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11 out of 36 Maharashtra districts ‘highly vulnerable’ to climate change




Eleven out of the 36 districts in Maharashtra have been found to be ‘highly vulnerable’ to extreme weather events, droughts and dwindling water security and account for almost 40 per cent of the cropped area across central Maharashtra, a latest study has found.

The state’s 37 per cent agricultural area spread over 14 districts is moderately vulnerable, which takes the tally to three-fourth of Maharashtra’s cropped regions as high to moderate vulnerable to the prevailing climate crisis, the study ‘Socio-economic vulnerability to climate change – Index development and mapping for districts in Maharashtra’ has found out, a release said here.

However, the study did not include Mumbai and suburban districts in the analysis.

The farmers from western Maharashtra and Konkan are already battling the worst floods in recent times. The study adds that extreme climate conditions are affecting the livelihoods and the agrarian economy of Maharashtra may get worse from here on.

The study was conducted by Chaitanya Adhav from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Karnal, Haryana, under the guidance of R. Sendhil from ICAR-Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research.

Nandurbar in north Maharashtra is the most vulnerable district to cyclones, floods, droughts, changing rainfall patterns and extreme temperatures, affecting its crop production.

The other 10 highly vulnerable districts include Buldhana, Beed, Jalna, Aurangabad, Hingoli, Parbhani, Nanded, Akola, Amravati and Washim.

The 14 moderately vulnerable districts include Dhule, Jalgaon, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Sangli, Solapur, Osmanabad, Latur, Yavatmal, Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gondia and Gadchiroli.

According to India’s Livelihoods Report 2019, farming is the prime livelihood source for 51 per cent of Maharashtra’s population.

Adhav said the findings showed that most of the highly vulnerable districts fell under the Central Maharashtra Plateau Zone, which constitutes 22.22 per cent share of the total cropped area in Maharashtra. The Central Vidarbha Zone has an additional share of 6.78 per cent area as highly vulnerable.

The authors explained that to quantify the climate change induced risk, the socio-economic vulnerability index (SEVI) was calculated using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approach, considering the key climatic parameters such as exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of districts to climate vulnerability.

The data was collected on 44 indicators related to climatic as well as socio-economic variables, which were identified based on experts’ opinion.

“Mapping of the districts shows that there is an instant need for focused policy efforts to address the socio-economic vulnerability in the Central Maharashtra Plateau Zone, Scarcity Zone (Dhule, parts of Nandurbar and Aurangabad), and the Eastern Vidarbha Zone,” Adhav said.

Nine districts — Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Nashik, Satara, Kolhapur, Ahmednagar, Nagpur and Pune — were found to be least vulnerable to climate agricultural distress, the release said.

The dominant crops from these districts which will bear the brunt of climate change in future include jowar, rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, ragi, cashew nut, barley and millets, the scientists added, even as they pointed out how there is a lot of discussion about the impacts of climate change on agriculture, but very little action is being taken on the ground.

Pointing out that changing crop patterns is a solution that is not going to be an easy task, agriculture expert and a trustee of the Marathwada Sheti Sahayak Mandal (MSSM), a citizen’s movement, Vijay Anna Borade, said, “We need to create parallel programmes with adequate drainage, drip irrigation, crop rotation etc. to get stability in crop productivity and stable income for farmers. Only then can we divert farmers to change their crop pattern. Another option is controlled farming, which also has financial limitations.”

During the last decade, there were severe droughts in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, massive hailstorms in 2014 and 2015, and excess rainfall and flooding in 2016, 2019 and 2021.

For the Konkan areas, the situation has aggravated with impacts due to back-to-back cyclones Nisarga and Tauktae in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Akshay Deoras, an independent meteorologist and a PhD student at the University of Reading in England, said, “Lack of a robust weather-forecast dissemination system adds to the vulnerability. The weather and crop advisories are sent through various channels, but such services need to improve so as to make a significant positive impact on farmers.”


Maharashtra Veteran PWP leader Prof N.D. Patil dies at 93




Veteran political leader of Peasants & Workers Party (PWP), an ex-cabinet minister and a four-time legislator, Prof Narayan Dnyandeo Patil passed away following a brief illness, party leaders said here on Monday.

Battling from a recent brain haemorrhage, he breathed his last at a private hospital here early on Monday, aged 93.

Earlier, the fiery leader – who spent over seven decades in public life – was infected by Covid-19 and had recovered from it despite his advanced age.

He dedicated his life to the cause of farmers, peasants, mill-workers, casual labourers, the deprived and downtrodden in society and served as Maharashtra Member of Legislative Council for four terms, and served as a minister from 1978-1990.

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Bombay HC rejects BJP MLA Nitesh Rane’s anticipatory bail plea




In a massive setback, the Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed an anticipatory bail plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Nitesh Rane, son of Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane – in an attempt to murder case.

