Mumbai buzz: COVID rate shoots up | Water tax might increase.. and more

weekly urban news round-up

a polluted Oshiwara river in mumbai
Several rivers and nullahs in Mumbai are severely polluted, causing mass flooding in the city. Pic credit - Gopal MS, Mumbai Paused

Lakhs of litres of water in Mumbai extracted without NOC

According to documents obtained by groundwater activist Sureshkumar Dhoka, through RTI, major infrastructure and redevelopment projects in the city were extracting lakhs of litres of water daily without a No Objection Certificate (NOC).

The documents outline that, until now, the Central Government Authority (CGWA) has not extended powers to any state agency to issue NOCs to well and tank owners and fine them in case of breach of law.

As per guidelines to obtain a NOC for extraction of water, a well or tank owner must have ownership of about 200 square metres of land. However, the Mumbai Tank Owners Association has said it is next to impossible for its members to meet the requirements. 

Source: The Times of India

COVID positivity rate shoots up in Mumbai

Despite a decline in testing, the state continued to report a spike in COVID cases. On June 5th, cases in the state were at 1,494 in a day, while Mumbai clocked in 961 cases and one death.

Overall, an 81% rise in cases has hit Mumbai in the past week. Additionally, 9 per cent of the total daily cases in the city were from the ages 0-19, highlighting an urgent need to boost vaccination among the age group. 

“We have observed a rise in COVID infections among vaccinated and unvaccinated children across various age groups. Extremely high fever, ranging between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit predominantly during the first 48 hours, with chills, throat pain, and excessive tiredness are noted as the most common symptoms. However, around 99 per cent of them improve significantly within 72 hours with normal oxygen saturation and blood parameters,“ said Dr Tushar Maniar, head of the department, Centre for Child Health, Nanavati Hospital.

 Source: Hindustan Times, NDTV, Mid-Day

Read more: Explainer: Surge in home testing in Mumbai, results are largely unreported

BMC might hike water tax in Mumbai after two years

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is contemplating a hike in the city’s water tax this year. With civic elections in the pipeline, political parties Shiv Sena and Congress have claimed they will oppose any such hike. 

The BMC claims that while the hike is a regular exercise, it was halted in 2020 due to the pandemic. “We are calculating the current expenditure incurred on the water supply to implement a new tax structure. This is a routine act every year, and until the pandemic, the tax used to be hiked to meet the maintenance and supply costs,” an official said. He added that the expenditure from the tax goes into laying new pipelines and aqueducts and making the water supply potable through filtration, which, given the regular increase in beneficiaries, requires more finances. 

Source: Hindustan Times

birds and humans fetch water in different ways in Mumbai
Hike in water tax in Mumbai is normal, according to the BMC. Pic credit – Gopal MS, Mumbai Paused

Khar Subway and Everard nullah remain a concern this monsoon

In 2020, the BMC started infrastructure projects worth Rs 115.85 crore at Hindamata Junction and Rs 20.16 crore at Gandhi Market near Matunga, both chronic flooding spots in the city. After the works saw completion in 2022, the civic body claimed neither of the areas would see waterlogging this season and would have a water receding time of fewer than 30 minutes in case of heavy rain.

A panel of experts by the Hindustan Times called the two mega projects ‘a feather in the BMC’s cap – if they serve their purpose’, but asserted that a foolproof solution was needed at Gandhi Market.

“Floodgates must be installed immediately in JK Chemicals nullah to avoid backflow during high tide,” said Charles Simoes, one of the experts.

The experts pointed out that Khar Subway would see the most flooding. The low-lying area has seen waterlogging for the last three-four decades. The experts also found work at Everard nullah, which joins Mahul Creek, not satisfactory. A large amount of floating material was found in it, and debris was found dumped in the nullah at various locations.

Source: Hindustan Times 

BMC to provide first-aid kits in civic parks in Mumbai

The BMC gardens department has begun keeping first-aid kits in municipal parks as gardens as part of a new initiative under its Community Social Responsibility (CSR).

On June 8th, in the presence of Additional Municipal Commissioner Ashwini Bhide, first-aid kits were handed over to the Gardens department. 

“The availability of first-aid kits in the park will help in providing immediate medical help to citizens or children in case of any unforeseen injury,” said Jeetendra Pardeshi, superintendent, Gardens department of the BMC. Earlier, under CSR, the BMC had opened libraries in public gardens in 24 wards. 

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Saachi D’Souza]

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The News Desk at Citizen Matters puts out Press Releases, notifications and curated information useful to the urban reader.