Times of India | 2 weeks ago | 22-11-2022 | 05:00 am
MUMBAI: The lull in the Covid pandemic was further underlined on Monday when the city saw zero related hospitalisations and the state registered a 25% drop in week-on-week tally. While there were 1,037 cases between November 7 and 13, there were only 773 infections from November 14 to 20. In the week ending November 20, the state registered only three Covid deaths as compared to the peak period when 974 people died on May 16, 2021, alone. Meanwhile, 134 patients of the Omicron variant XBB have been found in the state, including 72 in Mumbai and 46 in Pune. "The severity of the disease as well as the speed of transmission have not increased in these areas," said state surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate. In Mumbai, only 27 patients are in hospitals now, occupying less than 1% of the 4,483 Covid beds. On Sunday and Monday, no patients were admitted in Mumbai (there were days in March and April when the city had zero admissions). ICU admissions have also reduced in the state. "Out of the total new cases in the week, 1.55% were admitted in ICUs,'' said the state update on Monday. The weekly test positivity rate has dipped from 1.15% to 0.89%. Only Pune, Akola, Kolhapur, Jalna and Sangli have a test positivity rate of over 2%.
Dr Farhat Khan, the author of a controversial book, was arrested from Pune in Maharashtra on Thursday while she was undergoing dialysis in a hospital, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said.The arrest was made in connection with her book named ‘Collective Violence and Criminal Justice System’, which was kept in the library of the Government Naveen Law College in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city.The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has alleged the book being taught to law students has highly objectionable contents against the Hindu community and the RSS.According to police, Khan was suffering from a serious kidney ailment and needed dialysis on a regular basis.“The controversial writer, Farhat Khan, was arrested in Pune when she was undergoing dialysis in a hospital there.Papers (pertaining to the case) were also handed over to her,” Mishra told reporters in Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal.Authorities have also started a probe into complaints related to another book and if any objectionable content is found, then it will also be linked with the same case, the minister said without elaborating.On December 3, the Indore-based college’s LLM student and ABVP leader Lucky Adiwal (28) filed a complaint against author Khan, the book’s publisher Amar Law Publication, principal of the institution Dr Inam-ur-Rehman and professor Mirza Mojij Baig in the matter.Earlier, an official said the Indore police had traced Khan to Pune and she was served a notice under relevant provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).“After registering a case five days ago on the issue of the controversial book, we were searching for Dr Frahat Khan and had sent teams to places in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Rajesh Kumar Singh said.“On the basis of leads, we traced her to Pune and served her a CrPC notice, as per which she was asked to cooperate in the probe and remain present in court at the time of submission of the charge sheet,” he said.The DCP said the Indore-based author was suffering from a serious kidney ailment and needed dialysis on a regular basis.When she went from to Pune from Indore, at that time also she underwent dialysis at a hospital in Sendhwa town on the Maharashtra border, the DCP added.The ABVP had alleged the book contained objectionable content against Hindus, the RSS and promotes religious hatred.The state higher education department had formed a seven-member committee to conduct a probe into the case.A member of the committee said the panel had recorded statements of 250 students and teachers.The higher education department’s commissioner Karmaveer Sharma on Wednesday said the committee has not yet submitted its report.An appropriate action will be taken into the matter on the basis of the probe report, Sharma said.On Tuesday, a local court refused to grant anticipatory bail to the Indore-based law college principal Inam-ur-Rehman and professor Baig, both named as accused in the case.Their lawyer Abhinav Dhanotkar had said the rejection of bail would be challenged in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Opposition parties and Sambhaji Brigade, a prominent Maratha organisation, have called for a bandh in Pune next Tuesday, December 13, protesting against the alleged objectionable comments against Chhatrapati Shivaji made by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who called Shivaji an “icon of olden times”.Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Congress, Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray faction and Sambhaji Brigade met in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue on the Shri Shivaji Preparatory Military School ground in Shivajinagar Wednesday.“It has been almost a month since the Governor made a controversial statement on Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. The BJP leadership has not taken any action against him for insulting the Maratha king,” said Santosh Shinde of Sambhaji Brigade.“BJP leaders are repeatedly making statements insulting the Maratha king. There is a need to intensify the agitation against those insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji. Thus, a Pune bandh has been unanimously called on December 13 by representatives of various organisations. However, the bandh will not cause inconvenience to citizens,” he added.The meeting was attended by city NCP chief Prashant Jagtap, city Congress chief Arvind Shinde and Gajanan Thurkude of Shiv Sena “The NCP will participate in the Pune bandh. The details of the kind of agitation will be declared later on,” said city NCP spokesperson Pradeep Deshmukh. City Shiv Sena chief Sanjay More said he was not around and would later announce the plans for the agitation.Last month, during his speech at Dr Ambedkar Marathwada University, Koshyari said: “Earlier, when you would be asked who is your icon — Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Mahatma Gandhi used to be the answer. Whereas in Maharashtra, you need not look elsewhere (as) there are so many icons here… while Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is of olden times, there are icons such as Ambedkar and Nitin Gadkari in modern times.” The Governor’s statement evoked a sharp and angry backlash across political parties.
