Dwarka: DJB admits to sending unverified water bills to residents!

At a meeting between officials of the Delhi Jal Board and Dwarka’s Federation of Cooperative Group Housing Societies, the former accepted that there had been no verification of water bills before they were dispatched to the societies. According to the Federation, DJB had sent wrong bills for water, bore wells and also the rain water harvesting system. Dwarka Breaking News

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After the meeting, which was presided over by Sudha Sinha, general secretary of Dwarka and V Selvarajan, secretary CGHS Federation, a Federation representative told City Spidey that DJB had instructed them not to pay any unverified bills.

“Though they have not given us anything in writing yet they have verbally reiterated this point. They have also added that the penalty imposed on rain-water harvesting systems will be rolled back,” the representative said.

Sudha Sinha said that her society, Delhi Apartments in Sector 22, too had received faulty bills. She added that a penalty had been imposed despite the rain-water harvesting systems in their society being functional. “This is unfortunate. They should have verified the bills properly before sending them to the residents.”

Incidentally, rain- water harvesting does not entail a separate bill. However, people who have rain-water harvesting mechanisms pay a higher consolidated water bill to the DJB. The issue of sending bills without verification of the rain water harvesting systems was also raised last summer in the course of a meeting with the area MLA, Gulab Singh Yadav in the presence of DJB officials. The MLA had assured to solve the problems.

DJB Vice Chairman Dinesh Mohania and the area MLA Gulab Singh Yadav were also present in the recent meeting, the outcome of which was posted on Facebook.

Secretary of Federation of CGHS and a resident of Diamond Square Apartments in Sector 6, V Selvarajan, who was also present at the meeting said, “Everyone knows that Dwarka had water supply issues before 2015. Water supply was mostly through tankers which were duly supplemented with groundwater. However, now that water supply is sufficient, no one is dependent on groundwater. Taxing societies just because bore wells exist now is illogical, unjustifiable and not sustainable.” Now that DJB has accepted that the bills were generated without verification, law abiding citizens have reason to doubt and question the efficacy of its functioning. “We hope that DJB shall be pragmatic in approaching the issues, in terms of both bore well and rainwater harvesting,” says Selvarajan.

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Fresco, Gurgaon: Now this is what we call embodying the true Diwali spirit!

On Diwali, about 45 residents of the Fresco condominium in Sector 50, Gurgaon, came together to contribute money to buy essential items for their housekeeping, maintenance and gardening staff. This initiative was taken by Preeta Pradhan, a resident of the condominium. About 120 staff members across support functions were gifted ration items such as rice, wheat, sugar, salt, oil and candles, along with a box of sweets.

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The highlight of this exercise was the involvement of the society’s children.

Tanishq, a 14-year-old boy, said, “I am very fond of crackers, but this time it was a different Diwali. I donated Rs 1,000 given to me by my parents for a cause. I am glad I didn’t waste this money on crackers and that it was used in buying ration and sweets for the lesser privileged. I feel great about it.”

Akshar Matta, a 7-year-old, said, “We demonstrated our love for the very people who help us live safer and cleaner lives. The spirit of Diwali is about sharing and demonstrating love.”

Speaking to City Spidey, Pradhan, the woman behind the initiative, said, “We wanted to make the staff members feel special. This gesture also instilled a beautiful feeling of care and giving in our children. Through these acts of kindness, they learn the importance of giving.”

Thank god air pollution is just ‘severe’ post Diwali

As expected, there was a sharp rise in Delhi’s air-pollution levels on the morning after Diwali. However, the situation was better than last year, when a blanket of toxic smog engulfed the city, taking air pollution levels to the “emergency category”. In comparison, air quality was tagged at “very poor” on Diwali day, and “severe” on Friday evening, a day after Diwali. Ironically, this is the least hazardous situation in the past three years.

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Despite this, however, many morning walkers, especially senior citizens, decided to stay away from neighbourhood parks for two days after Diwali to avoid inhaling toxic air.

