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Newsroom diaries 2016: Marathwada, elections, Olympics, demonetisation and how we covered them

This past week Facebook has resounded with plangent laments about the year that will not end.

Most timelines are lengthy dirges punctuated with cries of cashlessness, Aleppolessness, musiclessness and Baracklessness. Annus horribilis is the Latinate of choice.

There hasn’t been a better year for journalism in recent history. The sordidness of 2016 has presented our estate with sufficient opportunities to peel open and consider the human condition. It has allowed us to recount such stories that newsmen and women don’t often get to tell. This is especially true for a band of journalists relaying reports, opinion and analysis from a newsroom freed of the constraints that tie down a print publication — no curbs on article length, supporting media, revisions and improvements, narrative possibilities, and so on.

Firstpost is one such outfit.

The Firstpost newsroomThe Firstpost newsroom

The Firstpost newsroom

Four stories we’ve reported in the past year should serve to showcase the breadth of material (and digital reporting opportunities) 2016 has provided the Firstpost newsroom.

The first came early when a visiting former chief minister of Maharashtra told us of the seriousness of drought conditions in Marathwada. We dispatched three writers to the region, each equipped with a small camera — none had used one in the course of reporting — to record the extent of damage. The series that resulted from their month-long journey, encrusted as it was with rich media, helped set the general course of debate on state intervention and the failure of successive governments in instituting any lasting solutions to address water scarcity in Marathwada.

In preparing for elections held to elect members to five state Assemblies, in May, we resolved to replicate a television newsroom online; in-studio political analysts, an anchor, multiple video and audio feeds from the five states, data visualisation, combined with on-ground reportage, gathered by writers applying — many of them for the first time — the fundamental tenets of print journalism to digital storytelling methods.

Soon after, the sports desk — frugally peopled — came up against the Rio Olympics, which afforded them the chance to run one of the lengthiest live blogs Firstpost has operated thus far, spanning 16 days, book-ended by the two ceremonies at the Maracana Stadium.

The fourth story is a biphonic texture of two stories that occurred almost simultaneously, over the course of 24 hours, beginning 8 November: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise announcement that 86 percent of currency in circulation would be rendered invalid in 50 days‘ time, and an election in the US that advanced the likelihood of an orange-haired real estate huckster with tenuous grasp of policy occupying the Oval Room.

Both offered Firstpost the occasion to set off a lengthy, live, accretive discourse drawn from analysis that combined text, video and audio; we hadn’t embedded such a large volume of fragmentary opinion pieces in live blogs until then. The election allowed us to build on what we’d learnt in May — we ran an eight-hour broadcast on the website, with commentators weighing in live from Toronto, New Orleans, New York, Delhi, Dubai and Mumbai.

And from all accounts, those last two stories have yet to coil themselves to a close.

The fading days of 2016 could well serve as prologue for the year before us.

A newsroom is made not by the technology or resources at its disposal, but by those who inhabit it. For a more personalised view on the experiences of various members of the Firstpost newsroom while covering specific stories, check out the following accounts:

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 08:51 IST

2008 Malegaon blast case: ATS killed two ‘missing’ accused in 2008 fake encounter, claims ex-cop

In a sensational revelation, a former officer of Maharashtra’s Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) claimed that two accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, who were thought to be missing, were actually killed by the ATS in December 2008. Hindustan Times reported that in an application to the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Solapur on 19 August, 2016, suspended police inspector Mehboob Mujawar claimed Ramchandra Kalsangre and Sandeep Dange, currently wanted, were killed by ATS cops.  This information is contrary to the chargesheet filed by the ATS, which claimed the two are still on the run.

File image of Sadhvi Pragya. PTI

File image of Sadhvi Pragya. PTI

According to Mujawar, the two accused were brought to Mumbai from Indore in November 2008 were they were killed in a alleged fake encounter, Mid Day reported.

According to the paper, Mujawar was suspended in 2009 for allegedly threatening a terror suspect Ghulam Hussain Kasim Sahab Shaikh. The Times of India added that Mujawar was later accused of criminal intimidation and charged under the Arms Act. In his affidavit, he stated that he was falsely accused and while speaking to media, added that he was being hounded for being a witness to the encounter.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured of probing the matter, Times Now reported.

Malegaon blast took place on 29 September 2008, when a IED placed in a bike went off, killing six and ijuring 101 people.

Hindutva outfits were accused to have been the perpetrators of the attack, with the role of the Abhinav Bharat, a fringe right-wing group, coming under the scanner of the National Investigation Agency and the ATS. In 2009, ATS charged Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Indian Army officer Lt Col Shrikant Prasad Purohit for criminal conspiracy under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In 2015, however, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) dropped charges Sadhvi Pragya and 10 others for lack of evidence.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 14:14 IST

RSS pays for 6.5 lakh pants via cheque

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cashless? No problem. That’s the attitude the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) exuded as it settled the bill for an order of 6.5 lakh pants entirely in cheque. Not only that, the resulting Rs 19 lakh due in sales tax was all settled in cheque by the Sangh, sending a firm message to black money hoarders and demonetization doubters, that going cashless was not really a problem.“The RSS does not go in for any transaction other than the regular day-to-day expenditure of the Pracharaks so we faced no problem after the decision to demonetize old currency was announced,” said RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya.Vaidya also stated that training exercises were also underway for the cadre and senior pracharaks to help them better understand how to conduct digital transactions. He also pointed out that RSS Pracharaks or offices handle very little cash which is why the Sangh was not much affected with the decision to demonetize currency.The 6.5 lakh pants were ordered over four months ago, when the Sangh had taken the momentous decision to shed their shorts for khakhi brown full pants. More than four months ago in July 2016, the RSS gave orders to 3-4 mills from Bhilwada to make 13 lakh meters of cloth. Vaidya revealed that while the RSS had sent three lakh meters of cloth outside Maharashtra so that the pants would be stitched at respective places, the RSS on its own had used the remaining cloth to make 6.5 lakh full pants which were stitched by giving the orders to the tailors.As a result of this, the RSS were able to conduct the Vijayadashami Sanchalan or march in Dussehra in October this year, in their changed attire of full pants, instead of the traditional half pants.Apart from the RSS, Vaidya said that he believed that demonetization was for the good of the people and generally it was being seen as a positive move. “I have been getting feedback from a cross section of society which says that they are happy about the decision to demonetize currency.”

Maharashtra: Govt to shut down liquor shops on national, state highways, says prepared to incur losses

Mumbai: Maharashtra government will implement the Supreme Court’s verdict of 15 December that directed all the states to shut down all liquor shops and vends on national and state highways.

State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar cited the rising number of deaths in road accidents in the state while stating that the liquor shops on state and national highways will be closed.

“Maximum number of deaths due to road accidents were due to drunken driving. The SC verdict effectively means that 12,967 liquor shops in the state that fall within the 500 meter radius will have to shut down after March 31, 2017,” he told reporters in Mumbai.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asked about the contention of the liquor lobby about revenue loss, Mungantiwar said, “anyway they are not in the business of selling holy water.”

The minister also said that the Maharashtra government was prepared to incur the loss in its revenue and will implement the order of the apex court.

“Out of the total 16,856 deaths in 2015-16, 13,212 deaths were road accident deaths and again out of that maximum of them were due to drunken driving,” Mungantiwar claimed. Meanwhile, officials said due to demonetisation, the department anticipates a 4.88 per cent decline in revenue between 1to 20 December.

As per State Excise departments data, the department had fixed the revenue income out of liquor for 2016 at Rs 15,343.96 crore.

The department had posted a revenue income of Rs 1,024.57 crore in November 2015, whereas the revenue income in November this year was Rs 1,027.35 crore, a rise of 0.27 per cent, shows the data.

As per the data, between 1 December to 20 December, 2015, the department posted a revenue income of Rs 670.25 crore, while the revenue for the same corresponding period this December stands at Rs 637.57 crore, a deficit of 4.88 percent.

Out of the total 12,967 liquor shops that will face closure after March 31, 2017, Pune district has maximum of 3,932 establishments, officials said. Of these 2,499 are in Nagpur, 2,225 in Kolhapur, , 2,224 in Aurangabad, 1,480 in Konkan region and 1,347 in Nashik district, they said.

There are a total of 24,572 country liquor, wine shops, permit rooms, clubs, beer shops, beer and wine serving outlets in the state, said officials.

According to them, the government has also directed its Superintendents of State Excise not to approve One Day temporary licenses (FL-4) to clubs that come within the radius of 500 meters from the boundaries of national, state highways and service roads.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 22:18 IST

Sex workers should ?sell pickles and papads instead of their bodies: IGP Vishwas Nangre-Patil

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To say Vishwas Nangre-Patil (above) has one of the largest fan followings compare​d​ to all his IPS peers both on social media and otherwise would be an understatement. This IGP (Kolhapur range) has always been known for being progressive and a clean cop. Which is why his patriarchal misogyny at a ​recent ​press conference ​in Miraj, western Maharashtra​, came as a shocker.Announcing a crackdown operation against sex workers he wanted to know why they can’t work hard. “They should ​be rehabilitated to make and ​sell pickles and papads instead of their bodies,” he advised without getting into ​circumstances which force women into sex work. And we are not even talking of women who want to do this for a living of their own volition.An activist who has been working on HIV/AIDS awareness in the region for decades said, “Will he be able to match ​the corporate markets that sell papads and pickles? And we are not even talking about ​matching a sex worker’s daily income here.” All ears sir for your response. Hopefully you’ll give the patriarchal conservatism a rest…

IAF sorties helped government fight cash crunch

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to help the common man with the demonetization process, the government has been pressing the Indian Air Force (IAF) into action. From assisting in the functioning of currency printing presses 24×7 to airlifting cash, the IAF has already transported 610 tonnes of currency and will continue to do so over the next few days.”The Air Force has played an important role in lifting currency. We have done 35 sorties and transported 610 tonnes of cash till now, said Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Wednesday.”We have also helped in running one of the mints 24×7,” he added.The decision to rope in the IAF was taken about 10 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization—making old Rs 500 and Rs. 1000 notes illegal and replacing them with new ones.It is unprecedented for IAF to transport cash which is usually done by train. Sources said since it was an “emergency-like situation” the IAF had been roped in to bring down delays in currency, reaching different centres across the country.The four currency printing centres are located in Nasik (Maharashtra), Devas (Madhya Pradesh), Mysore (Karnataka) and Salboni (West Bengal). Sources said the employees at the press have been working overtime to meet the cash demands in the country.From close by airfields in Mysore, Indore, Ozar and Kalaikunda, IAF planes are carrying out sorties almost daily to meet requirements.”The cash is transported by road to the airfields from where the Air Force transports it to different centre. This is saving time in transportation,” said a government official. The aircraft being used for transporting the currency are C 130, C17 and AN 32, sources said.Once the cash reaches the destination the local authorities take charge.Sources said initially there was a shortage in currency as the printing machines lacked the capacity to meet the increased demands. The government had announced printing of new Rs. 1000 notes but that has not begun yet.”While the Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 500 notes are being printed the void left due to non printing of Rs 1,000 note has created a crunch,” said a government official dealing with the subject.Officials privy to the details said out of a total currency requirement of 17.5 lakh crore, Rs 8 lakh crore is expected to be in 500 and Rs 7 lakh crore in 1,000 denominations. “10 per cent of this demand is being met per month,” the official added.The rest of the demand is to be met with other notes including Rs 2,000.

Rohit Deo is the full-time Advocate General of Maharashtra now

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It took eight months and a strongly worded High court order for the Devendra Fadnavis government to finalise the name of Adv Rohit Deo as the advocate general of Maharashtra. Deo’s name has been recommended to the Governor on Tuesday by the cabinet. The government had told the Bombay High Court on Friday that it would appoint the AG by 30 December. Congress MLC Sanjay dutt had dragged the Fadnavis government to the court three months back over its prolonged indecision at the cost of state’s welfare. Deo is currently the acting advocate general and has been handling all cases of the government since Shreehari Aney quit in April this year following a controversial statement supporting separate VIdarbha state. Dutt said, “Even as Maharashtra Govt concedes to my demand & finally appoints Advocate General, CM needs to answer why he waited for 9 months to appoint acting AG as AG!” Dutt added that Maha CM owes apology to Maha People following HC order in my petition stating that the appointment of an Acting Advocate General is Not Constitutionally valid.HC order through my petition shall ensure that No Govt will falter on appointing Advocate-General as per Article 165 of Constitution of India.

Shiv Sena’s ignorance is the real insult to Hanuman, not the mural at IIT-Bombay

In Indian mythology, Lord Hanuman is considered synonymous with strength, wisdom, loyalty, bravery, humility and brahmacharya.

Given that not all of these traits and qualities, especially celibacy, can be attributed to Shiv Sainiks, it is amusing to hear tales of their new-found bhakti for the Lord of monkeys.

On Monday morning, Shiv Sainiks forced organisers of an annual cultural festival at IIT-Bombay to remove a painting resembling Hanuman. According to reports, Shiv Sainiks had a problem with the way Hanuman was depicted in the painting.

Representational image. AFP

A file image of Shiv Sena followers. AFP

“The painting was in bad taste. It hurt the religious sentiments of many people. This is not the way to the portray a Hindu deity like Hanuman. Students should not have portrayed the deity like that,” Sena leader Datta Dalvi told the Indian Express.

Shiv Sainiks are known for their selective bouts of sensitivity, an affliction that has classical signs of bigotry, xenophobia (except for pop stars) and bullying. They are particularly renowned for the brand of bravery that has become the norm among “nationalists” in India: Attack individuals, artists, writers, vulnerable groups, in fact, everyone who can’t hit back — for everything else, there are, of course, the real soldiers.

Such is the nature of their bravado — throwing ink, digging up pitches, threatening singers, boycotting films, extorting donations in the name of soldiers, patriotism — that nothing about their antics now seems surprising. But, sometimes even the Shiv Sainiks outdo themselves. The incident at IIT-Bombay is one such incident of the Shiv Sainiks sliding further down into the bottomless pit of absurdity.

Let us not go into a debate on the right to freedom of expression or the argument about art transcending every boundary. Let us also not even talk about the role of art in seeing beyond the conventional, widening our horizon through creativity and intuitive logic. For the average Shiv Sainik, these arguments would be too much of an intellectual burden, even weightier than the burden of Dronagiri on Hanuman’s palm.

So, let us counter the outrage of the Shiv Sainiks with their own logic or the lack of it.

The Shiv Sainiks ordered the removal of the painting at IIT-Bombay because they objected to Hanuman’s depiction as a man carrying a pen in one hand instead of a mace. Yes, a pen in Hanuman’s hand hurt the Shiv Sainiks. Laugh if you want about their obscurantism. But, also pity the Shiv Sainiks. For they know nothing about the legend of Hanuman.

