Hyderabad printing press warehouse gutted in fire
A massive fire broke out at Tirumala Printing Press in an early morning fire at Nampally in Hyderabad on 15 February 2018. The printing press warehouse was gutted in the fire. According to the Fire Services officials, the fire personnel responded to an emergency call received at 7.35 am.
Despite five fire tenders sent to the spot, it took nearly three hours to douse the flames. However, the situation was brought under control but the warehouse was completely gutted in the fire. (Courtesy The Hans India)
Officer steals Rs 90 lakh from currency printing press
A senior officer of the high-security Bank Note Press in Dewas was arrested after trying to steal currency notes by stuffing them in his sneakers – which he had been doing for long to amass a fortune of over Rs 90 lakh.
The officers of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), deployed for the security of the building, found nearly Rs 20,000 stuffed in the sneakers of Manohar Verma, the deputy control officer in the Notes Verification Section.
“Manohar Verma was arrested for stealing currency notes,” said Anil Patidar, additional superintendent of Police of Dewas district. “The person stuffed every space available in his shoes with notes.”
The police recovered Rs 26.09 lakh in currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 200 denominations from his office. And from his home, the police seized currency notes to the tune of Rs 64 lakh– indicating theft of over Rs 90 lakh.
Verma came under suspicion when his movements – going near the wooden box where rejected cash is kept and repeatedly stooping down under a table — were noticed by the security personnel in CCTV footage. After the footage showed Verma trying to hide something in his shoes, a team of CISF personnel caught him while coming out of the room where rejected cash is kept in wooden boxes. (Courtesy Outlook)
1,000 duplicate answer sheets seized from printing press in Jaunpur
Police recovered 1,000 duplicate answer sheets for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Board examination from a printing press in Jogiapur area of Jaunpur, around 60 km from Varanasi. The press was illegally printing blank answer sheets that had the logo and format of UP Board. The Board’s high school and intermediate examinations were scheduled to begin from 6 February.
On receiving information, crime branch inspector, Vishwanath Tiwari raided the press with a team and seized 1,000 papers, a police officer said. The press has been sealed and its owner, Rampalat Maurya has been arrested, police said.
During interrogation, Maurya said he had received an order for printing 4,000 duplicate answer sheets for Maa Sharda Inter College, Badalpur, for Rs 20,000, said Mithilesh Mishra, Line Bazar station officer. Further investigation was on to identify the person who placed the order and to find how the sheets were to be used during the examination, he said. (Courtesy Hindustan Times)
Railways pan to commercially exploit printing press land faces hurdles
The railway ministry’s decision to close all of its printing presses has run into a speed bump, with two major employee unions alleging that the move is paving the way for handing over prime land to private players for commercial exploitation. Last year, minister Piyush Goyal announced that the railways would close down all of the printing presses it owns – as part of its strategy to exit activities that aren’t integral to its functioning – and retrench the displaced staff in other departments.
However, various railwaymen unions are now raising multiple concerns, one of them being that the chances of fraud and misuse of the ticketing system will increase if the ministry’s gets items printed in outside presses.
Currently, 14 printing presses fall under the jurisdiction of the railways. While there are six major presses at Mumbai, Kolkata, Secunderabad, and Delhi, eight small printing units are situated in other areas including Ajmer, Jaipur and Kurseong.
Located at prime land, the railway printing presses are involved in printing security items including printing of unreserved tickets and railway passes for suburban commuters which have monetary value.
There are about 20 lakh rail passes and unreserved tickets on the use per day for daily suburban rail service. If the printing is outsourced then there are chances of passes and tickets being printed in excess or fake where railways have no control, said National Federation of Indian Railwaymen general secretary M Raghavaiah.
Strongly opposing the closure move, All-India Railwaymen’s Federation general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said the decision is not a wise one and it would not be beneficial for railways.
“At this juncture of time, sudden decision to close all the printing presses, including those which have been augmented and modernised, would not only result in sheer wastage of substantial railway revenue as also pose the unwarranted problem of staff redeployment. This may also result in dislocation of the staff and their families as well,” Mishra said.
Both the unions have met Goyal and urged upon him not to take any arbitrary decision without considering the pros and cons and far-reaching consequences of the closure of the railway printing presses. (Courtesy The Wire)
Bombay HC to hear PIL on notes missing between printing press and RBI
A public interest litigation — probably holding the key to the historic demonetisation of 8 November 2016 — filed by RTI activist Manoranjan Roy will finally come up for hearing at Bombay High Court in Mumbai on February 12. The PIL was filed in 2015, on the basis of RTI replies received from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other institutions, pertaining to large quantities of ‘missing or excess’ Indian currency notes.
Roy said that as per RTI replies, from 2000 to 2011, RBI had received a certain number of currency notes from the three security printing presses in Nashik, Dewas and Mysuru.
The figures provided by the printing presses were: Rs 500 denomination -- 19,45,40,00,000 pieces were sent to RBI, but RBI said it had received only 18,98,46,84,000 pieces: A shortfall of 46,93,16,000 pieces or Rs 23,465 crore.
Similarly, the printing presses said they had sent Rs 1,000 denomination 4,44,13,00,000 pieces, but the RBI said it had received 4,45,30,00,000 pieces: An excess of 1,17,00,000 pieces or Rs 1,170 crore.
In another RTI data for 2000-2011, from the Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran said it had sent 13,35,60,00,000 pieces of Rs 500 denomination and 3,35,48,60,000 pieces of Rs 1,000 denomination, but, mysteriously, the RBI apparently never received these currency notes, nor did it disclose details of the same, said Roy.
“How such entirely misleading figures were given by three different and highly responsible government institutions, who are the culprits indulging in the misappropriation, where the staggering amounts of currency notes printed are actually going, are some of the questions that arise, and the answers may come out when my petition is finally heard,” Roy said.
In the petition, Roy had named the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Ministry of Home Affairs, as parties. (Courtesy The News Minutes)
Dera’s old printing press building, hospitals used for mass castration: CBI
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s chargesheet in the castration row in which rape convict Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim is framed as the main accused, has revealed that its old printing press building in Sirsa and its two charity hospitals were used for carrying out mass castrations, at his behest. A makeshift arrangement passed muster at the press building, once used for printing the dera’s publicity material. The CBI inspected halls and rooms of the ‘very old’ building with oval-shaped brick roof with iron girders.
As per CBI, Shah Satnamji Speciality Hospital inside dera was another spot for these illegal castrations. The hospital’s website claims it was set up in 1995 with a mission to serve the poor. It even claimed to have served thousands of poor patients for free. CBI has the testimony of victims to support its claim. The agency also claims that the hospital’s second floor had five operation theatres where surgeries were normally carried out.
The hospital’s building was demolished in 2014 and all equipment was shifted to a new building in the vicinity. (Courtesy Hindustan Times)
From stationery czar to loan defaulter: the story of Rotomac owner Vikram Kothari
The sprawling 4,000 square yard 'Santushti' mansion in the plush Tilaknagar locality in Kanpur wears a forlorn look but for the occasional coming and going of vehicles belonging to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths. And each time the gates open, revealing a punctiliously maintained lawn and a bevy of luxury vehicles, anxious camera persons and reporters, camping outside the palatial residence of Vikram Kothari jump into action hoping to catch the latest in the ongoing probe against the tycoon embroiled in one of the biggest loan default cases to hit the banking sector.
Neighbour Rajendra Kumar Saffar recalls that it was in 1973 that Vikram Kothari's father Mansukhbhai Kothari laid the foundation of a 'pan masala' empire. Back then Mansukhbhai, who hailed from Gujarat, lived in the Nayaganj area of the city and supplied coconut oil to shops. He, however, moved into the pan masala business. Mansukhbhai Kothari was amongst the first ones to sell pan masala in pouches and his brand - Pan Parag - became a raging success, Mr Saffar recalls.
Leading Bollywood actors Shammi Kapoor and Ashok Kumar featured in the ubiquitous Pan Parag ad on TV. At that time Vikram Kothari and his brother Deepak Kothari assisted their father Mansukhbhai in managing the ever-burgeoning pan masala empire.
As the business prospered, the group diversified and in 1992, the Rotomac Pen company was formed while 'Yes', a mineral water brand, was launched a couple of years later, Mr Saffar recollects. However, in 1999, the two brothers decided to go separate ways.
Elder brother Vikram Kothari took charge of the stationery and pens enterprise while younger brother Deepak Kothari took control of the pan masala empire, Mr Saffar says.
'Rotomac' too had its glorious run and emerged a top player in the writing instruments market. It's promotional tag line - 'Likhtey, likhtey, love ho jaye', too struck a chord with many. Bollywood heartthrobs Salman Khan and Raveena Tandon were then its brand ambassadors.
As time went by, Rotomac Pens was rechristened as the Rotomac Global Private Limited while Vikram Kothari also moved into other sectors including real estate, steel, and infrastructure, hoping to replicate his success.
However, what seemed like an uninterrupted story of success gave ways to a contrary reality as Vikram Kothari finds himself stands accused of a bank loan default to the tune of thousands of crores. (Courtesy NDTV.com)
The age-old story of block printing in Andhra Pradesh
The age-old technique of block printing is a heritage art form, popular in Andhra Pradesh. Having originated in Machalipatnam and Pedana, today there are pockets across the East Godavari district which practice this art. One such place is in the village of Aryavatam. Half an hour drive from Kakinada takes one to this village, where a few have taken up this work. We reach the house of Suryanarayana, where a portion of their house has been converted into a shop, and bales of printed cloth lie in the store. Kalamkari saris vie for attention along with printed borders, diwan sets and also dress materials. After feasting our eyes on this colourful collection, we drive down to the unit where the block printing actually happens.
As you enter, the first sight that catches the eye is the length of cloth which has been left to dry on the ground. A huge room with tin sheets lies beyond, and this is where the magic happens. A few people stand at their workstations, deeply involved in the work they’re doing. Hundreds of blocks engraved with fine designs lie in a corner. ‘Each design that we print consists of a set of blocks’, shares Suryanarayana, whose family has been doing this work for the past forty years. Dealing exclusively with vegetable dyes, he shares that once a particular design is chosen, the cloth is treated with dung and karakkai so as to enable it to absorb the dye. In a design with multiple colours, blacks and reds are printed first. The cloth is washed in a running stream of water, and the other colours are then printed on it.
The workstation comprises of a rectangular bench on which the artisans place the cloth. The block is then periodically dipped in the dyes and the motif printed on to the fabric. The process is completely done by hand, and the artisan stands for the long period of time to perfectly print the design. Natural dyes made from pomegranate, turmeric and other substances from the forests give the kalamkari print a unique look. The original process on a length of cloth takes a month for completion, and because the work of colour extraction isn’t easy, vegetable dyed Kalamkari tends to cost higher. (Courtesy Yo! Vizag)