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Author: Sanjay Jog

Kamala Mills Fire: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam demands CBI probe or Judicial inquiry

Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam has demanded that the government should conduct an inquiry into Kamla Mills fire incident under the Judicial Commission Inquiry Act or through Central Bureau of investigation. He alleged that the government’s decision asking the BrihanMumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to hold inquiry would turn out to be a farce especially when the civic body has failed to take any action against restaurants and pubs operating there in violation of stipulated norms. Besides, Nirupam said the inquiry should reveal how unholy nexus between the civic officials and restaurant operators led serious lapses in adherence to fire safety norms.Nirupam questioned how 96 restaurants were given license to operate by BMC in the Kamla Mills, an erstwhile textile mill spread over 37 acres of prime property in Central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. He has squarely blamed the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for according permission and not taking due action against such restaurants for violations.Nirupam criticized the civic body for lack of periodical fire audit of these restaurants situated there. Further, he said there were insufficient fife safety safeguards including extinguishers.Also readKamala Mills Fire: Cops say no, but patrons say there were hookahsThe city Congress chief said there was violation of rules with regard to open space. ‘’Due to tiny open space, the fire brigade personnel had to struggle to reach to the spot and douse the fire. The Supreme Court in one of its judgment has directed that six meters of space should be available all around the building so that fire tenders can easily go and carry out their job. BMC failed to take any action despite repeated reminders,’’ he noted.Related Photos
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In Pics: The day after Kamala Mills blaze, families mourn
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In Pics: Massive midnight fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound kills 14; many restaurants gutted He has criticised the BMC Commissioner’s move to suspend five officers and demanded that the government has to immediately transfer Mehta.

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Rahul Gandhi to step up Maha efforts for party revival

In a bid to start planning for the crucial 2019 Assembly polls where 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 assembly seats are up for grabs, newly-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi will soon convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders and fast track the revival of the party organisation and increase its tally. To that end, Rahul has sent a missive to the state leaders that he will soon carry out his own ‘internal assessment’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses and later take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties.Rahul’s initiative assumes importance in light of the fact that in the 2012 general elections, the party had been routed in the state and bagged just two LS seats in Nanded and Hingoli. It also managed only 42 seats in the state Assembly. In the subsequent local and civic body polls, Congress again failed to take on the mighty BJP effectively.Former minister Balasaheb Thorat, who headed the Congress party’s steering committee for Gujarat election, told DNA, “The state unit is quite serious about regaining power in Maharashtra and quite open to ally with NCP and other like-minded parties. However, state leaders are of the view that the Congress party should neither play second-fiddle to NCP nor should it blindly agree for a pre-poll alliance. Therefore, the state party unit expects to soon meet Congress president and work out the future course of action.”As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state. “Congress should not underestimate the presence of NCP and other parties in masses, and seriously consider this factor while forging an alliance,” he noted.

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Rahul Gandhi plans party revival in Maharashtra

In a bid to start planning for the crucial 2019 Assembly polls where 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 assembly seats are up for grabs, newly-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi will soon convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders and fast track the revival of the party organisation and increase its tally. To that end, Rahul has sent a missive to the state leaders that he will soon carry out his own ‘internal assessment’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses and later take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties.Rahul’s initiative assumes importance in light of the fact that in the 2014 general elections, the party had been routed in the state and bagged just two LS seats in Nanded and Hingoli. It also managed only 42 seats in the state Assembly. In the subsequent local and civic body polls, Congress again failed to take on the mighty BJP effectively.Former minister Balasaheb Thorat, who headed the Congress party’s steering committee for Gujarat election, told DNA, “The state unit is quite serious about regaining power in Maharashtra and quite open to ally with NCP and other like-minded parties. However, state leaders are of the view that the Congress party should neither play second-fiddle to NCP nor should it blindly agree for a pre-poll alliance. Therefore, the state party unit expects to soon meet Congress president and work out the future course of action.”As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state. “Congress should not underestimate the presence of NCP and other parties in masses, and seriously consider this factor while forging an alliance,” he noted.Rahul’s move comes close on the heels of renewed bonhomie between Congress and NCP who recently organised a joint rally at Nagpur on December 12 and stepped up their attack against the BJP.Rahul’s planIntends to take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties. As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state.

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Maha asks IAS officers to declare properties online

Maharashtra government has issued a fresh notification reminding IAS officers to submit Immovable Property Returns (IPR) online and not manually by January 31, 2018 for the calendar year 2017 to the state government and Cadre Controlling Authorities. Officers are expected to forward the copy to the Department of Personnel & Training.Even though the Centre had made online filing of IPR mandatory from 2017, the state government came across some cases where some officers due to technical glitches were unable to file online but submitted it manually.Senior state government officer from the General Administration Department told DNA, “A fresh notification has been issued on December 20, 2017 giving details with regard to the online submission of IPR by IAS officers. Filing of IPR is binding since 2011 but it was done manually until 2016. The Centre shifted to online submission after it found out that IPRs filed manually are lost in transition in few cases while in several other cases despite IPR submitted to the state government or Cadre Controlling Authority it was not uploaded on the website of Department of Personnel and Training. It was also found that IPRs were filed but without any date.’’The officer said the notification has explained the methodology of online filing of IPR and also details with regard to IPR module.He informed that the application is available on the e-office SPARROW (Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window) which is a part of Centre’s Digital India Initiative. ISenior IAS officer, who is of the rank of additional chief secretary in Maharashtra, said if anybody fails to upload IPR or hide some information the government can initiate a disciplinary action.

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Ashok Chavan may get second term as MPCC chief

The Bombay High Court’s rejection of the Governor’s prosecution order in the Adarsh scam has brightened Ashok Chavan’s chances of getting yet another term as the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) supremo.The state unit has already completed the election process, authorising the party high command to decide Chavan’s fate. However, insiders in the party admit that the court order has come as a major slap on the BJP’s face which will have to rework its strategy to target Chavan.This apart, Chavan was instrumental in organising protests against the BJP-led government in November and December in six revenue divisions, where he travelled extensively. By and large, the party leaders say Chavan had brought factions together to take on the BJP on issues such as farmers plight, lapses in the implementation of crop loan waiver, deteriorating law and order and finances.Subsequently, the state Congress unit and the state Nationalist Congress Party jointly took out a march and organised a rally at Nagpur on the second day of the winter session on December 12 hinting at an alliance in the run-up to the next Assembly elections slated for 2019.Further, Chavan’s stock soared after Congress won 73 of 81 seats in the Nanded Municipal Corporation, where BJP had made it a prestige issue and cornered him in his home town.MPCC spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan told DNA,” Clearly, Chavan will now strive for the responsibility bestowed upon him with renewed vigour as the Bombay high court has set aside the Governor’s sanction to act against him in the Adarsh case. The party’s high command is expected to continue with him as the state unit president for another term.”Newly-anointed All India Congress Committee president Rahul Gandhi is soon expected to take a call in this regard.Already, the party high command has given a green signal to Chavan to organise a mass contact programme in all 288 Assembly constituencies across the state in January. Chavan had already begun preparations for the same.The party MPs, legislators, party office bearers will address public rallies, hold protest marches and reach out to voters at the booth level in a bid to further strengthen the party’s organisation to take on the BJP.Congress had won 42 Assembly seats and bagged only two seats in the 2014 elections. Thereafter, the party has been struggling to regain its stronghold and come second in successive elections held for civic and local bodies in the state.Past protestsAshok Chavan was instrumental in organising protests against the BJP-led government in November and December in six revenue divisions that he travelled.

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Government’s priority is rule of law: Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the government in a short period has succeeded to build a positive image of the state and has removed all roadblocks to attract investments. In an exclusive interview to DNA’s Sanjay Jog, Aditynath said his government will deal firmly with those indulging in hooliganism and disturbing law and order. He spoke at length on a number of issues after a meeting with industrialists.Until recently, investors were reluctant to invest in your state. Has the situation changed?Investors were not enthusiastic about investing in Uttar Pradesh due to red tapism, inordinate delays taken in clearances and more importantly, law and order issues. This is not my view but it was an investors’ perception. However, the new government paid attention to law and order and the situation has improved. It Uttar Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Bill, 2017 to combat organised crime. The rule of law is the top priority of the government. For this, it is essential that those indulging in mafia activities are identified and a drive is launched against them.I have held four road shows for the Global Investors Summit slated for February 21 and 22. Investors have expressed satisfaction over the government’s commitment to bring about perceptible change in the law and order situation. Investors in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and several other places have shown interest to invest in Uttar Pradesh.What are government’s efforts to attract investments in the era of competitive federalism?The government has announced policies for various sectors including industry and employment, civil aviation, information technology, agro and food processing. The government is offering incentives. Besides, the government has put in place a single window system in a bid to improve ease of doing business. The government is committed to attract more investments which will help Uttar Pradesh register new highs.The government will also put in place by February next year land bank of 50,000 hectare for the benefit of investors. The government hopes to attract investments in across the sectors.What are government’s initiatives to boost infrastructure development?The government has launched number of infrastructure projects to create job pools. The government will build the Purvanchal Expressway and has received about three proposals for the development of Bundelkhand Expressway. This apart, the government has also received three proposals for the development of Jewar international airport. Besides, investors have shown interest to build a metro rail network across the state. Therefore the government is on the track to improve infrastructure.How confident is the government about meeting the target of 70 lakh jobs in five years?The government expects employment opportunities not only in government jobs but also in the private sector. Job creation will be possible through initiatives such as Start UP and Stand Up and skill development. The government is quite confident about surpassing the target.

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Will conduct inquiry on safety norms violation: BMC Chief Ajoy Mehta

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta visited the incident site on Monday and told DNA that an inquiry will be conducted to ascertain whether fire safety norms were violated.Did the fire break due to lapses in safety norms?It was a sad incident and I personally visited the site to take stock of the situation. It’s a very crowded area and we will conduct an inquiry to look into violations of safety norms if any. Thereafter we will take further action as needed. I strongly believe citizens must take the first step towards fire safety. Wherever you work or stay, you must ensure that the stipulated fire norms are complied with.Is BMC’s fire department fully equipped to effectively handle fires?Due credit must be given to our jawans and officers who quickly doused the fire and also prevented its spread in the densely populated area. In the past two years, the BMC has fortified its fire brigade with the latest in firefighting equipment, upgrading the training of personnel and increasing the human resources available.How can Mumbaikars be proactive in fire mitigation and control?Fire safety norms have to be fulfilled, it’s imperative. We must do away with the attitude that ‘it can’t happen to me’. One can very well be the victim to such a situation if one is not cautious.

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NGT orders arrest of 12 district collectors

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued arrest warrants for 12 district collectors across Maharashtra and asked for them to be presented before it for allegedly defying its orders to control fluorosis disease caused by water containing fluorides.In its order on a petition filed in 2013 by 11 socio-legal advocates working with Pune-based Sahyog Trust, NGT sent bailable warrants to the district superintendents of police of Yavatmal, Nanded, Chandrapur, Beed, Latur, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Jalgaon, Nagpur, and Bhandara.Fluoride content in the groundwater in these 12 districts, which are largely dependent on bore wells, is very high. The NGT had issued a seven-point directive to the concerned bureaucrats and other respondents while disposing the EIL in January 2016.However, after waiting for more than a year to receive compliance reports, the tribunal took suo motu action and issued the arrest warrants.The petitioners said many people suffer from skeletal and dental fluorosis due to the water from wells and bore wells that have higher than permitted levels of fluoride, nitrates, iron, and alkaline content.NGT has now asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to submit a consolidated action taken report.The petitioners also brought to the NGT’s notice that bore wells or deep tube wells have been dug within 500 metres of public drinking water sources in these 12 districts.”NGT waited for two years after disposing of the petition in January 2016 for non- compliance of its directives. Even though some of the respondents had filed responses they were not satisfactory. The directives were not implemented which must have prompted NGT’s action,” said Assem Sarode, a lawyer for one of the petitioners.Fluorosis crisisWarrants for allegedly defying orders to control fluorosis disease; NGT has asked Maha PCB to submit action taken reportSps of Yavatmal, Nanded, Chandrapur, Beed, Latur, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Jalgaon, Nagpur, Bhandara served

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Maha govt reconstitutes advisory committee under Human Organ Transplantation Act

The Maharashtra government on Saturday reconstituted a 10-member advisory committee headed by the health secretary, under the Human Organ Transplantation Act, 1994. The committee will have a two-year term till December 2019.The committee comprises, among others, the leading liver transplant surgeon Dr GB Davar, GS Medical College urology department chief Dr Sujata Patwardhan, Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre secretary Dr Surendrakumar Mathur, Sneha Foundation representative Dr Armeda Fernandes, Disha Foundation representative Shailesh Shetty, Association for Organ Transplantation president Dr Alan Almeida and cardiology specialist Dr Anvay Mulay as special invitee.The formation of the advisory committee was necessitated as the term of the previous committee appointed on December 31, 2014 was completed on December 31, 2016. The advisory committee is expected to play a major role to advise the state government on the strict implementation of Act and thereby promote organ transplantation, donation and distribution across the state.Dr Davar, who has been associated with organ transplantation for over two decades, told DNA,” Today we are getting voluntary donors due to public awareness. The government can increase further participation of medical colleges and non-transplant organ retrieval centres so that the organs of brain-dead patients can be useful to save more and more lives.”Dr Mathur said that Maharashtra has been pioneer in organ transplantation and donation as it was the first state to issue notification way back in 1999 and subsequently set up state level federation for organ transplantation and the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre at Mumbai. At the all India level the per million population organ donation rate is 0.5, but it is 1.5 in Maharashtra and 2.31 in Mumbai division, which is next to Tamil Nadu’s 2.50.”Number of donors is steadily increasing. There were 132 donors at the state level in the calendar year 2016 and the number will increase by end of December 2017. A little push is required to increase the number. The advisory committee will can advise the state government with regard to increasing the participation of medical colleges and other hospitals with ICU facility,” Dr Mathur said.Dr Patwardhan hoped that the advisory committee can give a necessary push for organ transplantation and donation by suggesting changes in the Act, rules and procedures.What it doesThe formation of the advisory committee was necessitated as the term of the previous committee appointed on December 31, 2014 was completed on December 31, 2016. The committee is expected to advise the state government on the implementation of Act and promote organ transplantation.

