K. A. Viswanathan Makar Sankranti is the only festival people from every community celebrate. In Mumbai at Dharavi, which is one of the most cosmopolitan and congested areas, celebrate this festival every year with zeal with Tamilians, Malayalees, Muslims, Telugus and Maharashtrians coming together to join the event. Sankranthi marks the transition of the Sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn). It also signifies the movement of the Sun from the inauspicious Dakshinayana to the auspicious Uttarayana, according to astral positions. Tamilians celebrate this festival for four days as Pongal Thiruvizah which is strictly a rural festival. However, Tamilians who have migrated to Mumbai also follow the tradition of celebrating in the same manner. The name of the festival is derived from “ Pongal” - a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice, milk and jaggery with cashew nuts added to it. At Dharavi area on Pongal day on January 15, hundreds of housewives gathered before Sunrise and boil the rice and milk in a pot and a turmeric plant is tied around it and it is then symbolically offered to the Sun-God along with other oblations. All people wear traditional South Indian sari and red thilak on their forehead. The offerings include two sticks of sugarcane in the background, coconut, betel leaves, nuts and bananas in the dish. Many people also wear new clothes and women decorate houses with Kolam (designs) using rice flour and red clay.
Nearly 32,000 BEST bus employees in Mumbai are on an indefinite strike since Tuesday over various demands, including higher salaries and merger of the budget of the loss-making undertaking with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Commuters complained that auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers were charging much more than reasonable rates. Some harried commuters also appealed to the Maharashtra government to take necessary steps to end the protest. The state government had moved quickly to invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the striking BEST employees, while its management asked them to end the stir and come to the negotiating table. The BEST administration had on Wednesday cracked the whip, issuing notices to over 2,000 staffers to vacate houses provided by the undertaking. It also held dialogue with BEST workers’ union leader Shashank Rao, but it did not yield a positive outcome. Despite the Shiv Sena-affiliated union, BEST Kamgar Sena, withdrawing from the protest, only 11 buses plied on the roads on Wednesday, an official said. Ashish Chemburkar, the chairman of the BEST committee that handles the day-to-day affairs of the undertaking, said they were going to hold meetings with representatives of the protesting staffers on Thursday. “We are hopeful of arriving at a concrete solution today. Everyone wants an end to this deadlock for the sake of Mumbaikars,” Chemburkar told PTI. Another official said BEST’s general manager was expected to hold meetings with union leader Rao, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who party rules the BMC, is also likely to intervene in the matter, he said. A few commuters took to Twitter to express their anger, with some even appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sena chief Thackeray to resolve the deadlock. Meanwhile, the Central Railway and Western Railway have decided to operate additional suburban trains for the convenience of commuters. The BEST has a fleet of over 3,200 buses, which criss-cross the metropolis and also operate services in the neighbouring Thane district and Navi Mumbai. It is the second-biggest mode of transport in Mumbai after local trains, which ferry over 80 lakh passengers every day.
Two years after he blew the lid off one of the most prominent organ transplant scams involving Mumbai’s top private hospital, the 25-year-old whistle-blower, Sundar Singh, was yesterday found dead in his one-room house in the far-flung suburb of Diva. Sundar Singh was struggling to find employment after exposing the organ transplant scam in 2016. Cops say the body of Sundar Singh had decomposed but no foul play suspected. The police found Singh’s decomposed body hanging from the ceiling fan. Though no suicide note was found, the cops have prima facie ruled out foul play, saying financial stress and domestic problems may have led to Singh committing suicide. The organ transplant scam came to light after a team from Powai Police Station barged inside the operation theatre of Hiranandani Hospital on July 14, 2016, and stopped a kidney transplant midway following a tip-off that the recipient and the donor were not related. Fourteen people, including the hospital’s CEO and five doctors, were arrested, while the patient, Brijkishor Jaiswal from Surat, who had paid Rs 5 lakh to an agent to get a kidney, died a month later. The tip-off regarding Jaiswal’s illegal transplant was provided to the police by an activist who was in turn alerted by Singh, who had several documents to show the agent-doctors nexus. In March 2016, Singh himself had donated his kidney to a Delhi-based woman for which he was promised Rs 5 lakh by an agent, Brijendra Bisen, the mastermind of the Hiranandani organ transplant racket. Singh told the police that he received a measly Rs 15,000, after which he decided to expose the scam. The Mumbra police told Mirror yesterday that Singh’s neighbours in Om Sai Mauli Apartments reported a stench after which his flat door was pulled down. “Singh was having problems with his wife who had left for her village in Uttar Pradesh with their son earlier this month. It’s a clear case of suicide as the door was locked from inside. We are yet to record his wife Seema’s statement,” Senior Inspector Kishore Pasalkar said. Neighbours told the police that after the organ transplant scam came to light, Singh’s financial troubles increased as he was not able to find employment. He started a pav bhaaji stall with a friend who ran into losses after which he began selling vada pav. Officers who probed the Hiranandani organ transplant scam refused to comment on how Singh’s death will impact the case, with one of them saying the police have already filed a charge sheet running into 1,000 pages.
