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- NIT finally demolishes Futala waterfront shops Ashish Roy | TNN | Updated: Oct 26, 2018, 12:51 IST
Nagpur Improvement Trust razed all 22 shops on Futala waterfront, which was one of the top hangout spots
NAGPUR: Two years after termination of agreement, Nagpur Improvement Trust(NIT) finally razed all 22 shops on Futala waterfront, which was one of the top hangout spots of the city.
MahaMetro, which is building an amphitheatre-cum-road tunnel on the land, had recently written a letter to the NIT that its project was getting delayed due to delay in removal of encroachments.
In last ditch effort, the shopkeepers had filed a petition in Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Wednesday to prevent the demolition. An urgent hearing was held on Thursday morning. However, the HC refused to stay the operation.
The judgment was pronounced at about 12.30pm and thereafter the NIT gave two hours to the shopkeepers to remove their belongings. The demolition began with PP Dhankar, NIT’s executive engineer (west) and Manohar Patil, NIT’s demolition officer, monitoring the operation.
As soon as the HC refused to grant a stay, an NIT officer went to SNDL’s Seminary Hills office and asked the officials to disconnect the shops. SNDL staffers promptly did that. The demolition then began from the Hanuman Temple T-point end and proceeded towards Amravati Road. The operation was over by 6pm.
The shopkeepers were distraught by the decision and blamed public representatives for failing to come to their rescue. “NIT gave us so little time that we could not find godowns to keep our goods. Are we supposed to dump the goods on road,” asked a shopkeeper.
Ritesh Kalra, counsel for the shopkeepers, slammed the NIT for demolishing its own project and demanded that the affected persons should be rehabilitated.
Some 59 cops including officers were present at the site to prevent any opposition from the shopkeepers. The main contingent was from Ambazari police station under inspector PS Khandale, who sent 30 cops and seven officers. Rest were from Sitabuldi, Gittikhadan and Dhantoli police stations. The cops have demanded Rs1.40 lakh for providing protection.
The Futala waterfront project was the brainchild of former NIT chairman Manu Kumar Srivastava, who conceptualized it in 2003. However, it remained on paper and the tender was floated in 2010. The contract was awarded to Sell Ads.
Sell Ads was to develop 22 semi-permanent and mobile food kiosks on the waterfront. It was to leave space between the kiosks for parking and seating. The operator instead asked the shop owners to go in for permanent constructions. Even though only single storey structures were permitted, some shop owners had started rooftop restaurants. NIT, however, turned a blind eye towards the violations.
Sell Ads paid royalty to the NIT for four years but started defaulting from the fifth. The firm told NIT that shopkeepers were not paying the rent and asked the civic agency to demolish the establishments. The agreement with the operator ended on August 16, 2016. Sell Ads owes more than Rs50 lakh to the NIT.
Shopkeepers didn’t pay property tax
NIT executive engineer (west) ,Dhankar, said that the shopkeepers had not paid property tax to Nagpur Municipal Corporation for several years and the arrears have climbed to Rs2.25 crore. “The NMC had written a letter to us requesting to recover the amount from the shopkeepers. We told the NMC that they were encroachers and not our lessees,” he added.
- 80% of Wakf land in state lost in illegal deals: Ansari Ramu Bhagwat | tnn | Oct 26, 2018, 03:41 IST
Nagpur: Tehrik-e-Aukaf, a watchdog organization on Wakf properties, has alleged that 80% of the Wakf land in Maharashtra has been lost either to illegal transfers or encroachments. Its head Shabbir Ahmed Ansari has threatened to go to court if the government failed to take action against the current and ex-members of the State Wakf Board involved in illegal transfer of land.
Ansari, who is also chairman of All India Muslim, OBC Trust has been spearheading a movement against misuse of Wakf land for last two decades and is based in Mumbai. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, he said that despite several complaints against Wakf board member Asif Qureshi, the state government has failed to order his disqualification. “If FIR is not filed in the next eight days, we will have to knock at the court’s door,” said Ansari.
The activist said ever since the state Wakf board was established in 2002, those close to the then ruling Congress and NCP occupied posts of board members. “These members, some of then MLAs and MPs or highly influential politicians were involved in transferring of Wakf land to private parties or selling of the land which is not allowed as Wakf land is non-transferable as per law. In 2007, the government appointed Justice ATA Shaikh Commission to probe the matter. Its report submitted in 2011 found that thousands of acres of land changed hands illegally,” said Ansari. At one time, the Wakf board had 92,000 acres and 1 lakh other assets under its control. Today 80% of the land has already gone,” Ansari alleged.
