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Despite Centre’s skill dvpt push, ITI has few takers

At a time when the government is trying to boost skill development, the state government has continued admissions to courses that have seen a poor response at most government Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) this year. In 2017-18 the state government continued to take admissions for several less popular courses like Cutting and Sewing, Craftsman(Food Production) and Fashion Technology in various ITIs which have seen between 0-10 admissions in most ITIs over the last 3 to 5 years.The admission statistics for 2017-18 across 400 government ITIs over the country have revealed that despite low takers for certain courses over a period of time in certain ITIs the state government has not scrapped these courses thus leading to a severe loss of resources for the sake of running these courses. For instance, at the Amravati ITI, the trade Craftsmen(Food Production) has got only one admission this year continuing the poor trend from 2015 and 16 wherein only 1 and zero students were admitted respectively. Similarly, Cutting and sewing have got between 0 to 5 students in Sangli, Solapur and Gadchiroli districts this year.”Some courses have almost no takers in certain ITIs year on year. Keeping such courses going means spending on machinery, teachers and other infrastructure for merely a handful of students. ” said a senior Directorate of Vocational Education and Training official on the condition of anonymity.

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Open jail inmates can now video call their families

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a first, state prison inmates can now keep in touch with their families, thanks to the efforts of the state prison department. Inmates can make video calls to their families. There are plans to cover other such correctional establishments in subsequent phases.”We have issued orders that it should start for open jails and women prisons… we will expand it to other facilities later,” said Bhushankumar Upadhyaya, additional director general of police (prisons).”At present, the facility has been made available in the open jails at Amravati and Nagpur where prisoners can make video calls using apps like WhatsApp to their relatives from handsets given to officials … it will also cover prisoners in women jails,” said Yogesh Desai, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Eastern Region, Nagpur.He added that the phone numbers of relatives on which these inmates would call were verified by the local police. “They will be able to make phone calls once in 15 days. Earlier, they were allowed to make voice calls, and the facility has been enhanced to video calling,” said Desai.”The prisoners who are lodged in the open jails in Vidarbha are selected from correctional facilities across the state… this video calling facility will reduce the expenses of their relatives who have to travel to these prisons for long distances and give them the satisfaction of meeting their family members,” he explained.While convicts are allowed two visits from their relatives, they can make phone calls to their families once every fortnight. Undertrials can meet their relatives once a week.”We are also allowing undertrials to make these video calls at an experimental level. However, convicts are given preference,” said Desai.

To reduce pendency, Maha plans massive expansion of cyber forensic facilities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With rising numbers of cyber, financial and intellectual property-related crimes, the state government is planning a massive expansion of its cyber forensic investigation facilities.Maharashtra has a state-level forensic science laboratory in Mumbai and seven across the state (Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Nanded, Kolhapur, and Aurangabad).”We have three labs with cyber forensic facilities, at Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur. We are planning to launch the department at our other centres, too,” a senior official from the Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL) told DNA. He said this was necessary considering the rise in cyber-crime related cases, including those related to intellectual property rights, financial fraud, computer crimes, forgery, online stalking, pornography, spoofing, and impersonation and even the analysis of CCTV footage.”Though much depends on the availability of funds by the state government, we plan to operationalise these divisions in the 2017-18 financial year,” he said.The official said around 2,500 cyber forensic cases are pending investigation. “The nature of work is such that an officer can handle around five cases a month. We have around 80 such officers, including 60 in Mumbai and 10 each in Pune and Nagpur. This has led to huge pendencies, since these three laboratories get over 300 cases per month, including 200 in Mumbai alone, for investigations,” the official explained.The DFSL plans to first operationalise the department at Aurangabad to handle cases in the Marathwada region, followed by Nashik, Amravati, Nanded, and Kolhapur.As on September-end, FSLs have around 42,000 samples pending investigations across various departments, largely due to the paucity of technical staff. These labs get around 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh samples every year for testing.Of the roughly 1,330 sanctioned technical posts in the forensic science laboratories, just 770 were filled. However, the state government has consented to fill these vacant posts in addition to recruiting 459 personnel on contract basis to make up for the staff shortfall. This recruitment of contractual employees will include an annual extension to 164 staffers on contract.It plans to eventually run the FSLs on a 24X7 basis, similar to emergency services like hospitals, fire brigades, etc, to do away with pending cases and generate faster forensic evidence for law enforcement agencies.The state government has also deployed 45 mobile forensic support units in each of the nine police commissionerates and 36 district police headquarters.The FSL directorate also plans to start an extra shift in the cyber forensics and tape and speaker identification (TASI) departments to cover working hours from 7 am to 10 pm.TO BRIDGE THE GAPOf the roughly 1,330 sanctioned technical posts in the forensic science laboratories, just 770 were filled. However, the state government has consented to fill these vacant posts in addition to recruiting 459 personnel on contract basis.

Maharashtra mulls solar-based power supply to cold storage at subsidised rate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government, in a bid to ensure legitimate market price to the farmers for perishable commodities, is actively considering a slew of steps including solar-based power supply at subsidised rate to cold storage, development of post-harvest infrastructure and food supply chain, availability of modern technology, guarantee for loan and sharing interest burden. In addition, the government proposes to encourage more and more private sector participation in the establishment of storage, processing facilities and also in the creation of fruit and vegetable supply chain for the availability of quality produce which will benefit both the producers and the consumers.The state cabinet will take a final decision after it receives report from a high level committee headed by the executive director of Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board.The committee, which was constituted in April, is expected to submit its report by the end of October. The committee has held meetings at Pune and Nashik, and it will visit Amravati, Solapur, Marathwada and Konkan to hold deliberations with various stake holders before submitting its recommendations to the government.Officer from the state agriculture department told DNA, “Maharashtra is the largest producer of fruits in India, and it is the leading vegetable producing state as well. However, 40 per cent vegetables and 30 per cent fruits are wasted due to lack of post-harvesting and marketing infrastructure. The government will strengthen the processing and handling infrastructure by providing physical and fiscal incentives.”Pasha Patel as the chairman of the State Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices said the government will have to take a holistic policy on this matter.”There is a need to change variety of crops, introduce new technology, set up processing and cold storage at par with global standard, and the availability of funding at an attractive rates. This will help achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s mission to double the agricultural income,” Patel, a member of the committee, said.Another officer from the state agriculture department said the government will also lay emphasis on putting in place demand forecasting mechanism to reduce imbalance between demand and supply. Besides, customised logistics and transport facilities will help curb cost and turn the delivery of fruits and vegetables time bound.

