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Mauled government seeks CBI probe into cubs’ death, 10-year jail for poachers

Mauled by allies and opposition alike over the death of four tiger cubs in Chandrapur forests in the last couple of days, Maharashtra government has sought CBI inquiry into the incident and has also proposed to the Centre to impose tougher punishment on poachers.The state government has proposed that the punishment for poaching wild animals be enhanced to 10 years’ jail sentence along with a fine of Rs 5 lakh. The existing term under the Wildlife Protection (WP) Act, 1972, is seven years’ jail and Rs25,000 fine.”We have written to the Centre to amend the rules making stringent provisions for tiger poachers,” forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said on Tuesday.Four tiger cubs had died of malnutrition in Saoli forest of Chandrapur district as of Sunday morning. Three cubs were found dead, while the fourth died while undergoing treatment. Chandrapur is Mungantiwar’s home district.Stung by the criticism, Mungantiwar has sought the help of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the death of tiger cubs. Justifying his move, Mungantiwar said, “We suspect that the cubs died as their mother didn’t breastfed them. The tigress, which is missing, may have been poached, or died while searching for food or water. Since CBI has the expertise to understand the complexities, we thought it would be better to seek their help.” Tigers are poached for smuggling its body parts to China where they were used for medicinal purposes, he pointed out.The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has claimed that 41 tigers died in Maharashtra, since January.The minister said the tigress and cubs were not part of Tiger Reserve area but buffer zone, where the surveillance is negligible. “We have hence ordered installation of camera traps and deployment of tiger reserve force in outer areas with significant number of big cats,” he said.According to wildlife officials, a tigress never goes more than half a kilometre for prey when it has one or two-month-old cubs. “Since there is no trace of the big cat or its pugmark in the area, we are worried it might have been killed,” said an official. He said the government had issued a resolution on providing four times compensation to the villagers whose lands were acquired for wildlife sanctuaries.Makes light of Sena remarksReacting to Shiv Sena’s demand in Saamna editorial, that he should take moral responsibility for the incident, Mungantiwar said, “I take it positively, as it will help us improve. As the minister for forests, I have to take moral responsibility.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

India is Asia’s deadliest country for journalists, says report from media watchdog

Nine of those killings took place in France, which was second only to Syria as the most dangerous country for the press in 2015, said the report, according to which 40 per cent journalists died at the hands of Islamic militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Congress leaders hopeful of bouncing back to power in future<!– /.block –>Now you can order the Meizu m2 on Snapdeal<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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‘Shrill’ debates in media overshadowing facts: Arun Jaitley

Referring to the latest data brought out by Registrar for Newspapers in India (RNI) in the report, he said newspapers have grown at over eight per cent and a large part of it is because of growth in regional newspapers.

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Australia defeat West Indies by 177 runs in thrilling finish, seal series 2-0 <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Recap 2015: 10 stories to know in & out of Volkswagen emission scam<!– /.block –>Australia defeat West Indies by 177 runs in thrilling finish, seal series 2-0<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Here are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messages

15. May your expectations in this New Year morning be realised with each and everyday of the year. This is to wish you a good health that will maintain the energy to flip your wing while soaring into greater heights towards your destiny.

dna Web Team

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Cubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibility <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Australia defeat West Indies by 177 runs in thrilling finish, seal series 2-0<!– /.block –>Cubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibility<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Cubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibility

On being informed, the forest officials had searched the area and found another cub which was alive. It was taken to Chandrapur for treatment, but it did not survive.

PTI
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Also ReadIndiaHere are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messagesIndiaCubs death: Shiv Sena wants forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar to take moral responsibilityIndiaWoman raped inside Infosys campus in Pune by housekeeping staffIndiaWith one more engineer killed, Bihar getting unruly?IndiaKarti Chidambaram responds to DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s call for alliance with CongressIndiaGoa Governor pens song for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Here are 15 best New Year WhatsApp messages<!– /.block –>Best of 2015: Telecom industry crosses 100-crore subscriber mark; call-drops spoils party<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Congress demand to sack ministers Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde ‘childish’: Maharashtra BJP

“The two ministers have been made respondents in the PIL filed by a Congress activist and they have not got notices as yet.

