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No meat kits for Maharashtra yet

Even as cow vigilantism is making ripples across India, the Maharashtra government has faltered in its plan to deploy portable cow meat detection kits to ascertain at the earliest if a suspected meat consignment is of a cow or a buffalo.These kits, which were to be deployed in all the 45 mobile forensic support vehicles in police commissionerates and district units, would enable on-the-spot results as compared to the usual three days laboratory tests.This would have helped defuse the law and order situation in case of suspected beef seizures and prevent losses to suppliers, transporters and restaurant owners in case the seized meat didn’t ultimately turn out to be beef.However, sources said this had not been done as the kits, which were originally meant to be pressed into service by July-end, had not been purchased so far.”After a large number of seizures of suspected beef, it was planned that these kits would be purchased and used. Though the number of samples sent for testing have declined from over 200 per month around a year ago to just about 100 per month now, it is necessary to deploy these kits to prevent any violence or conflagration in case of any suspected beef seizures,” said a home department source.”Compared to the around two days it takes for the testing in our laboratories due to the scientific processes involved, these kits, which detect the gene present in cow meat protein through the ELISA method, gives a result in around half-an-hour,” he added.It had been proposed that on a experimental basis, one such kit, which could test up to 25 samples, would be deployed on each of the 45 mobile vans. Ironically, after the Maharashtra government plan to operationalise these kits, police establishments in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh had also enquired with them about it.The official noted that they had trained around 100 police personnel — with a science background — in the protocols of forensic evidence collection to be posted with these vans. The Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL) is also recruiting staff for these posts.He added that the DFSL had already written to the home department and the director general of police (DGP). “Though we have DNA testing facilities in five of our labs at Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad, transporting these samples to these establishments leads to a loss of time and effort,” the official explained.Meanwhile, SP Yadav, director general (legal and technical), when asked about the delay, said, “That is in the procurement process.” He added the issue had been referred to the government, and hence it was not possible to say when these kits would be operational.Fact fileMaharashtra has forensic science labs in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Nanded, Kolhapur and Aurangabad While the killing of cows, calves is banned under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, the Amendment Bill in 1995, extended it to bulls and bullocks

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Maharashtra ATS arrests ex-SIMI member from Mumbai Airport

The ATS is probing the purpose of his visit to the country. ”
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Saturday 30 December 2017 23:28 ISTMust readEx-CJI TS Thakur says no to AAP’s Rajya Sabha offerKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this picture<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday arrested a former member of the banned terror outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from the Mumbai International Airport.Based on a tip-off that a former SIMI member often visited India, the ATS arrested Sarjeel Sheikh.Sheikh (34) was an absconding accused in a case lodged at Kurla police station under section 10,13 UAPA r/w 143,144, 145,147,149,353 IPC r/w 135, 37 BP Act.He has been handed over to Kurla police for further action.The ATS is probing the purpose of his visit to the country.

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Kamala Mills Fire: Activist’s efforts go in vain

As the issue of poor fire prevention systems was highlighted after the Kamala Mills incident in central Mumbai, activist Vihar Durve said that the corporation and the fire department did nothing to prevent such incidents despite several requests.Since 2005, Durve has written over 100 letters pointing out the inability of the BMC and the fire department in implementation of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2006.He also filed over 200 RTI applications to the various departments of the BMC and fire asking about the status of its implementation. “Fire safety is compromised at all levels in the city as those who run big eateries easily bribe the corporation and get away with the violation of norms. Eleven years after the act for fire safety came into effect, there has been no action on those who do not follow the requisite norms putting the lives of ordinary people at stake” Durve told DNA.In a response to one of the RTIs filed by Durve, the Mumbai Fire Brigade stated that between 2012 and 2015, a total of 1,090 people were injured while 634 people lost their lives in fire-related incidents.The response also stated that the fire department had issued notices to a total of 1,502 owners/occupiers of premises that were not complying with the fire safety norms.Durve said that when asked about the details of compliance for each of the surveyed eateries between 2012 and 2015, the reply stated that the corporation did not have the consolidated details of the same.Another RTI put before the Indian Audits and Accounts department revealed that there was no audit of the fire and disaster management department between 2013 and 2015. “Even after writing to all the authorities and the Chief Minister consistently, there was no seriousness in implementing the 2006 guidelines” he said.

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Kamala Mills Fire: Cops say no, but patrons say there were hookahs

Just two days prior to the deadly fire that broke out at the 1Above pub and restaurant in Kamala mills, killing 14 and injuring many more, the NM Joshi Marg police had taken action against 1Above for operating beyond the permissible time limit of 1:30 am.However, they have repeatedly turned a blind eye to the other violations at the pub such as hookah being served illegally, and loudspeakers being used on the rooftop. The police claimed that no hookah was being served at any restaurant in the complex.According to the police, the pubs and restaurants at the Kamala mills are a constant headache for them and they have raided several places in the compound where hookah was being served illegally. The police claimed that they regularly keep watch on these establishments and would fine them for violations.”On Thursday we had taken action against the 1above for flouting the time limit of running restaurant under the Maharashtra Police Act, Rs 12.500 fine was imposed on them. This is not the first time that the restaurant has flouted the permissible time limit. In this week this was the second action,” said a police officer from NM Joshi Marg police station.Dr. Sulbha Arora who had visited the 1above on Thursday confirmed to this paper that hookah was being served at 1 Above.When asked a senior police officer they denied that hookah was being served at any of the places, However, people who visited the place admitted that there was a hookah and many hookah pots and pipes were found at both the restaurants.”We visited Mojos on Friday night and hookahs were being served. We too had it,” said Khubchandani who visited the pub along with her friends for a birthday party.

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Fadnavis govt offers cash incentives to Maharashtra cities that perform well in Swachh Bharat rankings

After discouraging performance in the ‘Swachh Survekshan’ or cleanliness survey last year, Maharashtra government has decided to offer cash incentives to rank holder cities in clean city initiative. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has proposed to give incentive to municipal corporations and local bodies for scoring a good place in the Swachh City rankings.The state government would be offering incentives to cities from the state which would secure place in the first 50 clean cities. Last year, Navi Mumbai was on rank 8 and it was the only city from Maharashtra in the list of ten cities at the national level. The second dirtiest city was Bhusawal from Maharashtra , after Gonda in Uttar Pradesh last year. Mumbai’s position dropped to 29 in 2017 from 10 in 2016. These rankings are a part of the Swachh Bharat initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday reviewed Maharashtra’s preparedness for the survey which would start in January and is conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI). Fadnavis has announced a prize money of Rs 20 crore to the cities that are covered under the scheme Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Rs 15 crore for cities securing a rank from 4 to 10. For cities like Mumbai which are not part of AMRUT scheme, the three toppers would win Rs 15 crore, top 10 would get Rs 10 crore and cities securing rank between 11 and 50 would get Rs 5 crore as incentive.Fadnavis has also announced a ‘Swachh Ward,’ or clean ward competition and said that a third party survey for all Municipal corporations in the state would be conducted between January and February 2018. The first three wards of ‘A’ and ‘B’ category corporations would be given Rs 30 lakhs, Rs.20 lakhs and Rs.15 lakhs, respectively and ward from the C and D corporations would get Rs.50 lakhs, 30 lakhs and 20 lakhs and wards of ‘C’ and ‘D’ category corporations respectively.This would be the third survey to be conducted in 2018, first was conducted in 2016.The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the nodal ministry for the QCI. They have covered 434 cities and towns with a population of 1 lakh and above. The survey aims at capturing the outcomes of ongoing efforts to stop open defecation in urban areas and to improve the door-to-door collection, processing and disposal of Municipal Solid Waste.

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Mumbai cops refuse to file FIR against builder: Lawyer

A Sion-based lawyer, allegedly the victim of fraud builder, says his woes have been worsened by Mumbai police’s reluctance to register an FIR against the builder. Builder Uday Surve has allegedly cheated over 2,000 homebuyers and investors to the tune of Rs 150 crore under the pretext of redeveloping buildings built by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). Advocate Deepak Thakur, a resident of Sion, is one of the victims.He has been trying to register a case against Surve, Managing Director of Shubh Enterprises for duping his father Prem Kumar Thakur of Rs 22 lakh since 2015 when he realised that he was cheated. Prem Kumar is a retired Army office, and was promised a flat in Surve’s Shiv Shakti project at Kurar village, Malad. “We paid for the flat in 2012 and were promised possession in 2014,” says 34-year-old Deepak. “We were repeatedly given false assurances of possession, and when we asked for a refund in 2015, he refused.” Deepak said that when he approached Kasturba Marg police to register the complaint, they refused to file an FIR, saying it was a civil matter.“This is despite me telling them that its a criminal case,” says Deepak.Dr. Vinay Rathod, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 12, said, “I am unaware of such an incident. I will enquire about it with the subordinates.”According to the Economic Offences Wing, Surve has been booked in 16 criminal cases across the city.The case against Surve has been probed by the Maharashtra Protection Of Interest Of Depositors and Housing Units of EOW.Surve faces charges of cheating and forgery under the Indian Penal Code and the Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act (MOFA), 1963. Surve and two other accused ran Shubh Enterprises and had undertaken several projects to redevelop a housing society at DN Nagar. The trio sold the same flats to multiple buyers. Surve is behind the bars in Mumbai’s Arthur road jail.“Surve and his accomplices sold the sale components of redevelopment projects without procuring the requisite permission, and in some projects, constructed up to 10 storeys without procuring Commencement certificate (CC) and Intimation Of Disapproval (IOD) from the concerned authorities,” said a senior EOW officer. “We have attached the assets of the accused and both investors and flat buyers have filed the complaints and we are on the verge of recovering the money from the accused.”

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Over 4.5K towers aren’t fire safe

None of the high-rises inspected by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) over the last two years was found to have adhered to fire safety norms. They only complied after legal notices were sent to them.As per the data accessed by DNA, the MFB inspected 4647 buildings over the last couple of years — residential and commercial – and all of them were found without fire safety compliance. They have issued notices under Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act 2006 and given 120 days to comply with the fire safety norms. After the warning, 4637 toed the line, while 10 buildings are now being prosecuted as per law.Two incidents of fire are fresh in minds of Mumbaikars – the Bhanu Farsan shop fire in Saki Naka which claimed 12; and Monday’s fire on the 17thfloor of a high-rise at Walkeshwar, the Legend Tower. Bhanu Farsan shop was not fire-safety compliant, while the fire at Legend Tower was easily controlled as the building had functioning fire safety installations.Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said, “Residents are not serious about fire safety and only install fire safety equipment after we send notices. It is out of fear of prosecution and not safety concerns.” “During inspection, we found that buildings flout basic safety norms such as encroachment on common passage, doors to staircases are closed, water from fire tank is used for domestic purposes,” said a senior MFB officer.Turn to “Some buildings do not have designated entry and exit gates, and while many buildings have firefighting equipment, it is not in working conditions. There will be a faulty or missing knob, rusted pipes or just an inability to operate the equipment,” he added However, residents feel that the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade fail to create awareness about fire safety and are lenient while granting permissions. Nita Bajpai, general Secretary of Juhu-Vile Parle Residents Association said, “It is true that most residents do not take fire safety seriously, but it also the work of the Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade to create awareness through campaigns. Buildings should have fire-fighting installations and do regular servicing to keep it operational. It also cannot be rejected that authorities sanction building permissions when the locality does not provide sufficient space for fire brigade in case of emergency.”