BEST staff began strike in Mumbai; Commuters face inconvenience With talks failing between the labour unions and management of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) on Monday, commuters may face inconvenience as approximately 35,000 BEST employees will go on indefinite strike from today. Owing to a lack of coordination between authorities, no private buses have been arranged, and other modes of public transport are likely to feel the pressure. Private buses are also not arranged as they are threatened by the labour unions. Sushant Samant, BEST Committee member and BEST kamagar Sena leader, said that they would not join the strike, but they would also not ply their buses. The leader of BEST workers' union Shashank Rao said talks had failed and BEST's general manager Surendrakumar Bagde did not attend the meeting. "A personnel department officer conducted the meeting, so nothing fruitful was expected from it," Rao said. Bagde did not respond to calls or text messages too. The state government has invoked provisions of the Maharashtra Essential Service Maintenance Act (MESMA) and an industrial court has restrained the unions from going on the strike, but BEST Sanyukta Kamgar Kruti Samiti (BSKKS), a joint action committee of labour unions, will go on strike from today. The unions' demands include higher-grade pay, merging BEST's budget with that of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and bonuses similar to those given to BMC staff. However, BEST's spokesperson said that they have written to Maharashtra State Road Transport Undertaking to arrange extra buses if required. Generally, the state government allows private buses to ferry passengers during strikes. But, a senior official from the regional transport office (RTO) said it had not received any communication about arranging private buses for public convenience. "We will do all the needful things if required," said Shekhar Channe, transport commissioner of Maharashtra, and confirmed no communication had come from the BEST. To avoid damage to its buses, BEST has put wire mesh on windshields of several buses, but no information has been released about the steps taken for the convenience of passengers. Meanwhile, citizen's forum Aamchi Mumbai Aamchi BEST (AMAB) declared its support to the BEST workers' strike on Monday. Basically, they are asking for getting themselves converted into BMC transports.
Exhibition ‘Dandi Yatra” organized by the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi was inaugurated in the National Capital by Dr. Y.P Anand, a Senior Gandhian and former Director, National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi. This exhibition is part of the celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation, to propagate his message of peace. This exhibition showcases the unseen drawings of artist Chhaganlal Jadav and also the master works of NGMA’s collection of contemporaneous artists to Gandhi ji like Nandlal Bose, Upendra Maharathi and Ram kinkar Baij, etc, who also gave their impressions on this great event. Speaking at the event Adwaita Gadanayak, Director General, NGMA Delhi, said that the exhibition showcases historical drawings of the journey of the Salt March from Sabarmati Satyagraha Ashram, Kochrab to Dandi, a small coastal village in Gujarat.The journey, covering 240 miles took 12 night halts and was witness to the breaking of the British law for salt. At that time, a veritable ocean of people had been drawn to this march, making it one of the largest mass movements of the world. A large number of media persons and artists from across the world were also drawn to this event. An unsung Satyagrahi and artist Chhaganlal Jadav, in his tiny drawing book, had captured some known/unknown faces from amongst the participants of this epic journey towards Swaraj, he said. These landmark drawings that are part of our living history are presently a part of the personal collection of the Dr. Rizwan Qadri from Ahmadabad, who brought these drawings to light and shared them with NGMA for purpose of showcasing them for the first time, through the exhibition he added.
Five people have died after a major fire broke out in a high-rise residential building Thursday evening in Chembur, one of Mumbai's largest suburbs. The fire started on the 11th floor of building number 35 in the B wing of Sargam Society. The housing society is near Ganesh Garden in Tilak Nagar in the suburb, reports NDTV. The fire was reported at 7.45 pm and 15 firefighting vehicles rushed to the spot. The fire is now under control.
Union Minster for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari will lay the foundation stone of eleven projects for Yamuna Rejuvenation under Namami Gange Programme in New Delhi. Union Minister for Environment and Forest Dr Harsh Vardhan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will also be present on the occasion. A total of 11 projects have been taken up under Namami Gange Programme by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to conserve the River Yamuna in Delhi. Most of the projects are for the sewerage infrastructure and are at various stages of implementation. These projects under Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) III are located in three drainage zones namely Kondli, Rithala and Okhla in Delhi. The current sewage generation for Delhi city is about 327 crore liters per day against the existing treatment capacity of 276 crore liters per day. YAP-I was taken up for Delhi during 1993-2003 and YAP-II was extended in 2003 to cover Uttar Pradesh and Haryana along with Delhi. Building on the success and lessons learnt from YAP-I and II, Government of India launched YAP-III with JICA assistance in Delhi at an estimated cost of Rs 1656 crore which has got integrated as a component of Namami Gange Mission. Delhi Jal Board is the executing agency for these projects. Delhi, the National Capital, is a mega metropolitan with a population of around 2 crore. The city sprawls over an area of 1484 Sq.km. Rising population and growth of National Capital Region (NCR) have significantly contributed to rise in the flow of untreated sewage directly into the River Yamuna, one of the sacred rivers of India and largest tributary of Ganga, our National River. The total length of the Yamuna up to its point of confluence with the Ganga at Prayagraj is 1370 km, its catchment areas is spread over 3.67 lakh sq kms.