Maharashtra BJP on Saturday termed the opposition Congress’s demand for sacking Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and Education Minister Vinod Tawde over strong observations by Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court in the sexual harassment case in Government Medical College, Nagpur as “childish”. “Congress’s demand for sacking of these ministers (Mungantiwar and Tawde) following observations of the bench in connection with a PIL on November 30, is laughable and childish,” State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari told reporters here. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The two ministers have been made respondents in the PIL filed by a Congress activist and they have not got notices as yet.The hearing in the Court is yet to begin and the ministers have not got chance to put their case before the court,” he said. “The Congress is giving its verdict before the court verifies the PIL. This is nothing but making a mockery of judiciary,” Bhandari claimed. He also said even though Makrand Vyavhare, facing charges of sexual abuse, is a relative of Mungantiwar, the government has taken action against him.”The state government has no intention to protect anybody guilty in the case. During the 15-year-rule of Congress-NCP, former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to NCP minister Gulabrao Devkar faced allegations of corruption against them. But, their resignations were not taken,” he said. Yesterday, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) had demanded that Mungantiwar and Tawde be sacked following Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court’s strong observation against state government on the issue of sexual harassment of a resident doctor at Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Nagpur.

Maharashtra: Anganwadi workers to get 2014 Diwali bonus this year

The erstwhile Congress government in April, 2014, had promised a bonus amount of Rs 1,000 to be given as bhau bheej ahead of Diwali 2014. However, the money is expected to be handed over to workers now.

Anganwadi workers.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
There is nothing unusual about Anganwadi workers protesting the delay in their salaries by a few months. However, for Diwali bonus 2014 the two lakh odd workers across the state had to wait for almost a year. The erstwhile Congress government in April, 2014, had promised a bonus amount of Rs 1,000 to be given as bhau bheej ahead of Diwali 2014. However, the money is expected to be handed over to workers now.Anganwadis are government-sponsored child and mother care centres in rural areas. As per department sources, the erstwhile government had made the promise– which was more of an election gimmick— but had not created any head for the announcement in the department budget. After a yearlong wait, the women and child welfare department has now issued a government resolution dated September 22 announcing the bonus money. The resolution also promises release of 2015 bonus on time.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There were certain technical issues because of which the payment was delayed. And then there was change of government etc. However, this time we have channelised the process and are releasing the funds for 2014-15 and 2015-16 simultaneously,” said a senior officer.In June this year the Maharashtra Anganwadi Sevika Union had alleged that the state government has not paid the salaries of its workers for the last four months.The Union had alleged that despite several representations submitted to the Women and Child development minister Pankaja Munde, who also holds additional charge of rural development, and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar their demands were not met as both ministers maintained that the government has no money to pay dues.Finally, it was during the monsoon session that the government sanctioned a budget for the salaries of these workers and also enhanced their stipend amount for Anganwadi sevikas and attendants by Rs 950 and Rs 500 respectively. For mini-anganwadi sevikas the stipend has been increased by Rs 550. Their earlier stipend from the state government was Rs 450. The Centre’s share for anganwadi sevikas is Rs 3,000 and for attendants it is Rs 1,500. For mini-anganwadi sevikas, the Centre’s share is Rs 2,250. The total budget for stipend is Rs 892.4 crore annually.