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53% children face one or more forms of sexual abuse: Govt tells Parliament

A centrally-sponsored survey has found that more than 53% children in the country faced one or more forms of sexual abuse, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.Minister of State for Home, Hansraj Ahir, said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development had conducted a study on Child Abuse in 2007, covering 13 states and more than 13,000 children.The study revealed that that more than 53% of children interviewed reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse and 21.90% child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76% other forms of sexual abuse, he said in written reply to a question.Ahir said 50% abusers were persons known to the child and most children did not report the matter to anyone. Children on street, at work and in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual assault, he said. The 13 states where the survey was conducted were – Assam, Mizoram, Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala.

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Was upset over absence of Civil Surgeon: Hansraj Ahir issues clarification after shooting doctors remark

Union Minister Hansraj Ahir, who stoked a controversy with his remarks on doctors, today said his statement was specifically aimed at the Civil Surgeon who skipped the government hospital function and “misinterpreted” by media.Miffed over the absence of senior doctors at a function in his Lok Sabha constituency Chandrapur yesterday, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs had said that “these people should join Naxals” and “we will then shoot you with bullets”. Ahir was speaking at the inauguration of a generic medicine counter at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Chandrapur, in eastern Maharashtra. The district civil surgeon, Uday Nawade, and dean of the medical college, S S More, were not present at the event.Speaking in Marathi, Ahir had said, “What do the Naxals want? They don’t want democracy. I handle the home ministry, so I know it. These people (referring to the senior doctors) don’t want democracy.” “So they should join Naxals. Why do you stay here? Go there, then we will shoot you with bullets. Why do you give tablets (pills) here? How justified is it to remain absent when I am coming to the hospital,” Ahir had said. Ahir today told PTI that he was “upset” over the absence of the Civil Surgeon at the event, for which many dignitaries like the mayor, the deputy mayor and prominent doctors were present.”The civil surgeon, the one who should have led from the front, was absent, which was disgraceful,” Ahir said. He said his comment was aimed particularly at the Civil Surgeon’s “irresponsible behaviour” and not at other government officials or doctors, as is being “misinterpreted” by media. “Naxals don’t want democracy, I know this as I am in the Home Ministry and if you also do not believe in democracy better go and join Naxals if you are not interested in giving tablets then we shall give you ‘goli’ (pills). This was my statement which has been misinterpreted and quoted out of contest,” he said.According to Ahir, the absence of the Civil Surgeon, as an organiser of the programme, was “nothing less than an insult to democracy” and his intention was to “discipline” him by giving some pills which the civil hospital was supposed to take up for distribution to patients.

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After 7 yrs, MHADA back with lottery of 108 shops

After a lottery of nearly 820 homes, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (MHADA) Mumbai Board is all set to introduce an e-auction of 108 commercial premises, for which the process was initiated on Friday when MHADA published a tender seeking a bank through which it can complete the whole process.Of the total 108 commercial establishments, 36 are in Pratiksha Nagar in Sion, four in Mazgaon, 14 in Vinoba Bhave Nagar in Kurla, five in Swadeshi Mill in Kurla, seven in Mankhurd, five in Powai, 11 in Mulund, one in Jogeshwari, four in Shastri Nagar in Goregaon, one in Siddharth Nagar in Goregaon and the remaining 20 in Charkop in Kandivili.The process of finalising the bank is expected to be complete by the first week of January. On Friday, MHADA’s Mumbai Board issued a tender inviting the expression of interest from nationalised, scheduled and commercial banks for a total solution provider for an e-auction of the shops.A senior official from MHADA’s Mumbai Board said, “We are looking for a bank that will be holding the e-auction of the shops spread over Mumbai that belong to MHADA. After the bank is finalised we will carry out the e-auction.”The offset price for the 36 shops in Pratiksha Nagar is Rs 11.45 crore while for the one shop in Jogeshwari, it is Rs 41.09 lakh. The total offset price of the 108 shops is Rs 49.93 crore. While the last such MHADA lottery for commercial premises was held in 2010, this is the first time that the Authority will be holding an e-auction of commercial premises. Until now, the MHADA had always held a manual auction.Apart from this, the MHADA also recently started the construction of buildings in Wadala, where it will be constructing nearly 280 homes in the affordable segment. The Authority is trying to get these homes constructed at the earliest because the MHADA wants the homes to be a part of the forthcoming lottery. In the previous lottery, which was held in November this year, the Authority received a lot of flak because it had only eight homes in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) segment.WHAT’S ON ANVILProcess of finalising the bank is expected to be complete by the first week of January. MHADA’s Mumbai Board, on Friday, had issued a tender inviting the expression of interest from nationalised, scheduled and commercial banks for a total solution provider for an e-auction of the shops. Offset price for the 36 shops in Pratiksha Nagar is Rs 11.45 crore, while for the one shop in Jogeshwari is Rs 41.09 lakh.

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Join Naxals, will shoot you: Union Minister Hansraj Ahir to doctors skipping hospital event

Miffed over senior doctors remaining absent from a function he was attending at a government hospital in Maharashtra, Union Minister Hansraj Ahir today said “these people” should join the Naxals if they don’t believe in democracy, and the government will then shoot them down.The Minister of State for Home Affairs was speaking at the inauguration of a 24×7 store for generic medicines at a government-run hospital in eastern Maharashtra’s Chandrapur, which he represents in the Lok Sabha.”The mayor came, the deputy mayor came but what stopped the doctors from coming for the event?” an angry Ahir asked, noting the absence of senior doctors at the event.Also readHansraj Ahir: No one can stop India from wresting back PoK”What do the Naxals want? They don’t want democracy… So these people (the absent doctors) don’t want democracy, then they should join the Naxals. Why are you here? Then (once you join the Naxals) we will pump you with bullets, why you are dispensing pills here?” Ahir said, punning on the Marathi word ‘goli’ — which means both a pill and a bullet.Ahir wondered if it was appropriate for doctors to go on leave when a “democratically-elected” minister was on a visit.Also readVarun Gandhi pitches for ‘providing shelter to Rohingya refugees,’ gets slammed by MoS Hansraj AhirChandrapur is one of the four districts in Maharashtra which have been identified by the central government as affected by Left-Wing Extremism.

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BJP leaders credit Mumbai AC train run to PM Narendra Modi’s ‘visionary mantra of vikas’

BJP leaders from the city on Monday attributed the inaugural run of the city’s first air-conditioned suburban service to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “visionary mantra of vikas”, calling it “vikas” in the “true sense”.”This is vikas (progress) in the true sense which is now underway and we are travelling in this grand train. It is a result of Modiji’s vision which lays emphasis on speedy execution of mass transportation projects. It’s a dream come true for Mumbaikars,” Vinod Tawde, senior BJP leader and minister in the Maharashtra government said.Tawde was present at the flagging off along with other BJP leaders such as MPs Kirit Somaiya and Gopal Shetty, Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar and MLC Praveen Darekar.Shelar termed the development as “historical” and credited it to Modi’s mantra of governance which is committed to providing comfort to commuters.”This train is a bonanza to travellers and we hope such trains play a crucial role in minimising the number of cars on the roads and help solve traffic problems,” Shelar said.BJP MP Kirit Somaiya called it a historical day and said that credit went to PM Modi for getting the train on track after a wait of ten years.”In the coming 10 years, all rakes on the suburban system will have at least one air-conditioned coach,” he said.However ally and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant rejected such talk and said that the credit of the train went to railway officials.He said, “The credit goes to railway officers and I have already congratulated them yesterday. Earlier, we stood like a pillar behind the BJP government, but they forget sometime.”Jubilant passengers and supporters of the BJP present at the occasion shouted slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” with many attributing the choice of date as an ode to former PM and Bharat Ratna awardee Atal Bihari Vajpayee who is celebrating his 93rd birthday today.

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Border tensions spike as Pak Army resorts to truce breach

Even before the wounds of Rajouri could heal, Pakistan army again resorted to unprovoked heavy firing on Indian forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Poonch sector of the Jammu division on Sunday.The ceasefire violation came a day after tension gripped the LoC when Pakistan army resorted to unprovoked firing in the Keri battalion area of Rajouri sector leaving four Indian army soldiers, including a Major from Maharashtra, dead and another injured.Deputy Commissioner of Poonch Tariq Ahmad Zargar told DNA that the cross-border firing started at 12.30 pm on Sunday at Shahpur sector of the Poonch district and there was no loss of life or the property.”It started at about 12.30 pm. There was no report of loss of any life and property. The cross-border firing continued for more than an hour”, said Zargar.Sources said soon after Pakistan opened fire, the Indian troops swung into action and retaliated in kind to silence the Pakistani guns. The exchange of fire between the two sides continued for some time before it stopped.Seemingly fearing flare up, the authorities has put all emergency departments on alert to meet exigency.”We are always in the state of alert. You never know when ceasefire violation takes place. So we keep our medical and other teams ready”, said Zargar.Meanwhile, rich tributes were paid to the four soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty in Rajouri sector of LoC on Saturday. Major Moharkar Prafulla Ambadas, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh were grievously injured in the cease fire violation and succumbed later on Saturday.Indian army has vowed to avenge the killing of four brave hearts by Pakistani forces at the place and time of their chosing. “The nation will remain ever indebted of the supreme sacrifice of our heroes. Army shall retaliate this dastardly act at a place and choice of our choosing”, tweeted Nagrota based White Knight Corps of the Indian army.Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh said the sacrifices rendered by valiant army officers and soldiers would be remembered for ever. “It will be recorded in the annals of history, so that the young generation get the requisite inspiration to serve the cause of nation”, he saidFigures presented in the Lok Sabha revealed that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir 771 times till December 10 this year, and 110 times along the International Border till November-end. Around 30 people including 14 army personnel, 12 civilians and four BSF personnel were killed in these ceasefire violations this year.Last year there were 449 incidents of ceasefire violations in which 13 civilians and 13 security personnel were killed and 83 civilians and 99 security personnel were injured. The truce between India and Pakistan along the International Border, the Line of Control and the Actual Ground Position Line in Siachen glacier came into force in November 2003.

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FDA suspends 12 blood banks in state

The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) department has suspended the licenses of 12 blood banks in the state. During the inspection, a few blood banks also received show cause notices.While the NACO rule makes it mandatory to collect blood and its components in the presence of a Blood Transfusion Officer (BTO), many blood banks in the state do not have a BTO working in all shifts.FDA Joint Commissioner AT Khadtare said, “The suspension of licenses is mainly due to the lack of BTO officers in those blood banks. While only one Mumbai blood bank got a suspension, most of the suspended blood banks are from Pune. The inspection started in March.” A private blood bank from Vile Parle got license suspension notice.As per the rule of State Blood Transfusion Council, in 24×7 blood banks, every shift requires one BTO and one extra for camps.In July, a Right To Information (RTI) application was filed to know which blood banks have less number of BTO staff. The RTI reply stated that 34 private blood banks in the city which collect more than 2,000 units of blood had less number of BTO.RTI activist, Chetan Kothari, said, “Last year, the FDA had issued show cause notices to government-run blood banks for violation of SBTC rule. They should keep an eye on private blood banks too for violation of rules.”

