City buzz: Kerala floods, new CRZ rules for Mumbai, and Rs 195 cr for Hyderabad through bonds

WEEKLY URBAN NEWS ROUND-UP

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A flooded district in Kerala. Pic: Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

Kerala floods: Red alert withdrawn, bus services restored, train and air operations resume partially

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As we write this, the floods in Kerala have abated to a large extent, but not before causing unprecedented devastation and a human crisis of mammoth proportions. The historic floods were caused by the highest ever rainfall recorded in a hundred years. The red alert has now been withdrawn in all districts, with heavy rainfall predicted only in small parts of three districts but the floods have left over 300 people dead and damages worth an estimated Rs 20000 crore.

The state has begun to slowly limp back from the worst of the flooding that has seen lakhs of people shifted to temporary camps for safety. The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has resumed operations in almost all routes and train services have also been partially restored. A few commercial airlines will resume operations out of the Kochi naval base as the Kochi International Airport has been declared shut till August 26.

Relief efforts on a massive scale have seen a majority among the stranded moved to relief camps. Over 50,000 people were rescued from Ernakulam on a single day as part of the operations. At the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the city corporation opened up 16 collection centres and till Sunday, had sent eight loads of relief material including food, medicine and clothes.

The Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, has said that while rebuilding the state after the floods is a mammoth task, the state government is prepared to take the necessary steps for it.

Mumbai and three suburbs get new Coastal Regulation Zone rules

Mumbai and three suburbs of Ratnagiri, Raigad and Sindhudurg will see the implementation of new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules after approval by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The new rules have relaxed the CRZ to 100m from the high tide line which is the extent to which coastal waters can reach the farthest inland.

The new rules mean that buildings seeking redevelopment in the bay and creek areas may not require CRZ clearance any more. The areas that will benefit from this include Khar, Bandra, Fort and  Ballard Estate. The new Coastal zone management plan also defines a hazard line, taking into account the potential of climate change to cause damage. The hazard line will be a effective tool to plan for disaster management as it will allow room for changes in the nature of the coast line as a result of climate change. The hazard line will apply to a length of around 7500 kms of India’s coastline.

Unclaimed debris on Delhi roads to be cleared by civic body

The Public Works Department (PWD) of the Delhi government has issued a circular stating that all unclaimed debris on the streets of the national capital are to be removed by the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) per the provisions of Section 42 of the Delhi Municipal Act, 1957. Meetings between the DMC and OWD authorities are said to have resulted in an agreement that the PWD will, henceforth, only clear construction and demolition waste and debris that is produced as a result of its own projects in the city.

The DMC had stated that the civic body has been engaged in removing debris to the tune of 200 metric tonnes that are to be dumped in 163 designated spots for the same. The authorities have also informed all residents that any construction debris can be displayed only at the nearest local designated site or by notifying the relevant authorities.

Gurugram now has a Chief Protocol Officer

The district of Gurugram now has a Chief Protocol Officer, a new designation that has been created with the aim of bolstering the state’s image before visiting foreign dignitaries and VIPs. The new protocol officer will be responsible for orienting the visiting dignitaries about the culture and heritage of the state and the booming economy and opportunities for investments that are available.

A 1997-batch civil servant has been appointed as Gurugram’s very first Chief Protocol Officer. IAS officer Jabir Arya is one of the senior bureaucrats in the state of Haryana. He will assume the role of chief protocol officer in the region fondly dubbed Millennium City, once posting orders have been issued. The function of the chief protocol officer had thus far been performed by IAS officers who held other roles.

Hyderabad civic body raises second round of funds through municipal bonds

Funds to the tune of Rs 195 crore were raised by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) through the issue of municipal bonds,in its second issue this year. The money raised through the municipal bonds will be put to use in the creation and improvement of civic infrastructure such as skywalks, flyovers and other measures to reduce traffic congestion and improve ease of travel. Hyderabad raised Rs 200 crore in its first issue in February this year.

The GHMC became the second civic body to float municipal bonds after the civic body in Pune. More rounds can be expected as the GHMC looks to raise Rs 1000 crores by the end of the year for civic upgrades. The GHMC bonds have been rated AA by rating agencies India Ratings and CARE ratings. The GHMC plans to fund its projects in the pipeline for 2019 through a mix of bonds, loans and external commercial borrowings, with the total cost of the projects to be completed estimated at Rs 5000 crores.

Compiled by Aruna Natarajan