The three-day mammoth exercise to carry out “sanitisation” of the sprawling Dera Sacha Sauda sect headquarters premises here ended on Sunday evening, officials said.Security forces and various government departments had launched a coordinated effort to carry out the exercise on September 8.“Various teams engaged in this operation have submitted their report to the court commissioner, who will now submit his report to the Punjab and Haryana High Court,” an official said.A member of the State body of the Dera had been arrested for allegedly inciting violence on August 25 in Panchkula. Meanwhile, efforts continued to trace Dera chief’s adopted daughter Honeypreet Insan, against whom a lookout notice was issued earlier.Meanwhile, efforts continued to trace the Dera chief’s adopted daughter Honeypreet Insan, against whom a lookout notice was issued earlier.Searh on for functionaryPanchkula Police Commissioner A.S. Chawla said the police were also looking for another key functionary Aditya Insan.“We are at the job and hopeful of nabbing them soon,” he said. “We are conducting raids at various places and our teams have gone to different areas to trace them.” Mr. Chawla said the police needs to question Honeypreet regarding the disclosures made by some of the arrested persons.
Uttar Pradesh has already given India its first woman Governor and Chief Minister but Lucknow is set to make history on Sunday by electing its first woman Mayor in 100 years.A woman has never before been elected as head of the municipal body after the Uttar Pradesh Municipalities Act came into existence. This time, however, the Lucknow mayoral seat has been reserved for women, hence all parties have fielded women candidates.The Samajwadi Party has selected Meera Vardhan, kin of educationist Acharya Narendra Dev and the Congress has pitched Prema Awasthi, wife of the former Congress legislator Surendra Nath.Freedom fighters Sarojini Naidu and Sucheta Kriplani were the country’s first female Govenor and Chief Minister respectively.Naidu, popularly known as the ‘Nightingale of India’, was the Governor of the United Provinces, now known as Uttar Pradesh, from 1947 to 1949. She was born in a Bengali family on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad and was educated in Chennai, London and Cambridge.Naidu was a follower of Mahatama Gandhi and participated in the freedom struggle. She, later, went on to become the president of the Indian National Congress. A poet of modern India, she wrote a collection, comprising children’s poems, nature poems, patriotic poems and poems of love and death.Kriplani, who held the Chief Minister’s office from 1963 to 1967, had come to the forefront during the Quit India Movement in 1942. She worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi during the Partition riots. She was one of the few women who were elected to the Constituent Assembly and was part of the sub-committee that drafted the Constitution.The civic polls will be held in the state capital tomorrow in the second leg of the three-phase municipal elections across Uttar Pradesh.Lucknow has thrice sent a woman to the Lok Sabha as its representative with Sheila Kaul being elected in 1971, 1980 and 1984.
The 15th Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) will begin on January 28 at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai. The week-long festival of documentaries, short fiction and animation films from across the world will conclude on February 3.Films from 32 countriesThe oldest and largest film festival for non-feature films in South Asia, MIFF began in 1990 and is organised by the Films Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B). The festival directorate has received a record 790 entries, with 194 entries from 32 countries in the international competition and 596 entries in the national competition. Prize money doubledThe prize money has been doubled for the Golden Conch Award for the best documentary in the international competition to ₹10 lakh. FICCI is planning a business platform to help documentary film makers find funding and screening venues. The proposal is in initial stages.The V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award for promotion of documentary movement in India will be conferred upon an eminent documentary film maker chosen by an independent jury. The award money has also been doubled from to ₹10 lakh. Altogether, cash awards of ₹58 lakh will be given away during MIFF 2018. People’s festivalThe delegate fee has been kept at a modest ₹100, and there will be no entry fee for students, a press release by the Press Information Bureau said on Sunday.
