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Peddar Road flyover changes course to avoid green lobby

After the MSRDC altered the design of the long-pending bridge to avoid areas like Girgaum Chowpatty, it will not have to wait for an environmental clearance, and can go ahead with construction Putting an end to the miasma of speculation and controversy surrounding the Peddar Road flyover, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is finally ready to float tenders for its construction. Its keenness to get the ball rolling is made evident by the fact that the state-run corporation has decided to alter the plan of the flyover to circumvent any area that may invite protest from the environmental lobby.

According to the earlier plan, the flyover was meant to graze Girgaum Chowpatty. This had raised the hackles of environmentalists and some of Peddar Road's esteemed residents, such as Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle, claimed sources. The corporation has now decided to play it safe. Instead of waiting for a clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, it had altered the course of the flyover.

According to the freshly revised plans, the 4.3-km long flyover will extend from Haji Ali to the Peddar Road-S Patkar Road junction near Mata Prempuri Ashram. As a pre-emptive measure, the corporation will also file a caveat with the Bombay High Court, so that it does not issue a stay order without first intimating the state enterprise.

Conceived in the year 2000, the long-pending project has been stuck in a quagmire of controversy and uncertainty. Recently, the Thackeray cousins Raj and Uddhav sparred verbally over their widely contentious views of the project. The duel broke out after Jayant Patil, the Guardian Minister of Mumbai City district claimed that the project had been shelved and supplanted with fresh plans of two flyovers on the same stretch.

MSRDC Minister Jaidutt Kshirsagar confirmed the development, but refused to divulge any details, citing constraints owing to the ongoing Winter Session of the state legislature. According to sources, the inordinate delay has escalated the cost of the project to Rs 300 crore, with pundits predicting that it may touch Rs 500 crore on the date of completion.

Commencement of construction work for the flyover had been put on hold while the expert appraisal committee of the MEoF conducted an environment impact assessment of the project plan, and undertook a public hearing to take into account the objections raised by locals affected by it.

Karnataka government panned
The state legislature did not mince its words while condemning the Karnataka government's decision to dissolve the Belgavi Municipal Corporation, in response to some allegedly bold steps taken by the Marathi speaking mayor, deputy mayor and corporators. While the resolution to condemn the decision was approved unanimously, the BJP was on a sticky wicket, for the obvious reason that the party is ruling in the neighbouring state.

The tenor of the Congress and Shiv Sena created uneasiness with the BJP members, who were at pains to show their disapproval for the demand made for a dismissal of the Karnataka government. The house also saw a usually reticent Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan take an aggressive stance on the issue, directing some harsh words towards the Karnataka government.

Dirty secret 
Ever since the Winter Session has commenced, politicians and officials gathered in Nagpur seem to be restless and fidgety, looking for an opportune moment to slip away to movie halls and catch a show of the blockbuster The Dirty Picture. Every evening, senior legislators holding important positions can be found in the movie hall nearby, watching the flick together.

On Thursday, an amusing scene unfolded at the cinema hall. As the report came in that some senior legislators holding important positions were watching the flick together, cameras of private news channels flocked to the exit gates.

Learning that their off-duty activities were being minutely covered by news channel representatives waiting in ambush outside the halls, politicos promptly booked tickets for the late night show instead. But even late at night, some cameras were lined up at the exit gates. The leisure-loving legislators soon received orders to leave the movie hall. Senior members left the venue in private vehicles, while a member of the legislative council reportedly made a hasty exit on a bike, wearing a helmet.

17,000 kids dead in 10 months
Responding to concerns raised about malnutrition deaths in the state, the government told the State Assembly yesterday that according to the figures received from January to September this year, 17,688 children below
the age of six have died from various health disorders.

In a written reply during the question hour, the Women and Child Development Minister Varsha Gaikwad denied that the cause behind the death of 500 children in Melghat in Amravati district was malnutrition. She
also denied claims that inferior quality of food was being supplied to children in the areas where cases of malnutrition had been reported.

She added that in the Thane district alone, 833 child deaths have been reported from January to October, this year. Gaikwad said that various measures were being taken to mitigate the problem, and nutritious food was being supplied to kids in tribal areas. She added that the government is also setting up nutrition rehabilitation centres for the malnourished children, besides improving the quality and quantity of the food supplied through the Anganwadis.

Several questions were raised about the issue of malnutrition and child deaths in the Assembly. MiD DAY had extensively reported about the issue a few months back.

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