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Centre asks ED to go after Maoists’ funding, support

To break the network of funding to the Maoists for carrying out insurgency activities across the country, the Centre has roped in Enforcement Directorate (ED) and directed to look into the money laundering happening in Naxal affected areas. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked the ED work in close association with intelligence agencies, local police and paramilitary forces to unearth the money trail and support the Maoists are getting.Also the agencies, have been asked to find the source of funding as Central intelligence agencies has stated that few foreign countries, particularly China, have been supporting insurgent activities in India and also helping them financially apart from Maoists are aided in their efforts to build modern weapons by the Chinese intelligence. “The agencies also stated that the Chinese intelligence units have been training, arming and funding the Maoists to help them wage an inexorable war against India,”said a government officer posted in Ministry of Home Affairs.Sources said that the a list around 90 of “Naxals and associated influential people” have been made in two states — Jharkhand and Bihar — and the joint operation to check their illegal financial activities has been started. Sources also stated that there are few lawmakers and top government employees names in the list. The agency has been asked to first start with the two states and thereafter carry out in other Naxal affected states.”Also, the top Maoists who had surrendered in last five years are also under radar,” said a government official adding that there are few top Maoists who had accumulated lot of wealth during their active role as Naxal and once they surrendered, they within few months, start using their ill-gotten money to spread the network and recruit many youngsters.Furthermore, the MHA has also issued directives to all the paramilitary forces and security establishments to be more “vigilant” and go “combative” while dealing with ultras. The Centre has also asked the force not to shun the muti-prone approach like development in the naxal affected areas and facilitating surrenders of the ultras.As per the ministry, till June 30 this year, in total 424 maoists surrendered before the various law enforcement agencies across the country.Last year, the figure had reached to 1442 but in 2015 it was just 570 and in 2014 it was 676. The government major focus in Chhattisgarh after in the deadliest Maoist ambush in April, 26 men of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) died in Sukma area. It was well-planned massacre carried out by nearly 300 Maoists.This year, in Chhatishgarh, 298 naxals surrender followed by Jharkand with 38 and Andhra Pradesh with 35. In West bengal, 11, in Telangana and Bihar 2, in Odisha 27and Maharashtra 7 ultras surrender.According to a ministry report, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand together accounted for 68.5 per cent of the violent incidents and 69 per cent of deaths. Bihar followed by Odisha and Maharashtra accounted for 12.3 per cent, 8.2 per cent 6.9 per cent incidents.

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Koli community holds protest at Badhwar Park

The Koli community, living in Badhwar Park area of Cuffe Parade, held a protest on Saturday by wearing black t-shirts and waving black flags. They were protesting against three decisions, that they allege, were being forced on them. “The authorities had arrested around 150 of our volunteers who wanted to protest the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bhoomi-pujan on a rocky outcrop in the sea where the Shivaji memorial will be located on this day last year,” said Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti. “We are also protesting state Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam’s statement that they will reduce the CRZ limitation from 500 metres to 50 metres. He claims that he is doing it for us so that we can construct or repair our homes. In existing rules we can already repair them. They are reducing CRZ norms to regularise many illegal bungalows that have come within 500 metres in Ali Baug and are saying that they are doing it for us. That is a lie,” said Tandel adding that “We also want to register our protest against the setting up of theme park here.”

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Why should anyone have problem with singing Vande Mataram: Venkaiah Naidu

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today wondered why should anybody have a problem with singing “Vande Mataram”, meaning salutations to the mother, a song that inspired millions during the country’s freedom movement.”Mother is not the photo but our motherland. ‘Vande Mataram’ is saluting the mother. Why should anyone have a problem with this,” Naidu said at an event in this temple town in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. “Irrespective of our caste, creed and religion, we are one nation, one people and one country,” Naidu said, after inaugurating the Global Sai Temple Trust Summit organised by the Shri Saibaba Sansthan, Shirdi, for trustees and representatives of Saibaba temples in India and abroad. Naidu also rejected as “irrelevant” the issue whether Saibaba, the 20th century saint, was a Hindu or Muslim, saying: “he (Saibaba) was a universal teacher who blended the core principles of Hinduism and Sufism”.Saibaba’s teachings of service to mankind and living in peace and harmony with others need to be imbibed by all and that would be the real tribute to him, Naidu said.”Serving the mankind is serving God. Saibaba is an embodiment of this culture,” he said. An official statement quoted Naidu as saying that being an Indian national amounts to being spiritual, as it is all about seeking a larger identity rising above narrow and divisive considerations. “India is a larger collective and to be known as Indian is going beyond the identity based on birth, caste, region or religion and coming together for a larger cause,” he said.He said nationality and nationalism are instruments of larger unity and integration, uniting the people, thereby going beyond primary identities. This unifying principle of nationalism should not be misunderstood. To feel, think and act as an Indian or ‘Bharatiya’ involves overcoming one’s primary and divisive identities, he added.Also readWinter Session: RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu expresses displeasure over absence of ministers”So, in my view, to be an Indian is being spiritual, as it elevates us to a higher level of identity and shared experience, purpose and actions,” Naidu said. Shirdi, located 238 km off Mumbai, has the famous shrine of Saibaba. In October, President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the newly-built airport at Shirdi.

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Gujarat constructed most houses for urban poor: Official data

Gujarat has constructed the most number of houses for the urban poor under the Centre’s flagship housing scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)’ in the country, official data shows.As many as 54,474 houses have been constructed in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, since 2014-15 under the scheme.This accounts for 18.70 percent of the 2.91 lakh total houses constructed in 36 states and UTs in the country, according to the data of Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.Gujarat has received the central assistance of Rs 1,355 crore for construction of these houses.Under the PMAY(U) scheme, the government targets to construct 1.2 crore affordable houses for urban poor across the country by 2022. The government provides central assistance under various components for construction of the houses. Gujarat was followed by Karnataka with the construction of about 33,450 houses since 2014-15.Tamil Nadu constructed 32,730 houses, followed by Madhya Pradesh (27,862), Jharkhand (27,308), West Bengal (24,166), Maharashtra (22,699) and Andra Pradesh (21,794), according to the data.Delhi constructed 1,262 houses for urban poor, while Rajasthan constructed 12,274 houses.Tripura and Uttar Pradesh constructed between 5,000 and 10,000 houses, while Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Orissa, Punjab, Telangana and Uttarakhand constructed between 1,000 and 5,000 houses. Sikkim had just one house constructed under the scheme so far.Other states and union territories that had constructed less than 100 houses included Auranchal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Goa, Meghalaya and Puducherry.

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Teen on a mission to clean up the Mumbai

Inspired by the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sidharth Runwal, a 17-year-old student of B.D.Somani International School is on a mission to improve the quality of life of ragpickers and garbage cleaners in Mumbai through his non-profit organisation Clean-Up Foundation.The NGO aims to achieve the objective through various activities targeted at improving and enhancing the hygiene and sanitation factors around those who help in cleaning up the city but themselves live in appalling conditions.Runawal said, “The first step towards improving the quality of life for the garbage cleaners of Mumbai is to provide them with clean drinking water. It is ironic that the people who clean the city every day live in such deplorable conditions.” He added that as per the BMC report, the average garbage cleaner does not live for over 40 years. “They do not have access to fundamental necessities such as potable water that are essential for survival,” he added.“The Clean-Up Foundation installed water purifiers at multiple Chowkis across Bandra, Khar and Santa Cruz under the H/West Ward Office. This initiative ensured clean drinking water is available for over 12,000 garbage cleaners in Mumbai,” said Runawal.AWARD-WINNING WORKSidharth Runwal was felicitated by Ministry of Environment, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, BMC and Bhamla Foundation on World Environment Day for his efforts

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Preparing for a new life: Inmates serve misal, tea at joint

If you have been craving tea, samosas or piping hot misal cooked on a wood-fired stove, Paithan open jail in Aurangabad could be an option. The first snacks centre in a prison in Maharashtra has been launched here, where prisoners will serve misal, tea and sugarcane juice to patrons.This will enable that the inmates are rehabilitated once they are back in the society. There are plans to eventually replicate this model in other correctional facilities across the state.”We have started a centre where sugarcane juice, tea, samosa and misal will be served with accompaniments like curd and papad. This will cater to motorists on the Ahmednagar- Sheogaon- Aurangabad road,” said Sachin Salve, superintendent, Paithan jail.”It will help prisoners set up their own business when they leave jail,” he added, stating that the venture launched last week would work on a no-profit, no-loss basis.Five prisoners will work from 7am to 5pm in the tea and misal point to be called Hotel Sagar Kinara after the Jaikwadi dam located in the vicinity. The inmates of open jails, which have less security and more space for convicts to work, are selected on the basis of good behaviour and the possibility of rehabilitation after their release. The Paithan open jail has around 255 inmates.Rajendra Dhamane, the deputy inspector general (prisons), Aurangabad, said this was the first such experiment in Maharashtra. “In some prisons, inmates prepare food for relatives who come to meet those interned there. But this is the first instance where outsiders will be served food (prepared by convicts),” he noted.”This will create employment avenues for prisoners and help integrate them in society after their release,” said Dhamane, adding that the hands-on experience will also acquaint them with marketing and soft skills.Bhushan Kumar Upadhyaya, additional director general of police (prisons), said revenues raised from the initiative would be channelled into the prisoners welfare fund. “We will decide on extending this elsewhere based on factors like the location (of the open prison),” he added.The machine used to crush sugarcane was made by prisoners from the left over wood in the jail. The Paithan open jail is spread over 500 acres has 15 acre of sugarcane plantations with plans to increase it to 100 acres. The vegetables, jowar, tur dal and soyabean grown in the jail are supplied to other prisons. The inmates from the open jail are also sent to Paithan’s Sant Dnyaneshwar Udyan for cleaning the premises.At the Kalamba jail in Kolhapur, lady inmates prepare laddoos to be served as prasad at the Ambabai (Mahalaxmi) temple in the town.Maharashtra has 54 prisons including nine central jails, 19 class-I district prisons, 23 class-II district prisons and three class-III district jails in addition to 172 sub-jails. This also includes 13 open prisons including two for women, one special prison at Ratnagiri, one women prison at Byculla, one open colony at Atpadi in Sangli, and one Borstal school at Nashik.

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Maharashtra government to provide compensation to cotton farmers for crop damage

Maharashtra government will provide compensation of Rs. 30,800 and Rs. 37,500 per hectare for cotton growers whose crop was damaged by the attack of pest Pink Bollworm, Minister for Agriculture Pandurang Fundkar announced today. The compensation for farmers on irrigated land would be more than the same for non-irrigated land, he said. Speaking in the Maharashtra Assembly, Fundkar said that cotton growers would be provided bonus of Rs. 200 per quintal. Maximum limit for which bonus can be availed would be 50 quintals, he said. Cotton growers in the state have incurred huge losses due to crop damage this year after the crop was attacked by pink bollworm pest. There is 41 lakh hectares of field on which cotton is cultivated and according to farmers’ organisations, almost 50% of crop is damaged. State government sources said that 25% of the crop is damaged due to pest attack. Fundkar informed the state assembly that the government has decided to provide compensation for farmers who incurred losses due to Ockhi cyclone after their vegetables and horticulture produce was damaged. Also readOpposition takes on Maharashtra govt over cotton prices, to raise farmers issues in Winter sessionHe said that for horticulture produce, compensation would be paid upto Rs 43 thousand depending upon insurance cover and for vegetable produce the compensation upto Rs. 13,500 would be paid depending upon crop insurance cover for the respective farmer. The rice producing farmers would also be provided with compensation in the range of Rs 6,800 to Rs. 23,250 depending upon whether the farmer is from irrigated or non-irrigated areas. Bonus for paddy or rice would be paid at a rate of Rs. 50 per quintal with maximum limit of fifty quintals for availing bonus.

