancer Geeta Chandran, "I worry about old age. Small, daily irritants can be bothersome. Right now, the economic downturn is occupying a lot of my mind space. I think also about how there's lack of sensitivity today." Evolution may have given us the opportunity to worry, but that doesn't mean we should take the bait. Gitanjali Prasad, author of The Great Indian Family agrees, "Indians worry too much. Most worry about loss of a dear one. Losing your health is also a reason for anxiety."
    It seems people also worry a lot before they make big, life-changing decisions. But there's no need to kill yourself with worry. Says TV actor Hiten Tejwani, "I think a lot before making career decisions. My
wife, Gauri Pradhan also worries about small things."
    The website reallyworried.com logs 853 health worries, 580 current affairs worries, 333 money worries. That's a lot of worrying going around the world. Says its founder Richard Rubin, "I was a chronic worrier. I wanted people to have a place to share thoughts on worrying."
    Bosnian fitness expert Vesna wants to help create a worry-free world, "Indians worry about small things. We waste our lives worrying, but it can't change anything. So, why worry?"

1. Chennai 2. Mumbai 3. Bangalore 4. New Delhi 5. Hyderabad 6. Kanpur 7. Kolkata 8. Pune 9. Lucknow 10. Ahmedabad
ShareI Reveal your worries by talking. RelaxI Learn to let go and relax. DietI Cut down on caffeine and spicy food. DrinkI Avoiding alcohol keeps you in control of your worries.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Services for Senior Citizens

Telephone connection is given on priority to senior citizens aged 65 years and above.They are entitled to registrer their demand for one telephone connection in their names.The telephones thus provided is transferable only in the name of spouse, if alive after death of the subscriber as a general category telephone and subsequent transfers is governed by prevailing telephone transfer rules.
Helpage India, Chennai: HelpAge India has a helpline for elders in Chennai city, with the association of Chennai Police.This helpline is operating from the office of the City Police Commissioner.
    Agewell Helpline, Delhi: Agewell Foundation has set up a helpline for senior citizens in Delhi.The volunteers are constantly available to attend to matters of medical or psychological nature, as well as legal and financial advice. Help line numbers are: 2983 6484, 2983 0484.
    Heritage Helpline, Hyderabad: Elders can access this helpline (No. 23390000) daily from 8am to 8pm, except on Sundays and national holidays.Trained volunteers provide counselling, health assistance and referral services.
    Nightingale Helpline, Bangalore: The Nightingale Medical Trust, Bangalore runs a 24-hour, toll-free Elder's helpline (no.1090) that counsels elders, reconciles family disputes, provides information and renders advocacy services.
The Hon'ble Chief Justice of India has advised Chief Justice of all High Courts in the country to accord priority to cases involving older persons and ensure their expededitious disposal.
    Mumbai High Court has announced that it would give out-of-turn priority to hearing and disposal of petitions wherein litigants have crossed 65 years of age.The High Court decision would also be applicable to its benches at Goa,Aurangabad and Nagpur besides the subordinate courts in the State. It would extend to all the matters including civil or criminal pending in any court of law.
The Mobile Medicare Unit (MMU) Programme is the only programme directly implemented by HelpAge India to provide basic essential medicare at the door steps of needy and underprivileged elderly in India. Presently, HelpAge India has a fleet of 55 directly-controlled MMUs.These are at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad,Ahmedabad, Pune, Nagpur, Lucknow, Jammu, Faridabad, Chandigarh, Bhadohi, Bhubaneshwar, Paradeep and Bikaner.
Post Offices, Banks offer a higher interest for investments.
There are two magazines specifically for elderly Dignity Dialogue brought out by Dignity Foundation and Senior Heritage Selections by Heritage Medical Centre.The publications deal with a wide spectrum of issues, starting from the indignity of elder abuse to alternative medicine, to some philosophy and some inspirational material. Moreover, they provide a forum for the elderly to express their opinions and creativity.
Delhi police has introduced some special schemes for the safety of senior citizens under which the beat officers in the area have been directed to make a list of senior citizens and help ensure a secure environment for them. Under the plan, the local SHO will visit them every first Saturday of the month and the beat constable will visit once a week on Sunday. In Delhi, senior citizens can mail to the Commissioner of Police on the following address about any sort of crime/ harassment: 'Commissioner of Police, P B No.171, GPO, New Delhi'
    Courtesy: www.helpageindia.org

