NRI: Replace Faulty Passports

Indians Told to Get Faulty Passports Replaced
K.S. Ramkumar, Arab News

JEDDAH, 30 April 2008 — The Consulate General of India has been replacing passports bearing numbers of a particular series free of charge.

“Passports bearing serial numbers starting from Z-000001 to Z-043100 are being replaced with new ones without the usual fee as the numbers have been duplicated while printing them in India,” Indian Consul General Ausaf Sayeed told Arab News yesterday.

The serial numbers referred to were printed in India in 1995-96 and they are all of 60-page jumbo booklets, which were distributed globally to all diplomatic missions, he added.

“There is no need to panic about this. There is nothing alarming about it,” he said. “We have been contacting the passport holders of concerned serial numbers individually and a few of them have already got them replaced. Jumbo passports are opted for by only a few individuals and so the affected number of passports is not big,” he added. He did not give a number for the affected expatriates.

“All that such passport holders should do is visit the consulate here and the replacement will be done forthwith free of charge,” Sayeed said.

He also clarified that the passports concerned were not canceled, but it was better for the bearers of such passports to get them replaced to avoid any inconvenience in future. “Abundant precautions have been taken to see that travel plans of such passport holders are not affected. Visa endorsements on existing passports will remain valid,” he said.

A consulate official said those already in India with the affected passports should visit the nearest passport office and get new ones issued.


Govt recalls 46,000 Z-series passports

Daniel P George | TNN

Chennai: Nearly 46,000 people across the country will have to surrender their passports and get them exchanged for new ones, as the government has recalled passports with serial numbers Z-000001 to Z-045925, most of them issued in Dubai.

“The government has issued instructions that all Indian passports with serial numbers Z-000001 to Z-045925 are to be recalled and new passports issued in their place,” a release said. Though the official announcement did not specify the reason for the recall, sources here say there could be chances of some of the passports issued in Dubai, falling into “wrong hands”. Holders of the ‘Z’ series of passports will now have to submit fresh applications. While those in Dubai can approach the Indian Consulate there, those in India can approach the regional passport office concerned.

Sources in the MEA’s passport and visa division in New Delhi, however, said that passports were being recalled not just from Dubai but from all over the world. They added that this was because of a technical error in these travel documents.

Sources in the Chennai International Airport said immigration officials have been asked to look out for the passport, especially with passengers from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) sources in Mumbai police said: ‘‘We and the immigration authorities at the Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport have special instructions to keep a watch for passports of the ‘Z’ series. ’’

Dubai’s population increased from 1.130 million in 2005 to 1.422 million in 2006, with Indians adding to the growth. People from TN, who constitute about 20% of UAE population, are a worried lot as they could face problems while travelling.

Andher Nagari: POLICE in NOIDA, UP

NOIDA is acheiving the status of crime capital of UP.

Motorcycle gangs openly and boldly strike at will, kidnap children , snatch chains, snatch cars, shoot people and coolly ride away.

Police is ineffective for many reasons.

They are understaffed (one third of actual requirement of personnel only available); their PCR vans can run only for 150 km per month (due to restrictions on petrol usage, and to prevent misuse), political interference etc.

Now we hear that even phones are not functional in the Police stations. They have been disconnected due to non payment of dues!

If the end results were not so tragic, you would be dismissing the state of NOIDA and its police force as a joke.

Police phones out of order

WITH telephone lines in five major police stations — Greater Noida, Kasna, Surajpur, Jarcha and Jahangirpur — lying defunct, nearly 40,000 people are bereft of any way to report criminal activities. And, if they call up the respective station officers ( SO), chances are their calls will go unanswered. Given the situation, residents and industrialists in Greater Noida have complained about a total loss of communication facilities between them and the local police.

“ Two weeks back, there was a theft in our locality. But when we tried to call up the Kasna police station, we found the number was not working. And by the time we managed to obtain the number of the SO, the miscreants had fled. We didn’t have any option but to go to the station after an hour. Had we passed on the information to police there and then, the thieves could have been caught,” said Kishor Mehta, a resident of Alpha- II, Greater Noida.