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Goa: Govt. hospitals to charge nominal fee for outstation patients

The Goa government on Friday announced that they will start charging nominal fee for the patients who are non-residence of the state at the government hospitals from January 1, while locals will continue getting free of cost treatment.State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane told reporters that the state-run facilities including Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) will charge nominal fee for the patients who are from outside Goa from January 1, 2018.He said the patients from outside Goa would be charged 20% of the fee as prescribed in the state’s ‘Deen Dayal Swastha Seva Yojana (DDSSY)’ charged by ‘C’ category hospitals, which comes to a nominal amount.Rane said the step was taken to ensure that the locals are given priority in these hospitals as the state government is spending crores of rupees to maintain and upkeep these facilities.”Nearly 30-40% of the patients on these hospitals arrive from outside the state, specially from Maharashtra and Karnataka. We need to provide treatment on priority to the locals,” he said.Rane said the emergency cases would be given priority in these hospitals, even if the patient arrives from outside the state.Also, he said, those patients who are “poor” will not be charged though they are not locals.”The Dean of GMC and Medical Superintendents of the district hospitals have powers to exempt the poor patients from being charged in the hospital even if they are not from Goa,” he maintained.In yet another announcement, Goa government has also made it mandatory for the local patients to provide DDSSY cards for the locals while availing free treatment facility at state run hospitals.Rane said the state government is spending more than Rs 80 crore annually to pay the premium to the insurance company under DDSSY but the number of patients taking benefit of the scheme is less.”When the state is paying so much for the insurance firm, the patients should start using the DDSSY cards,” he said adding the health department has already put up camps in various panchayats to enrol all the citizens of the state under this scheme.

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Adarsh scam: Big relief for Ashok Chavan, Bombay HC sets aside governor’s sanction to prosecute him

In a big relief to former chief minister Ashok Chavan, Bombay high court on Friday set aside governor’s sanction for prosecuting him in the Adarsh case. Ashok Chavan had filed a petition challenging Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao’s assent to prosecute him. Advocate hiten venegaonkar appearing for CBI said that the agency would appeal against the HC order in the Supreme Court.The state had opposed his petition arguing that if it is allowed it would mean a straight acquittal for him. It would then render the entire probe “futile”. Also readAdarsh scam: Maha defends Chavan’s prosecution(This is a breaking news. More details to follow)

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BJP MP Kirron Kher urges govt to remove cap on educational reimbursement to martyred soldiers’ kids

A BJP member in the Lok Sabha today urged the government to reverse its order which seeks to limit the educational reimbursement for the children of martyred and disabled soldiers.Kirron Kher raised the issue during the Zero Hour, saying that by limiting the educational reimbursement, the government would save a mere Rs 5 crore.She said as per the order, the reimbursement, which was unlimited, has been restricted to Rs 10,000 which was not sufficient.Recently, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba had appealed to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to reverse the order.Admiral Lanba, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, had written that “this small gesture would assure the families of our brave women and men that the nation cares for them and their sacrifices are truly appreciated by the government.”P K Biju (CPI-M) said while the government is consolidating the banks, it was leading to a situation where the number of branches and ATMs were going down.Bhawna Gawli (Shiv Sena) said Bt cotton crop in Maharashtra has failed to resist pest attack and demanded action against Monsanto, the firm which had developed the Bt cotton seed.There were sharp exchanges between Shobha Karandlage (BJP) and some Left members when the former alleged that some “jihadis” were stabbing Hindu youths in coastal Kerala and Karnataka. She also displayed some photographs.Vinod Sonkar (BJP) referred to the reported killing of a Sikh in Pakistan who allegedly refused to get converted.Taking a dig at the Congress, he said the party of those who had visited temples and worn the sacred thread should move a resolution condemning the incident and the entire House should adopt it.Congress members were not present in the House as they had staged a walk-out a few minutes before Sonkar spoke.

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Sena flexes muscles, vows to go it alone in 2019 LS elections

Flexing its muscles after the BJP’s narrow margin of victory in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, the Shiv Sena is planning to go solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.The Sena is testing the waters for contesting all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and is looking at roping in disgruntled BJP leaders and former allies like farmer leader and Hatkanangale MP Raju Shetti.“We are examining the possibility (fighting Lok Sabha elections after snapping alliance with BJP),” confirmed a senior Shiv Sena leader while speaking to DNA.He also added that the issue was likely to be discussed in the state executive of the party scheduled on January 22.Last week, Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray created a flutter by stating that they would quit the BJP-led government next year and come to power on their own merit. Sources said the announcement may be made during the party’s annual Dusshera rally.“We have been working on this for some time. The Shiv Sena is strengthening the party organisation (in all Lok Sabha seats),” the Shiv Sena leader said.He claimed they could rope in disgruntled elements in the BJP and leaders of smaller parties like Shetti, who have broken his alliance with the BJP.The Sena functionary was however non-committal on whether the party would enter into an understanding or a tie-up with the NCP or the Congress, as had been done in some local body elections like the Thane Zilla Parishad and the council polls in Nandurbar to consolidate the anti-incumbency vote.Shiv Sena sources said while the party had a smaller stake in Delhi, the BJP would be hurt at the national level if they decided to go it alone in Maharashtra.The Sena is seen as the BJP’s only natural ally in the NDA due to the common agenda of Hindutva, but of late, their differences have only grown.EMBITTERED ALLIESLast week, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray created a flutter by stating that the party would quit the BJP-led government. Sources said the announcement may be made during the party’s annual Dusshera rally. So far, however, the Shiv Sena is non-committal on whether it is considering a tie-up with the NCP or the Congress.

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Mumbai: TISS conference on disability marks year of new Act

The completion of a year since the Rights for Person with Disability (RPWD) Act was passed in the Parliament was marked by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ Centre for Disability Studies and Action with a national conference on disability, accessibility, inclusion and wellbeing at the Mumbai campus.Justice AK Sikri, of the Supreme Court who has given several landmark judgments on disability in cases like Jeeja Ghosh Vs Spice Jet and Sandeep Khanuja Vs. Atul Dande was the chief guest at the conference where Director Ministry of Social Justice and Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability KVS Rao was also present.Rao spoke about the concerns on implementation of the Act 2016. “The government will soon release the Unique Disability Identity Card and ‘it will reduce the pains of person with disability regarding getting the Disability Certificate and its one stop scheme to provide all schemes under one card.”Senior Consultant of UDID Scheme Gaurav Gupta said: “Most relevant in availing facilities under one card including aids and appliances or pension and give hope to persons with disability”.The WHO national professional officer -Universal Health Coverage Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, stated that disability is not a mainstream agenda for them, but due to this conference he analysed few key schemes on disability under Universal Health Coverage . He presented two schemes Niramaya Scheme and Pension Scheme and highlighted: “Only 0.02% is the coverage of the beneficiary population of persons with dibsability out of 3% population, where its supposed to reach. So the disability schemes reaches less than 0.02%”The state programme officer of the Norway-India initiative Dr Dipak Ganvir who is in-charge of the new born project spoke about early intervention of neonates born with defects and also made a presentation on sickle cell anemia/disease which is one of disability under 21 categories of RPWD Act 2016. He suggested “an urgent need for training of government officials in tribal areas of Maharashtra on designing special prevention and treatment programmes on sickle cell anemia a genetic condition found in central Maharashtra Melghat region” due severe deaths of children, life threatening and extreme pain conditions of youth.Dr Vaishali Kolhe, Chairperson of Centre for Disability Studies and Action which organised this conference called the two-day conference historical since it was inaugurated by the Supreme Court Justice AK Sirki who gave landmark judgments on disability just before coming to the conference. “This conference aimed to bring best practices in the disability sector and re-imagining disability in the context of the current legislation and policy framework to design needs based intervention with rights-based approach for people with disabilities,” she said.A Journal of Disability Studies and Policy Research was also released on December 17, 2017 in presence of TISS director Prof S Parasuraman and Dean School of Social Work Prof Manish Jha with Dr Vaishali Kolhe Chairperson and Editorial board member. The inaugural theme is ‘Critical Analysis of Current Disability Laws, Policies and Accessibility.’ This first-of-its-kind journal aims to significantly look at how law can disable if not interpreted in the right context. This journal also brings the policy highlights in terms of inclusive education and UNCRPD context and implementation of new act RPWD Act 2016.

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Khairani: Fire waiting to happen, claim locals

Members of Swachh Chandivali, a resident’s organisation, are irked by the fact that it took a fire, that claimed 12 lives, for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to finally inquire into the glaring irregularities in safety norms by a majority of the establishments — most of them running small scale industries from the slums — on Khairani Road in Saki Naka.The residents had been repeatedly warning the concerned authorities about a potential high-risk fire waiting to break in the slum area, and had written several letters to the BMC and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) on the same. In September, the residents escalated the matter by writing to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.Based on their complaints, the MPCB carried out a site visit in September and submitted a report in November, which clearly states the violations that some of the establishments were engaged in. The board found that the units were operating without any documents. In fact, MPCB officials stated that a majority of the small scale industries in the area were operating illegally.”The report asked BMC to take action and ordered closure of 18 such industries. If properly surveyed, all the units operating in these slums, which has turned into an industrial area over the years, will be found violating safety regulations as well as labour laws. These units are a ticking time bomb and are endangering the lives of people,” said Dr SL Dhingra, member, Swachh Chandivali.Lavita Powell, another member of the group, said that Monday’s fire only goes to prove that many more such disasters can occur in the area.Demanding action against the authorities, former Councillor Ishwar Tayade said, “We wrote to the civic body and the police to take action against the illegal activities taking place inside these industrial units but they kept turning a blind eye.””We had received complaints from local residents about air pollution from the small scale industries operating on Khairani Road. After a survey, several violations were observed based on which we directed the BMC to disconnect water and electricity supply for 18 of the units,” said MR Lad, Regional Officer (Mumbai), MPCB.

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Fail to seal deal with sign, lose money: MahaRERA

In case a homebuyer fails to register their agreement with a developer within the stipulated time, the developer can cancel the booking. Not only this, the homebuyer will no longer remain an allottee in the developer’s project and will not be eligible for a refund. In a case that came before the Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA), it held the view of the developer, wherein despite repeated requests, the homebuyer failed to register the agreement and hence the booking was cancelled. The homebuyer then approached the authority seeking a refund from the developer.The complainant, Sanjay Sawant, had booked an apartment in Landmark Real Estate Developers Limited’s Karjat project, Casa Unico, on June 10, 2016 and paid a partial booking amount. However, there was no registered agreement of sale between the complainant and the respondent. Sawant approached MahaRERA and asked that the developer be directed to refund the booking amount.During the hearing, the developer stated that as per the booking terms and conditions which Sawant had agreed to, Sawant had to sign and register the agreement of sale within 30 days from the day of booking. Despite repeated requests, the complainant failed to do so. His booking was therefore cancelled and the booking amount forfeited.Gautam Chaterjee, Chairperson, MahaRERA, held, “Based on the facts mentioned, the complainant is no longer an allottee and his booking has already been cancelled for breach of the agreed terms and conditions of booking.”Chaterjee in his order further stated that the complainant, Sawant, had failed to show if any provisions of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 or the rules or regulations made there under had been contravened, thus dismissed the complaint.

