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12 special courts to try cases against politicians: Govt to Supreme Court

The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it will set up 12 special courts to speed up trials in pending cases involving MPs and MLAs in the country.These special courts would adjudicate 1571 criminal cases pending against lawmakers. The scheme for establishing these special courts is ready, the court was told. Decisions regarding requirement of additional courts will be taken in due course.According to the affidavit, more time was required to compile the nationwide data on pendency of cases against MLAs and MPs.According to data compiled by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), affidavits filed by politicians at the time of submitting nomination papers for 2014 general election and Assembly polls showed that 1,581 cases were pending against politicians. Ten cases were later dropped due to death of the politicians named in the cases.It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Election Commission for their response to a PIL seeking to restrain convicted politicians from holding any posts in political parties.The PIL sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission to frame guidelines to decriminalise the electoral system and ensure inner-party democracy as proposed by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).The petition also named several politicians who have been convicted or have charges framed against them but continue to hold posts in political parties and “wielding political power.” It points out that now even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, loot, sedition, or dacoity can form a political party and become its president.

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BMC Tree Authority an only neta club as tree expert slots lie vacant

Following the death of Sharda Ghodeswar by a sudden tree fall in Chembur last week, questions were raised about the casual and unscientific inspection that the city civic authority conducts. The various causes experts quoted were haphazard cutting, over concretization and planting of non native trees in the city. The city civic body BMC has a dedicated tree authority whose role is to protect and preserve the trees in Mumbai and take action against illegal tree cutting and trimming. However, information has come to fore that the authority does not have a single tree expert as its member and all the decisions are taken only by elected civic representatives from various parties.The BMC’s Tree Authority has 15 members including ivic chief Ajoy Mehta. The present tree authority was made in March 2017 after the BMC elections and has 6 members of Shiv Sena, 5 members of BJP, two from Congress and one from NCP. While, all 10 positions for the tree experts are lying vacant.”The state government’s social forestry department does not have any registered NGO in Mumbai zone to select tree experts from them”, said Sanvi Tandel, Shiv Sena corporator who head’s the BMC’s Garden committee. “The authority can be run under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner”, Tandel added.While, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens), Kishore Kshirsagar said, “Till last year, the tree authority had passed a resolution that tree experts can be appointed from the NGO’s by putting ward wise notices. However, this authority has not yet passed any such resolution and thus the positions of the tree experts are vacant”.”If the tree authority, who is responsible for taking all decisions on trees in Mumbai has no expert, a person who will scientifically raise concerns on green cover, give opinion on tree cutting, trimming and transplantation from a technical and botanical angle, how will the decisions be partial ? A tree authority without a tree expert makes no sense at all. The political parties just don’t want any environmentalists interference in their decisions on haphazard tree cutting for their upcoming projects because of which they are not filling the positions reserved for experts”, said Zoru Bathena an environment activist who has been fighting against extensive tree cutting for metro projects in Mumbai.TREE TALKMANOJ KOTAKBJP group leaderNo NGO’s fit in the norms laid by the state government on the tree experts recruitment which includes forestation experience and many others. That is why till now no experts are appointed. Last year, we had relaxed the criterias and had appointed the members. But this year, we are yet to take the decision if to relax the norms because of which as of now there are no tree experts in the authority”.VISHWANATH MAHADESHWARMayorThe appointment of tree experts in the tree authority is important. The experts have their opinions are also necessary while taking any decision by the tree authority. The tree authority last year did have experts and we will see that the appointment of the tree experts in this tree authority is done soon”.DR NILESH BAXIAn enviornmentalist and former member of tree authority allegedDecisions like appointing tree experts as members, tree cutting, trimming and transplantation is just a political racket. All the decisions are taken for money and profit. All the political party members are anti-naturalists. They don’t want an expert as a member as they will put down their feet on every project and they don’t want any interference.ONE, TWO, TREE29.75lakh Total trees in Mumbai13.9lakh Native trees15.8lakh Non-native trees450 Variety of treesMORE NUMBERS2 times a year BMC conducts audit of trees939 Tree collapse incidences in city this year4 Death due to tree fall this yearWHY DO TREES COLLAPSE?Over concretisation Paving Damage of roots while laying the utilities Improper and loose earth filling after laying utilities Improper trimming causing the tree to loose its balance No modern equipment to find out tree health

