Surajkund Crafts Mela

Security commandos have become a common feature post 26/11

India’s largest, tallest tricolour

Awestruck by the towering height of the Qutub Minar? Now get ready to crane your neck at a mammoth tricolour nearly as high. The 22-metre-wide, 14.6-metre-high national flag, made of specially knitted polyester at a cost of Rs 1 crore, will be hoisted 63 metres above the ground in a park in Haryana’s Kaithal town. The flag will be hoisted in public for the first time some day in the third week of February. An initiative of the Flag Foundation of India (FFI) the tricolour will be the “largest and tallest in the country”, FFI chief executive officer Commander (Retd) K V Singh said.

Roadside Romeo makes it to animation ‘Oscars’ shortlist

The Indian film industry has just bagged its first nomination at the prestigious Visual Effects Society (VES) awards — known as the Oscars of the animation and visual effects industry. India’s first full length animation 3D film—Roadside Romeo, co-produced by Yash Raj Films and Disney, has been nominated in the ‘Outstanding Animation in an Animated Motion Picture’ category alongside big Hollywood animation films such as Dreamworks’ Kungfu Panda and Disney’s Wall-E. Tata Elxsi, the Bangalore-based VFX arm of the Tata Group, has done the entire animation for the film and a large contingent from the company is heading to Los Angeles for the awards, which are scheduled just a day before the Oscar night on February 21. This is the first time that a property created in India has been nominated for VES awards for excellence in visual effects and animation. Competition for the film comes from Bolt - The Chase, Kung Fu Panda, Waltz With Bashir and Wall-E. Roadside Romeo’s 90 minutes has around 1500 shots and 37 scenes and the entire project, from visual conceptualisation to final delivery, was executed at VCL with help coming from Disney. Each frame was executed to detail in less than two years involving 170 odd artists at peak. The entire film was made up of 150000 frames. Among the challenges for the film, says Khandpur, are the fur that the characters sport, specially Laila who has shoulder length hair which requires a skill set which is cumbersome to achieve and also requires a lot of processing power .

Homage to the Mahatma

30th January.....the death anniversary of the Father of the Nation.

Somewhere in Delhi....

Saraswati idols being sold in the capital on the occassion of Saraswati Puja

Indians earn double what they did in ’01

The average Indian’s income in 2007-08 has nearly doubled since the turn of the millennium and even adjusting for inflation, it has risen over 50% in this period. The quick estimates of per capita income for 2007-08, put out by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), peg per capita income for that year at Rs 33,283 in current prices. In 2000-01, the per capita income was only Rs 16,688 or roughly half of the 2007-08 figure. In inflation-adjusted or real terms, the growth in incomes has been much more modest, but by no means insignificant. In terms of constant (1999-2000) prices, the per capita income was Rs 16,173 in 2000-01 and rose to Rs 24,295 by 2007-08. That’s a rise of just a little more than 50% over a seven-year period. Much of this sharp rise in average income levels has happened in the five years starting 2003-04. Thus, the 2007-08 figures were 76% higher than those of 2002-03 in nominal terms and 42% higher in inflation-adjusted terms. That’s because the economy grew at 12%-plus rates in nominal terms for each of these five years or 7.5%-plus rates in real terms. Even allowing for the population growing at a little under 1.5% per year, that meant that incomes grew by double digit rates—between 10.5% and 13.5%—in each of these years. In inflation adjusted terms, that translated into five successive years of incomes rising by over 5%—between 5.6% and 8.2% to be precise. If the 7% growth projected officially does materialize in the current financial year, we could have a sixth successive year of 10%-plus growth in nominal per capita income and 5%-plus increase in the inflation adjusted average income level.


The Satyam Scam

The Satyam Scam has fired the imagination of our cartoonists.

India Post is changing with the times

After the change in logo, India Post now ties up with the State Bank of India...

