Tuesday, 29 May 2018

​​City to host conference on Down Syndrome

Dr. Surekha Ramachandran, Founder, DSFI


PUNE: City is hosting first of its kind conference on Down ​syndrome, one of the most common genetic birth disorders which is rarely spoken about. Down Syndrome Federation of India (DSFI) is organising its second India International Down Syndrome Conference (IIDSC) in Pune between May 31 and June 2, 2018 to create awareness about Down Syndrome in India.

While announcing this, Dr. Surekha Ramachandran, Founder, DSFI, stressed upon the fact that ‘Down ​syndrome’ is not a disease but a condition that can be treated with right intervention. She also highlighted that almost 30000 children with Down syndrome are born in our country every year. Other experts like Tehnaz Ragi, co-ordinator IIDSC activity room, Shweta Ranka, a leading architect and parent were present at the conference to share the views on Down syndrome.

​Mentioning the factors ​of ​Down Syndrome, Ramachandran stated that, “While interacting with parents during DSFI initiatives, we came to realise that the day-to-day stress affects during conception. Also, today we are exposed to various radiations in the form of computers, mobile phones etc. So, taking these points into consideration it is important to conduct an extensive research to figure out if ​genetic disorders like​ Down syndrome can occur in children whose parents ​are in specific occupation like​ ​in IT field.”

DSFI is an organization that offers support to individuals with Down syndrome and their families through various Down syndrome Institutions across India.

This event intends to bring together all stakeholders like educators, health care professionals in the field of Down syndrome to bring about a positive change in the lives of persons with Down syndrome and request the Government to bring in laws to protect their interests in our country. A total of 30 families from Pune will be participating at the conference.

Down Syndrome is associated with mild to moderate learning disabilities, developmental delays, characteristic facial features, and low muscle tone in early infancy. Many individuals with Down syndrome have various health issues. Through a series of screenings and tests, Down Syndrome can be detected before and after a baby is born.

Today medical sciences has developed so much that it is possible to find out about genetic aberrations in the womb itself. Yet there are almost 30000 children with Down syndrome born in our country every year. And this number corresponds to the international average of 1 in every 800 live births.

Eminent doctors from Pune will be sharing their expertise and experiences with parents at the IIDSC 2018 event. This includes the like of Dr.Vaman Khadilkar, Dr. Rajiv Sharangpani, Dr. Archana Kadam, Dr. Rajan Joshi, Dr. Koumudi Godbole and Dr. Usha Pratap amongst others. A panel discussion to address medical issues helping parents to understand their wards better will also be conducted during the event. There will be various fun activities like painting, brain gym, dancing and games for all the participants, especially children.

Pune RTO cracks down on ‘illegal handling charges’


PUNE: The Pune RTO has begun cracking down on car and two wheeler dealers levying handling charges on unsuspecting customers. In the past, Indian courts have ruled that handling charges are illegal and that dealers stop levying it.

After receiving complaints from various vehicle buyers about handling charges being charged by most car and motorcycle dealers in Pune, RTO officials in the city held a meet with dealers, in which they asked them to stop charging handling charges and also display a board prominently in the dealership with the message ‘Handling charges are illegal.’

Sanjay Raut, deputy Regional Transport Officer, Pune, said, It’s illegal to take handling charges from customers as it is the responsibility of dealers to provide a registered vehicle to the buyer. We have already sent out a communication to all dealers to stop collecting money as handling charges as it is illegal. On Tuesday (22nd May), a meeting with automobile dealers was also held, where strict instructions were given to dealers.

In most cases, some part of the handling charges are used to bribe RTO officials for speedy registration of vehicles. They are also illegal profits for the dealership. As a customer, you can refuse to pay handling charges, as such charges are clearly illegal. The dealer has no option but to waive these charges off. If the dealer refuses to waive off these illegal charges, you the customer, can approach the vehicle manufacturer’s customer service department.

In almost all cases, car and two wheeler makers take complaints of illegal handling charges seriously and instruct the dealership concerned to stop collecting illegal handling charges. In fact, there have been many instances where Tata Motors, a leading car maker in India, got dealers to stop charging illegal handling charges. There have been documented instances of Tata Motors stepping in and stopping dealers from levying handling charges on cars such as the Nexon and Tiago.

Flats shrink as realtors focus on affordable sector


PUNE: A 1BHK unit crunched into less than 300 sqft or a 3BHK flat not exceeding the 700 sqft mark - small is turning out to be a big draw for top developers entering the affordable housing sector here.

The incentives for the developers opting for such nano units are not only the tax benefits but also the opportunity to get going in a market that is taking baby steps to recovery after a prolonged slowdown. Two top developers, who have so far only focused on big projects and commercial real estate development, recently announced their foray into affordable housing.

