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Over 60,000 house visits to check mosquito-breeding sites

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The Hindu       20.07.2017   

Over 60,000 house visits to check mosquito-breeding sites

Real picture:The brackish waters of the Poisar river make for an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.Rajendra GawankarRajendra Gawankar  

BMC issued 8,744 notices, collected Rs. 20,04,600 in fines

Days after Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued a notice to NGO Praja Foundation for alleged misinterpretation of facts in its latest health report, which claimed that dengue cases have seen a massive rise of 265% in Mumbai in the last five years, the civic body on Wednesday released information on the action it had taken to check the spread of dengue.

The BMC said that the Public Health Department had conducted inspections to check breeding places for the disease spreading mosquitoes from January 1 to July 15, this year. As per the report, the BMC made 62,43,597 house visits during these past six months and issued 8,744 notices to owners of premises with unprotected water tanks, wells, fountains and so on. It collected Rs. 20,04,600 in fines from notices issued for not adhering to safety standards.

“There were 7,586 places where the larva of Aedes Agypti, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, one that can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro and yellow fever viruses. In 2,674 places, the BMC team found larvae of the malaria causing Anopheles mosquitoes. These breeding sites have now been eliminated,” Dr. Rajan Naringrekar, pesticide officer of the BMC, said.

The BMC also appealed to the citizens of Mumbai to destroy all useless scrap material like tyres, thermocol, coconut remains and plastic as water is stored in them and they become breeding grounds for infectious mosquitoes.

It takes eight days for the larva to turn into mosquitoes, hence the BMC has said that water should not be stored for more than seven days in utensils or other storage places and people should ensure that water tanks are cleaned every week.

On July 13, deputy municipal commissioner (public health), Sunil Dhamne and executive health officer, BMC, Dr. Padmaja Keskar had issued a notice to NGO Praja Foundation for its report ‘State of Health of Mumbai,’ saying that the same ‘misinterpreted’ facts and was ‘misleading’ and was an attempt to malign the image of the civic body. The NGO, a watchdog of civic affairs, had in its report released on July 12, claimed that dengue cases have spiralled from 4,867 in 2012-13 to 17,771 in 2016-17.

In the notice issued on Friday, the BMC said, “It appears from the report that the whole aim of the exercise has been to malign the public body and mislead the citizens at large.” The BMC threatened action against the NGO if a public clarification is not issued by them. “It seems that you have done random collection of data from health facilities and added it, making it vague,” it stated.


Striking a balance between heritage conservation and urbanisation

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The Hindu         20.07.2017 

Striking a balance between heritage conservation and urbanisation

Preserving history:The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (above) runs the Capacity Development Programme in Built Heritage Studies and Conservation.File Photo  

Experts discuss how to create more space for people and vehicles in the city without ruining the special character of a place

In an era where the pace of the city’s development seems to speed up every year, and each new government policy spells out a vision for Mumbai as a ‘smart’ city of the future, what is the impact of this rapid urbanisation on the city’s heritage structures?

A panel discussion on July 18, organised jointly by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Heritage Conservation Society and the Sir JJ College of Architecture, took up this vital discussion. The event was organised as part of the convocation ceremony of the Capacity Development Programme in Built Heritage Studies and Conservation run by the CSMVS and was moderated by Professor Mustansir Dalvi of JJ School of Architecture. The speakers on the panel were D.M. Sukthankar, former chief secretary to the government of Maharashtra and former head of the of Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC); and Shirish Patel, Chairman Emeritus of Shirish Patel and Associates.

Opening the discussion Mr. Dalvi said that the city has seen so much development that has taken place as a top down imposition on an already existing older city that has substantial built up material. He said that we should consider what is the manner of change that we want to see in a historic city like Mumbai and to what extent ideas of a newer city can be superimposed on one that is already existing.

“Do we look at Mumbai as a historic city or do we look at it only as a future city or smart city?” he asked. “If we accept that conservation is important then we also have to consider what is the built material that is important to us,” he added. Mr. Dalvi argued that while efforts have been taken to preserve colonial architecture in the city, more should also be done to preserve 20th century buildings that were built not only by the British but also by the locals.

Mr. Sukthankar recalled his time heading the MHCC when it was first set up under the 1991 Development Control Regulations. Prior to these regulations being enacted, he said there was a lot of debate on how the the city should conserve the structures and buildings that lent it a special identity. Development, he said, brings pressure on land use and old structures get reconstructed to accommodate more people and more amenities. While this process is inherent, he said it cannot be wholly allowed to obliterate cultural and natural heritage.

Mumbai, he said, does not have a lot of historical monuments like other cities but in his time with the MHCC, there were debates about preserving other structures like the chawls that were built to house workers and later came to accommodate families. These, he said, reflected the special character of the city, it’s communities and it’s way of life. At the same time, he said there had to be a balance and not every structure could be classified as a heritage one. He pointed that in many old neighbourhoods and locales in Mumbai there was always likely to be a debate every time there was a plan to widen roads or to create more space for people to park their vehicles that such plans may come at the cost of ruining the special character of that place. “How do we create a balance between these aspects?” he asked.

Mr. Patel, who was also a member of the MHCC from 1996 to 1999, pointed to the fact that regional plans for the city do not do a proper identification of heritage sites. “The first thing we have to do is map heritage sites and then it is important to see who is doing the mapping. Heritage cannot be an elite selection and when we look at the region as a whole the mapping should be done by asking everyone what they feel is important to preserve,” he said.

Use value, exchange value

With cultural artefacts, as with land, he said, there is both a use value and an exchange value. Political leadership, he said, is often more concerned with the exchange value and the people who are concerned with use value, that is the cultural value of these sites, are often not as organised and not as persistent. “We need to recognise that we need to organise better and we have to make more and more people aware of our cultural history and what needs to be preserved,” he said.

More should be done to preserve 20th century buildings

Mustansir Dalvi

Professor, JJ School of Architecture


No excavation till monsoon-end: GHMC

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The Hindu      19.07.2017  

No excavation till monsoon-end: GHMC

To ensure that no untoward incident takes place during monsoon, the GHMC has taken a slew of measures. Since rain is expected in the next 48 hours, the concerned officials have been asked to be on high alert. The civic body has also decided to paste caution notices on dilapidated buildings or weak structures and ask the inmates to vacate the same.

The GHMC has banned excavation activity till the end of monsoon. The officials have been instructed to stop any work related to excavation of cellars and also take precautionary measures like soil strengthening, wherever necessary. It has also been decided to give vacation to schools that are run in weak buildings.

In the case of listed heritage buildings, the civic body has decided to halt all the work.

Monsoon duties have also been assigned to the officials in such a way that the GHMC headquarters remains alert and vigil round the clock.


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