Drought-effect: Maharashtra government hikes VAT on fuel, liquor, jewellery

Now, be prepared to pay more on your daily quota of liquor, cigarettes and soft-drinks, and gold, diamond jewellery.Faced with mounting debt and the burden of its servicing along with rising costs of drought-mitigating measures, the state government on Wednesday increased the value added tax (VAT) on these items by 5 per cent. It also scrapped the local body tax (LBT) on petrol and diesel across the board in 25 municipal corporations and decided to levy an additional tax of Rs 2 per litre on them. Though LBT is not in force in Mumbai, the surcharge will apply to petrol, diesel consumers in Mumbai. The fuel prices in Mumbai will now go up by Rs 2. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The decision will lead to uniformity in the prices of liquid fuels across state (except eight cities like Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai, where an extra surcharge of Rs 1 for infrastructure works is in force), though rates will rise in rural areas where no LBT was levied earlier. This rise, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said would stay in force till the end of the financial year, when the goods and service tax (GST) was expected to come into force.These measures – to be in force from Thursday – are expected to bring in Rs 1,600 crore to the state exchequer till March-end.The state government has committed itself to spending Rs 3,332.57 crore for measures like compensation for crop loss, damages to houses, crop insurance, interest waivers and grain at affordable prices to farmers in 14 districts. This is in addition to the Rs 4,210 crore to be spent on scrapping LBT and devolving stamp duty collections to local bodies to make up for the loss and Rs 799 crore to shut down 12 toll projects and waive off toll on cars at 53 toll nakas.Maharashtra is already groaning under Rs 3.38 lakh crore loans/borrowings and the burden of its servicing to another Rs 27,000 crore per annum. “Even then, we have taken care to ensure that the common man and the middle-class are not affected by this tax hike,” said Mungantiwar.The state government had scrapped LBT in 25 municipal corporation areas from August 1. However, the tax continued to be in force for 1,162 traders with a turnover above the Rs 50 crore limit.“Petrol and diesel pump owners had complained that this lack of uniformity in rates had affected their business. Hence, we decided to scrap LBT on petrol and diesel in all 25 municipal corporations,” said Mungantiwar, adding the state would have to bear a burden of Rs 350 crore. “However, despite scrapping LBT, the state should not be damaged financially and hence, we have decided to impose (an additional surcharge) of Rs 2 per litre on petrol and diesel,” he added.Mungantiwar said the fall in petrol and diesel prices was leading to lesser VAT revenues for the state (as the tax rate is linked to the price of the fuel). The state is taking a hit of around Rs 1,800 crore i.e. Rs 300 crore per month.“The LBT on liquor, cigarettes and soft drinks had been scrapped. However, since the farmer is in crisis, we have decided to increase the VAT on these by 5%,” said Mungantiwar, adding the VAT on diamonds, gold and ornaments would rise from 1% to 1.20%. “Those who have money for vices should be able to spend a few rupees more for the farmers,” he noted.“(The increase will apply) till GST comes into force and in case if it does not happen, then we will do a rethink in the next budget if necessary,” Mungantiwar said, adding they would focus on purse tightening, streamlining purchases and proper utilisation of resources to make ends meet. The state cabinet will also meet in a month to discuss how departments can do this.“Where there was a LBT of Rs 2.50 per litre, the petrol and diesel rates will fall by 50 paise; but if it was Rs 1.50 per litre, the rates will rise by 50 paise,” Mungantiwar said.The fall in prices of these fuels has led to the tax per litre on diesel falling from Rs 13.01 in September 2014 to Rs 9.58 per month, a decrease of Rs 3.43. The reduction in taxes on petrol was Rs 2.11 per litre – from Rs 15.77 in September last year to Rs 13.66 for the corresponding month this year.The tax rate on petrol and diesel in Maharashtra is 24% and 21% respectively, while in Mumbai it is 26% and 24%. However, Mungantiwar said this was lesser than states like Andhra (39.56%), Madhya Pradesh (32.30%), Rajasthan (32.68%), Punjab (36.38%), Karnataka (32.30%) and Kerala (34.24%).

Maharashtra petrol pump dealers proposes strike on September 7

All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers’ Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh said that the government differentiates between other traders and fuel retailers.