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BJP MLA wants probe into Mumbadevi temple’s finances

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Colaba Raj Purohit has called upon the State Charity Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into Mumbadevi temple’s income and expenditure of last five years, the use of funds and violations, if any, of the Indian Trusts Act.Purohit, who had made an oral representation to the Charity Commissioner, will make a written submission soon demanding an inquiry into the functioning of the temple’s administration. The Mumbadevi temple, which was built in 1675, is an important landmark in south Mumbai as it is dedicated to Mumbadevi. “I will soon send a detailed communication to the Charity Commissioner demanding an investigation into the functioning of the temple’s administration in general. I will also seek papers with regards to the minutes of the temple trust and a probe into the use of funds and the services provided to devotees,” Purohit told DNA, adding that the Charity Commissioner should initiate action against the temple if the probe reveals irregularities.This comes after Purohit said that he had received complaints of the absence of facilities for devotees at the temple.When contacted, Mumbadevi temple manager Hemant Jadhav declined to comment citing that he has yet to receive communication from the government.Purohit’s demand comes just two days after the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the government will bring in a new legislation for the appointment of a trustee by the government at Mumbadevi temple along the lines of Pandharpur and Siddhivinayak temples. Fadnavis also assured that the government would bring in the system at Mumbadevi temple so that devotees are provided with all necessary facilities.

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Centre works on cyber safety for power sector

Amid an increasing number of Cyber attacks, Cyber terrorism, and data leaks across the country, the Centre has prepared a comprehensive Cyber Crisis Management Plan (CCMP) exclusively for the power distribution sector which is the most critical link in the electricity market. This sector interfaces with the end customers and provides revenue for the entire value chain. The CCMP includes the framework for identification of various critical information infrastructure, cyber incident response coordination, and steps to be taken for its mitigation.The Ministry of Power’s move comes at a time when India has witnessed more than 27,000 cyber security threat incidents in the first half of 2017. Reported threats include phishing attacks, website intrusions, and defacements or damages to data as well as ransomware attacks. CCMP envisages a layered security approach to strengthen cyber security posture of distribution sector. This will provide a redundancy in the system with respect to cyber security.The power ministry officer told DNA, “Cyber threats to systems can take many forms such as failure of a system/element to act/react in designed way due to virus, software bugs, intrusion, and congestion in the underlying/supervising system. Dependence of normal system operation on ICT, so much so that, operators/ power system personnel are not aware of and not well versed in alternate method to control/operate the system.’’ He informed that the impact of cyber attack on the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and distribution management system can lead to disruption of services to critical customers like hospitals and metros.

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Thane Zilla Parishad Results: Shiv Sena-NCP combine outshine BJP

Shiv Sena has performed magnificently in the 53 seats of Thane Zilla Parishad. Shiv Sena, which had fought the poll in alliance with the opposition Nationalist Congress Party, has so far taken a lead.Since its establishment in 1962, Shiv Sena has witnessed a historical win in Thane today. According to the results declared till 4 pm, Shiv Sena defeated the BJP, who had planned to get their hold over the Zilla Parishad. Shiv Sena won 27 of the 53 seats of Zilla Parishad.BJP for the first time had fielded candidates in all 53 seats and had extensively campaigned. Party MP from Bhiwandi Kapil Patil and legislator from Murbad Kisan Kathore had played key roles in the selection of candidates.Also readWill follow my mind, Amruta Fadnavis to trolls who criticised her for attending Christmas-themed eventOn the other hand, Shiv Sena, which is in power at the Centre and in Maharashtra, allied with NCP in a bid to checkmate BJP. Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde led the party’s campaign and extensively travelled to campaign in all 53 seats. The party has claimed victory in Asangaon defeating the BJP. The Shiv Sena-NCP alliance defeated BJP in Ambernath Taluka Panchayat Samiti while in Shahapur Panchayat Samiti as well, Shiv Sena has come to power by winning 17 seats.Also readCongress, NCP may come together for Thane Zilla Parishad pollsIn the Shahapur-Dolkhamb Panchayat Samiti ward, all three seats have been won by NCP. In Sakadbav ward, Shiv Sena’s Balya Mama Mhatre has defeated BJP’s Ranjana Ughda.Further, the Shiv Sena-NCP combine also trounced BJP in Kalyan Panchayat Samiti. Around 7.03 lakh voters from across Bhiwandi, Murbad, Shahpur, Kalyan, and Ambernath cast their votes on Wednesday. Bhiwandi has the highest number of voters at around 2.57 lakh, who voted for 21 seats.Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaWith nearly 49,857 voters voting for four seats, Ambernath had the least number of voters.A BJP leader from Thane, who did not want to be named, admitted that it was a setback for the party which had bagged eight of 10 municipal corporations and got maximum seats in the recently held second phase of the gram panchayat elections in the state. Of the 3,666 gram panchayats that went to the polls on Monday, the BJP has claimed victory in 1,311.

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Marathas take quota plea to the Bombay High Court

Amidst the Congress party’s promise to provide reservation to Patidar s in Gujarat, the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) wants the BJP-led government in Maharashtra to give them a written timeline for providing them a quota. MKM, which had organised 58 mook morchas (silent processions) across the state to press for reservation in education and jobs, will file a petition in this regard with the Bombay High Court.MKM co-ordinator, Vinod Patil, said, “The government has been engaged in mere talk; there has been no action so far. MKM has never demanded a quota in politics; it has been pursuing reservation in the education and employment sector. Instead of taking a concrete decision, the government is playing safe and saying a decision is possible only after the Backward Classes Commission submits its report.However, we think it does not have to wait for any such report and can go ahead on its own.”Patil said that since the government is dilly-dallying, MKM will appeal to the High Court to direct the State to give a specific timeline for its decision.MKM’s move comes at a time when the State has appointed a cabinet sub-committee, chaired by revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, to look into the legal and administrative issues pertaining to the Maratha reservation and its feasibility.One BJP minister, who is a member of the cabinet sub-committee, said, “The committee’s formation took place after an MKM delegation met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on August 9, seeking an early decision on reservation.The committee has so far held two meetings, and another is slated for December 17. Fadnavis has already told MKM that the Backward Classes Commission will carry out a study and examine the feasibility of providing the quota.”The minister pointed out that during the Congress-NCP government, the Backward Classes Commission could not submit its report due to lack of a unanimous view on quota. Subsequently, the government appointed a committee chaired by former industries minister Narayan Rane, who recommended 16% quota for the Maratha community in educational institutions and jobs.Moreover, the BJP government had filed a 2,800-page affidavit in the High Court in December 2016 to legally justify the quota request, saying it did not violate constitutional provisions. The affidavit was filed in response to a Public Interest Litigation.

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Maharashtra government pushes take-off of 11 new airports

The state government has fast-tracked the development of Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) and 10 other airports. The State has set up an 11-member Project Monitoring & Implementation Committee (PMIC), headed by Chief Secretary Sumit Malik, for early clearance of the Request For Proposal (RFP), Concession Agreement and other documents necessary for the bidding process and awarding the contract. PMIC’s members include joint secretary of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and chairman of the Airports Authority of India.Recently, a similar PMIC, chaired by the Chief Secretary, approved the financial bid submitted by GVK-led Mumbai International Airport’s (MIAL) to construct the Navi Mumbai International Airport.MIHAN is an airport project for Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport in Nagpur, hometown of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari. Ten other airports are being developed at Kolhapur, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.They are all under the Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), part of the ambitious National Civil Aviation Policy, 2010.MIHAN aims to exploit Nagpur’s central location and convert the present airport into a major cargo hub with integrated road and rail connectivity. The project is made up of two parts – an international airport that will act as a cargo hub and a Special Economic Zone with a residential zone.The project cost is envisaged at Rs 2,581 crore, based on 2002 rates and it is expected to attract investment of over Rs 20,000 crore.An officer from the state Civil Aviation department told DNA, “The PMIC will have a major role in providing timely clearances for RFP, Concession Agreement and other documents necessary for the development of MIHAN and 10 other airports. After PMIC’s approval, the State cabinet will give the final nod.”As reported by DNA, the state government has appointed the Maharashtra Airports Development Company (MADC) as co-ordinator and facilitator for 28 existing airports, and the development of MIHAN and 10 other airports under RCS. The state government has already agreed to provide a slew of sops, including tax-cut on air fuel for 10 years, free-of-cost land, and electricity and water at concessional rates.

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Govt staff to write for Marathi Wikipedia

The state government is kick-starting its efforts to promote Marathi by involving its over 17 lakh employees in the initiative. In a novel idea, the Maharashtra government will encourage its employees to contribute to the Marathi edition of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The government has organised a training workshop on January 12, 2018 to demonstrate how employees can contribute.The objective is to increase contribution which is currently quite low on Marathi Wikipedia. The workshop’s date coincides with the government’s move to celebrate the language between January 1 and 15. The government issued a notification on December 8 asking its employees to register for the workshop by December 30.An official from Mantralaya’s Marathi Language Department told DNA, “The participants will be trained on how they should articulate their views and construct a write-up that is reader-friendly for Marathi Wikipedia. The information available currently is inadequate compared to other languages. The aim is to encourage government employees to open their own accounts and start contributing.” The official added that employees can contribute information on their hometowns or write features and poems. They could also write on local food, recipes and cottage industries. “The uploaded information will reach a global audience and will also help students and citizens, particularly from villages and remote areas, to develop their knowledge of Marathi,” the official said.The move comes close on the heels of the government’s notification that made the use of Marathi mandatory in Central government offices, its undertakings and corporations across the state.Deepak Pawar, president of Marathi Abhyas Kendra (which has been working towards promoting and protecting Marathi) said the government’s move should not become a mere event but there needs to be a proper long term action plan for the promotion of Marathi language. ”It is a welcome move to encourage government employees to contribute on Marathi Wikipedia. At the same time, the government needs to pen its reports and host of communications in Marathi too,” he opined.

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Maha eyes Rs 20K-cr investments from women entrepreneurs

Maharashtra government hopes to attract an investment of Rs 20,000 crore exclusively from women enterprises during 2017-2022 period in response to its industrial policy for women entrepreneurs, released last week.According to State Industries Minister Subhash Desai, the government is expecting an investment from women entrepreneurs in the field of textiles, plastic, imitation jewellery and food processing between 2017 and 2022. This will lead to creation of one lakh jobs. A women entrepreneur would get a financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh to Rs 1 crore in proportion of 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the capital investment of the project at a subsidised rate of interest of upto 5 per cent. The projects will get electricity at subsidised rate of Rs 1-2 per unit, instead of Rs 7-8 per unit charges for industries.”State Development Commissioner Harshdeep Kamble said the regulatory environment in Maharashtra is very friendly and the government will go that extra mile to facilitate the growth of women entrepreneurs. “The recent policy announced for women entrepreneurs will be a paradigm shift by providing subsidy in interest to women entrepreneurs,” he noted.Desai said land will be reserved for women industrialists in Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation areas across the state. “As per the policy, to make a market for women entrepreneurs, spaces will be kept reserved to display the products in various public places, malls, railway stations, bus stations, airports, movie theatres, foot over bridges, sub-way or commercial complexes. The woman and child development department will also keep aside Rs 50 crore for the policy, which will be valid for 5 years or till further directives issued by the industries department,” he added.Indian Merchants Chamber director general Arvind Pradhan said it is Maharashtra’s ‘Eureka’ moment to have become the first Indian state by announcing a special policy for women entrepreneurs. “In India, almost 50% working women are employed in agriculture while only 20% are in manufacturing and 30% in services. Unemployment rates range between 17% and 22% for young women. Hence, a policy to boost entrepreneurship among women who are given capital grant of upto Rs 1 crore is laudable. This will only create jobs but ensure that Maharashtra emerges as a trail blazer among all states for women empowerment,” he opined.According to Pradhan, the policy will give impetus for construction of additional building spaces in malls and commercial buildings for exclusive women owned enterprises.

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BJP MP quits, claims ‘betrayal’

A day before the first phase of polling in Gujarat, BJP MP from Bhandara Gondia, Nana Patole, resigned from the party and the Lok Sabha. The reason, he said, was the Prime Minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister’s apathy towards issues related to the plight of farmers, the economy and unemployment, despite repeated communication.In the one-line resignation letter submitted to Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday morning, Patole did not cite any reasons for his dissent, but listed 14 issues later while addressing a press conference. For the past six months, Patole has been quite vocal against the Centre and the state government, especially about farmer distress. He was part of the recent agitation launched by veteran BJP leader and former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha for farmers’s rights.Even though Patole says he has not yet decided to join any party, there are indications that he may return to the Congress which he had left in 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections. He was then elected to the lower house on a BJP ticket from the Bhandara Gondia seat, after defeating NCP heavyweight Praful Patel.Hours after his resignation, Congress general secretary Mohan Prakash and some leaders reportedly met Patole with an offer to join the party. Congress’ state party president, Ashok Chavan, has already offered him a “ghar vapsi”.BJP’s Maharashtra chief, Raosaheb Danve, downplayed Patole’s exit, saying he has a habit of changing parties.In a telephonic interview from New Delhi, Patole told DNA, “I was not keen on continuing as MP to just warm up the chair. Issues raised by me were ignored by the Centre and State. They are functioning arbitrarily, with their ears and eyes closed. I was elected by the people and therefore decided to quit and fight back by returning to them. I will soon start a state-wide tour. I have yet to take a call on joining any party.”Patole said he had joined BJP with certain objectives but has now realised that he was unable to achieve those, despite three years of the Modi government at the Centre and a Fadnavis-led government in Maharashtra.”Modi, during the Lok Sabha campaign, had assured that he would implement the MS Swaminathan Commission report, but it has not happened yet,” he said. “Besides, the state government’s much debated crop loan waiver has been caught in red tap and riddled with technical glitches. There has been a record 43% increase in farmers suicides in the last three years. There has been little action to curb them. The government has betrayed the people.”Apart from these issues, Patole said the government did not act on his demands for reservation for other backward classes and a special ministry for the same. “Besides, the State did not resolve the issue of scholarship for OBC students and those from backward classes,” he added. “Moreover, demonetisation had led to unemployment and GST has adversely impacted many industries.”

