Sunday, February 26, 2017

22-year-old student's organs give new lease of life to four

26 February 2017

PUNE: The heart and other vital organs of a brain-dead 22-year-old student were donated by his family to four patients in Mumbai and Pune. This is this year's first heart donation and the tenth since 2015.

The donated heart was successfully transplanted into a 29-year-old man suffering from end-stage heart disease at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital in Mumbai.

The final year student, a resident of Sangvi, met with an accident and was initially admitted to Medipoint Hospital. He was later shifted to Sahyadri Speciality Hospital in Deccan Gymkhana. But he did not respond to medication and was declared brain dead on February 24.

Soon after that, his family decided to donate his heart, liver, kidney, eyes and skin.

A green corridor was created around 9 pm on Friday evening from Sahyadri hospital to the Pune airport with the help of the zonal transplant coordination center (ZTCC) and the city's traffic police team. This was the first time that a heart was harvested at Sahyadri hospital.

Army recruitment exam paper leaked, 18 arrested

26 February 2017

PUNE: Thane crime branch conducted nationwide raid on late Saturday night after Army recruitment exam papers were leaked. They conducted raids in Maharashtra's Nagpur, Pune, Nashik and Goa.

While investigating the case, the cops found out that the students purchased the exam question paper for Rs 2 lakh each and were writing their exam sitting in a lodge.

So far, 18 accused and 350 students. Police suspects that the there might an involvement of army men in leaking the paper.

The recruitment exam, slated for today at 09:00 AM across India, has been cancelled in nine centers across Maharashtra.

AIMIM fails to impress Muslims in Pune, bags 9 seats in Solapur

26 February 2017

PUNE: Though the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has failed to secure a major victory in the civic polls held in Mumbai, it has made its presence felt in Pune and has bagged nine seats in Solapur’s Muslim-dominated pockets.

The lone victorious AIMIM candidate in Pune is Daniel Landge, known for his social work in Yerwada. However, locals said they chose him based on the work he has done, and not the party he belongs to. The AIMIM had fielded 25 candidates in Pune and had campaigned vigorously, sensing an opportunity to make a big entry into the politics of western Maharashtra.

It wooed Dalit voters and Muslims. The Owaisi brothers addressed two rallies in Pune prior to the election. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had both fielded strong Muslim candidates in certain areas, keeping in mind likely threats from the party. The party, however, failed to impress voters in Muslim-dominated areas, with the Congress retaining its traditional vote bank.

The Congress’ victory is considered significant as the Owaisi brothers had severely criticised Congress leaders for neglecting Muslims. Poll results indicate that Muslims voted either for the Congress or the NCP instead of the AIMIM. The party made spectacular gains in Solapur, once a bastion of former Union minister Sushilkumar Shinde. The AIMIM had four members in the dissolved houses. The Owaisi brother have been frequent visitors to Solapur, which has a large population of Muslims.

The party also benefitted from the region’s geographical proximity to Andhra Pradesh, from where many Muslims migrate to the city. The party’s victory in Vidarbha and Marathwada during the municipal council elections held two months ago was remarkable.

FDA seizes Orthopaedic implants worth Rs 1.4 crore

26 February 2017

PUNE: In a huge crackdown on illegal sale of orthopaedic implants, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have seized stock worth Rs 1.40 crore from various distributors in Pune, Solapur, Satara and Kolhapur in just two weeks since February 10.

An investigation into the illegal implant industry began after the FDA uncovered a racket operating from the premises of GT hospital in Mumbai on February 2. Since then, a series of raids have been conducted across the state, leading to a seizure of Rs 7 crore worth of orthopaedic implants being sold illegally through a nexus of manufacturers, distributors and hospitals.

In all these cases, it has been found that the distributors supplying these implants to hospitals did not possess the mandatory licences.

"We have inspected the implant stock at several hospitals in Pune division. But, we didn't not come across any instance of the involvement of the hospitals in the illegal trade, so far. However, we have found quite a few distributors who were operating the business of orthopaedic implants without seeking mandatory licence from the FDA. This is illegal and attracts prosecution," Vidyadhar Jawadekar, joint commissioner (drug), FDA, Pune division, told.

