Sunday, April 26, 2009

Aaapla Manoos Kiritbhai, see you in Delhi!

Dr Kirit Somaiya, who has been championing the cause of the common man, will have a smooth sailing in the Lok Sabha poll from Mumbai North East.

From the lower middle class families to the small investor have all have only praise for Dr Somaiya, fondly called “Aapla Manoos”.

Meet any one a cross the constituency – and every one has only thing to say: “Kiritbhai should win and he will”. The popularity for Dr Somaiya can also gauged from the discussions in crowded local trains, bus stops and in shopping malls. “Kiritbhai ka toh jawaab naheen,” said Ramnik Lal Mehta, a senior citizen. “Yes, he will win,” said a young college student Tripti Kulkarni returning from her tutorials.

Dr Somaiya’s election meetings have all been a massive success. His own mass contact rallies, meetings at street corners and railway stations have all aroused such a huge response that the rivals seem to have begun to worry if they will be able to save their deposits, leave alone coming close to Dr Somaiya’s numbers.

With BJP ally Shiv Sena leadership and cadre mobilizing support for Dr Somaiya, his victory is a foregone conclusion, political analysts say.

“This is one clear cut case where massive crowds at election rallies will definitely convert into votes for Dr Somaiya,” said a veteran political journalist of a leading media group. “You do not need election experts to say this; it is all there in front of us. I know the pulse of the people here,” he said.

It is based on issues that concern the voter and they selfless manner in which Dr Somaiya has been relentlessly fighting that has caught the imagination of a cross section. Among the issues that Dr Somaiya has been focusing on are: the sugar scam that has resulted in its price rise, the continuous load shedding that has inconvenienced the people and the Mithi river project.

Although the project has been delayed due to non-receipt of sufficient funds from the Centre and the ongoing infighting among the various government agencies, Dr Somaiya asserts that “My aim is to get the Mithi River project completed by 2012”. The massive flooding in the Mithi River during the worst deluge in the history of Mumbai on 26 July 2005 had claimed 450 lives out of the total deaths of 550 across the metropolis.

A Man of Action, Kirit has been active in various segment of socio-political life, on the issues and problem of Mumbai, fighting for Small Investors, active in health awareness. He is the founder President of Investors’ Grievances Forum, an organization having ISO 9001-2000, which gave birth to Small Investors’ Protection movement.

His Yuvak Pratishthan, a 25 years old NGO, has been doing commendable work in Slum welfare, Health, TB and AIDS control programmes. The Yuvak Pratishthan also got ISO 9001-2000 in the year 2005.

Many in the constituency recall that as a Parliamentarian, Dr Somaiya who had represented the area in the13th Lok Sabha during 1999 – 2004 echoed Mumbai’s voice in Delhi. In fact, he holds a record for submitting the maximum number of petitions to Parliament i.e. 11 (out of 27 total petitions presented in 13th Lok Sabha) during his tenure in Lok Sabha.. He has also submitted more than 500 questions in Parliament during his tenure in the 13th Lok Sabha.

“Mumbai needs MPs like Dr Somaiya,” says Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray. And he is not wrong!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Official infighting sabotaged Mithi project, says Kirit

The Mithi River Rejuvenation project will be completed in the next couple of years, a confident Dr Kirit Somaiya, who has been campaigning in the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency to enter the Parliament for the second term as the BJP candidate, claims.

Although the project has been delayed due to non-receipt of sufficient funds from the Centre and infighting among various agencies, Dr Somaiya asserts that “My aim is to get the Mithi River project completed by 2012”.

The massive flooding in the Mithi River during the worst deluge in the history of Mumbai on 26 July 2005 had claimed 450 lives out of the total deaths of 550 across the metropolis.

The 2005 flooding of Mithi river following unprecedented rainfall of 944 mm over Mumbai in 24 hours between 26-27 July, accompanied by high tides, causing havoc in the metropolis.

Dr Somaiya initiated efforts to launch the “Mithi River Rejuvenation” project to avoid repetition of the disaster during the future monsoons. In fact, he has been engaged in a campaign on a war-footing to make Mithi pollution free.

The project is one of the ten-point mission and commitments of Dr Somaiya as he sweats out in the Assembly segments under the Mumbai North East Lok Sabha constituency for the second term in the Parliament.

He said the on going infighting between the State Government, the Centre, Mithi Authority, MMRDA, SRA has resulted in literally “zero progress” on Mithi since June 2006.

The MMRDA, in a recent communication to Dr Somaiya, has stated that only Rs 41 crores had been spent since 26 July 2005 out of Rs 570 crore on the Mithi River Project proposal under the MMRDA jurisdiction. Of this Rs 41 crores, Rs 38 crores was spent till June 2006.

The total cost of Mithi Project, as per the Government’s submission to Bombay High Court, is Rs 1,200 crores. According to MMRDA, 35% of this amount was to be contributed by the Union government and 15% from the Government of Maharashtra. But nothing has come till now. Actually, the Government of India has turned down the Project.

