Pune news: Flooded tracks derail rail traffic, activists protest amendments to RTI Act, and more

Badlapur: In this handout photo provided by the Indian Navy, passengers are being rescued from the marooned Mahalaxmi Express train in Badlapur, Saturday, July 27, 2019. Rescuers safely evacuated all 700 passengers from a train after it got stuck in monsoon floodwaters between two stations near Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

Flooded tracks derail Mumbai-Pune rail traffic

Heavy rainfall in Mumbai and adjoining areas for the last few days threw train traffic off gear between Pune and Mumbai again this weekend, causing inconvenience to thousands of passengers and affecting travels plans of many others. The Mahalaxmi Express, which was stranded in flooded tracks near Vangani railway station for over 10 hours, further led to congestion on the Mumbai-Pune route.

According to Central Railway officials, 18 train services which use this route were cancelled on Saturday and Sunday. The railways have cancelled the Pune-Mumbai-Pune Intercity Express and Mumbai-Hyderabad Express on Sunday.

Chaotic scenes at Pune railway station.

In addition to cancellation of the services, several trains originating from stations in southern India and supposed to reach Mumbai were short-terminated in Pune due to traffic congestion on the onward route.

Among those short-terminated at Pune were Coimbatore-LTT Mumbai Express, Bengaluru-CSTM Udyan Express, Hyderabad-CSTM Express, MGR Chennai Central-Mumbai Express, Bhusaval-CSTM Mumbai passenger, Pandharpur-Mumbai fast passenger and Vishakhapatnam-LTT Mumbai.

The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) ran additional buses to deal with increased road traffic between Pune and Mumbai.

In fact, due to the already announced maintenance block of Central Railway on Pune-Mumbai route, the MSRTC had planned to run 180 additional buses to ferry passengers affected by the railway block via road.

Passengers of Mahalaxmi Express rescued by NDRF following flood. (Express photo: Deepak Joshi)

This came in handy on Saturday as the Pune pision of MSRTC plied numerous additional buses to Mumbai from its bus depot near Pune railway station.

This service came in handy especially for passengers who were travelling in Mumbai-bound trains but had to deboard at Pune station due to short-termination of trains. Yamini Joshi, Divisional Traffic Controller (Pune), MSRTC, said, We are plying extra buses to Mumbai from 2 am last night as railway services were disrupted due to heavy rainfall in Mumbai. Most of the additional buses were plied from Pune station bus stand to help those who had to deboard the trains going towards Mumbai. By afternoon we plied about 25 additional buses.

As per Central Railway, the normalisation of rail traffic between the two cities will depend on the weather on Sunday. The cancellations happened due to heavy rains in Mumbai. We are trying our best to send trains from Pune to Mumbai as we did this morning with Deccan Queen and Sinhagad Express. If it does not rain on Saturday night and Sunday, we will normalise the traffic by Sunday afternoon, said Manoj Jhanvar, spokesperson, Pune pision.

The MSRTC ran additional buses to deal with increased road traffic between Pune and Mumbai.

Harsha Shah, an activist, said since 2005 there have been numerous such incidents due to floods in Mumbai affecting train traffic within the city as well as on Pune-Mumbai route. According to her, while the railway administration should ideally arrange for transportation of its passengers after services get cancelled or short-terminated, no such measures are taken by the railways. Like airlines do, Indian Railways should also make alternate arrangement for the passengers to reach their destination at its own expense. Railway passengers often book tickets three to four months prior to the day of journey and it s not fair for the railways to leave them on their own, Shah said.

Roads waterlogged, low-lying areas submerged as heavy rain lashes city

More than 24 hours of incessant rains resulted in water-logging in various parts of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad on Saturday. Stray incidents of uprooting of trees or branches falling were also reported from various parts of Pimpri-Chinchwad. Luckily, there were no reports of injury or damage to properties due to rain.

A few hours of heavy rain led to waterlogged roads. (Photo by Rajesh Stephen)

After a brief lull, the monsoon has again picked up momentum since Friday with rains lashing Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Incessant rains disrupted both rail and road traffic in Pune and Mumbai. Passengers were stranded at Swargate and Pune railway stations. The rains led to water-logging with fire brigade officers of Pune Municipal Corporation rushing to a water-logged Hadapsar Industrial Area. Water had entered the premises of some companies.

Pune recorded 78 mm rain within 24 hours till 8.30 am on July 26, its wettest July day since 2014.

There were a few incidents of branches of trees falling on roads due to the rains but no injury or damage to property was reported, said a fire brigade officer.

Similarly in Pimpri Chinchwad, water-logging was reported on the Bhosari stretch of Pune-Nashik road. Reports of water-logging were reported from some of the low-lying areas of Phugewadi, Chikali and other areas of the township. The historical temple of Moraya Gosavi in Chinchwadgaon was submerged after the Pavana river breached its banks. Kejudevi dam in Chinchwad has started overflowing. Authorities in the twin township have alerted residents of slums located close to the river. Incidents of uprooting of trees were reported from Nigdi-Pradhikaran and other parts of the twin township but no one was hurt nor was there any damage to property.

