|2009-06-29||I want to be an IAS officer|
Uttaran has made her a celebrity at a very young age. But the stardom and national popularity for the underprivileged girl child played by this simple and vivacious child-artist has not affected her personal life and behaviour. She comes across as a pre-teen you find in your neighbourhood. The toothy grin, saucer-eyed and honeyed-voice of Ichha has appealed to her viewers the most.
Ulhasnagar resident Sparsh Khanchandani at the set of the tele-serial ?Uttran?
Not surprisingly, this girl has won more fans than Tapasya, her counterpart in the serial Uttaran. This little girl, Sparsh Khanchandani, three months away from age nine, is a resident of Ulhasnagar and Std IV student of Ambernath's Kendriya Vidyalaya.
Sparsh, who has proved her talent on the small screen, is brilliant not only in acting but also in academics, "I have always won trophies. In my school, even before this launch pad of Uttaran, I always gave tough competition to all the contestants, whenever I used to appear on the stage to recite poems and stories," says the tiny but confident girl.
"I am really happy to play Ichha that draws natural sympathy from the viewers because of her ill-treatment by Tapasya, her counterpart in the serial," shares Sparsh whose father is a gazetted officer in the Ministry of Defence and mother, a teacher.
It was after nine different rounds of audition that she could finally bag this demanding role in Uttaran but in every round she was selected. "Juggling between studies and acting career is difficult but I could manage both with the support of my parents and teachers. Hard work is no problem for me," says this ambitious little girl "and I love to work overtime for the recognition it has brought."
The character of Ichha is growing up into an adult on the screen and Sparsh is eagerly waiting for more such meaty offers. Despite the fan following and recognition this chunky role has brought to her, she admits that she is not interested in acting as a full time career for her:
"I love acting, but I would like to make my career as an IAS officer." If realised, this decision will be a loss for the viewers but a gain for administrative service as Sparsh sure will bring her hallmark dedication and devotion to this too.
|2009-06-28||Ulhasnagar station road in a mess|
Just a few first showers of the delayed monsoon could easily derail the civic machinery of Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation. The ugliest form is visible on the road bang opposite Ulhasnagar station area in the West till Nikku Plaza, closer to the station. This stretch is in a complete mess, since the last couple of days.
Manglesh Talreja who is a daily commuter is finding life difficult these days. He informs, "The whole place is waterlogged. Mounds of debris are seen all over the place and it stinks a lot. Even before the approach of monsoon, it was overcrowded due to the ongoing skywalk project work and dug up roads. The road approaching to OT Section, Ulhasnagar-3 and Shivaji Chowk are the other most affected areas which suffer from water-logging."
The general feeling is same. Other commuters echo the similar plaint. "The foot-over-bridge, connecting East and West Ulhasnagar, was extremely narrow, hardly four-feet wide, which is now dilapidated and is being replaced with a skywalk. Due to this construction work and incomplete work done by the contractors while laying down new pipelines, the area has become extremely congested.
The whole area that is covered with garbage and the scattered debris makes it very difficult for the pedestrians to thread their way amid all the piled-up waste material. It is most embarrassing for the young college girls who have to jostle their way to CHM College. Remaining space is claimed by the fruit vendors and roadside hawkers," says Ashok Jain, a college teacher.
"These are some of the most sensitive spots of Ulhasnagar west which are prone to water logging. This nallah near the station also flows through Ashok nagar, where the water level often rises between four to six feet. The nallah is hardly ever cleaned by the authorities and that is the reason of this water logging. Municipal authorities should expedite the work of cleaning nallahs and gutters of Ulhasnagar; otherwise hell will break lose over the city during monsoon. We don't want the 26/7 nightmare to be repeated," wails Santosh Shingote, an engineering student.
Ashok Bageshwar, the new UMC commissioner, who is not yet acquainted with the landscape of the city, says, "I am very new to this area. I will first inspect the site and then take appropriate measures to rectify the problem."
|2009-06-21||Suburban students fly high|
The results are finally out after a tense wait. Now the successful TYBSc students are all ga-ga. The suburban colleges again made their presence felt in the third year University exams. Three toppers are from the local well-known colleges. DK Plus checked with them about their success recipe.
(From left) Toppers Farheen Sheikh, Neha Thakkar and Sanket Zunjarrao
These toppers have already done their individual colleges proud by ranking first in the subject merit list of three subjects: Chemistry, Maths and Computer Science. Finding a place in the subject merit list of these three subjects is a great achievement for these students as the subjects are very demanding and thousands take these exams in the five university districts.
The results were declared on Saturday, the 11th June. The respective teachers took some time to announce the names of the toppers after proper calculation.