Representational Image
File Photo

Petrol pump dealers in Maharashtra has proposed to go on a one day strike on September 7 to press for their demand of relief from Local Body Tax (LBT). All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers’ Association (FAMPEDA) President Uday Lodh said that the government differentiates between other traders and fuel retailers. Petrol pump retailers have to pay LBT while other traders have been exempted from it. “This is why more than 800 petrol and diesel pumps within 25 municipal corporations will be on strike on September 7,” he said. Incidentally, the Maharashtra government had exempted traders having an annual turnover below Rs 50 crore from paying LBT across the state from August 1. According to the government, more than 99 per cent of traders benefited from the decision.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> However, petrol and diesel retailers were not considered for LBT exemption, Lodh said. He alleged that the decision on LBT is in favour of traders and consumers have not benefitted from it. “The money traders will save by not paying LBT will go to their pockets and will not be passed on to the consumers.” Despite the LBT exemption, prices of various items have not been reduced, he alleged. “If the state relaxes norms for petrol and diesel pump owners, it is the common man who will benefit, since reduced charges will be passed on to them,” he said. Considering gross annual revenue income of the last five years from 25 municipal corporations excluding Mumbai, the government will reimburse Rs 7,648.82 crore in lieu of LBT, which is not applicable to Mumbai, since octroi is still collected in the Mumbai civic body’s jurisdiction. “The state can reimburse more than Rs 7,000 crore to traders, it does not want to spend Rs 300 crore for petrol and diesel pump owners,” he said. “All meetings with Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and finance secretary Sudhir Srivastava were in vain. In fact, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis favoured LBT exemption for petrol dealers. However, nothing happened from the government’s side,” Lodh said.Meanwhile, after abolition of LBT, the government has allocated Rs 2,048.44 crore as financial grants to municipal corporations by way of supplementary demands for 2015-16.

Maharashtra FM Sudhir Mungantiwar rules out levying new taxes for drought-hit Marathwada

“Raising additional loans is not bad idea as the state is well within its fiscal limits in relation to its gross state domestic produce,” the minister said.

Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has ruled out any possibility of levying any new taxes in view of the drought conditions in Marathwada region.The intention behind Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis remark on “if need be government will raise loans”, was to assure the farmers that the government stands behind them in the hour of crisis, he said.”No new taxes will be levied in the drought-hit Marathwada region,” he said at a media meet organised by Mumbai Press Club here yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mungantiwar said that the government will have to take a review of all the irrigation projects implemented in Marathwada in the last four years.”Raising additional loans is not bad idea as the state is well within its fiscal limits in relation to its gross state domestic produce,” the minister said.He accused the previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government of not following fiscal discipline.Replying to queries over the cost escalation due to drought conditions, he said that the exact quantum of allocation required will only be known after the late monsoon rains this month. Maintaining that the situation did not warrant immediate recourse to availing loan, Mungantiwar said that if it does not rain in September then the costs will rise.He said that the state government has begun review of old and existing schemes and that the government was not closing down all the schemes launched by the previous government.”All the good schemes shall continue, but those which have been on paper or have no real public welfare shall be reviewed,” he said.”The government has made a norm that no purchases by the government departments shall be allowed after February 15 every year. Earlier, one saw last minute purchases from various departments prior to the end of fiscal year on March 31 which will not happen now,” he said.Commenting on the implementation of infrastructure projects, Mungantiwar said that henceforth priority will be given to implementation of existing on-going projects rather than announcing and implementing all the projects at one go.To a query over creation of separate Vidarbha state, he said, “Only the state of Vidarbha remains to be created out of the 15 recommended by the State Reorganisation Commission.”The issue need not be politicised. The smaller states so created should be self-sustaining. BJP does not have a majority in the legislative assembly to pass a resolution to this effect,” Mungantiwar said.

Government mulling amending Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Act

“Under the MGNREGA scheme, there is a limitation of allowing farm work with help of labourers and machines. Hence, in the state cabinet held yesterday, we discussed about amending the state’s EGS.

