The Indian Express | 6 days ago | 05-08-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) on Friday told the Supreme Court that no trees have been cut in Mumbai’s Aarey colony after October 2019.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for MMRCL, told a bench headed by Justice U U Lalit that he had made a statement before the apex court in 2019 that no further cutting of trees will be done for a metro car shed in Aarey colony and after that, no trees have been cut there. “There is a statement which I had made that there will not be any further cutting of trees and I have filed an affidavit today that thereafter, there has never been any cutting of trees,” Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and S R Bhat.The top court was hearing an application that alleged that authorities have resumed cutting down trees in the Aarey colony.Mehta said some bushes were there on the ground which have been cleared and some branches were trimmed so that vehicles could pass on an approach road there.“That trimming took place. That is what I have said on the affidavit. No tree cutting is going on,” he said.While taking the affidavit on record, the bench said pending further consideration, no specific interim directions are called for in view of the stand taken in the affidavit filed on behalf of the corporation.“Suffice it to say that as stated by the concerned respondent, no further trees have been cut since the order dated October 7, 2019, and shall not be cut in any manner till the next date of hearing,” the bench said while posting the matter for hearing on August 10.The apex court in 2019 had taken suo motu cognisance of a letter petition addressed to the then Chief Justice of India by a law student seeking a stay on the felling of trees in the Aarey colony.The top court had restrained the authorities from cutting any more trees in the Aarey colony after the solicitor general had submitted on behalf of the state of Maharashtra that no further trees will be cut.The felling of trees in the colony has been opposed by green activists and residents.During the hearing on Friday, the counsel appearing for the applicant said some interim protection was required in the matter.He referred to the facts of the matter and said a statement was made earlier by the solicitor general before the court that no trees will be cut there.The counsel said the Maharashtra government has now decided to have the metro shed at Aarey.The bench observed that a hearing in the matter pending in the apex court was required and it can say that the status quo as of today be maintained till the matter is heard.When Mehta referred to the affidavit and said there has never been any cutting of trees after he had made the statement before the court in October 2019, the bench observed it would go by his statement that not a single tree will be cut till the matter is disposed of.The solicitor general said he would be able to clarify the issue which is being wrongly projected before the court.He said during the period when the project remained dormant, some weeds and bushes had grown on the ground which was cleared.“There is an approach road. In the approach road, there were some branches which required trimming, no cutting of trees, so that vehicles can pass,” he said, adding if the court would like further details, he would take instructions.Mehta said inaccurate statements coming from the public interest litigants leave a “bad taste” in the mouth.The bench observed that there are certain advantages of having public interest litigation (PIL) and the court would deal with the facts.During the hearing, Justice Lalit pointed out that when he was a lawyer, he had assisted the top court as an amicus curiae in the T N Godavarman Thirumulpad matter, which relates to the conservation of forests.“No. I don’t see any conflict of interest,” Mehta said when Justice Lalit asked him about this.The Bombay High Court in October 2019 refused to declare Aarey Colony a forest and declined to quash the Mumbai municipal corporation’s decision to allow the felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra has been relegated to the third position in the country's cadaver organ donation map with neighbouring Gujarat climbing to the second spot, helped by an aggressive programme driven by the public sector. While the state has a little over four months to reclaim its place, chances of toppling Gujarat, or the current leader in donations, Telangana, seem bleak at the current pace. In the eight months of 2022, Maharashtra has seen only 52 cadaver donations, most of which came from Pune (24), followed by Mumbai (22). Nagpur and Aurangabad contributed five and one, respectively. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, Maharashtra had carried out the highest donations in India-160 in 2019-raising hopes that the deceased donor programme had finally broken its inertia. Donations dropped to 74 in 2020 and improved marginally to 95 in 2021. Officials said the pre-pandemic momentum is still lacking. Yet, there is no plan of action. Telangana this year has already seen more than double the number of Maharashtra's donations at 119. In both the pandemic years, Telangana outperformed Maharashtra. It is, however, Gujarat that has made everyone take note. Since January, that state has carried out 98 donations, a remarkable rise from 70 in the entire 2021 and a nearly three-fold rise compared to 36 in 2020. Dr SK Mathur, president of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC), said the programme in Maharashtra has slowed in most private hospitals while it is yet to become a priority for public centres. "The fear of Covid is diminishing, and people are returning to hospitals, so the donations too should get the push," he said. The ZTCC has asked hospitals to capitalise on Independence Day and collect pledges from patients, relatives, and their own staffers. In Mumbai, more than 3,000 people are on the waitlist for kidneys and over 300 for a liver. InMaharashtra, the number grows every day. Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator of ZTCC Pune, said they have roped in an agency to boost social media campaigns so that younger people are aware and can influence the seniors regarding donating. Last year, former health minister Rajesh Tope formed a task force to increase donations. Dr Mathur, a part of the task force, said they have started meeting intensivists and student doctors at medical colleges. They are also trying to influence public hospitals. Gujarat has mainly shown what the participation of a public hospital could achieve. The Civic Hospital in Ahmedabad contributed 68 of the 98 donations this year, catapulting that state to the second position in India.