Action was initiated against the land grabbers in 2016 by then Wakf affairs minister Eknath Khadse. Currently, Vinod Tawade holds the Wakf portfolio and has been able to take disqualification action against member Syed Jamil Ahmed. However, Qureshi, a member from Nagpur who is accused of a role in illegal sale of 15 acres of Satranjipura Edgah, has been evading such action. Ansari has demanded immediate filing of FIR against Qureshi and all others involved in mismanagement of Wakf properties that are meant for Muslim community use and welfare.
- Firm debarred by World Bank gets NMC’s 53.10cr road work Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Oct 27, 2018, 03:21 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s decision to award a Rs53.10 crore cement road contract to a tainted company, debarred by World Bank for fraudulent practices, has raised several questions, once again, over the tendering process followed by the civic body.
The NMC has selected Hyderabad-based firm Madhucon Projects for widening and cement concretization of the 5.5km road patch from Hotel Radisson Blu to Jaitala in Laxmi Nagar zone.
Interestingly, Madhucon Projects has been declared ineligible to be awarded any World Bank financed contract for two years as it had indulged in fraudulent practices in implementation of Lucknow-Muzaffarpur national highway project. The company was awarded contract for civil engineering construction work and was debarred for two years beginning October 26, 2017. The firm had also faced action from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for delaying four-laning of Ranchi-Jamshedpur road.
The NMC’s public works department (PWD) had invited tenders for concretization of 5.5km stretch from Hotel Radisson Blu Square to Jaitala. The existing road is narrow and in bad shape. Following demand from local residents, the Laxmi Nagar zone had submitted a proposal to the PWD to widen the road and convert the existing tar road into cement one.
Subsequently, the NMC floated e-tender and four firms submitted bids. The NMC rejected applications of two firms citing lack of documents, leaving only two — M/s Madhucon Projects Limited and M/s D C Gurubaxani — in contention. The NMC finally selected Madhucon Projects as it had submitted lowest bid at Rs52.58 crore, whereas M/s Gurubaxani had quoted Rs57.01 crore for the work.
Sources said the firm (Madhucon Projects) had mentioned ‘NIL’ in the column of tender form where it was supposed to disclose details of whether it was facing any action like punishment, enquiry ordered/pending, FIR lodged etc and its clearance (if any) as on date of bidding. “Madhucon Projects, however, did not disclose these two key details while submitting the tender application,” admitted NMC’s executive engineer, Naresh Borkar.
“Later, we sought written justification and the company representative submitted the details. By verifying its submission, we reached the conclusion that the firm faced action because of some financial matter and has nothing to do with the cement road work,” he explained. “The firm is being engaged in various cities for roads works and hence we too decided to go with the firm,” Borkar said. The executive engineer also said the work will start within a month.
Standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja assured to look into the matter.
- New road to divert traffic from Futala lake road project site Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Oct 27, 2018, 02:25 IST
Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) and MahaMetro are planning a new road to divert traffic while the stretch in front of Futala lake is closed for redevelopment. The new road will connect Bharat Nagar Square on Amravati Road to Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir Road, at the office of Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran (MJP).
City MP and union minister Nitin Gadkari had planned the Rs112 crore Futala Lake Redevelopment Project with 4,000 capacity viewers’ gallery and space for restaurants and parking opposite the lake, with a tunnel replacing the existing road.
To begin execution of the proposed project, Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) on Thursday demolished restaurants in front of the lake.
MahaMetro officials told TOI the road in front of the lake is likely to be closed for around a year for the project. “NMC has identified a road to connect Bharat Nagar Square with Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir Road. The road is reserved in city’s development plan (DP). Therefore, we plan to develop this road as an alternative to Futala Lake road. The new road will help diverting some traffic from Futala Lake road,” he said.
The MahaMetro plan says the new 18 meter road will be developed and remain in place even after Futala Lake project is completed. It will be a cement concrete road. A road currently exists from Bharat Nagar Square till the compound wall of Dr Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV). The compound wall will be demolished to construct the new road.
The new road will begin from the compound wall, and stretch 500 meter to join the road connecting Ravi Nagar Government Quarters to Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir Temple at the MJP office.
The Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir road is currently 9 meter wide, but marked for widening to 18 meter in the DP. Therefore, MahaMetro will also widen this road.
The only hurdle in the development of the new road is that the land on which it is proposed belongs to PDKV.