"A criminal case will be filed against the erring distributors in court for violating the norms," he said. Doctors from the city, however, said there had been little awareness among medical practitioners about various provisions of the Drug and Cosmetics Act.

"We are aware of the fact that the implant and prosthetic manufacturing and trade has come under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. However, provisions of the Act are still not known to common orthopaedic surgeons. The FDA should communicate to the national, state and district associations of orthopaedic surgeons about conducting awareness camps to sensitize doctors about the provisions of the Act," orthopaedic surgeon Nitin Bhagli had said in an earlier interview.

Bhagli is the chairman of the Indian Medical Association's Hospital Board of India, Pune branch, and executive member of the Maharashtra Orthopaedic Association.

The state-wide drive to detect illegal sale of orthopaedic implants was kicked off on February 10, three days after illegal implants were seized in Mumbai on February 7.

High-speed roads to link new international airport with city, Pune

26 February 2017

PUNE: To provide flyers with seamless travel, Cidco, the nodal authority for the Navi Mumbai international airport project, plans high-speed road corridors to connect the airport with Mumbai, Pune and Thane.

Cidco chief general manager (airport & transport) Soma Vijay Kumar said, "We have suggested the projects as they will help smooth and seamless vehicular movement to the airport."

To start with, the east-west terminals will have entry/exit points at both ends. At the eastern end, Cidco has planned a big interchange at Kalamboli traffic junction and a cloverleaf interchange around two km away on NH 4B to ensure smooth movement of vehicles from and to Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Mumbra. At the western end, there will be loop roads at Kille junction on Palm Beach Road for vehicles going towards Mumbai's central suburbs, Chembur, Thane and beyond.

In March, Mumbai JNPT Port Road Company Ltd (MJPRCL), a special purpose vehicle, will invite tenders to appoint a technical consultant for suggesting designs for the roads . JNPT, NHAI and Cidco are equity holders in MJPRCL.

An official from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said, "Cidco had suggested right at the beginning that road projects be taken up after finalisation of the strategic partner. With the closure of financial bid and GVK-led MIAL chosen as the prospective partner, the consultant will help to design the road infrastructure. We have worked on the loop road connectivity at Kille junction, but it can be revisited."

NMMC additional commissioner Ankush Chavan said, "We have given MJPRCL a no-objection certificate to execute the work at Kille junction."

Mumbai-Pune Expressway users to get traffic news on the move

26 February 2017-02-26

PUNE: In bid to manage traffic effectively, digital signboards informing the status of traffic ahead and if accidents have taken place will be put up at the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. The signboards, which will be installed by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), will help commuters decide whether they should take the E-way depending on any possible traffic jam on the E-way. 

Tenders will be put out on MSRDC’s website in March and the work to put up the digital boards will start by April.

Four digital signboards called Variable Messages Signage (VMS) will be placed at the starting points from Kalamboli where the E-way begins from the Mumbai side towards Pune and Dehu Road from Pune where the road begins for Mumbai. The VMS will also be placed 20 km from the starting points of the 94 km E-way in such a way that commuters can make a U-turn if traffic worsens after they begin the journey.

An MSRDC engineer told, “Over 50,000 vehicles including four-wheelers like car, buses, trucks and multi-axel vehicles like heavy vehicles carrying industrial products, ply on the Pune-Mumbai E-way. The six-lane road often witnesses traffic jams at many places and especially at Ghat sections near Lonavala.  Traffic jam at the Ghat section affects the overall traffic situation on the whole 94 km-stretch of the E-way”.

S.G. Mungilwar, executive engineer, MSRDC Pune, added, “If commuters come to know about the situation over traffic jams or the speed of traffic, they can decide whether to take the E-way or not”.

S.P. Aspat, senior police inspector, highway police, Pune, said, “Highway police had asked MSRDC to put up such boards so that commuters do not have to waste time and panic getting stuck in traffic unnecessarily.”