The police said the telephones have been out- of- order for the last four- five months due to nonpayment.

A. K. Vijeta, SP ( rural) Gautam Budh Nagar said, “ BSNL has agreed to reconnect the lines, with one- way use. We are trying to pay off the bills so that they can be used both ways.

” akash. vashishtha@ mailtoday. in

NRI:Indian student commits suicide in Ossining, Westchester, NY, US

Mentally disturbed Indian student commits suicide in US

New York: A former doctoral student from India, who had become homeless and mentally unstable, committed suicide by jumping off a bridge near New York.

Ganesh Santhanakrishnan, 27, died on April 3, soon after being released from the Westchester Medical Centre’s psychiatric unit and three years after moving to the US from Chennai.

The police held back his identity so far while making contact with his family in India. He had been living the life of a loner in Ossining in Westchester county after losing his computer-related job in New Jersey.

“He was alone in the country and apparently was experiencing some significant mental issues,” a police investigator told a local paper, The Journal News.

Santhanakrishnan’s mother told the paper from Chennai that he was an academically accomplished but fun-loving guy whose life went downhill after he lost student funding.
His neighbours in Ossining said that over the past year he exhibited increasingly erratic behaviour, like chasing cars, chanting in the middle of the night, and once even running after a mailman with a log of wood.

Santhanakrishnan, who had no criminal record, was arrested last month. After a week in jail, he was evaluated in the Westchester Medical Centre.

After losing his job in October last, he vacated his apartment, and started living in a concrete bunker storage space.

Back in India, Santhanakrishnan’s parents suspected he was going through a rough patch with the job search and urged him to return home.

In November, his father asked his sister, who was visiting the US from India, to check up on him. That was when the family learned of his homeless living arrangements

Extracts from

Armed with a freshly minted engineering degree from a prestigious college in India, Santhanakrishnan arrived at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2002 to pursue graduate degrees in computer science.

“To my son, America was a wonderland, a dreamland, where scholars are rewarded for their work, and he wanted to fulfill his ambition to receive a doctorate and make a career for himself,” his inconsolable mother, Radha Santhanakrishnan, cried over the phone from Chennai, India. “But none of that came true for him.”

Many of his friends from his undergraduate college days at the National Institute of Technology in Trichy, India, remember him as extremely studious, but fun-loving.

“He loved to read Frederick Forsyth novels, and had the most infectious laugh,” said Girishankar Gurumurthy, 27, who works for Texas Instruments in Bangalore, India.

These descriptions, however, bear little resemblance to what neighbors in Ossining witnessed during the past nine months. Santhanakrishnan seemed to descend into a mental abyss, howling into the night, sleeping in a storage shed. He had lost an extreme amount of weight. Gurumurthy himself viewed a recent picture of his old friend and said he hardly could recognize the man he knew in college.

Santhanakrishnan, who had no criminal record, was arrested in March. After a week in jail, he was evaluated in Westchester Medical Center’s psychiatric unit, then released – the day before he committed suicide.

After graduating with a master’s in computer science in spring 2005, Santhanakrishnan spent another year pursuing a Ph.D. in the Information Sciences Department at Pittsburgh.

“Ganesh had several technical publications,” said his academic adviser, Paul Munro. “He had published significantly more than most students at his stage, and he was generally acknowledged to be quite bright and very hardworking.”

Though the university would not comment on why Santhanakrishnan didn’t complete his doctoral program, his father, Santhanakrishnan Rajaraman, said he had stopped receiving funding. That’s when he took a computer-related job near Ossining, his father said.

Santhanakrishnan moved into 32 Old Albany Post Road in October 2006 after answering an online ad for a housemate. Aron Schor, 29, lived with Santhanakrishnan for the first six months.

“He was a little geeky, Asperger’s-like (referring to a condition characterized by difficulties in social interaction), but no red flags,” Schor said. “We never really connected.”

Schor remembers Santhanakrishnan as having turned up the thermostat to 85 degrees on the day he moved in. “I thought that was rather rude. But he told us he was sensitive to cold and would be willing to pay a larger share of the bill.”