SRA project: Cong MLA files plaint saying builder bribed RTI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MLA Yashomati Thakur today filed a complaint with a police station in south Mumbai demanding a probe into a builder allegedly bribing an RTI activist for “suppressing irregularities” the latter has found in his slum redevelopment project in a city suburb. “I have filed a complaint with the Cuffe Parade police station. RTI activist Sandeep Yeole had met me and told me that he had received Rs one crore from a city-based builder for allegedly suppressing some irregularities Yeole had found in the slum redevelopment project in suburban Ghatkopar. “Yeole also told me that he had gone to several investigation agencies but none of them took his complaint seriously,” Thakur told reporters outside the state Assembly here. The monsoon session of the state legislature is currently underway. The MLA, who represents Teosa constituency in Amravati district, said she decided to take up the matter as she found the activist genuine. “I also handed over Rs four lakh in cash, which was given to me by Yeole as a proof (of the bribe), to the Cuffe Parade police. They are counting it and preparing a report. I am hopeful the police will soon file an FIR after completing their primary information gathering,” she added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Central Railway to run extra trains, but locals may face travel woes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Do not be surprised if you find the local trains overcrowded and roads jam-packed on Wednesday. The Maratha morcha is expected to make travel difficult for Mumbaikars. To begin with, supporters have already arrived in the city in big numbers. Community members have arrived in the city on foot or in private vehicles by road and some even by long-distance trains.In a bid to woo the Maratha community, the BJP had asked the Central Railway (CR) to add extra coaches to long-distance trains entering the city. The CR added general compartment coaches to nine long-distance trains coming from Marathwada, Kandesh and Vidharbha regions of the state. Of these nine trains, only one will arrive on August 9 while the rest arrived on the night of August 8.These trains are coming all the way from Miraj, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Solapur, Manmad, Amravati and Badnera; halting at most stations en route. “We added 11 additional general compartment coaches in these 9 different trains. The same composition of coaches shall be followed when they leave Mumbai,” said a CR official.Looking at the probable rush, the CR has also planned to run more local train services. Each coach can accommodate 100 people plus as these will be packed.The officials said that elaborate arrangements have been made for crowd management on CR stations. “Based on inputs on the number of people who will be heading back post the morcha, we will run additional services as per requirement,” said Sunil Udasi, Chief PRO, Central Railway. These additional services will extend during the evening peak hours too.The security forces will be on their toes to ensure smooth transition of people at railway stations. Many of them are coming by road as well. Transporters in know of the arrangements made said that more than 1,000 private buses are expected to enter Mumbai for this morcha. These are most likely to be parked at BKC, Reay Road and Dockyard Road.

855 farmer suicides in Maha this year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra has reported 855 cases of farmer suicides between January and April this year against 1,023 cases during the same period in 2016, the government informed Parliament on Friday. “The answer to unfortunate instances of farmers’ suicides lies in improving their welfare,” Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Friday.He added that the Centre has adopted a strategy for enhancing farmer’s income to make farming more viable and generate profits for farmers on a sustainable basis. Singh’s colleague Parshottam Rupala too answered on related questions of farmer suicides.He said that states have been directed to analyse in detail the districts where farmer suicides were happening and submit a report to the ministry on it. Rupala also sought to highlight some of the steps initiated by Maharashtra government to prevent farmers from committing suicide. Rupala said that the state is implementing a pilot project in Yavatmal and Osmanabad districts of Amravati and Aurangabad division. It has released funds to the tune of Rs 34.19 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 12.50 in 2016-17 to these districts for implementation of the ‘Baliraja Chetana Abhiyan’, he added.

IIMC Amravati offers PG Diploma in Marathi Journalism

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) is introducing its one-year Post Graduate Diploma course in Marathi Journalism at its Western Regional Centre here today. Coinciding with the death anniversary of Lokmanya Tilak, one of the pillars of Marathi journalism, the inaugural function of the course will be held at the IIMC in New Delhi, tomorrow. Union Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir will inaugurate the course. The Amravati centre has been running a one-year PG Diploma in English Journalism since 2011, while the new course will begin from the current academic session. Nadeem Khan, director, Western Region, IIMC, said the course would help serve the interests of the Marathi media in the state in general and Vidarbha in particular in providing skilled manpower to them. He hoped that the students passing out would help boost the standard of Marathi journalism in the state. Besides the regular faculty members, senior journalists from the Marathi media in the state and eminent editors would be invited from time to time to guide the students, Khan said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maharashtra to develop integrated textile park at Malegaon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government will develop an integrated textile park on the sprawling 345 hectare of land in Malegaon. The government took a decision to hand over the land to the state undertaking Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) on Thursday.State industries minister Subhash Desai told DNA, “The proposed park will be developed on the theme of Cotton to Cloth, Farm to Fashion.The integrated textile park will house units from weaving, spinning, garmenting segments. The investment of Rs 1 lakh crore is expected, and 10,000 jobs will be created there.”He also informed that the objective is to strengthen linkages that would take into account farmers who produces cotton, to spinning of yarn, to ready-made garments in industrial units, complete with innovative design and marketing. The MIDC will develop common effluent treatment plant at the Malegaon integrated textile park.Desai said investors will get both physical and fiscal incentives envisaged in the state’s textile policy. The government’s strategy is to ensure increased participation by the investors in the state’s textile industry.The capital subsidy is given to self-financing textile projects — spinning mills, cotton ginning, processing and printing units, which will get 35 per cent capital subsidy, technical textiles and composite units, which will be given 30 per cent capital subsidy, and powerlooms and other textile related units, which will get 25 per cent capital subsidy. The state government has already reduced the premium on MIDC land to encourage investors to invest in these parks.Similar integrated textile parks were proposed at Amravati, Majalgaon, Chikhli, Akola, Naldhana, Parbhani, Yavatmal, Aurangabad and Nanded.