Sanket Zunjarrao has ranked first in the college merit list and second in the overall merit list with 92.8 per cent in Chemistry. An Ambivali resident from Kalyan's Birla college, reveals, "Consistency and hard work is the key for stellar performance.
College notes, thorough reading of the text books and regularity in all the lectures has brought this marvelous success to me. The percentage has exceeded my expectations.
" Ask him about his calling and pat comes the reply from this tall and lanky Zunjarrao, son of a foreman in a paper mill at Ambivali, "I have not yet given enough thought to the profession I would take up but my role model is Jayant Narikar, the scientist." He loves reading books, listening to soft music and making new friends.
Farheen Sheikh, first in the subject merit list and fifth in the overall merit list has scored 91 per cent. "Right from the beginning, I had set my goal to appear in the merit list. Then on, I devoted no less than ten hours a day for studies. Maths is my passion and so maximum number of hours I used to spend in paper solving.
Between February to April, I had solved full 20 question papers," says the demure Birla College student who wants to make his career as a college professor.
"I never sought after engineering and medical seats like my peers, despite my parents' wish as I had already chosen my vocation," adds the 20-year-old who has already waded through the Joint Admission Test (JAM) to M.Sc, an All India level exam.
She gives the credit of her success to her parents and admits that her father, a mechanical engineer, was very supportive. "Focused preparation and proper time management is my winning strategy," reveals the youngster.
Neha Thakkar, a CHM College student of Ulhasnagar, has ranked first in the subject merit list of Computer Science with 81.87 per cent score. A highly ambitious and single minded girl Neha, says, "There is rising graph in my score card, if you consider from SSC.
This year, my regularity in attending the lectures and practicals from 7:30 to 4:30 proved to be very beneficial. At home, I used to perform the practicals which I used to repeat in the college the next day.
The teaching at my college is excellent which made my concepts clear. I prepared for 8-10 hours at a stretch before exams and during exams I was able to take a mere three hour sleep- the portion was so vast.
" Her aim is to become a software engineer. She has already been offered a job by Patni through campus interviews. They also promise her admission in MS (Masters in Computer engineering) from BITS, Pilani for which they will bear partial cost initially and later repay. Her advice to her juniors: "Try to remember and present well." Her dream: "To provide her family all the luxuries of life."
|2009-06-20||Ssuburbs to have monorail soon|
In near future, you may be commuting from Kalyan to Badlapur or Badlapur to Bhiwandi or Thane by a fast mono-rail on an elevated track. It will come as a boon to the residents of the suburbs who have to solely depend on the CR for their daily commute to the towns nearby or the city of Mumbai, in the absence of other cheap modes of alternative public transport. All this is going to change soon.
With the approval given to the MMRDA-mooted monorail on the elevated tracks by the state government, the technical work has already begun on the costly scheme that aims to provide a crucial link to adjacent towns from Thane upto Badlapur. Initially it was to terminate at Kalyan but got extended to Badlapur also, due to the public and political demand from that small town.
Once implemented, the alternative mode of transport will ease up the traffic congestion on the main rail line and simultaneously bring welcome relief and comfort to short-distance commuters in metro region.
"Yes, very soon, monorail travel will become a reality for these far-off suburban centers. It will bring the needed relief to the short-distance commuters, ease pressure on main central lines and raise the overall comfort-level of the passengers, as the four-car monorail is totally air-conditioned mode of the public transport," says Ram Patkar, the highly-visible president of the Kulgaon-Badlapur Municipal Council.
The project of MMRDA for the development of the transport facility in the metro region will cost Rs 60 crore per km of this roughly 30 km route. The total cost of the Kalyan-Badlapur section of the scheme itself will come around to Rs 900 crore, as per the estimate given by Patkar who took personal interest in it to get the scheme expedited by the state and the other concerned agencies like MMRDA.
"There were 124 authority meetings with the MMRDA last few months. Finally, the project was sanctioned on Feb 10, this year. It will be a great development boost to the otherwise neglected suburban transport system of this vast area, especially towns like Ambernath, Kulgaon and Badlapur that do not have their own transport bodies. These areas depend on central line for rail and KDMT or NMMT for road connectivity," explains Patkar, a civil engineer and longest-running president of the council.
Already the primary survey has been done of the various proposed spots and destinations of the route. "The monorail-to be run on elevated height of 25 feet-will carry 120-200 passengers per car," says Patkar. It will run from Thane to Bhiwandi to Kalyan, Ulhasnagar, Vitthalwadi, Ambernath and end at Badlapur.
