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Mumbai-based advocates say: ‘Bill will protect public, restore faith in justice’

The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, passed on the first day of the Winter Session in Lok Sabha on Monday, December 4, proposes to repeal the Legal Practitioners Act of 1879. Practising solicitors and advocates in the city welcomed the move saying that the Bill ensures a strict code of conduct/ethics to regulate the profession. Repealing of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 was recommended by the Law Commission of India in its Report No. 249 titled ‘Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal (Second Interim Report)’. The government incorporated the provisions of Section 36 of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 into the Advocates Act, 1961, thus bringing the regulation of the profession under one act. Issue of touts Mohini Priya, advocate on record, Supreme Court, said, “The Advocates (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 1 and passed on August 3. It seeks to weed out touts who exploit vulnerable people seeking justice.” “The proposed amendment empowers courts to disclose the identities of touts and impose penal actions, which is a commendable stride towards transparency and accountability. This will disrupt touts’ secret operations and will serve as a deterrent,” said Advocate Mohini. “Courts, armed with the authority to issue punishments, will instil a sense of accountability in touts. The amendment acts as a catalyst for a more transparent, accountable, and trustworthy legal ecosystem, redefining the dynamics of legal representation and reinforcing the sanctity of the profession,” said Advocate Mohini. Highlights of the Bill Stuti Galiya, a practising solicitor, said, “The Bill introduces measures to combat touts, defining them as individuals engaged in activities like procuring legal practitioners for payment or frequenting specific locations to secure legal business. The Bill empowers high courts, district judges, sessions judges, district magistrates, and revenue officers to create and publish lists of touts. Authorities with the power to compile these lists can direct subordinate courts to investigate individuals suspected to be touting. Touting not only misleads clients but also erodes trust in the legal system. Individuals who rely on these services may unknowingly end up with unqualified or unscrupulous practitioners, risking their legal rights and interests.” “Preserving the integrity and credibility of the legal system is vital to ensure that justice is accessible to all. These changes are welcome. By implementing robust regulations, raising public awareness, promoting ethical conduct, and fostering collaboration with technology providers, the legal profession can be safeguarded and thereby rights and interests of those seeking legal services could be protected,” Galiya said. ‘Protecting litigants’ “It is heartening to note that old, colonial laws are being amended, repealed and replaced with modern, relevant laws. The Advocates Act and the Legal Practitioners Act are classic examples of such laws,” said Advocate Floyd Gracias, constitutional expert and Supreme Court counsel.  “The Bill, in terms of Section 45A as amended, seeks to create a list of touts practising in each court. This will ensure that litigants are not taken for a ride. It in keeping with the ethics of the profession, which requires advocates to desist from solicitation of clients. But, the up to R500 fine seems too low to be a deterrent,” Advocate Gracias said. Advocate Gracias added, “While one can argue that the Constitution guarantees freedom of trade and profession under Article 19, the same Article, in terms of reasonable restrictions, inter alia, allows for regulations and licensing of trades and professions.” “This Bill is the first step in Judicial reform. Touts or middlemen wreak havoc in litigants’ lives, exploiting them financially and emotionally. This Bill, if effectively implemented, will break the nexus and restore confidence in the legal system and judiciary. Touts try to influence and manage the system in the wrong way, while tossing the merit of matter, thereby derailing the entire judicial process,” said Advocate Dhanpal Jain, who specialises in civil and Constitutional law. Who is a tout? Advocate Mikhail Dey, who practises criminal law, said, “The Advocates Act, 1961, consolidated existing laws on the legal profession and established the Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils. The Act abolished the difference between a vakil and an advocate. The Act grants attorneys the right to practise in any area of the country, in any high court, as well as at the SC.” Advocate Mikhail said that as per the Bill, “The court or judge may exclude from the premises of the Court anyone whose name is included in the list of touts... a person who proposes to procure or procures the employment of a legal practitioner in a legal business in return of payment, or frequents places such as the precincts of civil or criminal courts, revenue-offices, or railway stations to procure such employment.