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Most cos lack disaster management plans

 MUMBAI may slowly be returning to normalcy after the terror attack, but most Indian organisations could lack the same resilience. A terror attack on any of India's IT or financial service processing firms could paralyse them for days and possibly cause irreparable damage, fear experts.
    A yet-to-be-released survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found that only a small percentage of Indian organisations — around 12% — carries out a detailed risk assessment and chalks out threat scenario-based plans. The survey — carried out among 140 firms — however, notes that there is progressively higher awareness compared to previous annual surveys. "It is evident from the industry responses that while we have done a lot in the past couple of years compared to the preceding decade, we still have a long way to go in our disaster readiness," said Nikhil Donde, managing consultant, PwC.
    "We've come a long way compared to a few years ago. There is an appreciation that 'it can happen to me'. After 9/11, most firms have a basic plan of redundancy — back-up is done largely by all organisations. They also use multiple service providers for connectivity," agreed KPMG executive director (IT advisory) Akhilesh Tuteja.
    Most two-year contracts today also have a business continuity clause, according to Mr Tuteja. But process capability and people availability are overlooked, he said. For instance, if one facility is destroyed in a terror attack, how soon will it take for the process to be serviced from the second location — 2 hours, 5 hours or 2 days? Most organisations also assume people availability. If people working in
one location are lost, then does the second location have people with those skills? "That is one of the big threats, but which is rarely taken into account," he said.
    "Disaster recovery plans are like an insurance you may never use," said Mr Donde. "In today's environment, every bit of money saved matters to your margins. This is a paradox as they don't help you grow your business. If you replicate your entire infrastructure in a different location, it may be like over-kill." Of all the organisations PwC polled in India, around 17% had no formal business continuity or disaster recovery plans, but were aware of the need for it. Around 48% of the responding firms identified that preparing business continuity and disaster recovery plans was the prime objective in the current year.

Around 12% of firms in India carry out detailed risk assessment and chalk out threat scenario-based plans
17% had no formal business continuity or disaster recovery plans
48% of firms identified that preparing business continuity and disaster recovery plans was the prime objective this year

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the largest citizens’ rally in recent times

SHOW OF ARMS: The mood at what must have been the largest citizens' rally in recent times was more combative than peaceful. Thousands, including many from GenNext and relatives of the terror victims, gathered at the Gateway on Wednesday to protest the attacks by Pak-based terrorists and the government's inability to protect its citizens.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



 MUMBAI, INDIA'S largest city and financial nerve centre, came under a terrorist attack of unprecedented ferocity on Wednesday evening. The city was under siege at the time of going to press. A dozen landmark locations, including the storied Mumbai landmarks like the CST station and the Taj and Oberoi hotels, Napean Sea Road, Bombay Hospital, Metro Cinema — all came under savage assault from terrorists who used grenades and guns. A petrol pump near Gateway Of India too was blown up in a grenade attack.Gun battles between the police and attackers were raging at the time this article was written.At least 80 people were reported killed. Two terrorists were also killed in a gun battle at Girgaum, Chowpatty. Some terrorists were holed up inside city's famous landmarks — the Taj and Oberoi hotels.In fact,the Oberoi lobby was on fire. Many CEOs, including the global CEO of a leading consumer goods manufacturer and some leading bankers, were reportedly inside these hotels. In fact, as many as 15 at the Taj and 40 at the Oberoi were held hostage.
    'Encounter specialist' Vijay Salaskar and ATS chief Hemant Karkare were reportedly killed in the shootouts. Another IPS officer of ACP rank Ashok Kamte is also reported to have been killed. There were no official confirmations of these reports at the time of writing. Late in the night, there were reports that the National Security Guard (NSG) had been deployed.There are also unconfirmed reports that the army might be deployed.The terrorists were looking for people with British and US passports, according to a foreign tourist quoted in a television report.
    Sounds of explosion and firing could be heard from the Times of India building, which is opposite the CST station, late in the evening.The building was sealed off as people ran across the street in panic.
Attacks bring back memories of 1993 blasts
    THIS series of attacks has left the city completely shell-shocked, reviving painful memories of the 1993 serial blasts. What really caught the state unawares is the new modus operandi adopted by the terror groups. Instead of the more familiar suicide bomb attacks, the terrorists took over the streets, hotels, hospitals and station, catching everybody by surprise. They fired indiscriminately, killing many in the process.
    The first incident took place at around 10.25 pm when bullets, apparently from automatic weapons, were fired at police and paramilitary forces outside the Taj Hotel in south Mumbai. Around the same time shooting was reported at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus police station in which six people were injured.
    Police immediately cordoned off the CST Railway Terminus, a crowded place at this time of the evening, and stopped entry of people. Unidentified gunmen also opened fire with automatic weapons and caused explosions at Cafe Leopold on Colaba Causeway. In all, the firing and explosions at Cafe Leopold and inside CST stations killed two to three persons and injured around 30.
    The attack at CST station was reported to be the most daring with gunmen reportedly carrying the AK-47 opening fire at an extreme
ly busy hour. Train services to CST were immediately suspended. A few minutes later a blast was reported at Santa Cruz station and another at a petrol pump near Gateway of India.
    According to police officials and eyewitness accounts, at least two terrorists were holed up inside the CST station for around two hours.
    The worst hit was hotel Oberoi. A group of terrorists blew up bombs and took position at different locations in this 35-storied hotel. Two persons armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades are reportedly holding up inside the Hotel.
    The Maharashtra government, meanwhile, issued a high alert all across the state. The government has also decided to deploy special forces on all key locations. The state director general of police AN Roy late tonight indicated that a couple of terrorists have been holed up in Oberoi Hotel located at the tony Nariman Point.
    Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has cut short his Kerala visit and is returning to Mumbai. Mr Deshmukh spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh informing him about the situation in the state capital.
    So far, though, no terrorist group has claimed any responsibility, the police suggested an involvement of "major terror" group behind what appears to be "well thought of attacks".



