PANAJI: The Goa Excise Department will renew licenses of nearly 700-800 liquor vendors operating within 220 metres from State and National highways. The department had stalled renewal of 3,210 liquor vendor licenses since Saturday following a Supreme Court order that banned liquor outlets within 500 metres of highways.A senior official of the State Excise Department told The Hindu on Sunday that they will carry out the renewal process after a core committee, comprising the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, issues an order.On Saturday, the committee concluded that the 220-metre relief, given in a modified order by the apex court last week to towns and local bodies with population of less than 20,000, was applicable to Goa.The excise official said that six zones come under the 500m limit, including Mormugao, Sancolae, Salcete, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona. The remaining would come under the 220m limit.He said the State has 11,000 liquor license holders, including bars, hotels and restaurants, and the licenses of nearly 30% of these have not been renewed since Saturday. He also said the liquor vendors could approach the department to seek time as per the Excise Act and Rules to shift\transfer their stocks, but not for renewal of license.However, Dattaprasad Naik, president of All Goa Liquor Traders’ Association, differed from the excise department’s figure of total liquor outlets in the State. According to him, the actual outlets would be around 9,900. He also said that under the 220m relief, he expected around 1,000 outlets to be saved, as opposed to the figure of around 800 outlets given by the Excise Department.He claimed that in some areas the high-level committee headed by the State Excise commissioner, for recording the number of outlets under the 500m limit, had not measured the distance by the closest road from the highway but in a straight line. “In some cases, after by-passes [for highways] have been carried out, negligence of the government had led to old roads not being denotified. Once all these anomalies were rectified, definitely more number of outlets will be saved from closure,” he said.To a question about filing a review petition in the Supreme Court, Mr. Naik said the government has to take a call on it. He said the association would either become a party to the petition if the State government files it, or would approach the SC with a plea of review on its own if the State doesn’t.Ralph D’Souza, former member of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and chief of Goa Chamber of Commerce Tourism Cell, said the ban would have a negative impact on tourism and hospitality.
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday registered a case against a Varanasi-based non-government organisation for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. The organisation had received ₹8.38 crore funds from overseas between 2006 and 2012.Not registered under ActThe action has been taken on the basis of a reference from the Union Home Ministry. The FIR mentions that the Ministry’s FCRA wing conducted an inspection of the NGO’s records and found that it was not registered under the Act. Therefore, the organisation did not have the mandatory approval for receiving contributions from abroad.No govt. approvalHowever, an examination of Heritage Foundation’s account books revealed that it received foreign contributions of ₹8.38 crore in 2006-12, without any prior permission from the government. The NGO had received ₹5.16 crore from overseas entities, even after the government in August 2008 directed it not to accept foreign contribution without permission.Based on the findings, the Ministry recommended investigation into the dealings of the NGO. The agency has prima facie found that there was an alleged violation of Sections 34 and 35 of the FCRA, and accordingly a case has been registered.The CBI’s Lucknow wing is soon expected to visit the NGO premises and question those running the organisation. The Ministry has also handed over to the agency its own findings.
The Centre will soon begin work on a ₹11,000-crore project to provide road connectivity to 44 Naxal-affected districts, including Sukma in Chhattisgarh, which had recently witnessed one of the deadliest Maoist attacks.Five per cent of the total project cost i.e. ₹550 crore will be kept aside for administrative expenses including for deployment of security forces at strategic locations, officials said.To improve rural road connectivity in the Left Wing Extremism affected districts, the Cabinet had last year approved the centrally-sponsored “Road Connectivity Project for LWE Affected Areas” scheme.The project will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in the districts that are critical from a security and communication point of view.Under the project, there will be construction or upgradation of 5,411 km of roads and 126 bridges. Work will be taken up at an estimated cost of ₹11,724.53 crore in the above districts. Chhattisgarh to benefitThe project is likely to be started in the next few weeks and all necessary arrangements have been made for its launch, a top government official said. Out of these 44 districts, the maximum are in Chhattisgarh, where 25 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed by Naxals last month.Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra are the other States that will be covered under the scheme.
The situation remained tense in Darjeeling on Sunday after there were widespread clashes between GJM supporters and security forces on Saturday in which the GJM claims three persons were allegedly killed.Here are the latest updates.”In a democracy like India, resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution. Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue,” the Home Minister said.Mr. Singh spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the situation in violence—hit Darjeeling. He had spoken to her on Saturday as well.”All parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment,” said Mr. Singh.Also Read Why is Darjeeling on the boil again? Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to residents of Darjeeling to remain calm and peaceful, says nobody should resort to violence, says a PTI report. Rallies at Chowk BazaarThe city’s Chowk Bazaar is seeing back-to-back rallies. GJM supporters parade a body which they claim to be that of a party worker killed in Saturday’s police firing.A few hundred members of the Muslim community in Darjeeling too came together earlier in the morning to pledge their support for a separate Gorkhaland.Local GJM MLA Amar Singh Rai held a press conference saying the claims of the State government that police did not fire was “laughable”. “Three people have been killed. We have bullets to show that they were fired by security sources,” he said adding that they were not happy with the role of the Central government in the imbroglio.”We are being made pawns by the Centre and the State,” he said. “We are disappointed that the BJP MP from Darjeeling (SS Ahluwalia) is not with the people of the hills. I have doubts in my mind that the centre is not really helping us,” he said.”What happened yesterday was unfortunate. This was something that could have been prevented had the honourable CM issued a notification saying that Bengali will not be implemented in the hills. The situation here is still very volatile,” he added.Mr. Rai also said that they were ready to talk with the Centre anytime.On the possiblity of talks with the State govt, he said there cannot be talks until the central forces and army were withdrawn and there was some semblance of normalcy in the hills.GJM calls for protest rallyThe Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung on Sunday gave a call for a protest rally at Chowk Bazaar here. GJM will observe a black day today, he said.Darjeeling remained in a state of complete shutdown on the fourth day of the indefinite strike called by the GJM.Violence escalated on on June 17, 2017 with widespread clashes between GJM activists and the police. ADGP (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma blamed the GJM activists for “opening fire”.Also Read Don’t resort to violence, have dialogue, says Rajnath Singh to GJM protesters Singamari, the headquarters of the GJM, turned into a battle zone with Morcha supporters who had strategic advantage of height and knowledge of the terrain, targeted security forces with stones and projectiles. The security forces resorted to massive tear gas shelling and baton charge but had to beat a retreat.For almost two hours a large part of Lebong Cart Road came under the control of the protesters. A large contingent of security forces later regained control over the area and arrested some GJM supporters. Later the Army was deployed to bring the situation at Singmari under control.