07 December,2023 07:10 AM IST | Mumbai | Vinod Kumar Menon
Sources say that Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Rahul Narwekar are being considered for the South Lok Sabha seat. File pics

Recent wins bolster BJP to flex muscles in Maharashtra

After securing victories in three states in the recently concluded assembly elections, the BJP appears ready to flex its muscles in Maharashtra. The first to feel the impact is likely to be Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who is leading the Shiv Sena. Sources in the BJP indicate that the party is considering contesting Lok Sabha elections from Mumbai’s North West and South constituencies. In the 2019 general election, the BJP contested from the North East, North and North Central constituencies, while its alliance partner, the then undivided Shiv Sena, contested from the North West, South Central and South constituencies. Both won in all constituencies. After the split, Shiv Sena MP from North West Gajanan Kirtikar and South Central’s MP Rahul Shewale, joined Shinde’s faction and MP from South constituency, Arvind Sawant, remained with Shiv Sena (UBT).  A source in the BJP said that the party is in a stronger position than Shinde’s Shiv Sena in Mumbai. “We can contest in five Lok Sabha constituencies in Mumbai. After a clean victory in three states, we have achieved a more dominating position than the alliance partner in Maharashtra,” the source said. Sources claimed that the BJP is considering two names for the South constituency—Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha and Rahul Narwekar, Speaker in the State assembly. The BJP has two MLAs in the six Vidhan Sabha constituencies within the Lok Sabha South constituency—Lodha is the MLA of the Malabar Hill constituency and Narvekar is the MLA of the Colaba constituency. The Shiv Sena (UBT) also has two MLAs—Aditya Thackeray from Worli and Ajay Chowdary from Sewri. MLA Yamini Jadhav from Byculla constituency is with the Shinde-led Shiv Sena. The Mumbadevi constituency has Congress’s Amin Patel as its MLA. In the North West constituency, three MLAs are from the BJP and the other three are with Shiv Sena (UBT). Sources said the BJP considers itself to be in a stronger position here even though the Lok Sabha incumbent is from Shinde’s camp. No potential candidates appear to be in consideration as yet. Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Bhalchandra Shirsat said that discussions on Lok Sabha elections have not begun. “Three Lok Sabha constituencies are with the Shiv Sena and we will contest them again. All three will remain with the Shiv Sena,” Kirtikar from the Shinde-led Sena said. On the other hand, there is also a tussle between two Shiv Sena leaders—Kiritkar and Ramdas Kadam over the North West constituency. In a November 18 report, mid-day had shed light on Kirtikar’s desire to contest a fourth time and Kadam’s attempts to get the seat for his son. Kirtikar’s son, Amol, who is with the Shiv Sena (UBT), may contest from the same constituency. 

07 December,2023 07:08 AM IST | Mumbai | Sameer Surve
The portion of the plinth that caved in Nehru Nagar

Mumbai: Water tank collapse forces evacuation of 75 families!

Approximately 75 families were evacuated from Meghdoot Building in Nehru Nagar, Kurla East, on Wednesday evening due to excavation work for an under-construction building's water tank, causing it to cave in. As per the civic disaster management report, the incident occurred around 4.48 pm during the plinth work of the building under construction, leading to the collapse of the 50,000-litre water tank in Meghdoot building. Former corporator Kamlakar Naik expressed concern, stating that approximately 60 families from building number 73 of Meghdoot building were evacuated due to the water tank collapse during the work going on the adjacent building's rear side. “Residents are in fear following the incident, demanding an immediate inspection of the building by experts,” Naik said. Also, around 15 families have been evacuated from adjoining building number 75, as a precautionary measure. MLA Mangesh Kudalkar assured that the families have been relocated to a nearby community hall and are all safe. In response, a BMC official said that these are Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) buildings. “Our emergency staff is on-site, and families were evacuated as a safety measure,” he said. Further action will be determined by the authorities concerned. MHADA will assess whether the building is suitable for habitation. Nehru Nagar colony, developed by MHADA after the 1960s, currently has several buildings under construction.

