Bengaluru Buzz: Ward delimitation notified | Farmers slam BDA’s compensation … and more

Weekly round up of important happenings in Bengaluru.

Notification on ward delimitation

After waiting out the 15 days given for filing objections on the ward delimitation draft proposals by BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike), the government on July 14th issued a final order notifying the new wards and their boundaries. As per the notification, the number of wards in the municipality goes up from 198 to 243. Over 3800 objections filed by citizens and citizen groups had been disposed of.

While most suggestions were rejected, a few on new ward names proposed in the draft were accepted. For example, Ward 55 will now be named after Puneeth Rajkumar, while Ward 77 will retain its name of D J Halli, not Modi Garden as had been proposed.

Source: The New Indian Express

Farmers slam BDA’s compensation

The compensation amount being offered to farmers for their land acquired for the Peripheral Ring Road project is snowballing into a major issue. Farmers protesting against the meager compensation on offer found themselves being arrested by the police. Many were still at the police station even as officials held a public hearing on the issue on July 13th. Farmers called the public hearing a mockery of democracy and insulting to those who have been waiting for compensation for the past 18 years.

There were more cops than civilians at the public meeting organised by the KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) at Ambedkar Bhavan in Yelahanka. About 70 attendees said they learnt about the event only at the last minute. They said that the BDA and the state have committed atrocities against farmers and demanded a fair compensation.

The farmers’ main grouse is that they are being given compensation under the BDA Act instead of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. There were also objections to the delay in implementing the project and the environmental destruction the project could cause.

Under the project, BDA is to build an eight-lane road connecting Tumakuru Road with Hosur Road. The 74-km stretch will connect major roads such as Hesarghatta Road, Doddaballapur Road, Ballari Road, Old Madras Road, and Hoskote-Anekal Road. The estimated cost of the project is ₹14,934 crore, out of which ₹9,318 crore is required for land acquisition and rehabilitation. More than 1,036 hectares of land are required, of which 555 hectares are private properties.

Fixing compensation for the notified land has been one of the major hurdles faced by the project.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Bandh over Idgah Maidan row

On July 12th, hundreds of shops in and around the Chamarajpet Idgah Maidan were closed. More than 15 sloganeering members of Srirama Sene were taken into preventive custody. Residents and traders supported the bandh called by Hindu outfits, but the Mandipet Traders Association abstained and supported the local MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan.

Right-wing Hindu activists said the Idgah Maidan is a public space and not a Wakf Board property, restricting its use to Muslims only. The protestors were on the streets from 8am and ensured that the traders shut shop.

The Chamarajapete Okkoota Samithi, Vishwa Sanatha Parishad, Srirama Sene and other pro-Hindu outfits had called for a day-long bandh, accusing the MLA of preventing non-Muslim communities from using the Idgah playground for their activities. S Bhaskaran, president of the Vishwa Sanatha Parishad, said that they had agitated only over the land and civil issue, but the MLA and his followers made the issue look communal.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (West) said that no permission for protests or bandh had been granted. Four assistant commissioners, 12 inspectors, 30 sub-inspectors, 60 assistant sub-inspectors and 350 constables and four platoons of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) were deployed to maintain law and order.

BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) chief commissioner Tushar Girinath said that the maidan’s khata shows that the land is owned by the Wakf Board.

Source: The New Indian Express, Indian Express

BBMP spending on BJP MLAs assembly segments

The BBMP is spending most of the Rs 3,661-crore grant that it gets from the state to execute “small works”, each costing less than Rs 1 crore. While the government allocates funds for large infrastructure works, BBMP has been using its own funds for minor works like repairing small roads, installing exercise equipment and redeveloping parks. BBMP prefers to take up such activities as they can be executed quickly, with payments getting cleared faster.

In recent weeks, the BBMP seems in a great hurry to repair roads, despite the rains.

Hoowever, BBMP has not made public the list of works approved in Bengaluru’s 28 assembly constituencies. But assembly segments represented by ruling party MLAs, such as Mahadevapura, RR Nagar, Yeshwantpur, KR Puram, Bengaluru South and Bommanahalli are getting allocations of more than Rs 200 crore each.