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Gujarat elections 2017: In electoral twist, Aladdin now battles corruption, GST

Remember the tale of Aladdin, Jasmine and the Genie who battle an evil sorcerer? Call it the election effect, for these days Aladdin battles much more including GST and corruption.A play performed by class 4 and 5 students of Brams School in Isanpur have given a modern twist to a fairy tale. The students who performed at Tagore Hall as part of The Footlights Theatre group wove a story of corruption including the problems with GST and other modern day troubles into the fairy tale.The performance by 15 students had Afiya Ansari, a girl, playing Aladdin. “The children were trained at a workshop of the Footlights Theatre for free. These kids belong to low income families. They performed Aladdin but changed the story a bit to highlight the troubles of modern day including corruption and GST,” said Arpit Upadhyay who teaches at the school. Upadhyay, a Teach For India fellow has dedicated two years to teach/help kids in underprivileged English Medium schools.”This is not the conventional story of Aladdin. It also has a king and a corrupt minister and how Aladdin and their friends catch them,” said Upadhyay. He said the students practiced every weekend for a month to get the story and their lines right. “Theatre is one of the ways we use to let children express their creativity and build their confidence,” said Upadhyay.Gauri Bakshi, founder of the Foothlights Theatre, said the year-old initiative provides theatre workshops for school students. “Today we have performance by students trained in our workshop as well as performance by over 50 students from across the country including Rajasthan, Kerala and Maharashtra. These kids will be performing various art forms that they are involved with since their childhood,” said Bakshi.Bakshi said there were not many avenues for children’s theatre in the city and this was a way of providing some.FACTS & FICTIONThe play, performed by class 4 and 5 students of Brams School in Isanpur, has given a modern twist to a fairy tale. The participating students belonged to low-income families.

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Maharashtra to crack down on tuition classes

The State could soon regulate the fees of private coaching classes, as per the draft of the Maharashtra Private Coaching Regulation Bill 2018 which is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of the Assembly next week.As per the draft, the State will form a designated body to periodically set and regulate the fee structure for private coaching classes from region to region. Coaching institutes would have to abide by this structure; and they will also have to accept fees only by cheque.The draft bill also states that only a class with five or less students can be considered a home tuition class; if the number of students exceeds this, it would fall under the ambit of a private class. Each such class would have to abide by the norms set by the state government.”Each private class needs to have adequate seating capacity and can have a maximum of 80 students per class,” the draft states, “It should have a separate toilet for girls and boys, and enough parking space. The guidelines stated in the bill will be applicable to classes which cater to students up to class XII.”If the bill is passed, every private class would have to reserve 5% seats for students from lower economic backgrounds and give 50% discount in fees for students coming from government schools or institutes run by local self-government bodies.The draft bill continues the recent policy of not allowing integrated coaching — coaching classes run within the premises of educational institutes and during school/college hours.Private classes would have to take the requisite permissions while setting up classes and would have to keep accounts and audit reports ready for government scrutiny at any time. They would also have to donate 5% of their income for educational funds of the state government.Trustee of Science Parivar, prof Subhash Joshi, said that the bill, if passed in its existing form, would completely end the autonomy of coaching institutes. “The government should realise that coaching classes run on a competitive basis and are not compulsory in nature,” says Joshi, “How can the government decide everything from fees to teacher appointments when it is not giving us any financial or any other kind of support?” He added that the government should ensure good quality teaching in schools and colleges so that students don’t have to turn to coaching institutes.Alka sinha said that home tutors like her, who charge much less than commercial classes, would be at a loss with the new rules. “We cannot provide parking and separate washrooms as the income from fees is very small,” she said.Draft rulesState govt will fix and regulate fees of pvt coaching classes Classes can take fees only by cheque Only classes with 5 or less students to be considered home tuition Students cannot be charged separately for books, notes or study material 5% seats to be reserved for poor; Classes to provide separate loos for boys and girls and adequate parking

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Rahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul Supriyo

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Babul Supriyo on Saturday termed Congress President Rahul Gandhi as captain of the “sinking ship.”Speaking to ANI, Minister of State (MoS) for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Supriyo said, “Rahul Gandhi is the captain of a sinking ship. I would enjoy his speech back home as he must have said something humorous. I have heard his speech is already doing rounds on social media but I think he should talk about himself also.” He added that Rahul Gandhi is talking only about the BJP, which is already doing wonders.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi “He is talking about 21st century but I am not sure the party will remain even till this century given that its performance is falling apart every day. Definitely Congress has a great history and I hope it has a great future too,” the BJP leader stated.Earlier in the day, Rahul took over as the Congress president by succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with himThe 47-year-old was officially declared party president in a ceremony held at the party’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters here.He was given the certificate of Congress president by Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, who oversaw the organisational polls.Also readSonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of CongressThe ceremony was attended by party stalwarts, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and other party leaders.His sister Priyanka Gandhi and brother-in-law Robert Vadra were also present on the occasion.Sweets were distributed, slogans raised, crackers burst and party workers danced to drum beats to celebrate the change of guard. Artists from different parts of the nation were also seen performing outside the party head office. Congress workers marched from Rail Bhavan to party office. Sonia headed the party for 19 years since 1998.

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Surgery in city’s private hospitals costly

A 37-year-old Panvel resident Shirish Patil had to undergo urinary stone surgery at a private hospital in rural Maharashtra in order to spend less amount of money for his surgery. Patil, who was diagnosed with urinary stones a few months ago, had his surgery advanced due to the unbearable pain.Patil travelled to Pen for the surgery after he found out that the cost of the operation in a private hospital in the city was way higher than that at a private hospital in Pen. Even though he had a medical policy, only Rs 40,000 was sanctioned for the operation.In one of the hospitals, Patil was also informed about different surgery packages depending on the medical policy he/she has.”I preferred going to a private hospital in Panvel since it was listed in the medical policy’s hospital list. After a check-up, I was told surgery would cost approximately Rs 1.64 lakh. Coming from a middle-class family, it was not possible for me to arrange the money. While another Navi Mumbai based private hospital (Apollo Hospital) initially gave me an estimate of Rs 1.30 lakh for the surgery, they later informed me about another package costing Rs 70,000, but would include other techniques. The package was offered after looking at my medical policy and amount to be sanctioned.”After running around, in October, Patil visited a rural private hospital (Niramay Hospital) in Pen for the surgery which cost him only Rs 23,000. “I underwent the same surgery for Rs 27,000 which included my medicine cost (Rs 4,000) and surgery (Rs 23,000).”

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Toll booths on Bandra-Worli Sea Link to go solar

In the next six months, the toll booths on Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) will get electricity supply from the solar panels to be installed on the Sea Link. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had announced the installation of solar panels earlier this year. However, now it seems electricity generated from solar panels will only be used for toll booths and not the street lights on the Sea Link.The toll operator of the sea link has said that they would be able to have panels installed in the next 3-6 months. Jayant Mhaiskar, managing director at MEP Infrastructure Developers, toll operator, said, “Our concession period has started from October 07, 2017 and as per the concession agreement we will be in a position to install solar panels in the next three to six months.”Mhaiskar, added, “As per the concession agreement, the electricity generated from the solar panels will be used for toll booths in the day and for the night hours we will have to use normal electricity connection as we do not have a power storage facility in India.”The MSRDC’s aim is to bring down their electricity bills and will also promote the Central government’s initiative of promoting solar energy and to cut down carbon footprints.

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Biker wheels to create awareness on road safety

Inspired by a video of Sachin Tendulkar asking riders to wear a helmet, Mumbai-based rider Vinay Maurya has, since then, travelled nearly 2,500 kilometres on his bike across the state and Gujarat requesting people who ride without helmets to do so. Armed with data on bike deaths and stickers, the Marine Lines resident has been spreading road safety awareness. “Sachin Tendulkar has inspired me to work towards spreading awareness of wearing helmets. I have been riding solo across India to talk to people about this issue,” said Vinay Maurya.Sachin Tendulkar had recently uploaded a video where he was seen creating awareness about traffic safety by insisting that people wear helmets. Maurya decided to take this issue to the next level by starting an Instagram campaign #HelmetDaalo, riding solo across India. “I am known as The Indian Motorcyclist on social media. Last week, I successfully completed the pilot leg of a trip by riding 2,500 km in Maharashtra and Gujarat in 5 days,” he said.Quoting data from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, he says data reveals that over 400 people die every day and an average of 17 people lose their lives in road accidents every hour.Quoting data from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, he says data reveals that over 400 people die every day and an average of 17 people lose their lives in road accidents every hour.Maurya has designed stickers which commuters can stick on a helmet, and take a pledge to never ride without a helmet. His Pan-India trip started from Mumbai and will cover Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha and south India in 45 days.”I have been working on this trip for over six months and after receiving a good response from people on Instagram, I am ready to kick off the campaign. My target is to meet around 10,000 daily commuters and welcome support from various motorcycling clubs in India to spread the message in their cities,” he added.Over half of Indian two-wheeler riders (57%) admit to not wearing a helmet when on the road, while an even higher proportion of pillion riders (74%) neglect to wear one whilst riding pillion. The survey was published by Exide Life Insurance as a part of its CSR initiative. According to the survey, riders are basing their decision to ride helmetless for a variety of reasons; Staggeringly, nearly a third (29%) admit to riding without a helmet for reasons of ‘comfort’! 13% due to the cost of a helmet, 16% believe that they are not required to by the law, 22% simply ride bare-headed due to a force of habit.

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Recover land worth Rs 14K cr: Bombay High Court to MHADA

“What steps is MHADA going to adopt to recover the surplus area which is due to it from developers who have developed Cess buildings in Mumbai. It is a powerful authority, it cannot be so helpless,” the Bombay High Court noted on Friday.A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and N W Sambre issued the direction while hearing a petition filed by activist Kamlakar Shenoy, who has claimed that there has been a wrongful loss of around Rs 14,000 crore due to willful and deliberate inaction of MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) officials for not taking back around 30 lakh square feet saleable area.As per rules, MHADA is eligible to get a certain percentage of saleable area from developers, who redevelop cess buildings under rule 33 (7) of the Development Control Rules. Most Cess buildings are located in South Mumbai.The court has asked MHADA and the State housing department to file their replies to the petition within a week. “Some policy will have to be framed to recover the area,” the Bench said.”It cannot be that only First Information reports are filed against defaulting developers. In our country, you know the process takes a long time. Will till then the eligible candidates be deprived of their right?”The court also went through a reply filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau, which states that 457 projects are approved under the rules, of which surplus area to be recovered is 198,646.45 sqmt and compensation is Rs 37.54 crore.However, majority of the promised area is around 141803.29 sqmt, from 260 ongoing or stalled projects. The surplus amount will only be given after the projects are completed.MHADA has initiated prosecution against 34 developers and final reports have been filed against them in 26 cases. Further, civil proceedings against 29 developers have been initiated and MHADA has recovered 6376.12 sqmt from redeveloped area and Rs 40.47 crore as penalty. Six developers, have expressed their intention to settle their dues with MHADA and are in the process of handing over promised area.

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Student falls ill after being punished and made to do 500 sit-ups, principal arrested in Kolhapur

Police in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra have arrested a 45-year-old school principal for allegedly asking a student to do 500 sit-ups for not completing project work.The student, a girl studying in std 8, took ill while undergoing the inhuman punishment and had to be admitted to a hospital.”We arrested Ashwini Devan, the principal, yesterday under IPC sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 337 (act endangering life or personal safety of another person) and 506 (criminal intimidation),” said a senior official of Chandgad tehsil police.Devan was later released on bail, he said.On November 24, Dewan allegedly asked eight students of std 8th at the privately-run Shri Bhavashwari Sandesh Vidyalay in Kanoor Budrook village of Chandgad tehsil to do 500 sit-ups for not doing project work.Also read’Their romance could adversely affect the students’: Teacher couple sacked by private school in PulwamaOne of the girls, who is 13 years old, took ill while doing sit-ups and was hospitalised.On December 10, a police complaint was lodged against the principal.Also read2 IIT-B students told to help out at animal NGOFollowing the incident, the principal was sent on compulsory leave by the school management, the police official said.