07 December,2023 07:05 AM IST | Mumbai | A Correspondent
The recently concretised Aarey Colony main road has developed cracks at several locations. Pic/Sameer Markande

Mumbai: Newly constructed concrete roads at Aarey Colony develops cracks

The recently constructed cement concrete road at Aarey Colony has developed cracks at several locations. Even as the liability period of the road is 10 years, the shoddy work has come under criticism from activists and locals. Officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s road department assured of repairing the cracks.  BMC started the concretisation of Aarey Colony’s main road from Goregaon Junction to the L & T junction of Powai in 2022 and the project will be completed in 2025. BMC will be paying Rs 51.6 crore to the company which is constructing the road. According to the conditions in the tender document, the defect liability period of the road is 10 years and 20 percent of the contract amount will be released in equal installments over ten years after completion of the work. When mid-day visited the Aarey Colony, it found that there were several cracks in the road at some locations.  Aarey Colony resident Sandip Gadhave said, “The BMC is spending crores of rupees on constructing cement concrete roads and within just a few weeks of opening, some stretches have developed cracks. These cracks have exposed shoddy work by the contractor. The BMC should take strict action against the contractor.” A BMC official who is working on the project accepted that there are cracks on the road at several locations. “Yes, we have inspected the cracks on the road and we have already asked the contractor to reconstruct these patches. We are going to impose a fine on the contractor as per the rule,” said a BMC official.   According to the former BMC official, some cracks can’t create any serious issues. But some cracks can occur due to improper leveling of the base of the road and also if the water content in concrete mix is high.  Civic activist Anil Galgali said since cement concrete roads are more durable than asphalt roads, BMC is constructing CC roads at a higher cost compared to asphalt roads.  “If the newly constructed CC roads are also developing cracks, then it is a quality issue. It is necessary to maintain the quality of the road during the ongoing work.  Action should be taken against the officials concerned along with the contractor,” Galgali said.  10yrsDefect liability period for the concrete road

07 December,2023 07:01 AM IST | Mumbai | Sameer Surve | Ranjeet Jadhav
Ongoing construction of the new east-west Vikhroli road over bridge

Mumbai: Vikhroli’s east-west bridge nears completion

With the demolition and flattening of key commercial structures hindering the construction of the new east-west Vikhroli road over bridge on Tuesday, work should now proceed smoothly without any interruptions. Officials stated that 60 per cent of the physical work has already been completed, and the bridge is expected to be ready by mid-2024. “The bridge costs Rs 26.68 crore, divided equally between the state government and the railways, with the Central Railway contributing Rs 13.34 crore and the state government providing a matching sum,” said a senior official. The bridge has faced immense delays due to land acquisition issues and the rehabilitation of project-affected people and structures. It has been 12 years since the closure of the level crossing gate in 2011, resulting in the loss of east-west connectivity for local residents of Vikhroli. Although there are east-west road bridges at Ghatkopar and Kanjurmarg stations, both a few kilometres away, residents of Vikhroli must take a detour to Ghatkopar or Kanjurmarg to travel from east to west or vice versa. While the arterial Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg is situated in the west, the Eastern Express Highway runs in the east. “Works completed at the site include finished sub-structures (foundations) and ongoing work on the superstructure. Girder fabrication has been completed and inspected by the Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), the railways’ research and development organisation functioning as a technical adviser and consultant. Additionally, girders have been brought to the site, and assembly for three girders has been completed,” official added. “The assembly and launching of girders at the site have started, and as a safety measure, the road from St Joseph’s Church to Mirza Bakery has been closed,” said a BMC official. Providing details about the ongoing work, he said, “Work on the east-side approach, spanning 100 metres for the launching of railway span girders, is currently underway. Metalizing work is in progress, along with ongoing work on the 615-metre approaches.” Mario Jose Rodrigues, vice chairman of the Bombay Catholic Sabha and a local resident, said, “Finally, after 11 long years since the closure of the level crossing gate, Vikhroli residents will soon experience a sigh of relief as the proposed east-west connectivity bridge is set to be completed by May 2024. All thanks to our MP, Mr Manoj Kotak, for addressing this long-pending issue.” 60 per centQuantum of work already completed

07 December,2023 06:58 AM IST | Mumbai | Rajendra B. Aklekar
A crowd of devotees gathered outside the Siddhivinayak temple. File pic/Sameer Markande

