Sort by :
Filter by :
- In 27 days, state plants 13 cr saplings to achieve target Vijay Pinjarkar | tnn | Jul 28, 2018, 03:38 IST
Nagpur: At 4.15pm on Friday, the state government, under its ‘Greening Maharashtra’ mission to fight climate change, accomplished the 13 crore tree plantation target.
However, there seems to be huge mismatch in figures released by the state forest department. The department stated that Nanded was leading by planting 82.26 lakh saplings. But, at 9pm, when the figures were cross-checked on the official website, it showed 78.71 lakh saplings were planted. The mismatch was of 3.55 lakh.
Similarly, the released figures did not tally with the numbers available on the website for Nashik, Chandrapur and Yavatmal. In Yavatmal, the department said 64.90 lakh saplings were planted but the website showed 54.98 lakh.
In Aurangabad district, the forest department said that 54.98 lakh saplings were planted but the website showed 34.16 lakh seedlings were planted — a mismatch of 20.82 lakh.
Even though the hi-tech plantation command room is set up at Van Bhavan in Nagpur, APCCF (policy & information technology) Praveen Srivastava said, “I will have to check because these figures were released from Mumbai.”
Despite the mismatch of figures, this is the third consecutive year when the target has been exceeded under the 50 crore plantation drive to be achieved till 2019.
“State today witnessed a big milestone. The target of 13Cr, to be achieved by 31st July, was achieved only after 27 days. Count at 4.15pm today was 13,00,48,005. I would like to thank all the stakeholders for this achievement,” forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar tweeted.
CM Devendra Fadnavis too tweeted his wishes. “Congratulations @SMungantiwar bhau for not just achieving the 13,00,00,000 mark for tree plantation initiative but crossing it in a record time! My heartfelt thanks to every person who joined in and contributed to our honest effort towards environment protection,” he wrote.
The drive was launched on July 1. The plantation target has been achieved four days before it is to conclude on July 31. Planting of more seedlings is expected in next four days.
In the 13 crore, forest department planted 7.94 crore seedlings and over 4.65 crore were planted in non-forest areas by other agencies. Nanded, Nashik, Chandrapur and Yavatmal have planted maximum number of saplings.
“Even as the plantation target has been achieved, the biggest challenge before the forest department is ensuring survival of these saplings,” said NMC plantation consultant Shrikant Deshpande.
Deshpande said consecutive plantation evaluation reports of the forest department itself has exposed large-scale irregularities in 3-year and 10-year plantations but till now no one has been held accountable.
As reported by TOI, of the 3-year plantations (2011 rains) evaluated at 111 sites, only 13% showed survival beyond 66%. Similar were the evaluation results of evaluation report number 401, 492 and 501.
Facts of the Matter
Year Saplings Survival
2016 2.82 cr 80%
2017 5.43 cr 89%
2018 13cr —
50 Cr sapling expenditure (5 years)
* Rs170 per sapling
* 2017-18: Rs15681 lakh
* 2018-19: Rs48850 lakh
*2019-20: Rs84112 lakh
Survival of old plantations
2011 Sites: 111 Survival: 13% above 66%
2012 Sites: 113 Survival: 15% above 66%
2013 Sites: 131 Survival: 16% above 66%
- NMC razes Bhoipura fish market, asks sellers to shift to Mangalwari Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Jul 28, 2018, 03:39 IST
NMC razed the encroachments made by the sellers on two sides of the road connecting Central Avenue with Bajeria.
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has razed Bhoipura fish market that was running on both sides of road in front of Mayo Hospital for decades. The civic body has asked the fish wholesalers and retailers there to shift to its new fish market at Mangalwari.
NMC personnel from market and enforcement department reached Bhoipura in the morning. The team led by assistant commissioner (market) Vijay Humne asked all the sellers to vacate the area. Then it razed the encroachments made by the sellers on both sides of the road connecting Central Avenue with Bajeria.
Humne told TOI 26 slots at Mangalwari fish market were lying vacant and were better place for the fish sellers of Bhoipura market. “Market was established here encroaching upon the road. NMC has constructed 105 shops at Mangalwari of which 79 have been allotted. Various facilities including cold storage, godown etc have been provided there. It will help sellers get good market and citizens can use this road without hassles,” he said.
Humne added NMC was initiating action on large scale on encroachments for the last few days. “Action on fish market was part of the drive,” he said.
Bhoipura fish market was in very unhygienic condition. Foul smell used to pervade the area and troubled nearby residents. Also, fish entrails, blood etc were dumped on the roadside and in storm water drain.
NMC’s action appeared prompted by public interest litigation filed in Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. One of the residents had filed a PIL on December 19 last year that will come up for hearing on August 1. The petitioner through advocate Shreerang Bhandarkar has demanded rehabilitation of the sellers and demolition of fish market.
