Citizens' Issues
Public Interest Exclusive
Mumbai lifeline: Local train services in Mumbai hit by midnight fire

The central railway trains were affected after a fire broke out around at two signalling cabins

Local trains on Mumbai's main Central line were running about 45 minutes late this morning, sending the metropolis into a rush hour crisis. This was caused by a fire last night at the Kurla and Vidyavihar signalling cabins damaging some equipment.

The fire, which broke out at midnight, was brought under control soon. But the damage to the equipment meant that trains had to be piloted manually this morning at three or four signals between Kurla and Vidyavihar causing the peak hour delay.

Early morning commuters affected by the delay protested angrily saying the authorities had not shared information or made announcements.

Of the seven million people who commute daily on Mumbai's local trains, close to four million use the main Central line every day. It connects people from far flung suburbs of central Mumbai like Kalyan, Dombivali, Thane to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Some key stations on this line are CST, Dadar, Ghatkoper, Thane and Kalyan. Several trains connecting Mumbai to Pune have also been affected

"We are trying to find out the reasons for the mishap. The signalling equipment has been damaged badly," said S Malegoakar, the Chief Public Relations Officer of the Central Railway.


Mining firms in Goa asked to give details of daily operations

As per the order, the mines will have to provide details like the number of trucks ferrying the iron ore on a daily basis, information about ships and their carriage capacity, among other things

Panaji: The Mines and Geology Department in Goa has issued orders to the mining firms in the state to provide details of their daily operations, thereby making it easy for the government to keep a tab on exports, reports PTI

The newly-appointed director of the Mines and Geology Department, Prasanna Acharya, has asked the mining lease holders to submit daily reports about the transportation of iron ore from the mining sites.

As per the order, the mines will have to provide details like the number of trucks ferrying the iron ore on a daily basis, information about ships and their carriage capacity, among other things.

The department has also directed the mining firms to submit information about the royalty challan payments, so that the records available at the ports could be tallied.

Mr Acharya has said that steps are being taken to streamline the matters concerning mining, transportation and storage of iron ore.

In a different order, the department has asked the mining firms to keep only one exit for all the trucks ferrying iron ore from the extraction sites to the riverfront jetties, so that keeping a tab on the transportation would be easy.

According to the order, the mining lease holders will also have to submit all the documents pertaining to the leases.

The mining leases, signed during the Portuguese regime, are in Portuguese language and Mr Acharya has asked these firms to get them translated into English before submission to the state government.

To check whether the mining leases have not gone beyond their designated geographical limits, they have also been asked to submit their survey number and also the Global Positioning Survey (GPS) coordinates.

The order, which was issued on Monday, has set a deadline of 15 days time for the lease holders to submit this document to the state government.

The Manohar Parrikar government has put a regulatory mechanism on the mining leases, which had become a hub for illegal trade over the years.

The state government says that it has decided that the ore leaving the lease area should be accounted for and not a single gram of ore would be allowed to be extracted illegally.

Goa is the largest exporter of iron ore in the country. The state had witnessed massive illegal mining scam, which was estimated between Rs1,200 crore to Rs10,000 crore.


Life Exclusive
Romney’s Money

Money is the oxygen of every election campaign and in the end Mitt Romney is the only man with the moolah. All the others just ran out of oxygen

In the end it wasn’t as if Mitt Romney had won; it was just as if everyone else had lost. The fight for the Republican nomination had been long and bloody but thankfully for the Republicans it finally came to an end on 11th April—a little sooner than expected. The final serious challenger Rick Santorum who had promised to take it all the way to the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, threw in the towel. He could see the odds lengthening. He could see the improbability of the nomination. He probably thought that stopping Romney from getting 1,411 delegates was highly unlikely and the chances of a brokered convention seemed remote. Money is the oxygen of every election campaign and in the end Mitt Romney is the only man with the moolah. All the others just ran out of oxygen. 

Mitt Romney had the money, hence he had the organization. Mitt Romney had the money, hence he had the advertising. Mitt Romney had the money so that every time he stumbled or fell he could pick himself up and dust himself off and move on. He had been reviled as a “Vulture Capitalist” by his opponents for the Republican nomination. That might have been somewhat unfair. In any event there is one thing that can be said about vulture capitalists and that is that they have deep pockets and the ability to draw other deep pockets towards them. 

There was speculation that he was worried about losing his home state of Pennsylvania and hence he had pulled out of the race—there was speculation that his young daughter Bela was unwell and hence he had pulled out. Santorum put it all to rest. He told the New York Times that he ran out of money. Simple as that. Romney just out ran his opponents. There were two non-serious candidates still in the race. There was Newt Gingrich then former speaker of the House of Representatives and there was Ron Paul, the libertarian representative from Texas. 

They had a Zilch chance of stopping Mitt Romney from getting the nomination. But there is an obvious adrenalin rush in campaigning. The hand-shaking, the attention and the limelight. It is something difficult to give up so Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul trudge on.

Romney always knew there would be an “another day other chance”. He survived a loss to Rick Santorum in Iowa. He lost to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. He immediately recovered. His method was time-tested and inevitable. He unleashed a barrage of negative ads; sometimes he did not do it himself. Some super PAC (Political Action Committee) supporting him did it. And some of his opponents simply self-destructed. They briefly rose in the polls—sometimes took the lead and then like punctured balloons vanished from the scene. This happened with Michele Bachmann. This happened with Rick Perry. This happened with Herman Cain. They ran into the media spotlight, couldn’t stand the heat and ran out of oxygen. And some simply did not catch on and ran out of oxygen. This happened with John Huntsman. 

There were many debates and as they went on, the aspirants more and more took on Romney who seemed to be in the lead and attacked him for his moderation. Romney has been a Republican governor of Massachusetts, one of the most liberal East Coast states. He had to move to the right to burnish his credentials. He had to give up or denounce policies which he had believed in earlier. 

The Republican primary voters are far to the right of the general electorate and Romney had to move to the right to close the deal with the Republican primary electorate. President Obama’s signature achievement—his Healthcare Bill is quite similar to the Bill that Mitt Romney had in Massachusetts. Romney had to put distance between himself and the Massachusetts Bill by saying that it was alright for states but not alright for the Union. One of the controversial provisions of the Obama Healthcare Bill is what is known as the single mandate provision i.e. it is compulsory for everyone to buy insurance. This provision which makes for universal healthcare is similar to the Massachusetts Bill and is presently being challenged before the US Supreme Court. Romney had to put a distance between him and the single mandate. Santorum made a good point in the earlier half of his campaign—that Romney would not be able to take on Obama on the Healthcare Bill as he had done the same thing.

Romney’s money machine is going to make him a formidable candidate in the general election, which if it is close, may well turn on which of the two candidates can outspend the other.

(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier’s College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master’s in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)



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