Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cox & Kings' 'Free Fly to Kashmir' Holiday


PUNE: Cox & Kings Ltd., a tour operator announced the 'Free Fly to Kashmir' packages in its bid to promote Kashmir Tourism under its domestic brand 'Bharat Deko'. The unique initiative offers free airfare ex New Delhi, thus making the package attractive.

'Glorious Kashmir' and 'Kashmir Delight' are the two packages announced for both who wish to opt for Group Tours and those who want to independently plan their holiday. The special packages were formally launched by Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Director, Tourism Kashmir along with Yusuf Poonawala, Senior VP, Cox & Kings at the Nigeen Club, Srinagar.

The packages that span for a week have been specially crafted to offer a holistic Kashmir experience with price starting from only Rs 22,099. The Free Fly tours will allow the tourists explore Kashmir's pristine nature, the local culture and history.

Sonamarg, also called The Meadow of Gold, Thajwas Glacier, Pahalgam, the valley of Shepherds, the 9th-century temple complex of Awantisvamin and Betaab Valley that is named after Bollywood movie Betaab are a few of the many sites that have been included in the tour.

Mahmood Ahmad Shah, Director Tourism Kashmir hailed Cox & Kings' efforts in promoting the state. The 'Free Fly to Kashmir' packages were launched after much deliberation and visit of the special marketing team of Cox & Kings from all states of the country to significant tourist destinations.

While addressing the audience, Yusuf Poonawala, Senior VP, Cox & Kings said," Kashmir is on the priority list of the travellers. This offer will further boost tourist influx into Kashmir"

The package offer is valid for travel period 01st Jan to 30th June 2018

Glorious Kashmir (Fit Tours)               
Duration: 07 Days / 06 Nights
Srinagar – Pahalgam – Gulmarg – Sonmarg
Travel Period: 1st Jan to 31st March 2018                            
Price: INR 22,099*

Kashmir Delight (Group Tours)
Duration: 07 Days / 06 Nights
Srinagar – Pahalgam – Gulmarg – Sonmarg
Travel Period: 1st April – 30th June 2018

Price: INR 26,260*

Sunburn haunts New Year’s Eve party earnings


PUNE: With many people flocking to the Sunburn music festival and other new places in and around the city, the ticket sales for the New Year's Eve events and parties have reduced by 30-50% in many of the older hotels and restaurants.

Sayaji, Pune, which has planned an Arabian soiree at its venues in Turque and Portico, has managed to sell only about one-thirds of its tickets. "This is a long weekend with many partygoers travelling to celebrate the New Year 's Eve elsewhere. Moreover, Pune is hosting the Sunburn music festival again this year, and many revellers will be attending the music festival. That is why there is a dip in ticket sales," Prantik Ray, the GM of Sayaji, explained.

Neerav Panchamia, the president of Poona Hoteliers' Association, cited the opening of new restaurants as the reason for poor ticket sales. "The crowds have been divided. Also, as the New Year's Eve is on a weekend this time, many people have gone out of town," he said.

Quoting a 30-50% dip in ticket sales at most party venues in general, a prominent city hotelier said many people are opting for private parties because of strick drink-and-drive checks. "People want to avoid the hassle. They want to celebrate with their friends and family at private parties - where the food and drinks service is better - instead of spending time at crowded venues," he said.

Reflecting the sentiment, party-hopper Aniket Srivastava said, "The 5 am deadline has made it easy for us to party throughout the night. My friends and I have passes for a party in Koregaon Park. Later in the night, once we are bored with that party, we plan on going to our close friend's house party. Getting sloshed outdoors is a big no-no," he said.

A source from a lounge in Koregaon Park also quoted a 15% dip in ticket sales. "We do expect the ticket sales to pick up at the last moment. People have a tendency to wait until the last minute and even the online booking portals offer attractive discounts as the New Year's Eve approaches," he said.

One five-star hotel in eastern Pune, however, seems to have bucked the trend. The hotel's GM said the all their tickets were sold out by December 30. "People are looking for a different experience. The ticket sales depend on the price as well as prior demographic study to find out what the other outlets are offering and how one can make their services better than theirs," he said.

Meanwhile, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) urged its members to observe low-key celebrations this year in view of the tragic Kamala Mills fire incident. "Since most of the hotels and restaurants have already sold the tickets, it is not possible to abandon the plans. However, HRAWI has asked its members to accord paramount importance to patrons' safety and observe all fire safety norms. Our members will also sport a white label/flag in memory of those who lost their lives in the deadly Kamala Mills fire," Dilip Datwani, the president of HRAWI, said.

