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- NMC misled HC on house tax assessment Ashish Roy | TNN | Sep 17, 2018, 03:07 IST
Nagpur: The house tax of property owners has increased manifold in many cases ever since Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) switched over to assessment on the basis of ready reckoner instead of annual letting value (ALV). People are running from pillar to post to get the tax reduced but in most cases they are unsuccessful.
This is not the first time that property owners’ house tax has been increased manifold. There were 79 houses in Jaripatka whose property tax was increased sharply 15 to 20 years ago. After the house owners did not get justice from NMC, they formed NMC House Tax Grievance Redressal Society and filed a public interest litigation in Nagpur bench of Bombay high court. NMC did not refrain even from misleading the HC in this regard.
The Society pointed out that the house tax of Shantaram Karade had increased from Rs945 to Rs8,677 per year. Jamnadas Dolwani’s tax had gone up from Rs249 to Rs5,407 while Bhagwandas Ratnani’s tax had been hiked from Rs122 to Rs2,009. NMC, in its affidavit, stated that tax of the house was fair and correct and was as per prevailing rental rate of the year.
Not satisfied with NMC’s reply, the Society in December 2005 met Rajesh Tope, the then minister of state for urban development. The minister directed the municipal commissioner to reassess the tax.
NMC, which had claimed that its assessment was perfect, significantly reduced the tax on Tope’s directives. Karade’s tax was reduced from Rs8,677 to Rs2,457 per year, Dolwani’s from Rs5,407 to Rs836 and Ratnani’s from Rs2,009 to Rs641.
The house owners were not satisfied even with these reductions and further approached the HC. The court in 2017 directed municipal commissioner to hold a hearing and decide the cases. During the hearing, the civic chief directed deputy municipal commissioner (II) to check the assessment of the 79 property owners. Even though a year has passed the deputy commissioner is yet to hold a hearing. The Society has now filed another PIL on bungling in property tax department.
Shankar Gulani, office-bearer of the Society, charged that NMC was repeatedly committing contempt of court. “First, it lied on affidavit that its assessment was correct. Now, it is not holding a hearing as per HC directives. We have raised all these issues in the fresh PIL,” he told TOI.
He further said that problem was that NMC did not follow a scientific system of assessment of property tax and it was done as per whims and fancies of the employees.
- Tepid response to NMC’s 3,450 solar water heater project Anjaya Anparthi | tnn | Sep 17, 2018, 03:10 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) project to distribute 3,450 solar water heaters with 50% subsidy may well end up as the first project to remain incomplete even 55 months after initiation. The deadline for the project was 2014.
The electrical department proposal, before the standing committee meeting on September 17, is to complete the works using the remaining two agencies, since one of the appointed agencies is not executing any works.
Since its launch in February 2014, over 600 of the total 3,450 solar water heaters are yet to be distributed under the central government’s Model Solar City Scheme. The heaters are of 125 litres per day capacity and worth Rs14,800 per unit. NMC was to bear 50% cost, with the money coming from the centre. The beneficiary was to contribute remaining 50%.
Three private agencies — Rajkot-based Redren Energy, Jalgaon-based Jain Irrigation System, and city-based MM Solar — were to supply and install the systems. Redren was given contract for 1,898 (55%) systems, while Jain Irrigation 793 (23%), and MM 759 (22%) units.
After installing 1,114 systems, Redren reportedly stopped executing the works. In March 2017, NMC gave a list of remaining 178 beneficiaries to Redren, but nothing happened. NMC then got 83 of the 178 works done through MM.
Now, the department proposes to give remaining works also to Jain Irrigation and MM.
The civic body had taken up the project as centre was to give 50% of total cost. Shockingly, NMC continued the scheme even though government stopped giving its share. Also, NMC is yet to get applications for around 500 solar water heaters.
NMC officials told TOI general body had taken a decision to continue the project. “We did not get applications for all 3,460 heaters in 2014. The applicants deposited demand draft late in some cases. Other formalities like clearance of property tax and water bill delayed some cases. Then the government discontinued the scheme, so we have to do the entire administrative process again,” he said.
Standing panel to take on administration
Rifts between the ruling party BJP and administration is likely to widen further. The standing committee is all set to pull up the administration for not executing works approved by the panel in the budget.
Standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja has convened the meeting with eight proposals on the agenda on September 17. Three proposals are related to administrative works. One proposal is to know status of works cleared by standing committee. Second one is related to submission of departmental audit of revenue and expenditure to standing committee from time to time. Last one is related to audit report of revenue and expenditure.
NMC sources told TOI the administration is likely to be at the receiving end, as it has not submitted audit of revenue and expenditure and other information to the standing committee regularly.
The standing committee had suspended an executive engineer in the last meeting. Also, the committee had rejected leave of municipal commissioner Virendra Singh, though it was cleared by the state government. Ruling party leader Sandip Joshi had postponed the general body meeting over Singh’s absence.
The dispute between the ruling party and administration has started since demolition of unauthorized constructions and illegal religious structures followed by restriction on some works by the civic chief.
- What ban? Plastic carry bags freely available in markets Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Sep 17, 2018, 12:55 IST
What ban? Plastic carry bags freely available in markets
NAGPUR: Two months after the state government issued orders prohibiting the use of plastic, including bags, the banned plastic material is freely available in city markets.
The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) officials, however, said that they were continuously taking action against traders indulging in selling banned plastic bags. Since June 23, the civic body’s nuisance detection squad had seized 3,715kg polythene bags while raiding 283 shops. The civic body also recovered Rs13.47 lakh fine from these traders.
TOI visited many market areas and found that the banned products are easily available. Except retail chains like Big Bazaar, Purushottam Super Bazaar and some others, TOI came across many roadside vendors and some grocery shop owners or those selling vegetables, fruit and other products using plastic bags. The big retail chains offer paper and cloth bags.
“The state government has empowered 11 government departments like MPCB, district collectorate, police, forest department etc to implement the ban but only NMC is initiating action due to which use of plastic continues in the city,” said NMC’s health officer (sanitation) Dr Pradeep Dasarwar.
For a month, the NMC extensively carried out raids in local shops especially wholesale dealers of plastic products in Cotton Market, Itwari, Mahal and Dharampeth areas. Between June 23 and September 13, the NMC’s nuisance detections squad along with sanitary inspectors from all 10 zones checked 17,736 shops and issued challans to 283 shopkeepers from keeping banned products. The NMC has also imposed a fine of Rs13,47,800 on them, said Dr Dasarwar.
However, the NMC’s drive lost sheen as even carry bags below 50 microns were easily available in the market. Dr Dasarwar said the department assigned for the job has many other responsibilities like sanitation, cleanliness etc. “It is very difficult without the support from citizens and other government agencies,” he added. This, some Nagpurians said, was a way of officials shirking their responsibility.
Flower vendors at Laxmi Bhuvan Square said they are exhausting old stocks and further justified that as customers do not bring bags, they have to keep them to sell flowers. “Keeping pay back carry bags is a very costly affair,” said traders from Itwari.
TOI tried to speak to couple of citizens who were carrying flowers, fruits in banned bags. Though many refused to speak, some said they forgot to bring a bag.
Vidarbha Plastic Industries Association Vice-President Harish Mantri admitted that banned plastic bags are still available in plenty in local markets. He said that plastic manufacturers in the district had completely stopped production of banned items. They were producing only grocery bags and some other products that have not been banned. Asked about the large-scale presence and use of plastic carry bags, he said they must have been sourced from neighbouring states like Gujarat where the ban is not in force.
According to him, all industries engaged in manufacturing plastic carry bags have stopped the production and many have started producing alternatives.
- PIL: NMC ignoring SC ruling on property tax
Ashish Roy | TNN | Sep 18, 2018, 03:49 IST
Nagpur: Even the directives of Supreme Court seem to have no importance for Nagpur Municipal Corporations (NMCs) property tax officials. They continue to send inflated house tax demands to citizens in violation of the apex court directives. This violation has been raised in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court.
Shankar Gulani, office-bearer of NMC House Tax Grievance Redressal Society, said that as per SC directives if NMC has assessed tax for a property and issued a demand note then it cant assess it again for the same financial year and ask the citizen to pay arrears on the basis of new assessment. However, NMC frequently does this and asks people to pay arrears pertaining to last 10 to 15 years, he added.
