The Maharashtra government will bring black-marketing of essential commodities, along with illegal excavation of sand, under the Maharashtra Prevention of Dangerous Activities (MPDA) Act.
It will aim at cracking down on repeat offenders. The state government will be empowered to detain repeat offenders and brokers indulging in illegal sand mining or black marketing of grains and other essential goods, and even government officials abetting the crime for six months, which can be extended to a year.
“The main purpose is to serve as a deterrent. As of now, even when offenders are charged, in two days they get bail. With MPDA, they will have the fear of being behind bars for up to a year,” said a senior revenue department official.
The MPDA Act, 1981, applies to slumlords, bootleggers, drug offenders, dangerous persons and video pirates as specified in its title.
The state cabinet has approved the proposal to bring illegal sand excavation and black marketing of essential supplies under the Act.
The proposal will be forwarded to the home department, and is expected to be tabled in the monsoon session of the legislature for suitable amendments.
“There are hundreds of complaints of illegal sand excavation and transport with demand for sand in the state increasing due to rapid urbanisation,” revenue officials said.
A scam in Surgana taluka of Nashik district involving pilferage of 31,000 quintals of foodgrains from the public distribution system was the trigger for bringing black marketing of essential commodities under MPDA, said a senior food and civil supplies department official.
* The state cabinet has approved over Rs 1,000 crore for a new railway line connecting Wardha-Yavatmal-Pusad-Nanded, taking the revised cost to Rs 2,501.5 crore of which the state government will bear 40 per cent. The state government has spent Rs 50 crore on the 284-kilometre railway line so far, while the Indian Railways spent about Rs 46 crore.
* The cabinet has approved an agriculture college at Muktainagar in Jalgaon. The college, the estimated cost of which is Rs 65.70 crore, will admit 60 students every year.
* In view of landslides in various parts of the state in the past couple of days, the cabinet discussed a plan for relocating landslide-threatened settlements and to ask all district collectors to evolve a resettlement plan for these areas.