"Feasibility report is being prepared now of the entire section of the Kalyan-Badlapur route of the monorail by the experts. There are other technical things to be done also, like checking the alignments and other angles. Presently, it is planned to run single rake but they may increase the rakes in future, if the response is good. The service may have a 4-minute frequency during peak hours," says Patkar.
The project will be carried out by the RITES agency. This will sure change the skyline and increase the glam quotient of the expanding suburbs that are going to have skywalks and gleaming malls galore in coming months.
|2009-06-20||Speed breakers with no warning signs trouble commu|
Most of the roads under KDMC's jurisdiction, have speed breakers without the mandatory stripes or warning signals like 'Go slow, speed breakers ahead' to alert the drivers and bikers. As a result people often bump on the speed breakers and meet with accidents.
Unmarked speed breakers in Kalyan may lead to accidents
Rahul Jadhav, a 24-year-old resident of Kalyan West shares his experience. "I had met with an accident on the Ulhasnagar flyover on my way towards the station on Murbad Road. It happened because I didn't notice the successive breakers as there was no warning sign on the road.
The impact was so hard that I fell around 10 ft away on the side of the road. I escaped head injuries as I was wearing a helmet but few pedestrians suffered injuries trying to dodge my vehicle," says Rahul.
An ambulance driver on the other hand complains, "Imagine our plight when we shift serious or injured patients anywhere. We actually need to hold the patient down, as slight negligence causes great trauma and pain to the patient inside the ambulance. Once we are out of Kalyan, we find prominent signs and alertness board in other areas."
ASI Traffic Kazi says, "People are under the wrong impression that traffic department is responsible for these unmarked speed breakers. It is the KDMC's responsibility to put up sign boards and colour the speed breakers for the safety of commuters. Several times we have written to KDMC to paint all the sign boards and mark the speed breakers but they don't pay a heed to our request."
|2009-06-13||Water purifier scandal at UMC|
A member of 'Kaide ni Wagha', an organisation in Ulhasnagar unearthed misappropriation of funds worth lakhs of rupees by the officers of Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation's Education department.
The UMC's Education department had floated tenders to purchase 150 water purifiers for the students of 30 schools run by the UMC. Three parties quoted the price as follows: Universal Traders - Rs 7,500 per purifier, Udhi Enterprises- Rs 6,650 per purifier and Ganesh Offset - Rs 7,000 per purifier.
The Education department settled for Rs 6,650 as it was the lowest quotation. Sources allege that Udhi Enterprises and Universal Traders are the same parties.According to suppliers the price for 150 coolers of the same brand was quoted at around Rs 10 lakh whereas 150 pieces of the same brand is priced around Rs 2 lakh only, in the open market. Interestingly, the sales division manager of the water purifier company, Jigesh Vashi quoted Rs 1,650 per piece for 150 purifiers.
"When I learnt about this I went to the schools at once and found that the purifiers had an MRP of Rs 1,950. Then I went around the market and every dealer quoted me a price of Rs 1,650 and Rs 1,700 each for 150 purifiers. Immediately, I wrote letters on May 4, 2009 to the Education department, the mayor, the commissioner of UMC and MLA Pappu Kalani and asked for the explanation regarding the deal," informs, Raj Asondkar, a member of the group 'Kaide Ni Wagha' and an ex-corporator of UMC.
After getting a positive reply from the concerned authorities to look into the scandal, Asondkar went on a hunger strike on June 1, 2009, at the premises of Education department at Woodland Complex in Ulhasnagar.
His efforts paid off and within few hours of starting the hunger strike the officer-in-charge, Ahuja, of the Education department handed him a letter assuring of paying the supplier according to the market rate of Rs 1,650.
"Now I want all the people involved in the scandal penalised. According to the Consumer Act, no dealer can sell the goods above the MRP where it is mentioned including all the taxes. These dealers can be sued in the Consumer court and the officers involved can also be taken to task because the fund meant for poor students was misappropriated," informed Asondkar.
When DK Plus contacted the supplier Parshotam Ugle of Udhi Enterprises of Ambernath, he said, "Yes I have supplied the water purifiers at the rate of Rs 6,650 per piece and already received part payment of my bill." He adds, "My tender was the lowest so the board accepted it and asked me to supply the purifiers."
Mayor Vidhya Nirmale of UMC:
Education Board under UMC is an independent department. They have their own administrative body, who takes decisions for all the educational matters.
We too have received the complaint regarding the purchase of 150 water purifiers for Rs 6,650 per purifier against the market price of Rs 1,650 per purifier by the education department from Raj Asondkar, president of 'Kaide Ni Wagha'.