Every morning Santhanakrishnan would put on a button-down shirt and khaki pants and sling a laptop on his shoulder as he headed off to work, Schor said. But neither his family nor his friends knew the name of the company he worked for.

Things seemed to have been going fine, at least until Schor, who works in customer service at NBC Sports, moved out of the apartment in March 2007.

“When I left, he was polite and said I could call him if I ever needed anything,” said Schor, who now lives in Stamford, Conn.

During the summer, Santhanakrishnan applied for a position at Ajel Technologies, an Edison, N.J., information technology services company.

“He was offered a job around August,” said Sandhya Dantuluri, Ajel’s human resources manager. “But he never showed up,” and the company rescinded the offer after a waiting period, the resources manager said.

That was around the time neighbors started noticing changes in Santhanakrishnan’s behavior.

“It was late summer, and I would have my windows open, and hear him screaming and swearing loudly. He was clearly mad at someone,” said Dianna Diloreto, who lived across the street at the time. “He did that almost every night.”

Many of Santhanakrishnan’s outbursts were witnessed by workers at a car-repair shop, Corvettes of Westchester, directly opposite the curving, narrow road from the two-story, white-and-red stucco home where Santhanakrishnan had now lived for a year.

“Initially it was like, he was just weird, like someone from another culture. He wouldn’t get some of the things that he was being told,” said Joe Bellantoni, 36, who works part time at the shop. “One time he came here asking if I could fix the window on his car, and I asked him to go to a body shop because we don’t fix cars like his. But he just kept saying, ‘But you fix cars.’ “

By October, Santhanakrishnan vacated his apartment, telling neighbors he had lost his job.

He started renting a “12×12 concrete bunker” storage space off an alley behind the building for $200 a month to store his belongings, said Chris Hlavatovic, a tenant at the multifamily dwelling. He also was permitted to use the driveway to park his car.

But unbeknownst to anyone in the building, or the landlord, Santhanakrishnan started living in the bunker.

Back in India, Santhanakrishnan’s parents suspected he was going through a rough patch with the job search and urged him to return there. He forbade his parents from calling him again.

In November, Santhanakrishnan’s father asked his sister, who was visiting the United States from India, to check up on his son.

That’s when the family learned of his living arrangements. The aunt persuaded Santhanakrishnan to talk with his father, with whom he had not been in touch since May. That was the last time the two spoke.

“We tried to convince him to go back to India, but he didn’t want to hear it,” said his cousin, 35-year-old Balaraman Venkataraman of East Brunswick, N.J. “He was afraid that, if he went back, he may not be able to come back again. My mother offered him money, which he didn’t accept. He was determined to find a job here and become successful.”

Though Venkataraman acknowledged his cousin seemed depressed, he said he wasn’t alarmed.

Did he ask him to see a doctor?

“No. How can you ask a normal person to do that? He was a state rank holder in school,” Venkataraman said. “He was having a hard time with his job search, and we thought he would feel better when he found one.”

But to neighbors, he seemed to be getting worse.

“He would stand by the side of the road and chase down cars,” Bellantoni said. “He would clap loudly in the middle of the night.”

Santhanakrishnan was arrested March 11, accused of breaking into the Ossining home’s boiler room, where he had been using the slop sink, police said. He was charged with criminal mischief and trespass, and was held in the Westchester County jail with bail set at $500. After spending time in the jail’s psychiatric ward, he was sent to the medical center’s mental health unit on the same Valhalla campus.

Two weeks later, on April 2, Santhanakrishnan was discharged from the hospital and returned to Ossining to get his belongings, as he had been asked to leave the premises by his landlord.

Upon reaching the apartment, Santhanakrishnan realized he didn’t have the keys to his car, still parked in the driveway. He walked to the car-repair shop to ask whether someone could help him open it, and to use the phone.

“The boy at the shop didn’t want him there, he was afraid, and he didn’t let him use the phone,” Bellantoni said. “Ganesh then walked back and flagged down a cab.”

He killed himself the next day, leaving behind many questions about what could have been done to prevent the tragedy.

“I should have done more to get him out of that place,” Venkataraman said. “And I don’t know why the hospital didn’t try to contact any of his friends or relatives before releasing him.”