Nobody can be sure if they have heard of the old adage about the pen being mightier than the mace. But, being the self-proclaimed purveyors of Hindutva, they may have heard what their ancestors may have been chanting for centuries — Hanuman Chaalisa, an ode to the deity comprising 40 chaupais (quatrain) composed by Goswami Tulsidas.

What does Tulsidas tell us about Hanuman in the ode. He calls Hanuman gyangun sagar (an ocean of wisdom) and hails the lord of monkeys for knowing the truth of the three loks (heaven, earth and hell). To quote: Jai Hanuman Gyan-Gun Sagar, Jai Kapeesh Teehun Lok Ujagar. Further, Tulsidas calls Hanuman vidhyawan (erudite) and chatur (intelligent).

If Shiv Sainiks knew their mythology and related literature, they would have known that in the Tulsidas hymns, Hanuman is depicted as an unparalleled symbol of both bravery and wisdom. So, who is really insulting Hanuman by objecting his depiction as a man carrying a mountain in one hand and a pen in the other? Obviously the ignorant Shiv Sainiks.

Perhaps the Shiv Sainiks want even our deities to be cast in the mould of their idea of Hindutva: Where everyone is a brainless twit with a weapon slung on the shoulder; a raging blind bhakt unaware of our rich cultural heritage, wisdom and traditions.

The Shiv Sena is indeed an odd entity. It didn’t utter a sigh when hundreds of crores of taxpayer’s money was proposed to be spent on a statue in Maharashtra, a state facing acute water shortage, agrarian crisis and high incidence of debt-related suicides. It rarely, if ever, protests on issues that affect the aam aadmi. Instead, it pursues a strange brand of politics centred on peripheral, even inconsequential, debates around pseudo-nationalism, WhatsApp brand of bravery — all talk, no action — and selective pop patriotism inspired by notions of religious superiority, regional chauvinism and danda activism.

But, considering their claim of representing Hindutva and its interests, the least that can be expected of the Shiv Sainiks is to have some basic knowledge of our mythological traditions and the traits of the deities they claim to protect. Perhaps, to begin with, the Shiv Sainiks can chant the Hanuman Chalisa: It teaches the virtues of humility, bravery, wisdom and loyalty.

As Tulsidas said: Pray to Hanuman, like a buddhi-heen (bereft of wisdom, knowledge) for bal (strength), buddhi (wisdom), vidya (knowledge) and for getting rid of kalesh (problems) and all varieties of vikaar (ailments).

On current evidence, Shiv Sainiks need every bit of the Lord’s blessings!

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 15:07 IST

Naxal-hit areas to get 11 new Kendriya Vidyalaya, 5 Navodaya Vidyalaya

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Eleven Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) and five Navodaya Vidyalaya (NV) will be set up in Naxal-hit areas by the Centre in its efforts to reach out to the people living there.The central government-run schools will be set up by the HRD Ministry at the initiative of the Home Ministry which has identified the areas where basic education was lacking.Those districts where the KVs will be set up include Nawada (Bihar), Sukma, Kondagaon, Bijapur (all Chhattisgarh), Khunti, Giridhi, Chatra, Dumka, Palamu (all Jharkhand) and Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), official sources said.There are 35 worst Naxal-hit districts among the ten Maoist affected states in the country. Out of these districts, 24 districts presently have 52 KVs.The five new NVs to be set up in Ramgarh, Khunti (both in Jharkhand), Narayanpur, Bijapur, Kondagaon (all in Chhattisgarh) districts. At present there are 33 NVs in 30 Naxal-hit districts.

What 2017 has in store for BJP…

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If BJP retrieved some momentum back in its favour in 2016 with a maiden assembly election win in Assam, the biggest question on the minds of its top brass was whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization gamble will pay off in the new year in a series of assembly polls, especially in Uttar Pradesh. BJP President Amit Shah will look back at the passing year with fondness as it presented him with some promising rewards and shored up his authority after back-to-back massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar in the preceding year had prompted leaders within the party, including veterans like LK Advani, to point fingers at him.The saffron party put up a creditable show in Kerala and West Bengal, two states where it has been traditionally weak, pulled off wins in bypolls held across the country, including in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, besides in local polls in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Its impressive show in Maharashtra and the tiny municipal corporation of Chandigarh was held by the party as an evidence of people’s support to demonetization at a time it has come under intense attack from a united Opposition over the decision, cited by the government as a measure against black money and corruption.While economic fallout of the radical exercise will take some time to be evaluated, there won’t be a long wait before its political implications are out in the open. Five states, including Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, are going to the assembly polls early next year and demonetization has clearly emerged as the war cry of not only the saffron party but also its rivals, who have latched onto the hardships facing people in form of long queues outside banks and ATMs to term the measure anti-people.Besides Uttar Pradesh, it has a lot at stake in polls to three other state assemblies, including Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa. In Manipur, it has never been in power but has forged a strong regional alliance to have a realistic shot at power. In Punjab and Goa, the presence of AAP has upset the conventional poll dynamics and BJP, which is in power in both the states is trying hard to keep the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit at bay while battling its traditional rival Congress.However, it is capturing the big prize of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha compared to 22 of four other states together, that is at the heart of BJP’s poll strategy in the fag end of the outgoing year. After taking over as the party chief in January for the second time, Shah continued with his efforts to build the organisation in states which he has identified as important for BJP’s poll prospects in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He believes that it is imperative for the party to put up a decent performance in states like Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Telangana and Kerala– the coromandal region– besides northeastern states if it is to repeat its strong show in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.It will be hard for the party to repeat let alone better its landslide win in the western India besides the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and any loss in these regions can be made up by better shows in the coastal and northeastern states, BJP leaders believe. A win in Assam and vote share of more than 15 and 10% in Kerala and West Bengal were seen by the party as a big step to this direction.Though its performance in Tamil Nadu was disappointing it looks at ruling AIADMK as a friendly outfit with which it can have a political understanding. The untimely death of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has brought the leadership of two parties closer as the state government leans on the central government for support.Appointments of a number of state chiefs, including in Punjab and Bihar, underlined efforts of the saffron outfit, which has for decades been identified with Brahmin-bania support base, to broaden its appeal among the backward castes and Dalits, two Hindu groups which may have supported it in the past but never embraced it.Shah surprised many within the party by appointing Manoj Tiwari as Delhi BJP president as he is seen as an outsider with no ideological upbringing of the sort its regional satraps are expected to have. It was a clear indication that he was willing to move on from the city’s entrenched leadership which has failed to deliver in polls.If 2014 was the milestone year in the BJP’s history as it emerged stronger than ever before, 2015 exposed it to the limits of solely banking on Modi’s charisma. This year, BJP used its organisational heft and credible local leadership, as in the case of Assam where Sarbananda Sonowal turned out to be its lucky mascot, to expand into newer territory. However, it will be the new year that can provide the strongest signal yet of whether its hope of a repeat of 2014 landslide in the next Lok Sabha polls will ride on firm foundations or not. Uttar Pradesh will decide.

Bollywood music composer duo Sajid-Wajid join BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bollywood music composer duo Sajid and Wajid Ali joined BJP in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The two musician brothers joined the saffron party at a programme organised by BJP’s youth wing on the occasion of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. “There is only one promise we can make ourselves on Atal-ji’s birthday, to make India corruption-free. Atal-ji worked hard all his life to enhance the nation’s capabilities and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi is only fulfilling Atal-ji’s dreams,” Fadnavis said at the event. “I ask every youth present here to teach ten people how to conduct trade in cashless way and help fulfil Atal-ji’s dream of corruption-free nation,” Fadnavis said. “During his tenure (as the PM) Atal-ji brought immense repute to the country in the international arena,” he said and added that whatever BJP is today is because of Vajpayee.

Kerala: Over Rs 51 lakh in 2,000 denomination notes seized in Kannur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 51.86 lakh, almost all of them in Rs 2,000 denomination, was today seized by Kerala Excise officials from two passengers of a bus coming from Bengaluru at nearby Irrity, in the second major haul of currency in the last three days in the state.They found Rs 51.80 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes and Rs 100 notes for Rs 6,300 in the bags of Ranjith Salangi (24) and Rahul Adhik alias Rahul Ghatoo (22).The duo, in their early 20s and hailing from Maharashtra, were found carrying the cash without any supporting documents after which they were detained. The haul came just two days after police seized Rs 39.98 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination at Tirur area in Malapuram district.Excise officials said today’s seizure was made when a special Excise squad, acting on a tip-off, intercepted the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus heading to nearby Payyanur around 3.30 AM.They were taken into custody and would be questioned by Income Tax officials here.Busting a currency exchange racket involving Rs 2,000 notes, police had on Friday seized Rs three lakh from Shoukath Ali, already facing a hawala case, and, based on information provided by him, recovered Rs 36.98 lakh from the residence of a businessman.

Kept under house arrest due to Modi’s visit,’ claims Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam

Mumbai: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam, who planned to lead a ‘silent’ march of party workers to the venue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s public meeting in Mumbai on Saturday, claimed he had been placed under “house arrest” by police which denied the charge.

Mumbai Police said the personnel deployed outside Nirupam’s residence were only part of the security arrangements made across the city in view of the PM’s visit for launching some major projects.

“The area outside my house is under heavy police bandobast and I am being prevented from stepping out,” Nirupam told PTI,

“In the present democratic set up Opposition leaders are being virtually kept under house-arrest,” he alleged.

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

File photo of Sanjay Nirupam. AFP

Asked about Nirupam’s allegation, Mumbai Police spokesperson, DCP Ashok Dudhe. said, “We have deployed policemen across the city especially on the route of PM’s convoy to maintain law and order as well as to avoid any untoward incident during his visit.”

Nirupam said the morcha was planned as a peaceful march to highlight some live issues.

“We have a lot of questions for the PM. He should answer graft allegations made by our Vice President Rahul Gandhi instead of mocking him. Modi should also answer when the people will get back their right to deposit and withdraw their own hard earned money from banks. It is more than a month. Since demonetisation citizens are still suffering due to cash crunch,” he said.

AICC General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, Mohan Prakash accused the police of curbing the democratic rights of political rivals, which he alleged was being done at the behest of the government.

“Earlier, the government put restrictions on citizens’ rights to access their money and now there are restrictions on freedom of expression as well,” he said.

Condemning the “house arrest” of Nirupam, MPCC spokersperson Sachin Sawant said, “It is indeed, a black day for Indian democracy. This act confirms the fact that the BJP government has a sadist and fascist mindset, which denies the citizen’s basic fundamental constitutional right to protest peacefully.”

First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 11:48 IST

PM speak: Thorns for corrupt, roses for the rest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that after the deadline of 50 days (from November 8 when demonetization was announced), inconvenience faced by honest people would mitigate and trouble would increase for the dishonest.The war against black money will not be called off until victory is achieved, he said. But he offered the dishonest a chance. “There is still some time left and they can still bring themselves into the mainstream of honest ones,” he said. Though the government does not want to destroy such people, it cannot spare them if they loot the common man’s money, Modi said. The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at the MMRDA ground here after laying the foundation stone for the Arabian sea memorial of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The recent local body elections in Maharashtra, where BJP has emerged as the largest party, prove that people are with the demonetization drive, he said. He said 125 crore people backed his decision. “There are very powerful people, who have enjoyed many benefits in the last seven decades, trying to defeat the demonetization drive. But the country cannot be defeated by such people,” he said.“Some people thought that they can escape by convincing bankers, but those who tried this route not only endangered their future but also that of the bankers,” he said. These people will have to ultimately bow down before 125 crore Indians who would not tolerate dishonesty anymore, he said. He said that 125 crore Indians have now become the baton holders of the war against black money and that is the reason why this war will not stop, he said.

Necessary decisions in past would have avoided discomfort: PM Modi on demonetization

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a veiled attack on Congress for opposing demonetization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the “sins” of benami properties would not have happened and people would not be standing in queues now had necessary decisions been taken in the past.”In 1988, Parliament passed Benami Property Act but it never got notified and implemented. The papers had got lost somewhere in a stack of files. It was me who re-opened it. Sins of benami properties would not have happened had the law been implemented,” he said after the inauguration of Pune metro. “Should I let the situation be as it is or should I change it? Should the wrongdoings be undone or not? If decisions were taken years ago, I would not have had to make people stand in queues. I have taken this step because I made a promise to save the country,” the Prime Minister said.Modi warned those possessing black money to come clean now or they will stand no chance to save themselves. “Some people thought all governments are the same and this government of mine will be no different. They thought they can put their black money in banks and convert it into white. Money did not become white but their faces turned black,” he said. “There is still time where laws can help you. Come on the right path and sleep peacefully. If not, I will not sleep. I have started this war against corruption, black money, terrorism, naxalism with a lot of ‘jigar’ (heart),” he said.The Prime Minister said that due to the demonetization decision, income of urban bodies have increased by 200-300 per cent and people, who were used to breaking rules at one point of time are now made to stand in queues. Modi said that urbanisation is taking place at a fast pace today and stressed on generating employment and improving the quality of life in villages to stop migration to cities. “Only then will the run from villages to cities will slow down. If we think in pieces and for immediate political gains, we can never overcome problems,” he said.The PM said the Centre has started with a ‘Rurban’ mission which focuses on ensuring that that villages close to cities have the soul of a village and facilities of a city. “Our Digital India campaign is not just meant for cities but for rural areas as well. We have decided to launch metro projects in more than 50 cities. Had we done so in bits and pieces, projects would have become costlier, more problems would have arisen and the projects would have had lagged even after we putting in money,” he said.Modi said benchmarks of development need to become modernise and transform with changing times. “Infrastructure is not just roads, rail and air transport but also highways and I-ways (information ways), for which we need an optical fibre network. We need to work on water grid, digital network, gas grid and space technology,” he said.Modi said Pune Metro should have been visualised and implemented much earlier. “Previous governments have left a lot of work for me to do,” Modi said. The development of phase -I of Pune Metro Rail Project, which will cover a total length of 31.25 km, is expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters in Pune as well as neighbouring industrial town of Pimpri Chinchwad. The project comprises two corridors — Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)- Swargate covering length of 16.589 km and Vanaz to Ramwadi with a length of 14.665 km.The project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR). The Project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO), which will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Government of India and Maharashtra government. The existing Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (NMRCL), a joint Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Government of India and Maharashtra government, would be reconstituted into MAHA-METRO for implementation of all metro projects including Pune Metro Rail Project Phase-1 in the state of Maharashtra outside Mumbai Metropolitan Region.The approved alignments are expected to provide the much needed connectivity to the commuters and would pass through some of the dense and traffic congested routes in the Pune Metropolitan Area.