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Speak up Mumbai: Why must commuters pay for BEST’s losses?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) Undertaking sitting on losses to the tune of Rs 880 crore, there’s no doubt that the Undertaking is in a financial crisis. In a bid to bring some relief to its balance sheet, the BEST approved a hike in fares for distances longer than 6 km, and school and college-going student commuters.For school students, the hike in fares ranges from 16 to 66 per cent. The monthly pass for students up to class 5 will cost between Rs 150 to Rs 200, quarterly Rs 450 to Rs 600, and six-monthly Rs 750 to Rs 1,000. These fares were earlier applicable to students from class 6 to 10, which too, have been increased to Rs 250, Rs 750 and Rs 1,250 for the mentioned brackets respectively.Until now, the BEST’s subsidy to school and college students, senior citizens, blind persons, and physically handicapped commuters amounts to about Rs 41.7 crore. However, parent organisation, BMC has asked the Undertaking to rationalise its costs in order to bring down its losses, of which the hike in fares is one such decision.DNA finds out from regular commuters of Mumbai’s iconic red bus whether the BEST’s decision is a move in the right direction.EXPERT SPEAKThis fare hike is important for the financial revival of BEST, and only targets a select section of passengers. We have been taking loans of about Rs 250 crore each month to pay salaries and maintain our assets. The hike in prices will be implemented only once the BMC committee gives its go ahead. We are also working on other measures that need to be taken to control the losses the Undertaking is currently under.—Anil Kokil, Chairman, BEST CommitteeRather than increasing the fares, the authorities should go for dedicated bus lanes that is lying in the dock for months now. Instead of spending so much money on the Metro, spend few crore on creating dedicated bus lanes. This way they can not only operate more buses but also ferry more people which will increase their revenue by default. The BEST should also consider doing away with routes that are loss-making which will bring down expenditure.—Ashok Datar, transport expertVOICESInstead of introducing a hike in fares for students and long distances, BEST should instead focus on providing quality service to its commuters. Decisions such as increasing the frequency of buses on busy routes and maintenance of buses are more important if it intends to attract crowds to build revenue and come out of its losses.—Hanmant Wanole, Santa CruzHiking prices for long distance journeys is okay but increasing the fares for students should be avoided. The school and college students who mostly use BEST’s bus services do not belong to affluent families. Wouldn’t they be using private bus services if they did? It would mean an unnecessary burden on the parents of these students.—Salman Khan, BandraBEST’s management should be privatised. Every time they want to hike fares, they put forth the story of financial troubles. Rather than resorting to this each time, BEST should create other avenues for income generation like transport of private sector employees, school children, offering group discounts for people wanting to go on short trips. They could event reinvent the look of their buses — make them more airy, comfortable and disabled and senior citizen-friendly.—Apeksha Vora, DadarBEST’s decision to increase the fares for commuters to make up for their losses is wrong. Students should be given concession as much as possible. Increasing the fares for students is not acceptable. Besides, BEST has to improve its facilities first to target commuters by increasing the fares. BEST has failed to suffice the needs of the commuters and has become an issue of government apathy.—Sohel F Fidai, Santa CruzBEST’s decision to hike fares, especially for long distances, to take care of their losses is in the right direction. When the organisation is facing such losses, the only option left is to hike fares in order to increase their income and to mitigate deficit. However, there are chances that BEST may face the heat for its decision and commuters could choose to opt for other means of transport due to the increased fares.—Rohit Ahuja, VersovaIt is silly of the BEST to hike the fares. In a city like ours, there is no shortage of commuters. With better planning and less corruption, it’s easy for the BEST to make money without increasing fares. You cannot pass the burden on students. And if they increase fares, they should also match up with the service. The state government should ensure they give privileges to those who do not have them, for any mode of public transport by focusing on just breaking even with their expenses.—Harish Iyer, Navi MumbaiThe fare hike will further hit people who are already suffering from the effects of inflation and price rise in other areas of daily life. It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that public transport is affordable to citizens. Hence the government should help BEST in emerging from its financial crunch instead of allowing the Undertaking to pass its burden on to the commuters.—K Praveish Vishwanath Aiyar, SionIt is better to leave the future of the country, that is students, burden free in order to have a safe and successful future of our generation. Hiking fares for them is unfair. Also, BEST’s long distance routes are usually used by a group of the population who are already average on their income, hence increasing the fare on these routes will further burden them which is not advisable, especially if it’s a move for BEST to make up their own losses.—Prithvi Mhaske, Andheri