MahaMetro officials said NMC has sent a letter to PDKV requesting advance possession of the land to commence construction as soon as possible. “NMC will take the land on lease from PDKV immediately. Later, PDKV will have to give the land anyway as it is a DP road,” he said.
The proposed road will become a permanent one even after reopening of Futala Lake road.
There are two more roads that can be utilized as alternatives when Futala Lake road is blocked. One is situated between Ravi Nagar Square and Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir Road passing through Ravi Nagar Government Quarters, and the other from MLA Hostel Square to Telangkhedi Hanuman Mandir.
- ‘Use plastic, rubber waste in road works’ Anjaya Anparthi | tnn | Oct 28, 2018, 07:48 IST
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari during the inauguration of the Maharashtra M... Read More
Nagpur: In a major announcement, Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari on Saturday asked road developers in the state to use the mixing of 30% glass, rubber and plastic waste (10% of each component) in bitumen/tar for road works to curb the growing problem of disposable waste and reducing the cost of road works.
Two years ago, Gadkari permitted the NHAI and the state PWD to mix only 8% of plastic waste in bitumen for resurfacing of roads.
Gadkari, at the inaugural programme of the Maharashtra Mayors Council’s 18th meeting held in the city on Saturday, requested mayors to adopt the technology in their respective municipal corporations. “My ministry (MoRTH), urban and rural development issued orders permitting mixing of rubber and plastic waste in bitumen. I came to know about advantages of mixing glass waste in bitumen from Australia. I have also obtained its results from Australia. It has to be mixed by crushing the glass waste into powder,” he said.
The Union minister said there is a huge difference between costs of bitumen and these three wastes. “Bitumen is costing around Rs45 per kg whereas the cost of these wastes is around Rs12 per kg,” he said.
PWD and NMC chief engineer Ulhas Debadwar said it is a welcome move for allowing 30% mixing of these three wastes in bitumen. “It will improve the quality of road works. These metals increase bonding in bitumen giving more life to roads. Also, voids in these metals will prevent damage to roads from water that is another major advantage,” he said.
Debadwar further said the use of 30% waste in bitumen will help a huge cost cut in road works. “The problem of safe and scientific disposal of these wastes will also be resolved. It is economic and eco-friendly initiative,” he said.
Debadwar also said extra care is required while mixing and transporting mixture of bitumen with these three wastes.
Gadkari said he was all set to donate 10 Methanol-run buses each to Mumbai, Navi-Mumbai, Pune and Guwahati as a pilot project. “After ethanol, Methanol as a fuel is another major invention. Cost of methanol is only Rs22 per litre and manufactured from coal. Already, RCF and few more agencies manufacturing Methanol,” he said.
Gadkari stressed the need to increase number of electric-run buses in public transport for cutting down the fuel import and eco-friendly and cheap public transport. He advised Mumbai mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar to direct BEST to replace diesel-run buses with electric, ethanol and Methanol ones. “I also suggest Mahadeshwar to make use of sand being excavated from Metro Rail and others project in Mumbai,” he said.
Listing out projects executed in the city, Gadkari suggested various types of waste to wealth projects to mayors so that they can increase revenue of cash-strapped municipal corporations.
- Power infrastructure work delayed but MSEDCL goes easy on contractors Ashish Roy | TNN | Oct 29, 2018, 10:04 IST
NAGPUR: If you go without power due to breakdowns next summer, blame it on the slow pace of work of MSEDCL’s power infrastructure augmentation scheme. Rs 133 crore were sanctioned under centrally sponsored Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS) for Congress Nagar division and Hudkeshwar (areas where MSEDCL supplies power in the city).
Two agencies — HT Infrastructure and Polycab — were awarded the contract. HT Infrastructure started its work in September 2016 and was supposed to complete it by September 2018. The completion date of Polycab is January 2019.
Shockingly, HT Infrastructure has completed only 50% of its work while Polycab’s figure is 30%. In spite of such slow pace of work, MSEDCL has not terminated their contracts.
Umesh Shahare, MSEDCL Nagpur’s superintending engineer (infrastructure), blamed Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) for refusing them permission to dig up roads for cable laying during monsoon.
Chief engineer Dilip Ghugal admitted contractors had delayed the work and said fines had been levied on them as per contract. “If we terminate their contract, it will take six to seven months for a new contractor to be appointed. This will further delay the project. Under our directives, the pace of work has picked up,” he said.
MSEDCL was to set up two new substations at Khamla and Deekshabhoomi. Both are yet to be commissioned. Only an additional power transformer at IT Park substation has been commissioned. The discom was to lay 10 km 11 KV underground cable in Congress Nagar division. So far only 1.7 km has been commissioned. In Hudkeshwar area, 57 km 33 KV underground cable was to be laid. Only 18 km has been commissioned.
Nineteen distribution transformers were to be installed in Congress Nagar division. Not a single one has been commissioned yet. Augmentation of 10 transformers was to be done. The status of all of them is ‘work in progress’. In Hudkeshwar area 30 transformers were to be installed. Here too not one has been commissioned.
Meanwhile, only 10% work has been done in SNDL area under IPDS. Funds have not been directly released to SNDL and MSEDCL has appointed the contractor and is paying him as per the progress of the work.
- Mayor split many works to bypass tender limit norms Anjaya Anparthi
102 corporators were booked in the year 2000 for such works
| TNN | Oct 29, 2018, 09:53 IST
Nanda Jichkar performing bhoomipuja of Virungula Kendra at Ambazari garden. The project was approved by her under Mayor Fund.
NAGPUR: Documents obtained under the RTI Act reveal mayor Nanda Jichkar split many works under her Mayor Fund into parts to avoid tendering process. Jichkar approved majority of such works in her ward no. 37. This modus operandi was followed despite objections raised by the Nandalal Committee in 2001.
The Nandlal Committee’s major findings included the observation that works worth Rs8 crore were split into parts to execute through quotation, and avoid tendering process, between 1997 and 2000. Based these findings, 102 corporators had been booked and action taken against 50 engineers.
RTI activist TH Naidu has obtained documents related to works approved by Jichkar under her Mayor Fund in 2017-18 and 2018-19. The documents show Jichkar approved 143 works worth Rs4.99 crore in 2017-18, and 44 works worth Rs3.61 crore till October 12 in 2018-19. Works worth Rs5 crore per annum are allowed under the Mayor Fund.
The best example of splitting works is of laying paver blocks (inter-locking tiles) or cement concrete pavement along internal roads. Jichkar split this work in her ward into 11 parts, with each work between Rs2.99 lakh and Rs3 lakh. This is because works worth Rs3 lakh and above require tendering process. One work cost just Rs12 below the margin, or Rs2,99,988.
Shockingly, Jichkar approved all 11 works on the same day, December 26, 2017, which makes it clear the works were planned and not approved in an emergency. Interestingly, the RTI information does not include the name of contractors who executed the 11 works.
Another example is Jichkar’s pet scheme — Virungula Kendra (recreation centres for senior citizens). Jichkar had announced one each in all 10 zones, but instead of approving funds at one stroke, Jichkar split the works.
The approved cost of six of the 10 centres is between Rs2.94 lakh and Rs3 lakh. Interestingly, all six works were allotted to one private contractor. Jichkar approved two more types of works for these centres and the cost again is between Rs2.90 lakh and Rs3 lakh.
Similarly, Jichkar split work to erect display boards to highlight lanes and plot numbers in her ward into four parts. Of total 143 works in 2017-18, cost of 48 works are between Rs2.90 lakh and Rs3 lakh.
NMC sources told TOI there was a complaint from an unidentified person about splitting of works by Jichkar from Mayor Fund in early days of 2018-19. Therefore, Jichkar avoided splitting of works in 2018-19. Still, 10 of total 44 works were done in the same manner.
Jichkar said, “Engineers are responsible to look into such issues and not me. My work is to propose the works. Engineers prepare estimation of work. Also, engineers and officials should verify whether works proposed by me are as per norms or not. Therefore, I have done nothing wrong.” Jichkar added she had directed officials to execute all works through tendering process irrespective of cost of works some months ago.
Former mayor and Congress city president Vikas Thakre said it was a clear irregularity. “Nandalal Committee had exposed this irregularity. And, it is not expected from the mayor. What will other corporators and officials will do if such modus operandi is adopted by mayor herself,” he said.
Thakre said engineers and officials should also be punished for this modus operandi, along the line of action taken after the Nandalal Committee report.
Refusing to comment whether Jichkar’s approvals were proper or wrong, BJP former mayor Pravin Datke said every mayor should use their knowledge while approving works, especially under Mayor Fund.
- Mansar toll plaza to be shifted Ashish Roy | TNN | Updated: Oct 30, 2018, 08:28 IST
NAGPUR: Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has assured that the toll plazaat Mansar would be shifted towards Khawasa. It will be shifted beyond Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) limits. Guardian minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule had met Gadkari with road problems of the district in Delhi.
