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Jung not over? LG Anil Baijal non-commital on fixing relationship with Kejriwal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former bureaucrat Anil Baijal took over as 20th Lt Governor of Delhi and struck a cautious note on where the LG’s office will stand in repairing the fractured relationship between the Centre and AAP government which had hit rock bottom under his predecessor. 70-year-old Baijal, who had served in a number of key positions at the Centre including as Union Home Secretary, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohini, 10 days after Najeeb Jung’s abrupt resignation as the LG.Baijal said addressing key challenges like women’s safety, pollution, traffic congestion and strengthening infrastructure will be his priority areas.The oath ceremony was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Delhi Chief Secretary MM Kutty, leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta among others.On being asked about tussle between previous LG Jung and the city government on a range of issues including administrative control over the bureaucracy, Baijal said, “This is speculative. I don’t know why and how the relationship will improve. We will sit and talk and then you will get to know.”Welcoming Baijal’s appointment, Kejriwal said he was hopeful that under the new LG, governance in the national capital will see new momentum overcoming the past hurdles.”I am very hopeful that in the future, we all – MLAs, Delhi government, people of Delhi – will work with the Lt Governor for overall development of Delhi. “In the last few months, some works of Delhi government have come to a standstill. I hope that these works will be expedited,” Kejriwal said at an event at Delhi Assembly complex.Baijal said he will put his best efforts in improving law-and-order situation, women’s safety, traffic congestion besides strengthening infrastructure and civic amenities in the city.”Delhi is a megapolis which has several problems like women safety, law and order, huge population, infrastructure, civic agencies and congestion. We all know about these problems. We will work with elected government to solve them,” he told reporters. Baijal also thanked President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving him the responsibility. A 1969-batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries.He was actively associated with the designing and countrywide roll-out of Rs 60,000-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Urban Development Secretary. He had served as vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority and is known to be well versed with the city administration.The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including NSA Doval.Baijal, known to follow the rule book, will have to take a series of important decisions including on the report of Shunglu committee, set up by Jung to examine over 400 files pertaining to decisions taken by the AAP government in the last two years.The Shunglu committee has reportedly pointed out “irregularities” in some of the Kejriwal government’s decisions.His immediate task will also include appointing a new chairman of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) which has been headless since November after the appointment of incumbent Krishna Saini was turned down by Jung.Jung and the AAP dispensation had clashed over a range of issues including transfer and posting of bureaucrats, setting up of enquiry commissions and among others.There was a running battle between L-G office and Kejriwal government with the latter constantly challenging the former’s supremacy in the city administration.Jung had won the court battle as the Delhi High Court had stamped the primacy of Lt Governor in the affairs of Government of NCT.However, AAP government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court verdict and during a recent hearing in the case, the apex court had said the elected government should have some powers.

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal becomes new LG of Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal was on Wednesday appointed as the new Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.70-year-old Baijal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. The President accepted the resignation of Jung and also ordered for appointment of Baijal, who will be the 21st Lt Governor of the national capital. Baijal had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government.

Former Union Home Secretary Anil Baijal likely to be new Delhi LG

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Career bureaucrat Anil Baijal looks set to become the next Lt Governor of Delhi, a post which has fallen vacant after sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.A 1969 batch IAS officer, Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government besides holding key positions in other ministries. 70-year-old Baijal, whose appointment papers have been sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his approval, had retired from service in 2006 as Secretary, Urban Development Ministry. He is a former vice chairman of Delhi Development Authority.Baijal was actively associated with the designing and roll-out of Rs 60,000 crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Manmohan Singh government. The former bureaucrat was also on the executive council of the think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation, several of whose former members have been appointed to senior positions by the Modi government including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with AAP government. Meanwhile, the government today recommended to the President, who on his annual winter sojourn at Rashtrapathi Nilayam in Secunderabad, acceptance of Jung’s resignation.

Railways asks West Bengal govt to take charge of all ongoing & new projects

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Railways has sent a letter to the West Bengal government stating that from now on the state has to take responsibilities of all ongoing and upcoming projects of the suburban system as well as Metro Railway.According to a highly-placed source at the state secretariat Nabanna, the letter addressed to the Chief Secretary, the Transport Secretary and the Urban Development Secretary, was sent last week from the Railways Works Planning Directorate.It stated that the Railways, in the last few years had incurred losses of around to Rs 15,000 crore due to delay in projects including Metro Rail projects, which were either delayed or stalled because of various hindrances.In the letter, the Railways has asked the state government to take responsibilities about removal and rehabilitation of encroaches on its land, feasibility study of any proposed project and so on, the officer said.It has also proposed the state can utilise funds meant for urban transport projects or can levy different forms of taxes and development fees to releasing project costs, he said.Incidentally, a couple of months back the Centre had verbally given similar proposals to the state government, which the latter had dismissed, the officer added.

Currency transfer: CBI case against top Mumbai oncologist

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a shocking incident, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials have registered a case against a Padma Bhushan awardee on Friday in the ongoing crackdown against black money. The accused, a resident of Mumbai, and five others have been booked in connection with a case of fraudulent transportation of demonetized currency worth Rs 10 crore.They have been identified as Yogesh B Shiroye, Dharam Raj Thigle, Krish, Gajanand Somnath, BM Shah and Dr Suresh Advani. Dr Advani, who is associated with the CIIGMA hospital in Aurangabad, is considered to be one of the top oncologists and is known for Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation procedures. He has received many awards, including the Padma Shri in 2002 and Padma Bhushan in 2012.DNA tried to contact Dr Advani on his personal mobile number. However, calls and messages sent to him went unanswered.When asked about the allegations faced by Dr Advani, a CBI spokesperson told DNA: “He is accused in the overall case of fraudulently transporting the money. His exact role will come out after an investigation.”As for the others, CBI officials say that, other than Yogesh, four of the accused are officials of the Vaidyanath Cooperative Urban Bank Ltd (VCUBL). It is also interesting to note the director of the co-operative bank is Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Pritam Munde, the daughter of late BJP leader Gopinath Munde.CBI officials have claimed that three of the accused were transporting the demonetized cash in a car, when they were stopped by the police in the Ghatkopar area of Mumbai.These individuals were detained and during interrogation, they said that they were bank officials and the Rs 10 crore being seized from them was being transported from the head office of Vaidyanath Cooperative Urban Bank in Maharashtra’s Beed region. This old money, the probe agency claimed, was being used for money- laundering.”Approximately Rs 15 crore was allegedly deposited with the Maharashtra State Urban Co-operative Bank and Rs 10 crore was being transported back to Beed, when they (the accused) were intercepted by the police on December 15,” a CBI spokesperson said on Friday.He said that others are also likely to be involved. “Among the other accused are unknown bank officials and individuals,” he said. He also confirmed that searches were being conducted at 11 places on Friday, which included the official and residential premises of the accused persons in Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad, and Beed in Maharashtra.However, a senior bank official from the Vaidyanath Co-operative Urban Bank contested the CBI’s claim, saying that the probe agency was misinformed. Speaking to DNA, the official claimed that the Rs 10 crore was part of the Rs 25 crore that was intended to be deposited in the bank’s Ghatkopar branch.The official added that the branch could accept only Rs 15 crore, following Rs 10 crore was to be sent to the branch in Pimpri Chinchwad from where it would have been deposited in another co-operative bank. “The whole case is a result of CBI’s mismanagement,” he said.

Odd-even cannot be implemented in one day, will happen after adequate preparations: Delhi govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi government made it clear on Tuesday that the third phase of odd-even scheme will only happen in the city with prior adequate preparations and awareness to the people as Transport Minister Satyendar Jain conveyed it in the NCR Planning Board meeting chaired by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu.Jain has asked the Centre to give the city administration sufficient time before asking it to implement the next round of car-rationing scheme as part of anti-pollution emergency measures. The main focus of the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) meeting was on the rising pollution level in the city.Earlier this month, the Centre had submitted in the Supreme Court its action plan to tackle the menace of air pollution and recommended slew of measures including ban on construction activities and implementation of odd-even scheme in the national capital. “In the NCR Planning Board meeting, I have requested the Centre to give us sufficient time before implementing the odd-even scheme so that we can sensitise people and generate awareness among the masses about it.”I have no objection on the next round of odd-even scheme. If Centre today says that odd-even will be implemented tomorrow, it cannot happen in one day. We need sufficient time before implementing the scheme,” Jain told reporters here.The minister also urged the central government to think about the livelihood of lakhs of labourers before banning construction activities as it has come to the notice that due to this move, labourers go to their native villages. “When the construction activities were recently banned in Delhi, most of labourers had gone to their villages. In view of this, I have requested the Union Minister to consider about their livelihood before taking any such decision,” he added.Jain said that during the meeting the report of IIT Kanpur on the city’s air pollution was also discussed, according to which there should be ban on power plants within radius of 300 km of Delhi. Apart from this, the report has also recommended controlling dust pollution through vacuum cleaning. “I raised both the issues in meeting and the Union Minister assured us to look into into,” Jain said, adding he also highlighted the delay in completion of three Urban Extension Roads being constructed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA).”There has already been a delay in completing these roads built in Outer Delhi. DDA has been constructing them for 15 years, but it is yet to complete them. “I have requested the Union Urban Development Minister to direct the agency to construct it as soon as possible so that there is no traffic congestion in Delhi,” he said.The Delhi government has also requested the Centre to construct Eastern and Western peripheral expressways at the earliest so that non-destined vehicles do not enter the city.

Watch: Rs 10.10 crore seized in old and new notes from a car in Mumbai

Thu, 15 Dec 2016-11:40pm , Mumbai , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A car carrying 10 crore in old notes and 10 lakh in the newly minted 2000 currency notes was intercepted by the Mumbai Police in Tilak Nagar area on Thursday evening. According to police, two people were impounded carrying the cash in a white Nissan car. After interrogation, they revealed that the money belonged to the Vaidyanath Urban Bank.The police, however, are verifying the claims made by the suspects and will be seeking help from the Income Tax Department on the same.

Punjab elections 2017: First list of 61 Congress candidates released

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress released its first list of 61 candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab on Thursday, fielding state unit chief Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar. The party has retained 31 sitting MLAs, while dropping only three including Preneet Kaur, who made way for her husband Amarinder from the Patiala Urban Assembly seat.The Congress has chosen seven new faces backed by “strong credibility and winnability criteria”. The list includes five youths, six women, eight former MLAs and one former MP. The names were cleared earlier by the Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.Amarinder said since there were too many aspirants, those who could not make it to the final list for Assembly polls will be accommodated once the party forms its government. He appealed to all Congress workers to come together to campaign for the party’s victory in Punjab.He said winnability is key criteria for selection and chose to go with winnable candidates across various cross-sections, striking a balance between youth, new faces and experience while giving adequate representation to women. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal, who had joined the Congress a few months ago, will contest from the Bathinda Urban Assembly seat, while former Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla will contest from the Sangrur Assembly seat.Party’s Punjab unit Vice President Sunil Jakhar will contest from Abohar, from where he is the sitting MLA, while former deputy chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will contest from her Lehra Assembly constituency and CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi from Chamkaur Sahib (SC), from where he is the sitting MLA. Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi will fight on the Congress ticket from Guru Har Sahai, while former minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has been nominated from the Fategarh Churian seat.The ticket for the high-profile Majithia constituency has gone to Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majthia, while Rana Gurjit Singh will contest from Kapurthala. Former IAS officer and former Moga Deputy Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Vaid, has bagged the party ticket from Gill reserved constituency.Three sitting MLAs have been changed under “one family, one candidate rule”. While Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has been replaced with his brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa in the Qadian Assembly seat, sitting Nawan Shahar MLA Gur Iqbal Kaur Babli has given way to her son Angad Saini.Twenty-five-year-old Angad Saini is the youngest nominee in the Congress list.

On World Toilet Day, 200 families hope to get their respect back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Living on the periphery of the high rise buildings in Dwarka, a group of close to 300 families still rely on the nearby forest to address nature’s call.The families, mostly ragpickers and daily scavengers, have been living in Nasirpur village along the periphery for more than 15 years now. Although, these people have now found some hope in the form of an activist group, on World Toilet Day.Call it lack of resources or education, the residents have continued to suffer due to the absence of a proper toilet facility in the area.”Imagine the kind of condition we live in. There is no supply of water, leave alone a hygienic way to relieve oneself. Our houses are less than 200 meters away from forest area, where we are forced to relieve ourselves,” said Shashtri, 35.Neglect from government authorities and senior leaders, has also added to the woes of the residents.”We’ve been living here for the past 15 years, have been actively participating in elections. The politicians also never forget to visit our area during the elections, however, they never hear our pleas after the elections,” said Manoj Kumar, the area community leader.Apart from drunkards, the area is often infested with animals, whereby making the area dangerous for small children.”We have little girls in the family, and they are always accompanied by someone whenever they go out to relieve themselves. The nights are the scariest part, even the women of the family are scared to go out after dark,” said Geeta,However, a citizen activist group, along with the members of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) on Saturday, launched a campaign called #where2pee on the World Toilet Day, whereby giving these people a respectable way to lead their life.”For over 150 families who live in the area, there is not a single toilet. Women, children, men, elderly and disabled, all of them have to go out in the open and defecate. However, we have now approached the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board to help us,” said Indu Prakash Singh, Leader – Urban Knowledge Activist HubAccording to DUSIB officials, while the process to construct and establish a toilet will soon be initiated, the department has now sought no-objection-certificate (NOC) from land owing agencies.”Being a slum area, we can’t directly construct a toilet with the permission of the land owing agency, which in this case is the DDA and the Gram Sabha. Although, we have written to the agencies asking them to grant us permission. Once the permission is acquired, the area will be laid with a proper sewer and water system to ensure hygienic toilet facilities for the area people,” said AK Gupta, a member of the DUSIB

Demonetization: PM Modi meets senior ministers in Parliament

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior ministers of his government is underway at the former’s chamber in Parliament.As per reports, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu, and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Anant Kumar are participating in the meeting. On day 2 of the winter session, both Houses were adjourned yesterday as a united opposition demanded a debate on demonetization, including voting, which was rejected by the government.Opposition parties attacked the Centre saying the demonetization move has hit the poor and the marginalised.The main opposition Congress Party on Thursday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made demonetization announcement on November 8, and thus, until the former comes to the Rajya Sabha, there will be no discussion on the issue. “We raised this issue in the Rajya Sabha yesterday that the demonetization announcement was made by the Prime Minister, therefore, he should have been present in the House, and should have listened to the opposition, and answered too. We wanted his presence in the House yesterday, but he did not turn up. We have been demanding since morning, and had also made it clear to the leader of the House yesterday, that until the Prime Minister comes to the Upper House, there will be no discussion on the issue,” the leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati also sought a reply from the Prime Minister on the ongoing discussion on demonetization in the Rajya Sabha. Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Mayawati said the issue is sensitive and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) should be set up to probe the alleged leakage of the decision on demonetization.

