Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years #wakeup


By, TNN | Mar 9, 2013,

Maharashtra faces worst drought in 40 years
A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month.
MUMBAI: Summer may still be a couple of months away but in 3,905 villages in 12 districts of Marathwada and western Maharashtra, faced with one of the worst droughts since 1972, people have started migrating to Mumbai and neighbouring Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

A high-ranking bureaucrat said situation in five districts—Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Beed and Osmanbad—is so bad that the existing drinking water will last only till the end of this month. “For the state political leadership and bureaucracy, it will be a real testing time. After March, we will have to transport water to these areas either from neighbouring districts or even by trains from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,” he said.

But the official said that unlike 1972, when the state had to face shortage of foodgrains and unemployment too, this time around it is only water that is in scarcity.

“We have adequate foodgrains stock. In 1972, 30 lakh villagers had reported for work under the employment guarantee scheme. Now, against the availability of 20 lakh jobs, only 2 lakh villagers have sought work. We are providing work to all,” he said.

But he admitted that the available water in dams is grim. In the badly-affected Marathwada region, on Thursday, only 9% water was left in the dams compared with 30 per cent last year. In western Maharashtra, the stock is 32 per cent against 40 per cent last year. Significantly, situation in Vidarbha, north Maharashtra and Konkan appears to be better.

On the financial assistance from the Centre, the bureaucrat said, under the National Disaster Response Fund, against the demand of Rs 1,800 crore, the state has so far received Rs 778 crore and now a fresh proposal for financial assistance of Rs 2,200 crore has been submitted. “A central team was here last week. We have argued our case. We expect the empowered group of ministers will come to our rescue,” he said.

The bureaucrat pointed out that the state was facing such a situation owing to extreme exploitation of ground water. “Look at the history of the state. Once in a decade, we are facing drought, but we have not learnt lessons. We are overdrawing underground water. We have concentration of sugar factories in Solapur and Osmanabad, as a result, there was highest consumption of water in these districts,” he said.

 

#India- Drugged, raped minor gets Justice #Vaw


Published: Friday, Feb 8, 2013, 9:30 IST
By Mustafa Plumber & Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

 

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of 20 men in the case of a minor who was drugged by her neighbour, raped, and then blackmailed into prostitution in 2005. She was then a Class IX student in Aurangabad.

Those convicted include men who claimed they were unaware of the victim’s age as they took her to be a sex worker, a contention the court refused to accept. Also convicted is one accused who married the victim after he was pronounced guilty by the Aurangabad sessions court.

In a judgment delivered on February 4, the division bench of justices AH Joshi and UD Salvi confirmed the sentences of all those convicted by the trial court, reducing the sentence of eight accused, including the man who married the victim.

Chetan Popatlal Bhalgat, who married the victim in May 2011, prayed for a less than minimum sentence, citing the marriage and the fact he had given her Rs21 lakh in cash as well as a row-house worth Rs13.30 lakh, a shopping premise and a plot of land in Ahmednagar. While he claimed this mitigates the malevolence of the crime, the court only reduced his sentence from 10 years to eight years.

The judges observed, “…the genesis of the culpability of the accused did not spring from the insanity of a lover but was a plain lust supported by pecuniary ability, namely he could pay for what he had craved for”.

As Bhalgat had done something restitutive for the victim, the court reduced his sentence by two years.

The court also accepted the testimony of the victim as reliable and said, “A witness who is very well grown up cannot be expected to give narration of sexual wrongs done to her which are per se traumatic, with minute details or particulars. It shall suffice if she utters the word physical/sexual relationship or rape.”

According to the judgment, the minor was threatened by an accused who is now deceased that photographs of the sexual encounters would be published in local newspapers. Under threat, the minor was coerced to have sex with several men until she was rescued by a local NGO. The girl was taken to people’s homes and to hotels in rickshaws and hired cars, where she was forced to dispense sexual favours repeatedly.

Four men aged between 20 and 25 — Hardeek Lakhamichand Jaggad, Aakash Subhash Rathi, Aatmaram Ramrao Dengale and Ramakant Ramrao Dengale — were sentenced to eight years.

The others who were sentenced to 10 years apart from the man who married her are Balkishan Premraj Goel, Ajay Sudhakar Kate, Aaba alias Dyandev Bhagchand Gondkar, Abdul Haq Fakir Mohammad Kureshi, Rajendra Shivajirao Thorat, Ravindra Shivajirao Thorat, Raghunath Ramnath Zolekar, Vasant Mangu Pawara, Ramrao Moniraj Dengale, Tukaram Gena Misal, Ramesh Rajaram Barkase, Ashok Babasaheb Kasar, Vilas ere Karale, Ruchin Mehta, and Harjit Rajpal.

The court observed in its 126-page judgment that “law takes stern view in the crimes concerning rape not only for the reason of physical harm that it causes to a woman but also for she being left destitute to suffer life-long mental trauma”.

 

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