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




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.


Pegasus snoop-gate: Maharashtra Congress urges Uddhav Thackeray to oder probe



The Maharashtra Congress on Tuesday called upon Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to order a judicial enquiry – on the lines of West Bengal – into the alleged snoop-gate scandal.

State Congress president Nana Patole and party MP from Chandrapur Suresh alias Balubhai Dhanorkar made the identical demand, seeking a judicial commission comprising retired judges to investigate the issue and unravel the truth behind the spying scandal.

In a statement, Patole said it has come to light in the global media that important political leaders, lawyers, journalists, social activists and others were being monitored through phone hacking by the Pegasus spyware.

“Though the central government has yet to order a probe, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has constituted a committee to delve into the issue. The Maharashtra government should also form a similar committee to go into the matter,” Patole.

Penning a letter to Thackeray, Dhanorkar said that there have been media reports that the then CM Devendra Fadnavis had sent some officials to Israel.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party has said that it was an agriculture study tour. But, prominent lawyer Satish Uke had written to Nagpur Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar on May 23, 2021 whether any surveillance carried out by the BJP leaders, needs to be probed,” said Dhanorkar.

Referring to his own case, Patole said that during the Fadnavis regime, the phone numbers of several prominent political leaders were tapped.

“My own number was being tapped under the name of ‘Amjadkhan’ in connection with the drugs trade. The matter was raised in the assembly and it is being probed,” the state Congress chief pointed out.

“Given the gravity of this issue now, we need to know whether there is any connection between the phone-tapping during Fadnavis government and the Pegasus spyware, was this technology also deployed in the state, from where it came, and many other such unanswered questions. The truth will emerge if the Maharashtra government appoints a probe commission of retired judges,” Patole urged.

Seeking an independent investigation by retired judges, Dhanorkar said it was imperative to find the truth of how deep the tentacles of the snooping scandal are spread in Maharashtra.

“In a democracy, if the elected government is keeping tabs on people in such a manner, then it’s a very serious matter. The truth must be revealed,” the MP urged.

The Congress is a constituent of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government with Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party as the other partners.

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Allegations of extortion and corruption will be investigated, ACB notice to Parambir Singh





The troubles of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Parambir Singh are not taking rest. A notice has been sent to Parambir Singh on behalf of the Maharashtra Anti Corruption Bureau. This notice has been sent against the extortion and corruption against him. Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil, while giving a statement on the issue of Parambir Singh, said that whatever allegations have been made against him. All those allegations will be investigated impartially. Whoever is guilty will be punished. A few days ago, the matter of registration of a case against Parambir Singh at Marine Drive police station in Mumbai came to the fore. Now an FIR has been registered against 6 people including Singh in Thane city adjoining Mumbai.

Parambir Singh has been accused by Thane city builder Sharad Agarwal of demanding a ransom of Rs 2 crore. Following Agarwal’s complaint, Thane police registered a case and started further investigation. A case of extortion has been registered against eight people including Parambir Singh at Marine Drive police station in Mumbai. Apart from Parambir Singh, five other policemen and two civilians are also involved in this FIR. A DCP of Crime Branch has also been made an accused in this case. At present, the police have arrested both the civilians, whose names are being told as Sunil Jain and Punmiya. A builder Shyam Sundar Agarwal has filed a case against all these police officers and civilians. The police have registered a case under IPC sections 387, 388, 389, 403, 409, 420, 423, 464, 465, 467, 468 and other sections.

Parambir Singh had accused former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of extorting Rs 100 crore a week through Sachin Vajhe and other police officers. Both CBI and ED are investigating against Anil Deshmukh in this case. . The Enforcement Directorate had also summoned Anil Deshmukh, his wife, and sons, to appear before the ED officials and record their statements. However, no one from the Deshmukh family has visited the ED office yet.

Parambir Singh had occupied the government residence despite being transferred between 2015 and 2018. Due to this, the government has also imposed a fine of Rs 24 lakh on him. Parambir Singh has been accused of using two government residences. When he was the police commissioner in Thane city, he was simultaneously using two government residences. In the year 2018, a fine of Rs 54 lakh 10 thousand 545 was imposed against Parambir Singh. After that Singh sareted living in Neelima Apartments in Malabar Hill.

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Maharashtra first state to fully vaccinate 1 crore people




Notching a major milestone, Maharashtra became the first and only state, so far, to fully vaccinate more than one crore people against Covid, a top official said on Monday.

“A total of 1,00,64,308 were fully vaccinated with the two doses of Covid-19 vaccine here till 4 p.m. today (Monday),” said Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Pradeep Vyas.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Health Minister Rajesh Tope lauded the Health Department’s efforts culminating in the record figures of over one crore populace getting both the doses.

Till date, 3,16,09,227 people in the state have got their first jabs and the state has administered a total of 4,13,19,105 vaccinations (first and second doses) till Sunday, said Tope.

The state has been averaging roughly over 100,000 Covid-19 vaccination doses administered daily in the biggest inoculation drive at around 4,100 centres in 36 districts.

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