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Corporator pitches converting junked buses into mobile toilets

Convert discarded BEST buses into mobile toilets and let it be used at highways and other places in the city, including the crowded streets of Mumbai, a notice of motion by a Corporator in the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. The motion was filed by Shiv Sena Corporator Sachin Padwal from ward number 206 in the BMC. The proposal will be discussed in the House of the BMC on January 5. If passed and later on approved, the discarded BEST buses may soon be used as toilets in the city. BEST keeps on discarding buses as they get old or if they are not required. Recently, it stopped using air-conditioned bus services in its fleet. BMC, on the other hand, uses mobile toilets excessively, especially on roads, near highways, slums and even during large gatherings in the city. The proposal by the Corporator reads, “Converting buses, which according to the BEST undertaking has been discarded as scrap, into well equipped mobile toilets, and then making them available on highways, major roads and small-big crowded streets in Mumbai.”Padwal claims that he has spoken to the BEST committee chairperson seeking details on the number of discarded buses and is getting the response soon. He also says that instead of hiring mobile toilets for big events, these toilets can be used, saving a lot of revenue.

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Kamala Mills fire: Probe on to ascertain what caused Mumbai pub blaze

A day after a devastating blaze at a central Mumbai pub claimed 14 lives, fire brigade officials on Saturday said the department was probing whether flames during a fire stunt by a bartender, burning coal used for hookah or a short circuit led to the tragedy.The blaze had started after 12.30 am on Friday at the ‘1 Above’ pub on the terrace of Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel, a commercial hub, resulting in the collapse of its bamboo-propped canopy. The fire, which left several people injured, also engulfed Mojo’s Bistro, a pub a storey below. Most of the 14 victims died of asphyxiation.”We are probing if the flames created during a fire stunt by a bartender at the pub came in contact with plastic sheets that covered the bamboo structure and triggered the blaze. We are also trying to find out whether the burning coal used for hookah at the adjacent restaurant led to the tragedy,” a fire official said.All other possibilities, including that of short circuit, is also being probed, he added.The police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).After the fire, some escaped to safety, while others found their way blocked by fire and suffocating smoke. Many panicked patrons took shelter in a toilet, where they were asphyxiated to death.Among those killed was Khushbu Bansali, the woman who was celebrating her 29th birthday at ‘1 Above’ pub in upscale Parel’s Kamala Mill compound, and several of her friends.The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) yesterday suspended five officials, including those attached to the G- South ward for dereliction of duty. There are allegations that civic authorities turned a blind eye to construction irregularities and violation of fire safety norms in the compound.Also readKamala Mills Fire: Two young men enter into death trap to save aunt, never to come backRelated Photos
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In Pics: The day after Kamala Mills blaze, families mourn
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In Pics: Massive midnight fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound kills 14; many restaurants gutted The same central Mumbai area–a former textile mill district now dotted by swanky glass-and-concrete towers–had witnessed death of 23 people in a stampede at a railway bridge on September 29 this year.

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Kamala Mills Fire: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam demands CBI probe or Judicial inquiry

Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Sanjay Nirupam has demanded that the government should conduct an inquiry into Kamla Mills fire incident under the Judicial Commission Inquiry Act or through Central Bureau of investigation. He alleged that the government’s decision asking the BrihanMumbai Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta to hold inquiry would turn out to be a farce especially when the civic body has failed to take any action against restaurants and pubs operating there in violation of stipulated norms. Besides, Nirupam said the inquiry should reveal how unholy nexus between the civic officials and restaurant operators led serious lapses in adherence to fire safety norms.Nirupam questioned how 96 restaurants were given license to operate by BMC in the Kamla Mills, an erstwhile textile mill spread over 37 acres of prime property in Central Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. He has squarely blamed the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for according permission and not taking due action against such restaurants for violations.Nirupam criticized the civic body for lack of periodical fire audit of these restaurants situated there. Further, he said there were insufficient fife safety safeguards including extinguishers.Also readKamala Mills Fire: Cops say no, but patrons say there were hookahsThe city Congress chief said there was violation of rules with regard to open space. ‘’Due to tiny open space, the fire brigade personnel had to struggle to reach to the spot and douse the fire. The Supreme Court in one of its judgment has directed that six meters of space should be available all around the building so that fire tenders can easily go and carry out their job. BMC failed to take any action despite repeated reminders,’’ he noted.Related Photos
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In Pics: The day after Kamala Mills blaze, families mourn
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In Pics: Massive midnight fire at Mumbai’s Kamala Mills Compound kills 14; many restaurants gutted He has criticised the BMC Commissioner’s move to suspend five officers and demanded that the government has to immediately transfer Mehta.

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Kamala Mills fire: 14 killed in inferno during birthday bash, BMC suspends 5 officials after Fadnavis promises action

A massive fire swept through a plush rooftop pub in downtown Mumbai during a birthday bash before swiftly raging through the building, leaving 14 people dead and 21 injured, officials said today.Among those killed was Khushbu Bansali, the woman who was celebrating her 29th birthday at “1 Above” pub in upscale Parel’s Kamala Mill compound, and several of her friends.Two American brothers of Indian origin, and their aunt, who had gone to celebrate Khushbu’s birthday, were also among the dead.The blaze, the cause of which is not clear yet, started after 12.30 am at the 1 Above pub on the terrace, resulting in collapse of its bamboo-propped canopy, as towering flames leapt metres into the dark sky. It also engulfed the Mojo’s Bistro pub a storey below.Most of the victims died of asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM hospital where the injured and dead were brought.Also readKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this pictureThe mirth and merriment of the party gave way to mayhem as people, screaming and scamparing, looked for exit doors, toppling and trampling over each other.Some escaped to safety, while others found their way blocked by fire and suffocating smoke.Many panicked patrons took shelter in a toilet, and got asphyxiated to death. Some could make it out alive.Teams of fire brigade and police rushed to the spot and 35 injured people were pulled out from inside the pub and taken to hospital, a police official said.Several media outlets, including TV news channels Times Now, ET Now and TV9 Marathi, have offices in the complex.Harish Pathak, head of the forensic department at KEM Hospital said most of those who lost their lives in the tragedy were brought dead.Police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under various charges including cuplable homicide not amounting to murder.They have also been charged under IPC sections 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).Two of those booked have been detained. The civic body of the megapolis-BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation–suspended its five officials belonging to various branches over their role in the incident.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind expressed anguish over the tragedy.”Anguished by the fire in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I pray that those injured recover quickly,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.Also readKamala Mills tragedy: Pub claims fire emanated from ‘adjoining quarters,’ rejects cops’ version on safety violations Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner to hold an enquiry and submit a report within 15 days.”Five (civic) officials have already been suspended and appropriate sections of the Indian Penal Code will be invoked against the owners of the pub, making them responsible for the loss of lives. The guilty won’t be spared,” Fadnavis said.Business rivals–1 Above and Mojo’s Bistro–that bore the brunt of the inferno, claimed all fire safety measures were in place at their premises.However, 1 Above claimed Mojo’s Bistro did not have an emergency exit, leading to overcrowding of its escape avenues.”1 Above has all its fire safety regulations, licences, procedures and norms in place. We’ve been able to help save many lives thanks to our fire safety protocols,” the statement claimed.A statement from Mojo’s claimed the facility had all its fire safety norms, certificates and procedures in place.The staff, it said, was “thoroughly trained” in fire drills due to which the guests could be evacuated.Some patrons of ‘1 Above’ casually took selfies of the massive flames and plumes of smoke that soared into the sky, while a few others lay immobilised in drunken stupor, delaying evacuation, eyewitnesses and rescuers said.”At around ten minutes past midnight, I got out of my office after hearing commotion. A sea of people came rushing at me. They were basically running wherever the pathway led them to,” Mahesh Sable, who works for a private security agency and helped evacuate around 150 people from the Trade House Building, told PTI.”We could hear calls for help, glasses were breaking, bottles were falling down, the entire place was in flames and engulfed by smoke. I could not go in again after getting the injured people out,” he said.His colleague Sanjay Giri, who was also on the night shift, said he was on the ground floor and rushed up to guide the patrons who were stuck.Also readMumbai’s Kamala Mills Fire | When midnight birthday bash turned into a funeral Giri said initially the drunken stupor of some of the patrons and an obsession with getting videos of the rooftop pub engulfed in fire delayed rescue efforts.”I guided whoever we could see. It was later, after we went down, that they told us about their relatives and friends being stuck in the toilet. A few voice and video calls were also made,” Giri added.One of the survivors told a TV news channel that her friend, who had got locked inside a toilet, called her up on the mobile phone desperately seeking help. She could not be brought out alive.Dr Sulbha KG Arora, a Mumbai doctor, told NDTV news channel, she was at the 1 Above restaurant.”There was no time for anyone to reach out because the fire spread so rapidly. The staff members of the restaurant were trying to help the customers as much as possible,” she told NDTV on the phone.”There was a stampede and someone pushed me. People were running over me even as the ceiling above me was collapsing in flames,” she said separately in a tweet. “Still don’t know how I got out alive.”

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Gateway of India revamp put on hold yet again

The beautification work near Gateway of India was put on hold after standing committee members of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) raised questions on the lack of maintenance in the previous beautification that was carried out. Now, the standing committee members will pay a fresh visit to check the status of previous works before approving new work.Makrand Narvekar, BJP corporator from Colaba raised the issue of poor maintenance of footpaths and public toilets near the Gateway of India. He attacked the civic administration for failing to maintain previous works while showing promptness in introducing new proposals.Narvekar recalled a survey that was carried out by the BMC in April 2017 wherein it was found that the city’s dirtiest toilet was the pay-and-use toilet near the Gateway of India. “Has the civic administration taken any action to improve the condition of the toilet,” asked Narvekar.Even other members of the standing committee alleged that the civic administration was busy introducing new proposals to benefit contractors. “The Gateway of India is a heritage structure and the civic administration needs to maintain the footpaths, lights and other street amenities in a proper way,” said another member.Ramesh Korgaonkar, the civic standing committee chairman, asked civic officials to pay a visit to the adjoining areas of Gateway of India to know the status of civic facilities. “The proposal of new work has been put on hold till the visit,” said Korgaonkar.

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Powai Hiranandani residents oppose hawking pitches

Residents of posh areas are not in favour of hawking pitches in their vicinity, reveal the objections and suggestions received by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Residents of Powai Hiranandani have opposed any hawking pitches within their premises. They have received backing of Niranjan Hiranandani, founder and managing director of Hiranandani.The Removal of Encroachment (RE) department of BMC has received hundreds of suggestions after it proposed around 23,900 hawking pitches across the city in the first week of December.Among objections and suggestions the civic body received, a substantial number of residents have opposed hawking pitches or zones in their areas. According to an official from the RE department of BMC, residents of Hiranandani Powai have also raised their objection to the idea of hawking pitches in their area.In their objections, they said that they are fed up with hawker menace in their area and they do not want hawkers allowed within Hiranadani Powai. Senior civic officials have also reportedly visited the area after residents of the Hiranandani Powai opposed hawking pitches.Nidhi Chaudhary, deputy municipal commissioner (special), confirmed that they have received Hiranandani Powai residents’ objections for setting up any hawking pitches in their area.Niranjan Hiranandani has also opposed the idea of hawking pitches within Hiranandani Powai. He said, “No. Certainly not. The residents are very much upset. They have been resisting the idea of hawking pitches within Hiranandani Powai for 30 years.”In December first week, the Removal of Encroachment department of the BMC had put up proposed 23,940 hawking pitches across the city online and sought residents’ objections and suggestions. “We have received encouraging response from residents and are considering many of the suggestions we have received,” said an official from the department.Residents have also suggested that gardens’ open space should be used for hawking once in a week. “We are considering a number of suggestions that we received to include in the final hawking pitches,” said another civic official.WHAT BMC CLAIMSIn December first week, the BMC had put up proposed 23,940 hawking pitches across the city online and sought residents’ suggestions. “We, in fact, received encouraging response from residents, and are now considering many of the suggestions we have received,” said an official from the department.

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Nagpada junction to get 20 m flag pole

A 20-meter flag pole and congestion-free Nagpada junction is on its way. According to sources the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently approved a complete makeover of the junction that is famous for its congestion. The Nagpada Junction is one of the oldest junction in the city. Currently it is a traffic nightmare, where commuters get stuck for a long time. The local corporator Rais Shaikh, along with architects came up with a plan to redesign the area and give it a new look. Shaikh said “We will have a landscaping for the area done so that no one encroaches the area again and there is a smooth flow of traffic,” said Shaikh.According to Shaikh, the municipal commissioner recently gave the proposal an administrative consent and the work may start soon on the junction.The junction will have a small garden that can be used by the locals. “We are also planning to have a flag pole as huge as 20 meters. This flag pole will hoist the flag throughout the year. There are certain things like proper lighting and other regulations to be followed for the flag to be hoisted day and night, all of that is being worked out and will be followed,” added Shaikh.Shaikh claims that the makeover of the junction will help the locals have a beautiful place and also solve traffic and other problems like illegal parking in the area near the junction. Already that issue has been talked about and action on illegal parking has been taken on several occasions.

