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Aurangabad Train Accident: Survivors say they had applied for e-pass on MP government portal

The survivors claimed that they had applied for e-pass on MP government website and had planned to board the train from Bhusawal on Friday. But ill fate killed 16 of their associates in the train accident that occurred on Aurangabad-Jalan railway line on early Friday morning. The labourers of Umaria and Shahdol district died in the train accident.

Fourteen people died on the spot whereas two others succumbed to injuries after a goods train ran over them at around 6.18 am on Friday. They were walking back to their village in Madhya Pradesh from Maharashtra and had taken rest on the tracks before drifting to sleep there. The 16 migrant labourers of Madhya Pradesh had prepared chapatis and chatni for travel as they did not have money to buy food. They had hoped that they will have supper with their families shortly but met a tragic end.

One of the survivors told media that 20 labourers worked in an iron factory in Jalan and were stranded after lockdown was imposed. They had purchased food but took help of social organisations to feed themselves when they ran out of money.

When they received information that state government is bringing back stranded labourers, they walked along the track to board the train from Bhusawal to reach MP. As per reports, some labourers tried to apply online for transportation but could not register themselves on the portal.

Workers killed in Aurangabad accident

1 Dhan Singh Gond, 2. Nirvesh Singh Gond, 3. Budhraj Singh Gond (all from Shahdol district), 4. Achhe Lal Singh (Umaria district) 5. Rabendra Singh Gond, 6. Suresh Singh Kol, 7. Rajboharam Paras Singh, 8. Dharmendra Singh Gond (all from Shahdol district), 9. Bitendra Singh Chain Singh, 10. Pradeep Singh Gond (two from Umaria district), 11. Santosh Meeth, 12. Brijesh Bhaiyadin (Shahdol dist), 13. Munim Singh Shivratan Singh, (Umaria dist), 14. Dayal Singh (Shahdol dist) 5. Nameshah Singh (Umaria dist),16. Deepak Singh Ashok Singh Gond (Shahdol dist).

Sajjan Singh Makhan Singh Dhurve of Mandla district received injuries.  Inderlal Kamal Singh Dhurve (Mandla dist), Virendra Singh Chen Singh Gaur (Umaria dist), and Shivman Singh Hiralal Gaur (Shadol dist) remained unhurt.


Coronavirus in Navi Mumbai: APMC market to remain shut from May 11 as COVID-19 cases rise

In the last one week alone, around 125 positive cases of Coronavirus have been reported from the wholesale market complex alone.

The total number of positive cases under the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) jurisdiction has reached 527 on Friday. But the total cases in Navi Mumbai has crossed 700 including Panvel city and Panvel Taluka.

However, the supply of essential commodities like fruits, vegetables, onion and potato is unlikely to affect as trucks laden with these commodities will continue to arrive and will be directly diverted to Mumbai and other places.

Social media stormed after a sudden rise in positive cases and APMC had emerged as the hotspot of Navi Mumbai. The NMCC administration had been advocating the closure of the market, but it was kept operational to continue the supply of essentials to MMR. Sanjay Pansare, director of Fruits Market said that traders’ associations had written to the secretary of the APMC to close the market for ten days to stop the multiplication of cases.

The decision to close the market temporarily was taken after a meeting held at APMC headquarters in Navi Mumbai on Friday morning. The meeting was attended by Anup Kumar, Secretary, state Marketing Department, Shivaji Daund, commissioner of Konkan division, civic chief, DCP zone 1, traders, porters, Mathadi workers (head-loaders), security guards and local representatives. “All five markets, spices, fruits, vegetables, grain and onion-potato markets will be closed for a week,” said A B Misal, municipal commissioner of NMMC. He added after Saturday operation, the market will be closed till the next Sunday.

In March, the APMC administration had closed the market two weeks due to a lack of safety measures. However, after the state government assured measures, the market was opened. During the lockdown, the market had also seen a bumper supply of over 1200 trucks of the vegetable following which the administration capped a maximum of 300 trucks laden with vegetables allowed per day.

Ashok Walunj, director of the Onion-Potato market said that all the traders, Mathadi workers, office bearers and others will be tested during the one week. “This will also remove the fear of virus among all the stakeholders of the wholesale market,” said Walunj. He added that the civic body will carry out the disinfection of the whole market.

