Citizens' Issues
International transit points on alert to check black money during election

The DRI has asked customs officials posted at international transit points to remain vigilant during the Lok Sabha polls and keep a check on passengers and baggage coming from sensitive sectors, including the Gulf

All international airports, ports and land borders in India have been put on alert by the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to check the circulation of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) and black money during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.


The DRI, the lead agency to check smuggling and import duty evasion, has asked customs officials posted at international transit points to remain vigilant during the Lok Sabha polls and keep a check on passengers and baggage coming from sensitive sectors, including the Gulf.


The alert was issued some time back following an input that there may be a spurt in smuggling of fake currency notes from abroad during the polls.


There are 18 international airports in the country — Amritsar, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Nagpur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kozhikode, Coimbatore, Tiruchirapalli, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Port Blair.


Customs officials have been also asked to be alert at international transit land routes, including the Attari-Wagah border (Punjab) and Munabao Railway Station in Jodhpur (Rajasthan), among others.


“Ports along the country’s coast lines bringing in cargo from other nations have also been alerted to keep a check on smuggling of fake currency notes and circulation of black money,” an official said.


The customs officials are also maintaining a strict vigil on frequent passengers to and from Gulf nations and the South-East sector (Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, among others).


Election Commission seeks report on remarks from Mulayam, Azam

EC is seeking detailed report on controversial remarks made by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, RLD chief Ajit Singh and UP minister Azam Khan

The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday sought a detailed report from poll authorities in Uttar Pradesh on the controversial remarks made by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ajit Singh and state minister Azam Khan during the high-voltage campaigning for Lok Sabha polls.


“The Chief Electoral Officer has been asked to provide us with CDs of the controversial statements. The district election officers have also been asked to submit detailed reports on the remarks at the earliest,” EC sources told reporters.


While Yadav, the chief of Samajwadi Party attracted the EC’s attention for his reported remarks that he will “destroy” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Amit Shah, details on Azam Khan’s ‘Kargil’ remarks have also been sought.


Union Minister Ajit Singh’s statement that to prevent communalisation, he could even throw BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi into the sea has also attracted the EC’s attention.


The poll body has also received complaints with regard to the remarks.


Addressing the media in Lucknow on Tuesday, Yadav had said that it is unfortunate that people like Amit Shah are not behind bars.


“People like him are making divisive speeches. We will fight BJP like we have and we will destroy Amit Shah,” the Samajwadi Party chief had said.


EC has taken cognisance of the “destroy Amit Shah remark”, the Commission sources said.


Shah, a close aide of Modi, has received an EC notice for a series of hate speeches in Muzaffarnagar in UP.


Pune Tree Authority appointed 7th & 10th standard pass people, reveals RTI

Almost 11 out of 13 ‘nominated’ members on Citizen Committee of Pune Tree Authority poor educational qualifications, reveals inspection carried out under Section 4 of the RTI Act. But all of them have strong political links

Tree conservation in Maharashtra has been strengthened with the Maharashtra Tree Act of 1975. In Pune, the High Court order of October 2013 has further strengthened the Tree Authority as its members need to mandatorily have required educational qualifications. The members must be a member of an apolitical non-governmental organisation (NGO), which is minimum five years old and must submit proof of work done by the member through CDs, PPTs, certificates and photographs. The NGO must also be registered with the Social Forestry department.


However, in a clear contempt of Court, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), on 12 March 2014, declared the names of the new Tree Authority. PMC’s appointment of members from the same NGO with a political affiliation in 2009 on the last Authority had led to the filing of a public interest litigation (PIL) in the High Court.


Information accessed under Right to Information (RTI) Act by Vinita Deshmukh, convener of Pune Tree Watch, includes applications of those who have been nominated as well as those whose applications have been rejected. RTI documents reveal that 11 of the 13 nominated members to Tree Authority do not even have the academic qualification as directed by the High Court. Some of them are 7th, 10th and 12th standard pass.


The information also reveals that screening committee members Dr Mahesh Shindikar, Associate Professor and head of environmental dept, COEP; Prof SK Chavan, Associate Professor, College of Agriculture and Anil Thorat, Deputy Director, Social Forestry, Pune have put remarks, which question the authenticity of the nominated members. In this case too, HC had recommended six member committee but only three were nominated. The names of the finalized members of Tree Authority was put up by corporators, include Kamal Vyavahare, Anil Tingre, Anil Rane, Hemant Rasne and Prithivaraj Sutar. The HC has directed that even corporators who have Science education background should be nominated in this Tree Authority but that too has not been followed.


Following are the remarks of the three member screening committee, which shows their un-satisfaction over the shortlisted list of candidates. In the absence of any proof of work of the shortlisted applicants, the screening committee has remarked that they have depended upon the candidates’ affidavit regarding the work he or she has done in the field of tree conservation as none of the candidates attached photographs, CDs and certificates along with their application, which proves that indeed they have done credible work in the field. The Committee also remarked that some of the selected members do not have their NGOs, which are over five year old – mandatory criteria for selection. The Committee has recommended that authenticity of their work can only be judged once they submit their work and if they do not meet the requirements, they should be sacked from the Tree Authority committee.


