Bengaluru Buzz: BBMP presents budget | LPG prices up … and more

The other news of the week for Bengaluru: Rapid Road project halted and Karnataka government employees union calls off strike.

BBMP presents budget

The BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) on March 2nd presented its budget of Rs 11,157 crore at Town Hall. Infrastructure projects received 63% allocation, followed by solid waste management that got 14.73%. It is the third time that the BBMP has presented a budget in the absence of a city council. Amid opposition, the civic body also proposed five more flyovers.

Pushing for transparency in accounting, the BBMP has created IFMS (Integrated Financial Management System).

The BBMP has also earmarked Rs 92 crore to establish 61 primary health centres and allocated Rs 2 crore for the Bangalore Health System to ensure medical care through call centres, help desks, free enrolment and free treatment. Rs 2 crore has been earmarked to treat lifestyle-related diseases and Rs 20 crore for the anti-rabies five-in-one vaccine. The city might get a dedicated health commissioner.

Only Rs 50 crore has been allocated to run Indira canteens.

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

Read more: Budgetary allocations: Focused spending through active civic participation

BBMP seeks to boost property tax earnings

BBMP announced that it expects to earn Rs 800 crore from the conversion of B-Khata to A-Khata properties. Collection of property tax is a major source and core function of its revenue department. Officials said that the property tax collected, along with cesses, has risen.

In a bid to woo voters before the approaching Assembly elections, a penalty on unauthorised or illegal properties within BBMP’s limits was removed, when the Legislative Assembly passed the (Amendment) Bill 2023. Hence, more than 6.16 lakh owners of B-Khata properties will not be required to pay double tax. Under Section 144 (6) of the BBMP Act, the civic body had levied “double the tax payable” from buildings and vacant land or both, violating building bye-laws.

Source: Indian Express

LPG prices up

There were several protests over the domestic and commercial LPG cylinders’ prices getting hiked by Rs 50 and Rs 350.5 per unit, from March 1st. P C Rao, president, BBHA (Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association), called the hike abnormal and a big blow to the hotel industry.

Earlier, BBHA had requested for a reduction in GST on commercial LPG cylinders from 18% to 5%, but that had not been considered. Hoteliers clarified that prices of food items in hotels and restaurants will not be raised at least now. 

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Govt employees strike off

Karnataka government employees union called off an indefinite strike as the state announced a 17% hike in basic pay as interim relief. It promised to look into the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission and will form a committee to probe the demand by employees for reverting to the Old Pension Scheme. The strike called by state government employees on March 1st didn’t have any impact on medical colleges, which saw uninterrupted services.

However, the interim relief of 17% under the 7 th Pay Commission is estimated to cost the exchequer about Rs 1,000 crore per month or about Rs 12,000 crore annually. Sources say that the burden could go up to Rs 20,000 crore or even more annually, when the full-fledged recommendations of the Pay Commission are implemented. The burden is expected to go up as about 3 lakh employees are in the local bodies, aided educational institutions and so on.

Still, the Karnataka State Employees Association President C.S. Shadakshari has been blamed for “unilaterally” taking the decision to withdraw the strike, even though the government did not agree to all the demands of the protestors. The withdrawal of the strike was called a leadership failure by some.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Rapid Road project halted

The BBMP will put on hold the expansion of its Rapid Road project, as the technology partner, Ultra Tech, has not paid the consultancy fee of Rs 23.41 lakh, to the IISc (Indian Institute of Science), which had been asked to take up a feasibility study after cracks were discovered at Indiranagar. The BBMP will also not go ahead with white-topping, whereby bitumen roads get a concrete layer on top. Inaugurated in December 2022, the project has 5-feet-wide, 2-feet-long and 7-inch-thick concrete slabs, which were seen as an alternative to white-topping.

Meanwhile, after one-and-a-half years, Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, which underwent continuous digging under the TenderSure model, was finally opened to the public on February 27th. BBMP officials assured that the footpaths would be ready only after a month, as BESCOM (Bangalore Electricity Supply Company) and the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) are laying cables and pipes.

Source: Indian Express

Read more: BMLTA contention: Lack of participatory planning

National Science Day Expo

On February 28th, during the National Science Day, celebrated every year to commemorate renowned physicist Sir CV Raman’s discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’, researchers at NIMHANS displayed a human brain and explained its functioning, as well as nature-based intervention in relaxation.

Children attending an exhibition at NIMHANS.
At National Science Day Mega Expo ’23 in NIMHANS. Pic: Twitter/NIMHANS, Bengaluru

NIMHANS is the nodal centre of Tele-Manas (Tele Mental Health Assistance and Networking Across States), a project inaugurated by the Union government to offer free tele-mental health services all over the country, especially to people in remote or underserved areas.

Most of the calls are related to exam distress, relationship issues, substance use, and financial stress. There are 20 councillors only in the state, trained by NIMHANS, who take the calls. The Tele-Manas team said that they would introduce video consultations soon. Currently, calls are open from 8 am to 8 pm, but there are plans to make it 24×7 and calls can be made anonymously.

The state government is expected to set up a science gallery at Hebbal on one acre.

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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