Bengaluru Buzz: Covid vaccine snag | Most liveable tag | Protests for pay hikes … and more

Catch up on what happened in the city over the week in our roundup

Seniors’ vaccination disorganised

From March 8, Covid-19 vaccine shots are likely to be provided at 107 hospitals (100 beds) as well as 141 Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike hospitals and referral hospitals. This would help BBMP vaccinate 60,000 people per day. Thereafter, it would target vaccinating one lakh people a day. ASHA workers are expected to mobilise over 15 lakh slum dwellers and bring them to sites for walk-in registration from next week.

From March 1 to 4, Bengaluru Urban recorded 33,632 COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens and 5,179 to those above 45 years with comorbidities.

An overloaded Co-Win vaccine portal and a breakdown in communications prevented hundreds of vials of vaccines from being delivered to hospitals on the inaugural day of the vaccination drive for citizens in this age category.

The State Health Department started on-site registration in BBMP limits from Tuesday. Senior citizens found it hard to upload documents online as most of them are not computer literate. Online registrations are being undertaken to avoid crowding at vaccination centres, but the CoWIN portal either does not open or is very slow. Sources admitted that the CoWIN portal issues are delaying the process of beneficiary verification and OTP generation.

Meanwhile, apartment complexes are tightening rules, while colleges, restaurants and theatres have opened. Two new clusters emerged, one in an 40-unit apartment complex in Vasanthpura Chickallasandra, where six persons tested positive for COVID-19. The second was in Narayanapura government school in Devasandra ward of KR Puram, where two teachers and 7 students tested positive. The school has been closed for 14 days.

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

Mutation rate higher in city

Meanwhile, researchers at the Indian Institute of Science identified multiple mutations and unique proteins in isolates of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The study, published in the Journal of Proteome Research, has also shown that the hosts produce several proteins of their own as their body launches an immunological defence to the viral attack. The mutations are occurring at a higher and faster rate in Bengaluru than the national and global average, the report says.

Source: The Hindu, The New Indian Express

Bengaluru most liveable

Bengaluru was adjudged the most liveable large city in the country as per the Ease of Living Index – 2020, released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. This is a big leap from the 58th position Bengaluru held in the previous edition of the survey in 2018. The Bengaluru model of development of citizen-centric initiatives and delivery of services is said to have earned it the top ranking. It however stood at 31st rank among 49 cities (with a population of over one million) in the Municipal Performance Index.

“The COVID war room, lake rejuvenation and provision of better lifestyle to people earned Bengaluru the top rank,” said BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad. Pic: BBMP Commissioner/Facebook

The EoLI, according to the government, is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and impact of various initiatives for urban development. More than 32 lakh people across 111 cities participated in a ‘Citizen Perception Survey’, holding a weightage of 30 per cent.

Activists from Citizens for Bengaluru, holding that the rank does not mean the city has gotten better in any way, said civic bodies should conduct self-assessment and make changes. Bengaluru has seen no improvement in sustainable infrastructure, they said.

BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad said that the primary reason for the rank was the Covid war room, rejuvenation of lakes, and provision of better lifestyle to people.

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

Pay hike demands rise

Ahead of the State Budget scheduled to be presented on March 8, thousands of anganwadi workers and employees of road transport corporations held rallies and protests demanding pay hikes. Both groups asked to be treated on par with government employees of their equivalent cadre and be made eligible for benefits such as health insurance and pension.

The Karnataka State Road Transport Employees’ League said that none of the nine demands the government had promised to implement, were met. The league has threatened an indefinite strike from March 15.

Autorickshaw drivers and midday meal workers staged protests on Wednesday. The former took out a rally from KSR railway station to Freedom Park, asking that the minimum fare be fixed at Rs 36 and Rs 18 for every subsequent kilometre.

The Federation of Karnataka Autorickshaw Drivers Unions has demanded the formation of a welfare board, housing facilities and fitness certificates for two-stroke autos. Those willing to switch to electric autos must get subsidies from the Centre and State, as well as affordable loans from banks, they said. Another demand is to let them operate around a 25-km radius of the city.

Source: The Hindu

Batting for affordable mobility

Days after the Transport Department submitted a proposal seeking a hike in bus fares, the Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike has called for a reduction in ticket prices. The forum said that the pandemic has made affordable mobility a great concern. It demanded the implementation of a 170-km bus priority lane as per the comprehensive mobility plan 2019.

It also asked for introducing viability gap funding, free bus travel schemes for women, building bus priority lanes and a one-time budget grant of Rs 1,500 crore for procuring 3,000 buses. The forum also brought up the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s inability to pay staff salaries on time, pointing out that the corporation has the highest-priced bus fares in the country.

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

HC directs BBMP about action plan on potholes

The Karnataka High Court has directed two chief engineers of the BBMP to participate in the proceedings on March 9 pertaining to a PIL on potholes. A report submitted by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority stated that 5,435 responses were received from citizens regarding potholes and footpaths. The BBMP had failed to submit documents on estimation, technical sanction and photos (taken before and after the work) regarding 74 roads, which the civic agency claimed to be pothole-free.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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