A Westchester Medical Center spokesman said it was the hospital’s policy not to comment on any patient treated in the psych ward.

Santhanakrishnan’s 2001 gray Hyundai – with a 2008 inspection sticker – was still parked in the driveway on Sunday. A side window displayed an New York Police Department sticker that announced: “The Greatest Detectives in the World,” and a U.S. flag lay above the back seat.

Santhanakrishnan’s parents are awaiting their son’s body, en route to India.

“My son has suffered a lot, both mentally and physically,” Radha Santhanakrishnan said. “I want his body to be brought home, and I want to make the ceremonial offerings to his spirit of all the foods I was not able to feed him all these years. I have only one son, and I have now lost him.”

Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy at or 914-694-5004.

NRI:Indian student stabbed in Melbourne, Australia, critical

Melbourne: A 23-year-old Indian student, working as a taxi driver, was brutally stabbed and left bleeding on the roadside here today.

The Indian, who was lying injured for over two hours, was found at 6 AM local time disoriented and with hypothermia near a hotel in Clifton Hill, several hundred metres from his smashed car and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

The victim, whose name has not been released, had stab wounds in the upper body and the homicide squad has been notified “as a precaution,” police said.

The Indian had apparently just started doing night shifts driving the cabs.

According to detective Senior Constable Brendan Smith, the suspect was possibly a passenger who might have driven the taxi a short distance after the attack before it collided with a power pole.

Smith said the police were unclear of the motives and had not been able to talks to the victim due to his condition.

“We are unclear of the motives. We believe there was one other person in the taxi,” he said Victoria Police were reviewing CCTV footage from the taxi and have released photos that might help identify the attacker.

Taxi drivers blockaded a major intersection in central Melbourne to protest the incident.

The secretary of the Victorian taxi drivers association, Pritam Singh Gill, said about 200 cabbies were blockading Swanston street to demand that all vehicles be fitted immediately with security screens.

“The drivers are very upset with this,” he said. “The Government promised us the security for drivers 18 months ago and they haven’t done anything so far,” Gill was quoted as saying by media here.

Students: Canada welcomes

Canada lures Indian students IANS

Canada has rolled out a new open work permit scheme to attract foreign students – a move that may lure away Indian students from their favourite destinations like the US, Britain and Australia.

Under the new scheme, announced by the Canadian government Thursday, foreign students going to Canada will now be able to get an open work permit under a post-graduate programme, with virtually no restrictions on the type of employment and no requirement of a job offer.

Previously, international students were allowed to work for one or two years, depending on location.

The duration of the work permit has been increased to three years to ensure easier employment opportunities to target foreign students in an increasingly competitive global education market.

“The government of Canada wants more foreign students to choose Canada,” Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley said in a statement, released by the Canadian High Commission here.

“Open and longer work permits provide international students with more opportunities for Canadian work experience… This will help make Canada a destination of choice, and help us keep international students already studying in Canada,” the minister added.

Canada is not a preferred destination for Indian students, but the last decade has seen a spurt in interest in Canadian universities.

A total of 5,700 Indian students were studying in Canada in 2007 while 2,531 study permits were issued to Indians that year. This was a big jump from 339 Indian students who went to Canada in 1997.

Over 80,000 Indian students study in the US, forming the largest number of foreign students in that country. Around 19,000 Indian students went to Britain last year.

India has emerged as a battleground for foreign universities looking for bright students. British universities rolling out their education roadshows for Indian students and the US easing visa procedures to sustain the flow of the “best and brightest” shows that none of these countries want to lose out in the race.

Canada has crafted this new scheme to address severe shortage of skilled personnel that is affecting the global competitiveness of its economy.

“As we move toward the implementation of the Canadian Experience Class, these changes will help create a pool of individuals who, with work experience, will find it easier to apply to immigrate to Canada,” said the Canadian minister.

“Our ability to retain international graduates with Canadian qualifications, work experience and familiarity with Canadian society, will help increase our competitiveness and benefit Canada as a whole,” said the minister.

A Study in Contrast: Delhi Metro & BRT

A Study in Contrast: Delhi Metro & BRT

Planning & Execution of Metro and the BRT projects, both in Delhi, are apt subjects for a case study.