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Sangli custody death: Roadmap prepared to prevent such incidnets; in-charge cops to be held responsible

Under attack from the opposition and NGOs for the death of a 26-year-old-youth in police custody last month in Sangli district, the Maharashtra minister of state for home Deepak Kesarkar will on Thursday meet senior officers from the home department to put in place a roadmap to avoid such incidents in future.The government proposes to hold the police station in-charge accountable and answerable, and they will be sensitized about their responsibilities and behaviour to curb custodial deaths.Kesarkar said that the government has taken the case very seriously. He told DNA,’’ The government wants to fix responsibility of the security of the accused on the in charge of the police stations and also controlling authorities. The home department has received several suggestions based on which a comprehensive plan of action will be put in place to curb custodial deaths in Maharashtra jointly by the departments of home and law and judiciary after the consent of the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.’’On November 8, Aniket Ashok Kothale, who was arrested on charges of robbery by Sangli district police, was allegedly beaten to death while in custody by five policemen including a police sub-inspector (PSI). Reports suggest that his body was burnt in Amboli Ghat to destroy evidence in Amboli Ghat. The cops, however, claimed that the youth had fled from custody. After much hue and cry the five police were suspended, and the state government transferred the senior cops out of Sangli district to avoid further criticism.Kesarkar’s initiative is important as Maharashtra ranked first with 22 police custodial deaths between January 1, 2016 and December 7, 2016. This was followed by Gujarat which recorded 12 deaths.According to the union home ministry data, a total of 308 people died in police custody in the three years from 2013 to 2015 — including 75 in Maharashtra which led in the number of such deaths in each of these years
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Maha catches MNS bug, wants central agencies to use Marathi

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday evening issued a five-page notification about making the use of Marathi mandatory in all offices and establishments of the Central government, corporations and public undertakings in the state. This includes services in banking, telephone, post and telegraph, insurance, railway, metro, mono rail, airline, gas, petroleum and taxation. The notification, thus, attempts to implement the Centre’s tri-language formula, which requires making use of a regional language — in this case Marathi — compulsory by Central government establishments.The government’s move comes close on the heels of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) recent campaign to press for the use of Marathi in all banking transactions and signboards in shops. Further, BJP’s ruling partner Shiv Sena was making a strong case for the use of Marathi in all entrance examinations being organised in the state by Central government departments and undertakings. Both Shiv Sena and MNS said the government notification should not remain on paper, but needs to be implemented in true letter and spirit.The government has asked all Central government departments to use Marathi along with English and Hindi in all written and oral examinations, conducted at the time of appointment of the various posts.Further, the Marathi language and Devnagari script will have to be used in all correspondences, communications and in oral and written transactions with people in the state. Besides, all the instructions, public notices, notice boards, indicators and name-plates will have to be displayed in Marathi language and Devnagri script.A senior Mantralaya official told DNA, “Marathi is Maharashtra’s official language under the Maharashtra Official Languages Act, 1964 and Ammendment Act, 2015, and its jurisdiction is the whole of the state. So, as per the tri-language formula, it should be mandatory to use the state’s regional language along with English and Hindi in all operations of the centre in state.”Furthermore, the government wants the Central government offices and other agencies to incorporate regional language in the Service Rules of their officers and employees and make provisions in recruitment rules about the mandatory qualification of Marathi language. These offices and agencies have been instructed to arrange language workshops and training programmes for the officers and employees to use Marathi for communication and interaction with local public.Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray’s media advisor Harshal Pradhan said the saffron party has been quite consistent in its demand. ”Marathi is the official language of the state, but the government was not serious in its implementation. Shiv Sena welcomes state government’s decision.”On its part, MNS leader Nitin Sardesai said his party has been running campaign for use of Marathi within the stipulated legal provisions. ”The onus now lies with the government for strict implementation of its notification by concerned departments and agencies in the state,” he said.JURISDICTION PUSHThe notification attempts to implement the tri-language formula, requires using a regional language — in this case Marathi — compulsory by Central government establishments
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Yashwant Sinha calls off protest after Maha CM’s intervention, earns major concessions for farmers

Veteran BJP leader and former Union Finance minister Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday evening called off his three day agitation after the Maharashtra government’s assurance to address issues faced by farmers from the Vidarbha region. Sinha, who was detained and released by Akola police on Monday, was camping at the police ground along with farmers to protest against the state government’s apathy towards farmers. He had threatened to go on hunger strike but the state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis this morning spoke to Sinha over phone and appealed him to withdraw his stir.Fadnavis assured Sinha that the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) will buy all agriculture produce from farmers and there won’t be any restriction. Further, farmers, who have already sold their agriculture produce below the Minimum Support Price (MSP), will be paid the difference.The concerned department authorities will conduct panchnama on the fields for the crop damaged due to pests and the action will be taken against the bogus BT seed companies.Also readMaharashtra: Opposition extends support to Yashwant Sinha’s protest in AkolaThe Akola district collector Astik Kumar Pandey on behalf of the Chief Minister held further negotiations with Sinha and agitating farmers. Sinha was subsequently joined by Trinamool Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Ravi Tupkar, Aam Aadmi Party leader Preeti Sharma Menon and representatives of Shetkari Jagar Manch.(Dinesh Trivedi addressing the crowd)Also readMaharashtra CM Fadnavis speaks to Yashwant Sinha, urges him to call off stirMenon told DNA,’’ It is quite revolutionary that for the first time the government has agreed to reimburse difference between the MSP and the agriculture produce sold below the MSP. Besides, NAFED will not impose any limit for the purchase of agriculture produce from farmers who now will be entitled to sell whatever they want. The agreement reached between the government and Sinha will be signed by the district collector and Shetkari Jagar Manch and forwarded for further action.’’Sinha, who has been quite vocal against the demonetization and Goods and Services Tax, had led a scathing attack against the government for its neglect towards farmers. The state BJP unit had downplayed Sinha’s agitation terming it as a desperate attempt to remain in limelight. However, Sinha’s agitation received support from farmers in almost all districts from the Vidarbha region who staged rasta roko and protest march.Besides, he got support from various prominent politicians including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, former union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra’s former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan, former minister Arun Shourie, BJP MPs Shatrughna Sinhah and Varun Gandhi, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana MP Raju Shetti and Bharatiya Republican Party leader Prakash Ambedkar
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Maharashtra CM Fadnavis speaks to Yashwant Sinha, urges him to call off stir

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday spoke to former Union Finance Minister and veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and appealed him to withdraw his agitation.Sinha, who was detained and released by Akola police on Monday, is camping at the police ground there against the state government’s apathy towards farmers in Vidarbha region.ÇM has chosen to step in especially when Sinha is adamant and he is receiving support from various political parties and farmers’ organisations.Also readMaharashtra: Opposition extends support to Yashwant Sinha’s protest in AkolaSinha is leading a protest by Cotton and Soyabean farmers to press for compensation for the crops damaged by pests, purchase of all farm produce at an MSP of Rs 50,000 per acre for cotton farmers affected by the pink bollworm disease. Further, the government should immediately address issues with regard to farm insurance and relief to drought-affected villages.Fadnavis has assured to sympathetically look into the demands. He also deputed the Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil to mediate. Patil has asked the Akola police not to use force against agitating Sinha and farmers.So far Sinha has not made up his mind to call off agitation as he is busy interacting with the farmers who have gathered in large numbers at the venue.Also readMaharashtra BJP downplays Yashwant Sinha’s stir to highlight farmers’ plightSinha has also received support from various quarters including the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana MP Raju Shetti and Bharatiya Republican Party leader Prakash Ambedkar.Besides, former minister Arun Shourie, BJP MPs Shatrughna Sinhah and Varun Gandhi have also extended their support to Sinha.Also readYashwant Sinha to visit Gujarat on invitation of Congress-backed NGO
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Maha Govt issues notification for use of Marathi language by Central govt offices and agencies

Amidst campaign recently launched by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to press for the use of Marathi in all banking transactions, the state government on Tuesday issued a five-page notification in this regard. The government wants the use of Marathi language by the Central government offices, establishments, corporations and public undertakings working in the state and engaged in banking, telephone, post, insurance, railway, metro, mono-rail, airline, gas, petroleum, taxation.More importantly, in a serious bid to counter Shiv Sena and MNS, the government has instructed these agencies to use the Marathi language and Devnagari script along with English and Hindi languages in all written and oral examinations, which are conducted at the time of the appointment of the various posts. Also readMaharashtra: Key appointments at various universities not made, norms ignoredFurther, the Marathi language and Devnagari script will have to be used in all correspondences, communications and in oral and written transactions and interaction with the people in the state. Besides, all the instructions, public notices, notice boards, indicators, and name-plates will have to be displayed for the information of the general public in Marathi language and Devnagri script.These agencies are expected to use the Marathi language in all offline and online services and also in arrival and departure indicators and timetable of the railway trains, metro, mono-rail and flights, train name boards, coach or bogie numbers, name of stations terminals, ports and airports, notice and instruction boards and public announcements systems.Also readDNA EXCLUSIVE | Maharashtra GST toll: Collection soars to 22% in OctSenior officer told DNA,’’ Marathi” is the official language of Maharashtra under the Maharashtra Official languages Act, 1964 and Ammendment Act, 2015 and its jurisdiction is whole of the state. So, as per Tri- language formula of the Central Government, it has been mandatory to use Regional language along with English and Hindi in all offices and establishments of the Central Government in the state of Maharashtra and other offices of the Central Government which provides banking, telephone, post, insurance, railway, metro, mono-rail, airline, gas, petroleum, taxation services to the people in the State.’’Furthermore, the government wants the Central government offices and other agencies to incorporate regional language in the Service Rules of their officers and employees and make provisions in recruitment rules about the mandatory qualification of Marathi language. These offices and agencies have been instructed to arrange the Marathi language workshops and training programmes for the officers and employees in order to use Marathi language completely and make easy communication and interaction with local public.Also readMaharashtra BJP downplays Yashwant Sinha’s stir to highlight farmers’ plight
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Maharashtra:Yashwant Sinha threatens to go on hunger strike till demands accepted, gets support from opposition leaders

Former Union Finance minister and veteran BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday announced that he will continue his fight against the Devendra Fadnavis led government’s neglect towards farmers in Vidarbha region which records highest farmers’ suicides. Sinha along with 250 farmers were detained by the Akola police yesterday under section 68 of the Bombay Police Act but were released after five hours.The 80 year old BJP leader, who is the member of party’s Margdarshak Mandal, along with hundreds of farmers are currently camping at the police headquarters ground. Sinha has declared that he will not leave the venue and continue protest unitl their demands are accepted. He also threatened to go on hunger strike.Sinha, who has been vocal against demonetization and GST, is leading a protest by cotton and soyabean farmers to press for compensation for the crops damaged by pests. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Ravi Tupkar, who is accompanying Sinha, told DNA,’’ Farmers press for waiver of farms loans, payment of remunerative price to farm produce and stop disconnection of electricity supply.’’ He informed that farmers spontaneously resorted to rasta rook in Akola, Buldhana and Aurangabad districts and decided to step up agitation from Wednesday onwards.Also readMaharashtra BJP downplays Yashwant Sinha’s stir to highlight farmers’ plightSinha led a scathing attack against the BJP for not keeping its promise made before the election to give 50% over and above the minimum support price to agriculture produce.The Shetkari Jagar Manch, which had organised Kapus Soyabean Dhan Parishad, has strongly demanded that the government should purchase all farm produce at an MSP of Rs 50,000 per acre for cotton farmers affected by the pink bollworm disease. Further, the government should immediately address issues with regard to farm insurance and relief to drought-affected villages.Interestingly, Sinha today received support from various quarters including the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, former union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra’s former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Ashok Chavan, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana MP Raju Shetti and Bharatiya Republican Party leader Prakash Ambedkar.Pawar, who spoke to Sinha on phone, attacked the government for not doing enough to provide much needed relief to farmers. He added that it was quite shameful that due to government’s inaction Sinha had to lead agitation. Meanwhile, state BJP has downplayed Sinha’s agitation saying it was desperate attempt by the latter to remain in the limelight.
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DNA EXCLUSIVE | MaharashtraGST toll: Collection soars to 22% in Oct

