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Bhima Koregaon clashes

The start of the year witnessed violence in Maharashtra as the Dalits and Marathas clashed in Bhima Koregaon near Pune. On January 1, around 10 lakh members of the Dalit community had gathered at Bhima Koregaon, which is 30 km from Pune, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon which took place in 1818 in which the Mahar community, led by the British, had defeated the upper-caste Peshwa.

Members of right-wing outfits had objected to the gathering and allegedly indulged in arson and stone pelting to oppose the meeting, resulting in the violent clashes between the two communities. Violence ensued over the rest of the state, including Mumbai, with Dalit organisations calling for a Mumbai bandh on January 3.

Buses were damaged, arterial roads in the city were blocked and local train operations were also stalled at various places in the city as part of the bandh. The Pune Police is probing the case of Bhima Koregaon clash and has already arrested a number of Left activists for their alleged involvement in the matter.

Tigress Avni killing

Avni, the six-year-old tigress and mother of two 11-month-old cubs, who had allegedly killed 13 persons since June 2016, was shot in a controversial manner by sharpshooter Asgar Ali, son of famous sharpshooter Nawab Shafat Ali on November 2 this year. The killing of the tigress triggered a full blown war of words between the forest minister in Maharashtra and union minister Maneka Gandhi, both belonging to the BJP.

“Despite several requests from many stakeholders, Sudhir Mungantiwar, ordered the killing,” Maneka Gandhi said, and sought his resignation. An inquiry panel later pointed out that rules were violated and doubts were expressed if the animal was actually killed in self-defence, as claimed by the state government.

Plastic ban

The state government in March announced a ban on manufacture, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials and gave three months to dispose of the existing stocks. In a bid to make the ban more stringent, various fees were imposed ranging from Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 along with imprisonment of three months.

 Drought

As the year ended, Maharashtra was facing drought due to deficit rainfall this year. The government in October declared 151 talukas in 26 out of the total 36 districts in the state having ‘drought-like’ condition.

These 26 districts include eight each in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, five in North Maharashtra, four in western Maharashtra and Palghar district in the coastal Konkan region. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sought early Central assistance of Rs 7,962.63 crore from the Centre to tackle the drought.

 Maratha Reservation

After a lot of hue and cry with protests and rallies by Maratha’s in Mumbai and Maharashtra over Maratha Reservation Bill, the Maharashtra government on November 29, passed the Bill in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. The government approved a 16 per cent reservation for the Maratha community in the education and job sectors in the state.

Fire incidents

On December 4, a massive fire erupted in Mumbai’s Aarey colony, wiping out about four sq km of trees and other vegetation. The fire triggered an alarm among environmentalists as it threatened to affect tribal residents in the city’s biggest green lung. The fire brigade took nearly 12 hours to douse the flames. Apart from these, other major fire incidents took place in the city include – Cine Vista film studio in Jan, high-rises in Lower Parel, Kandivali, Goregaon, Kothari Mansion in June while the most recent, Andheri’s ESIC Kamgar Hospital fire and many more.

 

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