One is a clear case of success and another a clear case of abject failure.

Every other person in Delhi administration and the Central Government is rushing forward to inaugurate sections of Delhi Metro.

BRT the ill conceived and badly executed project is an orphan, at least in public.

However the insistence of the Delhi administration and the Chief Minister of Delhi to ram the BRT project through, in spite of obvious flaws, over the last twelve months is indeed strange.

Still stranger is the insistence till yesterday that additional 4 BRT projects will be taken up.

What can be the reason for the insistence for pushing through an obviously defective project which has caused five deaths already and turned an entire stretch of six km into utter chaos ?

Does the BRT project have the ‘blessings’ of some one who is obviously high and mighty ?

Delhi Metro

15 Nov 08

Metro runs ahead of deadline

6.36 Km Jehangirpuri Extension May Open By Dec Or Jan


New Delhi: There’s good news for residents of north Delhi. With the Delhi Metro extension from Vishwavidyalay to Jehangirpuri nearing completion, the corporation started trial runs on the new line on Friday. The 6.36 km long extension will be opened for public in December this year or early January 2009, a good 10 months before the scheduled date.
The trial runs began from the GTB Nagar metro station at 10 am, following a brief puja and went on successfully till 5 pm. ‘‘During the first day trial runs, the interaction of the Metro train with physical infringement or civil structures was checked to ensure that there was no physical blockage during the movement of the train on tracks between Vishwavidyalay and Jahangirpuri,’’ said a Delhi
Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson. The signalling system, based on Automatic Train Operation (ATO), and radio communication apparatus will also be tested while the trial runs are underway.
On Monday, the train was made to move slowly — at a speed of 25 kmph. But this will gradually be increased to 50 kmph and ultimately touch the maximum speed of 80 kmph as the trials progress. The aim is to see how the train responds at different speeds, including the braking and connection with the Operations Control Centre (OCC).
As the systems are put under test, it will also be checked for safety parametres to ensure that it is secure for passenger use.
The trial runs will carry on for a period of five weeks — one train set will be used for the first three weeks, two sets will be use in the fourth week and more will be added after that. The checks will continue round the clock. Other systems fited at stations — like fare collection, escalators and lifts, telecom and auxiliary systems will also be tested alongside.
The new section, which was earlier scheduled for a October 2009 opening, has five stations — GTB Nagar, Model Town, Azadpur, Adarsh Nagar and Jehangirpuri — out of which one is underground (GTB Nagar). This section will be integrated with the existing 11 km Line 2 from Central Secretariat to Vishwavidyalaya. This will require special focus on integration and extension of the existing signalling system to the new section.

Phase I : 65 Km already completed

Phase II : 118 Km under construction , to be completed by 2010

Phase-II trial today, 7 months early

New Delhi: There’s good news for Delhiites waiting for Delhi Metro’s under-construction lines to get operational. If everything goes all right, the first section of Phase II of Metro operations will be opened for public about seven months ahead of schedule.

The 3.1 km long section — from Shahdara to Dilshad Garden — will be operational for public by May 2008, as against the deadline of December 2008. ‘‘Trial runs on the Shahdara-Dilshad Garden metro line will begin on April 27, and a Metro train is entering the section for the purpose. Work on the section has been completed a good eight months before the target date and the line should be operational for public by May this year,’’ said Anuj Dayal, chief public relations officer of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

The new section has three Metro stations, at Mansarovar Park, Jhilmil and Dilshad Garden, and has been under construction since August 2006. With the construction, track laying and signalling work complete, the trial runs will check the readiness of civil works, electrical connections, signalling and telecom and the operational interface of the system. The trials are expected to continue for 3 to 4 weeks.

The finishing work at the stations, meanwhile, is going on and will be completed by the time section is opened for the public.

Built at a cost of Rs 89.30 crore, the new section is fully elevated. As all the three Metro stations of the line are located on the side of the road, foot overbridges have been provided. Furthermore, 12 escalators and a total of 16 automatic fare collection gates have been put up to make the ride hassle-free. All stations on the line have provision for rain water harvesting.