Maharashtra, which is a major manufacturer and also enjoys the lion’s share in exports, has bucked the trend with a 22.07 per cent rise in Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection at Rs 9,783.2 crore this October, compared to Rs 8,014.16 crore for the same month last year during the VAT regime. The rise is crucial for the state when the total GST collection for October at the national level slipped by almost 10 per cent to Rs 83,346 crore as compared to Rs 92,000 crore in the previous month.Further, an increase in tax collection will provide the state with partial relief as it already imposed a 30 per cent cut in budgetary spending in view of likely hit due to crop loan waiver.The state’s GST collection in July rose to Rs 9,789.58 crore (which also includes VAT) against Rs 7,884.24 crore in July last year, an increase of 24.17%. In August, the tax collection was as high as 51.11% at Rs 9,593.79 crore against Rs 6,348.87 crore while in September, the tax collection grew by 29.6% at Rs 9,075.97 crore against Rs 7,003.08 crore.The state GST department’s cumulative revenue from April till November this year surged by 23.65 per cent at Rs 73,425.35 crore compared to Rs 59,380 crore over the same period in the previous year.A senior officer with the finance department told DNA, “GST being a consumption based tax. Maharashtra is a developed state and higher consumption is driving the GST collection.”City based chartered accountant Ajit Joshi said ”The increase in Maharashtra’s revenue is heartening but not exactly comparable. State GST includes erstwhile VAT as well as excise and service tax. So, it needs to be closely studied as to what would be the fall in the Centre’s share to state. Further, the refund and input credit element of this revenue figure needs to be known to understand the exact income of the state.”The officer informed that the Central Board of Excise & Customs and the state GST department issued circulars pertaining to manual processing of export related refund claims. The disbursement will start by the end of December.
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Quota row: Dhangar, Lingayat communities ask Maharashtra government to act; threaten to launch statewide protest

Ahead of the two-week winter session of the state legislature, which will begin December 11 at Nagpur, the politically influential Dhangar (shepherd) and Lingayat communities have separately announced to step up their agitations. Dhangar community is not ready for the further wait and last week called upon state minister of dairy development and animal husbandry Mahadeo Jankar, who comes from the same community, to take an early decision on providing quota or step down. On the other hand, Lingayat community wants a religious independent status.Currently, Dhangar community, which is listed under the Vimukta Jati & Nomadic Tribes (VJNT), has been demanding inclusion in the ST category, arguing that the Centre already provides quota benefits to ‘Dhangad’ community. However, the community leaders said ‘Dhangars’ in Maharashtra are deprived of benefits because of the two different spellings. They have threatened to launch a statewide agitation to press for their demand.The state has roped in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to prepare a report on Dhangars’ social status to back the claim on the reservation as scheduled tribes (ST). TISS is examining various aspects of anthropological facts, historical background, and social status. The moot question whether the tribe Dhangar mentioned in the constitution’s schedule of tribes is the same as Dhangar.Also readHow a separate Lingayat religion could impact national politicsBefore the 2014 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the BJP had promised to fulfil the long pending demand of the Dhangar community but the party-led government is struggling to implement it.The Lingayat community, which makes up 9% of the state’s population with 59 sub-castes, on Sunday took out morhca in Sangli demanding an independent religion status and the community should be listed separately during 2021 census. The community leaders have announced to organise revenue division wise morchas across the state.Also readState uses quota card again, Lingayat sect to get OBC statusLingayat community leader Vijaykumar Kolekar argued that ‘’Historically, ours is an independent religion founded by Basaveshwara in the 12th century. It has never been a part of Hinduism. Contrarily, it fought Hinduism.’’ He said the community be granted religious minority status.A senior BJP minister, who did not want to be named, told DNA, ‘’ The government is alive of the issue and will take a decision after thoroughly examining the legal and Constitutional aspects on providing quota to Dhangar community. The government will recommend Lingayat communities demand to the Centre for further action.’’The warnings by Dhangar and Lingayat communities come at a time when the state government has set up a cabinet sub-committee, as a follow-up action of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ assurance given to the state legislature on the issue of Maratha reservations. CM on August 9 had assured the Maratha community leaders after their massive rally in Mumbai that the government would extend to the Maratha community the educational concessions that are currently given to the OBCs. He had also said the cabinet sub-committee would review the implementation of various schemes for the Maratha community and accordingly.
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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Maha forms panel to prepare startup policy for public univs

Maharashtra government has launched an exercise to put in place policy to promote startups by public universities. The objective is to create an ecosystem for the startups on the lines of IITs, IIMs and the Stanford University.The government has formed a 14 member committee headed by the vice chancellor of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University Dr Vilas Gaikar with a mandate to prepare a draft startup policy in next six months.The committee comprises representatives of industry, leading educational institutes including IIT, Mumbai and education experts. The government’s move comes against the backdrop of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2017 which came into effect from March this year. The policy will be applicable in 11 public universities and universities such as SNDT Women’s University and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University.”The committee will prepare a policy and a broad framework, guiding principles for students who will be part of startups and also work out a framework for the inclusion of various industries in the startups. According to the section 53 of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2017, the public universities will lay emphasis on innovation, incubation and enterprise for creation of cultivation of an enabling environment to propagate the concept of innovation and to convert the innovative ideas into working models through a process of incubation. This is expected to lead to the creation of enterprise. The public universities will establish a separate Board for this purpose.Further, the public universities will set up an independent Centre for innovation, incubation and enterprise and it will exercise the powers and perform the duties designed by the Board.The officer said the public universities will take a cue from existing startups and innovation ventures by IITs and IIMs. He referred to the SINE, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, hosted by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay which is an umbrella for promotion of entrepreneurship at IIT Bombay. Similar setups also exist at IIM Ahmedabad and Kolkata.
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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Maha to hold session on crime control today

The Maharashtra government has organised a two-day brain storming session on December 1 and 2 on the state’s report card on crime control, investigation, detection, conviction, and the steps to be taken for further improvement.The Home Department officers, under Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ initiative ‘Transform Maharashtra’, will make a series of presentations on achievements, shortfalls and the roadmap for future with regard to crime control.The session will take place a day after the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released crime data for the year 2016. According to NCRB, Maharashtra ranked third when it comes to reporting of Indian Penal Code (IPC) cases in the country. Uttar Pradesh accounted for 9.5% of the total IPC cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh (8.9%), Maharashtra (8.8%) and Kerala (8.7).Furthermore, Maharashtra tops in cases of assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty with 11,396 registered cases, ranks second in kidnapping and abduction cases with 6,170 cases and comes third in cases of rape with 4,189 cases registered in 2016.A senior officer, who will be present at the two-day session, told DNA: “There has been marked improvement in the crime conviction rate which has surged to over 47% from 9% in 2014, largely due to the increase in forensic facilities. Still, there is scope for improvement. Also, crime against women are being tried in 27 fast-track courts, and the pending ones are going on in 22 such courts.”
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Vijay Kelkar Committee report on balanced regional development: Debate likely in the winter session of State legislature

The Vijay Kelkar committee report on balanced regional development in Maharashtra and the action taken report are expected to come up for discussion during the two week winter session of the state legislature slated to begin on December 11 at Nagpur. Opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, who have organised a morcha at the legislature on a number of issues including farmers plight, government’s inept handling of the implementation of crop loan waiver scheme and deteriorating finances, have made a fresh demand for special debate saying that its implementation was necessary to boost the regional development. Opposition’s demand comes at a time when leading water expert Madhav Chitale has mooted separate Marathwada state while former state advocate general Shrihari Aney along with some local leaders has been pursuing demand for statehood for Vidarbha region.Though not part of recommendations, but in the chapter on perspectives of stakeholders, the committee recorded views like demand for autonomy for Vidarbha or sentiments aired in support of creating a separate state, if the government is unable to remove the injustice of underdevelopment and deprivation.The Vijay Kelkar committee, which was constituted by the Congress-NCP government to suggest ways for balanced regional development in the state, had proposed reworking the development paradigm and resource allocation in a radical manner. The panel had suggested major overhaul in allocation of plan funds for regions, and had 146 major recommendations. The around 600-page report was tabled in the legislature in December 2014. The panel was constituted in 2011 and submitted its report in 2013.Leader of opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde told DNA, “The report came up for discussion in the winter session held in December 2014 but the government has yet to hold debate on its action taken report. NCP and the opposition in general will press for such a debate when the government is not providing enough attention on the removal of regional imbalance.’’Congress party’s deputy leader in the council Sharad Ranpise said even though the government had appointed a committee comprising ministers to study the report and made suggestions, it lacks political will for its implementation. ”The government needs to put the implementation of Kelkar committee report on fast track to achieve regional balance,” he noted.On its part, the BJP spokesman Ganesh Hake defended a slew of initiatives taken by the party led government in last three years to boost development of Maharashtra. He informed the government’s focus has been to complete long pending irrigation projects, strengthen transport infrastructure, transform agriculture and attract more investments especially in less developed areas. The committee had formulated a model for financial allocation that aims to remove the irrigation backlog in next eight years and that of other sectors like health, education and connectivity by the end of the 14th plan or say the next 12 years. Further, the committee had suggested the region wise allocation of funds including Vidarbha (33.24%), Marathwada (25.31%) and rest of Maharashtra (40.71%), a paradigm change from the current ratios of 23.03%, 18.75% and 58%. Further, the committee had pressed the need to restructure regional development boards, which will be headed by the chief minister, and preparing five-year perspective and annual plans for the regions; establish a project appraisal board for managing large public private partnership (PPP) projects, and make power available in Vidarbha at cheap rate.
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Centre mulls withdrawal of cap on traders storing sugar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Against the backdrop of recent cut in GST rates, the Centre is mulling to withdraw sugar stock limit imposed on traders from December 31. The move is aimed at providing further relief to the traders in the wake of falling sugar prices.Currently, traders cannot stock more than 500 tonnes of sugar in states other than West Bengal, where the limit is 1,000 tonnes. The government had imposed sugar stock limits for both mills and traders from July this year. Subsquently, the Centre has removed stock limit on sugar mills from November 1 while the traders have not been exempted yet.In view of the stock limit, traders are not coming forward to take stocks from the mills. Sugar industry made a representation to the Union ministry of food last week with a plea to immediately withdraw stock limit on traders. The Centre has estimated sugar production of 25 million tonnes for the current crushing season.The National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories managing director Prakash Naiknavre told DNA, “Sugar mills are ready to sell but traders are not willing to buy especially when the prices are declining.”“The sugar industry has pleaded for the removal of stock limit on traders. This is necessitated as the sugar prices have dipped to Rs 3,350 per quintal against Rs 3,600 per quintal a month ago,” he said.

BJP keeps Rane waiting, fields ex-NCP leader Prasad Lad in bypoll to state council

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing strong opposition from its ruling partner Shiv Sena, the Bharatiya Janata Party was forced not to nominate former Shiv Sena leader and chief minister Narayan Rane in the by-election to the Maharashtra Legislative Council slated for December 7.BJP has now given candidature to a businessman turned politician and former NCP leader Prasad Lad who is now being pitted against Congress nominee and former legislator Dilip Mane who comes from Solapur. BJP spokespersons Madhav Bhandari and Shaina NC were two others whose names were doing the rounds for party’s nomination but BJP has picked up Lad who enjoys wide-ranging contacts has deep pockets.BJP preferred to take one step backward and not to make Rane’s nomination a prestige issue ahead of crucial Gujarat assembly election not to displease Shiv Sena but to keep it in good humour. BJP realises that Shiv Sena’s support is necessary for the survival of the state government. Rane had recently deserted Congress to form his own outfit and extend support to NDA. He was making unilateral announcements that his ministerial berth in the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis led the council of ministers was a matter of few days.This is despite Shiv Sena stepping up its criticism against BJP and the party led government on a number of issues including farmers’ plight, delays in the implementation of much ambitious crop loan waiver scheme, deteriorating law and order in some parts of Maharashtra and implementation of Mumbai Metro rail project and Mumbai Nagpur expressway.Lad, who had contested as an independent, had lost to Congress nominee Bhai Jagtap in the election to the state council held in December 2015.Lad, in the same election where corporators from BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation were to elect members of legislative councils, had managed to win 55 votes. That had led to the speculation that BJP was supporting NCP rebel Lad’s candidature to ensure the Congress candidate’s defeat. Lad then had thanked Fadnavis accepting his defeat with humility.Congress has already declared that it has a backing of NCP and other smaller parties. However, Congress party’s move to seek Shiv Sena’s support to give a united fight against BJP did not materialise after Shiv Sena’s refusal. Congress party however, will have to keep a close eye to avoid cross-voting.In the 288 members Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the BJP has 122 legislators while Shiv Sena has 63. On the other hand, Congress and NCP have 42 and 41 members respectively, the Peasants & Workers Party 3, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi 3, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen 2, Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, CPM, MNS and Samajwadi Party one each. There are eight independents. The BJP enjoys support of four independent legislators

Remembering 26/11 | Resolve Ayodhya issue to end terrorism: MN Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government should resolve Ayodhya issue at the earliest and resolve it through mutual negotiations by arriving at an amicable solution if the problem of terrorism in India has to end. Other things can be taken up later on, former Mumbai police commissioner MN Singh told DNA on the eve of the ninth anniversary of 26/11.”Whether one likes it or not minorities are feeling a little uneasy in their minds. After this government came there is great anxiety in their minds. No efforts were made to resolve the Ram temple-Babri Masjid dispute in three and half years. Hindus will definitely like that the temple is built up there as they are not going to settle down for anything less than it. The government is eminently poised to take the initiative. Instead of doing that lot of other things are talked about such as Love Jihad, beef ban. It has created more tension and controversy.””We have done a great deal but there is always a possibility as far as that discontent element is there and that internal support base remains,” Singh said. He added that there have been 12 terrorist attacks in Mumbai in the last 24 years, and from 1992-93 onwards all of them were the handiwork of Muslim groups. According to Singh, the 26/11 attack was an invasion by Pakistan carried out by 10 well-trained fidayins with local support.”You may have security infrastructure but as long as there is anxiety and some discontent there will always be terror attacks in the country. In our country what has been going on is a threat from Islamic forces,” Singh said. He further added that there are two aspects of terrorism in India — one is internal and the other external.