Dharavi makeover gets an expert panel

An expert committee has been set up to advise the government on planning, management and implementation of the Dharavi makeover project. The 11-member committee comprising architects, city planners, activists and former bureaucrats has been approved by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
The panel includes former chief secretary D M Sukhtankar, former IAS officer Sunder Burra, urban planner Vidyadhar Phatak, architect Shirish Patel, housing expert Chandrashekhar Prabhu, architects Arvind and Neera Adarkar, director of the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture Aniruddh Paul, Society for the Promotion of Area Research Centres (SPARC) Director Sheela Patel and SPARC founder and National Slum Dwellers Federation convener Jockin Arputham.
The convener of the committee will be Gautam Chatterjee, officer on special duty for the Rs 15,000-cr Dharavi Redevelopment Project.The panel will advise the state government on aspects like setting up of transit camps, layout of rehabilitation tenements, facilities to be provided to such buildings, the civic infrastructure to be provided to the five sectors planned in the project and how it would be linked to the infrastructure in the city.
The committee will also advise the government on ensuring environmental sustainability of the project, besides aspects like the baseline social and economic surveys, laying down eligibility criteria for rehabilitation, complaint redressal, legal and commercial matters, setting up of co-operative housing societies for the rehabilitated buildings and a federation of such institutions, laying down responsibilities and ensuring co-ordination between various state government agencies during the execution of the project. The panel would also advise the government on measures to be taken to protect and maintain living standards of locals.

Reliance Power bags Tilaiya ultra mega project

Reliance Power outbid NTPC, Jindal Power and Sterlite Energy for the 4,000 mw ultra mega power project at Tilaiya in Jharkhand. This is the Anil Ambani group firm’s third successful bid for India’s largest series of power projects through which the government expects to add about 50,000 mw by 2015. India has an installed capacity of 1,40,000 mw. Reliance Power bagged the Tilaiya bid quoting Rs 1.77 a unit. The highest bid was around Rs 3 per unit. The bids for the coal-based thermal power project are being counter-checked and an official announcement will be made on February 2 or 3. The project entails an investment of Rs 18,000 to 20,000 crore with a debt-equity ratio of 70:30. However, the debt portion could be increased to 80% as the private developer may it hard to bring in a huge equity. Sources confirmed that the financial bids were opened on Wednesday. Two closest competitors for Reliance Power in the bid, National Thermal Power Corporation and Jindal Power, quoted Rs 2.37 and Rs 2.69, respectively.

Mulayam’s disproportionate assets case

The case against Mulayam: On November 29, 2005, a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court for a CBI probe into the disproportionate assets of the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav. Along with Mulayam, his sons Akhilesh and Prateek and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple were made party, besides the Union Government. The petitioner demanded a CBI inquiry into the assets of Mulayam and others.
The allegations: The petitioner had stated that in 1977 Mulayam’s declared wealth was Rs 70,000. So, how did it reach Rs 20 crore in 2005? In support of his allegation, the petitioner had attached the sale deed documents of properties bought in Mulayam’s, his wife’s or his sons’ names at different places in Lucknow, Delhi and Etawah. In response to the allegation, Mulayam had submitted documents showing his assets were worth Rs 20 crore. During the argument of the case, the petitioner had raised the point that both the father and the sons (Mulayam and Akhilesh) earned Rs 3 crore annually as their salaries, and if one accepted Mulayam’s summary of assets worth Rs 20 crore, he would have to explain the difference of Rs 17 crore. The complainant added that if the CBI found it difficult to locate the properties listed in the case, he would help them in finding all of them. The petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi, an advocate by profession, filed the case. Hailing from Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, Chaturvedi used to be a Congress leader and had contested the bypoll from Haidergarh Assembly constituency on a Congress ticket against Rajnath Singh. Today, Chaturvedi is registered as an advocate in the Supreme Court.
First hearing: On January 12, 2006, the Bench of Justice Ruma Pal issued notices to all the names mentioned in the writ petition.
Mulayam submits tax papers: On June 1, 2006, a vacation Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat asked Mulayam to submit before the court his income tax and sales tax returns from 2001 to 2006. As directed by the court, Mulayam submitted the desired papers before the Bench of Justice K A R Laxmanan and Justice Altamash Kabir on July 17.
First judgment :The argument started on February 13, 2007, before the same Bench that reserved its judgment. On March 1, the court released its judgment in which it recommended a CBI probe and asked the Government of India to start a preliminary inquiry.
Opposite party challenges court order :On March 3, 2007, Amar Singh challenged the judgment, filed an appeal in the court, and strongly criticised Justice Laxmanan, who withdrew his name from the case. The case then went to Justice C K Thakkar’s court where the argument carried on for a week. For the first time, the review was heard in an open court.
CBI files its report :The CBI on October 26, 2007, filed an application in the Supreme Court stating that its inquiry was complete and it was willing to file a regular case in the court and did not want to submit its report to either the state or Central governments.
CBI changes stand: On March 10, 2008, the CBI filed another application in the court saying that the complainant has not filed the counter in the case and therefore, it should be decided ex-parte. The complainant filed the counter on November 26, 2008, and supported the CBI’s stand not to hand over the report to the state or Central government. But on December 6, 2008, the CBI requested the court for withdrawal of its earlier application in which it had said that it wanted to file a regular case. The complainant filed a modification application on December 16, 2008, saying that the CBI should file its case in the Supreme Court, as Mulayam had extended support to the Central Government.
Current status :The case was listed on January 5, 6 and 27; now, it has been listed for February 10 when the court has said that the case would be heard on a daily basis.

