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Mumbai: MCGM’s budgetary allocations & challenges within.

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Shashwat Mishra, Mumbai Uncensored, 1st January 2022:

With the advent of the Ease of Living Index (EOL) rankings released by NITI AYOG, Urban Governance and the responsibility of various municipalities across cities are kept in check. A municipal corporation of a city is the authority of the first instance, responsible for the development of that city. This article focuses on Mumbai, focal point of the article is budgetary allocation in the city of Mumbai. This article is based on the Urban governance report released by Praja Foundation, a non-partisan organization working towards enabling accountable governance since 1997 based out of Mumbai, Maharashtra.

The report covered several parameters which cumulatively decide the state of urban governance. However, municipal finance is a section of the report which adequately covers the budgetary allocation in the city. The report concluded that 50% of the participants believed that the budget allocated was adequate, however, 44% felt that the budget allocated was underutilized. The underutilization has been linked to two main factors, project delays and difficulty in procuring licenses. The two issues raised by councilors and MLAs in Mumbai are corruption & outsourcing work to contractors who eventually fail to deliver it within the deadline.

An official from Mumbai pointed out that, “Budget is sufficient but utilization doesn’t happen.” On the other hand, one of the MLAs opined that “MCGM has good money, but have been spoiling it by putting it into wrong projects, it has been giving it to contractors who are doing a bad job. Every head in the MCGM is corrupt. Knowing this we should change the guidelines, change the contractor’s law to get better work done.” The next aspect of this issue is budgetary control, as in who has control over the budget. On this issue there are two countering opinions, councillors believe that, although the budget is prepared by the commissioner but they had the opportunity to participate in the budget-making process. The executive on the other hand points out that, budget is prepared by the local assembly which is then scrutinized by the standing committee.

 The finalization of the budget is based on the will of the executive or the political dispensation, and hence, such factors often supersede what the local administration has in mind. This is the reason why the councilors in Mumbai feel that the corporation should have more control over the budget whereas MLAs believe that the state government should have control over the budgetary spending. “Local body should be given the independence to work according to their way.” says the Councillor, Mumbai. Whereas, MLAs point out that, “State control on the corporation is necessary. For eg: If 25 Lakhs is spent on road construction and the state is involved in the audit, it will promote transparency and reduce chances of corruption.” There needs to be mutual coordination between the two stakeholders, the corporation and the executive. A specialized agency that would handle budgetary allocation may be a solution, but again it depends on whether the two stakeholders are on the same page or not. Governance will improve with participation and mutual working at every level.

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Prices of fuels continue to remain unchanged

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Price of fuels remains unchanged in metro cities

Akankshya Mukherjee, Mumbai Uncensored, 18th January 2022 :

The prices of fuels remained unchanged. The previous month the Delhi government reduced the Value Added Tax (VAT) which was earlier 30% to now 19.4%. Now the price of petrol in the capital is low as by Rs.8.56 per litre.

In Delhi, the price of petrol and diesel respectively are Rs. 95.41 and Rs. 86.67, while in Mumbai it is Rs. 109 and Rs. 94.14. Among all metro cities, Mumbai has the highest rates of fuels. State run Oil Refiners such as Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum, have revised their fuel rates on a daily basis, up for considering the crude oil prices in international markets, and the dollar-rupees exchange rate. All changes in price are effective since 6am every day.

Internationally, the oil prices have grown higher since the last few years since the supply was disrupted because of an attack by the Yemen’s Houthi group over UAE which escalated hostilities, the involved ones were an Iraq aligned group and Saudi Arabian that led to a coalition. Brent Crude Futures went up to 0.5% that is $86.92 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures jumped 1 per cent or 81 cents in a settlement to $84.62 made on Friday.

High prices of crude oils have set up new prices of diesel and petrol records high in India since 2018. However, the Petroleum Ministry of India has stated that they have been trying to speak to the key oil exporting countries to increase the supply of crude and lower the official selling price for Asia. All this have breached the previous records, the rise in fuel price in domestic market is mainly because of the global resurgence.

The Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) have the prices of petrol and diesel unchanged in most cities across the country, there are no fluctuations and the prices stagnant for around 2 months now. In the latest round of meetings, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) group the oil producing countries such as Russia, Iraq, UAE, Kuwait have re-affirmed that they will increase total crude oil supply by 4,00,000 barrels only, despite the sharp increase in prices.

India and other countries importing oil have called on OPEC+ for boosting oil supply faster, they have argued that increasing prices of crude oil can lead to undermining the recovery of Global Economy. Low crude oil supply from USA plays a keo role in keeping crude oil prices elevated.

The Central Government had increased levies in 2021 on petrol by Rs 13 per litre and diesel by Rs 16 per litre to shore up revenues due to the pandemic which forced a slowdown in the economic activity.

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मास्क घालणे बंधनकारक नाही ? माहितीच्या अधिकाराद्वारे केंद्र सरकारचा राज्य सरकार विरोधात गंभीर खुलासा..!

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AKASH SONAWANE – MumbaiUncensored, 15 January 2022

मार्च २०२० चे लॉकडाऊन – १ संपुष्टात येत असताना नागरिकांची घराबाहेर पडण्यास सुरुवात झाली. संसर्गाच्या भीतीने प्रत्येकासाठी मास्क घालणे गरजेचे होतेच परंतु वैयक्तिक पाळतीवर सुद्धा प्रत्येक नागरिक सतर्क होता. कालांतराने सर्व पुर्वव्रत होत असताना नागरिकांना ‘मास्क’ चा विसर पडला आणि सरकार चा हस्तक्षेप सुरु झाला.