Mumbai-based Peninsula Land launched a project at Gahunje, where it aims to construct 51 four-storey building blocks with each floor housing four unis. Peninsula Land’s smallest unit is pegged at 274sqft, in which it will put out a 1 BHK unit and its largest offering is a 3BHK with about 671 sqft carpet area.

Recently, Pune-based Vascon Engineers forayed into the segment with the plan to have a “focused business approach” on affordable housing. The company said it will, over time, build 1,140 units in Talegaon in sizes between 227 sqft for a room-kitchen unit and 2BHK flats measuring 462 sqft.

At the lower end of these offerings, the unit sizes are smaller than what is being proposed to be offered under the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) of over 300 sft. The current SRA size is 269 sqft. Developers engaged in the segment said the reason for this is the similar business model adopted by players as they do for regular housing and the frequent changes of definition by the government.

“Multiple players are into housing the same way they had done in the past. And by squeezing sizes, they are calling the projects ‘affordable housing’ now. All of this is primarily aimed at attracting faster sales and reaping benefits of the 80I BA (tax sops),” said Vastushodh managing director Sachin Kulkarni. Vastushodh has so far delivered over 3,000 low-cost homes in and around Pune.

Kulkarni said the dilution of the definition of affordable housing units by the government “further helps the new developers doing such projects.” The government has in two successive budgets changed the contours of what is “affordable.” It has shifted focus from the income to the size criterion.

Experts feel that the income criterion was a better way of targeting buyers as only those within a certain income range can purchase such units. These homes are priced between Rs 13 lakh and Rs 38 lakh and this range makes it easy for investors to pump money into these projects, with the hope to cash out at an appreciated value.

These properties are far from the heart of the city and carry a lower sale price tag. The per square feet rate, however, works out to be more or less same as what one can get a property in most parts of the city (between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000 per sqft).

Credai-Maharashtra president Shantilal Kataria the entry of big players in the affordable housing segment was a positive move. “Earlier, people said big developers never came into affordable projects. It’s a good sign that they are finally foraying into the sector. Over 75% demand for housing is in this category,” he added.

“For a developer, everything remains the same and only the land cost varies. Besides, there are imponderables such as approval, interest, premium and opportunity costs that a developer has to factor in. The land cost is not coming down as expected,” he said.

Pune school issues LC to students for not paying fee


PUNE: Pune based Zeal Education Society's Dnyanganga School at Hingne has allegedly issued leaving certificate (LCs) to over 150 students for failing to pay their fees.

The parents of the students have stated that the school management was overcharging them. "We paid Rs 30,000 fee and Rs 10,000 as a deposit earlier and asked them to adjust the deposit in the fee but the school is not ready to talk to us," said a parent.

The school took the decision after the Bombay High Court passed an order following a civil application moved by Zeal Education Society against the parents of Dnyanganga School who had refused to pay up. The Bombay high court in their order stated that the school management had the right to cancel the admission of students in case of non-payment of fees.

Talking to pune-news.com, Vikram Deshmukh, Legal advisor to Zeal Education Society said the certificate was issued by the school as per the order of the court. "They paid the amount of Rs 30, 000 in 2016-17 then why they had the problem to pay the fee for 2017-18, we do not understand. The High Court ordered that the school has the right to fix their fees, after which we took the decision," Deshmukh said.

He added that the school even gave the time of 7-day to the parents but they did not respond, as a result, they had to take the step.

RBI extends restriction on Rupee Bank for 3 months


PUNE: Pune-based Rupee Co-operative Bank has been asked by the Reserve Bank to continue giving its services with restrictions for three more months till August this year in view of its financial position.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had first imposed restrictions on the bank from February 22, 2013, to August 21, 2013, and extended it on eight occasions six months each, and four occasions for three months each. The co-operative bank was given its last extension for six months between November 22, 2017, and May 31, 2018.

"The Reserve Bank has extended directions issued to Rupee Co-operative Bank Ltd., Pune, Maharashtra, for a further period of three months from June 1, 2018, to August 31, 2018, subject to review," RBI said in a release.

However, RBI said that the directions issued for the bank should not be construed as cancellation of banking licence by the regulator. "The bank will continue to undertake banking business with restrictions till its financial position improves. The Reserve Bank may consider modifications of these directions depending upon circumstances," RBI said further.

As per Rupee Co-Operative Bank website, the lender has 40 offices/branches, including the headquarter in Pune, across Maharashtra.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Brass bands vanishing from weddings


Sitting in his dingy office, amidst the din, Iqbal Darbar, the 70-year-old patriarch of Darbar Brass Band, one of the oldest brass ensembles in the city, laments: “No one wants to listen to live bands anymore. All people now want is to dance to loud music blaring from sound boxes.”