Pundits predict...

The world economy will essentially come to a halt this year as more than $2 trillion of bad assets clog the financial system, the International Monetary Fund said. The global economy will grow by only 0.5 per cent this year, the IMF said. That would be the slowest pace since World War II and is a sharp reduction from the IMF's projection of 2.2 per cent growth in November.
The IMF revised the growth prospects for India to 5.1 per cent in 2009 against its earlier forecast of 6.3 per cent.For the year 2010, the multilateral agency downgraded India’s growth projections to 6.5 per cent from earlier estimates. It expects financial conditions to remain tight.
The IMF has also downgraded China's growth forecast for 2009 to 6.7 per cent from 8.5 per cent projected earlier.

UPA's fuel price cut signals Elections 2009

The UPA Government cuts fuel prices for the second time in 45 days heralding the onset of the General elections....26/11 seems to be fading away with no concrete action taken by Pakistan till date.
Indicating for the first time a timeframe for the next general elections, Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi has said Lok Sabha elections will be held between April 8 and May 15. In 2004, general elections were held in four phases between April 20 and May 10. Since the 14th Lok Sabha completes its term on May 30 (having met for the first time on June 1, 2004), the House will have to be constituted before its expiry — the 15th Lok Sabha can meet by June 1. EC sources maintained that since March “is an examination month, with schools as polling booths, any such exercise is not possible at this time”. April-May is the only window available for the exercise with state elections to be held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim.


Somewhere in Mumbai....

Damn Chweet..!

Virar - Dahanu local trains : Snapshot

Western Railways will link Dahanu with Virar by the end of this year.

National body for unique IDs set up

As part of the gigantic exercise to provide unique identity (UID) numbers to the citizens, the Centre has notified the setting up of the National Authority for Unique Identity (NAUID) and asked nine states and four Union Territories (UTs) to provide details of coastal villages by February 1 so that the task to create a database for issuing the cards to villagers can begin. UIDs — an integral part of the ongoing Multi-Purpose National Identity Card (MNIC) scheme — will be issued to citizens living in coastal villages of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal by 2010. The UTs, which will be covered under the first phase, are: Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. “The decision to issue UIDs to residents of coastal villages has been taken in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack which exposed their vulnerability. The scheme is likely to cover the entire country by 2012,” said an official. The identification number will be provided by NAUID, an entity under the Planning Commission. It will work in coordination with the office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) which has been working on the National Population Register. The identity cards proposed to be issued will be micro processor chip based cards which will information of each individual, his/her finger biometrics as well as photograph. A unique “National Identity Number” will be assigned to each individual including those below 18 years of age. This number will become a “link number” with any other application of the state government.


Pune to develop Asia's first space-theme park

Space World, an entertainment centre and state-of-the-art space-theme park, will be developed in the Sahyadri mountains of Pune by the end of 2010. Space World will be Asia's first hi-tech centre for space education and entertainment.The park is being developed by the Lavasa Corporation in collaboration with Dubai-based Space Investment Company (SIC) at a cost of Rs 400 crore. Space World will offer courses regarding new technologies and space browsing and programmes, which will help to create understanding of aerospace science.
It will also have an entertainment area for live communication with International Space Station, lectures by astronauts and simulations of various missions. Chairman of Lavasa Corporation, Ajit Gulabchand, said that this would be the first hill station in post-independence India, which is being built by infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company. We will invest 19 percent of the cost for the centre, while the SIC will spend the rest, Gulabchand added.The SIC is a partner and licensee of United State space and rocket centre that operates SpaceWorld Arabia in the UAE.

ISB ranks 15th in global B-schools list

The Indian School of Business (ISB) has been ranked 15th among the global B-school rankings released by the Financial Times, London.This is the second year in a row when ISB has achieved a high rank among the leading international business schools. Last year, the ISB was ranked 20 by Financial Times, making it the first Indian business school to be counted among the world’s top 20.

MMRDA plans Iconic Tower in Mumbai

The newly proposed Iconic Tower in Wadala will have 101 floors and will rise to 526 meters. There will be a 45 meters antenna at the top as well. With a total plot area 1.4 lakh sq meters and a built up area of 5.6 lakh sq meters, the FSI of this building will be 4. The project is expected to cost Rs. 4128 crore and will be completed by 2014.