VS Rawat, a senior resident of Parivar Apartments in IP Extension, said, “We spend two hours in the morning and two and a half hours in the evening at the neighbourhood park every day. We walk, do some yoga or just chat with friends and neighbours. But given the poor air quality after Diwali, we decided to stay at home for at least two days, hoping things would get better after that.”

AK Pandey, a resident of Vasundhara Enclave, however, felt this year’s post-Diwali morning was “much better in comparison to last year”. He said, “The Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of firecrackers worked. We hope the air quality will get better in a few days.”

That said, it definitely seems like it has been a cleaner and a less noisy Diwali, if not the pollution-free festival we all hope it will be some day.

If you live in Noida, you can now lodge your FIRs via WhatsApp

Police stations in Noida are all set to lodge FIRs via WhatsApp. The move comes after several complaints were made that the city police doesn’t pay heed to petty crimes such as snatching, vehicle theft, and purse and mobile theft. The move is expected to rule out police resistance while lodging FIRs.

An online FIR facility was first started some time back. Now lodging FIRs via WhatsApp takes it a step forward.

The complaint can either directly be typed in as a message on WhatsApp or a photograph of the handwritten copy of the complaint sent as an image. The complainant must also mention the time and date of the incident, the location, his or her full name, the police station, the district, his or her nationality, their mobile number, email ID and Aadhar number. Foreign nationals will also have to attach photographs of the first and last pages of their passports.

The number 9454401003 has been released on behalf of the police for lodging an FIR via WhatsApp. Complainants can also call 0522-2334340 and 4943707 to learn the status of their complaints.

The complainant will be informed within 24 hours of lodging the FIR about the status of the complaint. The complainant is required to send a valid ID proof along with the complaint.

Complaints made via WhatsApp will be received at the technical office in Lucknow and not at the district-level office. The complaints will then be transferred to the relevant police station and a report will reach the Lucknow office.

Luv Kumar, senior superintendent of police, Gautam Budh Nagar, said that the service has already started at the district level and complaints are being sent to relevant police stations from Lucknow.

Gurgaon: Rallying for their right to clean air, people block Palam Vihar Road

Friday evening, traffic around the Palam Vihar Road was a veritable mayhem. The residents of Park View Residency, Block C2 and Mahindra Aura had blocked the road. This was done in a bid to protest against the incomplete construction of the road that has caused dust everywhere around leading to breathing problems. As the residents protested, the guards of Park View Residency stepped in to regulate the traffic. The residents also protested against the NGT rules flouted by the construction.

The councillor of the area, Rajesh Yadav arrived on site and assured the protestors that he would be addressing their concerns. Not to be allayed easily, the protesting residents refused to budge from the road. They were adamant even after Deepak Kumar, SHO reached the spot with his assurances. “We want the DCP to come and assure us of concrete action,” they chorused.

Inhaling fresh air is the most basic right that any citizen can ask for. We can’t wait to see people around us landing in hospitals and breathing their last, which unfortunately is already the case. So if the authorities continue to turn a blind eye, they have to face dire consequences from us,” said Pratibha Grewal Chaudhary , a resident of Park View Residency.

The air quality is simply appalling. Why do honest taxpayers have to suffer whenever the authorities neglect their duties? Why don’t we have a right to put MCG officials or other government authorities behind bars when they don’t deliver on their responsibilities? Why should we pay tax when we don’t get any roads, clean water, or even clean air?’ questions Mansi Talwar.

Finally, Bharat Gogia, SDM Gurgaon North met the residents at the protest site and assured them of relevant remedial action. He also acknowledged that the concerns were genuine. Gogia has now created a Whatsapp group to involve the residents in the action taking process.

Why has the ban on firecrackers failed to control air pollution?

So the verdict is out! Today a day after Diwali, newspapers have carried reports about how the Apex Court’s ban on firecrackers has not helped much in restricting pollution levels in the NCR. And there are live accounts of people too.

