Bengaluru Buzz: BBMP acts tough on illegal flex banners| Protests at new highway…and more

Other news of the week: BBMP warns flex violators, uniform exams for Classes V and VIII, Bengaluru among global healthy cities awardees, and more.

Viral fever cases

Bengaluru hospitals are reporting high numbers of fever patients in the OPD, yet hospitalisations are much lower as patients are being admitted mostly in general ward rather than in the ICU.

However, in the last fortnight, government hospitals in the city showed a rise in admissions to 45. The numbers in the state went up from 17 at the end of February to 52 on March 13th. An 81-year-old, suffering from ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) in the city passed away on March 9th, one of five deaths reported in the state this year.

The weekly test positivity rate is 1.78%, but the number of active COVID-19 cases also surged from 278 to 510 in the state, with 325 reported to be in Bengaluru.

Bengaluru’s TPR shot up from 5.17% on March 1st to 7.51% on March 15th. Over 97% of the total hospitalisations in the state and over 70% of the daily cases are in Bengaluru.

Sources from the COVID TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) said that the rise in cases could be due to people not wearing masks in public. It has recommended that the government could standardise sewage surveillance and has also suggested the need to investigate in case of co-infection between H3N2 influenza and COVID-19, as both illnesses have similar respiratory symptoms.

The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) health wing has been asked to take up clinical audits of hospitalised cases with upper respiratory infections, to enquire the reasons for admissions, especially in the ICU.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express, The Hindu

Protests at Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway on March 12th and laid the foundation stone of multiple projects worth Rs 16,000 crore. The KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) announced that it has started collecting user fee for buses through the first phase of the new highway between Bengaluru-Nidhaghatta on National Highway-275 on the Bengaluru-Mysuru route. It stated that it would levy a user fee of Rs 15 from each passenger travelling in Karnataka Sarige buses, Rs 18 in Rajahamsa buses, and Rs 20 in other buses or multi-axle buses.

However, there was  chaos and protests at the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway, demanding that the toll fee be reduced. The collection had been announced in February, but got deferred due to protests. Many commuters were unaware that the toll had to be paid.

MP Pratap Simha said that the government is aware of the problems faced by motorists using the highway, but the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) will set up toll collection and deduction facilities at entry and exit points soon.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of debate among political parties, all trying to claim credit for the project and also debates over who it is benefitting and who it is not, including the collection of the toll.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Read more: How a commuter’s complaint pushed BMRCL to make lift and escalator available for all

Uniform exams for Classes V and VIII

A Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka has permitted uniform exams for the students of classes V and VIII as per the new method of assessment after March 27th, by rescheduling the dates. However, no question can be framed for the exams from subjects outside prescribed textbooks and syllabus.

The results of the exam should not be put in the public domain and should be communicated to the respective schools confidentially. Schools and the government are required to publicise that no student would be detained in classes V and VIII, even if they fail.

Source: The Hindu

BBMP acts tough on illegal flex banners

On March 14th, the BBMP warned that it would prosecute firms and individuals who put up illegal flex boards and banners on roads and footpaths. They invoked the Karnataka (Prevention of Defacement of Open Spaces) Act, which mentions up to six months’ imprisonment or a fine of Rs 1,000. So far, the BBMP has been accused of disregarding the high court’s ban on flex boards.

A senior BBMP official said that they would soon start filing police complaints against violators in large numbers. So far, they have registered 53 FIRs in the last two-and-a-half months.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read more: Lack of stormwater drain planning in Bengaluru is a risk factor for future floods

Hesaraghatta tank a water heritage site

The Hesaraghatta tank, spread over 1,500 acres in the northwest of the city, is one of five water heritage sites chosen in Karnataka, for the 75 national water heritage sites selected by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. It has been chosen for its inscriptions, its origin, and dates back to 1292. The custody of the tank is with the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board).

Hesaraghatta Lake Pump House
Representative image. Hesaraghatta Lake Pump House. Pic: Wikimedia Commons/Gutam2000

Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu, said that so far, there has been no provision under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, to declare a ‘Water Heritage Site’ under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Source: Indian Express

Global ‘healthy cities’ award

Bengaluru was awarded ‘Partnership for Healthy Cities Award’ with a cash prize of $150,000. This is a global network of 70 cities, founded in 2017, working together to prevent NCDs (non-communicable diseases). BBMP Special Commissioner (Health) Dr Thrilok Chandra, who led the delegation to the Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit in London on March 15th, received the award.

Bengaluru is one of five cities that received the award from the World Health Organization (WHO) for its tobacco control efforts, especially reduction of smoking in public places.

Source: The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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