Another resident said NMC had issued notice to fish sellers in 1984 but turned up for action only now. “HC had asked NMC and NIT way back in 1980s for construction of a new market for these sellers but nothing happened,” he said. The residents said sellers would again encroach upon the roads and revive market if NMC failed take regular follow up action.
A fish seller said Mangalwari was far away from Bhoipura so their business will be hit. “We should be provided place in Central Nagpur itself. The facilty at Mangalwari was not adequate for wholesalers,” he said.
Kelibag road leaseholders get fresh deadline
Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has set a new deadline of July 31 for its 36 leaseholders for vacating the shops for Kelibag road widening and concretization project. The earlier deadline of July 25 was ignored by shopkeepers.
NMC team had to return without demolishing the shops following strong opposition from leaseholders and shopkeepers on July 23. Municipal commissioner Virendra Singh along with the NMC officials visited the area and held discussion with the leaseholders. Singh gave new ultimatum of July 31. NMC will forcibly vacate the shops and demolish them on August 1.
Leaseholders and shopkeepers say NMC is yet to acquire other shops on the road so project cannot start by demolishing their 36 shops. They are requesting NMC to raze these shops along with others. They also also asking for alternate space for their business in the same market. NMC is yet to start tendering process for the project.
- NMC’s notice to activist for planting trees on footpath! Anjaya Anparthi | tnn | Jul 28, 2018, 03:40 IST
Nagpur: In a strange and probably first-of-its-kind action, NMC has issued a notice to Sudhir Paliwal for planting trees along the internal road in front of his Ramdaspeth residence. Paliwal, who is an activist and director of state government’s flyash management company Mahagams, said he planted trees as part of nationwide mass tree plantation drive.
Paliwal said trees were planted as per provisions of Maharashtra (urban areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act. “NMC started construction of footpath on both sides of the road in our area a couple of years ago. But the work was not completed. I planted four Ashoka trees on July 20 in place adjoining my compound. Civic cops on July 25 served me notice asking to remove plants within 48 hours,” he said.
The notice was issued by the health department of NMC Dharampeth Zone.
Paliwal added plantation was mandatory on both sides of the roads as per the Act. “I replied to the notice on Thursday along with photographs of similar plantation along roads in many areas. Many people have even fenced of such areas. There are big trees on footpaths across the city. Still, NMC served notice only to me,” he said alleging conspiracy.
NMC official said notice was served as trees were planted on footpath. “There is a storm water drain under the surface where trees are planted. We are demolishing all encroachments on footpaths across the zone and no one will be spared,” he said.
There is no footpath at the spot right now. Paliwal said storm water drain will not be damaged by trees as big trees already exist on footpaths across the city under which storm water drains and pipelines run. “NMC should complete construction of footpath leaving space for trees,” he said.
- Desilted in summer, Tadoba lakes, water bodies now overflowing Vijay Pinjarkar | tnn | Jul 28, 2018, 05:36 IST
Nagpur: When many parks in the region were fretting over water crisis during summer owing to scanty rainfall last year, Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) management saw opportunity in the scarcity and desilted 18 water bodies and lakes within the park. A good monsoon this year has filled them to the brim ensuring water security in the reserve for years to come.
TATR officials, who faced heat for regulating tourism during summer, are today happy they focused on water conservation and got the water bodies desilted. Eight of these water bodies are in Kolsa, three in Mohurli and seven in Tadoba range.
“We spent Rs 34 lakh on the project. Major chunk came from Tiger Conservation Foundation (TCF) and some from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The rainwater now collected will charge groundwater and ponds and lakes will be full to face future crisis,” explained chief conservator of forest (CCF) and field director Mukul Trivedi.
“Solar pumps won’t work if the tube wells they are fitted on go dry. Hence, groundwater recharge through water harvesting in lakes is important,” explains deputy director (core) Kishor Mankar. The department created 6.02 crore litres of extra storage and all of it today full.
Mankar informed, this summer key wildlife water sources like Navegaon, Jamunbodi, Yenbodi, Kumbhibodi, Botezari, Aswalhira, Jamunzora and Pandharpaoni had gone dry in May-June. In Telia too, there was only a narrow strip of water left after December. Forest department went to work on those lakes and using heavy machinery removed silt from them.
“We also constructed 1.5-metre-high cement ‘bandhara’ and deepened the source upstream. Now there will be water in two parts throughout the year. Not only Telia, Jamni, Suklibodi, Mahalgaon, Pandharpaoni will also have water even if we have scanty rainfall next year. Katezari and Bhanuskhindi were not taken up as both had enough water in them,” says Mankar.