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Fingerprint, iris issues affect Aadhaar work, impact salaries

Hansa Jadhav from the B ward of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) did not receive her November salary as her fingerprints were of poor quality and could not mark her attendance in the biometric machine introduced by the BMC about two months ago.The BMC has made biometric attendance compulsory for all employees and even declared salary cut for those who fail to clock biometric attendance in their respective office.In December, the BMC administration decided to cut the salary of around 4,000 employees for not marking attendance in biometric systems. “I used to get my salary by first week of every month. But, till December 20, I did not receive my salary for November ,” said Jadhav.Udaykumar Shiroorkar, assistant commissioner of B ward took the matter to administrative department and Human Resource departments of the BMC.”Jadhav’s fingerprints are poor and it was not recorded when Aadhaar was being generated. So, she could not mark her attendance through the biometric machine,” said Shiroorkar. He added that she, however, had come to office all working days. Surprisingly, the BMC had stopped providing stationery for muster attendance soon after it introduced biometric attendance.In another case, Arun Karkhanis, 73, did not receive his pension for the last six months. The reason quoted was that the biometric machine couldn’t read his finger print. “Now, the bank has asked me to update my Aadhar as my finger prints do not come,” said Karkhanis. He added that the bank or his office from where he retired is unwilling to accept any other documents. “It is not possible to for me to go Aadhaar centre at 3 am to stand in queue to get my Aadhaar upadate,” said Karkhanis. He added that his office has agreed to pay pension till December but I have to submit my updated Aadhaar by January to continue to get pension.Sudhir Naik, deputy municipal commissioner said that there are around 140 employees in BMC who have such problems and now, the civic administration will not push them for biometric attendance.FOR THE RECORDAadhaar records finger prints, iris and face information while registering. However, if any person is having problem in finger print, it is mentioned in the acknowledgment copy whether the finger quality is good. In such cases, the Aadhaar operator mentions these while registering which appear in the acknowledgment copy.

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BMC blames socio-economic problems for Andheri farsan shop fire

A day after 12 people were charred in a fire at an illegal condiment factory in Sakinaka, the civic body on Tuesday tried to shrug off its responsibility by attributing the tragedy to a combination of several issues.Political pressure, court cases and government failure in checking illegal supply of electricity and gas cylinders for commercial purposes the hurdles that it faces in controlling unauthorised businesses in the city, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”It is a socio-economic problem that people come to Mumbai to do odd jobs. The workers who died on Monday were from north India,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Bharat Marathe. The Bhanu condiment factory on Khairani Road was too small to operate as a factory and accommodate 20 people, said Marathe, the in-charge of civic affairs for the area.And the issues span across Mumbai, he said. “It is a reality that 60 percent of the city have the same scenario.” Regular inspections and strict action are the need of the hour, he said.Vote-bank politics undo all the efforts of the civic body, said a BMC official, who did not wish to be named. “We are under immense political pressure to not take action in slums. It is only after court orders that we can do something.” He said only a handful of politicians allow the BMC to do its work in good faith.Resource crunch is another impediment, said the second official. “We lack staff in sanitary inspections, factory and licence departments. One person can inspect maximum 20 shops per day but in Mumbai depending on the area ranging from 60 to 200 illegal small scale businesses come up every day. Many a times we don’t even come to know that some businesses start and even closes after few months. Even if we take the owner to court, high court penalises him sometimes with just Rs 500 and the illegal business continues”, he said.BJP MP Kirit Somaiya, who has written to the BMC chief after Monday’s tragedy, said he has demanded inspection at all condiment factories in Mumbai. “It may be true that some politicians don’t allow BMC action, but it is not important at the moment. We have to look forward that such incidences should not occur and innocent should not lose their lives”.

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Maha stops funds for religious, social events

The Maharashtra government has issued circular to local bodies including municipal corporations asking them not to spend government funds on religious and social functions organised by private institutions.According to the circular, the local bodies will not spend money on Ganeshotsav, Navratri, Ramzan, Eid, Chhath Puja, Gudi Padva, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti and Dr BR Ambdedkar Jayanti.Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale objected to the circular, saying that the expenditure for Dr Ambedkar’s death anniversary at Dadar is borne by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”Thousands of people across India throng Chaityabhumi on December 6. If the BMC is not allowed to spend the money, then who will? It is the duty of the government to make arrangements for people who are coming from various places. This circular will create a havoc. The religious sentiments of people will be also be hurt. Before it stirs a larger controversy, it has to be struck down immediately,” he said.According to the circular dated November 29, 2017, as per the court directives in Pradeep Jangan versus the state of Maharashtra case, the government has decided not to spend funds on any religious and social functions. As per the Maharashstra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and the Constitution of India, it is utra virus to spend government money on religious functions.Pradeep Jangan in his petition said that the expenditure on religious functions organised by private orginsations is borne by the government. “This is completely contradictory to the provisions of the Bombay Municipal Act 1949. It is loss of public money. There are various social and religious orgnisations which regularly seek government funds to celebrate their functions such as Dasma Devi festival, Mahashivratri Utasav, organised by Dharavi Devi Mandir Trust,” he said.The judgment further reads that the Municipal Corporation must also bear in mind that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and the municipal funds are primary required to be spent on civic amenities.SENA MP OBJECTSShiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale objected to the circular, saying that the expenditure for Dr Ambedkar’s death anniversary in Dadar was borne by the civic body, and stopping this will hurt the sentiments of thousands in the city.

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Anti Corruption Bureau books BMC engineer in DA case

The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) Mumbai unit has booked former Assistant Engineer attached with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for allegedly amassing assets more than the known income of the accused. The ACB has also booked the wife and deceased mother of the engineer in the case.According to ACB, Anil Mistry, 51, assistant engineer who was attached with BMC from 26 March 1990 till 19 June 2017 was accused of possessing wealth 1307.18 per cent more than the known income. The ACB officials found the assets worth Rs 7,72,48,381 extra to the actual income. The ACB has also booked Akruti Mistry,43 in the case.”The accused engineer had purchased properties in the name of his wife and the mother and they were in know-how of the money which he acquired through corruption,” said the ACB officer.

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Road works worth Rs 150 cr put on hold

The BMC administration scrapped more than 100 roads works despite the committee's approval. Members of the committee sought an enquiry against civic officials for scrapping mandatory road works from the priority list of monsoon preparation. 13 were tabled related to road works of which 3 were rejected.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Thursday 14 December 2017 2:01 ISTMust readMy husband was sleeping, says wife of ‘molester’Crammed planes a global norm; experts say focus on etiquette<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The standing committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday put several road works, worth over Rs 150 crore, on hold. The committee members opposed the administration’s move of scrapping several road works without consulting the committee.<!– /11440465/DNA_Mobile_Article_300x250_BTF_1 –>The BMC administration scrapped more than 100 roads works despite the committee’s approval. Members of the committee sought an enquiry against civic officials for scrapping mandatory road works from the priority list of monsoon preparation. 13 were tabled related to road works of which 3 were rejected.

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Residential parking in South Mumbai now one step closer to reality

Residential parking in Churchgate, Colaba and CST in South Mumbai will soon be a reality. The civic body, which has already received the traffic department’s no objection certificates (NoC) for residential parking slots at around 30 areas, is awaiting the approval of the civic chief to begin.The efforts of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s to make additional parking space available in South Mumbai under the new parking policy will bring relief for residents. Residents can now park their vehicles in front of their society building by paying a requisite fee.The civic body had received an overwhelming response from housing societies and commercial units in Colaba, Churchgate and Nariman Point for reserved parking slots. However, the operation was delayed for almost five months due to a delay in issuing an NOC from the traffic department. The traffic department had raised a query on the timings of the parking. The residential parking slots are available from 8 pm to 8 am only. However, the civic body managed to get the NOC from the traffic department.The BMC had received around 28 applications for reserved/residential parking. Of the 28 applications, 19 were housing societies while nine commercial establishments sought reserved parking spaces.For reserved residential parking (8 pm to 8 am), societies have to pay the BMC monthly charges which vary from Rs 600 to Rs 1,800, depending on the location. Initially, the residents association of A-ward were not satisfied with the civic body citing non-clarity in the implementation of the new parking policy.However, with NOCs from traffic department, the residential parking in South Mumbai as a pilot project seems to be a reality. “We has received traffic department NOC and send it civic chief for final approval,” said a senior official from A-ward of the BMC.NO SPACE AT ALLA-ward has several commercial complexes, government buildings and plenty of cars. The area also falls under ‘A’ category, which has the highest parking rates. The BMC has a total of 91 on-street parking spaces of which 54 falls under A-ward.

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Speak up Mumbai: Is BMC apathy turning trees into safety issue?

On December 7, Sharda Ghodeswar, 45, lost her life after a 45-foot long Gulmohar tree fell on her when she was sitting on a bench in Chembur. The incident has given Mumbaikars a new reason to worry as they consider whether the trees in their areas are healthy and strong enough to not be a safety concern.Environmentalists believe that concretisation and haphazard tree pruning is a major reason behind the recent tree collapse incidents from across the city. Residents also blame Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for not inspecting trees properly before cutting them and deem a tree healthy based on its appearance.Civic officials accept the fact that they only visually inspect a tree before declaring it healthy and do not have a mechanism in place to inspect its roots for a better idea of its health status. In the recent fatal incidents of tree falls, the BMC has shirked away responsibility by terming the deaths ‘accidental’.DNA spoke to citizens across the city to find out what they think about BMC’s approach towards tree cutting and whether the body is cutting the right trees.VOICESThe work is outsourced to contractors, there is no inspection by BMC which is why the right trees are not cut. I have seen contractors cutting trees that don’t need to be. Trees should be judicially trimmed and not hacked.—Dr Vijay Sangole, ChemburAt times a particular tree looks strong from outside but its roots could be weak. The BMC should appropriately identify which tree is more inclined and threatens to fall. An annual survey of trees is required for this.—Dattatray Gosavi, AndheriThe BMC should ideally take the help of experts who understand which trees need to be cut or which need attention. There are people studying this as well. Unless it is not done, more such incidents will keep occurring. People should also be careful while sitting or standing below a tree especially after heavy rain or cyclones like the recent one.—Dr Rita Savla, GoregaonThe BMC is not taking care of the city’s trees. The contractors it appoints for pruning are not qualified ecologists or environmentalists, they simply cut the trees as per the road’s requirement. At times, they ignore the trees whose roots are damaged due to which they pose potential dangers of falling. BMC should use aboriculture which deals in tree maintenance, especially in metro cities where lateral growth of roots is not possible due to concretisation.—AD Sawant, ElphinstoneThe BMC cannot be blamed for unforeseen situations like a natural or sudden calamity. But since our city has a terrific monsoon, the BMC needs to start doing a lot more inspection. They should go around looking for weak trees and trim them. A number of times, utilities dig roads and they too make the tree base weak. That needs to be checked often. BMC should also regularly check whether trees are growing properly or if they are becoming weak. Even if there is a big area, they need to check them.—Nikhil Banker, Marine DriveOften, trees are chopped to benefit some or the other developer, hotel owner or shop keeper as the trees obstruct their view, project or accessibility. Most trees do not fall because of rain and don’t need chopping, their roots are damaged because of concretising on every side because of which the roots don’t get adequate water and they become weak.—Shiva Malik, AndheriIt is the BMC’s responsibility to ensure that the branches of trees and the trees that are likely to fall, are chopped in time. Several incidents of tree falls have resulted in the death of citizens or damage to property which means there is something wrong on the BMC’s part. It is time the BMC identifies such trees that pose a threat and ensure they are chopped before they claim lives. The authorities should conduct a regular audit of such killer trees.—Robin Sharma, KalbadeviSuch incidents are not new to the city. After every monsoon season, we see hundreds of trees falling across the city. The BMC claims that they surveys trees before trimming them but such incidents continue to take place. The BMC is aware that Mumbai is situated in a coastal area and strong winds can uproot any tree. The civic body must ensure that at least weak trees are trimmed or cut. The BMC does not pay heed to these issues and are busy announcing ambitious infrastructure projects.—Nisha Sunil Ramakrishanan, BycullaEXPERT SPEAKBMC appoints contractors to decide which trees should be cut, who simply select trees based on which wood is commercially useful instead of the safety aspect. Trees like Gulmohar have soft wood and are not useful for burning thus many a times they are not cut. Gulmohar trees are always the first to fall after monsoon. The BMC works only on the contractor’s whims and fancies. It is the work of the garden department that never inspects the trees scientifically before deciding to cut or trim them.—Biju Auhustine, Environment activistEvery monsoon, Gulmohar and rain forest trees are the first to fall. These trees are not native trees for our soil and thus have a lesser life span as their roots are not deep enough and wood is also soft. To begin with, the BMC should only plant native trees. Besides, BMC haphazardly prunes the trees. Taking a lesson from the recent death of a woman, BMC needs to stop haphazard tree cutting and inspect the trees scientifically.—Sandeep Athalye, Environment activist

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BMC to connect LBS Marg & Bhandup station

To avoid another Elphinstone Road railway station-like incident, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to connect Bhandup railway station (West) with LBS Road by constructing a missing link. The construction of a 300-m missing link will give a second exit on the western side of the station.The proposed road will have a direct connectivity to platform number 1 of the station from LBS road.”The proposed road will ease the pressure from the existing road and mitigate any possibility of Elphinstone Road-like stampede,” said an official from the Road Department.The proposed road is expected to be 13-metre wide and will connect the MVR Shinde road near Jayesh Industrial Estate which is also adjacent to the station.”After Elphinstone Road accident, the BMC has swung into action and working on all such missing links that can give a better connectivity to the station. We have identified a number of missing links in every railway stations to give a better access to the station. The proposal will soon be tabled in the general body of BMC to get approval,” said the official.