Congress on Tuesday won the majority of seats in the by-elections to Zila Parishads, Panchayat Samitis and municipal wards in Rajasthan. Congress won all the four Zila Parishad seats, 16 of the 27 seats in Panchayat Samitis and seven of the 13 municipal wards. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won in 10 Panchayat Samiti wards, while one seat went to an independent candidate. The BJP candidates were elected in six municipal wards. The Zila Parishad seats and local body wards, for which by-elections were held last week, are situated in 26 districts of the State.The seats in various rural and urban local bodies had fallen vacant in Udaipur, Bhilwara, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Banswara, Dausa, Sriganganagar, Pratapgarh, Nagaur, Baran and other districts. Congress candidate Rajendra Patidar won by a margin of 3,178 votes for the Zila Parishad seat in Banswara.Jubilant over the party’s victory in the by-polls, Pradesh Congress president Sachin Pilot said the BJP’s days were “numbered” in Rajasthan and its countdown had begun. “The Congress gave a tough fight to BJP in Gujarat. The Rajasthan government has completely neglected the people in both rural and urban areas during the last four years,” he said.Mr. Pilot said the by-poll results in the State, coming just after the Gujarat Assembly election results, were “very encouraging” for Congress, as the local bodies which went to polls were geographically situated all over Rajasthan. “The results have depicted people’s disenchantment with the BJP and a renewed faith in Congress,” he said, adding that his party would win in the upcoming by-elections to two Lok Sabha and one Assembly seats as well.
One more youth quit militancy on Friday to resume the normal life in Kashmir valley, according to the police.“Another young boy responding to the appeals of crying mother returned to the fold of family leaving path of violence in the valley. I wish the family happy re- union.” Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) S.P. Vaid.The police have refused to identify the youth for “security concerns.” Over 70 youth rejoined the mainstream and quit militancy in the past one year in Kashmir valley.Mehbooba outlines govt. initiativesNotably, last month, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in a written reply to a question of BJP MLC Vikram Randhawa, said: “four misguided youths shunned the path of violence and returned to the mainstream. Efforts are being made to counsel the families of militants to convince their wards to give up violence.”The government had taken a number of steps to contain radicalisation and extremism, and undertaken youth engagement activities, such as cricket tournaments. Youth clubs had been set up at the police station-level to train them in information technology and indoor games, she said.She also mentioned about the surveillance on social media, which had been enhanced as the Internet plays a major role in radicalisation of youth.(With PTI inputs)
Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been put on a high alert following reports of large scale infiltration of militants in the Valley from across the Line of Control, officials said here on Friday.Militants fired upon a CRPF vehicle in Pulwama on Friday morning. A police official there were no injuries in the attack. The CRPF vehicle of 183 Battalion came under fire at Eidgah crossing in Pulwama town. SSP Pulwama Mohd. Asalam Chaudhary said, “Soon after this incident, whole area has been cordoned off.” There are reports of infiltration of over 20 militants into Kashmir from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) recently, the officials said. They said most of the militants are believed to be affiliated to Jaish-e-Mohammad outfit headed by Maulana Masood Azhar.The security grid is apprehending a spike in militant attacks in the state, particularly in the Valley, the officials added. The security forces have been asked to remain on a high alert and maintain vigil around sensitive security installations across the State, they said.The officials said it is rare for such a large number of militants to infiltrate in one go and indicated the desperation of their handlers across the LoC to keep the Kashmir pot boiling.
A 4.5-magnitude earthquake hit the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh on Friday afternoon, the National Centre for Seismology (NCS) said. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The NCS, which works under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said the quake was reported at 12.45 pm at a depth of 33 km.