Troubles of honest people to reduce, dishonest to increase after December 30: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday warned of ruin for the dishonest after the expiry of December 30 deadline for depositing scrapped currency and said they should not underestimate the mood of the country against corruption. “Dishonest people, you should not underestimate the mood of 125 crore people. You will have to be afraid of it… Time has come for ruin of dishonest people. This is a cleanliness campaign,” Modi said. “After 50 days (from November 8), the troubles of honest people will start to reduce and the problems of dishonest people will begin to increase,” Modi said.The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering at MMRDA ground in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai after laying foundation of various big ticket infrastructure projects. “We took a big decision against black money and corruption on November 8 and 125 crore Indians endured pain but did not stop supporting me. I want to assure people of the country that this battle won’t end till we win it,” he said.Hitting out at parties opposing demonetization, he said, “this is not a simple battle. Those who have consumed malai (cream) did not leave any stone unturned to foil this (demonetization).” “The corrupt have made all efforts to defeat the decision (demonetization). They even thought of managing bank officials to get their black money converted into white. And that’s how many of them got caught,” he said. “I said there will be pain for 50 days (after demonetization announcement),” he said, adding people are ready to bear the pain in the country’s interest. “People have borne the troubles in the country’s interest and are willing to do so in future too,” the PM said.
ALSO READ PM Modi lays Foundation for Rs 3,600-crore grand memorial for Shivaji MaharajModi alleged that those who benefited from corruption during the earlier regimes “in last 70 years” did all they could to ensure the demonetization move by him does not work. “Those who are used to a certain type corrupt practices for last 70 years, will have to pay the price of their acts,” he said. “Time has changed and after a gap of 30 years, a government with full mandate is in power. One should not forget it. The country will change, will move forward and will hold its head high before the world,” the PM said.Modi, who earlier laid the foundation of the Shivaji Maharaj memorial off Mumbai coast, said the Maratha king was a multi-faceted personality “which inspires us” “I am grateful to the Maharashtra government that I got the chance to perform jalpujan of Shivaji Maharaj,” the PM said. When the memorial is complete, people will admire the iconic building, he said, adding Shivaji Maharaj “is an inspiration for all of us” and remains a torch bearer of good governance.
ALSO READ Mumbai: Modi announces longest sea bridge, two metro lines project worth Rs 1.06 lakh crore”If India is projected in the right manner, it has the potential to attract global tourism,” he said. “After independence, had we adopted the path of development, the problems we face today wouldn’t have been there,” Modi said.Development should be sustainable and should help the poor realise their dreams, Modi said. The PM also dwelt on the various development initiatives of his government. “Our efforts is to ensure affordable medicine to the poor. When we came to power, there were 18,000 villages without power. We decided to provided electricity to them in 1000 days,” Modi said.
ALSO READ As Modi-Uddhav shares stage, BJP-Sena strains comes to foreShiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party has had strained ties with senior alliance partner BJP, also addressed the gathering. However, as Thackeray began to speak, he was greeted with shouts of ‘Modi, Modi’ from BJP workers in audience. “I extend my best wishes for memorial construction and hope that it gets completed within stipulated period,” he said. “I have come here to pay obeisance to Shivaji Maharaj,” Thackeray said, adding the memorial should be built as strong as the Sindhudurg fort, built by the Maratha king.The Sena leader also asked the government to “free forts in Maharashtra from the shackles of the Archaeological Survey of India”. Union minister Nitin Gadkari described Modi as the biggest “Shivbhakt” (devotee of Shivaji).Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the memorial will be the tallest in the world. “If the US is known for the Statue of Liberty, Maharashtra will be known as the land of Shivaji Maharaj,” the CM said. Justifying the state government’s decision to go ahead with the memorial despite opposition from various quarters, including environmentalists and activists, Fadnavis said, “This memorial is to remind people not to forget our glorious past. This memorial will inspire every person to work for good governance.”

Narendra Modi’s highly advertised project launch is a poll stunt: Gurudas Kamat

Mumbai: Former union minister Gurudas Kamat on Saturday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s highly “advertised” launch of projects in Mumbai as a “poll stunt”.

“The launch of projects by Modi is a poll stunt. But for the sake of Mumbai and Mumbaikars the party hopes that these projects will be completed on time,” Kamat, general secretary of AICC, said in a statement here.

The statement made by Kamat assumes significance in the backdrop that polls for the Mumbai civic body will be held in early 2017.

Gurudas Kamat

Gurudas Kamat

The Congress leader said, “It was because of my efforts that then former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee cleared proposals to launch 15 coach trains, an extension of harbour line from CST to Goregaon and modernisation of three suburban stations of Andheri, Jogeshwari and Goregaon.”

“Also the new railway station at Ram Mandir Road which was inaugurated by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu recently is part of the follow-up,” the release quoting Kamat said.

The Congress leader said that it was in his speech at a function where Mamata Banerjee was present that he had proposed elevated railway to be considered on Central and Western railway lines to alleviate the problems of suburban commuters and to reduce congestion on city roads.

“All of these proposals were accepted by Banerjee. She held a series of meetings with Railway Board members on this and had cleared all the projects for the city,” said the release.

All technical clearances and support of the Central Government were obtained during the UPA tenure for the launch of elevated railway on both Central and Western railway lines, but the matter was held up at the state government level for FSI of five demanded by the Railways.

“It is surprising though as clearances for these initiatives have happened and many of them launched and completed, the Churchgate to Bandra Elevated Railway Extension seems to have been mysteriously dropped by the BJP Government,” said Kamat.

After completion of Metro-I, the second phase of the metro was also launched by the then President Pratibha Patil. The Dahisar to Mankhurd stretch which was already planned and approved is today being relaunched by the Prime Minister. However, instead of running from Dahisar, the project will now be between DN Nagar to Mankhurd.

Kamat hoped that BJP led Central and State Government will acknowledge efforts taken during the regime of UPA Government for making these initiatives a reality.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 17:16 IST

LIVE: Narendra Modi lays foundation for Shivaji Memorial in Mumbai, arrives at BKC

Dec 24, 2016

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    PM Modi talks on demonetisation ​PM Modi assures that the government will take sound economic decisions, will not shy away from difficult decisions which are in the interest of the country. He said, “Demonetisation is an example. It gives short term problems but long time gains.” He said, “India is been seen as bright spot. To see how far we’ve travelled we should look back to 2012-13 when the currency was falling sharply.”

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Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 16:03 IST

LIVE: Demonetisation is short term pain for long term gain: Narendra Modi in Mumbai

Dec 24, 2016

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    PM Modi talks on demonetisation ​PM Modi assures that the government will take sound economic decisions, will not shy away from difficult decisions which are in the interest of the country. He said, “Demonetisation is an example. It gives short term problems but long time gains.” He said, “India is been seen as bright spot. To see how far we’ve travelled we should look back to 2012-13 when the currency was falling sharply.”

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Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 13:09 IST

CM Fadnavis to address youth workers on Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s 92nd birthday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a bid to attract the youth and connect them to the ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP), city youth wing has organised a musical program here on the occasion of 92nd birthday of former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on Sunday.The organisers are anticipating a gathering of over 25,000 crowd from all over the state for the program, christened as “Yuva Urza”, to be held in Lower Parel. Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis will also address the gathering.President of Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), Mumbai, Mohit Kamboj said, “Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth date has always been special to us. This is why we are celebrating his birthday with fanfare in which large numbers of youth have already given their consent to turn up and assimilate the Atal’s mantra in their social life.”Beside Fadnavis, national president of youth wing of the party, Poonam Mahajan among other senior BJP leaders would be present at the event, he said. “Our party at the state as well as at the Centre has earned so many achievements and done exemplary work for the sustainable development of the country and for people, no occasion other than Vajpayeeji’s birthday could be better for us to celebrate these achievements,” he added.

PM Modi in Maharashtra for inauguration of Shivaji memorial, Mumbai and Pune metro

Mumbai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a day’s visit to Maharashtra on Saturday, where he will lay foundation stones for the grand memorial of Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the metro rail projects in Mumbai and Pune.

Modi will inaugurate the newly-built campus of the National Institute of Securities Management in MIDC Patalganga in neighbouring Raigad district.

He will then proceed to the site in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, where the state government is planning to build a mega memorial for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The Prime Minister’s visit assumes political significance as the high-stake elections to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are just a few months away.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

The main feature of the Shivaji memorial, slated to cost Rs 3,600 crore, will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the iconic Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop, roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis recently said the ‘Shiv Smarak’ will not only be the tallest memorial in the country, but in the entire world. He had thanked Modi for “making it possible.”

Later, Modi will address a public function at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) ground in suburban Bandra, after laying foundation stone for two Metro rail projects, Elevated Rail Corridors Project and Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL).

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of ruling BJP, is expected to share the dais with Modi at the MMRDA event.

The PM will then leave for Pune, where he will lay the foundation stone of the Pune Metro Rail project. NCP leader Sharad Pawar will share the stage with Modi at this event.

The memorial project has been facing stiff opposition from fisherfolk and environmentalists, who have alleged that it would affect marine life and ecology of the Arabian Sea.

A rally was flagged off at Chembur on Saturday, where representatives from various districts gathered with collections of sand and soil from Chhatrapati Shivaji’s forts across the state.

The rally led by a ‘Shivaji chariot’ will conclude at the Gateway of India, where the Chief Minister will receive the vase carrying water and soil from all districts of the state. This will then be handed over to the Prime Minister and carried to the memorial site.

For the MMRDA event, the government has sent out invitation to over 3,000 VVIPs and dignitaries, including members of the royal family and Shivaji historians.

Ever since it came to power in Maharashtra in October 2014, BJP has been quietly trying to usurp the near-monopoly that bickering ally Shiv Sena has held over the 17th century Maratha king for the last many years.

Ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly election in 2014, BJP had used the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji for electoral gains, with a famous tagline seeking to evoke Shivaji’s blessings.

The government and BJP are trying to make the memorial event a success with hoardings at important places of all districts and also through campaigns in print, TV and social media.

Meanwhile, an official said those who would accompany Modi in the hovercraft to the jalpujan and bhumipujan venue off Mumbai coast, will include Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP’s Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP from Kolhapur Sambhaji Raje Bhosle.

First Published On : Dec 24, 2016 09:02 IST

Fauna_E-surveillance system in Maha tiger reserve to be solar powered

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first electronic surveillance system in Maharashtra to prevent poaching and track faunal movement for minimising man- animal conflict will be powered through non-conventional energy.The project, which will cover the Tadoba- Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and the neighbouring Chandrapur forest division, which has the highest concentration of tigers in the state, will help monitor animal movement in an unobtrusive manner. It will prevent activities like tree felling, encroachment and animal grazing, which can increase biotic pressures. The surveillance system, which officials said would be the most advanced in the country, will ensure forest staff are on their guard and alert them in case of emergencies.”Each camera will be powered by hybrid power systems,” Pravin Srivastava, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF- Information Technology and Policy) told DNA, noting that this was done in tough areas by security agencies like the Army.He added that the e-surveillance project would be energised using wind and solar energy and equipped with power backup. This will do away with need for forest clearances which would have been necessitated if electric lines were laid in forest areas.”If conventional electrical transmission lines are laid, it will attract the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,” explained Srivastava, adding that wind velocity in the monsoons would help energise the system when sunlight may be scarce.The feed will also be relayed using wireless systems from the high-resolution PTZ cameras mounted on about 52 towers to the command and control room for a real-time response. The system will be designed to capture both sound and video footage.Srivastava said that the number of towers and cameras would be decided based on a final survey and the cameras will have 30X zoom function.The forest department has chosen PTZ cameras instead of thermal cameras as the later work on the differential temperature between the human body and the atmosphere. The high temperatures in Chandrapur mean that that the difference between the two is low, explained Srivastava.Work on the Rs 20 crore project is expected to be launched by March 2017 and is likely to be completed in a year.”The command and control room staff will know tiger movement in a particular area and can forewarn people if they are close (to)… where tigers are roaming. This will minimise possible conflicts,” explained Srivastava. This will be done using hooters fitted on towers which can warn both people and even officials in case of illegal intrusions or suspicious movements.Similar e-Eye systems have be executed at the Corbett Tiger Reserve (Uttarakhand), Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary (Madhya Pradesh) and the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve (Assam), but officials said the one in Maharashtra would be more state-of-art. Officials admit that implementation of the project, which will cover areas with the highest tiger density and man- animal conflict, will be a challenging task.The Tadoba tiger reserve is spread over a 625.40 sq km core area, and 1,101.77 sq km buffer and is estimated to have about 72 tigers. The adjoining Chandrapur territorial has about 50 tigers.

Shivaji memorial: Fishermen withdraw stir against statue, ahead of Modi’s Mumbai visit

Mumbai: Fishermen in Maharashtra protesting against a proposed Shivaji Maharaj memorial off Mumbai coast have decided to withdraw their agitation, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation
stone.

“Fishermen have agreed to withdraw their agitation against Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Bhoomipujan,” a senior official said, after a meeting between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and fishermen association leaders in Mumbai on Thursday night.

Fadnavis assured fishermen that the government will look into their concerns.

Narendra Modi. PTINarendra Modi. PTI

Narendra Modi. PTI

“At the meeting, it was decided to constitute a joint committee to resolve their issues. The CM thanked fishermen associations,” the official said.

The main feature of the memorial will be a 192-metre-tall statue of the Maratha king. The site is a rocky outcrop
roughly 1.5 km from the Raj Bhavan shore of Mumbai.

Members of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS), an association of fishermen from Cuffe Parade, Machhimar Nagar, Geeta Nagar (near Navy Nagar), near Raj Bhawan and Backbay Parade, had said they will fly black flags on their boats and homes as a sign of protest.

Fisherwomen were to form a human chain from Nariman Point to Girgaum Chowpatty, holding black flags, ahead of Modi’s arrival for the inauguration, said AMMKS leader Damodar Tandel.

The livelihood of 1.5 lakh fishermen residing across five villages in south Mumbai, who have 1,500 large boats and 450 small boats, will be affected by the construction, he had claimed.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 09:21 IST

Major I-T raids since demonetisation: ED arrests TN chief secy; DRI seizes Rs 1.34cr in new notes at Chennai airport

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Chennai airport raid 

In the latest development, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted a hawala gang and seized Rs 1.34 Crore in Rs 2000 notes & $ 7000 from five persons in early morning hours, near Chennai airport, reported ANI.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:26 IST

Major I-T raids since note ban: TN chief secy held; DRI seizes Rs 1.34 cr in new currency in Chennai

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Chennai airport raid 

In the latest development, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence busted a hawala gang and seized Rs 1.34 Crore in Rs 2000 notes & $ 7000 from five persons in early morning hours, near Chennai airport, reported ANI.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 14:26 IST

TN chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao raided: Here are the major I-T raids since demonetisation

It has been more than a month since the Narendra Modi government decided to demonetise high-denomination notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and even though queues outside banks and ATMs might have shortened from how they used to be, income tax officials have been busy with several high-profile seizures of cash and gold. Some of the seizures reflect poorly on the government — in a few instances new currency notes were seized as well which in turn raises questions about the BJP government’s decision.

