Citizens' Issues
Maharashtra CMs have no time for Mumbai's Mithi River development
Since 2010, successive CMs of Maharashtra have not called a single meeting on the development of Mithi River, which was the main cause for Mumbai's great deluge in 2005, reveals a reply received under RTI 
 
Successive Chief Ministers (CMs) in Maharashtra have not held a single meeting over the past five years on the development of Mithi River that caused the infamous 26/7 deluge of Mumbai, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
 
According to information provided by Mithi River Development and Protection Authority (MRDPA) to activist Anil Galgali, over the past five years, the Authority, which works under the Chairmanship of the CM, has not held a single meeting. "Over the past five years, three successive CMs, Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan and Devendra Fadnavis have not held a single meeting of the Authority on the development plan for the Mithi River," the RTI reply reveals.
 
Almost 10 years ago, on 26 July 2005, Mumbai faced a deluge, which was mostly blamed on the Mithi River, as it could not carry the excess rainwater out into the sea due to silt and garbage. To ensure that there is no repetition of the situation, the state government decided to restore the glory of the Mithi River, which has got converted into a nalla, and on 19 August 2005 set up MRDPA. Over the next few years, the Authority held six meetings, two in 2005, one each in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. However, after that no meeting took place, Galgali says.
 
The length of the Mithi river is 17.8kms and its development is carried out by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). While MCGM looks after the development of 11.8 kms from Vihar Lake to CST bridge, the MMRDA is responsible for developing the balance 6 kms from CST bridge to Mahim causeway, including the Vakola nalla portion.
 
"Though Rs1,200 crore have been spent on the development activities of the Mithi river till date, the work remains unsatisfactory due to the disinterest shown by successive CMs since 2010," Galgali alleged. 
 
He asked incumbent CM Fadnavis to immediately look into the matter and convene a meeting of the Mithi River Authority. 
 
Apart from the CMs, the Chief Secretary is the nominated Chairman of the High power Committee of the Authority, which so far has held only 11 meetings since establishment. Of the 11 meetings, one meeting each was held in 2005 and 2012, two meetings each were held in 2006 and 2008, and a maximum five meetings were held in 2013 alone. "Erstwhile Chief Secretaries J Saharia and present CS Swadheen Kshatriya also seem to share the disinterest exhibited by the CMs and appear to have pledged not to convene meetings during their respective tenure's. When I queried about how many meetings have to be held mandatory in a year, I was informed that no such rule is in the govt resolution," Galgali said.
 
Mithi River originates from the overflow of Vihar Lake and also receives the overflows from the Powai Lake about 2kms later. It flows for a total of 15kms before it meets the Arabian Sea at Mahim Creek flowing through residential and industrial complexes of Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla, Kalina, Vakola, Bandra-Kurla complex, Dharavi and Mahim.
 
When the river was not as polluted as it is today, Mithi River used to serve as an important storm water drain for Mumbai. However it has been used as a sewer over the years and its importance as a storm water drain has reduced and on the contrary, the River poses a hazard during high tide bringing polluted water into Mumbai.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

Speaks volumes about the administrative capabilities and interest in clean up of our CMs. Both Congress and BJP stand indicted. The 200 crore spent on setting up the committee should be recovered from the political parties who are responsible for the performance of their hand picked ministers.

One reason why this has taken a back seat is because the crisis occurred too far back. Politicians think only of today's crisis.

Another reason is clean up will require upsetting important constituents, people who have encroached on the rive bed. I am not talking of the poor who live in precarious huts along the banks but of wealthy builders and industrialists who have flouted rules with impunity.

We all are grateful to activists like Mr. Galgali and media like MoneyLife who have persisted in their efforts to prod the govt machinery into action.

India has forex reserves to stabilise currency volatility: RBI
As the rupee hit a new low and the stock market took a tumble, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said on Monday that India has sufficient foreign exchange reserves to prevent volatility in the currency market.
 
India has foreign exchange reserves of around $380 billion and these would be used if needed to subdue the volatility in the currency market, he said on the sidelines of a banking conference here.
 
Speaking at the conference, Rajan referred to his earlier comments that the central bank was not a cheerleader for the economy and said it was not for the RBI to lift sentiments unduly to deliver booster shots to the stock markets.
 
"We do not have to look too far beyond our borders to see the consequences of such boosts. Rate cuts should not be seen as goodies that the RBI gives out stingily after much public pleading," Rajan said.
 
"Instead, what is important is sustained low inflation, something the prime minister emphasised in his Independence Day speech, and rate cuts are a natural consequence that the RBI has no hesitation in delivering," Rajan added.
 
He said there was much to be optimistic about the economy.
 
"The Indian economy is full of possibilities, even as much of the world is mired in pessimism. Indeed, I have been arguing that the fragility of the world economy is precisely because it has focused on quick fixes rather than deep reform," Rajan said.
 
"The question for us as a society is whether we have the discipline to do what is necessary at a time when global conditions are propitious - commodity prices look like they will stay low for a time, helping the fight against inflation, and there is plenty of money around the world and at home, looking for investments, including in distressed assets, that can help us clean bank and corporate balance sheets," he said.
 