This can be understood by an example. Say the house tax for a property has been assessed at Rs1,000 for 2018-19 and a demand note has been issued. NMC then cant reassess tax for 2018-19. The reassessment can be done only in 2019-20. However, in many cases the NMC reassess the tax in 2018-19 or 2019-20 to say Rs2,000 and then asks the property owner to pay tax at this rate for the past 10 years. He is then asked to pay Rs10,000 extra as the difference (Rs20,000 freshly assessed tax minus Rs10,000 already paid).
NMC had issued a circular in January 2016 highlighting this fact and warning that those officials who illegally demand arrears will be punished. However, the officials continue their old practice.
Another common violation is that if a property is assessed for the first time then the owner can only be asked to pay tax for the past six years. In many cases, NMC asks citizens to pay tax for past 10 to 15 years.
Gulani said that these rules were not known to most citizens and they quietly pay up the tax assessed illegally. NMC has not uploaded these circulars on its website and people have no way of knowing about these internal communications. Open loot of people is going on as property tax staffers want to meet their revenue target, he added.
- Stop razing illegal shrines on PU lands till Wed: HC to civic agencies Vaibhav Ganjapure | tnn | Sep 18, 2018, 06:51 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Monday directed civic agencies not to demolish illegal religious structures on public utility (PU) lands till Wednesday. The court also asked the authorities, including the state government, to rethink the decision to raze such structures.
Flaying Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT), a division bench of justices Bhushan Gavai and Sunil Shukre asked the agencies who had authorized flattening of the structures on PU lands and open spaces. The bench also asked whether the agencies had sought the state’s consent before razing the shrines.
The judges further asked why NMC and NIT were razing structures on PU lands and open spaces when the Supreme Court has directed them to clear only those on roads and footpaths.
NMC’s counsels Chandrashekhar Kaptan and Sudhir Puranik told the court that the shrines on PU lands and open spaces are not regular ones. They said that NMC had stopped demolition drive due to the ongoing Ganesh festival and would restart it next week.
Justice Sunil Shukre said that such structures on PU lands and open spaces serve as gathering and relaxation centres for senior citizens and children.
Senior counsel Sunil Manohar, who represented the government, said that the they had been issuing directives to the civic agencies from time to time, as deemed appropriate in this regard.
The court’s directives came while hearing a plea (WP No 6177/2006) by Dr Gajanan Zade and Manohar Khorgade, through counsel Firdos Mirza, for removal of encroachments, including religious structures, pandals, stages, statues and others from roads, pavements and public utility places.
Earlier, Tejas Deshpande appearing on the petitioner’s behalf, said that Mirza was not keeping well and sought adjournment of the hearing, which was granted accordingly.
Though NMC and NIT assured the court to pull down such structures on roads and footpaths by August 31, both have failed miserably and these structures are still standing tall.
- State cabinet okays Rs44cr Koradi Lake rejuvenation project Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Sep 19, 2018, 03:27 IST
Nagpur: The state cabinet on Tuesday approved Koradi Lake Rejuvenation Project costing Rs43.69 crore. With this, the Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) plans to begin execution soon and complete the project in 18 months.
The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) had approved the project under National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA) in June and the state government’s approval was awaited.
Spread in 263 hectares adjacent to Shree Mahalaxmi Jagdamba temple, the lake is owned by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) and hence cabinet nod was required. The cabinet also gave approval for Mahagenco’s 40% share in the total project cost.
The Centre will give Rs26.21 crore (60%) and Mahagenco to contribute Rs17.48 crore (40%). With the Centre already releasing Rs8,74,39,600 to the state as first instalment and the cabinet sanctioning Rs3,49,75,840 from its share, the NMRDA can begin execution of the project.
An NMRDA official told TOI that tendering process would kick-off immediately as entire process stands completed. “Plan is to ensure treatment of water coming into the lake. There are six nullahs from where water enters the lake. Six sewage treatment plants will be constructed on these sources,” the official said.
The entire water body will not be desilted. Only a few parts of the lake, especially its outskirts, will be desilted. Works to strengthen the existing retaining wall will be undertaken.
The official also said that National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri) would be assigned the work of afforestation on the lake’s embankment and surroundings. Fisheries department will undertake works related to fish farming.
Guardian minister Chandrashekar Bawankule had taken initiatives for the project. Earlier, the project was estimated to cost Rs97.77 crore but the Centre reduced the size of the project to nearly half.