Since 8 November, the Income Tax department has detected Over Rs 3,185 crore of undisclosed income, while seizing Rs 86 crore worth of new notes, as part of its country-wide operations against black money hoarders. Official sources said the taxman carried out a total of 677 search, survey and enquiry operations under the provisions of the Income Tax Act since the note ban was declared on 8 November, even as the department has issued over 3,100 notices to various entities on charges of tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.

The I-T department, they said, has also seized cash and jewellery worth over Rs 428 crore during the same period.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The agency has also referred over 220 cases to its sister agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to probe other financial crimes like money laundering, disproportionate assets and corruption as part of their legal mandate.

Here are some of the biggest raids conducted by tax sleuths since the high-profile cleanup of the Indian economy began:

Kolkata businessman raided

Kolkata businessman Parasmal Lodha was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly converting over Rs 25 crore in demonetised currency notes into new ones, reports News18. According to the report, Lodha has links with industrialist J Shekhar Reddy, who was arrested along with his associate K Srinivasulu on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary, his son under taxmen scanner

The house and office of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao was on Wednesday searched by Income Tax officials who claimed to have recovered Rs 30 lakh cash in new notes and five kgs of gold besides getting “disclosure” about Rs five crore of unaccounted income.

On Thursday, tax sleuths raided his son, Vivek Rao’s office in Chennai. Sources told NDTV that the taxmen are probing the source of funding for the six companies that Rao established in 2012.

Continuing raids in Chennai

On 20 November, taxmen raided the premises of a prominent engineering college after reports arose of the owner depositing Rs eight crore in unaccounted cash in the accounts of employees. IT officials later found that the amount was deposited in over 400 bank accounts.

According to The Indian Express, on 8 December, the IT department busted a money exchange racket in the Tamil Nadu capital, seizing Rs 90 crore in cash, of which 70 crore were in new notes, along with 100 kgs of gold.

The Income Tax officials on Monday seized demonetised currency notes worth Rs 10 crore and a few kilogrammes of diamond and gold jewellery during a raid in the house and showroom of a jeweller in Chennai.

BJP leader arrested with new notes

On 6 December, the Special Task Force arrested former West Bengal BJP leader Mahesh Sharma, after Rs 33 Lakh in form of Rs 2,000 notes was confiscated from him.

New notes found in ‘secret chamber’

In a surprise raid at a hawala operator’s residence in Hubballi led to the Karnataka and Goa taxmen unearthing Rs 5.7 crore in new cash, The Times of India reported. The stash of new cash, interestingly, was found in a secret chamber in the bathroom.

Post note ban Rs 30 crore seized in Maharashtra excluding Mumbai

Post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Income Tax department seized about Rs 30 crore in cash, including Rs 12.32 crore in new bills, from Maharashtra, excluding Mumbai.

The cash was seized during 57 surveys and search operation carried out since the decommissioning of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, I-T department said in a release in Mumbai.

CBI raid at Hyderabad post offices

The CBI conducted surprise raids after the note ban. During one such search at the Himayatnagar Post office, the invetigation agency found Rs 40 lakh. The raid took place on reports of irregularites in phasing out of old currency notes.

Bahubali producer raided in Hyderabad

The IT department raided the residences and offices of the producers of the multi-lingual blockbuster Bahubali, Business Standard reported. Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, the two producers, were at the recieving end of the taxmen, as Rs 60 crore worth of new notes were found during the raids.

G Janardhan reddy under IT scanner

On 21 November, within days after G Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s lavish wedding grabbed headlines for its splendour, Income Tax Department raided the mining baron’s offices in Bellari.

A team of five I-T Department officials raided the former BJP lawmaker’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) offices.

NGO linked to Pakistan singer raided

On November 18, Delhi police and the IT department raided the offices of a NGO, Routes of Roots, run by the managers of eminent Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, after it recieved reports of illegal conversion of black money.

IT raids in Chandigarh college

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday seized Rs 50 lakh cash, including Rs 46.80 lakh in new notes, after raids at the premises of an educational institute’s owner. Acting on a tip-off, the ED sleuths swooped down on the premises of the owner of Swami Devi Dyal Group of Institutes in Chandigarh.

Over two crores seized from Meerut engineer

Cash worth more than Rs 2.67 crore in both old and new notes, and 30 kilograms of silver were seized from an engineer, working in the irrigation department, by the Income tax sleuths on Tuesday.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 12:56 IST

Cyrus Mistry’s charges of weak governance mischievous: Tata Sons

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tata Sons on Wednesday rebutted ousted chairman Cyrus P Mistry’s allegations of weak corporate governance at India’s largest conglomerate, calling it amalgam of half-truths and untruths.Reached for comments on Mistry’s claim in a petition before National Company Law Tribunal that the governance framework at Tata Sons is weak, a Tata Sons spokesperson expressed “surprise” at the assertion.”It is mischievous on the part of any Tata Sons executive to suggest the lack of a strong governance framework at Tata Sons, more so someone who has been associated with the company as a director since 2006. One can only call these allegations as an amalgam of half-truths and untruths,” he said.Stating that a strong governance framework exists at Tata Sons, the spokesperson said: “In line with the Tata Group’s ethos, Tata Sons has always gone over and beyond the requirement of the law on matters of corporate governance. In fact, over the years we have reinforced this formal governance framework.” He added that in 2012-13, the Tata Sons board and Mistry had given their explicit approval to an amended governance framework involving Tata Trusts and Tata Sons.”Mr Mistry willingly participated in this process and his entire family shareholding in Tata Sons voted upon to effect these amendments,” he said. Tata Sons were advised on this by Justice BN Srikrishna and former Attorney General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta and the spokesperson said Mistry was himself present in several meetings on this matter. “We reiterate Mr Cyrus Mistry and his family holdings in 2013 had fully supported and approved the governance framework that is embodied in the Articles of Association of Tata Sons,” he added.Mistry, who was abruptly removed as chairman of Tata Group’s holding company on October 24, yesterday filed a petition before NCLT seeking replacement of Tata Son’s current board and appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as non-executive chairman. In a statement yesterday, Tata Sons had reiterated that it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance in its operations and views the petition filed by Mistry’s companies as an unfortunate outcome of the situation arising from his complete disregard of the ethos of the Tata Group and Jamsetji Tata.Despite Mistry’s recent assertions that it is not a personal issue, it is evident that it always has been for him a personal issue which reflects his deep animosity towards Ratan N Tata, said the statement.

Fire breaks out in Maharashtra; seven guests killed in blaze

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Gondia (Maharashtra): At least seven persons were killed in their sleep when a fire broke out in Hotel Bindal in this eastern Maharashtra town early on Wednesday, an official said.

“The blaze was noticed around 3.30 am when the victims were fast asleep. Six men have been charred to death. Some others are feared trapped inside,” Gondia police officer Jitendra Borkar told.

Five fire tenders and tankers were pressed into service to battle the flames which were brought under control after nearly seven hours.

A search is on to rescue some other guests feared trapped in the hotel. The cause of the fire is being investigated, Borkar added.

A tribal-dominated district, Gondia is around 170 km east of Nagpur and bordering Madhya Pradesh.

“Rescue work is underway and the fire brigade team is searching if any person is trapped inside the premises,” a fire officer said. Fire tenders were called from neighbouring Balaghat, Bhandara, Tumsar, Lanji and also from Adani Power Plant in Tirora to help douse the flames. There where nearly 15 guests staying in the hotel at the time of the mishap.

One person sustained serious injuries after he jumped from the second floor of the hotel following the fire. He died on way to Nagpur hospital, police said. Two bodies were charred beyond recognition while four others were found dead in their hotel rooms, they said.

On getting information, District Collector Abhimanyu Kale, Superintendent of Police Dilip Patil Bhujbal rushed to the site and supervised the rescue work. Police officials had a tough time in controlling the crowd that gathered outside the mishap site after the fire. The deceased were yet to be identified, police said, adding that two of them had apparently come to attend a marriage function.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 13:34 IST

Maha local polls: BJP ahead of rest, Congress in second spot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling BJP in Maharashtra is leading with 1090 councillor seats and 64 Municipal Council President posts in 197 Councils and 19 Nagar Panchayats, results for which have been declared so far.Congress comes a close second with 894 seats, NCP has bagged 786 seats and Shiv Sena 598. The rest have been won by local outfits, Independents and other political parties. Results for the third phase of polls were declared yesterday, polling for which was held on Sunday for the third phase of elections in 19 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts. The fourth and the last phase of the local bodies polls covering 11 municipal councils in Nagpur and Gondia districts of Vidarbha will be held on January 8, 2017.As of now elections have been held for 4460 seats in three phases. Of the 180 posts of Municipal Council President, BJP leads with 64 followed by Congress 33, NCP 21 and Shiv Sena 26.While BJP fared well in all the districts which went to polls in the three phases, NCP recovered ground in the second phase especially in Pune district, while Congress scored in the third phase in Nanded, the stronghold of state Congress chief Ashok Chavan.State BJP President Raosaheb Danve attributed the party’s success to people’s endorsement of demonetization and performance of the state and central governments.State Congress President Ashok Chavan meanwhile alleged that BJP used money and official machinery to win the elections. To substantiate his claims, Chavan cited examples of Danve and Dairy Development Minister Mahadeo Jankar.Danve at an election rally at Paithan in Aurangabad urged people to accept Lakshmi (money) before casting votes and Jankar had allegedly pressurised election official to reject nomination of a Congress nominee.NCP president Sharad Pawar too rejected BJP’s contention that the win was an endorsement of government’s policies especially demonetization.

Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What is your biggest challenge?To win people’s confidence and handle sensitivities of my staff which is not only the largest in the state (5,600) but works in most difficult area. In other districts we deal with other crimes. In Gadchiroli, other crimes are almost nil. Here, apart from fighting with the leftwing extremists, we have to engage with the people in different ways. There is a huge gap between administration and people in this area because of inaccessibility. This vacuum was occupied by the naxals. Now, we have to replace the Naxals and occupy that space with better administration.There are around 12,000 police personnel deployed in the district including C-60, CRPF and SRPF. Still the district is faraway from curbing naxalism. Why?South Gadchiroli is still naxal dominated because of hilly forest terrain. Moreover, we share border with naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh. While we have been focusing on one district with full force, Chhattisgarh police have to look after six districts with naxal dominance.Don’t we have inter-state collaboration to share the information?We do have joint operations and meetings. But naxals are surviving because of jungle and borders. Over 4,000 sq km of Abujhmarh which is spread between Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh offers safe heaven to naxals.What is the total number of naxals active in this district? What strategies are being adopted to make the district naxal-free?There are 205 active naxals now. While Andhra people hold top posts (in CPI-Maoist), those from Maharashtra are only junior members. Our strategy depends on their tactics. Encounters, arrests, surrenders and confidence building among villagers-all are being used.Is there any effect of demonetisation on Naxalism?Post 8 November, 11 naxals have surrendered in the district. Total surrenders this year has been 44. From making up their mind to sending us feelers and leaving the group and reach to us safely, it usually takes around two months to surrender. We will have to wait for another two-three months to assess the impact of demonetisation on naxals.Tribals often complained of police atrocities. How would you justify that?We have told our people to be extra-sensitive. Some cops do behave irrationally sometimes but such incidents could be very few. Besides, naxal supporters run false propaganda against cops as well.What needs to be done to curb naxalism now?We have controlled naxalims considerably. Its time for other departments to put in their efforts to fill the development backlog. Then only we can curb naxalism.But villagers say there is no government department on ground except police.Other departments suffer with staff shortage. Those who are transferred in this district, don’t join. Hence, government schemes are poorly implemented. Now, we are holding camps to disburse loans, make aadhar cards and caste documents of tribals. People expect us to address every problem. Over 30 villages are unelectrified and some are half electrified.Power outage is very common in rainy season when no body turns up to re-connect. Road connectivity is another major issues. Children seek good eduction. We share all these information with the concerned departments.How many years it would take to curb naxalism from this area?With all government departments coming together to give their best, naxal problem can be wiped out from Gadchiroli district within five years. This is an achievable target.

Battle against left wing extremists in Gadchiroli become intense: One state, 205 Naxals and 12,000 cops

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra’s only naxal infested district, Gadchiroli, now has 205 active naxalites compared to more than 300 who were active a couple of years ago, says the latest statistics of the police. There were 500 Naxal fighters in 2010.Increasing number of surrenders, nearly 104 in two years, is being touted as “major success” by the Gadchiroli police. Prominent rebels surrendered in past two years include Sunil Mattami, member of divisional committee of Dalam (naxal group) and Gopi, commander of a local Dalam, who carried rewards of Rs 16 and 12 lakh on their head respectively.Besides, there were 60 arrests and 16 encounters of naxals in the same period. “There is no recruitment from the district in last four years”, claim cops.The all-out war against guerrilla fighters, lucrative surrender policy and social networking to win confidence of the tribes caught in the crossfire has been working well so far in Gadchiroli which is one of the 35 heavily naxal-affected districts in the country.Also Read: Gadchiroli can be naxalfree in five years if other departments give their 100%: Abhinav Deshmukh At present, nearly 12,000 cops including C-60 unit, Central Reserved Police Force and State Reserve Police Force are guarding the district, round-the-clock with most advanced equipment such as Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), Multiple Grenade launcher (MGR), Sport Configurable Rifle, Light machine guns, X-95 assault rifle, AK-47 and high tech navigation devices.However, incidents of naxal activities and death of civilians and cops continue to give security forces a tough time. Several naxal-infested villages such as Hikker and Binagonda in the district remain unguarded with no police presence till 17-18 km.Also Read: In Gadchiroli: Tribals at crossfire between cops and NaxalsAs per the statistics of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Maharashtra witnessed 66 incidents in 2016 till November end in which 19 people including cops, their “informers” and civilians have lost life. Although, the same number of civilian and cops deaths occurred a year ago, it seems less compared to 2014 when 28 people were killed.The southern part of the district mainly comprising Sironcha, Aheri, Etapalli and Bhamragad are infested with the activities of naxalites since early eighties. “The naxalites usually operate in the remote and fur flung parts of the district where access is tough due to difficult terrain and dense forest. Besides, these areas share border with the naxal affected districts of Chattisgarh which further helps Naxals”, says Abhinav Deshmukh, superintendent of the police, Gadchiroli.Over 500 civilians have lost life to Naxalism in last 30 years in the state of Maharashtra of which 90% deaths were in the Gadchiroli only. Since 2004, average 10 policemen have also died every year in the district.The district has been home to naxalites of People’s War Group (PWG ) since early eighties. The PWG now operates under the banner of Communist Party of India (Maoist).In February last year, police posts were opened in the villages of Regdi and Kotmi for the first time. Ashok Bhapkar, who supervised the opening of Kotmi police post and now heads the Surrender Cell told DNA, “We patrolled the villages on foot, organised sports tournaments and held meetings to organise women’s groups and participated in local festivals to win people’s confidence.”The Naxal surrender and rehab policy also comes with substantial cash reward (Rs 2-25 lakh depending upon the ranks) and has been propagated across the district as ‘Kaun Banega Lakhpati’ scheme through posters in affected areas.Deshmukh said, “They are also given plot to construct house in specially designated colony-Navsanjeevan. We help them get work and avail benefit of government loans for tribals.”Meanwhile, to counter the efforts of cops, the CPI (Maoist) has given a call for celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari armed uprising from 23-29 May 2017, the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution from 7-13 November 2017 and Karl Marx birth bicentenary 5-11 May 2018. This has alerted the cops.