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Will complete full term with Sena support: Maha BJP plays down Aaditya Thackeray’s words

Ridiculing Shiv Sena next generation leader and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray’s statement that Shiv Sena would quit the Maharashtra government next year and would come to power on its own, senior Minister and BJP leader Chandrakant Patil said that the government will complete its five-year term. Currently BJP-Sena alliance is running government in the state. Patil also said that Sena will continue to be their alliance partner till the end of the term. Addressing a public meeting at Ahmednagar on Thursday, Aaditya Thackeray had said that next year Sena would pull out of the Fadnavis government and come to power on its own. Aaditya had said, `The exact timing of pulling out of government would be decided by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.’ Speaking to media persons outside Vidhan Bhavan, Patil said, `What I know is Shiv Sena would not pull out of government for five years.’ After much insistence on answering about the speculation that Narayan Rane will become minister by year-end, Patil said, ‘Yes, it will happen.’ Patil also said that post-Gujarat election results, he and CM Fadnavis will go to Delhi to discuss details about state cabinet expansion.

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Building collapses in Zaveri Bazaar, four believed to be still trapped

At least four persons are believed to be trapped inside the debris of a building that collapsed during repair work in Zaveri Bazar area in South Mumbai on Friday morning. According to official from the Mumbai fire Brigade, roof of a decade-old cessed building at Zaveri Bazaar collapsed Eyewitnesses claimed that nearly four persons are said to be trapped in the building. The incident took place at 11.00 am. Repair work on the four-storey building on Shamset Street at Chipi Chawl was underway when the incident took place. The building falls under Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s Mumbai Repair and Reconstruction Board.Initially, around 11 people were trapped out of which seven were rescued. Four of the workers who were carrying out the repair work are believed to be trapped. The fire brigade reached the spot and rescue operation is underway.

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Maha govt should remove anomalies in loan waiver list: Sena MLA after name appears in list of beneficiaries

A Shiv Sena MLA announced that he is a loan waiver beneficiary in what is a shock to the state government.Sena MLA Prakash Abitkar made the announcement during zero hour of the state assembly when Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that an online loan waiver system would ensure no wrong person could avail loan.Abitkar’s revealed that his name appeared in the list of beneficiaries and that the government should remove anomalies in the list of beneficiaries. He also pointed out that two teachers from his constituency were also listed in the people who would get a loan waiver.In September, Fadnavis announced the Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver scheme, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanman Yojana and said that 89 lakh farmers would benefit.So far, 1,00,85,326 farmers have registered themselves with the government for loan waiver. Of these, 55,40,732 have filled the required form and uploaded it on the government’s website.

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Will follow my mind, Amruta Fadnavis to trolls

“I will do what exactly my mind tells me. I will not be swayed by disruptive criticism. I have a mind of my own and I will work as per that,” said Amruta Fadnavis, spouse of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Wednesday, after she was trolled on social media for promoting a Christmas-themed charity event.Trouble began when Amruta tweeted and posted photographs of a Christmas event organised by a FM radio station on December 12. She was assailed by an array of abusive posts, some of which questioned her faith before marriage.Shefali Vaidya, a columnist with the right-wing website Swarajya and RSS-mouthpiece Tarun Bharat, tweeted, “As a private individual, you are free to do what you want. As the First Lady of Maharashtra, your actions will always be open to scrutiny and criticism.”When Amruta tweeted in reply, “Love, sharing & empathy have no religion – lets accept positivity around us & stay away from negative thoughts & demotivating energies”, Vaidya amped the criticism with a caustic, “DO get your SM (Social Media) team to read all the replies to this tweet. Respect the will of the people who elected your husband rather than sounding like a writer of ‘Chicken Soup For The Evangelical Soul'”Amruta replied that she would continue to attend such charity events.”The motive behind attending the function was to give Christmas gifts to poor children,” she told this newspaper, “I was approached by this professional radio channel. During any festival, we have to do something good. We have to share happiness, whether it is Diwali, Janmashtami or any other festival.”She clarified that unlike her husband, she is not a political person. “I never mix politics with my personal interests,” she said. “I never use his (Fadnavis’) position as a tool for my work. I take my own personal decisions. They (the channel) may have called me as wife of the Chief Minister. However, as a human being, I try to bring happiness to others and hence I attended this program.”When asked whether she had discussed the incident with Fadnavis, Amruta said she had not yet done so.X’mas trollAmruta Fadnavis has attended a charity event organised by a radio station on Dec 12 Some trolls even questioned her faith before marriage

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Man held for making hoax call to NIA

According to sources, the central agency informed Maharashtra ATS and Shaikh was detained and handed over to Gamdevi police who are probing the matter. During the investigation, it revealed that he made the call to trap his business partner who had enmity with him. A case has been registered.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Thursday 14 December 2017 1:25 ISTMust readMy husband was sleeping, says wife of ‘molester’Crammed planes a global norm; experts say focus on etiquette<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Gamdevi police have registered a case against a 35-year-old man for allegedly making a hoax call to National Investigation Agency and Prime Minister’s office about the chemical attack in Gujarat during the election.According to the police, the NIA had received a call from an unknown person claiming that there would be a chemical attack in Gujarat during the election. Following the call, the central agency and other police authorities had begun the investigation and they found nothing suspicious and that the call was a hoax. The agency traced the call to Mira Road and identified the caller as Irshad Shaikh from Mira Road. A case was then lodged at the Gamdevi police station on Tuesday. According to sources, the central agency informed Maharashtra ATS and Shaikh was detained and handed over to Gamdevi police who are probing the matter. During the investigation, it revealed that he made the call to trap his business partner who had enmity with him. A case has been registered.

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Over 1200 farmers committed suicide in 5 months: Maharashtra govt

Over a thousand farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in a matter of five months between June and October 2017, the state government said today.Subhash Deshmukh, Minister for Cooperation in the Devendra Fadnavis government, said there were 1254 farmers’ suicides in the state in five months.Giving a written reply to a starred question asked by 102 MLAs in state assembly, Deshmukh admitted that only 9.43 lakh eligible farmers have been provided with benefits of loan waiver scheme till December 5, 2017.MLAs across the parties had asked the question on farmers’ suicides and government’s loan waiver scheme.Legislators who asked the question included the Leader of Opposition Radhhakrishna Vikhe Patil, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, Tripti Savant, Sunil Prabhu, Amin Patel, Prakash Fatarpekar, Sunil Raut, Sada Sarvankar, Ashish Shelar, Amit Satam, Subhash Bhoir and others.Deshmukh informed that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Shetkari Sanmaan Yojana was started from October 18, 2017 and till December 5, 2017, a total loan worth Rs. 8,610.63 crore has been waived for 13.49 lakh farmers and the money has been deposited to concerned banks.He, however ,made it clear that the banks are now doing the procedure of depositing the money into farmers’ accounts. Out of this amount, Rs 5,142 crore has been deposited in to the accounts of 9.43 lakh eligible farmers till December 5, he said.Speaking to mediapersons outside the Assembly, Mr. Patil said, “Chief Minister Ffadnavis has announced that 41 lakh farmers are provided with benefits of loan waiver package and I have challenged him to provide these names on stamp paper. With Cooperation Minister’s reply, it is evident that only 9.43 lakh farmers have received money so far. This proves my allegation that government is misleading people and cheating farmers by providing wrong information every now and then.”

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Use scientific ways for interrogation

The cops, however, claimed that the youth had fled from custody. After much hue and cry the five cops were suspended, and the state government transferred the senior cops out of Sangli district to avoid further flak. Five policemen were booked and arrested later on charges of murder and the case is being probed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). We have clearly told all the Police Station In-charge officers to shun use of third-degree on accused," said a senior police officer.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written BySomendranath Sharma <!–end of artlbotbor–>Wednesday 13 December 2017 2:03 ISTMust readLeopard’s day out at Andheri preschoolDNA EXCLUSIVE: Flooding may affect underground Metro<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>Following the death of a 26-year-old-youth in police custody last month in Sangli district, the Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) office has issued a circular recently advising police officers to use scientific and forensic methods for interrogation and has urged the force to shun the use of third-degree torture in police custody. So far 12 cases of custodial deaths have been reported in the state this year.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 cops were suspended, and the state government transferred the senior cops out of Sangli district to avoid further flak. Five policemen were booked and arrested later on charges of murder and the case is being probed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). We have clearly told all the Police Station In-charge officers to shun use of third-degree on accused,” said a senior police officer.

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Gujarat elections 2017: It will be a close fight, say Mumbai Gujaratis

As campaigning came to an end in Gujarat, Gujaratis in Mumbai said that permutations were running in all directions. While it was a prestige issue for the BJP, it was next to do or die for the Congress, said most Gujaratis who live in large numbers in in Mumbai and have always felt a direct connect for the state.A large part of both Maharashtra and Gujarat have been part of the Bombay presidency before the states were formed. Though a number of Gujaratis stayed and have voting rights here, the connect with their native place exists to date.”This time it is going to be tough,” said Ramesh Shah, a Kutchi who runs a ration shop in Dhobi Talao area. Shah had just come back to his shop after lunch, in which he saw Hardik Patel’s rally. Patel is the emerging face of the Patidar agitation, a community to which Sardar Patel belonged and played a decisive role in Gujarat. “Though my area has already voted, what I hear when I speak to my relatives is that it is a tough battle this time around,” said Shah.He is not the only one. After series of protests, a feeling that it will not be as easy has percolated in the community which has for the past 20 years voted BJP for power. “A fraction of voters may be divided but BJP is going to win,” said Hemant Joshi, a Chartered Accountant by profession who lives in Vile Parle.A follower of Swaminarayan sect which has openly thanked the BJP, Joshi’s relatives are in Ahmedabad. He added, “People are not going to take what Mani Shankar and others have said. They have insulted people. People have seen development and will vote accordingly.”Demonitization and GST are behind them now.”Both were needed,” said Lalit Jain, an owner of a utensil shop. On GST, which many from his industry had alleged stalled business, Jain said, “That is behind people now. A number of them feel Modi is the leader.”However, these are the very reasons that have put off some like Rajendra Dharod, a businessman. “Last year, the election centered around vikas (development). This time, both parties are not talking about it,” said Dharod who lives in Thane.

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PM Modi takes sea-plane from Sabarmati to visit Ambaji Temple, Omar Abdullah says security guidelines flouted

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew this morning in a sea-plane from the Sabarmati River here to Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district on the last day of campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly polls.Modi boarded the single-engine sea-plane from near the Sardar Bridge connecting the old city with Ahmedabad West, the first-ever flight by such a craft in the country. A special jetty was constructed to facilitate the prime minister’s boarding from the river. The plane took off from the Sardar Bridge-end amid chants of “Modi-Modi” from BJP workers and other city dwellers, who flocked the Sabarmati Riverfront to witness this one-of-a-kind event.The plane landed at Dharoi Dam reservoir in Mehsana.From Dharoi, the prime minister proceeded to Ambaji Temple in Banaskantha district via road. After visiting the temple, he would return to Ahmedabad by the sea-plane in the evening. Modi had yesterday said at a poll rally that today, for the first time in the history of the country, a sea-plane will land on the Sabarmati river. “I will go to Ambaji in the sea-plane after landing in Dharoi dam and come back,” he said.He said the BJP had planned a road show for today in Ahmedabad.Also readGujarat assembly elections: Politics in India has become ugly, I want to change it, says Rahul Gandhi”However, the administration has not given permission and I had time so I decided to go to Ambaji in the sea-plane,” Modi had said. “We cannot have airports everywhere, so our government has planned to have these sea-planes,” he said. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani yesterday said this is for the first time in the country’s history that a sea-plane will land on a water body and that will be the Sabarmati river. Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaHowever, reacting to this incident, National Conference leader and ex-J&K CM Omar Abdullah accused that security guidelines were relaxed for PM Modi’s sea-plane ride. Pointing out towards technical aspects of a sea-plane, he said :He followed it up with another quote where he said, “Single engine plane. Foreign pilots. Is there any security guideline that will not be thrown out today?”Rahul Gandhi reacted to PM Modi flying in a sea-plane terming it as a ‘distraction’ between the elections. With PTI inputs

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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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For 18 years, did not feel like resting: PM Narendra Modi in Nadiad

Continuing his tirade against the Congress, PM Narendra Modi on Monday said in Nadiad that unlike Congress, he does not have anyone to think of other than the country.”I am sitting in Delhi since 3.5 years and after I came, I saw that they had emptied the ‘Tijori’. They would just work on how to get work of their relatives done, and then, if time and money is left, they would think about the country. Do I have to collect money for anyone or am I worried for anyone? I do not have anyone except you. You have seen me as a CM for 14 years and as a PM for 3.5 years. There is not even a single day that I felt like resting.”He said, “They have issues with me, Morarji Desai, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, but why against development. Those who have cycle, don’t they wish to have a scooter. Doesn’t a tenant wish to have a house, is this not development?”In their speeches, Congress alleged that there are no good hospitals or roads in Gujarat. I want to ask them, “Have you opened a hospital that I shut down? Did you constructed roads and I made potholes on them?”He said, “My friends in Congress say that Modi works for industrialists. 30 crore poor had never seen doors of the bank under the reign of those who ran votebank in the name of poor. And today, those 30 crore poor have opened bank accounts. While the rich flaunt their debit cards at various places, to empower the poor, we have given debit cards to 22 crore people. Is this not ‘Vikas’?” Reminding people of presence of Congress, he added, “The Congress went out from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal, Sikkim, Goa, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, MP, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, UP, Uttarakhand and J&K.” He told crowd, “I will only be happy if lotus blooms in each and every booth. Ready to take responsibility?”