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Swachhata goes digital, BMC launches app for complaints

In order to promote and encourage cleanliness among citizens, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has formed 24 teams who will visit all the wards across the city to create awareness about the new Swachhata-MoHUA App. The teams will encourage citizens to download the app and guide them on the steps to be followed that will help them conveniently register the garbage-related complaints of their area from their phone. The teams will also interact with citizens to solicit feedback on the cleanliness situation.Vijay Singhal, Additional Municipal Commissioner (eastern suburbs) and in charge of Cleanliness Survey 2018 said that the feedback from residents will help BMC to improve cleanliness standards.Each survey team will have three to four members from an independent agency who will visit crowded areas like markets, bus stands and hospitals among others to interact with people and know their views. “The survey will be completed in 45 days which will be used to improve cleanliness across the city,” said Singhal. The survey is slated to begin from Monday.Singhal said that residents can register their complaints through the Swachhata-MoHUA App which will aid fast redressal of complaints. “The complaint made through the Swachhata-MoHUA App will be addressed within 12 hours. The BMC has made provisions for a separate control room to monitor complaints received through the app,” said Singhal.Civic-related issues like garbage dumps, dead animals, cleaning of public toilets and water supply can be resolved through the app.Singhal added that cleanliness is a participatory process and the civic body alone cannot keep the city clean.
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Civic body floats fresh tender for Hancock Bridge as per GST rate

The construction of a new bridge in place of the demolished Hancock bridge in Byculla is likely to start in a month as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started to invite fresh tender for the project as per the new Goods and Service Tax (GST) rate. Earlier, the process of awarding the contract was put on hold due to change in GST rate.According to an official from the Bridge department of BMC, GST rate has been revised to 12 per cent from earlier 18 per cent. “With the change in GST rate, the overall price of the tender will also change,” the official said. So, the fresh tender has to be floated to award contract.SO Kori, chief engineer (Bridge) of BMC, said, “We have invited tender as per the new GST rate… We are expecting that the tender process will be complete in one month or a maximum of two-months time.”Earlier, the Supreme Court had given permission to carry out construction for a new bridge with a new contractor after taking account of the trouble faced by motorists and pedestrians.The construction of the new bridge was put on hold following a Bombay High Court order. The BMC had reportedly awarded the contract for construction of four bridges, including the Hancock Bridge, to a blacklisted contractor.The contractor was blacklisted for carrying out shoddy roadworks. After HC stayed the construction of a new bridge, the contractor approached the Supreme Court. However, the civic body managed to lift the stay.It is almost one and half years the 135-year-old Hancock bridge was demolished in November 2015.The British-era bridge near Sandhurst Road Railway station was deemed dangerous by the CR in 2013 and was demolished. The Railway overbridge was connecting Byculla and Dadar.ABOUT THE BRIDGEThe 135-year-old British-era bridge near Sandhurst Road Railway station was deemed dangerous by the CR in 2013 and was demolished. The Railway overbridge would connect Byculla and Dadar.
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New contractor for beach-cleaning soon

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has floated a tender to appoint a new contractor for ‘comprehensive management of cleanliness’ of Versova beach.The BMC this time has decided to levy three times the fine slapped on a contractor if the beach is not found cleaned. “At present, the contractor is paid around Rs 4.5 lakh monthly for picking up garbage from Versova beach.However, out of that the civic body deducts 20 per cent as fine. We have asked for more machinery and manpower from the new contractor, and additional charges will be paid for cleaning during festivals. The beach has to be cleaned for 365 days without any holiday,” said K-West ward officer Prashant Gaikwad.The contractor will have to clean and maintain the 3-km Versova beach and the 1.5-km jetty round the clock for a period of seven years. According to BMC’s Solid Waste Management Deputy Chief Engineer Vikas Rajwadkar, “The present Trimurti Contractors JV has limit of collecting garbage up to 6 metric tonnes per day. But in reality, the Versova beach has 20 to 25 metric tonnes of garbage daily. Thus, the cleaning activity lacks. The new contractor will have to collect 20 to 25 metric tonnes garbage per day and the quantity will be more during monsoon and festivals”.Activist Afroz Shah, who with his volunteers started a citizen movement to clean up the beach, said, “This is the best decision BMC has taken.”TASK AT HANDThe contractor will have to clean and maintain the 3-km Versova beach and the 1.5-km jetty for a period of seven years. The BMC this time has decided to levy three times the fine slapped on a contractor if the beach is not found cleaned. At present, the contractor is paid around Rs 4.5 lakh monthly.
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Ockhi prompts safety steps at Chaityabhoomi in Dadar

The Chaityabhoomi near Dadar chowpatty every year sees lakhs of people across the state camping on December 6 to pay tribute to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary. Considering the Indian Meteorological department’s warning of Ockhi cyclone approaching the coast of Maharashtra, the authorities have deployed 45 National Defence Response Force (NDRF) personnel and 15 personnel of Mumbai Fire Brigade at Dadar chowpatty from Monday as a precautionary measure.Mumbai has already witnessed showers and may get more rains considering the movement of cyclone towards northwest India.Ambedkar followers from across the state and nation start gathering at Chaitybhoomi from December 5 itself. Considering the public gathering and their safety from the coast, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sounded a high alert. “We have written to NDRF to provide teams at Dadar chowpatty while Fire Bridage, Navy and Coast Guards have also been alerted. A team comprising 45 personnel of NDRF has already been deployed at Chairtyabhoomi-Dadar chowpatty on Monday,” informed Chief Officer of BMC’s Disaster Management Unit.PS Rahangdale, Chief Officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade, said: “We deploy personnel for security on December 6 ever year. But this year, considering the cyclone warning and weather conditions, we have already deployed 15 Fire Brigade personnel and 2 coast guards.”“As many Ambedkar followers, after paying tribute at Chaityabhoomi, visit the Juhu beach, we have already deployed fire brigade personnel at Juhu beach as well for their security,” Rahangdale added.MAHAPARINIRVAN DINDecember 6 is the 61st death anniversary, the ‘Mahaparinirvan Din’ of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Lakhs of people travel to Dadar’s Chaityabhoomi to pay tribute to Ambedkar’s memorial. The BMC and the police are put on high alert every year considering the huge number of people camping at the place.
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Speak up Mumbai | Aesthetics over safety: Smart choice by BMC?

To secure the iconic Marine Drive promenade from a possible Barcelona-style terror attack, in which a van ploughed into pedestrians on a busy boulevard, the Mumbai Police had proposed installing barriers between the road and promenade to ensure that cars and heavy vehicles do not veer onto the promenade.However the plan has been shelved after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) rejected the proposal to install bollards or raise the promenade’s height stating that this would damage the tourist spot’s aesthetics and obstruct its openness.Following the rejection, top police officers made a presentation to state chief secretary Sumit Mullick to point out the security gaps. The police spent three weeks conducting safety drills by simulating attacks, and a video demonstrated the consequences of a Barcelona-style van attack.DNA spoke to a cross section of Mumbaikars to find out whether security concerns should take precedence over issues of aesthetics and heritage.EXPERT SPEAKSecurity is more important in today’s era considering the Barcelona-style terror attacks that terrorists are committing across the world. Installing barriers at the Marine Drive promenade is the need of the hour as it is one of the most sensitive and crowded areas in the city. The Mumbai Police has taken the right step at the right time. Their measures would help prevent and secure the stretch from such attacks. Barriers would not be any damage.—Prem Kishan Jain, security expertMumbai is surrounded by the sea. You cannot fence Mumbai from all three sides. How can it be assured that after creating barriers there will be no attack? I think such a move would damage the heritage of Marine Drive. The police should find other measures for security such as increasing surveillance at the promenade. Installing bollards will create visual barriers at Marine Drive.—Abha Narain Lambah, conservation architectVOICESSecurity reasons should always take precedence. Other heritage sites of the world should be taken as examples to learn how beauty can be preserved while keeping security aspects in mind.—Sangeeta Srivastava, AndheriBarriers should be installed in such a way that they do not damage the heritage. Both aspects are equally important and cannot be ignored. We can come up with midway solution for the issue.—Gulshan Giri, AndheriIt is important to protect the city’s heritage structures but not at the cost of safety of its residents. BMC should ensure that tourists and local residents feel safe while visiting tourists spots such as Marine Drive. The police should go ahead and install structures in the restricted areas for the safety of locals and tourists. Safety and security of locals and tourists should not be compromised in the name of aesthetics and heritage structures.—Bhuvee Daswani, BandraImproving the police force’s intelligence is the basic need. If bollards are installed on the Marine Drive promenade then where will the pedestrians go?. You cannot block public space because it could be a security hazard. Placing physical obstructions won’t work every time as terrorists could find a loophole some way or the other. The government needs focus on improving the police force’s training.—Kamlakar Shenoy, MazgaonSecurity has to be given priority in this day and age. Human life is precious — it cannot be and should not be compromised at any cost. Of course aesthetics and heritage should be preserved too but they can only be appreciated if we exist. Recent attacks across the world indicate that attacks hereafter would be of higher impact than before and this is something we ought to prioritise as a security concern.—Pradeep Havnur, BandraInstalling barricades will not address security concerns. Authorities need to ensure security but also need to keep aesthetics in mind. Barricades that are used on footpaths are ugly. What they probably need is a four or six-inch elevation at the promenade’s periphery which will not block free movement of pedestrians and will also serve as a hindrance to vehicles. This might also regulate people crossing only from where they are supposed to.—Kaizad Todywalla, Marine DriveSecurity should be given priority. There is nothing wrong in protecting heritage but it should not be at the cost of human life. When there is a possibility of major issues, even then either the police or civic administration is being stopped from taking remedial measures. In the past we have seen rules being twisted to benefit certain corporate sections but when it comes to the safety of common people, rules are being given priority.—Prakash Kosy, WorliSecurity should always be given priority over issues such as aesthetics and heritage. Installing barricades between the promenade and road will not disturb the aesthetics of Marine Drive. It will just be an addition to the existing structure. Both the Mumbai Police and MHCC should arrive at a middle ground solution so that both concerns of security and heritage can be accommodated.—Abhishek Thakker, Mulund
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BMC trying hard for good marks in Swachh survey

With a number of changes and revised methodology for the third cleanliness survey—’Swachh Survekshan-2018’—to rank 4,041 cities and towns in the country, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) which has plummeted to 29th rank from 10th is forced to start preparation early and is taking all precautions to ensure it does not earn negative marks. Independent assessors will verify details provided by a civic body and any false information could lead to 33 per cent negative marks, said a civic official.Open defecation free (ODF) status is one of the parameters which is closely monitored during cleanliness survey apart from others. Though Urban Maharashtra including Mumbai was declared open defecation free (ODF) in October 2017, ground realities are far different.From Mankhurd in Eastern Suburbs to Andheri in Western Suburb, people can be seen defecating in open. Meher Moshin Haider, a Congress corporator from Andheri (West) had raised question on BMC’s ‘feat’ and written to Quality Council of India as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Aware that this could affect rankings, the civic body has a set a target of 5089 community toilet seats to be set up by March 2018.The Solid Waste Management (SWM) department had sought details from wards on required number of toilets seats to be set up by March 2018 and accordingly, it has decided to set up 5083 toilet seats with maximum 480 in L ward (Kurla) which is followed by M East (Chembur and Mankhurd) 400.In the 2017 survey, 434 cities with over 1 lakh population and all the state capitals were ranked. In 2018, the cities will be ranked based on 71 sanitation-related parameters with different weightage.FOCUS ON ODFThe BMC plunged to 29th rank from 10th in the last survey Open defecation free status is one of the parameters on BMC’s focus this time apart from other issues
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Floating brooms: BMC’s new tools

