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Goa Ministers differ on legal cultivation of cannabis



Ministers in Goa appear to be a divided lot on regulated cannabis cultivation in the coastal state for medicinal purposes, a day after Law Minister Nilesh Cabral made a strong pitch for such endeavour.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji on Wednesday, Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude said that that while the move could help generate employment, it could also lead to adverse social impact. Earlier in the day, he said he did not even know what cannabis was.

“I don’t even know what cannabis is. Whether it is used for ‘ganja’ or for medicinal purposes, I cannot comment on it. I will study it first,” Gaude told reporters.

“If we are looking at it from the employment point of view, we must also spare a thought for the families which may be destroyed on account of such a decision,” Gaude said.

According to Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar, the proposal mooted by the Health Department needed a thorough vetting by experts, to under the long-term impact of the decision.

“It should be studied. This is a matter which deals with people’s health,” Ajgaonkar said. The Cabinet Minister also said that experts needed to be consulted before allowing legal cultivation of cannabis in Goa.

“It should be studied and a report needs to be compiled before taking such a decision… if experts give us good inputs, the government can go ahead with it, but only after a proper study is conducted,” Ajgaonkar said.

The opposition is up in arms over the proposal — which has already been vetted by the Law Department — claiming that the implications would be disastrous for Goa, a tourism-dependent state that is already infamous as a narco-tourism destination.

While Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has maintained that a final decision on the matter is yet to be taken and that the proposal needed Cabinet approval, Law Minister Nilesh Cabral has said that ‘bhang’, a derivative of the cannabis plant, is already legally sold in seven Indian states.

“In seven states in India, a form of this (cannabis) plant, known as ‘bhang’, is already available. Bhang is sold across the counter in some states in licensed stores like liquor vends elsewhere,” Cabral said on Tuesday.

The Goa Forward party has opposed the move, saying it may lead the youth in Goa to ruin.

“How will this benefit the youth of Goa? Is this needed for their future?” Goa Forward President and former Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai had asked.

The Shiv Sena in Goa had also opposed the move and its state President Jitesh Kamat said sarcastically: “Now that farmers in Goa will be allowed to farm cannabis, the government should now consider issuing them Krishi cards”.

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National News

BJP takes dig at AAP for procuring 1 electric bus in 7 yrs




As Delhi gets its first electric bus, BJP took a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party-led state government for procuring just a single bus during their last seven years of rule.

“It took 7 years to buy 1 electric bus by AAP government which resulted in Delhi breathing bad air,” BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said on Tuesday.

Tiwari blamed the Kejriwal-led government of being “visionless” and “department less”. He urged the people of Delhi to look after their well-being as air pollution during winters is dangerous.

Terming it a “beginning of a new-era in the transport sector of Delhi”, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had flagged off the first electric bus on Monday.

“We aim to bring in 2,000 electric buses in the coming years. Since 2011, not a single new bus had been procured by the DTC; this is the first new bus being added to its fleet in a decade. The public should also contribute to this war against pollution by switching their vehicles to electric,” he said as he flagged off the bus from the Indraprastha depot.

While launching the environment-friendly bus, Transport Minister Shri Kailash Gahlot said that along with promoting environment-friendly transport, the government was committed to providing a world class and smooth transport service to the people of Delhi.

These state-of-the-art buses are 100 per cent electric with zero tailpipe emissions. They are among the 300 electric buses that will be inducted under DTC. The total fleet of 300 buses will run from Mundela Kalan (100 buses), Rajghat (50) and Rohini Sector 37 (150 buses).

The electric air conditioned buses have kneeling ramps for differently abled passengers, and special pink seats for women passengers. They are also equipped with CCTV cameras, connected to a two-way Central Command and Control Centre (CCC) at Kashmere Gate, 10 panic buttons in each bus and a hooter.

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National News

Nitish Kumar govt likely to relax liquor prohibition law





Facing criticism over poor implementation of the liquor ban, the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar is likely to give some relaxation to the violators.

According to a top official of the JDU, the state government is ready to review this issue and a proposal is likely to be put on table in the upcoming budget session of the Bihar Vidhan Sabha.

As per the proposal, the violators who are caught in drunken state can be let off after paying penalty on the spot. Though, it is not applicable on repeat offenders. A person repeatedly violating the norms of liquor prohibition law would be liable to face jail term.

Such a relaxation would allow liquor consumption at home and would also promote the home delivery concept, which is already popular among habitual drinkers in Bihar.

The JDU official further said that the vehicle used for smuggling of liquor could be released after paying a fine.

He said that the Chief Minister is under huge political pressure after a series of spurious liquor tragedies in different districts in the last four months that have taken the lives of more than 80 persons and many others have lost their eyesight.

Reacting to it, Danish Rizwan, the chief spokesperson of HAM said: “Chief minister Nitish Kumar, instead of bringing amendment or review of liquor prohibition law, should do a survey on this issue. If common people of the state are satisfied with the amendment or review, our party will not go against it. If people of Bihar are in favour of withdrawal of the liquor ban, we also respect that decision.”

The liquor tragedies occurred in Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj, Bettiah, Samastipur, Vaishali, Nawada and now CM’s district Nalanda.

This issue is severely affecting Nitish Kumar government especially after its alliance partners BJP and HAM are extremely vocal. They want a review of the liquor prohibition law. The liquor ban was enforced in Bihar in April 2016.

The government also came under criticism by the Patna High Court recently. The court said a large number of liquor related cases are pending which has led to a huge burden on the judicial system. Keeping this in view, the Nitish Kumar government should establish more courts in all 38 districts for speedy trials of liquor related cases.

Though, this would not be the first case of amendment in liquor prohibition act. In 2018, the state government made a provision to grant bail to normal offenders at the police station level. The offenders have to pay Rs 50,000 as fine. In case of offenders unable to give a penalty, they would be liable to face jail term. Under the liquor prohibition law, the maximum jail term is 10 years.

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Devendra Fadnavis demands action over Nana Patole remarks on Modi




The BJP will not keep quiet over Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole’s alleged controversial remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Panaji, Fadnavis also slammed the Maharashtra government for not filing an FIR over Patole’s comments, a video of which had gone viral on Monday.

“Someone called the Maharashtra CM’s wife Rabri devi and an FIR was filed. And here a person who calls himself a leader, threatens to kill the PM and there is no FIR (First Information Report) against him in Maharashtra. This is wrong. We will not keep quiet,” Fadnavis said.

In the video in Bhandara district in Maharashtra, Patole is allegedly heard saying he could beat up and badmouth Modi.

Patole later clarified that he was not referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but a local goon with a similar surname.

Fadnavis, however, hinted at Congress conspiracy against the Prime Minister.

“I feel it is a Congress policy. In Punjab, the security of the PM is compromised and in Maharashtra the president says we will beat the PM. Through this, one can know what he (Patole) really feels about the PM. I feel it is Congress policy and we demand that an FIR and legal action should be taken against Nana Patole because he has spoken about beating the Prime Minister,” Fadnavis said.

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