MUMBAI/AURANGABAD/NASHIK: Their targets were two steel bar manufacturing units suspected of concealing unaccounted wealth of over Rs 100 crore. Their destination was Jalna in Marathwada region. Their plan was to enter the town undetected and launch a surprise search operation. The over 200-strong contingent of income tax officers and staff stole into town dressed as members of a wedding procession. They even travelled in vehicles decked up to look like a wealthy groom was bringing his extended family along. 'Rahul weds Anjali' and 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' (we'll whisk the bride away) read the messages emblazoned on their cars. When they finally got there, they seized cash totalling Rs 56 crore and bullion and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore. Vijay V Singh, Mohammed Akhef & Tushar Pawar report, I-T seizes cash, gold worth Rs 70 crore in Jalna, Mumbai & AurangabadThe income tax (I-T) department has seized unaccounted cash of Rs 56 crore and bullion and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore, besides finding evidence of unaccounted excess stock of raw materials exceeding Rs120 crore during a search at two TMT steel manufacturing groups in Jalna on August 3. The search operation covered more than 30 premises spread over Jalna, Aurangabad, Nashik and Mumbai, according to an official release from the ministry of finance on Thursday. A Nashik I-T official, who did not wish to be named, told TOI, "The searches, over five days, were led by the detection and investigation wing of the I-T's Nashik office and involved over 200 sleuths from Nashik, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Mumbai." "The department maintained secrecy in the run-up to the searches," said another I-T official from Aurangabad. "A convoy of over 100 vehicles were involved in the searches at Jalna and Aurangabad in the early morning of August 3; all reached simultaneously. In fact, before entering Jalna and Aurangabad, stickers were put on the cars of the search parties which read 'Rahul weds Anjali' and 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' (we'll whisk the bride away) to make them look like a marriage procession," the official said. "Some of the search party members even sported the traditional pheta (turban) worn at marriage ceremonies. The search parties were carrying doctors with them. Once the searches started, no one was allowed to move in or out of the factories, residences, offices and farmhouse premises that were searched. In fact, there were 70 trucks at the manufacturing units in Jalna which were loading or unloading consignments and all this activity was stopped till the search process was over," the official added. "The initial analysis of seized evidences of both the groups has revealed that they were engaged in large scale tax evasion, resorting to inflation of expenditure through bogus purchases from several entities," the release stated. "These entities have also been found to be involved in GST frauds. Evidence has also been found of excess stock of raw materials, not recorded in the books of account, exceeding Rs120 crore," the release added. "Examination of evidences in one of the groups further reveals that it has indulged in layering its unaccounted income through bogus unsecured loans and share premium, obtained from Kolkata-based shell companies," the release said. "The search team has also detected a large number of lockers of both the groups, opened in the names of employees of the companies, which are maintained with a cooperative bank. During the search operation, more than 30 bank lockers, including several lockers in the cooperative bank, were searched," the release added.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is setting up nine mini waste-to-energy or biomethanisation plants with the capacity to process two metric tonnes (MT) of organic waste per day. These will be located across Mumbai with the aim to help reduce wet waste going to the Deonar and Kanjurmarg dumping grounds.At present, Mumbai sends about 6,500 MT of waste to the two dumping grounds, and has been planning decentralised waste management and segregation at each ward.There are three operational mini waste-to-energy plants, one each at Pali Hill and Haji Ali with a capacity to handle two MT of organic waste per day, and one at Malad with a capacity to take 30 MT of organic waste per day.Meanwhile, each of the nine plants will require about 2,200 sqft of land, and 500 litres of water per day for operation. Waste will be segregated by the civic body and organic wet waste will be sent to the biomethanisation plants. Plastic and paper waste will not be recycled at the plant.A senior civic official from the solid waste management department said, “Wards have been directed to find suitable