When Sanjeev Kekature and Sushila Dhawale decided to get married, both of them were excited and happy. Sanjeev had finally found a partner
at the age of 35 and Sushila got a chance to start life afresh after she had lost her first husband a few months back.
After just 2-3 months of their marriage, they came to know that Sushila was HIV positive. As an initial reaction, Sanjeev felt cheated and shattered. But fortunately he could come to terms with life within a month and decided to take his wife to the anti-retroviral therapy (ART) centre at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) for treatment.
"When I first met the couple I did not know it was Sushila's second marriage and she could have got the infection from her first husband. But when the couple told the entire history without hesitation, I was impressed. Both of them belonged to poor socio-economic background and knew very little about the disease except that the syndrome could kill the infected person. Yet, they began following instructions in the first visit to the centre and now continue to take regular treatment. This has helped them live a quality life which is what the ART centres are expected to do," said chief medical officer Dr Sudhir Mamidwar.
In a contrasting story, a woman from an educated family was thrown out of her house by in-laws after her son died of AIDS. "Although my in-laws knew that I had got the infection from my husband, they were not ready to keep me or my children. I am still fighting a court case for some share in my husband's property," Geeta told TOI not willing to name her husband's family despite the ill-treatment meted out to her.
"If we look back, cases like Geeta's were more common. Now more and more people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs) come to ART centres on their own. Private practitioners too have begun sending cases where the affected persons cannot afford the high cost of treatment. At GMCH, it is available at free of cost. A large number of patients comes from rural hospitals," said Dr Y V Bansod, professor and head, medicine, GMCH. "The government spends about Rs 1,200 per patient per month, receiving ART. These include children as well as some gays. We have specially trained counselors and this has helped deal with all kinds of patients," he added.
As much as 6,000 individuals have taken treatment at GMCH centre after the ART centre came here. However, of these, roughly half the patients are still coming to the centre. Some of the rest have died, some stopped the treatment after some reactions to the medicines. Some have shifted to new centres which have come up recently at Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and at rural hospitals in places like Bhandara, Akola, Yavatmal and Gondia. Two more centres are coming up in Amravati and Washim.
But there is still a dark side to the story. Some of the patients told TOI that doctors in both the private sector as well as the government set-up still refuse to handle PLHAs with some complications. "I was refused surgery by a doctor in a private hospital for a small tumour-like thing on my hand. I went to a government hospital in my district but the doctors refused to tocuh me. Now, I am here at GMCH hoping that they will not send me back," said 25-year-old Kavita.

State AIDS control workers on strike from today

In a desperate bid to make their importance felt, around 6,000 employees of the Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society (MSACS) have
announced an indefinite strike across the state from Tuesday, to coincide with the World AIDS Day and week celebrations.
"We are sorry about this drastic step, however we have been forced into it. We have purposely chosen this time to make the authorities understand our role. We have been working with MSACS for 12 years on contract basis, but the state government has not regularised us. Secondly, MSACS being part of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), we should be considered at par with Central government employees and given all the facilities that Central employees get like TA, DA etc. Repeated requests to the state authorities have fallen on deaf ears, hence this extreme step," said RB Mantri, a spokesperson of MSACS employees union from Buldhana, justifying the strike.
"There are 604 Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTCs) in the state. Each of them get at least 10 visitors daily, which means every day we are on strike around 6,000 people will go back unattended. Let the government realise this," he said.