Currently, people travelling from Nagpur to Ramtek have to pay toll. If the plaza is shifted beyond Mansar they will not have shell out money. This has been a major demand of people of Ramtek since years. Gadkari also agreed to shift the Patansaogi toll plaza towards Betul.
Gadkari directed officials of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to construct highways till the town centre instead of municipal limits. Till now roads within municipal limits are constructed by municipal councils, which are always short of funds. This decision will benefit towns like Saoner, Mouda, etc.
Lot of accidents take place near Koradi Mahalaxmi Temple. Ways to prevent them were discussed in the meeting. Gadkari promised to sanction amount for remedial measures. He also directed NHAI officials to determine the accident prone spots on Nagpur-Chhindwada highway and constructed flyovers there.
- Nagpur Municipal Corporation's inaction on Nandal report led to scam again Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Updated: Oct 30, 2018, 08:14 IST
NAGPUR: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has dumped the recommendations of the state government’s Nandlal Committee, by deciding not to initiate any action against 50 engineers or recover the embezzled money from them. NMC opposition leaders said a similar scam would not have taken place now if earlier NMC engineers had faced action for bypassing tendering by splitting works.
The government had in 2001 constituted Nandlal Committee to conduct an inquiry into works approved and executed between 1997 and 2000. The government had dismissed the BJP-led ruling alliance in the civic body and appointed an administrator after the scam came to light. The committee had later submitted its recommendations to the government, which directed NMC to act accordingly.
As per the committee’s recommendations, the 102 corporators were booked in criminal cases. The committee had also recommended action against 50 engineers and recovery of Rs 8 crore from them. The government even reminded NMC about implementation of the committee’s recommendations in 2006.
However, NMC sources told TOI no action will be taken against the engineers. “Issue of payments to contractors came up in 2014 again. The contractors approached the high court pleading for directives to NMC to release their payments. The accounts and finance department suggested recovering the money from the engineers and paying the contractors,” the sources said.
A committee of five members was constituted with superintending engineer as chairman. Other members were chief accounts and finance officer, executive engineer (PWD), assistant commissioner (GAD) and legal counsel.
The sources added the committee suggested no action be taken against the engineers. “The committee said most of the engineers had retired so action was not possible against them. Also, the committee suggested no recovery of money from the engineers,” the sources said.
“Of the Rs 8 crore, NMC had paid Rs1 crore to some contractors. NMC had finalized payments of another Rs 1.67 crore, but was yet to disburse the amount to the contractors. Bills worth over Rs3.10 crore are pending for verification. The rest of the bills are not traceable,” the sources said.
Former mayor and Congress city president Vikas Thakre, who too had demanded Nandlal Committee, told TOI it was very unfortunate that NMC was not implementing the directives of the government. “A detailed inquiry should be done and action must be taken against officials who suggested no action should be taken against the engineers,” he said.
Thakre added mayor Nanda Jichkar, corporators and officials have continued modus operandi of avoiding tendering process for works due to lack of action against earlier engineers. “Everyone would have been afraid to continue the modus operandi if action had been taken against the engineers,” he said.
- Seven of 11 split works from Mayor Fund went to one contractor Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Updated: Oct 30, 2018, 08:23 IST
NAGPUR: Seven of the total 11 contracts for a single project, which was split for approval under the Mayor Fund, were awarded to a single contractor. This indicates that a particular contractor was favoured by avoiding the tendering process achieved by splitting the work into many parts. This also indicates the involvement of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) engineers, since they approve these contracts.
On the basis of documents obtained under RTI Act, TOI had on Monday highlighted mayor Nanda Jichkar split many works into parts under Mayor Fund to avoid tendering process. The cost of works was kept below Rs3 lakh mark since tendering process is mandatory above it.
The best example is laying of pavement or paving blocks along internal roads. Jichkar had split this work into 11 parts, each costing just below Rs3 lakh. All works were approved on the same day — December 26, 2017, and for the mayor’s ward no. 37 under NMC Laxmi Nagar Zone.
Information available at the zone office shows seven of the 11 works were awarded to Sonal Construction. Of the remaining four works, two were executed through PJ Patel, and one each through Ramesh Singh and Pramod Damle.
Similarly, Jichkar had split work of erecting display boards highlighting directions to residences in her ward into four parts. Work order of all four parts were awarded to the same contractor — DAGA.
As reported on Monday, the approved cost of six of the 10 Virungula Kendra — Jichkar’s pet project — was between Rs2.94 lakh and Rs3 lakh. All six works were allotted to the same private contractor — Vidarbha Environmental Services.