Malaysia keen on developing Mumbai-Nagpur expressway: Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Malaysian government has evinced interest in developing the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, Maharashtra Public Works Department Minister Eknath Shinde said today. A delegation from Malaysia called on Shinde and discussed the intricacies of the 700km road project that will connect two key cities of Maharashtra. “India and Malaysia have a long-standing relation. Malaysia has taken part in various development projects in the country and has used its advanced technology to develop roads, flyovers and subways,” Shinde said. He was speaking to reporters at Mantralaya after meeting the visiting delegation. Shinde said the Malaysian government is keen to be part of the venture and the state appreciated their cooperation. “We would also like to work with them not only on this project, but more such projects.” The project, a brainchild of the BJP-led Fadnavis government, seeks to transform the economy of drought-prone Vidarbha and Marathwada, the regions through which a major portion of the expressway will be constructed. Officially called the Nagpur Mumbai Super Communication Expressway (NMSCE), the project will pass through Nagpur, Buldhana, Amravati, Wardha, Washim, Thane, Aurangabad, Akola and Nashik districts. Land acquisition process for the project has already started. Shinde was present at two events in Nagpur and Thane last week where farmers signed land sale deeds with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the venture, which is also called `samruddhi mahamarg’ (prosperity expressway).(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Sena softens stand on Fadnavis’ dream project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the latest in a series of U-turns, the Shiv Sena softened its opposition to the state government’s showpiece Samruddhi Expressway, which will connect Mumbai to Maharashtra’s second capital of Nagpur.The road, which is seen as Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ dream project, is being pitched as a regional development project. The Shiv Sena had earlier opposed the around 700-km highway on grounds that it would destroy farmers whose land would be acquired for it.However, in a softening of stance, the party, whose leader Eknath Shinde is the public works (public undertakings) minister and controls the Maharashtra State Roads Development Corporation (MSRDC), which is executing the project, said land would be acquired only with the consent of the project-affected.While the Sena had opposed the project, Shinde had been present at the first-such registration of sale deeds for the land at Hingna in Nagpur, which led to speculation.”In areas like Jalna and Aurangabad, fertile land is being acquired for it,” said Uddhav, while speaking to the media on Saturday, adding that the farmers were opposed to acquisition of such land and proper compensation not being given.He suggested that the alignment of the highway should be changed to merge it with the existing highway, which could be widened. This would bring down the opposition to the project as had happened in case of the Mumbai- Pune expressway.Uddhav denied that Shinde was working at cross-purposes with the Shiv Sena’s stance. “It is our promise to farmers. Development will happen without destroying anyone,” he urged.Shinde denied that the Shiv Sena had changed its stance and said no acquisition would take place without the consent of landowners. “At the time of registration, I asked the farmers if they had been brought there by force and if the sale deeds were being registered with their consent,” he added, stating that over 80 hectare area had been acquired at Nagpur.The purchase price will be transferred to beneficiaries via RTGS to prevent them from being swindled of their money.”Those who do not have land are playing politics using farmers,” charged Shinde, adding that the Sena would stand by farmers.Uddhav urged the media to bring it to their notice if forcible land acquisition was being carried out. “The Shiv Sena will support those who are losing their land… fulfilling one’s dreams does not means destroying those of others,” he said.The around Rs 46,000 crore project will have a Greenfield alignment from Bhiwandi near Mumbai to Nagpur, will pass through five revenue revenue divisions, 27 talukas and 350 villages. The MSRDC will develop agro development nodes and undertake commercial development there. Land for the project is being acquired through a land pooling model.Once complete, the road will provide seamless connectivity across Nagpur, Wardha, Amravati, Washim, Buldhana, Aurangabad, Jalna, Ahmednagar, Nashik and Thane.

Shiv Sena not against Nagpur-Mumbai expressway: Minister

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra PWD Minister Eknath Shinde of the Shiv Sena today his party leadership never opposed the Nagpur-Mumbai expressway project which is facing opposition in certain districts over land acquisition issues. Shinde’s comments comes in the wake of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray last month expressing his opposition to acquisition of agricultural and fertile land for the road corridor. Shinde was present at a function held on July 13 where farmers from Hingna tehsil of Nagpur district gave away their lands for the venture. At the event, six landholders signed sale deeds with the state government to mark the land acquisition process for the project, also called `samruddhi mahamarg’ (prosperity expressway). “The Shiv Sena leadership was never against the samruddhi mahamarg. We only wanted to protect farmer interest and hence I visited Nagpur for witnessing the signing of land sale deeds. It’s a development project and we will not oppose it if issues raised by land owners are addressed,” Shinde, the leader of the Shiv Sena in the assembly, said. Officially called the Nagpur Mumbai Super Communication Expressway (NMSCE), the project is estimated to cost Rs 46,000 crore and will pass through Nagpur, Buldhana, Amravati, Wardha, Washim, Thane, Aurangabad, Akola, Bhiwandi and Nashik districts. The project is facing opposition from farmers in some pockets along its 700km route, especially in Nashik district.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Walmart to invest Rs 900 cr in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra got one of its largest investments in the retail sector with American multinational retailer Walmart inking a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government for setting up 15 stores. The retailing corporation is expected to invest Rs 900 crore in the state to generate around 30,000 direct and indirect jobs.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was present at the inking of the MoU between the state industries department and Walmart India Pvt Ltd on Wednesday.“These stores will be set up in the wholesale cash-and-carry format at 15 locations. Walmart already has two pilot stores in Aurangabad and Amravati,” said Development Commissioner (Industries) Dr Harshadeep Kamble. “It will take a year or two for these stores to be operationalised,” added Kamble, adding that the State government would grant single-window clearances for this investment.

Maha govt issues advisory to farmers to postpone sowing ops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Faced with deficit rainfall in the month of July, the Maharashtra government today issued an advisory asking farmers to postpone their sowing schedule. “So far sowing up to 35-40 per cent of the total cultivable area has been reported in the state. But the break in the monsoon has made conditions unfavourable for sowing in the whole last week. “The state government has sent text messages to farmers asking them to delay their sowing plans till next advisory is issued,” Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said. Though the state government has issued the advisory today, the rainfall data of the state agriculture department stated that except for Amravati and Nagpur division — remaining four divisions have received good rainfall in June, while the figures of July are on a lower side. The rainfall data revealed that normal rainfall from July 1 to 9 for Konkan division is 1164.7 mm as against actual rainfall of 217.1 mm. It means Konkan division has received only 18.6 per cent rainfall. Similarly, the Nashik division has received rainfall of 38.5 mm (16.3 per cent) Pune 49.1 mm (14.9 per cent), Aurangabad 9.6 mm (4.8 per cent), Amravati 20.4 mm (7.8 per cent) and Nagpur 54.2 mm (13.1 per cent). “It clearly shows that the rainfall in July in the state is still very low and state needs more showers. The central part of Maharashtra — is more fertile hence we need more showers there than in Konkan or eastern Vidarbha,” said a senior officer from state agriculture ministry.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

36 lakh farmers in Maha to get complete loan waiver: CM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today said around 36 lakh farmers in the state, covered under the recently announced farm loan waiver scheme, will have their entire debt waived. The Maharashtra government had announced a mega agri loan waiver of Rs 34,022 crore on June 24 after a state-wide agitation by farmers earlier that month. The government had set a cap of Rs 1.50 lakh for the loan waiver. There are a total of 89 lakh cultivators who are beneficiaries under the scheme, the CM said during his television programme ‘Mi Mukhyamantri Boltoy’. The topic of today’s show was farmer loan waiver and its reach out, according to a press note issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) here. The CM received more than 20,000 SMSes and emails from people from all over the state, enquiring about the loan waiver scheme and its implementation. “There are 1.34 crore farmers in Maharashtra, of whom 90 lakh have availed crop loan. Out of it, 89 lakh farmers are eligible for the loan waiver scheme announced by the state government,” Fadnavis said. “The state-level bankers’ committee — which prepares state’s annual credit plan, has provided some figures to the government regarding loan waiver and its implementation,” he said. “Of the total 89 lakh beneficiaries, nearly 44 lakh farmers would get the maximum benefit of the scheme. Of these 44 lakh, the entire debt of 36 lakh farmers, who have an outstanding loan of up to Rs 1.50 lakh, would be completely waived,” Fadnavis said. The remaining farmers, whose outstanding loan amount is slightly more than Rs 1.50 lakh, can also avail the benefit by paying the difference above Rs 1.50 lakh cap, he said. A majority of beneficiaries are from suicide-prone districts of Yavatmal, Buldhana and Amravati, all located in the Vidarbha region, while a sizable number of farmers are from Akola, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Washim, Beed and Ratnagiri.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