A case in point is Naresh Kumar, a resident of Dwarka Sector 12 who had undertaken a metro ride on Diwali evening from Noida Sector 55. Sharing his experience with City Spidey, Kumar said that he had started feeling a little claustrophobic on reaching the Uttam Nagar station around 10.30 pm. However, he somehow managed to continue the train journey and reach his destination which is the Dwarka Sector 12 metro station. However, in the fifteen minutes that this stretch entailed he started experiencing breathing problems as smoke had started swirling inside the compartment. The usually mint clean compartments had started to look visibly smoggy.

“As soon as the metro crossed the RK Ashram station the air inside the compartments progressively started getting heavier,” Kumar elaborated. “Since it was Diwali day there were very few people in every coach. Had it been a regular day the smoke trail would have caused much more discomfort. Infact it could have been lethal for Asthma patients.”

The seriousness of the smoke caused by crackers can be understood through Kumar’s experience. Apparently the smoke had filtered into the compartments at the time of the opening and closing of doors at the station. Incidentally when Kumar photographed the area around the metro station he could see that the smoke was stagnant at a particular height, owing to the specific atmospheric temperature.

According to a Metro official, the Noida Dwarka line has an elevation of about 18 metres. This clearly shows that the smoke was dense at this height too.

One cannot help wondering what exactly had triggered this uncomfortable level of pollution despite the fact that firecrackers were significantly lesser this year.

SK Malik who has been studying environment and pollution in Delhi and its surrounding areas had a simple commonsense theory. He said that the ban was ineffective as people nevertheless had purchased crackers from other places. “The pollution measurement equipment that has been designed per international standards was at its highest level yesterday. It had touched 999 at two places in Delhi. So one can easily understand the severity of the pollution levels”

Malik shared that the pollution levels were actually not lesser than last year. However, he says that due to some atmospheric factors like temperature and humidity the effect was low at the surface level. “This year there is a wind speed and some measure of humidity. These factors have mitigated the ground level smoke proliferation and hence controlled pollution,” said Malik.

City Spidey also approached Diwan Singh, an environment activist from Natural Heritage First for a perspective.  In his words, “The ban on sale of fire crackers has failed to make an impact to air pollution as the root of the problem lies elsewhere. The example of Chennai versus Delhi can explain this. The vehicle density of Chennai is much more than Delhi. However, Chennai has only one tenth of Delhi’s pollution than Delhi. This is because pollution of a city is mitigated when polluted air gets exchanged with the fresh air of hinterlands. Delhi has a vast concrete spread. This does not give enough time for air to exchange with the fresh air from surrounding hinterlands. Generally, low temperature and low wind speed in winter further aggravates the position. On the other hand, the urban concrete landscape of Chennai is relatively lesser. Most importantly Chennai has the sea in its vicinity that facilitates a good exchange of air.”

So are the satellite towns of Delhi compounding the problem of air pollution? “Well yes. Air does not recognise political boundaries. De-expansion of Delhi and it’s satellite towns is the only way to control air pollution.”

Kudos, Gurgaon, for sticking to a no-cracker Diwali

It seems the Supreme Court ban on firecrackers really worked in Gurgaon. The city witnessed a relatively peaceful Diwali, with a drastic dip in the number of crackers burnt and air quality better than other years.

Speaking to City Spidey, Raj Kumar Yadav, president of the Sector 46 RWA, said, “Residents of the sector refrained from bursting crackers; we hardly had anyone burning them. We are happy that our no-cracker campaign helped create awareness about the polluting effects of cracker bursting.”

The areas found to be most peaceful were South City I and II, Sohna Road, sectors 14 and 17, and DLF Phase 1 and 2.

DK Yadav, president of the Sector 17B RWA, said, “We had very few houses engaged in burning firecrackers. So overall the scene was pretty quiet. However, this time the stress was on decoration of houses more than crackers.”

It seems it really was a healthy Diwali in Gurgaon, with lesser air and noise pollution this year.