Walunj assured that there would not be a scarcity of essential commodities due to temporary closure of the market. “Trucks will be sent to Mumbai and other places where retailers can buy and sell,” said Walunj.

The APMC Vashi supplies essential items like fruits, vegetable and food grain to Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Panvel and Thane.


Good news for Mumbai University students: Maha Education Ministry to announce exam details at 1 PM today

Maharashtra Education Ministry to give further details on Mumbai University final exams and other higher education exams at 1 pm on Friday.

The ministry will announce details of the exams that were earlier put on hold amid the coronavirus outbreak.

(This is a developing story)


Maharashtra govt announces Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to families of deceased in Aurangabad train accident

Maharashtra government on Friday announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to families of the deceased in Aurangabad train accident.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office took to Twitter and said: "Rs 5 lakhs each has been announced as ex gratia to families of the deceased in Karmad (Aurangabad) train accident."


CMO Maharashtra


मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी संभाजीनगर(औरंगाबाद) जवळील करमाड येथे सटाणा शिवारात मालवाहू रेल्वेखाली येऊन परराज्यातील १६ मजुरांच्या झालेल्या मृत्यूबद्दल तीव्र दू:ख व्यक्त केले असून मृतांच्या कुटुंबियांना मुख्यमंत्री सहाय्यता निधीतून प्रत्येकी ₹ ५ लाख मदत जाहीर केली आहे.

10:55 PM - May 7, 2020
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At least 16 migrant labourers were killed and five others injured when a freight train ran over them between Jalna and Aurangabad, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of South Central Railway (SCR) told news agency ANI.

The injured have been shifted to Aurangabad civil hospital. The mishap occurred early today in the Nanded Division of South Central Railway in Karmad police station area of the Aurangabad district. As per Railways officials, the migrant labourers hailed from Madhya Pradesh and were walking home from Maharashtra's Jalna and after walking for about 36 km, they had stopped to take rest when they fell asleep.

Amid the nationwide lockdown, thousands of migrant workers stranded in several other cities have started their journey to return to their native places on foot. The interstate bus service, passenger, mail and express train services have been suspended since March 24. The railways has started running Shramik Special trains to transport the stranded migrants to their native places since May 1.


Yogi shows the way: UP govt approves ordinance to exempt various industries from labour laws for 3 years

The Uttar Pradesh government has approved an ordinance to exempt various industries in the state from different labour laws for three years to revive the state's economic activities which have come to a grinding halt amid the Covid-led lockdown.

The decision to approve the ordinance was taken on Wednesday in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. A government spokesperson said on Thursday The step aimed at reviving and boosting various businesses and industries has been taken because they have more or less came to a halt due to the national lockdown, the spokesman said.


The ordnance has been sent to Governor Anandi Ben Patel for her assent, said sources.

There is a need to give impetus to industrial and economic activities and create more investment opportunities besides bringing back the existing industry back on track, the spokesman said.

The state Cabinet chaired by the chief minister had given its nod to the Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020 to exempt factories, businesses, establishments and industries from the purview of all, except three labour laws and one provision of another Act for three years, the spokesman said.

Some labour laws, however, would continue to prevail, he said adding the labour laws provisions related to women and child will continue to exist along with the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, Building and Other Construction Workers Act 1996, Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936 and Workmen Compensation Act 1923 .


Morality is fine, but liquor is quicker: Why opening of wine shops amid pandemic raises serious questions

Last week, the Union government eased the lockdown imposed on the country. It allowed several types of shops to open. But a startling inclusion was liquor shops. All through the lockdown, they were ordered to be shut like other shops and establishments.

The frenzied rush to the liquor shops was to have been expected. In some areas, police had to clamps a full lockdown once again.

Most states consequently ordered all non-essential shops to remain shut. But liquor shops could remain open, though with the coupon system to prevent crowding.

The order for opening of liquor shops came from the centre. It is quite possible that the central government wanted to ease the financial pains of state governments which had not yet been given their share of the GST money. Or it could have been the lobbying of politicians who are known to benefit from the ill-gotten gains from distilleries as they smuggle out (non-excise-duty paid) liquor. Yes, there is a lot of money at stake (see chart).


