Mumbai real-estate prices drop by 10% for first time in a decade

Mumbai saw a drop in the home rates for the first time this decade. The effects of demonetization and GST have led to a decline in real estate rates by 10%. Knight Frank India, a reputed real estate firm has confirmed the news by saying, ‘The weighted average prices were down 5% YoY in 2017.’

Residential base prices have come down by 5% along with other discounts or offers. These help buyers with the purchase of apartments in effective rates.

“This includes a bouquet of incentives such as waivers on stamp duty, floor rise and assured rental schemes,” said Samantak Das, Chief Economist and National Director, Knight Frank Research. Surprisingly, The number of apartment sales reported in the last three months of last year were high, which was 15,265 as compared to 8,416 sales during the same period in 2016. This was when demonetization was announced.

Lower Parel, Prabha Devi and Worli are the locations in Mumbai that hardly see any growth in the market. The western suburbs is also not flourishing and have many unsold flats. Areas from Mira Road to Bhayander have however achieved a gradual growth in the real estate sector.

Former Shiv Sena Corporator hacked to death

Image Courtesy: DNA India
Former Shiv Sena corporator, Ashok Sawant (centre) succumbed to his injuries after being stabbed by two unknown assailants.

Mumbai, January 08: Ashok Sawant, aged 62, was killed by two unidentified assailants in Mumbai on January 7. The former Shiv Sena Corporator was struck with cleavers around 11 PM on Sunday, January 6 while returning to his home after meeting up with a friend. Sawant was a two-term Corporator hailing from Samta Nagar in suburban Kandivli. Sawant is the brother of Assistant Police Commissioner, Subhash Sawant, who is associated with the anti-terrorism squad.

The Times of India reported, the police confirmed that the incident transpired outside Sawant’s house where two men were waiting in an unconfirmed vehicle outside his residential complex, Sur Building in Samta Nagar. They fled the scene speedily after accosting Sawant. According to The Indian Express, Sawant was ushered immediately to a hospital in the vicinity. However, due to the severity of his wounds, he was declared dead on arrival.

Image Courtesy: ANI
Police investigation is underway following the murder of Ashok Sawant.

Following the gruesome incident, a case was registered under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, which sprung the police into action and they began investigating the CCTV cameras in the area.  A source in the crime branch divulged information about closed-circuit television cameras installed in the neighbourhood that have allegedly captured images of the murderers. The attackers have been identified, one being an infamous criminal, Jagga.

As per an official, Sawant had recently entered the cable television business and had reportedly received a couple of extortion calls. He had registered a complaint with the police regarding these threatening calls. Police believe that the murder was an outcome of a fallout related to the extortion calls.

Sawant is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters. One of the daughters was to be married on February 5th.

Fire breaks out in Mumbai Sessions Court building

A level-2 fire broke out on the third floor of the Mumbai Sessions Court building on Monday morning.

According to the Mumbai fire brigade, the first call was made at around 7.50 am and five engines were rushed immediately to the spot to douse the flame. The fire was effectively brought under control by 8:30 am and no casualties or injuries were reported.

In the last 20 days, this is the fifth fire related incident reported in the city.

The Mumbai Session Fire came a day after a major fire at the sets of the TV serial Bepanah, at Cinevista studio, Kanjurumarg. The level-3 fire was brought into control after two hours in which a 20 year old crew member was killed. The Cinevista fire followed the January 4 blaze that killed four people and injured five after a fire broke out in an upper floor of a residential building in suburban Marol.

Both of these fire incidents came a week after a major blaze at Kamala Mills on December 18, where at least 12 people were killed after a snack shop in Mumbai’s Saki Naka caught fire.

Almost everyday, incidents of fire have been reported in the city which has put the fire force on high alert.

Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

Image Courtesy: NDTV                                                                              People carried processions on 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon, and pelted stones at vehicles on one of Mumbai’s arterial highways.

Pune, January 04: Bhima Koregaon, a village 30 kilometres north-east of Pune, witnessed celebration of the 200th anniversary of the battle between British forces, including Mahar troops, and the Peshwa army. However, clashes broke out in villages around Bhima Koregaon. The violence occurred in the wake of the death of a 30-year-old Maratha youth and injuries caused to several people. The Dalit community began protesting in cities of Mumbai, Pune and nine other districts across Maharashtra. On January 3, they demanded a statewide bandh. Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a judicial probe by “a sitting judge” into the matter.

He said, “Every year, about 15,000 people assemble at the memorial. But this year the crowd was 3.5 lakh strong. Six battalions of police force were deployed, four of them placed at strategic points. As a result, despite attempts to trigger violence and riots, it was immediately curbed and major incident averted.”

What initiated as a caste based violence, later progressed into political firestorm.

Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) had envisioned the fact that Dalits “remain at the bottom” of the society.

He took to Twitter, “A central pillar of the RSS/BJP’s fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance.”

Denying these allegations, BJP sources said that the party was “concerned” about the Dalits. The reason being Dalit leaders such as Jignesh Mevani, who recently won the election in Gujarat, have marked their presence in Bhima Koregaon.

