Mumbai

BMC likely to not declare new big projects in its budget

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With more than Rs 70,000 crore reserved in fixed deposits, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is most likely not in the mood to announce any big project other than the implementation of the Development Plan (DP), as part of its 2019-20 Budget. The civic body will focus on projects like the Coastal Road, sewerage treatment plants (STP) that started in 2018, and also the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) that will probably get a push in the coming year.
The richest civic body of India is all prepared to announce its yearly Budget on Monday. Although it is an election year, citizens will probably not face tax hikes or new taxes. They will also not have big projects to look forward to. The BMC already has quite a few assignments with regard to roads, water, solid waste management, and sewerage disposal. With limited engineers and officers, the civic body will concentrate on its ongoing projects. Work for the ambitious Coastal Road (on the 10-kilometre-stretch from Princess Street to Bandra-Worli sea link) was kickstarted in November 2018. Although the civic body has allocated Rs 1,500 crore for this project, only Rs 230 crore has been spent so far. The project has gained momentum and will probably receive more than Rs 2,000 crore in the next financial year. The total cost of the project is Rs 12,721 crore and it is expected to be completed in four years.
The next big thing is the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WwTF) project that has been delayed for 14 years. The city gets 3,800 million litre of drinking water a day (MLD). According to official records, 2,100 MLD water goes to the sea as sewerage water. The BMC will upgrade seven primary centers to secondary and tertiary treatment plants at Worli, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Versova, Colaba, Bandra, and Malad and build a new one in Dharavi. The estimated cost of upgrading all seven centers is around Rs 14,000 crore. The BMC has appointed a project management consultant (PMC) for three plants as they are still in the planning stage. However, upgrading work at the Colaba plant is underway and the Malad WwTF is waiting for its environment clearance. The civic body may allocate more than Rs 1,000 crore for this project.
The Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) is also under consideration. Although the project still hasn’t received Central clearance, the paperwork is underway and the civic body aims to start actual groundwork in 2019-20. The 6-kilometre-long road expects to get an allocation worth hundreds of crores. The cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 4,000 crore.

Nisha Shiwani has worked in many companies in various capacities and in her free time loves to express herself through her articles. She is based out of the pink city Jaipur.

Mumbai

Mumbai: Traffic chaos take bite out of delivery apps’ success

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Food delivery apps like Swiggy, Zomato, Uber Eats, which have proven to be a boon for thousands of hassled time-crunched customers in the city, have also been accused of causing traffic chaos and disruption. Such is the problem that residents from areas like Matunga, Ghatkopar, Kandivali, etc. have even approached authorities seeking action against the delivery boys of these services. They claim the delivery agents drive rashly and park haphazardly, leading to traffic snarls.

“Just a couple of days ago, the traffic police cleared several motorcycles parked on the footpaths outside restaurants in Kings Circle. We made several complaints to BMC and Traffic police about this, but to no avail,” said Nikhil Desai, a resident of Matunga.

Locals here claim that any point in time, at least 10-12 bikes are parked on the footpaths, making it difficult for people to walk. “We launched a training programme, ‘Safety First’, with the aim of making roads safer for delivery partners and citizens both. We don’t levy any penalty on unforeseen delays with deliveries. We urge our riders to follow traffic rules and parking etiquette. We strongly discourage delivery partners from causing disruption or inconvenience to others,” a spokesperson for Swiggy said.

The companies have also said they are talking to restaurants to provide dedicated parking space for their delivery boys. “We are also educating our delivery partners to follow all traffic norms and etiquettes. We are happy to extend any help or support to the authorities too,” a Zomato spokesperson said.

Uber Eats did not respond to an email sent on this issue.

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Mumbai: BMC counsels 4,000 students for e-cigarettes

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After knowing about e-cigarette and the increasing trend around it, Hasina S (name change) a teenager used her pocket money and told one of her brother to purchase an e-cigarette for her so that she can see how it is used. Similar to Hasina, there are few other BMC school going students across the city who have either tried using e-cigarette once in their lifetime after seeing the increase in trend.

In a recent survey about usage of e-cigarette in school students, conducted at the 40 BMC schools, around 4,000 students of class 7 to 9 were counseled for e-cigarette usage in the year 2017-18.

Out of over 4,302 students who were oriented about the usage of tobacco and e-cigarette, over 34% (1,441 students) self-volunteered to get counseled in order to get de-addicted from e-cigarette and other tobacco usage.

Surprisingly, out of the 34% students, 14% of the addicted students were girls and 20% were boys from across the city.

Gauri Mandal from Salam Bombay Foundation, said, “In majority of the cases they buy the e-cigarette from the local retail shops. Besides local shops, online ordering is another option. While few of them prefer saving their pocket money and purchase fancy colourful and different flavored e-cigarettes. Few of the students had collectively contributed money to purchase the e-cigarettes and use it one by one.”