Friday, February 24, 2017

BJP comes to power in Pune corporation for the first time

24 February 2017

PUNE: BJP captured NCP's Pune bastion, winning a comfortable majority and coming to power in the city for the first time.

The saffron party won 98 out of 162 seats in the Pune Municipal Corporation, dislodging NCP which was in power in the city since 2007. The Sharad Pawar-led party could win 38 seats this time.
Seats won by other parties were as follows: Shiv Sena - 10, Congress - 9, MNS - 2, MIM - 1 and independents - 4. BJP delivered a similar blow to NCP in neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation too, by capturing the power.

In the 2012 civic elections, BJP had won only 26 seats in Pune and was at number four. Before elections, several sitting corporators from other parties, mainly from Congress and NCP, had switched their loyalty to BJP.

BJP was targeted by its detractors for admitting some 'criminal elements' into party fold, and also faced disgruntlement within its ranks for the same reason. The party's campaign was spearheaded by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Fadnavis had to suffer opposition's barbs during the last phase of campaign when his rally in the city drew no crowd and was cancelled.

However, going by today's results, the CM seemed to have the last laugh. District Guardian Minister and BJP MLA from the city Girish Bapat credited the victory to the efforts of party workers. NCP city unit president Vandana Chavan accepted the defeat and said her party would play the role of a strong opposition in the civic body.

Maharashtra Civic Poll Results 2017: As it happened on Thursday

24 February 2017

MUMBAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on showcased an impressive performance by winning 82 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and majorly gaining in elections held for other municipal bodies.

The Shiv Sena finished on top of a hung BMC but the BJP said it could take control of India's richest civic body with the backing of independents. Sena finished with just 84 of the 227 seats.

BJP emerged as the big winner by conquering eight municipal corporations Pimpri-Chinchwad, Akola, Amravati, Solapur, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Ulhasnagar.

As it put up a sterling performance in civic polls across Maharashtra including the cash-rich BMC, Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the people of Maharashtra for reposing their faith in the "politics of development" and "good governance".

Elated over BJP's performance in Maharashtra civic polls, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said BJP's victory resulted from a vote for transparency and demonetisation.

Apart from Mumbai, the municipal corporations which went to the polls were Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati, and Nagpur.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Students rob two businessmen in garden

2 February 2017

PUNE: The Wanowrie police are investigating a complaint by two businessmen who were allegedly assaulted and robbed of gold chains and cash totally worth Rs 3.08 lakh by three college students on Tuesday while trying to sneak into Empress Garden from the rear entrance.

Police said businessmen Sameer Punekar and Sumit Ahir were caught up in a dispute with the suspects, two of whom were detained on Wednesday. However, no recovery was made from them. All three suspects are minors and standard XII students. One of the detained suspects lives in the same building as Ahir's, police said.

When questioned about sneaking in from the rear end of the garden, the two men said they wanted to avoid paying the entrance fee. However, police are no
t fully convinced by their response, it being odd for two businessmen to avoid paying a paltry sum for entry.

A juvenile court released the two detained suspects on bail. "We are waiting for the third suspect's detention. It will get us a clear picture of the case. Also, we need to know if the cash and gold chains are in possession of the third suspect," investigating officer Devidas Kungar of Wanowrie police told

According to police, the trio hit Punekar and Ahir with stones and robbed four gold chains and cash from them. They sustained minor injuries. Punekar later registered a complaint.

Affordable housing set for a dream run

2 February 2017

PUNE: The infrastructure status will boost the affordable housing segment with more private players entering this field, which in turn, will boost the stock in Pune. Pune division has recovered from the impact of demonetisation with property registrations rising by 1% in January, compared to October last year.

According to some realtors, first-time property buyers are likely to benefit with the infrastructure status given to affordable housing, which enables developers operating in this segment to raise loans at a cheaper rate like other infrastructure projects. This low cost is expected to be eventually passed on to home buyers who are likely to get homes at cheaper rates.

With the government's housing for all by 2022 being the focus, Credai Pune Metro's Shantilal Kataria said this would draw the best private sector companies to affordable housing in Pune."The additional refinance of Rs 20,000 crore from NHB and lower interest rates resulting from increased liquidity in the banking sector would add to the funds for the sector at lower costs, which would be passed on to the consumers," Kataria said.

