Delhi excise policy: Sisodia seeks CBI probe on why ex-LG changed decision on shops in unauthorised colonies

A week after the Delhi government announced its decision to scrap its new liquor policy, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) requesting a probe into what he said was a sudden change in former lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s decision to open shops in unauthorised colonies.
Sisodia had announced on July 30 that the new excise policy would be rolled back. This came after current L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the new excise policy over alleged irregularities, and the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing launched a probe into the excise department.
“In May 2021, the Cabinet passed the new excise policy. We said that the number of liquor shops will remain the same. But in the earlier policy, the shops were unevenly distributed. Some wards had 25 shops, some had none. Some malls had many shops. In the new policy, this principle was highlighted that there will be equitable distribution of shops, but the number of shops will not change. This was an important provision of the policy,” Sisodia said.
The policy was then sent to the L-G for approval and he made important suggestions for changes, Sisodia explained. “All suggestions of the L-G were accepted, and the new policy was sent to the L-G in June. He read it carefully and it was then passed. The policy said that unequitable distribution will be stopped. In every ward, there will be two to three shops, including in unauthorised areas,” Sisodia said.
But the L-G’s office then changed its decision, Sisodia claimed. “The L-G read the policy and then approved it. After it was approved, tenders were issued. But when it came to opening the shops, the L-G changed his stance. In the first week of November, the proposal to open shops was sent to the L-G, since shops were to be opened from November 17 onwards, including in unauthorised areas. On November 15, the L-G laid down a new condition that to open shops in unauthorised areas, permission from the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) and MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) is needed. When he read the policy, this condition was not laid down,” he said.

On Har Ghar Tiranga campaign: ‘Patriotism has increased and so has the demand for flags’

As part of the ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign to mark 75 years of India’s Independence, the Modi government is aiming to have at least 20 crore flags atop houses from August 13 to August 15. BJP-led governments have been distributing flags and setting targets to manufacture the Tricolour. Sanjay Katuria, 51, a wholesale trader of flags in Sadar Bazar, Old Delhi, and his employee Lakshya Nagpal, 35, say they have been getting orders from across the country
Katuria: Our shop has been around since 1992 and we sell all kinds of flags — from campaign flags of political parties to the Tricolour.
What do you think of the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign?
Katuria: I think it is good as PM Modiji has managed to spread awareness on the Tricolour among people. Traders, sellers and manufacturers were told about the campaign, the details of the tenders for the larger flags, etc.
Has the campaign helped your business?

Construction workers’ deaths: Gurgaon police arrest three accused

Days after four labourers died and another was seriously injured after falling off the 17th floor of Palm Hills society in Gurgaon’s Sector 77 while completing construction work, the police said that three accused were arrested on Friday and released on bail.
The police had registered a first information report (FIR) against six people – the project manager, the tower in-charge, the mechanic foreman, the safety engineer, site engineer and the main contractor – under various sections of the Indian Penal Code on charges of causing death by negligence, criminal conspiracy, endangering life or safety etc at Kherki Daula police station.
“Notices were issued to the accused in the case to join the investigation. On Friday, the plant and machinery in-charge, project manager and foreman/mechanic joined the investigation and their statements were recorded,” Subhash Boken, Gurgaon police spokesperson, said.
Three others named in the FIR – the safety engineer, site engineer and the contractor – are yet to join the probe.
The FIR was registered on the complaint of Rajkishore Kumar, an injured worker who had alleged in the complaint that “he and his colleagues had complained about ensuring adequate safety measures at the site several times, but no action in this regard was taken”. Kumar had claimed in the FIR that the contractor and the developer put pressure on them to either do the job or quit and that the incident took place due to their negligence.

Amid fear and desperation: The hands reshaping Gurgaon’s skyline

“Darr toh lagta hai sahab, par majboori hai isliye karna padta hai (Of course, there is fear, but I have no choice but to do this work),” says Amarjeet Kumar, 35, as he puts down his blue helmet on a table and sips tea at a makeshift stall in Sector 65 near Golf Course Extension Road in Gurgaon. Several under-construction buildings and skyscrapers — including luxury condominiums and shopping complexes — loom over the stall in the Millennium City’s evolving skyline.
Kumar says he is unaware of the mishap at a construction site in Sector 77 a few days ago, where four labourers died and one was injured after falling off the 17th floor of a residential project while dismantling a crane. But, he is not surprised. “Harr ek-do mahine mein ek haadsa hota hai (Every month or so, there is an incident like this),” he says.
Every time he goes up, he is aware of the “risk”. “Shuttering involves being suspended on a platform at a height. One can slip, a hook may give away, a rope may break….”
He recalls an incident from 2019 when he was deployed at a construction site in Greater Noida. “We were perched on an iron platform on the 19th floor, when a fellow worker fell to his death… At that time, one thinks of one’s family. Who will take care of them if I suffer such fate?”
But mostly, he avoids dwelling on it, Kumar says. “It is up to fate.”

