Times of India | 1 month ago | 07-10-2022 | 08:04 am
MUMBAI: The state government has doubled the scholarship for students of seven notified minority communities to pursue higher education in the current academic year. The scope of the minority scholarship has been increased to include students pursuing Art and full-time diploma programmes. Minority students - Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Sikh, Zoroastrain, Jew - pursing higher education are entitled to an annual scholarship of up to Rs 50,000 as against Rs 25,000. The annual income cap to avail the scholarship remains Rs 8 lakh a year as per a state government resolution issued on October 4. Students pursuing degree courses in arts, science and commerce will get up to Rs 5,000 a year this academic year. The amount will be deposited in the Aadhar card-linked bank account of the student in October and February. The scholarship amount has been doubled after over a decade.
Mangal Prabhat Lodha is a quiet man. At the BJP headquarters here, his colleagues say that the Cabinet minister operates silently — not flaunting his power and always speaking to a select group of people. The image of quiet efficiency is quite different to the public persona of a firebrand Hindutva votary and this combination helped the former Mumbai BJP chief become a member of the Eknath Shinde-led government. At present, he holds the portfolios of tourism, and women and child development.On Wednesday, Lodha lit a political firestorm by comparing 17th-century warrior Shivaji’s historic escape from the Mughal court in Agra with Shinde’s defection from the Shiv Sena that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June. The comments came at a time the BJP was looking to move past the row Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had triggered two weeks ago by calling Shivaji an icon of olden times. Koshyari’s remarks put the BJP on the defensive and it spent the subsequent days parrying the Opposition’s attacks, but the optics surrounding the Lodha episode is worse as the comments came at an event that the CM attended.Shinde, along with his Cabinet ministers, were in Satara on Wednesday to celebrate 363rd Pratapgad Din, the state government’s annual celebration of Shivaji’s assassination of Afzal Khan, a commander of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, at the foothills of Pratapgad Fort. “Shivaji Maharaj who was held hostage escaped from Agra by dodging Mughal emperor Aurangzeb … Shivaji escaped from Agra for swarajya (independence) Similarly, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was also confined by somebody. But Shinde also came out from confinement in the larger interest of Maharashtra …”Amid backlash from the Opposition, the BJP left Lodha to deal with the fallout and none of its top leaders defended him publicly. Party insiders said the leadership had categorically told everyone to exercise caution while speaking on historical events or people. The BJP has now chosen once again to distance itself from the row and allow it to fizzle out. A senior BJP general secretary said on the condition of anonymity, “Sometimes, it is better to remain silent when some reaction boomerangs against our party and leaders.”Shinde, however, appeared to back his minister even as he underlined that nobody could be compared to Shivaji. Trying to defuse the tension, the CM said, “Lodha has allocated Rs 25 crore for Pratapgad Fort. Shivaji Maharaj is deeply revered and worshipped by one and all. Shivaji cannot be compared to anybody.”Aware that he had slipped up, Lodha attempted damage control by explaining he had never meant to insult Shivaji. Late Wednesday evening, the minister said, “I have not done anything wrong and did not insult Shivaji. I deeply respect Shivaji Maharaj. I was just citing some examples which have been wrongly interpreted. We often give Shivaji’s examples to children. It does not mean we are comparing them or insulting Shivaji.”Son of former Guwahati HC CJILodha, who is one of the richest state ministers with declared assets worth Rs 441.65 crore, is from Rajasthan. He arrived in Mumbai in the 1980s after completing his BCom and LLB degrees from the University of Jodhpur. His father Guman Lal Lodha was the chief justice of the Guwahati High Court. After initially practising law, Lodha ventured into real estate and founded Macrotech Developers (Lodha Group).Since his student days, Lodha was associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He made his debut in electoral politics in 1995, when he contested the Assembly elections for the first time. At present, he is a six-term MLA from the high-profile Malabar Hills constituency in Mumbai.The minister has often used the public forum at his disposal to speak about issues such as cattle slaughter and undocumented immigrants. He has spoken about the alleged threat Hindus face in the Muslim-dominated Malvani area of Mumbai.During a state Assembly debate last year, Lodha said, “There is a pattern to this Hindu exodus. They are being threatened and intimidated to leave their houses. A concerted attempt is being made to evict them. Just like Kashmir, Kairana witnessed the exodus of Hindus. Malvani in Mumbai is also witnessing the same.”On cow slaughter, he has said in the past, “There should be capital punishment for killers of cows and cattle. Cow slaughter should be punishable by death and beef export should be banned.”During campaigning for the 2019 Assembly polls, the Election Commission served Lodha with a show-cause notice for making a communal statement. While campaigning in Mumbadevi, the BJP leader said, “The explosives used in the 1992 Mumbai riots were made in bylanes five km from here.” The Mumbadevi neighbourhood has a sizable Muslim population.