NIGHTMARE: Taj, Oberoi, CST, Santa Cruz Airport, Colaba And 2 Hospitals Among 8 Places Attacked By Terrorists, Killing 78 And Injuring 900 | Three Senior Police Officers, Including ATS Chief Hemant Karkare, Killed | 40 People, Including Foreigners, Taken Hostage | Firing By Terrorists Continues At Hotels, Cama & GT

Mumbai: In one of the most violent terror attacks on Indian soil, Mumbai came under an unprecedented night attack as terrorists used heavy machine guns, including AK-47s, and grenades to strike at the city's most high-profile targets—the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway and the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point; the domestic airport at Santa Cruz; the Cama and GT hospitals near CST; the Metro Adlabs multiplex and Mazgaon Dockyard—killing at least 78 and sending more than 900 to hospital, according to preliminary reports at the time of this edition going to press.
    The attacks have taken a tragic toll on the city's top police brass: High-profile chief of the anti-terrorism squad Hemant Karkare, additional commissioner (ATS) Ashok Kamte and celebrated encounter specialist Vijay were gunned down. Besides, ten constables have been critically wounded. Nine terrorists were caught and two shot dead in the course of the seemingly endless nightmare. A group of women and children were holed up in a ward of Cama Hospital with some terrorists raining fire from the fourth floor of the building, according to government spokesperson Bhushan Gagrani.
    The attacks appeared to be aimed at getting international attention as the terrorists took up to 40 British nationals and other foreigners hostage. The chairman of Hindustan Unilever Harish Manwani and CEO of the company Nitin Paranjpe were among the guests trapped at the Oberoi. All the internal board members of the multinational giant were reported
to be holed up in the Oberoi hotel.
    Some media reports attributed the attack to Lashkar-e-Taiba. A TV channel claimed that it had received an email from an organisation called Deccan Mujahideen
claiming responsibility for the coordinated terror attacks. There were also unconfirmed reports that some of the terrorists came in by sea. A boat laden with explosives was reportedly recovered later at night off the Gateway of India.
    Well after midnight, sources said two of the terrorists were shot and wounded at Girgaum in south Mumbai. The two were driving in a commandeered silver-coloured
Skoda car. Earlier, these men had sprayed bullets from a police Bolero, outside the Metro Adlabs multiplex.
    The attacks occurred at the busiest places in the metropolis.
Besides hotels and hospitals, terrorists struck at Metro Junction, Crawford Market, Wadi Bunder and on the Western Express Highway near the airport. Many of the sites attacked are in close proximity to the police commissioner's office. "This is definitely a terrorist strike. Seven places have been attacked with automatic weapons and grenades. Terrorists are still holed up in three locations—Taj and Oberoi hotels and G T Hospital. Encounters are on at all three places,'' said Maharashtra DGP A N Roy.
Anti-terror chief, encounter cop dead
Three senior police officers—ATS Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and addl commissioner Ashok Kamte—were killed in the terror strike on the city. Ten other police personnel have been injured seriously.