As the near-century-old party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, battles internal crisis after its senior/old (Taksali) leaders recently revolted against party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal has defended his son, saying Mr. Sukhbir had offered to resign after the party’s defeat in the 2017 Assembly polls. Excerpts:The Shiromani Akali Dal has seen a revolt by a few senior leaders, who allege that the party has been “hijacked” by the “Badal family” and its ideology compromised. How do you react?I have always held them [Taksali leaders] in high esteem and still do. As for their complaints, I really don’t know what they mean by the “Badal family” because they still publicly declare that they want me to head the party, and I am the head of the Badal family. As for Mr. Sukhbir, they elected him as the party president, he was not appointed by me. In fact, his name was proposed by Jathedar Ranjit Singh Brahampura, the leader of the breakaway faction. So what can I say?The Akali Dal senior leadership, including you, your son Sukhbir and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, recently sought atonement for “mistakes that might have been committed during your (SAD-BJP) rule” at the Akal Takht. What were these mistakes?In Sikh religion, which guides the philosophy of the SAD, the relationship between the Guru and the Sikh is a direct one. When we atoned for our “mistakes”, we atoned for all the mistakes which the ‘Sangat’ (the people) may have deemed us guilty of. In our religion, the ‘Sangat’ enjoys the status of the Guru. In fact, even superior. Do you regret the handling of issues such as the pardon granted to Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a blasphemy case and the Kotkapura-Behbal Kalan police firing incidents of 2015, which followed the Bargari sacrilege?That issue was handled by the honourable Jathedar Sahib of Sri Akal Takht Sahib. No Sikh who believes in the tenets of his religion can comment on the decisions taken by the Takht Sahib.Do you think the revolt in the party could have been averted had Mr. Sukhbir resigned? At the first meeting of the party after the defeat in the 2017 Assembly elections, Mr. Sukhbir had not only offered his resignation but also insisted that it should be accepted and someone else should lead the party. I did not intervene at all. These same leaders had rejected his resignation offer then. Nothing has changed since then. They know how a president is appointed or changed and they are free to follow that course.How do you assess the current Congress government’s work in Punjab so far?You can ask the people. Have they fulfilled any of the promises they made? Have they even discharged the basic duty of a government? This government is not only a failure, in fact this government simply does not exist. People don’t know where to go to get their grievances redressed. The Chief Minister is unavailable even to his own partymen. So what should I say? You make your own independent assessment and tell me if I am wrong. I will correct myself.What’s your reaction to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s stand on the Kartarpur Sahib corridor regarding security concerns while dealing with Pakistan?He [Capt. Amarinder Singh] must not do anything that sabotages this achievement. Unfortunately, his stand is ‘neither here nor there’. And this is dictated by his intra-party insecurities. He should take the lead as he is the Chief Minister. At the moment, it does not appear that he is honest about implementing the corridor. The Government of India has taken the initiative and that has forced Pakistan to respond. Captain Sahib should ignore immature people in his party and his Cabinet who credit Pakistan for this achievement. He should implement the corridor as India’s achievement. Unfortunately, he looks so confused. I hope he clears his thoughts on the issue.You are in alliance with the BJP, but the Akali Dal has said that it would contest the Parliamentary/State Assembly elections in Haryana independently. Is it ethical to have a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, a ministerial berth in the Union Government and then fighting against the same party in other State/States?In Punjab, our alliance is not a political one. It is a guarantee for social and communal harmony. In other States and at the Centre, we follow a common minimum programme. The alliance in Punjab was a historical necessity considering the challenges to Hindu-Sikh unity and harmony. I think we served and are serving a great cause.What is your advice to the BJP, after the results of the Assembly elections held in five States recently?Ups and downs happen in life. I am sure there are much wiser people in the BJP than me to find out what needs to be improved.
Goa Lokayukta Justice P.K. Mishra has recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into an alleged cartel of businessmen who might have rigged the tender in the procurement of nearly 50,000 tablet-PCs for distribution to school students in 2013, under the State’s flagship Cyberage Student Scheme.The Lokayukta submitted a report to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha and a copy to the State government. The main thrust of the report was a recommendation for further inquiries into the bidding process to ascertain if an alleged cartel had been formed during 2013-14, or the previous or subsequent years. The Lokayukta was looking into a complaint by a local activist Dr. Aashish Kamat, who alleged that the State exchequer had been defrauded by a cartel of businessmen who manipulated the tender issued by the State-owned Information Technology Corporation. The complaint also estimated a scam of ₹12.64 crore in the purchase of the tablet-PCs and a violation of Central Vigilance Commission guidelines. The Lokayukta, in his report, questioned the reluctance of the Anti-Corruption Branch of State Vigilance to probe the matter due to the “fear of old skeletons” falling out of cupboards. The body had dragged its feet over probing the possibility of a cartel for nearly two years.The report also termed the then Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma’s attitude as “lackadaisical”. The Lokayukta observed there was a proper compliance report wherever the Chief Minister was the competent authority but no satisfactory one has been received from any other authority, including the Chief Secretary.The Lokayukta also noted that with three constables at his disposal, he was unable to conduct any investigation of complaints.In 2013, the then Manohar Parrikar-led government allotted 47,000 free tablets to students from Class V and VI. The scheme was withdrawn in 2015 by the subsequent BJP-led government led by Laxmikant Parsekar.