Following are the remarks by the three member screening committee procured by Vinita Deshmukh from the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2014 - a special meeting was held at 12 noon that day to finalise NGO representatives as Tree authority members:



Education qualification

Committee Remark

Dr Anil Sachin Punekar


The candidate states that he has 15 years’ experience but his NGO is registered as recently as 2011. HC says it should be registered for a minimum 5 years.


Babasaheb Ganpat Patil

12th pass

HC clearly states that educational qualifications should be given prominence.


Shantanu Ramdas Jagdale


He has given an affidavit of five years’ experience but his educational qualification is irrelevant. He should have had agriculture/ forestry or degree in environmental/ gardening

Ameya Nandkishore Jagtap


NGO since 2009. The NGO is not five years old

Ajay Baban Shinde

12th pass

He has given an affidavit that he has worked in the field for 15 years but he is only 12th standard pass

Govind Ramchandra Tharkude


His affidavit says that he has 15 years’ experience but his educational qualifications are irrelevant to the post

Sudhir Vasant Naik


He has given an affidavit that he has 10 years’ experience in the field but his educational qualifications are not as per prescription of HC.

Milind Kundalik Pokale


He has given an affidavit that he has 8 years’ experience but his educational qualifications are irrelevant to the post

Dattatray Sadashiv Polekar

7th pass

He has given an affidavit that he has eight years’ experience but his NGO is registered only in 2010. As per the rules his educational qualifications and his experience is inadequate

Sandip Suresh Mokate

10th pass

He has given an affidavit that he has 12 years’ experience but his NGO is registered in 2009 or 2010 and he does not have the required educational qualifications

Kaviraj Fatubhai Sangholia

7th pass

He has given an affidavit that he has 15 years’ experience but he is not adequately qualified

Jadeep Prabati Padwal

12th pass

He has given an affidavit that he has 10 years’ experience but his NGO is registered in 2012


Advertisement for inviting applications for the post of members of Tree Authority were given in newspapers between 20 December 2013 and 14 February 2014. Very obviously, all this public money has gone down the drain.


Pune Tree Watch has asked immediate dissolution of newly formed Tree Authority as not a single nominated member has registered his or her NGO with Social Forestry department, which is mandatory by the High Court rules.


A reply from the Social Forestry that no NGO has registered with it was given to Vinod Jain, member of the Pune Tree Watch. Hence, the entire nomination of members is null and void and is contempt of court.


PTW is lodging a complaint with Municipal Commissioner of PMC, as he is the chairman of the Tree Authority and demanding that the newly established Tree Authority committee be dissolved at the earliest.


The norms set by the High Court:

According to the norms and directives of the Bombay High Court, while appointing the nominated members of the Tree authority preference should be given to the candidates representing Non-Government Organisation and having expertise in the following categories:

1. Those holding a degree or diploma in agriculture, forestry or gardening.

2. Those having special expertise and actual experience for minimum five years in the fields of plantation, conservation and replantation of trees or conservation of environment.

3. Members of NGOs working independently.

4. Members of NGOs active at national level.

5. He or she has to be an active member of an NGO registered with the Social Forestry Department of State Government.


Excerpt from the High Court order:

High Court has recommended that: “The nominated members should belong to independent NGOs and PMC has stated that not more than one person shall be appointed from the same NGO. As regards the nominated members, wider representation needs to be given to diverse cross sections of NGOs with a special knowledge or expertise in plantation and preservation of trees with a minimum experience of at least five years. Care shall be taken to obviate a situation which had occurred in the past whereby all the nominated members belonged to the same NGO. While nominating the non-official members, preference shall be given to qualified persons with a degree or diploma in agriculture/ forestry/ horticulture with an expertise of five years in plantation/ preservation/ transplantation of trees and/ or in environment protection. PMC has stated that preference would be given to those NGOs who have a national presence.”



Duties of Tree Authority

  a) Protection and Preservation of all trees in all lands within jurisdiction.

     b) Carrying out a Census of existing trees on all lands every five years

     c) Prescribing standards specifying the number and type of trees each plot of land should have. In Pune, one tree is mandatory per 100 square meter area, excluding goathan area.

     d) Development and maintenance nurseries for the supply of seeds, saplings of trees to those wishing to plant new or replace felled tree.

     e) Transplantation of trees because of road construction or for safeguarding against danger to life and property.

     f) Organising vegetable and flower shows yearly to raise consciousness about trees and vegetation for human welfare. Assisting private and public institutions in organizing such shows; creation of consciousness of importance of trees and vegetation to human welfare.

     g) Giving advice and assistance to those who seek it in any matter connected with planting, protection and preservation of trees.

     h) Planting and maintenance trees as considered appropriate according to prescribed standards in public places such as along the roads, river banks, lakes, public parks and gardens.

     i) Undertaking ANY schemes considered necessary for achieving objectives of the act.


(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)



Parimal Shah

3 years ago

Please file a contempt of the court case against that authority.


3 years ago

What are the political contacts of these appointees.

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