City Buzz: Demand for NEET probe | Heatwaves continue to kill… and more

In other news: MoHUA bats for rainwater harvesting, 100 million-plus cities by 2050, and 21 lakh air pollution deaths, says a new report.

Demand for NEET probe

Even as multiple cases of malpractices from Godhra, Patna and other parts of the nation mire the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-UG) 2024 exam for medical and allied courses, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on June 20th said that isolated incidents of malpractices should not affect lakhs of students who had rightfully cleared the examination. The government is expected to set up a high-level panel to look into the functioning of the National Testing Agency (NTA).

The Supreme Court had sought responses from the Centre, the NTA and others on petitions seeking cancellation of the exams and a court-monitored probe on the irregularities.

Students have been protesting the irregularities and calling for a retest ever since the NEET results were declared. This year, a record 24 lakh students applied and the exam was held across 4,750 centres. The results were announced on June 4th. The NTA has released admit cards for the 1,563 candidates appearing for a retest on June 23rd, as their grace marks were cancelled.

Students in Delhi gathered before the Ministry of Education on June 20th, demanding the resignation of the Education Minister and the UGC Chairperson and the scrapping of the NTA and NEET. On June 21st, the Congress protested outside the ruling party offices over NEET irregularities. For the second day in a row, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also continued to protest.

Meanwhile, on June 19th, the Ministry also announced the cancellation of the UGC-NET ( University Grants Commission–National Eligibility Test) examination, as its integrity too seemed to have been compromised.

Source: The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Indian Express


Read more: “Blood. Sweat. Tears. Repeat”: What NEET aspirants are in for as NTA bungles


Heatwaves unabated; affect water, power

True to the warnings from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) of a sweltering summer this year, many parts of Delhi are still facing temperatures touching 46° Celsius. Severe heatwaves are likely to persist in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Jharkhand. The heatwave has already killed 143 and left 41,789 people grappling with suspected heatstroke this year (as of June 20th), according to the health ministry.

Many cities are facing power outages and water shortages. In Delhi, the peak power demand shot up to a record 7,717 MW amidst a heatwave on June 18, according to the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC). Discom officials anticipated that the demand would exceed 8,000 MW, even touching 8,200 MW. The spike was probably due to the increased operation of air conditioning and cooling appliances, which might account for 30-50% of annual energy consumption in residential and commercial settings.


Read more: Soaring temperatures, surging power demand: What you can do in this scenario


In Hyderabad, a journalist was booked by the police for tweeting against power cuts and complaining about harassment from a lineman.

BJP leaders protested AAP’s handling of the water crisis and criticised the free water scheme as a ‘sham’. Delhi minister Atishi stressed that 28 lakh in the capital faced water shortages, calling for PM Modi’s intervention to release 100 MGD water from Haryana and threatened an indefinite hunger strike. The water crisis is expected to hit hospitals like Ram Manohar Lohia and Lady Hardinge Medical College. Although tankers are being sent, three water treatment plants are running short by up to 50%.

Meanwhile, with coastal Odisha sweltering, the state’s peak power demand touched a record high of 6,762 MW. The spike of 600 MW in the summer is probably due to the rise in the number of air conditioners. Officials from the Grid Corporation of Odisha Limited (GRIDCO) said that it is getting firm power of 150 MW from Madhya Pradesh and 15-20 MW from Arunachal Pradesh under the power banking arrangement.

In south India, Tamil Nadu saw a maximum peak of 19 GW, and Karnataka saw 11 GW power demand. The ministry revised its estimates of the peak demand for the financial year (FY25) to 260 GW. The rise in temperature has prompted a rise in usage of air conditioners and other electricity-consuming cooling devices.

Source: Livemint.com, Business Today, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Times of India

MoHUA urges builders to go for rain water harvesting and solar energy

Real estate developers should change the way they build housing projects and make them self-sustainable by decentralising the water and energy production system, said Housing and Urban Affairs Additional Secretary, D Thara, at the third convention of the realtors body ‘NAREDCO Mahi’, its women’s wing.

She asked the developers to make rainwater harvesting and add solar-powered pathways. She said it would help to be self-sustainable in water.

The Additional Secretary asked the real estate industry to revisit traditional practices and invest in technologies that enhance environmental sustainability. Rainwater harvesting should not be an addendum, but should be part of our integral hardcore infrastructure., she said.

Source: The Print.com

Mumbai most expensive for expats

Mumbai is still the dearest for expats, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living survey for 2024. Its expense is driven by factors such as personal care, energy, utilities, transportation and house rent.
Still, Mumbai climbed 11 spots to rank 136th, while Delhi rose by four spots to become the 164th. Chennai fell by five places to 189th, while Bengaluru is at 195, and Hyderabad held on to its post of 202. Pune is 205th, Kolkata the 207th.

In Asia, Mumbai is the 21st most expensive city, while Delhi is the 30th. The overall affordability of Indian cities is a significant draw for multinational organisations or Indian companies aiming to attract global talent. Our strong economy, driven by domestic demand and a robust services sector, provides a stable environment for global talent. As global housing costs and inflation rise, India’s growth story and improving living standards make it an attractive destination for international assignment, said sources.

The survey, which evaluates the cost of living in 227 global cities, factored in housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.

Marine Drive
Mumbai is the 21st most expensive city in Asia. Pic: By Indianhilbilly, Wikipedia user Nikkul – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2650777

Mumbai leads in transportation costs, followed by Bengaluru. Kolkata has the most economical prices for daily essentials like dairy products, bread, beverages, oils, fruits, and vegetables, with Pune not far behind. Delhi has the lowest costs for alcohol and tobacco items.

Source: Business Standard, The Times of India

‘100 cities with over 1 million by 2050’

In another 25 years, there will be 100 Indian cities with populations exceeding 1 million, along with eight mega cities, according to Colliers India, in a report titled “Equitable Growth and Emerging Real Estate Hotspots”.

The report surveyed more than 100 growing cities that presented growth potential and real estate attractiveness. Of 30 high-potential cities, 17 are showing growth across various asset classes, with infrastructure development, digitisation and a hike in spiritual tourism. Smaller towns are also becoming dynamic contributors to the national economy, due to better infrastructure, affordable real estate, skilled talent and government initiatives.


Read more: How we build today will determine the future of our species: Jaya Dhindaw, urban researcher


With hybrid picking up, satellite offices in smaller towns, rapid digitisation, warehousing, data centres and E-commerce proliferation is leading to a surge in fulfilment centres, distribution hubs, smart infrastructure development and investment prospects.

Source: Business Standard, ibef.org

Air pollutants killed 21 lakh: Report

Air pollution led India and China to record 21 lakh and 23 lakh fatalities in 2021, according to a report published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), an independent US-based research organisation, in partnership with UNICEF, inthe fifth edition of State of Global Air (SoGA). There were 1,69,400 deaths of children in India under the age of five in 2021.

While air pollution is the leading risk factor for deaths in South Asia, it was followed by high blood pressure, diet and tobacco.

More than 90% of these global air pollution deaths are due to PM2.5 pollutants, including from ambient PM2.5 and household air pollution. They measure less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, and can remain in the lungs or enter the bloodstream, affecting organs and increasing the risks for noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Air pollution has surpassed tobacco and diabetes as the leading cause of death, trailing only hypertension.

Source: Deccan Herald, Economic Times

Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar

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