Modi govt’s next push against benami properties may settle down the real estate sector

“Ek teer se do shikaar”. It looks like our PM will be hooking up several shikaars as the current demonetisation drive is just the beginning of anti-corruption stir and will spur on a number of measures to rid India of its corrupt image.

After this period of 50 days of punitive action against owners of black money, folks, be prepared as the next whacking axe is set to fall against ‘benami’ property owners: a warning has been issued by our PM Narendra Modi, who has said clearly in Goa, “I am not going to stop at this. I will expose the history of corruption of 70 years since Independence.”

ReutersReuters

Reuters

Who are these benami property owners? Well, the government wants to find out exactly that and unmask such people and punish the offenders. Already the institutional framework has been strengthened by amending the original Benami Transactions Act 1988 to make the existing law more stringent. Under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016 that recently came into force on 1 November, a transaction is named ‘benami’ if property is held by one person, but has been provided or paid for by another person. The Act prohibits recovery of the property held benami from benamidar by the real owner. Also, Benami properties are liable for confiscation by the government.

Many among us have often casually side-stepped the law, and officials too are habituated to accepting bribes, so we have built an environment where corruption, greed and all the vices thrive. Thus, the corruption do-away move necessitates equally supportive laws and strict organisational framework backed by active regulatory authorities to stamp out benami transactions.

People with surplus black money had been keeping it safely hidden from the government by buying property in fictitious names, thus on paper they were not the owners but enjoyed all the benefits. It is assumed some corrupt political leaders, government officials and developers are the ones indulging most in benami transactions.

A senior real estate consultant is of the view that benami property transactions see a boom during various scams which our country has been witnessing from time to time. So right from chara ghotala of Lalu Prasad Yadav that came out in the open in 92-93 involving Rs 950 crore to Sukhram’s telecom scam and subsequently their holding of unaccounted assets and such other notorious scams where big amounts of money where quickly invested in properties far and away. Black money has always found a safe haven in properties in Delhi, NCR regions and Tier II, Tier III towns, albeit in unknown names to escape the law.

Now, under the amended law, all those benamdars and the real owners, who have been indulging in bogus transactions since the period the original Benami Act was formulated, will find that there is no escape route if they are identified, for not only will they will have to forego property but their property will also be impounded by the government and, moreover, they will be liable to face imprisonment or penalty as the case may be.

The amendment to the Act states a change in the earlier penalty from 1 to 3 years and from 1 year rigorous imprisonment up to 7 years, and a fine which may extend to 25 percent of the fair market value of the benami property. The district registrars and land record departments will dig out the names of benami property holders. “What this essentially means is that a lot of responsibility lies on the initiating officer for tracking a benamidar. Secondly, a network of players, the initiating officer, the approving authority, the administrator and the adjudicating authority, all have to work in tandem to establish a property as benami,” points out Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, JLL India.

The real estate sector has lately been witnessing a series of corrective measures. First, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, then the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015, now the Benami Transactions Act that are all aimed at making the sector more transparent and a professionalised one.

Through the crackdown on benami property, title risks, which hitherto undermined the buyers’ confidence, will be done away with. Also, the amendment will have a greater impact on benami transactions happening on a larger scale in agriculture land.
Moreover, exits by funds participating in transactions will be quicker. Our PM’s exhortation: “If you haven’t realised what I am made of, then do now”…clearly foretells his firm intent as he is out to expose the benamdars and with that the mystery of the real owners.

The government strategy now comes across clear; it is fortifying the banks with cash and aims at solving the problem of scarcity of land by taking strong action against benami property as soon as the monetisation drive gets over. And the good thing that may happen post the benami investigations, said to begin in January 2017, is that a lot of land inventory may become available to the government which the Union Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Venkaiah Naidu may open up to use in fast-tracking the affordable housing plans for the poor, for only 3 years would remain to execute that goal.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 15:41 IST

Bulandshahr gangrape case: SC seeks reply on Azam Khan’s ‘political conspiracy’ comment

Tue, 8 Nov 2016-06:38pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Minister Azam Khan to file a reply by November 17 in the Bulandshahr gang-rape case. The apex court also directed media organisations to submit the press conference or byte of Khan in which he made the statement related to rape case.The minister created a controversy after he alleged that a “political conspiracy” is involved in the gang-rape of a minor girl and her mother on the highway in Bulandshahr on July 29. On August 29, the top court issued Khan a notice for his reported comment.The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In September, the court asked the CBI to serve a notice to the minister for his alleged statement.

Bhopal jailbreak | Avoid politics, care about nation’s security: Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has asked not to play politics over the encounter of SIMI members who broke out from jail. Many Opposition parties have demanded raised eyebrows about the encounter and asked for an independent enquiry.”Why do only Muslims break out of jail and not Hindus? Videos have gone viral on social media. I demand a court monitored probe in the case,” Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said. Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister of Urban Development has responded saying, “It has become a fashion for some people to concern about the terrorists, SIMI, lawbreakers, the religion they belong to than show concern about the safety of Indians. Why not concern about the menace they created.”People are attributing communal colours to the encounter. A few days ago over 28-29 Maoists were killed in an encounter near Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border, nobody talked about their community and religion. This is all cheap politics. I appeal to all to avoid politics and care about safety and security of people,” BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, Ministry of Information Technology also responded to SIngh’s allegation saying, “I need to ask Sonia Gandhi whether or not what Digvijaya Singh is saying is Congress party’s line? In the matter of nation’s security, people must speak with one voice.”

Maharashtra govt’s proposed land monetisation policy will kill Mumbai, says Aditya Thackeray

Mumbai: Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray on Wednesday opposed Maharashtra government’s proposed policy that seeks to monetise land saying it was a plan to “kill Mumbai”.

In a statement, he said Mumbai has a large population that coexists with rich biodiversity, which includes forests, salt pan lands, beaches and a dockyard, all within the city limits.

He said the government is killing Mumbai environmentally and has failed to understand the metropolis in the last two years of office.

Aaditya Thackeray. Image courtesy: Facebook

Aaditya Thackeray. Image courtesy: Facebook

“We cannot run a government that is so unaware of the global and local impact of climate change. The rising sea level will not be healed by hailing and retweeting international treaties and photo-ops, but by truly acting on it,” Thackeray said.

The debt-ridden Maharashtra government has decided to raise around Rs 2 lakh crore by selling unused land located at prime locations in the city and other parts of the state. A committee headed by DK Jain, Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) has been set up to take the decision of selling government land located in Mumbai and other parts of the state.

“Monetising Mumbai’s open spaces will bring in global warming and dangers of environmental destruction,” Thackeray said.

The Centre and the state are actively considering opening up of salt pan lands for housing, he said adding, “Salt pan lands – flat expanses – have traditionally been no-development zones and massive open spaces without construction. Their use by builders, marketed as affordable housing (one wonders affordable for whom?) would only destroy the ecological balance that this space maintains for our coastlines.”

He said that in 2007, large areas of land were freed for builders by repealing the Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) Act.

“It was said that affordable housing would be created and Mumbai would get a revenue of Rs 2,000 crore. However, not a single affordable house was made and not a single penny came to Mumbai,” he added.

Raising questions over the government’s new land policy, Thackeray wanted to know whether open spaces without any commercial activity or without it being owned by builders have no value.

“Can the entire land be made into simple, beautiful green tract of land that enables Mumbaikars to see the sun rise?” he asked.

Thackeray said the land size of 1,200 acres that is opening up for monetisation, is three times the size of all textile mill lands in Mumbai and can create 50 Oval Maidans and eight times the waterfront promenade available at Marine Drive.

He further said that the government renews the lease of 226 acres of open space at Mahalaxmi Racecourse with those who have earlier proposed and tried to build a seven-star private hotel, heliport and much more there.

In the past, the Sena had demanded that a public garden be constructed at the racecourse here. Now, the Sena is demanding construction of a war memorial at Mahalaxmi Racecourse.

Maharashtra govt’s proposed land monetisation policy will ‘kill Mumbai’: Aditya Thackeray

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray on Wednesday opposed Maharashtra government’s proposed policy that seeks to monetise land saying it was a plan to “kill Mumbai”.In a statement, he said Mumbai has a large population that coexists with rich biodiversity, which includes forests, salt pan lands, beaches and a dockyard, all within the city limits.He said the government is killing Mumbai environmentally and has failed to understand the metropolis in the last two years of office.”We cannot run a government that is so unaware of the global and local impact of climate change. The rising sea level will not be healed by hailing and retweeting international treaties and photo-ops, but by truly acting on it,” Thackeray said.The debt-ridden Maharashtra government has decided to raise around Rs 2 lakh crore by selling unused land located at prime locations in the city and other parts of the state. A committee headed by D K Jain, Additional Chief Secretary (Finance) has been set up to take the decision of selling government land located in Mumbai and other parts of the state.”Monetising Mumbai’s open spaces will bring in global warming and dangers of environmental destruction,” Thackeray said.The Centre and the state are actively considering opening up of salt pan lands for housing, he said adding, “Salt pan lands flat expanses have traditionally been no-development zones and massive open spaces without construction. Their use by builders, marketed as affordable housing (one wonders affordable for whom?) would only destroy the ecological balance that this space maintains for our coastlines.” He said that in 2007, large areas of land were freed for builders by repealing the Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) Act.”It was said that affordable housing would be created and Mumbai would get a revenue of Rs 2,000 crore. However, not a single affordable house was made and not a single penny came to Mumbai,” he added.Raising questions over the government’s new land policy, Thackeray wanted to know whether open spaces without any commercial activity or without it being owned by builders have no value.”Can the entire land be made into simple, beautiful green tract of land that enables Mumbaikars to see the sun rise?” he asked.Thackeray said the land size of 1,200 acres that is opening up for monetisation, is three times the size of all textile mill lands in Mumbai and can create 50 Oval Maidans and eight times the waterfront promenade available at Marine Drive.He further said that the government renews the lease of 226 acres of open space at Mahalaxmi Racecourse with those who have earlier proposed and tried to build a seven-star private hotel, heliport and much more there.In the past, the Sena had demanded that a public garden be constructed at the racecourse here. Now, the Sena is demanding construction of a war memorial at Mahalaxmi Racecourse.

Smriti Irani, Sadananda Gowda dropped from Inter-State Council

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Ministers Smriti Irani and D V Sadananda Gowda have been dropped from Inter-State Council, official sources said on Wednesday. Irani and Gowda were permanent invitees to the council headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Irani and Gowda were divested of their HRD and Law and Justice portfolios respectively in the last Cabinet reshuffle in July. Irani is now Textiles Minister, while Gowda holds Statistics and Programme Implementation portfolio. Both the ministers were dropped from the council which was reconstituted yesterday, according to an official order.HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar has been included in the new council. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, who also holds the Law and Justice portfolio, continues to be on the council.The Inter-State Council was established in May 1990 with a mandate to act as a coordinating body between the states and the Centre. It is tasked to inquire into and advising upon disputes which may have arisen between states and also to investigate and discuss subjects in which some or all of the states, or the Union, have a common interest.The Prime Minister had in July chaired the 11th meeting of the council after a gap of nearly ten years. The previous meeting of Inter-State Council was held in December 2006. The council has as its members chief ministers of all states, chief ministers of union territories having a Legislative Assembly and administrators of union territories not having Legislative Assembly, and six union ministers.The ministers who are its members include Rajnath Singh (Home), Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs), Arun Jaitley (Finance and Corporate Affairs), M Venkaiah Naidu (Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information and Broadcasting), Nitin Gadkari (Road Transport & Highways and Shipping) and Manohar Parrikar (Defence). Ten Cabinet Ministers and Ministers of State (Independent Charge) are permanent invitees to the council.Besides Javadekar and Prasad, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ramvilas Paswan, Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot are the permanent invitees.