Hot and humid weather has compounded the woes of the cyclone-affected people in Odisha, with the government facing a gigantic task of restoring power to houses in Puri and Khurdha districts battered by Fani.Despite massive efforts by the State government, total power restoration is likely to be completed in Bhubaneswar only by May 15. Around that time residents of Puri too may start getting power. The extremely severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ has damaged 75 high power transmission towers while 84,000 km low tension power lines have been found either broken or sagging. Over 11,000 distribution transformers were damaged.Massive damage “The power infrastructure has suffered massive damage. To bring it back to its earlier shape, it will take two months, but we are focusing on emergency restoration system, which will be completed in a fortnight,” State Energy Secretary Hemant Sharma told The Hindu here on Thursday.“The challenge is enormous. Two lakh electric poles have been damaged by the cyclone. Of the two lakh, one lakh will have to be replaced completely while another one lakh are repairable. The State had a stock of 80,000 poles in different districts while 20,000 poles were obtained from ongoing programmes,” said Mr. Sharma.“The Steel Authority of India Limited has made a commitment to provide 60,000 poles in phases while 30,000 poles have to be procured from different manufacturers in the State. There is a shortfall of about 10,000 which are part of lift irrigation points and that can be taken up at a later stage,” said the Energy Secretary.The State government has set up four temporary workshops at Puri to procure raw materials used in electrification. Another difficulty being faced in the restoration exercise is manpower crunch. “Ideally, 1,000 gangs (each consisting of 10 members) should have been deployed for restoring power. We have been able to deploy 500 gangs who have mostly come from outside Odisha,” he said. Contractors warned “There are 644 high tension licensee contractors in Odisha. Of them, only 100 have joined the cyclone restoration. We have issued warning that if they fail to join the force in 10 days, their licence would be cancelled,” he said. Requests were sent to West Bengal, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala to get a labour force of 2,700.By Thursday, 61,000 power consumers have been provided electricity which is about 32% of the total consumers. The Energy Secretary said the target was to restore power inside Bhubaneswar by May 12.Meanwhile, people are facing a tough time with the daytime temperature crossing 40 degree Celsius at several places.
During the First World War that started in 1914, 345 Indian soldiers were brought to Brighton, on the coast of southern England to recuperate during the war.Read it at Deccan Chronicle Related Items
Availability of a limited number of technology workers in the United States is forcing Indian IT firms to hoard employees and subcontractors, according to a media report.The Economic Times, citing the US Bureau of Labour Statistics’ data said that in September 2018 there was a massive gap in jobs and supply and only one out of four software jobs were being filled. Read it at Related Items
India is likely to float a proposal aimed at reforming the dispute settlement mechanism, rule-making and transparency requirements at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday. The proposal will be floated at the informal ministerial gathering at the ongoing World Economic Forum meeting in Davos. Read it at Economic Times Related Items
An Indian man in Dubai was slapped with molestation charges after a Filipino woman accused him of inappropriately touching her. The woman stated that the 30-year-old Indian man took her by surprise and inappropriately touched her and ran away from the scene right after, according to a report in Khaleej Times. The man, who works as a driver, denied all the charges at the Dubai court, saying that the touch happened by mistake. The 25-year-old waitress told the court that she did not know the man prior to the alleged incident. A case has been registered at the Bur Dubai police station. The court will announce a ruling on Oct. 11, the report added. “It was at 1.20 am on Aug. 3. I was near a restaurant and was about to go to a supermarket. My friend was with me. There were a group of five to six men who were coming in the opposite way. One of them groped