Rail Coach factory at Raebareli gets going

Even as UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad are set to inaugurate the construction work of the Rail Coach Factory at Rae Bareli on Tuesday, the tug of war between Indian Railways and the Mayawati-led Uttar Pradesh government is far from over.
The controversy first erupted in October 2008 with the UP government deciding to cancel the sale of 189 hectares of government land to Railways just two days before Gandhi was slated to perform bhoomi poojan at the site. In spite of the Railways signing a 90-year lease agreement with the UP government, top sources in Rail Bhavan said that the Ministry had not given up its claim of being the being the legitimate owner of the land in the litigation which is continuing in the Allahabad High Court. “Since the court has allowed us to start work on the site, we are going ahead with the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday. This, however, is an interim arrangement since the ministry is pursuing its case for ownership of the land in question. In case, Railways win that case, this lease deed will become null and void,” a senior Railway official said.
The Railways is contesting for ownership rights of the land on the plea that the transaction between Indian Railways and the Uttar Pradesh government followed a negotiation process spanning a year wherein both the “lease” and the “outright sale” options were made available to the UP government. As per the original agreement, Railways had purchased this land from the state government for Rs 9 crore.
Railway official added that despite some of the conditions in the lease deed being unpalatable, the Ministry had signed the agreement at the behest of the Court. Keen to kickstart work at the site before the model code of conduct came into effect prior to the Lok Sabha polls, the Ministry also had a substantial investment locked up in the project. “Also, we have already invested around Rs 25 crore in the project and the works were suffering on account on the delay,” an official said.
The project had been announced during the Supplementary Demand for Grants in 2007. By roping in reputed international players to set up a joint venture company, Railways plan to procure around 840 state-of-the-art coaches annually from this new factory for a 10-year period starting 2010-11. Further, Railway ministry’s plans include getting air-conditioned double-decker coaches manufactured at this unit with the ministry eyeing procurement of atleast 20 double-decker trains, having 24 coaches each, by 2021 from this factory.

Ahmedabad to get a rain proof Stadium

Rain will no longer play spoilsport in the city as Ahmedabad will have the distinction of housing India’s firstever sports and entertainment complex with a retractable roof. Globally, there is just one such sporting complex that has a retractable roof, and that is the Telstra Dome stadium in Melbourne, Australia. The state government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a London-based company called StadiArena and its Indian partner TransStadia on January 12 to create a complex, which will include a football ground and an entertainment arena, at the cost of Rs 200 crore. The highlight of this 33,000-capacity structure will undoubtedly be its roof, which can cover the entire complex within six minutes. The Telstra Dome takes eight minutes to convert itself into an indoor venue from an open stadium. Currently, it is the only cricket venue where a match remains unaffected by rain. Slated to be ready by 2010, the Ahmedabad stadium aims to develop a similar facility. The state government has offered StadiArena land at five places, including one near Sanand, from where Tata Motors’ Nano car will roll out. Land is also being offered near Kankaria Lake. The company engineers are supervising the spots offered. Construction work is scheduled to begin in March. The main features of the proposed design include:
• A sunken bowl housing the field of play
• Around 33,000 permanent seats to bring fans closer to the action
• A cable-supported retractable roof, which would be operational by a mere push of the button
• A ‘wrap’ around the stadium structure decorated with art, and a separate arena for entertainment events
• Groups of pods situated around the concourse for merchandise and catering facilities.
Upon completion, the stadium’s primary usage will include hosting a world-class sports academy, international competitions at junior and senior levels, and music concerts, theatre, etc. The project’s promoters are hailing the proposed stadium as “Wembley of the East”. The famous Wembley stadium in north-west London is home of the England’s national football team and is a famous host to pop concerts and other cultural events. Pop star Madonna recently performed there in front of almost 90,000 fans. StadiArena’s founder, Paul Fletcher, said his aim is to develop a complex in Ahmedabad that can be a beacon for the world. He said, “Having our first operational arena in such a visionary and progressive city as Ahmedabad is truly an exciting prospect. Due for completion in 2010, the build schedule is impressive, and we have total confidence in our partners and the government.” His Indian partner, Udit Sheth, TransStadia’s managing director and CEO, said: “We want this project to house state-of-the-art facilities and act as the centre of excellence for sports development and events. This is the paradigm shift India needs and will take India to the world.