Slumscapes: How the world’s five biggest slums are shaping their futures | Reuters

By Paola Totaro

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the United Nations prepares a 20-year plan to cope with the challenges of booming urbanization, residents of the world’s five biggest slums are battling to carve out a place in the cities of the future.Home to more than 900 million people worldwide – or nearly one in every seven people – the U.N. says slums are emerging spontaneously as a “dominant and distinct type of settlement” in the 21st century.Today one quarter of the world’s city dwellers live in slums – and they are there to stay. The U.N.’s 193 member states are set to adopt the first detailed road map to guide the growth of cities, towns and informal settlements, ensure they are sustainable, do not destroy the environment and protect the rights of the vulnerable.Held once every 20 years, the U.N.’s Habitat III conference comes at a time when, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than rural areas.In 2014, 54 percent of the global population lived in cities but by 2050, this is expected to rise to 66 percent.”We live in the urban century … when planned, built, and governed well, cities can be massive agents of positive change,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a recent statement.”They can be catalysts for inclusion and powerhouses of equitable economic growth. They can help us protect the environment and limit climate change. That is why we need a new vision for urbanization.”The U.N.’s policy document, titled the New Urban Agenda, says there has been “significant” improvement in the quality of life for millions of city residents over the past two decades, but the pressures of population growth and rural-to-city migration are increasing dramatically.Billy Cobbett, director of the Cities Alliance partnership for poverty reduction and promoting sustainable cities, said urban growth in many parts of the world, particularly Africa, is not driven by rural migration alone but by population growth.The U.N. plan stresses that providing transport, sanitation, hospitals and schools is imperative but city strategies must also “go beyond” physical improvements to integrate slums into the social, economic, cultural, and political life of cities.Experts say this policy represents a significant shift in thinking among city planners and authorities who have historically seen bulldozers as the answer to slum settlements.High-density communities geared to pedestrians along with properties that mix business with housing can offer lessons for management of future growth, they say.Today, unchecked population growth and migration in many world cities – from Kenya to Mexico to India – mean slums and the informal economies and communities created around them must increasingly be seen as an important part of the wider city.SECURITY FIRST
The U.N. roadmap highlights that a critical impediment to upgrading informal settlements and sustainable redevelopment is the lack of tenure or ownership of land or property.In 2003, 924 million city dwellers were estimated to be without title to their homes or land and this number, according to the United Nations, is expected to have grown “exponentially”.This is a particularly pressing problem in Africa where more than half the urban population – or 62 percent of people – live in shanty towns and 90 percent of rural land is undocumented.Living without secure tenure means living under constant threat of eviction. Slum dwellers who have no way of proving ownership of assets also have no access to credit, further eroding any motivation to improve homes and neighbourhoods.For governments, particularly in poorer countries, slum areas without title are a particularly vexed problem as the great majority are not mapped, little is known about demographics or spatial use, and the way residents have settled is often so dense that housing and services are hard to fit in.The lack of basic information also means they cannot use the most commonly used official land registration systems.ROADS BATTLE IN KENYA
Nairobi’s vast Kibera settlement – coming from the Nubian for forest or jungle – is described as Africa’s largest slum and comprises more than a dozen villages from Soweto East to Kianda.A mix of ethnic groups make their home there although nobody knows exact numbers. According to the last Kenyan census, the population was 170,070 in 2009 but other sources, including the UN, estimate the settlement is now home to anywhere between 400,000 and one million people. Much of Kibera’s employment comes from the nearby industrial area of Nairobi but an estimated half of Kibera’s residents are jobless, surviving on less than $1 a day.Only 27 percent of Kibera’s 50,000 students attend government schools, with most attending informal institutions set up by residents and churches, according to the charity Map Kibera. Violence, alcohol and drugs are rife and clean water scarce.Kibera’s residents also struggle with no garbage services, free flowing sewage and the slum became infamous globally for the so–called ‘flying toilets’ – throw away plastic bags used by residents forced to relieve themselves outdoors.Yet amidst the squalor there are many residents like Peter Nyagasera and his family who have worked tirelessly to improve their neighbourhood.Nyagasera and his wife Sarah Oisebe up part of a former dump site in Kibera to create a playground for the resident-run school and a children’s centre for orphans. For these children, he says, school is the only place they receive a hot meal each day.But despite all their hard work, the community has been forced to mount a court challenge to stop construction of a road planned to cut through the area and demolish the school – and this community is not alone.A second group of residents from the marginalised Nubian group are also without formal titles and fighting for ownership to protect their homes, many recently marked with red crosses for demolition to make way for the highway.Their case will be heard in Kenya’s High Court in November but residents are despondent.”Children will suffer,” said Nyagasera.

WORKING SLUMS
One of the toughest and most vulnerable aspects of life in the slums is the battle to find regular work. Cities are job hubs and proximity to employment has long been a major driver of slum development and expansion.Globally, according to the International Labour Organization, 200 million people in slums were without jobs in 2013 while UNESCO estimates that more than a quarter of the young, urban poor earn little more than $1.25 a day.Despite this, in many developing economies, the engine room of job creation is found in the heart of informal economies like those in the favelas of Rio or the bustling hives of activity in big Indian cities like Mumbai.Author Robert Neuwirth spent four years researching his book, ‘Shadow Cities’, which looked at informal economies in global shanty towns. He believes these unlicensed economic networks are vastly under appreciated in scope and power and estimates they account for some 1.8 billion jobs globally.”It’s a huge number and if it were all together in a single political system, this economic system would be worth $10 trillion a year. That would make it the second largest economy in the world,” he said.In Mumbai, where an estimated one million people live in the bustling Dharavi slum, resident-owned small businesses – from leather workers and potters to recycling networks – have created an informal economy with annual turnover of about $1 billion.Residents live and work in the same place and are now campaigning actively to ensure that any redevelopment of their homes or construction of new housing takes into account the need for home-based ground floor workspaces.”People think of slums as places of static despair as depicted in films such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’,” said Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and writer, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie that exposed the gritty underbelly of Dharavi.”If one looks past the open drains and plastic sheets, one will see that slums are ecosystems buzzing with activity… Creating neat low-income housing estates will not work unless they allow for many of the messy economic and social activities that thrive in slums,” he said.Rahul Srivastava, a founder of Mumbai’s Institute of Urbanology, said the biggest impediment to upgrading informal settlements is their “illegitimate” status due to the absence of title.Settlements that are home to fifth-generation migrants cannot be classed as “informal”, he says, and it is high time the narrow perception of these neighbourhoods is changed.DYING FOR A PEE
In Cape Town, the shanty towns of Khayelitsha stretch for miles, a grim brown sea of ramshackle wood and iron shacks that confront visitors arriving at the airport but are out of view of the city’s glass towers or the leafy suburbs on nearby hills.Khayelitsha’s population, according to the 2011 Census, is 99 percent black.Jean Comaroff, a Harvard professor of anthropology and African Studies, said despite “valiant efforts” from city authorities and activists in recent years, Cape Town itself still offers little room for its slum residents beyond “servitude” – work as domestics or in the service industries.

“It is poised on a knife edge and the differences between the beauty of the city itself and what you see on the Cape flats is the starkest you will ever see in the world.” she said.In Cape Town, city authorities are not only struggling with providing housing and sanitation for a burgeoning population but face the task of trying to reverse the apartheid era engineering that built the spatial segregations that still exist today.Experts say that not only is there not enough new affordable housing but what has been built remains distant from employment, forcing long commutes for those who are lucky enough to work.Inside, however, residents are struggling – and at times losing their lives – due the absence of the most basic service – toilets.According to the Social Justice Coalition’s Axolile Notywala, using a toilet can be one of the most dangerous activities for residents and a major problem for women and children.A Commission of Inquiry into Policing in the shanty towns in 2012 found that 12,000 households have no access to toilets and the link between violence, particularly against women and children, and the need to walk long distances at night was highlighted by researchers and activists.A mathematical model built by Yale University researchers last year concluded that doubling the number of toilets to 11,300 in Khayelitsha would reduce sexual assaults by a third.”Higher toilet installation and maintenance costs would be more than offset by lower sexual assault costs,” lead researcher Gregg Gonsalves told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.DIY SERVICES
Across the world in Pakistan, Orangi Town in the port city of Karachi is believed home to around 2.4 million people although nobody knows exactly as the last census was in 1998.Widely cited as Asia’s largest slum, it sprawls over 8,000 acres – the equivalent of about 4,500 Wembley football pitches.Known locally as “katchi abadis”, the first informal settlements emerged in the wake of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947, which led to a huge influx of refugees. Unable to cope with the numbers – by 1950 the population had increased to 1 million from 400,000 – the government issued refugees “slips” giving them permission to settle on any vacant land.The settlement’s population really exploded in the early 1970s when thousands of people migrated from East Pakistan after the 1971 war of independence, which led to the establishment of the Republic of Bangladesh.Since then, land has also been traded informally, usually through a middleman who subdivided plots of both government and private land and sold them to the poor.Unlike many other slums worldwide the lack of services – not housing – is the major problem.Communities have built two and three-room houses out of concrete blocks manufactured locally, say activists. Each house is home to between eight and 10 people and an informal economy of micro businesses has emerged as people created livelihoods.In the early 1980s, however, some residents within the enormous slum decided they’d had enough of waiting for governments unwilling or unable to fund sanitation and so embarked on building a sewerage project on a “self-help” basis.

Now globally renowned, the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) has helped residents design, fund and build their own sewerage systems and pipelines and, since 1980, has brought latrines to more than 108,000 households in a project continuing today.To date, say OPP statistics, 96 percent of the settlement’s 112,562 households have latrines with residents footing the bill of 132,026,807 Pakistani rupees ($1.26 million) – all DIY.”In fact, people in the town now consider the streets as part of their homes because they have invested in them and that’s why they maintain and clean the sewers too,” said OPP’s director, Saleem Aleemuddin. BOTTOM UP DEVELOPMENT
Jose Castillo, an urban planner and architect in Mexico City, says that Ciudad Neza, home to 1.2 million people, should serve as a model for other blighted urban areas and slums.Short for Nezahualcóyotl, Neza sits on the bed of Lake Texcoco which was slowly drained in a bid to combat devastating flooding over a century and more.However the dry land ended up being too salty for farming and was slowly picked up by developers who laid out a grid of streets and sold off boxy parcels, most without proper titles.The settlement really grew in a burst of urban migration in the mid-20th century when new arrivals to Neza set up shacks of wood and cardboard, living without electricity, a sewage system or running water, schools or paved roads. Old timers remember in the early days they’d be lucky if a bus came every two hours.Victoria Gomez Calderon, 82, moved to Neza from eastern Mexico as a young woman, and remembers clearly the putrid remains of the lake just a half block from her tiny home.”It was a pure wasteland,” she said.In the early 1970s, residents banded together to demand services and a government programme to formalize ownership and provide land titles.Neza’s reputation as the world’s largest slum, coined when its population was combined with two other blighted areas decades ago, no longer applies, they said.Today, despite its severe problems from continuing poor access to transport and schools to high crime rates, Neza’s development holds lessons in growth and resilience for others.Planner Castillo says Neza is teeming with micro entrepreneurs working from home or sharing spaces in what would be called co-working in trendier places.”My argument is let’s stop asking what urban planning can do to fix the city and let’s focus on understanding where we could also learn from those processes,” he said.”There’s a strong sense of pride in place. It’s a community based on the notion that jointly these people transformed this territory.”Priscilla Connolly Dietrichsen, a professor of urban sociology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, agrees.”The story isn’t, ‘Oh dear, dear, what a terrible slum.’ In a way, it’s a success story, in spite of the present problems,” she said.SLUMS ARE CITIES
The 23-page draft document up for adoption at Habitat III in Quito is the result of months of closed-door negotiations, held in several nations, including Indonesia and the United States.Some critics are disappointed the policy framework contains no tangible targets and will be non-binding on member states.”It’s easy for governments to sign something that is not enforceable,” said Michael Cohen, a former senior urban affairs official with the World Bank, who has advised U.N. Habitat.”It doesn’t have much bite. It talks a lot about commitments but has no dates, places or numbers.”Supporters, however, argue the New Urban Agenda will not only focus attention on the urgent need for holistic planning of cities but also work to fundamentally change the way urban growth is debated and discussed both nationally and globally.Important drivers of planned growth are a well-oiled system of land ownership, title and tenure which then paves the way for governments to collect revenue to pay for new services.Equally important is the need for concerted planning approaches so new hospitals, bus services, and schools are placed where they are needed with thought given to future growth and employment opportunities.There has, however, also been some criticism of the U.N.’s shift from a traditionally rural focus to a city driven, urban one and its failure to link the New Urban Agenda to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and climate change benchmarks.Shivani Chaudry, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network in India, said the bias away from rural interests in the New Urban Agenda will leave many people behind.She said many countries had argued forcefully for the adoption of goals and targets, for example a reduction in numbers of the homeless, increases in housing for the poor or a drop in forced evictions, but nothing was agreed.”Rural populations have not been adequately represented: farmers, forest dwellers, indigenous and coastal communities – all suffer the consequences of uncontrolled urbanization,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”There is so much exploitation of these people and our fear is that so many have been left out.” (Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Threshold noise levels at airports reduced

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The country’s existing busy airports will now have to follow stricter noise pollution norms and airport operators will have to model noise for upcoming airports. The Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has come out with draft noise standards for airports, reducing the existing threshold for noise limits. The draft notification has also issued guidelines on taking into account noise pollution during the time of environment clearances.The revised standards come in the wake of National Green Tribunal’s recent order to monitor noise limits at the Delhi International Airport. Residents of Vasant Kunj, Bijwasan and Indian Spinal Injuries Centre had moved to the NGT alleging noise violations and its impact on health. Following NGT’s orders, civil aviation ministry ordered the country’s busy airports to monitor noise levels.Presently, airports follow the Noise (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, which categorises airports as ‘industrial zones’, where the noise limits are 75 decibels (dB) during the day and 70 dB during the night.But, for existing busy airports such as Mumbai and New Delhi, MoEFCC’s new draft standards has brought down the limits to 70 dB for day and 65 dB for night. For ‘other existing airports and upcoming or new airports’, the standards are 65dB for daytime and 60dB for night time. For airport operations and noise standards, day time is categorised as the period between 6am and 10pm, while night time is categorised between 10pm and 6am. The specified limits exclude the aircraft landing and take-off noise as that breaches the 100dB mark. Aircrafts generate maximum noise during take-offs and landing and the noise levels depend on the kind of engines they use.Experts though said that already, implementation of existing standards is not practical, and even the new standards will be difficult to enforce. “It is difficult to implement these conditions and impose flying restrictions to reduce noise as most commercial flights that land in the night account for valuable business,” said Dr Satish Pande, Director, Ela Foundation and ornithologist. Ela foundation has worked with the Mumbai airport operator GKV to study bird-hits.Besides revising the noise threshold, the ministry’s draft notification has said that new airports should undertake noise modeling and also consult with the Union Ministry of Urban Development to ensure proper land-use planning. “Any upcoming airports noise modeling shall be conducted by airport operators and results should be discussed during environment clearance with MoEFCC to ensure the proper land use planning and controlled developments by MoUD and concerned state development authorities, with regards to residential, institutions and commercial facilities and other sensitive areas in the airport noise zone,” the notification said.The notification has also asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to review the noise standards every three years. Furthermore, all airports will have to make public the noise mapping details of current and future aircraft movement on the websites of Union Ministry of Civil Aviation, MoUD and MoEFCC.In addition to regulation of noise, the notification has advocated for developing sound resistance in buildings and constructions. “Development authorities shall mandate all the building, facilities and projects of residential, hospital and institutional facilities to take noise mitigation measures through proper buildings design and construction and material use.”