813 farmers on loan waiver list from Mumbai, CM ‘surprised’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbai city and its suburbs are home to as many as 813 farmers on loan waiver list, a figure which has “surprised” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who has ordered a scrutiny before sanctioning the waivers. These farmers figure in the list of probable beneficiaries eligible for benefits under the Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver scheme announced by the state government last month. The Mumbai city and its suburbs are urbanised areas, leaving little scope for farming activity in the country’s commercial nerve centre. A district-wise list of beneficiary-farmers, released by the chief minister on Twitter last evening, includes names of 694 cultivators from the Mumbai city and 119 from its suburbs. A majority of beneficiaries are from suicide-prone districts like Yavatmal, Buldhana and Amravati, all located in Vidarbha region. As per the scheme, all the eligible farmers will get benefit of waiver of up to Rs 1.50 lakh loan outstanding till June 30, 2016. Talking to reporters today, Fadnavis said, “Even I was surprised to find these two cities in the list. The ‘beneficiary’ farmers from these two districts would be scrutinised thoroughly before sanctioning waiver of their loans.” The chief minister said he has asked officers concerned to look into the genuineness of these farmers from the two urban centres. The mega loan waiver was announced by the BJP-led government after a state-wide agitation by farmers in the first fortnight of June.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Thiruvananthapuram tops list of 30 smart cities, govt launched city livability index

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thiruvananthapuram has topped the list of the 30 smart cities selected under the third round of the smart cities mission.It is followed by Naya Raipur, Rajkot, Amravati, Patna, Srinagar, Gandhinagar, Muzaffarpur, Karnal, Tirunelveli and Gangtok, thus taking the total number of cities under the mission to 90.The 30 cities were selected from 45 cities which took part in the third round and have a proposed total investment of Rs 57,393 crore. Of the total investment Rs 46,879 crore is slated for core infrastructure development and Rs 10,514 crore for technology-based development.Twenty cities, including Itanagar, Meerut, Imphal and Haldia, will compete for the remaining 10 slots under the mission, which started with an aim of developing 100 cities in the country. The cities are selected through a city challenge competition.Besides announcing the new smart cities selected, the government also launched a city livability index based on 79 indicators to measure the quality of life in 116 major cities including smart cities, capital cities and cities with a population of above one million each.The Index will act as a common minimum reference framework to enable the cities to know where they stand in terms of quality of life. It will also indicate the parameters needed to improve, such as roads, education and health care, mobility, employment opportunities, emergency response, grievance redressal, pollution, availability of open and green spaces, cultural and entertainment opportunities, among others.Addressing the national workshop on urban transformation, Union Minister for Urban Development, housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu said the government wants revival of urban transformation, adding that smart cities has redefined urban discourse in the country.The UD ministry also disbursed Rs 500 crore as incentive to 16 States that performed well in implementing urban reforms during 2016-17, such as e-governance, audit of accounts, tax revision policies and extent of tax revenue collection, Energy and Water Audit, among others.Andhra Pradesh topped the list scoring 96.06 per cent. Others who received the incentive fund in order of merit were; Odisha (95.38%), Jharkhand (91.98%), Chattisgarh (91.37%), followed by others.

Maha to disburse crop credit through PSUs in 16 districts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after agreeing in principle to waive loans of farmers with certain riders, the Maharashtra government today decided to disburse the crop credit through public sector banks in 16 districts where district central cooperative banks are in red due to financial mismanagement. Against the backdrop of the protests by farmers, the inter-ministerial committee appointed by the government announced the loan waiver after a meeting with farmers’ leaders yesterday. The government also decided to set up a committee to decide the criteria of debt relief, after which cultivators called off their protests. After the meeting, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil announced that loans of farmers with small and medium land holdings stand waived from yesterday itself. Explaining the government’s decision to disburse the crop credit through public sector banks in the 16 districts, Patil today said there are 14 district central cooperative banks in the state where either administrator is appointed or concerned bank’s financial condition is too weak to provide crop loan for farmers in the current kharif season. “After the announcement of the loan waiver for farmers on Sunday, the state administration is facing the biggest hurdle of infrastructure to provide crop loan to farmers. Hence, the government has decided to by-pass the route of DCC banks and provide credit supply through public sector banks in those districts,” the minister said. Patil is closeted with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a closed door meeting where this issue is being discussed basis the ways to make funds available for farmers. “The district central banks for Parbhani & Hingoli and Dhule & Nandurbar are common. For remaining districts (14), each one has its own district central cooperative bank for crop loan disbursement. Hence there are 16 districts for which 14 DCBs are working but currently are unable to disburse the loan. “As these banks are not in a condition for credit supply, the state government has decided to ask the public sector banks in those respective districts to provide credit supply to farmers,” according to Patil. The districts where PSUs are likely to provide crop loans are Dhule, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Hingoli, Nashik, Jalgaon, Solapur, Jalna, Beed, Osmanabad, Nanded, Yavatmal, Buldana, Nagpur, Wardha and Amravati. “The farmers having land up to five acres are going to be considered as debt-free, hence these farmers will be eligible for fresh crop loans. To disburse the crop loan for these farmers, the state has decided to rope in the PSUs,” Patil added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maharashtra Farmers’ Strike: On day 6, protesters seal govt offices

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra farmers strike entered sixth day today despite chief minister Devendra Fadnavis reiterating the government’s move to waive crop loan worth Rs 30,000 crore before October 31.The agitating farmers sealed the entrance of new administrative building of the Sangli district collector while in Puntambe Ahmednagar district they sealed the offices village panchayat, post office and circle office.Farmers threw vegetables in front of the residence of Amravati division commissioner and the district collector. The police arrested 20 farmers in this connection.
ALSO READ Maharashtra farmers’ strike: CM pledges ‘biggest ever loan package’, but conditions applyFarmers in Kolhapur district sealed the Talathi office at Shiye village and similar incident was reported in Chandwad taluka of Nashik district.In Nashik, which has now become the centre of activity for the agitating farmers, the strike has adversely impacted the transactions in 15 marketing committee and 20 sub committees. The Lasalgaon market committee, which is known for onion trade, wore a deserted look due to lack of arrival of onions from the farmers.However, the participation of farmers was waning as they were getting ready for sowing operation.Incidentally, activists of ruling Shiv Sena, the BJP’s ally Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Congress and NCP were actively involved in the agitation.Prices of fruits and vegetables have surged in Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Pune, Nashik due to low arrival.Kailash Tejani, president of Wholesale Traders Association at Vashi APMC said about 300 truckloads of vegetables arrived against the average 450-500 trucks. ‘’Ninety per cent supply is from Gujarat and Karnataka. The rates were marginally increased,’’ he addded.Nasaheb Patil,, chairman of Nashik APMC informed that the committee is incurring a huge loss as the market is shut for last six days. “Government needs to find out a tangible solution,” he noted.