The assessment of the carpet area of 30sqm and 60sqm, which will be eligible for tax exemption is another incentive for realtors, but this may not directly help investors as it may mean expensive homes under affordable housing, realtors said.Sachin Kulkarni, managing director of low-cost housing projects Vastushodh, said this announcement is likely to see nearly 80% houses built in the city qualify as affordable housing. "While there will be more affordable housing, in reality, it will not be affordable to majority of the people," Kulkarni said.

A lot of prospective buyers were looking for increase in interest exemptions under section 80C of the income tax act before making a purchase decision. So the budget does not deliver any immediate fillip to fence-sitters.Increasing the tax-free period for builders constructing affordable housing loans from 3 years to 5 years might push more builders to build housing in the segment. However, if it will actually lead to housing cost going down remains to be seen.

"They should probably redefine what is affordable housing now, otherwise, the sector will stand to suffer two years from now," Kulkarni said.Vic-president Credai, Pune Rohit Gera feels that with the uncertainty around budget over, fence-sitters expecting changes in tax structures now have clarity and would translate to home buyers.

Maharashtra a strong contender for special tourism zone

2 February 2017

PUNE: Senior tourism ministry officials hinted that either Maharashtra or Goa may be chosen as a special tourism zone in western India. This was in reaction to finance minister Arun Jaitley's announcement in the Union Budget that the government planned to set up five special tourism zones in the country in the next financial year.

Officials said that only one state from the west may be chosen for the zone in the western part of the country.Senior officials in the state department of tourism are also planning to pitch Maharashtra to the ministry.

A senior ministry official told that Maharashtra's chances as a contender for the zone in the west seem bright. "Though the creation of the five special tourism zones is still in its nascent stages, the chosen state should have regional representation and be the strongest possible contender in tourism in the region. A major tourism destination in the western part of the country will be chosen, depending on its popularity among tourists, availability of land and other factors," the official said.

The western part of India has a competitive landscape with four states — Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan and Gujarat — doubling up as major tourism hotspots.Maharashtra tourism department officials told that past recommendations made to the ministry include how Maharashtra should be treated at par with Goa and should have similar policies on shacks on beaches and coastal regulation norms relaxation.

State director of tourism Satish Soni said, "Maharashtra is one of the few regions in the world which offers multiple types of tourist destinations. It has a long coastline of 720km along the lush green Konkan region. The Western Ghats and the Sahyadri mountain range offer hill stations and water reservoirs with semi-evergreen and deciduous forests. The Vidarbha region with its dense forests is home to several wildlife sanctuaries and nature parks."Soni said that apart from this, the state has five tiger reserves, Bollywood as well as five world heritage sites like Ajanta-Ellora caves, elephant caves, Kaas Plateau and the iconic Lonar crater made of basaltic rock. "For this reason, the state tourism department will pitch Maharashtra as the apt contender to the ministry," Soni said.

Pune techie Rasila's murder: 'Implement buddy system for female staff'

2 February 2017

PUNE: The police, in an advisory released for software companies in the city on Wednesday, has recommended a "buddy system" to ensure that no woman staffer works alone, continuous monitoring of CCTV footage and checking the emotional condition of staffers, including security guards.

The advisory, which is not legally binding, comes in the wake of the brutal murder of Infosys software engineer Rasila Raju OP on the company's campus in Hinjewadi on January 29. A security guard has been arrested in connection with the murder.

The police have prima facie found various lapses in the security measures adopted by the company, which include the fact that Rasila was working alone in the offshore development centre (ODC) room where she was murdered and non-monitoring of the CCTV footage.

Pune has more than 125 IT and IT-enabled service companies spread across the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park at Hinjewadi and the IT corridor at Kharadi off the Pune-Ahmednagar road, besides smaller IT parks at Talawade, Aundh and Wakad, among other areas.

The advisory also suggests that no woman employee should be picked up first or dropped last in the cabs provided by the companies. It also advises a background check of the security guards at the companies.