He recalls a time when people used to stand for hours on the road and listen to bands playing various ragas such as malkauns or darbari and even bhajans. “Everybody used to listen to us with rapt attention till the early hours of the morning and bombard us with requests to play various tunes. Nowadays, people only want heart-thumping music. That pains me,” Darbar says.

When we used to play 30 songs in three hours. Now, we hardly play four to five songs within the same time at weddings as people now ask us to play the same song over and over again so that they can dance. Very few people care about melody,” he adds.

The band has had a chequered journey since its birth in 1905. It was founded by Darbar’s grandfather and grand uncle. It had a different name then - Universal Brass Band. Later, the name was changed to Darbar Brass Band after the Independence. Darbar’s three sons have moved to Mumbai to play in an orchestra. One son has provided background music to a recently-launched film. “They are better off there,” he says.

Across the road, the scene is not too different in other band companies such as Shri Krishna, Bharat Brass Band, New Rajkamal or Swar Sangam. These companies too made roaring business once upon a time when brass bands were de rigueur at weddings. The band members, in all their sequined regalia, led processions through the streets announcing the arrival of the bridegroom to the neighbourhood.

Darbar’s eyes light up as he speaks of the number of bookings his band used to register during the wedding season until a few years ago. “We used to have 20 to 25 bookings every day. We had an ensemble of 60 to 70 musicians and the men used to go out in batches to various places in Pune and to Kalyan, Thane, Vadodara, Indore and even Rajasthan. Now, we have a maximum of three to five bookings a day during the wedding season,” he says.

Amod Solapurkar of Prabhat Brass Band, one of the city’s oldest and better known brass ensembles, which has been in business since 1938, says their bookings have plummeted. But he says the dr bers has n to do with popularity live bands.

“People nowadays do not like to spend lavishly on wedding due to va ous reas such as GST crunch etc our retinue would comprise 20 to 25 musicians. Now, people tell us to send only 10 to 15 members as they want to cut costs,” he says.

Most bands charge between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 for a two-hour performance while it is less for the electronic variety with a keyboard player leading the band. A brass band ensemble consists of trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, euphonium and sousaphone players.

If contending with people’s ever-changing tastes wasn’t enough for the band companies, recent laws prohibiting use of amplified and loud music past 10pm have also cut into their business.

“We can no longer play late into the night. Some villages around Pune and elsewhere too have set in place restrictions on baraats at night. The administration is quick to blame us, but it is the inebriated baraatis who fight among themselves and create a nuisance,” says Darbar.

Bands should not be singled out for causing noise pollution, says Solapurkar. His family has been in the business for four generations. “There are other forms of noise pollution too. Around 25,000 people across the country depend on this profession,” he says.

For the bandwallahs, the wedding season — April, May, June and December to January — is the most propitious they get to e most. Dar- band has n leading e procesion at Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple during Anant aturdashi the past 80 ncomes being seasonal, it is difficult for musicians who get jobs for only a few months a year “I am on contract for three months a year. When my contract ends, I return to my village in Beed and work on farms or do some odd jobs,” says Sheikh Jamal, a thapdhol player.

Most musicians are paid between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000 a month, depending on their skill and experience. They come from Solapur, Belapur, Buldhana, Beed and other areas, drawn by the prospect of an urban income.

But their numbers have dwindled too. Solapurkar says that the steady supply of musicians from villages around Pune has reduced. “We get musicians from Karnataka and other southern states,” he says, hollering at his troupe to get ready for practice. The men quickly slip into costumes, ready for another day of music.

This Pune doctor treats beggars for free

Dr Abhijeet Sonawane

PUNE: `Doctor is the second God' proverb truly describes this doctor from Pune, who treats homeless and beggars free of cost.

Dr Abhijeet Sonawane starts his day by visiting shrines and religious places and treating the elderly and physically challenged homeless people, who beg to survive. Moreover, he not only looks after the needy but also admits those in critical conditions to the government hospitals, taking care of all of their expenses.

Speaking to pune-news.com, Sonawane said, "These elderly people are generally the ones who have been abandoned by their families and have no option but to beg. I not only do their check up but also give them free medicines which I carry with me. I do this from 10 am to 3 pm from Monday to Saturday."

For these needy people, Sonawane is now like a family member, who has been helping them for almost two years now. He also has a trust named 'Soham Trust' which helps in executing this initiative. "This is my way of giving back to the society. While treating these people I build a rapport with them and then try to convince them to quit begging and do some kind of work. I also assure them of my support in all forms," said Sonawane.

Calling himself 'Doctor for beggars', Sonawane has set an example for others to emulate.

Pune-Delhi Superfast train from May 29


PUNE: The Central Railway introduced a superfast special train on special charges from Pune to Hazrat Nizamuddin to manage the extra rush of passengers on May 29.

