Bengaluru Buzz: 266 COVID-19 cases | KIA 2nd global punctual airport … and more

Property tax collection fell short, Enforcement Directorate issued a notice to BBMP, and trees to be felled for rail projects were the other news.

266 COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru, highest among metro cities

Bengaluru Urban district reported 266 active COVID-19 cases (309 cases were reported in Karnataka) on January 4th. The city has the highest number of cases among metro cities. New Delhi and Mumbai reported 32 active cases each and Chennai reported 27 cases on January 3rd. However, on January 3rd, the test positivity rate in Bengaluru came down from 2.2% on December 25th to 0.3%. Dr Thrilok Chandra, special commissioner (health), BBMP, said testing has been ramped up to 5,000 a day.

No samples with BF.7 or XBB.1.5 variants have been found so far in the genomic sequencing results from international arrivals at the KIA (Kempegowda International Airport). But the state government has announced free treatment for people with confirmed cases of infection from the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, BF.7. Experts from IISc and ISI (Indian Statistical Institute) explained that emerging variants are not likely to result in a huge surge. They said the number of cases in the state is expected to reduce to 57 in March.

Schools that reopened have issued a mask mandate to students, without impacting classes, attendance or extracurricular activities on the school campus. Air passengers transiting via Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and China need to show a negative RT-PCR certificate of a test taken 72 hours before departure.

Source: The Times of India, Deccan Herald, The Hindu

KIA 2nd in on-time departures

The KIA ranks second among global airports for on-time departure last year in a list released by Cirium, an aviation data analytics company in the UK. While it operated 2,01,897 flights, KIA clocked 84.08% on-time departures, after Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which recorded 90.33% on-time departures.

Bengaluru airport is the only one in the country to get placed among the most punctual global airports.

Source: Deccan Herald, Metrosaga

Read more: What Bengaluru’s flight users got in 5 years, rail users await for 10 years

Property tax collection 35% short

The Mahadevapura Zone has collected the most property tax of Rs 693 crore for the BBMP, even as the South Zone, which is three times smaller, came a close second, with a collection of Rs 422 crore. The West and East zones have also performed well, but Bommanahalli, Yelahanka, Dasarahalli, and RR Nagar range in the bottom four. By the end of December 2022, the BBMP had collected a total of Rs 2,718 crore in property tax, falling short of its target of Rs 4,200 crore.

The BBMP’s revenue collection system has consistently failed to meet its targets due to a lack of accountability of revenue officers and the close relationship between officers and tax defaulters.

Hence, the BBMP has met only 64.87% of the annual target, falling short by 35.12%. Chief commissioner Tushar Giri Nath instructed revenue officers to issue notices to all the defaulters who have property tax arrears. He called for action to collect property tax from clubs and malls under the BBMP jurisdiction.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

ED notice over water treatment plants, borewells

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued a notice to BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) regarding irregularities in installing water treatment plants and borewell drilling in five BBMP zones—Dasarahalli, Mahadevapura, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Yelahanka, and Bommanahalli, between 2016 and 2019. The ED has asked for the number of borewells drilled and RO (reverse osmosis) water treatment plants installed from 2016 to 2019.

The ED is investigating a case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 against the joint commissioners, chief engineers, executive engineers, corporators, and contractors of the five BBMP wards. Irregularities to the tune of Rs 400 crore in the BBMP over the drilling of borewells and installation of ROs have been alleged.

Source: Indian Express, The Hindustan Times

Read more: How open data, wastewater reuse and other measures can prevent flooding in Bengaluru

HC stays 5% cap on auto fee

The High Court stayed the Transport Department’s November 2022 notification, fixing a cap of 5% on service charges collected by online aggregators for autorickshaw-hailing and has allowed them to collect 10% service fee. The courts directed that all stakeholders’ opinions should be heard. However, the aggregators said that even the 10% fees is a loss for them and cited the Central government’s fee of 20%.

Source: Deccan Herald

Prefixed autorickshaw counters

On January 4th, the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) and the city traffic police started two prefixed auto rickshaw counters at M G Road and Cubbon Park metro stations, which will operate from 7 am to 12.30 am. More counters are being planned at the entry and exit gates of Banashankari, Baiyappanahalli, and Nagasandra metro stations, in order to provide first and last-mile connectivity to users.

The staff will be shared by BMRCL and the Bengaluru Traffic Police. Passengers have to pay Rs 30 for the first two kilometres and Rs 15 for every subsequent kilometre. The fare between 10 pm and 5 am will be one-and-a-half times the standard charges. Passengers have to state their destination at the counter and collect the travel slip containing the auto driver’s name, phone number, auto-rickshaw registration number, a destination address, passenger’s phone number, and the fare to be paid.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Electric bus prototype

The KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) received a prototype of an electric bus under the FAME-2 scheme. It will operate 50 inter-city air-conditioned electric buses, with more to be added next month, according to sources.

The buses, called ‘EV- Power Plus’, with a tagline ‘e-Xperience e-levated’, will be provided by Olectra Greentech Limited. Each bus provides 43 seats for passengers. Electric charging centres have already been set up in Bengaluru and Mysuru.

Bengaluru's first electric bus
Representative image. Bengaluru’s first electric bus. Pic: Twitter/Dr Sudhakar K

The BMTC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation) has invited bids for supplying five double-decker, air-conditioned electric buses at a cost of Rs 10 crore. On January 2nd, the transporter finalised the technical specifications for the double-decker buses, which would be returning to the roads after over 25 years. While February 1st is the last date for submitting bids, the buses are expected to hit the roads in July. Each bus will be 11 metres long with a seating capacity of 70.

The BMRCL will fully fund the construction of two double-decker flyovers in South Bengaluru at a cost of Rs 507 crore.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Trees to be cut for rail projects

The BBMP’s forest cell permitted K-RIDE (Rail Infrastructure Development Company [Karnataka] Limited), a joint venture between the state government and Ministry of Railways, to fell 268 trees for the Bengaluru Suburban Railway project from Byappanahalli to Chikabanavara. In 2022, K-RIDE had sought permission to cut 661 trees. Based on the inspection by the forest cell, it was decided that of the total 661 trees, 315 trees will be retained on site and 58 trees would be translocated to four sites around Yeshwantpur.

As many as 326 trees, many of them full-grown and strong, will make way for corridor 2 of the Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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