Wednesday, November 25, 2009

26/11 Never Forget

26th November 2008: 172 dead as under. [Source]

CST: 58

Nariman House: 9 (includes 2 terrorists, 1 Marine Commando)

Oberoi: 32 (includes 2 terrorists, 10 staff)

Taj: 33 (includes 4 terrorists, 11 staff, 1 NSG Commando)

Cafe Leopold: 10 (includes 2 staff)

Girgaum Chowpatty: 2 (one terrorist, one policeman)

Cama & Albless: 8 (includes 6 policemen)

Metro: 1 (policeman)

Vile Parle: 2

Dockyard Road: 3

Saturday, July 11, 2009

7/11 Never Forget

6.24pm Khar Road - Santacruz
6.24pm Bandra - Khar Road
6.25pm Platform 1, Jogeshwari
6.26pm Platform 3, Mahim
6.29pm Mira Road - Bhayandar
6.30pm Matunga Road - Mahim Junction
6.35pm Platform 4, Borivali

11 minutes
7 blasts
186 dead
544 seriously injured
312 suffered minor injuries

The families of blast victims Parag Sawant and Amit Singh who lie in coma to this date, haven't forgotten. And neither should we.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bandra Worli Sealink Now Open

46 years after first being conceived and many years spent in delay, the BWSL is finally open to public. I drove there today morning and had the following observations:

- Despite being touted as an 8-lane road, the BWSL only consists of 4-lanes as of now. In fact, construction of the other 4 lanes is far from being complete as this photo of the exit at Worli clearly shows.

- Cranes are still there on the Central Tower and the two smaller towers. Work is obviously in progress here.

- Dispersal at Worli will remain a problem. Today, we had to go to the opposite end of Worli Sea Face road to take a U-turn and drive back to South Mumbai. Hopefully this arrangement is only for today and there will be a direct right turn at the exit point itself.

- Keeping the speed limit at 50kmph pretty much kills the point of such a bridge. Doubt it will be adhered to.

- Without a Worli-Haji Ali-Nariman Point link, this is just one part of the Western Freeway project. It will only benefit those who live/work around Bandra/Worli. For everyone else, they will only move faster from one traffic jam to another.

But for whatever it's worth, this is a significant event in Mumbai's creaking infrastructure saga. 3 photos below show the journey to this road.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Electoral rolls for Maharashtra State Elections 2009

Electoral rolls are already being prepared by the Maharashtra State Election Commission. I had a couple of EC officials come home (and visit our road) checking the rolls for any corrections. If you missed out on the recent Lok Sabha Elections, do ensure your name is there on the electoral rolls for the State Elections, due in September.

You can check out the Chief Electoral Officer's website to see, online, if your name is included or not. If not, then there is still time to get your name included. If these officials can slog on a hot, Mumbai afternoon to ensure the rolls are accurate, surely you can do your part by voting on the day that counts.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

12th March 1993, never forget

Friday, 12th March 1993.

Blast 1 - 1.28pm - The Bombay Stock Exchange. 84 dead, 217 injured.

Blast 2 - 2.15pm - Narsi Natha Street. 5 dead, 16 injured.

Blast 3 - 2.25pm - Air India Building. 20 dead, 87 injured.

Blast 4 - 2.30pm - Lucky Petrol Pump, Dadar. 4 dead, 50 injured.

Blast 5 - 2.55pm - Century Bazaar. 113 dead, 227 injured.

Blast 6 - 3.05pm - Zaveri Bazaar. 17 dead, 57 injured.

Blast 7 - 3.13pm - Plaza Cinema, Dadar. 10 dead, 37 injured.

Blast 8 - 3.20pm - Sea Rock Hotel, Bandra. No one dead or injured.

Blast 9 - 3.25pm - Juhu Centaur Hotel. 3 injured

Blast 10 - 3.35pm - Airport Centaur Hotel. 2 killed, 8 injured.

"Subsequent police investigations revealed that 257 people were either killed or went missing in the blasts while 713 were injured."

Dawood Ibrahim, the main accused, is still at large.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Mumbai Voter Registration

India's General Elections as well as Maharashtra's State Assembly Elections will be held later this year (most likely April/May for the General Elections and Sept/Oct for the State Elections). The schedule has yet to be announced so rest assured you can still get registered to vote.

In the past I had posted on how to get your Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC). However, it seems the task has proven to be a difficult one going by the comments I received there.

