Citizens' Issues
Gas tanker blast kills two in Mumbai

The incident took place at Chembur in north-east Mumbai


Two people were killed and one injured when an empty gas tanker exploded suddenly in a garage here on Tuesday, officials said.
The incident took place at Chembur in north-east Mumbai. 
According to the BMC Disaster Control, some maintenance and welding work was underway on the tanker.
Some residual gas trapped in the tanker may have been ignited by the welding flames and is believed to have caused the huge explosion.
Two people, including an 18-year old garage hand Shafiq Shaikh and another 45-year-old unidentified person, a vehicle cleaner, were killed in the blast.
A bystander was seriously injured and has been rushed to a local hospital, officials said.
There was no fire or damage to any building in the vicinity though an overhead powerline of Tata Power was broken.


'On-the-run' Goa minister also a loan defaulter

Pacheco, whose conviction in an assault case was upheld by the Supreme Court in May, has been untraceable for more than a month


Troubles have compounded for the "on-the-run" former Goa minister Francisco "Mickky" Pacheco with the AAP now accusing the state government of allowing him to get away with a loan default of around Rs.5 crore taken from a government-run corporation.
Pacheco, whose conviction in an assault case was upheld by the Supreme Court in May, has been untraceable for more than a month.
The opposition, across party lines, is now accusing the government machinery of aiding him in his escape.
Pacheco first defaulted on a loan of Rs.4 crore he had taken to buy a river barge.
The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) filed an application in the court of the district judge, who passed an ad-interim order attaching the hypothecated barge, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Valmiki Naik said. 
What's worse, Pacheco and his wife Viola Fernandes, both directors of Ms. Giovanni and Zebronni Shipping, which had taken the loan, gave a cheque of Rs.50 lakh as an initial repayment but it bounced.
"If it was you and me who had given a bounced cheque, we would have been in jail. Instead Pacheco was rewarded with a minister's berth in the government," Naik told IANS.
The AAP also questioned why the EDC did not subsequently pursue the matter despite an order from the court to do so.
"The EDC instead made a suo moto offer to the minister of a special one-time settlement scheme under the settlement of accounts of mining affected. Pacheco even failed to make the down payment which was a prerequisite to avail the scheme," he said.
"What is the government doing to recover these dues and why are they not moving to attach Pacheco's assets despite a court order to do so," Naik asked.
According to documents supplied by the AAP, both Pacheco and his wife have assets of Rs.12 crore while the outstanding amount is Rs.5 crore.
While Pacheco is "missing", his wife was unavailable for comment.
Pacheco was the minister for archives and archaeology in the BJP-led coalition government until he was forced to resign when the Supreme Court upheld a Bombay High Court order sentencing him to six months imprisonment and a fine.
Pacheco, who has a history of criminal cases against him ranging from extortion, assault, bigamy, money laundering and human trafficking, loan default, has been missing since April 9.
He has failed to pay heed to an order asking him to surrender, and police have been unable to serve the arrest warrant issued against him.
A local court had also issued a warrant to search 10, Akbar Road, the official residence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for Pacheco, but the order was stayed after the state government appealed against the order.
Inspector General of Police Sunil Garg told IANS that efforts to trace Pacheco were still on.
"We are still on the lookout for him. A reward of Rs.25,000 for any information on Pacheco has been announced. A police team is also in Delhi to arrest him," Garg said.


Passive euthanasia not enough, say activists
Although the Supreme Court had rejected a plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna Shanbaug's friend, journalist Pinki Virani in 2011, it passed a landmark judgment allowing passive euthanasia with safeguards
The death on Monday of Aruna Shanbaug, the nurse who lived in a vegetative state in a Mumbai hospital for 42 long years, has renewed the debate on euthanasia, with some demanding that the judiciary and the government should engage on the issue proactively.
Although the Supreme Court had rejected a plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna Shanbaug's friend, journalist Pinki Virani in 2011, it passed a landmark judgment allowing passive euthanasia with safeguards.
Virani told IANS India needs a comprehensive debate on the issue.
"There is not enough legal literacy in India. The court has allowed passive euthanasia for special cases. It is possible in three scenarios -- if the patient is brain dead, or is in a persistent vegetative state, or on ventilator support," she said.
"Aruna Shanbaug, all her life, never received justice, right from the night she was brutally raped," she added.
The apex court had ruled that the passive euthanasia would require the permission of the high court which should ensure that the decision was in the patient's best interest. It also needed the opinion of three doctors who had examined the patient.
Although passive euthanasia is yet to become a law, the apex court on July 16 last year reopened the debate when it issued notice to all states seeking their views on whether a terminally ill person can execute a 'living will' that his or her life support system be withdrawn if he or she reaches a vegetative state with no hope of revival. 
"Living will is a declaration made by a person in the event of deteriorating health conditions or terminal illness. It could be presented to a doctor. It is a document in which the person states his/her wish to end life if normal life is not possible," Swapna Jha, a lawyer for NGO Common Cause, told IANS.
The apex court acted on a petition filed by Common Cause seeking voluntary passive euthanasia, including withdrawal of life support system to a terminally ill person and stopping medication.
Lawyer Rebecca John said Shanbaug's was an extreme case of injustice, and there was a need for a robust debate on the right to euthanasia.
"Aruna's issue was not resolved legally. It is far deeper than what it looks like. You cannot allow a person to live like a vegetable for so many years," John told IANS. 
She said passive euthanasia was not an answer to the issue.
"The idea of passive euthanasia is not practical in India. It is only skirting the actual problem. How many people will go for a living will while they are healthy? The court is only taking a short cut by allowing passive euthanasia," John added.




2 years ago

Since time immemorial, we are taught that our world liberally showers respects and honours only when the person is dead. This also applies to the case of the brave heart nurse Aruna Shanbaug.
No doubt we are happy that after she is no more, honours, awards and memorials galore for her not only in Mumbai but in other States too ( Madhya Pradesh announced an award of Rs. 1 lakh). I only wish that when she was alive , had a part of this accolade was seen by her ,perhaps she would have had a stronger will to recover or live longer.

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