The works were supposed to start along with the temple’s redevelopment but the project got delayed. The NMRDA has started 10 of the total 12 works in and around the temple under the project, estimated to cost Rs 210 crore. The entire project is likely to be completed by July next year.
The temple was closed for darshan from June due to the redevelopment works. In view of Navratri festival that falls between October 10 and 18 this year, the temple is slated to open on October 7. The temple will be opened for devotees from October 9. Though the works will continue even after Navratri, the temple will not be closed for darshan.
- Empress City flat owners move nat’l consumer panel Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Sep 20, 2018, 03:52 IST
Nagpur: Empress City’s 63 flat owners have filed a petition before National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) seeking directions to developers Reward Real Estate Company Ltd and KSL Industries Ltd for refunding their money with 16% per annum interest. They alleged that the developers did not execute sale deeds, provide assured amenities and also did not obtain necessary sanctions despite selling the flats six years ago.
Flat owners Pawankumar Jain and 62 others through advocates Tushar Mandlekar and Rohan Malviya filed the joint consumer complaint with NCDRC, New Delhi, under Section 12 (1) (C) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. In a hearing held a few days ago, Justice (retired) Deepa Gupta served notices to the respondents.
As per the petition, over 300 people have purchased 3BHK flats measuring approximately 1,500 sq ft and paid over Rs200 crore to the developers. The petitioners purchased the flats at Rs62 lakh each and paid 100% amount to developers between May 26, 2012, and August 30, 2015.
“Developers are engaged in unfair trade practice and deficiency in service by not giving the valid and legal possession and executing sale deeds of the suit property to all buyers in stipulated time. Also, developers did not provide facilities and amenities like podium garden, club house, gymnasium, swimming pool, common roads etc that were assured within three months of purchasing the flats. The developers even failed to get necessary permissions like building plan sanction, fire compliance, environment clearance, occupancy certificate etc. Therefore, we should be refunded the full cost of flats with interest,” petitioners said.
In alternative prayers, the petitioners have demanded that sale deeds be executed, amenities provided and necessary permissions secured, along with payment of litigation cost etc. The petition calculates interest amount at over Rs50 lakh. If all 300 people are required to be refunded, the total amount goes to over Rs300 crore.
The petitioners have also alleged developers cheated them by not fulfilling promises in three to six years. “The scheme is not complete even today. The developers failed to provide authorized drinking water connections to buyers who are forced to buy water from market,” they said.
In last month, NMC fire and emergency services department had directed power franchisee SNDL to disconnect power supply to all flats for lack of compliance of fire safety norms. Accordingly, SNDL went to snap the power supply but failed to do so due to strong protests.
- Submit fresh list of illegal shrines on PU/open land: HC Vaibhav Ganjapure | TNN | Sep 20, 2018, 03:54 IST
Nagpur: Coming to the rescue to hundreds of illegal religious structures on public utility (PU) land and open spaces, the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the civic bodies to prepare a fresh list, invite objections and grant them hearing before demolishing them.
The fresh order by the HC means the ongoing demolition drive against such structures would be stayed till the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) commissioner-led panel completes all such formalities within the stipulated time frame set up by the court..
While clarifying that this order wouldn’t be applicable to those on footpaths and streets, the newly constituted division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Sunil Shukre further asked the NMC and the NIT to submit an affidavit on the status of action in this regard within a week.
The bench also made it clear that the order wouldn’t be applicable to those structures which came up after September 29, 2009, the day when Supreme Court pronounced the landmark verdict.
Till first week of this month, the case was heard by the division bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Justice Murlidhar Giratkar, which ordered demolition of all such unauthorized structures on PU land/open spaces, built without sanction plans and building permits. These orders were based on earlier list of 1,500 structures prepared by the NMC in 2014, as per the government resolution (GR) of May 5, 2014.
This bench had also ordered objectors to deposit Rs50,000 each to prove their bona fide, but only 365 out of over 1,800 completed the formalities. Accordingly, the NMC razed many such structures while NIT managed to demolish one.
However, Justice Gavai-led bench observed that the NMC’s list was drafted by subordinate officers, instead of commissioner-led panel as prescribed by the 2014 GR. Before disposing of the bunch of applications filed by objectors, the court stated that there were ample provisions for the local civic bodies to take action against illegal structures on PU land/open spaces.
The new bench advised NMC chief-led panel to categorize all such structures into three categories. The ‘A’ category comprised those constructed before September 29, 2009. In ‘B’ category, those came up after SC’s verdict and are liable for demolition would be included. The ‘C’ category would have those structures which could be relocated on their own, but the panel needs to ensure that relocated land owners’ consent was taken and also to see that there are no traffic issues or violation of development control regulation (DCR) norms.
“The entire exercise is to be completed within a month from today. We clarify that the classification would be done only by the committee as per GR,” Justice Gavai said.
The panel was also told to publish list of ‘A’ and ‘B’ categories along with proposed plan for regularization/demolition within a week after finalization in English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu newspapers.
“The panel should specify objections, either to categorization or to draft plan for regularization or demolition. This could be done by issuing notices to such structures and grant them hearing within a month. The entire exercise needs to be completed within three months from the last date of receipt of objection,” the bench said.
After completion of the hearing, the panel would prepare final list of categorization. The first (A) list where structures needs be regularized, the concerned planning authority would take steps in that regard and send it to state-level committee. Those found to be constructed flouting all rules, their list (B) needs to be sent to state committee along with those constructed before May 1, 1960, within a month.
“The NMC should issue notices to those structures which it proposes to demolish, 15 days before taking action. Those found to be eligible for relocation, two months should be given to them. If they failed, the corporation should raze them after two months,” the bench said.
Earlier, one of the objectors demanded refund of Rs1.60 lakh deposited with the HC, as per old orders, but the judges advised him to move application before appropriate bench.
- 14 trucks detained for illegally ferrying sand tnn | Sep 20, 2018, 05:42 IST
Nagpur: Bhivapur police crime branch sleuths on Wednesday intercepted eight trucks illegally ferrying sand on Kargaon Fata Road. The trucks were ferrying sand worth more than Rs 1.50 lakh from rural areas.
It is learnt that the action was conducted under the supervision of superintendent of police, Rakesh Ola, who had sent his own hand-picked team on the mission.
Police said of the eight trucks detained, drivers of five had receipts of royalty payment but they carried excess sand in their vehicles.
This is the biggest action on sand mafia by any police officer in a single day in the city in the recent past. The Bhivapur police have booked drivers of these trucks under Section 379 of the IPC. Apart from seizing the sand, the trucks — collectively valued at Rs 2.02 crore — also have been confiscated.
On Tuesday too, Umred police had intercepted six trucks carrying sand illegally. The police have seized the sand and detained the trucks, costing Rs 65 lakh under sections 379 read with 109 of the IPC.
Sources, however, wondered that despite installing GPS tracking systems in trucks and tippers transporting minerals, the district mining department has failed to curb illegal excavation and transportation of minerals, especially sand.
Even the role of flying squad of Regional Transport Office has come under the scanner with rampant plying of overloaded trucks in the district.
- Plan to reserve lands along Nag River draws protest Anjaya Anparthi | tnn | Sep 20, 2018, 05:38 IST
Nagpur: Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) plan to reserve 15 metres area along both banks of Nag river for riverfront development has drawn protests. NCP corporator Duneshwar Pethe along with farmers organization Jai Jawan Jai Kisan led by Prashant Pawar have organized a rally with slum-dwellers to protest the plan on September 24. BJP MLA from East Nagpur Krishna Khopde has condemned the decision to take out rally and protest.
NMC general body will decide on the plan on September 24. Pethe and Pawar have announced rally from Jai Bhim square to Town Hall where the NMC general body meeting will be held.
“Plan is to reserve all land along Nag river banks from Ambazari lake to Punapur. A large number of slums and residential areas are located within 15 metres of the river. BJP is planning to make hundreds of slum-dwellers homeless by reserving their lands for the project. It is like grabbing lands of slumdwellers. We will not tolerate it as they have been residing in the areas for 40 years,” they said.
Khopde alleged NCP that was known for corruption cases was misguiding the people. “Centre and state government have sanctioned the project that will change the face of Nag river and also city. Many jobless will get income from the project. These people do not want development so are protesting,” he said.
Khopde said slum-dwellers will be rehabilitated properly before being asked to vacate the areas. “All will get a proper house with all facilities. None will be vacated before providing facilities,” he said.
NMC had planned the project worth Rs 1,600 crore under which areas along the banks will be developed into green zones, recreational, eatery, tourism areas. French development agency AFD is preparing the detailed project report and will also give loan for the project.
- Bad Air Year: India choked on 929 million tonnes of CO2 from thermal sector Manka Behl | TNN | Sep 20, 2018, 23:03 IST
Climate scientists construe that the north-bound man-made carbon emissions may have drowned the southern state of Kerala. The big picture is even more stark when the carbon emissions are extrapolated nationally. The thermal sector alone is throwing up millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air. TOI assesses national data of 2017-18 to quantify the emission of the deadly pollutants. Oxides of nitrogen and sulphur, and particulate matter too have toxified the air
Nagpur: The thermal sector, from which India draws 79% of its power needs, spewed out nearly 929 million tonnes of the extremely bad-for-climate carbon dioxide (CO2) in the last fiscal. This is 18% of the total CO2 emitted from all sources in the US last year and 20 times more than that emitted in Finland, which a World Health Organization (WHO) study says has the cleanest air among all countries.
To put it more succinctly, 929 million tonnes of CO2 will be released if an average private car goes round the earth nearly 83,000 times. To compound the bad news, India — the third-highest CO2 emitter in the world — will need to offer almost 2,200 crore trees as collateral and also ensure their survival for 10 years to offset the damage caused by this quantity of the greenhouse gas.
How onerous is the task can be gauged from the fact that Maharashtra, the second-most populous state in the country, is grappling to meet its target of 50 crore plantations in three years.
TOI arrived at these calculations by using the latest data of Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and the ‘greenhouse gas equivalencies’ calculator provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
According to the CEA data for 2017-18, as much as 73% of electricity was generated from coal in the country. Overall, more than 96 crore megawatt hours of electricity came from the thermal sector which includes coal, lignite, gas and diesel.
Last year’s CO2 emission factors (average emission rate) for each of these sources are mentioned in the report ‘CO2 Baseline Database for the Indian Power Sector’ published by the ministry of power in June this year. The calculation of baseline emissions is based on various parameters like power generation, fuel consumption and fuel quality data, all obtained from the power stations.
Multiplying the energy generated from different sources of thermal sector with their respective emission factors throws up data of carbon emission from each. Summation of this data revealed that 929 million tonnes of the gas was emitted from thermal plants into the atmosphere last fiscal.
CEA’s data also shows that over the last decade, the carbon emissions from thermal sector have been growing steadily, witnessing approximately 4-6% increase every year.
The ‘Trends in Global CO2 emissions, 2016 report’ by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which states that coal-fired power plants caused one-third of global emissions, also underlined the country’s continuous increase in carbon emissions. “If this is the average growth rate in India, it will surpass the total emissions in the European Union by 2020,” the report stated, adding the emission increase seemed “to be coupled up with its GDP growth”.
Increase in coal consumption was one of the major causes behind the spike. “This is of concern as in 2014, India’s emissions surpassed those of the US. In 1990-2010, India doubled its coal power capacity from 50 to 100 gigawatts and then added another 102GW in coal power in the 2010-15 period,” the report stated.
Upsurge in domestic coal consumption is also evident in power ministry’s reports that disclose that from 447.8 metric tonnes (MT) in 2012-13, it rose to 605.9 MT in 2017-18. “In the absence of scalable economic alternatives, India chose coal as main source of energy to provide electricity to millions over last few decades. However, this choice has certain externalities that have now turned into major crisis like climate change and air pollution,” says Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India.
Being an abundant greenhouse gas, CO2 is a significant contributor to climate change. “At a time when extreme weather events like floods and cyclones are on the rise, we need to cut down on carbon emissions. Now, after signing the Paris Agreement, India should use the available financial aid to invest in renewables. No new investments in coal sector should be made,” says Avijit Michael, executive director of Bengaluru-based campaigning organization Jhatkaa.org.
Adds Australia-based Tim Buckley, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), “India’s coal emissions continue to rise due to delay in installation of pollution control devices. Ensuring this along with the National Energy Policy’s proposal of decommissioning 48GW of old units by 2027 will progressively improve situation in coming five years.”
However, when talking of local pollutants, carbon dioxide is not the only concern. Toxic ones like sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) too pose environmental and health threats.
Calculations done using the latest emission factors for the three pollutants mentioned in a recent report by the Bengaluru-based Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) reveal that in 2017-18, coal-fired plants pumped over 700 kilotons of PM into the atmosphere. This is equivalent by weight to the solid waste generated in the entire country in one week.
Also, nearly 7,538 kilotons of SO2 was also emitted during the same period from coal plants. As reported by TOI earlier, a study by researchers at Nasa indicated that India was overtaking China as the biggest emitter of anthropogenic SO2 emissions. While China’s emissions fell by 75 % since 2007, that of India’s increased by 50 %.
Not just climate impact, the country’s growing SO2 emissions are also a peril for public health. International studies claimed that over 33 million Indians were living in areas with SO2 pollution. The report ‘Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change’ highlights the ways climate change is affecting health of people.
Calculations further brought out that emissions of another deadly pollutant NOX were over 3,400 kilotons in last fiscal. Of all the pollutants, oxides of nitrogen are the most dangerous, says Dr Manas Ranjan Ray, former assistant director of Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute.
“It is most likely that the pollutant enters human body as component of respirable matter in the form of nitrate. While it adversely affects the respiratory system, recent studies show that it is one of the causative agents of breast cancer too,” he adds.
A Greenpeace India study had also found that 1.2 million deaths in the country take place due to air pollution. A WHO report had further revealed that 14 of the world’s most polluted cities are in India.
All such matters are set to be discussed at WHO organized first-of-its-kind global conference on air pollution and health on October 30-November 1 in Geneva. Significantly, the winter months are India’s worst polluting periods. Says Dahiya, “The government needs to participate in such conferences and find answers to its long-standing confusion over actual health impacts arising out of air pollution.”
- NMC should tap own resources to improve financial condition: Patil Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Sep 21, 2018, 03:10 IST
Nagpur: The Maharashtra government seems to be in no mood to increase Goods and Services Tax grant to Nagpur Municipal Corporation. Minister of state for urban development Dr Ranjit Patil said here on Thursday that the NMC will have to strengthen its own revenue sources to improve its financial condition.
“What the NMC is getting as GST grant is based on calculation provided by the civic body itself based on its income from LBT,” Patil told TOI.
Patil was in the NMC to review its preparedness to combat vector borne diseases. Ruling party leader Sandip Joshi, standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja, additional municipal commissioner Ravindra Thakre and other officials were also present.
Earlier octroi and later income from Local Body Tax, was the major source of revenue for the NMC. However, after LBT was abolished, the financial condition of the civic body deteriorated. Sources said that the BJP was responsible as it had opposed LBT implementation across the state and as a result the NMC’s revenue from LBT was dismal.
The NMC is getting GST grant of Rs52.57 crore and former mayor Pravin Datke had sent a proposal to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and even the present standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja is trying hard to revise the GST grant.
Though Fadnavis has assured to look into the NMC’s demand by increasing the GST grant to Rs92 crore per month, nothing has happened so far.
To a query why the state government is giving more GST grants to already financial sound municipal corporations like Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Dr Patil said their property tax collection system is very strong. He pointed out the NMC needs to tap new resources and improve its collection method to overcome the present financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the additional chief secretary of finance department will be convening a meeting in Mumbai on September 25 to review GST grants being given to municipal corporations across the state.
- SC stays Coffee House’s eviction from Sadar Shishir Arya | TNN | Sep 21, 2018, 03:51 IST
Nagpur: The sixty-year-old Indian Coffee House got another lifeline after the Supreme Court stayed eviction of the eatery from premises at Sadar which belong to Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).
Coffee House has become a part of the city’s culture over the years. There was a time it became a favourite spot for the intellectuals to gather. However, since last 10 years, the coffee workers’ society, that runs the joint, has been facing the threat of being evicted by LIC.
The stay order was issued on Thursday. Manoj Pillai, the counsel for coffee house management, confirmed that a stay has been granted, adding that a detailed order will be uploaded subsequently.
It began with the LIC demanding an enhanced rent of around one lakh a month for the 3,380 square feet premises for which it gets Rs10,000 now. However, the later action for eviction under the public premises act was initiated. LIC wants the premises for its own use.
In 2014 the LIC had cleared the premises following an order by the Estate Officer of the corporation. The coffee house management had challenged the move in the high court on the grounds that its relationship as tenant and landowner with LIC is governed by rent control act and not the public premises act. As the high court had allowed the appeal, the eviction was stayed. However, finally the case was lost on July 31 after which the coffee house management has moved the Supreme Court.
- WII has conflict of interest in Samruddhi Marg deal: Expert Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Sep 21, 2018, 04:01 IST
Nagpur: A wildlife activist has pointed out that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for mitigation measures along Nagpur-Mumbai Samruddhi Mahamarg creates a conflict of interest.
MSRDC announced a day ago that WII scientist Bilal Habib and his team will suggest mitigation measures in patches falling in eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of three protected areas (PAs) in the proposed 700km Samruddhi Mahamarg.
However, Habib is also on nine-member state-level committee constituted by the state government to suggest mitigation measures. Kishor Rithe, another member of this committee, agreed it created a “conflict of interest” as committee is to decide on measures to be suggested. He said a member can either become consultant for project proponent or member of the committee but not both. WII may take a decision after this appointment.
Rithe stated this had not happened for the first time and in many instances. BNHS in case of Navi Mumbai Airport was carrying out studies for the project proponents while being part of the project clearance committees too. “there has been precedence that the NGO representative advising project proponent should not participate in the decision-making process of the same project,” he added.
Radheshyam Mopalwar, MSRDC vice-chairman & managing director, did not comment. He said he would talk later as he was busy with some guests.
APCCF (wildlife) Sunil Limaye, member-secretary of the committee, said, “If the state government accepts the WII report in toto then it is fine, if not then ‘conflict of interest’ issue will arise. Let’s see. I will talk to Bilal Habib.”
In 2011, WII’s Habib in his report had suggested five 1,000-metre-long underpasses on NH7 (Nagpur-Seoni), where road widening would have destroyed the most functional tiger corridor between Kanha and Pench. However, under pressure from transport ministry, length of underpasses were curtailed twice first to 750 metres, and then to 300 metres and 50 metres. Similar was the case with NH6 (Nagpur-Deori), where mitigation measures were curtailed.
Repeated attempts to contact Habib proved futile.
The entire 700km stretch has been divided in five packages falling in Nagpur, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nashik and Konkan revenue divisions. Of the five packages, wildlife corridors fall in Package I (Bor Tiger Reserve), II (Karanja-Sohal & Katepurna wildlife sanctuaries), and V (Tansa sanctuary).
In June, first meeting of the committee was held in which wildlife officials had raised serious concerns about missing links between Bor-Tadoba-Melghat tiger corridor. It was suggested to include mitigation steps in forested areas near Bazargaon-Kelzar-Kondhali on NH6.
- Delay in TOD notification brings real estate sector to a standstill Ashish Roy | TNN | Sep 22, 2018, 10:18 IST
Delay in TOD notification brings real estate sector to a standstill
NAGPUR: The real estate sector, especially in areas around the Metro corridor, has come to a standstill due to delay by state government in issuing the amended notification for transit oriented development (TOD). Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) had sent the proposal to director of town planning (DTP), Pune, on August 2, and since then it has not moved further. The proposal needs to be approved by Nitin Kareer, principal secretary (urban development).
Builder Shravan Kukreja said that the existing TOD policy was impractical. “Balconies can’t be projected outside the building and lobbies are included in the floor to space index (FSI). The side margins for high rises are too much, and far more than those required for a fire tender,” he added.
State government had issued a draft amended TOD policy in mid-March. NMC invited suggestions and objections from citizens and held a public hearing on the policy. Builders’ body Credai, builders and architects had offered several suggestions. NMC took cognisance of these suggestions and added some from its own side. The proposal was then sent to DTP.
Credai, in its submission to NMC, had said that at present extra FSI was not permissible on plots on roads having width less than 9m. “We want the government to sanction FSI of 1.5 on narrow roads, and on plots of any size. Many roads in the Metro Rail corridor area are narrow and residents should not be deprived of benefit from the policy,” the submission stated.
As per the present policy, lift wells with machine rooms, refuge areas, voids, service floor, entrance lobbies, and lobbies of building will not be counted in FSI. The builders want that all passages on all floors should also be free of FSI.
“In cases where relaxation in height is required, it can be given by paying relaxation charges as per precedence. The height of the building should be regulated by front road of higher width in case of double frontage or corner plots,” he added. Nair also said that if 3m strip was left for public parking or pedestrian pathway, requirement of visitor parking should be done away with.