Siddhivinayak racket: FIR against 3, trust promises hassle-free darshan

The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust has filed an FIR against three unknown people for allegedly duping the trust by collecting large sums of money to allow people in for ‘VVIP darshan’ at the temple. The FIR followed mid-day’s exposé regarding the ‘VVIP darshan’ scam wherein flower stall owners and trust employees were hand in glove. Following the FIR, a notice will be served to 12 employees and other staff as well. Also, taking cognisance of the report, the trust has taken steps to ensure hassle-free darshan for devotees, including a reshuffle of the staff and measures to put an end to the tout nexus.  On October 3, three correspondents of mid-day carried out a sting operation at the Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi. The sting exposed the racket run by flower shop owners with the help of temple employees, wherein devotees who shelled out Rs 3,000 were allowed in without having to wait in the queue. The mid-day team paid the amount at a stall owner and were ushered in by an employee directly to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple for a VVIP darshan, without having to wait in any queue. However, no receipt was provided for the amount paid, which established that it wasn’t a legitimate fee, but was usurped by the stall owners and temple trust employees. The stall owners also claimed they facilitate the darshan whenever there is a crowd, confirming that the racket is active throughout the year. The Siddhivinayak temple sees large crowds on days like Sankashti Chaturthi. File pic/Pradeep Dhivar After the exposé, the temple trust had assured mid-day it would carry out a deep investigation and identify those facilitating the racket. Trust officials screened CCTV videos across the temple and checked the footage of mid-day reporters with the touts and their movements inside the temple. The footage also showed how the reporters were easily ushered inside the temple without any receipt or registration. The footage helped identify those involved in the racket. “In the footage, the tout was seen clearly with the reporters. At 6.22 pm, when Siddhi gate was opened after daily cleaning, they came inside the temple area and went towards the PRO office where one of the reporters spoke with peon Santosh Dalvi. Dalvi spoke with someone on the phone and at 6.25 pm, he took the trio inside the temple without making any registrations at the PRO office. When one of the reporters was recording the event, Dalvi asked him not to record it and took them inside the temple from Ashirvachan gate,” the internal report mentions. Based on the findings, Sanjeev Pawar, manager of the trust, wrote a complaint letter to Dadar police station asking for the culprits to be booked. Subsequently, the Dadar police filed an FIR against three unknown persons. Confirming the development, Rajendra Awhad, senior inspector, Dadar police station, said, “The temple trust has submitted all the proof and based on that, an FIR has been registered against three unknown persons under Sections 420 (cheating) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. We are investigating further.” According to police sources, two of the suspects have been untraceable. Sada Sarwankar, who was recently appointed as a chairman of the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapti Temple Trust, said, “We took cognisance of mid-day’s report and based on that, an internal inquiry was held involving screening of CCTV footage and questioning of staff. The temple trust continues to fully cooperate with the investigating agency. The rates for various types of darshan have been made public and details for mode of payment have also been uploaded on the website and app. We urge devotees not to get involved with such touts and shell out money, especially on Sankashti Chaturthi, when there are huge crowds. The trust runs the temple operations in a very transparent way and there is no room for such rackets.” Sting brings change: According to temple trust spokesperson Veena Patil, a lot of changes have been made following the mid-day report. “The first step was placing boards which stated that a R1,500 pass is the official pass and the registration is done only in the temple. We also changed the department of the PRO concerned. After mid-day submitted proof we have been proactive and are trying our level best to ensure hassle-free darshan,” Patil said. Patil added that changes have also been made to the queue system and that the demand for authentic passes had increased. “We have two lines, one for VVIP darshan entries and the other for those who pay R1,500 for darshan. We will keep rotating the PRO,” she said.   October 3Day mid-day exposed nexus

07 December,2023 06:55 AM IST | Mumbai | Apoorva Agashe | Anurag Kamble
The clock tower standing sentinel over the traffic