How Mumbai’s Elphinstone tragedy changed lives of hawkers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A report on the rush-hour stampede during a monsoon downpour that killed 22 people, said vendors crowding a narrow footbridge were partly to blame.Since then, city officials have doubled a fine for illegal hawkers, and said they will introduce a mobile app for residents to register complaints about hawkers.Members of a local political party have clashed with vendors outside train stations, saying they pose a risk to commuters.”City officials have not done anything to create hawking zones and issue new licences,” said Salma Sheikh of advocacy group Azad Vendors Union in Mumbai.”The law clearly states there can be no evictions till a survey is done. Yet vendors are being evicted, their wares destroyed; this is a blatant violation of our rights,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Vendors selling everything from snacks and tea to toys, clothes and shoes are a common sight in India’s cities, with their wares on pavements, outside schools and at traffic lights.Only about 20,000 hawkers in Mumbai are licensed, with the number unlicensed estimated at more than 150,000.Unlicensed hawkers often have to pay policemen bribes, and flee eviction drives which are becoming more common as cities are upgraded with high-speed internet and air-conditioned metro trains.A plan is being drawn up to regularise hawkers, a city official said.”A survey has been done. We will be holding a meeting in coming weeks to decide on a committee to issue licences and demarcate hawking zones,” said Ranjit Dhakne, a deputy municipal commissioner.India passed the Street Vendors Act in 2014, which protects from evictions and relocations. States were required to pass a law adopting the policy, but few have done so.Informal street life that offers livelihoods to the poor are increasingly seen as a problem, even as officials ignore illegal parking and extensions of shops on to pavements, said an academic who has studied the issue.”It is a paradox that the same people who want the convenience of street vendors also want them removed,” said Hussain Indorewala at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture in Mumbai.”Decisions about who belongs in the city, and what streets and public spaces should be used for are increasingly being controlled through the privilege of property ownership.”

Diwali has come early for citizens due to GST Council’s decisions: PM Narendra Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>PM Narendra Modi kicked off his two day visit to Gujarat on Saturday by offering prayers at the Dwarkadhish temple.Speaking after laying the foundation stone for a four-lane cable-stayed bridge between Okha and Beyt Dwarka, the PM also addressed the concerns around GST.”Diwali has come early for our citizens due to the decisions taken in the GST Council. We had said we will study all aspects relating to GST for 3 months, including the shortcomings. And thus, the decisions were taken with consensus at the GST council,” the PM said. Asserting that the Centre has tried to make the tax simpler, the PM said, “We do not want country’s business class to get caught in red tapism.””When there is trust in a government and when policies are made with best intentions, it is natural for people to support us for the best interests of the nation. The common citizen of India wants the fruits of development to reach him or her. Nobody wants their children to live in poverty. We want to help our people fulfil that dream and want to fight poverty,” the PM said.

Mumbai: Heartless mother leaves newborn girl to die in public toilet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, a baby girl, hours after her birth, was left to die in a public toilet, allegedly by her mother in Mumbai’s Kanjurmarg suburb, police said today.However, the day-old infant received prompt medical aid and has been now kept in a child care centre, they said.On the morning of June 9, a woman, who went to the toilet, spotted the baby, whose face was in the toilet hole, crying, police said.The woman pulled the baby from the toilet and alerted her own family and police control room.Police rushed to the spot and saw the baby in the hands of the woman, a police official said.The baby, who needed urgent medical treatment, was taken to a civic hospital, he said.”After her health improved, we took the baby to Vatsalya Trust, where she could get proper care,” Senior Police Inspector Ajinath Satpute told PTI. Decisions about her welfare will be taken by Child Welfare Committee, he said.Police are yet to trace and identify the newborn’s mother.However, it has registered an offence against her under section 315 of IPC (an act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth) and section 317 of IPC (exposure and abandonment of child under twelve years, by parent or person having care of it), the official said.

Farm loan waiver on top of Yogi cabinet’s agenda tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Key issues in the BJP’s poll manifesto, especially farm loan waiver, electricity in rural areas and an ordinance on slaughterhouses, are likely to be taken up during the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government’s first cabinet meeting here tomorrow. State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said a proposal prepared for farm loan waiver will be presented before the cabinet at its first meeting. Though state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh maintained that the agenda of the meeting was yet to be finalised, sources said the government was likely to take a decision on waiving the loans of small and marginal farmers. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the promises made in the BJP’s manifesto for the just-concluded state Assembly polls will be on the agenda of the Adityanath government’s first cabinet meeting. “Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party’s manifesto,” he said. The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had said in his campaign speeches that writing off farm loans would be among the foremost tasks of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. Although there is no Constitutional compulsion of convening the first cabinet meeting within a certain period, traditionally the ruling party has held it within a week or so of forming the government. The Adityanath government was sworn-in on March 19 and its first cabinet meeting will be held tomorrow, over a fortnight after the swearing-in ceremony. Government sources said around 2.30 crore farmers in the state suffered losses due to natural calamities in the recent past and were unable to repay loans amounting to about Rs 62,000 crore. They also said that it could be difficult to handle the burden of loan waiver in a single financial year and that was one of the reasons to put the cabinet meeting on hold till a way was found to honour the prime minister’s poll promise that the BJP government would take a decision on farm loan waiver at its first cabinet meeting. (MORE)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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