Meanwhile, commissioner for Metro rail safety, Bhupinder Singh is expected to inspect this section on April 29 to check its operational and safety readiness.

The Delhi Metro network is going to expand by another 125 kms in Phase II, as part of which all the under construction lines will be completed by end of 2010. Construction of 12 Metro corridors is presently underway in Delhi and another three extensions are coming up in Gurgaon, Noida and Ghaziabad.

At present, the city’s Metro spans across 65 kms. The three operational lines of Phase I — from Shahdara to Rithala, Central Secretariat to Vishvyavidyala and Dwarka to Indraprastha — were completed two years and nine months ahead of schedule by DMRC.

BRT Delhi

Extracts from HT

National BRT jammed?

Why were no lessons learnt from Pune? It is the same sit- uation here in Pune like what is be- ing experienced in Delhi. Interminable jams, chaotic traffic, total confusion, mixed traffic in BRT Ianes and general mayhem .

Pune Corridor’s architects failed in Pune last year. So why were they allowed to experiment in Delhi?

Sidhartha Roy and Yogesh Joshi

New Delhi/Pune

THE BRAINS behind the much-criticised Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor went all the way to faraway Bogota and Curitiba to draw inspiration from their BRT systems. If they had only looked closer home at Pune, Delhiites might have been spared the punishment they are facing on the 5.8km Ambedkar Nagar-Moolchand every day Pune got the country’s first BRT system, which was implemented one-and-a-half years ago.

What was presented as a panacea for Pune’s continuously worsening traffic condition has only worsened the traffic situation there. The much-publicised new traffic mode created major controversy in the first few months of its implementation when the city saw five casualties on the BRT stretch. Lack of awareness about the new system and inadequate traffic sense were the main culprits.

The Pune BRT is the brainchild of the same people who have designed the Delhi BRT,  IIT-Delhi’s Transport Research and Injury Prevention Programme. The opening of the first segment of the Pune BRT corridor resulted in enormous chaos, which continues till date. “It is the same situation in Pune like in Delhi. Interminable jams, chaotic traffic, total confusion, mixed traffic in BRT lanes and general mayhem,” said Rahul Pawar, an associate of NGO People’s Action in Pune who is a member of a local citizen’s group ‘Better Roads for Pune’.

Despite having the benefit of a failed project’s experience with them, the BRT authorities have refused to learn from mistakes.

“Each city has its own unique conditions and problems but those building the Delhi BRT should have learnt from the mistakes in Pune,” said Sujit Patwardhan, a Pune-based traffic expert and member of the Pune Transport and Traffic Forum. “The BRT is a good concept but its implementation in Pune saw delays and designs faults, which resulted in the terrible chaos in the beginning that still persists to some extent,” he said.

He said the problems faced in Pune and now in Delhi resemble each other closely Sadly the BRT authorities and the brains behind the project refused to learn from mistakes.

Rs 4 Cr More To Go On Bid To Salvage Project

Abantika Ghosh | TNN

New Delhi: The Delhi government has decided to give the chaotic BRT corridor more time even as the situation at ‘ground zero’ showed little improvement with the current stretch under development still taking 40-45 minutes to traverse. But the city government has put on hold other BRT corridors it has been planning.

The meeting saw a concerned chief minister Sheila Dikshit taking several agencies to task. She pointedly told one of the BRT’s ‘conceptual’ authors, IIT Delhi don Geetam Tiwari, that she wanted solutions to the problems that had surfaced and these must convince the public. A similar message was delivered to other stake holders.

The government has been forced onto the defensive by the outpouring of public opposition to the corridor and its concerns were reflected at the meeting. The CM has made it evident that the concept is hardly sacrosanct and will be adapted to real-time needs. There will be no further work on the BRT corridor between Moolchand and Delhi Gate till problems on the 5.8 km stretch between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand are resolved. Two parallel roads will be constructed at Saket near Press Enclave and two foot overbridges will also come up.

Though no official estimate of costs was forthcoming, sources say that the plans would entail an expenditure of at least Rs 4 crore more on the Rs 60 crore stretch.