Delhi L-G writes to chief secy over delay in submitting Cabinet proposals

Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has written to the chief secretary over the delay in submitting Cabinet proposals and other papers and has sought compliance with the Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR), 1993, said official sources at the L-G’s office. The chief secretary was also told to provide Cabinet proposals two days in advance, the sources added.
A copy of the same has also been sent to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as well, said officials, adding that a significant number of memorandums/proposals/Cabinet notes are received just prior to the scheduled meeting of the Cabinet or even after the conclusion of such meetings, without recording any reason for such transgression of the ToBR.
Meanwhile, a Delhi government official said, “The L-G is acting like a primary school headmaster. He is always fighting, finding petty faults. We do not wish to fight with him. The government wishes to concentrate on public welfare.”
Further, as per the information shared by sources with the L-G House, between April 2020 and July 15, a total of 234 proposals approved by Delhi Cabinet were sent to the L-G secretariat and 79 of them were sent a day before the scheduled Cabinet meeting, 63 on the day of the meeting and 40 after the Cabinet meeting was held.
“It is clear that the compliance of the ToBR in this matter happened only in 22% of the cases, while in 78% of the instances the ToBR was violated without any justification,” sources claimed.

13 days to go for Supertech twin tower demolition, stakeholders meet

The Noida Authority on Saturday afternoon convened a meeting to discuss the status of demolition of the Supertech twin towers, following directions of the Supreme Court in its July 29 order. The buildings, Apex and Ceyane, are located in Sector 93A. The demolition is fixed for August 21 at 2.30 pm, which is just under a fortnight away.
Information sought by CBRI as well as requisite details supplied by Supertech Ltd. and Edifice Engineering, a construction and demolition waste management plan, preparations made for countering the effect of dust created due to the demolition on the green area and parks located in ATS Village and Supertech Emerald Court (buildings in the vicinity) and steps to be taken for securing GAIL’s gas pipeline were discussed.
Based on the discussions certain directions were taken. A note shared by the authority states that CBRI found that Supertech Ltd. has not provided certain details pertaining to the structural audit and the same are to be provided to CBRI by August 7. After receiving the requisite information, CBRI will submit its report to Noida Authority by August 9, pursuant to which the authority will file a status report by August 11 before the Supreme Court.
Noida Authority will regularly monitor work carried out by Supertech Ltd. pertaining to the structural defects. Edifice Engineering will be working on suggestions provided by GAIL for protection of the gas pipeline. A meeting convened under the guidance of Additional CEO (P) to discuss preparations is to be undertaken for countering the effect of dust created due to the demolition on the green area and parks located in ATS Village and Supertech Emerald Court. For this, experts in Botany will also be invited to participate.
The analysis of the construction & demolition waste management plan submitted by Edifice Engineering to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board will be completed in a week.

Most Covid-19 deaths in Delhi among those with comorbidities

With cases of Covid-19 on the rise again in the national capital – over 2,000 cases have been recorded over the last three days – the number of deaths with the infection are also on the rise. There have been 16 deaths in the first five days of August. Delhi reported 2,419 cases and a positivity rate of 12.9% on Friday, according to the government’s daily health bulletin.
“The Covid-19 deaths that are now being recorded – just like the previous Omicron wave – are happening in those who are immune-compromised such as people undergoing dialysis, suffering from chronic kidney, heart diseases and tuberculosis. In fact, in most cases, the finding of Covid-19 is incidental. They are probably admitted for treatment of other conditions, they get fever, and when we test them, they are found to be positive,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, Lok Nayak hospital, which was one of the city’s biggest Covid-19 treatment facilities. It currently also has the highest number of isolation rooms – 20 in total – for monkeypox cases.
The number of admissions in the hospital has increased to almost 50 this week as compared to single-digit admissions that it was previously reporting.
Dr Nandini Duggal, acting medical superintendent of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, said, “There has been an increase in the number of cases over the last few days. But the cases are mostly mild, with fever for two to three days. There have not been any deaths at the hospital during the current increase in cases.”
Similarly, Safdarjung hospital also has not seen any deaths. “Although we haven’t reported a Covid-19 death in the hospital since the number of cases started going up in the last few days, the increase as per the bulletin keeps us informed that there might be more patients coming in,” said a senior doctor from the hospital, adding that cases of purely Covid-19 leading to deaths is not seen.