Atrocities against SC, ST: BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops list, UP follows

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said, even as the Centre today flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases. Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, according to the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held here today. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3% of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7% of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction. “In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.

Maharashtra: Polling on for third phase of local body elections

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Polling is being held for the third phase of elections in 20 municipal councils and two nagar panchayats in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts.The voting is on in Aurangabad and Nanded, which fall under Marathwada region, and Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts of Vidharbha region.There are 1,623 candidates in fray, including 119 for the posts of president of municipal councils.As per a report of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), there are 90 crorepati candidates in the third phase.The election to the Desaiganj municipal council in Gadchiroli has already attracted a lot of attention.The Maharashtra Election Commission has countermanded the election to one ward of the municipal council after Rashtriya Samaj Paksha president and state Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar allegedlytried to pressurise a poll official and influencing the election process.However, Jankar has denied the allegation.

Maha Forest dept plans to tinker with tiger sex ratio

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Faced with low tiger occupancy in the Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) in Vidarbha, the Maharashtra Forest Department is planning sex ratio manipulation — by releasing more males or females, as need be in the habitat — to boost breeding and numbers. This will be the first such experiment in the state.Spread across five protected areas of Bhandara and Gondia district, the tiger reserve covers a core habitat of 653.67 sq kms. However, despite its linkages with rich tiger bearing areas like Tadoba, Pench, and even Kanha in Madhya Pradesh, the resident tiger population in the habitat is as low as only seven wild cats, as per the last survey, conducted in 2015“We are planning sex ratio manipulation in NNTR,” Shree Bhagwan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, and Maharashtra’s Chief Wildlife Warden, told DNA.NNTR was recently notified as the fifth tiger reserve of Maharashtra. It comprises five protected areas including Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (152 sq km), New Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary (151 sq km), Navegaon National Park (133 sq km), Navegaon Wildlife Sanctuary (123 sq km) and Koka Wildlife Sanctuary (97 sq km).During the late 1990s and early 2000s, sighting of tigresses with cubs was common in the Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, but it has since declined.“After conducting the sex ratio census, we will decide whether to introduce more male or female cats to manipulate them for breeding. Presence of two to three tigresses with cubs can sustain any any tiger reserve,” said Bhagwan.Meanwhile, the Chandrapur landscape in Vidarbha, which covers the Tadoba-Andhari tiger project and the neighbouring Bramhapuri forest division, is packed with tigers beyond its carrying capacity, which leads to man-animal conflict, and tiger deaths in territorial fights.Like NNTR, the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve, which covers parts of Western Maharashtra and Konkan region, also suffers from lack of adequate tiger numbers — it has just five to seven tigers — and officials are mooting the need for translocating tigers from Tadoba. However, Bhagwan said they would first examine the prey base in the reserve before taking a decision. The Sahyadri ti er reserve is spread over the Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary and the Chandoli National Park covering a 1,165.56 sq km area including a 600.12 sq km core and 565.45 sq km buffer in four districts.

Need to concentrate on some states lagging behind in education: Prakash Javadekar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> There is a need to concentrate on states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, MP and Rajasthan which are lagging behind in the education sector when compared to the other states, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday. Inaugurating the 29th All India Urdu Book Fair at the powerloom town of Bhiwandi in the district, the Minister said “As far as education is concerned, statistics reveals that Muslim, Hindu and other community members progressed in states of Kerala, TN, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat while it was not so in other states. There is a dire need to pay attention to this.” He said that the present government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken up several measures to promote Urdu language and various steps have been taken in this direction.The minister, who praised Urdu as a lovely language and the script as nothing but an example of calligraphy, said the Urdu Academy and Council have come out with several publications. Even the Wikipedia has an assistance in Urdu which was not there previously. On standard of education in government schools and on issue of dropouts, the Minister said, “The government has decided to take several measures to ensure that the standard of education in the government schools in the country improves and the issue of dropouts is addressed.”He appreciated role played by various educational institutions, universities, research centres in addition to the NGOs in promoting Urdu language. He said plans are afoot to go in for online teaching of Urdu where every one can take education in their spare time. The Minister said the World Urdu Conference will be held in Delhi in March 2017. On the occasion, Javdekar gave slogan — ‘Sabko Siksha, Aachi Siksha’. “If the ‘Talim’ (teaching) improves everything improves and the country makes progress,” said Javdekar.

Maha local bodies polls: 8% candidates in Phase-3 are ‘crorepatis’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About eight per cent of the candidates –analysed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch (MEW)– who are contesting the third phase of elections to the Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayats in four districts of Maharashtra, are crorepatis.Local bodies elections will be held for 342 seats in Aurangabad, Nanded, Bhandara and Gadchiroli districts on Sunday.Screening of self-sworn affidavits (done by both these non-government bodies) of 1142 candidates out of the 1623 who are contesting the third phase of 20 Municipal Councils and two Nagar Panchayats across the state, have shown that 90 (8% of 1142) are crorepatis.Due to unavailability of some affidavits, ADR could not analyse candidates contesting for Municipal Councils of Vaijapur, Gangapur (both Aurangabad district), Kandhar (Nanded district) and Nagar Panchayats of Ardhapur & Mahoor (both Nanded district).The average assets per candidate analysed for this election, is Rs 31.97 lakhs, for these four districts.The candidate with highest declared total assets is Ganesh Jaikisan Fafat who is contesting from Desaiganj Municipal Council (Gadchiroli), with assets worth Rs 6 crore plus. There are 264 (excluding one zero asset) candidates who declared assets below Rs 2 lakhs. The candidate with highest declared total liabilities is also Fafat with liabilities of Rs 1.55 crores. Agewise, about 69 candidates have declared to be between 21 to 24 years; 175 candidates between 25 to 30 years, 349 candidates between 31 to 40 years; 333 candidates are between 41 to 50 years; 154 candidates have declared their age to be between 51 to 60 years, 57 candidates are between 61 to 70 years while five candidates had declared their age to be between 71 to 80 years.Out of total 1142 analysed candidates, 578 (51%) are men whereas 564 (49%) are women.

Can guidelines for Muharram be implemented across state? Bombay HC asks Maha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government if it could implement in the entire state a circular issued by Mumbai police on guidelines and precautions to be taken during the annual Muharram procession.In December 2014, the city police had issued a circular on the steps to be taken during the ritual. As per the circular, senior officials of concerned police stations have to hold meetings with Mohalla Committees prior to Muharram, ensure no children participate in the ritual, no sharp weapons are used and there is videography of the entire procession.A division bench headed by Justice A S Oka today sought to know if the circular can be implemented in entire Maharashtra. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mumbai resident Faisal Banaraswala, seeking a ban on participation of children in the ritual. Muharram marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala in which Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed. To mourn his killing, participants flagellate themselves with sharp objects. The bench has posted the petition for further hearing in January 2017.

NotePeCharcha Episode 3: Dhobipada’s adivasis bear brunt of demonetisation

While the effects of demonetisation on urban India are visibly apparent to those with access to mainstream English media, its impact on rural lives is so far vague. We travelled into the interiors of Maharashtra to examine the depth of the impact.

Firstpost sent out Apoorv Mishra, who was accompanied by his friends — Tahir Alimansoor and Kush Shah, into rural Maharashtra with an iPhone, a couple of mics, a GoPro and no institutional monetary support – they had borrowed money from friends and withdrawn all the cash permitted under prevalent restrictions.

To examine the impact of the ‘masterstroke’ at the grassroots level, the trio took the road to Dhobipada in a van. We found out the hardships borne by the tribals, post-Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cashless India.

To avail the services of the ATMs and banks, Dhobipada’s people have to travel to Kasara. The rickshaws, their only mode of transport, is not an option anymore as the cash crunch has left them with no money in hand.

The villagers are of the opinion that the demonetisation move has affected their livelihood vastly. The new currency note of Rs 2,000 is a big problem as there is a dearth of supply of smaller denomination currency notes.

“Where should I go with this new note of Rs 2,000? Should I keep wandering?” said a resident of the village. The villagers also mentioned that the district bank has stopped dispensing money.

Due to lack of change, vendors have started buying and selling goods on credit.

After going around the village and talking to the local residents, the trio also found out that the local businesses have been hit hard as people have reduced their expenditure.

“We have to stand for hours in line just to get a small amount of money, even if we get lucky,” said another resident.

A woman who sold bangles said there has been a fall in business in the past month, due to the stringent money supply in the economy.

Watch the video to find out more about our quest to dig out how demonetisation impacted daily lives in rural India.

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 18:33 IST

Mumbai: 3 dead, 14 injured in cylinder blast in Mankhurd

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a cylinder blast early Thursday morning in Mankhurd’s Maharashtra Nagar, three people died and 14 were injured.The LPG gas cylinder burst around 6 am in a two-storeyed house, which caused the upper floor to collapse on the one-storeyed houses next to it. The dead bodies were taken to Shatabdi Hospital, Govandi, and the injured were hospitalised in Shatabdi and Sion hospitals.The blast caused fire and the residents of Maharashtra Nagar called the fire brigade. The firemen rescued at least 20 people. In total, members of four families were victims of the blast. Out of five members of Wankhede family, three were declared brought dead viz Kasturbha Wankhede (60), Rekha Wankhede (30) and Sanjay Wankhede (35) and two were injured. “At 6 am, we heard a blast and all ran outside. All opened the doors but it was fully black and we could not see anything. We realised there is a fire and we informed the fire brigade. When the fire was doused, we learnt that 3 houses had collapsed and injured were taken to hospital”, said Anusaya Chavan, a resident of Maharashtra Nagar. The Trombay police have done the primary investigation. “We think the cylinder blast was due to gas leakage. At present anything concrete cannot be said. We are yet to talk to injured people as they are under emergency care,” said Sunil Khade of Trombay police station. The remains of the structures are being demolished. Further investigation will be carried out by Trombay police.

Bombay High Court dismisses Chhagan Bhujbal’s bail plea

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed former Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal’s petition seeking bail and challenging his arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.”We are dismissing the petition. A detailed order will be given later,” said a division bench of justices Ranjit More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.Bhujbal, who is in judicial custody on charges of money laundering since March this year, had sought bail from the Bombay High Court on medical grounds saying his arrest by Enforcement Directorate (ED) was not as per the procedures established by law.The NCP leader had filed a Habeas Corpus petition seeking bail, saying his “arrest” was illegal.On December 5, Bhujbal’s lawyer Vikram Chaudhary had argued that his client should be enlarged on bail since he was not well and undergoing treatment in a hospital here.
ALSO READ Chhagan Bhujbal refuses angiography testThe lawyer had said that the lower court rejected Bhujbal’s bail on medical grounds twice. He, however, has not sought regular bail from the trial court.Chaudhary had argued that ED had not provided the grounds of arrest to Bhujbal, in keeping with the provisions of section 19 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
ALSO READ MPs, MLAs visited Chhagan Bhujbal in hospital: EDHence, his arrest was illegal and he should be granted bail, the lawyer had said.Bhujbal was arrested on March 14 this year by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam and Kalina land case in which he and his relatives were alleged to have received kickbacks.
ALSO READ Money laundering case: ED attaches Rs 90 crore assets against Chhagan BhujbalAfter his arrest, he had approached the high court challenging the constitutional validity of sections 19 and 45 of the PMLA.Section 19 of PMLA empowers the ED to arrest an accused based on evidence gathered by the agency against the individual, while section 45 deals with bail of the accused.However, Bhujbal withdrew his petition and filed a fresh plea in the form of a Habeas Corpus petition challenging his arrest and seeking bail.Habeas Corpus is a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or arrest.Earlier, on November 22, the ED had opposed Bhujbal’s bail saying he had filed the Habeas Corpus petition too late, since he was in custody for nearly eight months.Why did he not file such a plea earlier? Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for ED, had then argued.

Demonetisation: Narendra Modi’s 50-Day deadline for re-monetisation set to fail

By Sahil Kini

We are 17 days away from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 50-day deadline to end the worst effects of the scrapping of 86 percent –by value–of India’s currency. In the chest-thumping, hand-wringing and controversy that has ensued since the announcement on November 8, 2016, there has been an absence of facts on the question of re-monetising India.

An extrapolation of 2016 Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data on the capacity of Indian printing presses and currency distribution indicates that, at current rates, the Prime Minister’s deadline will not be met. Getting adequate money to banks and ATMs nationwide will depend on how many bank notes the government wants to put back into circulation.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

If the government wants to introduce Rs 9 lakh crore ($135 billion)–or 35 percent less money than it pulled out–it will take up to May 2017, and if it wants to reintroduce the entire Rs 14 lakh crore ($210 billion) that it withdrew, that could take up to August 2017.

The crux of the problem is change, specifically the Rs 500 note, which India’s presses cannot, currently, print in adequate number.