Money and morals

Either way, the decision to open liquor shops in the midst of a pandemic raises profoundly serious questions on money and morality. Some of them are:

  1. What is an essential item? Is liquor an essential item? Why should a shop selling plumbing material and electric switches and wires not be treated as essential especially when pipes burst, or there is a short-circuit (Maharashtra, to be fair, did allow such shops to be open by 7 May 2020, after a few buildings in tony areas caught fire because of electrical faults).

  2. If liquor shops remain open because governments need the money, why should other shops not remain open? Shopkeepers and their workers also need the money to survive.

  3. Does the government really care about human lives?

The last question can be elaborated on. Follow the arguments below.

It now becomes clear that what drives governments and even governance is money. See the money states make from the sale of alcohol (we are not calculating money the central government received – like income tax on liquor companies). Moreover, the humongous moolah from liquor could be both official and unofficial, which is why politicians and distillers often become great friends. It also explains why sugar cooperative keep their distillery operations outside the cooperative and run it as a private enterprise.

But what India does instead is to conceal the damage liquor causes (see chart alongside).

The government conceals quite well the number of deaths caused by liquor. The only report that gave details about the causes of deaths was taken out of public domain since 2014. But even they don’t give the numbers of people dying on account of liquor consumption.

Similar omissions are death on account of smoking, and death by malnutrition. The latter cause is more serious. The World Health Organisation admits that 30% of the malnutrition cases are from India. Almost everyone believes that 10% of the deaths in India are caused by malnutrition. But there is no mention of it in the MCCD.

Sadly, doctors invariably certify malnutrition deaths as death by natural causes. As a doctor puts it, had the administration allowed doctors to list malnutrition as a cause of death, it would have prompted criminal abetment charges against the collectors and the district magistrates. So, the administration protects itself. Deaths don’t really matter – or so it would appear.

Yes, there are some other figures available. But they do not give the actual numbers of people who die from each disease or cause.

But there are figures available for global deaths (see chart). By extrapolating these figures for different regions, it is now possible to deduce the numbers of people who die in India as well.

From that table, you can see that death caused by liquor and cigarettes far exceed Covid-19 deaths. There is no reason to believe that this would be true of India as well.

Questions and suggestions

That raises some other questions.

First, is the lockdown worth the effort? It is destroying jobs (CMIE figures show unemployment climbing from 8% in Feb/March 2020 to over 27% currently), it is hurting industrial activity and crippling the economy. That in turn causes deaths (though the medical cause will never get listed as being the lockdown, or malnutrition or plain hunger). If the objective of the lockdown is to prevent people from dying, surely the need to stop liquor (and cigarette/beedi) sales should assume greater significance. You cannot stop one kind of dying and promote another method where more people die!

Second, if social distancing is required, there are other immensely sensible methods possible.

You could, for instance, allow the opening of even-numbered shops one day and odd number shops the other day. That measure alone would reduce the crowds by half. It would also stop panic buying.

Why now allow for more home deliveries? This includes delivery by e-commerce companies. The best way to reduce crowds is to deliver everything – even liquor – to houses. There will then be no crowds at shops. But liquor companies may not want this, because that would leave an electronic trail of purchases for a product where a substantial quantity is sold on cash basis, without bills and receipts.

Third, why ban e-commerce companies. The government wants people to work from home but prevents them from purchasing computer peripherals online. How does a student do his homework if his hard disk crashes? How does an executive participate in webinars and conferences if he cannot get a Bluetooth headset which is best got online? Is the government worried about the votes from traders over lives lost through sending people scurrying around to the marketplace?

Is it the vote count that made the government go back on its original order of ensuring that all deaths are sent to the electric crematorium? The Muslim business community had already agreed with the authorities that this was a sensible way to deal with the coronavirus threat. Its religious leaders had already communicated this to their followers. Yet, some state governments allowed Muslims to bury their bodies. Do votes matter more than public health?

And why is India using drones only to spy on people? Globally, they are used to monitor crops, to deliver critical products like medicines to locked-down areas, and to deliver critical medicines and food to locked-down areas. Does India only promote snooping and not convenience or common sense? Can’t drones be used to reduce crowding and yet making lives convenient for people?

Why are more burglaries taking place in locked-down business areas? Is it because thieves know which office will remain locked down, and that the theft will not be discovered for some time? Anecdotal versions talk of how, in many cases, FIRs are not lodged because the police requests victims not to file complaints because they are already overburdened and overworked. Home delivery would have eased the pressure on the police and would have made safety and security better administered. And why don’t the police wear protective equipment (PPEs). The list of policemen being infected is also growing.