Relocation of village in Melghat tiger reserve gains momentum

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 600 families living in Rohinkhidki village in Akot wildlife division in Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) are being shifted out of the core forest area to protect the natural habitat of wild animals and to avoid man-animal conflict. The forest department has provided alternative land in nearby Pingli and Kamod villages located in the buffer zone of the MTR for the purpose of rehabilitation. The process of rehabilitating the residents of Rohinkhidki in Akot wildlife division of the MTR has gained momentum with the shifting of household material by some villagers to new rehabilitation site, the forest department said in a press release. “Around 594 families living in the protected core area of the jungle are being rehabilitated to maintain the natural habitat of the wild animals and avoid man animal conflict,” it said. It is expected that the forest officials will complete the work of plotting at this place within a week or so and all the villagers will shift there. The total number of families being shifted from Rohinkhidki, comprising Shemba and Gumthi hamlets, is 594, the release added. The forest department has developed grasslands and meadows in Shemba and Gumthi, where the density of herbivores has increased considerably in absence of biotic interference. Deputy conservator of forest, Akot Wildlife Division, P C Lakra, said, “The department has received Rs 60 crore from the government and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).” According to him, two compensation options were offered to the villagers. “Under the first option, each family was offered Rs 10 lakh cash, while as per the other alternative, facilities worth Rs 10 lakh are to be made available to rehabilitate the villagers,” he said. So far, the forest department has deposited Rs 2.90 lakh in the bank accounts of the beneficiaries (who have opted for cash compensation) as well Rs 4 lakh in the form of recurring deposit (RD), he said. The department will require Rs 18 crore more to carry out further rehabilitation work, Lakra added. Pingli village is situated around two kms from Sonala, where the villagers can get facilities like bus transport, medical, education and market. The distance between Kamod and Sonala is around four kms. The forest department will put in place internal roads, drinking water facilities, electricity in both these villages. M S Reddy, chief conservator of forest and field director of MTR, Amravati, is monitoring the rehabilitation work. After Rohinkhidki, the forest department also plans to relocate Talai village here to make Akot wildlife division inviolate, the release said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

DNA Micro Edit: Will a split in division ease board’s burden?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Mumbai division of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) stood last among the nine regions with an overall pass percentage of 88.21 per cent. While the overall results for the division improved slightly as compared to that of 2016, the Mumbai division still failed to cross the 90 per cent mark.Mumbai’s board results has always been the talking point among educationists, parents and students. While the overall performance of the division has not been great, with smaller divisions like Konkan and Amravati doing relatively well, officials say that the sheer volume of students is one of the main reasons why the division has not performed up to expectations. Over 20 per cent of the total number of students that appear for the exam are from the Mumbai division. As per board officials, the high number of students appearing from the division, coupled with a higher number of private candidates, has led to poor scores. Officials also said a large number of students who register for the exams do not consistently appear for all papers, which also affects the overall results.Another prominent reason that experts attribute this trend to is the fact that a majority of students who take up Science and Commerce often prepare for competitive exams, thus focussing less on the boards. The craze to enrol for engineering, medicine and other professional courses is only increasing among city students, which might have led to a lower pass percentage. One of the solutions to improve the division’s performance is to split the division as suggested by experts. The government can also frame an admission policy that would give equal weightage to board scores.

Appoint more info commissioners to clear RTI cases: Activist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noted RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi has urged the Maharashtra government to immediately announce a successor to Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad who is set to retire by the month-end. Gandhi, a former Central Information Commissioner, has written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, urging him to appoint the next State CIC by this month-end and also name three more Information Commissioners (in addition to existing 7) to help dispose of pending RTI applications. Gaikwad’s five-year term as CIC will end on May 31. “There is a huge backlog in some of the benches of the State Information Commission. This is partly due to not appointing information commissioners in a timely manner since 2005,” Gandhi said in the letter sent to the CM’s Office on Thursday. Currently, about 40,000 cases are pending before the Maharashtra State Information Commission. “Most commissioners in the country dispose of around 3,000 cases a year. The Maharashtra Information Commissioners are reported to be disposing of about 5,000 cases per year,” the letter claimed. He said the situation is “grave” in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Amravati divisions, which have more than 5,000 cases pending with each of them. Gandhi said the Right to Information Act permits appointment of up to 11 information commissioners in a state. Hence, steps should be taken to appoint three more commissioners in order to clear the huge backlog of cases in the state.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

College students to crowdfund library project in rural Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an aim to teach rural children, and cultivate a reading habbit among them, a team of Mumbai and Pune-based college students have came up with an initiative — One village, one library.According to the members of this team called Eklavya, the initiative will help educate rural children.The concept was conceptualised by the team while participating in the ‘Transform Maharashtra’ project oragnised by the state government to provide opportunities for young college students from the state to come up with a programme to provide solutions to the challenges faced by the state currently. The government announced that the initiative — One village, one library — won the Popular Choice award on May 1 at a ceremony in Mumbai.Before conceptualising the initiative, the students carried out a survey in nearby tribal villages of Pune, and Yavatmal district.Speaking about the survey, Raju Kendre, 24, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Tuljapur campus said, “According to the survey carried out by us we found out that the basic necessity for the children in tribal villages is library where they can spend time to read and learn. A few villages have funds for libraries on paper but nothing is been used. There are hardly any books, and poor infrastructure in the libraries. By building this concept, we want to set up four to five libraries in different villages on our own and make the initiative a working model for every village in the state.”The first few libraries will be set up in Amravati, Pune, and Yavatmal districts through crowdfunding. According to Pravin Nikam, a team member, “We will start crowdfunding for the libraries in rural villages soon. We will later take help from corporate funds through CSR activities to extend the initiative. While we will be focusing on storytelling, history, civic studies for children below the age group of 18, career building and UPSC books will be available for children above 18 years of age.”CHANGE FOR BETTEROver 300 teams participated for the ‘Transform Maharashtra’ project organised by state government.
By getting over 7,500 votes, the initiative – one village, one library got popular choice award.

