In your interest.
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No beating about the bush.
While the Moneylife report on the construction of a post-retirement bungalow for Pratibha Patil in Pune became viral in social media, the President's office came up with a denial which did not address the core issues, but was carried faithfully by the mainstream media
When the Moneylife report on the construction of a post-retirement bungalow for president Pratibha Patil in Pune President Pratibha Patil grabs 2,61,000 sq ft of land meant for soldiers and officers hit the internet running, it became viral in the social media, attracting even more damaging information on the activities of the president and her immediate family in Maharashtra. The mainstream media was slow to react, despite constantly being needled in the social media for ignoring what was public knowledge in Maharashtra. Eventually the president's office came up with a denial which did not address the core issues, but was carried faithfully by the mainstream media. Meanwhile, out there in Pune, the truth is out there to be seen. Can anybody stop the truth from coming out in this day and age of internet? With this report we have pictures of the president’s bungalow under construction.
It doesn’t get higher than the president, in India, and in what appears to be an unwritten law with the mainstream media in Delhi, you don't persist in saying or writing anything about the office and the persons therein which can even remotely be considered to be demoralising or dishonouring. This could be in exchange for the typical quid-pro-quo arrangements that exist in Delhi with such things or born out of traditions going back to a day when feudal and colonial practices were justified. But times have changed.
And nobody brought this out better than Vinita Deshmukh of Pune, a regular columnist for Moneylife, winner of the Chameli Devi Award for journalism and fearless to her own truths to a point where the typical pressures that emanate in and from Delhi, didn’t really impact what is rapidly becoming a report with no previous parallel.
In a situation where corruption in high places is becoming the major issue in India, it is expected that the president and her office take extra special care to stay clear of even the least taint or suspicion. On that count there is still no cogent explanation or response.
Based on more inputs, it remains to be seen whether these questions will be answered or not, either through the RTI route or directly, and much of how the people of this country hold the high office of the president will be decided by that. That is the point that Ms Deshmukh’s report brings out in a straightforward article based on facts which only Moneylife had the guts to carry.
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These hearings cannot be realistic without even the draft DPR and the preliminary drawings made available for study to the public. Such hearings could be safely termed as a farce
On 5 April 2012, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) announced holding of a public hearing of the Mumbai Metro Master Plan’s (MMMP) Line III alignment on 11 April 2012. The line travels through Colaba-Churchgate-Flora Fountain-VT-Girgaum-Grant Road-Mumbai Central-Mahalaxmi-Worli-Prabhadevi-Dadar-Sitla Devi-Dharavi-BKC-Airport-MIDC-SEEPZ. MMRDA’s R Ramana, additional chief engineer, transportation planning co-ordinated the hearing arrangements and proceedings. Under the chairmanship of SRV Srinivas, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, the proceedings commenced 40 minutes late and progressed there on. PRK Murthy, chief engineer, transportation & communications division of MMRDA, GR Madan, director mass rapid transit systems, T&C Division, MMRDA, VK Phatak, former chief town & country planning, MMRDA, Dr Vikas Tondwalkar, director environment, MMRDA, and Vishram Patil, chief of rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R), MMRDA were on the dais. At the end, Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana joined the panel.
Without popularising any easy-to-use and failure-safe alternative, the Railways are phasing out coupon booklets that can be purchased from ticket windows and validated by punching at starting station across the Mumbai suburban rail network
To avoid the long rush at the railway ticket counters, Mumbaikars have an easy option of using coupon vending machines (CVMs). Unfortunately, this would now be a thing of past. From March 2013, these coupons will not be available as the Railway board has decided to phase out them from circulation. This move is aimed to popularise the Railways’ own automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) where a smart card (issued by the Railways) is used for buying tickets and season passes. However, passengers association are disappointed with the announcement. Just recently, the Railways also stopped selling coupons directly and instead asked commuters to buy it by standing in the queue, similar to other ticket buyers.
Vidyadhar Malegaokar, chief public relation officer, Central Railway, told Moneylife that, “It was an old notification from the railway ministry. We had requested them for an extension. Accordingly, the CVMs will be phased out by March 2013. Already ATVMs are been installed across stations. Once we have alternative, CVMs will be removed. At present, around 15% of ticket sales, on average, are coming through ATVMs.”
At present, across railway stations of Mumbai, there are 350 CVMs and 250 ATVMs on the Central Railway and 230 CVMs and 175 ATVMs on the Western Railway stations. On the Central Railway network, there are about 428 ticket booking windows that sell around 10 lakh tickets every day.
However, passenger associations have criticized the move calling it a deliberate attempt to kill the popular CVM scheme. “CVMs are easy to operate and popular among commuters. Earlier the railways allowed passengers to buy coupons without standing in the queue. But according to a circular, from 1st April, people have to stand in queue to buy coupons. Obviously, there is no rationale here. Commuters will migrate to ATVMs, which in reality is complicated to use. ATVMs just mean the railways will get full payment in advance,” said Madhu Kotian, president, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
Mr Kotian adds that, “Unlike CVMs where only the coupon had to be punched, while using an ATVM a passenger has to give five commands. People who cannot read the instructions would not be able to use this; unlike the CVMs. Plus many of these expensive machines are non-functional. Instead they should have increased the number of CVMs. At the end only passenger will have to suffer.”
For using the ATVMs, the commuter needs to buy a smart card and then top it up or refill (similar to adding talk time in mobile) in multiples of Rs50. The smart card carries a deposit of Rs50, which means this money would be locked and remain with the Railways and you cannot use it for buying tickets. For buying tickets through the ATVMs, you need to refill it with minimum Rs50. The Railways offer a 5% discount on every refill, which means if you loaded the card with Rs100, then the refilled amount would be Rs105.
For using ATVMs, the commuter has to place his smart card on the sensor screen, select language (Marathi, Hindi or English), select appropriate zone, starting and destination stations, add number of adults and children and then give the print command.
Subhash Gupta, president, Yatri Sangh Mumbai, seconds the view. “There is a huge popularity of CVMs among the passengers. The reason behind long queues is the less number of ticket counters. Phasing out coupons will add to the problem. The Mumbai Division (railway) is already short of staff. So there is no hope for any additional ticket counter or window at any station. CVMs are easier to use as compared ATVMs, which can be used by people who can read or do any ATM transaction. We will demand with the railway board to not put an end to CVMs.”
He adds that, “Unless there is dedicated staff to resolve the technical problems, as often these machine breakdown, passengers won’t have any relief. These factors have to be considered by the Railways.”
At present, there are some facilitators (mostly Railway employees) at a few ATVMs who sell tickets to commuters by using their smart card. They also help commuters in buying tickets through these machines. However, their number is limited and they are not available at every station or ATVM.