me intentionally. I yelled at him, but he then replied in a very abusive and vulgar manner,” the publication quoted the woman as saying in the complaint. Further, the woman said that the man laughed after the incident and left, but “I followed them and kept screaming until an African man came and restrained the defendant,” the complaint added. The woman also said that she did not know what could have prompted the man to act in such a way as she had not provoked him in any way. Another woman who was accompanying the plaintiff said that the group of men accompanying the accused had nothing to do with the incident. Laws of sexual nature are punished with hefty fines or long-term imprisonment or even deportation in Dubai, the publication said. More than 80 percent of the UAE’s population is made up of foreigners. It is home to an estimated 2.8 million Indian emigrants, the largest expatriate community in the country, according to a previous PTI report. The country remained the most attractive destination for Indian workers in 2017, with 149,962 people getting jobs there, according to data released by the Ministry of External Affairs, Overseas Employment division earlier this year. Related ItemsDubaiUAE
Ronald Reagan left us a decade ago, when he wrote his letter to the American people that announced his entry into Alzheimer’s disease. “I now begin the journey,” he wrote, “that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”When he died last month, I almost forgot that he was still alive.The media reacted with frenzy: They treated Reagan as both a hero and an icon, as someone to admire and someone to worship. He earned a state funeral and funereal commentaries from the pundits. Republicans swarmed around his legacy, as Democrats silenced themselves from criticism. Reagan got a free pass to the by and by.I owe Reagan an enormous debt. He was no ordinary president for me. Reagan made an entire generation of people like me into straight-forward Leftists – we are the generation that fought against his policies in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Grenada, Lebanon, Libya, South Africa·We organized for sanctions on South Africa when apartheid reigned there: Reagan vetoed every effort, and he made scurrilous remarks about the good faith of the white supremacist leaders. During his speech in opposition to sanctions in 1986, Reagan referred to South Africa continually as South America. South African Bishop Tutu reacted to the speech with this, “Your President is the pits as far as blacks are concerned. I found the speech nauseating.” Reagan financed the illegal war in Nicaragua through arms sales to Iran, and while hearings convulsed Washington they did not touch Reagan. In 1987, he called the Iran-Contra deal a “mistake,” and yet Congress did not move to impeach him for the illegal actions on his watch. Nor did it much affect those around him: Oliver North is now a well-paid media commentator and John Negroponte (famous cover-man for the Honduran death squads) will be the first US Ambassador in “Liberated” Iraq.When the Lebanese fighters humiliated the U.S. marines in Beirut, Reagan scripted a “wag the dog” scenario: to divert attention, he quickly invaded Grenada. The excuse: he had to save some American medical students, but the bursar of the school in Grenada Gary Solin told the press on the day of the invasion, “Our safety was never in danger. We were used by this government as an excuse to invade Grenada.”Reagan made me who I am, an unabashed leftist: for that thanks.But that’s not my only debt. I owe him more.I, like many desis, am grateful to him for his 1986 immigration act that allowed many of us to gain green cards through the amnesty provision.But, his gift came at a costly price. That same legislation had an innocuous section called “employer verification” that allowed the state to prosecute any employer who had an “illegal immigrant” on the payroll. In 1990 the General Accounting Office released a study that showed us what this section had produced.Many Latinos and Asians, including desis, began to have a hard time finding employment in the waged work sector because employers were chary of hiring those without papers. It is not that these Latinos and Asians had no papers, just that run of the mill racism meant that those of us who looked like forever immigrants also looked like illegal ones, so many employers chose not to hire us for fear of being fined or