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31 July 2014 National State Snippets

Mumbai Musings

Deputy Inspector General of Police Sunil Paraskar stands accused of rape.

Protector, Oppressor

The figures on crimes and crimes against women are bad enough in Mumbai and in Maharashtra, but with this latest incident we have reached a new low: A 26-year-old model lodged a complaint against Deputy Inspector General of Police Sunil Paraskar accusing him of rape and misconduct. As soon as the complaint became public knowledge last week and the DIG refuted the allegations, the model also complained of threats and intimidation and has now been provided with security. According to her complaint she was sexually abused by Paraskar between November 2013 and March 2014 when he was the Additional Commissioner of Police. He has not been arrested as of now and received protection from arrest till July 31.

Nuclear Issues

PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Mumbai to pay a visit to BARC, to see the facility and interact with scientists had a couple of after effects. The PM visited the Dhruva Reactor and other facilities at BARC and attended a presentation on the various facets of the Indian Atomic Energy Programme. Not only did PM appreciate the BARC contribution, he also declared his support for nuclear energy. Apart from what anti-nuclear activists and green energy advocates feel, his statement put BJP's ally in the state in a tight spot. Shiv Sena, though a little late in the day, had declared its unequivocal support to the Jaitapur Agitation against the proposed nuclear power plant at Madban village in Konkan. The agitation itself has weakened after its leader reportedly agreed to the land acquisition proposal. As if this wasn’t embarrassing enough for Sena in Maharashtra, the force-feeding incident in the capital has done severe damage to its image at national level. Uddhav has “clarified” that the culprit MP’s intention was not to break anyone’s roza and hurt religious sentiments but only to protest against bad services. However, Sena’s likening the incident to Godhra riots and refusing to unequivocally apologise only worsened the situation.

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Slums Version 2000

Finally it has happened: done and dusted. The Congress-NCP government had been promising this to slum dwellers for several years now. The promise to regularise slums that have come up till 2000 got them votes in 2004 and 2009. Perhaps, worried that just a promise won’t do in these times of a Modi wave, the government has actually gone and got the cabinet approval for the same. Whether it translates into votes, we will know very shortly. In the meanwhile, here is an excerpt from an old interview with the CM Prithviraj Chavan, before the Lok Sabha elections:

Real estate hasn’t been easy. Campa Cola matter earned you much criticism. Do you feel people are averse to follow the rule book and politicians are cashing on it?

Campa Cola issue began in 2000, where residents were told to fell some floors. In February 2013 the court gave a very strong order that you must follow BMC, set right the illegal construction and that no state authority shall interfere. How can any state authority help them out? We all felt for people. We don’t want anyone to lose the roof over their heads. After some intervention, the court diluted its order and asked them find a solution. But to say everything that is illegally done whether in Pune, Pimpri, Chinchwad, should be regularised, that is not acceptable. What would people, who followed the rules and constructed as per rules— which is difficult as it is—do? What wrong have they done?

How is regularisation of slums (cut off date 2000), which you recently announced, any different?

There is an argument on both sides. Congress and NCP in its 2004 manifesto had promised the people. Right or wrong, that was a decision, a well-considered decision in our manifesto in 2004. We could not fulfil it. We repeated that promise in 2009. People wrongly accuse me that it came at the fag end. I started the process when I came to power. It’s a long tedious process, court orders etc took a long time. Assembly was good enough to pass the law. If it was bad, very populist, I wouldn’t have got unanimous decision in assembly.

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Ahem. Ahem.

A Leopard in IIT

Stories about leopards “straying” into human settlements are only on the rise, especially as we continue to construct through their corridors and deforest their habitat and prey base. However, a leopard drove the prestigious IIT into a tizzy after it was spotted last week. It had apparently entered the campus while chasing a dog for food. After having experts and officials from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Thane forest department and some from NGOs working for animal rescue and rights, the leopard remained elusive. It refused to fall for any traps and lure of food etc.

However, after the hunt went on for four days, officials declared that the cat had had enough of the campus and went away leaving its pugmarks for proof. Now that the danger has temporarily abated, perhaps it is time for people to think about the shrinking spaces for wild animals and what can be done to live with them as harmoniously as possible. 

RIP Sushila Rani 

Renowned classical singer Sushilarani Patel passed away last week at her Mumbai residence following a cardiac arrest. She was 96. A Sangeet Natak Awardee, she was married to Baburao Patel, who edited Filmindia, a magazine on the Mumbai film industry. He had helped her get a record with HMV and she flourished after that. She had also acted in two of his films. However, it was her singing that she was most known for. She had trained under various gurus including Mogubai Kurdikar. She sang till ripe old age and also used to hold events in the memory of her husband at their Bandra residence after his death in 1982. She lived alone but the spunky woman never shied away from fighting legal battles with builders to preserve her house, which was incidentally willed to a charitable trust. Among other awards she had also received Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award. The end of an era.

Landslides

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And even as I type this, the rescue work at Malin village where a landslide yesterday killed more than 40 people, continues. The land slide, not uncommon in case of heavy rains in Maharashtra, in Malin village, about 80 km north of Pune, has resulted in excessive loss of lives, with more feared dead as heavy rain and strong winds slowed down efforts to reach the engulfed thatch huts and brick houses. Forty-four houses and a temple were flattened early yesterday morning when loosened earth from a hillside hurtled down the slopes taking large parts of the tribal village in its sweep. The hills are soft due to rains and deforestation, say the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel. With about 120 people still feared trapped, and rescue work hampered because of weather, the hopes for rescuing survivors are receding by the day.

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PLACES: MumbaiMaharashtraPune
SECTION: National
SUBSECTION: Opinion
OUTLOOK 31 July, 2014
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