City Buzz: Plans to combat urban floods | Bagree market fire | Parking charge in Delhi…and more

A traders' market in Kolkata is reduced to ashes. Delhi's parking policy could mean costlier vehicles. Hyderabad gets a new city action force, while the urban affairs ministry eyes new plans to tackle flooding in cities. Catch all this and more in our weekly round up of city news.

Urban floods: Will urban affairs ministry take charge?

Given the spate of flooding incidents in Indian cities and towns in the recent past, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) is reportedly planning to involve the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) to spell out ways in which the ministry can act to prevent and mitigate the impacts of urban floods.

In 2010 an expert panel of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had issued guidelines on management of urban flooding, and had recommended the establishment of an urban flooding unit under the ministry of urban affairs, headed by an officer at the level of joint secretary. In July 2012, the Ministry of Home Affairs had identified the urban affairs ministry as the nodal ministry for urban flooding, but there was no operational action on the front. The present move is being seen as delayed but much-needed action to implement the guidelines issued by the NDMA.

Source: The Indian Express

Delhi to impose one-time parking charge

In a move to combat the growing issue of lack of parking spaces within the city, the South Delhi municipal corporation has introduced a one-time parking charge for vehicles, to be paid at the time of purchase. The civic body has deemed the charge necessary to raise funds to improve parking infrastructure in the city. The North and East Delhi municipal corporations are expected to follow suit in order to keep prices of vehicles uniform across the city. The move awaits approval by the office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Delhi government.

If approved, the move will raise the cost for buyers by Rs 2000 to Rs 6000 for cars below Rs 4 lakh, Rs 4000 to Rs 10,000 for cars costing up to Rs 8 lakh, Rs 4000 to Rs 15,000 for cars costing up to 12 lakh and Rs 4000 to Rs 75000 for luxury cars priced at Rs 40 lakh. Auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, taxis and two-wheelers which were thus far exempt will have to pay Rs 5000 towards the one-time parking charge. This is the first such increase in charges levied in 10 years.

Source: The Indian Express | Hindustan Times

BMC finalises new hoarding policy for Mumbai

The Mumbai civic body has finalised a new hoarding policy that may see a rise in digital hoardings, allowed for the first time in parts of the city. The final draft is to be submitted for approval this week. The policy focuses on uniformity of rates, as it removed the earlier rules on different sizes and costs applicable in various zones. The policy has been drafted after receiving suggestions and inputs from the public earlier this year.

The civic body took into consideration around 218 suggestions and inputs received from the public to formulate the policy. The need for a new policy arose in the wake of directives by the state government and High Court on the same, after the expiration of the old policy in January this year. According to the new policy, there is no clampdown on political billboards and banners which will continue to flourish across the city.

The policy also suggests a priority window for clearance of digital billboards. There are special incentives for the use of solar panels to illuminate digital billboards and those with CCTV that provides a live feed to the local body. Civic messages must also be displayed on the hoardings for a period of 30 days as opposed to 15 days in the old policy.

Source: Hindustan Times | DNA

Fire guts Kolkata’s Bagree Market; losses close to a hundred crores

A blaze at the commercial wholesale hub of Kolkata, Bagree Market, raged on for two days before it could be finally brought under control. The fire spread rapidly through the multi-storey building which is home to over 1000 shops, located in a congested part of Central Kolkata. There were no reports of casualties but material losses at an early stage were estimated to be over Rs 80 crores.

30 fire tenders were rushed to the spot on reports of a blaze in the early morning of September 16th. As a majority of the shops were shut, there were few instances of death or injuries. Citizens however are unhappy with the civic body which granted a renewal of license to the complex on July 31st, without a valid fire clearance certificate. The firefighters’ attempt to curb the blaze proved futile due to narrow, inaccessible corridors and flammable material present throughout the market. Notably, this is the seventh instance of a fire in the area in the last ten years.

Source: NDTV | The Indian Express | The Times of India

Hyderabad gets first Rapid Action Force

In a first among major cities, Hyderabad unveiled its City Rapid Action Force (CRAF) to be called upon in dire situations to control riots or other emergencies. The CRAF will be under the command of the city’s police commissioner and can be deployed without the need for elaborate procedures as in the case of CRPF or RAF. The CRAF is a specialised police force for the city.

The members of the CRAF have been trained by the RAF and will be engaged in diffusing riots and communal tension and aiding in rescue and relief work. The current strength of the CRAF will be 40 members, including 20 women. The motto of the force was ‘Serving Humanity with Sensitive Policing’. The city authorities were of the view that such an initiative is crucial and necessary in all major cities to reduce response time to any fire situation on the ground.

Source: The Times of India | The News Minute

[Compiled by Aruna Natarajan and Satarupa Sen Bhattacharya]

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