shut-down.In addition, Reagan’s immigrant act was designed cleverly to undercut the labor movement. In the first few months of his presidency, Reagan went after the air traffic controllers’ union, PATCO, the only one incidentally that had supported him during the presidential campaign against Jimmy Carter. The salvo against labor was part of Reagan’s general policy on behalf of the upward distribution of wealth: he worked for the rich, to benefit them and to screw the working people. The immigrant act brought in people who worked in a sector of the economy that was once heavily unionized: construction work, hotel work, small manufacturing work, etc. Now with this enlarged labor pool and with weak rules for unionization, employers who did overcome their racism and hire these new immigrants could forgo the power of unions, pay low wages with few benefits and make enormous profits.Reagan’s policy pitted immigrants against other workers, and created the framework for the massive anti-Asian backlash of the 1980s: the 1987 Dotbusters formed in New Jersey to harass and attack desis are part of a nation-wide anti-immigrant wave. By the way, it is rather sick that the Organization of Chinese Americans decided to commemorate the death of Reagan with a sickly tribute press release – what about Vincent Chin, killed in 1982 as part of the early wave of anti-immigrant hysteria set off by Reagan’s “war” on Japanese products, and the many others who suffered mightily from the anti-immigrant sentiment exacerbated by the 1986 act.My television only plays PBS and Bollywood videos. It refuses to participate in the pabulum that passes for “news.” I’d rather get that from the web, from newspapers and magazines or else from the telephone updates that my mother in Kolkata gives me. I only read about what an old friend called the “sycophantic homage” to Reagan. Even in the Reagan years I found television hard to watch, partly because Reagan’s myth machine had already made “news” unbearable. During the Reagan years, the news media began to slavishly follow the dictates of the White House and write more about the “feeling” of the president than his policies.Reagan’s legacy is not only the toxic world that we live in, or the lefties that he helped produce, but the noxious myth-culture that he has given us. Our current president thrives on it. For Bush, like Reagan, image is everything, and truth is overrated. No wonder the Bush camp wanted to celebrate Reagan so: he allowed them to relive the image and to obscure the truth, which is that these are murderers and plutocrats whose “morning in America” is our mourning for America. Related Items
A day after a Shetkari Sanghatana (SS) leader in Akola district of Maharashtra planted illegal Genetically Modified (GM) seeds, the officers from Agriculture Department on Tuesday searched his house and collected the seed samples to be sent to the testing. Hundreds of farmers on Monday had joined in what they termed as the ‘civil disobedience’ movement, to protest central government’s indecisiveness in approving the next generation of GM cotton, as farmer leader Lalit Patil-Bahale sowed seeds of the illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton and Bt Brinjal, in his field in Akoli Jahangir in Akola’s Akot tehsil.The open defiance of law was organised by SS, a farmers’ organisation which has been an advocate of open market in the field of agriculture.“Today, the officials from the Agriculture department visited my house and seized samples of seeds which were sown yesterday. I had openly announced that we will be breaking the law and was ready for any type of repercussions,” said Mr Patil-Bahale.He said that the officials told him that samples will be sent for tests to determine whether it was really a banned HTBt cotton seed. “If they had decided to wait to test on cotton crop, then they would have had to wait for two months. It seems they were in a hurry,” he said. Akola district collector Jitendra Papalkar told The Hindu that the farmers’ body has committed an illegal act. “We have sent a team of agriculture officers and will be seeking the report from them, following which necessary action would be taken,” he said.Breaking law by planting unapproved GM seed may attract imprisonment of up to five years and monetary fine worth ₹1 lakh.The anti-GM crop activists too had termed the action by SS as one similar to bio-terrorism, risking the lives of future generations.