25 firms flout fire safety norms in Pune


PUNE: The fire safety of structures in the city has gained center-stage after a fire in Kamala Mills of Lower Parel in Mumbai claimed 14 lives and left a score of people injured. The city has witnessed over 2,000 fire outbreak incidents till November 2017 and records an average of 2,500 fire incidents annually, according to fire brigade officials. 

The fire department of Pune had sent notices to various organisations asking them to update the fire security equipment in their buildings. Some of the structures which came under the fire department’s scanner were five-star and four-star hotels with restaurants and bars in their premise. 

“The fire brigade receives complaints against such organisations and we act upon them. We send them a three-hour intimation before visiting the site and taking stock of their fire safety infrastructure. We prepare a report, show it to our superiors and then send a notice,” said Gangad, assistant fire officer, Pune. 

The safety measures need to be in line with the Maharashtra Fire Safety Act, according to Prashant Ranpise, chief fire officer (CFO), Pune. They have issued notice to 25 organisations so far, according to to CFO Ranpise. While some organisations fail to keep space around the structure for fire vehicles in case of an emergency, some misuse or fail to maintain the refuge area which exists in order to provide a space away from a possible incident of fire.

When buildings are provided with permissions from the local authorities, a refuge area at and above a certain height is necessary. Ranpise had claimed that the organisations who were served with notices generally responded to the requirements immediately.

The fire department is called in for various other purposes including pulling bodies out of mangled structures. In the past week alone, four incidents of fire brigade officials pulling people out of mangled vehicles and manholes was recorded in Pune.

No NOCs sought by pubs in Pune

In wake of the recent incident of a massive fire outbreak that led to the loss of life of at least 14 people in Mumbai’s Kamla Mills compound, the safety concerns of pubs in Pune have come into focus. According to fire department officials, pubs in Pune do not have a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the fire services department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Speaking to the, chief fire officer, Pune Municipal Corporation, Prashant Ranpise, said that pubs in Pune have not been issued NOCs from fire department. As far as I remember, not a single pub has sought the clearance certificate from our department. We regularly publish advertisements in local newspapers regarding NOCs by all commercial establishments.”

Ranpise, further said that his department has given a no-objection certificate to all hoteliers in city. “The certificate mentioning that the kitchen area and exhausts are safe and that safety measures are in place, has been issued to hotels in the city.”

As per the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, a builder must procure a fire compliance certificate for any building that is taller than 15 metres. According to advocate Anil Nene, it is mandatory for commercial establishments to install fire safety measures as these places attract a large number of people. “Wherever a large number of people gather, fire safety measures are necessary and so is the NOC from the fire department,” said Nene.

When asked for a response, Ganesh Shetty, president of hotel and bar association of Pune, said, “All bars and pub owners require a no-objection certificate from the fire department of the municipal corporation.Without that certificate, the license to operate hotel cannot be renewed.” Shetty added there are 30 pubs operating in city and for fire safety purposes, all of them need to ensure that NOCs are issued after a fire safety audit, which has to be conducted on a regular interval.”

Maha Open: Yuki Bhambri to face Arjun Kadhe


PUNE: India's top-ranked tennis player Yuki Bhambri will play his opening draw of the Maharashtra Open against local lad Arjun Kadhe. In the doubles draw, announced on Saturday, defending champions Rohan Bopanna and Jeevan Neduncheziyan will face compatriots Leander Paes and Purav Raja.

Meanwhile, top seed and world no. 6 Marin Cilic was handed a bye in the first round. Defending champion and world no. 20, Roberto Bautista-Agut, world no. 41 Benoit Paire and 2017 US Open finalist South Africa's Kevin Anderson were also given a bye in the first round for India's only ATP World Tour stop.

Wildcard entrant Ramkumar Ramanathan will be playing against world no. 106 Roberto Carballes Baena in a tough first round encounter. In other major clashes, world no. 42 Dutch player Robin Haase will be starting his campaign against Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic in what could be one of the most mouth-watering first-round contests.

Frenchman Gilles Simon will be looking to bounce back from his disappointing form of last season as he starts the new season by taking on USA's Tennys Sandgren. In doubles, the top-billed pair of R Lindstedt and Franko Skugor will take on Marton Fucsovics and M Kukushkin. Meanwhile, Bhambri will join forces with Divij Sharan in taking on L Djere-Blaz Kavcic pair.

Local boy Kadhe will pair with Frenchman Paire in facing the second-seeded Dutch pair of Robin Haase and M Middelkoop. The Maharashtra Open is to be held from December 30 to January 6, 2018, at the Mhalunge Balewadi Stadium, Pune.

Once bitten twice shy, Civic chief orders fire audit


PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation announced a detailed survey and fire audit of commercial establishments here in the backdrop of the Kamala Mills fire incident in Mumbai. 