Year's biggest heist of Rs 30.57 lakh rocks Gokulpeth

Burglars delivered the rudest shock to the city cops this year by pulling off a heist to the tune of Rs 30.57 lakh at a reputed jewellery
shop in Gokulpeth. The burglary came to fore on Monday morning when the shop was opened by the owners.
The shop was targeted by the miscreants on Sunday, when the shop was closed. This burglary, which has left the cops with almost no clues at the end of the day, surpassed all other incidents in terms of value of the loot.
The burglar had come prepared and used a mask to avoid being caught on the CCTV cameras installed inside the shop. He damaged two out of the four CCTV cameras installed in the shop. The burglar was also experienced enough to severe the most important wires, leaving the entire electronic surveillance network useless. He also managed to escape without leaving his fingerprints behind, using gloves all through the burglary. He decamped with valuables in four bags, including three belonging to the shop.
Though the two damaged CCTVs did not yield any help to the probe team, the team has images of the masked burglar from two of the sophisticated infra-red enabled CCTVs on the mezzanine floor. These appear to have escaped the burglar's attention as they look like fancy lights. This is the only major clue for the cops, as these images show the burglar going about collecting the loot.
Interestingly, the recordings begin to show the burglar inside the shop from 4.32pm onwards till 8.30pm on Sunday, indicating that the burglary took place when the locality and the road in front is flooded with people, especially on Sundays.
The city police were jolted into action by the news of the shocking incident right in the heart of a busy market area. Ashish Lele, owner of the shop, was left stunned when he opened the shop for business on Monday morning at 8.45am. He generally prefers to come early on Mondays for accounting and stock checking purposes.
Lele was surprised initially while lifting the shutter as the antitheft alarm, which was supposed to go off with the lifting of the shutter, remained silent. However, the ransacked ground floor of the showroom left him in no doubt about what had happened. He rushed to the mezzanine to check the situation there and was stunned to see the empty showcases where the silverware were kept for display.
Lele then called the Ambazari police and his friends and relatives. He also immediately spotted the square gap below one of the showcases on the eastern side of the wall. This was the spot behind the drawer on the mezzanine floor of the jeweller's shop from where the burglar had entered the shop.
Valuables like the gold and diamond jewellery sets on display were missing from their locations when the shop was closed on Saturday. Around 55kg silver worth Rs 17 lakh, diamonds costing around Rs 8.07 lakh and gold valued at nearly Rs 4.90 lakh were stolen from the shop. The locker, which too had substantial stocks of gold and cash, fortunately remained untouched.
ND Ingole, senior inspector of Ambazari police station, said that the police has started combing different pockets in slums and are checking up on former criminals who have a built similar to the one captured in the CCTV camera. "The burglar must have certainly surveyed the locality and the shop very minutely before striking here. The way the burglary was committed it seems to be the handiwork of some very adept miscreants," said Ingole. The cops are also checking the details of former employees who knew about the shops layout.
Lele, who was devastated by the incident, said that such incidents only vitiate the ambience of trading and business in the city. "We are seeking cooperation from the police and our trade associations. The CCTV footage is being continuously monitored by two persons to spot suspects," said Lele.
The case, which was registered at Ambazari police station earlier, was later shifted to the crime branch for a more detailed probe.

H1N1 negative patient dies in GMCH

The staff working at the swine flu ward at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) can heave a sigh of relief for some time as the
number of OPD as well as admitted swine flu patients continues to drop. On Monday, the ward had no patients and the OPD attended to just one patient. Last week, however one swine flu negative patient had died in the ward.
Kusum Dhoke, a 28-year-old woman who had tested negative for H1N1 virus, but was under treatment at the swine flu isolation ward due to her serious condition died of acute respiratory distress late on Saturday night. She was a resident of village Bordi in Akola district.
"She had bilateral pneumonia but had tested negative for H1N1 virus. However, she was on ventilator due to severe pneumonia and died on Saturday night. There are no other patients admitted in the ward now," said Prof Arun Humne, head of preventive and social medicine. With her death the total number of deaths at GMCH's isolation ward has reached 22, but of these only eight have tested positive H1N1 while the other tested negative. The reports of three samples are uncertain as these samples were spoilt during collection or transportation.
On Monday, only one patient attended the swine flu OPD. The total OPD patients so far has gone to 4,949. GMCH has collected 509 samples so far and obtained all the reports. Of these 72 have tested positive, 412 have tested negative and 25 samples could not be processed due to various reasons.
Another suspected swine flu patient, Durga Take, a 50-year-old woman from Pulgaon, who had died of acute respiratory distress on November 20 at the swine flu isolation ward at 10.30pm has also tested negative for the virus. Interestingly, this patient had tested positive from a private laboratory at Mumbai while under treatment at a private hospital in city.
However, she turned out to be negative for the H1N1 virus as per reports obtained from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The last positive death reported in November was that of Nagma Ali, a 13-year-old girl from Betul.