The Maharashtra government’s plan to construct a 34-km tunnel from Khadakwasla dam to Phursungi in the eastern suburbs of Pune has gained momentum as the technical study for the implementation of the project has been nearly completed.Once the tunnel comes up, it would save 2.5 TMC water (required to meet the needs of 50 lakh people for one-and-a-half months) that is being lost from one of the canals from the dam on the Mutha river by way of leakages and evaporation.The Khadakwasla dam, which is a major source of water for Pune residents, is connected to the Panshet, Varasgaon, and Temghar dams on the upstream of Mutha river. Water from the reservoir is provided to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) through closed pipelines while two canals were constructed from the dam through the city to provide water to rural parts of the district. One canal was closed and a pipeline was laid in it by the civic body, while water continued to be released from the second canal for irrigation purposes. However, there was a loss of 2.5 TMC water from the canal.“The technical study of the Khadakwasla-Phursungi tunnel for water is almost complete. Boring was carried out to study the soil every 50 metres. The study is under scrutiny and a detailed report of it would be submitted to the state water resources department by month-end,” said Pravin Kolhe, executive engineer, of the state water resources department for Bhima valley.The water resources department has also undertaken a seismic refraction survey and electrical resistivity survey of the 5-km stretch of the tunnel from Khadakwasla.“The land alongside Khadakwasla dam needs to be deeply studied for implementation of the project. The seismic refraction survey will determine stratigraphy (arrangement of rock layers) along the proposed route which would include the study of soil, weathered rock, rock interfaces, and detection of faults, fractures, and shear zones. The electrical resistivity survey for depth of formations, shear zone, classification of strata, depth of water table,” he said.These studies would also be matched with geological studies and would double confirm the condition of the land, Kolhe said.The 7.8-meter-wide and 34-km-long tunnel construction is estimated to cost Rs 1,500 crore through the blasting method and Rs 3,000 crore if done through Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).The state water resources department has approached the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) for funding the project. There is an option of implementing the project with funding from PMRDA as it would ensure the water supply at a concessional rate. Otherwise, the project will have to be implemented through the budgetary provision of the state water resource department. Also, there is an option for land monetization that would be available upon the closing of the canal.“The detailed proposal would be submitted to the state water resources department which will table it in the cabinet. The opinion of other departments concerned would be included while taking the final decision,” Kolhe said.
Two employees of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) were assaulted on December 5 after they cut the power connection to some houses in the Kondhwa area of Pune for non-payment of bills, police said. Police have booked four persons who also threatened to kill the officials.A First Information Report in the case has been registered based on the complaint of Shankar Rondhe, 32, a senior MSEDCL technician with the Kondhwa branch.According to police, the incident took place last Monday near Hajra Complex area in Kondhwa, when Rondhe and his colleague Siddharth Chavan had gone to recover long-pending power bills of consumers in Mithanagar, Bhagyoday Nagar, and Hajra Complex areas.“Around 11 am, Rondhe and Chavan cut the power supply to four houses and removed their electric meters as part of punitive action. When they were returning to their office to submit the meters, they were intercepted by four persons from the Hajra Complex building. The suspects punched and kicked Rondhe for snapping their power supply. They also hit Chavan as he tried to intervene,” said an officer.According to the complaint, the suspects also threatened to kill them if they came to their area again and snatched the power meters they had confiscated.Rondhe and Chavan approached the Kondhwa police after receiving basic treatment at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune. “Based on the initial investigation, a case has been registered against Afzal Kadar Kapadia, Asif Kadar Kapadia, Mohammed Afzal Kapadia, and one more person,” said an officer from Kondhwa police station.Police have invoked various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to assault on public servants, voluntarily causing hurt to public servants and criminal intimidation among others. Police are yet to make arrests in the case.
Days after Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch busted a racket that supplied private data of individuals at a price, officials said the information had not been obtained from UIDAI — which secures Aadhaar card data — but was compiled from three to four different sources.The Crime Branch also arrested two more accused in the case from Pune on Tuesday, taking the total number of arrests in the case to six, including an accused who was arrested from Telangana.In the last week of November, the Crime Branch had arrested two brothers, Rahul (28) and Nikhil Eligati (25), who had created the websites — ‘tracenow.co.in’ and ‘www.fonivotech.com’ — which allegedly provided private data of residents of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi.The data included everything from a person’s Aadhaar card number, address, date of birth and mobile numbers of relatives. This data was sold mainly to loan recovery agents at a monthly subscription cost of Rs 2,000,half-year subscription cost of Rs 12,000 or an annual subscription cost of Rs 24,000. A senior officer said that with six arrests so far, the Crime Branch has found that the accused had complied personal data of individuals from three to four places, including data leaked by telecom companies, vehicle data portals, and a popular Internet company, among others.“While initially we were looking into the possibility that the accused may have had access to the UIDAI server, it turns out that this is not the case,” said the officer.He added, “So far during the probe, we have found that the main purpose of the portal was to provide alternate details of people who took loans from loan recovery agents and had not paid back the amount. Some of them change their numbers and even addresses, which is when numbers of family members and neighbours are used by agents to track them down. Since the amounts involved are huge, they are willing to pay these portals for access to details.”An officer said that they have also identified the ‘mastermind’ of the racket, the seventh accused in the case who is currently on the run. “Once we arrest the seventh accused, we will get complete clarity on the manner in which the entire operation was carried out,” said the officer.So far, those arrested include three persons from Mumbai, two from Pune and one from Telangana.