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New Motor Vehicles Act fines may spur suicides: Maharashtra panel chief

“It broadly implies that both the Prime Minister and Home Minister may be having second thoughts on the new penalties in view of the ugly public mood”.

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Kishor Tiwari Farmars Leader

Nagpur (Maharashtra), Sep 11 : The hefty penalties imposed under the new Motor Vehicles Act (MVA) are “blatantly anti-people” and have the potential to spur suicides, the Maharashtra farmers panel chief warned here on Wednesday.

Kishore Tiwari, Chairman of Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), who enjoys a Cabinet minister rank in Maharashtra, said: “The financial penalties have been opposed by all people in the country, especially the middle-class. From all accounts we are hearing and reading in the media, it is turning out to be an anti-people move.”

Calling upon Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari to “immediately slash” the steep penalties to reasonable levels, Tiwari cautioned that it has the potential to drive commoners to suicide if it is thrust upon them.

“It must be noted here that Gujarat — which is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President (BJP) and Union Home Minister Amit Shah — has voluntarily reduced the new MVA penalties drastically. This proves that even the BJP-ruled states are against the revised fines,” Tiwari told IANS.

He wondered whether Gadkari will take a cue from Gujarat as “it broadly implies that both the Prime Minister and Home Minister may be having second thoughts on the new penalties in view of the ugly public mood”.

Interestingly, Maharashtra’s Transport Minister Diwakar Raote — who is from Shiv Sena — has so far remained non-committal on implementing the new MVA rules in toto, amid murmurs of discontent within his own party.

Reluctant to antagonise the masses ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in October, Raote has referred the matter for the opinion of the state Law Department.

“There are apprehensions even among the RTO field staffers over its implementation…. RTO staffers trying to implement the new laws have been abused, assaulted, people dump their vehicles and walk away, one woman suffered a heart attack after she was penalised and many other incidents,” said an RTO officer from Mumbai, requesting anonymity.

When pointed out that recently, Gadkari himself revealed that he too was fined for zooming across the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link (RGBWSL) in Mumbai, Tiwari laughed and said “the common masses cannot be compared with any minister”.

“If a minister coughs up a fine of Rs 10,000-Rs 20,000, it matters little to him. But if a similar fine is slapped on an ordinary taxi or tempo driver who may barely earn that much salary in a month, his family would starve and the man would resort to suicide,” Tiwari pointed out.

Terming the new MVA penalties as “totally absurd and forced upon the country without consulting all stakeholders,” Tiwari said this could have wider economic implications in the future with disastrous consequences on the already groaning economy.

“Already, the automobile industry is in a deep mess, truckers’ associations have announced a ban on buying new trucks for five years… Now, even the common people, especially the middle-classes, will stop buying new vehicles,” said Tiwari who is working among the farmers in the worst suicide-affected areas in Maharashtra since 25 years.

With growing taxes, inflation, unemployment, high fuel prices and now the new traffic penalties, the common people are already switching over to bicycles, he claimed.

“Given the current economic scenario, does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman or Gadkari believe all this augurs well for the country and fragile economy? What about the corruption it will breed on the roads, despite claims of ‘transparency’ made by Gadkari?” Tiwari asked.

He urged Minister Raote “not to succumb” to any pressures and reduce all the “loot in the name of MVA fines” to the “below Rs 100 bracket” with stringent implementation.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

India

Political pressure to stop Sushant case probe, Bihar tells SC

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The Supreme Court of India

A single-judge bench of Justice Hrishikesh Roy noted that Rhea herself has pleaded for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.

Both the Bihar government and Sushant’s father are seeking a CBI probe into the actor’s death, while the Maharashtra government opposes it.

The top court has asked all the parties in the case to file written submissions by Thursday. The Bihar government alleged there was political pressure to stop registration of an FIR in Mumbai and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that the arguments made by the Chief Ministers of both Maharashtra and Bihar during the case makes it a fit case for a CBI inquiry.

Rhea’s counsel, however, contended that the FIR in Bihar was at the behest of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar there, and if there were to be a fair investigation, it can’t be at the instance of Bihar Police.

Stressing that the transfer petition should be allowed, Rhea’s counsel insisted that the effective investigation should be in Mumbai, as it is also the place of original jurisdiction.

Mehta, meanwhile, questioned how the Mumbai Police summoned 56 persons and recorded their statements, as they cannot do it under inquest proceedings. He submitted before the court that Mumbai Police never registered an FIR to investigate the case.

He also argued that the Enforcement Directorate has already initiated investigation, and after one central agency has registered a case, another central agency (CBI) should be engaged.

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India

Containment, contact tracing key to Covid mgmt: Modi

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a review meeting with Chief Ministers or representatives of 10 states badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and advised that containment, contact tracing, and surveillance were key to effective management of the virus infections in the country.

In his address during the video conference meeting, the Prime Minister said that the states with less testing of samples had more coronavirus cases and advised testing to be increased in states like Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal, and Telangana.

He said that 80 per cent of the Covid-19 cases in India were reported in these 10 states.

The meeting was held to discuss the current coronavirus situation in India and to plan ahead to tackle the pandemic.

The Prime Minister recounted how Union Home Minister Amit Shah prepared a roadmap to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in cooperation with Delhi and nearby states.

“The main pillars of this strategy were segregation of containment zones and focus on screening, especially of those in high-risk categories. The results of these steps are there for all to see,” he said, adding that steps like better management in hospitals and increasing ICU beds also proved very helpful.

Modi pointed out that daily tests in the country had reached almost 7 lakh and were increasing continuously, which had helped in early identification of corona infections and their containment.

The average fatality rate in the country is among the lowest in the world and is continuously going down.

“The percentage of active cases is reducing, while the recovery rate is increasing,” he said.

“Our efforts have given better results, which has increased the confidence of the people and brought down the fear factor.”

The Prime Minister said that the target of bringing down the fatality rate below 1 per cent can be achieved soon.

“With the Aarogya Setu app, we can do our work better; due to this, home quarantine facility is being implemented in a better way,” he added.

The country has so far reported a total of 22,68,675 coronavirus cases, including 15,83,489 patients who have recovered. As many as 2,52,81,848 samples have been tested.

The states that participated in the meeting included Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Chief Ministers requested further guidance by the Health Ministry for conducting sero-surveillance, while also suggesting the setting up of an integrated medical infrastructure in the country.

They also provided feedback on the ground situation in their respective states. They praised Modi’s leadership in the successful management of the pandemic and thanked him for his constant guidance and support.

They informed the Prime Minister about corona tests conducted, steps taken to increase testing, use of telemedicine and efforts to ramp up the health infrastructure.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan were among those present in the meeting.

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Disaster

ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan sealed after 22 test COVID-19 positive

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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ISKCON Temple in Vrindavan

VRINDAVAN : After 22 persons associated with the temple were found infected with coronavirus, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has decided to seal the temple in Vrindavan and restrict movement. The announcement comes a day ahead of the Janmashtami festival which will be celebrated in the country on August 12.

“Earlier, one person had tested positive, so more testing was conducted and now 22 people tested positive. After that, contact tracing was conducted and sampling is being done; we will isolate those who test positive. Movement of people have been restricted and the temple has been sealed,” an ISKCON official said. He said the 22 people includes priests at the temple.

In the temple town of Vrindavan, authorities of Banke Bihari temple have also decided to keep the shrine closed till September 30. The decision was taken due to repair work on the temple premises, said the authority in a notice.

It also stated that the repair work will be taken up by engineers. Earlier, the temple was closed in the view of COVID-19.

The famous temple dedicated to Lord Krishna has been closed to devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March.

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