Coastal road will be ex­tended to Mum-Ahmed­abad high­way: Ud­dhav Zakir Naik granted Malaysia cit­i­zen­ship; ex­tra­di­tion dif­fi­cult?

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dent ht­metro@hin­dus­tan­times.com Sau­rabh M Joshi sau­rabh.joshi@hin­dus­tan­times.com Jee­van Prakash Sharma let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The am­bi­tious coastal road project, a su­per-way to bring the city closer, may now be ex­tended up to the Mum­bai-Ahmed­abad high­way through Va­sai and Vi­rar.

The Rs14,000-crore project pro­poses to connect Marine Lines in the south to Kan­di­vli in the north with a 29.2-km road run­ning along the coast. Plans of its ex­ten­sion were an­nounced on Satur­day by Shiv Sena chief Ud­dhav Thack­eray dur­ing a site in­spec­tion with civic chief Ajoy Mehta.

The Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion has said the foun­da­tion stone for the first phase will be laid be­fore next year’s mon­soon. Mean­while, the loom­ing civic polls are likely to see al­lies Sena and BJP lock horns over credit for this, and sev­eral other in­fra­struc­ture up­grades pro­posed for the city.

While CM Deven­dra Fad­navis boasts of hav­ing pushed the project with var­i­ous state and Cen­tral agen­cies, Thack­eray claimed to be com­mit­ted to com­plet­ing it quickly so com­mut­ing be­comes has­sle-free.

Days af­ter the gov­ern­ment in­dicted con­tro­ver­sial tel­e­van­ge­list Zakir Naik and banned his NGO, the Is­lamic Re­search Foun­da­tion, it emerged that Naik has bagged Malaysian cit­i­zen­ship. This could make it dif­fi­cult for In­dian author­i­ties to se­cure his cus­tody. Though In­dia and Malaysia signed an ex­tra­di­tion treaty in Jan­uary 2010, no ex­tra­di­tions have taken place be­tween the two coun­tries.

Naik’s cur­rent lo­ca­tion is not known. While some re­ports claim he is some­where in Africa, oth­ers say he is in Thai­land or Malaysia.

Naik’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Mum­bai con­firmed that he got Malaysian cit­i­zen­ship with that coun­try’s high­est civil­ian award, Tokoh Ma’al Hi­jrah, which was con­ferred on him in 2013.

“It is the state pol­icy of Malaysia to of­fer cit­i­zen­ship to the awardees of the high­est civil­ian hon­our of their land. Naik is now a Malaysian cit­i­zen too,” said Naik’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who did not wish to be named. Naik’s dual cit­i­zen­ship is likely to help his chances of avoid­ing ex­tra­di­tion and pros­e­cu­tion.

Naik, mean­while, is­sued another state­ment on Fri­day, in which he crit­i­cised the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s move to ban IRF and regis­ter a case against him. He also of­fered to make him­self avail­able for in­ves­ti­ga­tion but said no in­ves­tiga­tive agency had con­tacted him.

De­spite a short­age of in­sti­tu­tions of­fer­ing the MBBS course, as many as 2,078 seats re­mained va­cant in 83 of the coun­try’s 417 pri­vate and gov­ern­ment med­i­cal col­leges this year.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant jump from the pre­vi­ous year, when such va­can­cies stood at a mere 28 seats.

A re­ply from the Med­i­cal Coun­cil of In­dia (MCI) to an HT ap­pli­ca­tion filed un­der the Right to In­for­ma­tion Act re­vealed that just 56,748 seats of the to­tal 58,826 MBBS seats were filled — leav­ing as many as 2,078 seats va­cant.

Of these 83 col­leges, four couldn’t fill even 15% of the sanc­tioned seats. For in­stance, only 20 stu­dents took ad­mis­sion at the Rux­maniben Deepc­hand Gardi Med­i­cal Col­lege in Mad­hya Pradesh while Glo­cal Med­i­cal Col­lege in UP snagged a mere 21. Around 130 seats were still va­cant in each col­lege.

Many col­leges in this cat­e­gory were newly sanc­tioned by the Supreme Court-ap­pointed over­sight com­mit­tee (OC).

Ex­perts say this phe­nom­e­non high­lights the need to launch qual­ity col­leges in­stead of set­ting up a num­ber of in­fe­rior in­sti­tu­tions ev­ery year. HT re­cently re­ported that many new med­i­cal col­leges lacked even ba­sic ameni­ties. Most col­leges vi­o­late the OC’s or­der that the stu­dents’ list should be posted on their web­sites.

A se­nior MCI of­fi­cial said the data pro­vided to HT may con­tain mi­nor anom­alies be­cause some in­sti­tu­tions were yet to sub­mit ad­mis­sion de­tails.

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