Several people from Mumbai felt the tremors that lasted for 4-5 seconds. According to IMD, an earthquake of 4.9 on the Richter scale hit Maharashtra at 10.57am on Saturday
An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale shook Mumbai, parts of Western Maharashtra and some areas in Gujarat at around 11am. There are no reports of any damage.
According to media reports, the epicentre of this quake was near the Koyna dam area in Satara district of Maharashtra. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its preliminary report has confirmed that there was an earthquake of with magnitude of 4.9 on the Richter scale in Satara district.
The IMD also reported another earthquake of 4.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, which hit Kutch region of Gujarat at 8.53am today.
Many people, including celebrities were seen tweeting about the earthquake in Mumbai. Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan tweeted, “Earthquake in Mumbai!! Did you feel it...? I did! Shutters and building shook twice for few seconds... all good here... all else?"
This bungalow in Khadki Cantonment area near Pune was taken over and later demolished
RTI documents reveal an official communication to President Pratibha Patil that new construction is “not the right option’’
In reaction to our report on how President Pratibha Patil has grabbed defence land, far in excess of her entitlement to build a palatial post-retirement residence, we now have further documents and photographs to show how two bungalows was commandeered for the President for demolition and reconstruction.
Things began moving when Pratibha Patil opted for Pune as her home after retirement. “The president has expressed her desire to settle down in Pune, Maharashtra on completion of her tenure on 25 July 2012. Keeping that in mind, Bungalow no 38 and 26A which are contagiously located within the Defence Cantonment area on Bombay-Pune Road have been identified.’’
Interestingly, the President’s office in that letter had taken the line that the bungalows should be only repaired and not demolished for construction of a new one, as recently February 1, 2011. However, almost in the same breath it also finds a specious way to justify allocation of property in excess of the eligibility of house accommodation for a President, post-retirement, when the intention was apparently quite different.
A letter written by Dr Christy Fernandez, secretary to the President of India, to home secretary GK Pillai on 11 February 2011 (obtained by activists), states that any new construction is “not the right option as it would not operationally be convenient and aesthetically acceptable.” Hence, the letter suggested that the next bungalow no 26A be used for office purposes.
Army man closing the gate after taking over the property
As per the inspection site report of the Defence Estate Office done on 23 and 24 June 2011, bungalow No 38, which has been acquired, itself has open space of around 3.40 acres which amount to 1.48 lakh odd sq ft. This by itself exceeds the eligibility criteria of house accommodation for a retired President. According to the home ministry’s rulebook, this should not exceed 4,498 sq ft.
Nevertheless, bungalow No 26A was also requisitioned on the claim that it would be required for office purposes, if No 38 were not demolished. That bungalow, as per the site inspection reports rests on 2.10 acres of land. So the total area allocated to the President is 5.5 acres, which is 2.42 lakh sq ft. That is official now, thanks to documents procured under the RTI Act, from the President's office and the Defence Estate Office in Pune.
Mr Fernandez, a loyal official, makes a case for the President needing more space in the letter to the Mr Pillai with this argument, “The bungalow No 38 does not have adequate space to set up the office and the related facilities required to be provided to a former President. Creating this extra facility in Bungalow No 38 would amount to additional construction to the existing building, which may not be the right option as it would not be operationally convenient and aesthetically acceptable. Hence, the request for using the adjacent vacant building for the purpose of setting up office, etc.’’
The letter continues to reiterate the aspect of repairs. It states, “Special repairs required prior to occupancy of the building and its subsequent regular maintenance and upkeep will have to be undertaken by the Defence establishment itself, as it would be administratively and operationally convenient to do so... It is necessary to take up the matter straightaway since the civil work involved will be time consuming as the building require heavy repairs particularly the one which remains unoccupied.’’
Army men removing a tank from the property, that was later found discarded near a road in Khadki
Bungalow No 38 was, until a few months being used as an official accommodation for a military officer. There is nothing wrong if this is given to the President as she or he is entitled to an existing government accommodation. However, it is a mystery how the argument made against demolition of an existing bungalow is used to usurp another one and then both are demolished to start a brand new construction. The letter from the President’s office, clearly seeks that the bungalow be vacated for repairs: “It is understood that Bungalow No 38 is presently occupied by the Commandant Works, Bombay Engineering Group and Centre (The Bombay Sappers) while Bungalow No 26A is presently lying unoccupied.