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Western Railway move can promote solar energy in Mumbai: Experts

Even as experts on solar power cheered the move by Western Railways of going for solar rooftops by setting up solar panels on top of the platform sheds, they also said that this move could also end up becoming the biggest promotion for solar rooftops in Mumbai.”The solar rooftops at Lower Parel station are being viewed by lakhs of commuters daily and it will atleast provoke them to think or get more information about solar energy. Infact we would suggest that every station going for solar rooftop should display information on benefits of solar power,” said a senior official working with Government of India to promote solar rooftops.Infact officials as well as environmentalists who have been promoting solar energy said that despite so much awareness and having the facility of Net-metering’ ,which enables to send the unused or excess electricity generated by solar plant back into the grid of the energy supply and even earn credits still there was not much demand for solar rooftops and only very limited buildings or societies were coming forward.”There will have to be a policy making it mandatory for a building or a commercial space of a particular area and depending on their electricity usage pattern to compulsorily have solar rooftop installed and only then the rise in solar rooftops will see an increase,” said another solar expert working with a solar energy provider firm.Infact environmentalist Rishi Aggarwal who has been promoting solar rooftops said that it was strange that while Mumbaikars actively speak about reducing carbon footprints and search for means of reducing their electricity consumption yet there was not a sharp rise as expected in solar rooftops in the city. “BMC or the The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) needs to study what was the factor that was stopping people from going for solar rooftopsA study initiated in 2015 to assess the solar rooftop potential of Greater Mumbai had shown that Mumbai has a potential of generating 1720 megawatt (MW) of solar energy across rooftops including residences, educational institutions, government buildings and industry. Infact one of the key highlights of the study was that it provided a ready database of the solar capacity that can be generated on rooftops to BMC or any other Government organisation. The study listed out structures with good rooftop potential and it includes hospitals, commercial buildings, Government offices, railway stations and even industries. The rooftop solar generation was also presented wardwise.Unfortunately experts claim that BMC and government offices themselves are yet to go for solar rooftops despite being obligated to do so and those who have already done it were not bothered promoting it amongst those visiting these offices.WHAT IS NET-METERING:Under net-metering, customers who generate their own electricity using solar power can send the unused or excess electricity generated by their solar plant, back into the grid of the energy supply provider and even get compensated for it. However the compensation is not directally monetary but the energy provider simply reduces the units of power send to the grid, which helps reduce the energy costs. Net-metering was approved by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) in 2016

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On his birthday, Sharad Pawar to hit street against Maharashtra govt

On his birthday tomorrow, NCP president Sharad Pawar would hit the street against the BJP- led government in Maharashtra.The Maratha strongman and former Union minister, who will turn 77 tomorrow, has already completed 50 years of active participation in politics.Pawar will take part in an anti-government rally being organised here by the opposition Congress and the NCP, which have accused the BJP-led ruling coalition of “neglecting” issues related to farmers and common people.When the veteran politician hits the street, it will be a rare occasion in his political life, during which he has held a number of key posts in Maharashtra and also at the Centre. The former chief minister will be agitating against an incumbent government after over 30 years.Hemant Takale, senior NCP leader and an MLC, said, “It is true Pawar would be agitating against the state government after over 30 years. It was in 1985 that Pawar had organised a cycle rally against the then state government. The cycle rally started from Jalgaon and ended in Nagpur.” “Pawar has mostly been in power,” said another senior NCP leader.Also readSharad Pawar was kicked out of Congress by Sonia, still he served her for 15 years: Uddhav ThackerayAjit Pawar, nephew of Sharad Pawar and a former deputy chief minister, said, “Generally, (on birthdays) Pawarsaheb would stay at his home in Pune or Mumbai and have a low- profile event. The only events used to be organised on his birthdays were health check ups and blood donations.”For the first time, Pawarsaheb will be agitating on his birthday for people’s interest. Pawarsaheb has decided to protest against this government to highlight the ways it is neglecting the interests of people,” Ajit Pawar said.Also readCM Fadnavis, Sharad Pawar to meet tonight to discuss fate of co-generation plants in MaharashtraSenior Congress leader and former Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad will also be participating in the rally.Congress, NCP leaders and workers will take out a march which will conclude at Lokmat Chowk where Pawar and others will address the rally.

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Green clearance must for rail projects on forest land: MoEF&CC

Railway projects passing through forest lands, national parks and eco-sensitive zones will not be exempted from the forest clearance process, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) told the Railways Ministry and state forest departments. The Environment Ministry’s clarification on the matter comes after the Railways had argued that Railways Act, 1989, gives it the power to acquire land, including forests, falling in its right of way. MoEF&CC clarified its position on the issue after referring the matter to the Ministry of Law and Justice, who seconded the Environment Ministry’s opinion.DNA has reviewed the MoEF&CC letter to Railways Ministry and state forest departments.The MoEF&CC told Railways, that as per the Law Ministry, despite provisions of the Railways Act, 1989, allowing Railways to acquire any land for its projects, forest land falling in the right of way attract provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. MoEF&CC added that even if the forest land is under the possession of the Railways, it will need to seek forest clearance for non-forestry work. Further, projects passing through protected areas would need the approval of the National Board for Wildlife.“Railway projects passing through wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and tiger reserves amount to destruction of habitat within the meaning of various sections of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The need of seeking approval for railway projects passing through a wildlife sanctuary is in pursuance of Supreme Court order of 2002,” the MoEF&CC said.The Railways had raised the issue of applicability of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, for its projects citing the upcoming conversion of Akola-Khandwa railway line from metre gauge to broad gauge. The railway line passes through a reserve forest, Wan sanctuary and the Melghat Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra. Of the 176-km track, 40 km passes through forested areas and of that 18 km lies inside the tiger reserve. According to government documents, the project would require diversion of 160.94 hectares of forest from the critical tiger habitat of Wan Sanctuary, a part of Melghat Tiger Reserve.OVERRULEDThe Railways had argued that Railways Act, 1989, gives it the power to acquire land, including forests, falling in its right of way. MoEF&CC clarified that Railway projects passing through forest land, national parks, eco-sensitive zones will not be exempted from forest clearance process.

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PM Modi’s claim of party leaders meeting Pak envoy baseless: Congress

The Congress today termed as “baseless” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation that its top party leaders recently met the Pakistani envoy and an ex- Pakistani minister and said he made the charge as he was worried about the BJP’s impending defeat in Gujarat Assembly elections. Modi told an election rally today that suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had called him “neech” (a lowly sort of a person) a day after the alleged meeting of Pakistanis with top Congressmen. “Holding the country’s topmost post, Modiji is making baseless allegations. Modiji is worried, dejected, angry. Such a statement has no truth or fact, and is based on lies. Such a behaviour is unbecoming of a prime minister,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala told reporters here. Modi alleged that former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Aiyar had met the Pakistani high commissioner in India and an ex-Pakistani foreign minister at the residence of Aiyar recently. “The entire country knows who loves Pakistan and who has been giving protection to the separatists,” Surjewala alleged. He asked Modi that if he planned to contest the elections on Pakistan-related issues, then he should also tell the people of Gujarat as to why he “trusted Pakistani spy agency ISI and offered it entry to Pathankot Airforce Base for investigation”. Surjewala also questioned Modi’s “unplanned” Pakistan visit to attend the wedding of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter, soon after “Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks at Gurdaspur and Udhampur”. He also alleged that the Modi government failed to arrest Pakistan-based terrorist Dawood Ibrahim’s wife, who “managed to reach Mumbai from Pakistan and then fly back to Pakistan”. “We would also like to ask him as to why no action was taken against former minister in the BJP government in Maharashtra Eknath Khadse, who was removed after Indian agencies taped his conversation with Dawood Ibrahim,” he said. The Congress spokesperson also claimed Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan attended the marriage of Dawood Ibrahim’s daughter and asked why 11 BJP leaders, including the head of Madhya Pradesh’s IT cell, were arrested for “spying for ISI”. Surjewala also sought an apology from the prime minister and the BJP over the release of Pakistan-based terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar by taking him and two others to Kandahar after hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in 1999.

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Maharashtra RERA trashes home buyer’s complaint over ‘forum shopping’, says can’t ‘ride two horses’

A home buyer cannot do a forum shopping in regards to his complaint, he has to choose between MahaRERA or the the consumer forum.The MahaRERA held this view while dismissing a complaint of a home buyer who had filed a complaint at MahaRERA and also at consumer disputes redressal commission.The complainant a home buyer Deepak Tejwani, had filed a complaint with Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority, contending therein that he had booked a flat no. 506 in C-2, Siddhi project of the developer situated at Shahad, Kalyan.It is the grievance of the complainant that the developer Anil Chabria has not executed the agreement for sale of the said flat and register it. The respondent has also failed to inform him about the status of the construction.The developer then brought to the notice of MahaRERA, that the home buyer had filed CC no. 870 of 2017 before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Maharashtra State, Mumbai on 14.06.2017 in respect of same flat against the developer and one of the prayers of the said complaint is also regarding the execution and registration of the agreement for sale.”The complainant wants to ride on two horses at a time which is not permissible in view of Section 71 of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016. The complainant is at liberty to proceed with only one case, either the case before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission or MahaRERA.”When the complainant has been asked to choose one, he submits that if MahaRERA grants his relief in this complaint then he shall withdraw the complaint filed before the Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. I find that the complainant cannot do a forum shopping, hence, this complaint is dismissed,” read the order passed by MahaRERA member BD Kapadnis.