Dr Somaiya has strongly condemned the apathy of the Maharashtra government and the Government of India. “It is a sheer insult of Mumbaikars and nothing else”. The differences and infighting between various Government agencies are the major reasons for the meager work on Mithi in the past 30 months.

He said that the BJP has demanded an explanation from the Congress Governments for cheating the people of Mumbai on Mithi rejuvenation work.

Mithi river, a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes,
originates at Powai and meets Arabian sea at Mahim Creek flowing through residential and industrial complexes of Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla and Mahim over a distance of about 15 km. This river, for years, is being treated like an open drain by the people residing on its banks and discharge untreated sewage, industrial waste and garbage unchecked.

Besides this, illegal activities of washing of oily drums, discharge of unauthorized hazardous waste are also carried out along the course of this river. The organic waste, sludge and garbage dumping has reduced carrying capacity of the Mithi river. The water with mixture of sewage and Industrial waste is a threat to marine life and the river is showing sign of total loss of such support system. Preliminary survey indicates that the pollution levels have reached an alarming stage.

Mahim bay area, where Mithi river meets Arabian sea, is a nominated bird sanctuary called “Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary” where migratory birds come for nesting. This part is full of mangroves and this fragile ecosystem requires considerations from pollution point of view, so that it is not destroyed.

Now, with Dr Somaiya working seriously on the Mithi Project, there is a hope for the City.

Monday, April 20, 2009

India worried over grim security in Pak

Defence Minister AK Antony has said the grim security scenario in Pakistan is not only a source of worry for the region but also for the international community.

Addressing the top brass of the Indian Army at the Commanders’ Conference at New Delhi today, Antony said the terror attacks in Mumbai have gravely undermined peace and security in the region. He said, despite being provided with irrefutable evidence, the Pakistani Government has not displayed the sincerity and decisiveness in dealing with the perpetrators of such attacks.

“Terrorism and religious fundamentalism continue to pose a threat to global and regional security. The terror attacks on Mumbai have gravely undermined peace and security in the region. Despite being provided with irrefutable evidence, the Pakistan Government has not displayed the sincerity and decisiveness in dealing with the perpetrators of such attacks. In fact, it continues to pursue the policy of State-sponsored terrorism and either refuses to, or is incapable of, dismantling the terror infrastructure. The grim security scenario in Pakistan ought to be a source of worry for the region and the international community. Time will tell whether Pakistan has the requisite will to transform its outlook vis-à-vis India. On our part, we have to maintain eternal vigilance to pre-empt such threats and respond to these challenges. We are firmly committed to safeguard the lives our citizens at any cost and have taken several measures to beef up the security, particularly in coastal areas”, he said.

The Defence Minister said the recent developments in SWAT and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan are ominous signs not only for the region but the entire world. The security of our personnel deployed for various projects in Afghanistan is our primary concern. He said our strategic location has paradoxically led to India facing potential threats from our immediate and extended neighbourhood. The threat clearly appears to be aimed at subverting the only vibrant democracy in the region.

As far as Sino-Indian relations are concerned, Antony said the scope for cooperation and competition exists in equal measure. He said “though we desire peaceful relations between the two nations, we must constantly upgrade our military and economic capabilities; we cannot afford to be complacent”.

Referring to the situation in Sri Lanka, he said, the ethnic conflict there has a potential spillover effect in our country. “India and indeed the entire south Asian region stand to gain from a political solution and restoration of peace in the island nation”.

Antony said the successful conduct of free and fair elections in Jammu & Kashmir is a tribute to the success of democratic process in our country. “It reflects the strong desire of the people of J&K to move towards economic development and progress. The peaceful atmosphere in the state must be maintained and our security forces must ensure that the gains are not frittered away. The ‘moral ascendancy’ over terrorists must be maintained to further improve the situation. Upholding human rights remains the cornerstone of our anti-terrorist operations”.

Antony called for greater synergy and reduction in procedural delays among various headquarters and departments to achieve the objective of modernization of the Armed Forces. He also called for Jointness in operation, training and administration to keep pace with technological changes, geostrategic imperatives and for tackling changing nature of conflict. “The jointness of approach must address areas such as common defence communication network, missile programme, exploration of space and integrated logistics”, he said. Shri Antony asked the top brass to develop appropriate doctrines and vocabulary to institutionalize the process while retaining the pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual fabric of the society.

The Defence Minister paid glowing tributes to the Jawans and Officers, who laid down their lives in the service of the nation.

The four day conference will focus on macro level issues pertaining to military strategy, operational logistics and matters impacting the welfare and enhancement of satisfaction level amongst all ranks.

During the session the conference will address in specific and strategic restructuring and reorganizing of Indian Army, review on the existing scales of accommodation and futuristic recommendations, review functioning of military farms and also improvements to the existing Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme.