He wanted to change Malegaon
On Monday evening, I did not think that by not making a simple phone call, I was foregoing the chance to have my last chat with a bureaucrat, who seemed to be driven with zeal to improve the conditions of the textile town of Malegaon near Nashik.
Caught up at work, I did not get a chance to call the ever smiling, Yashwant Sonawane, the additional collector of Nashik.
The story of a meeting at Mantralaya on a proposal to set up branches of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Maharashtra was not high-priority for me.
However, for Sonawane and friends like Malegaon-based journalist, Aleem Faizee, who had mooted the idea, the proposal was a step towards changing Malegaon’s image as a backward, communally polarised ghetto into that of a progressive education hub.
On Monday, Sonawane had submitted a proposal for setting up a branch of the AMU at Malegaon during a meeting chaired by minority affairs minister Arif Naseem Khan.
A day later, the 46-year-old bureaucrat was brutally murdered, allegedly by the oil adulteration mafia.
A Dalit from a small hamlet called Lakhmapur in Nashik district, Sonawane entered the bureaucracy with a drive to help his people.
He started off as a clerk in Mantralaya in 1988. He studied for the state civil services exams and managed to clear them in 1990, after which he was appointed deputy collector.
Sonawane spent the bulk of his career in North Maharashtra and was promoted as additional collector of Malegaon two years ago.
The people of Malegaon fondly remember him as a man who tried his best to change the image of the town.
“He was the driving force behind the proposal to set up a Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation in here,” Malegaon legislator Mufti Ismail said.
Malegaon residents feel in his death the city has lost another efficient, sincere official, who cared for the small town.
“He was a genuine man who was interested in ensuring this town’s development,” Zahir Shaikh, a former government employee who had worked with Sonawane in Malegaon, said.
Sonawane leaves behind his wife and two teenaged children. Public works minister and guardian minister of Nashik, Chhagan Bhujbal, announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh for Sonawane’s family.
His family will also receive full salary until the date of his retirement, a government job for one dependent, educational expenses for his children until they complete their graduation, and a house.
Owing to continuous rain, educational institutions in several parts of Karnataka will remain shut on Thursday. Top officials in the 4 districts of Karnataka - namely Udupi, Kodagu, Hassan and Uttara Kannada -- have declared holiday for Anganwadi schools and colleges amid the 'red alert' issued by the weather department. The Indian Meteorological Department has predicted extremely heavy rain, ranging above 204.5 mm for these 4 cities.
Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu B Chavan appealed to people not to sacrifice cattle for the Bakrid festival while warning of stern action against the offenders. The Minister emphasised the Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act has already been in force in Karnataka. Generally, during the Bakrid festival, there is a tradition of sacrifice, for which livestock such as cow, ox, calf and camels are also used, said Chavan.
Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.
The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.