The survey further reveals that after six months of counseling done, of 34 % (1,441 students), 70% were successfully recovered and have been de-addicted. Looking at the cessation outcome after six months of counseling, the experts said that while overall 70% of the counseled students have successfully recovered, around 53% of them were e-cigarette users. Six group sessions in six months are organised for the students.

“E-cigarettes are easily accessible and prevalent among adolescents from slums of Mumbai and it is important to increase the awareness about the effects of e-cigarettes among them. Online marketing and various online platforms helps students to reach out to sellers,” said Mandal.

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Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde urges 5-year jail for those who harm trees

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In the past few years the state government have planted 19 crore trees across Maharashtra through various plantation drives. But there have been instances where these trees were destroyed or damaged at several places by anti-social elements. To prohibit such activities, Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde has tabled a private member bill in Loksabha. In this bill he has demanded five months to five years imprisonment to those who harm trees.

“To combat rising levels of pollution, the government has undertaken massive tree plantation drives. But there is no legal provision to ensure that the offenders are punished and these trees are taken care of,” said Shinde. As per the Paris climate change agreement of the UN in 2015, India agreed to do reforestation on 33 per cent of land. “But as per the report the forest cover in India has grown only by 0.21 per cent between 2015-2017,” says Shinde. For instance, On July 6, 2017 Shinde organised a massive tree plantation drive in Mangrool village of Ambernath, where 20,000 people came together and planted 1 lakh trees in a day. He ensured that these trees were watered and provided for a borewell, water tank and pipeline. However, in November 2018, these trees were set on fire in two separate incidents by miscreants. The fire damaged 50 per cent of these trees.

“Miscreants should be punished with six months to five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 5 lakh. Moreover, even man-made jungles should be covered under Indian forest act, 1980. Central government’s permission should be made mandatory before taking up projects on jungles,” he said.

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Maharashtra: AAP to support separate Vidarbha demand

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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) while addresing a press conference on Thursday said it will support Vidarbha as a separate state. In a conference held at Shivaji Mandir, Dadar they announced alliance with 17 parties, among which some are working in Vidarbha too. The party further said that it will contest all seats in Mumbai, and of the 25 seats it is certain of contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“We are contesting for smaller states and I personally support the separate Vidarbha demand. My father was part of Samyukta Maharashtra movement to get Mumbai into Maharashtra. But back then state’s population was two crore and now it is 12 crore, hence is difficult for us to manage that. A person in Gadchiroli has to come all the way here,” said Brigadier Sudhir Sawant, party president in state.
Among the 17 parties that have joined under the banner of Samrudha Maharashtra Aghadi are Jan Suryajya Party, Vidarbha Majha, Srihari Aney’s Vidarbha Rajya Aghadi, MLA Bachchu Kadu’s Prahar Janshakti, Bahujan Republic Socialist Party, Wamanrao Chatap’s Vidarbha Rajya Andolan Samiti, Khobragade’s Republican Party among others. The party is looking to get support of Raju Shetti and others. In Mumbai they are also considering tie-ups with Samajwadi and other parties. “We want to defeat BJP. Our entering the fray will ensure that people who do not want to give votes to BJP and Congress will give us votes,” said Sawant.

Sawant said that the front’s name could change if incoming partners insist on something else particularly those looking to appeal farmers and representing them. “We are still in talks with some. We will finalise that soon. I may contest from Mumbai,” said Sawant whose party has decided to contest 10 for now and give rest to partners.
The party did not contest last elections and saw most of its candidates forfeited their deposit. When asked about networking in the city to attract voters, he said that they would show the Delhi Development Model as an example. “We reduced bills and have provided some facilities free. That helped reduce corruption and saving money. Our work in the administration has given us self confidence,” added Sawant.

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BMC Budget: Road, rail, bridge connectivity budget exceeds healthcare

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Even as the healthcare sector has received the largest budget allocation in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) 2019-20 budget of Rs 30,062 crore, it is the roads, rail and bridges combined that have benefitted the most.

While Rs 4,515 crore have been allocated to healthcare projects, roads; footpaths; traffic, and coastal road have been provided with a budget of Rs 4,700 crore. Around 14 per cent of the total budgetary allocation is for health, including upgrading peripheral hospitals like MT Agarwal, Shatabdi Govandi and Bhagvati Hospitals, salaries for doctors, employees and provision for public health; it is a rise of 15 per cent than the last year.

The civic body is spending over 15 per cent of the budget on roads. In the year 2018-19, nearly 313 km of roads were repaired. In the next year, repairs on nearly 370 km of roads has been proposed. Of this, 106 km roads will be made of cement-concrete and 172 km of asphalt; it also include resurfacing of the 92 km roads. Some of the major roads proposed for improvement are Mancherji Joshi road, Morland road in south city, JVLR, link road from SV Road to Mahavir Nagar and Sunder Nagar main road, Church Pakhadi road in Western suburbs and Ghatkopar-Mankhurd link road, Mahul road and LBS road in eastern suburbs.

The civic body has allocated a separate provision of Rs 100 crore for footpath repairs. It will also form a Parking Authority next year. Replacing conventional lights by LED too will complete with a provision of Rs 50 crore.

After the structural audit of all the bridges including flyovers, foot overbridges, skywalks and subways, the BMC will construct 14 new bridges and will repair 223 bridges with a provision of Rs 108 crore. Apart from the Goregaon-Mulund link road, Mahalaxmi station bridge, bridge near Infinity mall, an elevated road at Lokhandwala, a bridge at Parshiwada, Andheri, an extension of Jogeshwari station ROB is in the plan.

The coastal road project has got the momentum and the BMC made a provision of Rs 1,607 crore for the Rs 12,651 crore-project. The 10 km road work from Princess Street to Bandra-Worli Sea Link has started in three phases from November 2018 and is expected to complete within four years.

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Mumbai: Lack of infra for direct benefit transfer worries academia

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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) move to facilitate banking skills among children by way of providing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) facility to students for the purchase of stationary has led to a slew of questions. Activists and experts from the education sector are left wondering ever since the proposal whether the DBT scheme will be successful or not.

Some think that parents may not use the money for the prescribed purpose while some are concerned if students will receive quality stationary that includes water bottles, lunch boxes and more. It is also not yet clear how the funds will be transferred considering that many students are yet to create their bank accounts.

The Direct Benefit Transfer is a newly-introduced state policy. By way of DBT, funds to purchase the academic stationary will be transferred directly to the students’ bank account. A budget provision of Rs 16.87 crore has been made for students of the primary section while Rs 2.82 crore has been provided for secondary section.

Education activist, Shyam Sonar said, “I don’t know how DBT will work in Mumbai after it has flopped in Thane municipal schools. We learnt that students of the Thane civic school were not getting quality products. One of the local political person had put up his stall and asked the school to force children to buy from his stall. Another important point is whether students with irregular attendance too will get this fund. Most of them migrate to another place in a year. Some parents are so poor that they struggle for food and as a result, are forced to spend the provided money for other needs; they send their children without uniform to school.”

Another teacher who works in one of the NGOs working with BMC schools said, “Not all schools are a 100 per cent successful in creating bank accounts for their students. The BMC has been following-up with parents on the same since two to three months now. But not all parents are responding to our request. I am also wondering whether the parents who have drinking habits will buy school stationery for their kids every year.”

Director of Avehi Abacus Project, Simantini Dhuru said, “The inflation and market price vary and hence students may not find the uniform in same price. It has been observed where there is DBT scheme the money doesn’t go on time in bank account of the student. There is also a possibility that the parents may prioritise using the money in some other place because they come from such poor background. This is not the concern in just BMC but its a trend in entire country. This indicates shedding responsibility by the state on the parents. We were proud that the BMC even before RTE came in place was giving 27 items to their school children which are their rights. Its a matter of concern that BMC is also falling in trap of privatization.”

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Maharashtra: Experts react to 6 month extension over online pharmacy

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The Centre’s move to seek a six month extension for the publication of the final rules to regulate sale of medicines online has evoked mixed reactions.

Indian Pharmaceutical Association vice president Manjiri Gharat said that the online pharmacies are operating in the absence of any specific legal framework. It is a real danger for the safety of patients. The situation is not ripe enough for online sales.

Maharashtra’s former food and drugs administration commissioner Mahesh Zagde pointed out that it appears that good sense has prevailed and therefore Government of India may be reconsidering its own intention to allow online sale of medicines. ”The government may continue to ban the online sale of medicines because it may lead to catastrophic ill effects on health profile of the country.

Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, former secretary Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra) observed that dealings of online pharmacy (sale and purchase of medications) by the patients has not received a legal sanction from any court of India. ”Hence if there is adverse reaction/wrong medication who is responsible? Medications not under the supervision of prescribing doctors can prove injurious to the health of patients,” noted Dr Sanghvi.

  • However, companies engaged in sale of online medicines preferred not to comment citing the next hearing slated this week in Madras and Delhi high courts. (more…)

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Mumbai: BMC to revoke hawkers’ license for using banned plastic

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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will start cancelling licenses of hawkers if they are found using or selling banned plastic. The step is taken after it has been observed that hawkers across the city are selling their products in banned plastic carry bag.

According to a civic official, there is a notification from the state government that has a provision of revoking the licence of licenses of shops and hawking stalls for violating the law. At present, the BMC is collecting Rs 5,000 fine from violators.

Vijay Balambar, deputy municipal commissioner (election) and incharge of the plastic ban said that there is a circular that allowing the civic body to cancel the license of shops and hawkers if they violate the law. “Officials of the market, license and shop and establishments, who are carrying out an inspection of plastic ban, have been directed to cancel hawkers’ license immediately if found with banned plastic,” said Balambar.

A circular was already received by the BMC in December that allowed to take coercive action. The same has already forwarded to the concerned department of all ward offices. The department has been asked to take further action on offenders of the plastic ban as given in the notification.

According to BMC’s data, since the ban came into effect, the BMC visited around 4.5 lakh establishments and seized 48, 163 kg of plastic. It also collected Rs 2.05 crores as fine.

To implement the ban, the BMC formed a special squad consisting of 300 officials from Market, License and Shop and Establishments. The squad was christened blue squad who visited malls, shops and establishments, well-known eateries and searched for banned plastic.

  1. However, the BMC’s blue squad faced resistance from many shops due to lack of clarity on banned plastic. “We are just implementing the state government’s decision. But, people thought that we are forcing a local body’s decision,” said a senior civic official. He added that they also faced ire from political parties. Meanwhile, retail association from the city were asked to control banned plastic supply from the neighbouring state.

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Eastern Express Highway will flash live traffic updates

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You would soon be able to get real-time traffic updates while commuting on the arterial Eastern Express Highway, which links the central suburbs to south Mumbai.
The state’s public works department is planning to instal digital signboards at several locations on the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) which will forecast the traffic situation to motorists, intimating them of diversions and vehicular movement.
The PWD says the traffic updates will be flashed on the screens on the basis of information received from the traffic police control room, and not Google Maps. The traffic police are a more accurate source of information, the department says.
The move is aimed at smoothening the ride for thousands who ride the Expressway stretch between Mulund and Sion daily.
“We are planning to instal digital signboards at several crucial stretches of EEH to give traffic information in the form of updates to the motorists in real time,” a PWD official said.
He elaborated why it is preferable for the updates to flow from the traffic police’s control room. “Google Maps highlights heavy traffic by colouring a stretch red but it does not say why. For example, there may be construction under way and the road may be blocked. Then there are times when there are traffic diversions, which only the traffic control room would be able to inform people about.”
The official said that bids have been called from various private companies to get a cost estimate for putting up these digital signboards, and to assess how much revenue can be generated from advertising on these signboards.
While in the process, the PWD also plans to improve signage at six locations on the 23-km long highway, and set forth traffic directions along with safety rules on speeding, wearing protective gear and seat belt will be displayed prominently.
More than 50,000 vehicles use the EEH daily, which is an arterial road in that it is the central suburbs’ answer to the Western Express Highway. It starts at Sion and, passing through all central suburbs, ends in Thane.
Mulund resident Nishit Modi, a regular commuter to south Mumbai, said, “The digital signboards will be useful for the traffic department to inform motorists during an emergency, but to be frank, they might not be that useful considering Google Maps is already real-time and is easily accessible to all. In any case, the digital signboards would not be able to help me when I start from my home at Mulund.”

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Bombay High Court raps MHADA for not penalising errant developers

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The Bombay High Court gave the state government two weeks’ time to enumerate steps it has taken against MHADA officials who may have connived with private developers to not recover the surplus area which it is supposed to get from the developers of Cess buildings in the city. “Eight months ago, this court had passed an order. You (the state government) hasn’t done anything. Why so much protection to these offenders?” a division bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said.

As per the rules, MHADA is supposed to get a certain percentage of saleable area from developers of Cess buildings. Advocate Chaitanya Pendse argued before the court that MHADA is supposed to create a house bank, but because they aren’t recovering the surplus area, private developers are benefiting. “And even the ACB is not acting on it, since it’s waiting for sanctions from the authorised departments,” he said.

Public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik then said, “It’s not that nothing has been done. The bureau is waiting for sanctions to go ahead with the inquiry,” to which the bench asked, “Why are there so many departments involved in granting permissions?”

The ACB had earlier filed an affidavit in court, saying 457 projects have been approved under the rules, of which surplus area to be recovered is 198,646.45 sq.m. worth compensation of Rs 37.54 crore. But a majority of this area is from 260 ongoing or stalled projects, meaning which the surplus amount can only be paid after the completion of the projects.

MHADA on its own also initiated prosecution against 34 developers, and final reports have been filed against the concerned developers in 26 cases. Further, civil proceedings against 29 developers were initiated and MHADA recovered 6,376.12 sq.m. from redeveloped areas and Rs 40.47 crore as penalty.

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