Amendments dilute, weaken purpose of RTI Act, say activists

Activists and local residents have decided to file a public interest litigation (PIL) and hold protest marches against the recent amendments to the RTI Act. A meeting was convened on Saturday under the banner of Mahiticha Adhikar Bachao Andolan (Save RTI campaign) to chalk out the next move.

Both the Houses of Parliament have passed the amendments to the RTI Act, which activists said weakened the Act. The central government now has the power to fix the time period of service and salaries of the information commissioner, which were earlier defined under the Act. This, many activists pointed out, will dilute the Act. The amendments have been sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for his signature, after which the bill will become a law.

A press release issued by the campaigners stated that they will sign petitions to the President urging him to reject the amendments, followed by filing of PILs against the amendments. The campaigners will also organise a public mobile torch protest on Jangli Maharaj Road near Balgandharva Rang Mandir on July 30.

Activist Vijay Kumbhar explained the adverse implications of the RTI Amendment Bill, 2019, and said it will largely affect information dissemination to the public, who had been empowered to demand information since the RTI Act was implemented on October 12, 2005.

By removing the autonomy and independence of the central and state information commissions, the government has taken the reign in its hands, he said.

Legal expert Aseem Sarode said it was important to take the legal course and file a petition with a couple of High Courts. Tanmay Kanitkar, another RTI activist, said the RTI Amendment Bill, if it came through will personally affect him as all his campaigns were based on information that he procured under the RTI.

65-year-old warkari crushed between two PMPML buses dies

A 65-year-old warkari, who sustained injuries when he was walking between two buses on July 13, succumbed while undergoing treatment at Sassoon hospital on July 24.

Police registered an offence against the driver of an unidentified bus of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) at the Swargate police station, on Friday.

Police identified the deceased as Dhondiba Bhika Jadhav, a resident of Mirjewadi village in Chaskaman at Khed taluka. According to police, he was walking through the gap between two PMPML buses that had stopped near the Swargate bus depot and was knocked down when the buses moved all of a sudden.

Police said Dhondiba was admitted to the Sassoon hospital, adding that he was a warkari and took part in the palki processions to Pandharpur every year. They said this year too, after visiting Pandharpur he reached Swargate on a state transport bus on the morning of July 13, from where he was planning to take a PMPML bus to Shivajinagar bus depot and then onto his village.

Police said he left the Swargate bus depot but due to a traffic jam at the junction, he and some others were crossing the road through a gap between two PMPML buses outside the bus depot.

Police said another woman, Deubai Prabhakar Jadhav, was also walking between the two buses while Dhondiba was behind her. All of a sudden, one of the PMPML buses moved back and hit Deubai, who fell down on the spot. The bus further went on to hit Dhondiba in a way that he was caught between the two buses, police added.

Police said Dhondiba was initially admitted to a hospital in Khed taluka, but his son Kailas Jadhav moved him to Sassoon hospital for further treatment. Gotiram Magar, a resident of Dhondiba s village, lodged the FIR in this case.

Combing operation: Whereabouts of 110 criminals checked, 46 found missing

THE CRIME branch of Pune City Police conducted an extensive combing operation and checked the whereabouts of 110 history sheeters, including criminals on record for house break-ins.

A press release stated that as per instructions of Police Commissioner K Venkatesham, a team conducted the combing operation early on Saturday.

Of the 110 history sheeters checked by the Crime Branch, 25 were found to be in jail, eight were externed and one had died. Also, 30 history sheeters were found at the spot and their interrogation forms were recorded. Meanwhile, 47 history sheeters could not be traced during the combing operation, as stated in the press release.

During the combing operation, police also took action against hotels that were allegedly found open beyond the specified deadline. As many as 19 such offences were lodged against hotels in different parts of the city for operating till midnight without permissions.

One person was also arrested and 53 liquor bottles and Rs 10,420 was seized from the accused. During the operation, police also rescued a woman, who was allegedly being lured into a hotel in Katraj area.

Police chief felicitates 29-year-old who saved techie s life in road mishap

The Pune City police felicitated 29-year-old Akash Dutt for helping a software engineer, who sustained injuries in a road mishap at Wagholi area in the early hours of May 29, 2019, and for saving his life. The software engineer has been identified as Raghav Pratap Singh.

A press release issued by Police Commissioner K Venkatesham on Saturday stated that Dutt was going home after completing his work, when around 3 am he saw that a crowd had gathered around an injured person in Wagholi area.

Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham felicitates Akash Dutt, on Saturday. (Express photo)

Dutt found that a man had been injured in a road mishap and was lying in a pool of blood, stated the release. Despite making repeated appeals, nobody from the crowd gathered at the spot came forward to help the man, who was later identified as Raghav Pratap Singh.

However, Dutt managed to take help from a tempo carrying vegetables in the early hours of May 29. He rushed the injured person to a hospital in Wagholi and also waited at the spot for a few hours as the doctors started treatment.

Police said Dutt s help saved life Singh s life, who works as software engineer. Venkatesham, Joint Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shisve, Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Pankaj Deshmukh felicitated Akash for his work in the presence of Singh.