This is a modus operandi involving a corporator, NMC engineer and contractor. The same had been exposed by Nandlal Committee in 2001. On the committee’s findings, 102 corporators were booked and action recommended against 50 engineers.
Jichkar had on Monday told TOI the engineers are supposed to verify all these issues and ensure works are done as per norms. After Jichkar’s approval, executive engineer, deputy engineer, junior engineer and assistant commissioner of the zone clear the works. Therefore, all become responsible along with the mayor.
Former mayor and Congress city president Vikas Thakre has demanded action against Jichkar as well as the engineers since all continued the modus operandi despite objections raised by Nandlal Committee.
Another shocking fact has come to light in works approved by Jichkar under Mayor Fund. The cost of at least 10 works is just Rs1 to Rs10 below the Rs3 lakh mark. Cost of one work is Rs2,99,999, only Rs1 below the Rs3 lakh mark. The work is related to sewage drain in Swarup Nagar and various places.
Similarly, cost of another work — various works at Virungula Kendra at Ambazari garden — was Rs2,99,998. Despite many works involved in it, the cost happened to be Rs2 below Rs3 lakh mark.
Assistant commissioner Suwarna Dakhane said she has started to take up these issue very strictly from current fiscal. “I have started to reject quotation of works that are non-emergency in nature. Also, I will not permit splitting of works. In fact, I have started to verify personally whether works proposed under zone funds are important or not,” she said.
Deputy engineer RV Mule said he does not have an exact idea and needs to verify all works.
- Rising air pollution will impact rainfall patterns in India: UN report
Manka Behl | tnn | Oct 30, 2018, 18:40 IST
Nagpur: Rising air pollution in India is likely to have a significant impact on long-term rainfall patterns which can cause extensive financial losses, warns the latest United Nations report.
Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based Solutions presents the first scientific assessment of air pollution in Asia and the Pacific. Released in the World Health Organizations (WHO) first global conference on air pollution and health in Geneva on Tuesday, the report extensively covers various pollution aspects which India is grappling with. It also has a word of praise for several mitigation measures taken by the government.
Highlighting the effects of air pollution on Asian monsoon, the report states that the presence of particulate matter 2.5, a deadly tiny pollutant, can affect precipitation patterns during the monsoon season in India. A weaker trend in the Indian monsoon precipitation has been linked to changes in the emissions of particles and other pollutants from within and outside Asia, the report says, with a warning that unpredictable nature of monsoon might lead to destruction of farmland and damage to livelihoods and property in India and Pakistan.
The world's biggest review report on climate change, which was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on October 8, also warned of extreme weather conditions for India. The country could face an annual threat of deadly heatwaves, like the one in 2015 that killed at least 2,500 people, if the world gets warmer by 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels, it said.
Recognizing indoor air pollution as a major health crisis in India, the latest UNreport reveals that it is contributing as much as 22-52% to the countrys ambient air pollution. Speaking exclusively to TOI, Andy Haines, member of the scientific advisory panel of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, said from Geneva, The much-needed mitigation measure that India needs to ensure is provision of clean household energy. Burning of fossil fuels in households is a big health threat, especially for women and children who live in proximity to the source of pollution.
UN claims that if the suggested measures are implemented, annual premature mortality associated with indoor air pollution can decline by 75%. This means that about 2 million premature deaths per year can be avoided in countries like India.
The economic development data of 41 countries (in Asia and the Pacific) shows that unlike many other nations who managed to control air pollution with economic development, Indias air quality got worse with an increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A graph shows that as India transitioned from a low-income to a middle-income country between 1995 and 2014, levels of PM 2.5 increased significantly.
In the last decade, China, England and California have witnessed a decrease in pollution levels while their economies were developing. India showed an opposite trend with no improvement in the air quality. The entire country is facing a health emergency today and it is mainly due to lack of time-bound and sectoral targets to reduce consumption of polluting fuels. We need an aggressive shift towards public transportation and renewables, said Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner at Greenpeace India. Haines, who is also a professor of environmental change and public health at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Message, added that growing air pollution is adversely affecting the countrys health care, with an increase in pollution-related ailments like heart attack, cancer and other respiratory diseases.
Under present circumstances, the policymakers in India should recognize the link between public health and air pollution, said Nathan Borgford-Parnell, the science affairs adviser at Climate and Clean Air Coalition, who also co-authored the report. There are enough evidences that air pollution is a killer for all age groups. Indian government should take the recommended steps to improve the air quality as it will also prove beneficial for the countrys economy, he added.
