Free Press Journal

  • Rs 25,000 crore in State's kitty

    A plan of Rs 25,000 crore for Maharashtra for the year 2008-09 was on Wednesday approved by the Planning Commission at a meeting in New Delhi. The approval was given during today's meeting of Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh with Planning Commission deputy chairman Dr M S Ahluwalia. This year's plan is Rs 4,800 crore higher than the previous year, an official release said here. The Planning Commission expressed satisfaction over the performance shown by the state government in various sectors and the formation of the minority welfare department in the state. The chief minister had demanded allocation of Rs 210 crore for Youth Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in October at Pune. He had also demanded Rs 400 crore for the Mithi river beautification project. Complimenting the State on satisfactory growth rate and fiscal performance, Ahluwalia said Maharashtra was poised to exceed the projected national average growth rate of nine per cent for the 11th Plan (2007-12). He, however, stressed the need to improve urban infrastructure, irrigation and agriculture during the Plan. He further said the Centre was keen to improve connectivity with Mumbai. Also, the Western Freight Corridor Construction Work was likely to begin this year. He also drew the attention of the state towards depleting forest cover, rural poverty and child sex ratio. It was pointed out that state needed to step up efforts in the power sector for encouraging investment.

  • State will spare no efforts to help farmers, says Patil

    In a massive propaganda drive to claim credit for the 60000 crore loan waiver, NCP which is the alliance partner in the state said that the government was ready to share any additional burden, if so directed by the Centre, to provide further succour to distressed farmers in Vidarbha region. Addressing a mammoth farmers' rally, organised by the NCP here, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil on Wednesday said the state government would 'fulfil any responsibility' that the Centre gave it while increasing the relief to farmers. Describing as 'historic' the decision to waive loans of farmers holding up to five acres of land, Patil said the state had requested the union government to initiate measures that would benefit more farmers. The state government would seriously consider granting loan waiver to small artisans like cobblers, ironsmiths and carpenters, living in villages, who also had a debt burden but had not benefited from the waiver for farmers, he said. The Deputy Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, said he had given 15 days for all private money lenders to return all goods and land pledged by hapless cultivators to them to get loans. The police would take strict action against such money lenders afterwards if they did not comply with the instructions, he said. Admitting that the milch cattle given to farmers under the relief packages had become a 'burden' for the beneficiaries since they did not know where to sell the milk, Patil said it was necessary to train these farmers to help them market the output and earn a profit thereon. Patil said government would increase the grant under the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and extend concessions to women's self-help groups (SHG's) to provide succour to the downtrodden Nearly four crore farmers in Maharashtra would benefit from the loan waiver announced by the Centre, Patil said. Saying that the pains of cultivators in Western Maharashtra and in Vidarbha were different, he said farmers in Vidarbha had to battle an unfavourable nature on top of the debt burden. Patil assured that the state government would provide all the funds necessary to ensure that the ambitious Gosikhurd project, which is expected to irrigate 1.90 lakh hectares of land in Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur districts, was completed in the next 4 years. Addressing the gathering, Minister for Water Resources Ajit Pawar said his department had asked the Finance Department to allocate more than Rs 3,000 crore in the forthcoming state budget for completion of various irrigation schemes in Vidarbha, including medium and large projects, canals and lift irrigation projects. Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said a request had been made to the Prime Minister to initiate measures to provide succour to more farmers. ''We are happy, but not satisfied with the loan waiver. We should not stop here,'' he said. The government must take steps to help farmers holding more than five acres of land, he said. The Government of Maharashtra must also help in this direction, he added. Earlier, Maharashtra Minister for Public Works Anil Deshmukh said the rally was being held to express thanks to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Minister for Finance P Chidambaram and Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar for the historic decision of loan waiver for farmers.

  • Water crisis riles Thane, Ghodbunder residents

    WATER shortage is becoming more and more acute in Thane and Ghodbunder road area. They are going without water supply for the last three days and this has resulted in public protests against the TMC. The TMC has, however, put the blame on the state irrigation department and sought a high-level discussion to end the crises. The problem of water scarcity has engulfed Vartak Nagar, Bhim Nagar, Lokmanya Nagar, Indira Nagar, Ram Nagar and Manpada, as well as other high-rise areas on Ghodbunder Road since the last two weeks. These areas have been going without proper water supply for more than three days a week since the past two weeks. These areas require 34 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water but the situation has resulted in the water supply going down by more than 10-12 MLD everyday. Residents of several areas do not even get drinking water due to the recent situation. The anger of the residents is growing day by day.