Shiv Sena promises to retrieve ‘K’taka-occupied Maharashtra’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Shiv Sena, in yet another attempt to win over the Marathi manoos from the border districts of Maharashtra, Belgaum and other adjoining areas of Karnataka, on Friday announced that if voted to power, the party-led government will retrieve ”Karnataka Occupied Maharashtra” in the state.However, party president Uddhav Thackeray, who is currently on a three-day visit to Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara where BJP has made sufficient inroads, did not spell out a roadmap for the same. Instead, he merely reiterated Shiv Sena’s unstinted support for the Marathi-speaking people from the disputed Maharashtra Karnataka border area.Thackeray’s move to rake up the issue comes at a time when the BJP has already launched state-wide rallies against the Congress government ahead of the election to the Karnataka Assembly slated in the first half of 2018. Shiv Sena minister Diwakar Raote led a group of Sena workers to Belgaum in May to protest after Karnataka urban development minister R Roshan Baig made a statement that elected representatives who shout ‘Jai Maharashtra’ slogans would stand to lose their elected posts in Karnataka. However, Raote was stopped at the border.Shiv Sena recently took a pot shot at the state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis saying if he is a “proud Marathi” he should reach out to the Marathi populace.State Congress spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan told DNA, “Shiv Sena always likes to involve itself in bravado. Since party chief late Bal Thackeray’s time, the Sena has been shouting about this issue but has never come out with a workable solution to the problem.”

Shiv Sena pursues growth plan, gears up for solo fight in next elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Shiv Sena is slowly and steadily pursuing its plan to spread its presence in all 288 assembly and 45 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra before taking a final call to go solo in the elections slated for 2019. Even though the saffron party is sharing power with the ‘’big brother’’ BJP in the state since December 2014, the Shiv Sena is stepping up its attack against the government on a number of issues taking the space of opposition too. The party president Uddhav Thacleray at the recent meeting with the senior leaders has told the cadre to warm up for further strengthening the organisation at the grassroots to take on mighty BJP.Party MPs, legislators and senior leaders have been assigned district and region wise responsibilities to counter BJP’s strategy to penetrate upto the booth and block level. Thackeray is personally keeping an eye on organisational work and he has been in constant touch with the district chiefs. Thackeray has already completed Marathwada tour and will visit Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara between November 24 and 26. These districts, where BJP has made sufficient inroads while weakening the hold of the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party.Notwithstanding the setback in the recent civic and local body elections in which BJP has gained a top slot, Shiv Sena has made it amply clear that it will raise issues faced by common man and encash unrest due to demonetization, Goods and Services Tax, technical glitches in the implementation of much ambitious farm loan waiver scheme, rising farmers suicides and their plight due to low prices for agriculture produce and more importantly curb on development expenditure following paucity of funds.Shiv Sena leader, who is engaged in pursuing party’s roadmap for consolidation, told DNA,’’ Party president Uddhav Thackeray has been quite clear that despite efforts to corner Shiv Sena especially by BJP it will continue to raise issues faced by people. This has been time and again proved be it the issue of amendment to the Land Acquisition, changes in Labour Laws, rehabilitation of farmers affected by Mumbai Nagpur expressway or by Metro rail and other infrastructure projects in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra. Shiv Sena voiced their concerns and made government to make necessary changes.’’ He informed that Thackeray will conduct similar tours in rest of Maharashtra ahead of next assembly and parliamentary elections.Meanwhile, Thackeray has told BJP that the Shiv Sena will not compromise on nomination of former Shiv Sena leader and chief minister Narayan Rane during the election to the state legislative council slated for December 7. Besides, the party will continue to oppose Rane’s induction in the state cabinet as he has rebelled against Shiv Sena and also attacked the party supremo Bal Thackeray.Rane recently quit the Congress party to float his own outfit and extended support to BJP. He is now NDA partners.

CEA releases policy to promote power generation from paddy straw

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Residents from Delhi and the National Capital Region can now expect relief next year from the pollution caused due to the burning of stubble by farmers in Punjab and Harayana. The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) on behalf of ministry of power has framed up a policy for biomass utilisation for power generation through co-firing in coal based power plants.CEA estimates that 30 to 40 million tonnes of paddy straw that remains unutilised and burnt in north west India has potential to generate about 6,000 to 8000 MW and 45,000 million units of electricity annually by co firing it along with coal in existing power plants. About 2.5 to 3 lakh tonnes of biomass pellets are required for 7% blending in a thermal power plant of 1,000 MW capacity.Biomass co-firing has a potential to create a market for large scale consumption of agro residue and convert into electricity in eco-friendly and cost effective manner while mitigation problem of air quality deterioration. The policy envisages that the appropriate electricity regulatory commission will determine the compensation to be allowed in tariff for increase in cost of generation on account of using bio mass pallets. Besides, the appropriate commission will devise a suitable mechanism to ensure the use of bio mass.Already, the power ministry last week has asked the state run NTPC to float a tender to buy farm stubble at Rs 5,500 per tonne, which will yield an additional income of approximately Rs 11,000 per acre to farmers.Power Ministry officer told DNA,” The biomass pellets co-firing in coal power plants will eliminate or minimize burning of agro residue and create economic value of agro residue by promoting its use as fuel in power plants in co firing mode. It will improve the air quality index and encourage the establishment of decentralized pellets manufacturing units and generate job opportunities. The officer clarified that the existing power plant infrastructure cannot directly use raw and agro residue bio mass in a pulverised coal fired type boiler and it is required to be processed into dense bio mass in the form of pellets.According to the officer, the CEA will provide technical assistance to utilities on how to use bio mass pellets for blending with coal in coal based thermal power plants.

CM Fadnavis, Sharad Pawar to meet tonight to discuss fate of co-generation plants in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on late Thursday evening will meet the former Union Minister Sharad Pawar and representatives from the sugar industry to discuss the fate of bagasse based co-generation projects and the electricity sold to the state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran). The cooperative and private sugar mills have already set up a collective generation capacity of 2,000 MW and most of which is being purchased by MahaVitaran through a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA).However, MahaVitaran, which is currently passing through a deep financial crisis largely due to mounting arrears from the agriculture consumers which are Rs 19,000 crore, has indicated that it would be difficult to continue power purchase from these plants and also from those in the pipeline citing high power purchase cost which ranges between Rs 6.10 and Rs 6.50 per unit. MahaVitaran has argued that the power is currently available in the open market and on exchanges at Rs 2.50 per unit to Rs 3.75 per unit and continuation of power procurement by bagasse-based cogeneration plants won’t be cost effective.A spokesperson for the state power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the minister had already chaired a meeting on Tuesday with the representatives of the sugar industry and also officials of the energy department, MahaVitaran, and Maharashtra Energy Development Agency. ‘’The government in its renewable energy policy has estimated bagasse-based cogeneration capacity at 2,000 MW which includes both the power used by the sugar mills for their consumption and also sold to the MahaVitaran. However, sugar mills have taken objection to it saying that the power consumed from these plants cannot be calculated to estimate total installed capacity. Besides, sugar mills want that another 300 MW of capacity which is being set up some 16 sugar mills needs to be tied up by MahaVitaran. Therefore, a committee was set up to look into these issues and it was later decided that the final decision in this regard will be taken at the level of Chief Minister.’’ He informed that today’s meeting convened by CM will take into account the present situation.On its part, senior leader from the cooperative sugar industry, who will be present at today’s meeting, said the sugar mills have set up these plants under the government’s policy to promote renewable energy in the state and therefore they don’t want the government not to tweak its own policy especially when large investment is being done. The sugar mills have been provided a slew of incentives for installation of these plants.”The per megawatt cost is estimated at Rs 3.50 to 4 crore for bagasse-based cogeneration plant in which high capacity boilers are installed for efficient operations. These plants are generation capacity ranging between 3 MW and 18 MW. Sugar mills are of the view that the MahaVitaran needs to continue the power procurement from such plants and the government can lend help to MahaVitaran,’’ he said.

Congress, NCP hope to jointly encash unrest against BJP in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Finally, the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have realised together they can stay afloat and take on mighty BJP in Maharashtra in the run-up to the next assembly election slated for 2019.Both the parties have also hinted that together they can pose a formidable challenge to BJP led government in the state especially when the rift between the BJP and Shiv Sena is widening. They do feel that with a combined fight they will be in a position to regain lost grounds. Both initiated exercise to remove trust deficit and revive friendship.After successive defeats in the local and civic body elections by BJP, the Congress and NCP have decided to together go to the voters, hit the roads and mobilize support against the disenchantment of the saffron party-led government in the state. Interestingly, Congress and NCP have hinted that they are not averse to help Shiv Sena or seek latter’s support against BJP.As a part of a joint exercise, Congress and NCP will organise morcha on December 12, the second day of the two-week monsoon session at Nagpur. Incidentally, December 12 is birthday of NCP chief and former Union Minister Sharad Pawar who has agreed to address the joint rally.Besides, Congress and NCP propose to jointly field a strong candidate in the election to the state legislative council slated for December 7. There are indications that they may rope in Shiv Sena to give a tough fight against BJP. The sole objective of the trio is to defeat former chief minister Narayan Rane if he is fielded by BJP in the council election. Rane has recently left Congress, floated his own outfit to support the NDA.State Congress president Ashok Chavan told DNA,”There is a growing resentment against the BJP led government in the state. As a responsible Opposition, Congress, NCP and other liked minded parties will flag off prevailing issues such as plight of farmers including rising farmers suicides, goof up in the implementation of ambitious farm loan waiver scheme, burgeoning malnutrition deaths, slow pace of investment flow, lack of job creation and deteriorating law and order.’’ He hoped that opposition will also bring to the notice of voters that the government was busy in making mere announcements but its performance at the ground level is quite miserable.Jayant Patil, group leader of NCP in the state assembly admitted that Congress and NCP are well placed to encash resentment against the government at the Centre and in Maharashtra.”The people on the ground have realised that the government has failed to fulfil its poll promises and they feel that they have been deceived by the present establishment. Both Congress and NCP have proposed to jointly take on the BJP led government in and outside the state legislature,’’ he noted.State Congress party spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan, however, cautioned that the electoral understanding between Congress and NCP will be considered in due course of time but at this juncture both will have to encash unrest among the public. “This unity of action will lead to more cohesion among the two,’’ he opined.

Political Parties bat for GST rate cut be passed on to consumers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Political Parties have appealed to the Centre that the GST reduction should be passed on to the ultimate consumers. They have cited that despite GST Council’s move to cut a tax on 178 items to 18% from 28% and in case of restaurants to 5%, the consumers at the retail level have not felt a substantial change.This is despite repeated call given by the finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia that company has to ensure that their entire distribution chain-wholesalers, retailers- pass on this tax cut.Adhia has also asked fast moving consumer goods to ensure that the tax cut is passed to consumers if they want to escape action from the Anti Profiteering Authority.BJP MP from Northeast Mumbai Kirit Somaiya in his letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has complained that several traders and entrepreneurs are not passing on the benefits to the ultimate consumers. He has quoted some examples of AC restaurants and chain food outlets who have allegedly manipulated the prices and value of their products to pocket the difference of reduction to 5% from 18%.Further, Somaiya said that several restaurants are yet collecting 18% in the name of GST or old sales tax slab rates. ‘’I thank the government to reduce GST to 5% from 18% in restaurants, bring down GST on consumer used items to 18% from 28% and provide relaxation in 200 items. However, the officials from the ministries of finance, consumer affairs, and the state governments should be asked to take appropriate action to see that the government’s initiative to slash GST rates as passed on to the ultimate consumers,’’ he noted.The Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik also cited that the restaurants continue to recover from the consumers GST at the previous rates so also the consumer goods companies. ‘’The government will have to immediately look into the issue especially when GST has been touted as seamless taxation across the country. As far as restaurants are concerned, they pay GST on purchases but they do not get set off on final sale. This has to be looked into,’’ he opined.Both Somaiya and Malik argued that the ministry of consumer affairs need to act swiftly which will help consumers to benefit from the tax cut.

Maha mulls bill to regulate unethical practices in hosps

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid rising complaints of overcharging by private hospitals, the government is mulling a legislation to put in place a mechanism for the regulation of clinical establishments across the state. A draft prepared by the Congress-NCP government, which faced strong opposition from the medical practitioners especially from the private sector, will be taken as the basis for the proposed bill. The bill would have a number of proposals with regard to action against clinical establishments in the event of danger to the safety of patients, and if they fail to display treatment rates and maintain necessary records.An officer from the public health department told DNA: “The previous government had planned to bring in a legislation in this regard but could not o so. The department will prepare a fresh draft and circulate for suggestions and objections from all stake holders.”He informed that the department is flooded with complaints almost on a daily basis about overcharging by private hospitals. However, in view of lack of any legislation no action is initiated. The officer informed that the West Bengal has already enacted a law in this regard while Karnataka has drafted a bill to regulate the cost of treatment, besides curbing unethical practices.Suresh Shetty, former minister of public health, confirmed that the previous Congress-NCP government had prepared a draft bill but it could not be tabled in the legislature. “There has to be some mechanism to control the private health sector. It is a known fact that the Centre and states cannot afford to provide health services to everybody due to paucity of funds. The private sector plays an important role. At the same time, some competent authority and regulatory body will be needed to monitor the functioning of clinical establishments,” he noted.