According to him, what sets poor nations apart from the rich was not people or resources or even luck but good governance, which comes from strong frameworks and strong institutions.
 
"A summary explanation of the economic problems of the recent past is that they arose because India outgrew its institutions. A summary of the government and the Reserve Bank's measures to restore sustainable growth is that we are building the necessary institutions," Rajan said.
 
Referring to the falling global trade, Rajan said the domestic demand has to be increased while avoiding the booms and busts that typically plague such efforts by emerging markets.
 
According to him, structural reforms will help strengthen the domestic demand growth and cited measures like Indradhanush of the central government for the banking sector, and licensing of payment banks by RBI.
 
Rajan said new small finance banks would be licensed next month and two new universal banks are launching next month.
 
According to the RBI governor, the economy has come a long way since the difficulties in 2012-13 though three areas are still "works-in-progress" from the RBI's perspective.
 
"First, economic growth is still below levels that the country is capable of. Second, while consumer price inflation has moderated, inflation expectations among the public are still high, creating a gap between the real rates that savers expect and the rates corporations think they pay. Third, stressed assets in the financial system continue to be high, which holds back growth and new lending, even while dampening bank incentives to cut base rates," the RBI governor said.
 
Rajan said the short term macroeconomic priorities of RBI are: help bringing down inflation and work with the government and banks to resolve the issue of distressed projects and cleaning up bank balance sheets.
 
On dealing with distressed assets, Rajan said the RBI had ended the forbearance accorded to restructured loans, which would now be classified as non-performing loans. However, RBI has made it easier to recognise and deal with distressed projects. In other words, while ending forbearance, we have introduced flexibility for those who recognise and deal with stressed assets," he said.
 
According to Rajan, companies in some sectors were in real distress and some could survive with government help while others were unviable, for which too much help to unviable firms could also cause distress to spread to healthy firms. 
 
In this regard, the country needed rapid progress in the coming year on the creation of institutions necessary for resolution such as the new Bankruptcy Code and the Company Law Tribunals that would administer it as well as the Financial Resolution Authority (for resolving financial institution distress), the RBI governor said. 

 

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Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

Excellent article. Indians are so lucky to have Rajan at the RBI.

As he says, stock market is not the economy. Few remember this mantra and hence the panic selling. Creates great opportunity for serious long term investors.

RBI under Rajan is focusing on exactly the right things to revive the economy. And I am glad that he has stood his ground under pressure from the govt and the corporates.

Indian shares tank, key index sheds 1,000 points
The rupee also hit a fresh two-year low of 66.47 to a dollar
 
Weak global cues and a steep fall in Shanghai stocks, along with concerns over the Indian government's stand on minimum alternate tax (MAT) shaved 1039.34 points, or nearly 3.80 percent, off a key equity index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) at noon on Monday.
 
The rupee also hit a fresh two-year low of 66.47 to a dollar.
 
The 30-share sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE opened sharply lower at 26,730.40 points against the previous close at 27,366.07, plummeted further to 26,326.73 points (12.01 p.m.), to log a loss of 1,039.34 points, or 3.80 percent.
 
The wider, 50-scrip Nifty of the National Stock Exchange, followed a similar trend and was ruling at 7,985.30 points, with a loss of 314.65 points or 3.79 percent.
 
Each of the 30 shares that go into the Sensex basket, was trading in the red - the lowest loss being 1.33 percent for Hindustan Unilever and the steepest for the state-run GAIL India at 6.98 percent.
 
The realty stocks were the worst hit. The index for this sector was down 6 percent, followed by a loss of 5.40 percent for power, 5 percent for oil and gas, 4.77 percent for banking and 4.45 percent for capital goods.
 
Besides global developments, analysts cautioned that the slide in the rupee value, which closed on Friday at a two-year low of 65.83 to a dollar to breach the 66-mark, also dampened sentiments.
 
"The continued sell-off in the US markets reflects the recent downward momentum for the markets which came amid overarching concerns about developing economies and the outlook for US interest rates," Angel Broking said in a statement.
 
The carnage in the global equities market had its effect on stake sale in the state-run oil refiner-retailer Indian Oil Corp that was subscribed around 55 percent, four hours after bidding began at 9:15 pm. The stock was also quoting below the floor price.
 
At 1:15 p.m., bids were received for 13.96 crore shares, representing 57.5 percent of the 24.28 crore shares which the government proposes to divest at a floor price of Rs.387 a piece. At the Bombay Stock Exchange, around that time, the company's share was quoting at Rs.380.45.
 
The retail portion barely managed around 6 percent, even though the government has offered set aside 20 percent of the shares for them at a discount of 5 of the Cut off price. The non-retail portion fared better with around 70 percent subscription.
 
Bidding closes at 3:30 p.m.
 
The current government holding in Indian Oil Corp, the largest oil retailer in thde country, is 68.57 percent and the proposal is for divesting another 10 percent to raise at least Rs.9,400 crore, taking into accout the floor price of Rs.387 per share. 

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