Bengaluru Buzz: Govt ‘failed’ in education | Amul-Nandini face-off … and more

Other news of the week: Effort to increase voter turnout, pre-poll issues, COVID-19 cases rise due to XBB variant, and BBMP to rejuvenate 69 lakes.

Govt ‘failed’ in education: Civil rights body

The government’s performance in education has been marked ‘Grade E’ (Fail) by the civil rights group, Bahutva Karnataka. It evaluated the state’s performance based on certain parameters, such as the learning abilities of students, implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, communalisation of education, revision of the curriculum, exclusion of students from marginalised communities, infrastructure, among others.

The forum, consisting of education experts and student activists, said that its report card is an outcome of evaluation based on the government’s performance in relation to its own goals, as well as the constitutional vision of education.

The group plans to release a series of reports on the BJP government’s performance in various sectors before the Assembly elections in May 2023.

Source: Indian Express

Read more: After one year as minister for Bengaluru, CM Bommai has many promises to keep

Pre-poll issues

The election process for the Assembly elections has been set in motion with the gazette notification. The last date for filing nominations is April 20th, papers will be scrutinised on April 21st, and the last date of withdrawal of candidature is April 24th.

Meanwhile, the police on April 13th arrested two in an autorickshaw, with Rs 1 crore unaccounted cash, said officials. Suspecting that it might be hawala money, the police have told the Income Tax department to further investigate the cash seizure before the elections. The Election Commission has said that cash and materials worth Rs 108.78 crore have been seized in the 11 days since the model code of conduct for the May 10th Assembly polls took effect. Election officials have seized more than 500 pressure cookers, and other home appliances meant for distribution as poll freebies.

The government has approved a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) proposal to build 46 public toilets at Rs 28.48 crore just before the model code of conduct came into effect.

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

Efforts to increase voter turnout

To achieve 75% voter turnout, electoral officers visited industrial townships. The voter turnout in Bengaluru during the last Assembly polls was only around 55%. The BBMP, trying to ensure high voter turnout on polling day, organised a jatha for awareness in the Govindarajanagar Assembly constituency. It also conducted a SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) campaign at Embassy Manyata Business Park in East zone. An interactive session was held with Outer Ring Road Companies’ Associations, in which the Chief Commissioner and District Election Officer, Bengaluru, Tushar Giri Nath, explained the importance of voting. 

Source: Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express

Amul-Nandini face-off

There will be no merger between Amul and Nandini, said KMF (Karnataka Milk Federation) Chairman, Balachandra Jarkiholi. He added that there was no threat to the KMF-owned Nandini brand from Amul or any private brands selling fresh milk and curd. Accusing opposition parties of playing politics over Amul’s ‘entry’, he said that more than 24 lakh farmers are KMF members, out of which 10 lakh dairy farmers supply milk everyday. Nandini milk is connected to over 28,000 villages across Karnataka. There are over 40-50 lakh voters connected to this process directly.

Nandini milk logo

Nandini is claimed to be the state’s ‘pride’. Pic: Twitter/Ivan Pinto (INC member)

Meanwhile, trying to defuse the political row, head of the Gujarat-based cooperative selling Amul brand, on April 11th, said it will sell milk and curd only through online channels in Bengaluru and there is no competition with Nandini milk, which is cheaper due to the state government’s subsidy. Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) MD Jayen Mehta asserted that there cannot be “Amul versus Nandini” scenario as both are co-operatives owned by farmers.

The controversy continued as the opposition Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) charged the BJP of trying to weaken the KMF and privatise the milk sector, while the ruling party of the BJP termed their accusations as “misinformation”, causing anxiety among milk producers and the public. The Congress accused the Centre of trying to establish its total control, ignoring the Constitution, which demarcates cooperative societies as a state subject.

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

XBB variant causes rise in COVID-19 cases

The rise in the state’s COVID-19 infections are probably due to the XBB variant. The weekly average positivity rate is 3.75% while the case fatality rate 0.35%. There were 1,074 active cases in the city, out of 1,572 in Karnataka, and 99 hospitalisations on April 11th.

XBB and its sub-variants, which are in circulation now, are highly transmissible and lead to infections, said M K Sudarshan, chairman of the technical advisory committee. Healthy individuals get symptoms like cough and cold, but recover quickly. However, patients with comorbidities are at risk. During mock drills at the hospitals on the previous day, it was found that fewer than 1 % of the beds are occupied.

Doctors said that the main reason for the rise in infections is due to lack of adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour, such as wearing masks in crowded places and leniency in getting vaccinated with the booster dose.

Source: Indian Express, The New Indian Express

Read more: Experts consider fourth booster shot as COVID-19 concerns return to Bengaluru

BBMP to rejuvenate 69 lakes

The BBMP asked for Rs 67 crore from the government for annual maintenance, minor repairs, development, and rejuvenation of 69 lakes, out of the 201 under its ambit in 2023-24. It claims to have restored 63 lakes between 2019 and 2022, at Rs 345.85 crore.

The BBMP has started development work at 25 lakes and will float tenders for the rejuvenation of 13 lakes and plans to restore 31 lakes this financial year.

Sources said that the restoration included desilting, fencing, sewage diversion, bund formation, inlet and outlet construction, and pathway formation. Regular maintenance is being done to keep these lakes alive and functional.

In the last financial year 2022-23, under the Chief Minister’s Amrutha Nagarothanna Grant of Rs. 244.25 crores, improvement of 41 partially developed lakes and 26 undeveloped lakes were carried out. Boundaries of 100 lakes have been demarcated and secured by fencing. The remaining lakes will be demarcated to avoid encroachment and garbage in the premises. Sluice gates at major lakes will be set up at a cost of Rs 36.85 crores to avoid local flooding.

Meanwhile, several citizens’ bodies have framed a manifesto for the political parties with an aim to protect the waterbodies.

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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