plots in their jurisdiction to set up the nine biomethanisation plants.”The electricity generated from each plant will be used in the nearest BMC building. BMC has estimated net electricity production of 30 to 50 units per day, after basic consumption demand is met. The leftover will be settled with the electricity provider for metering. Approximately 300kg of manure will be produced per day, and will be used in municipal gardens and plantations across the city.BMC recently floated tenders to set up the biomethanisation plants, which include contracts for operation and maintenance for a period of five years after construction is completed.With the aim of scientific closure of the Mulund dumping ground, 500 MT of waste is biomined every day there. Of the 70 lakh MT of waste at the dumping ground, biomining has been completed for 10 lakh MT, according to data from BMC’s solid waste management department. The senior civic official quoted above said, “After monsoon, BMC will procure new machinary which will increase the daily biomining capacity at Mulund.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxMeanwhile, after half a decade of waiting, construction of BMC’s 600 MT waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground will begin after monsoon, as work orders have already been issued to the contractor. On June 4, BMC received the consent order from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, enabling it to begin work.In May this year, BMC set up a committee to assess the need for a second waste-to-energy plant at Deonar dumping ground, as it is expecting the quantity of waste generated daily to reduce gradually with interventions. On the basis of this committee’s report, the BMC will decide on the capacity of the second waste-to-energy plant at the dumping ground.
Shiv Sena’s unilateral decision to appoint Ambadas Danve as the leader of Opposition of the state Legislative Council has created fissures within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance. So much so that a delegation of NCP, led by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ajit Pawar, met Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night to advise him to consult allies before taking any such major decision.Congress has openly expressed its displeasure over the action of the Sena leadership, with party state president Nana Patole saying on Thursday that the alliance with the Sena was never “natural” and “permanent”.“The post of Leader of Opposition in state Assembly is with the NCP and deputy chairperson’s post is with Shiv Sena. We were of the opinion that the leader of Opposition post in the Legislative Council should be given to Congress. But Shiv Sena did not even consult us and went ahead without taking us into confidence. We oppose this,” Patole told mediapersons in Aurangabad.“The alliance with the Sena was never natural and it was done because Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar met our leader Sonia Gandhi,” he added.“Maha Vikas Aghadi is a not permanent one. If Congress is not taken into confidence during the decision-making process, then we will also have to think over it,” Patole said.On Wednesday night, the NCP delegation met Thackeray at the latter’s residence Matoshree in Mumbai. “We hadn’t met him (Thackeray) after he stepped down from the CM’s post. Many issues, including some political ones, were discussed,” NCP state president Jayant Patil told mediapersons.Asked about Congress’ position about Danve’s selection as leader of Opposition, Patil said the MVA stands united and a meeting will be held with Patole once he returns to Mumbai.According to sources, Congress and NCP are wary about more defections from the Sena and especially, from the state Council. As per the number strength in the Legislative Council, Opposition Sena has 12 members while NCP and Congress have 10 each.“Though Uddhav Thackeray has announced that he will resign from the Council, his resignation is yet to be submitted. It ensures that Sena remains the biggest Opposition party in the Council,” a source said. However, three Sena MLCs have reportedly shifted their allegiance to the Shinde camp and are likely to join the faction soon, sources added.“In that case, the Congress will get the leader of Opposition’s post. We wanted to discuss all of this and then decide on the name. But Sena went ahead without taking us into confidence,” said a Congress leader.On August 8, Thackeray had sent a letter addressed to the chairman of the Legislative Council, recommending Danve’s name as the leader of Opposition. Since the post is vacant, it was accepted by Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe – a Sena leader and Thackeray loyalist. The next day, Danve’s appointment was confirmed.Incidentally, Congress Legislative Party leader Balasaheb Thorat had written to the chairman of the Legislative Council on August 3 staking claim on the post.The Thackeray-led Shiv Sena, however, tried to downplay Patole’s statement. “We don’t take Nana Patole’s statement seriously but it is unfortunate that he made such a critical juncture,” Sena MP Vinayak Raut told The Indian Express.