Saturday, September 21, 2013


Tata Group's take off

Tata Group's take off
Aviator Nevill Vintcent had an idea to run mail flights from Mumbai and Colombo that connected with the Imperial Airways flights from UK. He found a supporter in JRD Tata (above) of Tata sons, who, in 1932, set up Tata Airlines and piloted a de Havilland Puss Moth monoplane from Karachi to Mumbai. (TOI Photo)
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

sea-link plan and Juhu airport

​Plan to cut Juhu runway’s length by half

MUMBAI: In a controversial move that could cripple helicopter operations at Juhu airport, the Airports Authority of India plans to shorten the length of the airport's secondary runway by more than half.

The plan was announced by AAI officials in a safety assessment meeting in Delhi on Tuesday to discuss plans for a helipad at Juhu. But AAI officials came up with a new plan instead. "They want to reduce the length of the secondary runway from 2,400 ft to 984 ft and create parking space for aircraft," said Capt Andrew Manchanda of Pawan Hans. "On a short runway, helicopters will not be able to lift off with maximum payload," he added. They would need to carry fewer passengers and fuel, a non-viable option for commercial oil rig operations to Bombay High. Chopper industry insiders alleged that the move would help builders who were illegally granted height increase permission by AAI for buildings near the Juhu airport.

Choppers need a certain length of runway to take-off/land. While take-off, a chopper accelerates with its nose down, flying parallel to the runway up to a certain distance till it reaches what is called, the safety speed. In event of an engine failure, the take-off is aborted and to land a chopper safely a 1,000 ft strip would not suffice. 

  1. Bandra-Versova sea-link plan in conflict with Juhu airport plan ... › CollectionsAai
    Feb 15, 2013 - MUMBAI: Nervous that the proposed Bandra-Versova sea-link will hamper their plans for the development of the Juhu airport, the Airports ...

  2. Juhu airport a hurdle for proposed sea link - Hindustan Times › India-newsMumbai
    Feb 14, 2013 - ... plans for the Juhu airport could pose a roadblock for the proposed sea link ... if small planes such as turboprops or ATRs are diverted to Juhu.

  3. Juhu airfield runway revamp plan keeps sea link in mind - Mumbai ... › Mumbai
    Mar 18, 2013 - A proposal had been made earlier to extend the runway of the Juhu airfield by 1000 metres towards the Arabian sea. - Mumbai - dna.

    Maharashtra govt shoots down AAI's Juhu airport expansion plan ...
    Jan 8, 2013 - The AAI, which manages the Juhu airport, has proposed to extend the ... sea-link from Bandra to Versova and extended runway could impact its ...

    Bombay Photo Images: Juhu airfield extension & sea link FOR \/s ...

    Juhu airport still dirty, defenceless

    MUMBAI: Despite repeated terror threats and a two-month-old promise to deploy state police security personnel, Juhu airport remains one of the most vulnerable aerodromes in the country.

    As the proposal to induct 117 police personnel is pending with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security ( BCAS), only 30 policemen currently guard the airport. The policemen also cannot provide round-the-clock security due to lack of basic amenities such as washrooms and toilets for them. The newly laid perimeter road, around 500 metres long, has already become unapproachable and unhygienic for even policemen as slum-dwellers use it as an open toilet, said sources. Juhu airport's boundary also continues to be open to intrusions.

    Sources at the airport said two months ago, locals from Nehru Nagar slum, a part of which already extends around 29 acres into the airport, started constructing a structure within the airport premises; it was subsequently demolished by the airport officials and the police.

    "There are still repeated intrusions into the airport. The police force currently deployed is not enough to guard it," said an Airports Authority of India (AAI) official. He added a proper boundary wall can be constructed only when security officials patrol the area and keep slum-dwellers from demolishing it.

    Currently, the extended portion of the slum is barely 100 meters from the edge of the secondary runway. Children walk in to play on the runway and people from the neighbourhood steal aircraft spare parts.

    Earlier, AAI was in negotiations with the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for about four years. After a long stand-off, AAI, in July, eventually decided to get 117 state police officials to guard the airport. These officials would not only ensure security at the boundary but also check staffers and people coming into the airport to board flights.

    "Currently, all companies operating from the airport handle their security individually. There is no one independent agency conducting checks. This increases the risk," said an airport source. He further said the proposal to deploy police is still awaiting sanction despite Juhu airport being on the list of terror threats.