Another scam engulfs Commonwealth Games village

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Controversially built on over 27 acres of land on the Yamuna floodplain, huge construction flaws running through the plush Commonwealth Games village consisting of 1,168 houses, suggests a new scam.A study conducted by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) under the aegis of the Urban Development Ministry, suggest that substandard materials were used to build the township. And what they found was an eye opener. As per government records, the cost of initial construction was Rs 190 crores. To repair or correct the defects pointed out by the CPWD, the developer will need to spend Rs 50 crores on the project.AT A GLANCEThe township was built by the Delhi Development Authority in a public private partnership with real estate developer EMMAR MGF. The study, conducted over a period of nine months, has found defects in every aspect of construction from basement to the terrace. The defects ranging from air-conditioning to faulty wiring is all the more shocking considering that the original design of the building was meant to be both earthquake and fire resistant.​In its finding, the CPWD committee points out that the basement level of the apartments is at a level of 196 meters, seven meters higher than the prescribed level in the area. The CPWD also found that water proofing of the basement was too poor as a result of which the basement had developed seepages at various places. “Most of the joints are not sealed properly, causing water to seep through the joints and thus causing corrosion of the reinforcement of the structural elements,” reads the report.The eleven electric sub stations provided in the basement of these towers, which house the apartments, possess a serious hazard as a result of this water seepage.In another shocking observation, the CPWD committee also found that instead of being constructed by concrete and iron beams, the columns and slabs in a few places had jute bags, plywood pieces and other foreign material trapped inside the columns. The use of this shoddy material suggested that shortcuts had been used while building.The DDA, which is also an auxiliary of the Urban Development Ministry, is now vetting the report. While a senior DDA officer of the engineering department, who did not want to be quoted, slammed the report, calling it a “farce”, the DDA spokesperson refused to comment on the issue. “The matter is with the Urban Development ministry. We do not want to comment on it,” said a DDA acting spokesperson, D Sarkar.AT A GLANCEThe study, conducted over nine months, has found defects in every aspect of construction – from the basement to the terrace.The defects, ranging from air-conditioning to faulty wiring, is all the more shocking, given that the original design of the building was meant to be both earthquake- and fire-resistant.In its finding, the CPWD committee points out that the basement level of the apartments is at a level of 196 metres, seven metres higher than the prescribed level in the area.The CPWD also found that water-proofing of the basement was too poor, as a result of which the basement had developed seepages at various places.”Most of the joints are not sealed properly, causing water to seep through the joints and thus causing corrosion of the reinforcement of the structural elements,” the report said.​Meanwhile, the residents of the village who had earlier got another independent survey conducted by the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) also plan to take action against the builders. Private owners occupy 460 flats, while officials from the Urban Ddevelopment ministry occupy 368 flats in the complex.”The flaws need to be rectified. We plan to move court against the builders to get the repairs made,” said Bhushan Narula, president of the Commonwealth Games Village Apartment Association.

President Pranab Mukherjee not to get second term?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The government has asked former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma’s family to vacate the 34, APJ Abdul Kalam Road bungalow, which may become the new address of President Pranab Mukherjee after his tenure gets over in July next year, indicating that he may not get a second term in office.Currently, Sangma’s son Conrad, who is Lok Sabha MP from Tura in Meghalaya, is occupying the type-VIII Bungalow. The Urban Development Ministry has requested him to vacate the house since the first time MPs are not entitled to a type-VIII bungalow, the highest category of government accommodation, a source in the department said. These accommodations in the Lutyens Bungalow Zone are the most sought after.At the same time, the source said President’s Secretariat had also requested the Urban Development Ministry to look for a suitable accommodation for Mukherjee, whose term expires in July next year. The officials of the President’s Secretariat were shown the bungalow on APJ Abdul Kalam Road and they have agreeable to it becoming Mukherjee’s new home after he demits office, the source said.Mukherjee had defeated Sangma, who passed away in March this year aged 68, to become the 13th President of India. A retired President is entitled to rent-free accommodation anywhere in India with free water and electricity for the remainder of his/her life as per the President s Pension Rules, 1962.

President Pranab Mukherjee might not be seeking second term: Here’s why

The Government of India has finalised a post-retirement home for President Pranab Mukherjee on Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road indicating that the President might not be seeking a second term, reported The Indian Express.

A file photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

A file photo of President Pranab Mukherjee. Reuters

The report added that Bungalow No 34, which previously housed former Lok Sabha Speaker the late Purno Sangma and which is occupied by the Sangma family, will be turned into the President’s home once his tenure ends in July 2017.

A official of the Ministry of Urban Development told The Indian Express that the Sangma family has been asked for vacate the bungalow as they are not entitled Type VIII property and said that the house might be revamped for Mukherjee, though there has been no request yet.

In her column in The Financial Express, Coomi Kapoor wrote that Mukherjee has confided to his close aides that he is not keen on seeking another term and felt that the BJP might not re-nominate him. “Mukherjee, 80, who completes his term next July, is already sorting out his papers and gifts presented to him during his presidentship, but the NDA government is still to decide on his replacement,” she wrote. 

Firstpost’s Gouri Chatterjee argued that while there is wide speculation on whether Mukherjee will get a second-term or not, it is also a fact that he has built a “close rapport” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She wrote: “But then, if anyone can come in as Sonia Gandhi’s man and carry on as Narendra Modi’s man it will be Pranab Mukherjee. He has talents few others do; he has memories that are still sharp in his mind.” 

The President’s Pension Rules 1962 states: “A retired President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of a furnished residence anywhere in India at the choice of the retired president, without payment of water and electricity charges for the remainder of his life.”

It further states that “At places where government-owned accommodation is allotted to a retired president, the size of the residence shall be comparable to a residence allotted to a minister in the Union Council of Ministers.”

Varanasi wakes up to smart city mission

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Two-and-a-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was declared winner from Varanasi, the city languishing in its past glory is waking up to a smart plan, as announced by the Urban Development Ministry here on Wednesday.The new Rs. 2,500 crore plan will cover the old city around River Ganga, which was not included in the earlier heritage city plan, invoking severe criticism, that the government was targeting only VIP areas, and to make new VVIP localities. “As per the plan, Rs 1,659 crore will be spent on area development and Rs 618 crore on pan-city solutions. The rest will include technical and administrative expenses and other contingencies,” said a ministry official.Since 31% of Varanasi’s population resides in the old city, accounting for 7% of the city’s geographical area and 38% of city’s GDP, the new plan focuses on developing the old city with Ganga as its pivot and areas around the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The administration claims to have sought suggestions from four lakh residents before finalizing its plan.Under the new scheme, the centre plans to convert the ancient city also known as Kashi into Suramya (appealing), Samunnat (socio economic growth), Sanyojit (allowing hassle free movement) and Nirmal (clean).With 65 lakh tourists visiting the city each year, “The idea is to make Varanasi a tourist friendly city, providing easy and safe access, safety, cleanliness and hassle free traffic movement,” said the official.Under the Heritage City Development Scheme, the centre has been funding roads, sewage and other infrastructure projects in Varanasi. Restoration of façade and buildings along the ghat are a part of the Heritage scheme.For a total repackaging, smart city mission will ensure, rejuvenation of ghats and temples, ensuring supply of power and water, waste management, improvement of waterways, developing of 11 parks, smart multi-level parking spaces, cultural-cum-convention centre, Kahsi Kala Dham, Town Hall, Silpi Haat, Centre of Excellence with Hall of Fame, light and sound show, night bazar, rejuvenation of water bodies, pedestrian pathways, non-motorised transport, energy efficient streets, lighting, underground cabling, and improved sign boards.Offering Sanyojit solution, Varanasi Municipal Corporation will be providing optic fibre connectivity across the city, online payment of utility bills and service delivery, intelligent traffic management systems including GPS on buses, e-booking of boats, guides and taxis. CCTV based monitoring and surveillance, e-Suvidha centres, information delivery on Mobile Apps are also part of the smart Varanasi solution.While the Centre and states have been pooling in funds for Varanasi, a part of funding is also to come from the Public Private Partnership Model (PPP). In addition to the support from central and state government, costs of Varanasi’s smart city proposal are to be met with resources of Rs1,290 crore through convergence of various schemes, Rs505 crore from the Corporation’s own resources and Rs.140 crore from PPP.

Forces have made ‘swacch LoC’: Venkaiah Naidu on surgical strikes

New Delhi: A “swacch LoC” has been achieved after Indian security forces gave a befitting reply to our neighbour which is funding and abetting terror, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday.

“The other day you have seen what is Modi. Our neighbour is funding, aiding, abetting, training terrorists. They have been given a befitting reply by our forces…. swachh man, swachh dhan, swachh tan and now swachh border, swachh LoC has been done. Now all have to come together to take forward Swachh Bharat,” the Information and Broadcasting minister said.

File photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTIFile photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

File photo of Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

The senior minister was referring to the Army’s surgical strikes across LoC in Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK) where it destroyed terror launch pads.

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, Naidu also asked people to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s call for a clean India and become ‘swachhagrahis‘.

Lauding the Prime Minister, Naidu said Modi stands for “Mood of Developing India”.

He said Mahatama Gandhi had during the freedom movement given a call for satyagraha and those who participated became ‘satyagrahis‘.

“Now the time has come, all of us taking the call of the Prime Minister should become ‘Swacchagrahi‘. On the pious day of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday today, let us all become ‘Swacchagrahi‘,” Naidu, who also holds the Urban Development portfolio said.

He said in the 21st century India had to be free from illiteracy and “Litterati” – a reference to those who throw litter in the open.

He said the Prime Minister always wanted ‘Swacch Bharat’ to become a people’s movement. The aim of the nationwide cleanliness drive was to clean up the country by 2019, the year that marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of
Gandhiji.

The senior minister was speaking at the award giving ceremony of a ‘Swachh’ film competition, where Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore was also present.

While lauding the creativity of those who participated in the short film competition, Naidu said eminent filmmakers — Madhur Bhandarkar, Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi, Prasoon Pandey, Ramesh Sippy and Shoojit Sircar will also produce films on Swachh Bharat.

Naidu said efforts will be made to exhibit these films widely.

Gangtok awarded ‘Cleanest Tourist Destination’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, has been named as the ‘Cleanest City Destination’ by the Union Ministry of Tourism.The award was received from the Prime Minister by the Commissioner, Gangtok Municipal Corporation in New Delhi on September 30, an official release said in Gangtok on Sunday. The Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, nodal Ministries responsible for implementing the flagship programme Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Urban and Gramin), jointly organised a day-long national workshop ‘INDOSAN’ at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Friday.The workshop which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister saw the participation of Union Ministers of the Ministries concerned, Chief Ministers of many states and Ministers in-charge of Swachh Bharat Mission.The Sikkim delegation was led by state Minister, Urban Development (UD) and Housing Development (HD), N K Subba, Mayor GMC, PCE/Secretary UD and HD, Municipal Commissioner, State Mission Directors (Urban and Gramin), Officials and Panchayats, ADCs-Development Namchi and Gyalshing.The delegates from Sikkim participated in the workshop, particularly in the technical session on Sanitation Technologies, Solid-Liquid Waste Management, inclusive Sanitation and Role of IT and Technology in SBM. A plenary session on Inter-Ministerial collaboration was also conducted, the release said.

Narendra Modi’s 100 smart cities: Who put money on table? What will happen to urban poor?

On the paper, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 smart cities plan has impressed everyone from the very beginning. The announcement of 27 new smart cities, on Tuesday afternoon, takes the total number of smart cities announced so far to 60.

The latest round includes Modi’s constituency, Varanasi. The Modi government’s plan to make 100 smart cities with a total state-funding of Rs 1.45 lakh crore, is ambitious in every sense, for the reason that it carries the potential to kick off the private investment cycle in India’s urban infrastructure and, if succeeds, set an example for other aspiring cities.

gujarat-smartcity-reutersgujarat-smartcity-reuters

A file photo of GIFT city in Gujarat. Reuters

Let’s look at what is a smart city. The website of Ministry of Urban Development, “the objective is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities.”

It’s an ambitious plan indeed, even though political parties have been questioning Modi’s smart city scheme with respect to the choice of cities and the fate of existing cities. What one should note is that most experts agree that, at least on paper, Modi’s smart city project is a much better version of what has been experimented in the past to improve housing and infrastructure facilities in India.

The Congress-led UPA government’s years have seen schemes such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana, which were later renamed later after Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sardar Patel. Smart cities are next level of taking this experiment ahead. There is no harm in the repackaging and renaming exercise as long as the job is done in a better way.

But, the problem is on implementation and how the government will handle the socio-economic-jurisdiction issues ‘smart’ cities will bring in. The past experience, beginning with the PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) scheme in 1990s, should make one cautious while embarking on a fresh housing infrastructure revolution.