In his order issued, PMC commissioner Kunal Kumar directed the city engineering, health and fire departments to carry out a detailed survey and fire audit of commercial establishments and properties. 

Kumar directed these departments to form special teams to carry out the survey and asked them to submit a consolidated report by January 15. 

Officials said that the engineering department had been asked to carry out an audit of properties where unauthorized commercial activities were being conducted.

2017: Tough for realtors, mixed bag for buyers


PUNE: The aftermath of demonetisation and implementation of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act or Rera and goods and services tax (GST) turned 2017 into one of the worst years for developers and a mixed bag for homebuyers.

While demonetisation, announced in late 2016, hit the sale of luxury apartments, unorganised players and NCR in particular, where the cash component was high, Rera and GST have increased the cost of business for developers. Developers had to increase compliance under Rera. Presales, which were their primary source of funding for initial stages of construction, were banned and they have to keep 70 per cent of project proceeds in an escrow account.

“If anything, 2017 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years for residential developers, who faced several challenges ranging from realigning their businesses to comply with the GST roll-out to changing business models in the wake of Rera - and then, post-demonetisation, investors disappearing from the market. Though demand in end user-driven markets was not affected as much, the more speculative markets saw buying activity reducing to a trickle - more so in the luxury segment," said Ramesh Nair, CEO at JLL India. But the changes have fast-tracked the consolidation and is being reflected in the sales and financial highlights of reputable developers with every passing quarter, says Amit Bhagat, chief executive at ASK Property Investment Advisors.

"Rera was finally implemented with clear guidelines for compliance and financial management to ensure funds are utilised for timely completion of the project with delivery matching the committed project/product specifications. This was the strength of the reputable developers who were customer-centric and financially disciplined,” Bhagat said.

Developers agree. “Rera will hasten the consolidation but it will be an opportunity for what we have been doing, to do it with better scale and efficiency,” said Pirojsha Godrej, chairman at Godrej Properties, in a recent interview, Bhagat said the residential sector would see further consolidation and winners would be customer-centric players with in-house execution abilities and differentiators of facility management.

"The ability to source better land parcels and the ability to get rid of past baggage will also be differentiators. Reputable large corporate houses will increase their focus in this sector due to regulation, governance and transparent practices," he said. Projects focussed on upper mid- and luxury segments were adversely impacted since the additional impact of GST cannot be absorbed due to increase in supply, affordability and lack of interest from investors and users.

JLL's Nair said the GST applicable to the purchase of homes in under-construction projects caused buyers to either buy into completed projects or hold onto their purchase decisions. "Also, developers halted sales in projects not registered under Rera across major cities. These combined factors led a quarterly sales decline in five of the top seven cities to an all-time low of 4.8 per cent in 3Q17. This led to developers offering higher discounts to genuine buyers," Nair said.

According to JLL, in 2017, capital values in cities such as Pune, Kolkata and Hyderabad grew at a comparatively faster rate, thanks to their lower price base compared to the tier-I cities. New launches were slower in 2017, and are likely to remain so as developers assess market sentiment in post-Rera. Prices are expected to remain stable in 2018, too.

Ajay Jain, joint MD of Sun Capital Advisory, believes residential sales will take another 18 to 24 months to improve. "During this period, we expect a lot of consolidation and slowdown in new launches."

Despite the government giving various sops to affordable housing such as infrastructure status, it did not give a big boost such projects. Barring Shapoorji Pallonji, Mahindra Lifespaces, Godrej Properties, Puravankara and some others, not many announced or launched projects.

According to JLL, vacancy levels remained largely unchanged through 2017, hovering at around 14 per cent pan-India. Select markets saw lower vacancy levels and are expected to see a further decline in 2018. Overall vacancy levels will likely hover around 15 per cent during 2018. "Very low vacancy rate and continued demand in the prominent office corridors of Bengaluru, Gurugram, Hyderabad and Pune will help better rental appreciation in 2018," Nair said.

Reits or real estate investment trusts, which did not take off in 2017, is expected to be a game changer in 2018, providing exit for investors and developers and giving a new instrument for small investors.

New retail space of 6.4 million square feet got completed in 2017 - making this year the second-best after 2011 in terms of net absorption, JLL said. Shopping mall stock is projected to grow strongly in the next three-four years in seven cities, as around 20 million square feet of supply is expected to come up by the end of 2019. Of this, around 11 million square feet of supply is expected in 2018 if completion delays are not accounted for, JLL said.

Pune girl aims to cycle around the globe solo

Vedangi Kulkarni

PUNE: Nineteen-year-old Vedangi Kulkarni wants 2018 to be a special year. The last few months of 2017 have seen her clock hundreds of kilometres on bicycle, almost every day, in pursuit of her dream.