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Helicopter carrying CM Fadnavis, water minister force-lands in Nashik due to overloading

After a crash landing at Latur, providential escape at Alibag and a snag at Gadchiroli, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ helicopter had another scare at Nashik.Fadnavis, who was heading to Aurangabad from Nashik, had taken off from the police parade grounds in the city on Saturday morning when the helicopter was forced to land due to excess weight. The chopper took off again for its destination after a passenger was offloaded. Fadnavis had flown down from Mumbai to Dhule on Friday and then left for Nandurbar. He had returned to Nashik by road and was leaving for Aurangabad.State government officials said the helicopter was not hired by them but by the BJP. Fadnavis was accompanied by water resources minister Girish Mahajan, who is also Nashik’s guardian minister, his personal assistant Abhimanyu Pawar and an aide named Satish. Also readDevendra Fadnavis cracks whip on babus, sets key goals for Dec 2019″After the takeoff, the helicopter did not stabilise. This forced the pilot to land again and offload a passenger after which it took off smoothly,” said a senior state government official present at the spot.“The helicopter may have had excess weight due to baggage as the chief minister was to travel to Nagpur from Aurangabad. The pilot may have decided to offload a passenger due to an imbalance,’ explained an official from Fadnavis’ staff. Also readAmbedkar memorial work to begin at Indu Mills in a month, CM Fadnavis announcesOn May 25, Fadnavis had a providential escape after a Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter, bought in December 2011 for Rs 55 crore and met with a mishap at Nilanga in Latur after being entangled in overhead wires.Also readMNS slams Fadnavis for lauding contribution by North Indians in Mumbai This came immediately after an incidence in the same month. On May 12, his helicopter had also developed a snag in Left wing extremism affected Gadchiroli forcing him to travel to Nagpur by road.Later in July, Fadnavis had a close shave at Alibag when he was preparing to board a chopper. It had suddenly taken off with its rotating wings coming close to his head.

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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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Modi has failed to get back Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Shiv Sena lashes out

Bhartiya Janta Party’s (BJP) ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, once again lashed out at the party and prime minister Narendra Modi in its mouthpiece Saamna. “At last, the slogan of Vande Mataram was heard in Kashmir’s Lal Chowk. The slogans for the victory of Bharat Mata were also shouted and the tricolour was also unfurled,” the editorial said, adding that this was done by “fearless, nationalist Shiv Sainiks with a 56-inch chest” as a response to a challenge from former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The editorial further slammed the Narendra Modi-led government and said while attacks on soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir were still on, the Kashmiri pandits were still to return to their homes in the valley. Also readSrinagar: Accepting Farooq Abdullah’s challenge, Shiv Sena workers attempt to unfurl tricolor at Lal Chowk”We thought that the BJP’s ministers in the Kashmir government will rise to the challenge and unfurl the tricolour at Lal Chowk to teach Abdullah a lesson. But the ministers in the Mehbooba government did not do it. Hence, seven Shiv Sainiks raised the tricolour in Lal Chowk to take up Abdullah’s challenge,” the editorial added. It said Modi had been unable to fulfill his pre-election promises of getting back Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and added that the Shiv Sainiks who had “wiped off the stain of Babri at Ayodhya” (by demolishing the Babri Masjid) had done the act at Lal Chowk. Also readTerritorial Army jawan killing: Shiv Sena questions govt claim on fall of terror activities in KashmirShiv Sena’s president Uddhav Thackeray is the editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut is Saamna’s executive editor,

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Business capital to soon get seaplanes ferry services

Office goers in the country’s financial capital may finally be able to travel across the city to the business district in south Mumbai in a jiffy during peak hours. After a failed attempt by a Juhu-based aviation company around 3 years ago, leading no-frill airline Spicejet is planning to launch amphibian plane services from Girgaum Chowpatty to Juhu Airport and other places in suburbs. A demo flight of the service will be showcased on Saturday in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Ashok Gajapathi Raju.A similar attempt through seaplane by Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR), which had the backing of the state government, had failed primarily due to permission issues from government agencies. Some routes connecting Juhu Airport to Lonavla and Nashik, however, did work out for a very short time. “We don’t expect any permission-related issues to cause hindrance as we have been given assurances from the highest level in the government,” a senior official from the airline told DNA Money.The ferry services between Girgaum Chowpatty and Juhu Airport has been in plans for years in order to tap the large chunk of corporate employees and entrepreneurs who use cars or taxis for travelling. During peak hours, the time needed to cover the distance comes to around 1.5 hours, though Bandra-Worli seas link has eased the journey a bit in recent years. With the amphibian planes, the fly time is supposed to come down to around 4 minutes apart from 10-15 minutes of additional time for security procedures.Spicejet had in October signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Setouchi Holdings for starting amphibian plane services in India. The airline management claims the project would be sustained only if it is scaled up to over 100 planes. The list price of each aircraft stands around $4 million — thus, 100 aircraft fleet will cost $400 million. The company is exploring at seeking low interest loans from Japan — similar to the one provided for bullet train which is to connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad.The single pilot, 10-14 seater amphibian planes have the ability to take-off and land from places where there is no other mode of transport available and would therefore come handy in a country like India which have hitherto remained unconnected due to infrastructure challenges.Meanwhile, MEHAIR in order to safeguard its business seems to have launched a counter attack and has tweaked its business strategy after Central government’s decision to include amphibian planes under much touted regional connectivity scheme (RCS). The airline has now decided to get into regional air connectivity operations in order to cross-feed its amphibian plane service business and is said to be inducting 10 twin-engine aircraft for connecting the tier-II and tier-III geographies with the metros.Under RCS, the carrier operator is mandated to fly a certain number of seats at price under Rs 2,500 for which they get compensated from the government.EXPENSIVE AFFAIRThe listed price of each aircraft stands around $4 million. Spicejet is exploring low interest loans from Japan — similar to the Bullet train one
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Padmavati row | ‘Our democratic nation is at stake…what have we come to be,’ Bombay High Court blasts fringe groups

Openly coming out in support for the release of film Padmavati, the Bombay High Court on Thursday said “what have we come to be. This is called a censorship of different kind, where you will not be alive to say anything, we are very disturbed.”A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre, while coming down heavily on the present situation, where chief minister of different states have stopped screening of films, it said “we have been noting that all the crimes and attempts by fringe groups to attack rational views and expressions is disturbing. What would have happened, if these people (filmmakers/performers) were not financially strong to withhold open threats of being beheaded, does this not affect government. Soon people will not be able to even convene a meeting.”The observations came by the bench while hearing a petition filed by the family members of deceased rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Dr Govind Pansare, seeking a court monitored probe.Commenting on the reward being offered by some people for killing actor Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Lela Bhansali, the court said, “The situation so created is not conducive for writers, performers, social thinkers, who are under threat. What is at stake is our democratic nation, we cannot take pride to be a largest democracy, when we are confronted with the happenings around.”Asking the government to learn from the attack on the Indian Parliament and assassination of Prime Minister, the court said “In other countries when a man drives in a truck with arms, within hours the police track him down, dead or alive. The entire country is locked down and they take the attack as an affront to the nation. Everybody is alerted, but we don’t take it seriously. It has a cascading effect, officials are detached from public sentiment.”The court has asked the CBI and SIT probing the cases, of Dabholkar and Pansare to work together and convene a joint meeting to share information and details to track down the wanted accused.Asking the government to be sensitive to the threats faced by journalist, writers, performers and social thinkers especially in progressive states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, court said, “These states were known for their progressive thinkers and social reformers but now the situation is such that if your view is contrary, they will knock you out. Situation will get worse. If this continues, we will not hesitate in taking charge, how many incidents can we keep ignoring.”Referring to the attack on two foreigners by a mob for refusing to take their pictures, Justice Dharmadhikari said “somebody visits this country as a tourist and he is attacked. Performances are disrupted, shows stopped. It is happening in every state. Imagine the image of country that is being seen outside in the world. The court continue hearing the plea on December, 21.
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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress confident of repeating Nanded victory

While opinion polls have predicted a down to the wire fight, Congress leaders in Gujarat are confident of repeating the Nanded victory by getting the anti-incumbency votes to them rather than fragmenting those votes amongst independent candidatesSenior Congress leader Ashok Chavan, who is also the president of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, said the BJP wants to divide the anti-incumbency votes amongst smaller parties and independent candidates. “Voters are shrewd. The BJP had used the same pattern in Nanded, but people voted Congress and rejected the MIM, NCP and the Shiv Sena. As a result, we won 71 out of 81 seats,” he told DNA.Atul Londe, MPCC spokesperson who is also in-charge of Surat district for Gujarat elections said that out of 14 seats in Surat, they are hopeful of getting at least eight seats this time. Londe has been camped in Gujarat for last two months. Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Unlike PM Modi, I can err, says Rahul GandhiHe said that there is dissatisfaction across the sections against the BJP government in Gujarat. “People had already made up their mind to ouster the BJP. Congress is credible options for them therefore we are expecting the total seats not less than 120 out of 182. One thing we have to understand, Gujarat is mainly business community and demonetization and GST had hampered their business. Many people are become bankrupt and jobless. So these people will never vote BJP,” said Londe confidently.
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As Kolkata school reopens after minor’s sexual assault, data shows crimes against children rose 500% in last decade

A week after a four-year-old child was sexually assaulted by two physical education teachers at Kolkata’s GD Birla Centre for Education, the school reopened its gates to students studying between Class VI and XII.Both parents and students said that while the incident was horrific, it was unfair on the older students who were appearing for board examinations.The decision to reopen the school was taken on Wednesday after school authorities gave into the demands of protesting parents and placed Principal Sharmila Nath on an indefinite leave. The vice principal has been given additional responsibilities as acting principal.Parents and guardians have also demanded that CCTV cameras be installed in the school premises, male teachers be removed, and GPS trackers be set up on school buses. School authorities added that the demands had been heard and noted, and a decision would be taken soon.Meanwhile, the health of the four-year-old victim continued to remain the same. It was revealed that she had not been eating and had trouble sleeping. Sources said that while her health was stable, she was still going through trauma. “She is only comfortable around her mother and is also being counselled by experts,” the source added.Also readKolkata sexual assault case: School principal finally removed after massive protestChild abuse has been on a constant rise in India. According to data provided by Child Rights and You (CRY) through a cumulative analysis of NCRB data, crimes against children has seen a 500% increase over the past decade (1,06,958 in 2016 over 18,967 in 2006).Looking at the concentration of reported incidents across the states, more than 50% of crimes against children have been recorded in just five states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi UT and West Bengal. While Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 15% of recorded crimes against children, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh closely follow with 14% and 13% respectively.Also readKolkata rape: GD Birla school faces legal action after abrupt shutdown, rights body says fate of 7,000 students at stakeGoing by the nature of crimes and categories those were booked under, Kidnapping and Abduction clearly tops the lists with almost half of the total crimes (48.9%, number of crimes 52,253) as recorded in 2016. The next biggest category of crime against children in terms of number of booking is rape, amounting to more than 18% of all crimes against children, while all crimes under POCSO Act constitutes around 33% of total crimes. Further analysis suggests that Uttar Pradesh recorded maximum number of crimes under the categories of ‘Kidnapping & Abduction’ and ‘POCSO Act’; as in both these categories Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh stand in the second and third slot respectively.This year, a new chapter on ‘Missing Persons and Children’ which has been included in this year’s NCRB release in compliance with the Supreme Court directives, shows that a total of 1,11,569 children (41,175 boys and 70,394 girls) were reported to have been missing. The maximum cases were reported from West Bengal (15.1%) during 2016. A total of 55,944 children were traced at the end of the year (including previous year) in the country.Komal Ganotra, Director, Policy & Advocacy at CRYsaid, “Going by the current trend reflected in the Government data, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh along with some other states continue to show worrying trends in the magnitude of crime against children. Also, this is a grim reminder of the fact that we, as a country, do not have proper prevention mechanisms in place to address the issue of child protection, nor are we keen on building more empathetic understanding and intervention plans adequately backed up by sustained investment on child security.”
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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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