In order to prevent waste going into sea, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to install floating brooms at the exit points of important rivers.The civic body will install floating brooms in at exit point in at least six rivers of the city. The broom will prevent floating articles like thermocol or bottle going into the sea.The BMC has deputed its hundred conservancy workers to clean beaches across the city to clean waste that are left at the shore during high tide almost everyday.The floating brooms will be installed at the exit points of rivers namely Poisar, Dahisar, Mithi, Oshiwara among others. Vijay Singhal, additional commissioner of BMC (Eastern Suburb), also in charge of Solid Waste Management said that the floating broom will be installed as pilot projects.”The floating broom will prevent floating materials going into the sea and it will be taken out from the exit point of the river and dumped in the dumping ground,” said Singhal.According to Singhal, the cost of the project is very low and there is no problem in experimenting it. “Since the broom will float in water, it will come down when force of water will be low and waste material will not go into the sea,” he said.Beaches in the city are often littered with polythene bags and other floating material.According to an official, the exact quantity of waste being found along beaches in the city is not known as it varies season to season.”During high tide, the quantity of waste is more than usual,” said an official from the Solid Waste Management of BMC.However, he added whatever we find waste at beaches are basically generated from the city which goes to the sea and comes back at shore during tide.THE LOCATIONSThe floating brooms will be installed at the exit points of rivers including Poisar, Dahisar, Mithi and Oshiwara. The brooms will prevent floating articles like thermocol or bottle going into the sea Civic officials said the cost of the project will be very low and there is no harm in experimenting with the floating brooms
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Tender notice issued for police township

In one of the biggest construction projects to be carried out in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, a project belonging to the Brihanmumbai Police Co-operative Housing Society (proposed) will comprise 8,200 individual homes and cost Rs 1,225 crore. It will have houses for police constables and their widows and is located in Village Vayal close to the proposed International Airport in Navi Mumbai. The land was bought after 6,000 constables pooled in Rs 1.20 lakh each. They bought 107 acre of land from farmers and Rs 12 crore is still in excess.Pratap Dighavkar, Additional Commissioner, Thane Police, handling the project said, “We are going to give 650 sq ft carpet area project to every constable. These will be two bedroom hall kitchen flats with balconies. We haven’t decided the cost per flat but only construction cost will be charged to every constable.”If this is the first home of the constable then he will also be eligible for a subsidy of Rs 2.50 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. “This is the biggest welfare project in the state concerning police personnel,” said Dighavkar.A tender notice was issued on Thursday by the Sanstha inviting contractors who have experience in planning, designing and constructing approximately 8,200 individual apartments within high-rise residential buildings including stilt parking, along with site development and infrastructure services for the housing project.The completion period for the project is 36 months from the date of Letter of Intent.
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Mazgaon civic garden to get replicas of world’s seven wonders

In first of its kind, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) garden, located in south Mumbai’s Mazgaon area is set to get replicas of the seven wonders of the world. The Joseph Baptist garden located on Bhandarwada hill in Mazgaon will soon start work on the project and will be the first civic garden to have replicas of seven wonders of the world. As per officials, the garden is expected to be ready by May 2018.The Joseph Baptist garden is one of the biggest BMC gardens with area 5,44,000 sq feet. It is a popular hangout place among youngsters, and provides a bird’s eye view of South Mumbai.Civic officials are confident that the replicas of the seven wonders — the Statue of Christ of Brazil, Leaning Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, the Statue of Liberty in the US, Colosseum in Italy, Eiffel Tower of France, Chinchen Itza Pyramid of Mexico and India’s Taj Mahal — will attract more visitors.”The cost of the development is estimated at Rs 2.6 crore, and the work order will be issued soon. It will take around six months for the garden to be ready. It already attracts visitors due to its hilltop and peaceful location. But, the development will definitely add to the increase in footfall,” said Santosh Gaikwad, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of E ward.
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Mayor’s bungalow: BMC nod for plan to change reservation

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The civic improvement committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) cleared a proposal on Tuesday to change reservation of the iconic heritage Mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park in Dadar for the proposed Balasaheb Thackeray Rashtriya Smarak Nyas (BTRSN). The proposal was cleared immediately after it was tabled without any opposition, said Anant Nar, chairman of Improvement Committee of BMC.Now, the proposal will be required to get an approval from the general body of the BMC.The change of reservation of the bungalow plot for memorial was supposed to keep for objections and suggestions under the section 37 (1AA) of Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act 1966. But, the process could be time consuming. “The proposal can be directly approved from the Improvement Committee and Corporation and send it to the deputy director of Town Planning for final approval,” said Nar. The BMC has proposed change of reservation of the plot number 501 and 502 located near Shivaji Park in G South Ward.However, the change of reservation will also be required to get environment clearance. “The plot falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone and for any change in the reservation of the plot, clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) will be required,” said Nar.Early this year, the improvement committee had cleared the proposal to hand over the mayor’s bungalow plot to the Balasaheb Thackeray Rashtriya Smarak Nyas (BTRSN). The proposal was cleared under section 49 I (c) of Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1988. then the committee was headed by BJP corporator Prakash Gangadhare.As per the proposal, around 11,551 sq metre mayor’s bungalow plot will be given on lease to the BTRSN, headed by Sena Chief Udhav Thackeray at a nominal rate of Rs 1 per annum for a period of 30 years. The plot can be used with 1.33-floor space index (FSI) for the memorial. However, the trust cannot sub-lease or rent the plot to the other party. Also, the trust can not carry out additional construction, repairs or changes without prior permission of civic officials.

New safety concern crops up at Currey Road FOB

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Indian Railways, Army and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are struggling to acquire 180 sq metres of land for constructing a foot overbridge (FOB) at Currey Road station, there is a bigger safety problem that the Central Railway (CR) is grappling with. The problem came to notice on Monday when Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal visited Currey Road station to inspect the work on the FOB.Over the past few months, the CR authorities began constructing the second FOB at Currey Road station and in the past few weeks they have built the staircases on both sides of the platform. The work on the elevated portion of the FOB that extends on the east till the platform, too has been started. They painted this structure in silver, but put granite tiles on the stairs just a couple of days before Goyal was to visit the station.There are two landings — one towards Dadar and the other towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus — where the staircases are there. However, there is an issue with the landing of the staircase towards the CSMT-end as they end straight on to a cemented and tiled seat. This has a metal pole holding the roof and people often sit there while waiting for the train. The gap is barely of 3-4 feet, which is insufficient considering the huge number of commuters.”We have examined this and it is an additional landing. We are finding out solutions keeping in view the requirement of cover over platforms for the passengers,” said SK Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (Mumbai), Central Railway.Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has stressed on ensuring safety of commuters at railway stations and its premises. Even the multi-disciplinary audit team in its report has stated the need to remove all obstructions near the landing of FOBs across the suburban stations in Mumbai.MINISTER’S WORDOn Monday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal visited Currey Road station to inspect the progress. He later agreed that there are some issues with the availability of land that is being sorted out.

A BMC cell for dilapidated bldgs soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to form a separate cell for dilapidated buildings in the city. The cell or the department will keep records of all dilapidated buildings and ensure that incidents like the Sai Siddhi building collapse in July are prevented.The proposal, which is at the initial stage of planning, is aimed at ensuring audit of every building that has completed 30 years. “The cell will ensure that the civic body must have complete information of dilapidated buildings, and also how many new buildings will require structural audit in the next five years,” said an official from the Building Proposal department of BMC.“With rapid construction and alleged compromise in construction materials, the city will have more number of dilapidated buildings in future than today. Keeping this fact in mind, we must have data of dilapidated buildings in the city, and accordingly we can plan to prevent Ghatkopar-like incidents,” said the official.According to officials working on the project, the cell is likely to take shape in the next two months. The civic chief himself is taking interest in the project and a meeting on the subject is scheduled on Tuesday.AUDIT MUSTThe BMC is also working to streamline the process of declaring a building dilapidated. The policy will have provisions from making structural audit mandatory before declaring a building dilapidated.

BMC demolishes illegal construction in Anil Kapoor’s office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday carried out a demolition drive in Bollywood actor office in Linking Road in Santa Cruz. The office cabin and a part of the office was removed.According to official from the H West ward of BMC, they had served notice to Kapoor’s office for alleged illegal extension in the office. The civic body had also given time to remove the same within a stipulated time. However, finding no action from Kapoor’s office, they removed the extension.“The outside cabin of the office was extended and even there was alteration inside the office,” said a civic official from the ward. He added that they had served notice earlier this month and given time till Saturday to remove. No one from Kapoor’s office confirmed about the illegal construction and BMC’s action.

BMC denies info to RTI applicant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An RTI applicant was denied information about the occupation certificate and ground floor plan of a ward office by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stating that it will be a threat to security.While denying such information, it cited an order from former chief information commissioner which was itself corrected after much hue and cry as it blocked giving away details of buildings under RTI.Girish Mittal, Borivli resident, had filed an RTI application with the R/Central (Borivli) ward office, seeking details of reason along with file notings on why only one entry gate was open to the public for entry, reason for not allowing public to park in the ward’s premises, the DC rules on the two subject, the occupation certificate and the ground floor lay out.While replying to the information, the public information officer cited an order of former chief information commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad’s order which stated that due to security reasons the building plan not be provided. Often alleged to be the most corrupt department, Gaikwad’s order attracted sharp criticism and a clarification as activists said that terrorists did not need to file an RTI application to access building details.Gaikwad then issued a clarification which categorically stated that parking, cross section of building, occupancy certificate, and other relevant details be provided under RTI except internal details of the building.”It is a classic case of officers being well aware of all the negative orders that block transparency and little that promote it. There was a clarification on this order,” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner.”There is no question that such information cannot be provided. What they cannot provide is internal detailing. That is what was decided in the technical advisory committee of the BMC which decides what to give under RTI,” said Bhaskar Prabhu.

Congress, NCP seek changes in BEST budget 2018-19

Ravi Raja demanded that the minimum fares should be decreased to Rs 6 for a 2-kilometre distance, which is presently Rs 8, and also the BMC should grant funds of Rs 150 crore to the BEST Undertaking <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the second day of the discussion of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal, the Congress and NCP raised issues that it should have necessary amendments so as to decrease the estimated deficit and make it commuter-friendly. The BEST management presented a budget estimate of Rs 880 crore.Opposition leader of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and BEST committee member, Congress corporator Ravi Raja, on Wednesday did not support the budget presented by the BEST management and demanded two amendments in it. He demanded that the minimum fares should be decreased to Rs 6 for a 2-kilometre distance, which is presently Rs 8, and also the BMC should grant funds of Rs 150 crore to the BEST Undertaking. The Congress and NCP later walked out from the BEST committee’s budget discussion meet.“BEST has already lost its commuters drastically. It should decrease the minimum fare of Rs 8 to Rs 6 so as to attract more commuters,” said Raja. The BEST management presented a Rs 880-crore deficit budget for 2018-19. The BEST had also presented a deficit budget of Rs 542 crore in 2017-18.

BMC won’t share 1% of property tax with BEST

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the one hand the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked its sister concern, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, to come out with ways to increase revenue and cut cost, and on the other the civic body has shot down their proposal of allowing the Undertaking to have a minuscule share of the property tax earned by BMC. The BEST had proposed that the BMC share 1 per cent of the total revenue earned by it through property taxes annually.The approximate amount earned by the civic body in 2016-17 was over Rs 5,000 crore and the BEST would have got a mere Rs 50 crore out of it. The BEST wanted the civic body to create a new bracket on the basis of which property tax is determined. The BMC currently has a capital value-based property tax system in which property tax is calculated on five factors — price of property, area, age of the building, nature of property and type of construction.This came to light on November 21, when the first meeting over the BEST budget for 2018-19 was discussed by the BEST committee and they were intimated by the administration that the BMC has refused to clear the proposal of allowing sharing of revenue generated out of property tax. The Committee also passed the budget for 2016-17 where they faced a surplus of Rs 242 crore and in 2017-18, there was a deficit of Rs 880 crore.”The BMC is suggesting cost reduction measures but now they have rejected the our proposal to earn a mere one percent from property tax. We were not even informed either by the BEST or BMC,” said Sunil Ganacharya, member, BEST Committee. The administration on the other hand said that the BMC refused their permission almost a year ago.In 2013, the BEST first sent this proposal to BMC which was approved and sent to the government. Sources said that the government suggested some changes which was done by the BEST and resent to the BMC for approval. If it would have been approved then it would have meant that every Mumbaikar owning a house in the city would have paid for sustenance of BEST.HIT HARDWith deficit hitting Rs 880 crore for the year 2018-19, the BEST cut down the procurement of 303 new buses to 185. This curtailment was due to the heavy cost of Rs 100 crore which was being paid by the BMC. The BEST recently added six electric buses at cost the of Rs 10 crore to their fleet.