Maharashtra’s economy grew at an estimated 7.5% in 2018-19, the same pace as the year before it, but growth in the agricultural sector collapsed to a mere 0.4% and crop output shrank by a sharp 8%.With industrial growth also contracting, it was only a sharp 9.2% growth in the Services sector that helped the State retain the 7.5% growth rate, as per the Economic Survey tabled in the Assembly on Monday.The agriculture and allied activities sector is expected to grow by 0.4% compared to 3.1% in 2017-18 while industry may grow by 6.9% compared to 7.6 % in the previous fiscal. Only the services sector is predicted to grow faster than the 8.1% recorded in 2017-18. What should set off alarm bells about the State’s agrarian economy is the 8% contraction in crop production during the year gone by. “The State is facing consecutive droughts. The drop in crop production is a result of that. Despite that, we have managed to keep the overall growth rate at more than that of the Indian economy,” said Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. “We are expected to maintain the pace of the growth despite odds,” he said, adding that the real Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is estimated to be ₹20,88,835 crore with expected growth of 7.5%. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has set a target to make Maharashtra a trillion dollar economy by 2025. Maharashtra is presently a $400 billion economy.The Opposition has raised doubts about the numbers quoted in the survey, and demanded a close scrutiny. Former chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan flagged some doubts on the authenticity of figures and said the agricultural growth rate had been revised by almost 12%. “As per the Economic Survey of 2017-18, the estimated agriculture development rate was (-) 8.3%. In the present survey, it has been revised to 3.4%. It is impossible to have such a big change of almost 12%. The government should show proof of such drastic changes,” he said. Dhananjay Munde, the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council said there was a need to set up an “all-party members’ committee” for evaluation of the Economic Survey.According to the survey, the State witnessed average rainfall (84.3% of the normal) in 2017-18, 10.7 percentage points lower than 2016-17. Production of food grain, oilseeds and cotton decreased by about 15.1%, 17.7% and 43.3% respectively while that of sugarcane, fruits and vegetables increased by 53.3%, 10.3% and 17% respectively. The survey estimates the growth rate of mining & quarrying and manufacturing sectors within the industry as 2.9% and 7.1% for 2018-19, up from 7.2% and 7.7% in 2017-18. Mr. Mungantiwar said that the State has registered growth in per capita income during 2018-19 at ₹1,91,827 from ₹1,76,102 of 2017-18. The State however, ranks at number three behind Karnataka and Telangana nationally.
The Haryana government on Saturday announced it will give House Rent Allowance (HRA) to State employees as per the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission.Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the revised HRA would be implemented with effect from August 1, 2019, which he claimed would benefit about 3.5 lakh employees.Ex gratia policyThe CM also announced the revival of the ex gratia policy that had been discontinued since 1996. “The new policy will be implemented with effect from August 1, 2019. The deceased employees, whose age is 52 years or less or has completed more than five years of service before this, will be covered under this scheme,” he said.Mr. Khattar said facility of six months maternity leave will also be given to those women employees who are engaged under the outsourcing policy of the State government. “The financial burden on the contractor on account of this facility would be borne by the State government,” he said.The CM said that the government had also taken a decision to reopen the channel of promotion for the employees of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies in the central cooperative banks. “A committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Additional Chief Secretary, (Finance), to remove the pay anomalies of tube well operators of Public Health Engineering Department working on contractual basis,” he added.
Incessant rains for over a week have filled Maharashtra’s dams to 50% of their capacity, bringing relief to the drought-hit regions. The water levels in Marathwada region, which had dropped to below 1% have now touched double digits. According to information from the Water Resources Department, the water storage in all dams of the State is 51.36% of their total capacity, which is almost equal to the 51.41% of 2018 on the same date. Dams in Marathwada have recorded 11.77% of their total storage capacity as compared to 17.89% last year. Vidarbha’s Amaravati and Nagpur divisions too have recorded an increase in water storage in dams, with 16.82% and 28.22% of their total capacity, respectively. The water levels in Marathwada dams had gone below 1% mark in July due to very less or no rains. An official from the department said continuous rains in western Maharashtra and Konkan region have ensured satisfactory increase in the water levels. “While these parts have benefited with rains, some regions of Marathwada, Vidarbha and central Maharashtra are yet to get rains. But according to Indian Meteorological Department, these parts will get medium to high showers from August 7 to 9,” said the official.He said that the department has predicted flood-like situation in some parts of Marathwada and central Maharashtra for August 9. “Disaster management teams have been asked to be on alert,” he said. Meanwhile, Health Minister Eknath Shinde, said, “As per the initial estimate, a total of 1.14 lakh population is affected due to floods. Diseases spread after the water recedes and medical teams have been kept ready in anticipation.”