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Mumbai tree felling protests: 29 in custody for 14 days

Mumbai Police erected road blocks at the entry points to Aarey Colony in Marol-Maroshi, Powai and Goregaon suburbs of north-west Mumbai.

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Mumbai, Oct 5 : After a huge ruckus by environmentalists protesting tree cutting inside the Aarey Colony, police arrested 29 activists including 6 women who have been sent to custody for 14 days, an official said here on Saturday.

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray said that he would deal with the matter (of tree felling) in the best possible manner after the next government would come to power.

“We shall deal with the murderers of Aarey Colony forests, if required even amend the law for it,” Thackeray said briefly during a media conference.

Earlier on Saturday, after huge protests the police clamped prohibitory orders in Aarey Colony and detained round 75 activists who were protesting against the cutting of trees since Friday night. Later, 29 were arrested and slapped with charges of unlawful assembly and obstructing government officials from duties.

The protests were to oppose the felling of around 2,646 trees and the activists claimed that more than 1000 trees have already been cut off.

The opposition intensified its protest after the Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed all petitions regarding the felling of the trees by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (MMRCL) in the green zone to construct a car-shed for the Metro-3 project.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Bharati Dongre also declined to declare Aarey Colony as ‘forest’ or quash the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tree Authority’s decision permitting the razing of the trees in the green zone for the metro project.

The judges noted that the carbon dioxide sequestration of 2,702 trees for their entire lifetime calculated at 12,79,062 kg would be compensated in 3,948 fully-loaded trips of the metro trains, while dismissing petitions filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant K. Jadhav.

Jadhav was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 for his petition against the approval granted by the BMC Tree Authority of which he is a member, while Bhathena is moving the Supreme Court in the matter.

Among those whisked off was Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi, while Aditya Thackeray condemned the tree felling taken up since late Friday night.

“A project that should be executed with pride, the Metro-3, has to do it in the cover of the night, with shame, slyness and heavy cop cover. The project supported to get Mumbai clean air, is hacking down a forest with a leopard, rusty spotted cat and more,” Aditya Thackeray tweeted.

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, slamming the Shiv Sena, tweeted in Marathi: “This is the time @ShivSena. You are in the government, you can stop this. The Mahayuti (mega alliance) is more important or the mega loss of trees?”

On Saturday, Justice S. Dharmadhikari and Justice A. K. Menon rejected a plea by way of a praecipe seeking to stay the ongoing tree-felling till the petitioners could move the Supreme Court for further reliefs.

Mumbai Police erected road blocks at the entry points to Aarey Colony in Marol-Maroshi, Powai and Goregaon suburbs of north-west Mumbai.

Aam Aadmi Party national joint-secretary Ruben Mascarenhas said that many people including himself were detained and later released. But many tribal women are still detained at different police stations, he said.

Defending itself, MMRCL Managing Director Ashwani Bhide said that “a new false propaganda is in the air that 15 days notice is required after Tree Authority order getting uploaded on website”.

“This is absolutely baseless. The Tree Authority order was issued on September 13, 2019, 15 days are over on September 28. Action awaited till the high court verdict was out. HC has dismissed four petitions and has also imposed fine of Rs 50,000 for a frivolous petition,” she tweeted.

On its part, Mumbai Police Spokesperson Pranaya Ashok denied allegations of high-handedness during the security operations in Aarey Colony on Saturday.

“All due procedures and legally valid steps were taken while handling the situation which is peaceful and legal procedures are being followed,” he said.

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DMK to hold black flag protest against farm laws on Saturday

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Mk Stalin

Chennai, Dec 4 : DMK President M.K. Stalin on Friday said that his party will hold a black flag protest against the three farm laws passed by the Central government.

In a letter to party members, he said the protest will be held in solidarity with the farmers protesting against the laws in Delhi.

Stalin said party leaders will hold the black flag protest in all the district headquarters following the Covid-19 safety precautions.

Reacting to the DMK’s protest, Tamil Nadu BJP’s agriculture wing head G.K. Nagaraj said Stalin, who is supporting the protesting middlemen in Delhi, should tell what he has done for the welfare of the farmers.

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Bengal government to provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students to facilitate online education

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

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Mamata Banerjee

The state government will provide tabs to around 9.5 lakh students in government schools and government aided schools, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday.

“Because of the pandemic students are suffering. We will provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students studying in class 12 in government schools, government-aided schools and madrasahs. Computers would also be also provided to every secondary school to facilitate online education during pandemic,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

“Many students are not being able to follow the online classes. The tabs would help the students even when they are pursuing their graduation,” said Banerjee.

With an eye on the crucial 2021 Bengal assembly elections, the chief minister also announced 3% dearness allowance for 10 lakh state government employees from January 1, 2021. This would cost the state exchequer Rs 2200 crore.

Speaking in another program during the day Banerjee said that Information Technology (IT) firms in West Bengal have registered 133% growth in the last eight years and IT exports have gone up by 175%.

“Many more investments are coming. On December 1, we cleared 20 proposals of setting up IT offices at Bengal Silicon Valley Hub with a proposed investment of Rs 3000 crore. They would directly employ 9000 IT professionals,” Banerjee said at a program

At present over 1500 IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and IBM among others, have their offices in West Bengal. The state has around 2.1 lakh IT professionals.

The chief minister while listing out a series of expansion plans of some of the top IT firms in the state said that while Nxtra Data of Bharti Airtel has come up with a proposal of Rs 350 crores, Wipro has an expansion plan worth Rs 500 crores in the state.

“Tata Consultancy Services is expected to increase their employment from the present 44,000 to around 61,000. Very soon their operation in West Bengal would be larger than their Bengaluru operation,” she said.

The chief minister added that while Cognizant Technology Solutions is also expected to expand further, ITC Infotech has almost completed their project in New Town and will employ around 3000 IT professionals there.

IT services giant Infosys will start construction of a proposed software development centre in the state by July 2021. They have been allotted 50 acres of land.

“Our youth will not have to roam in other states and across the world looking for jobs. They can work here,” Banerjee said.

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Farmers try to force their way into Delhi at Ghazipur border, stopped

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Delhi UP Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Agitated farmers on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Ghazipur on Thursday failed in their attempt to enter the national capital by breaking the barricades after the police pacified the situation.

“If a decision is not taken in 24 hours, we will break all the barricades at different locations and enter Delhi,” Pawan Khatana, Bharat Kisan Union’s Delhi-NCR President, told IANS after attempting to break the barricades.

Thousands of farmers protesting against the Central farm laws have laid siege at Ghazipur border and on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway in a bid to enter the national capital. The crowd swelled after around 100 tractors reached the protest site at noon.

The border points in the area continue to remain under heavy police cover with multilayered barricades in place.

In the morning, when the farmers had blocked the expressway, Gayendra Singh, SP (City), Ghaziabad, had said that the police were hopeful that the blockade will end soon on the key road leading to Delhi.

All eyes are now on the ongoing fourth round of talks between the farmers’ unions and the Centre. The third round talks had failed to break the deadlock on Tuesday.

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last eight days at Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP border in Ghazipur and the Delhi-UP border in Chilla.

The farmers are demanding that the three farm laws passed by the Parliament in September be repealed, expressing apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of the big corporates.

The government has, however, maintained that the laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.

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