City Buzz: Airport privatisation by 2019 | Delhi winter sets record | Fire in Mumbai hospital…and more

WEEKLY URBAN NEWS ROUND-UP

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Kolkata has just recorded the worst December fortnight ever in terms of air quality. 99% of commercial vehicles in Kolkata run on diesel. Pic: Arne Huckelheim ( CC-BY SA 3.0)

Six airports to be privatised by February

The coming year will see the privatisation of six new airports along the lines of Delhi and Mumbai. The Airports Authority of India has sought proposals for the privatisation of airports in Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram. The AAI plans to hand over the six airports to private players for a period of 50 years. The bids are to be submitted to the AAI by February 14, 2019 with announcement of winners scheduled for February 28th.

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The bidding will depend on the fee quoted per passenger, with the authority collecting a fee for each passenger handled at the airport. This model is expected to reduce any instances of dispute as the metrics it is based on is concrete. The Delhi and Mumbai airports, which were privatised a decade ago, work on a revenue-sharing model with the AAI holding 26% stake.

The move has already come under fire from employees of AAI who have organised stirs to protest the timing of privatisation and loss of investment and jobs at AAI.

Source: The Times of India | Financial Express | The Economic Times

Delhi sees coldest winter day in four years

At 4 degrees, Delhi recorded it’s coldest winter day in four years on December 20th. The national capital is set to wake up to colder temperatures as the winter intensifies. The dip in the temperature is a result of a cold wave that has gripped northwest India, according to the MeT Department. While the maximum temperature hovered at around 22 degrees, which is normal for this time of the year, the minimum temperature was four degrees below normal.

The cold wave that has resulted in the drop in temperature has been seen across Haryana and Punjab as well. It has caused a fall in temperature in the region making the area colder than the hill station or Shimla. Various precautionary measures have been taken, with the many homeless people of Delhi moving to shelters to protect themselves from the harsh conditions as temperatures remained below five degrees for five days at a stretch.

Source: NDTV | Financial Express | The Times of India

Fire breaks out at Mumbai hospital

A major fire broke out at Mumbai’s ESIC Kamgar hospital on December 17th. The fire has so far claimed 11 lives, with over 100 injured in the mishap. The five-storey hospital is located in Marilyn in Andheri East. The fire brigade was called to douse the fire at around 4 pm and engaged seven fire tenders and five jumbo water tankers to douse the blaze after many hours into the evening. The blaze saw the death of a five-month-old baby.

The fire is said to have originated in the rubber ducts that were stored on the ground floor. It has been discovered that the hospital, which is run by the government, was functioning only with a provisional NOC, with the final NOC pending. A new seven-storey structure was also being constructed adjoining the hospital, which had also not received NOC from the fire brigade.

Source: The Times of India | The Indian Express

Mumbai to get seven new STPs

To help the city deal with the issue of untreated sewage water, Mumbai will soon get seven new sewage treatment plants. Currently, around 2700 million litres per day (MLD) of water is left untreated. The BMC Municipal Commissioner stated that the new STPs will be able to treat 90% of the sewage. The plants will have a total capacity of 2000 MLD and the treated water will be suitable for use for non-potable purposes.

Work has already begun for the construction of a plant in Colaba. The other plants to come up will be at Worli, Dharavi, Bandra, Bhandup, Ghatkopar and Malad. The plants will be constructed as part of the Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Plan (MSDP)-2. The largest of the upcoming plants will be situated in Malad and is to be built at a cost of Rs 2020 crores over 35 hectares. The construction of the plant is expected to take four years.

Source: The Indian Express

Kolkata pollution hits new levels

Kolkata saw its worst ever December fortnight in terms of pollution ever since the formal recording of PM2.5 levels began in 2012. The PM2.5 level did not fall below 300 over the past two weeks. This is five times more than the permissible limit. Around the same time the previous year, the PM2.5 levels were well below 200.

The level of pollution has been so high that even rainfall, which causes a dip in the PM 2.5 levels has not had any effect on air quality. Vehicular emissions and burning of trash have been stated to be the major cause behind the high level of pollution in Kolkata’s air. With only two stations that monitor ambient air quality, the data has to be extrapolated for the rest of the city.

The severe pollution has had wide ranging impact, with Kolkata seeing a drop in the number of migratory birds. Birds who died in the Alipore Zoo were also found to have a high level of pollution in their lungs.

Source: The Times of India | India Today

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan]