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NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal arrested for payoffs in Maharashtra Sadan scam

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NCP leader and  former Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal was on Monday night arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with corruption cases lodged against him. The NCP claimed Bhujbal was innocent while the ruling BJP welcomed the arrest.

Bhujbal wasquestioned for over nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case which the agency claims caused a loss of Rs 870 crore to the exchequer

The development capped more than 11 hours of sustained interrogation and recording of the statement of Bhujbal by ED sleuths since noon on Monday.

Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik criticised the development claiming Bhujbal was innocent, that he had done nothing wrong, and that there was nothing against him. He reiterated that the ruling BJP was allegedly pressurising the investigating agencies.

The summons followed a complaint by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirit Somaiya in connection with cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Exchange Management Act pertaining to alleged irregularities in the construction of the new Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, allegedly worth several hundred crores of rupees.

Reacting to the ED moves, Somaiya said “Bhujbal’s arrest was inevitable” and predicted that the same fate awaits other NCP leaders involved in the mega irrigation scams which he has unearthed.

State BJP president Raosaheb Danve, Minorities Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse and other party leaders welcomed Bhujbal’s arrest.

On Monday morning, Bhujbal, accompanied by party colleague Jitendra Awhad, several legislators, a large number of party activists and his supporters from Nashik reached the ED office in response to its summons of March 8.

Police deployed tight security and clamped prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people in the vicinity of the ED office.

The action against Bhujbal came after over a month since his nephew Sameer Bhujbal was similarly summoned in February and subsequently placed under arrest by the ED.

Last month, the ED had also questioned Chhagan Bhujbal’s son Pankaj Bhujbal, a legislator, and allowed him to go, even as his father cried foul, while the NCP termed it “political vendetta”.

The ED probe follows a Bombay High Court ruling in January when it sought progress reports from the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau and the ED within four weeks on their investigations against the Bhujbals.

Following Somaiya’s complaints, the ED had lodged two first information reports against the Bhujbals and others under the PMLA to probe the Maharashtra Sadan scam in New Delhi and the Kalina land grabbing scam in Mumbai.

The ED had conducted searches twice at nine premises belonging to the Bhujbal trio and others, and subsequently served attachment orders on three prime properties linked to the Bhujbal family members worth over Rs.280 crore in Mumbai.

Simultaneously, the state Anti-Corruption Bureau had lodged a charge sheet against the three Bhujbals and 14 others in the Maharashtra Sadan case.

The Maharashtra Sadan, a state government guest house in New Delhi, was constructed at a cost of Rs.100 crore during the tenure of the erstwhile Congress-NCP government.

Speaking to media persons outside the ED offices, Awhad said the entire NCP party, including its president Sharad Pawar stood with Bhujbal.

wefornews bureau

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Rising urbanization likely cause of heavy rainfall in South: Research

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

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IMD heavy rains predict

Hyderabad, May 26 : A team of researchers at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have discovered a link between heavy rainfall in several parts of south India and a growing urbanisation in the region.

A team led by Prof. Karumuri Ashok from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad, examined whether a common factor, the changing ‘land use land cover’ (LULC) in these states, has any implications for the heavy rainfall events.

Over the past few years, many heavy rainfall events have been reported in cities of south India. Prominent among them are the extreme rainfall that created havoc in Chennai and nearby areas of Tamil Nadu in December 2015, the heavy rainfall over Hyderabad and adjoining regions in Telangana in September 2016, and the extreme rainfall event in Kerala in August 2018.

Notably, these three states differ in their geographical locations, and also the season in which they receive rainfall. Kerala, located on the southwest Indian coast off the Arabian Sea receives heavy rainfall during the summer monsoon from June-September.

Tamil Nadu, off the Bay of Bengal, receives rainfall mainly during the northeast monsoon (October-December). The land-locked state Telangana receives the bulk of its annual rainfall during the summer monsoon season.

A UoH statement stated that their study showed the precipitation during heavy rainfall events in these states has significantly increased from 2000 to 2017. Using the LULC data from ISRO, and by conducting 2 km resolution simulation experiments of twelve heavy rainfall events over the states, the researchers found distinct LULC changes in these three states, which led to higher surface temperatures and a deeper and moist boundary layer. These in turn caused a relatively higher convective available potential energy and, consequently, heavier rainfall.