JD(U) protests stopping of tur procurement in Maharashtra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra unit of Janata Dal (U) today protested against the state government’s decision to stop tur (pigeon pea) procurement. The move will adversely affect farmers, especially those from the suicide-prone regions, the party said. “Last year, the Centre had imported 57 lakh tonne tur dal at a rate of Rs 10,114 per quintal. Our farmers sell the same goods at a rate of Rs 5,050 per quintal. That too has been stopped now. Our farmers are being hoodwinked to benefit international traders,” Kapil Patil, state unit chief of JD(U), said in a statement here. He said to protest the government’s move, tur was brought from Amravati, Karmala and Pandharpur areas and sold outside the gates of Mantralaya (the state secretariat) here by party members. “In just about an hour, 100 kg of tur got sold. Mumbaikars gave a good response to our initiative,” Patil said. Recently, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had demanded increase in the import duty on tur from 10 to 25 per cent to ensure price stability. He had also requested the Centre to purchase tur that arrived at the procurement centres till April 22. The Centre had given an extension to tur procurement on the request of the state government but the final extension ended on April 22.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Government to set up IIMC campuses in N-E

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In line with India’s Act East Policy, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry has proposed to set up a Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) campus in Arunachal Pradesh, and a permanent campus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in Aizawl, Mizoram. The move aimed at encouraging local talent in the media and entertainment sector in the north east will cost the government Rs 225 crore including Rs 200 for the 50 acre FTII campus in Arunachal and Rs 25 crore for the IIMC campus, which would be developed as a media training hub for the north east as well as other south East Asian countries.Currently, FTII has a campus in Pune, while the IIMC which has its headquarters in Delhi, has campuses in Jammu, Amravati, Kottayam, Dhenkanal and Aizawl too.“The proposed Film & Television Institute of India in Arunachal Pradesh and the setting up of permanent campus of IIMC at Aizawl would provide quality training to the young population, catering to their needs and aspirations and thereby acting as talent creators and talent hubs in the region,” a statement from the I&B ministry read, quoting M Venkaiah Naidu, I&B minister.In the review meeting of programmes and policies in the North East in Guwahati on Tuesday, the minister also said it is imperative to develop programmes in local languages and dialects to reach out to all sections of the society. He emphasised that public service broadcaster All India Radio is working towards the purpose by broadcasting in 28 dialects of the north east region.

‘Swayam’ project to encourage poultry farming in tribal areas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Cabinet today approved a project named ‘Swayam’ that is aimed at encouraging poultry farming in the tribal areas of the state. Through the project, the government plans to eradicate malnutrition among children in the tribal sub plan areas, as poultry farming will raise the availability of eggs, which would be included in the meals of anganwadi children, an official statement said. Anganwadis are government-run nursery schools for children in tribal areas. The project would also generate self-employment opportunities for the tribals, an official statement said. The project will be implemented over a period of two years. The ‘Swayam’ project will be implemented in 16 districts – Thane, Palghar and Raigad (Konkan division), Pune (Pune division), Nashik, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Dhule (Nashik), Amravati and Yavatmal (Amravati division), Nagpur , Gadchiroli, Gondia, Chandrapur (Nagpur), Nanded (Latur division), the statement said. About 43,368 families will benefit from the scheme. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 22.55 crore and it would be implemented in the years- 2017-18 and 2018-19.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Vidharbha and Central Maharashtra to face heat wave for next few days

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With neighbouring states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan reeling under heat wave, weathermen claim that as per the forecast, even Vidharbha and Central Maharashtra will face heat wave for next few days.According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials, when the maximum temperatures of a place is consistently 40 degree Celsius or above and temperatures have been around 4 to 6 degree Celsius above normal, its considered to be under heat wave.“We have already issued warnings for heat wave on April 15 as well as 16 for Vidharbha and Central Maharashtra. Also, there is a likelihood of high humidity levels along the Maharashtra coastal belt that will cause discomfort even though the temperature might not shoot up,” said an IMD official.In fact, on April 14, the maximum temperature at Nagpur was 44.4 degree Celsius, which was four degree Celsius above normal while the maximum temperature recorded at Chandrapur was 44.8 degree Celsius ,which was also four degree Celsius above normal. Situation at other places across Maharashtra too remained same as maximum temperatures at places including Yavatmal (42.0 degree Celsius) Amravati (43.6 degree Celsius) and Pune (40.6 degree Celsius) remained high.While in Mumbai the maximum temperatures recorded at Colaba was 34.2 degree Celsius the humidity recorded was 81% while the maximum temperature recorded at Santacruz was 34.5 degree Celsius and the humidity was 70%.

25% skilled youth placed by Maha govt quit jobs within months due to poor salary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 25 per cent youths placed by the Maharashtra government during 2016 had quit their first jobs within six months, statistics compiled by the Skill Development Department show.Salaries for beginners ranged between Rs 6,000 and Rs 8,000, with a majority working in the retail, hospitality, manufacturing and fast-food sectors. Figures pertaining to loss of jobs due to downsizing and austerity drives of employers could not be obtained.”Most youngsters quit as they felt the remuneration was too low for their sense of pride. For many, this was their first jobs and most have left without another offer and are sitting at home now,” Deepak Kapoor, Skill Development Secretary, Maharashtra, said. Costly accommodation, daily transport and food were among the other reasons for quitting, say officials.When asked about minimum wages, Kapoor said: “No company or factory can dare to pay less than the minimum wages. If they do, they will lose their licence. Anyway, Rs 7,000 per month, as given by McDonald, is equal to Rs 240 per day. This appears to be within rules.For shops and establishments, the minimum wages for unskilled labour is Rs 8,460, Rs 8,880 for semi-skilled workers and Rs 9,300 for skilled workers.The candidates either had a diploma or certificate course from Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Vocational Training Centres or have passed Class X or XII.Interestingly, the department had taken various initiatives in the interior of Maharashtra in 2016, inviting big private companies and fast food joints to job fairs.Perhaps neither government officials nor employers could gauge the rising aspiration levels of rural youths. “Nearly one-fourth employees, out of the 250 hired by Cafe Coffee Day during the Amravati job fair six months back, had left the job citing low salary. Similar is the case of McDonald,” said Kapoor.Over 2.5 lakh youngsters were placed in various private companies in 2016, claims the department, which is entrusted with training and placement of skilled youths.Worried over the large-scale resignations and cautionary notes from employers, the department has now added a special “soft skill” course for all candidates in vocational institutions.”Soft skills are being added in the curriculum to sensitise beginners about starting salaries. Most youths expect higher salaries from big brands and companies. They need to understand that salary increases in a couple of years, based on performance,” said Kapoor.Since most youths were placed in big cities like Mumbai and Pune, survival on such a petty amount became challenging for them. “To address the issue, placements are now being given within the same district, so that at least 2-3 youngsters can share accommodation, visit their homes in the weekend and sustain themselves,” Kapoor said.The department was created in the state and also at the Centre more than two years ago by restructuring and rebranding the erstwhile employment department to align with Prime Minister’s pet programme “Skill India”.