Train No. 02099 Superfast Special will leave Pune at 12:25 am on May 29 and will arrive Hazrat Nizamuddin at 2 am the next day.

The train will halt at Chinchwad, Lonavala, Panvel, Vasai Road, Surat, Vadodara, Godhra, Ratlam, Nagda, Kota, Sawai Madhopur, Mathura, and Palwal and will comprise AC-2 Tier, AC-3 Tier, nine sleeper class coaches, two second class seating and seven general second class coaches.

Bookings will be open on May 27 at all PRS centers and the website www.irctc.co.in. The general second class coaches and second class seating coaches of these trains will run as unreserved coaches and bookings will be done through unreserved ticketing system (UTS).

Mercedes clocks production of 1 lakh cars in India

Mercedes-Benz India MD and CEO Roland Folger 

PUNE: German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz today reached cumulative production of one lakh cars in India with the rolling out of an E-Class sedan from its Chakan plant near Pune.

The company, which began its journey in India 24 years ago, said the next production milestone will be achieved sooner considering the growth that the Indian automotive market has witnessed over the past few years.

The company said in a statement that the roll out of the 1,00,000th Mercedes-Benz vehicle in India is a strong testimony of the customer trust and brand equity that it enjoys in this dynamic country. Mercedes-Benz India Managing Director and CEO Roland Folger said the achievement also reiterates the company's "commitment and we strongly believe in the India story and its potential. We will further deepen our strong connect with the Indian customers and keep continuing to fascinate them with our products and customer service.”

Folger further said that a "spiralling aspiration among young successful Indians, our extensive and expanding local portfolio, we are positive that the next production milestone will be attained even earlier." In 2014, the company had rolled out 50,000th Mercedes-Benz car from the assembly lines in Chakan. Mercedes-Benz was the first luxury automotive brand to enter the Indian market in 1994.

The W124 E-Class was the first luxury car in India's modern era which rolled out of the assembly plant of Mercedes-Benz India in Pimpri, Pune. The company has now moved the facility to Chakan near Pune with an investment of over Rs 1,000 crore. Spread over 100 acres, the plant is a part of Mercedes-Benz' global production network.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Teacher held for sexually assaulting Std X student


PUNE: The Pune Rural Police arrested a 31-year-old teacher of a private school for repeatedly raping a 15-year-old Class X student between May 9 and 11. The teacher assaulted the minor girl at his house and at his colleague’s house. He also threatened her saying that he would post her photographs on the social media.

The teacher, a resident of Baramati, was arrested after the girl told her parents about the ordeal she was going through. The girl along with her relatives went to the college on Thursday and beat up the teacher before dragging him to the police station.

The man has been arrested under section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The student’s mother lodged a complaint with the police. A police officer said the teacher called the student to the school’s laboratory on May 7 to help her in completing the study portion which she had missed.

Later on May 9, he told her to wait after school hours. “He took her to his colleague’s room on the pretext of completing the portion. There he allegedly raped the student and took her obscene photographs,” the officer said.

The teacher threatened the girl that he would make her photographs viral if she informed anybody about the incident. Again on May 11, he took the girl to his house and raped her there. “For the last one week, the teacher had been threatening and forcing her to meet him,” the officer said.

After the girl told her parents about the sexual assaults, the parents along with the girl and their relatives confronted the teacher in the school. “When the teacher started giving vague answers, the student and her parents beat him up and brought him to the police station,” the officer said.

Lohegaon airport’s new food dispenser gets robotic touch


PUNE: Across all Airports Authority of India (AAI) facilities in the country, the Lohegaon airport started a robot-assisted food dispensing machine and outlet for passengers. “The state-of-the-art machine will enhance the customer experience,” said Pune Airport director Ajay Kumar.

Apart from the food dispensing machine, the solar power plant at the airport, which was delayed by nearly three weeks, was also inaugurated. Officials stated that the plant is capable of generating 300KW of power.

“AAI’s regional executive director Keshav Sharma inaugurated the food dispensing machine. He also inaugurated the solar power plant at the airport. Food sourced from different city outlets will be available at the outlet. It is a modern machine that dispenses food once the customer makes a selection on an iPad connected to it and pays the amount through a debit/credit card or cash. A robotic arm delivers the food after heating it in the microwave oven,” Kumar said.

Much has been said about the quality of food being served at some outlets located at the airport. There have been frequent complaints from passengers about the substandard quality and price of the food. However, officials said that proper care was being taken. “Any complaint is investigated and due action is initiated. The quality of food is very important and we cannot compromise on the same,” another airport official added.

The solar power plant will save considerable energy, say officials. In March this year, 2,600 light-emitting diode (LED) lights were installed at the airport, which resulted in the load decreasing from 192KW to 80KW.