Consider these points:

For one, the biggest challenge for Modi’s smart city dream is securing the capital from domestic private investors and foreigners. This isn’t easy since profit-hungry private investors will be worried about the returns from the Day One, which should ultimately come from the user fees. As per the current plan, each new smart city will receive Rs 200 crore in the first year and the Rs 300 crore over the next three years. The state governments and local bodies which will have partnership in the special purpose vehicles (SPVs) at city level will match the center’s contribution. But, the contribution from the state will only account for only a fifth of the total fund requirement needed by the five-year plan.

According to Deloitte the 100 smart cities mission will require an investment of over $150 billion over the next few years with private sector contributing $120 billion. In other words, one fifth of the total investments in smart cities need to come from private sector.

The rest of the money should come from the private sector. “The government funding cannot be sufficient,” said Devendra Pant, chief economist at India Ratings and Research. “And it is a big challenge to get private investments. When you talk about urban infra projects, recovery will not be immediate. You should find out alternate way of revenue generation. Can private sector investor get returns to his investments? Nobody will come for charity.”

Though big cities still have a better chance to get funds, but the smaller ones in the list of hundred, will have to struggle, Pant says.

If one goes by the recent reports, the signals so far is that foreign investors, who are supposedly enthused about the prospects of investing in smart cities, haven’t really put money on the table. A 1 September Hindu Business Line article, which cited an RTI query, said no investment has come from foreign investors ever since Modi embarked on the 100-cities smart city journey some two years back. What does this mean? Foreigners aren’t as thrilled as us on India’s smart cities and are still skeptical to put money on the table.

Secondly, how will the SPVs raise funds is a question. The government has clarified that the Centre’s contribution to smart cities will be strictly in the form of grant and the ULB is exercising its own discretion in utilising these funds as its equity contribution to the SPV. The SPV can access funds from other sources including debt and loans besides user charges.

But, raising money from bond issuances will not be easy for SPVs considering the experience of municipal bond issuances in the past, said Pant of India Ratings. “What will be the revenue model of that SPV? Till now, response to municipal bonds has been lukewarm. Not much money has been raised. It will be a test whether these SPVs will be able to leverage the grants given by central and state governments and raise money in the debt market.”

Third, there is a likelihood of new smart city plans clashing with the existing limited infrastructure of cities. In cities where already there is chaos on account of inadequate infrastructure, such as congested roads and land scarcity, how the designers of the new smart cities will prepare ground for world-class infrastructure is a question. So is the question on how will these cities accommodate the urban poor and migrant unskilled workers. One of the ways for the investors to recover the money they invest in such smart cities is through charging inhabitants for better services. This can make smart cities a costlier option for a large section of urban poor and can lead to social imbalance.

The bottom line is this: There aren’t two thoughts on the potential of the 100 -smart city plan. It is an idea that deserves attention. But, convincing investors to put in money in these new cities will be a huge challenge. Much of its success will lie in in execution. And even if that happens, the government will have to find out the answer for how the new world of smart cities will mean to the urban poor.

(Data support from Kishor Kadam)

Maharashtra legislature repeals 64 archaic acts: A look at some outdated laws in India

Archaic laws are among the biggest problems facing India. Apart from the fact that some laws like the one on sedition have led to conflicts and protests in India, there are other laws in our country which are so ridiculous that you wonder why they were created in the first place.

However, the Maharashtra legislature took a positive step when it repealed as many as 64 archaic laws on Sunday. Some of these laws date back to 1876.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

‘Maharashtra Repealing Act, 2016’, passed by both houses of the legislature, is a part of larger exercise to delete altogether 191 such irrelevant and outdated legislations which have been deemed fit for removal from the statute book by the Law Commission.

These legislations have been divided into ten volumes and are to be repealed in phases, from the ones dating back to 1827 to those passed in 1984.

Of the total of 191 acts, 54 concern the Urban Development, 39 relate to the Revenue Department and 14 laws concern the Law and Judiciary.

Among the legislations repealed recently is ‘The Maharashtra Dog Race-courses Licensing Act, 1976,’ which regulated dog races. In these races, an object propelled by mechanical means was chased by dogs. But these dog races stopped taking place a long time back. In fact, we wonder how many people were aware of the fact that there was actually a law on a race for dogs.

‘The Tolls on Roads and Bridges Act’ dated back to 1875. It empowered the officers to levy toll on road traffic. The rate ranged from Re 1 for four-wheeled carriage on springs to 12 annas for carts and hackery (two wheel cart or sledge on springs drawn by horse or any other animal).

‘The Maharashtra Refugees Act, 1948’ was meant to regulate registration of refugees coming from ‘West Pakistan’ during the Partition. Most of these refugees settled in Mumbai, Ulhasnagar and Jalgaon, among other places. This would have been a very appropriate law if we were still living in 1948 and West Pakistan still existed.

‘The Indian Lunacy, Bombay District Municipal and Bombay Municipal Boroughs (Amendment) Act, 1936’ provided for a local authority for recovery of the cost of the maintenance of the ‘lunatics’.

Of course, the good news is that these laws have been repealed.

Here are other laws in India which will make you shake your head:

For example, the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 states that a person is allowed to drink or possess not more than two units of alcohol a day. For hard liquor such as vodka and gin, the two unit limit is 214.28 ml (three and a half pegs), for beer it is 1.14 litres — a little more than two pints, and for wine, the limit is 0.448 litres.

So, consuming beer is all good until you have that third pint.

The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956 says that the law aims at preventing the dissemination of “harmful publications” to young persons.

The problem here is that the definition of “harmful publications” is so vague that in order to rid Kochi of marijuana and other drugs, the police had not only raided several joints, but had also booked and arrested sellers of Bob Marley merchandise, including t-shirts, bracelets, bumper stickers and key chains.

The East Punjab Agricultural Pests, Diseases and Noxious Weeds Act, 1949 states that in face of danger of an invasion by locusts, the government has the right to call upon any person aged above 14 years to fight the attack. The person has to respond to the beat of the drum in the city’s centre, failing which he will have to pay a fine of Rs 50 or be subject to simple imprisonment extendable to 10 days.

The infamous Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with sedition and had actually been coined to protect the British royalty from protesting Indians, says that any word, either spoken or written, or sign, or visible representation which incites violence, hatred or contempt, or excites disaffection towards the Government in India is punishable under the law.

Because of this law, amidst national outcry, Aseem Trivedi, a political cartoonist was arrested for posting caricatures of the Indian Parliament, national emblem and the Constitution on a web portal.

With inputs from PTI

NITI Aayog organises workshop on water management for capacity building in states

New Delhi: NITI Aayog will organise a two-day workshop beginning Thursday on water, waste water and solid waste management for capacity building in states and urban local bodies (ULBs).

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The workshop is a part of Urban Management Programme of NITI Aayog in collaboration with Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) and Temasek Foundation, Singapore, the Aayog said in statement.

The programme was launched on 27 April, 2016 in New Delhi.

It focuses on capacity building of officials of states and local bodies in three critical areas of urban rejuvenation – Urban Planning & Governance; Water, Wastewater & solid waste management and public financing (PPP) of urban infrastructure.

It provides a platform to states/ULBs to share the challenges being faced in urban transformation in these key areas and to evolve and design efficient solutions to some of these challenges through partnership with urban sector experts from Singapore.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Assam are participating in this programme.

The Singapore experts are from Surbana Jurong, CH2M Hill and PwC. The first workshop on Urban Planning and Governance was held on 28-29 Apri, 2016.

The second workshop beginning tomorrow would focus on areas including integrated urban water cycle management for sustainable and resilient water infrastructure and healthy cities; used water (wastewater) management, rain water harvesting and public education.

Are Indian cities ready for the coming migration wave?

According to the World Urbanization Prospects of the UN Population Division, the percentage of people residing in urban areas is slated to rise to 60 percent by 2030 and to 66.4 percent by 2050, up from 54 percent in 2015. In 1950 the corresponding figure was just under 30 percent. This shows the magnitude of change happening across the world with an ever-increasing percentage of people residing in urban areas.

India, as a country, has been slow to urbanise. At present, according to census 2011, roughly 31 percent of Indians reside in urban areas. Over the next few years, India is expected to urbanise rapidly — and this percentage is slated to rise sharply.

A pertinent question that arises is: Do Indian cities have the wherewithal to be resilient in the face of such unprecedented migration?

At the core of finding an answer is a multi-stakeholder group comprising citizens, governments and businesses that can solve many of the urban issues that are being faced.

In the case of India, governments before the present dispensation and the present dispensation have been trying to find solutions to these questions. The earlier JNNURM and the Smart Cities Mission now are both part of the resolve to improve India’s urban ecosystem.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

It is in this context that a recent book by the World Bank becomes pertinent — Regenerating Urban Land – A Practitioners Guide to Leveraging Private Investment has laid focus on a hitherto less-focussed area in urban affairs that can be leveraged for better livability and competitiveness, namely, regenerating urban land. The book details a conceptual framework for understanding the urban regeneration process as well as mentions eight case studies of such projects from across the world.

According to this important work, urban regeneration is done in areas where there are pockets of under-used and under-utilized land or distressed and decaying areas.

A successful urban renewal process has four phases. These include an initial ‘scoping phase’, which primarily provides decision makers with analytical tools to confront issues facing the city. It is both forward looking and backward looking. It looks backwards for the city’s history and DNA and looks ahead to what is required.

The book goes on to cite Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Riverfront Development project (SRDP), one of the eight case studies, as an example of a scoping exercise that took a long time for completion.

The second step is the ‘planning phase’. This involves ‘designing a web of actions and institutions’. The book explicitly mentions that a successful planning framework brings together an inspiring vision with a clear regulatory process. A planning process with the help of scoping process must detail all the vital assets and elements including land, community and environmental issues.

In the case of SRDP, the planning phase was initiated once the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for riverfront development was established.

Post this, the third stage is financing. Here, there are generally two types of tools available. Financial tools involve direct financial assistance such as value capture methods (impact fees, special assessments, extractions). Regulatory tools utilize regulatory powers of a city to incentivise private sector participation in the form of tax-based/non-tax based incentives, zoning, land use planning and the like.

In the case of Ahmedabad, an innovative financial scheme was utilised for financing. Fourteen percent of the reclaimed land was used to finance complete regeneration of the riverfront. The city used its serviced public land to raise a loan from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), a central government public sector undertaking.

The final step is the implementation stage that translates the vision for sustainable change into financial, contractual and institutional relationships between the public and private sectors. This involves creating an organisational structure, which is sustainable and can exist through multiple political administrations.

In the case of SRDP, post the establishment of SPV, a diverse board was enabled with members from the private sector, the bureaucracy and the political parties (both ruling and opposition) which enabled the project to be viewed as a civic work rather than one aligned with any party’s agenda.

The other case studies in the book are equally insightful. The book is a welcome addition to the body of work for policymakers and development practitioners in India and elsewhere. It will aid development professionals and policymakers understand how urban regeneration projects can be conceived and can contribute to revitalising the economy and build its competitiveness and resilience for the future.

Over the next few years, more such thinking is required for countries like India to face some of the challenges that may arise due to their massive and haphazard urbanisation that is underway.

Clash between BJP mayor and MLAs delays Varanasi development plan

One and a half years on, not a single project under the Urban Development ministry’s heritage cities scheme has seen the light of the day in the prime minister’s Lok Sabha constituency. Persistent clashes between the BJP mayor Ram Gopal Mohale and party MLAs Shyam Deo Rai Choudhary and Ravindra Jaiswal over awarding contracts have led to a delay in initiating projects in Varanasi under the scheme.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The UD ministry is now directly intervening in the Varanasi project. The Centre has roped in the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) a central agency to handle municipal level projects.Under the ministry’s Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), 12 cities which attract religious tourism are to be developed into heritage cities. The projects involve strengthening road infrastructure, creating tourist conveniences including water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, street lighting and other citizen services.A fund of Rs500 crore has been sanctioned for the projects. For Varanasi alone, a corpus of Rs80 crore has been put aside by the ministry. However a year after INTACH had conducted a study and prepared the city plan, the city administration is yet to approve any project.Four projects including strengthening of two roads, development of Dashashwamedh Cultural walk and town hall redevelopment plan have been approved in the first phase. But a clash between the MLA Ravindra Jaiswal and Mayor Mohale over the awarding of contracts has led to delays in the project.”Both Mohale and Jaiswal have been stalling each other’s recommendations. Choudhary too has been playing a spoiler. As a result of their constant clashes and complaints against each other, no contracts have been awarded,” said a senior officer of the UD Ministry.While both the MLAs remained unavailable for comment, Mohale said that all was well between the municipal body and the MLAs. He even tried to shift the blame on the state government for the delay. “We do not have any individual interests. All of us are dedicated soldiers of PM Modi. BJP is working as a team,” he said.UD ministry has however chalked out a middle path. It has now roped in NBCC to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the projects. The agency will now take up construction work for the approved projects.NBCC is a central agency and is engaged by the government for undertaking central government construction projects. For schemes like the smart cities, HRIDAY and AMRUT projects the states are asked to select their own agencies and make their own plans. But Varanasi is an exception. “Smart cities and AMRUT are centrally sponsored schemes and so the states have to choose their consultants, but HRIDAY is a central sector scheme. In sector schemes, the ministry can get involved,” explained the ministry officer.