Are water tankers turning into killer machines?

The death of 40-year-old Sarabjit Jhade, who was crushed under a recklessly driven water tanker on Sunday, has raised the issue regarding Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment the threat posed by these vehicles to the citizens on roads. Ironically, Jhade was the only breadwinner for his family and is survived by wife and four-year-old son.
Statistics with the traffic police department reveal that the around six persons were killed in accidents involving water tankers on Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) duty. Many more were injured after they were hit by rashly driven tankers. A senior police officer said, "There are very few convictions in such cases as we do not get witnesses. And in cases where the drivers are convicted, they are just penalised. Imprisonment is rare." Drivers, arrested and booked under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code (causing death by rash and negligent act), get bail and are back on their jobs without any hassles.
However, apart from reckless driving, issues regarding condition of the vehicle too needs to be considered, a source pointed out. Though police attribute the accident to the fault of the tank drivers, the fact that many old trucks have been reportedly converted into water tanks cannot be ignored. As per the Regional Transport Authority statistics, around 1,591 tankers ply on city roads.
"Water tankers have created a kind of fear psychosis among commuters. The spontaneous reaction on sighting a tanker is to slow down and make way. The general perception is that water tanker drivers do not follow rules," said Deepak Wankhede, president of Congress block committee 11. Many transporters have allegedly converted their old trucks into tanker which is violation of the norms, Wankhede pointed out. Expressing concern over the tendency among drivers and transporters to make more money, Wankhede said that they try to undertake maximum number of trips each day. But under the pressure of fulfilling the task, they indulge into rash driving which at times end in a mishap. This was true in case of tanker drivers making trips from Seminary Hills, Dabha, Gorewada, he alleged.
Some of the Seminary Hills, where a filling point is situated, residents alleged that most of the times the cleaners of the tankers and not the drivers were noticed driving the vehicle. This was an open threat to the lives of the citizens of the area, another residents charged.
"NMC administration should monitor the number of trips made by every tanker each day. Trips should be restricted to avoid over stressing the drivers," Wankhede opined. He also threatened to launch an agitation against NMC's water works department if they failed to control the speed and trips of water tankers. A memorandum to the effect would be submitted to the executive engineer (water works department) SS Hastak to look into the matter, he concluded.
The city has witnessed 1,136 various road accidents between January 1 and October 31 resulting in around 200 deaths.

Five booked in goon's murder case

The Rana Pratap Nagpur police has booked five youths for their alleged involvement in the brutal murder of Roshan Kalse, alias Bunty, at
Dhangarpura slums near Devnagar on Sunday night.
Police has claimed that Ravi Uikey (25), Rajesh Shankar Madavi (25), Rajesh Parteki (27), Suraj Dhurve (18) Rajesh Dashrath Madavi (25) attacked Kalse mercilessly with sharp weapons.
Kalse, who had a criminal past, was learnt to be involved in illegal activities in the slum that led to the dispute among the youths. Uikey and Parteki are missing while the other three have been arrested.

Five booked in goon's murder case

The Rana Pratap Nagpur police has booked five youths for their alleged involvement in the brutal murder of Roshan Kalse, alias Bunty, at
Dhangarpura slums near Devnagar on Sunday night.
Police has claimed that Ravi Uikey (25), Rajesh Shankar Madavi (25), Rajesh Parteki (27), Suraj Dhurve (18) Rajesh Dashrath Madavi (25) attacked Kalse mercilessly with sharp weapons.
Kalse, who had a criminal past, was learnt to be involved in illegal activities in the slum that led to the dispute among the youths. Uikey and Parteki are missing while the other three have been arrested.