Firing around several landmark buildings in Colaba-Nariman Point area, including Taj Gateway hotel and Oberoi Trident hotel
    Top floor of Oberoi was said to be on fire amid reports of blasts in the area; blood-smeared bodies were brought out of Taj lobby
    Firing and blasts also reported from Mazgaon, the Metro Junction, Crawford Market and Colaba
    2 men sprayed bullets outside Metro multiplex. Both later killed
    Firing and bombing apparently began close to Gateway of India just before 10pm. The gunbattle then moved towards CST and raged on for over 45 minutes
    About 20 European Union MPs are believed to be staying at the Taj. Their safety is yet to be ascertained
'Some terrorists may be hiding in CST'
    St George's Hospital and G T Hospital were said to have received 75 bodies and more than 250 injured people, additional municipal commissioner R A Rajeev said. Bombay Hospital got two bodies and 30 injured people were admitted there; Cooper Hospital at Vile Parle got three dismembered bodies.
    Three of the deaths occurred inside the Taj and one G T Hospital attendant died in a shootout inside the hospital. There were reports of people cowering under tables and chairs at both the Taj as well as G T Hospital. Metro Junction resident Manoj Goel said: "My brother, Manish, died in the firing at Colaba's Hamaal Galli.''
    Cops fired back at the men—probably from one of the Lashkar groups, dressed in black and with backpacks and SRPF, Crime Branch, ATS and teams of military commandos were summoned to the spot. Train services at CST were suspended and all roads leading to and from south Mum
bai were blockaded.
    Chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh promised "stringent action'' against the assailants but the mood across Mumbai was not so optimistic.
    There were reports of firing around several landmark buildings in the Colaba-Nariman Point area, including the Taj hotel, Oberoi and other tourist attractions and pubs like Leopold's. The first two floors of the Oberoi were said to be on fire amid reports of blasts in the area and blood-smeared bodies being brought out of the Taj lobby. Terrorists were said to be holed up at the Taj as well as G T Hospital and cops scampered to cordon off these places. A white flag was seen fluttering from an Oberoi Hotel window around 11.20 pm, where a blast was said to have occurred.
    The blast on the Western Express Highway—near Centaur Hotel outside the airport—occurred in a vehicle, deputy commissioner of police Nissar Tamboli said.
    The firing and bombing started close to the Gateway of India. The gunbattle
then moved on towards CST and raged on for over an hour from 10 pm, sending commuters running out of the station.
    The assailants also fired into the crowd at CST and people on the trains and then ran out of the station themselves and into neighbouring buildings, including Cama Hospital, after being challenged by cops.
    SRPF personnel then entered the iconic BMC building, just opposite CST, to take aim at the assailants, BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak said. "We fear some of the assailants are still inside the station and we want to catch them if they come out,'' a police official said.
    Vikhroli police station senior inspector Habib Ansari was on his way to work from his Colaba home when he saw two armed men, with sophisticated weaponry, trying to run into bylanes near the Gateway of India. "I rushed back to Colaba and all policemen, including GRP and RPF personnel, were called up,'' he added.
    Just before going to press, fresh blasts were reported at the Taj and Oberoi Trident.

Top: A policeman gives water to an injured child in hospital, Above: A vehicle blown up in Vile Parle

FACES OF TERROR: Two of the assailants at CST during the gunbattle

A picture of one of the assailants, taken by our photographer from the window of the TOI office in Mumbai

NIGHT OF TERROR: (Clockwise from top) Bystanders duck for cover as terrorists open fire at Metro junction. A dog squad inspects the Skoda that was used by the terrorists Policemen cordon off the Oberoi



Two armed young men calmly walked into CST... opened fire on seeing me click photographs

Mirror photographer Satish Malavade almost got shot at CST

    Iwas on the way to Colaba after being told about firing near Leopold Cafe when I heard gunfire near CST. I got off my bike, parked it and entered the subway that led to the railway station. Passengers were running away from CST via the subway. My attention was drawn to a man sitting on the footpath. A closer inspection revealed he had been hit by a bullet. I again made my way towards CST, this time on road. Policemen had already reached the spot and were asking passengers to evacuate. I was warned about gunfire and told to turn away.
    I sneaked up the stairs to peek inside the station. I saw two men, holding guns, calmly walking towards the platforms for suburban trains from the section where long-distance trains depart. I began shooting pictures even as they walked through the metal detectors to enter the lounge. On seeing me shooting pictures, one of the men opened fire at me and a constable beside me. Thankfully, the bullets did not hit us. Some more cops immediately dragged me away from the spot. From the accounts of passers-by, I gathered that there were at least 6 armed terrorists in and around CST.