She now wants to be the youngest and fastest woman to cycle around the world by completing a 29,000-km journey solo and unsupported within 130 days. It will take her across all continents, except South America and Antarctica, and put her through the most testing conditions that exist on the planet. This is definitely not the rosy stuff the dreams of 19-year-olds are made of.

"It is going to be super cool, I am very excited about it," a nonchalant Vedangi, who studies sports management at Bournemouth University, told recently before setting out on a 1,400-km 'training ride' from Mumbai to New Delhi.

The young cyclist, who hails from Pune, plans to start her record attempt in June 2018 from Perth in Australia, and has divided the campaign into five phases. In the first phase she will cycle across Australia upto Brisbane, from where she will take a flight to begin the second phase from Wellington to Auckland. From Auckland, she will fly to Anchorage in Alaska, and cycle eastward to Montreal.

Then a flight to Lisbon, and she will start the most arduous part of her ride -- a 14,520-km leg across Europe and Asia which will take her through 10 countries before reaching Ulan Bator in Mongolia. Then she would fly back to Perth, the start-finish line.

"There are certain laid-down norms (by Guinness World Records) in order to qualify (for getting into the record book for cycling around the world). I am only adhering to them," she said. Paola Gianotti's 2014 record of cycling around the world in 144 days will certainly be on her mind. In the men's category, Mark Beaumont holds the record for completing the journey in 78 days. To date, no Indian -- man or woman -- has attempted to break these records.

A keen footballer in her school days, Vedangi got hooked onto cycling, courtesy a ride in Himachal Pradesh. She followed it up with a solo ride along the Manali-Leh- Khardungla top-Drass route in 2016. After arriving in the UK for a sports management course, her plans to attempt a world record began to take shape. Every weekend and vacation was spent logging hundreds of kilometres on bike.

"I met very interesting people and read a lot before finalising my plans. You need help because of the huge amount of logistics involved, and I am alone all through the journey," she said. In New Delhi, she will try to meet potential sponsors and also government officials, whose help would be needed for the paperwork needed to cross continents on two wheels, solo.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Wellness cell for college students


PUNE: All colleges affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) may soon have a wellness cell dedicated to the mental health of students.

The primary focus of the cell would be to conduct lectures and counselling sessions for the students suffering from any kind of behavioural issues/disorders. "The wellness cell programme is in its nascent stage now. The first step is orientation session for all districts. The SPPU has jurisdiction over three districts such as Nashik, Ahmednagar and Pune," Nitin Patil, state disabilities commissioner, said.

The first orientation session will be held on January 19, which will see participation of about 115 colleges. "This project is being done in collaboration with units of National Service Scheme across affiliated units. The representatives from 115 colleges will be present for the session. We are hoping that all colleges with psychology department will open a cell to help students at least once a week," Patil added.

Deepak Walokar, director, Karve Institute of Social Service, said, "Wellness cells can play an important role of creative awareness about mental health issues, something which is often neglected in our country."

Fake profile of woman puts student behind the bars


PUNE: The Bharati Vidyapeeth police arrested a 25-year-old engineering student for creating a fake profile of a female student on a social networking site. The two students were in a relationship and had recently gone their separate ways.

The 22-year-old complainant lodged a case with the police after she started receiving obscene calls from strangers. Senior police inspector Kamlakar Takawale of Bharati Vidyapeeth police station said, "We have arrested the student, who is in the last year of mechanical engineering. He hails from Ambajogai in Beed district," he said.

The complainant stays in the area located behind the Bharati Vidyapeeth campus. She is currently in the last year of a professional course. The woman and the accused were earlier in a relationship. A few months ago, the accused allegedly created a page on a social networking website, using the complainant's name and uploaded several obscene photographs on it.

According to the police, when the woman confronted the accused he allegedly issued threats of dire consequences. Cops have arrested the engineering student for outraging the modesty of the complainant.z

Road fatalities highest in Pune & Mumbai: State CID


PUNE: Pune and Mumbai saw maximum number of road accident deaths in the state in 2016, like 2015. A total of 533 people died in road accidents in Pune in 2016. In Mumbai, 44 more people were killed in the same year. The Maharashtra state CID report 2016 revealed it.

The scenario was no different in 2015. As many as 543 people lost their lives in road accidents in that year, 68 less than in Mumbai in the same year. Overall, Maharashtra has witnessed a 13.6% drop in number of accident cases in 2016, especially on state and national highways, but the number of deaths increased by 3% between 2013 and 2016.

