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Tuesday,02-March-2021

Maharashtra

Uddhav Thackeray visits Serum Institute after fire, loss pegged at Rs 1K cr

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Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday visited the Serum Institute of India (SII) where a fire at its semi-ready Manjari complex claimed five lives while inflicting an estimated loss of Rs 1,000 cr to the global vaccine giant.

Thackeray visited the SII facility that was gutted on Thursday and also met the company Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla and his son Adar.

“We have ordered a thorough probe… There cannot be any conclusions till the full investigations are complete and the report is available. Then we will know whether it was an accident or sabotage,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the Poonawallas have repeatedly assured that there would be no impact on the Covishield vaccine production and rollout which will continue unhindered.

Adar Poonawala said: “The fire has damaged machinery that was being installed for the RotaVirus and BCG Vaccine production here… No actual vaccines are being manufactured here. The extent of the damage is around Rs 1,000 crore.”

The massive blaze ravaged three to four floors of the upcoming facility in Manjari that was scheduled to become operational within a month or so.

The SII said there is no damage to any of the production facilities of the Covishield vaccine that is currently being manufactured at its other plant in Hinjewadi in the city.

The SII has already taken responsibility for five labourers, including 3 migrants, who were killed in the blaze by giving Rs 25 lakh, plus other benefits as per norms, to each of their kin and Thackeray said if anything more was required to be done, the government would consider it.

He was accompanied by Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray, Legislative Council’s Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe, Pune MP Girish Bapat and other top government and police officials.

The five victims included three migrants – Ramashankar Harijan and Bipin Saroj from Uttar Pradesh, Sushilkumar Pandey from Bihar and two locals from Pune – Mahendra Ingle and Pratik Pashte.

The Hadapsar police have registered an accidental death due to burning case for the five victims and the Pune Municipal Corporation, Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation launched simultaneous investigations into the fire.

Crime

ED quizzes Maharashtra Minister Vishwajeet Kadam’s wife

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Enforcement-Directorate

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is questioning Swapnali Bhosale, wife of Maharashtra Minister Vishwajeet Kadam in connection with its probe in a Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) case, officials said.

According to senior ED officials, Swapnali joined the financial probe agency investigation on Monday afternoon at its office here.

The ED had summoned Bhosale in the last week of January.

The ED had earlier questioned her mother Gauri Bhosale and brother Amit Bhosale in February this year.

ED sources claimed that her father, a noted businessman of Pune and her family members had sent over Rs 50 crore to London and Dubai to buy some properties there.

Avinash Bhosale was questioned by the ED on November 27 last year for several hours in connection with an old case under the FEMA. The ED had registered a case against Avinash Bhosale under Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA).

Avinash Bhosale is also facing a probe by the Income Tax Department. Last year, the I-T Department had carried out searches at 23 locations in Mumbai and Pune.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra Congress ministers protest high fuel prices on bicycles

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Adopting a unique approach to highlight the spiralling fuel prices, all Congress Ministers and legislators on Monday took to the roads on bicycles and furiously pedalled to the Maharashtra Legislature on the opening day of the Budget Session, here.

Leading the bicycle rally, state Congress President Nana Patole and city party chief Bhai Jagtap attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre of “looting” the hard-earned money of the people by hiking taxes on fuel which have resulted in zooming prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made life difficult for the people. Though the prices of crude oil in the international markets is at a record low, the Centre is fleecing the masses by the taxes on fuel,” Patole said.

He said that excluding taxes, petrol costs around Rs 32.72 per litre and diesel Rs 33.46 per litre, but the Centre has imposed excise duties of 820 and 258 per cent respectively which has shot the prices of the two essential fuels to the current exorbitant levels.

Similarly, Jagtap said that the Modi government has “crossed all limits of shamelessness” by another hike of Rs 25 in the price of cooking gas (LPG) to now Rs 825 per cylinder which has created huge distress to the ordinary masses.

Besides, Patole and Jagtap said that Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan rubbed salt on the wounds of the people by claiming that the fuel price hike was due to the winter season.

Demanding that the Central taxes on fuel be rolled back, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said that the BJP leaders screaming hoarse over the fuel prices hike before 2014, “but today, these same leaders are looting the people blatantly with daily price hikes”.

“The Modi government is deaf and blind to the pain and sufferings of the people. Through this bicycle rally, we are conveying the people’s distress to the Centre and demand that the fuel taxes be removed forthwith,” Thorat said.

After paying homage to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in south Mumbai, majority of the Congress ministers in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and almost all MLAs and MLCs joined the bicycle rally to the Vidhan Bhavan.

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Maharashtra

Maharashtra: MPCC expanded, Sanjay Nirupam bounces back

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Sanjay-Nirupam

Three weeks after Congress President Sonia Gandhi reshuffled the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC), four new vice-presidents and 3 additional Parliamentary Board members were appointed, here on Friday.

They are: Nana Gavande, Sachin Naik, Sanjay Rathod and Charulatha Tokas (MPCC Vice-Presidents), while Eknath Gaikwad, Sanjay Nirupam and Janardhan Chandurkar — all three ex-Mumbai Regional Congress Committee presidents – are named new Members of MPCC Parliamentary Board.

Sulking for nearly two years after he was removed as MRCC President in March 2019, the formidable Nirupam has apparently bounced back into favour with the party.

He had not campaigned for the party in the 2019 parliament and Assembly elections and had lost the Lok Sabha elections to Mumbai North-West constituency to Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar.

The expansion comes three weeks after the party appointed Nana F. Patole, 57, as the new MPCC President, replacing Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat.

Besides Patole, the Congress named 6 Working Presidents, 10 Vice-Presidents and a jumbo 37-member Parliamentary Board in a widespread rejig of the party apparatus ahead of the crucial elections to various major civic bodies early next year, including BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation.

The 6 Working Presidents include leaders like Shivajirao Moghe, Basavaraj Patil, M. Arif Naseem Khan, Kunal Rohidas Patil, Chandrakant Handore and Pranati Sushilkumar Shinde.

The 10 Vice-Presidents are: Shirish Madhukarrao Chaudhari, Ramesh A. Bagwe, Hussain Dalwai, Mohan Joshi, Ranjit P. Kamble, Kailash K. Gorantyal, B. I. Nagrale, Sharad Aher, M. M. Shaikh, Manik M. Jagtap, and with 3 more – Nana Gavande, Sachin Naik, Sanjay Rathod and Charulatha Tokas – joining them, the strength has gone up to 14.

With the 3 latest additions – all senior leaders who have been former MPs or legislators – the strength of the 37-member Parliamentary Board has now gone up from 37 to 40.

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