Mumbai: Apna bhi time aayega, says this clock tower

Mumbai's frantic pace of life has been epitomised by a new artwork that is turning heads. The cusp of Mahim-Bandra now has an installation inaugurated on November 13. This is a 40-foot-high clock tower, with figures of people from varied walks of life, a dabbawalla, fireman and students below looking up at the tower.  The entire work is called, ‘The Spirit of Mumbai Tower’. The message is that the megapolis where life is usually at Formula One pace is ruled by the clock. Nitin Kulkarni, Artlusion’s director, said from his Mahim office, “The project took roughly six months from conceptualisation to completion. I was told to do something different and I knew it had to be eye-catching given that this is a very traffic dense spot. I wanted Mumbaikars to look at this and start thinking and talking.” Mumbai means Artist and creator Kulkarni wanted to capture what he called was the “essence” of the city. “What better way to encapsulate this than time? Mumbai dances to the tune of the time. Everybody is looking at their watches, they all have to reach somewhere at some particular time. That is what this art work hopes to capture”. The clock tower all lit up The clock tower concept, Kulkarni said, “Came up after MLA Ashish Shelar called and asked me to look at installing an apt artwork on that traffic island. That spot is always buzzing. Drivers and passengers are stalled there for many minutes as cars from the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) descend at the site and so does the traffic from South Mumbai going towards Bandra. Cars on the opposite side move south. The art work, we decided, should be of a scale that should attract attention. It should be immediately visible for those in the car. This is not a pedestrian patch as this has significant vehicle congestion.” The inspiration The Spirit of Mumbai tower is inspired by the Rajabai Clock Tower in Fort, South Mumbai. The clocks on the Spirit of Mumbai tower chime every hour. If it is 1 pm, there is one chime, 3 pm three chimes and 11 pm, there are eleven chimes. “You can hear it above the traffic noise,” smiled Kulkarni. The tower itself is made of Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC). Then, there are a number of figures around the clock tower at ground level, “These are made of bolts. We have nuts and bolts. I have made these out of those bolts,” said Kulkarni. The figures below the clock tower are of people from different strata of life that make the city ‘tick’ said the creator. There are at least 12 figures: that of a policeman, a farmer, school boy, coolie, sweeper, businessman, lawyer, fisherman, doctor, nurse, dabbawalla and fireman. “The idea is to have a broad generalisation of people we may encounter or interact with daily. Kolis, for instance, are part of Mumbai’s identity,” said Kulkarni. “Bandra itself as an area has tremendous diversity and so this work aims to capture the wide spectrum of people, the western suburb represents as well,” explained the creator. Beauty focus “There was a challenging phase while this was being made,” said Kulkarni, who claimed some material was filched by the, “Vagrants and we presume by some drug addicts in that area. Things were eventually sorted once cops were brought in,” said the artist. “I am confident it will be maintained by civic authorities. Our moment of joy as creators is to actually watch people peering out of car windows or taking out their mobiles for pictures even as the vehicle is stalled in traffic. They can also have something to blunt their frustration as the car moves ahead just an inch,” laughed Kulkarni, who believes, “Street art is necessary in this city. Projects need to be well thought out. Why do people come to Mumbai? It is a place for their dreams and city of hope, so beautification is part of the lure of this space. The installation and space around is lit up once dusk falls. It is also made on a slight incline for better visibility.” For locals too, the ‘Spirit of Mumbai Tower’ can work as a conversation starter, the creator said.  40 FeetHeight of clock tower art work

