India | 3 months ago | 30-08-2022 | 07:22 am
Mumbai: The first trial run of the Mumbai Metro line 3 connecting Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ line, will be conducted on Tuesday at Sariput Nagar in Aarey, an official said on Monday. The Metro line 3, which will be a 33.5 km underground route, will connect south Mumbai with the western suburbs.Also Read - Mumbai's First Underground Metro-3 Line Trials Successfully Commence. 5 PointsThe trial run will mark an important development in the realisation of the Metro track shrouded in controversy. The event will be attended by Maharashtra Chief minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis. Also Read - Mumbai: Residents Protest Against Building of Aarey Metro Car Shed in Forest; Aaditya Thackeray Joins inThe construction of Metro car shed at Aarey, a forested land adjoining the Sanjay Gandhi National Park was one of the first decisions reversed by the Shinde-Fadnavis government. Also Read - Technical Glitch Hits Services on Newly-inaugurated Metro Line in MumbaiLast month, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had fervently appealed to the new government “not to stab Mumbai in its heart” by going ahead with the construction of the car shed at Aarey.
A ‘controversial’ real estate developer, Ajay Ashar, known to be one of the closest aides of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and works for him behind the curtains, was appointed as the vice-president of the state planning body MITRA (Maharashtra Institution for Transformation).Ashar has been working with Shinde for more than a decade now. Known in the inner circles of Maharashtra’s power corridors for working alongside Shinde, Ashar was never in the public eye until his appointment in a government body.In October 2022, the Maharashtra state cabinet cleared the decision to form MITRA on the lines of NITI Aayog with the aim to achieve rapid and comprehensive development of the state through the participation of private sector and non-governmental organisations.During the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Ashar was reportedly on the radar of the central probe agencies but he was neither named in any scam nor was he called for any probe by any agencies. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya in 2020 had even tweeted Ashar’s name terming him as a partner of then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Somaiya did not answer the phone call when contacted for a comment.The state government also appointed former Shiv Sena MLA from Kolhapur Rajesh Kshirsagar, who has switched sides to join hands with Shinde after the split in the party, as the second vice-president of MITRA.Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant questioned the appointment of Ashar reminding how the BJP, when in Opposition, had targeted certain builders, including Ashar. “When in Opposition, MVA was accused of waiving off premium on certain real estate projects for benefitting a few builders. Now, those builders are being given responsibilities of planning for Maharashtra. Moreover, how fair it is to hand over planning of the state into the hands of a builder?” he said.Meanwhile, Ashar was unavailable for a comment.
The Maharashtra government has decided to provide 12 hours of uninterrupted electricity to farmers for agricultural pumps in five districts in the Vidarbha region, officials said. The demand for increased electricity for agricultural pumps came from paddy-growing districts such as Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Gondia and Nagpur. Farmers cultivating paddy were facing hardships due to the short supply of electricity.Senior BJP minister for forests Sudhir Mungantiwar, who hails from Chandrapur, raised the issue with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis two days ago. During the discussions, Mungantiwar apprised the two leaders of the problems faced by paddy farmers in the five Vidarbha districts. Reduced power supply meant that farmers in these districts were forced to do farming activities during the night when the electricity supply was more steady. However, it also made them prone to attacks from animals, officials added. After considering the farmers’ plight, the state government directed the energy department to increase supply from eight hours to 12 hours to farmers using agriculture pumps in five eastern Vidarbha districts. In its order, the government has also stated that instead of night, farmers should be provided electricity during the day.
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.