Bangalore high speed rail gets green light

After much dilly-dallying, the Karnataka state cabinet gave the go-ahead for the high-speed rail link to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA). This link will connect BIA and BRV grounds (Minsk Square, MG Road). According to sources, the state government was planning to shelve the plan, while the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had advised the government on the need for such a rail link for a burgeoning city like Bangalore. Now, the government has decided to go by DMRC chief E Sreedharan’s suggestions. Confirming the decision, a senior minister said, “The high-speed rail link from BRV Parade Grounds to BIA has been approved for implementation on a public-private partnership model.” “The project will ensure quick transit of passengers from the central business district to the airport within 25 minutes and it will cost Rs 6,000 crore.”

Rs 67,000 Crore change for Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad’s landscape is set to change dramatically. Residential townships, five-star hotels, large commercial projects on Sabarmati riverfront and scores of new multiplexes will be some of the mega structures that will give the city a completely new look over the next few years. The scale of proposed development in the city came to the fore after the state urban development department conducted a viability analysis of MoUs signed during the recent Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit (VGGIS). At the end of the analysis, viable project investments concerning Ahmedabad stood at a staggering Rs 66,000 crore, department sources said. Of these, eight projects are mammoth in size and make up for Rs 25,000 crore investment. Among these are the AMCGUDC office complex on the riverfront worth Rs 10,000 crore, and the Godrej Properties special township project in western Ahmedabad worth Rs 5,500 crore. The Godrej township will boast of a residential area built amidst natural settings, a stadium, multiplex, a large aquarium and children’s park. However, the biggest project in the realty sector will come in the form of an integrated township on the city outskirts. This will primarily feature low-cost housing units. On its part, the government promises to facilitate development on the peripheries of the city and will bring out a new township policy for the purpose. These proposals, culled out from the entire pool of infrastructure MoUs, were understandably put up by the country’s premier corporate houses, developers and land holders, including ITC Limited, Bharat Hotels and Parshwanath Realty Pvt Ltd. A five-star hotel proposed by ITC will be built at the cost Rs 375 crore. It will have a staff of 1,000. That apart, Asia Everest Ltd, which specialises in multi-level parking lots, will build an ‘on-road on-line parking system’ in the city at the cost of Rs 250 crore. Government officials said all viable projects will be approved through the single-window process. Urban development department secretary K Srinivas said, “The government is as keen on development as developers are on doing business. Hence, we will examine and approve proposals fast. Looking to the pace of growth of the city, AMC and AUDA seek to bring about development of townships in an integrated manner.” A total of 250 infrastructure projects worth Rs 1,00,000 crore have been proposed in all the six municipal corporation areas of the state, of which Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar have bagged projects worth Rs 67,000 crore.

Rusty-spotted cat

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Borivli has welcomed a tiny new guest — a Rusty-spotted cat. The threemonth-old blackish grey cat, one of the smallest wild cats in the world, was rescued by a farmer from Karad in Satara and brought to the Karad forest officer. “The officer brought it to us four days ago. We have kept her in an enclosure with three other Rusty-spotted kittens,” said Dr Vinaya Jangle, veterinary officer at SGNP. The rare Rusty-spotted cats are a native to forests of southern India and Sri Lanka and are much smaller (35-48 cm) than domestic cats. Officers claimed declining forest cover, hunting and urbanisation are pushing the cats out of their habitats and as a result, they are on the verge of extinction. “The national park had two Rusty-spotted cats that gave birth to three kittens in captivity. Since the species are vulnerable, the kittens cannot be put on display as yet. They are primarily arboreal animals and therefore live on trees. We have arranged for a special place to accommodate the kitten, which weighs 1.5 kg,” said Dr Jangle. The cat is a nocturnal hunter and preys upon small animals including rodents, frogs, reptiles and small birds. It is being fed on chicken at SGNP everyday.

Republic Day advertisements

Republic Day is another day where states try to out do each other....

Mobile number portability update

After a series of delays, the communications ministry has got cracking on mobile number portability (MNP), which allows consumers to change their telecom operator but retain their number. Over the weekend, the Department of Telecom (DoT) invited bids from companies with worldwide experience to implement MNP in India. According to the new timeline, the last date for the submission of bids will be February 6 and the winner will be announced on March 5. If the latest timeline is followed, customers can expect to access this facility in the second half of 2009. DoT has also clarified to all potential bidders that the amount customers will have to pay to change their operators will be decided by Trai. In 2006, Trai had recommended that consumers pay between Rs 200 and Rs 300 every time he/she wants to change their service provider. But, DoT has now said that the regulator would specify a new port fee before MNP is introduced. The government had approved MNP in late-2007 and said the facility would be introduced in the four metros by the second half of 2008. Since then, implementation of MNP has missed several launch dates. Number portability has so far been introduced in countries like Australia, Korea, Japan, Canada, the US, the UK, most of Europe and Pakistan. According to reports, its introduction has been followed by up to 20-50% subscribers switching operators in some of these countries. The communications ministry has turned down demands of a few potential bidders to relax existing norms that allows only those companies to participate in the bid which have experiences in similar projects in international markets. Besides, DoT has also added that these companies should have ported a minimum of about 25-million numbers in the markets they currently operate in. The Department has said that the list of pre-qualified bidders will be released on February 16 and selected companies will have to make presentations on rollout plans on February 23-24.