The former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said “the story of the Mahaswami’s life is an epic of human inspiration to attain perfection, in spite of physical limitations” His journey heralded the advent of a new ideal, and ushered in an era of spiritual progress. His teachings permeated the thoughts and aspirations of the people, and changed their lives forever, he added. The Mahaswami of Kanchi was the personification of truth. Truth was both the source as well as the secret of his power former prime minister said . “ From a mortal being, the Mahaswami became an immortal institution”. He continues to guide us to strive honestly, whole heartedly, consistently and ceaselessly to follow the path of truth. He said with all humility, I accept the award. And I dedicate it to my grandparents, who groomed me to use this birth to live a full life, and to achieve the purpose of life itself. Mr. Singh reveived th SIES Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati National Eminence Award at the Shanmukhananda hall along with renowned mathematician, 44 year old Dr. Manjul Bhargava, Dr.V.K.Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog and Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Ganga action parivarwere. The awards were instituted by the South Indian Education Society in 1998 in memory of the late Seer of Kanchi Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati and are given in the fields of Community leadership , Science and Technology, Public leadership and Social thinkers to those who had made outstanding contributions in the above four fields. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs.2.5 lakh,a citation, a huge ornamental lamp and a scroll, said V.Shankar, president of SIES. Forty four year old world renowned mathematician Dr. Manjul Bhargava said he was fortunate to get this Kanchi mahaswami award on the day of the 132nd birth anniversary of Sreenivasa Ramanujam , one of the greatest mathematician the world had produced. Today is also India’s mathematics day. “Today morning I had addressed the students and mathematics professors at the SIES College on the Gems of Ramanujam. I described how much difficulty Ramanum had to face in his life of 32 years including racial discrimination in England and lack of vegetarian food which affected his health” . All the time Ramanujam was thinking only about mathematics even in his death bed a soft spoken Mr. Bhargava said.
Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar announced compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each to the families of those who lost their lives in the fire accident at ESIC hospital in Mumbai. Rs. 2 lakh each was announced for those who have serious injuries and Rs. 1 lakh each for those with minor injuries. The cause of fire is being ascertained. As per preliminary report, the building material lying at the ground floor of hospital for renovation work caught fire which led to generation of smoke. Eight persons are reported to have died due to suffocation in this tragic accident. Around 158 persons were injured in the fire accident out of which 57 are now discharged from the hospital. The admitted patients and their attendants were rescued and shifted to nearby hospitals with the help of firefighters, doctors & staff of hospital. Deputy Medical Superintendent, Dr. Reshma Verma was also taken to nearby hospital as she fainted due to suffocation while rescuing the admitted patients. The detailed report is awaited. Labour Minister held a meeting with officials of Labour Ministry and ESIC at Delhi and directed to extend all possible help to the kins of deceased and injured persons. A team of doctors from ESIC Delhi has also been rushed to Mumbai for this purpose. Gangwar alongwith Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment and Director General, ESIC are visiting the hospital today evening to oversee the relief work and to meet the injured persons and kins of deceased.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled important projects related to housing and urban transportation during his visit to Maharashtra. At a public meeting in Kalyan, the Prime Minister laid the Foundation Stone of two important metro corridors. These are the Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro; and the Dahisar-Mira-Bhayander Metro. The two corridors, once completed, will greatly facilitate public transport in the area. Also in Kalyan, he launched the 90,000 units' EWS and LIG Housing scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. The total worth of projects for which the Foundation Stone was laid in Kalyan today is about Rs. 33,000 crore. In Pune, the Prime Minister laid the Foundation Stone of Pune Metro Phase-3. Addressing the gathering in Kalyan, the Prime Minister highlighted how the pace of infrastructure and public transport development had been accelerated by the Union Government. He reiterated the Union Government's vision of "Housing For All" by 2022. Addressing the gathering in Pune, he said the government is placing great emphasis on connectivity infrastructure. He said the focus is on providing next generation infrastructure, and integration of the transport sector. He said that through Startup India, and Atal Innovation Mission, India is emerging as a centre for technology.