We have forwarded the complaint to Thane (deputy director of Education) and asked them to look into the matter and take action against the erring officers.
We have strictly told the Education department to pay the bill according to the market rate Rs 1650 to the supplier. We have also written to the Education Board in Thane to probe the matter and give us the reply as soon as possible.
|2009-06-12||Death visits daughter at same spot|
In a cruel twist of fate, six years after her parents died in the 2003 twin blasts at Gateway of India, 19-year-old Rajashree D'souza was
killed at the same spot by a speeding dumper on Thursday. And like her mother Sakhi Yadav, Rajashree too was pregnant when killed.
"We take the 11:18 pm train back home to Ulhasnagar every day. But last night, Rajashree had to meet a friend. It got late, so we decided to sleep outside the garden for just that day,'' said a distraught Michael D'souza, Rajashree's husband of three-and-a-half years. Michael said Rajashree did odd jobs, mostly as a tourist guide, and was pretty well versed in English. Fatima bi, 90, said the place is jinxed: "First the twin blasts, then 26\11, and now this. God knows what more is in store for us Gateway dwellers.''
Altaf Ahmed Shaikh, 25, whose nine-month old son Rehan Altaf Shaikh got cuts on his left palm and foot, said, "I had just returned at around 1.20am after watching the cricket match. A dumper came from nowhere at very high speed. The driver took a sudden left turn, which caused it to jump a bit as it hit the divider.''
While Rehan got a few cuts, four-month old Nirjala Kale was not as lucky. She was the other victim who died in the accident.
|2009-06-12||Six years later, daughter of 2003 Gateway blast vi|
A story of loss followed by hope, brought to readers by The Indian Express, took a tragic turn early on Thursday morning when Rajeshri Michael D’Souza, born Rajeshri Yadav, was run over by a speeding truck in Colaba, not far from the spot where her parents, Hanumanta and Sakhi Yadav, had died in the Gateway of India bomb blast in August 2003.
The orphans of the Colaba flower sellers, captured on camera crying inconsolably while holding one another, had been the face of the Black Monday. Rajeshri, now aged 19, was the second of the five siblings. She was three months’ pregnant.
The truck ran over people sleeping on the pavement near the Gateway of India, killing two and injuring five. According to the Colaba police, the incident occurred around 1.35 am when the driver of the speeding dumper lost control and ran over a group of people sleeping on the footpath behind the Taj Mahal Hotel. The accident also claimed the life of four-month-old Nirjala Kale.
“It happened all of a sudden when a truck ran over us. The driver, in an attempt to control, applied the brakes. In the process, it turned 90 degrees and ran over Rajeshri’s chest, killing her instantly,” said husband Michael, who also suffered head injuries. The driver, Surendra Ayodhya Sahani (23), is in police custody.
The Gateway of India has been home to the Yadav family, otherwise residents of Ulhasnagar, for years. The kids used to accompany their parents to the Gateway where they would sell water, strings of flowers or gajras, balloons and small toys. “We grew up at the Gateway..ate, slept and had fun there,” said Savita, the eldest of Yadav’s children and the only one from the family at the St George Hospital to claim the body.
|2009-06-01||Now a nullah, waiting to be a river again|
In 1060, when King Mumwani built a Shiv Temple at Ambernath on the banks of the river Waldhuni, the stone steps of the intricately carved temple were washed by the clean waters of river Waldhuni, local historians say.
2009 tells a different story. On April 2, ten people had to be hospitalised after inhaling noxious fumes from the Waldhuni at Kalyan. Pollution control officers suspected the source could be a chemical tanker that may have washed its contents into the water.
In the years that have passed after the temple was built, the watercourse has been reduced to a polluted drain that now carries chemical waste spewed by the industries and untreated sewage expelled by the townships.
Locals now refer to Waldhuni as a nullah (open drain).
After the 2005 deluge, the state government had assured on the floor of the House that the Waldhuni would be cleaned and developed, in a project similar to the one for the Mithi river.
“Yes, we had taken a decision to revive small rivers such as Waldhuni. The project was in the initial stages till I was the chief minister. I have no idea what the status of the plan is right now,” said former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
Rajendra Chowdhury, Shiv Sena pramukh of Ulhasnagar who has been vocal in his demand to revive the river, said, “Only the state has the funds to revive it. But nothing seems to be happening.”
According to Sena corporator from Kalyan, Rajendra Devlekar, after 2005, a committee and a sub-committee were formed, and a preliminary survey was conducted to identify flood levels in Waldhuni. Municipal Commissioner of Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) is the secretary of the committee chaired by the district collector for the Waldhuni river revival plan, which would basically be to prevent flooding.