Bengaluru Buzz: Nod to axing trees | AI to nab traffic violators… and more

Affixing QR codes on trees in Malleshwaram and NGT's dismissal of the state’s appeal for relief from environmental compensation were among other news.

HC nod to axing trees for metro line

The High Court, on December 7th, said that the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Lmt) can go ahead with the felling and translocation of trees, as outlined by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC). It has permitted the BMRCL to fell 466 trees, translocate 21 trees, and retain four trees on the Kempapura to Shettigere stretch on the Phase-2B of the Metro line to Kempegowda International Airport.

The BMRCL can also remove 114 trees, translocate 12 trees, and retain three trees on the Central Silk Board to Kodineesanahalli metro station stretch of the Outer Ring Road Phase-2A, the High Court ruled.  

The petitioners, Dattatreya Devare and BET (Bangalore Environmental Trust), had objected to the felling of the trees. But after examining the TEC reports, the Bench said that it found no reason for the opposition. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that there is an inordinate delay in compensatory planting work, and at some stages there is no plantation at all.

Meanwhile, an NGO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), claimed that about 33,000 trees will be axed for the proposed Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project, and sought a detailed project report from the BDA (Bangalore Development Authority). It demanded the conduct of an EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) before the project.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, The Indian Express

Read more: It’s been a long and difficult struggle to preserve Bengaluru’s trees

Voter data scam probe intensifies

The voter data theft scam has spurred the BBMP to begin a fresh door-to-door survey for new, eligible voters. It covered 59.62% of the houses across 28 constituencies. However, some revenue officers said that the residents did not support them, possibly due to the voter data theft row, in which Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Trust was found to be working for political leaders in the guise of providing free election-related services to the BBMP.

The Congress submitted a petition to the Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka alleging illegal deletion of 75,000 and inclusion of 1.3 lakh names in the voters’ list in the Rajarajeshwarinagar Assembly constituency.

Meanwhile, senior IAS officer and BBMP Special Commissioner (Administration) S Rangappa, who was suspended, was questioned again on December 7th. He said that he had only obeyed the instructions of the BBMP chief commissioner and denied that he was involved in any irregularities.

A magistrate court rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Bengaluru Urban DC K Srinivas, who moved the court after the police summoned him in connection with Chilume.

Officials said the server of the Digital Sameeksha App, used by Chilume, was hosted in an East European nation that has been requested to share the information. The data could be used to assess the voter distribution of a constituency for monetary gain. It could even be transferred to another server before they access the private information.

Following the expose of the scam by The News Minute, Congress had alleged that the voters’ list was tampered with and accused the ruling government of a conspiracy to deny voting rights to many.

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

AI to nab traffic violators

Through ITMS (Intelligent Traffic Management System), the traffic police has introduced a system of detecting traffic violations through artificial intelligence-enabled cameras in a contactless manner. They will also issue auto-generated challans through SMSes to mobile phones.

The ITMS has been implemented with 250 automatic number plate recognition cameras, and 80 red light violation detection cameras at 50 important traffic junctions across the city. They will book cases of violations of rules related to speed limit, red lights, helmets, seatbelts, stop lanes, triple-riding, and using mobile phones while driving.

The city will alsosoon get five new traffic police stations at Bellandur, Mahadevapura, Hennur, Thalaghattapura, and Byadarahalli.

Source: The Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Tree census in Malleshwaram

Finally, the BBMP has started a tree census on a pilot basis in Malleshwaram, three years after the Karnataka High Court order. A QR code will be affixed to each tree, revealing key information such as its species, girth, health status, and benefits.

The project has covered almost 2,000 trees. If the test run receives positive feedback, the BBMP plans to use the QR code technology for all trees across the city. Although the High Court had directed it to conduct a full-fledged tree census in August 2019, it has not created a database to help the environment, though a Namma Bengaluru Tree Census App was launched on June 30th last year.

Former Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa at the launch of Namma Bengaluru Tree Census App
Namma Bengaluru Tree Census App was launched on June 30 2021. Pic: Twitter/Karnataka Forest Department

The pilot project is expected to give an estimate of the cost that would be incurred so that the BBMP can prepare a detailed proposal for seeking grants. Sources said that tenders would be floated by December-end and full-fledged work would begin by March 2023.

Source: The Indian Express, Deccan Herald

NGT firm on 500-cr relief from state

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench, has dismissed the state government’s appeal for relief from depositing Rs 500 crore in environmental compensation. It had been imposed on the government last October for not maintaining Chandapura Lake.

The NGT set up a seven-member joint committee to probe the violation of the buffer zone and the solid waste management guidelines at Chandapura lake. The NGT slammed the mushrooming of ‘Red Category’ industries, with a pollution index score of 60 and above, in the Jigani-Bommasandra industrial area and the discharge of effluents into lakes in violation of the zero liquid discharge (ZLD) policy.

Source: The Indian Express

Talaghattapura Lake encroached

The Talaghattapura lake, in the R R Nagar zone, has been encroached upon and poorly maintained. About 2.72 acres of the land, spread over 19.39 acres, has been encroached upon by residential buildings and roads. In 2017, the custody of the lake was transferred to BBMP, but the NGO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), filed a police complaint when it found debris and sewage in the lake.

In 2021, the lake was rejuvenated at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore but lack of maintenance has made the residents apprehensive.

Source: The Indian Express

Read more: Retrospective applicability of Green Tribunal’s lake buffer rule: Citizens in the soup?

Prepaid auto kiosks

New prepaid auto kiosks will be introduced by the BMRCL and the Bengaluru traffic police at different metro stations in the next 15 to 20 days. Currently, they will be introduced at five metro stations – Indiranagar, MG Road, Nagasandra, Majestic, and Baiyappanahalli.

The move would help passengers by not just enhancing last-mile connectivity but also reducing bargaining over autorickshaw fares.

The traffic police are restoring some prepaid auto rickshaw kiosks that were inoperative due to the pandemic. The department will ensure that prepaid autos outside metro stations follow the queue line and stick to the lane discipline, said sources.

Source: The Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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