Bengaluru Buzz: Road construction on Hosakerehalli Lake stopped | Bike taxi association to protest… and more

Other news of the week: BBMP rapped over flex violators, city's positivity rate up, new expressway highway issues, and public schools upgradation.

Road construction on Hosakerehalli Lake stopped

On March 11th, BBMP Special Commissioner (Projects) P M Ravindra said that engineers will remove mud immediately and restore the 59-acre Hosakerehalli lake, the main water source at Rajarajeshwari Nagar, to its original condition.

Earlier, Horticulture Minister and area MLA Munirathna had denied that a permanent road was being built through the Hosakerehalli Lake. However, he admitted that a temporary road was laid just to clear silt, as the lake is spread over 50 acres and has collected silt over the last 100 years. The BBMP will develop a model lake and build a park under the chief minister’s special grant, he said.

However, Joseph Hoover, a conservationist, had said that officials were not giving information and hundreds of truckloads of debris was being brought into the lake. Moreover, sources from the KTCDA (Karnataka Tank Conservation Development Authority) confirmed that the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) had not obtained clearance to carry out restoration works.

On March 7th, the BBMP had put up a poster claiming that it is only creating temporary mounds of mud to remove debris and silt. But residents say that mounds condensed by earthmovers have bisected the lake, reducing its water-holding capacity. They also believe that the BBMP is trying to build a 25-foot-wide road to help residents of a premium apartment complex and the poster will confuse them.

Meanwhile, the NGT (National Green Tribunal) has issued notices to authorities for failing to collect penalties from Mantri Techzone and Core Mind Software and Services that had been asked to pay Rs 130 crore for the damage caused to the Bellandur and Varthur lake drains and their catchment areas.

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

Read more: Faulty execution in BBMP SWD works has led to floods

BBMP rapped over flex banner violators

The High Court, on March 20th, rapped the BBMP for its inaction over illegal flex banners. The BBMP submitted in the court that it identified 9,570 unauthorised flex/ banners since January this year, but the court asked why only 57 FIRs had been filed and action had been taken against only the manufacturers of the flex banners, calling the compliance report an “eyewash”.

BBMP replied in its report that unauthorised hoardings are prevalent during elections, festivals and political events. The BBMP also said its officers, who have powers to act against the menace, are doing their best.

Source: Deccan Herald

New expressway highway issues

The NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) sources said, on March 21st, that the two major issues with the Bengaluru-Mysuru Expressway highway have been resolved.

The issues include concerns over a flyover and the drainage system on the 10-lane Expressway. A third issue of free access to service roads for the convenience of residents of villagers around the highway is now being resolved, said NHAI.

Source: Indian Express

Read more: Rs 11,163 crore for the city, but social infrastructure gets short shrift again in BBMP budget

City’s test positivity rate up

The Karnataka Health Department, on March 18th, sent out an advisory to the public about seasonal influenza, requesting people not to visit places of high-density population or travel to states with high cases of influenza. Health Commissioner Randeep D said that seasonal flu is an infectious disease spreading through the cough or sneeze of a person with the flu, or through contact with droplets on surfaces. It is a self-limiting disease lasting for five-seven days and leading to low morbidity and mortality.

Meanwhile, a state health department analysis shows that the city’s COVID-19 Test Positivity Rate (TPR) has been steadily increasing since February this year. The TPR was below 1% in the first four weeks of 2023, but by the fifth week, it crossed the 1% threshold and continued to rise. By the eighth week, it reached 4.33%, and by the tenth week peaked at 9.58%.

Still, the absolute daily case counts remain relatively low. On March 19th, the city had 394 active cases. TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) Chairman, Dr M K Sudarshan, was worried about the rise in hospitalisations.

Bellandur and HSR Layout report the highest COVID-19 case counts, with three cases on average per day over the past 10 days. However, of the 198 BBMP wards, 174 have fewer than five cases. Doctors report seeing more admissions for influenza rather than COVID-19, but very few influenza patients are hospitalised. The Viral Research & Diagnostic Laboratory has reported 23 cases of H3N2 in the city since January. There have also been no cases of co-infection with COVID-19 and H3N2.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Auto-rickshaws vs bike taxis

The Bike Taxi Association, with a membership of more than 70,000, plans to host a peaceful strike, on March 27th, at Freedom Park to demand protection against harassment from auto-rickshaw drivers. Recently, an auto-rickshaw driver smashed the helmet of a bike taxi driver.

On March 6th, commuters suffered for several hours as thousands of auto-rickshaw drivers struck work to demand a ban on bike taxis. Hundreds of auto drivers, who tried to march from the KSR Bengaluru railway station to the chief official residence on Race Course Road, were detained but let off at about 3.30 pm, after the strike was withdrawn.

Auto-rickshaw at Guttahalli Main Road
Representative image. Auto-rickshaw at Guttahalli Main Road. Pic: Creative Commons/Eric Phelps

The strike was against the aggregator company Rapido, which offers two-wheeler bike services. Karnataka Transport Minister B Sriramalu assured that action would be taken against Rapido.

M Manjunath, convenor of The Bengaluru Auto Drivers Union’s Federation, submitted a memorandum to the government, asking it to emulate the actions of the Delhi and Maharashtra governments that have ordered a ban on Rapido services. The union has also asked for the withdrawal of the Karnataka E-bike Taxi Scheme 2021.

Meanwhile, Rapido, condemning the attacks on its drivers, had not commented on the calls for banning their services. The aggregator has asked for a stay order from the Karnataka High Court.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

Bengaluru Public Schools

Businessman and philanthropist Azim Premji’s non-profit arm is partnering with the state government to upgrade 16 state-run schools and convert them into model institutions, to be known as Bengaluru Public Schools (BPS). The Azim Premji Foundation will contribute soft infrastructure, such as teacher training, to the schools.

The BPS will be located near economically weaker sections and would come up for approval before the Cabinet on March 23rd. Currently, the two schools in VV Puram and MR Nagar will be taken up for development.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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