Maharashtra: War of words between NCP & BJP over process, boundaries

Times of India | 4 days ago | 24-11-2022 | 07:30 am

Maharashtra: War of words between NCP & BJP over process, boundaries

PUNE: The delimitation exercise has deeply divided the BJP and the NCP who said the move to revise the earlier process is wrong, while the former said that the ward boundaries drafted by previous MVA government had lapses. NCP's city unit chief Prashant Jagtap on Wednesday said that the state government was attempting to delay the elections as they do not want civic polls to take place now. "The delimitation matter is already before the Supreme Court. The hearing is expected in next week. Why is the government going ahead for a delimitation exercise before the verdict? " Jagtap said. Citizens are fed up with the BJP's false promises, he said. "Many projects have been delayed. Citizens faced hardships during monsoon. The BJP has pushed development to a slow track," he said. BJP's city president Jagdish Mulik said that they would win a 100 seats. "Be it three-member ward system or a four-member system, BJP will win the civic polls on the basis of the work done. The NCP had attempted to set wards as per their convenience by not following natural boundaries ," he said. A senior Congress leader said that it looks that BJP-Shinde group-led state government is not confident about civic polls. "The delimitation process will take another three months. This will impact functioning of the civic administration. Citizens are not happy with the state government's performance," he said. Sainath Babar, chief of MNS's city unit, said that civic elections have already been delayed by six months. "There is still no clarity on its status. We are ready to face the polls at any time," he added.

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New, signal-free corridor will ease Mumbai-Thane traffic woes
Times of India | 5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 06:01 am
Times of India
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THANE: The MMRDA has given its approval to ease congestion at one of the 'world's most chaotic' traffic junctions at Teen Haath Naka by constructing a fresh pair of U-shaped flyovers in addition to the existing bridge that runs above the intersection, officials informed, adding that the project will also ensure the arterial junction could get rid of signals presently required for crossing the intersection. The proposal for the flyovers - with three lanes each and collectively costing approximately Rs 289 crore - was presented before the MMRDA committee last month and finally got administrative approval. Teen Haath Naka is a vital junction on the Mumbai (LBS route)-Thane-Pune-Nashik route where nearly seven roads, including three arterial lanes, converges. A 2014 study commissioned by the Thane corporation had pegged the junction as one of the world's most chaotic ones. Even though the MSRDC had built a flyover over the junction two decades back, it doesn't cater to the rising movement of traffic underneath and between the seven lanes that connect Mumbai-Thane via LBS road with the Eastern Express Highway. According to the plans, a 700m-long, U-shaped flyover will take off from the Nashik lane of the EEH after the Teen Haath Naka junction ends and will run parallel to the existing bridge and then take a turn to the right and land few metres ahead of the junction on the Mumbai-bound carriageway. All vehicles coming from Mumbai and entering Thane city or proceeding towards LBS road or old Pune highway will take this arm without waiting at the signal for crossing over. Similarly, traffic from Nashik, Pune and Thane city headed towards Mumbai using LBS road will ascend the second U-shaped flyover after crossing the junction on the Mumbai-bound lane of the highway. The flyover measuring 900m in length will run parallel to the highway and take a U-turn and land in the opposite direction ahead of the Teen Haath Naka. Officials say once the project is completed, the waiting time at signal for Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, and Pune-bound vehicles will be reduced substantially. The plan entails removing the signals that increase waiting time and often stretches beyond 15-20 minutes. The inclusion of the two U-shaped flyovers at the spot will prove beneficial in smooth management of traffic, especially once the metro station comes up on the stretch. The project may affect a small stretch of green cover between the service road and the highway.

New, signal-free corridor will ease Mumbai-Thane traffic woes
Over 8 per cent of 2.3 crore students enrolled across Maharashtra schools have no Aadhaar: data
The Indian Express | 5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 am
The Indian Express
5 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 05:45 am

OF THE 2,33,13,762 children enrolled in government and aided schools across Maharashtra 19,55,515 (8.38 per cent) do not have Aadhaar cards, according to recently released data from the state government. Of the 2,13,58,247 children, who have Aadhaar cards 40,01,250 are invalid meaning their enrolment will not be counted in addition to those having no Aadhaar card.Ahead of the teacher approval process, the data has become a cause of worry for many schools. Posts of teachers allotted to each school are based on the number of enrolled students. Students having valid Aadhaar cards are considered enrolled, and it is factored in while calculating the student-teacher ratio to approve required posts of teachers.The data reveals 91 per cent of students have Aadhaar enrolment and 18 per cent of it is invalid.“There are mistakes in particulars such as name, date of birth or gender etc on invalid Aadhaar cards. Due to lack of willingness among parents to take steps for correction, the schools are going to have to take the responsibility,” said Mahendra Ganpule, spokesperson for Maharashtra Headmasters’ Association, adding that apart from the fixation of approved posts of teachers, from January 2023, midday meal scheme is going to be linked with Aadhaar.According to the district-wise data, the Pune district tops the list with 18,03,893 children out of 21,13,564 having Aadhaar cards, but 17 per cent of these are invalid. Thane district takes the second place with 15,23,235 of 17,55,388 students having Aadhar, but 16 per cent of those are invalid. Mumbai suburban ranks fourth in the list after Nashik district.The Pune district also has the highest student count without Aadhar at 3,09,671. The districts of Thane, Mumbai and Aurangabad take the second, third and fourth positions in terms of students, who have no Aadhaar.“Considering that these are the districts with highest student enrollment; in case of the count of students enrolment with or without Aadhaar they appear at the top in sheer numbers,” explained an official from the school education department, adding that the schools have been additional time till December 12 to complete Aadhaar updation on the student portal.

