Bengaluru Buzz: Preparations against corona spread | Rs 8,700 cr budget announcement | Tree census begins…and more

As more COVID-19 cases were suspected, BBMP held meetings with IT company representatives and mall operators last week to discuss protocols. Catch up on other news from the city over the past week, in our roundup.

More H1N1 cases, suspected corona cases

Two positive cases of H1N1 or swine flu were detected at the city office of the e-commerce giant Amazon. Sources said that, as a precaution, the company is sanitising its offices, but none of the workspaces have been shutdown.

Another swine flu case was reported on Wednesday at Mercedes Benz Research and Development India on their Brigade Tech Gardens Campus, Whitefield. The office was sanitised, evacuated and shut down for two days.

Five persons, who travelled from COVID-19 affected countries and showed symptoms, have been admitted to hospitals in Bengaluru, Udupi and Bidar since Wednesday. The group includes an Iranian national, but his samples tested negative on Wednesday. He is under observation at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD). Test reports of the other four persons are awaited, said officials.

Since many employees are working from home due to COVID-19 fears, office networks have got jammed. Some firms surveyed their employees to assess their preparedness to work from home.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

Rs 8,700 crore outlay for B’luru in state budget

The Karnataka Budget 2020-21 has set aside more than Rs 8,700 crore for the overall development of Bengaluru. Presenting the budget, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa underscored the need for a Municipal Corporation Act specific to Bengaluru, given the administrative challenges here. The budget proposed to implement an action plan under the ‘Mukhyamantrigala Nava Nagaroththana’ scheme, for which Rs 8,344 cr had been announced in last year’s budget.

Additionally, under ‘Shubhra Bengaluru’ scheme, a grant of Rs 999 crore is set aside for solid waste management, and Rs 100 cr to prevent sewage entry into lakes. Another Rs 317 cr has been proposed for lake development. Rs 200 crore has been granted to prevent flooding during monsoons and to fill gaps in the major storm water drain network.

The budget also set aside Rs 210 cr to set up a 11.5 MW capacity ‘Waste to Energy’ plant at Bidadi, Ramanagara District. The plant is expected to generate about 70 million units of power annually. It proposed to develop non-notified slums in all 10 metropolitan cities, including Bengaluru, at Rs 200 cr, and to give financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore to Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation Ltd through loans.

The Founder-President of Citizens’ Action Forum, N S Mukunda, said the Budget seemed like a statement of expenses and receipts, as no new schemes had been announced. Harish Kumar from Namma Bengaluru Foundation said that the BMPC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Planning Committee), the overarching body to integrate inter-sectoral spending, should be strengthened immediately.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

Authorities preparing to deal with corona scare

State government has warned of strict action against dealers who create artificial shortage of N95 masks and sell these at exorbitant prices. Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said that anyone who finds masks being sold above the maximum retail price should call 104 Arogyavani helpline and lodge a complaint, so that action can be initiated against dealers and medical store owners.

Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar said that only those who have symptoms need to use N95 masks. He added that the state has a stock of 40,000 N95 and four lakh triple-layered masks, apart from medicines. He clarified that only those who have symptoms and have returned from COVID-19 affected countries in the last 14 days or have been in contact with those with travel history, will be tested. They can call 104 helpline to request a test.

The Health Department also updated private hospitals on recent developments and sought their support. Labour Department has issued a circular asking employers to grant mandatory paid leave of 28 days to infected persons. BBMP also held an assessment and training session for medical officers.

BBMP Commissioner Anil Kumar met representatives of IT companies at the Intel campus, to discuss protocols set by the Health Department. Health Department and BBMP officials also met operators of 18 malls out of 22 in the city. Mall operators have been directed to use CCTV cameras to look out for those who show symptoms and to provide them surgical masks. Malls also have to sanitise common areas, and clean toilets, bill counters, etc at least six times a day. They’ve also been advised to not allow food inside theatre halls, and to discourage big gatherings.

Schools are taking precautionary measures, asking students with cold, cough and fever symptoms to not attend the year-end examination. Many schools have cancelled morning assemblies, and plan to conduct parent-teacher meetings online in order to avoid gatherings.

Source: Deccan Herald | The Hindu

Tree census begins

After a gap of 40 years, BBMP is now conducting tree census in the city; the census has started in South Zone. Commissioner Anil Kumar said that South Zone officials were being given on-field training at Ashoka Pillar Road. BBMP has signed a contract with the Institute of Wood Science and Technology for conducting the census.

The census will not only count and take details of trees, but will also assess their health. It will cover trees on roads, streets and parks. The project is expected to be completed in three years.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

E-bike taxi services to be permitted soon

State Transport Department is planning to frame guidelines on issuing permits and fixing fare structure for electric bike taxi operators. The proposal follows a budget announcement that e-bike taxis will be allowed so as to improve last-mile connectivity.

The move is expected to help lakhs of Namma Metro passengers reach their destinations from the stations. But the plan may face opposition from auto and taxi drivers, and may eat into BMTC’s revenue. Moreover, charging points will have to be provided for the e-bikes. Transport experts have pointed out concerns about the safety of passengers too.

Source: The Hindu

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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