“The solar power plant has started and this will further decrease the load. Solar panels have been set up at the airport’s hangar. The cost of the project is Rs 1.27 crore. All electric equipment, like the lighting of the terminal building, baggage belts, will run on solar power. However, regular electricity option will be available as back up,” another official pointed out.

According to sources, in the future, the power generation capacity of the plant would be increased. “The new terminal building is coming up and we plan to use the same source to light it. This means that the energy generation capacity of the solar power plant will be increased,” an official shared.

PMC sets up incinerator for dignified funeral to pets


PUNE: The Pune Municipal Corporation has completed construction of an incinerator at Naidu Hospital for cremating pets and small animals. Pet lovers in Pune have been demanding a cremation facility for pets for years.

According to PMC officials, the facility has been set up by PMC’s electrical department. It will be maintained and operated by them in association with private parties. “The incinerator has been set up near PMC’s dog pond adjacent to Naidu Hospital. There was a demand from citizens and dog lovers to set up such a facility which has been met now,” said Mahendra Shinde, a senior official of PMC’s electrical department.

On an average, the civic body disposes of five to six large animals and 10 to 15 stray dogs and pigs. PMC officials said that more incinerators will be made available in the days to come. Another facility may be started soon near Mula-Mutha river in Mundhwa. The facility was shut down after objections were raised against the plant due to its proximity to the river. The facility is located 300 meters from the river and needs approval from River Red Zone committee.

“There were allegations that the remains after incineration were discharged into the river, which apart from polluting the water also posed a threat to the health of citizens. The closing of the unit meant that proper incineration facility was not available,” said a senior PMC official. “The matter is in court right now. We are hopeful that the decision will be in our favour. The decision on opening the facility will be taken after orders from the court,” said Prakash Wagh, a senior PMC official.

The civic body had initiated setting up of the unit in September 2012. It is spread over 1,800 sqft area. Apart from the incinerator, the facility also has space for servants' quarter for security guards.

Bicycle sharing company Mobike pedals into Pune


PUNE: Mobike, the Chinese bike sharing company, pedalled into Pune, on the heels of Zoom Car’s Pedl, which launched its operation in the city last year. For Mobike, India will be the 17th country of its operation. The company said it launched its operation from Kothrud and would extend its service to different areas before moving on to other cities. However, cycle tracks remain woefully inadequate in the city.

Pune Municipal Corporation representative, superintendent engineer and project officer Narendra Salunkhe, said the city had plans to develop 700 kms of cycle tracks and it should be done in 2-3 years. “The timeline for getting the entire 700 km stretch ready will depend on the availability of funds but we think it should be ready in 2-3 years,” he said.

Salunkhe said around 2,000 to 2,500 cycles had been introduced by a host of ride sharing companies and each cycle contributed to about five rides per day on an average. Cycling is thought of as a viable option to connect people over short distances. Ramnath Subramaniam, executive officer, strategic planning, MahaMetro, Pune, said all the agencies were working on a plan to include cycle as a mode of transport for shorter distances, once the Metro comes up.

While using cycle as a mode of transport gives immense benefits, there is not even a single 3-km-long stretch of road that can offer continuous and dedicated riding experience to cyclists. The one being constructed along University Road since long remains incomplete and needs “rectification.” Yet, companies are making a beeline for India, and, Pune, specifically. However, it is not uncommon to see Pedl cycles parked along the footpaths, there being hardly any takers.

Vibhor Jain, chief executive officer, Mobike India, said there was a potential for 20,000-25,000 cycles in the city. The company said Mobike did around 2 million trips in some big cities in China. Recently, images of huge unused stock of abandoned bicycles in China were flashed in news reports and across the Internet. Jain said Mobikes were zero maintenance cycles and had the necessary design element to tackle Indian roads. The company has priced its rentals at Rs 10 per ride or at Rs 99 per month for unlimited rides.

People can download the app, make payments, scan the QR code and then get going. The company said its backend could track each cycle and its movement and provide the city administration with critical inputs. For now, however, none of the ride sharing companies is thinking on the lines of providing any docking station for cycles. They believe that the cycles will more or less be in use and not require too much of rest. Cycles in some places continue to clog footpaths when not in use.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

NIV rules out further spread of Nipah virus


PUNE: The National Institute of Virology (NIV) said the outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala was limited to a small geographic area and that there was no threat of epidemic in the country. “There’s no need to panic. The outbreak in Kerala is limited to a small geographic area in nature. It is not going to spread further,” NIV director Devendra Mourya.

Anxiety gripped many parts of northern Kerala as more people showed symptoms suspected to be those caused by the Nipah virus, even as the death toll rose to 10 after a nurse at the government hospital in Perambra - the epicentre of the contagious fever - died on Monday.