Maharashtra government is mulling amending the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Act to bring under its ambit farm-hands and labourers involved in the agricultural sector.State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said the idea is to bring individuals other than farmers, like those who do the work of levelling farm lands and building farm roads under the ambit of the Employment Guarantee Scheme Act so that they get employment under it.”Under the MGNREGA scheme, there is a limitation of allowing farm work with help of labourers and machines. Hence, in the state cabinet held yesterday, we discussed about amending the state’s EGS.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If we are able to amend the Act, employment can be provided to farmers as well as farm workers who do not have farm land,” Mungantiwar, who is also the State cabinet spokesperson, said.Under the EGS, a labourer can level agriculture land, create farm ponds, make farm roads between two adjacent farms and other works related to agriculture, he said.It would not be required to issue an Ordinance to amend the EGS. Only rules will need to be changed and issue a notification, he added.On the drought condition and acute drinking water shortage in many parts of the state, the minister said in the coming days, drinking water, livestock fodder, employment for farm-workers are the major issues that the government has to resolve.”Drinking water will be provided through tankers and railway wagons, if necessary,” he said.Over 150 out of 358 tehsils across the state have recorded crop below 50 per cent of the average production.Except eastern Vidarbha and some parts of western Maharashtra, rest of the state is currently facing drinking water scarcity.He said the government has decided to cultivate fodder across 40,000 acres land, especially in Marathwada, the worst affected region by drought.State government has also taken a decision to permit 50 per cent subsidy on machines worth Rs 18,000 that can cultivate cattle fodder within three days, he said.Mungantiwar also expressed fears of below average rainfall and said the government will release additional funds to meet the need of water if required.

Maharashtra: Students’ suicide bid exposes pathetic state of residential schools in Nagpur

Lack of food and teachers cited as reason behind by four Chandrapur school students.
Representational Image

Independence Day celebrations in Chandrapur turned traumatic after four students from a remote residential school in Jivti tehsil of the district attempted suicide soon after the flag-hoisting ceremony on Saturday morning. The students have cited lack of food, other facilities and maths teacher as the reason for taking the extreme step.Krishna Rathore (19), Premdas Rathore (18), Prafulla Rathore (17) and Pravin Jadhao (18) consumed insecticide at their school Vitthalrao Jadhav Kanishtha Mahavidyalaya from bottles that they were carrying in their pockets. The school authorities rushed them to Rajura, the public healthcare centre in the tehsil from where they were transferred to Chandrapur government hospital. They are now stated to be out of danger.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They have complained about lack of food and other facilities at their school, including the lack of teachers,” said Sandip Diwan, superintendent of police, Chandrapur. He also said that the students are out of danger and could be discharged from the hospital on Monday. Diwan said that conducting a probe into these allegations against the school is the job of relevant authorities — the social justice department and the school education department.While lack of facilities and teachers is very common across the government-aided residential schools, this is perhaps the first incident of students attempting to take their life because of these issues. The social justice department offers food-grants to this residential school which is nearly 65 km interior from Chandrapur city. The school mainly caters to VJNT, also known as Banjaras. The aid given to the school by the department is Rs900 per student per month, dna has learnt. The school has a total 205 students in class 11 and 12, of which over 80 are hostellers.While there is no confirmation whether the school education department initiated any inquiry, the social justice department launched its probe on Sunday and appeared to be in the process of giving “clean chit” to the school. Prasad Kulkarni, assistant commissioner of social justice department, who spearheaded the inquiry, told dna: “We have initiated the probe and have noted down the statements of all hostel students in writing. Except these four pupils, no one complained about food. However, there is no mathematics teacher. But we can’t do anything in this regard as we don’t offer salary grants to them. We just give financial aid for food for students who stay in hostel.”The president of the school Motiram Pawar and director Panchkala Jadhav couldn’t be contacted. There are over two dozen such residential schools in Chandrapur district and over 200 across the state. They mainly cater to SC and VJNT students and most have same story — lack of infrastructure, facilities and teachers. Activists blame it on “systemic failure” and accuse school education, social justice and tribal welfare departments for apathy towards Dalit kids and spoiling their career.”Neither social justice department nor the school education department keep a tab on happening in the school. As per the rules, there must be a school management committee in every village, in which representation of panchayat members, parents and school trustees is must to look into issues related to students. Most villages don’t have functional SMCs and that’s why children in these institutes face severe problems,” says Paromita Goswami, a social activist who visited the four students in the hospital.”Politicians are minting crores in the name of rural and tribal boarding schools, while the children get nothing,” says Kishore Tiwari of the Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. Even the Vitthalrao Jadhav College is run by the Congress leader of the same name, claims Tiwari.Given the deplorable state of the residential schools and also ashramshalas (under tribal welfare department), activists demand that they should be closed down.”These schools should be closed down and the government should instead invest in opening hostels for poor SC/ST students at the taluka and city levels. They should be enrolled in regular schools so that they can study with children from other background and can be mainstreamed,” added Tiwari.Efforts to contact school education minister Vinod Tawde, social justice minister Rajkumar Badole and guardian minister of Chandrapur Sudhir Mungantiwar turned futile.