For the first time since 1990, the Assam government issued orders declaring the State a “disturbed area”, imposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for six months.Such orders were earlier issued by the Union Home Ministry, which recently gave up its power and asked the State government to decide on continuing the enforcement of the AFSPA in the State.Under Section 3 of the Act, it can be invoked in places “where the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.Except in the case of Tripura and Manipur, the Centre had been issuing such notifications for Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.The decision comes a year after the BJP came to power in Assam in 2016.Huge powersThe AFSPA gives powers to the Army and Central forces deployed in “disturbed areas” to kill anyone acting in contravention of the law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant, and provide cover to the Armed Forces from prosecution and legal suits without the Centre’s sanction.An official explained that the Assam government’s notification will not affect the operation of Central forces or the Army deployed in the State.On August 4, the Home Ministry extended the AFSPA in Assam for 27 days, which expired on August 31.
Mumbai: In yet another victory in Maharashtra, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won four out of six municipal councils that went to polls last week. The newly-floated Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh of former Congress leader Narayan Rane, who is the Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, won the municipal council of Kankavali in Sindhudurg, his home town. Interestingly, Mr Rane had contested against the BJP. BJP’s Irrigation minister Girish Mahajan swept the Jamner municipal council poll by winning all 24 seats and his wife won the direct election for the council’s president post. The BJP also won in Devrukh, Vaijapur and Aajra municipal councils. “The BJP’s graph of success has been rising right from the time party won 2014 elections. We are confident that the future elections too will demonstrate the similar trend and the BJP will be back in power,” said party’s state unit chief Raosaheb Danve. In Kankavali, MSP won 10 out of 17 seats, the BJP and Shiv Sena won three each, while the NCP got one. The Congress, which controlled the municipal council earlier, drew a blank. Mr. Rane’s son Nitesh is a Congress MLA. Though he has not resigned from the party, he was not seen campaigning for the party. Narayan Rane, the former Chief Minister quit the Congress in September last year alleging that the state leadership had sidelined him.
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement In southern Assam’s Barak Valley, some highways are under water. Ferry services have been suspended in Barak, Kushiyara and other rivers affecting more than 30,000 passengers.“We have had to suspend train services on the Lumding-Badarpur hill section because of landslide at five places in Dima Hasao district. Restoration work has been completed in three of the five locations,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, spokesperson of Northeast Frontier Railway, said.In Manipur, Chief Minister N.Biren Singh said five people have drowned in the devastating flood, primarily due to several breaches on embankments of rivers flowing down from the hills into Imphal Valley. The victims include a minor boy.“We are trying to provide relief to thousands of displaced and stranded people,” Mr. Singh said. Landslide on railway track in Lumding-Badarpur hill section in Assam. Floods and landslides induced by torrential rain in the past 48 hours have left 12 people dead and thousands homeless across Assam, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, disaster management officials in these north-eastern states said on Thursday.While this is the first wave of rain-related disaster in the other States, Tripura experienced pre-monsoon flood and landslide in May that claimed 12 lives – seven in landslides and five in floods.Assam State Disaster Management Authoritry (ASDMA) officials said one person drowned near Kaziranga National Park in Golaghat district on Thursday. Two others lost their lives in landslide that damaged 166 houses at Mahur in Dima Hasao district.“At least 370 villages have been submerged in seven districts, displacing 166,836 people. National and State Disaster Response Force teams rescued 422 people, mostly in southern Assam. We have set up 115 relief camps in Karimganj, Hailakandi, Karbi Anglong and Golaghat districts for 35,927 inmates,” an ASDMA spokesperson said.