- Green Carnival, Pop Up Parks to reclaim streets Barkha Mathur | tnn | Oct 31, 2018, 03:04 IST
Nagpur: The 11th edition of Urban Mobility India conference, organized by Deutsche Gesellschaft Fuer Interantional Zusammenarbeit and supported by the ministry of housing and urban affairs, will be held in the city from November 2 to 4.
With its theme of green mobility, the organization will hold a public outreach day on November 1, ahead of the conference, to generate awareness about sustainable mobility. Events will be organized at two venues, Walkers Street in Civil Lines and at the stretch of road from VNIT gate at Bajaj Nagar to Shraddhanand Square.
Centre for Research and Innovation in Urban Planning and Architecture will hold these events, Green City Carnival and Green Surprises Pop Up Parks are being organized in association with The Times of India.
Giving details of the events, Stuti Vij Pincha, partner of CRIUPA said, “As the theme is green mobility, for the Green Carnival which will be held from 6am to 9am at Walkers Street, we will have activities like cycling, yoga, Zumba, aerobics, street painting, urban sketching, cross fit training and cycle yoga, among others.”
“Members of Global Shapers Economic Forum will conduct activities about green mobility which will stress on the use of public transport and information will be given about meaning of various signage on the roads,” Pincha said.
To keep the 600 metre stretch on the Walkers Street active, stalls selling health foods and green plants will be set up and various fitness related activities like pranic healing will be held. “A flash mob with a theme of baby wearing will also be held,” Pincha said.
The second activity, Green Surprises Pop Up Parks, will be organized on the road from VNIT gate to Shraddhanandpeth Square from 11am to 6.15pm. “We will set up three artificial grass turfs on the sides where cars are parked to create pop up parks. Here numerous indigenous games will be held in which people can participate throughout the day,” Pincha said.
The main idea is to reclaim the streets and the sidewalks from the dominance of motorized transport.
“By discouraging car parking on the sides of the road, we aim to promote social interaction and outdoor activity,” she said.
Venue: Walkers Street
Timing: 6am to 9am
Events: Zumba, aerobics, cycle yoga, cycling, Pranic healing, street painting, flash mob, health food stalls
Green Surprises Pop up parks
Venue: Stretch from VNIT Gate to Shraddhanand Square
Timings: 11am to 6.15pm
Games: On grass turfs on side walks
Idea: Reclaiming roads from motorized vehicles
- For 15 kms, Umred tehsildar forced to hang out of truck carrying sand illegally Viraj Deshpande | TNN | Oct 31, 2018, 03:26 IST
Nagpur: Umred district tehsildar on Tuesday dangled on a truck, which was illegally carrying sand, for 15km while the driver continued to speed up the heavy vehicle to evade arrest.
Pramod Kadam, who was recently posted in Umred as tehsildar, and his team were trying to stop trucks illegally carrying sand. Accordingly, they intercepted a truck near the railway crossing in Umred. The truck stopped for a moment, but it tried to run over nayab tehsildar Yogesh Shinde, who jumped to save his life.
Thereafter, Kadam asked the driver to stop the truck and climbed on the footrest from the driver’s side door.
“I asked the driver to stop but he locked the door and closed the window before speeding up the truck. I continuously asked him to stop but he did not listen. I couldn’t jump from it as the truck was full in speed and several vehicles were also passing on the road,” Kadam told TOI.
Kadam jumped from the truck when it touched a road with several turnings. “I saw the opportunity to escape and jumped from the truck. However, I was not able to note the number of the truck,” Kadam added.
Meanwhile, Shinde approached Umred police station from where the cops, led by senior PI Chandrashekhar Bahadure, rushed to chase the truck. They found Kadam around 15km from Umred city.
Umred police have registered a case of obstruction in law against the truck driver and its owner. Sources said that another four-wheeler was chasing the truck. Cops suspect that the four-wheeler might be affiliated with the truck owner or sand mafia.
Police are also trying to track the four-wheeler, besides truck.
- City gets 28% less drinking water allocation from Pench reservoirs Anjaya Anparthi | TNN | Oct 31, 2018, 03:30 IST
Nagpur: In a major blow to the city, water resources department (WRD) has allotted 28% less drinking water supply from Pench reservoirs for next one year. The city may get water over and above the quota as per its requirement, but will have to pay hefty surcharge for the precious commodity.
The situation is the result of less storage in the reservoirs, high water consumption and in view of the losses in the city.
The WRD allocates raw drinking water for all bulk consumers from Pench reservoirs — Totladoh and Kamptee Khairi — for a period between November 1 and October 31. Accordingly, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) had demanded 195.43 million metre cube (MMC) for one year from November 1 this year to October 31 next year.
Apart from the NMC, Kalmeshwar, Parsheoni, Mahagenco’s Koradi and Khaperkheda thermal power stations, fisheries department and irrigation facilities in the district and adjoining Bhandara get water from these reservoirs.
The WRD has finalized the allocation from the reservoirs on Monday and reserved 140.59 MMC, as against the demand for 195.43 MMC, for the NMC with a shortfall of 54.84 MMC.
NMC official told TOI that Pench reservoirs have less water storage this year and the same is likely to prevail next year due to construction of Chaurai dam by Madhya Pradesh government on Pench river’s upstream. “NMC is having reservation of 190 MMC from Pench reservoirs. WRD calculated city’s entitlement at 152.90 MMC according to the norms set by the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA). Due to less water storage, a cut of 8.05% is being applied,” he said.
Though the city’s demand is 195.43 MMC, the entitlement is calculated low at 152.90 MMC due to high water consumption and losses. The entitlement is derived as per the central government’s thumb rule of 135 litres per capita per day (LPCD), population of the city and water losses. The WRD takes into account 15% water losses despite the city’s actual losses of around 50%. Due to the NMC’s mismanagement, city’s entitlement is much lower than the requirement.
The city can get more water as per its requirement but will have to pay more. The NMC will have to pay 1.5 times of the tariff for utilization above 115% of reservation up to 140% and 2 times more for above 140% utilization. Also, drawing more water than reservation means reduction in quantum reserved for irrigation.
Already, the NMC has started to levy 10% more on consumers as raw water surcharge from April 1. The surcharge will continue to be levied for next one year and is also likely to be increased further due to less allocation from the Pench reservoirs.
As on Tuesday, Totladoh reservoir was having storage of 147 MMC (14.48%) as against capacity of 1,017 MMC. Kamptee Khairi’s storage was 55 MMC (38.72%) as against capacity of 140 MMC. Both the two reservoirs combined have storage of 202 MMC as against the capacity of 1,157 MMC. 70MMC water is expected to evaporate till June and the requirement of the city and other dependants is over 210 MMC till next monsoon — July. This also means no water for irrigation for the ongoing kharip and upcoming rabbi season.
- Rs202cr Maha grant may not bail out broke NMC Proshun Chakraborty | TNN | Oct 31, 2018, 03:49 IST
Nagpur: Even as the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) received Rs202.57 crore (including Rs150 crore as special grant and Rs52.57 crore as GST share) from the state government, it may not be sufficient enough for the civic body to meet its debt burden of over Rs300 crore.
With the government relaxing conditions to utilize Rs150 crore special grant late on Monday, contractors and other stakeholders started making a beeline in the NMC since morning with a hope that their bills will be cleared.
A senior official from the accounts and finance department said the NMC has chalked out plan as to how and whom to give priority while disbursing payments. To a query, he said the civic body will disburse the cash judiciously.
Though the state government is yet to transfer Rs202.57 crore in the NMC’s account, a senior official from the accounts and finance department said the relaxation in norms of special grants will help the civic body sail through the present crisis.
Currently, the NMC’s committed expenditure is over Rs93 crore a month. Besides this, it also has an outstanding payments of contractors, three red, one green bus operators, two ticketing agencies and transport manager — DIMTS — totalling over Rs300 crore.
On Tuesday, transport committee chairman Bunty Kukde along with transport manager Shivaji Jagtap met the additional municipal commissioner Ravindra Thakre and officiating CAFO and deputy commissioner Nitin Kapadnis to bat for Aapli Bus operators, including three red bus operators, two ticketing agencies and transport manager DIMTS.
Though DIMTS has already served termination notice, three red bus operators too have hinted at stopping the city bus operations if they are denied their outstanding dues that have already crossed over Rs30 crores. In such a situation, the NMC cannot ignore the transport department’s demand to release payments to Aapli Bus operators.
The NMC’s accounts and finance department had suggested that the civic body should request the state government to release a special grant of Rs500 crore in view of the financial crisis and could have brought the financial position on right track. Apart from committed expenditure of Rs93 crore per month, the civic body also has to make its contribution towards development works as well as to maintain public transport system efficiently.
The main source of income for the NMC is the tax collected from property owners in the city, other than minor sources like town planning department, water tax etc.
Though the NMC can heave a sigh of relief for this month due to the relaxation of norms to utilize the special grant, the situation will not improve unless the NMC didn’t streamline its revenue generation.