Past sins begin to haunt

The Covid-19 epidemic has exposed the central government’s growing disregard for deaths, morality and people’s convenience.

The epidemic has also exposed the government’s poor health infrastructure. It could have increased the number of medical education seats in government hospitals – where the crowds are huge. Normally, when lectures are done, the best way medical students learn is by dealing with patients. India has more patients than countries like Ukraine. Yet they go there to study, despite such countries not having enough patients, because India does not offer medical seats at reasonable costs. Government hospitals – with hordes of patients – should logically have increased medical seats by 10-20 times at the very minimum. Instead, governments allowed only politically connected people to make money through private medical schools. That has meant fewer doctors, ill-equipped government hospitals, and more misery for patients.

Covid-19 has exposed the government’s poor spending on education which – in turn -- has prevented migrant workers from learning new skills using the internet or other means.

And it has exposed the politicians love for slum formation in order to get votes. Today, the biggest hotspots for infection are the slums across India. Expect the numbers of dead from such slums to soar even more.

Suddenly, the sins of the past are beginning to haunt politicians from every party. Will they learn? Or will they continue to treat each epidemic as one more crisis that should be forgotten as soon as it is over. Going by past experiences, the latter could be true this time as well. Unless…

The author is consulting editor with FPJ

14 migrant workers run over by goods train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad

Aurangabad: Fourteen migrant workers were killed after coming under a goods train in Aurangabad district on Friday, police said.

The workers, who were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna, were returning to Madhya Pradesh, an official at the Karmad police station told PTI. They had been walking along the rail tracks and slept on the rail tracks due to exhaustion, he said. They were mowed down by the train at 5.15 am, the official added.

The Maharashtra government on Thursday issued an order saying that migrant workers and other stranded persons willing to return to their home states amid the lockdown need not produce individual medical certificates as was required earlier.


The government said a list of passengers screened at the time of start of their journey and found to be not displaying any influenza-like illness be issued by medical person in-charge and the certification of such a list shall suffice (for individuals to travel).

The government said that migrants/stranded persons willing to travel to their native places be screened at the time of start of their journey by use of digital thermometer and symptomatic examination free of cost.

This be done through the officers of government or municipal corporations or by hiring the services of registered medical practitioners by municipal corporations, the order said. A single list of all passengers indicating that they have been screened and found to be not displaying any influenza like illness (ILI) be issued by the medical person in-charge.


Vizag gas leak: Death toll rises to 11 after styrene gas leak from LG Polymers

The death toll from the styrene gas leak near Vishakapatnam on Thursday climbed to 11 and the Andhra Pradesh government ordered a probe into the incident, the state police chief said here.

Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy held a high-level review meeting to take stock of the situation and ordered a probe into the matter, state DGP D Gautam Sawang said.

As many as 11 people were killed in the styrene gas leak incident at LG Polymers Limited plant at R R Venkatapuram near Visakhapatnam in the wee hours of Thursday. The DGP said there was no more leakage of gas and the situation was now "stable and under control".

At least 246 persons with health complications are undergoing treatment at the King George Hospital, Visakhapatnam and 20 of them are on ventilator support, he told reporters after the meeting with the chief minister.

In all, over 800 persons were evacuated from R R Venkatapuram following the gas leak and most of them only needed first aid.The chief minister ordered an inquiry into the gas leak incident, the DGP said.

"How the gas leaked and why the neutraliser at the plant did not prove effective in containing the leak will all be investigated. Styrene, though, is not a poisonous gas and can be fatal only if inhaled in excess quantity," Sawang said.


Twitter user claims there's zero coordination between Sena-NCP-Cong, check out Aaditya Thackeray's reply

On Thursday, Minister of Environment and Tourism in Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Cabinet, Aaditya Thackeray, gave a savage reply to a Twitter user who claimed that there is zero coordination between Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress.

A Twitter user, Gauri Mehta, who according to her bio is a Financial Advisor, tweeted, "Is Mumbai becoming a victim of Mahagatbandhan Govt (a govt we didn't elect bdw) Hearing talks that there is ZERO coordination between SS, NCP, Congress with regards to COVID-19 management, and it shows."