Delhi Metro snippets

After constructing the second deepest Metro station in the world at Chawri Bazaar, a good 25 metres below the surface, Delhi Metro is bracing up to perform yet another engineering marvel. The tunnel for the Airport Express Line is going under the existing Rajeev Chowk metro station at a depth of 40 metres. The lowest point of Delhi Metro so far, constructing the tunnel is going to be a huge challenge for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Like Chawri Bazaar, the new tunnel will also be constructed using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) and will be equivalent to about 12 stories under the road level. The tracks for the highspeed link will come up under the existing station area as well as tracks for existing Line 3 (Dwarka to Indraprastha) and Line 2 (Central Secretariat to Vishwavidyalaya). ‘‘The tunnel had to be constructed at such a depth because we had to go under the foundation of the existing Metro station. At such low levels, the underground water pressure is very strong and can even blow up an entire station. A good foundation is created with deep tension piles to secure it. One needed to ensure that the tunnel doesn’t disturb this,’’ said a DMRC spokesperson. The process will be monitored round the clock and several sophisticated guages and gadgetry are being installed on the tracks of the two existing Metro lines, the Rajeev Chowk station, and buildings in CP to ensure that there is no settlement. Even the TBM being used to drill at such a depth is differently designed to be able to withstand the high underground pressures. The TBMs have got retractable cutter heads which automatically change for rock and soil cutting. The tunnel will maintain a depth of 40 metres for a stretch of about 250 metres and the construction will take about a month. The tunnel also passes directly under several heritage structures including Minto Bridge, Gol Dak Khana and old buildings of Connaught Place, which has posed another challenge before engineers. As the TBM cuts through soil and rock under the surface, the corporation needs to ensure that the vibrations don’t cause any cracks or disfigurement in the heritage structures. For this, each of these buildings will also be fitted with gauges and crack meters. The tunnelling process has already been completed successfully under Minto bridge on January 12 this year without any impact on the structure, which is about 100 years old. DMRC had to obtain a clearance from the commissioner of railway safety before initiating the tunnelling process under it. The tunnel here is at a depth of about 25 metres. The tunnelling process for the stretch has already started and two TBMs have been lowered from shafts created near New Delhi station. The first tunnel is ready upto the Minto Road-Connaught Circus intersection. Over the next month, it will drill below the heritage structures of Connaught Place and reach the deepest point by March. ‘‘The entire tunnelling process will be complete by August this year,’’ the spokesperson added. Modelled on the lines of London’s popular Heathrow Express, the Airport Express Line will start at New Delhi Railway Station and go to Dwarka via IGI airport. On the way, there will be stops at Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan and National Highway-8. The new service will be operational by July 2010 and promises a superfast ride from CP to IGI, in just 18 minutes. The trains will be different from the existing Delhi Metro ones, with five star facilities. The fare has been fixed at a maximum of Rs 150 till IGI and an additional Rs 30 to Dwarka, with a provision for monthly passes for airline staff and frequent fliers. This is the first Delhi Metro line to come up on a PPP model.

Length : 22.7 km — 7 km elevated, 15.7 km underground.

Stations : 6 — New Delhi Railway Station, Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan, NH-8, IGI Airport and Dwarka sector 21 City Airport.

Terminal stations : New Delhi Railway station and Shivaji Terminus .

Train Speed : 135 kmph .

Estimated Journey time : 18 mins (from NDRS to IGI).

Frequency : 10 mins in 2010; 6 mins by 2021.

Completion deadline : July 2010 .

Expected ridership : 42,500 by 2010; 86,000 by 2021 .

Construction cost : Rs 3,800 crore approx .

Number of tunnel boring machines to be used : 4

Lowest point on tunnel : 40m .

Stretch where 40m depth maintained : 250m .

Maximum fare : Rs 150 (up to IGI),Rs 30 (IGI to Dwarka) .

Business Model : Public-private partnership (PPP) with DMRC developing the civil structures and later playing the watchdog for 30 years .