07 December,2023 06:50 AM IST | Mumbai | Hemal Ashar
Pic/Satej Shinde

Mumbai Diary: Thursday Dossier

Walk the line A man helps two visually impaired persons through a busy railway platform at Kalyan West.  Artful ode to Dr Ambedkar The artwork by (left) Siddhesh Gautam As Ambedkarites queued up outside Chaityabhoomi yesterday to celebrate Dr BR Ambedkar’s 67th Mahaparinirvan Din, city-based artist, Siddhesh Gautam, who is currently on the road, was able to catch a glimpse of the statue of Dr Ambedkar at Dalit Prerana Sthal in Noida before sunrise. To commemorate the day, he paid homage to Ambedkar through an artwork that featured various illustrations of the national leader; he also shared a long poem that revisited his life in simple poetic devices. “Through this illustration, I tried to capture Dr Ambedkar in different phases of his life. It is intended to bring the viewer a little closer to Babasaheb, not just for his work but also for the human he was,” he told this diarist. About his poem, Gautam shared that he wanted to keep it raw. “The poem that I shared was an unedited version. It took me nearly a week to write it down. I didn’t notice what words I was picking, or if my language was simple or complicated; it was more like reciting his biography to myself. A conversation with the self, perhaps,” he signed off. Take the world and paint it red Advaitesha Birla To celebrate its two-year anniversary and International Human Rights Day that falls on December 10, Ujaas, a platform that aims at promoting menstrual health, hygiene and education, has collaborated with Sophia College for a mural project tomorrow. Nearly 150 female students will gather to colour the educational murals drawn across the walls of the college. “Human Rights Day advocates the fundamental right of girls to access hygienic period products. Through this event, we continue our steadfast commitment to empower girls and communities, providing essential knowledge and support for their overall well-being,” its founder Advaitesha Birla told us. Otakus, here’s your chance Dakshata Pawar cosplays as Chun Li from the Street Fighter video game series City-based Dakshata Pawar has set out on a venture to benefit the rapidly multiplying anime community in the city. An avid cosplayer herself, the 22-year-old felt that there is a dearth of opportunities for anime enthusiasts in the city. “Cosplaying, for instance, takes a lot of money and time. And the reward is never worth your effort,” she expressed. So, to cater to the gaming and manga community of the city, she founded MAGE (@mage.coven), a not-for-profit initiative that will keep one updated with the daily affairs of the community. “I will tie up with animation and gaming studios, host competitions for voiceover artistes and manga artists, among others, to promote their art and offer job opportunities wherever I can,” Pawar added. After a collaboration with a clothing brand, where the winner got to print their drawing on their T-shirts, she has now tied up with the Japanese Film Festival to host another drawing competition.     Dress to express  Pallavi Patel with her designs Thane-based costume designer Pallavi Patel recently wrapped up a two-day costume design workshop for aspiring enthusiasts at the ongoing Thespo 25 festival. “People often confuse costume design with fashion styling. The former is an art form. Through the workshop, I was able to guide the participants about basics, like the elements of design, how a costume comes together to tell a story and what to expect if and when they step into the industry professionally,” she shared. The 34-year-old, who exhibited her own works at the workshop to elucidate the process of designing, told this diarist, “The workshop was a fulfilling experience. Participants across age groups and different walks of life joined in, and I hope it helped spark an interest for the art form in them.”

07 December,2023 06:39 AM IST | Mumbai | Team mid-day
Residents gathered at the cement plant to protest against the violations. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Mid-Day Premium Mumbai: Borivli residents want polluting cement plant to go

Residents and two local MLAs in Borivli protested against a cement plant on Wednesday. They claim the plant, owned by M/s N N Enterprises, causes air and noise pollution, remaining open at night despite regulations. The residents also alleged that the plant has been emitting an excessive amount of particulate matter, which remains suspended in the air. They claimed that even their water changes colour, resembling coffee, after being kept open for a few minutes. Neelam Rodrigues, a resident, said, “Due to air pollution, my father-in-law, 74, suffers from chronic cough. Even my 11-year-old daughter needs an inhaler. We are thinking of relocating because of this issue.” Pravina Doshi, from a nearby building, said, "We were informed that the plant is meant to supply material for the metro line. However, now that the metro is operational, the plant continues to operate. Later, we discovered the plant isn't intended for this purpose. It's permitted to operate from 6 am to 6 pm, yet it remains open at night, with trucks operating constantly, depriving us of peaceful sleep." Manisha Chaudhari, the local MLA, mentioned that she has been consistently receiving complaints from residents about the plant operating even during the night, leading to noise pollution caused by vehicles. After reaching out to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the authority directed the BMC to take necessary action. The R Central ward issued a stop work notice on November 25, but despite this, the plant hasn't been shut down. Sunil Rane, the MLA of Borivli, said that the state government prioritizes citizens' concerns and has been actively working to close down plants causing pollution. He mentioned plans to raise this issue in the winter assembly session, aiming to take action against the plant within the next 10 to 15 days following due process.The plant owners, Anas Khan and Ganesh Mhatre, claim to have permissions until 2025. Ganesh Mhatre stated, “We installed a green net post-residents' complaints.” They assert compliance with regulations and MPCB checks monthly. Anas Khan said, “The plant doesn't operate at night; trucks merely load and unload material. We follow every norm to run our business and the residents must check the dumping yard behind the plant and see if they are following the norms.”