Explaining the larger plan, Mankar said, “We took desilting of big water bodies as they provide space for herbivores and carnivores. The project will help curb man-animal conflict as animals will not move out of the park in search of water and enter villages.”
“If there is sufficient water in lakes there will be good grass in nearby area which is good for small animals like hares and other species. During water scarcity small animals like mongoose, monitor lizards, squirrels face most difficulty as they cannot migrate like large animals,” he said.
The work on desilting started in January but most crucial period was May and June when water bodies went completely dry. “It allowed us to remove maximum amount of silt and now the results are visible,” said Mankar.
“At last we can hope to make Tadoba tanker-free. In some water bodies there are still murrum and boulders and for 1-2 years water may not be retained entire summer. Silt deposition in 2-3 years will stop percolation and there will be enough water,” Mankar hoped.
Trivedi was confident that water management will change the face of Tadoba. “It’s an ongoing process. Small streams need to be treated with soil moisture conservation (SMC) technique like loose boulder structures, cement bandharas, brushwood check dams, soil embankments after rainy season to stop flow. We made loose boulder structures at more than 260 places. This will reduce speed of runoff and increase ground water recharge,” said Trivedi.
“SMC work in TATR will help increase availability in neighbouring Erai dam too. At some water bodies, small islands have been created. These will act as perching place for water birds,” added Mankar.
- ‘Vid development restricted only to Nagpur and Chandrapur’ Ashish Roy | TNN | Updated: Jul 29, 2018, 06:15 IST
A lot of hue and cry is made over backwardness of Vidarbha. Successive governments have however focused only on Nagpur to redress the backlog. Now voices are being raised from west Vidarbha to seek justice for the region. Sanjay Khadakkar, former expert member of Vidarbha Statutory Development Board (VSDB), is in the forefront of this movement.
TOI talked to him for know more about the subject. Excerpts from the interview...
Q. How is Amravati division the most backward area of the state?
A. There are very little irrigation facilities in the region. Some 88% of the irrigation backlog of the state is in west Vidarbha. There are no big industrieshere. There are practically no employment opportunities in the region. The per capita income (PCI) of the division is 50% of the state. Of the six most backward districts in the state, five are in our region. An international agency has predicted that by 2040 it will become deserted as there will be no source of livelihood.
The state has 68 special economic zones (SEZs) but west Vidarbha has none. The textile park in Amravati is yet to take off while the chemical zone in Nandgaon-Khandeshwar is a non-starter. Akola and Amravati MIDCs have very few industries. Buldhana and Washim have practically no industries.
All the youngsters from our towns have to go to Mumbai, Pune and Nashik for employment. There are some colonies in Akola where you can’t see a young face. Only retired people stay there.
We are not against development of east Vidarbha but the region’s development at present only means development of Nagpur and Chandrapur districts.
Q. What is the solution for removing this backwardness?
A. Government will have to give special attention to the region. Around 75% of people depend on agriculture. Irrigation projects will have to funded on priority basis. Agro-processing industries will have to be developed. Warud should have orange products industries. Akola should have cotton based industries. All the textile mills of Akola have closed down. They need to be revived.
National level institutes must be started in Akola and Amravati. Nagpur has Visvesvarya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Laxminarayan Institute of Technology (LIT), National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and more such institutions. Many more are in pipeline. Mumbai and Pune have large number of quality institutions. Barring Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), there is not a single institute worth its name in west Vidarbha.
If you can’t start SEZs here, at least set up an special agriculture zone with special stress on agro-processing industries.
We need an airport in either Akola or Amravati. The present airports are only fit for small aircraft and there are no passenger flights. Lack of air connectivity is a major factor in development of the region.
Amravati division’s development is 50% of the state. Lot of efforts will have to be made to bring it at par.
Q. Have the public representatives of west Vidarbha failed in giving justice to the region?
A. Unfortunately this is true. Not a single MLA raised issues of our region in the recently concluded monsoon session of state assembly. They only attend district planning committee (DPC) meetings and suggest some projects. That’s all.
Q. Is separate Vidarbha a solution?
A. Only if the Vidarbha government ensures development of all eleven districts of the region. Special focus will have to be given to Amravati division.
- BPCL plans to make CNG out of biogas Shishir Arya | TNN | Updated: Jul 29, 2018, 06:13 IST
NAGPUR: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has become the first oil marketing company to venture into the biogas segment. It has begun on a micro scale with setting up a captive use plant for a food outlet in one its petrol pumps at Bazargaon off Nagpur-Amravati highway. The company has also opened its first electric car battery charging station in the city near Kalamna.