Maharashtra ropes in Big B as brand ambassador to protect tigers from extinction

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Amitabh Bachchan to be Maharashtra’s tiger ambassador

In the meeting of the Tiger Protection Foundation in Nagpur in July, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is also the state’s forest minister, had directed that Bachchan be requested to be the tiger ambassador.

The state’s big cats may soon have a Bollywood icon as their ambassador. In a boost to Maharashtra’s tiger conservation efforts, superstar Amitabh Bachchan has consented to be the state’s tiger ambassador.In the meeting of the Tiger Protection Foundation in Nagpur in July, state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who is also the state’s forest minister, had directed that Bachchan be requested to be the tiger ambassador.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accordingly, he had written to the actor on July 29, World Tiger Day.In a letter dated Monday, Bachchan wrote to Mungantiwar, accepting the offer to render his services towards the state government’s tiger conservation initiative. “This letter may kindly be treated as my consent to represent the Maharashtra as its tiger ambassador,” said Bachchan, while also complimenting Mungantiwar for giving detailed attention to “this most essential campaign”.”Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has approved our appeal to be the tiger ambassador,” said Mungantiwar, adding that he had not asked for any fee in return.”Public participation is necessary for conservation… we will use his (Bachchan’s) importance in society for creating the need for this conservation in the minds of people,” said Mungantiwar.Maharashtra has six tiger projects, including five in Vidarbha and one in Western Maharashtra (the Sahyadri tiger project). The tiger census, results for which were released in 2014, shows that India has 2,226 tigers, up from 1,706 in 2010. Maharashtra has around 190 such big cats, more than 169 in 2010. Of these, the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve in Vidarbha accounts for 72 big cats, including 60 in the core area and 12 in the buffer zone. This does not count cubs as they have a low survival rate.In addition, Vidarbha has 13 tiger projects in a 300km periphery, which together account for 325-330 tigers. Some other countries which have tiger habitats are Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Cambodia and Bhutan.

Maharashtra government plans to replicate Kenya’s Maasai Mara at SGNP

Integrated wildlife protected zone and international-standard tourism facilities on the anvil

Spread over an area of 104 sq km, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the largest such park within city limits in the world.

