City Buzz: Outrage over arrest of activist | Results of Punjab civic polls | 54,000 air pollution deaths in capital..and more

All that's making news in our cities -- from the arrest of Disha Ravi to new COVID protocol for workplaces

Protests over arrest of young climate activist

The arrest by Delhi Police of young climate activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru has created outrage across India. Disha was arrested last Saturday following an FIR filed by the cyber-crime unit of the Delhi police on February 4th against the creators of a “toolkit” for an online campaign supporting the farmers’ protest in India. Disha had allegedly edited and shared this document. This toolkit had subsequently been shared on social media by international teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Disha Ravi graduated recently from the Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, and is one of the founders of the ‘Fridays for Future’ campaign in India, inspired by the global climate movement led by Greta. In the toolkit case, Disha was booked under Sections 124A (sedition), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The case also named two other activists in the case: Mumbai-based lawyer Nikita Jacob, for editing the document, and Beed resident Shantanu Muluk, who was accused of having created the document. However, the Bombay High Court granted protection from arrest to Nikita for three weeks; Shantanu too has received protection from arrest for 10 days. Disha meanwhile was sent to a three-day judicial custody on Friday, February 19th after her initial 5-day police custody came to an end.

The episode has once again raised allegations of repression and muzzling of democratic dissent. Citizen supporters, activist groups and eminent citizens across cities have come together to condemn this clampdown and the attempt to scare youth and prevent them from voicing their opinion on social and political issues. On Tuesday, February 16th, supporters of Disha called for a protest at the Delhi Police headquarters but were denied permission by the police.

Meanwhile, a virtual gathering organised by National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPL), Coalition for Environmental Justice in India, and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), saw many prominent personalities come together to express solidarity with the activists and issue a statement on the issue.

Source: The News Minute | Hindustan Times | India Today | Scroll

Government to conduct Pey Jal Survekshan

To determine the distribution of water, wastewater and water bodies the Ministry of Urban and Housing Affairs will conduct a Pey Jal Survekshan across ten cities of Patiala, Rohtak, Churu, Agra, Surat, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Tumkur, Kochi and Madurai. Five of these cities are water-scarce and five are water-abundant.

The survey is a part of Jal Jeevan Mission – Urban which aims to create universal coverage of water supply in all 4,378 statutory towns as well as sewage management in 500 AMRUT cities.

For the purposes of the survey, the cities will be required to prepare city water balance plans, recycle/reuse plans and aquifer management plans. The state will have to vet these plans and conduct a baseline assessment. An Urban Water Body Information System will display the survey findings. Total budget for the proposed exercise is Rs 2.87 lakh crore. 

Source: The Indian Express

Activists write to CPWD over issues with Central Vista Redevelopment Plan

Advocacy groups have raised objections to the new Central Vista Redevelopment Plan launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Based on competitive bidding, construction major M/s Shapoorji Pallonji Company (Pvt) Limited bagged the contract for Phase-I of the project, at a cost of Rs 477 crore. Work on the project began on February 11th. Citing several issues, the groups have written to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

The groups have identified issues with the design of pedestrian underpasses, wide walkways or footpaths, bridges across canals, new parking lots etc. The submissions have highlighted specific instances like the replacement of red murram with hard pavements, thereby increasing the risk of flash floods. It will also restrict the rainwater run-off.

The submission also talked about hard paved parking which will result in reduced water table replenishment and threaten the green cover of the central vista region.

Source: The Indian Express

Health Ministry issues new SoPs for offices

In case of one or two cases of COVID being reported in any office, the sanitization procedure will be limited to the areas occupied and visited by the patient in the last 48 hours, says the new SoP released by Union Health Ministry. The work can continue after the sanitization process. In case of a large number of cases, the whole building/block needs to be disinfected and work can resume only after the disinfection process is complete.

Read more: “Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, stay safe”

For those residing in the containment zones, they should inform their supervisory office about the same, and not attend office till the containment zone is denotified. The guideline further provided for deploying all common measures such as sanitization devices, wearing of masks and ensuring six feet distance at common places.

Source: The Hindu

Congress wins Punjab civic polls

Conducted on 14th Feb, elections to the municipal corporations in the state saw the Congress winning six out of eight, emerging as the largest winner in the civic polls. The total voter turnout for the elections was more than 70%. The party also managed to win 1,399 of the 2,165 municipal wards.

Congress candidates celebrating after winning the civic polls. Pic: Rana Gurmit S Sodhi, Punjab Sports Minister/Twitter

According to experts and media reports, the ongoing farmers’ protest generated extra interest in the civic polls. Assembly elections in Punjab are due in 2022. The traditional and regional party of Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) emerged as the principal opponent by winning 294 seats. AAP managed to come fourth with 57 seats, leaving BJP behind which won 47 seats.

Source: The Indian Express | The Tribune

54,000 deaths due to air pollution in Delhi

A new study by Greenpeace Southeast Asia has revealed that air pollution was behind 54,000 deaths in the national capital. The study was conducted in the six cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Lucknow. Moreover, New Delhi also found a place in the list of globally most polluted cities along with Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Read more: Delhi: Super commission fiddles while air pollution turns deadly

As per the report, air pollution caused 25,000 deaths in Mumbai; 12,000 in Bengaluru; 11,000 each in Chennai and Hyderabad and 6700 in Lucknow.

The study also evaluated the economic loss due to air pollution and Delhi registered a loss of Rs. 58,895 cr. followed by Mumbai’s Rs. 26,912 cr. Bengaluru accounted for a loss of Rs. 12,365 cr. and Hyderabad for 11,637 cr. due to air pollution. Chennai and Lucknow reported a loss of Rs. 10,910 cr and Rs. 8000 cr respectively.

Source: The Hindu

Compiled by Rishabh Shrivastava

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