MUMBAI: The State Election Commission has allowed candidates for 7,751 gram panchayat seats, including 63 in Palghar and 42 in Thane, to file their nominations offline, and extended the time for filing of nomination from 3 pm on December 2 to 5.30pm.
MUMBAI: Clarifying that no student will be denied admission based on voter registration card, state higher and technical education minister Chandrakant Patil said they will make the registration process mandatory for stud-ents above 18 years of age during admissions. “Election commission officials can facilitate the registration proc-ess during admissions. That can be made mandatory for varsities by bringing in a statute. We want more students to participate in the election process.” Patil said.
MUMBAI: The National Green Tribunal (Pune) has admitted a plea to declare the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2019, illegal, ultra-vires and violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution. The CRZ Notification, 2019, came into force in 2021. The plea was filed by NGO Vanashakti stating that rather than protecting the environment, the CRZ Notification, 2019, removes various environmental protections under CRZ 2011. While admitting the plea on Thursday, the NGT also directed the issuance of notices to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, and the National and Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authorities, respectively. It has pointed out that the special protections granted to Greater Mumbai in CRZ 2011, have been severely diluted. The plea states CRZ 2011, laid special emphasis on Greater Mumbai on subject matters ranging from “construction of roads, solid waste disposal sites, slum rehabilitation scheme, redevelopment of dilapidated buildings,” among others, “but the entire section except protection of open spaces and construction of sewage treatment plan was deleted in the draft notification 2018 and in 2019 notification.” tnn
MUMBAI: A six-month long safety drive by the Maharashtra transport department on Pune Expressway and Old Mumbai-Pune highway commenced on Thursday with compulsory seatbelts for drivers of all trucks, trailers and tempos as well as private cars and buses. Officials told TOI that truck drivers were taken by surprise as they were asked to wear seat belts. "Almost none of these heavy vehicle drivers wears seat belts. We have issued warnings to over 100 drivers, including those of private tourist buses, and made them wear seat belts for personal safety as there have been crashes involving collisions with heavy vehicles. The first seven days of our campaign will involve creating awareness on road safety and ensuring people wore seatbelts and helmets (on old Pune highway)," an official said, adding that the rear seat belt rule could also be enforced soon. "We have begun using a public address system installed at Khalapur and other toll nakas to spread messages on traffic rules and road safety for all motorists," said deputy transport commissioner (road safety) Bharat Kalaskar, posted at the Expressway. "During the drive, surveillance will be done by 15 vehicle squads comprising 30 officials to keep 24x7 vigil." The enforcement drive will be against speeding, lane cutting, trucks driving on the rightmost lane, illegal parking of vehicles on the side lane of Expressway, and those not wearing seatbelts or helmets (old highway). One objective will be to identify black spots and take corrective action with MSRDC, police, PWD and health departments. Transport commissioner Vivek Bhimanwar said several new boards were being erected along the Expressway and the Old highway from Thursday, warning motorists about the accident-prone zones. RTOs have also got interceptor vehicles ready for patrol to curb speeding. The drive is being conducted by officers from RTOs such as Mumbai, Pune, Panvel and Pimpri-Chinchwad.