In 2016, there were 37,886 accidents which claimed 13,682 lives. In 2015, there were 42,250 mishaps and 13,685 deaths; in 2014, there were 44,382 accidents and 13,529 fatalities and in 2013, there were 43,863 accidents and 13,245 deaths. The drop can be attributed to the preventive measures and a change in road engineering/design at 96 "black spots", said an official from transport commissioner's office.

In the state, Aurangabad recorded the highest number of accidents (2,470) in 2016, followed by Mumbai (2,405), Palghar (1,763), Nagpur (1,574), Pune (1,319), Thane (1,183) and Navi Mumbai (784). Additional director-general of police (prisons) B. K. Upadhyaya, who was former joint commissioner of police (Mumbai traffic), said, "In foreign countries, both pedestrians and motorists follow the traffic system and guidelines. In India, such a system is not up to the mark."

Road safety was given priority in Maharashtra, said state transport minister Diwakar Raote. He added that awareness camps will be held in schools and colleges to sensitise students on road discipline and traffic rules. The state has formed a group of officials from various departments, including transport, traffic police, highway police, health, public works department, MSRDC and NHAI, to halve the number of accidents by 2020, sources said. The transport department will carry out another 'road safety fortnight' in January, said a deputy RTO official.

"A robust electronic enforcement system, including speed cameras, CCTV cameras and speed guns, and penalty in the form of hefty fines and suspension of licence act act as deterrent and help reduce number of accidents," said K T Golani, vice-president of NGO Welfare Organization for Road Safety and Prevention of Accidents.

On an average, two persons were killed in accidents on Mumbai roads every day. This shocking data was revealed by the Maharashtra state CID report 2016. But there is some good news - there has been a 20.5% drop in the number of accidents in the state capital and 16.1% fall in number of fatalities between 2013 and 2016.

In 2016, 2,405 accidents were reported in the city that claimed 577 lives. In 2015, there were 2,551 accidents and 611 deaths; in 2014, there were 2,219 mishaps and 667 deaths; and in 2013, there were 3,026 accidents and 688 fatalities.

Drunken driving, rash and dangerous driving and speeding are among the leading causes of accidents, said traffic officials. Most victims were in the age group of 15-49, said the report. There was also a drastic dip in accident cases in Navi Mumbai - from 2,223 in 2015 to 784 in 2016.

Atlas Copco’s Epiroc to serve mining, infra sectors

Jerry Andersson
MD, Epiroc Mining India Limited

PUNE: Swedish industrial company - Atlas Copco has announced that its subsidiary, Epiroc, has started operating as an independent business and is providing customers with market-leading products and services in mining, infrastructure and natural resources.

Atlas Copco and Epiroc will pursue two different business paths but share a common heritage of innovation and commitment for the benefit of all its customers. Epiroc will continue the 144-year-old Atlas Copco legacy of being ‘United in performance and inspired by innovation’. The company will offer high productive equipment to Indian mining sector through its innovation and strong local customer support.

Speaking on the occasion, Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India Limited said, “We are excited about the new business entity and look forward to making our mark in mining and civil engineering equipment. Epiroc will provide ergonomic products and services that will help our customers enhance productivity, energy efficiency and safety.”

Epiroc has state-of-the-art factories at Nashik and Hyderabad, and a world-class engineering center in Bengaluru. It also has sales and regional offices across the country. The channel partner network is extremely strong with a committed and enthusiastic team. Epiroc India consists of 1000-plus employees in India.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tanishq Jewellers opens showroom at Phoenix mall


PUNE: Tanishq, a jewellery brand, celebrated another landmark in jewellery retailing by opening their showroom at Viman Nagar Road, Pune. This is the 239th showroom in Tanishq’s network. It will provide jewellery lovers a world class shopping experience and easy access to high quality traditional and contemporary jewellery from Tanishq.

This new showroom owned by Satyen Gathani and Urvi Gathaniis spread across 2,500 sq.ft. carpet area. It offers a wide range of Tanishq jewellery from grand and opulent wedding jewellery in gold, kundan polki and diamonds to contemporary jewellery, the showroom offers it’s every customer, the divine craftsmanship in over 5000 exquisite designs, that the people of Pune look for.

The new showroom was inaugurated Sandeep Kulhalli, Senior Vice President, Retail and Marketing, Jewellery Division and Arun Narayan, Associate Vice President & Regional Business Head – West, Titan Company Limited along with the proud owners of the franchise Satyen Gathani and Urvi Gathan.

Speaking on the occasion, Sandeep Kulhalli, Senior Vice President, Retail and Marketing, Jewellery Division, Titan Company Limited said, “Tanishq has been a pioneer in setting new benchmarks in the jewellery industry. This new showroom embodies Tanishq’s commitment towards providing customers a world-class retail ambience and superior customer service”

Number of women officials booked for taking bribes rises in Pune


PUNE: Graft cases registered by the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Pune division against woman police officials involved in bribery this year have almost seen a rise of 100 % compared to 2016. Also, for the year 2016 and 2017, the number of cases has remained same although the cases registered have gown down as compared to previous two years.