Over 8 per cent of 2.3 crore students enrolled across Maharashtra schools have no Aadhaar: data
Royals livid over Koshyari, Trivedi remarks: Sambhajiraje warns of ‘uprising’, Udayanraje to announce ‘important decision’ today
The Indian Express | 10 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
10 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 12:45 am

UPSET with “inaction” against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari despite their repeated demands, Chattrapati Udayanraje Bhosale and Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji, have upped the ante, seeking decisive action in the matter.While Sambhajiraje expressed the possibility of an “uprising”, Udayanraje will hold a press conference in Pune on Monday in which he will announce an “important decision”, said his aides.Last week, Udayanraje held a press conference in Pune and demanded the immediate ouster of the Governor as well as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi for “insulting” the Maratha warrior king. While the Governor had reportedly called Shivaji a hero of the past era during a function, Trivedi, during a TV debate on V D Savarkar’s apology, had said that the 17th-century king had also “apologised” during his regime.In a tweet on Sunday, Sambhajiraje warned of an “uprising” if no action is taken against the Governor. “Does it mean the government agrees with the remarks? No one should take the people of Maharashtra for granted. If the government does not understand the sentiments of Shiv Bhakats, an uprising will take place,” he said.Last week, Sambhajiraje had asked as to what was preventing the government from taking action against the Governor. “The Governor has tried to belittle Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who is worshipped by millions, at least twice. It is unbelievable that…the government remained a mere spectator…now even BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi has made insulting remarks. If such things are allowed to continue, it will lead to a revolt from the people of Maharashtra,” he had said.While Udayanraje is Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, Sambhajiraje is a former RS Parliamentarian who was also a presidential nominee. Both the royals are known for their proximity to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.Udayanraje’s close associates said he will make an important announcement on Monday. “We don’t know whether it relates to his resignation or not. It may be about resignation or it may not be so… We have no clue but we know for sure that he will announce an important decision,” said an aide on Sunday.Both Udayanraje and Sambhajiraje are firm that the Governor should be sent packing from Maharashtra. “He should not serve as Governor anywhere,” Sambhajiraje told TV channels in Kolhapur on Saturday.Udayanraje said, “The Maharashtra Governor deserved to be sent to an old age home.”

Royals livid over Koshyari, Trivedi remarks: Sambhajiraje warns of ‘uprising’, Udayanraje to announce ‘important decision’ today
Medha Patkar saga: From Narmada anti-dam movement face to fighter for many causes
The Indian Express | 17 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
17 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm

It was in 1985 that Medha Patkar, then just 31, left her PhD midway to jump headlong into the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Mumbai-born Patkar, the daughter of freedom fighter and labour union leader Vasant Khanolkar, had done her Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and from her early years got involved in several causes involving generally the “oppressed” and poor.However, it was the Narmada agitation, which grew into a protest against big dams and the right of the displaced to rehabilitation, later spreading to other similar projects, that came to define the activist.It also brought her into direct conflict with the Gujarat government, particularly when it was led by Narendra Modi between 2001-14, with Modi staking the development image of his government on the ambitious Sardar Sarovar dam project.Patkar’s appearance at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra recently, walking shoulder to shoulder with him, was enough for the BJP to drag the activist into the election slugfest.Modi, who remains the face of the BJP campaign, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, have all attacked Patkar during this election, as “anti-Gujarat”, a prime hurdle in the state’s development, and as “urban Naxal”.The Sardar Sarovar dam project on Narmada river for which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone on April 5, 1961, had a full reservoir level (FRL) height of 49.08 metres for harnessing the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin. In 1965, a higher dam with an FRL of 152.45 metres was recommended by a committee. Madhya Pradesh did not agree to its recommendations, leading to the setting up of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal in October 1969.This tribunal gave its final award in 1979, fixing the FRL at 138.68 metres, as well as the share of the water and hyrdo power between the riparian states — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. This award was to neither be changed nor reviewed till 2025. The aim of this dam was to provide water for irrigation in at least 15 districts of Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra and to share the hydroelectric generated between Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.The construction of the dam began in 1987, backed by funds from the World Bank. By then, the NBA was already spearheading protests against it. Finally, under immense pressure from anti-dam activists, the World Bank withdrew from the project in 1993. The construction was later halted by the Supreme Court in May 1995.In February 1998, the work on the dam resumed, with its height then at 88 metres. In 2000, the apex court set a condition of supervised relief and rehabilitation for the dam oustees. By 2004, the FRL had reached 110.64 metres. In March 2006, when Modi was about to complete his first term as CM, clearance was given for raising the dam’s height to 121.92 metres. When the Centre sought a review, Modi sat on a hunger strike for 51 hours.In 2014, just 17 days after it took over at the Centre, the Modi government gave permission to raise the dam’s height to its maximum and install sluice gates. In July this year, its waters reached its final Kutch end.While the BJP has always blamed the Congress governments over the years for not releasing funds and hence delaying the Sardar Sarovar Project, under the Modi government, as per figures tabled in the Gujarat Assembly in March 2021, only 64% of the Rs 9,605 crore sought by the state has been released between 2015-16 and 2019-20 for it.Along with other activists, prominent leaders and academicians, the NBA relentlessly fought against the Gujarat government, starting with Congress CM Chimanbhai Patel, over the Sardar Sarovar Project. Its contention was that the tribals’ displacement from their native habitats caused by big dams and their resettlement elsewhere would leave them devastated.At its maximum FRL of 138.68 metres, the Sardar Sarovar dam submerged 37,690 hectares — 11,279 hectares of agricultural land, 13,542 hectares of forests and 12,869 hectares of river basin and wasteland. In all, 193 villages of Madhya Pradesh, 33 of Maharashtra and 19 of Gujarat were affected, with additionally 243 villages partly affected in Gujarat.The NBA demanded proper rehabilitation of 40,000 people who, it said, were displaced by the dam project, particularly tribals across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.The Patkar-led movement held indefinite fasts, demonstrations and rallies, drawing hundreds of supporters to protests against the Sardar Sarovar dam and other big dams in the Narmada Valley. In the 1980s and 1990s, she also ran foul of the Congress governments in the affected states, with governments accusing her of hampering development.In the 1980s, as part of the movement, Patkar organised a 36-day solidarity march from Madhya Pradesh to the Sardar Sarovar Project site. Patkar’s agitation, along with protests by locals, forced the World Bank to set up Morse Commission, an independent review of the project, which is said to have concluded that it violated environmental and resettlement policies. The World Bank withdrew funding in 1993.Her agitation also saw clashes between the NBA members and the authorities, while drawing support from the late Baba Amte, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, film star Aamir Khan, and filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, among others. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, participated in a protest rally organised by the NBA in 2016.Patkar undertook many fasts to protest against major dams over the years and also periodically sat on Jal Satyagrahas in the villages that now stand submerged in the Narmada Basin, to oppose oustees’ evacuations.Noted Dalit writer of Maharashtra Arjun Dangle, who closely watched the NBA agitation, said: “Medhatai’s integrity and commitment to the cause of the tribals, oppressed and downtrodden cannot be doubted. She single-mindedly pursued a cause to get justice for the tribals and poor displaced by the dam projects.”Patkar has always maintained that it is wrong to call her or her organisation “anti-development”, asserting that she only fights for the rights of the tribals and people displaced by various projects and never properly rehabilitated.Political parties across divides have also often questioned the source of funds to her organisation. Patkar and 11 others were booked in a case of alleged misuse of funds in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh, which was filed in July this year. They were accused of allegedly misusing around ₹ 13 crore collected in the name of education of tribal children. Patkar rejected the charges as baseless and “politically-motivated”.Apart from the dam-affected people, Patkar has taken up the cause of slum dwellers in Mumbai under the aegis of Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao, accusing land sharks and big developers of forcibly evicting them. She has also sued contractors by filing PILs against them.It was largely due to her protests that in 2006, the then Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra brought a new housing policy promising affordable houses and slum redevelopment.She was also one of the opponents to the hill station project Lavasa City near Pune for allegedly violating environment laws and taking away land of tribals.In 2007, Patkar for the first time ventured beyond Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and joined the Nandigram agitation in Kolkata. With the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee leading the stir, the Tatas eventually relocated the Nano plant for which land had been taken in Nandigram to Gujarat.Patkar was part of the agitation against land acquisition for the nuclear plant at Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh as well.In March 2022, she questioned the Silverline semi-high speed railway corridor project being built in Kerala by the Pinarayi Vijayan government-led LDF government.In her late 60s, Patkar is still fighting, raising her voice against the JSW Steel Project in Odisha as recently as June. However, this time, she did not get any support, with villagers driving her away. In July, an FIR was filed against her by one villager in Odisha alleging that the NBA trust had misused funds meant for education of tribals.Senior CPI leader Prakash Reddy said it was natural for the BJP to attack her. “The party has always sided with the capitalists. Anybody who fights for the poor gets treated badly.”Patkar has been at the centre of the BJP’s attack in its campaign for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls, first to target the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for having fielded Patkar in a Lok Sabha election(in 2014 from Mumbai North East seat, which she lost) and recently, to attack the Congress after she joined Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra during its Maharashtra leg. In his Gujarat poll rallies, PM Modi slammed the Congress over Patkar marching with Rahul, asking voters to punish “Narmada protesters”.

Medha Patkar saga: From Narmada anti-dam movement face to fighter for many causes