Nipah virus is spread by fruit bats and infects both animals and humans. The first outbreak of the virus in India was confirmed in Siliguri, West Bengal, in 2001. Mourya said, “All bats are not infected with Nipah virus. Only the Pteropus species (fruit eating bats) are known reservoirs for the virus. The virus remains as an enzootic disease among the bat population at a very low level. A very small proportion of bats secretes the virus. Human beings rarely come into contact of the infected secretion and develop the disease.”

The scientists used real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method and IgM Elisa test to confirm the presence of Nipah virus in Kerala. “We used throat swab, urine and blood samples of suspected patients to confirm the presence of the virus,” Mourya said.

“The outbreak indicates that the virus is prevalent in Kerala. This is the first time that the presence of the virus is confirmed in Kerala,” Mourya said. This virus is known to cause human-to-human transmission. “Hospital staffers need to strictly use the proper personal protective equipment, follow personal hygiene and infection control practices,” Mourya said.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the illness caused by the virus. The treatment method is symptomatic.

Honouring transgender women who broke norms

Mauli Kamble, a transwoman and sarpanch of a village in Malshej
area of Maharashtra, being felicitated by the sponsors of the event

PUNE: Recently Balgandharva Rang Mandir saw a gathering of transwomen from different walks of life who achieved success in their professional endeavours. They were felicitated by famous personalities, including actor Vikram Gokhale, and Meghraj Raje Bhosale, producer and president of all-India Marathi film corporation.While the function did not attract a full house audience, the presence of at least 80-90 enthusiasts enlivened the maiden gathering.

The transwomen felicitated at the event included Ranjeeta Nayak, Mauli Kamble, Chandani Gorhe, Sonali Dalvi, Panna Gabriel, Disha Shaikh, Prerna Waghela, Aishwarya, Sanchita Patil and Rishika. While Nayak and Gabriel could not make it in person, the others arrived in colourful ensembles at the event.

Nayak is known for providing safe haven to transgenders in Ganesh peth area of Pune. Her colleague, Laachi Pune, made some compelling points while addressing the sponsors of the event. She made a request for a ward for transgenders at leading government hospitals in the city, help against harassment at the hands of extortionists and from mistreatment by the police, and the initiation of a government-approved identity for each transwoman.

"I hope the sponsors will take up the challenge and extend support in the area where we need it," said Pune. Mauli Kamble, a transgender and the sarpanch of a village in Malshej area of Maharashtra, arrived with a two-inch kumkum on her forehead - the trademark she is known for in her village.

Shaikh read out a heartfelt poem highlighting the plight of transwomen, who are considered to be sacred beings, but cannot find respect even in death. "Ichalkaranji government recently released Rs. 20 lakh for transgenders. I hope Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) does something similar," said Shaikh.

SpiceJet announces 10 new domestic flights

PUNE (GURUGRAM): SpiceJet, an airline company, announced the launch of 10 new flights on domestic routes. Deploying its Bombardier Q-400 aircraft on these routes, SpiceJet will strengthen its network across South India with new flights and additional frequencies.

The airline is all set to introduce daily direct flights on the Chennai-Mangaluru-Chennai sector starting 16th June, 2018. SpiceJet will enhance its operations on the Hyderabad-Rajahmundry, Chennai-Kozhikode, Bengaluru-Kozhikode with an additional evening flight on each of these sectors and introduce its third flight on the Chennai-Hyderabad route.

Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales & Revenue Officer - SpiceJet, said, “SpiceJet is on the path of a major fleet expansion which means new routes and destinations for our customers. We have introduced evening flights on key sectors which will operate in addition to the existing morning flights and help business travellers conveniently plan same day trips.”

Starting 16th June, the new flights introduced on the Chennai-Hyderabad and Chennai-Mangaluru sectors will be operational daily. Whereas the frequencies introduced on the Chennai-Kozhikode and Bengaluru-Kozhikode routes will be operational on all days except Tuesdays. Also the second frequency introduced on the Hyderabad-Rajahmundry route, commencing operations on 25th May 2018 will be operational on all days except Saturdays.

Moreover with the new flights charted, passengers from destinations like Rajahmundry can now also easily travel to a host of other cities both on SpiceJet’s domestic as well as international network via multiple onward connections from Hyderabad. Bookings for tickets are now open on www.spicejet.com, SpiceJet’s mobile app and through online travel portals and travel agents.

PMC to curb use of tap water for commercial purpose


PUNE: Rajendra Nimbalkar, Pune’s additional municipal commissioner, who currently also holds the charge of the post of municipal commissioner, has said strict action will be taken against water tankers owners filling tankers “illegally” and “selling the same for commercial purposes.”