HC go ahead for draw of lots for PS chief quota

The stage has been cleared for conducting a draw of lots to decide the reservations for the panchayat samiti chairmen in Nagpur district
after the district administration agreed to abide by its July 30 decision in the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Monday.
The decision to this effect was made by deputy returning officer Avinash Katade, and it was communicated to the court by government pleader Nitin Sambre. A division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and FM Reis then disposed of the petition filed by Nanda Pohankar and Lata Bhange, both panchayat samiti members from Bhiwapur.
The petitioners had challenged the procedure of conducting the draw of lots for panchayat samiti chairmen through their counsel Anand Parchure last week. According to them, the administration conducts draws for finalising reservation for panchayat samiti chiefs based on rotation system. It is done according to Maharashtra Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti Rules 1962, reserving posts for persons belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward category (OBC) and women. The Nagpur collector had on November 18 announced beginning of this procedure for 13 posts of samiti chairmen on November 21 at Bachat Bhavan of district collectorate.
The petitioners claimed that as per a July 31, 2004, state government GR, the post for chairman of Bhiwapur panchayat samiti was reserved for women from OBC category. However, another member Sandhya Dhanvijay had challenged it in the high court, on which the court had given an interim order reserving that posts for SC/ST. As a result, Dhanvijay became chairmen of the samiti.
The government again came out with a new draw of lots for reserving seats by rotation on July 30 this year, where Bhiwapur was once again reserved for SC. As per the petitioners, they were the sole candidates in that category from Bhiwapur and hence eligible for becoming Samiti chairpersons.
However, the collector issued a letter on November 18 calling for fresh draw of lots stating that the July 30 draw was not as per the court's interim orders. Therefore, the petitioners were demanding a stay on this draw stating that July 30 draw should be preferred.

AIDS awareness week from today

The district administration is gearing up to observe World AIDS day on December 1, with weeklong programmes to educate people about the disease and spread awareness in sections of the society more susceptible to it. The theme for the week this year is 'Universal access and human rights'.
Rallies: The week will be kicked off by a rally of young citizens of Nagpur from Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and Hospital to Chitnis Park on Tuesday morning. There will also be a candlelight vigil by youngsters at Variety Square in Sitabuldi in the evening the same day to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. There will also be special road shows and street plays at strategic squares and junctions across the city including Ganga Jamuna Square, Gandhibagh Square, Lokmat Square and Laxmi Nagar Square.
Awareness: There will also be programmes like special sensitization workshops at several centres across the district where people come to test themselves for HIV. This will be held on December 2 and 3. On December 4, there will be a sensitization workshop at Central Jail in Nagpur, where many inmates are either at the risk of being infected, and some may have already been infected. A special tableau will also be put up at Kasturchand Park on December 5.
Easter Studies Society and Manav Seva Sahara Vikas Sanstha in association with MSACS and UNAIDS would distribute handbills among railway passengers and citizens at Nagpur Railway station on Tuesday morning. Manohar Roy of ESS and Ashish Lobo of MSSVS said that they would also telecast a documentary on AIDS 'Saodhan' at the railway station. On December 2, a programme would also be organised at Punjab National Bank premises on Kingsway.

Mobiles without valid IMEI nos go dead

Even as hundreds of people flock to mobile phone sellers to buy phones with valid International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers,
some illegal mobile phones in Nagpur were taken off the networks by service providers on Monday. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had actually announced implementation of the ban on non-IMEI phones from Tuesday, December 1.
Speaking to TOI on Monday, Vicky Khubnani, who runs a mobile phone shop on West High Court Road, said, "We have already received word that some mobile phones without IMEI numbers have started reporting that SIM cards in them are not valid. Also, in some cases, mobile service providers themselves have sent text messages to customers saying outgoing and incoming calls would be barred because they are using a phone without invalid IMEI numbers."
Khubnani added, "In fact, there is an interesting thing observed by those with such mobile phones, who have had their SIMs barred. If the same SIM card is put into another phone, one with a legitimate IMEI number, all calls and messaging services are instantly restored!"
However, those who have taken a hit due to the new rule, and also those about to be hit, are not an amused lot. Sushil Wankhede (name changed on request) had bought a mobile phone just three months ago, and he had thought that the Rs 5,000 he had paid for it was a steal!
"How was I to know that it would all come down to this situation? I am a student and would have gladly bought a proper phone with the money, even if it had meant that I would have had less features! Now, my current phone is useless and I have to ask my parents for at least another Rs 2,000 to buy a basic phone," Wankhede lamented.
Meanwhile, mobile shops are making merry because a good number of people are rushing to them at the last moment to buy new mobile phones. Naresh Mohakure, who owns an electronic goods shop on Hingna Road said, "What is adding to our gains is the fact that people who have been using the cheaper mobiles have got used to their features. Now, when they go in for branded phones with similar features, it costs them much more. Those who cannot afford them may go back disappointed, but those who can afford them buy costlier phones, and we are the ones who reap the benefits!"