As the industry sees emergence of alternate fuels as a means to reduce crude prices, BPCL is also shifting focus into electric vehicles and bio-gas. BPCL’s Executive Director (retail) Arun Singh who came for the inauguration, said there are plans to open 100 such captive use plants throughout the country in over one year’s time. The company has bigger plans also, to further make compressed natural gas (CNG) through biogas, which can be seen as an alternative to petroleum. It is also considering to push biogas into the cooking gas segment.
However, an entire chain of logistics supply involving many stakeholders will be needed to scale up the operations for making CNG out of biogas. It takes 100kg of biowaste to make 4.5kg of biogas. This if compressed at a specific count can make CNG, he said.
“The biggest challenge, is ensuring availability of bio-waste at a large scale. This will require the involvement of civic bodies, NGOs and other government agencies to collect biowaste which can be converted into gas. The company has already done its calculations and the business can be financially viable with around 12% return on investment,” said Singh.
Singh said emergence of alternate fuels can also help in containing the rates of crude oil. If other fuels reduce the demand for petroleum, the crude prices can come down or remain stable, he said.
Considering the future of electric vehicles, BPCL is also planning to foray into the business of battery swapping stations. This is a model for vehicles plying on long routes which will need battery charging in between. At the swapping stations the existing battery can be changed with a charged battery.
Even as the electric vehicles are emerging, petroleum industry would continue to grow at the current rate of 7% till at least 2025. Later there will be space for all types of vehicles. In coming days the use of electric vehicles is expected to increase in the affluent class at least. The petroleum-driven vehicle may still remain the choice of middle and lower income class, he said.
- Only smart green infra will save tigers: Study Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Jul 29, 2018, 03:08 IST
Nagpur: Of the 1,697 roads, irrigation and railway projects, 399 worth Rs1.30 lakh crore are coming up in the tiger landscape of Central India and Eastern Ghats. Spread over eight states, the area is home to 688 tigers (31%) of the country’s 2,226 population and these projects threaten the existence of the wildcats.
Significantly, 345 of the 399 project proposers are not aware of the tiger corridor status of forest land patches that they seek to divert. Such unplanned development threatens the future of tigers in the country, says ‘Policy framework for connectivity conservation and smart green linear infrastructure development in the Central Indian & Eastern Ghats Tiger Landscape’. The report is prepared by Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) researchers Milind Pariwakam, Aditya Joshi, Sheetal Navgire and Srinivas Vaidyanathan.
“We hope this report will be of use to all stakeholders for a truly win-win solution towards conservation and smart green development in the spirit of the Prime Minister’ statement,” said Pariwakam who is the lead author.
PM Narendra Modi had said, “We need to re-orient our strategy by factoring in the concerns of the tiger in sectors where tiger conservation is not the goal. Our genius lies in ‘smartly’ integrating the tiger and wildlife safeguards in various infrastructures at the landscape level. This essentially takes us to the much needed ‘smart green infrastructure’, while adopting a landscape approach.”
The Central Indian & Eastern Ghats tiger landscape consists of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. These states have almost 50% of India’s tiger reserves (23 of 50). Tigers have travelled up to 650km in these states. For the 688 tigers, green corridors help in migration and also in not weakening the gene pool.
The report is a potential solution to the problem of linear infrastructure development affecting wildlife corridors. It is being presented to all the proposers. The report also presents a way forward for planning of infrastructure and conservation of corridors in the seven states.
The report also analysed data from over 17,000 forest land diversion proposals received from across the country post-July 2014. It found that the average linear infrastructure development requires only 38.4 hectares (railway), 16.9 hectares (road) and 16 hectares (transmission lines).
“Though the area of forest land in hectares required for diversion is very less, it has a significant negative impact on connectivity and population viability, in addition to other environmental impacts,” the report states.
It also warns on dangers of increasing speed limits on roads as the chances of wildlife vehicle collusion (WVCs) will rise. WCT identified all the tiger corridors in these eight states for the first time. “All proposed development projects were assessed and overlaid using geographic information system (GIS) maps. This helped easy identification of projects which affect corridors. It will help authorities to suggest appropriate mitigation measures,” said Joshi.
The report calls for joint meetings to be held among ministries of environment, highway and railways, National Tiger Conservation Authority and other agencies to proactively plan to incorporate safeguards and implement projects for a win-win solution for development and conservation.
“We believe this framework will help save money due to better planning of infrastructure project which incorporate mitigation measures in the initial stages itself and avoid cost overruns,” said Vaidyanathan.
- Forest area of Tadoba’s size encroached upon Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Jul 30, 2018, 18:55 IST
Nagpur: The state forest department has achieved 13 crore plantation target in 27 days, but similar enthusiasm is missing for removing large-scale encroachments on its land which can be utilized for plantations.
