City Buzz: Mumbai billboard collapse | L&T to exit Hyderabad Metro… and more

In other news this week: Trends in senior living market in cities; vision problems predicted for urban kids and the rise of dengue in Bengaluru.

Mumbai billboard collapse throws light on sorry state of civic safety

At least 16 died and 74 were injured when a 100-foot-tall illegal billboard collapsed in the eastern suburb of Ghatkopar in Mumbai, during a thunderstorm on May 14th. It fell on some houses and a petrol station, disrupting life in the region. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allows a maximum hoarding size of 40×40 feet, but this billboard was 120×120 feet.

Last week itself, BMC had recommended action against Bhavesh Prabhudas Bhinde, 51, director of Ego Media Pvt Ltd, which owned the contract for the hoarding on a 10-year lease. It directed him to remove the hoarding. Though the proceedings had started, the billboard fell. Rescue operations continued till early morning, with a hydraulic crane and manual techniques.

Municipal officials visit the site of the collapse. Pic: X/mybmc

The Pant Nagar police arrested Bhinde on the 16th of May. Earlier this year too, he had been booked on a rape case by the police. He also had 21 instances of being fined under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act for putting up banners without permission and two offences related to cheque bouncing. He had also contested as an Independent candidate in the 2009 Assembly elections.

Source: Indian Express, Hindustan Times

Senior living market rising in Tier-II towns

About 60% of the senior living market demand is from non-metro, Tier II cities, says a report by property consultancy Colliers. While private developers cater to the Tier I city demands, the preferred Tier II cities include Ahmedabad, Surat, Coimbatore, Kochi and Panaji. There is also a boom in pilgrim spots, such as Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Dwarka and Rameswaram.

By 2026, there will be 17.3 lakh senior citizen (60 years and above) in India, according to The United Nations Population Fund. Today, the senior living market is about $2-3 billion, but it will undergo a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% and reach approximately $12 billion by 2030, says the Colliers report.

Factors include rising life expectancy, nuclearisation of families, higher income levels, increasing importance of a stable, post-retirement life and changing lifestyles. Most of the supply is concentrated in southern cities, which opens more scope for growth in other regions. With 20,000 units in the organised sector, the availability of senior housing shows a 1% penetration rate, which indicates a wide demand-supply gap.

The senior living market is rising in Tier II cities due to its preference for a leisurely pace of life, ease of living and smaller population-related infrastructure stress. The lesser senior housing inventory here shows a lot of potential for private developers who are trying to diversify their nationwide portfolio.

Source: Deccan Herald, Business Standard

Read more: As crimes against elderly rise, Mumbai Police pays friendly visits to check on seniors

Vision problems to affect a third of urban kids by 2030

About one-third of children in Indian cities, between the ages of five and 15, will suffer from myopia by 2030, due to sedentary, indoor activities and prolonged screen viewing, according to eye doctors. It is an eye ailment that makes distant objects blurry, due to light from the objects focusing on the front of and not on the retina. It happens if the eyeball is too long or if the eye’s refractive power becomes too strong due to the cornea’s shape.

From 1999 to 2019, myopia among urban children seems to have tripled from 4.4% to 21.1%. As the doctors are basing their predictions on the slope of 0.8% every year, they foresee the increase to 31.89% in 2030, 40% in 2040 and 48.1% in 2050. Hence, it is surmised that in the next 25 years, one out of two children will be suffering from myopia.

Some solutions to tackle the eye problem include taking some public health initiatives, education drives, lifestyle changes and improved access to eye care services. Doctors say that it is important to recognise the symptoms and enable early intervention. Although myopia is incurable, glasses or contact lenses can support some improvements. Regular eye check-ups and encouragement of outdoor activities are also important.

Source: TimesNow,

L&T to exit Hyderabad Metro project

L&T, which has a 65-year concession to run the Hyderabad Metro, is now planning to sell off its stake after 2026. The company owns 90% of the Metro project, while the Telangana government owns only 10%. L&T’s decision has run into more controversy with its director Shankar Raman saying that the free bus ride scheme in the state initiated by the Congress government has made the project less interesting for riders.

Shankar Raman has reportedly said that buses are being used by women who pay nothing and the metro is used by men who pay Rs 35 on an average per ticket. He is also said to have remarked that political party guarantees “will make the Telangana Transport Corporation indebted”.

However, according to earlier reports, as tweeted by science journalist R Prasad, L&T had already decided to divest its investment in few non-core areas, which includes road concessions, and minimising its stake in Hyderabad Metro as early as in July 2022. He denounced the blaming of free bus passes for this decision.

Source: India Today, Twitter

Read more: Living with the metro construction: Safety, pollution and accessibility concerns

Dengue shoots up in Bengaluru; can Indian Ocean temperatures help predict outbreaks?

Dengue cases are increasing in Bengaluru. While only 275 to 415 cases were reported in the first three months, the number shot up to 570 in April and 360 in the first 15 days of May. Proactive measures such as removing Aedes mosquito larvae-infested sites and awareness drives in public areas are ongoing. The areas that are affected most include those with poor hygiene, but dumped with excess garbage waste.

Meanwhile, research shows that unusual trends in sea surface temperatures of the Indian Ocean can support estimates of trends in global dengue epidemics. They can even help to understand case numbers and how they might transform over time. The abnormal temperatures are a ‘climate indicator’, that would aid to enhance forecasting and planning for dengue outbreak responses.

So far, one or two climate indicators, such as precipitation and temperature are climate indicators. Even events such as El Nino that drive warmer sea surface temperatures can influence the transmission of dengue caused by mosquito breeding throughout the world, according to scientists.

Source:, The Times of India

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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  1. The recent billboard collapse in Mumbai is a stark reminder of the dire state of civic safety in the city. This incident highlights the urgent need for stricter regulations and regular inspections to prevent such disasters. It’s alarming that public safety is often compromised due to negligence and lack of accountability. Authorities must take immediate action to ensure that all structures, especially those in busy areas, are secure and up to code. The lives of citizens should never be at risk due to preventable incidents. This tragedy should be a wake-up call for a thorough review and overhaul of safety protocols.

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