BMC property tax System down as deadline nears

Doesn't BMC want us to pay property tax? System down as deadline nears

MUMBAI: The property tax payment deadline is just 15 days away, but the BMC's collection system has been on the blink since a week, hugely inconveniencing Mumbaikars. It may take afew more days to be up again.

The approaching deadline has left tax-payers anxious. They have demanded the BMC extend the last date for payment.

The crashing of the system, which was unable to cope with the load of applications for calculation, collection and complaint redressal as well as the voluminous data, has severely hit bill payment at citizen facilitation centres (CFCs).

Online payment was discontinued after the new property tax system was introduced. Queuing up at CFCs across the 24 wards is, therefore, the only option available. And currently, they are not functional.

One harried Mumbaikar, who lives in Vile Parle and owns two properties in south Mumbai , said, "Since we can pay the tax at any ward office, I landed up at Andheri (West) to pay more than Rs 2 lakh in tax. Thinking it would be crowded, I reached the office exactly at 10am. Instead, I found the counter window was shut. The staff asked me to come after a week as the software had crashed." He is now worried that if the issue is not resolved till the September 30 deadline, he may be penalized "for no fault of mine".

This year, the BMC has sent across bills to 2.8 lakh properties across the city. The first set of bills for three years-2010-2013- were issued in January and calculated on the basis of the new capital value system (see box). The other bills for 2013-2014 , also issued under the new system, were sent in June. The deadline to pay both is September 30.

Civic officials said following the software and server glitch, the system stopped accepting payment information and generating receipts.

"The system is overloaded. But we have almost sorted out the issue. By Monday, transactions were even carried out at some centres. But it will take another three to four days for it to normalize," S S Shinde, joint municipal commissioner, told TOI. The system is being upgraded.


BMC's property tax system has been on the blink since a week due to data and application overload. This has hit tax payment across all the 24 wards


This January, BMC sent final bills for 2010-2013 after switching over from the rateable value system to the capital value system Similarly, in June, it processed bills for 2013-2014 The deadline to pay both the bills is September 30 More than 2.8 lakh bills have been sent across.


The new structure will be based on a property's current market value.

Tax will be calculated on the basis of 5 factors - property's price, area, building's age, use and type of construction.

BMC reworks FSI of tallest residential tower

MUMBAI: A high court-directed report prepared by the civic administration could force the developer of Palais Royale, touted as India's tallest residential tower, to rework its plan.

The BMC has ordered that areas exempted from the Worli Naka building's floor space index (FSI) be now counted as part of it. FSI is a ratio that determines how much can be built on a plot.

The under-construction tower, planned up to 320m, was embroiled in litigation following allegations of building violations. Refuge areas, passages , swimming pools and structural columns were not included in the FSI when Palais Royale's plans were approved by the BMC seven years ago.

Asenior civic official said that municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte's order implied that the tower's total built up area could reduce by about 30%, a contention described as "speculative" by the developer. Kunte completed his report last week following last May's high court directive.

A spokesperson of the developer, Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd, said the firm had just received the order and would seek legal opinion. "We have all along followed legal sanctions and permissions and acted within law. The order appears to be in total violation of the Bombay high court judgment and totally disregards the order of the city civil court. The existing sanctions given by municipal authorities and the state government after going through the torturous process of various departments and after due consideration have been ignored . We are confident that the judiciary will uphold the rule of law."

The building reached a height of 56 floors when work halted. An NGO, Janhit Manch, had filed a PIL against the developer, alleging a series of building violations. Although the court rejected most of the points raised in the PIL, it directed the commissioner to review the excessively large areas sanctioned by the BMC.

The BMC's report observed, "The builder tried to install the project, at times in defiance of regulations. This act of defiance was evident in the construction of 44th to 56th floors when BMC permission was only up to the 43th floor. This is a very serious matter ... The project proponent needs to eschew temptation to take recourse to defiance and then to present a fait accompli to the planning authority."



Last May, the high court refused to order demolition of 13 floors of Palais Royale, which built up to 56 floors while the BMC said it had permitted 43.
The court observed that the permitted refuge area in the building appeared excessive and directed the municipal commissioner to reconsider the refuge area, which was exempt from FSI.
It told the civic chief to examine the issue of passages at manor level and entrance, swimming pool, etc.