Here are the facts:

The RBI has four presses at: Dewas (Madhya Pradesh), Nashik (Maharashtra), Salboni (West Bengal), and Mysuru (Karnataka).
The printing capacity of these presses is roughly 2,670 crore (26.7 billion) notes a year, according to the RBI’s 2016 annual report (page 90). Or roughly 7.4 crore (74 million) notes a day.
If the presses worked three shifts a day instead of two, their daily production capacity could be raised to 11.1 crore (111 million) notes a day.
However, less than half of the machines in the presses have the ability to print the security features required for high-value notes (Rs 500 and above).
This means that even if all the machines that print high-value notes in all four presses printed only Rs 500 rupee notes 24 hours a day, we would at best be able to print 5.56 crore (55.6 million) Rs 500 notes every day.
This translates to about Rs. 2,778 crore ($418 million) in value printed every day in Rs 500 notes.
Before the announcement of demonetisation, the government had already arranged for the printing of 200 crore (2 billion) Rs 2,000 notes, or roughly about Rs 4 lakh crore ($60 billion) in value. So, these were the first set of notes to be circulated. This is why there are so many pink notes in circulation.

Let’s explore the time to disburse in the two scenarios we mentioned:

Scenario 1: Rs 9 lakh crore (or roughly two-thirds the total Rs 14 lakh crore that was demonetised) needs to be returned to the system.
Scenario 2: Rs 14 lakh crore (full amount) needs to be recirculated
For this amount to be liquid, a key condition needs to be met: Rs 2,000 notes can, at most, account for half the total amount to be circulated. The logic: If we do not have enough change, then the Rs 2,000 note will always be hard to “break” into smaller denominations, which is the situation nationwide today.

The other half needs to be available in lower-denomination notes. The total value of Rs 100, Rs 50, Rs 20, and Rs 10 notes is Rs 2.19 lakh crore ($33 billion), according to the RBI’s annual report.

If we put this in a math equation where t is the total value of Rs 2,000 notes and f is the total value of Rs 500 notes, we end up with this equation:

total value of 2,000s (t) = total value of 500s (f) + total value of 100s and below

or

t = f + Rs 2.19 lakh crore

This means the requirement of Rs 500 notes is as follows:

In Scenario 1 (Rs 9 lakh crore disbursal):
t+f = Rs 9 lakh crore Solving for f, the value of Rs 500 notes needed is 681 crore (6.81 billion) notes X Rs 500 = Rs 3.405 lakh crore
Scenario 2 (Rs 14 lakh crore disbursal):
t+f = Rs 14 lakh crore Solving for f, the value of Rs 500 notes needed is 1,181 crore (11.81 billion) notes X Rs 500 = Rs 5.905 lakh crore

As on November 30, 2016, less than 10 crore (100 million) Rs 500 notes were printed and ready (or two days worth of printing), according to an RBI source, quoted in Mint.

We arrive at the crux of the problem: India needs to print at least 681 crore (6.81 billion) Rs 500 notes. In Scenario 2, the Rs 500 requirement is for 1,181 crore (11.81 billion) notes. However, the peak printing capacity of the presses is 5.56 crore (55.6 million) notes a day–or 0.8 percent of what it should be.

At this rate, we will take anywhere between 122 days and 212 days to print enough Rs 500 notes. Given the fact that the RBI started printing Rs 500 notes in earnest after November 30, 2016, printing all the required 500s will be completed only on March 10, 2017 (Scenario 1), or July 8, 2017 (Scenario 2).

Taking into account the time taken for cash transportation and the speed at which banks can push out the money, calculations indicate that complete disbursal of Rs 9 lakh crore can happen in early April 2017.

In Scenario 2 (Rs 14 lakh crore), it could take until mid-July for the cash to be fully disbursed.

(Kini, a B Tech from IIT Madras, is a Principal at Aspada, a venture capital firm that supports entrepreneurs building businesses for India’s underserved markets. He is also an active volunteer with the IndiaStack, where he helps frame policy, while evangelising its impact at various industry events.)

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 08:54 IST

Shaina NC requests CM for fast track court for physiotherapist’s murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a 24 year old physiotherapist was raped and murdered at her residence in Vile Parle on December 6, social activist and BJP spokesperson Shaina NC on Tuesday requested Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for a fast-track court for the case to bring relief to the traumatised family of the victim and ensure justice is delivered soon.She also led a delegation to the Vile Parle police station on Tuesday and interacted with the senior police inspector and other officers on the progress in the case.The victim’s parents had submitted a complaint to the Vile Parle police on Monday night asking for a probe into how the identity of the victim had become public.Several days after the gruesome crime, the police have failed to nail the culprit. They however claimed to be close to finding the guilty.The police have formed eight teams and questioned as many as 300-400 suspects, but are yet to make a breakthrough in the case.”We are investigating the case from all the angles and have questioned many people to zero in on the culprit,” said senior police inspector Mahadev Nimbalkar.The victim’s family has demanded a speedy probe and justice. Her father said, “It’s been a week now that we have only been getting assurances from the police, but the culprit has not been arrested yet. We are cooperating with the police and going whenever they calling us questioning. We have shared everything with the police, but they still say they do not have any strong evidence against anyone and are clueless.We want speedy justice and the culprit to be punished”.

Maharashtra to tap e-commerce portals for revenue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pointing to the loss of revenue, a powerful committee of the Maharashtra legislature has urged the state government to consider an entry tax on cross-border transactions on e-commerce portals.”E-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart mention the tax in their bills if the goods are sold within the state. But when goods from outside Maharashtra are provided directly to consumers in our state, sales tax is levied by the other state. Maharashtra does not get sales tax on it and is deprived of revenue. The (finance) department must study this way of functioning. If goods are received in Maharashtra from other states through the online route, details must be procured about where it was purchased, if tax has been paid and care must be taken to ensure that Maharashtra gets the necessary revenue,” said a report of the public accounts committee (PAC) which was tabled in the state legislature on Tuesday.The committee, which is chaired by Gopaldas Agarwal, Congress MLA from Gondia, noted that while the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) would mitigate the issue to a large extent, it was necessary for the finance department to oversee the working of e-commerce portals like Amazon and Flipkart.”With regards to this, (states like) Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka have levied an entry tax for e-commerce. The department must study this tax system. In case of sale and purchase transactions where there is no record of where the goods have been purchased from or if the tax has been paid or not, it must be presumed that the goods have been transacted within Maharashtra itself and taxes must be levied accordingly,” the report said.It stressed that while details should be sought from various companies on sale and purchase transactions and where the goods were dispatched from, special attention needed to be paid to those companies whose go-downs were located on the borders of the state.”Considering these issues, the state government must take immediate measures to prevent tax evasion and submit a report to the committee in three months on the action taken,” the committee recommended.Officials said the measure was aimed at plugging tax evasion by sellers on these portals.Sales tax accounts for the highest chunk of the state government’s budgeted revenues (30.08%) at Rs 81,437.69 in 2016-17.States like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Assam and Rajasthan have also moved to charge entry tax on e-commerce goods from other states.Computerised recordNoting that many traders did not give computerised bills to customers, the PAC said that this led to the state and Centre’s revenue being lost. “…the department must start an online system for all purchase and sales to keep a computerised record of all transactions,” the committee recommended, adding that a call centre could be started for consumers to register their complaints about merchants who did not issue bills for purchases.

Demonetisation: ‘Agriculture sector will be transformed with better credit facility for farmers’

As cash is the primary mode of transaction in agriculture sector, demonetisation is bound to cause temporary stress in the system. But as they say ‘No pain, no gain’, for I believe this historic move has the potential of bringing about transformational changes in the sector like better access to credit for farmers, elimination of middlemen, direct transfer of subsidies to farmers and ultimately linking the Indian farmer to the global agricultural market.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, in the short term, the sector has to brave several storms before it realises the true fruits of demonetization. In the transitional phase, farm produces with limited shelf-life like fruits and vegetables, which significantly contribute to overall farm output, will be hit due to cash crunch. Similarly, payment of wages to farm laborers and rentals for farm implements will too become difficult considering the limited access of service providers to the banking system. The steep decline in transactions at various states APMC’s (up to 70 percent as per reports) in the aftermath of the decision is a testimony to this fact.

But despite these initial hiccups, demonetization can potentially address the perennial problem of credit in farm sector. With banking system glowing with liquidity, there can be increase in investments in farm sector, which is the only way to get out of the vicious circle of subsistence farming. Despite being declared as a ‘priority sector’ credit availability to typical farmers for investment in their own lands are far from adequate. This has forced farmers to rely on non-institutional credit, which further aggravates the problem.

A market-driven, intense farming practice is must for bringing about positive change on ground. India’s agricultural sector provides more jobs and sustainable incomes than all other sectors put together. Despite high-population density, per capita arable land availability in India is among the best in the world; it the only country in the world capable of growing almost any grain, fruit or vegetable in abundance. Unknown to many, India’s agricultural products fetches higher earnings than trade in services or manufacturing.

With proactive support, India can further enhance its farm exports and contribute to its prosperity. Development of agriculture will also address other glaring social problems like town planning, migration and access to basic health care and nutrition. Better access to credit for farmers will help them gain sustainable incomes and invest in their assets for better returns.

Farming communities across India have been very supportive to the cause. Despite inconveniences, farmers are willing to play their part for country’s development. An essential ingredient for the success of demonetization is internet penetration in rural India. Mobile wallets can play a cardinal role in dealing with cash crunch. They can be helpful in reimbursing labourers and providing farm implement rentals. Yet mobile wallets, net-banking are to a large extent dependent on internet connectivity; despite wide mobile coverage, internet connectivity and its stability remain dicey in rural areas.

Seeds, fertiliser and labour are the largest contributor to farmer’s expense in the sowing season. Direct subsidy transfer for farmers for fertiliser purchase will be very beneficial in the current scenario. Banking provisions like over-drafting, disbursement of working capital/micro credit are the need of the hour.

Demonetization will empower India’s farming communities and bring them at par with city dwellers. Access to institutional credit has the potential to change the very nature of Indian agriculture, post successful implementation of demonetization. The advent of GST regime and access to better credit can revitalize agro-processing in an unprecedented way.

The biggest challenge of this entire exercise lies in reaching out to marginalised farmers with negligible/nil landholding and to those outside the banking and social security net. Decline in arrivals at mandis signals temporary distress in small farmers. From hiring trolleys, to unloading of crops, scarcity of cash has emerged as bottleneck in this sowing season. Our company is already taking steps to reach out to such marginalized farmers and address their problems.

The government and industry must come together to help farmers and make this initiative a thumping success for the farm sector.

(The writer is Founder and Managing Director, Ruchi Soya Industries Ltd

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 14:34 IST

Maharashtra: Govt claims rise in death of tribal children, mothers not due to malnutrition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Underlining the grim social disparities in Maharashtra, the government has admitted that tribal areas in the state have recorded the death of almost 8,000 children and over 450 mothers in around two years. In a written reply to a question by Sandeep Naik (NCP- Airoli) and others in the winter session of the state legislative assembly on Friday, health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said that 16 tribal districts in the state had recorded the death of 6,589 children below the age of six years and 306 mothers in the 2015-16 financial year. In the present 2016-17 fiscal, a total of 1,454 children have died and 153 cases of maternal mortality have been recorded till October 2016. Sawant however claimed that the health department was working effectively to combat child and maternal mortality. In his reply, the health minister said that while 283 children had died at Melghat in Amravati in 2015-16, these were not due to malnutrition but because of pneumonia, low birth weight, early births, asphyxia and infections. Shahapur and Dolkhamb in Thane district also recorded the death of 29 mothers and four children between January and June 2016. Meanwhile, in another written reply to a question by Amit Vilasrao Deshmukh (Congress- Latur city) and others, women and child development minister Pankaja Munde claimed that a decline in malnutrition had been observed this year compared to the previous year. However, there has been a marginal rise in the figures for Palghar, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Raigad, Gadchiroli, Nagpur, Amravati, Nanded and Mumbai city in September 2016 when compared to last year. This was because of diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and pneumonia that happened during the rainy season. A total of 147 children between the age of zero and six died between April and August 2016 at Mokhada, Jawhar, Vikramgad and Wada in Palghar district, but Munde claimed that this was because of various ailments and diseases and not because of malnutrition.

Demonetization: Rs 76 lakh in new Rs 2,000 currency seized in Surat, four detained

As the four occupants, including a woman, failed to give any satisfactory explanation about the source of cash in their possession, they have been detained and brought to police station. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police on Friday seized Rs 76 lakh cash in denomination of Rs 2,000 from four persons in Surat and detained them as they failed to explain source of the money.This morning, police intercepted a car with Maharashtra registration near Classic Complex in Sachin GIDC area and during the search found 38 bundles of the Rs 2,000 tender, with total face value of Rs 76 lakh, Surat Police said in a statement. “As the four occupants, including a woman, failed to give any satisfactory explanation about the source of cash in their possession, they have been detained and brought to police station,” it said.They have been identified as Dipti Patel (30), a resident of Navsari, Girish Patel (45), a resident of Valsad, Arun Amrutar (58) and Rann Kumar Singh (46), both hailing from Nashik in Maharashtra. “We have informed the Income Tax department about the seizure. We will hand the four persons to I-T for further questioning,” said ACP and Surat Police PRO Nita Desai.
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Renaming CST is lip service, doesn’t truly honour Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

How does one honour the great Maratha warrior, Shivaji?

There are many ways than merely naming places after him. First, it was Victoria Terminus that was renamed in his honour and then the airports at Santa Cruz and Sahar. Now, they have decided to add the title of ‘Maharaj’ to the two transport hubs.

Merely renaming a building, road, landmark, travel hub etc is not enough. It never can be. There are better ways to commemorate the great founder of the Maratha empire, who sent chills down the collective spine of the Mughals. For instance, we could respect him by going by his ideals and his conduct.

A couple of years after his coronation, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had written to a subedar of in Prabhavali, on how he wanted his administration to function:

Go from village to village. Conduct meetings with farmers and take stock of the prevailing situation. Determine if the farmers have the capability and human resources for cultivation of land. Those who have the capability and the manpower but do not have the necessary agricultural implements, bulls, or do not have adequate food grains for sustenance can be provided with funds to purchase two to three bulls and a few sacks of grains. Once the farmers attain a certain level of self-sufficiency, the principal the principal amount of funds given to them can be gradually recovered. In this effort, even if 2,00,000 lakh laris are spent, as long as wasteland is brought under cultivation, taxes increased and farmers made self-sufficient, such expenditure is acceptable to us.

(Source: Maharashtra Human Development Report 2002)

The cited report interpreted it thus: Investment has to be made in the present for the future, welfare or the well-being of the people had to be the cornerstone of governance, create a new order sensitive to the needs of the common people. “Latter day social reformers and political leaders drank at the fountain of his wisdom”.

File image of Mumbai's soon-to-be Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. PTI

File image of Mumbai’s soon-to-be Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. PTI

Apparently, the “political leaders” of back then are nothing like contemporary ones, who like to tilt at the windmills. Or use smoke and screens to build images. Or give a spin to just about everything and keep the citizen as the lowest priority. If you see how the state of Maharashtra has built up huge public debt and has the country’s largest share of farmer suicides, misgoverned cities and towns, and malnutritioned children in tribal areas, we know where the state stands.