362 buses to go off roads soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Do not be surprised if you find lesser buses on road in the coming days. The Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking will scrap 362 buses in 2017-18 which shall curtail the total fleet to 3,337 by March 2018 from the existing 3,750. The BEST is already under financial trouble with heavy losses on its heads, plus the total number of daily passengers has dropped to 30 lakh and the undertaking is finding it difficult to attract people who are using share-taxis and autorickshaws.With deficit hitting Rs 880 crore for the year 2018-19, the BEST cut down the procurement of 303 new buses from Tata to 185. This curtailment was due to the heavy cost of Rs 100 crore which was being paid by the BMC. The BEST recently added six electric buses at cost the of Rs 10 crore to their fleet which is running on short routes.”The turnout of buses has dropped considerably and the fleet is unable to complete 22-24 per cent of the daily kilometres. The main reasons are absenteeism of drivers and conductors and traffic jams wherein buses get stuck on road and thus these buses are stuck inside depots,” said S Kavtankar, member, BEST committee.Another reason why existing buses are stuck inside depots is because the electronic ticket issuing machines are not working. Several machines out of the 9,000 are lying in depots as they have reached their codal lives. The demand for buses have dropped with Metro and Monorail coming up.

BMC to link PAPs with Aadhaar to prevent repeated encroachment

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an attempt to put an end to the oft-seen practice of people encroaching on civic land and claiming rehabilitation again and again, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now decided to ask Project Affected Persons (PAPs) to submit their Aadhar details while getting rehabilitation benefits from the BMC either in terms of monetary or homes.The BMC believes that this will prevent PAPs from encroaching on another plot to get rehabilitation package again after they are cleared out from an area, as details of people who have already availed of rehabilitation will be available in its database.The BMC observed that PAPs tenements were lying vacant despite PAPs being allotted homes there. “We found that several families shift to other areas, and start encroaching on another civic land to get rehabilitation benefits, while PAPs tenements are lying vacant or given to others’,” said an official from the Estates Department of BMC.At present, the BMC has a number of projects and these can be developed by removing encroachments. “There are around 16,500 encroachments along the Tansa pipeline alone which we have to clear following the High Court order,” said the official. He added that many of them were already given homes in Mahul in Chembur and other areas, but we fear that would shift other areas, and start encroaching another civic land.By using Aadhaar system, the BMC will take biometric details of the family and will ensure in future that the family does not get any rehabilitation again.”We often find difficult to clear an encroachment as we have to face protest both from who encroaches the land and people support with vested interest like politicians,” said the official. In many cases, it was found that political parties do not want PAPs to be shifted in other places even they are given homes as they will lose their vote banks. “The Aadhaar- based system will put an end to such ill practice of political parties,” added the official.

Speak up Mumbai: Why must commuters pay for BEST’s losses?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST) Undertaking sitting on losses to the tune of Rs 880 crore, there’s no doubt that the Undertaking is in a financial crisis. In a bid to bring some relief to its balance sheet, the BEST approved a hike in fares for distances longer than 6 km, and school and college-going student commuters.For school students, the hike in fares ranges from 16 to 66 per cent. The monthly pass for students up to class 5 will cost between Rs 150 to Rs 200, quarterly Rs 450 to Rs 600, and six-monthly Rs 750 to Rs 1,000. These fares were earlier applicable to students from class 6 to 10, which too, have been increased to Rs 250, Rs 750 and Rs 1,250 for the mentioned brackets respectively.Until now, the BEST’s subsidy to school and college students, senior citizens, blind persons, and physically handicapped commuters amounts to about Rs 41.7 crore. However, parent organisation, BMC has asked the Undertaking to rationalise its costs in order to bring down its losses, of which the hike in fares is one such decision.DNA finds out from regular commuters of Mumbai’s iconic red bus whether the BEST’s decision is a move in the right direction.EXPERT SPEAKThis fare hike is important for the financial revival of BEST, and only targets a select section of passengers. We have been taking loans of about Rs 250 crore each month to pay salaries and maintain our assets. The hike in prices will be implemented only once the BMC committee gives its go ahead. We are also working on other measures that need to be taken to control the losses the Undertaking is currently under.—Anil Kokil, Chairman, BEST CommitteeRather than increasing the fares, the authorities should go for dedicated bus lanes that is lying in the dock for months now. Instead of spending so much money on the Metro, spend few crore on creating dedicated bus lanes. This way they can not only operate more buses but also ferry more people which will increase their revenue by default. The BEST should also consider doing away with routes that are loss-making which will bring down expenditure.—Ashok Datar, transport expertVOICESInstead of introducing a hike in fares for students and long distances, BEST should instead focus on providing quality service to its commuters. Decisions such as increasing the frequency of buses on busy routes and maintenance of buses are more important if it intends to attract crowds to build revenue and come out of its losses.—Hanmant Wanole, Santa CruzHiking prices for long distance journeys is okay but increasing the fares for students should be avoided. The school and college students who mostly use BEST’s bus services do not belong to affluent families. Wouldn’t they be using private bus services if they did? It would mean an unnecessary burden on the parents of these students.—Salman Khan, BandraBEST’s management should be privatised. Every time they want to hike fares, they put forth the story of financial troubles. Rather than resorting to this each time, BEST should create other avenues for income generation like transport of private sector employees, school children, offering group discounts for people wanting to go on short trips. They could event reinvent the look of their buses — make them more airy, comfortable and disabled and senior citizen-friendly.—Apeksha Vora, DadarBEST’s decision to increase the fares for commuters to make up for their losses is wrong. Students should be given concession as much as possible. Increasing the fares for students is not acceptable. Besides, BEST has to improve its facilities first to target commuters by increasing the fares. BEST has failed to suffice the needs of the commuters and has become an issue of government apathy.—Sohel F Fidai, Santa CruzBEST’s decision to hike fares, especially for long distances, to take care of their losses is in the right direction. When the organisation is facing such losses, the only option left is to hike fares in order to increase their income and to mitigate deficit. However, there are chances that BEST may face the heat for its decision and commuters could choose to opt for other means of transport due to the increased fares.—Rohit Ahuja, VersovaIt is silly of the BEST to hike the fares. In a city like ours, there is no shortage of commuters. With better planning and less corruption, it’s easy for the BEST to make money without increasing fares. You cannot pass the burden on students. And if they increase fares, they should also match up with the service. The state government should ensure they give privileges to those who do not have them, for any mode of public transport by focusing on just breaking even with their expenses.—Harish Iyer, Navi MumbaiThe fare hike will further hit people who are already suffering from the effects of inflation and price rise in other areas of daily life. It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that public transport is affordable to citizens. Hence the government should help BEST in emerging from its financial crunch instead of allowing the Undertaking to pass its burden on to the commuters.—K Praveish Vishwanath Aiyar, SionIt is better to leave the future of the country, that is students, burden free in order to have a safe and successful future of our generation. Hiking fares for them is unfair. Also, BEST’s long distance routes are usually used by a group of the population who are already average on their income, hence increasing the fare on these routes will further burden them which is not advisable, especially if it’s a move for BEST to make up their own losses.—Prithvi Mhaske, Andheri

Five months on, 1,200 BMC students still wait for their tabs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over five months after the new academic year has started, students of 1,200 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) schools are still awaiting tabs as the corporation is yet to complete the seeing process with a new seller. Despite a budgetary allocation of over Rs 7 crore, the civic body’s biggest e-learning initiative is in a shambles.As per an Right to Information (RTI) application response furnished to activist Prithviraj Mhaske, in 2015, the BMC bought 22,799 tablets for students of Class 8 and spent an amount of Rs 1.42 crore for the same. In 2016-17, the corporation spent Rs 12.99 crore to purchase a fresh bunch of tablets. In 2017, with a budgetary provision of 7.83 crore, the corporation decided to bring in a new service provider scrapping the earlier agency — Techno Electronics. However, till date the corporation is not able to find a new agency as a result of which fresh purchase has been hauled.”The corporation is not serious about its e-learning initiative. What is the point of giving away the tablets after half the year has gone by?” asked Mhaske. With the change in the Class 9 syllabus, earlier tablets became redundant as they did not have the revised syllabusMahesh Palkar, Education Officer, BMC said that the tendering process for the new set of tablets is still on. “Some of the applicants have quoted a very high price and negotiations with respect to prices are on. We want to ensure that students get tabs that are of good quality and at the same time worth their cost. The process will be completed soon and students will get their tablets after that,” added Palkar.Shubhada Gudekar, Chairperson of the BMC Education Committee, said that the process of acquiring and distributing tabs will happen in phases. “There are 1,200 schools of the corporation. We are working our best to procure new tabs as early as possible and as soon as the process is over, students will get them phasewise,” said Gudekar.Principals, meanwhile, said that with most students not havimg tabs, the initiative seems to have fizzled out. “Most students in our school do not have tablets. Some were sent for repairs and never came back and others are waiting as the corporation is yet to give a fresh batch with the new portion of the syllabus,” said the principal of a civic school.BackgroundIn August 2015, students of BMC schools had to wait until January to get their tabs as the civic body took time to get all the approvals.After tabs were distributed for the first time in 2015, schools started complaining about not having enough plug points to charge them in classrooms. The civic body then floated tenders for additional plug points in 2016.In 2016, with the government’s mandate of getting a battery certification from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the company Techno Electronics have the tabs after a delay of over two months.THE LONG WAITIn the 2015 academic year, BMC school students had to wait until Jan to get their tabs as the civic body took time to get approvals. Also, schools didn’t have enough power outlets

Sharmila Thackeray acquires property

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A file pertaining to the development of a property named Makhanwala bungalow located in Shivaji Park is under consideration at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s G-North ward office.The title of the property was assigned to Sharmila Thackeray, partner of Tathaastu Builders LLP and wife of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, in 2016 for Rs 7.5 crore.When contacted, Sharmila Thackeray said, “I do not talk about my business. You can get details from the BMC.”The file has an inward date of September 13, 2017, and the subject reads, “Development of property, situated at Shivaji Park, Keluskar (South) Road, Dadar (W), Makhanwala Bungalow.” Sharmila Thackeray refused to divulge details on the nature of development on this property.According to documents available with DNA, the assignment deed, for the property measuring 500.84 sqmts, was signed between Tathaasthu Builders LLP’s Partner Sharmila Raj Thackeray and Lopa Makhanwala, Ramila Bhatt and Ketan Makhanwala.The total consideration amount was Rs 7.50 crore, the plot measures 500.85 sqmts and has a bungalow named Makhanwala.The deed was signed in January 2016. This property is in the same lane as that of Raj Thackeray’s present residence Krushna Kunj.All permissions for the building have been issued to Sharmila Thackeray.

Take over public garden plot: Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Observing that the “public was kept in the dark and the civic body officials were working hand in glove to deprive locals of public space meant for them,” the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to take over a garden plot, which was allegedly being used by a housing society in Cuffe Parade as private property.A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak asked the civic body to post their security guards and maintain the garden plot adjoining the 32-storey DSK Durgamata luxurious apartments at Cuffe Parade.The court has also asked the BMC to reduce the internal road, which was developed by the society to reach the lobby of the building, from 12 feet to six feet and convert it into a pathway for walkers while along with the city surveyor and police, it has to ensure that the park is open to public all the times and a wall is constructed between the society and the garden.The direction was given during the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by activist Sanjay Kokate who had alleged that the reserved plot of land has been taken over by the society which is using it as its private garden while locals are being denied entry.The court commissioner, in its report, had submitted that the society and developer posted private security guards, thereby denying entry to the general public. To this, the bench said, “The layout of the plot as seen in the report show gross violations.”On a claim made by the society that garden access be kept open for the society to aid easy access of emergency vehicles like fire tenders, the court said, “Don’t get the fire brigade into this issue. If you do so, then we will have to verify whether the building is fire compliant.”At the last hearing, the court had rapped the society for encroaching on public land. “The plot reserved for the garden has to be used for that purpose, it cannot be used by the residents of the building to park their cars or take access to their homes. Everyone likes to have a beautiful garden in front of their house but they should be entitled to it and people cannot encroach upon public spaces.”The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on November 24.About the caseA PIL was filed by activist Sanjay Kokate who had alleged that the reserved plot of land in Cuffe Parade has been taken over by the society which has been using it as its private garden The court commissioner, in its report, had submitted that the society and developer posted private security guards, thereby denying entry to the general public.

Multi-storey toilets by BMC on the cards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move aimed at ensuring the city remains open-defecation free, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has, in a first, decided to construct two and three-storey public toilets to overcome problems of space constraint. BMC will be constructing over 18,000 public toilet blocks beginning next year.The BMC will form a special cell, which will be headed by the chief engineer (Slum Sanitation Programme), who will be responsible for carrying out the construction of these multi-storey toilets, which will provide water and electricity connections. Wherever, it not possible to connect the toilets to sewage lines, the BMC will build septic tanks for such toilets.These multi-storey toilets will have features like separate sections for children and the differently abled. “The estimated cost of constructing 18,818 toilet blocks is Rs. 376 crore. The civic body will also pull down 11,170 existing toilet blocks and construct 15,774 new toilets in its place using improved design. “Thus the city will get an additional 4, 604 toilet blocks when new toilet blocks are constructed in the place of old ones,” said an official. Meanwhile, another 3,044 toilets blocks will be completely new.”To overcome the shortage of space, we have decided to construct multi-storey toilets in the city. Earlier, the BMC used to construct only ground storey toilets. Keeping in mind the demand, two or three-storey toilets will now be constructed, which will increase the number of toilet seats,” a BMC official said.IN THE WORKSThese multi-storey toilets will have features like separate sections for children and the differently abled. The civic body is planning to complete the tender process by the end of this year and start giving work orders for the project by January 15, 2018.

