Articles by Sravasti Datta

Sravasti Datta is an Consulting Editor at Citizen Matters.

Faced with mounting criticism of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for inflating revenue receipts, the Karnataka Government earlier this month brought the BBMP under the Karnataka Local Fund Authorities Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2003. The government also issued a draft notification of the BBMP Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Rules, 2021, inviting suggestions from citizens within 30 days before issuing the final gazette notification. The objective is to ensure basic that BBMP’s expenditure doesn’t exceed income. As per the notification, BBMP must prepare its budget on the basis of actual revenues collected in the last fiscal year. The draft notification…

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Citizen activism and public pressure forced BBMP, Bengaluru's city government to start convening ward committee meetings in 2018. Citizens and officials have since been making efforts to keep the committees functional and effective. But issues like representation and ensuring regular and effective ward committee meetings need urgent attention. There is the additional issue of the absence of elected municipal corporators since September 2020, since they have to chair their respective ward committees Ward committees are presently functioning informally. Srinivas Alavilli, Head - Civic Participation, Janaagraha, says a system has been put in place for the proper functioning of ward committees.…

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Sprawling, manicured lawns in neighbourhood parks, golf clubs, hospitals, and the airport may seem like oases of greenery. But the fact that they are green deserts -- negatively impacting soil fertility and displacing food crops such as finger millet, pulses, paddy -- is often overlooked.  These are some of the findings in a 2018 study by Dr Seema Purushothaman, Sheetal Patil, Raghvendra Vanjari, A R Shwetha and Dhanya Bhaskar, from Azim Premji University, titled  ‘The Other side of Development – Green Carpet or Green Desert?’. The study was conducted in the rural peripheries of North Bengaluru. About why the study focused…

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The first doctor to report the Omicron variant on November 18th, 2021 was Dr Angelique Coetzee, National Chairperson of South African Medical Association. “On that day, I saw seven patients with similar symptoms of myalgia, headache, fatigue who tested positive for COVID-19 with rapid tests at my consulting rooms,” Dr Coetzee said in an email interview with Citizen Matters. “Their symptoms were different from Delta and I alerted the South African Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines of which I am a part. It took our scientists six days to announce to the world that there’s a new variant.”  Subsequently, on…

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Last month, in December 2021, a new skywalk came up on Outer Ring Road, near New Horizon College, Kadubeesanahalli, built by Embassy Tech Park. Coming as it did, after a long period of no new skywalks being opened, it threw the spotlight on the importance of skywalks. In the recent past, BBMP has built a number of skywalks across the city under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model, which affected the final decisions on their locations and designs. However the overhead pedestrian crossings on Outer Ring Road have become a reality, largely due to citizen activism.  The Sanjay Giri skywalk, between Akme…

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In April, 2020, Usha Rajagopalan, Chairperson, Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT), had sent — like she always did since 2011 — the Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to be renewed, fully expecting it to come through. “Later, in June, I realized that the MoU was not renewed and the other citizen-led lake groups had the same experience,” says Usha.  BBMP has been signing MoUs with lake groups since 2011. Usha says: “The MoU states that we do not charge any entry fees or undertake commercial activity such as selling the lake water to…

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In many communities, the pandemic brought about a desperate need for a resource essential to survival: clean drinking water. Mumbai-based volunteers from the Ismaili Civic, a wider movement run by the Ismaili Muslim community globally, played a crucial role in the city by delivering water during the pandemic, earning praise both from doctors and the state government.  In early June 2020, they began distributing clean drinking water to COVID19 centres, first to larger hospitals and then to smaller ones (which had cropped up due to increasing cases), continuing through the deadly second wave, supplying close to 40,000 litres of water…

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