Community groups and political parties flout time restrictions on the use of loudspeakers; police turn a deaf ear
Devotees bid a final adieu to Ganpati on Sunday, with loud shouts inviting the deity to visit them early the next time round. The ten-day celebrations were incident free, but the immersion processions turned out to be really noisy, resulting in sleepless nights for numerous citizens residing along the major routes, even as police turned a deaf ear to the violations.
Environmental activist Ms Sumaira Abdul Ali has written to the city police that in certain parts of the city loudspeakers blared well past the midnight deadline, notably near Girgaon Chowpatty, the busiest immersion site in the city. The loudspeaker rules were flouted not only by some community groups, but even neighbourhood offices of political parties that exploited the occasion to build the image of their leaders who joined the processionists.
Ms Ali wrote, "At midnight, loudspeakers used in processions were uniformly switched off, but fixed loudspeakers on booths of political parties continued at 90-100dB in the Lamington Road Police jurisdiction, in the presence of the police, and in spite of requests to shut them down. On the Girgaon side, just across the street, these were switched off at about 12.20am. The loudspeakers were used to welcome individual processions and call out names of prominent politicians accompanying them. They continued beyond 1am."
In Dadar, loud music was played by a DJ, who local residents say was sponsored by a politician. A resident said, "the procession blocked one side of the road and the noise was so loud that it felt like the road was throbbing. The presence of policemen didn't help, as they looked on quietly, reluctant to control the crowd or the sound levels."
Loudspeakers blared in residential areas and silence zones in parts of south Mumbai, Mahim, Matunga, Worli and Parel. Trucks with DJs, moved slowly past hospitals, or even stopped for long periods as they went by political party booths. And in the absence of police in many places, it was a disco party on the streets, irrespective of whether it was a residential area or a silence zone. Firecrackers were also burnt freely in several areas like Mahim, Santacruz, Parel and Opera House.
In Thane, just northeast of Mumbai, also, loudspeakers blared well beyond the midnight deadline, at immersion sites. Further inland, in Navi Mumbai, the processions were a lot quieter and largely kept to the prescribed time limits. Ms Ali and her co-workers attributed this to the alertness of police in the satellite city.
"With few exceptions, mandals and processions did not have loudspeakers. A combination of effective pre-emptive police action and awareness campaigns, following the recent Bombay High Court order to control noise, appears to have had an effect," she said.
The total length of highways upgraded in the first quarter this fiscal was 19.6% lower, at 417km, than the achievement of 518.91km in the April-June period of 2010, the study by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation said
New Delhi, Sep 11 (PTI) The National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) performance with respect to the upgrade of highways was dismal in the April-June quarter this year, as neither did it meet the target, nor did its efforts surpass the actual achievement in the same quarter last fiscal, reports PTI.
NHAI upgraded 417km of highways during April-June this year, 28.2% lower than the target of 580.70km for the period, a new study by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation stated.
The total length of highways upgraded in the first quarter this fiscal was 19.6% lower, at 417km, than the achievement of 518.91km in the April-June period of 2010, the report said.
During the April-June quarter this fiscal, the NHAI had set a target to spend Rs8,672 crore, but it could only spend Rs6,030.23 crore, which is 30% less then the envisaged expenditure on highways projects.
However, the NHAI’s expenditure on highways upgrading work in the April-June period was higher than the Rs3,966.54 crore it spent in the same period last year.
The authority aims to upgrade 2,500km of highways this fiscal.
The road transport and highways ministry has set a target for awarding 7,300km of road upgrading work in the current fiscal. India has a large network of 3.3 million km of roads, out of which national highways constitute only 70,548km. To augment the network, the government plans to build 35,000km of roads by 2014.
The government is looking at an investment of over Rs2.64 lakh crore in the road sector in the next five years, of which the private sector would contribute over 65%.
Mines secretary S Vijay Kumar said, “There is no delay. We have sent the Cabinet note on the draft bill to Cabinet secretariat and other concerned ministries. It will soon come up before the Cabinet for approval”
New Delhi: The new Mines Bill, which provides for sharing of profits and royalty with project-affected people, is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, reports PTI.
The Bill, earlier supposed to be tabled during the just-concluded monsoon session, has not yet been placed before the Cabinet despite the fact that it was approved by a ministerial panel in July.
When asked, mines secretary S Vijay Kumar told PTI, “There is no delay. We have sent the Cabinet note on the draft bill to Cabinet secretariat and other concerned ministries. It will soon come up before the Cabinet for approval.”
He added that “the draft bill is now likely to be introduced in Parliament in its next session after the Cabinet approval”.
In July, the ministerial panel, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had approved the draft bill, which provides 26% profit-sharing with displaced people by coal mining companies.
For the non-coal miners, the new law will provide for payment to the displaced an amount equivalent to royalty paid to the state government.
The draft Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill, 2011, seeks to replace more than half-a-century old law under the same name.
The draft bill also proposes to set up a district development fund, where the money accumulated from the 26% profit sharing by coal miners and an amount equivalent to 100% of royalty for non-coal miners, will be deposited and will get spent on local population and area development, the draft bill has proposed.
Apart from compensating the displaced people through profit-sharing and royalty, the draft bill also says that the mining firms will have to bear a combined cess up to 12.5% on the royalty paid to states and the Centre, as per the new mining bill.
This includes 10% cess to state governments on the royalty payment, while 2.5% levy will be charged by the Centre as cess.
However, industry chambers like Ficci and Assocham are opposed to the draft bill, saying that it would make India most-taxable country for the miners.
Seeking a revision of the draft proposals, Ficci in its representation to the prime minister had said that new proposals would lead to such a situation, where total payable tax on coal would be at over 61 per cent, making the industry unattractive.
It has also projected that taxes on iron ore mining would be around 55%, while for bauxite, it would zoom to 110%.