Nimbalkar was responding to questions raised by media which has revealed extensive corruption and illegalities involving water supply to the city. Media has exposed how Pune is in the grip of a water tanker mafia that operates an annual cash business worth an estimated Rs 100 crore. Corporators across political parties raised the issue at the general body meeting on Monday, demanding action from the administration on the “illegal water trade being run by tankers.”

Avinash Bagwe, Congress leader said that water tankers tapping water from PMC pipelines. Bagwe said, “One one hand residents are not getting water to drink and on the other hand, tanker operators are selling water for commercial purposes.”

Former mayor Dattatray Dhankawade also urged the General body meeting to ensure action is taken against the tanker mafia. “There are many malpractices as concerns water-tankers in the city and an inquiry is needed. Tanker operators are mainly using drinking water for commercial purposes”.

As the voices against the water supply malfeasance grew, mayor Mukta Tilak intervened and instructed the administration to ensure proper management of the city’s water. Commissioner Nimbalkar said, “It is shocking that the PMC water sources are being misused. I am noting the detailed information and will take strict action.”

Saturday, 12 May 2018

MCCIA to conduct Entrepreneurial Aptitude test


PUNE: MCCIA and Jnana Prabodhini are conducting the Entrepreneur’s Aptitude Measurement Test, based on a Battery of Entrepreneurship Aptitude Measurement (BEAM) developed and administered by Jnana Prabohini Samshodhan Sanstha.

This test is based on a psychometric tool which helps in identifying the potentials in the entrepreneurs. It includes some mental abilities, measurement entrepreneurial potential, knowing your inclination, Achievement Motivation, Orientations, Coping Strategies and checklists indicating core facets of entrepreneurial personality.

The test will identify the potentials one needs to be a successful entrepreneur and also help to explore resources that one can use to develop the traits needed to become a successful business professional. This test is recommended for the first time entrepreneurs and also for the second generation who are on the verge of entering into their family business.

This is a paper and pencil test, available both in English and Marathi which comprises of a couple of sub-tests which are administered over a period of 3 hours with small breaks in between. No preparation is required by the candidates to appear for the test.

The test is scheduled on 26th May, 7th June, 9th June and 21st June, 2018 at Tilak Road, MCCIA. The timings for the test would be 10 am to 1 pm and will start sharp at 10 am. To avail of this facility please contact Mr. Lalit Waykole, Email:lalitw@mcciapune.com, Tel : 020-25709196, Cell: 9850229259.

MITSOT to mark World Telecom, Information Society Day


PUNE: MIT School of Technology Management (MITSOT) is organizing a special program to mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May 2018 at MIT WPU Kothrud premises from 9.00 am onwards.

The program is in the form of a half day conference with the theme “AI Technology for Peacebuilding.” Various experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence will speak on the occasion. The program is open to all students especially those interested in artificial intelligence.

Dr Milind Pande , Project Director MITSOT said that since its inception in 2007, MITSOT, has been taking forward this vision by celebrating this important initiative and awarding leading ICT players for their outstanding contributions in their respective fields.

​He added that in recent years there has been significant progress in AI technology, with  advances in Big Data, machine learning, computing power, storage capacity and cloud computing, among others. AI-based technologies are already emerging as a key component of proactive tools and applications being used to help people lead better lives by improving healthcare, education, finance, agriculture, transportation, and a wide range of other services.

MP Govt hires Pune firm to explore job prospects


PUNE (BHOPAL): With Assembly polls just a few months away, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh has roped in a private talent management company to shore up job prospects and impart necessary skills to youths.The Opposition Congress has, however, dubbed the move as an "eyewash" aimed at "misleading" youths in the time of elections which are due by the year-end.

Madhya Pradesh has created an average of 17,600 jobs every year in the past 13 years of the BJP rule (2004-2017), according to an official data presented in the Assembly during the budget session. Now, a private player has been entrusted with the task of scouting employment opportunities in the non-government sector and enhancing job-getting skills of the state's unemployed.

Madhya Pradesh State Skill Development and Employment Generation Board chairman Hemant Vijayrao Deshmukh said, "In a bid to generate more jobs for youths, the state government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pune-based Yashasvi Academy for Talent Management Pvt Ltd.

"This company would turn the employment exchanges in 15 districts into placement centres under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode." The MoU will cover 15 districts - Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur, Rewa, Gwalior, Sagar, Ujjain, Hoshangabad, Shahdol, Dhar, Khargone, Dewas, Singrauli, Satna and Katni.

The Congress, however, said this step of the BJP government would benefit only the private company. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh of the Congress said, "Why has the BJP government woke up after 14 years? It is just trying to mislead youths. In any case, the BJP is going to be defeated in the coming elections.