07 December,2023 06:38 AM IST | Mumbai | A Correspondent
The stall at Chaityabhoomi, which will be operational till December 7

Mumbai: AA stall popular with visitors to Chaityabhoomi

At Chaityabhoomi, a mix of retirees, including some who were sanitation workers with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), have set up an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) stall. It has attracted about 500 to 600 individuals since December 4. The stall will be operational till December 7. Approximately, six lakh people make their annual pilgrimage to Chaityabhoomi on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s death anniversary. A large banner with the kicker ‘Daru [liquor in Marathi]’, followed by ‘Do you wish to stop alcohol consumption?’ and a few people sitting on chairs with pamphlets and notebooks are enough to catch the attention of the crowd. “We do not need to call people towards us. The success of our programme depends on how willing someone is to quit drinking. Those who are willing come walking to us just by looking at these banners,” said 60-year-old Jaipal, a Buddhist priest and retired BEST worker who has been involved in AA since 2001. Like thousands of AA volunteers, he was an alcoholic. Jaipal, Buddhist priest and AA volunteer AA functions on the back of recovered alcoholics like him, who conduct daily or weekly meetings and narrate their stories of addiction and their struggle towards recovery to newly joined alcoholics. At least 17 such meetings are held every day across the city. This stall at Chaityabhoomi has been up and running for more than a decade. “We still call ourselves alcoholics even though many of us sitting here had our last sip of liquor about twenty years ago,” he said. Alcoholism and sanitation  Like Jaipal, Shreedhar considers himself an alcoholic and joined AA in 1999; he hasn’t had a sip since 2005, having relapsed twice in the five-year span before that. “I started working as a sanitation worker with BMC in the 1980s. We used to do all the work with our bare hands, picking up the city’s garbage with nothing to cover our nose,” he said, adding that he used to drink alcohol even before that, but the nature of his work drove him to severe alcoholism. “I was a permanent staff member and the situation with my work became better after 2000, and the municipality started providing us with safety gear,” he said. AA volunteer Jaipal interacts with pilgrims at the stall at Chaityabhoomi on Wednesday However, many sanitation workers, often belonging to Scheduled Caste communities, still lack proper safety measures, particularly those engaged in nullah or septic tank cleaning, a practice known as manual scavenging, which is illegal across the country. The nature of the work commonly drives people to alcoholism. In Mumbai, according to Jan Haq Sangharsh Samiti’s survey, 250 sanitation workers are working on a contractual basis with the BMC but the actual figure could be as high as 10,000 according to its estimates.  The responsibility of ensuring safety mechanisms is delegated to the hiring contractors, who frequently neglect this obligation. Chandrakant Ahire, a 21-year-old resident of Manmad Notably, Jaipal said that while there are high-risk groups and socio-economic situations play a role, alcoholism is a disease, and like any disease, it crosses class-caste-religion-gender lines. “For us, everyone is the same, and everyone is an alcoholic who needs support,” he said. Another AA volunteer at the stall said the support group celebrates birthdays differently. “A person is born again when they join AA; that date becomes their birthday,” he said. Hope for a change At the stall, alcoholics and their relatives were seen asking questions to the volunteers on how their support group functions. “Do you provide any medicines?” asked one man.  To every visitor, the volunteers first ask a few basic questions, the first being, who are they seeking help for. And then, with the help of pamphlets, the volunteers help the visitors navigate to the closest AA meeting spot in their city or village.  “We note down their names and numbers and notify our volunteers about their details who then reach out to them,” Jaipal said, adding that the purpose of AA is to make alcoholics and their families find hope for a better life again. Chandrakant Ahire, a 21-year-old resident of Manmad, visited Chaityabhoomi on December 6 as a pilgrim. Just as he was exiting the spot, he noticed the AA centre set up in one corner. “My father used to drive an ambulance in Mumbai ten years ago. This is where he became addicted to alcohol and continues to drink in excess even now,” he said. While he has seen such ‘vyasan mukti’ centres back in his village, he never dared to visit them for his father. “For the first time, my father and I will be having a conversation about his habit.  Many at this stall were from our community and these details were taken from Chaityabhoomi on December 6 so I am hoping that will motivate him to seek help,” he said. 1999Year Shreedhar joined AA Scuffle over taking auto to Dadar A misunderstanding led to a heated exchange between Ambedkarites and traffic cops near Sion junction on Wednesday afternoon. A group of Ambedkarites, travelling in an auto to pay tribute to Dr Ambedkar in Dadar (where autos are not allowed), were halted by traffic police. The issue was ultimately resolved, and the followers were redirected to buses.  The Mumbai Police’s traffic department had issued advisories for Wednesday announcing potential road closures in case of congestion, implementing one-way routes and restricting parking on several roads. “Autos weren’t permitted within city limits, so they were stopped,” a traffic officer said. “There were some altercations, but we eventually resolved it.” The incident caused a significant traffic jam for nearly an hour.  “Despite the incident, tactful intervention by traffic cops minimised the congestion,” said Pravin Padwal, joint commissioner (traffic).