The matter was informally discussed with the Defence authorities who are inclined to allow the use of these buildings for the suggested purpose without any change of their ownership. Hence the matter may please be taken up with the Ministry of Defence for timely vacation of the premises to carry out requisite repairs to render them befitting for occupation on completion of the tenure of the President.’’
And so the mystery of the new construction has still to be unravelled. The ownership of one of the two bungalows is also a separate story.
This can happen to you—bank customers beware. Lack of financial literacy can cost you big time as reputed banks target the gullible with money to spare. PMS, insurance, loans are pushed by relationship managers to make a killing, at your cost!
HSBC Bank took Ms Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, a well-known singer and actor, for a ride over a five year period by promising an extravagant assured return of 24% from mutual funds as well as insurance. Each time the customer complained about losses in her account, the standard reply was that the relationship manager has been fired and that the bank will make up for the losses with judicious investments. Needless to say, the losses were never made good. The one-way road for the customer was downhill. If a well-known celebrity could be cheated with such impunity, it is surely happening routinely with others.
It is a case of systematic looting and exploitation of emotionally vulnerable who had got Rs3.6 crore as part of a settlement in September 2006. The money was supposed to be the means of livelihood for herself and for her daughter. The bank used confidential information about the hefty deposit in her savings account and began to market its toxic services to her. Since bankers are seen as trustworthy, she believed that her relationship manager was advising her correctly.
The modus operandi for HSBC in this case has been a combination of toxic churning of the portfolio management system (2% entry load on every purchase made by it on behalf of client), insurance products promising 24% returns, insisting her on taking a loan instead of withdrawing funds without even disclosing that the client was entitled for a smart loan.
The end result after five years was Rs83 lakh—direct loss from investment, Rs29 lakh in commission to HSBC, Rs8 lakh (50% of investment) lost from an insurance policy, Rs10 lakh (again, 50% of investment) valuation decline in insurance policy still in force, Rs4.5 lakh tax paid on redemption of short-term mutual funds (including Rs1.85 lakh penalty to the Income Tax department due to non-disclosure of gain by HSBC to the client) and Rs58 lakh interest on home loan earned by the bank.
When Suchitra wished to surrender her insurance policies, HSBC refused to act for her by contending that they no longer had any tie-up with Tata AIG and that it was not their business to get client’s money back that they had recommended in the first place.
Apart from the losses, the so-called customer service was pathetic after the relationship started getting sour. The bank was appallingly evasive and non cooperative even for basic requests such as furnishing of documents or revoking power of attorney for the investment portfolio. It took the bank four months and repeated requests to furnish inchoate standard forms that Suchitra had signed at the time of appointing HSBC as her portfolio manager. Moreover, the documentation was incomplete.
According to Suchitra, “It took my chartered accountant six months to authenticate the figures of losses—as not only was the HSBC team adept at covering its paper trail. They also very conveniently refused/evaded furnishing me the documents to which I am legally entitled for over a year—giving me one silly excuse after another like mismatch of signature/officers being on leave, etc.”
She adds, “While I was warned that the legal system in India is such that the matter will drag on forever probably causing me further expenditure and loss of peace of mind and reputation, I was determined to see this through. It is my moral responsibility and a warning to other vulnerable targets—small investors like me should not get conned by aggressive MBA's in suits who are preying on their customers like sharks in the big bad ocean. All the while getting richer and richer while making us small gold fish go bust.”
Last year Moneylife Foundation had conducted a seminar with Ravi Subramanian, banker and author of three well-known books like “If God Was a Banker”, “I Bought the Monk’s Ferrari” and “Devil in Pinstripes”. According to him, “Banks and relationship managers often indulge in cross-selling to earn more revenues and therefore, the customer has to be more careful while dealing with them. Bankers become ‘bhayankar’ when they fail to deliver what they have promised and try to hard-sell products on which they earn more money to the gullible customers. A customer can protect himself from falling into the hands of mercenary bankers by being alert, vigilant and at the same time doing due diligence.”