The Rs 3,661 crore is part of the Rs 6,000-crore grant announced by the government under its Amrut Nagarothana programme.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: Flyover to nowhere: Koramangala’s monument to poor urban planning

Reviving lakes

BBMP has launched a number of initiatives to revive 26 lakes in the city’s newly developed areas. It will use Rs 229 crore received under the Amruth Nagarothana programme for restoration and has outsourced a project to revive 10 water bodies. While detailed project reports to rejuvenate these 10 lakes have been approved, details about plans for the remaining 16 are awaited.

Representatives from several citizens groups participated in the first public consultation, held on July 13, on rejuvenation and development of lakes. Encroachment clearance, implementation of Justice N K Patil report, ensuring zero per cent sewage inflow, tapping rainwater and diverting it into lakes were some of the public suggestions, most of which were included in the DPR for 11 lakes. Another 17 lakes will be added to the list later. The cost will be worked out and sent to Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) for approval.

Tushar Giri Nath, chief commissioner, BBMP, quoted an IISc study and said that the city will lose all its water bodies by 2030 due to uncontrolled concretisation. Citizens said transparency is key and the detailed project reports should be available online. They also asked whether BBMP was coordinating with the revenue department.

Source: The Times of India, The New Indian Express

32 mass fish kills in city lakes since 2017

In the last five years, there have 32 fish-kill incidents, eight of which took place in the last seven months. The primary cause is pollution of the city’s lakes – 51% due to sewage, 23% due to toxins and chemicals, 12% due to industrial effluents, 12% due to faulty sewage treatment plants, and 2% due to pesticides and fertilisers. These issues were highlighted in a report submitted on July 12 by ActionAid Association to the KSPCB.

The report mentioned that the incidents went unnoticed by the KSPCB, although a reply to an RTI application from the Bommanahalli Regional office said there was no fish kill recorded from 2017-2022 in their limits.

Puttenahalli Lake in 2018
Fish kills have been reported at Puttenahalli Lake in 2018. Pic Credit: SlowPhoton/Wikipedia

However, seven such incidents had taken place at Doddakallasandra Lake and Subramanyapura Lake in 2017, Puttenahalli Lake in 2018, Madiwala Lake in 2018 and 2019, Haralur Lake in 2017 and 2019, and Kothnur Lake and Yelachenahalli Lake in 2022. Haralur, Madiwala, Bellandur and Kommaghatta lakes seemed to be the most vulnerable to fish kill incidents.

On an average, five mass fish deaths have been reported in previous years. But this year eight have been reported in the first seven months alone. As they were reported thrice in Haralur Lake in the last five years, they show that adequate action has not been taken, even though KSPCB Chairman said that they collect samples and test water quality every month.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Nod to axe 21 trees

The Karnataka High Court on July 13th permitted the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited to remove 21 trees at construction sites of two stretches of the Namma Metro project. However, the BMRCL has to implement the UAS (University of Agricultural Sciences) recommendations on compensatory plantation.

On June 10th, the tree officer of Bengaluru Urban district had passed an order to remove 14 trees between the Silk Board signal and the Kadubeesanahalli Junction. An earlier order had allowed removal of seven trees to construct the underground Metro (Reach 6) along Vellara Junction-Rashtriya Military School. The BMRCL had moved IAs (Interlocutory Applications) for the high court’s nod for removal of trees. The court has asked the tree officer to upload BMRCL’s quarterly reports with regard to the compensatory plantation/translocation.

The High Court has also directed the KRDCL (Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited) to implement the recommendation of UAS for compensatory plantation of 2,639 trees of different species within six weeks.

Source: Deccan Herald

Also Read: Is the axing of 5,000 trees for road widening around Bengaluru justified?

Central guidelines awaited for free booster shots

As part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the Union Health Ministry announced that COVID precautionary doses would be given free of cost for those above 18 years of age, for 75 days from July 15th. But the state government is awaiting central guidelines to get started, said Dr Arundathi Chandrashekar, Mission Director of State National Health Mission, who is also in charge of the vaccination drive.

On July 13th, Bengaluru reported 1,124 cases out of 1,231 cases in the state. The positivity rate touched 4.78% in the state, and 6.6% in the city. The government is also thinking of imposing fines for not wearing masks in public places.

Source: The New Indian Express, The Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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