Peoples Democratic Party vice-president Sartaj Madni, also an uncle of its president Mehbooba Mufti, resigned from the party post on Monday, in an apparent first bid to dissipate the surging rebellion within the party.“I have submitted my resignation to PDP president Ms. Mufti in the larger interest of the party and for its strengthening, stability and unity,” said Mr. Madni.He was nominated for the party top post in January 2017, just a year after PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away.The elevation of Mr. Madani and Ms. Mufti’s brother Tassaduq Mufti, inducted into the State Cabinet as Tourism Minister, was seen by many PDP leaders, especially the MLAs, as a bid on the part of Ms. Mufti to strengthen the family’s hold over the party “without considering any merit”.In fact, Mr. Madani’s stepping down is first casualty of the rebellion faced by Ms. Mufti within the party, with at least seven MLAs and MLCs publicly criticising her policies and approach during the previous PDP-BJP government.“PDP had become a family show, run by brothers, uncles and other relatives. The Peoples Democratic Party has become Family Democratic Party,” PDP MLA Imran Raza Ansari had said in a statement.Sources said Ms. Mufti is under pressure within the party to act against her brother, who was nominated for an MLC seat in the State Assembly’s Upper House in December 2017, to save the party. Sources said Ms. Mufti is likely to nominate someone from outside the family as Mr. Madni’s replacement.
Intra-city commute is likely to be thrown awry as a result of the shutdown in Pune. Morcha activists will stage bike rallies throughout Pune city during the day, said Shantaram Kunjir, the Morcha’s Pune co-ordinator. Emotional scenes at Shinde’s funeralThere were emotional scenes on Tuesday at the funeral of Kakasaheb Shinde, the 27-year-old youth who died by suicide, protesting delays over a reservation quota for the Maratha community.Irate crowds raised slogans against the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government and the Shiv Sena MP from Aurangabad, Chandrakant Khaire, who was heckled by protestors while trying to attend the funeralFearing the wrath of the demonstrators, Mr. Khaire, a four time MP, was forced to beat a hasty retreat from the funeral spot.While the State administration has ordered Gangapur Tehsildar Chandrakant Shelke and Police Inspector Sunil Birla to go on forced leave, the Aurangabad committee of the Maratha Kranti Morcha says it is not satisfied with the govt.’s decision. Speaking to The Hindu from Aurangabad, Morcha convenor, Ravindra Kale said: “Both officials must be suspended immediately. We also demand Rs. 50 lakh as compensation for Shinde’s family.” Buses cancelledState Transport buses along the Pune – Aurangabad route have been cancelled in wake of the intensity of the protest.According to reports, nearly 60 Maharashtra State Transport buses have damaged or torched by irate protestors in the last three daysKeeping in mind the inconveniences to the lakhs of ‘warkaris’ (devotees) stranded in the temple town of Pandharpur (in Solapur district) on the occasion of Ashadhi Ekadashi , the Morcha has called for activists not to disrupt public transport in western Maharashtra districts and cities, namely Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Pune. Fadnavis forced to cancel temple visitAfter the Maratha Kranti Morcha’s warning that it would not permit Maharashtra Chief Minister to hold prayers in Pandharpur, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said he had cancelled his July 23 visit to the temple town in view of the safety of lakhs of devotees gathered on ashadhi ekadashi.“I have decided to cancel my engagement bearing in mind the security of 10 lakh warkaris present in Pandharpur. For several years, it has become a custom for the CM to perform pooja. I have been going there for the last three years. But some organisation has objected to it this year for certain reasons. However, its method of seeking their demands by holding the warkaris hostage is improper,” Mr. Fadnavis said in Mumbai.Read more Members of Maratha community hold bike protest rally on crowded Laxmi road, Pune. The suicideKakasaheb Shinde (27) jumped into the Godavari river to protest increasing delays by the government in announcing a reservation quota for the Maratha community. Lifeguards pulled Mr. Shinde out and took him to a civic hospital nearby, where he was declared ‘dead before admission’.The suicide sparked furious reactions from the Marathas, who refused to accept his body. Agitators staged a rasta roko on the Aurangabad highway on Monday, vandalised several vehicles including government ones.Protesters also demanded a criminal case be filed against Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in the incident, and demanded ₹50 lakh as compensation for the deceased’s family.Read more | Photo Credit: Mandar Tannu A constable died and another was injured in pelting of stones on July 24 as a State-wide protest called by outfits seeking reservation for the Maratha community turned violent with agitators clashing with police and torching vehicles in Aurangabad and adjoining districts of Maharashtra.The Maratha Kranti Morcha had called for a Maharashtra bandh after the death of a protester on July 23 during a protest march in favour of reservation. Twenty-seven–year-old Kakasaheb Shinde, jumped off a bridge over the Godavari river in Aurangabad. He was rushed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead.Quota for Marathas, a politically influential community that constitutes around 30 per cent of the State’s population, has been a hugely contentious issue.Shinde’s