The study also suggests that increasing urbanization in Telangana and Tamil Nadu is likely to enhance the rainfall during the heavy rainfall events by 20%-25%. Prof. Ashok feels that improving the density of observational rainfall and other weather parameters may help in forecasting extreme rainfalls at city level.

Their findings were reported in the ‘Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society’ on May 18, 2020.

Prof. K. Ashok and his Ph.D. student Mr. A. Boyaj who is the first author, are both from the Centre for Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Hyderabad. The work was done in collaboration with Prof. Ibrahim Hoteit and Dr Hari Prasad Dasari of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia.

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Only supporting, not a key player in Maharashtra: Rahul

The Governor followed it up by a review meeting of the crisis in which Thackeray excused himself but sent his close confidante Milind Narvekar.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, May 26 : Amid allegations of mishandling the covid crisis in Maharashtra by opposition leaders who even demanded dismissal of the state government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that his party is not a key player in running Maharashtra government.

The Congress is part of “Maha Vikas Aghadi” and holds key ministries but Rahul Gandhi said, “We are only supporting the government and are not a ‘key player’ in the state”.

Rahul Gandhi, however, defended the state government and said that Mumbai is a well connected state. and that is the reason why Covid cases are rising there.

Rahul Gandhi asserted that the party is doing better where ever it is running its own government.

Rahul Gandhi’s statement could be a setback for MVA government in Maharashtra where hectic politics is going on. NCP chief Sharad Pawar met the governor on Monday, though all speculations were rejected by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Faut on Tuesday.

Tongues started wagging as Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar went to meet Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhavan, in what was described by both sides as a “courtesy call”.

Accompanied by NCP MP Praful Patel, this was Pawar’s first-ever meeting with the Governor who was appointed in September 2019, crowning a series of recent political developments in the state.

Later on Monday afternoon, it was the turn of BJP leader and former Chief Minister Narayan Rane to meet the Governor and reportedly demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state.

Among various things, Rane has claimed the government headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had failed to handle the Covid-19 pandemic crisis in the state.

Rane’s demand came days after Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis called on Koshyari and complained that the Thackeray government had bungled in handling the coronavirus situation.

The Governor followed it up by a review meeting of the crisis in which Thackeray excused himself but sent his close confidante Milind Narvekar.

A couple of days later, Koshyari raised strong objections to a letter written by Minister of Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant to the UGC recommending cancellation of final year university examinations, which the Governor pointed out was against the guidelines.

This was followed by Sena MP Sanjay Raut calling on the Governor, and a day later, Thackeray announced that the lockdown implemented suddenly was not proper, and lifting it abruptly would be detrimental to the people.

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Transparency needed on India-China face-off at LAC: Rahul

He said, what happened with Nepal and why, what is happening in Ladakh should be made clear.

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Rahul Gandhi on Kashmir Situation

New Delhi, May 26 : Amid reports of a face-off between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army in eastern Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the Narendra Modi government must come clean on the situation arising and inform the citizen what is happening at the border.

Addressing a press conference through video conferencing, Rahul Gandhi said: “The details of what happened along the border, the government should share with the people.”

He said, what happened with Nepal and why, what is happening in Ladakh should be made clear.

“I cannot see transparency. The issue of Ladakh and China is a live issue. Transparency is required,” he said.

He was responding to a question on the face-off on LAC that was triggered the Chinese objected to road construction and development of infrastructure by India within the Indian territory.

Last week Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli asserted that Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura belong to Nepal and vowed to “reclaim” them from India through political and diplomatic efforts. His Cabinet also endorsed a new political map showing the three areas as Nepalese territory. Oli went a step further and told in the Npal parliament that the territories belong to Nepal but has been made a disputed area.

The former Congress chief also said that till the time there is no transparency, till that time it would not good for him to speak. “If I have more information then I will share more details on it,” he added.

This is Rahul Gandhi’s fourth interaction with the media in the last two months.

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