Gas Trouble : Customers cheated with underfilled LPG cylinders

Government officials confirm what customers have always known


LPG raids confirm you pay full for half weight

Ambika Pandit | TNN

New Delhi: Here’s why LPG cylinders last less than they are supposed to. It’s because many weigh just a little over half their actual weight of 14.2 kilograms. This shocking confirmation came after raids on LPG agencies in the city.

To get the whip cracking, the government’s department of weights and measures is now exploring the option of filing FIRs against defaulters and do away with the challan of a mere Rs 3000 that had been levied so far.

In last week’s raids on authorised agencies in charge of delivering gas cylinders at 102 places across the Capital, cylinders weighed 30 to 40 percent less than the prescribed weight. The department had also issued 57 challans as prosecution. More raids are likely in the weeks ahead.
Senior officials say an analysis of the data on the raids reveals grave shortage in a number of cases. For instance, in case of 20 agencies it was found that the cylinders checked were short by over two kilograms.

The most glaring case was traced to one agency in Najafgarh where the LPG quantity was short by 7.6 kilograms, which is just little over half the total quantity that a cylinder must contain. At another agency at Burari the quantity was found to be short by 7.100 kilograms followed by a gas agency at Pushp Vihar Chowk in Saket where the LPG shortage ranged between five to seven kilograms.
Shortages were recorded at agencies in widely different areas like Kalkaji, Saket, Jamrudpur, Vikas Marg, Mayur Vihar, Shahdara, Janakpuri, Vikaspuri,Najafgarh and Burari.
As per norms, the net weight of a domestic LPG cylinder is 14.200 kilograms.

The weight is always printed on the gas cylinder, officials informed, asserting that the consumer must check all these details. ‘‘All consumers while receiving the cylinder from the representative of the LPG dealer should insist on getting the cylinder weighed in their presence. As per the second schedule of the Standards of Weights and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1977, maximum permissible error on domestic LPG cylinder is +/- 150 grams.

The department has also issued instructions to all LPG dealers to issue verified weighing scales to all delivery men and instruct them to weigh the LPG cylinder before delivery to the consumers.

With the raids having revealed cases of such glaring shortages, the department is now exploring more stringent measures to rein in violators.

As of now a challan of Rs 3000 is issued as a prosecution measure. Officials feel this is not a deterrent enough and there is now talk of exploring the option of registering FIRs against offenders. A decision is yet to be taken.

Drunk Driving: Son of UP MLA involved

Another case of a teenager driving after drinking and running over people.

THE TEENAGE son of controversial Ghazipur Samajwadi Party MLA Saiyyad Shadab Fatima did a Salman Khan late on Friday here, running her private SUV over a dozen of pavement dwellers, killing five of them on the spot and leaving seven others severely injured.

Kashif Abbas ( 19) further speeded up after mowing down the hapless dozen, hit two motorcyclists, rammed into a pan shop and hit a lightpost before some passersby stopped the car and handed him over to the police.

Kashif Abbas, who studies does not even have a driving licence.

He was arrested and a charge of homicide not amounting to murder was slapped on him.

Many audio CDs and beer cans were found in the car, which had Vidhayak written on its windscreen in bold letters.

Inspector general of police ( Lucknow zone) A. K. Jain said Kashif’s medical checkup confirmed that he was in an inebriated condition while driving.

“ Though the vehicle is registered in the name of his mother Shadab Fatima, he doesn’t have a driving licence,” Jain said. Kashif was speeding along Parivartan crossing in Hazratganj, when he lost control of the SUV and ran over the victims, mostly labourers and rickshaw pullers, who were fast asleep.

The pan shop owner, who was sleeping inside his shop, also sustained injuries, Jain said, stressing despite a clear instruction from the state government that red beacons could not be used on private vehicles, many powerful people were doing otherwise.

Shadab Fatima said, “ My son didn’t know when the brake of the vehicle failed. He is innocent.”

Chand Babu, the pan shop owner, told M AIL T ODAY that Kashif looked relaxed when he was pulled out of the vehicle.

“ Initially, he threatened those who had overpowered him and also succeeded to some extent. They released him while telling him that he just ran over many people. But there was no trace of regret in his face,” Babu said.