Sumit Mullick appointed as Maharashtra Chief Secretary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior IAS officer Sumit Mullick was on Tuesday appointed as the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra.He will succeed Swadheen Kshatriya, who was due for retirement on January 31, but was given a month’s extension.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis signed the file on Mullick early this morning, an official from the CMO said.Mullick, a 1982 batch IAS officer is Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) and currently serving as the Chief Protocol Officer in the General Administration department.He had earlier served as the Divisional Commissioner of Amravati and worked as Secretary of School Education.He was also Secretary to the Governor.Mullick is the senior most bureaucrat in the state after Kshatriya and will retire in April 2018.When contacted, Mullick told PTI that he will take charge this evening.

#MaharashtraCivicpolls 2017: BJP dominates across state, Shiv Sena emerges as single largest party in BMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Smashing long-held bastions of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) surged to the dominant position in most of the urban civic bodies, results for which were declared on Thursday. However, despite its impressive gains in cities like Pune, Nagpur, Akola, Amravati and Solapur, the cherry on the cake—the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation—remained elusive for the party with its estranged ally the Shiv Sena poised to emerge as the single largest party in the country’s richest civic body.The BJP also fared poorly compared to the Shiv Sena in the Greater Mumbai urban agglomeration with the latter coming up trumps in Thane and Ulhasnagar, where the BJP had joined hands with controversial local strongman Pappu Kalani’s son Omi.The results come as a relief for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis who led the charge almost single-handedly across the state, including in Mumbai and Thane. However, the Shiv Sena may use its dominance in Mumbai and Thane, which together account for 60 seats in the state assembly’s bench strength, to assert itself even more against its senior ally in the state government.The Sena, which is part of the Narendra Modi and Fadnavis-led dispensations, has already warned that it has put the BJP on “notice” in what is perceived to be a threat to quit the governments. While emerging as the single-largest political formation in Pune, the BJP, which was badly splintered among factions, almost snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It also smashed the Raj Thackeray-led MNS to sail close to the half-way mark in Nashik.The party also made substantial gains in the Solapur municipal corporation, which is the stronghold of senior Congress leader and former chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde, and has a strong presence of the Muslim community. The BJP also won convincingly in Nagpur, which is the hometown of Fadnavis’ and union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari, and captured other civic bodies in the Vidarbha region like Akola and Amravati.On the flip side, while the BJP made gains in Mumbai, it fell short in its ambition of unseating the Sena from power in the country’s largest civic body. The BJP, which had drawn many NCP leaders and defectors into its fold in Pimpri Chinchwad, also lost to the party which had seen former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar throw his weight into the contest.A senior BJP leader noted that the factor which had worked most for them was the lack of a strong, credible opposition, with the people yet to get over the anger against 15 years of rule by the Congress and NCP.“The opposition is weak so the people decide to trust us. Another factor which could have gone in our favour was the fact that people could have chosen the BJP at the local level since the party is in power at the Centre and the state,” he said, admitting that the results had belied their fears about the rural voters punishing the party over demonetisation.The internal fights and factionalism in the Congress and NCP could have also helped, said the BJP leader. Party leaders also claim that projecting Modi and Fadnavis may have helped draw in first-time, young, urban and aspirational voters who tend to side with those parties promising development rather than identity politics.The huge silent morchas organised by the Marathas for demands like quotas in jobs and education could also have led to a reverse polarisation by non-Marathas, especially the upwardly mobile and assertive OBCs, for the BJP.A Shiv Sena source admitted that the party was overtly fixated with Mumbai and Thane and had chosen to focus on the belt at the cost of expansion in other areas which may have led to some of its core and auxilliary voters drifting to the BJP. “The Congress and NCP leaders too were fixated on their pocket-boroughs. For instance, Ajit Pawar directed his attention to Pimpri- Chinchwad than other areas,” he noted.

BMC Elections 2017: BJP softens rhetoric against Sena before counting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the eve of the counting of votes for the fiercely-fought Maharashtra civic elections, BJP on Wednesday indicated it was not averse to a post-poll tie-up with Shiv Sena in cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). “There are no ideological differences between BJP and Shiv Sena,” Maharashtra BJP president Raosaheb Danve told reporters here.”We tried our best to have an alliance with Shiv Sena. But we have differences on some technical grounds. We began (alliance) talks on the issue of transparency (in BMC administration). However, the alliance could not take place on the issue of transparency,” Danve said. “BJP is confident that tomorrow, when results are declared, it will come to power in BMC with full majority,” he said on Wednesday.”BJP will come to power in 11 zilla parishads (out of the 25, which went to polls) and six municipal corporations (of the ten, where elections were held),” Danve said. About 56 per cent voters had on Wednesday exercised their franchise across 10 municipal corporations in Maharashtra, including for the all-important Mumbai civic body BMC which recorded a 55 per cent turn-out.BJP and its bickering ally in the state government, Shiv Sena, who could not form an alliance for the civic polls in the megapolis or elsewhere this time, fought keenly, lashing out freely at each other during the bitter campaign. The electioneering assumed an unusually shrill pitch in the final phases largely due to the acrimony between the two saffron parties, who fought the civic polls separately for the first time in over two decades, though Congress, NCP and MNS were also in the fray.Allegations and counter-allegations flew thick all through the run-up for the election, which has virtually turned into a battle of prestige for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, heading the state’s first BJP-led government, and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. The stakes are high for Fadnavis and Thackeray, who led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a no-holds-barred campaign.Apart from Mumbai, the municipal corporations which went to the polls were Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur.

Maha civic poll counting on Thursday, all eyes on BMC outcome

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All eyes will be on the outcome of the fiercely-fought BMC elections as counting for polls to 10 municipal corporations and 25 zilla parishads across Maharashtra begins on Thursday morning. Counting of votes will begin at 10 AM, an election official said here today. About 56 per cent voters had on Tuesday exercised franchise across 10 municipal corporations in Maharashtra, including for the all-important Mumbai civic body BMC which recorded a 55 per cent turn-out.BJP and its bickering ally in the state government Shiv Sena, who could not form an alliance for the civic poll in the megapolis or elsewhere this time, fought keenly, lashing out freely at each other during the bitter campaign. The turn-out for 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samiti polls yesterday was 69 per cent. The stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a no-holds-barred campaign, relegating the Opposition Congress, the NCP and other players like the MNS and the AIMIM to the background.Apart from Mumbai, the municipal corporations which went to the polls were Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri- Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur. In Mumbai, there were 2,275 candidates and 92 lakh voters.The first phase of 15 zilla parishads and 165 panchayat samitis polling was held on February 16 where 69% voters exercised their franchise.

