Bengaluru Buzz: Farmers protest changes to land reforms law | BBMP Bill gets flak | Waste woes for two more years | Transport workers strike… and more

Farmers protest in Bengaluru; BBMP Bill receives flak; Garbage worries for another two years and more. Catch up with what happened in the city over the week.

Farmers protest new land law

A coalition of farmers, labour and Dalit organisations staged rallies in the city to protest the Karnataka Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Bill that seeks to remove restrictions on the purchase of agricultural land. The State Legislature passed the Bill on Tuesday.

Thousands of protesters — wearing green shawls and holding whips — arrived in the city to show their ire against the ruling BJP government for passing the law, and the Janata Dal (Secular), for supporting its passage.

They were also opposing the Union government’s farm laws that have led to nation-wide protests. While their attempt to march to the Raj Bhavan on Thursday was thwarted, a small delegation was allowed to submit a memorandum.

The Legislative Council had earlier turned down the Bill and returned it to the Legislative Assembly for review. When the Assembly passed it for a second time and it became mandatory for the Council to pass the Bill, it was passed amid protests on Thursday.

The Bill removes Sections 79 A, B and C of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, which restricted farmland purchase only to agriculturists and to those earning below Rs 2 lakh per annum.

Source: The Hindu | Indian Express

BBMP Bill comes under attack

The speed with which the State Legislative Assembly passed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Bill, 2020, on Thursday, has caused a stir among civic organisations and activists in the city.

Besides ignoring much-needed administrative and governance reforms, the Bill, organisations and individuals opposing it say, does not remedy the lack of coordination between the various civic agencies in the city. It also does not take public consultation into view.

Decentralisation of powers and functions to the zones and wards and citizen participation through ward committees and area sabhas, are some positive points in the Bill, critics say.

The major missing aspects, they say, are metropolitan governance, spatial planning, financial and human resource capacities and digitalisation. Members of the Legislative Assembly are central to the BBMP Bill, while elected councillors is the executive, they point out.

Bengaluru is governed under the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act. A separate law to govern the city has been a long-pending demand.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

Panel moots more wards; 30 months for Mayor

A day before the BBMP Bill was passed in the Legislature, the State legislature’s Joint Select Committee, formed to review the Bill, submitted its report to the Legislative Assembly.

The 155-page report recommended between 225 and 250 wards in the city and a term of 30 months for the Mayor and deputy Mayor. It was prepared by a 22-member committee headed by BJP MLA S Raghu.

The report said no ward should be spread across two Assembly constituencies in the city. While recommending that the number of zones does not exceed 15, it said that each zone should have a zonal committee headed by a councillor representing one of the wards within the zone, and should be elected from among the councillors. An engineer in charge of a zone should be an ex-officio member.

As the committee recommended that the boundary of the BBMP, which is over 800 sq kms, be expanded by an additional 1-km radius, property prices are expected to go up in the suburbs.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald | Bangalore Mirror | The New Indian Express

Garbage woes to last two more years

The state government informed the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday that it would take two years for Bengaluru’s garbage problem to be streamlined.

There are five solid waste management projects in the pipeline. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the government had approved projects by which 4,000 tonnes of the city’s solid waste will be used to generate energy or compressed natural gas (CNG).

Meanwhile, three of seven wet waste-processing plants in the city set up at a cost of Rs 450 crore, remain shut: two of them due to stiff opposition from local residents and another because the matter is in the Supreme Court. The KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) has threatened penal action if the two plants aren’t reopened soon.

Source: Deccan Herald

Transport workers on strike

Drivers, conductors and personnel of the three State transport corporations, including Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation, went on a lightning strike on Friday.

Employees of these corporations had protested at Freedom Park on December 10, demanding parity with government employees, complete with all the benefits. They were also demanding compensation for employees who died after contracting Covid-19 at work.

As the government met representatives of certain unions and not others on Friday, the strike is likely to continue on Saturday. Meanwhile, commuters were caught unawares by the sudden non-availability of public transport buses.

Trimmed syllabus not ready yet

Seven months into the new (2020-21) academic year, the State government is yet to approve the trimmed syllabus for classes one to 10. The delay is a cause for concern, especially for Class 10 students preparing for the board examinations.

Although the Karnataka Textbook Society (KTBS) had published a pared down syllabus in July, it was later withdrawn by the State government. Some schools, however, are still following this syllabus. A senior official of the department said they had revised the trimmed syllabus and were waiting for government approval before they could send it to schools.

Source: The Hindu

Covid test rates reduced, few volunteers for vaccine trials

The Department of Health and Family Welfare has slashed the rates for COVID-19 tests.

  • The revised rates for an RT-PCR test in a private lab, if referred by a government hospital, stands at ₹500.
  • The cost of an RT-PCR test at a private lab stands at ₹800.
  • The cost of a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) stands at ₹400.
  • The cost of a Rapid Antibody Test stands at ₹500.
  • The cost of a Truenat test is ₹1,250.
  • The cost of CB-NAAT test is capped at ₹2,400.
  • If laboratories are collecting samples at home, the additional charge they are allowed to collect for home visits stands at ₹400 per house.

Meanwhile, even as Bharat Biotech filed for Emergency Use Authorisation of its Covid vaccine (Covaxin), shortage of volunteers seems to be an issue. Bengaluru-based Vydehi Hospital reported that it is struggling to find volunteers to participate in the vaccine trials. When the trials started on December 2, the hospital had aimed to administer the first dose of vaccine to 1,000 volunteers in a week. However, as on December 8, only 400 people had participated in the trial.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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