COVID-19 spending in Mumbai immune to any probes
All spending done by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) during the COVID-19 pandemic is immune to any audits and probes, the municipal commissioner Iqbal S Chahal has said. Such a loophole is possible because the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and Disaster Management Act, 2005 were in force, shielding any decisions and expenditures made in this period in Mumbai from everyone but the Supreme Court.
This news comes after Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had asked the Comptroller Audit General (CAG) to look into the BMC’s projects worth Rs 12,000 crore between November 28, 2019 and February 28, 2020, during which field hospitals were set up, land deals made, medical equipment, medicines and oxygen purchased. In several of these transactions, officials and politicians in office were allegedly connected.
Source: The Times of India
Street art festival in flux
The Mumbai Urban Art Festival (MUAF) has once again landed in the city, and will stay for three months till February 22nd of the next year. Exhibitions, immersive installations, workshops, murals, and walks will be on in various areas, particularly Sassoon Dock, Mahim East, Carter road, Churchgate and Jindal Mansion.
60 local and international artists will have varied projects on the ‘city in a flux,’ interpreting the city in all its complexities. Some artists on show: Aqui Thami, Afzan Pirzade, Dennis Fabian Peter, Parag Tandel, Sameer Kulavoor and more. The festival coincides with the Mumbai Gallery weekend between January 12th and 15th, which will feature shows across 32 galleries in the city.
Source: Grazia and Mid-day
Mumbai to survey stray dogs
The BMC is planning a survey of street dogs in the city in 2023, after a gap of nearly a decade.
The last such survey – done in 2013 – had found 95,172 strays. Suspected to be an underestimation, however, a survey conducted by an NGO before the pandemic found the number to be four lahks. Due to an ineffectual birth control programme that the BMC outsources, the numbers have swelled, as have complaints of dog bites and demands of anti-rabies vaccines. The upcoming survey will be expected to lead to a solution to all these issues.
Source: The Times of India
Insufficient family courts in Maharashtra, Bombay HC calls for change
Mumbai currently has 5,000 divorce cases pending, that will eventually be taken up by seven family court judges, six short of the required amount. The Bombay High Court called attention to the lack of family courts and infrastructure that has lead to the backlog in the state.
Maharashtra, with a population of nearly 11.24 crore as per the 2011 census, has only 19 family courts in place of the 39 required. The government pleader responded that while proposals for more courts were being considered, the process is lengthy. The status of the proposals is expected in the next hearing on January 12th.
Source: The Indian Express
3,000 students in Bandra East out of school
3,000 of the 4,928 students enrolled in 10 municipal schools in the Kher Nagar school complex in Bandra East have not been in attendance since July. After two buildings in the school complex were deemed unfit for use, the BMC transferred some schools to the remaining two buildings standing, while others were shifted to other schools.
The reasons given for non-attendance included the increased distance to the schools where students have been transferred, classrooms in poor condition and the unavailability of classrooms. Despite a headmaster’s letter to the BMC notifying them of the problem, no action was taken.
[Compiled by Sabah Virani.]