City Buzz: Kolkata bridge collapse | Section 377 verdict | Dengue menace in Delhi…and more

A landmark judgment for the nation, yet another civic disaster in Kolkata, new civic rules for Mumbaikars and Delhi's monsoon disease burden -- catch your weekly dose of key updates from our cities over the past week.

Yet another bridge collapse in Kolkata; three dead

The collapse of a bridge in Kolkata in the Alipore area on September 4th left three dead and scores injured. This is the third collapse of a bridge in the city since 2013. The collapsed bridge in the Alipore area runs over the Majerhat Railway station, connecting the city centre with Behala, south west suburbs and the neighbouring South 24 Parganas district.

As the bridge caved in, in early evening, the National Disaster Response Force swung into action, carrying out rescue operations in the crowded area. There has been ongoing Metro rail construction work close to the collapsed bridge. The work has since been suspended, with the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and others from the municipal administration expressing the view that the metro work could have been a possible cause for the mishap.

In response to the disaster the state government has also imposed a ban on the entry of vehicles with 20 wheels or more into the city. Restrictions have also been placed on freight traffic movement in four bridges.

Historic verdict decriminalises homosexuality

The Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict decriminalising Section 377 and legalising same-sex relationships among consenting adults in the country. A five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra delivered a consensus verdict. The court reversed its own decision in the 2013 Suresh Kumar Kaushal verdict that restored the section after it was struck down by the Delhi High Court in 2009.

The positive verdict saw widespread celebration from the LGBTQIA community across the country. Activists and members of the community voiced their relief at the community no longer having to live under the threat of a draconian law and the fear of persecution that came with it.

While the verdict decriminalised homosexuality, the provisions that have not been read down include the criminalisation of bestiality, which continues to be an offence punishable by law.

Mumbaikars to be fined for spitting in the open

New rules proposed by the Maharashtra government will soon see Mumbaikars fined for the offences of spitting, littering and open defecation. Fines proposed range from Rs 150 to Rs 500 for various violations. The rules have been framed in response to criticism by the Supreme Court over inaction of various bodies on the provisions of the Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.

When implemented, the rules will result in a fine of Rs 500 for open defecation, Rs 200 for urinating in public,  Rs 180 for littering and Rs 150 for spitting. The civic bodies have been categorised into A, B, C and D with the BMC falling under category A, and thereby under the highest bracket for fines. Earlier this year, the Chief Minister declared Maharashtra open defecation free. The move came under much criticism from activists and citizens as the practice was empirically found to be widely prevalent due to lack of sanitation facilities.

Hyderabad sees 1.1 lakh parking violations in 8 months

The Hyderabad police have registered a staggering 1.1 lakh parking violations since the beginning of the year. The total number of vehicles booked for unauthorized parking within city limits at the end of August stood at 1,10,160.

The North zone of the city saw 77,132 cases while the south was responsible for 33,028 cases. The city saw a significant jump from the number of cases registered in 2017 and previously in 2016, which stood at 5,68,765 and 2,34,375 respectively.

With around 1000 new vehicles registered everyday, residents complain of a lack of parking spaces within the city limits, particularly in commercial areas that are densely packed with shops.

Helmetless riding has been another offence that has seen a crackdown by the traffic police with 19.55 lakhs were booked for riding without a helmet.

Vector borne diseases on the rise as monsoons hit Delhi

Vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases have been registered in Delhi over the last month as rains hit the capital. The civic body reported 324 cases of malaria, 107 cases of dengue and 44 cases of chikungunya until the end of August. An average of 24 cases of malaria were reported since the start of the rainy season. One death has been reported by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as a result of dengue in the city.

The highest instances of the spread of these diseases was seen in August with the city receiving heavy rainfall in two spells. The civic body had advised precautionary measures such as increasing the hours and number of malaria staff who spray mosquito repellents. The staff have been instructed to work weekends in order to increase the coverage across the city and reduce instances of diseases. Experts however felt that the numbers were relatively low for Delhi, but warned residents to be on the lookout for potential signs.

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan]

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