From today, power 24X7

After a wait of almost a year, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has finally issued the order to make Nagpur and Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment Amravati load shedding free. The city had first got assurance of zero load shedding from former minister of state for power Sunil Deshmukh on December 26, 2008. However, since then it has been a long-drawn fight.
Ironically, Deshmukh today is a man out of power having lost in the recent state assembly elections to Rajendra Shekhawat from Amravati constituency.
Now comes the rider: The zero load shedding (ZLS) order will benefit only the areas coming under Congress Nagar, Mahal, Gandhibagh and Civil Lines divisions, which roughly means areas under municipal limits. Areas like Besa, Wadi and Godhni do not stand to benefit from this order. MIDC in Hingna will continue to face 16 hour power cuts on Wednesdays.
The MERC on Monday stated that the MSEDCL should implement the order from December 1 to November 30, 2010. The Commission has ordered the MSEDCL to arrange for power for this period so that there are no hitches in the implementation of this scheme.
However, there are doubts if the MSEDCL would be able to implement the order from Tuesday as it would take time to arrange for the purchase of additional power. A senior MSEDCL official said that it would take at least a week to arrange for the extra power and prepare the billing software.
Reacting to the order, RB Goenka of Vidarbha Industries Association, said, "It's a welcome development. But the Commission should have considered VIA's contention that tariff had increased by 20% instead of 4.2% as claimed by MSEDCL. We would soon file a review petition in this regard. We are also disappointed that the MERC did not agree to our demand of waiving of transmission losses for Nagpur and Amravati."
BJP's Devendra Fadnavis, the South-West Nagpur MLA, who has been championing the ZLS cause for Nagpur said, "Until I go through the detailed order, I would not like to comment."
Full power is coming at a price for Nagpurians. The surcharge for the city has been calculated at 51 paise per unit. This could however go up in the summer months as currently the surcharge has been calculated considering load shedding to be on the lower side. MERC has also stated that MSEDCL should purchase extra power for meeting the extra demand, which will again translate into higher surcharge.
Another important aspect of the order is that MERC has not imposed any cap on power purchase rates, which was the case with earlier ZLS orders for Pune and other cities. This would enable MSEDCL to continue ZLS even when power rates go up.
In its petition the MSEDCL had proposed a surcharge of 40 paise per unit. However, the MERC has pegged it at 51 paise due to two reasons. Firstly, the MSEDCL had proposed that it would not purchase any power during July-September. However, in view of heavy load shedding during these months in 2008 and 2009 due to break in monsoons, MERC has asked the distribution company to purchase power throughout the 12 months. Secondly, the MERC has shot down the VIA's proposal to pay 25 paise per unit for maintenance work on Wednesday as impracticable.
The MSEDCL will have to look outside the state for purchasing power as the plants in Maharashtra are not able to generate enough to meet the demands. The likely places from where power can be bought are the power exchanges - Indian Electricity Exchange and Power Exchange of India Ltd, power traders like Tata and Reliance, and private producers like JSW Energy in Chhatisagarh and Jindal in Jharkhand.
The MERC has calculated that MSEDCL would have to buy 53.8 MW power for 12 hours per day to make the city load shedding-free. This translates into 0.52 million units (MU) per day. The distribution losses for the city have been taken at 22%.
The commission has also cleared the proposal for Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Aurangabad. However, ZLS has not been implement in Nashik as a majority of consumers opposed the proposal. The surcharge for Pune, Navi Mumbai and Thane is quite low due to lower distribution losses and the fact that industries too are paying it.
MSEDCL has been ordered to do quarterly accounting of power purchase expenditure and recovery by way of surcharge. If excess amount has been collected then MSEDCL would refund the amount in the next quarter and if the collection falls short then it would be recovered from consumers.
Five category of consumers have been spared from the ZLS surcharge - high tension industries and public water works on express feeders, railway traction, consumers whose monthly consumption is less than 30 units and agricultural consumers.



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