“Congress should understand that whoever has more numbers, gets the opportunity to have its MLC as the leader of Opposition in the Council. The Shiv Sena has the highest number of MLCs and therefore, it was natural that our MLC would become the leader of Opposition,” he added.Raut said the statement by the Congress chief has come at a wrong time. “At a time when we are going through a difficult phase, we expect our allies to extend support to us and not speak at cross purposes,” he added.Another Sena leader said, “When Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena is struggling to stay afloat, the Maharashtra Congress has rubbed salt into its wound… the Congress is trying to weaken it further. This was not expected especially when the BJP has made all out efforts to force Uddhav Thackeray to dump the MVA, which he has refused.”Asked whether the Congress was trying to break the MVA, Congress spokesperson Atul Londhe said, “We are merely objecting to the denial of post to the Congress. The NCP holds the Opposition leader’s post in the Assembly. The Shiv Sena holds the deputy leader’s post in the Council. Therefore, the Congress should have been given one post, as we were equal partners in MVA.”Meanwhile, reacting to Patole’s statement, Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson for Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, said: “This exactly is what we have been saying. Shiv Sena’s alliance with Congress and NCP was not natural. We hope Patole’s statement will help reunite the two groups.”(With inputs from ENS)
They left for Nashik in around 120 vehicles from Mumbai on August 3, taking care to leave separately. All the vehicles were decked up. Some carried boards declaring “dulhan hum le jayenge”. Others had posters saying “Rahul weds Anjali”.One would be forgiven for assuming that this was your usual bridegroom baarat making its way to a wedding of a familiar-sounding couple.It was anything but.The around 250 travellers were Income Tax and Nashik police officers, disguised as baraatis, and on their radar were two major manufacturers of steel TMT bars, suspected of evading tax.Once they entered Nashik, they conducted raids at the premises, warehouses and farmhouses, related to the two businessmen. It took them over 11 hours to count the money seized at a local SBI branch, said an officer.Besides Nashik, the department also raided properties linked to the two businessmen in Aurangabad, Jalna and Mumbai between August 3 and 9, it said in a statement.The elaborate ruse was worth it. In all, the officers ended up seizing Rs 56 crore in unaccounted cash as well as gold and jewellery worth Rs 14 crore, along with incriminating documents, the statement said.According to the I-T Department, the two businessmen evaded tax of over Rs 120 crore. The stash of cash and jewellery was kept in more than 30 accounts of a cooperative bank and inside an undisclosed chamber of a farmhouse.The I-T department statement said: “The Income-Tax Department carried out a search operation on 03.08.2022 on two major groups engaged in the manufacturing of steel TMT Bars. The search operation covered more than 30 premises spread over Jalna, Aurangabad, Nashik and Mumbai. During the search operation, several incriminating evidences have been found and seized.”“The initial analysis of seized evidences of both the groups has revealed that they were engaged in large scale tax evasion, resorting to inflation of expenditure through bogus purchases from several entities. These entities have also been found to be involved in GST frauds. Evidence has also been found of excess stock of raw materials, not recorded in the books of account, exceeding Rs 120 crore.”An officer said on examination of evidence related to one of the businessmen, it was further revealed that the group has indulged in layering its unaccounted income through bogus unsecured loans and share premium, obtained from Kolkata-based shell companies.“The search team has also detected a large number of lockers of both the groups, opened in the names of employees of the companies, which were maintained with a co-operative bank. During the raid, over 30 bank lockers, including several lockers in the co-operative bank, were searched. Huge unaccounted cash and gold jewellery have been seized from these lockers,” the officer added.Furthermore, a substantial amount of unaccounted cash has been seized from a secret room located on the farm house belonging to one of the groups.