The total refuge area (fire shelters) in Palais Royale should be reduced from 15% to 4% as mandated by law. Excessive refuge areas (beyond 4%) is to be included in the FSI.
Passages connecting to flats, swimming pools and covered areas cannot be considered as common areas to be accessed by all and need to be part of the floor space index.


A spokesperson of Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure Ltd said the firm would seek legal opinion.
He said the BMC's order was in total violation of the Bombay high court's judgment.

Tenders to appoint consultant for 3rd Metro line soon

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority ( MMRDA) is likely to float tenders to appoint project management consultants for the third Metro line between Colaba, Bandra and Seepz in the next few days.

"We have almost completed the work on preparing the tender documents, including scope of work for the prospective consultant," said a senior official said. The 32.5-km long underground Metro route has 27 stations. The project will be funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The official said that a formal agreement for the financial assistance is expected to be signed between department of economic affairs and JICA soon.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 24,500 crore, of which JICA will extend 56 per cent loan. The work on the project is expected to begin by 2014.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Water board resorts to new manholes system

BANGALORE: In order to address frequent damages and other related problems of concrete manholes in the city, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has taken up a new initiative to avoid inconvenience to the commuters. While taking up manhole construction in busy roads, the Board is doing trials with GRF monolithic manholes which are in ready state and requires only 24 hours to install . It can be noted here that concrete manhole construction needs minimum six to seven days.

BWSSB officials said GRF Monolithic Manholes are strong and expected to sustain up to 30 years when compared to concrete manhole which cost about Rs 25,000. Even though the GRF manhole cost is little high (around Rs 35 to 40 thousand), their installation and operation is easy. Durability here is also more.

One more specialty of the GRF Manhole is jetting hose is fixed from manhole outlet to the top of the manhole. Whenever any blockage occurs, instead of searching for out let they can directly jet through the hose from the top only. GRF manholes already installed near Urvashi theatre, Jayamahal Road, near BHEL in Mysore Road are not having the getting hose facility. If it finds suitable, the facility will be adopted in the network in a phased manner.

Rs 3cr wasted on mechanical brooms not suited to Mumbai, finds civic audit

MUMBAI: The mechanized brooms that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) bought in 2007 for Rs 3 crore, rarely saw action and have not been functioning for years now. A BMC audit report has found that the 20 hi-tech brooms, bought to ensure effective cleaning of city roads and inaugurated with fanfare by then mayor Shubha Raul, are lying in the civic garage in Santa Cruz.

The BMC had bought the machines arguing that civic labourers failed to clean roads properly. However, the machines were soon damaged due to lack of expertise to operate them and poor maintenance.

Moreover, the audit report released last week observed, it was very clear that the machines were not working to their full capacity due to the unsuitable condition of Mumbai roads. While the mechanical brooms were ostensibly bought to reduce manpower, but in reality roads would be cleaned by labourers and the machines later used to mop up the dust. The report also said the BMC should have initially bought two or four machines to observe their functioning, instead of buying 20 machines in one go.
The Rs 7-crore deal also included Rs 4 crore as maintenance charges. But the audit report said that amount wasn't paid to the supplier, who was also responsible for maintenance, as he didn't take cognizance of repeated complaints. The machines broke down several times within the first year itself.

The report says the brooms' dust cleaning capacity was 14-16,000 sq m per hour, but records show they were used only for 2,000 sq m per hour. "They were distributed to wards, hospitals and the zoo. But they would break down, so staff didn't want to use them. Now they are in the garage as they have stopped functioning," said a senior official from the solid waste management department.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Politician playing extortionist in Bhandup: Builders

MUMBAI: Half a dozen top builders in the Bhandup-Mulund belt claim they are facing extortion demands from a local politician belonging to a regional party.

A leading developer told TOI that the politician has filed a slew of frivolous complaints against his project with the local building proposals department. "The harassment is unparalleled. Civic engineers have been terrorized, they are under pressure to issue stop-work notices against projects here," he said.

Another builder claimed he paid several lakhs to shake off the politician. "Now he is demanding crores. We are at our wit's end," he told TOI. Many hinted that the demands are up as state elections are drawing closer.

Developers claimed a slew of RTI applications has been filed in the local BMC office to find lapses in cleared projects so that they can be blackmailed.

In the eastern suburbs, building plans approved by municipal commissioner S J Kunte are being held back because of interference from political goons, sources said.