BEST’s gift to kids: Pay more for season passes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an ironic blow to students on Children’s Day, the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) buses’ daily commute just got more expensive, as the undertaking approved a proposal on Tuesday to increase fares of daily and season passes of students. The hikes range between 16 to 66 percent. On Tuesday, the BEST Committee approved the proposal that hikes monthly bus passes for students up to Class 5 from Rs 150 to Rs 200, quarterly from Rs 450 to Rs 600 and six-monthly from Rs 750 to Rs 1000. These fares were earlier for students in Class 6 to 10, which too, has been increased to Rs 250, Rs 750 and Rs 1,250 respectively.Sources in the BEST said that as per their rough estimates, they give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. This amount stood at Rs 20.13 crore in 2015-16, and over the last two years, the number of students using this provision has gone up. The BEST officials said that this is part of rationalising and cost cutting measures taken up by them to reduce losses. The BEST Undertaking’s 3,700 bus fleet is used to transport 30 lakh people daily. “These are cost reduction measures that are needed to bring down losses,” said Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST Undertaking.On Tuesday, the BEST Committee also passed a proposal for fare hike in long-distance fares and bus passes. It scrapped the proposal of getting buses on wet-lease basis, wherein the Undertaking would have reduced cost by Rs 260 crore annually. However, this would have meant that they would get 100 buses from private operators while the BEST would use their drivers and conductors. They would not be involved in maintenance of these buses, and hiring them would have cost Rs 37 per km. This is taking into account buses which ply for a maximum of 180 km a day.The BEST is also mulling rationalising their bus routes. It operates 504 bus routes daily, of which 150 routes fall under Grade C – they generate only 40 paise for every rupee spent per kilometre.Subsidies speakThey give subsidies of Rs 41.7 crore to school and college students. It also gives subsidies to freedom fighters, physically challenged, senior citizens, press to the tune of Rs 45.34 crore It also passed hike for long-distance fares and bus passes

26/11: 9 yrs on, no lessons learnt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the ninth anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks approaches, security measures at Badhwar Park jetty in Cuffe Parade — the entry point of Ajmal Kasab and nine other Pakistani terrorists — remains dismal. Illegal slums have cropped up near the jetty which is meant to be a parking area for boats. Time and again the local community of fishermen has raised the issue with the city collector, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Police, stating that the illegal slums pose a potential security threat. The jetty at Badhwar Park connects to the adjoining Machhimar Nagar, one of the largest colonies of fisher folk in the city.Damodar Tandel, president, Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti (AMMKS), said, “We have complained to the city collector, BMC and also to the Mumbai police about the illegal slums connecting to the jetty but no action has been taken. Officials from the collector’s office work hand in glove with the slum mafias operating there. No security measures are in place and suspected Bangladeshi migrants have occupied the slums, who are involved in scrap dealings.Meanwhile city collector Sampada Mehta said, “I will have to examine the receipt of any such complaint.”Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of BMC’s A Ward said, “The land belongs to the collector and comes under the state government’s purview. Only if the collector asks us to carry out demolition work, we can take action in this regard. However, the BMC cannot carry out demolition work on the said land on its own although we have received complaints about the slums.”A senior Mumbai police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have installed CCTVs near the jetty to monitor suspicious activity. Policemen also conduct regular patrolling in the area. The fishermen have informed the police about the illegal slums and we have communicated the same to the collector’s office.”RECAP OF HORRORIt was a little after 8.30 pm on November 26, 2008, when Ajmal Kasab and his nine accomplices parked their inflated rubber dinghy off Bhai Bhandarkar Macchimar Colony opposite Badhwar Park at Cuffe Parade. They had set sail for the city from Pakistan, and took three days to reach the shore.

Speak up Mumbai: Reasonable expectation or passing the buck?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After evicting over 20,000 hawkers from across the city over the past month, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now looking for support from citizens in ensuring that hawkers do not return to encroach the areas where eviction drives have been carried out — one of the reasons it has failed to curb the issue time and again.On November 5, members of a residents group called Friends of Dadar assembled near Shivaji Park and took a pledge to not buy the wares sold by hawkers anywhere in the city in a bid to discourage the illegal businesses which have repeatedly proven to be an impediment to the free movement of pedestrians.Civic officials in charge of the removal of encroachments have called it a welcome move and said that the participation of citizens is critical to rid public spaces of hawkers.While the BMC has been urging participation from citizens, DNA spoke to residents from across the city to find out whether they think their complaints about encroachments by hawkers have been taken seriously by the civic body.EXPERT SPEAKParticipation of citizens is crucial as there is a need to involve all stakeholders to solve the issue. It may not be possible to stop everyone from buying wares from hawkers so it is important that hawking zones are created and thereafter regulated by MCGM and the police. Other structures that obstruct movement on footpaths such as milk booths should be removed too.—Indrani Malkani, managing trustee, V Citizens Action NetworkThe authorities do not take the kind of action they should be taking against hawkers. Whenever we complain, they take some action but the hawkers soon return. Mostly action against those with political patronage is not taken. If we complain too many times, they move out for some time but come back again later. The action taken by authorities is not up to the mark.—Anandini Thakoor, civic activistVOICESConstant follow-ups with the BMC ward office are necessary to make public spaces free of encroachments. Just by writing a complaint letter or visiting the office once does not ensure immediate action. The civic officials need to be reminded repeatedly in order to ensure they have taken the necessary action.—Mehjabeen Barwani, JuhuBMC takes no cognizance of citizens’ complaints regarding hawkers. All the major roads near stations are occupied by hawkers, leaving no space for pedestrians. Barring designated hawking zones, hawkers should not be allowed in busy places. The corporation should take serious action against flouting the rules.—Sanjay Patil, BorivliWe complained about the issue of hawkers in our area about four months ago but the BMC ward office has not taken any action against a single hawker yet. In fact, more hawkers have joined in and started their business. We met the local corporator regarding the issue as well but the authority has failed to take serious action so far. BMC should probably increase the target of the collection of fines from illegal hawkers so that the ward officials take more action.—Dhaval Shah, AndheriThe BMC does take action against hawkers but only after repeated complaints and follow-ups. Besides, even if action is taken, the hawkers put up their stalls again the very next day. Why can’t the police or BMC have a system for patrolling in the days following an eviction drive if they are really serious about our complaints? The fact is that hawkers wouldn’t be able to run their businesses without the blessings from the police and BMC.—Nitin Nikam, ChemburIf people stop buying from hawkers, they will disappear. However, when hawkers are gone, shops encroach on footpaths. There has to be an easier process for lodging complaints as visiting the office every time is not possible. They should probably develop an app. Besides, people think that BMC won’t act and fear a backlash from those against whom the complaint is made in case the complainant’s identity is leaked.—Gaurav Worlikar, WorliResidents of Linking Road in Bandra and Khar have been complaining for years about the illegal hawkers menace in their areas. Despite this, the illegal hawkers are not evicted, they continue with their businesses and have created a mess for both pedestrians and motorists. Even though the BMC may have been successful in evicting hawkers from outside railway stations in the city, the civic body has not managed to evict illegal hawkers from these areas.—Sushmita Singh, BandraCan the BMC and other government agencies do anything apart from putting the onus on the common man? Being taxpayers, the least we can expect is knowing that the civic body is taking the initial steps to curb the menace. Thousands of complaints simply languish on their tables and no action is taken unless a major tragedy strikes. Citizens are ready to cooperate and support the civic body’s initiatives but the measures should be implemented without glitches.—Neeta Patel, VikhroliOne may complain to the civic body umpteen number of times but the issue always goes back to square one. The ironic part is that the hawkers are tipped off by the BMC office itself that they will be visiting with their van for an eviction drive so they are alerted beforehand. This is the most rotten form of corruption. Howsoever one complains, corruption is rampant. It’s really sad that eventually we, the taxpayers, have to suffer.—Krishna Gupta, Goregaon

BMC may get rid of sweeping machines

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Piled up with complaints about litter lying unattended across Marine Drive, Colaba and Churchgate, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) may soon end services of the contractor who is responsible for cleaning these roads, in South Mumbai, with the help of mechanised sweeping machines. Recently, the civic body officials did not find the contractor’s work up to the mark.Despite issuing repeated warnings to the contractor, the civic body continues to receive complaints from residents. Earlier this week, senior civic officials visited and found unattended litter in the area.”After the visit by civic officials, Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner held a meeting over the issue, and asked concerned officials to end the contractor’s service if the contractor does not provide quality service,” said a civic official.According to officials, the contractor does not have an adequate number of mechanised sweeping machines to clean all roads in due time. “The contractor is supposed to use four machines to clean around 200 km road every day. However, it was found that the contractor was sweeping using fewer sweeping machines and managed to clean only 110 to 120 km per day,” said the official. Each machine can clean around 50 km road per day.

Are China made electric buses for BEST acceptable to Shiv Sena now?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Just a couple of months after Shivsena’s Punjab unit chief called for a ban on Chinese products in the country, Aditya Thackeray, Chief of Yuva Sena will preside over handing event of pure-electric buses to BEST on Friday afternoon which happens to have been made by a Chinese company.Interestingly, the bus manufactured by Hyderabad-based Goldstone group is being made in association with China’s BYD Auto Industry Company Ltd which is the largest maker of pure-electric vehicles in the world. The company walked away with two contracts recently outbidding major Indian players including Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors. Goldstone will be supplying 25 fully built electric buses to Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and 6 buses to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST) in Maharashtra’s state capital Mumbai. The electric buses or EV which it is casually called is fast gaining traction as a mode of public transport in the major metropolis of the world as it not only controls air pollution but is also silent on ears.According to political observers, it is very common for the political parties to raise demand for ban whenever it suits them and then revoke it at other times. The demand for the ban on Chinese products erupts every time whenever the tension between the two neighbours rises.Talking to reporters in the first week of August during the Doklam border issue, Sena’s Punjab state vice president Inderjit Karwal had urged the central government to ban the sale of Chinese products in the Indian markets. He claimed that the public was already “wary of buying” China-made products and the central government should initiate measures to ban them to hit China’s economy. “On one hand, China is provoking Pakistan to foment trouble in India, while on the other hand, it was vetoing in the UN in the matter of declaring Masood Azhar a global terrorist” Karwal was reported as saying.

BMC spent Rs 100cr in SC, 73% cases pending

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The rising number of cases of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) at various courts can be gauged by the fact that the civic body has already spent over Rs100 crore in the last four years to pay fees and other charges for Supreme Court (SC) cases. But, only 27 per cent of the cases involving the BMC in the last four years have been disposed of. Many of the cases disposed of were settled mutually.As per the figures available from the BMC’s account department, the legal department has spent around Rs 105.21 crore from 2013-14 to 2016-17 for SC cases. However, in every fiscal, the legal department could ensure disposal of only around 24 per cent to 30 per cent cases.Because of inefficiency and lack of efforts, the number of cases in the SC continues to be over 150. In the beginning of April 2016, 179 cases were pending, and 53 new cases were lodged, taking the total to 232 cases in that fiscal.However, the legal team of the BMC could have disposed of 63 cases that fiscal with 29.74 per cent success. In the beginning of April 2017, the BMC had 163 cases pending.According to sources, senior civic officials are now looking after each and every case minutely to check unnecessary expenses. “Senior officials also found that legal team deputed even six senior lawyers for a single case and spent lakh of rupees for a single hearing,” said the source, adding that even the legal department deputed three lawyers in cases where the civic body was a third party.Shockingly, the situation is worse in High Court cases where the civic body could ensure 6.46 per cent cases were disposed of from April 2016 to March 2017.OTHER COURTSOnly 6.46 per cent High Court cases​ were disposed of​ from April 2016 to March 2017 The situation is not encouraging in cases pending at City Civil court where of the 15,997 cases, the legal department could have solved 10.16 per cent cases.

