Delhi remains rape capital

 The year 2014 saw hectic political activity with new governments taking charge of the Delhi Assembly and the Centre, even as a rape in a cab exposed that nothing really has changed in the area of women’s security since the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape.

The air quality in the city got worse while the homeless continued to shiver to death as the central government – which controlled the city through Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung under the President’s rule – launched the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and promised a better tomorrow through water ATMs, new colleges, hospitals and schemes to clean up the Yamuna .

The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) magnificent political run continued in the early part of the year as it formed a minority government.

Transparency-activist-turned-chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP began the year in office with a bonanza for people with a cut in power and water bills by half.
The Kejriwal government lasted just 49 days but left an indelible impression on supporters with a drive to trap corrupt government servants with the help of public.

Later in the year, costly onions and tomatoes and proposals for water and power tariff revision gave the scare to middle class people. The absence of an elected government, in a way, worked in public favour as many harsh decisions got delayed.  
The imposition of a public transport cess of rupee one on each liquor bottle and stringent enforcement of pollution under check (PUC) certificates for clean air could not really take off as the bureaucrats seemed interested in letting the next elected government prescribe the bitter pills.

On the brighter side, the per capita annual income in the national capital increased to Rs 2.19 lakh in 2013-14 as compared to Rs 1.92 lakh in the previous fiscal.

 The crime scenario in the city remained grim. The rape of a financial analyst in Uber cab by the vehicle’s driver on December 5 revived the horrific memories of the 2012 gang-rape in a moving chartered bus.

Communal clash

Communal flare-ups in Trilokpuri sparked a political war and left dozens of people injured, while the kidnap and reunion of three-year-old girl Jhanvi showed how social media could be used by people to build pressure on police to solve cases.

The National Green Tribunal emerged as the city’s real saviour as the ambient air quality dipped and water table showed little signs of revival and the dirty Yamuna continued to cry for attention.

A series of directions by the tribunal, including the phasing out of private vehicles aged about 15 years and ban on borewells, shocked some people but were welcomed  by many others as steps in the right direction as a whopping 5.19 lakh new vehicles hit the city roads in 2013-14 while 3.36 lakh vehicles were registered in 2012-13.

The transport department’s inadequacies and incompetence in addressing the city’s security needs were exposed yet again by the Uber cab rape case. Despite tall claims after the Nirbhaya case, the department failed to rein in rogue drivers. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) installed CCTV cameras in its 200 buses while a bulk of its buses ran without active GPS monitoring devices due to poor planning and execution.

While the DTC struggled to buy and run new buses and begin electronic fare collection, Delhi’s other major public transporter - Delhi Metro - opened new lines and stations while contributing to annual reduction of 937 accidents in 2014.
Several breakdowns in the Metro, especially during summer and storms, slowed down the city’s pace.

The May 30 storm killed nine people and uprooted about 1,000 trees and brought down dozens of high tension power cables, exposing the chinks in the city’s preparedness in handling crises.

Indians from Liberia brought the Ebola virus scare to the city and the bird flu later added to panic in the city. The Guru Nanak Eye hospital was a blot on the reputation of the city’s health department as its operation theatre closed half a dozen times due to infection.

Over 700 unclaimed bodies, including those who died due to exposure to the chill, were found in the winter despite the city administration undertaking its biggest operation ever to expand night shelter facilities. Confusion over nursery admissions gave nightmares to many parents while the schools got back control of the admission norms as was the case two years ago.

The BJP-ruled civic bodies avoided raising property tax or levy new taxes to improve their finances in election year. The AAP continued to slam corruption in the local bodies.

The arrival of Yamuna waters from Haryana through the Munak canal, despite the continuing litigation, raised the hopes of colonies in the west and north of getting that extra bucket of water in the coming summer.

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