Bribe demands hold up building projects in Mumbai

MUMBAI: A civic circular issued early last year to speed up building approvals, curb corruption and fix responsibility for delays seems to have been conveniently buried. Clearances are delayed and "demands" from a section of officials in the BMC's building proposal (BP) department to clear files have, in fact, increased since last year, said sources in the building industry. The municipal commissioner's office grants clearances swiftly (within a week), but major obstructions are faced at the ward level, they added.

The January 2012 circular stipulated a maximum of 60 days for building plans to be approved and warned the BP staff that "any lapse" in approving plans within the period would be "viewed seriously". Former municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar issued it after complaints that officials delayed approvals by seeking irrelevant information, forcing builders to part with bribes.

Builders and architects who spoke to TOI said the approvals system has worsened since last year with demands for bribes increasing substantially.

Developer Sunil Mantri said the 'approval in 60 days' assurance was given by the civic administration when the development control rule was amended last year, to ensure more transparency and accountability. "Unfortunately, the reality is different. Approvals can still take close to a year," he said. Another prominent builder from the eastern suburbs claimed some officers demanded Rs 30 lakh to approve his proposal before December 31 last year. In January, ready reckoner rates are revised upwards. "I refused," he said.

Civic chief S J Kunte admitted the system is not working because it is difficult to track down the dates of entry in each file and fix responsibility. "We are moving towards a paperless office in the next few weeks. Once the file tracking system is up, every proposal will be automatically logged in by dates," he said.

"It is torturous corruption," complained a well-known architect, not wishing to be identified. He said he preferred the quick building approval system in Hyderabad and Chennai. "The speed money in these cities is around Rs 65 a square foot. But after that things get done smoothly," he said. In Mumbai, he claimed, the figure could be as much as Rs 500 a sq ft. "Procuring just the basic civic clearances for a small plot in Dadar could cost the developer Rs 40 lakh. It is becoming increasingly difficult to work with the BMC," he added.

Architect Shirish Sukhatme said the circular has been "thrown in the dustbin". "The circular is well-defined, yet refusals are routine. Submission of plans itself is a big headache. There is no accountability," he said.

Construction industry sources alleged some junior officials charge Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh just to put their signature on a file. In the western suburbs, a developer could be forced to pay Rs 15 lakh each for an intimation of disapproval certificate, commencement certificate and an unspecified amount for an occupation certificate. "Builders are frustrated. It seems if you are a plot owner, you have no right to develop it. You are at their (the officials') mercy," said developer.

But a senior civic official said some of this criticism may not be justified. "Many builders do not have their plans in order when they submit them. The delay could be due to that," he said.


It's not only rich builders who have to pay through their nose to get their work done. Experience shows that a section of BMC staff are quite democratic in this; rich or poor, a builder waiting to get his file cleared or a society resident complaining about illegal construction next door, everyone is fair game for the corrupt civic babu. It's unfortunate that the service due to citizens - not free but in lieu of the various taxes and duties they pay - comes at a cost. The BMC has seen some well-meaning senior officials; what has also been noticed is a conscious effort to cleanse the system. But the common Mumbaikar is still waiting for that effort to translate into result.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pvt college capitation fee illegal: SC

PTI   New Delhi, September 08, 2013
First Published: 13:50 IST(8/9/2013) | Last Updated: 14:25 IST(8/9/2013)
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Private technical and medical colleges demanding capitation fee from students is illegal and unethical, the Supreme Court has said and asked the Centre to make laws to put an end to such practices which deny admission to meritorious financially poor students in those institutions.
"Collection of large amount by way of capitation fee running into crores of rupees for MBBS and post-graduate seats, exorbitant fee, donation etc, by many of such self- financing institutions, have kept the meritorious financially poor students away from those institutions," it said.
"Pressure, it is also seen, is being extended by various institutions, for the additional intake of students, not always for the benefit of the student community and thereby serve the community, but for their own betterment," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri said.
The court said that quality of education has gone down in private colleges which are turning into students financing institutions. It said that government agencies need to introspect on the issue to bring proper legislation.
"We cannot lose sight of the fact that these things are happening in our country irrespective of the constitutional pronouncements by this court in TMA Pai Foundation case that there shall not be any profiteering or acceptance of capitation fee etc.
"Central Government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Central Bureau of Investigation or the Intelligence Wing have to take effective steps to undo such unethical practices or else self-financing institutions will turn to be students financing institutions," it said.