In the now deleted tweet, Mehta also tagged Office of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Office of Uddhav Thackeray, Aaditya Thackeray, NCPA Mumbai ( instead of NCP Mumbai) and Mumbai Congress.


Replying to her tweet, Aaditya Thackeray took a dig at her profession (advisor) and requested her to keep her sources authentic. Thackeray also pointed out that she had wrongly tagged NCPA Mumbai instead of NCP Mumbai.

He wrote, "Hi ma’am, I’m not into professional advice as I see your profession to be, but before doing so, I tend to check my sources, and if I may humbly, I’d request you to keep the sources authentic and not panic on hearing lies. Also @NCPAMumbai has been tagged instead of @MumbaiNCP.

Aaditya Thackeray

Replying to @gaurimehta93 and 4 others
Hi ma’am, I’m not into professional advice as I see your profession to be, but before doing so, I tend to check my sources, and if I may humbly, I’d request you to keep the sources authentic and not panic on hearing lies. Also @NCPAMumbai has been tagged instead of @MumbaiNCP .

2:26 AM - May 7, 2020
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Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai crossed the 10,000-mark to 10,527 on Wednesday with 769 more people testing positive for coronavirus and 25 others succumbing to the viral infection, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. The overall death toll on Wednesday stood at 412.

Amid layoffs and furlough, Raghav Bahl promoted Gaurav Mercantile acquires The Quint

Gaurav Mercantile, a company where Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur are the promoters, has announced the acquisition of the digital content business, operated under brand name of 'The Quint', from Quintillion Media Private Limited, where also the two are ultimate beneficial shareholders as a related party.

The lumpsum purchase consideration is at an enterprise value of Rs 30.58 crore.

In a disclosure to BSE, Gaurav Mercantile said this is a related party and the acquisition will be as a going concern on a slump sale basis for a lump-sum consideration. The acquisition is subject to the approval of the shareholders.

As per the exchange filing, Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur are common directors in Gaurav Mercantile and Quintillion Media Private Limited.

In addition, Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur, the promoters of Gaurav Mercantiles Limited collectively owning 66.42 per cent of the share capital, are the ultimate beneficial shareholders of Quintillion Media Private Limited.

Also, as a matter of good corporate governance it is also disclosed that Mohan Lal Jain, promoter of Gaurav Mercantile Limited, is a director on the Board of the holding company of Quintillion Media Private Limited, the filing said.

The transaction is being entered at arm length based on a fair valuation report of an independent valuer, supported by a fairness opinion from a Category Â- 1 Merchant Banker registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

The lumpsum purchase consideration will be at an enterprise valuation of Rs 30.58 crore and an equity value of Rs 12.62 crore, adjusted in accordance with the terms of the draft Business Transfer Agreement (including closing adjustments), based on the fair valuation report of an independent valuer.

The Board of Directors approved the proposal to increase the borrowing powers of the Company and for creation of charge or mortgage or hypothecation against the assets or properties of the Company up-to Rs 100 crore in accordance with the provisions of Section 180 of the Companies Act, 2013, subject to the approval of the shareholders.

The Board of Directors approved the shifting of the Registered Office of the company from the State of Maharashtra to the National Capital Territory of Delhi and consequent amendment to Memorandum of Association of the Company, subject to the approval of the shareholders.

Quintillion Media Private Limited is a private limited company engaged in the business of owning and _ operating diversified digital content platforms. Quintillion Media Private Limited presently operates digital content platforms under the following names viz. "The Quint", "The Quint Hindi" and "FIT".

The digital business had revenues of Rs 11.1 crore as per latest audited financial statements as at March 31, 2019.

The key advantages and effects of acquisition of the Digital Business are to give the company a strong foothold in the digital media business of the economy, enable the Company and its shareholders to reap benefits from projected growth in the digital media business going forward, the filing by Gaurav Mercantile said.

Earlier, The Quint had asked nearly half its staff to go on a leave without pay.

"In these circumstances, it is clear that our revenues will be under severe strain over the next 3-4 months, at least. During this time, The Quint’s primary objectives should be: a) For everybody to stay healthy. b) For our young operation to survive this period and live to fight another day. That can happen if we take emergency actions, measures only used in the ‘rarest of rare’ situations, measures that may constrain us all, but may also help us stay afloat at a time like this," Raghav Bahl said.