07 December,2023 06:38 AM IST | Mumbai | Eshan Kalyanikar
Shirley Bose

Horoscope today, December 7: Check astrological predictions for all zodiac signs

Do you know what the stars hold for you in terms of love life, career, business and personal wellness today? Well, read on to know your astrological predictions as per your zodiac sign for December 7. Aries   March 21 – April 20Life is anchored firmly in today. Issues of the past have been addressed and understood, at least partly understood. A business trip is successful. Be positive.Cosmic tip: Keep emotional ties lifelong and strong. Taurus   April 21 – May 20Keep travel and other plans to yourself to avoid attracting jealous vibes. There’s a happy and sincere exchange of emotions, which is a soul connection.Cosmic tip: Choose freewill over destiny for a change. GeminiMay 21 – June 21Dark clouds clear up with change and movement, bringing astonishing transformation of a situation in life. This could be a new job, a relationship, change of residence, etc.Cosmic tip: Take care of health. Cancer June 22 – July 23Exert power, control and authority over what you consider is the right way to take negotiations forward successfully. Don’t pay attention to gossip.Cosmic tip: Use mental strength to overcome real or imagined weaknesses. Leo July 24 - Aug 23There may be a certain slowness today, but enjoy this too. Life doesn’t have to be in a constant frenzy. Take enough rest if feeling tired/ lethargic.Cosmic tip: Stay with healthy eating habits. Virgo Aug 24 – Sept 23Some communication, though good, still offers two choices, of which one is chosen . Recognition for work done feels so wonderful. Is there doubt about fidelity?Cosmic tip: Consult a doctor for circulatory issues. Libra Sept 24 – Oct 22There’s someone at work cleverly undermining your achievements. Be aware of what is being said between the lines when talking to colleagues.Cosmic tip: Those with respiratory issues must not ignore a cough/ cold. Scorpio  Oct 23 – Nov 22Doubts, confusions and hesitancy in making a decision clear up and the right path is revealed. Do follow a healthy diet.Cosmic tip: Be patient with someone with a confused mind or scattered energy. Sagittarius Nov 23 – Dec 22Several negotiations later you are still as confused and mystified as in the beginning. Ask for clear cut and unambiguous terms.Cosmic tip: Take better care of health, especially if you are a smoker. Capricorn Dec 23 – Jan 20There’s calm before a storm. Diffuse the situation immediately. Change your present path if it doesn’t feel right intuitively. Cosmic tip: Let go of this chaotic sense of misalignment which has crept into you. Aquarius Jan 21 – Feb 19Plans being made, changed, made again and then discarded is annoying, but circumstances are such. What makes up for this annoyance is good news received.Cosmic tip: Immediately deal with a minor medical issue. Pisces Feb 20 – March 20Technical hitches are taken in your stride. Luckily, you usually have back-ups ready. An extra busy day brings its own satisfaction.Cosmic tip: Use your wits, being street-smart, not allowing anyone to cheat you.

07 December,2023 12:03 AM IST | Mumbai | Shirley Bose
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