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Saturday,12-June-2021

Maharashtra

Bring 50,000 students back home, Congress tells Uddhav Thackeray

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Congress-leader-Prithviraj-Chavan

More than 50,000 Indian students are stranded abroad in different countries and are facing immense difficulties during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Friday.

Of these, around 6,000-7000 are from Maharashtra alone who are stuck in various nations which, like India, are under lockdown with no flights operating.

In a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Chavan urged the state government to make efforts to bring them back to India.

Indian students are stuck in the US, UK, European and Central eastern countries and Russia and have been regularly demanding help via social media to return to India.

Some have uploaded videos of their plight in various countries, cramped accommodation, shortages of essentials and severe weather conditions which make their survival difficult in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“They are encountering difficulties in lodging, boarding, finances and food, etc. Around another 2,000 students from the state are stranded in Kota, Rajasthan who also need to be brought back,” Chavan said.

He pointed out that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister (Yogi Adityanath) had organised 250 buses and brought back over 7,500 people to their home-state.

Maharashtra

Ripples in Maharashtra as poll strategist Prashant Kishor meets Sharad Pawar

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Maharashtra politics saw a flutter on Friday as much sought-after polls mastermind Prashant Kishor called on Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar and the duo broke bread over lunch here.

After the luncheon, both Pawar and Prashant Kishor, oft referred to as ‘PK’ in political circles, kept mum on their meeting, further fuelling speculation.

However, senior NCP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar brushed aside all gossip, noting that Kishor has already made it clear he will not be designing poll strategies for political parties in future.

Similarly, Shiv Sena Chief Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said many political leaders are in contact with Kishor while other NCP and Congress leaders feigned ignorance over the discussion menu or the outcome.

This morning, Kishor called on Pawar at the latter’s Mumbai residence around 11 a.m. and the duo was closeted for nearly 3 hours before the NCP chief saw off his high-profile visitor.

The meeting triggered guesswork whether this could signal a preparation for the 2024 Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections amid calls for putting up a united front of all Opposition parties to tackle the Bharatiya Janata Party challenge.

This was Kishor’s first meeting with a prominent Maharashtra leader after his poll strategies succeeded in handsome victories in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu for the Trinamool Congress and the DMK respectively, particularly since the NCP and Sena had thrown their weight behind Mamata Banerjee.

Kishor had met the Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray here shortly before he became the Chief Minister and enjoys close rapport with several leaders across parties in the state.

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Maharashtra

Now, Maharashtra to give 50-year-old urban trees ‘heritage’ tag

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In a novel green initiative to conserve nature, the Maharashtra government has decided to accord ‘heritage’ tags to all trees which are 50-years old and more in urban centres, officials said here on Friday.

The state cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday approved a proposal to amend the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975, and incorporate the concept of ‘heritage trees’.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has also decided to form a ‘Maharashtra Tree Authority’ which will be empowered to take all decisions regarding protection of trees.

“In order to maintain and foster the green cover in the state’s urban centres, we have passed the amendment that will safeguard the environment in all cities and provide a robust mechanism to protect heritage trees,” said Tourism and Environment Minister Aditya Thackeray.

He expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat for consistently giving weightage to sustainable development by amending existing laws to address the worldwide climate emergency or global warming.

“Any tree with an estimated age of 50 years or above, shall be classified as a ‘heritage tree’. They may belong to specific species, which would be notified periodically,” an official said.

The move comes barely 18 months after Mumbai witnessed a staggering 2,141 big and small trees being chopped off in less than 40 hours – or roughly one tree/per minute – by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) inside the Aarey Colony, in October 2019.

The Thackeray father-son duo, both nature lovers, was instrumental in drafting the proposed changes in the law to ensure safety of all old trees in urban landscapes.

The Environment and Climate Change Department along with the Forest Department will shortly prepare formal guidelines to determine the age of a tree.

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Crime

House crash: CM Uddhav Thackeray visits injured, announces Rs 5L to kin of dead

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UDDHAV-THACKERAY

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday afternoon visited the injured victims of last night’s house crash in Malad – which claimed 11 lives. The injured are undergoing treatment at Dr BR Ambedkar Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivali, here.

Accompanied by Ministers Aslam Sheikh and Aditya Thackeray, Mayor Kishori Pednekar and Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal and other officials, the CM enquired after the health of the victims, the course of their treatment and other details with the attending medicos.

Thackeray also announced a compensation of Rs 500,000 to kin of each of the deceased 11 persons, mostly minors, who perished in the house collapse – the first major monsoon-related tragedy in Mumbai this year.

He added that the government would bear the entire treatment cost of the injured persons.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar visited the crash site and slammed the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for laxity in the matter.

“The local MP Gopal Shetty had warned in writing to the BMC highlighting the dangers of many of these illegal multi-storied tenements, which posed a huge risk in monsoon. But nothing was done about it,” Darekar said.

Around 11.30 p.m. on Wednesday, a ground-plus-two storied house crashed and fell on an adjoining tenement in the New Collector’s Colony at Malvani, Malad west as the city was clobbered with heavy rains.

The tragedy has claimed 11 victims so far, including 9 members of a family with 3 adults. The victims include 8 minors of which one was an 18-month-old female toddler and the oldest 15-year-old boy.

Officials claimed that in many slum pockets across the city, local residents construct multi-storied tenements without authorization, some as tall as four or five floors, in places like Bandra, Dharavi, Jogeshwari, Malad, Dahisar and other slums, and ignore demolition notices of the BMC.

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