According to information sought under the RTI Act by activist Abhay Kolarkar, there are 1,37,671 encroachments on 61,780.233 hectare forest land, which is equivalent to an area of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). In the last 40 years since 1978, the department could remove only 457 encroachments and freed a meagre 938.196 hectare area.
The huge land under encroachment is in addition to the over 86,409 hectare zudpi land already under encroachments and lakhs of acres grabbed by people under Forest (Rights) Act (FRA), 2006.
Based on RTI information from tribal commissioner, Nashik, TOI on November 24, 2017 had reported that since the implementation of FRA from 2010-11, 1,08,593 individuals have been granted titles over 2,59,579 acres of forest land. The RTI also revealed that 2.80 lakh individual FRA claims were rejected. “If you consider a bare minimum one acre of land under their possession, 2.80 lakh acres must be under encroachments,” said Gadchiroli honorary wildlife warden Uday Patel.
Kolarkar alleged that an assistant conservator of forest (ACF) rank officer has been granted powers under Section 53, 54 & 54 (A) of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966, to remove encroachments but these officers have failed in their duty.
“Removal of encroachments on forest land should be linked to their promotions and emoluments. In Nagpur division alone, there are encroachments on 2,808.951 hectare forest land,” Kolarkar said.
Interestingly, to a reply, the public information officer (PIO) was shy of sharing details about who had encroached upon forest land. Last year, at the senior forest officers conference (SFOC), forest secretary Vikas Kharge had directed to remove all the encroachments in a time-bound manner. Even in forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar’s hometown Chandrapur, encroachments which have gobbled up 5,249.116 hectares forest land.
In Maharashtra, Dhule Circle tops the chart with encroachments on 20,925.170 hectare, followed by Gadchiroli (8,582.049ha), Aurangabad (6,580.760ha), Mumbai wildlife (5,933.644ha).
- NMC drive unearths 1.46L unassessed properties, likely to reach to 2L Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Jul 30, 2018, 19:03 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), which started a drive for revaluation of existing properties and assessment of new and unassessed one in 2016, has over a period of two years unearthed 1,46,533 unassessed properties which may even reach to two lakh in coming days.
The total number of properties under property tax net is also likely to increase to 7 lakh, which will help boost the financial condition of the already cash-hit civic body. Due to increase in number of properties and also steep rise in property tax after implementation of the new tax system — rent chart plus ready reckoner value, the total revenue from the property tax is likely to increase to around Rs400 crore per annum excluding arrears . Till now, the demand was around Rs165 crore per annum excluding arrears.
NMC assistant commissioner (property tax) Milind Meshram said the revaluation of 3.57 lakh of total 5.31 lakh properties is completed. “The number of existing properties reduced down to 4.80 lakh. Around 50,000 properties of total 5.31 lakh were found non-existent. Many of these properties were registered two times so required to be deleted. Majority of unassessed properties are from outskirt areas. Also, we are doing assessment of properties in Hudkeshwar and Narsala. Number of unassessed properties is likely to rise to over 2 lakh. Thus, total number of properties will increase to around 7 lakh,” he said.
Meshram further said the target was to complete the drive by August 15. “Earlier, the drive was being implemented through one private agency. Now we have engaged another one. Demand notes to all existing and newly registered properties will be issued by October,” the assistant commissioner said.
Meanwhile, the NMC has distributed demand notes of 1,86,662 properties till July 25 out of 2,76,501. The civic body is issuing demand notes of last and current fiscal for properties that did not get demand notes in last fiscal and is not levying penalty for demand of last fiscal.
Earlier, the NMC used to prepare and distribute demand notes by December end every year. The system was continued despite the launch of six monthly demand note system in 2015.
Meshram said the NMC will begin distribution of demand notes for all properties from April onwards from next fiscal. “We are putting data of each and every property in online system under the drive. Therefore, it will be easy for us to prepare and issue demand notes without any delay from next fiscal,” he said.
Distribution of demand notes in time will be beneficial for the NMC as well as taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the NMC continued to receive complaints related to inflated and wrong demand notes. Few received arrears despite tax paid in last fiscal. Couple of taxpayers received demand notes despite tax was in minus.
Meshram said number of complaints reduced drastically this fiscal. “We are correcting demand notes and posting online immediately after receiving complaints. All updated demand notes are online. We are also about to launch an app for property tax soon,” he said.
- BJP netas stop NMC from razing ‘illegal’ temple, plan spl GB meet Anjaya Anparthi and Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Jul 31, 2018, 03:54 IST
Nagpur: BJP, the ruling party in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), prevented the administration from demolishing an ‘illegal’ temple in LIG Colony, Trimurti Nagar, on Monday. The saffron party also announced to hold a special meeting of general body to frame a policy for regularization of religious structures constructed on public utility (PU) lands and open spaces across the city.