Icons are remembered, cults are built, but their values are forgotten except for trite references to them in public speeches. Jyotiba Phule, BR Ambedkar, Sahu Maharaj are some of those. There’s a political purpose behind these. Instead of reaffirming even an intent to work as they did, the addition of ‘Maharaj’ is seen as politics: To win Maratha votes.

Back to the renaming of renamed places, let me use a quote — quite clichéd, it comes from the great William Shakespeare: “What’s in a name?” from his Romeo and Juliet. This had come to my mind when the grand Victoria Terminus in Mumbai was rechristened Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996. It was done to honour the Maratha warrior.

Such renaming meant little, because even the most ardent devotee of Shivaji began to use it in its abbreviated form — CDT; just like he or she had with Victoria Terminus — VT. Both Victoria and Shivaji went into the background. So much for giving names of the greats, if they are to be reduced to two or three letters.

The renaming of Mumbai’s Sahar airport which served the city came about around the same time, and the Shiv Sena was leading the Maharashtra government. It may be recalled that the state’s capital had been also renamed Mumbai. To many a user, it is even now the ‘Mumbai airport’. Earlier, the domestic wing was known after the village in which it was situated, Santa Cruz.

Now, the honorific ‘Maharaj’ has been added to the names, making it more respectful. And cumbersome for use. CST becomes Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, or in its abbreviation, CSMT. Likewise, the airport. What this means is while commemorating Shivaji the first time around, Shiv Sena had fallen short. Now the BJP, in saddle, has added ‘Maharaj’, and the BJP was the Sena’s partner in power during 1995-99.

This is not the Sena and the BJP’s predilection. In 2000, when the Sena-BJP was ousted from power and Congress-Nationalist Congress Party occupied the seats of power, they announced the Prince of Wales Museum’s renaming. It recalled that a promise to pack of ‘Prince of Wales’ into oblivion and bring in Shivaji with Maharaj included was made in 1993, when the Congress was at the helm.

What’s in a name, indeed?

First Published On : Dec 9, 2016 16:18 IST

Maharashtra ATS registers case against Thane youth for joining ISIS

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad has registered a case against a youth from Mumbra, Maharashtra for allegedly joining the Islamic State. According to the Indian Express, 28-year-old Tabrez Noor Mohammed Tambe went to Egypt on the pretext of looking for job but later went to Libya to fight alongside the Islamic State (IS). A senior official from the agency has said that Tabrez’s brother has informed that went to Libya with his friend Ali who hails from Saudi Arabia. The family also claims that Ali who Tabrez met during his stay in Riyadh, brainwashed him to join the Islamic State. “The family claims that Ali was instrumental in brainwashing their son and drawing him into IS fold,” the official said.The Maharashtra ATS said that they have registered a case against Tabrez Tambe under Sections 16, 18, 18(B), 20, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

New tigers in Jai’s territory

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost eight months after its dominant male disappeared from the Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary (UKWLS), two males have moved in to replace the missing tiger Jai. What’s more, the number of adult tigers in the sanctuary has increased from four last year to seven now, with two pregnant tigresses likely to deliver fresh litters soon. A senior forest department official told DNA that camera trap monitoring which was being carried out in the sanctuary had revealed the presence of seven adult tigers, including two males and five females. The final results of this Phase IV monitoring exercise are expected shortly. The exercise carried out last year had thrown up the presence of just four individuals. “Two female tigers are pregnant and may deliver cubs very soon,” said another official. He added the presence of two males would ensure diversity in the gene pool. One of the males is Jai’s three-year old offspring ‘Jaichand’ (a combination of the names of his father Jai and mother Chandi) and the other tiger is supposed to have entered Maharashtra from adjoining areas since he has not been captured in camera traps earlier.Officials said there were chances that another male tiger was also trying to enter the UKWLS habitat. When 250 kg Jai — named after Amitabh Bachchan’s character from Sholay — went missing, it led to a massive outcry with fears that the iconic tiger, the largest in India, may have been poached. The NTCA tiger census, which is conducted every four years detected 190 tigers in Maharashtra in 2014. However, last year’s Phase IV monitoring by the forest department to confirm these figures had identified 203 tigers.

Chhagan Bhujbal’s hospital stay: JJ Hospital Dean appears before PMLA court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dean of JJ Hospital TP Lahane on Thursday appeared before a special PMLA court here amid allegations that senior NCP leader and money laundering case accused Chaggan Bhujbal had “misused” the court order and stayed put at various hospitals. Bhujbal, an accused in the multi-crore money laundering case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate was yesterday discharged from the Bombay Hospital and sent to the state-run facility after his stay there since November 2 prompted criticism that he was receiving “preferential treatment”. Lahane today told the court that he does not have anything to add than what is mentioned in his reply, which he had submitted during the last hearing in this connection. In his reply to the court, the Dean had said that JJ doesn’t have any role in the stay of Bhujbal at the Bombay Hospital, where he had checked in for a medical test (thallium scan).The senior doctor had also asserted that the hospital has not misused the court order.This came after AAP activist Anjali Damania moved the court through an application where she alleged it was ‘sheer negligence of duty’ by JJ Hospital and Arthur Road jail that Bhujbal has been in Bombay Hospital since November 2.She had also alleged that court orders were misused as the Thallium scan does not require admission into a hospital. The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court was recently informed that the former Maharashtra deputy chief minister continued to remain in the private hospital over a month after he was admitted there for the medical test.On October 27, Special Judge P R Bhavake had allowed Bhujbal to be taken to a private hospital after he was told that a Thallium scan, one of the three tests recommended to him, was not available at the government hospital. On October 28, prison authorities took Bhujbal to JJ Hospital for other two tests. He was then transferred to Bombay Hospital.The court is likely to hear the matter later in the day.

Maharashtra: Dalit houses in Satara attacked after murder of upper-caste girl, 36 arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police in Satara district of western Maharashtra have arrested 36 persons for attacking a Dalit locality following the murder of a girl belonging to the upper-caste Maratha community.The accused, angry over the killing of the girl last month, targeted the houses and vehicles of Dalits on the outskirts of Korale Khurd village last night, police said.In July, the rape and murder of a Maratha girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district had sparked off state-wide protests and mobilisation of Marathas.Yesterday’s incident at Korale Khurd followed the murder of 21-year-old Aruna Mohite, allegedly by her estranged lover Siddharth Dhanane (24), a Dalit, police said.They were in a relationship for the last few years but her parents forcibly married her off to another person, according to the police.Dhanane asked her meet him at Thoseghar on November 30.During an argument, he allegedly hit her with a stick, killing her on the spot. He then buried the body to destroy evidence, police said.After a missing persons case was lodged, police found that she was in contact with Dhanane on phone, and questioned him.He allegedly confessed and took the police to the buried body.Late last night, several members of Maratha community attacked homes of Dalits on the outskirts of the village and torched their vehicles, police said.Stones were pelted at the houses, window panes of 18 houses were broken and 13 vehicles including three cars were damaged, police said.”We have arrested 36 persons. We also held meetings of leaders from both communities,” said Sandeep Patil, Superintendent of Police, Satara, speaking to PTI.

Maharashtra: Police arrests 36 for attacking Dalit houses after murder of girl

Mumbai: Police in Satara district of western Maharashtra have arrested 36 persons for attacking a Dalit locality following the murder of a girl belonging to the upper-caste Maratha community.

The accused, angry over the killing of the girl last month, targeted the houses and vehicles of Dalits on the outskirts of Korale Khurd village on Tuesday night, police said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

In July, the rape and murder of a Maratha girl at Kopardi in Ahmednagar district had sparked off state-wide protests and mobilisation of Marathas.

Tuesday’s incident at Korale Khurd followed the murder of 21-year-old Aruna Mohite, allegedly by her estranged lover Siddharth Dhanane (24), a Dalit, police said.

They were in a relationship for the last few years but her parents forcibly married her off to another person, according to the police.

Dhanane asked her meet him at Thoseghar on 30 November.

During an argument, he allegedly hit her with a stick, killing her on the spot. He then buried the body to destroy evidence, police said.

After a missing persons case was lodged, police found that she was in contact with Dhanane on phone, and questioned him. He allegedly confessed and took the police to the buried body.

Late last night, several members of Maratha community attacked homes of Dalits on the outskirts of the village and torched their vehicles, police said.

Stones were pelted at the houses, window panes of 18 houses were broken and 13 vehicles including three cars were damaged, police said.

“We have arrested 36 persons. We also held meetings of leaders from both communities,” said Sandeep Patil, Superintendent of Police, Satara, speaking to PTI.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 22:18 IST

Maharashtra may go Gujarat way to help developers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government wants to go the Gujarat way by dropping a clause from the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. The government proposes to do away with the clause that provides retrospective effect of escrow account for under-construction projects. This will apparently spare developers the headache of putting the investor’s money only in those projects it is meant for.Escrow refers to money held by a third-party on behalf of transacting parties. According to the Act, developers and promoters have to keep the buyer’s amount for a specific project in the escrow account and that this fund has to be used with retrospective effect.”We do want to keep this pro-buyer escrow account clause in tact but developers have been complaining that this can land them in trouble. They suggested that Maharashtra adopt the Gujarat model,” said a senior government official from the state housing department. The Gujarat has dropped the escrow account clause from the Act.Niranjan Hiranandani, chairman and MD of Hiranandani Group, told DNA that developers had met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and requested him to adopt the Gujarat policy. “The retrospective effect of escrow account will not be feasible now. As developers, if we have already spent the money, how will we bring it back? Therefore, we have requested the chief minister to drop this clause,” Hiranandani said.However, Pankaj Kapoor, MD of real estate research firm Liasas and Foras, said that developers are blowing the issue out of proportion. “The state can only enhance the provision mentioned in the Act — it can neither dilute nor repeal it. If someone challenges the Gujarat government’s decision, it will be forced to reverse it. In Maharashtra also, the government should not succumb to the pressure of developers who are in habit of crying for everything. In fact, the government has already allowed developers to show the land and construction cost that is estimated over 60% of the total cost of the project. In the said clause, there are loopholes that developers can easily exploit and withdraw the money for other ventures,” Kapoor said.Kapoor added that developers should follow the prescribed procedure of the Act. “Most developers indulge in using money from one project to buy land for another, and due to this the regular project suffers. This also delays the project and subsequently the procedure of handing over of flats. A Buyer should get his/her apartment on time if s/he had already paid the money,” Kapoor said.Maharashtra Housing Minister Prakash Mehta was not available for comment. However, a source in his ministry told DNA that Mehta does not want to take any risk by dropping the clause. “We have prepared a report and will send it to the chief minister for his approval. We are sure that the Opposition will make an issue out of it saying Maharashtra is following the Gujarat government’s policy which is pro-developer and anti-buyer,” the source said.

Tata-Cyrus spat: Trusts’ work exemplary but may need to redefine relation with group cos

New Delhi – The role of Tata Trusts, which together control about 66 percent in Tata Sons, the holding company of the $100 billion Tata group, has come into sharp focus in recent weeks. That the Tata Trusts are charitable in nature but continue to be majority shareholders in Tata Sons and through this association, in commercial group companies, is a proposition which is now being called into question by ousted Tata Sons’ chairman Cyrus Mistry.

Mistry has made numerous allegations of impropriety in the functioning of Tata Trusts and their interference in the workings of Tata Sons and therefore also of group companies. These charges have been stoutly denied by Tata Sons. But one must remember that the entire tussle over control of one of India’s largest business houses erupted precisely because for the first time in the group’s decades-old existence, two different people were heading Tata Sons and the two Trusts.

Cyrus Mistry was the chairman of Tata Sons while Ratan Tata headed Trusts. Mistry was ousted in October by a board resolution where Trusts’ nominees were also votaries and sooner rather than later, a successor to Ratan Tata will also have to be found to carry on the philanthropic activities of the Trusts.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

That the Tata Trusts do commendable work in upholding public good has never been in doubt.

This piece points out that for nearly 125 years, these trusts have often been an “oasis for the poorest and most deprived of Indians. The oldest of the trusts, the JN Tata Endowment dates back to 1892 and the youngest, The Tata Education & Development Trust, was set up in 2008. Their vintage and the funds they have made available point to their commitment.”

It goes on to say that increasingly, from being a back-end provider of funds to non-government organisations (NGOs) and self-help groups, Tata trusts are now at the forefront of implementing new models of social work.

So there is no quarrel with the exemplary work the Trusts have been doing. The trouble lies almost entirely in the way their relationship with Tata Sons and commercial group companies is structured. Proxy advisory firm IiAS, which on the one hand has advised TCS shareholders to remove Mistry as chairman in the upcoming EGM, had, on the other hand, raised questions over the Tata Groups’ operating structure in a report last month.

It had noted that the Tata Trusts exert control over Tata Sons, which exerts control over operating companies, several of which are listed and subject to scrutiny by external stakeholders including shareholders. While shareholders expect these companies to operate along commercial lines, they are overlaid with additional expectations regarding behaviour and the brand.

“A philanthropy running a commercial business creates its own paradoxes. The Trusts elegantly solved this problem by putting Tata Sons between themselves and the operating companies….The Tata group needs to address possible areas of conflict and clearly set the terms of engagement between the three tiers of the group. They need to put in place an operating structure that outlives individuals,” IiAS said in a note to clients last month.

According to this piece, the choice of a successor to Ratan Tata as the head of the two Trusts is a crucial upcoming event. It says Tata Trusts have a unique position in India because they are allowed to hold shares in a commercial entity despite being completely income tax exempt given their charity work. The story quotes Noshir Dadrawala, CEO at Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, a company specialising in the areas of charity law, as saying “Trust is not a corporate body. It is not a legal entity, it is a legal obligation. The Charity Commissioner can’t interfere with appointments and salaries. Good governance and best practices would demand that they make the succession plan clear to all stakeholders, including the public.”

The power to select Ratan Tata’s successor, therefore, lies in the hands of 20 trustees that run India’s most powerful charity organisation. There are no laws governing the selection of chairman of a charity organisation, according to Maharashtra Public Trust Act.

Meanwhile IiAS CEO Amit Tandon raised some pertinent points with regards to needless complexities in the Tata group structure, thanks to the role of Trusts in Tata Sons, and ways to deal with the mess.

First, he questioned even those members of the Trusts who do not sit on the Tata Sons’ board get information about group companies. “Ratan Tata, Soonawala are not on Tata Sons’ board. It is not obvious why they should get granular information about decisions at Tata operating company level.”

