Bengaluru Buzz: 12,000 air pollution deaths | No second wave yet | Support for Disha | PIL against BBMP Act … and more

Catch up on what happened in the city over the week, in our roundup

Death by air pollution

A Greenpeace Southeast Asia report on Thursday estimated that Bengaluru recorded 12,000 avoidable deaths due to PM 2.5 air pollution in 2020. The city fared better than Delhi and Mumbai, but worse than Chennai, Hyderabad, and Lucknow. The ‘Cost Estimator’ online tool estimated the real-time health impact and economic cost from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), using real-time ground-level PM 2.5 measurements collated in IQAir’s database.

Apart from waste burning, construction, industries, and DG sets, the fossil-fuelled transport sector was the key emission source. Polluted air increases the likelihood of deaths owing to cancer and stroke, spike in asthma attacks, and worsens the severity of COVID-19 symptoms.

The estimated economic losses were directly related to air pollution in terms of both direct healthcare costs and reduced economic productivity. According to data shared by Greenpeace, the estimated economic cost of pollution in the city was Rs 12,000 crore.

The study noted that besides PM 2.5, there were other pollutants like nitrogen oxide (NO2) which has spatial variability, ozone (O3) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) for which data availability was poor.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Not a second wave”

The case fatality rate in the city increased over the past week to cross 1.1%, making the February figure of COVID-19 deaths the highest for the past five months. A majority of the state’s Covid deaths are from Bengaluru.

The number of COVID-19 positive cases at a Bilekahalli apartment complex became the biggest cluster in the city so far. It shot up from 28 to 109, as on Thursday evening. All 1,058 residents of the apartment complex were tested. Over 90 of the patients were over 60 years, but many were asymptomatic.

Further, a cluster of 40 COVID-19 cases among nursing students studying in Bengaluru, besides another cluster of 49 nursing students at Ullal in the first week of February raised fears of a possible second wave of the pandemic. However, members of the Technical Advisory Committee said that it is too early to call it a wave.

Ward marshals performing COVID monitoring tasks have now been assigned to SWM (solid waste management) duties, at least for two months. However, 54 special teams working in two shifts in 27 divisions have ensured that mask wearing and social distancing protocols are adhered to till the end of March. After this, the second phase of vaccinations will be completed. Over 3.96 lakh violations of social rules were registered with ₹9.33 crore collected as fines so far.

Source: The Times of India, The New Indian Express, The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Support for Disha

Support poured in for Disha A Ravi, the 22-year-old climate change activist who was arrested from Bengaluru by the Delhi police on several charges including sedition. Several hundreds including farmers’ leaders, politicians and citizens gathered at Mysore Bank Circle on Monday, demanding that she be released.

The arrest has left students, teachers and other parents shaken. Parents met on Thursday to condemn the arrest and said they were worried that their children could be persecuted. More than 200 signed an open letter calling the arrest “arbitrary” and condemned the “criminalisation” of a toolkit used both by the government and social movements. They said the arrest is an “abduction” that sends a message that “no young person with a sense of curiosity and passion to change the world is safe in today’s India”.

Source: The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald

The enactment of a separate Act to govern Bengaluru, passed by the State Legislature last year, is being questioned in the courts.

BBMP Act challenged

A public interest litigation petition was filed in the High Court of Karnataka to strike down the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Act, 2020. The petition held that the Act is unconstitutional, with certain provisions contrary to the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act. It claims that while Article 243 Q provides for the constitution of municipalities called ‘Municipal Corporation’ for larger urban areas, the state has no authority to enact a separate law for BBMP areas.

Source: Deccan Herald

Ola, Uber fares to increase

Ola and Uber cab fares are likely to be hiked following the increase in fuel prices over the last many months. In January itself, the transport commissioner had sent a proposal to the transport department, to revise the fares of city taxis as well as cab attached to aggregators. On February 1, the department revised the fares of city taxis, fixing the base fare at Rs 75 for non-AC cabs and Rs 100 for air-conditioned cabs. They are now allowed to charge Rs 22 and Rs 44, respectively, for every subsequent kilometre. A revision for cabs attached to aggregating platforms is expected soon.

Source: Deccan Herald

Medical college trustees raided

The Income Tax Department on Wednesday unearthed malpractices in admission to MBBS, BDS, and PG seats across the state. The department uncovered ₹402.78 crore in capitation fee, collected illegally by manipulating online admissions.

Residences of the trustees of several medical colleges and hospitals in Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Davangere, and Mangaluru were searched on Wednesday. They include BGS Hospital, Sapthagiri Hospital and Akash Institute of Medical Sciences.

Source: The Hindu

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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