Deal with Kazakhstan for uranium signed

In a major fillip for India’s civilian nuclear power capability, New Delhi has signed an MoU with Kazakhstan which will facilitate uranium supply to India. The MoU, between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Kazakhstan’s state owned KazAtomProm, will also allow Kazakhstan to help build atomic power plants in India, sources said. Kazakhstan ambassador to India Dr Kairat Umarov said that KazAtom-Prom was ready to supply uranium to India and that Kazakhstan has the potential to take part in the construction of atomic power stations in India. The MoU was signed in the presence of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations, and President Pratibha Patil. Kazakhstan is the third largest producer of uranium in the world and is likely to overtake Australia and Canada by 2010 with its annual uranium production slated to reach 15,400 tonnes. “On September 4, the first day of the NSG meet, Kazakhstan’s permanent representative made a speech strongly supporting India’s case. This is despite the fact that Kazakhstan suffered 500 nuclear tests conducted on its territory by the USSR in the 20th century,” Umarov said.

Landlord v/s Tenant rulings

A series of rulings in tenant vs landlord rows over the last year has gone in favour of house owners :
March 2008- SC says Oriental Insurance and Bharat Petroleum can pay rent at market rates in Mumbai and, therefore, are not entitled to the protection of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act April 2008 -The apex court says a landlord can ask a tenant to vacate commercial premises, citing bona fide requirements for himself or herself, or any dependent family member September 2008 -The HC rules that a tenant has to vacate his flat at the end of the leave-and-licence agreement term . Long years of tenancy cannot be a shield against eviction from a shop or house when the owner’s need for using the premises is bona fide, the SC says .
November 2008 -A tenant can’t stay put in a rented premise claiming it is not fit for the owner’s need, rules the SC .
December 2008 -A landlord can seek the appointment of a court commissioner to inspect tenanted premises, the HC says.

Constitution snippets

The creation of a constitutional body was the outcome of the 1946 Cabinet Mission that aimed to discuss and finalize plans for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership, providing India with independence under Dominion status . Members of the constituent assembly were chosen by indirect election by members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission . With India’s independence, the constituent assembly became a fully sovereign body and fell to work on 9 December 1947 . The draft Constitution was published in January 1948. On November 4, 1948, the general discussion began. Between November 15, 1948 and October 17, 1949, the draft was thoroughly discussed clause by clause . As many as 7,635 amendments were proposed and 2,473 were actually discussed. Over the two years, 11 months and 17 days taken to frame the constitution, 114 days were spent on its consideration alone . The Constitution was adopted on November 26, 1949 and signed by Dr Rajendra Prasad as chairman of the constituent assembly. It came into force on January 26, 1950 . On this day, the constituent assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in 1952 .

The Dalhousie Square Rejuvenation Project

Very interesting !

Freedom at last !

A straying 12-year-old male tiger, which had struck terror in the hearts of villagers in Kultali over the past two weeks, was trapped and released in the Sunderbans forest .

Chennai airport expansion takes off

The Rs 1,212-crore Chennai airport expansion project is moving at a rapid pace. On Monday, work began on the building of an elevated road that will touch the passenger terminals; while work to construct a new domestic terminal started a couple of weeks ago. According to Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, construction was going on in different parts of the airport campus so that the work could be completed by 2011, the deadline. Land has been marked and earth being moved to prepare the ground for building a new 74,500-square metre domestic terminal. It will have two floors — first floor for departure and the ground floor for arrivals. “Some of the facilities inside the airport campus have been moved to facilitate the construction work. Gate no. 1 used by airline staff and VIPs has been moved closer to the AAI administrative building,” an AAI official said. However, work on building a new international terminal spread out over 65,000 square feet is yet to start because it will occupy 21 acres of defence land that still needs to be transferred to AAI. “Steps are underway to procure the land. As per the arrangement, AAI would assist the defence ministry to relocate some of the installations on those 21 acres of land. We have already started constructing a building for the defence at an alternative site in Pallavaram,” the AAI official said. The AAI would soon have another round of meeting with defence ministry officials to finalise transfer of the land. The expansion project is being executed by Consolidated Construction Consortium Limited (CCCL) in technical collaboration with Canadian infrastructure company Herve Pomerleau International. It is expected to be completed in 26 months. Once the project is complete, Chennai airport will become world-class, with passengers lounging in steel-andglass terminals that will have natural lighting and using an in-campus flyover that will take them directly to the first floor departure areas at the domestic and international terminals. They will benefit from a a multi-level car park and also choose from a host of recreational activities while waiting for the boarding call. “We will follow the design handed over to us by the AAI,” said an official of CCCL. Their technical collaborators, Herve Pomerleau International, have the experience of doing up the Montreal airport. The new terminals will be equipped to handle 16 million passengers a year