To reinforce the city’s green lung and provide better facilities to tourists, the state government is planning to develop an integrated wildlife protected zone and international-standard tourism facilities at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Mumbai.Finance minister Sudhir Mungatiwar, who is also in charge of the forest portfolio, told dna that like the SGNP, they would also develop such facilities at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve and Gorewada zoological park at Nagpur. This will be on the lines of Maasai Mara national reserve in Kenya.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will develop international-standard forest tourism here… the project will be completed in four years,” said Mungantiwar, adding that a team of forest officers was studying the models to be adopted for the long-pending project.The is the largest such park within city limits in the world, spread over an area of 104 sq km spanning parts of the Mumbai (suburban), Palghar and Thane districts. It also houses the Buddhist-era Kanheri caves, which date to between the first century BC and ninth century AD, and the Tulsi and Vihar lakes which supply water to Mumbai.”We will provide accommodation facilities, nature and forest trails, adequate security, battery-operated vehicles for travel and adventure tourism facilities. We will also involve the private sector in this.Developing these three places will cost around Rs2,500 crore of which the government will spend around Rs500 to Rs700 crore on developing infrastructure with the PPP partner pitching in with the rest,” said Mungantiwar.The forest department will hire consultants to chalk out a development plan, added Mungantiwar, stating that the objective was to increase tourism in the area. Bio-digester toilets for tourists on jungle safaris, seaplane facilities, tents for people to stay in and cultural programmes are also on the anvil. Revenues will be raised via ticketing.Mungantiwar pointed out that the SNGP was a rich repository of bio-diversity with a variety of plant, mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species. Moreover, the SGNP had around 170 types of butterflies, more than the number found in some countries, he noted.Environmentalist Vidya Athreya welcomed the plans. “The SGNP has been neglected for years. Funds coming in will help,” she noted.

Sena-BJP spar over farmer suicides in Vidarbha

Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena are struggling to maintain a civil relationship

Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena are struggling to maintain a civil relationship

They may have formed the government in the state, but the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena are struggling to maintain a civil relationship. The sniping between the parties shows no signs of abating. Senior BJP leader and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Sunday advised his cabinet colleagues from the Shiv Sena that instead of making their presence felt by criticising the government, they could do so by doing good work through their respective departments. Mungantiwar advised Sena ministers to make their presence felt through good work in their departments, which would create jobs and add resources to the state exchequer. “Vidarbha has given immense success to the BJP,” said Mungantiwar, while referring to the party sweeping 44 of the 62 seats in the region, and added that “the people of Maharashtra are with the BJP. The government is working for the welfare of the farmers.” “We have not criticised the government, we have not begun to criticise,” said Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, adding that the Shiv Sena, too, was part of the ruling dispensation and hence, it was their responsibility to see if the policies were implemented. On Friday, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, which has Uddhav as editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as executive editor, criticised chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Saamna said that while Maharashtra was being marketed in the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, “the picture of our farmers in Vidarbha committing suicide by drinking poison was horrible.” It had questioned why farmer suicides were taking place in Vidarbha even though Fadnavis and Mungantiwar hailed from the region. The newspaper editorial also took a swipe at Mungantiwar, asking when he would announce the plans for a ban on farmer suicides along the lines of a recent announcement to prohibit liquor in the region.

Shiv Sena should consider running photography business, mocks Congress

Taking a dig at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s photography exhibition held to raise fund for farmers in Maharashtra, the Congress on Tuesday said here the saffron party should consider starting a “photography business” to provide aid to drought-hailstorm affected farmers if they are unable to do so being in the power.Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant’s comments come a day after Thackeray announced his plans to divert funds raised from the sale of his paintings to farmers in the “suicide belt” of the state.”If Uddhav Thackeray says he wants to sell photos to provide aid to farmers, what is his party doing in the government then? He himself said that the government is not doing enough to help farmers. If they (Shiv Sena) cannot do it despite being in the government, they should consider starting a photography business then,” Sawant told reporters in Mumbai.Slamming Revenue minister Eknath Khadse on his comments on sending a memorandum to the Centre to seek an additional aid of Rs 2,000 crore to assist farmers, Sawant said the minister does not seem serious about helping the distressed farmers and is merely making comments to belittle the Chief Minister.”The fact is that the CM does not have any control over his own ministers. Ram Shinde (MoS Home) says there will be an enquiry into Bollywood film ‘PK’ (over controversy on the film) but the CM says there will be no such enquiry.(Finance minister) Sudhir Mungantiwar said the government will come out with a white-paper on the state of the economy of Maharashtra while the CM overruled it. It is now Khadse’s turn. He is doing nothing but trying to belittle the Chief Minister. He does not seem serious on actually helping our farmers who are in distress,” Sawant said.

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