death triggered a fresh set of protests in several parts of the State, with Opposition leaders seeking to put the onus on the BJP-led government in the State, according to PTI.In the last few days, protests have take place in Buldhana, Akola, Parali, Washim and even in Mumbai. The community leaders had taken out several rallies in various districts to highlight their demands. Last year, a huge rally was organised by the Maratha Kranti Morcha in this connection in Mumbai. Despite Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ promise to fulfil the demands, nothing concrete has been done till now, community leaders have claimed. Call given for Mumbai bandhAs the stir for reservation in jobs and education intensified, the Maratha Kranti Morcha also decided to call for a Mumbai bandh on July 25. At a meeting in Dadar, the Morcha leaders decided to call for a Mumbai bandh. At another meeting of the Sakal Maratha Samaj in adjoining Vashi, it was decided to call for a bandh in Navi Mumbai and Panvel as well. Constable dies of heart attackA police constable, deployed to oversee security for the funeral of Kakasaheb Shinde in Aurangabad’s Kaygaon village, dies after suffering a cardiac arrest. The deceased constable has been identified as Shyam Padgaonkar. Chandrakant Patil calls protestors ‘paid elements’”Can the question of reservation be resolved by breaking Ministers’ vehicles or torching State Transport buses? There are paid elements who trying to discredit the agitation for Maratha reservation and defame the government, which has been functioning smoothly for the past four years,” says Maharashtra Revenue Minister and senior BJP leader Chandrakant Patil, speaking in Sangli.While remarking that Kakasaheb Shinde’s [Maratha agitation activist] suicide was tragic, he asked whether it would help resolve the knotty affair of reservation for the Maratha community”Our [the BJP-Sena] govt. is ready for discussions. But the issue of reservation is now in the hands of the Bombay High Court. What is the point of agitating for something which is not in the State govt.’s control?” Mr. Shinde said. Pelting os stones at Kaygaon TokaThe agitation has taken a hostile turn near the bridge on the river Godavari in Kaygaon Toka (where Kakasaheb Shinde committed suicide) in Aurangabad’s Gangapur tehsil.Despite robust police deployment, a restive mob got out of hand and began pelting stones on security personnel. Two police jawans have been injured after the mob damaged and torched a Fire Brigade department vehicle. Support for ‘bandh’ in Sangli district, total shutdown in BeedState transport buses in Hatkanangle in Western Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district were damaged around noon on Tuesday, The Hindu correspondent Shoumojit Banerjee reports.The ‘bandh’ is also seeing overwhelming support in Sangli district, with thousands of Maratha community youths on the streets, demanding immediate quota implementation and castigating Fadnavis govt for tardinessThere are some major traffic snarls in Jamkhed tehsil in Ahmednagar due to roadblocks, while there is a total shutdown in Beed and Osmanabad districts in Marathwada. Both government as well as private establishments downed shutters in response to the ‘bandh’ call. The bus stops in Beed wear a desolate look as 400-odd State buses are stranded sans passengers. Raj Thackeray cuts short Marathwada tourThe agitation has forced Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray to cut short his tour of Marathwada.Acceding to police,, Mr. Thackeray cancelled his tour of Beed district mid-morning on Tuesday and returned to Aurangabad. Another suicide bidTwo cases of attempted suicide in Aurangabad district’s Devgaon Rangari village by agitators clamouring for Maratha reservation — a 31-year-old man identified as Guddu Sonawane jumps into a stream, while Jagannath Sonawane, a 60-year-old agitator tried to take his own life by consuming poison, reports The Hindu correspondent Shoumojit Banerjee.Both are undergoing treatment at a local hospital in Aurangabad’s Kannad tehsil Activists stage bike rally (With inputs from Shoumojit Banerjee and PTI)
Two Assam-bound barges carrying fly ash sailed from Bihar for one of the longest hauls in India’s inland waterways via Bangladesh.The two 1,000-tonne barges carrying 1,233 tonnes of bagged fly ash was flagged off at Kahalgaon in Bihar on Thursday. They are expected to reach Guwahati’s Pandu port in 20 days covering 2,085 km.The fly ash is a by-product from the National Thermal Power Corporation’s Kahalgaon power plant.Kahalgaon is on the banks of the Ganga, which is National Waterway 1. Pandu is on the Brahmaputra, the National Waterway 2.According to the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the journey of the two barges marks the commencement of a critical integrated movement through three waterways – NW1, NW2 and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol.The Ganga and the Brahmaputra meet in Bangladesh after flowing into that country as the Padma and the Jamuna.“The movement will evince confidence and interest in the inland waterways industry and vessel operators as more than 10 such pilot movements have been successfully completed lately on various stretches of National Waterways,” IWAI chairman Pravir Pandey said.In July, IWAI had launched a dedicated portal called FOCAL to connect cargo owners and shippers with real time data on availability of vessels.“More such movements of fly ash and pond ash from the super thermal power plants of NTPC are being planned on NW1,” Mr. Pandey said.Fly ash is in demand as raw material in cement and brick industry and is also used for the purpose of land filling.