But now there is a simple solution. Just go to Jaagore and follow their step-by-step instructions. I've heard so many success stories of the fine effort they are doing, that really it is the one stop-shop to get registered and vote this year.

So, what are you waiting for? Click here and Jaago re!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 - The Year of the Mumbaikar

The Congress has ruled Maharashtra for a decade now, with the last five years being shared with Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The general impression is that they haven't done anything for Mumbai - a view that's quite obvious and perhaps glaring when one looks at how much Delhi has achieved under the same political party in the last decade.

However, to be fair to the Congress, the last couple of years has probably seen more infrastructure progress in Mumbai than any other year in the past. Phase 1 of the Mumbai Metro, the Bandra Sea Link and the MMRDA's various initiatives under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project have all happened in the Congress-NCP tenure. These are clear visible projects that can be seen on the ground, unlike, say, ambitious stuff like the Haji Ali-Nariman Point Sea Link, Phase II of the Metro, etc. etc. - all of which are still on paper.

On the real estate side, the ULCRA was repealed and a housing policy was formulated. Sure, they did nothing for real estate prices or affordable housing but at least there is a move towards transparency in a sector known for it's notoriety. Add smaller projects like the skywalks and a slew of flyovers and one can at least say that the Congress-NCP has done more for Mumbai than the Shiv Sena Government of 1995-1999.

And then there was 26/11. And the deafening silence throughout the Raj Thackeray fiasco. The Congress-NCP Government deserves to be sacked in it's entirety for both these incidents. No Mumbaikar would want to see any politician from either of these parties hold office after their abject failure at the most basic issue - keeping Mumbai safe. What point is development and infrastructure when the city is no longer 'safe'?

Which makes this question the most important one for 2009. Who will you vote for in the Maharashtra State Elections to be held this year?

That is the biggest question for every Mumbaikar in this new year as the state goes to elections.

Here are some of my thoughts on the key political parties in Mumbai:

1. Congress-NCP: Currently, the Congress-NCP combine seems to be stable. The resignations post 26/11 seemed to indicate that the Sharad Pawar-Sonia Gandhi balance, even if it teetered (as was seen in the interminable delay in the choice of CM), ultimately found common ground. R. R. Patil's dismissal was met with Vilasrao's Deshmukh's ouster. And Narayan Rane was - hopefully - despatched to oblivion.

2. Shiv Sena + BSP?: A recent Mumbai Mirror article indicates that Shiv Sena could be tying up with Mayawati. If this is true it might prove one thing - Raj Thackeray has succeeded in spooking his ex-party, to the extent that it would even consider dumping the BJP. But then a lot has changed between the BJP-Sena after the tragic death of the BJP's Pramod Mahajan. While Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari have done their bit to keep relations intact with Bal Thackeray, no one can predict what Senior Thackeray, or even Uddhav, will do. The 2007 BMC victory seems far away now after Raj Thackeray. So, one thing is sure - this is the make or break election for the Shiv Sena. In that situation would the Sena risk it's fortunes with Mayawati?

3. Can the BJP go it alone? The recent campaign featuring Poonam Mahajan (photo below) did not feature Shiv Sena at all.

The BJP hasn't gained anything from it's tie-up with the Sena in Maharashtra. What would it gain if it dumps the Sena and goes it alone? An image makeover for one. And more vote-share for another. But will it take that gamble? Remember, the BJP is gaining ground in states where it had no presence (Karnataka and J&K to name a few). So, would it be better off losing the election, but gaining votes and readying to take on the Congress more directly in the future? or sticking with a partner that has been seriously undermined?

4. Raj Thackeray: One hopes that he finds his place with Narayan Rane in the footnotes of Mumbai's history. Thankfully, the press is also giving him much lesser coverage. Yet, one cannot rule out some antics from him in this election year. Having turned public anger against the Congress and the Marathi Manoos attention from the Shiv Sena he achieved what he wanted. What next? Will he go it alone? For sure, any party that sides with him won't be winning any popularity.

5. Outsiders: Will ordinary Mumbaikars stand for elections? And win? I'm leaving this one open for now.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. And as the state and general elections come closer in 2009, there will be many politicians jumping beds. Equations will change before they become stable.

I firmly believe that this will be the year of the Mumbaikar. The year in which he gets his say for the MPs he sends to the Parliament and the MLAs he elects in the State Assembly. After five long years, he gets his chance to talk. And this is the only time the politicians will listen.

I hope he thinks for a long time before he chooses his vote. But more than that I hope he votes. This is the one moment when one small dot on his finger changes the fate of his city for the next five years.