In fact, Kashif was busy on his two cellphones narrating the incident to his friends. Some of them reached the spot in a car. “ He was about to escape when some people on the other side of the road and asked the bystanders not to let him go,” Babu added.

Lucknow SSP Akhil Kumar said Ramu ( 15), Hassan Kamal ( 30), Md Rukman ( 35), Jagdish ( 35) and Santosh ( 40) were declared brought dead at the trauma centre of a medical college.

Mumbai: Flats buyers hesitant after Forest Land Fiasco

After forest ruling, builders go extra mile to lure flat buyers

 Viju B I TNN

      Mumbai: “Not on forest land, title deed clear’’—screams an advertisement for flats in the newly-built Jaydeep Park Housing Complex, located at the Majiwada junction, Thane. A random check of advertisements for real estate in and around Thane and the northern suburbs reveals that developers are using such catch-phrases to assure and lure customers. 

     Such new assurances are being given by developers who have several projects lined up adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where around 1.75 lakh flats were recently declared illegal by the Bombay high court, ruling that the buildings stood on forest land.

      Now, developers are going the extra mile to tell prospective buyers that their title deeds are clear and the property will be free from litigation. Real estate agents and builders admit that, following the court order, there has been a lull in the sale and registration of flats, including those that are adjoining the park but not on forest land.

        “The number of enquiries has gone down and there is uncertainty in the market,’’ said Anil Gurnani, who runs Ayappa Real Estate Agency in Thane. He pointed out that till a few months ago, investors barely had a couple of days to decide whether to buy a flat or not after seeing it. “If they did not decide fast enough, the flats would be sold to others or the rates would be jacked up,’’ said Gurnani. 

      Not anymore. “With thousands of flats lying vacant adjacent to the national park in both the eastern and western suburbs, it’s the buyers who now have the edge in this regard,’’ said Mohan Shah, a real estate consultant based in Malad.

      Freebies—such as free pick-up for prospective buyers from the nearest railway station to the site—are also being provided by builders. “Earlier, the developers never bothered to return calls as they were inundated with enquiries. But things have changed now and they are in constant touch with us,’’ Shah said. 

     Real estate consultants say that over 50% of the buildings that have come up on Ghodbunder Road are on forest land. “There are absolutely no flat sales in this area. There is a general lull in the market,’’ said Hitesh Shah of Spaces and Places, Pokhran Road, Thane.

      In Thakur Village, Kandivli, 85% of the buildings are on forest land. “There is a 5-15% correction in rates. It is advisable for buyers to wait a few more months for the rates to come down by at least 20%,’’ said Harold D’Sa of Bhoomi Real Estate Consultants, Kandivli.






Judiciary: Should be more Transparent

Is Judiciary hard on others but soft on its own personnell?

RTI appeal exposes SC’s resistance to transparency


      New Delhi. CJI, Justice K G Balakrishnan was party to the attempt to fob off the RTI application by claiming in effect that the court’s central public informatin officer (CPIO) could not ask for the information that was lying in the CJI’s office on whether the 1997 resolution on periodic declaration by judges of their assets was being implemented.

        In keeping with the CJIapproved note, the CPIO wrote his formal reply under RTI on that very day, November 30, 2007. The documentation behind the CPIO’s reply and the CJI’s approval of the evasion came to light thanks to another RTI application seeking disclosure of the file notings.

      It has exposed the apex court’s resistance to transparency: Though the CJI can easily say whether judges have been filing declarations of their assets, the CPIO is made to claim under the RTI Act that the information is not in possession of the registry.

       The matter is now pending before the Central Information Commission, which will have to give a ruling on whether the Supreme Court could be allowed to make a distinction between its registry and the office of the CJI in an obvious bid to confer immunity on the latter from any obligation under the RTI Act.

       If the justification offered for stonewalling the question on assets is taken to its logical conclusion, the CPIO for the Supreme Court cannot answer questions related to the CJI’s office and Justice Balakrishnan will therefore have to appoint a separate CPIO for himself.

        The RTI Act does not exempt the CJI from its purview.