"In the recent budget session, the government admitted that unemployment has gone up by 16.4 per cent." Singh said the BJP government has failed to deliver on the employment front. "Where are two crore jobs that the BJP had promised. Youths are under depression due to lack of jobs."

Deshmukh, however, believes the MoU with the Pune firm would definitely benefit the state's unemployed youths. He said, "We have set a target of facilitating jobs for one lakh youths. Apart from making job opportunities available in the private sector, the company would also impart skills in writing curriculum vitae (CV) besides working for personality development of unemployed youths."

The agreement would boost the job sector as employment exchanges were fast losing their relevance, the board chairman said. Apart from preparing unemployed persons as per market demand, job fairs and career counselling sessions will be organised by the company, Deshmukh said.

Jobs will be made available to applicants in their respective area of interest, he said. Deshmukh said Yashasvi Academy would manage the cost of running placement centres in coordination with companies which would provide jobs. The Berojgar Sena, an outfit of unemployed youths, however, is not enthused by the move. Instead of improving employment exchanges, the government has been making efforts to shut them down, it said.

"According to private estimates, there are over 75 lakh unemployed youths in the state and through this PPP agreement, the government plans to provide jobs to one lakh youths. "So, it will take 75 years to provide jobs to the current number of the unemployed," said Sena convener Akshay Hunka.

More than five lakh unemployed youths are getting added every year, he said. "This MoU was signed only to mislead youths ahead of the Assembly elections. The state government has completely failed on the employment front," Hunka maintained. The Economic Survey-2018, presented during the budget session, said the number of registered educated unemployed in MP stood at 11.24 lakh by 2016-end.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Vascon introduces Goodlife value homes at Talegaon

(L-R) Dr. Santosh Sundararajan - Group CEO,
R. Vasudevan - Chairman, Siddharth Vasudevan – MD
and Rajesh Mhatre, CEO 

PUNE: Vascon Engineers Ltd, one of the most trusted and renowned developer headquartered in Pune, announced its foray into the value housing segment with the launch of its new project Vascon Goodlife, located at Katvi, Talegaon. 

The project that offers 1RK, 1BHK and 2BHK homes aims at providing not just affordable, but value homes with a strong focus on nurturing learning and growth making it a first-of-its kind learning infrastructure in a residential project.

The project boasts of amenities for all age groups, such as library, study rooms in each tower, online education room with computers. In the initial phase, the company will be launching approximately 500 units that will comprise of 6 and 11 storeyed buildings. Spread across 10 acres, Goodlife is well connected to the Old Mumbai-Pune highway and Mumbai-Pune expressway and is well within close proximity to IT, ITES and Industrial hubs.

Siddharth Vasudevan, MD, Vascon Engineers Ltd, said, “There has been a huge rise in the demand for affordable housing projects in recent times. The increased urban migration as well as the various initiatives by the Government of India has fuelled the growth in housing needs. Our project Vascon Goodlife is a first ever value homes project that will focus on nurturing, learning and growth. By utilizing technology and expertise, the project offers a unique value addition for each and every member of the family. Vascon with a legacy of over three decades has been known for its commitment to excellence and delivering value for money for its customers and we will continue to strive for providing inspiring environments.”

Pune’s real estate market has benefited not only from its proximity to Mumbai but also its own dynamic market drivers in the IT/ITeS, manufacturing and services industries. However, the tremendous construction activity and price growth in rapidly saturating regions of the city has pushed spill over residential demand to more affordable areas like Talegaon, which are simultaneously seeing rapid infrastructure upgrades.

Man assaulted for refusing sexual advances in Pune


PUNE: A man was booked for assaulting another with a knife after the latter refused the former’s sexual advances. While the complainant is a 29-year-old, the accused is a 40-year-old married man and was identified only as H Kukreja , according to police.

The two men live in two areas under Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). The two have known each other for a few years, said police inspector (Crime) Ranganath Unde of Hinjewadi police station.

A case under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered against Kukreja. The two were walking on the service road along the stretch of the Pune-Bengaluru Highway on Tuesday night, when the 40-year-old made demands of sexual acts from the 29-year-old, according to his complaint.

"There is no case of forced sexual act. The complaint is of assault. The complainant has said that the accused made sexual advances, he refused and was, thus attacked," said PI Unde.

Assistant police inspector (API) Vanita Dhumal was investigating the case earlier. However, API GS Dhamne of Hinjewadi police station is now investigating the case.

While the 29-year-old is currently unemployed, the accused owns a shop in Pimpri area of PCMC, according to PI Unde. The two men had consensual sexual relations, according to the complaint.

The police have not yet arrested the 40-year-old man and are on a lookout for him. The man recently married a woman. Meanwhile, police suspect that Kukreja may have also been attacked.