Bengaluru Buzz: First anti-conversion case | Talks over Ola and Uber auto rates… and more

A round-up of all the top news in the city this week, which included costlier bus fares and more trees being axed for the metro.

First anti-conversion case registered

The first case under the ‘anti-conversion‘ law or the Karnataka Right to Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Act, 2022, was registered by the Yeshwanthpur police. A girl, who is a major, was allegedly converted to Islam and married a youth she is in love with. The girl’s mother complained to the police, who arrested the youth, even before recording the girl’s statement on the issue. Opponents to the arrest said that the couple had married in Penukonda (Andhra Pradesh), where the law is not in place. Moreover, the girl is a major and was not forced to convert.

On the other hand, police sources say that any person who desires to change his/her religion is required to give a declaration in Form-I at least 30 days in advance to the district magistrate or the additional district magistrate.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Ola, Uber auto rates under talks

The Karnataka High Court, on Thursday, asked the state government to again talk to taxi aggregators, ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd and Uber India Technologies Pvt Ltd, operating Ola and Uber apps, to negotiate on the rate for autorickshaw services. 

A batch of petitions were filed by aggregators, challenging the court’s notice and ban order on October 14. Meanwhile, the taxi aggregators had admitted that they cannot offer autorickshaw services on their apps. Consumers were also charged higher than the rate fixed by the government. The state had argued that if services are not ceased, the Commissioner of Transport will take action. A penalty of Rs 5,000 per vehicle per day for operating autorickshaw services was also mentioned. The Karnataka State Road Transport Authority had issued a notice to cab aggregators last Wednesday, for ‘illegally’ operating auto services and for charging highly, purportedly in violation of government rates.

Read More: Ola, Uber may have changed city commute, but all is not well

Hence , the High Court of Karnataka allowed app-based transport technology aggregators — Ola, Uber and Rapido — to levy 10% additional charge over and above the fares fixed by the State Government, and the applicable GST, for offering autorickshaw services till the government fixes fares as per the law.

The court passed the interim order as a fresh round of talks between the aggregators and government on October 13 evening had not yielded any result. The court, on Friday, told the state government to not take any ‘coercive’ steps against the companies, until a fair-pricing mechanism was in place. The base fare was fixed according to government rules (Rs 30), apart from permitting them to charge an extra 10% plus applicable taxes (GST).

The high court has also given 15 days to the government to come up with the fare mechanism. The hearing of the case was adjourned to November 7. Uber in a press statement said: “We welcome today’s court order, which recognises that auto drivers have the right to operate using aggregator platforms.”

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

Commuters worried over costlier bus rides

Due to job losses and pay cuts post-COVID, BMTC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation) bus rides have become costlier, according to a Greenpeace survey, titled ‘Bustling through Bengaluru’. It was a report based on a survey of 558 bus users, including 243 women, highlighting some gaps in the public transport system.

About 6,400 buses serve only 1.4 crore people in the state. About 88% of users said they preferred buses over other modes of transport, including Metro, but were worried about the increase in the cost of travel. Almost 79% of respondents said the government should make city buses free for women and students. However, more than one-third said bus fares should be abolished, according to the report.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: Free bus travel is not an option for BMTC, targeted subsidies to the poor is

429 trees to be axed by BMRCL

The BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) has started axing trees on ORR (Outer Ring Road), between Kempapura and Hebbal for the Phase 2 Airport Metro line, following the High Court’s admission of a petition by the Metro authorities. The BMRCL has petitioned to remove 429 trees, apart from cutting 1,332 trees between Kasturinagar and Kempapura, for which permission was granted last year. According to the proposal, following the Tree Expert Committee’s report, 382 of the 429 trees will be cut down and 29 will be translocated.

A stretch of trees in Bengaluru
Representative image. BMRCL is axing 429 trees on ORR. Pic courtesy: APU report

Meanwhile, the BMRCL had been upbraided for not making public the status of saplings planted under compensatory afforestation, as well as the status of the trees translocated for Metro projects.

Source: Deccan Herald

New Metro line set for trial

On Thursday, there was a preliminary inspection before the start of a trial run on October 25th, on the Whitefield to Baiyappanahalli line stretch. A battery-operated trolley car travelled about 12 kilometres, from about 11.30 am to 5 pm, between Whitefield and Garudachar Palya stations, carrying out track and third rail system checks. The entire 15.25-kilometre line is likely to see commercial operations by February-end or early March 2023.

Meanwhile, new Metro coaches will be shifted tonight from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield depot. Six trailers will be unloaded at Whitefield depot, coupled and readied to form a full train set.

Source: The New Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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