With Shiv Sena already up in arms, Congress, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Buddha Vihar Samanvay Samiti too started opposing the drive by NMC and Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) to demolish illegal religious structures as per the orders of the Supreme Court and Nagpur bench of Bombay high court.
After forcing the NMC and police team to return empty-handed, ruling party leader Sandip Joshi and former mayor and corporator Pravin Datke said around 14 intervention applications were filed in the HC pleading to stop the demolition drive. “The HC has scheduled the hearing of the petitions on August 2,” they said.
After delaying for over four years, the NMC and the NIT started demolishing illegal religious structures daily and razed around 280 of the total 1,248 in the last couple of months that too after regular strictures passed by the HC. It was for the first time that the BJP has stopped the NMC’s drive.
Joshi, Datke, chairman of Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board Munna Yadav, corporators Prakash Bhoyar, Pallavi Shamkule, Lahukumar Behte along with BJP leaders and citizens of LIG Colony gathered in front of Shri Gurudeo Dutta Mandir at around 2.30pm and started demonstrating against the demolition. Over 150 agitators raised slogans against the NMC administration, police department and also threatened to chop off hands of those who try to demolish the religious structure.
At around 4.30pm, NMC team led by deputy municipal commissioner Rajesh Mohite and assistant commissioner of Laxmi Nagar zone Suwarna Dakhane reached the spot with a team of around 20 employees and engineers. Trimurti Nagar PSO Rajendra Pathak too arrived with around 15 personnel. Datke and Joshi sought time and the NMC team returned speechless giving eight days for shifting the idol from the temple.
Raking up a controversy, Joshi accused the NMC of biased action. “There are two illegal dargahs adjacent to Vidhan Bhavan and Deshpande hall but none has been demolished yet. NMC administration is targeting only temples. We respect the HC’s orders. Our agitation is against the NMC administration that wrongly prepared the list of illegal religious structures in 2014. Religious structures constructed on PU lands and open spaces can be regularized but was not done by the NMC. We are in support of demolition of religious structures obstructing traffic or causing inconvenience to the citizens. All should come forward and prevent the demolition from being carried out Tuesday onwards,” he said.
Joshi added an all-religion group has been formed and it will start opposing the drive from Tuesday. “The ongoing drive has caused unrest among the citizens. Also, 112 corporators of BJP will meet municipal commissioner Virendra Singh on Tuesday and demand not to demolish structures on PU lands and open spaces,” he said.
The NMC’s Laxmi Nagar zone had prepared a plan to raze seven temples on Monday but ended up with only six due to the BJP’s opposition. At Narendra Nagar also, the NMC team faced opposition but demolished the temple. Traffic on busy Ring Road was disrupted for an hour after residents along with VHP activists staged a rasta roko.
Activists of Youth Congress, led by corporator Bunty Shelke, staged a novel protest on Kelibag road at Mahal. Taking potshots at Union minister Nitin Gadkari, Shelke and his team performed puja of an electric pole standing in the middle on the road. “Many accidents have taken place due to this pole but the NMC did not remove it. However, BJP-ruled NMC is not missing any chance to demolish religious structures despite they not causing any problem to anyone,” Shelke said. Kotwali police later detained Shelke and his supporters.
Congress workers from East Nagpur led by Abhijit Wanjari resorted to ‘Gandhigiri’ to register their protest in front of NMC’s Lakadganj zone. After taking out a silent march, they recited bhajans.
- Despite civic chief’s directive, encroachers stay put on footpaths Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Jul 30, 2018, 19:06 IST
Nagpur: The municipal commissioner’s directives to make all footpaths in the city encroachment free has, it seems, fallen on deaf ears for all the ten assistant municipal commissioners of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).
All the main roads in the city are clogged with hawkers who cause inconvenience to motorists. They encroach upon footpaths, forcing the pedestrians to walk on road, resulting in the congestion of the already busy roads with vehicular traffic.
Municipal commissioner Virendra Singh, while inspecting the road between Aath Rasta Chowk and Orange City Hospital Road under Laxmi Nagar zone on June 23, had directed all ten assistant municipal commissioners to free all encroachments to ensure free movement for pedestrians on footpaths.
But neither any action was initiated nor the footpaths were freed. Recently, TOI found encroachments on footpaths have actually increased manifold. In most areas in Sitabuldi, Mahal, Itwari, Gandhibagh, Sadar shopkeepers have encroached upon footpaths.
Citing an example of Sitabuldi market, Mahesh Bokade, a shopper, showed that how the shopkeepers here encroached the footpaths and hawkers occupied over half of the roads. Parking on road by people has further reduced the space in this busy market, he said.