Maharashtra: sugarcane farmers’ agitation turn violent as they press for higher price

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ongoing agitation launched by farmers to press for higher sugarcane price is becoming violent in the sugarcane growing areas of Maharashtra.The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) led by MP Raju Shetti, who recently broke his alliance with BJP in the state, has threatened to further step up the stir from November 22 if the state government and the millers did not take a pro-active stand for a dialogue to arrive at an amicable solution.The agitation has hampered transportation of sugarcane to the mills in various districts including Solapur, Ahmednagar, Sangli, Hingoli, Parbhani as the agitators have hit the roads and at some places allegedly put vehicles on fire. In last two days, the farmers marched towards the Lokmangal sugar factory in Solapur district connected to the state cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh and shouted slogans and held rasta rook impacting its operations.Since the commencement of the current crushing season, 137 mills comprising 76 cooperative and 61 private are in operation. As on date, these mills have crushed 4.8 million tonnes of cane to produce 2.8 million of sugar. The state has estimated sugar production of 7.4 million tonnes after crushing 6.5 million tonnes of cane by the end of current crushing season 2017-18. However, the millers have feared that production may adversely impact if the agitation continues for a long.Farmers, by and large, are not happy with the fair and remunerative price (FRP) of Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500 per ton announced for the state depending on the sugar recovery. FRP varies from region to region.Farmers are pressing for payment of Rs 3000 to Rs 3,500 per ton. In the sugarcane rich Kolhapur district, where the state revenue minister Chandrakant Patil took initiative for talks, the millers have orally agreed to pay Rs 100 per ton over and above FRP of Rs 3,100 per ton and another Rs 100 per ton in next two months. However, the similar deal has yet to be reached between millers and farmers in other districts.Millers have cited falling sugar prices as a major factor for making any commitment to the farmers. An officer from the cooperation department told DNA, “The sugar prices are falling. They are now in the range of Rs 3,400 to Rs 3,420 per quintal against Rs 3,500 to Rs 3,600 per quintal a month ago. Most of the cooperative sugar mills have hinted that their financial position will become weak if they have agreed to the farmers’ demand. Besides, it will also be difficult to make payment to cane growers within 15 days.’’ He informed that the department is alive with the situation and making all efforts to break the stalemate.Sanjeev Babar, former managing director of the Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra, which is a representative body of over 200 factories, said the millers work out their revenue from sale of sugar after taking into account prevailing sugar prices. ‘’During the present trend of falling prices, the millers will find it difficult to pay a higher price to cane growers. In such a delicate situation, the Government of India needs to either reduce or completely waive the 20% duty imposed on the export of both raw and white sugar. This will help millers to earn some additional revenue which can be used for the payment to cane growers,’’ he noted.

Gujarat elections 2017: BJP harps on to growth plank, despite Cong jibe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Undeterred by Congress jibe that development has gone crazy (vikas gando thayo che), the BJP has launched a massive exercise in all 182 Assembly constituencies in Gujarat with PM Modi’s signed appeal to vote for those committed to inclusive growth. The punch line is “Gujarat and development are two sides of a coin.”The letter is being circulated in all 35,000 booths through a team of party workers assigned for the job.This apart, the state party unit anxiously awaits the release of Modi’s campaign plan. Senior party leaders hint that Modi will address rallies in all 32 districts and conduct roadshows at Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara to evoke Gujarati Pride.In a two-page letter in Gujarati, Modi went on to argue, “Gujarat has scaled a new high during the 22-year BJP rule despite various roadblocks and odds especially when Congress government was ruling at the Centre. However, with the BJP ruling at the Centre and in the state the development process has received a boost and a slew of projects are being implemented.”Without directly naming the Congress and three youth leaders Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani and their move to corner BJP, Modi, in a letter, categorically said that in development lies answer to all issues, and it brings change and transformation.Sanat Modi, president of BJP’s Bhavnagar city unit, told DNA, “The PM’s letter speaks about growth and how the party is committed to the same after elected to power.” He said Modi’s appeal is not to succumb to the politics of caste, communalism and religion.Another party leader Vanraj Gohil said the opposition is bankrupt while BJP is geared up to showcase development. “The party will seek votes on the development plank. Is it an offence to reach out to the voters on the issue? Modi and the state government have proved zero tolerance towards corruption. More importantly, the PM’s connect with the people of Gujarat will help party win it big in the election,” he said.

Gujarat Election 2017: BJP, Cong go all out to lure diamond industry in Amreli

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A large number of diamond polishing units in Amreli city and various parts of the industrially backward district wore a deserted look. Most of these units have been closed down, jobs of workers have been cut while few are adjusting to the new era of less cash transactions.The owners and workers at these factories view the Modi government’s demonetization, popularly known here as nota bandi (note ban) and the launch of GST responsible for making their life miserable. In the run-up to the Gujarat assembly election, they press for a change to stay afloat amid slowdown in the economy.Traditionally, those associated with the diamond polishing business have been supporting BJP in Gujarat but the party is now striving to keep its vote bank intact. On its part, Congress is going all out to lure the diamond polishing industry players with a promise to provide much needed relief in GST and streamline businesses post note ban.Lalit Thummar, president of Diamond Traders Federation, says Amreli district informs that it is a leading diamond polishing centre after Surat at the all India level. ‘’The business was entirely based on cash. However, demonetization and GST have crippled the business due to restrictions imposed thereafter, especially on transactions involving cash,’’ he said.Another trader Adarshbhai says,’’ We are sick of announcements by BJP. We want our business to survive.’’BJP’s Amreli district unit president Hirenbhai Hirpara says the government at the Centre and state are alive to the issues faced by the industry. However, Congress party’s former MP Virjibhai Thummar says there is tremendous anger against BJP and they see Congress as a credible alternative. ‘’I can see they want change and change for better. Congress will take them into confidence and do everything to change situation,’’ he adds.

Gujarat Election 2017: No celebration if short of target

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is leaving no stone unturned to achieve its ambitious target of winning 150-plus of the 182 seats up for grabs in the Gujarat Assembly elections due later next month. So much so that national president Amit Shah has told party workers there will no victory processions if the party fails to reach the magic number by even one seat.“Shah was clear that the party has to slog to meet the 150 plus target. He went a step further and told the party members across the state that there won’t be victory processions even if BJP is unable to win 150 plus seats,’’ Sanat Modi, president of the Bhavnagar city unit of BJP, told DNA.Shah has also sought tighter coordination between office bearers and grassroots workers instead of relying merely on data.To meet the stiff target he has set, the party has launched a massive exercise to cover almost all 35,000 booths by holding at least three rounds of visits by the assigned leaders. Ministers from the state cabinet as well as from BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh have been deployed to supervise the party’s machinery down to the booth level.“Our party chief has asked party leaders and cadre at the grassroots not be complacent but be pro-active to retain BJP’s supremacy in the Assembly,” Modi, said.Saying Shah’s message of ‘Pull up your socks or perish’ was clear, Modi said the party president’s ‘Get Out the Vote’ formula of reaching out to every name on every page of the voters’ list has been strictly followed in all 182 constituencies.“The BJP has appointed a chief for each page who bears responsibility for getting every voter on that page out to vote on polling day,’’ he said.BJP leader Yogeshbhai Pandya from Surendranagar district said all district unit leaders have completed meeting voters at the booth, block, and circle levels. ‘’Their job was to list a slew of pro-development decisions implemented by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and the party-led government in Gujarat to counter opposition’s criticism,’’ he said.

BJP, Congress locked in battle in Wadhwan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress are locked in a pitched battle to win the Wadhwan assembly seat in Surendranagar. Against the backdrop of demonetization, launch of GST, slowdown in economy and the Patidar community agitation for quota, BJP is leaving no stone unturned to retain its supremacy in the constituency which it has been winning for the past three decades.However, Congress after the two rounds of visit by its vice president Rahul Gandhi and its efforts to forge alliance with Patidar leader Hardik Patel and reach out to the other backward communities including Koli and Dalits have launched an aggressive campaign to snatch the seat away.BJP has included Wadhwan seat in the AA plus category indicating sure victory while Congress believes that BJP cannot ignore its presence this time. BJP has dropped sitting MLA Varsha Doshi from the Wadhwan seat. Doshi has been replaced by Dhanjibhai Patel (Makson). Congress is expected to announced its nominee within two days.BJP leader Yogeshbhai Pandya told DNA,” The party is well placed to win Wadhwan seat and it is undeterred by campaign run by the Congress party and other community leaders against BJP. PM Narendra Modi’s strong leadership and state chief minister Vijay Rupani’s clean image are at our side. BJP is committed to development and it is taking all sections of the society together to achieve inclusive growth.”Senior Congress leader Kamlesh Kotecha said, “Traders forming the core support group of the BJP are up in arms. The Patidars, with a vote share of 10 per cent, enjoy an economic clout and have warned that they will vote against the BJP. Congress has already accepted Hardik Patel’s three demands As far quota is concerned, the party has assured to take decision after reviewing all legal provisions,” he informed.Wadhwan assembly constituency has also been crucial for both BJP and Congress to maintain its grip as it houses the biggest wholesale market of the Surendranagar district in Gujarat with an annual turnover of about Rs 4,000 crore. Congress party had won the election to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee here which has also helped party’s revival. As far as BJP is concerned, its leaders and cadres are currently busy in convincing how Modi government is alive to the issues faced by traders in particular since GST and bringing to their notice steps taken by the GST Council to provide relief.Already ministers from the BJP ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are camping in the constituency and travelling across to supervise poll arrangement at the booth and block levels. In case of Congress party, Rahul’s visit and the party veteran Ahmed Patel’s recent victory in the Rajya Sabha election has brought various factions together to give an united fight against BJP.

Porbandar is a prestige issue for BJP and Cong

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For BJP and Congress, it is a fight for prestige in the Porbandar Assembly constituency over the restoration of the city’s status as Paris of the Saurashtra region and its marketing within and outside India as the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.For a change, there is no talk of quota for Patidars or demonetization. But traders cite fall in business after the rollout of GST and submit that BJP needs to bring in further changes to arrest fall in its rating.BJP, which had won the seat in 2012 poll, lists out a number of steps initiated by the government to upgrade the city’s infrastructure and keep its Paris status intact. However, the Congress blames the state government and local administration for the poor state of roads, sewage disposal and holding them responsible for surge in pollution. Both, however, agree that both Porbandar and Paris are magical lands of love and beauty and the architecture is of contemporary age. But they differ in their approach.As far as the city’s importance as Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace goes, BJP puts the onus on the Congress for doing little for the preservation of its status while in power in the state and at the Centre. On its part, the Congress claims that the BJP has been using the names of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to gain political mileage.This apart, both parties have stepped up efforts to lure politically decisive Other Backward Communities (OBCs), including Kolis and Kharva, Meher and also the Muslim community to win the seat in the ensuing election.The Congress wants to cash in on resentment within the Kharva community over the issue of grant of subsidy in a time-bound manner and lack of substantial development in fishing infrastructure. On the other hand, the BJP is projecting the steps taken by the government for the fishing community, which includes launch of development of port terminal with the investment of Rs 15 crore, construction of jetty, reinstatement of subsidies and introduction of few more.Khimjibhai Motivaras, the BJP’s Porbandar city president, who comes from the Kharva community, told DNA, “Congress president Rahul Gandhi is a ‘parachute’ leader who lacks knowledge of grassroots and, therefore, his party is engaged in luring the Kharva community and fisherfolks in general by neglecting the good work done by the state government. They will vote for the BJP and the party will retain its hold in Porbandar and also in the state.’’Kiritbhai Morwadia, BJP’s OBC cell chief, said of the 146 OBC, 36 communities are in Porbandar alone, and he has been holding everyday workshops for members of two castes to mobilise support.However, Congress leader Ramdevbhai Modhwadia counters BJP’s claims, saying that the Kharva community by and large is angry with the party for its neglect, while members of Meher and other castes from OBC want a change and they will vote for Congress.

Hardik Patel video part of political conspiracy, say kin

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Barely 24 hours after a sex video allegedly showing the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel went viral, his relatives and the residents of Zalawadi Society at the outskirt of the Viramgam city were visibly annoyed. They were coming out in large numbers to extend their support and express confidence in Hardik’s leadership.Hardik has a bungalow in the same society. His relatives, who also stay there, targeted the ruling BJP for masterminding the plan but said it won’t deter Hardik from pursuing his agitation to press for quota for Patidar community in Gujarat.Incidentally, his relatives and society members were unanimous on one thing that if BJP had to really take on Hardik, it should fight it on the political front and not stoop to the personal level. Hardik’s bungalow wore a deserted look as he and his parents are in Ahmedabad.Hardik, who is currently in talks with Congress for a pre-poll alliance, in a bid to jointly take on BJP in the upcoming assembly election, has claimed that it was an expected ploy to defame him though it heated up the political climate in Gujarat. The video shows a Hardik Patel-lookalike, with an unidentified woman, fully clothed and with her back to the camera, and then the room becomes dark.Ambalal Patel, Hardik’s grandfather, who stays just opposite his bungalow, told DNA, “It is really painful to see how our grandson is being targeted, especially by BJP. It is none of BJP’s business to peep into Hardik’s personal life. Time and again Hardik has announced that he does not fear about any penal action as he is fighting for a cause and he will continue to pursue his goal.’’ He admitted that quota for Patidar community is definitely one of the major poll planks and BJP seems to be worried about its prospects.Latitaben Patel, who had just finished watching TV news, was proud of her grandson for single-handedly taking on the mighty BJP. ‘’Such tactics won’t in any way hamper Hardik’s movement but it will instead become stronger,’’ she notes. Raunak, a fifth standard student from the same society, said, “Hardik bhai is our role model and I wish him a success.’’ However, a trip to the Viramgam market fetched mixed reactions about Hardik’s role in puncturing BJP’s prospects in the ensuing poll. Defeating BJP, Congress won the Viramgam seat in 2012 election. It is a part of the Surendranagar Lok Sabha constituency.Now, both are in a bitter fight claiming their victory. The offices of BJP and Congress were closed for lunch, while the campaigning has yet to gather mileage. Rajeshbhai Thakkar, a trader engaged in cattle food, downplays Hardik’s agitation and claims that it will have a little impact on BJP’s winning prospects. ‘’Hardik is cashing in on support from some disgruntled members of the Patel community and also banking on support from Congress and other opposition parties who have no standing in Gujarat.