It is worth noting that the political aggression also echoed at the state and Centre level. Mohan Prakash, General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, All India Congress Committee claimed, “Wherever the BJP is in power, its supporters and RSS execute such actions when events related to Dalit pride are organised”.

The Shiva Sena accused the current government of not having the knowledge about mischief mongers living in the state. “The state is bearing the brunt of the BJP having control of the Home department and politics in the police department.,” it alleged.

Meanwhile, Prakash Ambedkar, President of Bharatiya Republican Party Bahujan Mahasangh reportedly said that Hindutva outfits were behind the Bhima Koregaon attacks.

Police has booked two local Hindu right-wing leaders- Milind Ekbote of Hindu Ekta Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Pratisthan for inciting violence. Complaints have also been filed against Jignesh Mevani, Dalit leader and Gujarat MLA and Umar Khalid, Jawaharlal Nehru University student for instigating the crowd. Both of them were invited at the celebration of Bhima Koregaon battle.

It will be interesting to see the amount of truth that these allegations hold. On one hand, it is possible that the right-wing groups were the reason behind this violence. On the other hand, it is strange to accept the fact that BJP would instigate such a division in the society. This contrasts its policy of ‘one India.” However, it will be beneficial for its rivals, as this will affect the Hindu vote bank of BJP immensely.

Continue reading Bhima Koregaon: the Politics behind the Outbreak

EOW now in charge of PanCard clubs fraud probe of Rs 7,035 crores; case against 6 directors filed

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has taken over the reins in the PanCard Clubs (PCL) investigation which is being touted as one of the greatest investment frauds. Over 50 lakh investors have been allegedly cheated of a staggering total of Rs 7,035 crore. An officer at EOW has said that a case against PCL and six of its directors has been registered under IPC and other sections of the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID), as reported by Times of India.

PCL is a Mumbai based timeshare company that came up with several schemes for hotel stays. The company promised the investors holiday packages at the hotel and investors who did not avail of this offer were promised higher returns on their investments. When one of the investors complained, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) intervened and discovered that there were multiple investment schemes being run by the company.

The SEBI barred PCL from selling its properties which the company challenged in the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) but the SEBI order was maintained. After this, PCL’s head office in Mumbai shut down.

Reports have found that most of the investors at PCL belonged to middle-class families from all around the country.

Sources: The Times of India, The Quint

Chaos Ensues at Mumbai Airport as an Air India flight gets delayed by 7 hours

An Air India flight, from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, got delayed for seven arduous hours due to unavailability of a pilot. This caused the passengers to get flustered and agitated as they waited for a speedy solution in vain at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport today. Flight AI 031 was slated to depart at 0135 hours from Mumbai to its destination, Ahmedabad. However, it finally departed at 0820 hours, after an outrageous, near seven hours of delay. The Boeing 777 aircraft housed over 200 passengers.

According to The Times of India, a source at the airport stated that the flight was delayed by a mere hour at first, which then turned into seven, long hours due to non-availability of a pilot. This caused a surge of anxiousness and impatience in the passengers who then created a state of utter chaos at the airport. The helpless passengers tried to obstruct staff members from handling other flights. Nevertheless, due to the spread out notifications of the flight delay they needed to spend the entire night in the boarding area of the flight despite all their futile attempts at coercing a quicker solution.

As per NDTV, an Air India spokesperson stated, “The flight was delayed due to the flight duty time limitation (FDTL) issue and crew constraints.” He also clarified that the flight finally took off at 0820 hours today. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation manages the duty hours for the pilots and cabin crew and they are banned from running a flight beyond a specified set of regulated flying hours.

Sources: NDTV, Times of India

Police bust Kidney racket at Mumbai airport

On Thursday, September 7, the Mumbai police busted a huge international kidney racket at the Mumbai airport.

When suspicions were raised, it alarmed the airport personals and the immigration department swiftly detained the suspect identified as Vruchantala Nizamuddin. He was identified in Mumbai on September 2.  This led to a search, which in turn led to the recovery of f three Indian passports on his identity.

The immigration officials further questioned the Nizamuddin. After much ado after he finally confessed the crime and agreed he was there to transport kidney donors to Cairo for illegal transplants.

The kidney kingpin who hails from Hyderabad, Suresh Prajapati, seems to be back in business. He was earlier arrested last year for a huge kidney transplant racket which involved 60 kidneys sent to Colombo Srilanka. He was also involved in trafficking Indians abroad to donate their kidneys. Cops busted a similar international racket at Mumbai airport on Saturday, where an arrested suspect confessed he was smuggling kidney donors to Egypt.

According to sources, the two arrested came in touch with each other when  Nizamuddin contacted Prajapati through social media in 2014 and offered to sell his kidney.  The former was in urgent need of money due to losses in business and cricket betting. Instead, Prajapati offered him a job promising to pay a huge sum of money if could lure others to sell their kidney for money.

Sources: Mid-Day