Pollution turning Taj Mahal yellow: NGT issues notice to Centre

The National Green Tribunal has asked the Centre to respond to the plea of an environment enthusiast alleging that largescale burning of municipal solid waste in Agra was turning the Taj Mahal yellow.The green panel also restrained civic authorities from burning municipal solid waste and other waste in open in Agra and the areas around the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to Ministry of Environment & Forests, Ministry of Urban Development, Uttar Pradesh government, Central Pollution Control Board and others while seeking their reply in two weeks.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The order came on a plea filed by Agra resident and green activist D K Joshi, who claimed a joint study by IIT-Kanpur, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin had revealed that “brown and black carbons along with dust” were responsible for giving yellow tinge to the 17th century white marble monument.”Subsequent to the report, the parliamentary standing committee on environment passed several directions to the Agra administration to curb pollution in the city. According to a study carried out by Ajay Nagpure, the burning of MSW releases a high amount of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), which is responsible for damaging the aesthetics of a culturally important monument, like the Taj Mahal,” the plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, said.It said that one of the major threats to the Taj Mahal was the high level of particulate matter (PM) which was being released into air due to large scale burning of municipal solid waste (MSW) in the city.The plea contends that civic bodies in Agra were blatantly violating Solid Waste Management Rules as more than 2000 metric tonnes of solid waste per day was being dumped in various part of the city besides plastic waste which was being consumed by stray animals.”It is submitted that respondents are not segregating industrial, hazardous and bio-medical waste from Municipal Solid Waste and the same is being dumped in various parts of Agra for the last several years.”The drains and canals have been converted into sewer lines which fall directly into River Yamuna without any treatment by the various authorities including Nagar Nigam Agra, Agra Development Authority, Cantonment Board and areas falling under the TTZ Authority,” the plea said.

Nirmala Sitharaman files nomination papers for Rajya Sabha

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday filed nomination papers for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election from Karnataka. Sitharaman, accompanied by Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar, BJP state president and MP B S Yeddyurappa and BJP state leaders, arrived at Vidhana Soudha at 11.15 am to file the nomination papers.Earlier, BJP wanted to re-nominate Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Parliamentary Affairs M Venkaiah Naidu for the fourth time but had to cancel it due to the opposition from Kannada organisations. Naidu was nominated by BJP from Karnataka for three consecutive terms to the Rajya Sabha.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking with media persons after filing the nomination papers, Sitharaman said that she would take care of Karnataka’s interests in every way. “I am going to be a servant here being sent by honourable Prime Minister who calls himself Pradhan Sevak. I will be also a sevak and because I will have to represent Karnataka. I will make sure that the interests of Karnataka will be ensured in the Parliament,’’ she said.When asked that Venkaiah Naidu had also given similar assurances and promised to work for the welfare of Karnataka but did nothing, she said: “Venkaiah Naidujee is a very senior leader of our party. He has been a former president, we all respect him. He has done his best. We will continue the tradition. We will do as much we can under the leadership of Yeddyurappaji, other former chief ministers and Union Minister Ananth Kumar.’’She said that Karnataka had wonderful schemes during Yeddyurappaji’s regime. “There was a separate budget for agriculture during Yeddyurappa regime,’’ she added.BJP has 44 MLAs in the Assembly and needs one more MLA’s support to ensure the election of Nirmala Sitharaman for Rajya Sabha without any problems.Interesting contestThe election to Karnataka Legislative Council took an interesting turn with BJP fielding Lehar Singh as its second candidate in the election scheduled for June 10. The interesting thing is that BJP needs 11 more votes to bag the second seat in the election to the Council. BJP has nominated V Somanna as its first candidate in the election to the Council.It remains to be seen how BJP leaders will succeed in getting the 11 votes in support of the second candidate. Karnataka Minister for Energy DK Shivakumar and JD(S) leader and former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy have also taken the election to the Council as a prestige issue. It’s a question of who will blink first since both of them have claimed to have the support of Independent MLAs and dissident MLAs of Congress and JD(S).

Congress raps VK Singh on renaming Akbar Road demand

New Delhi: Taking a dig at Union Minister VK Singh who has pitched for renaming Akbar Road as Maharana Pratap Road, Congress on Wednesday said that renaming roads “is the job of the Municipal Corporation” and ministers should work for the welfare of people.

VK Singh. PTI

VK Singh. PTI

“If they have the penchant of renaming roads, why do they get elected to Parliament?” Party spokesman Manish Tewari asked.

Tewari reminded the BJP leaders like Singh that renaming roads “is the job of the Municipal Corporation.”

“Why they get elected to Parliament, why are they running the Central Government? That is the job of the Municipal Corporation. They should have got elected to the Municipal Corporation,” Tewari said.

He said that those in the ruling party should work for their constituencies and those in the government should work for the welfare of people through their ministries.

The Congress leader felt that such demands showed a tokenism mind-set, a frivolous mind-set which is not able to grapple with the complexities and challenges of governance.

“Therefore, they resort to every kind of chicanery in order to cover up for their ineptitude and mal-governance.”

Tewari spoke in similar vein when asked about demands like renaming Aurangabad and Ahmedabad on the plea that they have been named after foreign invaders.

“They should try to fulfill their promises to the people,” the Congress leader said.

Government today spurned the demand for renaming Akbar Road as Maharana Pratap Road, saying “naming and renaming of streets was not on the agenda”.

“Naming and renaming of street is not the subject matter of the Urban Development Ministry. It is not on the government’s agenda. Government’s focus is only development,” Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters.

Singh has pitched for renaming Akbar Road in Lutyens Zone after the doughty Mewar ruler Maharana Pratap and written to Naidu in this regard.

His demand comes amid reports that Haryana government too had sought renaming of Akbar road after the Mewar ruler.

Playing down Singh’s comments, BJP said everyone has a right to express his opinion but the government’s priority was solving the country’s problems and its development.

BJP Lok Sabha MP Bhola Singh questions govt’s smart cities project

A BJP member in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday sought to question the ambitious smart cities project of the Narendra Modi government, saying it will develop already developed cities and increase disparities.Raising the issue during Question Hour, Bhola Singh asked Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to explain how the smart cities scheme was different from the work already being undertaken by urban local bodies. He said since the municipalities and municipal councils were already working on developing cities, how would the central scheme be different. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu said the project is aimed at creating 100 smart cities to work as “light houses” for others to follow. He also rejected suggestions by Singh that in the process, rich areas will become richer, saying though under the plan the cities were to be selected through an open competition, the Centre has also ensured that regional imbalances are taken care of. The minister also refuted Singh’s remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that while East has brains, the West, which lacks brains, has money. He said all regions of the country are rich in knowledge. “The Prime Minister had never said that,” Naidu asserted in the presence of Modi.Maintaining that there was no political discrimination in selecting smart cities, he said the Centre has been helping states improve their proposals to get into the list. He was responding to a supplementary by Saugata Roy (TMC). Naidu said since funds were an important issue, government is moving accordingly and in the first list, 20 cities have been accorded smart city status.

Mumbai: BMC provisions four FSI for Dharavi redevelopment project

The BMC has made provisions four FSI for Dharavi Redevelopment Project as requested by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada).As per the Urban Renewal Scheme under Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP), areas undertaken by Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) under DRP for renewal and redevelopment of buildings/chawls, including cessed buildings situated on non-slum areas within Dharavi Notified Area, will be a part of the entire DRP area which will have an overall FSI of 4.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The entitlement of FSI on that particular plot shall be 4 or the FSI required for rehabilitation of existing tenants/occupiers plus incentive FSI and would be in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the revised DCR of Development Plan 2014-2034.Meanwhile, BMC has uploaded Revised Draft Development Control Regulations 2014-34 (Part V, VI, VII(PT), VIII, X(PT), Annexures /Appendices) pertaining to additional FSI, Open spaces, Land Use classification, general building requirements and special provisions. BMC has requested the citizens to submit their suggestions and objections by May 17 by hand delivery at BMC headquarters or on [email protected]

BJP leader Babul Supriyo injured in road accident, admitted to AIIMS

File image of BJP leader Babul Supriyo. Getty Images

File image of BJP leader Babul Supriyo. Getty Images

Union Urban Development Minister and BJP leader Babul Supriyo met with a road accident after a car hit him while he was riding his motorcycle in Delhi on Friday.

According to media reports, he was on his way to pick up his daughter and got hit by a car hit when he was passing through Moti Bagh flyover.

The singer-turned politician has been admitted to AIIMS Trauma Centre in Delhi and kept under observation.

More details awaited.

IGNCA campus to become home to Netaji Bose memorial

New Delhi: Culture Ministry is likely to allot up to six acres of land in the campus of Indira Gandhi
National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) in the heart of national capital for construction of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose memorial.

The move will meet the long standing demand of the Netaji’s INA Trust for allotment of land in “prominent area” of Delhi for construction of memorial of the freedom fighter.

“A decision in this regard has been taken by the Culture Ministry. The Ministry will allot land at the campus of IGNCA for the purpose,” a Ministry source said.

IGNCA, considered a Congress legacy, was established in 1987, when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, as a centre for research, academic pursuit and dissemination in the field of the arts.

Netaji Bose. File photo. AFPNetaji Bose. File photo. AFP

Netaji Bose. File photo. AFP

It spreads across a 26-acre campus at Janpath near India Gate. “Out of this 26 acres, about 4-6 acres of land which is lying unused currently will be allotted for setting up the memorial of Netaji,” the source said.

Last year, Union Urban Development Ministry had written a letter to Culture Ministry to consider allotting land for  setting up the freedom fighter’s memorial, he added.

Earlier, Netaji’s INA Trust had requested the Urban Development Ministry to provide land for constructing the leader’s memorial.

The Trust had also rejected the 1.6 acres of land allocated for the purpose by Urban Development Ministry at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg and sought about six acres of land near Rajpath for the memorial, the source said.

The decision of Culture Ministry comes days after Union Minister Mahesh Sharma announced that a memorial dedicated to Netaji will be built in the national capital.

He had said keeping in view the demand of various organisations and Parliamentarian, the government has decided to built a huge memorial in his name in Delhi which will depict his life and freedom struggle.

Last month, the Modi-government had also reconstituted the management of IGNCA bringing in veteran Hindi journalist Ram Bahadur Rai as its head in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat.

Handwara firing: Mehbooba Mufti seeks ‘time-bound inquiry from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday sought from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar a “time-bound inquiry” into the Handwara firing, which left a budding cricketer and two others dead.Mehbooba, who is on her maiden visit here after assuming post of Chief Minister, today met Parrikar and Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu separately.In her meeting with Parrikar, she sought a time bound probe saying it will will act as a deterrent against such incidents in future.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing the firing incident as “very unfortunate”, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said, “I spoke to the Defence Minister. He assured me that a probe will be initiated and the culprits will be punished.”At the same time the family (of the victims) will be compensated. Such incidents should not happen in the future,” she said after meeting Parrikar.
ALSO READ Death toll rises to 113 in Kerala temple fire tragedyBudding cricketer killedTwo youth, including a budding cricketer, and a woman were killed in Handwara when security forces opened fire to disperse a stone-pelting mob targeting their bunker.The incident took place after reports surfaced that some army personnel had allegedly molested a girl returning from school. However, police investigations have so far indicated that no such incident had taken place and it was an attempt by some miscreants to create disturbance for removing an army bunker located within Handwara town, sources said.
ALSO READ Kerala: 3,200 kg of firecrackers seized in Kozhikode; six arrestedArmy has ordered an inquiry while the police registered a criminal case and begun investigations into the incident which triggered more protests and had an echo in Srinagar and Pulwama districts of Kashmir as well.
ALSO READ Kerala temple fire: 7 temple officials surrender; Police grill them(Angry protesters torch an Army bunker after the killing of two youths allegedly by Army during clashes which erupted after the alleged molestation bid by Army Jawan, at Handwara district of north Kashmir on Tuesday. – PTI)Mehbooba said such incidents shake the confidence of the people and adversely impact the efforts of the State government in consolidating peace dividends.Even as she sought from Parrikar adequate compensation for the families of the victims, Mehbooba said said the loss of lives of the innocent civilians cannot be compensated by whatsoever means.Mehbooba had on Tuesday said the security personnel involved in the killing of two youths will be handed exemplary punishment, saying such incidents “cannot” be tolerated.Mehbooba also raised a number of other issues including the handing over certain portions of land not required by the Army to the State so that they can be used for promoting tourism and developing civic, educational and infrastructure facilities in the larger public interest.Concrete action by the Defence Ministry She also took up the issue of concrete action by the Defence Ministry on the decisions taken into the civil-military liaison conference besides revision in the rates of rent to different categories of land held by the Army and revision of compensation provided to people affected by Field Firing and Artillery Practices.Later, she met the Union Minister for Urban Development at his residence where she discussed with him several proposals for upgradation of civic facilities in cities and towns in the state.(Kashmiri villagers carry the body of Raja Bejum, 70, during a funeral procession in Langate near Handwara on April 13, 2016.- PTI)Mehbooba said both capital cities Srinagar and Jammu should be included in the Smart Cities Mission besides including the forward town of Kargil under the ambit of AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation).Presently, Leh town is being covered under the Centrally-sponsored scheme.She sought “liberal financial assistance” from the Ministry so that it benefits from various Central government schemes, which will help the state overcome challenges in solid waste management.

Haryana fixes education qualification for Urban Bodies’ polls

Any male person desiring to contest for Urban Local Bodies in Haryana will now have to be matriculate and have a functional toilet at home while and a woman and a Scheduled Caste candidate will be required to be at least 8th standard pass. Minimum educational qualification for SC women candidates will be 5th standard pass.LIVE England vs New Zealand 1st Semi-Final T20, ICC World T20 2016, March 30, 2016The minimum qualification and requirement of toilet for contesting Urban Local Bodies polls, like in the case of Panchayati Raj institutions, has been prescribed in the Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Haryana Assembly today. The bill amends Section 13-A of the Haryana Municipal Act, 1973 and Section-8 of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994. The amendment aims at strengthening the Urban Local Bodies, the third tier of the governance and improving the efficiency, transparency and accountability by making education a necessary qualification for the office-bearers of the Urban Local Bodies, according to the government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bill proposes prescribed qualification as Secondary class pass (matriculation) for all levels of the elected representatives of the Urban Local Bodies. Minimum educational qualification for women and Scheduled caste candidates has been fixed as middle class and for SC women candidates as 5th Class. The Bill also proposes candidates contesting the elections to Urban Local Bodies have to file a self declaration that they have the provision of a functional toilet at the residence. “Prescribing minimum standards of education will not only help in augmenting performance of the members of Urban Local Bodies, but also reduce chances of them being misled and ensure their accountability,” according to the Bill.”In view of good literacy rate in the state, election of educated candidates for Urban Local Bodies will prove to be a catalyst for faster and sustainable development of cities,” it adds.With regard to toilets, the bill says, “The appropriate sanitation arrangements in the residential areas of urban population is the main attention of the time and in this scenario the provision of functioning toilets in each and every house is must. “To boost and encourage such type of provision of toilet must be started from the elected representative of the Urban Local Bodies. “Therefore, non-provision of functional toilet at the place of residence of a candidate has been made as disqualification.”