Kept in reserve last week as Nitesh Rane was granted continued interim protection from arrest, the much-anticipated order was pronounced by Justice C.V. Bhadang.

However, on the court’s request, the prosecution assured it will continue its earlier commitment and refrain from any coercive steps against Nitesh Rane till Jan 27.

Among other things, Nitesh Rane, 39, has been accused as the key conspirator behind an attempt to murder case against a ruling Shiv Sena leader Santosh Parab – which allegedly took place on Dec 18 (2021) – in Kankavli town of Sindhudurg district, considered the political bastion of the Rane family.

On Dec 30, the Principal Judge of Sindhudurg District & Sessions Court Shirishkumar V. Hande had rejected the legislator’s anticipatory bail plea which was challenged by Rane on Jan 4 in the Bombay High Court.

The Kankavli Police lodged an FIR against Rane Jr following a complaint by Parab, but the BJP legislator claimed that he was being targeted for allegedly mocking Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray and to prevent his participation in the Sindhudurg District Cooperative Bank elections held on Dec 30.

Nitesh Rane’s lawyer, Nitin Pradhan contended before the court that his client had been cooperating with the investigators and had been questioned for four hours last month.

The Special Prosecutor Sudeep Pasbola said that they needed Nitesh Rane’s custodial interrogation to corroborate the circumstantial evidence collected in the case, various transactions like who had paid and how much for the attempted contract killing, plus the forensic reports of the confiscated phones of the accused.

Meanwhile, BJP Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar slammed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for allegedly misusing the official machinery and pursuing vendetta against Rane Jr, but said they respect the court verdict.

The Shiv Sena has demanded that now with the Sindhudurg District & Sessions Court and Bombay High Court have rejected the anticipatory bail plea, Nitesh Rane – who was ‘incommunicado’ for several weeks – should gracefully go and surrender before the police.

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Maha ATS lawyers to track Malegaon-2008 blast case hearing





Alarmed by witnesses turning hostile in the Malegaon-2008 blasts case, the Maharashtra government lawyers shall now remain in the Special NIA Court where the trial is being conducted on a daily basis, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said here on Saturday.

He told the media persons that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had taken over the case (from the state ATS), but the state government is perturbed at the manner in which several critical witnesses have become hostile in the Special Court.

The significant development came two days after the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ally Congress had raised the issue and drawn the attention of the Home Ministry and the ATS.

Congress state Working President M. Arif Naseem Khan had submitted a memorandum to the Additional Director-General of Police and ATS chief Vineet Agrawal urging necessary measures to monitor the case closely.

“We are thankful to Home Minister Walse-Patil for accepting our demand for a team to keep a track on the court proceedings. The presence of the ATS lawyers will help in a free and fair trial,” Khan said in a statement.

An ex-minister, Khan reiterated that the NIA is allegedly ‘weakening’ the Malegaon-2008 case and not pursuing it with ‘honesty and sincerity’.

In his memorandum to the ATS Chief Agrawal, Khan contended that the witnesses turning hostile are invoking the names of Bharatiya Janata Party-RSS leaders to “malign the Maharashtra government and ATS” for gaining political mileage in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections.

The September 29, 2008 (Malegaon 2008) bomb blast was allegedly engineered in this minority-dominated Nashik town by Hindu fundamentalists, killing 6 and injuring over 100 others, during the Ramadan month when Muslims were breaking their fast.

The Maharashtra Police and then the ATS probed the case till 2011 when it was taken over by the NIA, and the trial is going on daily before the Special NIA Court in Mumbai.

Of the 223 witnesses examined, 16 have turned hostile, claiming that the ATS tortured them to give evidence against the accused, said Khan, urging the need for the presence of the ATS in the court to protect the image of the Maharashtra government.

Among the accused in the sensational Malegaon 2008 case are BJP MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Swami Amritananda Dev Teerth, Dayanand Pandey, Lt. Col. Prasad S. Purohit, and others.

Khan said that the ATS was being sought to be tarnished as an ‘anti-Hindu’ agency with the witnesses, allegedly influenced by the accused, deliberately naming BJP-RSS people ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls for political gains.

“The NIA is not prosecuting all the accused with honesty and sincerity. Out of 223 witnesses who deposed so far, 16 important ones have turned hostile and over a 100 more are still left to be examined. These witnesses are crucial and need to be protected. The NIA has not challenged any orders passed in favour of the accused which shows their intentions clearly,” Khan said.

Some of the witnesses in Malegaon 2008 case even went beyond their recorded statement mentioning names like Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, but the NIA’s Special Public Prosecutor took no objection, and another witness claimed he was tortured and threatened by the ATS to take names of Yogi and 4 RSS leaders.

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