Up in the air — on stubble burning As autumn sets in, farmers in Punjab have begun harvesting the kharif paddy crop and preparing the fields for the winter crop.And as has been the practice, despite official injunctions, paddy stubble is being set on fire, raising fears of a spike in air pollution across the northern States, including the national capital New Delhi. Aggravating the problem is the retreat of the southwest monsoon, setting off north-westerly winds which blow into the plains, carrying the smoke from the stubble.Paddy is grown on 30 lakh hectares in Punjab. After harvesting, about 20 million tonnes of paddy straw is left in the fields. It is estimated that 15 million tonnes of paddy straw are burnt every year. On a sunny afternoon, a group of six farmers in their sixties in Rolu Majra village in Rupnagar district are weighing the options for disposing the paddy stubble. Burning the crop residue is the “unanimous” decision, unless there is financial compensation from the government.Also Read Stubble burning, close to the autumn season every year has been a key contributing factor to air pollution and to respiratory problems among people across northern region including New Delhi.Prohibitive costsIn an effort to solve the problem of stubble without burning, the State government has provided agro-machines and other equipment, including mulchers and choppers, at subsidised rates to farmers and cooperative societies with a Central outlay of around around ₹650 crore for 2018-2020.However, farmers and agri-experts feel the number of machines is inadequate. Besides the high cost of using them, given the rising costs of diesel, will not serve the purpose of putting an end to stubble burning, at least during the ongoing harvesting season.“ Our village society (Rolu Majra Co-operative Society) has so far received one Happy Seeder machine. There are five villages — Samrauli, Santpur, Bhoor Majra, Samana Kalan and Rolu Majra — which this society caters to. In these villages an area of around 5,000 acres is farmland. Now, tell me how will one Happy Seeder machine help farmers of all these villages? It will take months to sow the wheat if everyone in these villages wants to use this machine,” says Amarjit Singh, who has sown paddy over five acres.The tractor mounted Happy Seeder machine can cut and lift the previous crop (in this case the rice straw) and sow a new (wheat) crop in its place. It also deposits the straw over the sown area as mulch. The mulch helps to reduce need for irrigation, weeds emergence. Crop planted with happy seeder is less prone to lodging.Also Read Punjab stumbling in stubble burning fight The machine can be operated with a 45 hp tractor and covers about one acre in about an hour and a quarter.But Surjit Singh, 62, who has planted paddy in around eight acres, says, points out that for effective use of the Happy Seeder one needs a tractor between 45-55 hp. “I have a tractor of only 35 hp and hence I can’t put the Happy Seeder to use in my field. Not only this, the price of diesel has risen sharply in recent months. After harvesting paddy, just to clean the stubble from my field by using machinery attached to the tractor or engaging labour will cost me around ₹5,000-₹6000/acre. Who will bear this cost? If government assures of paying the amount, I’ll not burn paddy straw; otherwise I have no other option. I’ll burn the stubble and I am ready to face the legal consequences of defiance,” he says.Admitting farmers’ concern, Lakhbir Singh, a member of the Rolu Majra Co-operative Society, says, “One Happy Seeder machine is inadequate. Many more such machines are required to effectively check stubble burning.”There are around 3,500 co-operative societies in the State.“Also, this year the State government has made the use of super straw management system (SMS) compulsory with combine harvester to facilitate in-situ management of crop residue. But this has again added to our cost, which has gone up from around ₹1,200/acre last year to ₹2,000/acre this season,” says Gurmekh Singh, 60, who has sown paddy in his three acre plot. A Super SMS attached to the rear of a combine harvester chops and uniformly spreads loose straw coming out of the combine on the field.Several farmer unions have declared they will continue to burn paddy stubble unless the government suitably compensates them for the expenses incurred on alternative methods other than burning for disposing the crop residue.“The government should first come out with an alternative and then ask farmers to refrain from burning the crop residue. We should be given a bonus of ₹300 per quintal on paddy or paid at least ₹6,000 per acre to compensate us for expenses incurred on the labour, machines and time. Unless we are compensated we will continue to burn stubble,” says Pargat Singh, chief patron (Rupnagar) of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur).“Farmers choose to burn the paddy residue not out of choice but compulsion. The time lag between harvesting of paddy and for sowing the next crop is very little. We have to harvest and prepare the field for next sowing in a brief window of 20-25 days. Using machinery is not just time-consuming, it’s expensive as well. Burning is the least time-consuming and cheapest option,” adds Mr. Singh.As paddy harvesting has begun in many parts of Punjab, close to 400 cases of stubble fire incidents have been reported till October 9 this season, which started in late September. In 2016 the State witnessed 80,879 incidents of stubble fire while in 2017, a dip was seen with 43,814 cases, according to government data.Optimistic about seeing a drop in stubble burning cases during current season, Jasbir Singh Bains, director of the Punjab Agriculture Department, says around 14,000 subsidised farm machines for management of paddy residue have been delivered so far to the stakeholders. “In all, 24,315 machines will be supplied to farmers, cooperative societies and custom hiring centres this season,” he adds.“ We are aiming to achieve zero paddy straw burning. I am hopeful we can achieve around 65-70% reduction in cases of stubble burning this year in comparison to 2017. If the supplied machinery is used to optimum capacity the stubble-burning incidents are bound to come down. All of this equipment is expected to distributed by October 15,” he said. About 8,000 village-level nodal officers have been deputed to create awareness against stubble burning among farmers.P.S. Rangi, an agriculture expert and former Punjab State Farmers Commission adviser is not so optiminstic. He says, “The magnitude of the stubble burning problem is huge in Punjab and it’s not going to get solved in a year or two. The State has over 10 lakh farming families that have land holdings of two to five acres and cannot afford to go in for mechanised farming. There are reports that subsidised agro-machines being given by the government have not reached many villages and where they have, the number is too few. The machines and equipment need to supplied quickly and in good numbers.”
