Bengaluru Buzz: Land transport cess introduced | City-Airport train service starts | Restoration of 12 lakes…and more

Catch up on news from the city this week, in our roundup.

2% land transport cess on property tax

BBMP has decided to levy a 2% land transport cess on property tax from April 1. The cess was approved by BBMP administrator Gaurav Gupta and the Urban Development Department. The proposal had been approved by the previous BBMP Council in 2018. BBMP hopes to rake in up to Rs 80 crore annually from the cess.

However, the BBMP cannot utilise the Urban Land Transport cess internally but must transfer it to the DULT (Directorate of Urban Land Transport) once in three months for the upkeep of pedestrian paths, bicycle tracks and other projects. Currently, BBMP collects Rs 2,500-3,000 crore as property tax annually, from over 18 lakh properties.

Source: Deccan Herald

City-airport suburban rail starts operations

The much-awaited train services from Bengaluru city to KIA (Kempegowda International Airport) commenced on Monday morning. The first train left KSR Bengaluru at 4.45 am and reached the newly-built halt station near the Airport at 5.50 am. South Western Railway also operated a new train service from Yelahanaka to the KIA. Starting Monday, SWR will operate five pairs of trains on the route.

Once the KIA’s second terminal (T2) is commissioned, passenger numbers are bound to rise. It would also mean a corresponding increase in the number of employees at the airport. While the average penetration rate for passengers to use scheduled public transport is 18% to 20%, it would be about 75% for employees, said Devesh Agarwal, former Chairman of the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

Restoration of 12 lakes to begin

Two years after firming up plans to restore 36 polluted lakes, BBMP is finally starting work on 12 of those. But silt in the lakes will not be fully removed because of the challenges in its disposal. Desilting will be limited to a depth of 0.6-1 metre so that only the top layer (flesh), which usually contains pollutants like sewage, is removed. B T Mohan Krishna, BBMP Chief Engineer (Lakes), said the original tank capacity would not be restored; rather the focus was to safeguard lake biodiversity and to increase the potential for groundwater recharge.

Contracts for the development of three of the lakes – Mallattahalli (at Rs 19.07 crore), Hulimavu (Rs 4.35 crore) and Arakere (Rs 2.6 crore) – will be awarded in the next two months, with a one-year deadline. Constructing the embankment wall and ring bund, and removing the top layer of silt will be some of the major works.

Source: Deccan Herald

43 trees in planetarium premises to be axed

Forty three trees will make way for a new building, as part of the smart upgrade plan for Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium. The Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Urban, has issued a public notice that 43 of the 190 trees there will be removed, and 28 transplanted.

The Rs 20-crore project, announced in February 2020, will be carried out by Bengaluru Smart City Ltd. The new building would have a well-equipped auditorium and lecture halls over a total built-up area of 40,350 sq ft. It is aimed at supporting the non-formal science education activities of the planetarium. However, citizen activists have questioned the plan to fell trees.

Source: The Hindu

HC stay on tree-cutting in war memorial park

In an interim injunction, the High Court restrained the National War Memorial Trust from cutting down trees in the war memorial park at Vasanthnagar. The Trust had filed an application with BBMP, seeking permission to fell about 120 trees, and the Palike had published a public notice, inviting objections. But the Trust went ahead and axed the trees before permission was granted.

Source: Deccan Herald

Yelachenahalli-Anjanapura Metro line to open on Jan 15

After missing several deadlines, BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd) has finally fixed a date to start commercial operations on the extended Metro line on Kanakapura Road. The line from Yelachenahalli to Silk Institute (Anjanapura) will be inaugurated on January 14, and will be opened to the public the next day. It will be the first Metro reach under Phase II slated for commercial operations. The existing fare structure will continue.

The 6-km metro stretch has five stations – Konanakunte Cross, Doddakallasandra, Vajrahalli, Thalaghattapura, and Silk Institute. Once the stretch is opened to public, the total length of the operational Green Line will be 30 km.

Meanwhile, BMRCL hopes to commence operations on the Reach 2 extension from Mysore Road to Kengeri by June. BMRCL is also set to receive seven more train sets between April and June.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald

Dry run for COVID vaccine

A dry run for COVID-19 vaccination was held across the state on Friday. It was an exercise for end-to-end testing of the vaccination process, including planning and preparations, prerequisites for vaccine introduction and use of Co-WIN portal.

Due to measures taken to fight COVID, including wearing of masks and social distancing, there has been a decline of about 50% in flu and respiratory infections, say pulmonologists.

Source: Indian Express | The Times of India

Bannerghatta park takes precautions to prevent H5N1

On the heels of a high alert over the bird flu outbreak, Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) has put in place bio-security measures around the zoo and safari areas, bracing itself to face any possible infection of Avian Influenza (H5N1). The park houses about 378 birds belonging to 45 species.

Animal keepers will wear rubber gloves and protective clothing, besides protective eyewear or a face shield. Bird and animal enclosures are being cleaned with anti-septic solutions, and kept dry with anti-viral spray and lime powder. Visitors and vehicles to the aviary have been restricted.

Source: Deccan Herald

HC order on TDR for Palace Grounds

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday set February 15 as the deadline for state government to file a report on compliance with SC and HC directions for granting TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) certificates to eligible persons as compensation for the utilisation of Palace Ground land to widen Ballari and Jayamahal roads.

The Division Bench was hearing a PIL petition by Samarpana, a cultural and social service organisation. The petitioner had sought directions to widen Ballari Road according to the clearance given by the apex court in 2014, and to scientifically regulate traffic on this stretch.

Source: The Hindu

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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