Can’t penalise without creating awareness on Swachh Bharat: Government

The government on Thursday said it cannot slap penalty for not implementing the Swachh Bharat Mission without first creating awareness and establishing necessary infrastructure.”We are having three-pronged strategy. First, trying to educate people and change mindset, second one is creating infrastructure. The third and last option which has not yet been tried is penalisation. Certain countries like Singapore have it. But I cannot straightaway go to that system without creating infrastructure,” Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If you want to go for urination in Connaught Place area (in Delhi) and if there is no public toilet anywhere, you cannot ask him to go back to his native place and do it there. We have to create infrastructure also. We are doing both,” Naidu said.Noting that delineation of duty for non-performance of the officer or employees concerned a big and sensitive issue, the Minister said, “We have been sensitising the urban local bodies to see accountability is brought into the system.” In a federal system, it is the urban local body, panchayats or municipal body which have to lead in this campaign, supervise and monitor it, he added.He was replying to a supplementary query raised by Vandana Chavan (NCP) on non-implementation of the mission at local level and if there is a possibility to fix accountability and impose penalty. Replying to another supplementary on impact of advertisements on the mission, Naidu said, “Sir, impact cannot be quantified in such short time though I understand purport of the question. “Listing down achievements”It cannot be quantified in short duration. But at the same time, 4.17 lakh for girl children in schools. With regard to urban areas also, the momentum is catching up day by day,” he said. The government is trying to changing behaviour through various campaigns through print and electronic media.Spiritual gurus, leaders and icons of cricket, sports and industry are also being engaged, Naidu added. To another query by BJP member Basawaraj Patil that the mission would remain unsuccessful without banning plastic, he said, “Banning plastics is not related to my ministry. We are getting demands and it is an important issue. I will convey this serious issue to the concerned ministry.”Noting that the mission is gradually turning into a mass movement for cleanliness, Naidu said the Centre has released so far Rs 1,641.57 crore to states for implementing the urban component of the mission, while Rs 7,631.47 crore under the rural component. Against the target of constructing 25 lakh individual household latrines upto March 2016, work has commenced on around 23.25 lakh and 10.28 lakh have been completed, the minister said in his written reply.Work has commenced on 1.34 lakh public toilet seats and 35,2016 have been constructed against the target of contructing one lakh community and public toilet seats in urban areas, he said quoting reports from the state governments. In the area of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM), against the target of achieving 100 per cent door to door collection in 50 per cent of the wards, 43.92 per cent of the wards have door-to-door collection as reported by states.Water to wealth initiativeUnder water-to-weath initiative, the Minister said that the policy on promotion of city compost has been approved under which provision has been made to provide market development assistance of Rs 1,500 per tonne of city compost for enabling scaling up production and consumption of the product. The chemical fertiliser companies have been mandated to co-market city compost made out of municipal solid waster along with chemical fertilisers, he added.The Minister further said that the Power Ministry has amended the Electricity Tariff Policy to include a provision that distribution licensees should compusorily procure 100 per cent power produced from all the waste-to-wealth initiative plans in the state and at the tariff determined by appropriate commission.For the recycling and reuse of construction and demolition waster, the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) has amended the IS 383 — Specification for coarse and fine aggregates, enabling the use of recycled aggregates in construction activities.”These interventions of SBM in waste-to-weath initiative would give a big boost to the recovery, reuse and recycling of municipal solid waste so that dumping, landfilling and pollution is brought down,” the Minister said.

Azam Khan calls BJP MLA Sangeet Som ‘beef mafia’

Uttar Pradesh Assembly on Friday witnessed heat when Urban Development Minister Mohd Azam Khan termed BJP MLA Sangeet Som as “beef mafia” to which he reacted sharply.During the Question Hour, Khan pointed towards Som and termed him as “beef mafia” questioning his alleged links with slaughter houses. Som, MLA from Sardhana, said if Azam had any proof, he should table it in the House.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khan said he had proof of what he said and advised Som to “take a lesson from what happened in a university”, without naming Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey later intervened to cool the frayed tempers. Som, an accused in Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, was alleged to have links with meat export firms, a charge denied by him.

Himachal govt to comply with HC direction on jaundice outbreak

The Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary on Sunday held a meeting to discuss compliance measures following a High Court order on the jaundice outbreak in Shimla and surrounding areas. It was decided that the High Court order would be implemented within the stipulated time frame.Chief Secretary P Mitra asked officials concerned to file their replies to the High Court through the nodal officer of Irrigation and Public Health Department. He also directed the departments concerned to maintain a proper vigil on the quality of water. The meeting was attended by the Additional Chief Secretary of Health, Additional Chief Secretary of Power, Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development, Secretary of Law, Secretary IPH, Member Secretary of Pollution Control Board and Director of Health among others.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In its order on February 25, the High Court took serious note of “contradictory” status reports filed by officers concerned relating to jaundice outbreak case and asked them to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.It also directed the government to create a post/ statutory body, to be manned by a competent authority, in order to deal with entire water supply system of Shimla town and also to deal with the entire water crisis relating to the entire state and submit compliance reports to this Court every after two weeks.

Slaughter houses: SC slaps fine of Rs 1 lakh on Forest Ministry for inappropriate response

The Supreme Court on Friday imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on Ministry of Environment and Forests for failing to give an appropriate response to its query whether states have set up committees to oversee the functioning of slaughter houses.A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana was irked by the reply that response of the states has not been received as the letter seeking information was sent only last month while the order was passed in March last year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The order was passed by this court in March last year and you are sending the letter seeking information about the committees this year. You just tell us whether the state committees are functioning or not and whether any meeting of such panels has taken place or not,” the bench said.After the counsel failed to satisfy the bench’s query, it imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the ministry.The bench has been hearing PILs filed by NGO Common Cause and People For Ethical Treatment of Animals (PRTA) in 2001 and 2004 respectively.Common Cause, in its plea, had sought enforcement of standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards in IS 8895:1978 regarding the disposal of animal wastes and slurry and IS 1982:1971 regarding ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection of animals.PETA, in its 2004 PIL, had raised issues relating to slaughter houses across the country.The apex court, last year, had asked the Secretary of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to inform as to whether the standards that have been laid down require “any review or update and/or modification due to the passage of time”.Prior to this, the court had ordered setting up of state committees for overseeing the functioning of the slaughter houses and later, it nominated the Secretary of Ministry of Urban Development as the nodal officer for coordinating with state committees and obtain information from them.It had also asked the nodal officer to ascertain and state on affidavit whether all the states have set up the committees in terms of the order passed by the court and whether the broad framework prepared by the MoEF for the state committees for slaughter houses is being followed.

PM Modi does not have Alladin’s djin, smart city money can’t be spent on other things: Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Sending a clear message that money allotted for the Smart City project cannot be used for other purposes, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said that “everything will be watched and observed”.

He said there was no politics in choosing Smart Cities as many BJP-ruled states do not figure in the list, so do the constituencies represented by many VIPs.

Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu. PTIUnion Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Addressing a conference on ‘India Smart Cities Mission: Next Steps’, which was attended by senior officials from 23 municipal corporations across the country which could not make it to the first list of top 20 cities selected for the Smart Cities project, he asked for cooperation from the people for the success of the project.

Narendra Modi does not have an Alladin’s djin with which he can make every city smart. It requires public participation. Smart cities require a smart leader in action, vision, and implementation. (How can) a city be smart if people don’t cooperate with the administration. Everything will be observed and everything will be watched. Money cannot be spent for other purposes,” Naidu said.

The minister also emphasised on greater participation of people and local bodies. “Urban governance can no longer be business as usual. It’s not top to bottom approach, but bottom up approach,” he said.

Naidu said his own city could not make it to the first list of cities selected under the Smart Cities project.

He mentioned that there is no politics and discrimination in development which he said is the basic philosophy of this government. “I have always said that my cooperation depends upon your cooperation. Otherwise there is separation. There is no question of politics here. BJP-ruled states like Chhattisgarh, Goa and Jharkhand could not make it. Constituencies represented by many important people are not there. Because I don’t expect an MP to make a Smart City. It is the duty of the mayor and the municipal commissioner,” Naidu said.

PTI

National Herald case: Delhi HC notice to Swamy on plea against trial court order

New Delhi: Delhi High Court today sought the response of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on pleas seeking to set aside trial court order allowing summoning of documents from Ministries of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Income Tax Department and other agencies in the National Herald case.

Justice Sunita Gupta also issued notice to Swamy seeking his reply on or before March 15 on the pleas which also sought staying operation of the trial court’s January 11 order. “I am issuing notice to the respondent, but not staying the proceedings before the trial court,” the judge said. The petitions filed by AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora and Young India Ltd, through senior advocates R S Cheema and Rebecca John, said the trial court has not heard them and the order passed was an ex-parte order.

National Herald newspaper. Image courtesy: IBNLiveNational Herald newspaper. Image courtesy: IBNLive

National Herald newspaper. Image courtesy: IBNLive

“Swamy has sought all documents but no specific period has been mentioned in his application before the trial court and still his plea was allowed,” Cheema contended, adding that the January 11 trial court order must be quashed or set aside. Swamy’s plea seeking summoning of documents from the Ministry of Urban Development, Delhi Development Authority and Registrar of Companies was also allowed by the trial court.

He had told the court that he needed these documents, which are in the custody of these ministries, for advancing arguments in the case. The trial court had on 19 December, 2015, granted bail to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and three others — Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Suman Dubey — who had appeared in the court pursuant to summons issued earlier. Sam Pitroda, another accused, was granted exemption from personal appearance for that day only on medical grounds.

The case is based on a private criminal complaint lodged by Swamy against them of cheating, conspiracy and criminal breach of trust. The documents which Swamy had sought pertained to Associated Journal Ltd (AJL).

PTI

Swachh rankings: Mysuru cleanest, Dhanbad, Varanasi among 10 least clean cities in India

For the second time in a row, Mysuru was on Monday ranked cleanest city, followed by Chandigarh whereas Dhanbad and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, Varanasi, are among the 10 least clean cities in India, as per the first survey after the launch of ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission in 2014.The survey, which was released by Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu , covered 73 cities including 51 cities with more than 10 lakh population on cleanliness and sanitation. “Swachh Survekshan-2016 is primarily intended to measure the impact of the efforts under Swachh Bharat Mission launched after the survey of 2014,” Naidu added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Mysuru has topped the list followed by Chandigarh, Tiruchirappalli and NDMC area of the national capital, Dhanbad in Jharkhand has been ranked the worst.The city of palaces was ranked first in the list of 476 cities last year.Other cities which have found place in 10 cleanest category in the Survey, conducted by Quality Council of India, include Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Surat (Gujarat), Rajkot (Gujarat), Gangtok (Sikkim), Pimpri-Chindwad (Maharashtra) and Greater Maharashtra.The least clean cities included Dhanbad (Jharkhand), Asansol (West Bengal), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) and Kalyan Dombivili (Maharashtra).Cities from South and West continue to do well overall but those in other parts of the country, particularly, in the North are beginning to catch up with the traditional leaders, Naidu said. “The results of the survey were analysed to identify the top leaders, aspiring leaders, cities where accelerated efforts need to be made and the slow movers,” he added.Last cleanliness survey was conducted in 2014 among 476 cities with a population of one lakh and above and its results were announced last year. That survey was done before the launch of ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission’.”This (ranking) is meant to help the cities know where they stand in absolute terms and in relation to others besides what more needs to be done by each city to ensure sanitation. In that sense, the survey is more holistic, participatory, purposeful and meaningful for future guidance and evolving course of action,” the minister added.Swachh Sarvekshan: Bhubaneswar bags ‘top mover’ awardOdisha capital city of Bhubaneswar was today felicitated for being one of the cleanest cities in the country under the ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ award category.Mayor of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation A N Jena and BMC Commissioner Krishan Kumar received the award from Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu at New Delhi, an official release said.As per the list of cleanest cities announced by the Union Urban Development Ministry as part of its ‘Swachh Sarvekshan’ (Cleanliness Survey), ‘top mover’ award has been conferred on Bhubaneswar.The survey, which was carried across 75 cities between January 1 and 20, has ranked Bhubaneswar at 24th place.In the previous survey, Bhubaneswar was ranked 331.Cuttack, the second city from Odisha in the survey, has been ranked 59th.”We have been identified as the top city in the Eastern Zone and overall we have been ranked 24th,” said Bhubaneswar Mayor Jena adding, the survey was conducted The recognition for Bhubaneswar came close on the heels of it being declared as the best among 100 smart cities in the country.