Revised graded pollution plan to be in place from October 1

The revised Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to deal with air pollution this winter will come into force with effect from October 1, according to the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM).
This year, the GRAP will be implemented differently – it will be pre-emptive and will be invoked three days in advance of the air quality reaching a certain level based on forecasts. In previous years, GRAP was invoked when particulate matter concentrations reached a certain threshold.
The commission issued directions Friday asking officials to ensure strict implementation of the revised GRAP. In the revised plan, there are four stages of adverse air quality — ‘poor’ (AQI from 201 to 300), ‘very poor’ (AQI from 301 to 400), ‘severe’ (AQI from 401 to 450) and ‘severe +’ (AQI more than 450). Actions under the ‘very poor’, ‘severe’ and ‘severe +’ categories are to be invoked at least three days in advance of the AQI reaching that particular stage. This will be based on forecasts provided to the CAQM by the India Meteorological Department and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
As per the directions issued by the CAQM on Friday, the chief secretaries of the National Capital Region (NCR)states and the Delhi government have been asked to frequently review the implementation of GRAP.
Under the revised plan, the ban on construction activities (except for those involving the railways, projects of national security, hospitals, metro rail services, and linear public projects like highways, roads) will set in under the ‘severe’ category. In the previous system, the construction ban was imposed only in the ‘severe +’ category. Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe+’ category.

Delhi weather today: Rainfall on forecast, maximum temperature to settle at 32 degrees

The weekend is likely to be rainy in Delhi with light rainfall on the forecast on Saturday and moderate rainfall likely on Sunday. The maximum temperature on Saturday is likely to be around 32 degrees Celsius.
Rainfall is not on the forecast for most of the next week, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). While cloudy skies are likely to persist from August 9 to 12, rainfall is unlikely in Delhi, it said. The maximum temperature is also set to increase to around 36 degrees Celsius by August 9.
The monsoon trough lies south of its normal position and is likely to remain in the same position for the next four to five days, it added. The position of the trough is likely to bring intense rainfall in Maharashtra, Goa, Chhattisgarh and Odisha on August 8 and 9.
So far this month, the Safdarjung weather station in Delhi has recorded 17.4 mm of rainfall, 66% short of the normal of 51.7 mm for the month till August 6. The weather observatory at Lodhi Road has a larger deficit of around 78% for the month so far.
Over the past 24 hours, Safdarjung recorded 8.8 mm of rainfall, while Lodhi Road recorded 6.8 mm. The weather observatory at Aya Nagar recorded the highest amount of rainfall in the past 24 hours – 24.5 mm. Aya Nagar has also recorded the highest amount of rainfall this month, which is around 52.3 mm.

Delhi Rewind: How Dilshad Garden started out as a slice of Lahore

When Sushil Mishra (70) set out from his home in Unnao in 1968, he had a single purpose in mind — that of being a journalist in the national capital. With lofty dreams of being a news reader some day and meeting the high and mighty of Indian politics, he moved into his first home in the capital — a room in the Seemapuri slum of East Delhi. Mishra remembers those early days of struggle when he spent the days running from pillar to post to find a job in news offices, while the evenings went by in writing poetry.
As days went by, he saw his dream of being a journalist slowly slipping away, as he started taking up odd jobs in transport, construction and the like. On one such occasion, sometime in the late 1970s, he came across some officials from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) who had started developing the nearby colony of Dilshad Garden. As he took up some contractual jobs with the DDA during this time, he saw with great enthusiasm the area around his slum developing with the best of facilities. “These were well-built flats, surrounded by parks and markets,” he recalled.
Soon after, by 1985, Mishra had managed to earn a decent amount to rent his first accommodation in Dilshad Garden, a janta flat for which he paid Rs 250 as monthly rent. “For many living in the slums of Seemapuri, the making of Dilshad Garden signalled a new hope for their lives,” he said. “Some of us who somehow made a little money hoped to get an accommodation here.”
Dilshad Garden was in fact built at a time that ushered in a new phase in the development of the capital. Casually called ‘Jamna paar’ or the east side of the Yamuna, it was up until the 1970s considered unfit for development. “Originally East Delhi was avoided because about five or six kilometres eastwards from the river consisted of floodplains,” explained Professor K T Ravindran, who served as head of urban design in the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi and was former chairperson of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission.
The first time the DDA turned its attention towards this area was during Sanjay Gandhi’s urban renewal plan of the mid 1970s when close to 2 lakh people from the slums of Old Delhi were moved to the resettlement colonies like Jahangirpuri, Seelampur and Dakshinpuri, built by the authority in the peripheral areas of East Delhi.