City Buzz: National Clean Air Programme | BEST buses on strike | Road repair in Kolkata..and more!

National plans to tackle the urban pollution menace, global recognition for India's fast growing cities and civic news from around the cities -- catch some of the most important headlines of the week.

National Clean Air Program covering 102 cities launched

The union government has launched a comprehensive programme to tackle the growing menace of air pollution in Indian cities through the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The programme will cover 102 cities in total, with the aim to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 levels by 20 to 30 percent by the year 2024. The overlay for the first two years is Rs 300 crore.

The NCAP will cover cities that have shown air quality that is consistently poorer than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The programme will be brought into effect with 2017 as the base year.

An expansion of the existing air quality monitoring network is also part of the plan. There are currently 101 real air quality monitors in the country, planned to be increased to 4000. The plan will also see the government conduct studies across the cities included, to understand the sources and quantum of pollution. The plan envisions improvement in real time air quality monitoring, boosting of public transport, promoting e-vehicles, more research on clean energy and a stringent adherence to industrial standards and third party audit of polluting industries.

Source: Scroll | LiveMint

BEST  bus strike brings Mumbai to a standstill

As strike by the employees of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) continued into its fourth day, the city felt the crippling effects of losing a major public transport system. Around 3200 buses went off the roads as the 32,000 employees went on strike, placing various demands. The Shiv Sena pulled out of the strike but despite that, only 11 buses plied the streets of Mumbai as on January 9. Commuters faced a tough time as a result, with most complaining of a hike in charges by the auto and taxi drivers of the city.

The BEST employees’ went on a indefinite strike starting January 8 with demands including higher salaries, labour reforms, merging of BEST budget with that of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, wage agreement, reintroduction of appointment on compassionate ground and bonuses on par with BMC employees. In response to the strike, the Maharashtra government invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) against the protesting employees. Talks between the striking unions and the BMC Commisioner failed, taking the strike into its fourth day.

Source: Firstpost | LiveMint

4 Indian cities among the top five dynamic cities in the world

In the soon to be released JLL City Momentum Index (CMI) 2019, Hyderabad has been ranked second in the short-term growth category, while Bengaluru has bagged the top post among a total of 131 established and emerging cities based on its rapid expansion. Delhi and Pune are at fourth and fifth spots respectively, while Chennai and Kolkata also feature among the top 15.

The CMI rankings are based on a variety of factors that include social, economic, commercial and real estate interests. Other criteria include innovation capabilities, start ups, patents, public infrastructure and environmental quality. The fastest growing cities in India have been noted for their success over recent years in attracting high levels of foreign direct investment (FDI), with structural reforms, including the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016, encouraging more real-estate investment from foreign buyers.

Source: The New Indian Express | Telangana Today

Kolkata road repair works to be completed by January

The civic body has set a deadline of January 31st for the completion of road repair works in the city. The work is to be completed before the shutting down of the KMC hot-mix plant which supplies materials for road repair works. The hot-mix plant has been ordered to be shut down for releasing toxic fumes, as per the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). DH Road, EM Bypass Road, APC Roy Road, Rashbehari Avenue, College Street and Syed Amir Ali Avenue are some of the major roads that are set to undergo repair.

After the January 31 deadline, no major digging work will be carried out in the streets of Kolkata. The two hot mix plants in Palmer Bazar and Goragaccha faced closure last year but have been kept open after request by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation for time to complete the repair of roads. Requests from borough chairpersons in Behala, Jadavpur and by the Port Trust have been taken cognisance of by the KMC to commence and complete repair works in the coming weeks.  

Source: The Times of India

Road safety measures mooted for Delhi

At the third meeting of the State Road Safety Council under the Delhi Transport Minister, Kailash Gahlot, new road safety measures were mooted. Traffic police officials, road safety experts and officials from the public works department and transport department were present at the meeting. Regulations mandated in the city’s road safety policy notified last July have been assigned deadlines for implementation by the various agencies. The minister also ordered all road owning agencies to set up road safety cells for each department by March 31st.

Other measures include the formulation of safety standards for flyovers and all bridges. Audits have been mooted for checking the structural integrity of public infrastructure and also to assess accident-prone zones to take preventive measures. Improvement of footpaths, removal of encroachments and improvement of intersection to increase the safety of pedestrians has been mooted. The council also proposed the creation of five zero-fatality corridors. The creation and introduction of road safety curriculum in schools will be undertaken by the education department.

Source: The Times of India | Hindustan Times

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan]

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