Allow cops to raid homes if citizens possess beef: Maharashtra to SC

In another bizzare move that could spark yet another controversy, the Maharashtra government has appealed to the Supreme Court for the revival of a provision that makes possession of beef (cow, bullocks and buffalo) at home from outside the state illegal.

A law, Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act was struck down by the Bombay High Court that allowed any police officer to stop and search any person suspected of possessing beef slaughtered outside Maharashtra. It also empowered the police to carry raids in the suspect’s houses.

The keyword being suspect, it would be important to note that this move from the state government comes right when the Supreme Court concluded that right to privacy is not a fundamental right but a part of right to personal liberty.

Joachim Colaco, trustee of the United Christian Community Centre told the Hindustan Times that they would certainly go by the rules, but this was certainly not the right way.

Last year the Bombay High Court struck down the law in a strongly worded 245 page judgement, the court believed that the law was an intrusion into a citizen’s home and preventing from possessing and eating the food of his choice.

News Source: Hindustan Times, Huffington Post

Image Source: Reuters

Centre rules out farmers’ loan waivers, asks States to fund it themselves

Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, has stated that the Centre will not provide any farm loan waivers. He further ascertained that the Centre will adhere to its fiscal targets. “I have already made the position clear that states which want to go in for these kind of schemes (farm loan waivers) will have to generate them from their own resources”, he said.

This statement comes after Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra governments announced loan waivers to the state farmers. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, delivered on his poll promise by waiving off farmer loans worth Rs 36,359 crore in April this year. Following similar demands, Maharashtra followed suit by waiving off loans of marginal farmers worth around Rs 35,000 crores. On June 20, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh announced crop loan waiver up to Rs 2 lakh for small and marginal farmers with less than five acres of land, and another Rs 2 lakh for marginal farmers with larger pieces of land.

Jaitley further stated that he would not comment on the loan waivers by the states, having made the Centre’s decision clear on June 12, 2017. He directed the states to find their own resources to fund such schemes and that the states should not expect any assistance from the centre.

The UPA government previously had waived farm loans worth Rs 74,000 crore in 2008.


Sources: The Hindu, Livemint

Pune is ready with Metro plans

With the permission of the central and state government, Pune city is now set to get its first metro rail. After Nagpur, Pune is going to see the most desired metro rail project turning into reality. The metro rail project has begun with utmost seriousness hoping that it will solve the traffic issues.

Managing Director (MD) of Maha metro, Brijesh Dixit stated that both the metro projects of Nagpur and Pune will come under the umbrella institution of Maharashtra Metro.

He also said that 44 acres of land will be used in different sectors of the city. Further, he added that they will create beautiful landscapes at all the vital points through which metro will travel. Metros’ will cross 31 stations and each station will reflect the beauty and glory of Pune’s great history. They have taken the challenge to preserve the old charm of the city leaving it completely untouched.

Covering an area of 31 km, the project is believed to be completed by 2021. The total expenditure is Rs 11,400 crore. External agencies, like World Bank and European banks, are going to fund 60% of the total cost.

Dixit also assured in his statement, “The USP of the project will be state-of-the-art carriages and stations that will compete with the best metro stations across the world”. He also said that during the journey people will fall in love with the stretch, along and across the rivers, Mula and Multa.

Source: Times of India 


Seven dead after fire breaks out in Maharashtra’s Gondia

At least seven people lost their lives in a fire that broke out at the Bindal Palaza hotel in Gondia, Maharashtra on Wednesday. The fire is thought to have originated in a shop located on the premises of the hotel. “The blaze was noticed around 3.30 am when the victims were fast asleep. Six men have been charred to death. Some others are feared trapped inside,” said Gondia police officer Jitendra Borkar.

15 fire engines from the neighbouring regions of Balaghat, Bhandara, Tumsar, Lanji and the Adani Power Plant were sent to the location when officials learned of the fire. However, there was significant delay in their arrival due to the fact that the hotel is located in an extremely congested market area near Gorelal Chowk. The flames were brought under control after fire tenders and tanks spent seven hours fighting the blaze.

There were fifteen guests at the hotel when the fire broke out, and six of the seven victims were guests. One man was killed due to severe injuries sustained after a fall from the second floor of the hotel, and four others were found dead in their rooms. Several people were also trapped inside the hotel due to structural collapses, and rescue operations are being carried out to locate and extract these people.

Sources Hindustan Times  Livemint

Is Maharashtra equipped enough to handle fire mishaps?

With the commencement of the year 2016, Maharashtra witnessed many fire mishaps, right from Deonar rage to Make in India event, where massive fire broke out, engulfing the city in a thick blanket of smog. Accidents like these have happened int the past and will happen in the future as well.  And now with festive season around, the state is much more susceptible to such incidents.

One of the major problems whenever a fire breaks out is that how intense fire does not easily comes under control and continues to simmer , with the smoke creating a havoc for the people residing in the nearby areas. Thus, it raises the issues of not only loss of lives and property damage but also pollution concerns.

Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) computed an audit which highlighted several points that needed urgent attention. With high rise buildings becoming a norm rather than an exception, timely inspection in terms of fire preparedness has been made mandatory to avoid major calamities. In fact, one of the major concerns was with Pune city, as the city lacks enough fire brigades to carry out the inspections at regular intervals. The inadequacy of fire stations combined with less manpower results in the failure to carry out such inspections in Pune, and this calls for an immediate introspection.

As per the norm, there should be one station every 10 square kilometre area. However, Pune has one station every 36.57 square kilometre. In fact, only the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai has one station every 13.46 square kilometre area among the eight municipal corporations in Maharashtra namely, Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Thane, Nashik, Aurangabad, Amravati and Navi Mumbai.

Every year, the Municipal Corporation allocates funds towards fire department, however, the funds were not put to use. In the case of Pune, funds of around Rs 8.40 crore was found unutilised, with the fire department citing the election code of conduct and other reasons for the same. Overall in the state, Rs 1,091.20 crore was allocated for the fire department of which only Rs 854.87 crore was utilised, rest laid unspent.

During such fire breaks, the area is swept with the fire for prolonged duration and the damage ratio is high, thus, embarking the question which has been raised for so many times now, but still left answered-Is there an urgent need of establishing fire stations and implementing certain rules? Because disasters cannot be prevented but the causalities and damage can.

Is Maharashtra paying for “invisible” tribal students?

More than 325 crore is spent every year by the Maharashtra Government on residential schools or ashramshalas. These funds which are allocated under the state’s Tribal Sub-Plan, includes Rs.225 crore, with Rs.100 crore assigned for the teaching and non-teaching staff and Rs.900 as the monthly allowance per child for 10 months a year.

Echoing the bogus enrollment scam of 2011, Maharashtra now is caught up in the midst of dubious enrollment in the name of tribal students. The racket surfaced after the launch of an Andhar registration drive by district officials. It revealed how 50 state-aided residential schools for tribals in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, had enrolled scores of tribal students, only on paper.

The scam came into the limelight after The Indian Express, released the official data whereby out of 25,922 students, a staggering number of 8,177 students could not be traced in the Jalgaon schools. So much so, that many of the students were found to be in the neighbouring districts such as Nandurbar district; some students on the rolls, were even from Madhya Pradesh.According to these officials, the management of many of these institutions in Jalgaon is handled by dominant political figures, which includes a former minister.

As the early survey which showed 559 state-aided schools to have enrolled 30-40 percent out of 2.4 lakh tribal students, might turn out to be “bogus entries”. The Maharashtra government therefore, has landed in a soup and has led to a state-wide investigation to verify the student rolls. As per the official records, the dubious entries indicate a loss incurred by the government exchequer, of at least Rs.67.5 crore in the previous year in terms of student allowance.

While complaints regarding the false enrolments were received by the state’s tribal development department, in the previous month; the district officials clearly denied such discovery. According to the Jalgaon Collector Rubal Agrawal, this scandal was unearthed only during the Aadhar registration drive this month.

“The Chief Secretary had directed all District Collectors to intensify the Aadhar registration drive across the state. We held week-long camps in the 50 residential schools, starting August 13, for registering students when we noticed the discrepancy in the rolls. A second drive in the following week confirmed the fraud,” she said.

When her office confronted the institutions regarding this discrepancy, she claims to have received vague responses-“They (the managements) argued that the students had been sent home either due to sickness or for spending time with their families in the festive season. Relocation of families was another popular reason cited”.

It was only after a thorough scrutiny, that the scam was revealed.

Agrawal’s claims resonated with that of Rajagopal Devara, principal secretary of tribal development department, who said to have observed similar discrepancies. As a result of this, he said that the state has decided to stop the funding for this ‘inexistent’ students.

Taking this forward through the launch of a drive that would trace Aadhar cards of students with the allowances and grants given to these schools in their names, Devara said that the department is trying to escalate the matter.“We are waiting for the submission of similar reports from other districts. Once that happens, we shall take further action against errant institutions,” he confirmed.

Although such instances have unveiled in the past, as that of the 2011 scam, effective measures have been compromised in the long run.

News Source: The Indian Express

Maharashtra will have 50 Clean Cities by October 2: Devendra Fadnavis

Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis claimed that 50 cities will be clean/swaccha cities by October 2 in Maharashtra. The CM also added that around 7000 villages are open-defecation free during the NDTV-Dettol Maha Cleanathon organised on Saturday morning. Amitabh Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador for the NDTV-Dettol Maha Cleanathon was also present in the event with the Chief Minister. They arrived on the stage amidst huge applause by the students and the volunteers on the grounds of Mumbai’s JJ hospital’s premises.

“With thousands of villages becoming open-defecation free and clean, Maharashtra vows to have highest number of clean villages and cities”, claimed the CM. He appealed for active participation in the process to make that happen. In a period of one year, Maharashtra will soon have its own solid waste management system. While Amitabh Bachchan congratulated Maharashtra for being an Example in India, Fadnavis stressed on public participation in building toilets. “If we don’t involve people in the construction of toilets, it doesn’t fulfil the purpose. It becomes a storage space,” he said.

Source- NDTV, Catch News