SC refuses to intervene in interim CBI chief’s appointment But senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the State government, took on the question from the judge headlong, replying with a counter-question of his own.“So what is happening in the CBI also… And all of this [Mr. Bhatia’s petition] is indeed politics,” he countered.Mr. Sibal said the Supreme Court should not enter the realm of facts in criminal cases like this. Factual evidence should be best left to be argued before the magistrate court concerned.Mr. Bhatia interjected, saying that depended on a case-by-case basis.At one point, Justice Sikri asked Mr. Bhatia whether the CBI could investigate cases in West Bengal considering the fact that the State government had withdrawn general consent to the CBI’s jurisdiction within its territory.Here, Mr. Sibal intervened to say that “as an officer of this court, I have to say that nothing can prevent the Supreme Court from ordering a CBI investigation. But having said that, I feel this court should not decide on facts”.The court adjourned the hearing. The petition by Mr. Bhatia concerns the deaths of Shaktipad Sarkar, Tirlochan Mahato and Dulal Kumar.Mr. Bhatia said the State police took 18 days to file FIRs and the victims’ family have been threatened by “TMC goons”.Besides a CBI probe, Mr. Bhatia has sought compensation of ₹50 lakh for the family members. He also sought security for the family members of the victims. To a question on Tuesday by Supreme Court Judge Justice A.K. Sikri as to “what’s happening in West Bengal government”, the State government did not blink a moment to retort “what’s happening in the CBI?”The impromptu query from the number two judge in the Supreme Court came immediately after advocate and BJP leader Gaurav Bhatia detailed the alleged killing of three BJP workers in Purulia district. Mr. Bhatia said the “brutal killings”, the body of one of the workers was found hanging from a high-tension electric post, was an example of the violence meted out by the ruling Trinamool Congress to its political rivals. Mr. Bhatia wanted a CBI investigation into the deaths“This is not being political, but what is happening in West Bengal?” Justice Sikri expressed his apprehension with a rider.Also Read
Harvard University chemical biologist Adam Cohen uses light to answer some of neuroscience’s most pressing questions. He and his colleagues have found a promising way to optically measure brain activity down to the level of the individual neuron by engineering these nerve cells with proteins that glow whenever the cells fire.But this week the spotlight is shining on him. Cohen is one of three researchers to win the inaugural Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, which seek to recognize America’s “most innovative young faculty-rank scientists and engineers” under the age of 43. He is joined by neurobiologist Rachel Wilson, also of Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Marin Soljačić.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Funded by the charitable foundation of industrialist Len Blavatnik, the newly launched national awards are a spinoff of the foundation’s longtime regional awards for young scientists. The $250,000 prize for each winner makes the awards the largest unrestricted prize to honor young scientists.“Maybe the point here is not who won, but the fact that it’s creating a platform for young scientists to share what a life in science is really like, and to encourage students and teachers of science to follow their passion,” Wilson said in a statement. Wilson’s award recognizes “her groundbreaking research on sensory processing and neural circuitry in the fruit fly,” according to the foundation, and Soljačić’s award honors him for his “numerous discoveries of novel phenomena related to the interaction of light and matter” and his studies of wireless power transfer.Cohen co-founded Q-State Biosciences in order to commercialize his technology, which he hopes will also be useful to those working on the federally funded project known as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. “It’s pretty clear that the big problems aren’t going to be solved right away, and there’s still a lot of scope for creativity and innovation,” he says.
Are dogs more dominant than wolves? Where are all of the medium-sized black holes? And why are so many elephants dying in Africa? Science’s Meghna Sachdev chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.
An Indian-origin private equity investor has been convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud in the US Related Items
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The screening of the biopic Making of a Mahatma here on Wednesday marked the opening of a three-day series of events to commemorate the historic incident 125 years ago when Mahatma Gandhi was evicted from a train because the compartment he was in was reserved for whites only.Read it at The Hindu Related Items
Pres. George W. Bush’s political handlers have apparently struck upon an agenda for his next term. It is difficult not to snicker.It is patently ridiculous for Bush to run on a platform on his plans for the next four years. A successful incumbent is surely to be tested on his ideas going forward. But it requires some chutzpah for Bush, perhaps the most inept president in U.S. history, to project anything other than his ability to clean up his own mess.A sitting president is to be judged by his performance in his first term. As that famous Republican hero Ronald Reagan once quipped: are you better off than you were four years ago? Bush had his opportunity; so what has he actually delivered and why did he not deliver in his first term what he is now promising in his second.Take a look at the record. The Iraq war is an unmitigated disaster by any measure. It is beyond unconscionable that a man incapable of fathoming the horrors of war should have the power to use lies and fabrications to wage war recklessly. It is downright revolting that Bush, who used his family connections to dodge the Vietnam War, would dare to question the patriotism and smear the character of an opponent who fought so heroically in that same war.But it is not just the Iraq War and the 1,000 American lives Bush and his political handlers have sacrificed for his political props. There is also his ineptness in managing the real war on terror. Minorities, Indian Americans included, have been the misdirected targets of Bush’s politically contrived war on terror. U.S. citizens have experienced the collateral damage of these unending wars in the form of the wholesale abandonment of civil rights and liberties, ostensibly as a price for safety.The country is no safer, only more scared. As case after case, prosecution after prosecution of so-called terror suspects who were paraded before the country with politically