City buzz: Mumbai water crisis | Delhi ban on non-CNG vehicles | New port at Varanasi… and more

What's keeping Mumbai parched? What are the latest measures being mulled in Delhi to combat pollution? Which housing projects will be exempt from prior green clearance? A look back at the important headlines from India's cities this week.

Mumbai faces 10% water cuts

A drop in water stock by 16% from November last year has seen Mumbai face water cuts to the tune of 10%. The seven lakes that supply water to the city have seen a drop in the water stock this year leading to decreased water supply. As on November 11th, data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows the seven lakes to be 76% full, with 11,11,385 million litres of water. The stock is expected to last 292 days. A reduction in rainfall in August and September is seen as the cause behind the decreased water levels.

Currently, the BMC supplies 3800 million litres of water every day. It will cut supply by 380 million litres per day in this move that has started November 14th. Water supply time has also been cut by 15%. The cut in supply, across households, commercial and industrial establishments, is likely to remain in effect until the arrival of monsoons next year. The city witnessed similar cuts in 2009, 2014 and 2015.

Source: Indian Express | The Times of India

Delhi mulls ban on non-CNG vehicles

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Agency (EPCA) has put forth a recommendation to either implement the odd-even scheme, or a complete ban on all private non-CNG vehicles in the city on days when the air quality is very poor. The recommendation comes on the heels of Delhi’s recent most recent air pollution crisis that stemmed from stubble burning, vehicular pollution and Diwali celebrations.

The body wrote to the Central Pollution Control Board asking for it to recommend either of the two measures, stating that cities such as Paris and Beijing have followed similar policies to curb pollution. The air quality in Delhi has been between ‘severe’ and ‘very poor’ categories even a week after Diwali, with AQI readings over 600.

Experts have however derided the suggestion of the EPCA, stating that unlike the cities of Beijing and Paris, Delhi’s public transportation system is relatively under developed and will not be able to adequately serve the people in the event of a ban on private non-CNG vehicles. They cited data that stated that out of 1.12 crores vehicles registered in Delhi, 1.04 crores are private cars and two-wheelers. The proposed ban has also been termed a short term solution that will not help curb the air pollution menace and address its sources in the long run.

Source: Hindustan Times | The Times of India

Varanasi gets multi-modal terminal port

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first of three inland multi-modal terminals on the river Ganga in Varanasi on November 12th. The project has been undertaken in partnership with the World Bank as part of the Jal Marg Vikas. The Inland Waterways Authority of India is the implementing body.

The project was completed in under two years, after work began in 2016. The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 207 crore. It has a capacity of 1.27 MPTA and has two mobile harbour cranes among other facilities.Three similar terminals are to come up in Haldia, Ghazipur and Sahibganj.

The project has been envisioned to provide for a fuel and cost effective mode of transportation for bulk goods and hazardous goods. The project includes technology such as River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS) and night navigation. It is expected to generate 200 direct jobs and 5000 indirect jobs. Two inter-modal terminals, five roll-on roll-off terminals, navigation lock and a vessel repair and maintenance facility are all set to be constructed as part of the larger project. The total cost is being shared by the Government of India and World Bank. The facility will be operated on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Source: ANI | Money Control

Residential projects up to 1.5 lakh sq m exempt from green clearance

Green norms have been eased for residential projects that have up to 1.5 lakh sq m built up area. The Ministry of Environment and Forests issued the notification on November 15 stating that they would no longer have to possess prior environmental clearance. The aim of the move is to make the process of obtaining permission for construction faster, to incentivise the creation of more affordable housing in economically weaker areas. The power to grant permission for the projects has now been given to the various urban local bodies (ULBs).

The projects must however provide self-declaration and certification stating their fulfilment of environmental conditions. The stipulations for securing environmental clearance will be integrated into the by-laws of the buildings. The final clearance for the projects will be issued by the local bodies after inspection.

Education institutions, hostels, industrial sheds and hospitals will, however, still require prior environmental clearance. The National Green Tribunal had earlier rejected a notification that proposed similar easing of green norms.

Source: The Times of India | The Indian Express

RERA will not be tweaked: MOHUA

The Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) will not be tweaked or diluted according to the demands placed by builders said Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri. The minister also warned the state governments against tweaking the center’s real estate law and directed them to fall in line with the provisions in the central law or face harsh consequences. He urged the implementation of the law in letter and spirit so as to ensure that its full benefit may be reaped.

RERA was enacted to protect the interests of the home buyers and for the delivery of projects in a timely manner. The builders had demanded rectification to clarify certain provisions that caused confusion.

The center also urged states to not water down the provisions of the law. Minister Puri singled out the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab for delay in amending their rules to bring them in line with RERA. This delay has caused a large number of projects to be left out of the ambit of the central Act in these states. So far, 33,750 projects have been registered in total under RERA.

Source: The Times of India | PTI

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan]

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