  • Sharks being killed: Cosmetic industry gains (Editorial)

    Environmental management does not mean changing your light bulbs to use less energy. It means looking at everything you use to see what is beingdestroyed. Have you ever looked at the ingredients in your make up or lotions? Does your moisturizer or lipstick carry the word squalene in the ingredient list? If your answer is yes, then you are partly responsible for destroying the oceans. Squalene is oil derived from the liver of deep-sea sharks. 270,000 sharks are killed every day just for their fins and oil. The oil from their livers goes to the cosmetic industry and the fins go for soup. This enormous and mindless genocide has made 307 species of sharks endangered. In fact, the total number of sharks left in the ocean is ten percent of what they were in 1950. Deep-sea sharks (those living in ocean depths of 300 to 1500 metres) have especially large reserves of squalene since their livers comprise one-third of the weight of the entire animal. So, most deep-sea sharks are caught only for their oil. The excessive catching of these sharks has caused the dramatic population declines of certain species. Some repeatedly targeted shark species are the Aizame shark (dog fish) Leafscale Gulper Shark, and the Gulper, Kitefin and Portuguese dogfish which live between 1300 to 1500 m below sea level. Deep sea sharks grow very slowly, mature late in life and have only a few young in their entire lives. They take long breaks between reproductive cycles, rendering them extremely vulnerable to over-fishing. These sharks are a target species in many industrial fisheries and are frequently caught by fishermen targeting other species. As a result deep sea sharks are at extreme risk and their numbers will take long to recover. The ocean is a very fragile ecosystem. Sharks are apex predators and oceanic food chains are dependent on them. The ocean will implode without predators and our dependence on ocean creatures will impact us tremendously as well. It is immoral to let entire species disappear for the dubious benefits of personal skin specially when there is a renewable alternative in olives. The cosmetic industry has a duty to educate consumers about what they are putting on their faces. Squalene is an oil used in cosmetic products ranging from anti aging creams to lip-gloss to give them a smooth finish and make your skin glisten. It is found in all animals, humans and some plants. It is the sebum oil that your body produces at the root of its hair. In fact it is the same composition as ear wax so it would be cheaper to use that rather than killing such an important species and rubbing its liver oil into your skin. The point is, it is unnecessary. It is not a vitamin or a mineral, it is just oil. Shark-based squalene has a readily available substitute in the market that comes from a purely vegetable origin. Squalene can be obtained from olives and it is of better quality than animal-based squalene and is less expensive as well. Squalene is also found in amaranth seeds, rice bran, wheat germ, fungi and date palm. Vegetable derived squalane is cheaper to produce, more stable against oxidation, of a higher food grade and more compatible with skin than that produced from shark-liver. Oceana is the world's largest international ocean environmental group and is campaigning to end the use of squalene in cosmetic products. As a result some companies have promised to stop using it from this year. Unilever has promised to replace shark derived squalene with plant oil in Ponds and Dove by April 2008 ( However they will still use it in other products). With this decision, Unilever has joined other European-based cosmetic companies that informed Oceana that they do not use this product from threatened animals and prefer sustainable plant-based sources. L'Oreal is also phasing-out products containing shark-based squalene. Other companies are Boots, Clarins, Sisley and La Mer (an Estie Lauder brand. Squalene 'Health Capsules' are another scam. Fly by night companies use the internet to advertise 'pure squalene oil' and 'squalene capsules' making claims about its anti-oxidant properties something consistently debunked by scientists. Among the nonsensical claims made, are those saying that sharks defend themselves therefore their liver oil will make the human body defend itself (I actually read this on an Australian selling site). Other claims are that squalene helps protect against substances that weaken or damage our natural defense systems. There is no clinical evidence to support this. It is is an oil which keeps skin soft - mustard, coconut, olive and all the other oils do. When the cosmetic industry talks about corporate social responsibility, they should start with using ingredients responsibly. Here is no point killing part of the earth and then giving a few dollars to feed children in Ethiopia or creating AIDS awareness. (To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in).

  • Govt admits fish drought in the state

    THE state government faced the wrath of both the treasury and opposition members on the issue of fishermen's problems in the council on Tuesday.

  • 12 farmers commit suicide in Vidarbha

    Twelve more debt ridden farmers committed suicide in the last 24 hours in Vidharba.

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