expedient regularity, falls apart, it is becoming crystal clear that the overwhelming majority of terror suspects held in secret were either bit players or even innocent.Meanwhile the real suspects, like Osama bin Laden, are still at large, and his organization Al Qaeda, is even more lethal, because Bush’s reelection campaign wanted the country distracted with a poorly planned and executed occupation of Iraq.It is patently ridiculous for Bush to run on a platform on his plans for the next four years. It requires some chutzpah for Bush, perhaps the most inept president in U.S. history, to project anything other than his ability to clean up his own mess.Then there is the economy. If Bush had not so obsessed himself and the country with his bogus wars, that is what this election would be focused on. Bush’s has to be the most abysmal economic performance in presidential history at least since World War II. American soldiers and the country’s economy have both been sacrificed at the altar of Bush’s political ambitions for a second term, seemingly for no higher purpose than besting his father.A president with such an abysmal record and pathetic aspirations should be staring at the most crushing electoral loss in American presidential history. That Bush stands a better than even chance of prevailing is testament to the political astuteness of his handlers, the lethal dirty tricks employed by his campaign, and an insipid mainstream press.Unfortunately, Kerry has not proven terribly inspiring as a political candidate either. Any smart political tactician would long have buried Bush. If Kerry can break through his stultifying campaign and the mainstream media begin focusing on Bush’s real record, instead of being consumed by his campaign spins and the mindless chatter of political hacks, this election ought not to be close, not by a long shot. America and the world will be the better if Bush doesn’t just lose, but rather he suffers the most ignominious defeat in presidential history.We hope the estimated 250,000 Indian Americans who show up at the polls will contribute to Bush’s burial party.We so hope. If we aren’t exactly betting on it, it is only because we too are awed by the viciousness and deviousness of Bush’s attack dogs. Related Items
Ah, autumn in New York. That delicate season mercifully wedged between summer (too humid) and winter (too cold). A time marked by turning, tumbling foliage in Central Park, and hot apple toddies by the Hudson River.It’s romantic, it’s inspired. And on this particular November night, it happens to also be perfectly brisk-great news for the army of coat checkers currently marching across the island of Manhattan. They’re the unsung heroes of New York City nightlife really, sacrificing their weekends to fearlessly guard the outerwear of the party-going public. Armel Choula, a college student from Cameroon, is one such hero. Tonight, she’s in the basement of a nightspot called the Madison, where she has her hands full. Literally. Buried in a mass of pea coats and bomber jackets, she says she’s been a coat checker for two years now. “This is a nice way to earn some extra money on the weekends,” she smiles. “But sometimes it can be hard work. People can get very aggressive.”Choula has her work cut out for her this evening. That’s because the Madison is expecting a capacity crowd. It’s hosting a tenth anniversary celebration bash for Mutiny–the progressive desi DJ collective credited with introducing New York City to the sounds of South Asian electronica. The five member DJs – Anju, Navdeep, Rekha, Siraiki and Zakhm – first became a unit in November of 1997, but haven’t performed together in over four years. Their reunion is highly-anticipated.Now normally, a group of DJs hooking up for a night of music might not make for big news. But this crew is different. They aren’t the rent-a-DJs who spun at your cousin’s shaadi last summer. Instead, they’re fierce, hard-driving, politicized turntablists; serious artists responsible for challenging the way New York thinks about South Asian music.Their decks run on fire, guts, and a whole lot of passion.And tonight, their mission is nothing less than aural insurgency.Hey, Mr. DJ!The Madison is very easy to miss. There are no signs or mirrored entrances to welcome you. Just two enormous, clunky metal doors with stenciled block lettering. DJ Anju: It was a new niche for music. We weren’t playing, you know, Bollywood or film songs, or straight-out Bhangra necessarily.It The club used to be called Eugene’s. It’s a favorite of Hollywood location scouts looking to capture the feel of an authentic Manhattan nightclub. The television series Law and Order, and Sex and the City have both used the bar as a backdrop. The movies Boiler Room and, more recently, American Gangster filmed here too. Eugene’s has undergone some changes since then and is now divided into the gritty, urban Madison, and Gypsy Tea, its sanitized sister next door. Tonight, a super sweet 16 bash is being held at the latter. That means an endless gaggle of high schoolers can be seen tottering into the club, drenched in alcohol, their every movement loud and exaggerated.“Some family called the Van Burens dropped a lot of money for this,” says Pradeepa Jeeva, as she gestures toward the neighboring club. Jeeva is one of the organizers of the Mutiny reunion. She also helps run DJ Rekha’s production company Sangament.Back in November of 1997, it was Rekha Malhotra who launched Mutiny in collaboration with DJ Siraiki (Vivek Bald). “It grew from shared connection Rekha and I had to certain South Asian musicians coming out of Britain in the early 90s,” explains Bald. “Artists on the margins of both the Bhangra and mainstream British music scenes, who were directly engaged with anti-racist activism. We both started collecting this music and would trade songs back and forth. Eventually I started working on the film Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music, focusing on these groups.”The event was originally meant to serve as a fundraiser for Bald’s film. It was intended to have a limited run until, quite unexpectedly, it began transforming into something much larger. For six years, the Mutineers gathered their vinyl and convened monthly, often at a place called the Frying Pan – a boat anchored at Pier 63 on the west side of the city. Word spread, turnout continued to build, and long after Mutiny the film hit screens in 2003, Mutiny the party powered on. DJ Navdeep: It became a scene that was outside the realm of mainstream desi parties of the ‘90s. It became a space for people to really express artistically what they were feeling.“There really wasn’t anything like it at the time,” says DJ Navdeep, one of the founders. “It became a scene that was outside the realm of mainstream desi parties of the ’90s. It became a space for people to really express artistically what they were feeling.”