Mayhem in Mangalore in the name of God

I totally detest how some misguided outfits can be set up in the name of God and hurt the feelings of the majority in the community like the Sri Rama Sene.Their actions show that they should rename themselves as Ravan Sene.....
Rashtriya Hindu Sena national president Pramod Mutalik justified the intention behind the attack on girls in a Mangalore bar on Saturday, but didn’t support the methods used. However, politicians seem to be cashing in on the dastardly attacks to score points. Rashtriya Hindu Sena is the parent body of Sri Rama Sene. On Sunday, women and child development minister Renuka Chowdhury had termed it an attempt to “Talibanize India” and sought an explanation from the Karnataka government. “I am absolutely horrified at the insensitivity on the eve of Republic Day. I’ll seek an explanation from the state government as well as the self-styled Sri Rame Sene,” Renuka said. On his part, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said it was unfortunate that people had taken the law into their hands. “There will be no opportunity for that. We have given a free hand to the police to arrest them. They should have told the police about the party,” he said. In New Delhi, JD(S) chief H D Deve Gowda accused Yeddyurappa of being responsible for ‘Talibanization’ of Karnataka, describing the attacks as “ugly and heinous”. Back in Mangalore, Mutalik said that the Sri Rama Sene activists did not attack girls, but the boys who had brought them to the pub. When it was pointed out that girls had been been assaulted, Mutalik said: “I apologize if such a thing has happened.The mode of execution was wrong. There is no need to raise such a hue and cry”.
The Right-wing Hindu group, Sri Rama Sene, created by Belgaumbased Pramod Muttalik, following his expulsion from the Bajrang Dal in 2004, has been at the forefront of several moral policing incidents and communal violence in the Mangalore region in the last three years. Among the latest incidents the outfit has been associated with is the attack on a pub in Mangalore carried out on January 24 — something the outfit proudly claims as a “spontaneous reaction” to the alleged flouting of Indian norms of decency.
The outfit has been recently linked, though denied by Muttalik himself, to a bomb blast in a Hubli court in May 2008, following the arrest of a gang of alleged dacoits, several of whom are believed to have a history of association with groups like the Sene.
Pravin Muttalik, an alleged relative of the Sri Rama Sene chief, again denied by Pramod Muttalik, has also been implicated as a key accused in the investigations of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) into the Malegaon blasts of 2008. The Sri Rama Sene’s stronghold is, however, the coastal Karnataka region which saw a rise in communal politics in the aftermath of the 1991 Babri Masjid demolition. Drawing its cadre from the young, communally inclined rowdy elements, the Sene has been primarily involved in moral policing activities like preventing inter religious ties, preventing the slaughter of cows and inciting communal violence in the region.
In 2005, the Sene was responsible for an attack on a bus carrying the employees of a local store in Mangalore. The employees, both Hindus and Muslims, were going on a picnic organised by their employers. Sene activists attacked the bus accusing the storeowners of encouraging relationships between Hindu and Muslims.
Numerous other incidents where Sene activists have monitored inter-religious relationships and attacked non-Hindus have been reported over the past three years.In another infamous incident in 2005, an elderly man, Hasanaba, and his son were stripped and dragged in a field after they were found in a local market by Sene cadre allegedly attempting to sell a calf.
The self appointed moral policemen from the Sene are alleged to have been involved in the communal violence in Mangalore in October 2006 that resulted in the imposition of three days of curfew in the district. The violence started after Sene men tried to chase down a truck allegedly carrying cows to an abattoir in the heart of Mangalore. The Sene is alleged to have actively participated in the violence that followed, including the stabbing of a youth who was being taken to the then newly opened Mangalore airport to catch a flight to Dubai.
However, with the BJP being sympathetic to such groups and being in power in some form in Karnataka since 2006, key leaders of the Sene have courted arrest for several of these acts of violence but without serious charges being pressed against them.

The Pomp and Pageantry of the Republic Day Parade

Awesome shots of the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi, 26th January 2009


Somewhere near Mysore....

Forest officials lower a bamboo into a 15-foot deep pond for the leopard to climb up at Hosaholalu village near Mysore on Sunday. However, the rescue operation failed to save the six-year-old leopard. The big cat, having spent the previous night in the pond, was too exhausted to respond to the rescue act. Villagers criticised the ‘unscientific’ rescue methods adopted by forest officials

Republic Day from the 50s

Snapshotz of Republic Day celebrations in the 1950s.