Civic polls: Voting gets underway across Maha; all eyes on BMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polling for the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and 9 other civic bodies across Maharashtra got underway this morning with estranged allies BJP and Shiv Sena at the forefront of this battle of might. A total of 3.77 crore voters will determine the fate of 17,331 candidates for 3210 seats up for grabs in 10 municipal corporations, 11 zilla parishads and 118 panchayat samitis in the second phase of polls being seen as “mini general elections.” The stakes are high for Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, who have led their respective parties from the front and were involved in a high decibel and no holds barred campaign relegating the Opposition Congress and NCP to the background. Polling began at 7.30 AM at 43,160 polling stations spread across the state. The districts going to polls in the second phase are Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Pune, Solapur, Nashik, Amravati and Gadchiroli. Elections are being held in 118 panchayat samitis in these districts. The ten municipal corporations include Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Nashik, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Solapur, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur. As many as 43,160 polling booths have been set up. There will be 2.76 lakh election staff and equal number of police personnel on the duty. More than 1.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the zilla parishads and panchayat samitis while 1.95 crore urban voters will in the ten Municipal corporations. In Mumbai, the country’s financial capital, there are 2275 candidates and 92 lakh voters. The election result for Asia’s largest civic body which has been run by the Shiv Sena supported by the BJP for the last two decades will decide the fate of the Devendra Fadnavis government. In municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, there are multi member wards where a voter will have to cast his vote for each of the category in the panel. Each panel has more than two wards. The big poll focus is on 227-member Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), retaining control of which is vital for Shiv Sena as the city has remained its prime political space ever since the party’s formation in 1966. Shiv Sena has been in power in BMC for over two decades.(MORE)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cong, NCP retain Nashik Graduates, Aurangabad Teachers seats

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress and NCP have retained Nashik Graduates and Aurangabad Teachers constituencies, respectively, in the biennial Maharashtra Legislative Council elections. Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil of BJP has retained his Amravati graduates seat by defeating his nearest Congress rival Sanjay Khodke. Patil polled 78,051 votes, while Khodke got 34,154 votes, State Electoral Office said today. Biennial elections to five Graduates and Teachers constituencies in the state were held on February 3 and the counting was taken up yesterday. In Nashik, Congress nominee Sudhir Tambe won the seat by securing a total of 83,311 votes, while opponent Prashant Patil of the BJP polled 40,486 votes. There were 17 candidates in the fray. In Aurangabad teachers constituency, Vikram Kale of NCP polled 25,288 votes, while Independent candidate Satish Patki supported by BJP won 13,735 votes. Balaram Patil (Independent) supported by the NCP polled secured 11,837 votes as against 6,887 of Shiv Sena’s Dyaneshwar Mhatre in Konkan teachers constituency, officials said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

MLC polls: 16 candidates have criminal cases; 30 crorepatis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sixteen candidates out of 70 whose affidavits for the state Legislative Council elections have been analysed have declared criminal cases and three of them have serious charges like murder and criminal intimidation. While total 76 candidates are in the fray from the teachers and the graduates constituencies for the February 3 elections, the Association of Democratic Rights (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch could study the background details of 70 candidates as relevant information was not available for rest six. The trio have declared serious charges like murder, criminal intimidation, causing death by negligence, furnishing false information, cheating and forgery in their affidavits. While one of them belongs to Congress, two are Independents. As per ADR, 13 (or 19 per cent) out of 70 candidates have declared criminal cases against them. While three of them are from Congress, BSP, and Shiv Sena respectively, rest are Independents, ADR said in a statement today. According to ADR, the candidate with the highest declared assets worth over Rs 15 crore is Sudhir Tambe of Congress who is contesting from Nashik Graduates constituency. The elections are held for three teachers and two graduate constituencies. The teachers constituencies going to polls are Aurangabad, Nagpur and Konkan while the graduates seats are Amravati and Nasik. As per ADR, out of the 70 candidates analysed, 30 candidates or 43% are crorepatis, of which 8 belong to major parties. Among the crorepatis, two are from BJP, two from Congress, one from Lok Bharati, one from BSP, one from Bali Raja Party and one from NCP, the statement added.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Maharashtra: Bishnoi, Sarkunde, Dharurkar appointed information commissioners

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state government selected three information commissioners who were appointed by the Governor on Friday. The three are retired IPS officer​ KL Bishnoi, retired IAS officer​ Sambhaji Sarkunde and former tribal commissioner and journalist​ Dilip Dharurkar. With the appointments, the government filled up posts of three benches, some of which were vacant for almost two years, killing the very essence of the RTI Act for getting timely information. Retired bureaucrats continued to weigh on the higher side, which has often been a grouse of activists, who state that babus have made it a parking lot for themselves. Which of the commissioners will be holding which bench will be decided after they are sworn in. “Assigning of the benches will be done on Monday after they are sworn in,” said Ratnakar Gaikwad, state chief information commissioner. He added, “I would request them to clear pending appeals fast so as to reach one month pendency as early as possible. Nagpur can do it soon, but Amravati and Nashik will take at least two years or so.” The appointment of the commissioners was both welcomed and slammed by RTI activists. “It is a good thing that the government has appointed three commissioners. Wish it had appointed two more to clear the huge backlogs. Two out of three are retired government officers. Wish it appoints atleast two RTI activists soon,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner welcoming the verdict. The state information commission has already resolved that all ten posts provided in the Act should be created, said Gaikwad. While Gandhi hoped that RTI activists also make it, some RTI activists slammed the government for not having as much transparency in selecting and appointing of information commissioners. “Since the beginning there was no transparency in appointment of information commissioners. With this chief minister we thought we will get transparency. They should have had a search committee and put up advertisements before appointing the commissioners. How is it that only these managed to make it to the post? These appointments have been done by deciding among them. Any government comes, this business of appointing (people known) does not stop. In the present case while there are allegations against some, the other is not even heard of,” said Vijay Kumbhar a noted RTI activist from Pune. “Everything is done strictly in accordance with the rules and procedure. Few people have a habit of finding faults with everything so can’t help them. Govt can’t decide on the basis of likes or dislikes of someone. Moreover, some people think that people of eminence live only in metro cities or on page three which is not true. But we take this as constructive criticism and will see whether the process really needs any change,” Devendra Fadnavis told DNA.

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