“The crowds really enjoyed it,” adds DJ Anju, a fellow Mutineer. “It was the first party in the US to bring South Asian electronica to audiences live. We brought in performers from the UK, from India. It was a new niche for music. We weren’t playing, you know, Bollywood or film songs, or straight-out Bhangra necessarily.”Over the years the crew played host to some real artistic innovators. People like Nitin Sawhney, Karsh Kale, the Midival Punditz and Asian Dub Foundation. Mutiny defied genre. It became the New York underground club destination for electronica aficionados interested in the cutting-edge. A place where furious drum n’ bass beats were introduced to jungle, hip hop, garage, and, significantly, classical and folk Indian sounds in ways that not only resonated with second generation desis, but that also appealed to a broader crowd. The vibe was fresh and fierce and New Yorkers were eager to embrace it.Progressive Beats Hit the StreetsAnne Rizvi might not be a native New Yorker, but these days she lives in Manhattan, where she works as an administrative assistant for an architectural firm. Tonight, she arrived at the Madison, sister in tow, a full hour before doors opened. “I wanted to make sure I got a ticket,” she grins. DJ Siraiki: From the start we tried to build an audience that wasn’t just South Asian, but was diverse along every possible line.Well she got one, and can now be seen inside, perched on a black leather couch, cocktail in hand. Rizvi, who grew up in the Middle East and Sri Lanka, is a fan of desi electronica. She admits that Talvin Singh is part of the reason she’s here today (he’s listed as the special guest). “I’ve been following him since 1996,” she explains. “And I think what he’s done is very necessary. He’s created music that fuses everything: ideology, sound, philosophy, just a way of being. His music is what I, as an Asian, really needed to hear growing up.”If that sounds oddly deep to be coming from a Saturday night club-goer, that’s because it is. But it’s also somewhat standard for this scene. Mutiny has always been about bringing artists like Talvin Singh to the masses, yes, but it has also been about using music to make a point. For years, it has been the nightlife option for cerebral folks with an interest in social justice.“From the start we tried to build an audience that wasn’t just South Asian, but was diverse along every possible line,” explains Bald. “We tried to maintain a space that felt safe for women and members of the queer community.” Mutiny positioned itself as a place where social and community activists could convene. It hosted fundraisers, championing causes that were political, often controversial. It also exercised a strict policy against the use of religious imagery on flyers and visuals. The kinds of images, says Bald, “that have typically been used to cater to Western Orientalist fantasies of the spiritual and exotic East.”Of course, it wasn’t just the space that was progressive, but the music Mutiny helped showcase. Many of the featured tracks had explicitly political lyrics. And Bald says the group always remained interested in “pushing people’s expectations.”Well tonight, ten years later, there is a club full of people ready to thank them for all that.The Madison is almost at capacity now and, predictably, Arnel the coat checker hasn’t had a moment’s rest. The crowd seems more arty perhaps, more mature definitely than what you’d see on a standard night out. But this is no standard night. Many who are here have come out of respect for Mutiny’s legacy and vision; out of respect for the club night that almost never was-and how it not only transformed people’s perceptions of what “desi music” is, it gave that music a home.Now, as the crew members take turns behind the decks, tucked into an elevated shrine of a DJ booth, there is a near-palpable reverence that falls over the crowd. Mutiny has done much more than what it set out to do a decade ago. And for that a generation of desi Americans is very, very grateful. “They have provided people like us, who are sort of bridged between two worlds, some kind of affirmation,” says Anne Rizvi, smiling. “They’ve given us some kind of peace. They’ve given us some kind of place.”Turntablaist ExtraordinaireHe’s been around for a while, but Talvin Singh still manages to generate significant international interest with his unique brand of Asian Underground. The electronica virtuoso, who is now 37, grew up in East London (after his parents fled a post-Idi Amin Kenya). He says he loved listening to British punk rock as a boy but also cultivated an appreciation for Indian classical music. At 15 he left England for India, to learn the tabla under the tutelage of Pandit Lashman Singh. These days he’s busy working on his third full-length studio album. For more, visit his MySpace page at: http://www.myspace.com/talvinsinghofficial Where are They Now?Ten years later, and these DJs are still going strong. Little India catches up with the five older, wiser Mutineers:DJ Anju, make that Dr. DJ Anju, now practices medicine in Los Angeles where she says she remains “very interested in the intersection of activism and technology.” Anju (full name Anjali Tenaja) still hits up the decks sometimes, and plans to return to the scene next year. Find her online at http://www.losanjalis.com/.DJ Navdeep is a bi-coastal music producer whose hit remix Sad Song was picked up by HBO last summer (it was featured in trailers promoting the drama series The Wire). The Houston Press calls his latest album Yaathra “literature set to music.” DJ Navdeep’s MySpace offers more: http://www.myspace.com/navdeep360.DJ Rekha: It’s been a big year for the New York-native. Back in November, Rekha celebrated the tenth year of Basement Bhangra. Her commemorative album (DJ Rekha Presents Basement Bhangra) hit stores last month. For information on where to get a copy (and to find out where you can catch her live) visit http://www.djrekha.com.DJ Siraiki (aka Vivek Bald) released his documentary Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music four years ago to solid reviews (to go behind-the-scenes, visit http://www.mutinysounds.com/film/). Now he’s at work on a new film project, Bengali Harlem. “It’s in collaboration with the writer and comedian Aladdin,” says Bald, “And is about his father’s generation of Bengali Muslim merchant sailors who jumped ship in NYC in the 1920s-40s and settled in Puerto Rican and African American areas of Harlem.” No release date has been set as yet.DJ Zakhm: The youngest member of the group, DJ Zakhm (Atul Ohri) is based in New York, where he remains a part of the underground electronica scene. He has performed extensively (with Karsh Kale, DJ Cheb i Sabbah and the Midival Punditz) and still holds it down-spinning at clubs from London to San Francisco Related Items