As soon as we heard the sound of gunfire outside our VT office, I went down with our photographer Sachin Haralkar to see crowds running towards the CST foot overbridge.The securitymen were pulling down the shutters at the main gate of the Times of India building. I walked past the VT bus stop and was at the entrance to the subway on the Times of India side when across the road, I saw three policemen standing close to the CST entrance and firing.
    Some photographers were trying to take cover behind the subway arches and shoot pictures. Then I saw a man lying on the road... I can't say if he was injured, or just trying to take cover ... I saw him moving...
    People in the crowd said he had been injured in cross-firing and was moved out of the firing line by one of the photographers. Then I heard two more shots and two loud bangs from deep inside CST, which sounded much louder than the firing. To my horror, I saw a man wearing black clothes running out and collapsing at the CST entrance. He was taken away in a police van.
    When an almost empty bus arrived at the bus stop, all the people taking cover in various places jumped out and got into it, and the bus quickly left.
    I tried to look for cover as I saw the same three policemen firing towards the CST entrance. The crowd started running towards the Times building... by the time I entered the building through the small gate in the shutter, the crowd behind me had fallen behind and an armed policeman had taken position near the building.
    — Sumedha Mahorey

    PLATFORM 1 & 13
After hearing that there were blasts outside Olympia Coffee House, Colaba, I went outside to investigate. I dropped by to check at CST station and saw people hiding inside trains. Announcements were being made asking people to remain inside the trains and not to venture out.The entire suburban platforms were empty. At the long-distance platforms, we saw some people lying down on the ground.
There were two men there, carrying rucksacks, who were firing outside platform 1 and 13. They were also throwing hand grenades. On seeing us, they started running after us.We fled and the police also started running in the same direction. We hid near the Cannon pav bhaji stalls across the BMC building and saw a grenade explode outside the BMC building.Two people were firing and we saw them move towards the Cama and Albless Hospital.
A blast has also been reported in a taxi near the Santacruz airport on the Western Express highway at around 10.pm. Two reportedly died on spot. — Abhijeet Sathe

Igot a call from Taj Mahal Hotel informing me of the firing there.While leaving the Mirror office, on a bike, Satish Malavade and I heard blasts inside CST. We parked our bikes there and on stepping inside saw two men firing. After clicking their pictures, Satish and I tried stepping out of the station. That's when the terrorists followed us. Meanwhile, the cops were busy asking people to leave the station immediately. Had they not done that the toll would have been much more. The terrorists followed us and the cops outside.
    The GRP started taking their positions outside CST and we too took our positions. I found myself standing next to a man in civilian clothes. On being asked he told me he was with the GRP. He asked me to sit down saying, "The terrorists are coming this way. Sit down." The next moment there was a gunshot and he said he had been hit.
    I crawled five meteres towards Flora Fountain and asked the cops to take him to a hospital. Nobody was ready. Eventually two cops and one man in plain clothes came with me and took him away to the hospital. Had the cop not pushed me down, I might have been the one to take that shot.
    — Raju Shinde
    Iwas buying medicines from a chemist shop next to Leopold Cafe, when the firing occured within 20 metres from him.
    "When I heard continuous gun shots, I thought them to be noisy fire crackers. But when I saw two men lying injured and bleeding on the road next to the footpath, I learnt that two men with AK-47 weapons were firing indiscriminately at people outside
the Cafe. A foreigner lady was also injured, other than three others who were taken into shops that had downed shutters immediately. I could hear hand grenades being thrown too. It was unfortunate that the Colaba police was a stone's throw from there and despite it being the most secure area of the city, for almost 15 minutes, there were no cops on the scene."
    — Businessman Ajay Pancholi

This photograph was taken by Satish Malavade immediately after the terrorist (on the right) shot dead a man (left) at CST station

The man in the white shirt is the GRP man who asked Raju Shinde to sit and was then hit by a bullet

There was a blast in a taxi on a service road, off the Western Express Highway near Vile Parle, at 11.30 pm. There were two people in the vehicle at that time and both died


Terrorists equipped with AK-47s and hand grenades attacked at least five locations across Mumbai on Wednesday night killing at least 80 people (7 among them policemen) and injuring 250. The terrorists, young men, wearing T-shirts, trousers and helmets, were carrying heavy rucksacks and were firing ramdomly. They also threw hand grenades towards the people. While two of them were killed at Girgaum Chowpatty, nine of them were eventually arrested.

