City buzz: Delhi air quality | Plans for India’s first Justice City | Kolkata public transport | Metro rail news…and more

WEEKLY URBAN NEWS ROUND-UP

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A tram on the streets of Kolkata. Source: Flickr/ Rajarshi Roychowdhury (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Kolkata most commuter friendly finds study

The ease of mobility index released by rideshare service Ola’s Mobility Institute ranked Kolkata the best in the country on commuter-friendliness. The study considered responses from 43,000 people across the country. According to the study, Kolkata topped in the category by offering the widest range of options for the general public for commute within the city. The city topped the categories of travel choice, cleanliness and affordability and came third in terms of safety. Kolkata also had the least number of private vehicle users across all metros.

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The reasons behind the performance of the city in these categories has been the well linked and affordable metro service and the tram service that is the only one in operation in the country. The robust network of buses, ferries, autos and rickshaws also added to the benefit of the commuters in the city. New initiatives such as the app-based bus service by the state government have also added to the ease of movement in the city.

Source: The Times of India | The Telegraph

Delhi air quality worsens in run up to Diwali

The air quality in various parts of Delhi oscillated between “severe” and “very poor” for the second week running. The overall air quality reading was recorded at 368 on the last day of the week. The decline in air quality and increase in pollution is a result of a combination of factors, including crop burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana and low wind speeds. Upcoming Diwali festivities also affect air quality due to the bursting of crackers, despite the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court.

A slew of measures have been put in place to arrest the drop in air quality. Construction had been stopped in the national capital region from November 1st. In order to reduce pollution as a result of vehicular emissions, a crackdown by the traffic police on vehicles without PUC certificate  has been initiated.

The state government is also mulling the reintroduction of the odd-even plan for private vehicles in order to check air pollution. The capital region and neighbouring states of  Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have been ordered to ensure the complete stoppage of open burning of domestic and industrial waste.

Source: Financial Express | News18 | The Economic Times

GHMC cracks down in illegal construction

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has intensified the drive against illegal construction in the city. With a total of 2861 complaints received so far, the municipal body is said to have initiated action on 1979 complaints. The authorities have identified corruption, pressure from politically connected individuals, lax norms or shortage of staff as the various reasons behind the violation of norms in construction. GHMC said that most of the egregious violations were done in constructions that were less than 200 square feet in area.

An action plan is set to be drafted along with inputs from city planners to ensure that violations are brought down. For this purpose the GHMC intends to conduct inspections at every stage, beginning with checks after the completion of construction from the basement levels. The process is also set to be simplified and transparency increased by going digital. Identification of illegal construction through drone surveys and a special police unit for action on unauthorized buildings have been set up to speed up the process and ensure compliance.

Source: The Times of India | Deccan Chronicle

Water crisis in Mumbai, opposition up in arms

Opposition parties in Maharashtra staged a walkout over the water crisis in various parts of Mumbai and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s reluctance to acknowledge it. The opposition stated that despite the many complaints received from cities about erratic supply, the civic body did not declare a water crisis, as it is the festive season.

A burst in pipeline and low water pressure have been stated as the reason for erratic supply in water. The city also received 9% less rainfall this year compared to last year and fell short of its requirements to fulfil its total water needs by 8%. Bandra, Cuffe Parade and Kurla areas have been worst hit. Juhu, Fort and Colaba areas have also reported water cuts. The shortage of water even forced Fort area’s GT hospital to postpone around 70 surgeries, with administrators stating that the problem has been ongoing for several months.

Source: DNA | Times of India | Mid Day

Amravati to house India’s first Justice City

The nation’s first city dedicated to justice and the efficient functioning of the judicial system is set to come up within the capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amravati. The justice city will be home to judicial complexes, law colleges, law firms, think tanks and advocacy groups and non-profits that work to make the legal system more accessible. Justice city is expected to generate over one lakh jobs, per the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority, the nodal agency behind the shaping of Amravati.

Justice city will span 3300 acres and can house 2.5 lakh people. It will be built to create an ecosystem that encourages accessibility and efficiency in the judicial system. With the temporary high court set to come up in Amravati, the creation of justice city will bolster the legal landscape in the state. The emergence of justice city has however not gone down well with people of the Rayalseema region who were promised that the high court would be situated in that area, as all administration is confined to Amravati.

Source: The Times of India | Deccan Chronicle | The Newsminute

Fifteen cities to get metro rail services

As many as fifteen more cities across the country could get metro rail services with proposals under consideration and various works underway. The existing metro rail network in the country spans 500 kms and the proposed networks will cover a further 660 Kms according to union minister Hardeep Singh Puri.  Currently, ten cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Lucknow and Kochi have functioning metro rail services.

Among the new crop of cities, Nagpur, Pune and Ahmedabad are to have operational metro rail networks by 2019. Other cities under consideration are Varanasi, Indore, Coimbatore, Kanpur, Bhopal, Patna, Surat, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, Trivandrum and Navi Mumbai.

The news comes on the back of Delhi joining a global league of cities with metro coverage of 300 kms or more with the opening of the Shiv Vihar – Trilokpur Sanjay Lake section.

Source: Business Insider | NDTV

Vehicle tracking and panic buttons in public transport from next year

A notification from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has mandated that all public transportation vehicles to be registered after January 1, 2019 shall be fitted with vehicle tracking technology and emergency buttons in the interest of public safety. Through the Motor Vehicles (Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Emergency Button) Order, 2018 the provision will apply to all public transportation vehicles except auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws.

All vehicles registered prior to January 1, 2019 will also comply with the regulations based on notifications from the respective state government after a period of exemption. The notification is stated to have been issued in the interest of public safety, especially that of women. The Delhi government has already floated a tender for GPS trackers and CCTV cameras for buses plied by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

Source: Hindustan Times | Financial Express

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan]

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