केंद्र शासनाने दिलेल्या निर्देशानंतर सुद्धा आपत्ती व्यवस्थापन कायद्याच्या कलम ३८,३९ चे उल्लंघन करुन महाराष्ट्र शासनाने बेकायदेशीररीत्या मास्कची सक्ती करण्याचा नियम आणून सरकारी कर्मचाऱ्यांकडून भादंवि चे कलम १६६, १२० (ब), ३४ आणि आपत्ती व्यवस्थापन कायदा कलम (ब), ५५ अंतर्गत होत असलेले गुन्हे त्वरीत रोखणे तसेच मास्कचा दंड घेण्यासाठी फिरणाऱ्या कर्मचाऱ्यां विरुध्द खंडणी वसुलीसाठी गैरकायदेशीरपणे नागरिकांवर सक्ती आणण्यासाठी भादंवि ३४१, ३४२, २२०, ३८५, १२० (ब), ३४, १०९ अंतर्गत गुन्हे दाखल करणेबाबत माहितीचा अधिकार कायद्याअंतर्गत अर्ज दाखल केले गेले.

केंद्र सरकारच्या स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालयाने दि. १९ मे २०२१ रोजी अमित चौहान यांना दिलेल्या उत्तरामध्ये स्पष्ट केले आहे की मास्क घातल्यामुळे सदृढ लोकांना फायदा होत असल्याबाबत कोणतेही शास्त्रीय पुरावे नाहीत. तसेच ज्या लोकांना कोरोना लक्षणे नाहीत त्यांनी मास्क घालू नये.

त्यानंतर दि. २७ मे २०२१ च्या सौरव बायसॅक याना मिळालेल्या उत्तरामध्ये केंद्र सरकारने स्पष्ट केले की मास्क घालणे हे ऐच्छिक असून बंधनकारक नाही. जागतिक पातळीवर तज्ञांनी शोध करुन एकूण ४७ शोध पत्रामध्ये स्पष्ट केले आहेत कि मास्क लावल्याने कोरोना चा प्रसार थांबतो याचा कोणताही पुरावा नाही परंतु मास्क लावल्यामुळे लोकांना श्वसनाचे आजार होतात व त्यांचे फुफुसे कमजोर होण्याची शक्यता असण्याचे विविध शास्त्रीय पुरावे उपलब्ध आहेत.

केंद्र सरकारने दि. १७ जुलै २०२१ रोजी दिलेल्या पत्रांत हे स्पष्ट केले आहे की उच्च प्रतीचा मास्क (N95/Surgical Mask) च्या छिद्रांची साईझ ही ०.३ – १० μm ते ०.१ – ०.३ μm मायक्रोमीटर एवढी असते आणि कोरोना विषाणू हा त्यापेक्षा कित्येक पटीने लहान असतो. म्हणजेच मास्क लावल्यानंतर सुद्धा त्यामधून कोरोना विषाणू जावू शकतात व संसर्ग पसरवू शकतात.

अशा इतर अनेक मुद्द्यांसह काही लोक आपल्याला आंदोलने आणि निदर्शने करताना सोशल मीडिया वर दिसतात, तसेच झोपलेले सरकार आणि जनतेची गैरकायदेशीरपणे लूट करणारे प्रशासन काही थांबत नाही. अशा टीका ते सरकार वर करतात.

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Bombay High Court rejects election petition by Congress candidate Naseem Khan challenging election of Shiv Sena MLA Dilip Lande

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BHUVANA IYER – Mumbai Uncensored, 15 January 2022

The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed the election petition filed by Congress leader Mohammed Arif Naseem Khan challenging the election of Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Dilip Lande from the Chandivali constituency.

The HC judgment said, “mere ‘chance’ or ‘likelihood’ of voters being influenced by illegal campaigning would not constitute essential fact, to contend that illegal campaigning materially affected the election result of the returned (winning) candidate”.

Single-judge Justice Sandeep K Shinde observed the petition failed to plead ‘material facts’ resulting in an incomplete cause of action.

The factual matrix in the case was that Dilip Bhausaheb Lande was elected MLA in 2019 from Chandivali. He defeated petitioner, who was the Indian National Congress candidate, by a thin margin of 409 votes. 

Khan had then filed a petition declaring the election void on grounds of commission of corrupt practices. According to Khan, there were two corrupt practices that Lande had indulged in. 

Khan claimed that there were certain concocted and doctored videos of him which Lande deliberately circulated on Whatsapp which portrayed Khan as an anti-national person. Khan’s plea challenged the election on the ground that the only beneficiary from circulating the doctored video was Lande.

He further claimed that members of Shiv Sena, including its chief, Uddhav Thackeray, had addressed audiences within the prohibited period of 48 hours, which was in contravention to the Model of Conduct by the Election Commission. 

In response, Lande filed an application seeking dismissal of the petition on the ground that the plea does not disclose the cause of action for want of material facts. Cause of action means the material facts which are necessary for a party to prove its case, to show that there has been a legal injury. Material facts are facts that are important in a case for a judge to arrive at a conclusion.

The Court underscored that the position in law is well settled that an election petition can be summarily dismissed if the mandatory requirements of Section 83 of the Representation of the People Act to incorporate material facts are not complied with.

From the pleadings in Khan’s plea regarding circulation of the fake video, the Court noted that they were incomplete as Khan had neither pleaded nor disclosed the source of the fake video in the hands of Lande.

The Court said it failed to understand the claim in the plea that violation of the conduct by Lande could land him over 400 votes, without showing any link between the alleged violation of the model code of conduct and the victory in election.

“Mere ‘chance’ or ‘likelihood’ of voters being influenced by illegal campaigning would not constitute essential fact, to contend that illegal campaigning materially affected the election result of the returned candidate” the order stated.

Justice Shinde thus dismissed the petition as Khan’s petition failed to plead material facts resulting in an ‘incomplete cause of action’.

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