The total number of
graft cases against women police officials in Pune have almost doubled in 2017 when compared with last year. 10 graft-related cases were lodged against women in 2016 while the figure stands at 17 in 2017.

As many as 187 trap cases were registered in 2017 compared to 186 cases registered in the corresponding period in 2016. During 2014, the ACB filed 226 cases while in 2015, the agency registered 221 cases, according to the statistics available with ACB. While 10 police officials were booked by in 2016, the figure went up to 17 in 2017. In contrast, the number of woman complainants have gone from 11 in 2016 to three in 2017.

According to the statistics available with the ACB, Pune Divisional Office revealed that the revenue department has retained the number one position in corruption and has bagged the top slot of being the most corrupt government department in Pune region. The revenue department was at the top of the list in 2015, according to ACB’s rankings. The police department occupied the second position while third rank was occupied by the land records department consecutively for 2015, 2016 and 2017 rankings.

Pune region along with the Aurangabad Division have fared worst on the conviction rate scale in the state. The conviction rate for Pune Division stood at an abysmal 13 per cent for the current year.

Joint commissioner (law and order) Rajendra Sonawane told that professional investigations of anti-corruption related crimes by the sleuths was the need of the hour. “Over the years, it is seen that there are vested interests of various stakeholders in the process which delays justice for a long time. Delayed justice is like denial of justice.”

“The cases which are presented before the court are often found to be inflated by the Investigation Officer (IO). The genuineness is missing and the court does believe in its evidentiary value which has in fact brought down the rate of conviction ,” he added.

Scooter thief falls for ‘friendship’ trap


PUNE: Ajay Yadav was smart enough to steal Parvej Manyar's scooter on the pretext of a test ride. But Manyar's daughter was smarter to trap him on a social networking site and ensure recovery of the two-wheeler and also Yadav's arrest.

A few days after Yadav, alias Rahul Prajapati (22), had run away with the scooter on December 16, he accepted the friend request from a college student without realising that she was Manyar's daughter.

While chatting, she told Yadav that she wanted to buy a scooter. He offered her the scooter at a throwaway price and they decided to meet near Sambhaji Garden on J M Road to seal the deal on Monday.

As Yadav reached the spot, Manyar and his son nabbed him and the Khadki police took him into custody. Yadav is originally from Madhya Pradesh and currently living in Pune. Manyar, a transport operator from Bopodi, said his son had put up an online advertisement to sell the scooter for Rs32,000.

On December 16, Yadav met Manyar's son next to the petrol pump near their house. "Before handing him the scooter, my son had taken his photograph," Manyar said.

As Yadav wished to take a test ride, Manyar's son sat pillion. "Yadav later said he would like to ride it alone. My son allowed him, only after taking a copy of his Aadhaar card. But Yadav did not return," he said.

"My son received texts from Yadav that he should transfer Rs 15,000 into his bank account if he wanted the scooter back," said Manyar, who lodged a complaint with the Khadki police and started tracing the suspect with his son too.

He took help of his daughter after finding Yadav on the site. The police said Yadav worked with a private firm. "We found a cellphone on him that he had stolen from a woman in Vishrantwadi," an officer said.

Hyundai i20 Facelift Spotted At ARAI In Pune


PUNE: After several rounds of testing the Hyundai i20 facelift in India, the premium hatchback was recently spotted at ARAI in Pune probably for the homologation process.

The Korean carmaker is expected to launch the facelifted i20 hatchback at the upcoming Auto Expo to be held in February 2018 in Delhi. The new Hyundai i20 facelift is seen featuring a new 'Cascading' grille just other Hyundai cars. The i20 facelift spied here gets a sleek silver paint and gets dark ten-spoke alloy wheels. 

The i20 facelift is also seen with LED daytime running lights, and the number plate is seen mounted to the tailgate rather than the bumper. The car also features new taillights along with tail lamp graphics.

KKR to invest Rs 193 cr in Kolte Patil's Pune township


PUNE: Kolte-Patil Developer Ld today said that global investment firm KKR will invest Rs 193 crore in its township at Pune.

In a regulatory filing, Kolte Patil said KKR has committed Rs 193 crore in its Kolte-Patil I-Ven Townships (Pune) Ltd (KPIT), which is a joint venture of Kolte-Patil and ICICI Venture Funds Management Company Ltd.