Mumbai: Available civic plots to be developed as hawking zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In order to solve hawkers issues in the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to accept demands from hawkers to allow them to do their business at civic plots available in each ward. However, at present, the civic body is only taking suggestions from hawkers.A senior official from the Removal of Encroachment (RE)) department said that they have received several suggestions including civic plots to be used for hawking from hawkers’ association and they will think over while finalising hawking zones. According to official from RE department, hawkers associations put up several aspects of their issues including the demand of open plot and fresh survey of hawkers. “Hawkers association sought to allow to continue business on the humanitarian ground at the same place. However, this cannot be allowed as we have to follow the Bombay High Court order, ” added the official. The official said that every ward may not have enough open plots available.” We have to check the availability of civic plots in each ward as we cannot ask to carry out their business at any plots available in the ward,” added the official. Meanwhile, the BMC will soon start issuing identity cards to around 99,435 city-based hawkers who were surveyed in 2014. According to BMC officials, they wanted to include members from the hawker’s associations in town vending committee (TVC). However, the person has to be elected by the hawkers themselves, said a civic official. “Hawkers issue can be solved in a proper manner and we need to check illegal hawkers,” said the official. In 2014, the Central government enacted the Street Vendors (Protection Of Livelihood And Regulation Of Street Vending) Act. As per the Act, the local body should form a TVC which will conduct surveys to identify street vendors, issue certificates to the eligible ones, recommend areas to be declared non-hawking zones, identify sites and spaces for hawking, and regulate timings, among other tasks.However, till the election process is not completed, one member from every association will be included in TVC. Currently, there are 12 hawkers’ association. The BMC can accommodate maximum eight members from hawkers association in the TVC as per the law. However, the civic cleared that issuing the identity cards will not give them a certificate to set up their shops within 150 metres of the railway station and no-hawking zones. “We will not tolerate anyone to set up their shop near the railway station and footpath having one merte width,” the official added.

Poisar river clean-up gets new lease of life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>River March, a community-led initiative to save the rivers of Mumbai, inspired by Versova-based lawyer Afroz Shah’s biggest beach clean-up drives in the world is planning to replicate a similar model along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure a complete clean up of the Poisar river.”Every year, we hear of multi-crore contracts being allotted to clean up Poisar river and its tributaries, but it is never effectively carried out. Garbage and trash collects all over the stretch right from the mouth of the river near Kranti Nagar and the plastic and other waste simply ends up in the creek after being washed down during rains,” said Sagar Vira, a River March volunteer and Kandivli resident, adding that inspired by Shah, they too have decided to initiate a detailed Poisar River Clean up campaign with help from the BMC and the community.In fact, members of the March had started a clean-up drive at the mouth of Poisar river in April this year, but it did not yield the expected result due to lack of support from the BMC. “We are preparing a detailed plan, which is to divide the entire campaign into phases. While cleaning of the existing waste in and around the river along with the BMC is the most important aspect, we also have to ensure monitoring of the cleaning carried out by contractors pre-monsoon,” said Vira.”There also has to be an emphasis on awareness dissuading people living along the river bank from throwing waste into the river,” he said.The team has already sent letters to BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta and Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis, who has been taking a keen interest in the river rejuvenation plan.”We cannot leave things to the BMC and wait for them to clean up our river and hence we as citizens will have to actively take part in ensuring that we save Poisar river. We are also planning to meet the CM to personally brief him about the campaign to ensure BMC’s participation,” said Gopal Jhaveri, founder of River March movement.The team that will be surveying the entire 14-kilometre stretch to suggest interventions required under the campaign is also eager to pick up locations along the river that can be beautified and information about Poisar river and its relevance can be shared along with also using social media to spread information about the campaign.

BMC to rope in more staff for action against hawkers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Removal of Encroachments (RE) department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has asked for more staff and logistics to strengthen their actions against hawkers across 24 civic wards in Mumbai. Officers from the department say that hawkers tend to return to areas they are cleared out from after the BMC’s pick-up vans and teams leave. However, they say the BMC’s recent crackdown on hawkers, operating around railway stations, has received a boost with the Mumbai Police also pitching in actively.”We have floated tenders for 78 pick-up vans while additional staff will help us keep vigil at multiple places at a time. Presently, we are concentrating on railway stations and will move ahead to schools, hospitals and other congested places in the wards. We will identify locations where due to over congestion the pedestrians face difficulties and take evict hawkers in the areas. However, keeping vigil at previous locations is required so that hawkers do not return to them. In case, we get extra staff for field work, the action will be stringent”.The RE department is likely to get 145 staff from the BMC’s erstwhile octroi department. Civic staff from the Octroi department have been accommodated in other departments of the BMC after Octroi was scrapped following introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. These officials are likely to work under the Town Vending Committee (TVC) that is yet to be set up. The TVC, which will have representatives of hawkers, street vendors, traffic police, and residents associations, is supposed to conduct surveys to identify street vendors, issue certificates to eligible vendors, recommend areas to be declared non-hawking zones, identify sites and spaces for hawking, and regulate timings, among other tasks.The formation of a TVC has been delayed as the BMC is awaiting a nod from the state government’s Urban Development department on the names it has recommended as members of the TVC. BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta has called a meeting on Tuesday on formation of the TVC.Past visits2003 1 lakh 3 thousand hawkers identified2007 15,169 were licensed hawkers2014 99,435 were identified hawkersAs of today- Around 12,000 are licensed hawkers

Hawker-free spots a challenge for BMC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s eviction drives against hawkers over the past fortnight have made areas where the problem is most acute hawker-free, past experiences suggest that it will be a stiff challenge for the civic body to ensure that hawkers do not return to these areas.From Chembur in the eastern suburbs to Malad in the western suburbs, there is a history of hawkers returning to areas from where they have been driven out, and carrying on with their business after a few days. While the BMC has been focusing on clearing out hawkers from around railway stations following the stampede at Elphinstone Road station, in which 23 persons died, special attention is required to ensure that these areas stay hawker-free, owing to the lure of higher earnings for hawkers here.Another reason is that the BMC’s vigil drops in these areas, as civic officials claim they do not have enough strength to maintain a constant watch. The BMC’s Removal of Encroachments (RE) department has now sought additional manpower from the erstwhile Octroi department for this purpose.According to Shashank Rao, president of the Mumbai Hawkers’ Union (MHU), around 25 per cent of hawkers in the city carry out their business near railway stations. As per data available with the Removal of Encroachments (RE) department of the BMC, in the last one month, the civic body has removed around 21,000 hawkers across the city, and a majority of them were removed from areas within 150 metres of railway stations.Yusuf Mehrauli Road near Masjid railway station, under the B-ward of the BMC, is one of the areas where the hawker menace has been acutely felt. Despite the civic body’s crackdowns once a week, hawkers used to return to the area. The problem persisted despite more than 200 drives having been carried on by civic staff, the assistant municipal commissioner of the ward said.Udaykumar Shiroorkar, assistant commissioner of B-ward said that the civic staff had to resort to crushing the belongings of hawkers to prevent them from returning. “Yusuf Mehrauli Road, Bhandari street, Narayan Das Street and Nakhuda Muhala are some of the areas where hawkers come back again,” said Shiroorkar. He added that repeated action and giving a designated place to them can be a solution.The recurring problem of hawkers is not limited to one or two areas. It is spread across all wards, and some of the worst-affected areas are Dadar West, Kurla, Colaba, Malad West and Santa Cruz West. As per data from the RE department, in the last one month, maximum of 2,573 hawkers were removed from Dadar in G-North ward, followed by 1,469 in the CST and Colaba areas under A-ward, and 1,009 hawkers were removed in Santacruz under H-west ward.A hawker from Malad West, Ram Prasad Singh said, “Since there is no clarity on where we can legally carry on with our business, we have no option but to return to places from where we are driven out.”Members of the Jai Hind Hawkers’ Union, who did not wish to be named, said that as areas around railway stations, foot-over-bridges, skywalks and subways are the most lucrative, hawkers return to these areas a few days after eviction drives, when the attention of civic staff is focused on other areas.”After removal, it is necessary to keep watch on hawkers to prevent them from returning, and this can be done with more staff,” said an official from the RE department.Nidhi Chawdhari, deputy municipal commissioner (RE) said that the BMC would not allow hawkers within 150 metres of railway station. “The civic body will not tolerate hawkers within 150 metres of railway stations,” said Chawdhari.

50% BEST ticket vending machines are non-functional

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The electronic ticket issuing machines (ETIMs) of Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) are in an abysmal condition. Almost 50 per cent of their 9,500 ETIMs is under repairs.The BEST was supposed to take full charge of its maintenance and operations from November 1 from Trimex IT Infrastructure. But with the state government planning a single card for all modes of transport, the BEST has failed to improve the existing lot of ETIMs, as they are waiting for the upgraded ones.”The condition is so bad that of the 27 depots, at least nine depots are facing problems with their ETIMs. Every morning conductors stand in long queues to get a working ETIM as almost 50 per cent of them are non-functioning,” said Suhas Samant, BEST Committee member.The faulty ETIMs at the Santacruz, Gorai, Oshiwara, Goregaon, Worli, Shivaji Nagar, Ghatkopar and Mulund depots are of no use as many of them are beyond their shelf life of five years.”The administration should have accepted the proposal of getting 3,000 new ETIMs rather than refusing only because they need an upgraded one,” said Anil Kokil, Chairman, BEST Committee. Currently, the per ticket cost issued through ETIM costs 11 paisa per ticket, while in the new system the same would be 16 paisa per ticket, excluding paper cost.A few months back, the BEST was supposed to get 3,000 new ETIMs — similar to the existing lot minus the upgrade of accepting the proposed single card or debit/credit card – but the BEST Undertaking refused toaccept it.Now the administration has called for open tenders for these upgraded version of ETIMs at a total cost of Rs 108 crore.The committee members claim that due to this the absentiseem among the conductors has increased thus affecting the turnout of buses. Surendra Bagde, General Manager, BEST said, “These existing ETIMs are unsuitable for the proposed single card and so we require new hardware and system”. The batteries of these ETIMs are also very poor and need frequent charging. Many ETIMs shut down in the middle of the journey which also troubles passengers.BUDGET APPROVALOn November 2, the BEST Committee approved the Rs 590 crore deficit budget of 2017-18. The BEST wants the BMC to convert the Rs 25 crore given as advance to the Undertaking’s employees for Diwali bonus into grant.

Tender floated for 39-km cycling track along pipeline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has floated a Rs. 137.28 crore tender for the proposed 39-km long cycling track and walkway along the Tansa water pipeline – which will extend from the outer limits of Mulund to Sahar Road in Andheri East.The Rs 137.28 crore project includes not only a cycling track and walkway but also has service road in asphalt, developing landscape, construction of garden with horticulture and earthwork, electrification work and modification of existing stormwater drains. However, trees affected by the alignment of the project will have to be removed by the contractor by obtaining permissions from the Tree Authority.The project was proposed in 2016 on the space holding encroachments on the 10-metre buffer zone along the Tansa pipeline. The Bombay High Court, in 2009, had ordered the BMC to remove all encroachments along the pipeline.However, removal of encroachments is a challenge for BMC as over 16,000 structures were to be demolished. Of these, around 30 per cent were done until June 2017 with latest being the demolition at the Garib Nagar slums in Bandra East.PASSING THROUGHThe 39-km Tansa water pipeline — in two parts from Mulund to Dharavi and Ghatkopar to Sion — passes through ten administration wards including Sion, Mahim, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Mulund, Chembur, Bandra East and Andheri East.

Bombay High Court drops contempt plea as park fire engine is removed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following a statement made by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC), that it has removed the fire engine and temporary shack constructed inside Priyadarshani Park at Napeansea road, Bombay High Court dropped the contempt petition filed by Malabar Hill Citizens forum.A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak was informed by Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare and Advocate Trupti Puranik, as per the statement made earlier, that the engine had been moved and restored, and thus the contempt plea does not survive.The forum had moved the court seeking action against Assistant Commissioner (D) ward and Municipal Commissioner. As per records, in 2006, the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum (MHCF) filed a public interest litigation challenging the decision of the corporation to post a fire engine in the park. On June 5 this year, the petition was dismissed, on default. On June 14, the corporation posted the fire engine inside the park. Residents moved a plea for restoration of the PIL, and by a June 19 order, direction for maintaining status quo was given. The civic body has not challenged the order, but moved an application for modification, which is still pending hearing.The court had earlier rapped the corporation for not following the order and had even warned of imprisoning the official not following court orders.The court has now posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks and asked the corporation and Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority to file their reply on whether the park falls under the CRZ 1 category.IN THE COURTIn 2006, the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum had filed a PIL challenging the decision of BMC to post a fire engine in the park. BMC’s application for modification is still pending hearing

Rooftop restaurants in city malls get civic body push

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Brihanmumbai Municipal Commissioner (BMC) issued a draft circular on Wednesday paving way for the long-pending decision of allowing rooftop restaurants in the city. The policy will allow setting up of restaurants in malls and lodges. However, the restaurant kitchen will have to be operated with non-flammable appliances like microwave oven or induction.Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray is believed to be the brainchild of the open to air terrace restaurant concept, which is also called as a rooftop restaurant. However, the BJP had opposed the idea of rooftop restaurants while supporting night market.According to officials from the Municipal Secretary (MS) department of BMC, a proposal regarding rooftop restaurant may likely come up in the general body meeting of the BMC soon. “This is a draft circular and the policy for restaurant on “Open to Air Terrace” to be framed will be based on this draft circular,” said the official. However, he added that an approval from the Corporation will be required.Ravi Raja, a Congress corporator and leader of opposition in BMC opposed the circular, “The civic administration cannot bring even a draft policy when the proposal is pending in the House.” said Raja. He added that the proposal was already rejected in the improvement committee of BMC. The civic body stated that the draft circular has been prepared taking into account suggestions given by all party group leaders.

