Restrictions relaxed for Mumbai
Maharashtra’s government approved easing of curbs in 25 of 36 districts on July 29th. This includes reopening malls and multiplexes at 50% capacity, extending hours for restaurants and shops till 8 PM. Non-essential shops and dining out will now be allowed till 4 PM on Saturdays. The government will also relax the limit for gatherings at social and cultural events. All restrictions will continue to apply on Sundays until further notice. While malls and cinemas will be able to recover financial losses, no decision has been taken on allowing non-essential Mumbaikars on local trains to commute to work and other daily necessities.
Trial for door-to-door vaccination commences
From July 30th, BMC will conduct trial runs of its door-to-door vaccination proposal. The pilot program will cover the K/East ward, corresponding to the Andheri (East) area for now. This trial will help improve the drive when it is implemented across Mumbai in the first week of August. Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of BMC’s public health department told Hindustan Times, “We chose this area because it has more hospitals, especially the civic-run Seven Hills Hospital. In case of emergency after vaccination, we will be in a better position to rush beneficiaries to this facility.” Over the past few weeks, the BMC has been able to identify only 4,488 beneficiaries across the city who are bed-ridden due to medical, and/or physical conditions. The civic body’s biggest challenge will be the logistics of observing 30 minute wait periods post-inoculation while also ensuring that opened vials are not wasted.
Source: Hindustan Times
Parent bodies demand school finances audit
As state government orders on July 28th mandated a 15% cut in fees even in private schools, parent bodies are demanding for financial audits. Whether it is the state board, CBSE, or ICSE, the government has yet to take action on the matter despite the fact that the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Fee) (Amendment) Act, 2018, calls for a periodical audit of schools’ balance sheets. Prasad Tulaskar who was among the parents filing a special leave petition in Supreme Court stated that schools which do not provide transparency on their fee structures to the public should not be allowed to hike fees. Speaking with Times of India, Tulaskar said, “If schools are audited, balance-sheets will reveal they can further reduce fees.”
Source: Times of India
644 housing projects blacklisted due to completion delays
The Maharashtra Housing Regulatory Authority (MahaRera) blacklisted 644 projects across the state for delay in completion. 16% were to be completed by 2017, while 84% had 2018 as their deadline. 80% of houses in these projects have already been sold. 43% of the 644 blacklisted projects were in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). While the decision was a strong move to warn builders of racking up finances for incomplete projects, it has also shifted responsibility on flat owners who now have to decide whether to seek difficult and completed legal routes to recover their money or invest in a new project developer. Even though MahaRera was created only in 2017, it has already registered almost 30,000 housing projects. However, only 24% of these have actually been completed.
Source: Hindustan Times
Mumbai University to take action against inadequate engineering colleges
In a report presented on July 29th, Mumbai University explained to the management council that there were serious deficiencies revealed by inspection committees in 32 out of 56 engineering colleges that were inspected in 2017-18. Vaibhav Narawde, a member of the management council was quoted in Times of India stating that when the inspection was completed in 2018, “the management council was not informed and no action was taken.” He said that “thousands of students would have suffered, and yet paid entire fees because of this non-action.” Most of the flagged engineering colleges do not have requisite infrastructure prescribed by All-India Council for Technical Education for the required number of labs or classrooms. In many cases, colleges did not have enough faculty and violated the mandatory student-teacher ratio.
Source: Times of India
Protest in Borivali West over the murder of a transperson
Several members of the hijra and trans communities staged an impromptu protest in Borivali West after a trans individual was murdered. Although the reasons behind violence are unclear, a financial dispute between the deceased and another member from the trans community is said to be the cause by the accused. A chakka jam ensued and was only dispersed after threats of arrests were made by the police. Hijra and trans communities have long been targets of police violence in Mumbai. They have also borne disproportionate impacts of the pandemic and consequent lockdowns. In particular, those engaged in sex work or public solicitation for money have been hit hard.