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