The blatant violation by hawkers, shopkeepers and ignorant attitude of the civic administration created traffic chaos in every nook and corner of the city.
In fact, the NMC launched hawkers’ registration drive in 2014, but it received a poor response with only 4,700 registrations. There are about 1 lakh hawkers in the city, though the NMC’s market department survey said the figure was around 40,000 only.
The NMC announced the implementation of hawkers’ policy to ensure at least 36 main roads free of hawkers and also ban cooking in the open while providing encroachment-free roads and footpaths for citizens.
On several occasions, TOI had highlighted crowded areas like Buty Hospital road in Sitabuldi, Chambhar Nullah to Teka Naka Marwari Galli, Budhwar Bazaar, Mahal Kelibagh road which are teeming with hawkers at any given point of time.
The encroachments have also been creating troubles for bus stops in the city. There are number of places in the city, including North Ambazari road, Bharat Nagar and several others, are blocked either by illegally parked vehicles, autorickshaws or roadside vendors, giving hardly any space to city buses to stop for passengers to board or alight them.
Assistant municipal commissioner from NMC’s enforcement department Ashok Patil claimed that the civic body had been carrying out anti-encroachment drives regularly. However, he failed to clarify why the footpaths are not free from encroachments yet.
- NGO proposes sustainable model to develop highways Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Jul 31, 2018, 04:00 IST
Nagpur: On an average, 22km of roads are being built in the country by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) every day, causing huge environmental damage. Friends International, a city-based biodiversity conservation NGO, has proposed sustainable and environment-friendly model for highways development.
Biodiversity consultant DR Chinchmalatpure said the current practice of building highways involves excavation of hard strata to be used as bed material. “As a general practice, this material is extracted from nearby hillocks and highland ranges, which play crucial role in maintaining ecological balance,” says Chinchmalatpure.
He says, “These hillocks and highlands are key sources to control climate change impacts. Free flow of water in rivers is only because of highland ranges, and hence we should avoid extraction of material for highways from here.”
Chinchmalatpure, who has also apprised roads and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on the issue, proposes extraction of roadside material at minimum distance of 8km from where soft strata may be used for filling pits for tree plantation and for median plantation, while hard strata beneath the upper soil can be used for road construction.
“The hollow land created this way will conserve rainwater and turn into ponds, thereby helping water harvesting. This will also help save hillocks. Water in tanks and ponds created can also be used by farmers for irrigation purpose,” says Chinchmalatpure.
The biodiversity expert says the same tanks and ponds can be utilized for fish and prawn farming, and development of algae, from which ayurvedic medicines can be manufactured. Native trees can also be planted at roadsides and tank water can be used to water them.
“This can also be one of the plans to double the income of farmers by 2022, as proposed in the general budget by the Narendra Modi government,” he says.
The proposal also suggests erection of solar panels in the median area. Extensive use of solar power will help illuminate streets and excess energy can be used to operate agriculture pumps. It also suggests construction of highway malls at strategic places for travellers.
NHAI regional officer Chandrashekar M said, however, no such proposal has been received yet. “However, if entrepreneurs come forward to develop such areas they are most welcome. We will give NOC to them,” he said.
Chandrashekar says, “We are open on the issue. It is not possible for the roads already constructed, but can be implemented for new proposals. We will help such parties and play role of facilitator.”
On the contrary, Shrikant Deshpande of Nature Conservation Association (NCA), who fought a PIL against NHAI over poor compensatory plantations, termed the proposal as unviable.
“While expanding roads, NHAI needs 65 metre land on both sides. Since land is not available, the road authority acquires 45 metres land, on which it has to take up plantations, so how will construction of lakes and ponds be possible,” Deshpande asked.
Deshpande added, in Maharashtra there is already a government scheme for farm ponds ‘Magel Tyala Shettal’. Any farmer who seeks a farm pond has to immediately get the sanction, along with a subsidy of Rs50,000.
WHAT IS PROPOSED
* Stop cutting hillocks for hard strata to save environment
* Dig land at least 8km away from roads; use soft strata for tree plantation and filling
* Digging hard strata will create water ponds and tanks, which can be used for farming, and fish and prawn farming
* Install solar panels in median for illumination of roads
* Set up malls and resorts at strategic points for travellers
- SNDL supplies power on wooden poles to SRA flats Ashish Roy | TNN | Jul 31, 2018, 04:02 IST
Safety was ignored while giving power supply to the SRA scheme in Wanjra. When objection was raised, SNDL star... Read More
Nagpur: Completely disregarding safety, SNDL is supplying power to Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) on wooden poles in Wanjra. After TOI pointed out this fact, SNDL immediately started laying an underground cable. However, this was done through a private land without permission of the owner, who lodged a police complaint.
