QKolkata: Air Quality Drops; Slum to be Evicted Ahead of Book Fair

Your daily lowdown on all things Kolkata.

4 min read
The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. 

1. City Air Quality Flip-Flop Continues, PM2.5 Count Shoots Up Yet Again

On Monday, the quality of air in the city was ‘hazardous’. It became ‘unhealthy’ on Wednesday and on Thursday, the air became ‘very unhealthy’.

The PM2.5 count on Thursday, 21 December shot up once again to 240µg/m3 , four times the permissible limit from 197µg/m3 recorded on Wednesday, 20 December. Though the flip-flop has been attributed to sudden change in weather conditions, Kolkata is slowly but surely gaining the notoriety of being one of the most polluted cities in India. On Monday, the PM2.5 count stood at a whopping 362µg/m3 .

The air quality index (AQI) readings have already pitted Kolkata against Delhi, but experts believe the impact on human health is far worse here than any other city in India. “Kolkata has just 6% road space compared to Delhi’s 33%. Kolkata’s open space is 1% against Delhi’s 15%. Moreover, Kolkata has 5% green belt. On the other hand, greenery comprises 19% of the total space in the Capital. These conditions collectively have far long-term impact on human health in Kolkata than in Delhi,” explained environmentalist Somendra Mohan Ghosh.

(Source: The Times Of India)


2. Land Glitch Spurs Road Plan Change

The Mamata Banerjee government is set to shelve the 231 km north-south corridor project and hand it over to the National Highways Authority of India, apparently because of hurdles the state faces in arranging land.

The Asian Development Bank will fund 70 percent of the Rs 4,420-crore project that needs 887.14 acres.

"The state government has agreed in principle to hand over the project to the NHAI. A meeting between the central agency and the state government will be held soon and the detailed project report prepared by the state government will be handed over to the NHAI, " said a source in the state administration.

(Source: The Telegraph)

3. Women’s Safety Tops Party Code

New Year 2018 is just round the corner. 
New Year 2018 is just round the corner. 
(Photo: iStock)

A warning of zero tolerance for misbehaviour targeting women and a plea to revellers to be tolerant of stricter frisking at clubs and nightspots headlined the police’s code of conduct for the party season.

Lalbazar, the city police headquarters, wants bars, restaurants and clubs in town to scale up both manpower and infrastructure to ensure that nobody goes in without being frisked or exits unnoticed.

The to-do list includes deploying more female guards trained for frisking, comprehensive CCTV surveillance and strict vigilance against drug use.

"All bars and nightclubs have been asked to be specifically vigilant against any activity by guests that could be construed as outraging the modesty of a woman," said a senior officer of the city police’s south division.

(Source: The Telegraph)


4. Eviction In Book Fair Run-Up

A slum opposite Mayukh Bhavan and right next to Central Park in Salt Lake, the venue of the 42nd Calcutta Book Fair, is likely to be demolished. The Book Fair will be held from 31 January to 11 February.

Tenements made of bamboo poles and plastic sheets dot an area spanning at least three acres near Central Park, an official of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation said. "According to our estimates, there are more than 500 illegal tenements on the plot, " the official said.

The civic body has repeatedly asked the slum dwellers to leave the area but they have refused to budge. "The slum has grown rapidly in the past two years. Our officers visited the area on several occasions to ask them to leave. The last few times the cops were chased away by slum dwellers armed with bamboo shafts. We have been getting regular complaints from residents of the area and incidents of snatching have been on the rise," said Sabyasachi Dutta, the mayor of the corporation.

(Source: The Telegraph)

5. Kids Caught In Digital Divide

Only 30 percent of children worldwide have access to the digital world, said a Unicef report released on Thursday evening.

‘The state of the World' s Children 2017 — Children in a Digital World’ takes a comprehensive look at the different ways digital technology is affecting children’s lives, identifying dangers as well as opportunities for them.

"The survey, conducted across 24 countries, found that 30 percent of children have access to a digital world comprising computer, Internet or smartphone. (That means) 70 percent still have no access," said Sashi Panja, the state minister for women and child development and social welfare after releasing the report.

(Source: The Telegraph)


6. Car On Fire, Drunk Driver Refuses To Exit

It was a moment of crisis, but the man behind the wheels, Md Islam (30), seemed hardly aware of the danger. Inebriated and unable to communicate, Islam stayed put on his car seat even as the SUV that he was driving caught fire at Avishikta Crossing early on Thursday morning. While three of his friends in the car managed to get out, Islam refused, despite the firemen and passersby pleading him to leave the car.

Police said the 15-minute drama unfolded around 6:55am, when the resident of Moziful Islam Lane in Beniapukur was on a joyride with his friends. “All four of them had consumed alcohol. They were headed home when the car suddenly caught fire near EM Bypass. A fire tender from Patuli, police personnel from Garfa and Jadavpur traffic guard reached the spot. Finally, the firemen pulled Islam out of the car and he was taken to a hospital,” an officer said.

“We’ve sent the car for a mechanical test to ascertain if the fire was a result of an accident,” an investigator said.

(Source: The Times of India)

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