Maharashtra farmers reluctant to share Aadhar, mobile data for soil health scheme

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even when the Modi Government is aggressively focusing on linking Aadhaar with various centrally sponsored schemes, farmers in Maharashtra are reluctant to share their Aadhar and mobile numbers with the authorities during the implementation of Soil Health Card (SHC) under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture.Farmers have made series of representation to the state government with a plea that sharing of Aadhaar and mobile numbers should not be mandatory under SHC but the condition needs to be relaxed so that more and more farmers can avail benefit.State government has cited that it may impact the achievement of its target of collection of 23.47 lakh samples of soil during 2017-18 and 2018-19. The government highlighted the issue during its meeting with the union minister of agriculture and farmers welfare Radha Mohan Singh held on Saturday in Mumbai.State agriculture department officer told DNA,” There are about 137 lakh land holders. The sampling would be done in grid of 2.5 hectare in irrigated area and 10 hectare in rainfed area. A total of 23.47 lakh hectare of soil samples would be tested in two years. The objective of SHC is to create awareness amongst farmers about balanced use of fertilizer to maintain soil health. However, farmers have cited procedural issues sharing Aadhaar and mobile numbers. In case of a joint family while the Aadhar card holder and the one who is actually does farming may be different so he may not get benefit under the SHC.” He informed that the state government has appealed Singh to look into aspect and find out a workable solution.The officer said the state government has also appealed to the Centre to release grand under single head instead of its release according to the category of farmers including general, schedule caste and schedule tribe. This will help remove difficulties in spending the grant amount.Ajit Nawale, state general secretary Kisan Sabha questioned the soil testing exercise and its report prepared by government identified laboratories. ”Farmers are questioning the authenticity of such reports and therefore are not keen to share Aadhaar and mobile numbers. There has been very little awareness about SHC in the villages as the government machinery falls short of convincing the farmers that how there will be more returns by reducing cost of fertilizers and how integrated nutrient management can enhance productivity,” he noted.Vilas Babar, a farmer from the drought hit Marathwada region argued that farmers are currently passing through a crisis and the government’s intervention is necessary to provide minimum support price for various agriculture produce and removal of constraints in the availability of funds. ”Farmers suspect credibility of soil testing reports and they do not want to share Aadhaar and mobile numbers. The government authorities should take farmers into confidence and share soil testing details in a transparent manner,” he opined.Why SHC?Under SHC scheme, the government aims to create awareness among farmers about the need for balanced use of fertilizer to maintain soil healthThe state has set the target of collecting 23.47 lakh soil samples during 2017-18 and 2018-19

Ease of Doing Business: MADC appointed a coordinator for fast track development of airports in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an effort to boost ease of doing business and facilitate smooth development of airports and connectivity, the state government has taken a crucial step to appoint Maharashtra Airports Development Company (MADC) as a coordinator and facilitator for existing 28 airports and development of upcoming ones.The government expects as a coordinator MADC will be best suited to link with various departments and agencies of the state government and the Centre and help curtail the time needed for clearances.In case of 28 airports, there are different owners and operators including Airports Authority of India (AAI), Ministry of Defence, MADC, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, City and Industrial Development Corporation and Reliance Group of Companies. Besides, the development of existing airports is currently being carried out by several departments thus creating an issue of coordination and possible delays.The government’s move comes after aviation experts and industry players had made series of representation for putting in place a special mechanism for hassle-free operations of all those 28 airports which will be helpful to boost the development of a respective region.Government official told DNA,”MADC as a coordinator will play a crucial role in an early completion of development works including up-gradation of the infrastructure. Besides, it will ensure a policy continuity while expediting the development works.’’This apart, the government has appointed MADC as the nodal agency on the lines of Airports Authority of India for the implementation of regional connectivity scheme (RCS) in the state.The state government has already inked an agreement with Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Airports Authority of India for the development of 10 airports – Kolhapur, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg under the RCS which is a part of ambitious National Civil Aviation Policy, 2010. RCS aims at developing regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development from the Centre.The state government will reduce a tax on air fuel for a period of 10 years and will provide essential land free of cost. The proposed airports will be provided with roads, rail, Metro and waterway connectivity. The state government will also provide electricity, water, and necessary facilities at concessional rates.

Maharashtra government wants proper norms for insecticide supply

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid the backlash after 21 farmers died in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal after allegedly inhaling poisonous pesticides, the state government on Saturday appealed to the Centre to put in place strict norms for supply of pesticides and toxic insecticides and their pricing. At the meeting chaired by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh here, the government urged that the highly toxic insecticides should not be provided directly to the farmers for spraying but it should be done through a well trained licensee such as a pest control operator.The state, which was represented by the agriculture minister Pandurang Phundkar, his deptuty Sadabhau Khot and cooperation and marketing minister Subhash Deshmukh, informed Singh that pesticides that were not recommended or the ones that were not meant for Bt Cotton were distributed and used in Yavatmal district. The state agriculture department subsequently found that a toxic and expensive pesticide was sold to farmers to earn profits.State agriculture department officer, who was present at the meeting, said, “The department has already cracked down on illegal stocking of highly toxic pesticides. The government wants the Centre to step in so that supply will be made through trained licensee.’’This apart, the state government appealed to Singh to make necessary changes so that registration certificate for bio-pesticides to manufacturers are issued in a time bound manner. “At this stage, registration certificate for bio-pesticides are not issued in time as it takes more than four to five years. This needs to be changed on a priority basis,’’ the officer said.

MahaVitaran’s finances under stress due to rising power dues by agricultural consumers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the state run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company’s (MahaVitaran) monthly recovery has surged to Rs 4,200 crore due to slew of initiatives, burgeoning arrears from the agriculture consumers continue to put its finances under severe stress.As of date the arrears are well over Rs 19,272 crore and they are expected to grow further if the agriculture consumers do not make timely payment of monthly bill. There are about 39.82 lakh agriculture consumers of the MahaVitaran’s total consumers of 2.5 crore.Last month, the state government announced a special amnesty scheme to recover whopping Rs 10,890 crore. The Energy Department will waive their penalty and interest of Rs 8,164 crore on the total pending electricity bills of Rs 19,272 crore. The government has now extended the repayment up to November 15 due to strong opposition from various parties and especially from the agriculture consumers.The state energy minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule came out with a novel idea of roping in legislators from the respective constituency to hold workshops and meetings to expedite recovery of long pending arrears from agriculture consumers. However, few legislators have already protested Bawankule’s move citing that it was not their job but it has been the duty of MahaVitaran staff. Some legislators referred to the plight of the farmers due to natural calamity and opposed disconnection of power.A MahaVitaran officer told DNA,’’ It is true that the non-recovery of arrears from agriculture consumers has been a matter of concern. This is despite continuous efforts from the state government and the MahaVitaran. The State has given electricity meters to 24.41 lakh farmers while 15.41 lakh farmers get power without any meters as they are charged based on horse power. The power is supplied at highly subsidised rate of Rs 1.80 per unit against the total supply cost of Rs 6.50 per unit. The government provides subsidy of Rs 1.65 per unit while the rest is through cross subsidy charge recovered from the commercial and industrial consumers.’’ He admitted that there are limitations to further increase tariff of industry and commercial consumers and in such a scenario the MahaVitaran will have to take further efforts to step up recovery from farm consumers.The officer informed that government’s annual outgo towards subsidy comes to Rs 4,500 crore while the cross subsidy from the commercial and industrial consumers is of the order of Rs 7,500 crore. MahaVitaran is providing power to about 1.50 lakh new agriculture pumps annually by incurring expenditure of Rs 1.25 lakh per one connection.He said the increase in the monthly recovery up to Rs 4,200 crore has helped MahaVitaran to avoid delayed payment charges to be made to power generating companies towards power supply and also to maintain the required working capital. ‘’However, this is not enough to keep healthy balance sheet,’’ he noted.

RPI leader Ramdas Athavale rakes up quota issue to reassert his standing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the run-up to the Gujarat assembly election, the Republican Party of India chief and Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athavale has roared that Modi government won’t be in power if it plans to change the present quota regime.Athavale, who is a prominent Dalit leader from Maharashtra, is NDA ally, has also hinted that he would chart his own way had it been any attempt to touch reservation currently offered to schedule castes (SC), scheduled tribes and others. Despite his elevation to the Union Cabinet, Athavale’s party has not been able to achieve substantial gains in the successive local body elections held in Maharashtra although his association has helped BJP for its sterling performance.RPI leader and Athavale’s close associate told DNA, “Athavale continues to enjoy a good amount of following in the Dalit community which is quite faction-ridden. There are several factions of RPI in the state but Athavale hopes that quota politics along with his alliance with BJP would come handy for consolidation in the state. You must remember Dalit constitutes well over 13% of the Maharashtra’s population. At the same time, Athavale will use his current position to poach vote bank of Mayawati and alike in various states.’’Athavale, who is elected to the Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra, has been a three-time Lok Sabha member. He called himself the fearless panther of India, and claims to have led the ‘’Dalit Panther Movement’’ a social movement for equality, justice, and human rights. However, he was unable to mobilize necessary support in Dalit community and make inroads in non-Dalit voters too.Athavale had earlier supported Congress, Nationalist Congress, and Shiv Sena before joining the NDA. He recently demanded reservations for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe in the Army and in the Indian Cricket. Besides, he has been quite consistent in his demand for quota for SCs in the private sector.Athavale’s warning comes close on the heels of the Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to introduce reservation in outsourced services while suggesting that there was a need for a debate on the quota in private sector. JD(U), which had recently broken its alliance with Lalu Prasad-led Rashtriya Janata Dal to join hands with BJP in Bihar and at the Centre, has indicated that the party would use quota politics to outsmart RJD especially ahead of Lok Sabha election 2019.BL Mungekar, a prominent commentator on Ambedkar movement, said that quota will play important role in electoral politics of 2019. ”For instance, Nitish Kumar, who was recently accused of being anti Dalit, has been forced to introduce quota in outsourced jobs and also to take credit of initiating debate for quota in private sector. Athavale’s threat of disturbing the Modi government is of no consequence as he has not raised his voice against Modi’s government’s policies which are blatantly anti Dalits. ”This is the compromise Athavale made for getting Rajya Sabha seat,” he noted.

Now, a panel to improve city’s disaster mgmt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government on Thursday formed a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary of the Home Department to suggest measures for effective handling of man-made and natural disasters in Greater Mumbai.The committee’s formation comes after the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had faced a lot of flak for mismanaging the situation and not alerting the citizens a day before the city came to a standstill due to water logging on August 29 after a 300 mm rainfall in a day. At least 21 people had died with several buildings collapsing in and around the city.Further, BMC, in its internal report, had blamed the India Meteorological Department (IMD), traffic department, Railways and others. However, there was no mention of its own shortcomings in the same report.A government officer told DNA, “The 16-member committee comprises Mumbai Metropolitan Commissioner, BMC Commissioner, Mumbai Police Commissioner, the city and suburban district collectors and railway officials. The terms of reference of the committee is to study the steps taken following the recommendations of the Madhav Chitale committee report after the July 2005 flooding in which about 1,094 people had died. Besides, the committee will make suggestions for further improvement in disaster management by seeking proper coordination among different agencies.”The officer said that the committee can advise and guide the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority headed by the Chief Minister, the state working committee chaired by the chief secretary and the government on preventive and corrective measures for disaster management.Further, the committee will suggest steps to improve communication among the Central, Western and Harbour Railways with BMC’s disaster cell. Besides, the committee will also recommend how dissemination of information will be further strengthened to help people stranded on trains and at the railway stations.

25-year-old youth’s death in police custody sparks row as Maharashtra tops the list

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government’s move to install CCTV cameras in police stations to prevent custodial deaths has come under scanner after a 25 year old youth, a suspect in case of robbery, was allegedly beaten to death by police on Wednesday in Sangli.The police allegedly burned Kothale’s body in an attempt to destroy evidence. With this the state has come at a centre stage for its ranking on top in custodial deaths at the all India level.Further, Kothale’s death came close on the heels of Maharashtra government’s media blitzkrieg celebrating three years in power titled ”Hoi He Majhe Sarkar” (Yes, This is My Government). One of the advertisements boldly claims how the installation of CCTV in police stations and linking it with the office of Director General of Police was a step to further improve law and order.Tension prevailed in Sangli where BJP has made substantial gains in recent local body elections. Policemen initially said the accused had fled from their custody but a probe confirmed that they not only beat Kothale till he died inside the city police station, but also burnt this body to destroy evidence.The Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had told Lok Sabha in March this year that instances of custodial deaths in Maharashtra was ‘little more’ in comparison to other states.According to his statement, there were 35 such deaths in Maharashtra in 2013, 21 in 2014, and 19 in 2015, which were highest among all states. Rijiju had also said there were enough guidelines and directives issued by the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court under which immediate action is taken against policemen responsible for custodial deaths.This apart, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its nationwide data published in the second week of October had ranked Maharashtra second in the number of deaths in judicial custody (prison) with 129 deaths. A state government officer, who did not want to be named, told DNA,’’ Six persons, including five policemen, had been arrested in connection with the Sangli case. The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) has initiated an inquiry which will also reveal whether or not the Sangli city police had informed a judicial magistrate about Kothale’s death in the custody.’’He reminded that the Bombay High Court had asked the Maharashtra government to strictly implement a law which requires police or jail authorities to immediately inform a judicial magistrate about custodial death in their jurisdiction in order to facilitate a probe.

Escalate work on pending slum rehabilitation: Govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state, in a bid to give a much needed push for the completion of long pending 1,200 slum rehabilitation projects in Greater Mumbai, has proposed a slew of initiatives. Some of these projects will be tendered out by the state-run Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (Mhada) and Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Ltd (SPPL).In some cases where tenants are not eligible under the slum rehabilitation scheme, they will be covered under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana. Such tenants will be provided 300 sq ft of home at cost. The developer can to do it after loading free component. This apart, the government will put in place a strict eligibility and financial criteria for builders and developers to complete slum rehabilitation projects in a time bound manner and they do not languish for long.The government will also set quality norms that will have to be followed by builders for the dwellings to be offered free under slum rehabilitation scheme.Sanjay Kumar, additional chief secretary of state housing department told DNA, “These 1,200 slum rehabilitation projects are stuck up not just due to paucity of funds. In some cases builders have undertaken such projects without any wherewithal while few others are delayed due to lack of demand for tenements constructed under sale component due to slow down.”Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Projects Consultants said, ”Mumbai can easily replicate the success story of Singapore’s Housing and Development Board which remained laser-focused on eradicating slums. With effective PPP models, higher incentives to the stakeholders and good financial structuring, the slums in Mumbai can be eradicated faster than envisaged.”However, to accomplish this task, Puri said that the government must involve itself at every level of the redevelopment plan.