Hawking zone plan delayed as panel yet to be formed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court ordered on Wednesday that hawkers will be allowed only in designated hawking zones, however, designated hawking zones are yet to be exhaustively chalked out in the city for its 90,000 licensed hawkers. This is because the Town Vending Committee (TVC) that will survey and demarcate legal and illegal hawking zones in the city is yet to be set up. There were only a few areas identified in 2009 where hawkers were to be permitted.The formation of the TVC has been delayed for three years, and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is currently awaiting a state government approval on members recommended for the committee.Proposed in 2014, the formation of the TVC met with opposition from several quarters, which delayed its formation. According to civic officials, it may take another year before the Hawkers Policy is implemented.Vendors across the city, meanwhile, have been demanding implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. The Act stipulates the formation of a TVC tasked with the job of ensuring that all existing street vendors identified in the survey are accommodated in vending zones subject to a norm conforming to two-and-a-half per cent of the population of the city, in accordance with the plan for street vending and holding capacity of vending zones.A senior official from the Removal of Encroachments (RE) department of the BMC said, “The BMC has already sent a list of representatives as members of the TVC, to the urban development (UD) department of the state government, a month ago, and is now waiting for the approval.”There will be six members in the TVC. “We are waiting for UD department’s approval and once we get it, we can carry out a survey of hawkers in the city and accordingly, their legalities will be decided,” said the official.WHAT’S THE PLANIn August 2016, the state government had issued a notification to set up the TVC.
BMC had published ads in newspapers while preparing the list of representatives to be proposed as members of the committee.

Union cries out for formation of Town Vending Committee soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a day when Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena workers kept the police busy in Dadar, around 3,000 hawkers from across the city under the banner of Mumbai Hawkers Union (MHU) staged a protest at Azad Maidan against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) action against them. The hawkers demanded that they should be allowed to carry on with their business around railway stations and on foot-overbridges. The hawkers’ union also demanded formation of the Town Vending Committee (TVC) immediately.Shashank Rao, President of MHU, said that the civic body should first implement the National Hawkers Policy of 2014, which has been pending for the last three-and-a-half years.He added that the civic body has not issued fresh licence for the past 35 years and claimed that the city has only 15,000 licensed hawkers.”Instead of taking action against hawkers, the BMC should implement the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014,” said Rao.Rao added that there are 3 lakh street vendors in the city and around 80 per cent of them are women. “As per Supreme Court order dated September 9, 2013, and Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, they have right to do their business,” said Rao.According to the union, hawkers were not responsible for the Elphinstone Road stampede on September 29, and they said that even an inquiry has not been able to establish that they were at fault.A delegation of the MHU also met AL Jarhad, Additional Municipal Commissioner, and demanded that the TVC be formed and action against hawkers be stopped.A meeting of the hawkers union and civic administration has been slated for November 6 to discuss the issue.

DNA EXCLUSIVE: Maha to frame biomining policy soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Close on the heels of Comptroller & Auditor General’s (CAG) scathing report tabled recently in the legislature, the Maharashtra government proposes to frame a comprehensive biomining policy for the disposal of ever mounting solid waste stored without any scientific processing on dumping grounds across the state. This is necessitated as about 21,867.27 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated every day in the jurisdiction of 27 municipal corporations, 229 municipal councils, and 128 nagar panchayats.The state government last week has set up a six-member committee headed by the executive engineer of the Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran to prepare a bio-mining policy and select civic bodies, which have already been shortlisted under the Swachha Maharashtra Mission (urban), to process dumped solid waste through a bio-mining process. The terms of reference of the committee include keeping an eye on the processing of solid waste currently being done through biomining by some urban local bodies.Besides, the committee will suggest ways to reclaim 80 per cent of the dumping ground after implementing the biomining technique.The government’s move is crucial as the CAG in its report submitted in August to the state legislature had rapped the government for poor processing facilities for municipal solid waste across Maharashtra.Urban development department officer told DNA,’’ The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation had taken initiative towards biomining as nearly 9,400 tonnes of solid waste is generated daily in Mumbai of which 6,400 tonnes remain untreated. A similar problem is faced by other urban local bodies too. Therefore, the government proposes to bring out a biomining policy wherein micro-organisms are sprayed on the waste and land is reclaimed and can be reused. Biomining helps eliminate methane production.’’He informed that the committee will conduct an in-depth study of the biomining technique already implemented in various states and abroad.The officer also informed that the government has already received a detailed report from 81 urban local bodies on the topic of solid waste management and they are under various stages of implementation.WASTE MATTERSAbout 21,867.27 tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated in the jurisdiction of 27 municipal corporations, 229 municipal councils and 128 nagar panchayats daily.
This waste is stored on dumping grounds without any processing, leading to methane production.

Encroachments return along Tansa pipeline

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) continued its demolition drive in Garib Nagar in Bandra East on Tuesday, the civic body has not even started construction of a mandatory wall along the Tansa pipeline in Marol in Andheri East where it had demolished around 1,500 illegal shanties about five months ago. Now, encroachments have started cropping up again.The K-East ward of BMC that consists of Andheri (East), including Marol, had carried out the drive in Great Indira Nagar in Marol in May-end, following Bombay High Court’s 2009 order which directed removal of illegal encroachments falling within 10 metres on both side of Tansa pipeline. The order was given to prevent water theft and leaks. BMC had removed encroachment at around 400 to 500 long stretch of the pipeline.As per the court order, the civic body has to construct a wall on both sides of the pipeline after removing the shanties. However, even after 5 months, the civic body has not done so.Now, encroachments have again started coming up. Residents in the area have complained that after demolition, the area along the pipeline is frequently used as a garbage dumping ground. “Apart from garbage being dumped, nullah water is also accumulating, raising the risk of transmitting diseases,” said Amar Murya, resident of Great Indira Nagar, Marol.Another resident said that if the civic body leaves the area after demolition in the same condition, chances of encroachment are high.A senior official from the water hydraulic department of BMC said they have floated the tender to construct the wall. “The demolition was carried out just before the monsoon and during monsoon we cannot carry out any civic work,” said the official, adding that they will soon complete the tender process.The 39-km long Tansa water pipeline is in two parts — first from Mulund to Dharavi, and the second from Ghatkopar to Sion. The pipeline crossed 10 administrative wards of BMC and fall in Mulund, Bhandup, Sahar, Wakola, Hussein Hill, Khar East, Mahim, Dharavi, Ghatkopar, Kurla East, and Anda Depot.As per data available with BMC’s water hydraulic department, of the total 16,409 unauthorised structures, ward offices have demolished around 8,000.

Mumbai BJP chief to look after 16 Surat segments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP national president Amit Shah deployed Mumbai BJP city unit president ​Ashish Shelar to chip in for 16 Assembly segments in Surat during the Gujarat assembly election. Sources within BJP state unit said Shelar is being asked to use his Mumbai experience so that party’s prospects are realized in Surat. Shelar said that he will start working in Surat from Tuesday itself.BJP sources said that the Patidar agitation started from Surat, from where traders also started exhibiting their resentment towards the GST. There was a lathi charge on them during the agitation. Shelar’s confidante said that it was Amit Shah who has given the responsibility to work in Surat. Shelar is known to have handpicked 45 of his trusted men to manage election related work in 16 Assembly segments in and around Surat. Shelar played a key role in bringing BJP in power at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election.Shah had recently held a meeting of state unit presidents and Shelar was present for this meeting in New Delhi. Taking in to account Shelar’s experience in Mumbai, he was handpicked by Shah and Shelar has been asked to work for election management not only in Gujarat but also in parts of Karnataka. Shelar would be sparing his time for both the adjoining states for coming month. BJP’s planShelar played a key role in bringing BJP in power at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls. BJP thinks his experience will help in Gujarat polls.

BMC warns Metro body over repeated pipeline damag

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a water pipeline was damaged in Fort on Thursday, allegedly because of Metro-3 work, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is now calculating the total amount of water wasted. Based on this, the civic body will decide the fine to be imposed on the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC).”We have issued a warning to MMRC asking them to be careful with their work henceforth. In an earlier instance, we had fined MMRC Rs 11.5 lakh. The fine is calculated based on the amount of water wasted due to the damage,” said A-ward assistant municipal commissioner, Kiran Dighavkar. Sources in the BMC claimed that the fine this time will be close to Rs 11 to 12 lakh as well.Upset locals even approached the local Shiv Sena corporator, Sujata Sanap, asking for her help. According to Ganesh Sanap, brother-in-law of the Sena corporator, a letter from her office has been sent to the BMC asking them to warn the MMRC for the last time. “This is not the first time that the pipeline has been damaged. All the details including alignment of the pipes have been given to MMRC, yet they carry out the work in a way that is affecting the locals. We didn’t have proper water supply because of the damaged pipeline. We have informed BMC that if this repeats, we will come out on the streets in protest,” said Sanap.When DNA contacted MMRC, a spokesperson from the corporation said, “We can say that we are still not aware of any such action by BMC. However, MMRC will ensure that their contractors honour the rightful action taken by the civic body in case there is any disturbance to major utilities.”PROTEST THREATWhile the BMC has issued a warning to the MMRC to be careful with Metro-3 work, local Shiv Sena corporator, Sujata Sanap has warned of protesting on streets if the damage repeats.

Remove fire engine from South Mumbai park: Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what comes as a temporary victory for residents of Malabar Hill, who have been vehemently opposing the Mumbai Fire Brigade’s move of parking a fire tender inside Priyadarshini Park on Napean Sea Road and its plans of setting up a fire station there, the civic body on Monday volunteered to remove the fire engine and temporary structures constructed inside the park. This was after the Bombay High Court came down heavily on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for not complying with an earlier order directing that status quo be maintained.The Malabar Hill Citizens’s Forum has not only been fighting a legal battle against the proposed fire station at the park, but also began a signature campaign and managed to garner support of at least 17,500 citizens. A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Rajesh Ketkar on Monday said, “BMC is taking undue advantage of our modesty, but you cannot play with the court like this. I will hear you (BMC) only after you put back the fire engine from where it was brought.”The court asked the civic body to comply with an order passed on June 19, directing maintenance of status quo by the corporation in regards to stationing of a fire engine inside the park.During the hearing, the court warned of imprisoning officials of the corporation for disobeying orders and committing contempt. “How dare they disrespect our order, wisdom should prevail on your officers. The corporation has taken undue advantage and we are very unhappy,” it said.As per records, in 2006, the Malabar Hill Citizens’ Forum (MHCF) filed a public interest litigation challenging the decision of the corporation to post a fire engine in the park. It was on June 5 this year that the petition came to be dismissed for default (non-availability of petitioners advocate). On June 14, the corporation posted the fire engine inside the park. The resident moved a plea for restoration of the PIL, and by an order of June 19, direction for maintaining status quo was given. The civic body has not challenged this order, but moved an application for modification, which is still pending hearing.The bench said, “Until, corporation complies with previous order, we will not hear the petition on merits.” A High Court-appointed committee also submitted a report stating that the fire engine had taken up part of the jogging and walking track at the park.However, senior advocate Anil Sakhare and advocate Trupti Puranik appearing for the corporation, opposed this claim. It was argued that the jogging and walking track was illegal and no proper sanction was obtained for their construction.An irate bench said, “Why did you not take any steps till now. There are potholes everywhere, people are dying in road accidents, leaving that aside, having a fire engine inside a park is important for you (corporation). Why so much ego. Immediately, shift the fire engine to Nana Chowk, from where you brought it.”An earlier affidavit filed by the corporation opposing the plea of the residents said “It is the responsibility of the corporation to protect and preserve the life of citizens of Mumbai, and therefore there is a necessity to meet the requirement of fire safety of citizens living in and around Malabar Hill, which can be fulfilled by establishing a fire brigade at the plot allotted and reserved for the same.”The affidavit also mentions that from the time the fire engine has been stationed, 29 calls have been attended. Further, as per the standing fire advisory council, for every area having a population of 50,000 people including a cluster of buildings, one fire appliance is required. The areas of Malabar hill, Bhulabhai Desai road, Napean Sea road, Walkeshwar are densely populated.The court will hear the petition on Wednesday.

NMMC follows BMC on waste rule, composting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the footsteps of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which has made it mandatory for bulk generators to segregate waste at source and composting wet waste in society premises itself, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has also served notices to about 1,000 residential complexes and commercial establishments under Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.The deadline given to the societies and commercial establishments to compulsorily segregate waste into dry and wet and apply composting methods is November 15. However, NMMC Commissioner N Ramaswamy has already started taking stern steps and last week ordered civic staff to stop lifting unsegregated waste from 50 societies. Speaking to DNA Ramaswamy said, “Navi Mumbai has 60 per cent of waste segregated at source and we intend to achieve 100 per cent segregation at source by end of March 2018. We have also deployed sweepers near pubic dustbin who force the residents to segregate the waste before throwing into public dustbins”.“In Navi Mumbai many societies have come forward to start composting,” Ramaswamy added.

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