Builder Gaurav Agrawala of SDPL charged that SNDL was minimizing its expenses and disregarding all norms. “We had erected poles and laid an overhead cable for our construction site. This was a dedicated distribution facility (DDF) and SNDL had no right to give connection to other consumers through this line. However, the franchisee provided connection to a Slum Rehability Scheme (SRA) scheme through our DDF,” he said.
The builder further said we complained but nothing happened and finally the electricity ombudsman told SNDL to take over the line and pay us a compensation of Rs 3 lakh plus interest. “SNDL challenged the order in Nagpur bench of Bombay high court and admitted that while it had used the DDF, it would not do so in future,” he added.
“Then it erected wooden poles and started supplying to SRA scheme. When people objected to it, SNDL started laying an underground cable through our land without our permission. Our manager has lodged a police complaint against SNDL,” said Agrawala.
- Despite notice, Empress Mall fails to free blocked passages Proshun Chakraborty | tnn | Jul 31, 2018, 05:57 IST
Nagpur: Even after two months of being told to remove all 44 stalls in the passages at Empress Mall, KSL Industries — which runs the Mall — has done nothing. A fortnight ago, the NMC’s fire and emergency services department had submitted a letter to Ganeshpeth police station to initiate action against the owners of these stalls, a senior fire official told TOI. However, the police too have not initiated any action.
TOI on Friday visited the Mall and found that these temporary structures were located on ground, first and third floor. Though, there are no stalls on the second floor.
These stalls, which sell toys, artificial jewellery, food items etc, block the free passageway in the Mall leaving less open spaces to escape in case of an unfortunate event. Most areas on the ground floor that were once vacant have been occupied by stalls and gaming zones. Even on many occasions, open space at the entrance of the Mall is used for setting up stages for hosting programmes, said visitors. On weekends which usually see huge footfalls, the encroachment on passage creates bottlenecks.
According to fire officer, in case of fire people should have enough space to rush towards the exit. These stalls will create bottlenecks in such a situation. “There is no provision for having such stalls in the building plan,” he added.
The fire officer, however, said fire-fighting arrangements are in place in the Mall. But he admitted that the passage areas should be kept free. Even on May 19, the fire department had issued a notice to Empress Mall asking it to remove all the 44 temporary stalls on its premises by Monday else police complaint would be lodged against the owners.
Also, NMC’s Dhantoli zone had on July 23 served a notice demanding Rs52 lakh towards groundwater rent. “We have given 15 days to the owners to pay the groundwater rent or else the property will be seized,” said a senior official from the zone office.
The officials from NMC’s town planning department on July 27 re-inspected the premises to find out deviations to the sanctioned plans. The report will be submitted to the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court as the owners of the Mall have challenged the NMC’s report on many illegalities and discrepancies in the construction of Empress Mall, including that of fire safety and unauthorized construction.
Besides this, the KSL Industries has also defaulted on property tax to the tune of Rs 14 crore, said the Dhantoli zone official. “We have issued notice twice about demolition of illegal constructions. As the Mall had failed to comply with the orders, we have imposed a fine of Rs 19 crore under MRTP Act,” the official said.
- HC stays notice to remove tin shed at Maharajbagh Vaibhav Ganjapure | tnn | Jul 31, 2018, 05:58 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Monday granted an interim stay to the notice issued to remove temporary tin shed erected by the ‘Arogya Asan Mandal’ on the premises of Maharajbagh garden by regular visitors doing yoga there.
The Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), which owns the zoo, had issued eviction notice to the Mandal to remove its tin shed on July 17 as they were instructed by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). It was issued on behalf of College of Agriculture run by the Akola-headquartered university.
The NMC identified the temporary shed as religious structure and asked the PDKV to remove it as per the directives by the high court on June 6 in a petition filed by social worker Gajanan Khorgade.
The notice was challenged by Dr Chandrakant Raghatate and Pramod Narad through their counsel Pradeep Wathore contending that none of the religious activities were performed at the shed and, therefore it didn’t fell under the Schedule B category. They contended that their trust was not unauthorized and was registered way back in 1959.
According to them, the trust was meant for welfare of old aged persons who visit Maharajbagh garden for a morning walk and perform yogasan and pranayam. They stated that on request made up by their members, then minister for public works constructed a temporary tin shed and a boundary wall and donated Rs25,000 for its repairs.
The petitioners prayed for quashing and setting aside the communication issued by PDKV’s College of Agriculture on July 17 and removing tin shed from the list of Schedule B structures termed as “religious” prepared by the NMC.
They also prayed for interim stay to the PDKV’s notice till pendency of the petition and permit the trust members to perform their morning activities regularly.