KPIT is developing 'Life Republic' a 383-acre township located in Pune's IT hub, Hinjewadi. The JV will utilise the funds from this investment to attain financial closure, meeting working capital requirements and reducing cost of outstanding debt attributable to the development.

The company's Group CEO Gopal Sarda said, "At Life Republic, we are developing a full-amenities township focused on Hinjewadi's digital economy workforce. With our new partnership, we see this landmark project accelerating further to meet the rising aspirations of middle-income home buyers.

Sunburn Pune will echo up to Delhi this NYE!


PUNE: Sunburn, Asia’s most popular Electronic Dance Music Festival owned by Percept Live will be live streamed in New Delhi from December 29 to 31at Hotel Pullman Aerocity.

OLA Sunburn NYE (Echo) happening for the first time, is an event offering an opportunity to Delhites and dance music enthusiasts to experience the splendor of the Sunburn Festival sitting in Delhi at Pullman Hotel from December 29 to 31. Each day there will be a ravishing live performance by Robert Falcon, Salvatore Ganacci, and Will Atkinson at Pullman.
The Intellectual Property (IP), Sunburn, which is owned by Percept Live, the live entertainment division of Percept Limited, will be held at Oxford Golf Resort, Pune, on December 28, and will make the audience groove on its beats for four days.  

Among the year’s most awaited festivals, Sunburn attracts more than 350,000 music lovers and hundreds of artists across multiple stages. Some of the bigwigs playing at Sunburn this year are Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, Julia Bliss, Siana Catherine, DJ Snake, Afrojack, Martin Garrix and several others who would be turning the venue into a place never visited before with an undeniable exuberance. India’s favorite Nucleya will also be seen at Sunburn Festival 2017.

Powered by Renault and Oppo, OLA Sunburn NYE (Echo) has taken experiential to another level by providing dance music lovers of Delhi to attend the event live being at the capital.   

Time: 6 pm onwards
Date: 29th - 31st December 2017
Venue: Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Price: INR 5,200 Onwards
For Bookings: Book My Show     


Revamping of Railway Stations


PUNE: Indian Railways has advertised its plan to redevelop 'A-1' and 'A' category stations on 'as is where is' basis, by inviting open bids from interested parties. The cost of station redevelopment is to be met by leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the stations.

Bids were invited by Zonal Railways for 23 stations in the first phase of the station redevelopment programme. Bids have been received only for Jammu Tawi and Kozhikode stations on 12.07.2017 and 24.07.2017 respectively. These bids have been taken up for evaluation.

Eight stations viz. Shivajinagar (Pune), Anand Vihar (Delhi), Bijwasan (Delhi), Chandigarh, Gandhinagar, Habibganj (Bhopal), Surat and Sabarmati have been entrusted to Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd. (IRSDC) for redevelopment.

An MoU has been signed by Ministry of Railways with Ministry of Urban Development for integrated planning for station redevelopment projects in cities identified as SMART cities in association with Smart City authorities. The following 10 Stations have been taken up for redevelopment under this scheme:

Tirupati, Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Nellore, Madgaon, Lucknow, Gomtinagar, Kota, Thane New, Ernakulam Jn. and Puducherry.

At present, Ministry of Railways is formulating revised schemes for station redevelopment on fast track.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stale food irritates flyers at airports


PUNE : Akhil Sinha bit into the sandwich he had bought for Rs 200 at the airport, and immediately regretted his decision.

The smell churned his stomach. Karan Doshi’s wife had it worse. Consuming a sandwich bought at the Pune airport gave her severe stomach upset and she had to visit the doctor. Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. With many similar complaints being raised, the authorities at the Pune airport have now decided to increase the frequency of checks on the food outlets to monitor the quality.

"I had worked the whole morning and had to rush to the airport to catch a flight to Kolkata in the afternoon. As I was very hungry, I bought a sandwich, but it smelt foul. the shopkeeper had the strangest excuse. He said the sandwich was smelly as the chicken was boiled. Now I have had many sandwiches in my life but I have never come across anything like this. I am sure the food was spoilt," said Sinha adding that he had to throw away the overpriced, yet stale sandwich.

The premium pricing for such poor quality of food is another big issue. One passenger's experience showed how the food outlets are openly fleecing the customers. In October, the said passenger had paid Rs 300 for a vegetable burger at the airport's lone restaurant. However, he caught one of the restaurant employees sneaking in the burger, wrapped in a newspaper, from outside. On being questioned, the man allegedly said the restaurant was out of burgers and hence it was brought from outside. Though the restaurant denied the allegations, not everyone was convinced.    

A still-upset Karan Doshi recalled his wife's nightmare. "She had finished a night shift before coming to the airport and grabbed a sandwich from a food outlet. For three days after that, she suffered from a severe stomach upset. Are the airport authorities even taking such matters seriously?" he asked.

