Bengaluru Buzz: Low demand for booster dose | Garbage contracts extended to five years … and more

Low demand for COVID booster doses, garbage contracts extended from one to five years, rains cause widespread damage - catch up on this week's news in our roundup.

Low demand for booster dose

Only 8,041 people in the 18-59 year age group had taken the COVID booster dose in Karnataka as of April 14, five days after private hospitals were allowed to administer it. Of them, 86.97% (6,994 people) are from BBMP limits. Bengaluru has the highest number of private hospitals and private vaccination centres in the State.

Given the low demand, the offer by vaccine manufacturers to compensate the slashed vaccine prices with additional doses has not gone down well with private hospitals. Many want a refund from the manufacturers instead. Dr H M Prasanna, president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), said they were still compiling data on unused vaccine doses from hospitals in the State.

Meanwhile, passengers from eight countries that have reported cases of the XE variant of the novel coronavirus are still not being screened, although the state’s Technical Advisory Committee has recommended screening and surveilling passengers arriving from China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Germany, Italy, Australia and the UK.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

BBMP extends garbage contract to five years

The BBMP has extended the contract for door-to-door waste collection from one to five years. Officials said this would allow contractors to deploy new four-wheelers to collect waste and to take responsibility to maintain their wards garbage-free. However, this would reduce competition. Not all contractors had been selected through a tender process due to legal and political lobbying. The Palike spends Rs 600 crore annually for waste collection and transport.

A month-long strike called by the Karnataka State Contractors’ Association by April-end will affect ongoing works including garbage collection. The Garbage Contractors’ Association has extended its support for the strike. Meanwhile, the BBMP Pourakarmika Sanghatane said that the bonus they were to receive for the celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti is yet to reach them. The workers are also overburdened, as there have been no replacements for pourakarmikas who retired or lost their lives during the pandemic.

Source: Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express

Read More: Podcast: How citizen activists are trying to solve Bengaluru’s garbage problem

Trees fall, houses flood during rains

After rains lashed the city on Wednesday and continued rain was predicted for another three days, BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta directed officials to attend to areas reporting complaints of waterlogging, traffic jams and tree falling. Failure to comply would lead to action against officials, he said.

According to the IMD (India Meteorological Department), Bengaluru recorded 12.1 mm of rainfall on Wednesday. BBMP control room received complaints of trees falling from areas such as JP Nagar, Chamrajpet, Kasturba Road (Vittal Mallya Road), Indiranagar Defence Colony, Gangondanahalli, Ulsoor lake, Wilson Garden, Nagarabhavi, Rimco Layout and RPC Layout. BBMP has 21 teams to clear uprooted trees or prune branches. An official put the number of fallen trees at 12, mainly in southern, central and western parts of the city.

Gupta instructed zonal control rooms to arrange the necessary equipment and personnel, and asked zonal officials to conduct meetings to address issues. Officials were instructed to use manpower from revenue, health and solid waste management departments as well as the BBMP marshals.

rainy day in Bengaluru
Continued rains this week caused much damage. Pic Courtesy: Vaidya R

However, on Thursday, dirty water from an overflowing drain entered 60 houses in Yelachenahalli. Many residents said their houses were submerged under four feet of water. They said they face the issue frequently but petitions to authorities have not yielded any response.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Times of India

Halasuru Market to be razed down

BBMP will raze down the 70-year-old Halasuru Market on Bazaar Street, on the ground that it is dilapidated and unsafe. Notices have been served on vendors to vacate, but shopkeepers have reportedly refused to accept them and are accusing the BBMP of snatching their livelihood.

Officials say they have submitted a proposal to build a new market, for which they need fund allocation. For now, they are unsure when the vendors can resume work here. The BBMP has not offered any time-bound solution and has failed to maintain the market for the last eight years, say the shopkeepers.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: How a collective helped Bengaluru’s sex workers get vaccinated

KSRTC resumes inter-state bus services

After a long gap owing to the pandemic, on Wednesday night, the KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation), resumed operations of 800 premium buses from the city to neighbouring states. Over 200 additional buses will be operated between April 14 and 17. More facilities for commuters will also be put in place, including drinking water, lighting system, mobile toilets and help desks.

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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