AAP govt bails out MCD workers with Rs 551 crore loan; however, imposes strict conditions

The Rs 551 crore loan of Delhi government to the cash-strapped municipal corporations has come with a rider — “no fresh recruitment” of sanitation workers and “discontinuation” of temporary employees within a year, according to an order issued by the AAP dispensation.”There will be no fresh recruitments particularly group IV employees viz., safai karamcharis, beldars and fresh regularisation. The safai karamcharis and beldars engaged on temporary basis will be discontinued in a phased-manner within a year,” the order says. The order was issued by the Urban Development Department of the city government on February 4.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had made an announcement offering the Rs 551-crore loan to two civic bodies on February 3. The municipal corporations will reassess all their schemes and not increase the scope of the existing ones, the conditions say and “no new scheme to be launched without approval of government of Delhi.””Increase revenue through improved property tax coverage, bring left-out properties under the property tax net, increase revenue from advertisement, parking, remunerative projects,” it adds.The order also lays down that the Municipal Valuation Committee report shall be implemented in the next two months and the city government apprised of the same. Besides a loan of Rs 551 crore, the Kejriwal government has also released Rs 142 crore to the North Delhi Municipal corporation as sought by it by way of stamp duty to resolve the salary crisis.The sanitation workers of the three civic bodies had on Monday agreed before the Delhi High Court to call off their strike and resume work immediately after the three BJP-ruled corporations said they had released their wages, though the two camps have failed to reach any resolution.Even as BMS-affiliated unions decided to end their participation in the stir, unions associated with Swatantra Mazdoor Vikas Sanyukt Morcha continued their strike and held protest today in front of AAP minister Kapil Mishra’s residence in east Delhi. The erstwhile unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) was trifurcated into — North, South and East municipal corporations — in 2012.

Govt working on 50% quota for women in local bodies: Venkaiah Naidu

The Centre is holding discussions with all stakeholders on the issue of providing 50% reservation to women in local bodies across the country, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Sunday.”The Government of India is thinking seriously and holding discussions with all the stakeholders to provide 50 per cent reservation to women in the local bodies,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister said states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have already given 50% reservation to women and “we want it to happen at the national level”.The rural development ministry is working on the issue of women reservation in panchayats, Naidu said, adding that “the urban development and rural development ministry is holding consultation. Once the consultation is finalised we will move in that direction.””Before doing so we would like to take all the stakeholders into confidence and create broad consensus,” he said.Reacting to a query, Venkaiah said there is no consensus as far as women’s reservation in Assembly and Parliament are concerned.”Every party is saying they are committed but when it comes to passing the bill there are obstructions,” he said.”But, about the reservation in legislative bodies that has to be done only after evolving consensus. We are moving in that direction. Our government is committed to take this forward and we are holding discussions. As and when broad consensus emerges, we will take that also forward,” he said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to empower women. “By starting with ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’…and he also wants to empower them by giving them the needed financial support and provide them with social security measures,” the senior BJP leader said.

In a first, NDRF trains 160 dogs for disaster response

In a maiden initiative, a squad of 162 dogs is being raised by the NDRF to aid its personnel in rescuing people trapped under debris in the aftermath of natural calamities like earthquake. The NDRF, which was involved in disaster rescue operations like the deluge in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Chennai and the earthquake that struck Nepal last year, has undertaken the exercise on a ‘mission mode’. The force is training a batch of 162 dogs for their specialised Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) tasks under which the NDRF teams have to sift through mounds of rubble to look for life trapped beneath.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A number of them have finished their regime and are being subjected to drills and field exercises where they are made to sniff out life in a collapsed concrete structure. “We have undertaken an exercise to train special USAR dogs as they are the best companion of a rescuer during such challenges. This is the first time that dogs for disaster response are being trained on such a large scale indigenously. These canines are different from the regular police and tracker dogs and have immense capabilities in sniffing life from under the debris,” NDRF Director General OP Singh said.As the requirements of the National Disaster Response Force in this domain are large, the DG said, the force has taken upon itself to train this special class of dogs, a task being done in India for the first time. “There have been instances during our operations in the past when dogs proved that they are multiple times better than human rescuers due to their inherent special skills. That is when we decided to train our own dogs and hone their capabilities as part of a comprehensive exercise,” he said.

Former Union Minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wants to move privilege motion for his eviction

Angry over his eviction from an official bungalow, senior Congress MP from West Bengal Adhir Chowdhury has sought permission of the Lok Sabha Speaker to move a privilege motion against the authorities concerned.”You would be moved to know that ….a former Union Minister and fourth-term MP living in total darkness on a winter night along with his seven-year-old daughter”, Chowdhury said in a letter to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan seeking permission to move the motion in the budget session.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chowdhury alleged that the authorities snapped the electrical connection to his bungalow without informing him even when he was there. He claimed that the new accommodation given to him was “not in habitable condition”.The West Bengal PCC Chief told reporters in New Delhi that he has been given such a treatment because he has raised voice against BJP inside and outside Parliament.”I have been subjected to harassment and humiliation” and attempts were made to “defame me publicly” during the eviction,” he told the Speaker insisting that he was the “victim”.Enclosing copies of his correspondence with the authorities, he said that “you will surely find that the onus of not shifting to another accommodation does not lie on me and I am not at fault.”Attacking Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Urban Development Minister, he wondered how Naidu had stayed in a huge official bungalaw for ten years when JP was in opposition and he was not entitled to it.Chowdhury had sought on Wednesday two or three days’ time to shift to the new, smaller accommodation allotted to him on Humayun Road here after the Delhi High Court refused to stay his eviction from his ministerial bungalow at New Moti Bagh here.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury seeks 3 more days to vacate bungalow

Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Wednesday sought two or three days’ time to shift to the new, smaller accommodation allotted to him on Humayun Road here after the Delhi High Court refused to stay his eviction from his ministerial bungalow at New Moti Bagh in New Delhi.Authorities had started the eviction process yesterday and disconnected the water and electricity connection to the New Moti Bagh bungalow. Chowdhury, a former UPA minister, moved court against the eviction order and attempted to get it stayed by Delhi High Court which, however, did not interfere with the disconnection of utilities and ordered status quo till February 3 morning when it was going to hear the matter.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Since his petition has been dismissed, he has written to us seeking two-three days’ time for shifting his belongings to his new house on Humayun Road,” said a senior Urban Development Ministry official.The Lok Sabha MP from Murshidabad, who is also the chief of West Bengal Congress Committee, has been allotted a type-VI bungalow at C-1/4 Humayun Road. According to the Directorate of Estate, Chowdhury was overstaying at the 14, New Moti Bagh residence for 19 months since the cancellation of his allotment on June 27, 2014 by the Urban Development Ministry after he had ceased to be a Minister in the Union Council of Ministers.As a Member of Lok Sabha, Chowdhury is entitled to a Type- VI accommodation. He was allotted an alternative accommodation at C-1/99, Moti Bagh, by the House Committee of Lok Sabha in January, 2015. However, the new allotment was not acceptable to him. Subsequently, he was allotted an independent bungalow at C177, Moti Bagh (Type-6B) on June 1, 2015, but that too was not accepted by the MP.Chowdhury was again allotted a bungalow at C-1/4, Humayun Road, on November 3, 2015 and, after inspection and certification by CPWD, was requested on December 23, 2015, to vacate the Type-8 bungalow and move into the Humayun Road bungalow within 15 days to avoid accumulation of damages and contempt of court.A reminder was also issued to NDMC for disconnection of water and electricity connection to the New Moti Bagh house. Chowdhury moved high court against eviction on January 29 this year and the same was dismissed by the High Court on February 1, 2016. Chowdhury on Tuesday filed an LPA (Letter Patents Appeal) before another bench against the order of a single bench which was dismissed on Wednesday.

HC refuses to stay eviction of Congress MP Adhir Chowdhury

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the eviction of Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from his bungalow in New Moti Bagh here.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, while upholding the single-judge bench order of February 1, said that as the MP is not entitled for relief, his appeal is dismissed.”Pending representation before the House committee does not mean you are entitled for relief. The single judge has rightly dismissed your petition. This petition is also dismissed,” the bench said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chowdhury, a Lok Sabha member, had moved the court against the February 1 order dismissing his plea against the eviction, following which the authorities concerned had disconnected water and power supply to his ministerial bungalow at 14, New Moti Bagh, even as they started eviction proceedings against him.Yesterday, the division bench, which did not interfere with disconnection of utilities, had directed maintenance of status quo with regard to the eviction till today morning.According to the Directorate of Estates, the MP has been allotted another house on Humayun Road and given sufficient time to vacate the ministerial bungalow which, it said, he was not entitled to. But Chowdhury did not vacate despite several reminders in the past, it said.Chowdhury had yesterday said that it was nothing but “political vendetta against opposition by the government.” During the arguments yesterday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who appeared on behalf of the Directorate of Estates, had told the court that the government was trying to accommodate the MP but he was not satisfied with the housing options being given to him.Chowdhury’s counsel had submitted that there was a security threat to the MP as well as his family at the new premises.Defending the eviction move, the Urban Development Ministry had said that Chowdhury was offered three Type VI bungalows after cancellation of Type VIII bungalow at 14, New Moti Bagh but he refused.The allotment of the bungalow was cancelled in 2014 by the ministry since he ceased to be a minister at the Centre after the 2014 general elections.As a member of Lok Sabha, he is entitled for a Type-6 accommodation. He was allotted an alternative accommodation at C-1/99, Moti Bagh by the House Committee of Lok Sabha in January, 2015 which was not accepted by him.

Smart cities: I am feeling smart already, are you?

All of us must whole-heartedly welcome the smart city idea, if not for anything else for the sake of smartness at least. The word ‘smart’ carries a special aura. Imagine how the smart boys in the college got to flirt with the girls when you sighed and sobbed from a distance whining how academically dull they were. Or how your parents or school teacher left you squirming in the pants by pointing out how smart the neighbour’s kid, your classmate in school, was, or how elated you felt being called a smart kid by your neighbour’s partially insane uncle from village.

Union Uraban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostUnion Uraban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Union Uraban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Since not all fit naturally into the description of the word, it helps when cities are branded so. For example, I have started feeling smart already after Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu designated my city as one. Introducing oneself as someone from the smart city, one imagines, would be a thrilling experience. It might take 20 to 30 years though. But never mind that.

A note to myself here: don’t allow cynicism to creep in. In 30 years, around 70 percent of India will be urban and a big chunk of the population, if everything goes right with the government’s plan, will be residents of smart cities. Ninety-eight cities have been planned for now, the requirement three decades later will be around 500. It is possible governments will go on creating new such cities at regular intervals. There won’t be any fun being the citizen of a smart city then. But why spoil the happy present with thoughts of a gloomy future?

Smart city is a wonderful concept, forget those calling it an urban utopia, a real estate grab initiative similar to SEZs, an exercise meaning nothing more than fine-tuning services of municipalities through high technology and what not. Shoo off those saying it has failed as an idea in many places and the poor ordinary tax-payer had to bear the cost or it’s just another way to placate people, mostly in the technology sector, with a lot of restless money or conceptually it is not very different from the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation which focuses on integration and convergence of several urban facilities. Cynics will remain cynics.

I have no objection to the promise it holds for me. It promises to make the quality of life better in cities in terms of infrastructure, information technology being the primary one, real estate and balanced economic growth. All this and, the real challenge area – active participation of people – would indeed make living a smart experience.

Yeah, so welcome the distant new, like I do, and feel smart. If you don’t, well, remember those forgetable experiences of earlier days.

Government to announce list of first 20 Smart Cities today

The first 20 cities to be developed as Smart Cities will be announced on Thursday, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said yesterday.There are 97 cities in the Smart City Challenge, and the names of the first 20 winners of the competition will be announced tomorrow, Naidu said. These cities will be developed to have basic infrastructure through assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Naidu was addressing about 100 senior officers of Army, Navy, Air Force and civil service, including 25 foreign officials, participating in a course on ‘National Security and Strategic Studies’ at the National Defence College here.In the subsequent years, the government will announce 40 cities each to be developed as Smart Cities as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to develop 100 Smart Cities in the country.Speaking on challenges and the way ahead for urban development, Naidu said perpetuation of inequities in urban areas has serious implications for national security and hence, the government is committed to ensuring inclusive development under new initiatives like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart City Mission, Swachh Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). Naidu stressed on the need for inclusive urban development, noting that “it was the need of the hour with ‘Young India’ becoming more and more aspirational”.He expressed concern regarding the exploitation of urban spaces by the well-to-do sections of the society at the cost of the poor and the marginalised and stressed on inclusivity while taking decisions related to urban governance.

Who owns 7, Jantar Mantar Road bungalow?

Which political party has control over 7, Jantar Mantar road which was once a main office of AICC/INC and hub of political activity? There seems no definite answer as Ministry of Urban Development has claimed that there is no information about the political party to which it was allotted, the RTI response from the Ministry said.”As per the records of lease-1 Section of Land and Development Office, there is no information as to which political parties the property at 7, Jantar Mantar Road, New Delhi was allotted. However, a copy of letter dated April 16, 1958 from the office of Settlement Commissioner, where it has been stated that the requisition portion of the premises are in occupation of AICC,” P T Jameskutty CPIO of Urban Development Ministry said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In response to Subhash Agrawal, he said in the available records, it has been stated that the property was sold to All India Congress Committee (AICC) through negotiation.”It has also been stated in the note that Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Smarak Trust has claimed that on April 30, 1977 Ashok Mehta, President, Indian Nation Congress (INC) and four others executed a deed in favour of the Trust transferring all its rights. But the Trust was informed that it would not be possible to executed the deed in favour of the Trust as it had not entered into transaction with them,” he said.However, in the file notings given with the reply show that Department of Legal Affairs has given an opinion in August 1993 saying that legal ownership rests with central government.As there was no final agreement between the central government and the AICC and after the lapse of 40 years nobody has right to invoke the principle of primary estoppal particularly in view of the fact that INC/AICC is no more in existence in its original organisational structure, after repeated splits in the party, it said.The property was given to Surdar Dharam Singh in 1920 through lease which was later purchased by Nawab Abdul Hassan Khan who left for Pakistan after partition following which Central Government declared it evacuee property.In 1959, the central government decided to sell entire property to AICC at a price of Rs 6.10 lakh. In addition, the party was asked to pay Rs 96,962 as additional premium and Rs 4849 as AGR up to July 14, 1959 on account of permanent change from residence to office, the file noting says.