When contacted, a senior airport official said random checks are conducted on food and beverage outlets of the airport. "The authorities do conduct random checks to see if the food being served is fresh or not. However, there will be more checks from now on. Those found serving or keeping sub-standard food will face the music," the official told

 There are also plans to add more diversity to the menu. At a recent meeting of the Pune airport advisory committee, the officials decided to add some local dishes. The meeting was chaired by Pune MP Anil Shirole, who is also the chairman of the committee. While there are two major outlets outside the terminal building — selling pre-cooked as well as cooked-to-order foods — another outlet serving South Indian dishes will open near one of the exit gates.

Anant Sardeshmukh, an active member of the committee, said the issue of food quality will be taken up. "We have come across such reports and the matter will be taken up in the next meeting," he said.

Ex-communicated Parsis get their own Fire Temple


PUNE: The Rs 2.5-crore shrine was funded by donors like top lawyer Fali Nariman, corporate head honcho Cyrus Guzdar, ex-advocate general Darius Khambhata, industrialist Anu Aga and Pirojshah Godrej Foundation

A group of reformist Parsis on Monday raised the banner of revolt against orthodoxy by inaugurating a fire temple in Pune that not only recognises children of Parsis who have married outside the community, but also allows non- Parsis entry.

The fire temple, where the eternal fire was lit by ten mobeds (priests), of which two are from Mumbai, has been funded by donors like top lawyer Fali Nariman, corporate head honcho Cyrus Guzdar, former advocate general and senior counsel Darius Khambhata, industrialist Anu Aga and the Pirojshah Godrej Foundation.The Rs 2.5-crore fire temple, located in Pune's Kondhwa area, is likely to stir a controversy and will range the reformists under the umbrella of Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism against the orthodox who have for decades rejected reforms to protect the community's racial purity.

The inauguration, marked by a 'jashan' ceremony, was attended by over 100 Parsis and non-Parsis, some of whom were ex-communicated for marrying outside the community. Setideh Irani, 30, attended the opening service with her non-Parsi husband Manish Upadhyay and their nine-month-old daughter. Irani said she felt welcome in the community once again. "I am happy that I will be able to bring back my child and introduce her to my religion. One of the purposes of this fire temple is also to allow people from other faiths to learn about Zoroastrianism," she said.

Vispy Wadia, a reformist, said the community is facing extinction because those who have married outside the community are being discriminated against. "We firmly believe that Zoroastrianism is a universal religion. This fire temple will strive to ensure that there is no discrimination. More than being a bold step, it is a progressive step," said Wadia.

Wadia said the conflict between the liberals and the traditionalists boiled down to a "non-existent racial purity" which the orthodox have held dear for centuries. "No race is pure or impure. We are pure and impure only by our thoughts. Over 40 per cent of Parsis marry outside the community. This trend seems to have become irreversible now. Even our respected Dasturs and Vada-Dasturs (priests and head priests) have failed to guard their folk as their children have had inter-caste marriages too. It, therefore, makes sense to accept at least children and spouses of Parsis who have married outside the community as the declining population trend cannot be otherwise reversed," said Wadia.

The Parsi Zoroastrian population in India is diminishing fast and will diminish faster in the years to come because 35 per cent of Parsis are in the age group of 60 and above. In about 20 years, there will be no more than 20,000 Zoroastrians in India. More than 30 Zoroastrian Anjumans in various towns and villages of Gujarat and Maharashtra are defunct because there are no Zoroastrians left there.

Carl Rodin, 22, Emily Rodin, 25, and Yakub Rodin, 18 flew all the way from Norway to be a part of the 'jashan'. Their grandmother Meher Spanberg is a Parsi who married a Christian and thus had to forfeit the right to enter a fire temple. "It is wonderful to be witness to centuries-old traditions and this is our first time in a fire temple. We learnt about the importance of fire, the meaning of worship, and the goodness of this religion," said Emily.

Ave Mehta, a Parsi married to a Punjabi, said she had to perform her daughter Aibara's 'navjote' in a private ceremony with the help of a liberal priest. "My daughter is now married to a Parsi," she said. Mehta described the inauguration of the new fire temple as "a momentous occasion and a forward thinking decision to help up the dwindling numbers."

Dasturji Khushroo Fali Madon, who worked at the J D Agiary in Colaba for 20 years, headed the 'jashan' ceremony. "If you read the book of five 'gathas' or spiritual hymns composed by Zaratharustra, it mentions that non-Parsis can follow our religion. Unfortunately, our socalled orthodox scholars think otherwise," he said.

The new fire temple will perform navjotes of children from inter-racial marriages and solemnise marriages and perform funeral rituals.