    Around 9.30 pm, the miscreants first attacked the Trident (Oberoi) Hotel at Churchgate and then moved towards Leopold Cafe in Colaba, behind the Taj Hotel. Television grabs showed an attacker climbing up the stairs inside Trident Hotel. The attackers then divided into groups of two and barged into the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) stations, where the commuters were waiting for trains to go back home.
    Although the police resisted the attackers at CST station, the men managed to retaliate with hand grenades. The CST station was immediately evacuated after the firing began at around 10 pm, which went on for about half an hour. More than 10 rounds of firing were heard from inside the CST station. Around 10.50 pm, however, the firing inside CST station resumed. People waiting for long distance trains were lying injured at the platform after being hit by bullets. ATS chief Hemant Karkare received a bullet to his chest. His condition is not known.
    A grenade was thrown at a taxi in Dongri, killing the taxi driver. People in the surrounding area later managed to extricate his body from the wreckage.
    Around 10.40 pm, two of the men were seen exiting the CST station, and moving towards the Cama Hospital. They then threw a grenade on the canopy of subway near the BMC building. Additional Commissioner, East region, Ashok Kamte, and senior inspector Vijay Salaskar (Anti-Extortion Cell) died in the firing outside Cama Hospital. Another additional commissioner Sadanand Date suffered bullet injuries. Although initial reports were scattered, it has been learnt that the injured were rushed to Bombay Hospital, St George Hospital and Cama Hospital. Among the injured is one female foreigner.
    Around 30 people were rushed to Bombay Hospital alone, while 40 were sent to St George Hospital. Some others were also admitted to JJ Hospital and GT Hospital. At the time of going to press, six people succumbed to their injuries.
    Reports also came in about a blast inside a taxi at the Western Express Highway at Vile Parle near Santacruz Airport. The blast was so powerful that the door of the taxi flew off and got lodged on a tree. Cops say it could be that the terrorists were headed to the airport. There were also an incident of firing at Napeansea Road. Meanwhile, two of the attackers entered Cama Hospital at CST and threw grenades in the campus. Two staffers were killed in the attack.
    Dr Saleha, a resident doctor at the neo-natal intensive care unit at Cama Hospital, said, "We were on the second floor when we saw an armed man go up the third floor. There was firing inside our hospital campus, and I later saw two of our ward boys lying in a pool of blood on the ground floor."
    Dr Akash Akinwar, a lecturer from Government Dental College in CST, was having his dinner at Olympia restaurant. "Suddenly, we saw men firing towards the restaurant. We just stooped down to save ourselves,"he said. Meanwhile, at the new Taj Mahal Hotel building, suspected militants opened fire inside the hotel leaving at least two dead and several injured. The watchman at the hotel said he saw a man inside the lobby wearing a red shirt and brandishing an AK-47 shouting that he was a "desh bhakt". He says the man appeared drunk. The dead and injured hotel guests, mostly foreigners, were seen being brought out on luggage trolleys. The injured have been taken to Bombay Hospital. At the time of going to press, a group of policemen had gone inside the Taj and gunshots could be heard. There was also a bag lying at the gate of the hotel and the bomb
squad had been called in to inspect it. Injured guests who were brought out said there were at least five militants inside the hotel who were locked in a gunbattle with the cops. Some of the militants were also seen at the windows of some rooms in the hotel, shouting to the people outside to leave the area.
    Two grenades were also thrown
from the rooms causing deafening blasts outside the hotel. Half an hour later, there were two more blasts at the top floor of the old Taj building and smoke was seen billowing out of the rooms from the top floors. TV channels reported that there were 5 terrorists holed up in room 631. At 1.30 pm there was another blast at the ground floor of the old Taj building.
At least 60 top brass of Uniliver are stuck inside the Taj after getting caught in the terrorist gunfire on Wednesday night. They were in the hotel since 5 pm at a meeting. A Patil, the driver of D Sundaram, one of the executives, said he had called up his boss at around 10.30 pm and was told that all the executives were safe inside the hotel. Sundaram said the executives were being kept on the first floor of the hotel.
    The attackers had also entered a residential building at Colaba.
    Three policemen were also injured at the Vidhan Sabha. A BP petrol pump was also blown up at Colaba at 12.15 pm. At around 12.30 at Metro junction, the terrorists drove by in a police jeep that they had seized and opened fire at the crowd of journalists and cops standing there. One cop was badly injured while a cameraman sustained minor injuries. They then drove towards Marine Drive.
    At the time of going to press, there were reports that two terrorists had been shot dead at Girgaum Chowpatty area. Cops also found a explosives inside a boat at Gateway The army, navy and CRPF having called in to assist the police.


Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) Chief Hemant Karkare was shot dead by the terrorists, while he was heading an operation against the terrorists near the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba on Wednesday night. Karkare, who was appointed the ATS chief only on January 22 this year succumbed to injuries after three bullets were fired at his chest by a terrorist. Karkare was leading a team of three police personnel, who were trying to nab the terrorists inside the Taj. Karkare was the brain behind the team presently investigating the Malegaon blasts. His colleagues say he was always calm and composed, and was a brilliant investigator.
    Karkare was Mumbai Police Joint Commissioner (Administration) before he was appointed at the post of state ATS chief. Karkare, who was a 1982 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, was also a Bachelor of Engineering from Vishveshvarayya Regional Engineering in Nagpur.

Vijay Salaskar was said to be the last encounter specialist left in Mumbai police's cap. In the wee hours of Thursday as Salaskar breathed his last and as the news of his demise spread, cops across the city mourned his death. "His encounters were genuine. He was very different from the rest," said a senior cop barely managing to control his tears. Salaskar was part of Mumbai police for 25 years. A 1983 batch officer, he started off as a sub inspector. Hailing from Kolhapur, he always said that he was inspired to join the force since childhood. With around 70 encounters to his credit, he was currently posted as senior inspector of anti extortion cell. Salaskar's career as a cop, like other encounter specialists was shrouded by controversy. Not long ago he was sidelined for unearthing the gutka-underworld nexus. After a recent shoot out in Powai in which he shot dead two gangsters, he was facing a legal suit from the family of the deceased.

People lie dead in the waiting area for long distance trains

A shop-owner at CST was downing his shutters when he was shot in his abdomen. There was no help in sight (r)A policeman shot in his chest falls to the ground

This man, shot inside CST, managed to walk to the subway entrance near Capitol cinema

After shooting passangers in the waiting area for long distance trains, the two terrorists walk to the local platforms

Locals and the plain clothes policemen help to take the victims who were shot to a nearby hospital



Some well-armed young men walked into CST on Wednesday night and opened fire at innocents. Similar scenes were witnessed in several parts of the city. Our photographer Satish Malavade almost got shot while clicking one of the terrorists. Read his first-person account on PAGE 4. Among the victims were several policemen, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare and encounter cop Vijay Salaskar. Some cops lost their lives saving civilians.
ATS chief, encounter specialist among at least 80 killed in firing, blasts carried out by 30-odd terrorists on Wednesday night
9:20 PM: Firing outside Trident (Oberoi) Hotel at Nariman Point 9:30 PM: Firing outside Leopold Cafe at Colaba 9:40 PM: Firing at Nariman Pt, behind Taj Hotel 9:45 PM: Firing inside CST station for half an hour 10:30 PM: Firing at BMC HQ (gate no 2) 10: 35 PM: Firing at Azad Maidan police station 10:40 PM: Attackers move towards Cama Hospital and continue firing 10:50 PM: Firing resumes inside CST station 10:50 PM: Firing near Azad Maidan police station 10: 50 PM: Firing at Metro junction 11:00 PM: Blast in taxi at Vile Parle 11PM: Another blast at Dongri 11:10 PM: Firing at Napeansea Road 11:30 PM: Petrol pump near Metro Jn blown up 12:15 AM: Firing resumes at Taj, Trident Hotel 12.30 AM: Terrorists seize police van, open fire randomly at Metro junction, drive to Marine Drive

ATS chief Hemant Karkare

Senior PI Vijay Salaskar

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