GST, Aadhaar to transform Indian economy, to take it to a new level: UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey, in an interview with Sanjay Jog, said Aadhaar and GST have potential to transform Indian economy. Pandey, who is also the Chairman of Goods & Services Tax Network (GSTN), said government is taking due measures to provide relief to the people.People are facing a lot of issues since GST roll-out. What measures are being taken to address them?GST is a major reform. When you roll out any new system there are bound to be some teething problems. The process under GST is different than what it used to be. People will get used to it, and they will find it more convenient. We have addressed many issues that were raised, and are looking into the rest.What is your take on issues related to GST Network?In both GST and Aadhaar we are very sensitive to people’s needs. We don’t want the common people to be affected due to these reforms. We have been making required changes and adjustments. We will attempt every possible solution to address them.There is a question of transition or change management. We are actively working with states and various stakeholders to ensure this change is smooth.What has been the journey of Aadhaar since its launch in 2010?We have issued Aadhaar to 118.7 crore people which is almost 89.7 per cent of the current population, which also constitutes 99 per cent of the adult population.Aadhaar has ensured that needy and deserving people get the benefits. Cases of ghost duplication of fake beneficiaries were rampant before this.In the last two-and-a-half year when Aadhaar was used for availing benefits, total savings estimated is around Rs 57,000 crore. A World Bank study in 2016 said if Aadhaar is used in all government schemes it will lead to an annual benefit of Rs 70,000.What do you have to say on the debate that Aadhaar will breach privacy?We are very particular about privacy. When the Aadhaar Act was drafted, it was based on the premise that privacy is a fundamental right. In its recent judgment, the Supreme Court said privacy can be restricted in legitimate interest and it has to be proportionate and justified. According to us, Aadhaar complies with the SC order.There have been apprehensions about misuse of Aadhaar data. How far it is possible?Privacy and data protection are very important. We have taken possible measures and applied technological processes to ensure that there is no breach into UIDAI data. During seven years there has not been single breach of data from the UIDAI and biometrics given by citizens are safe and secured. That does not mean that we become complacent. People who are attempting they are changing the technology and we have to be ahead of them so that data remains absolutely secured.

Uddhav Thackeray, Mamata Banerjee meet sparks talks of opposition unity

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday, sparking speculation of a possible political partnership against the Bharatiya Janata Party.The BJP currently leads a coalition government in Maharashtra with the Sena, which is a member of the National Democratic Alliance .Sources said Thackeray, who was accompanied by his son Aditya, and Mamta explored various options to team up against the BJP on issues such as demonetisation, Goods & Services Tax, farmer distress, and the economic slowdown.The meeting is also being seen as an early attempt to rally parties against the BJP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”Both Shiv Sena and Trinamool Congress Party (TMC) from day one have been quite vocal against Modi’s decision to withdraw high value currency notes from circulation. Our party president has been quite consistent on his view that demonetization and GST have miserably failed to achieve its purpose,” a Sena functionary told DNA.”Thackeray and Mamta also took stock of the faltering growth and its impact on various sectors. They were of the view that the recent steps taken by the Centre including recapitalization of banks and launch of Bharatmala project are not enough,” he added.The trio also discussed possible strategies to counter BJP in and outside Parliament to mobilise public support, the Sena leader said.Departing from tradition, wherein visiting dignitaries typically head to the Thackeray residence, Matoshree, Uddhav and Aditya drove to a five-star hotel in south Mumbai to meet with Mamata, who was staying there.

DNA Exclusive | Ready to be Didi of the Nation: Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst the Opposition’s move to put up a united front against the BJP, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says she does not mind taking up responsibility in Delhi as ‘Didi of the Nation’. She spoke to DNA while on a visit to Mumbai, during which she met up with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, and his son Aditya; as well as Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. Mamata was in the city to drum up investment in her state and invite city-based business people to attend the West Bengal’s Global Business Summit in January.”I was an MP for 23 years and have also served as a minister in the cabinet,” said the president of the Trinamool Congress. “Delhi is very close to me; it is also not that far physically but there are far too many traffic jams and the weather is too harsh. But the politics is totally run by outsiders, not insiders.”Mamata also interacted with young professionals from YPO (formerly known as the Young Presidents’ Organization) in the city on Wednesday. And though she hinted at a readiness to move to the Capital, she would not be pinned down.”I cannot tell you right now what the future will be for me,” she said. “As an MP, I have established contacts with each and every leader across the country. I have best of relations with leaders from various states.” She emphasized that her current priority was to increase the pace of development and transform West Bengal.”These are crucial times,” she said, referring to demonitization and the introduction of Goods & Services Tax. “People are facing a lot of difficulties; the unorganized sector has suffered the most. Young people are losing jobs as the industry sails through rough weather. If this situation continues, it will be time for the government to come to a decision and provide much-needed relief to the people.”The West bengal CM clarified that she was not against any particular leader or party, but was merely raising issues faced by citizens. While speaking to young professionals, she emphasized on how the state had grown economically and in infrastructure during her six-year-rule. She said the state had transformed completely, and for the better. “We have restored the work culture,” she said. “During 34 years of CP(M)-rule, the state lost 78 lakh man-days; this has now reduced to zero.” She says this was the result of a series of reforms that set the ball rolling”The state’s GDP stands as at 12.5%, as against the national GDP of 7.1%,” she said. “We are at the top when it comes to skill-development. The government is implementing pro-development policies that have helped spur the growth of agriculture, industry, and MSMEs. Enough attention is being paid to upgrading of infrastructure and you can see results on ground.”She informed that the government has been providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to 8.50 crore of the total population of 9.10 crore. “Besides, scholarship is given to students up to university level,” she said. “This is despite the government having to shell out over Rs 40,000 crore annually towards debt repayment and interest payment. This is the legacy we have inherited from the CP(M) government.”

DNA Exclusive: Ahead of Gujarat polls, Maharashtra BJP, RSS go into a huddle

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The high-stakes Gujarat polls and the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2019 have prompted the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to work towards a strategy for better coordination.A team of RSS leaders from the western zone and few top BJP functionaries from Maharashtra are expected to meet on Saturday to discuss ways to help the ruling party in Gujarat retain power, said people with knowledge of the development.The Maharashtra BJP already has decided to send more than 400 party members, including senior ministers, to campaign in Gujarat. On their part, some activists from the Sangh Parivar are also expected to visit the poll-bound state to provide a backup to the BJP.The efforts towards improved coordination between the two organisations come at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have led from the front to promote the party, which has been in power since 1995. The state goes to polls in two phases on December 9 and 14.The leaders are also expected to review the performance of the Maharashtra government led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who recently completed three years in office. The government has completed its flagship water conservation project Jalyukt Shivar, taking the state’s irrigation potential to 40 percent from 17 percent.Make In Maharashtra, rural and social empowerment schemes and BJP’s sterling performance in the local and civic body elections and the statewide growth strategy up to 90,000 polling booths are expected to come up for discussion, said sources.A strategy to counter Shiv Sena, which has made repeated attempts to target BJP on a range of issues, including loan waiver, will be debated. While Fadnavis has put the ball in Sena’s court asking the saffron party to take a call on the alliance with BJP, he has also accused it of double standards.State BJP president Raosaheb Danve told DNA: “Such meetings do take place periodically. These meetings are part of keep a rapport between the party and the RSS. We do discuss politics but it is not the sole agenda.”An RSS leader from the western zone who did not want to be named shared Danve’s views saying that politics may be discussed for 10 minutes. ”Apart from coordination between RSS and BJP, the contribution of both in the field of rural and social sectors, empowerment of women will be discussed at length.”The state BJP unit will also step up its efforts to reach out to voters with a slew of decisions taken by the BJP-led government in past three years and its plan for the next two years.

God willing we will make Rahul the party president by November end: Captain Amarinder Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh made a strong case for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to the post of party president saying that time is opportune. In an interview with Sanjay Jog, Singh, who addressed CII’s Invest North meet here in Mumbai, also spoke about government’s initiatives to boost development in the state.Does Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as Congress party president remain a mere formality now?The time is ripe for Rahul to take over as the party president. When else will you see him as the party president? He is 47 now. Alexander had conquered half the world when he was 35. Then why are you worried about it? At the end of this month after party meets we will make him the party president.Will Congress’s revival be fast under Rahul’s leadership?Look at Rahul’s performance in America, and also during his visit to Gujarat and couple of other states. There is a positive charm.It’s a good sign that Congress has recently won in Gurdapur. The recent poll victories have revived the grand old party. It will grow further in the days to come.After seven months in power, the opposition is alleging that you failed to fulfil poll promises. What do you have to say?The opposition has no other role to play but making a noise about it. The fact is we have just announced our industrial policy. Everything takes time. We assumed office just seven months ago. Punjab had excellent crops this season, the state is also getting more investments.There have been some law and order incidents, but it is under control. It has improved a lot from the previous government’s rule.Can you please brief the key features of your new industrial policy?The policy makes decisive shift from department-centric approach to a business-centric approach. It is based on the eight core strategic pillars of infrastructure, power, MSME, ease of doing business, startup and entrepreneurship, skills, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, and stakeholder engagement supported by sector specific strategies for growth. Special incentives will be offered for industries investing in areas closer to Pakistan border.Do you justify the recent power tariff cleared by the state power regulator?We are subsidising agriculture 100 per cent these days. The revenue has to come from somewhere. We have cut down the power tariff charged for industries and made it affordable to attract more investments. With the industry’s development, revenue will grow and people will get also jobs. So somebody has to contribute and it has come back to individuals. All of us have to contribute.

DNA EXCLUSIVE: Maha to frame biomining policy soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Close on the heels of Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) scathing report tabled recently in the legislature, the Maharashtra government proposes to frame a comprehensive biomining policy for the disposal of ever mounting solid waste stored without any scientific processing on dumping grounds across the state. This is necessitated as about 21,867.27 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated every day in the jurisdiction of 27 municipal corporations, 229 municipal councils, and 128 nagar panchayats.The state government last week has set up a six-member committee headed by the executive engineer of the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran to prepare a bio-mining policy and select civic bodies, which have already been shortlisted under the Swachha Maharashtra Mission (urban), to process dumped solid waste through a bio-mining process. The terms of reference of the committee include keeping an eye on the processing of solid waste currently being done through biomining by some urban local bodies.Besides, the committee will suggest ways to reclaim 80 per cent of the dumping ground after implementing the biomining technique.The government’s move is crucial as the CAG in its report submitted in August to the state legislature had rapped the government for poor processing facilities for municipal solid waste across Maharashtra.Urban development department officer told DNA,’’ The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation had taken initiative towards biomining as nearly 9,400 tonnes of solid waste is generated daily in Mumbai of which 6,400 tonnes remain untreated. A similar problem is faced by other urban local bodies too. Therefore, the government proposes to bring out a biomining policy wherein micro-organisms are sprayed on the waste and land is reclaimed and can be reused. Biomining helps eliminate methane production.’’He informed that the committee will conduct an in-depth study of the biomining technique already implemented in various states and abroad.The officer also informed that the government has already received a detailed report from 81 urban local bodies on the topic of solid waste management and they are under various stages of implementation.WASTE MATTERSAbout 21,867.27 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated in the jurisdiction of 27 municipal corporations, 229 municipal councils and 128 nagar panchayats daily.
This waste is stored on dumping grounds without any processing, leading to methane production.

Sulking Eknath Khadse vents in front of BJP V-P, taunts ‘selfless’ Rane

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former minister and veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader Eknath Khadse, who had to step down following graft charges, vented out at the party leadership for offering ministerial berth to a ‘selfless’ leader like Narayan Rane and ignoring those who spent their lives for the party. Khadse was speaking at a function in Dhule on Monday in the presence of BJP’s national vice-president Shyam Jaju.Narayan Rane, who left Congress recently to form his own party, has joined the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has repeatedly hinted at his induction into the Cabinet. BJP’s ally, Shiv Sena, has already expressed its displeasure by pointing out that Rane is facing an inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate; it has reportedly even threatened to walk out of the alliance in case he is inducted into the Cabinet.Khadse has been itching to get back into the Cabinet but party leadership has been non-committal. He used Jaju’s presence to convey his displeasure — that a traitor like Rane gets preference over a loyal party servant.”There are very few leaders who are alive and know the black days of the Emergency. However, such leaders have been assigned the job of training and guidance,” Khadse said, equating himself with senior party leaders such as LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi who have been moved to BJP’s Margdarshak Mandal — a ceremonial body meant to be a repository of party wisdom and memory.Khadse’s rant didn’t go unnoticed; barely a few hours after his outburst, Fadnavis told a TV channel that the one-man Dinkar Zoting Commission had submitted its report on allegations of graft and conflict of interest in a land deal made by Khadse and his family in Bhosari within Pune district. He also declared that the government would table the report in the state legislature. He remained silent on Khadse’s reinstatement in the Cabinet during the ensuing expansion.On the other hand, State revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, considered the number two minister in the Fadnavis-led cabinet, said he would be happy to see Khadse back in the Cabinet.However, a BJP leader (who did not wish to be named) told DNA that Khadse’s wait for his re-entry into the state Cabinet was getting longer as two public interest litigations filed by Pune-based activist Hemant Gawande, a whistle-blower in the Bhosari land deal case, and another by activist Anjali Damania were pending in the Bombay high court.

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