Second, he pointed out how the operation and functions of Trusts in general are opaque in India. “Trusts operate like blackboxes in this counrty. Unlike companies, where the Companies Act and other rules governing their functions are known to market participants, little is known about how trusts operate and the rules that govern there functioning.”

Third, he suggested that the Trusts need to look beyond dividend income from group companies for funding their charitable activities. “The whole issue of Trusts is very important because it is at the heart of the Tata-Mistry disagreement. Ratan Tata alleged that Trusts were not getting enough money by way of dividends for charitable activities. The trusts then need to look beyond dividend income and supplement equity holdings with a corpus that gives fixed returns.”

IiAS has suggested that to align the interests of the Tata Trusts and Tata Sons, the chairperson of the Tata Trusts and Tata Sons must be the same individual, noting that when this was the norm in the past, things “worked smoothly”. The firm has also advised that in future, independent CEOs should manage Tata Trusts and Tata Sons, with the chairperson being the custodian of the Tata brand.

This piece suggests that the composition of Tata Trusts has changed recently. “The composition of Tata Trusts has undergone a change in line with their allegiance to the prevailing chairman in the war against Cyrus Mistry. Less than three weeks after the controversial Tata Sons board meeting to sack Mistry, Venu Srinivasan was quietly made a trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. Of the seven trusts that cumulatively own 65.29% in Tata Sons, it is the single largest shareholder at just under 28%.”

Mistry has now sought government probe into the workings of Tata Trusts even as an income tax probe is already on. In 2013, the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) had alleged tax evasion by Tata Trusts. The CAG report had said: “In Maharashtra, DIT‐E, Mumbai, Jamshetji Tata Trust and NavajbaiRatan Tata Trust earned Rs 1,905 crore and Rs 1,234 crore on account of capital gain during AY 09 and AY 10 respectively and invested the same in prohibited mode of investments which is in contraventionto the provisions of section 13(1)(d) of Act. It resulted in short levy of tax of Rs. 1066.95 crore.”

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 14:49 IST

Maha files 2,500-page affidavit in support of Maratha quota

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government on Monday filed a 2,500-page affidavit in the Bombay High Court supporting the demand for 16 per cent reservation for Maratha community in the state.The affidavit filed by government pleader, Abhinandan Vagyani, relies on several documents and records, speeches made by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, references about the community in devotional and folk songs and religious texts by Saint poets such as Sant Tukaram, Bahinabai and Samarth Ramdas. The affidavit also has exhibits from Manusmriti, a highly controversial religious text about the “varna” system in Hindu religion. The affidavit names Shahu Maharaj, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Ambedkar in support of their claim that Maratha community is underprivileged and backward along with other Kshatriyas in other regions. The government says it has relied on several records and documents running over the centuries evincing the social, educational and economic backwardness of the Maratha community as a major segment of the Shudhra class in the state. The affidavit quotes recent reports of various commissions supporting the need for reservations for Marathas. Saying that Maratha community is 32% of the total population, the affidavit also says that most of the farmers who have been facing an agrarian crisis for years are Marathas. Moreover, 80% of them earn less than Rs one lakh per year and are not represented adequately in government jobs due to low literacy levels.Earlier, the government had sought six weeks’ time from the High Court to file an additional affidavit along with data in support of its stand on reserving a percentage of government jobs and seats in educational institutions in the state for the Maratha community. Senior counsels, V A Thorat and Ravi Kadam, appearing for the government in different matters sought additional time.The affidavit was filed while the court was hearing two PILs opposing the then Congress-NCP government’s 2014 decision to grant 16% reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, and also a bunch of applications in favour of the reservation. The plea is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.

Jayalalithaa is dead: Amma’s legacy — industrial, social, crime rankings among India’s best

By Prachi Salve

Tamil Nadu’s 19th chief minister (she was also the 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th) J Jayalalithaa, who died on 5 December, 2016, was known for gifting her 72 million people a record set of freebies, but she also leaves behind a state that ranks among India’s top five in many social, crime and industrial indicators.

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFPFile image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. AFP

Tamil Nadu now has India’s lowest fertility rate–lower than Australia, Finland and Belgium–second best infant mortality and maternal mortality rate; records among the lowest crime rates against women and children; and has more factories and provides more industrial employment than any other Indian state, according to an India Spend analysis of various data sets.

However, financing the freebie culture came at a cost. Tamil Nadu witnessed a 92 percent increase in debt  over five years ending 2015, according to an India Spend analysis of state budgets in November 2015.

IS_1

Tamil Nadu’s education indicators have always been above the Indian average and have steadily improved during Jayalalithaa’s from 15 years stint as chief minister.

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Although Tamil Nadu regularly reports violence and discrimination based on caste, the state’s crime rates are among India’s lowest, particularly those relating to women and children.

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As regard industrial growth, Tamil Nadu has more factories than any other Indian state (37,378), according to the Annual Survey of Industries, 2013-14. Maharashtra ranks second with 29,123 factories, followed by Gujarat with 22,876. More people are engaged in industrial work (2.04 million) in Tamil Nadu of any Indian state; Maharashtra (1.8 million) is second and Gujarat (1.37 million) third.

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Tamil Nadu’s per capita income is India’s fifth highest, but the four states preceding it are substantially smaller. Among the country’s large states, it has the richest people.

Freebies come at a cost

Jayalalithaa is known for the freebie culture, which she did not begin but did expand, personalising it along the way. For instance, her 2011 election promises included 100 units of free electricity to every household, a free laptop for class 11 and class 12 students (with free internet connections), a gram of sovereign gold as marriage assistance, and four goats/sheep to families who lived below the poverty line. The laptops had images of “Amma (mother)”, as Jayalalithaa was popularly known. Other programmes also carried that name, such as Amma canteens (for subsidised food) and Amma medicals (for subsidised medicines).

While some programmes were applauded as having a social effect–such as the midday meal scheme, which Tamil Nadu pioneered before Jayalalithaa took office for the first time in 1991 and encouraged children to stay in school–they resulted in the fastest rising debt of any Indian state, as IndiaSpend reported in November 2015.

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Debt, per se, is not bad, if the state’s economic growth can sustain and service it. So, the key matrix is the debt as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product (GSDP) or total economic output. Tamil Nadu’s debt-to-GSDP ratio at 20 percent is lower than the national average, an indication the state is growing despite the spike in debt.

(The author is an analyst with IndiaSpend)

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 03:19 IST

Bombay hospital, JJ hospital, Arthur jail authorities pass the buck on sending Chhagan Bhujbal to jail

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The long stay of former Maharashtra minister and senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case, in Bombay hospital in Mumbai has raised many eyebrows.Bhujbal had been lodged in Arthur Road jail in the city since March this year after the ED arrested him in Maharashtra Sadan scam and other cases. He had checked into the Bombay Hospital on November 2 for a medical test (thallium scan) which takes a few hours but has been in the hospital for the last 34 days.Soon after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted a surprise check to find out whether Bhujbal was receiving preferential treatment, a blame game began between hospitals and jail authorities to cover-up the matter, reports the Mumbai Mirror.All the parties involved — the state-run JJ Hospital, the Bombay hospital and the Arthur Road jail — have said that they are not the ones to take a call on Bhujbal’s release. Bombay Hospital has said it has sent the reports of the test to the JJ Hospital, the latter must make a decision based on the reports. Meanwhile, the JJ Hospital is waiting for jail authorities to make a move. “The reports said Mr. Bhujbal needed to undergo an angiography. It is for the jail authorities to decide whether he will undergo the procedure,” JJ Hospital dean, Dr TP Lahane said.The jail authorities are blaming the hospitals for not releasing Bhujbal saying that their hands are tied unless they do so. “It is up to the Bombay Hospital and the JJ Hospital doctors, who are the competent authority, to give an opinion on Bhujbal’s health. There is no preferential treatment to anyone from our end. The JJ and Bombay Hospital doctors should coordinate with us in a better manner,” BK Upadhyay, Additional Directorate General of Police (Prisons) said.The ED will be sending more officials to the hospital. It has also found that Bhujbal was put up in a “highly luxurious suite” (room number 1360, on the 13th floor). “We have come across a few things during our visits on Friday and Saturday. The court will be informed,” an ED source told the Mirror.

Crowds throng Apollo hospital; prayers, speedy recovery messages pour in for Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A large crowd, along with AIADMK cadres, thronged Apollo hospital praying for the speedy recovery of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, fondly called ‘Amma’ (mother) by her supporters, after she suffering a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening.Anxious AIADMK cadres stayed put outside the hospital, which has been covered in a thick blanket of security. Worried party supporters continued to pray for her recovery.Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, who is also the Governor of Maharashtra, airdashed to the city from Mumbai and visited Apollo Hospital.President Pranab Mukherjee, DMK leader M Karunanidhi, his son and opposition leader K Stalin, Union Ministers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Chief Ministers and a host of leaders have expressed concern over Jayalalithaa’s health condition and wished her speedy recovery.”I wish Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa completely recovers soon,” M Karunanidhi said in a tweet.DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Opposition Leader M K Stalin said, “I desire that the intensive treatment being given to the Chief Minister yields fruit and that she recovers soon.”

Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers sudden cardiac arrest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The condition of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who is hospitalised here since September 22, deteriorated as she suffered cardiac arrest.”The honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening,” said a statement tonight by Apollo Hospital where she is admitted.”She is being treated and monitored by a team of experts, including cardiologists, pulmonologist and critical care specialists,” Chief Operating Officer and head of transformation of Apollo Hospital Dr Subbaiah Viswanathan said in the statement.News about the 68-year-old leader suffering the cardiac arrest came hours after her party AIADMK said she will return home “soon” as an AIIMS expert team had confirmed that she has completely recovered after over two months of hospitalisation.Soon after the Apollo statement came, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and enquired about Jayalalithaa’s health.Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra and holding the additional charge of Tamil Nadu, told Singh that he was rushing to Chennai from Mumbai where he was to attend a Navy Day event today.During the 10-minute telephonic conversation, Rao briefed Singh about the health condition of the Chief Minister and conveyed that doctors attending to her were taking all necessary steps.He told the Home Minister that he was reaching Chennai to personally monitor the situation in Tamil Nadu arising out of the sudden deterioration in the health of Jayalalithaa, official sources said.Earlier in the day, AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told reporters, “The AIIMS doctors visited the hospital yesterday and after examining her (Jayalalithaa’s) health, they shared the good news with us that Amma (as Jayalalithaa is fondly called by AIADMK cadre, meaning mother) has completely recovered.”Ponnaiyan said the Chief Minister was doing physical exercises, undergoing physiotherapy, and was having food on her own besides advising officers on issues related to government and party activities.Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration. The hospital, which had been issuing bulletins on her health status, had later said she was being treated for infection with respiratory support, among others.Apollo Hospitals Chairman Dr C Prathap Reddy had recently said Jayalalithaa was in good health and was speaking using a valve attached to the tracheostomy tube.Whole body physiotherapy was being done, he had said, adding that she was normally recuperating after being in bed for several weeks and would herself decide when to go home.Meanwhile, Home Ministry officials are in constant touchwith the officials of Tamil Nadu government and assessing the situation.The official sources in Delhi said that law and order situation in Tamil Nadu was normal so far and adequate central forces were available in the state to assist the state administration.The central government will provide all assistance to Tamil Nadu government if any help is required, the sources said.

Mumbai-Ahmedabad rail corridor: Need boring leader who gets basics right; not one who dreams of bullet trains

I am writing this column from my family home in Surat, one of India’s oldest and largest cities. Unlike some of the other big cities, like Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai and even New Delhi, Surat was not built by the British. It was built by Indians and it has a recorded history going back centuries.

It was already a city in the period of the Delhi sultanate and it was the largest provider of tax revenue on the subcontinent in the Mughal period. In 1608, the British first landed here, when it was famous as a big and successful port and trading centre under emperor Jahangir. Three centuries later, though the port shifted to Mumbai, it was still large and famous enough across the world for Leo Tolstoy to write a short story called ‘The coffee house of Surat’. Today Surat is the world’s largest diamond polishing centre (about two thirds of all diamonds found anywhere in the world have passed through Surat). And it is one of the world’s largest textile centres. It has a population roughly the size of London and it has the highest per capita income of any city in India.

A file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi, Shinzo Abe. PTI

I am saying all this because it has become almost impossible for me to visit my hometown. From Bangalore, where I now live, there is no flight to Surat. This is because Surat has an airport that is dysfunctional. No private airline flies to the city. Shortly after this government took over, a buffalo walked into the Surat airport and an airplane crashed into it, damaging its jet engine. This flight, the only private one connecting Surat to Mumbai and Bangalore, was discontinued.

Narendra Modi‘s minister for civil aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the beast had come in through a gap in the fence which he ordered would be walled up. But this has not inspired any confidence from the airlines and so they have avoided Surat for the last two years. To get here, I had to first fly to Mumbai and then drive for five hours. The distance is 300 kilometres and the road is part of India’s best highway network, the golden quadrilateral, which connects Mumbai to Delhi. So why does it take five hours to cover this distance? Because just outside Mumbai there is a broken or cracked flyover near a place called Fountain Hotel. It is unsafe to have traffic from both sides go over it together and so automobiles from one side are made to wait, often for over an hour, while the other side is let through. This is a heavily used highway, perhaps the busiest in India, and so the halted cars and trucks form a line many kilometres long.
I asked the man driving the taxi how long this had been the case and he said at least four months, and work on repairing the flyover had not yet begun. When I reached Surat I noticed that another flyover which had collapsed the last time I was visiting, killing 11 people, had still not been rebuilt. It was a brand new structure and two years ago one section of it fell down after the supporting scaffolding was removed. For two years this single piece had not been fixed rendering the flyover, on Surat’s most important road, Athwa Lines, unusable.

This, to at last get to the point I am trying to make, is the same route that India’s bullet train is taking. The high speed rail network starts at Ahmedabad and comes to Surat, which is about mid way, and then to Mumbai. There is no demand from Gujaratis for a bullet train. What they want is airports that are functional. Where animals are not permitted to walk around. They want national highways which have flyovers which are strong enough to carry normal traffic. They want city infrastructure that does not break down before it is built and which is not left unfixed for two years.

What is required is boring leadership that ensures that the basics are right and not genius leadership that dreams of bullet trains. It is remarkable to me that there is such a casual attitude to the development of a historical city that is, as I said earlier, the size of London.

A successful city with India’s highest per capita income (over Rs 4.5 lakh per household in 2008). A city with such poor connectivity, that it is more difficult for me to reach it from Bangalore than it is to fly to London.

First Published On : Dec 4, 2016 08:43 IST

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