Mumbai Buzz: New variant of COVID-19 | GMLR construction to reduce green cover.. and more

weekly urban news round-up

a road in mumbai covered with trees as people walk by
Mumbai's vanishing green cover is causing alarm among activists and concerned citizens | Photo: Vitor Pamplona, Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Mumbai reports first case of new COVID-19 variant 

On April 6th, Mumbai reported the country’s first case of the XE variant of COVID-19, a more transmissible sub-variant of Omicron. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) confirmed that a 50-year-old woman who travelled from South Africa in February was found asymptomatic with the variant.

On her arrival on February 10th, the woman was found negative, but on March 2nd during a routine check-up at a suburban diagnostic centre, she was tested positive for COVID-19.

The XE mutant is reportedly ten times more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, which so far was considered the most contagious of all coronavirus mutations.

However, according to a top virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang, a Professor at Christian Medical College in Vellore, the variant is not likely to cause more severity than the previous mutations.

Source: Mid-day, Firspost

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation asks traffic police to reconsider No Parking zones in city

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) has requested the traffic police to reconsider No Parking zones in the city, in a bid to solve the parking crisis. 

“It was observed that there are a lot of spots in the city wherein residents park their vehicle regardless of whether it is allowed or not primarily because these spots are in close proximity to a market or shopping centre. The thought is to study such spots and identify the possibility of converting such areas into Pay and Park or Parallel Parking. Therefore, ward offices are being asked to provide a report on such spots,” said deputy municipal commissioner of NMMC, Jaydeep Pawar.

Many No Parking zones are currently situated near shopping centres. In the absence of alternative parking spaces, residents are then forced to line up vehicles in other No Parking zones, causing more traffic congestion. In most parts of Mumbai, the lack of parking space is a constant issue for vehicle owners. 

Source: Hindustan Times

a car in south bombay parked by a no parking sign
An absence of parking space is pushing vehicle owners to park in No Parking zones, a vicious cycle resulting in more traffic congestion | Photo: Thomas Galvez, Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Read more: Is Mumbai a step closer to solving its parking crisis?


1,100 trees to be affected for GMLR construction

For the impending construction of the Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR) project, officials have specified that as many as 115 trees will be entirely cut. In total, about 1,100 trees will be affected – either axed or transplanted. Others will be affected by the road-widening proposed along Mulund.

The road includes a tunnel that will come up below Sanjay Gandhi National Park. For this, more green cover could be removed. 

According to activist Zora Bhathena, more than 80% of the time, transplantation destroys trees. Other activists have chimed in stating that the damage to vegetation would be irreversible. 

Source: The Times of India

Mumbaikars struggle under increased household expenses

Rising prices of edible oil, LPG, packaged and other household goods have risen exponentially in the past few weeks. The added fuel prices that have seen a price hike in daily transportation – Uber has raised its fee by 15% – are altogether causing stress among residents who are finding it difficult to sustain themselves. 

According to one resident, the average rate of a cluster of beans and brinjal is now at Rs 100-120 from the earlier Rs 60-80. Vegetable vendors claim that their trade is affected by how customers are buying less than before. A commercial LPG cylinder has now crossed Rs 2,250, almost unaffordable for many households in the city.

Source: The Times of India

Mumbai police start seizing vehicles for wrong-side driving

Despite multiple warnings and FIRs for wrong-side driving, the situation in the city remains unchanged. To tackle this head-on, the Mumbai police under commissioner Sanjay Pandey have started seizing vehicles.

On April 6th, 294 FIRs were registered against motorists. Until March 31st, a total of 2,649 FIRs were registered in the city. According to police officials, at least 200 FIRs a day are registered with them for wrong-side driving.

The police book the motorist under sections 279 (rash driving) and 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others) of the Indian Penal Code. “The numbers did not reduce even after the warning which prompted us to start seizure of the vehicles,” said Raj Tilak Roushan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

Source: Hindustan Times

(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.