Bengaluru Buzz: COVID-19 alert again | Leopard sightings … and more

The slated revamp of nine high-density corridors, year-end boom in business, and the Bangalore Cake Show were among the other news this week.

Caution over COVID-19

The City Police Commissioner, C H Pratap Reddy, issued a set of guidelines and strict vigilance measures to take precautions during the festive month. Wearing masks is mandatory in indoor and closed places, such as pubs, bars, restaurants, malls, offices, buses and trains. Schools are making masks and sanitisers mandatory, instructing children to maintain social distancing and not share food, among other things.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has mandated COVID-appropriate behaviour, including face masks, due to TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) recommendations. The Health Minister, Dr K Sudhakar, has urged people to take precautionary booster doses, as so far, only 20% of the people in the state have taken them. Screening will be conducted at the Kempegowda International Airport to identify infected passengers. On December 21st, 5,692 passengers were screened.

Sudhakar added that it will follow the Union Health Ministry’s advisory to send samples of positive cases for genome sequencing to INSACOG (Indian SARC-COV-2 Genomics Consortium) to trace new variants.

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

Year-end boom and precaution

Business is booming due to the year-end surge in domestic travel and destination weddings, with most hotels running on 100% occupancy. The 48th edition of the annual Bangalore Cake Show began at St. Joseph Indian High School grounds, with displays of cakes of various shapes and sizes. This year’s theme is “good over evil and harmony in history and memory”. The cake show will be held till January 2nd.

As precautions, the police have directed event organisers and hoteliers to take permission from police stations, recruit female security officers and check for any criminal charges, using the Seva Sindhu app. Organisers should prohibit carrying of weapons, illegal drugs and other banned substances. They should also frisk every guest, install CCTV cameras at various points with power backup and partner with travel agencies to facilitate safe transport options for guests.

Any suspicious activity or individuals should be reported and organisers should advertise helpline numbers like 112 and the Suraksha mobile app. Action will be taken against violators of the rules.

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

Leopard sightings

Chinnakurchi villagers in the Bangalore South taluk reported leopard sightings, complaining of attacks on their livestock and dogs. Earlier, residents of Turahalli, Kengeri and Yelahanka had complained of the same.

Wildlife conservationist Joseph Hoover, on December 19th, said that the villagers are not asking for compensation, but want the leopards to be captured and relocated. On the other hand, the forest officials said that there was “massive encroachment”, so the leopards strayed into human settlements. They added that the 225-acre Chinnakurchi forest was declared a reserve forest in 1984 under Section 4 of the Karnataka Forest Act, but the government has not declared it a full-fledged reserve forest under Section 17. He said that there are no FSOs (Forest Settlement Officers).

Opposition members slammed the government for its failure to check the rising incidents of leopard attacks in the state.

Source: Indian Express, The Times of India

Rs 400 crores for nine high-density corridors

The BBMP has received Rs 400 crore to revamp nine high-density corridors on the lines of TenderSURE or Smart City roads. It aims to develop 110 kilometres of footpaths, including cycle tracks, and asphalt 44 kilometres of roads, hoping to begin before the Assembly elections that might be held in April-May.

There are 12 high-density corridors, including the Outer Ring Road, Tumakuru Road and Ballari Road in the city. But it is developing only nine corridors, aiming to redesign the road by ensuring that the main carriageway is uniform. B S Prahlad, BBMP chief engineer (Road and Infrastructure), said they will prioritise safety, greenery and aesthetics while re-designing high-density corridors.

Meanwhile, Congress MLC P R Ramesh alleged that there were massive irregularities in the Smart City works, as funds were ‘looted’ and most of the work involved roads. Of the total Rs 800 crore for the Smart City Project, Rs 450 crore was spent on roads. He demanded an audit of the 44 works taken up.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read more: The ups and downs of Outer Ring Road: A view through the years

Auto-rickshaw unions protest

Auto-rickshaw drivers in Bengaluru are planning to go on strike on December 29th, to protest the government’s nod for e-bike taxis and personal two-wheelers (whiteboard number plates) as bike taxis. The transport department has issued licences to two companies, Bounce and Blu Smart, to operate electric bike taxis under the Electric Bike Taxi Scheme, introduced in 2021, with the aim of giving the public more options for first-and-last-mile connectivity. But sources from the Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union said they had objected when it was introduced.

Source: Deccan Herald

BBMP resumes eviction drive

The BBMP has resumed clearing encroachments on stormwater drains in all its zones. The eviction drive had been stopped due to a stay order from the courts in November. Sources said that the tehsildars are surveying the properties and will issue notices to the owners, after which the properties will be razed.

MLA Rizwan Arshad overseeing the remodelling of stormwater drains across Ramaswamy Palya ward.
Remodelling of stormwater drains in Ramaswamy Palya ward has begun. Pic: Twitter/Rizwan Arshad (MLA, Shivajinagar)

Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath has directed the revenue department to complete the survey by December 28th, asking BBMP officials, tahsildars and land surveyors to coordinate and carry out an encroachment-clearance drive. The BBMP is getting ready to move its bulldozers over 78 properties in KR Puram and Varthur hobli in Mahadevapura Zone. The drive has begun in Mahadevapura.

Source: Indian Express, The New Indian Express

Misuse of grant

The BBMP’s vigilance cell suspects misuse of a Rs 30-crore grant allocated to Dasarahalli Zone for 19 works, where standard procedures were disregarded. Most of the work, each costing Rs 1-2 crore, involved drainage. Other violations included not taking the BBMP Chief Commissioner’s approval to hand over work to KRIDL (Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Ltd), not submitting road history for technical approval, releasing grants to the contractor beyond the actual works measured, and breaching specifications while executing the works.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read more: Rs 1.2 crores recovered as penalty from ineligible BPL card holders, some owned luxury cars

Lake Doddakannelli neglected

In the Mahadevapura zone, the Doddakannelli lake, spread across 18.35 acres, has deteriorated due to entry of untreated sewage. Its access road is swampy and is an impediment during the rains.

Since 2014, it was maintained by an NGO, but after 2017, it was looked after by the BBMP. Residents complained that though there is a good network of underground drainage connections, the sewage continues to flow through the drain and enter the lake. The Sewage Treatment Plan needs to be integrated. The sewage water diversion channel is blocked with mud. In some parts of the lake, the inlets that could be the source of water, have been blocked. Residents aim to clean up the grassy space near the entrance and get connected with available communities who live in the ecosystem.

Source: The Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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