Bengaluru Buzz: Genome sequencing to trace Delta Plus | Suburban rail to be speeded up | Compensatory planting for Metro tree felling … and more

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

Genome sequencing for Delta Plus variant

A 57-year-old from Nandini Layout tested positive for the Delta variant of coronavirus. He is the primary contact of his 86-year-old father, who was infected with the variant earlier this month. No additional cases of the variant have been reported from Bengaluru so far.

BBMP has decided to start genome sequencing to ascertain if the Delta Plus variant of COVID is present in the city. Samples from 5% of COVID patients would be sent for genome sequencing. BBMP officials will also keep a close watch on wards with a higher positivity rate. The government has decided to set up six genome labs across the state.

The new Delta Plus variant had been formed due to a mutation in the highly contagious Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, one of the drivers of the second wave. But there is no evidence to show if Delta Plus is more virulent or causes a severe form of the disease. The only difference noted is that Delta Plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID. However, both Covaxin and Covishield are effective against the Delta variant, according to the Indian Health Ministry.

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

DETER committees to be activated before third wave

BBMP plans to activate the Ward Decentralised Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) committees for COVID management, in preparation for the third wave. Barring a few, most of the committees had become dormant.

State government is mulling reserving an entire hospital in Bengaluru for pediatric COVID care. Government has identified 1,419 beds within BBMP limits for treatment of children, which includes 141 ventilator ICU beds, 116 non-ICU ventilator beds and 430 HDU beds.

BBMP has set itself a target of 30 lakh vaccine doses in 30 days, so as to cover the city’s estimated 91 lakh population aged above 18 within the next four months. As of June 19, around 44.5 lakh have been vaccinated within BBMP limits. BBMP gets around eight lakh doses a month, of which around 30,000 are administered daily in government/BBMP facilities, according to BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta.

The vaccine procurement policy will undergo change as private hospitals will no longer raise indents with the state government but will go to the central government.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald

Read More: Citizen engagement helped ease the COVID crisis. Can it also reform our Bengaluru?

Crowds surge after Unlock 2.0

As the government eased restrictions under ‘Unlock 2.0’, people are flooding the streets of Bengaluru. As the over-50-day lockdown ended, it was chaos. Bus stands, railway stations and textile shops were brimming with crowds. Clinics also report a huge rush. Dentists, ophthalmologists and other specialists are reporting a glut of patients who want to get procedures done before the predicted third wave of COVID.

 On Wednesday, 1,008 new COVID cases were reported from Bengaluru Urban, along with 1,071 discharges and 24 deaths.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Hindu, The Indian Express

CM reviews suburban rail project

Inspecting Bengaluru suburban rail works on Thursday, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would lay the foundation stone for the project in three months. He added that the doubling of Hosur and Channasandra railway lines would be completed by 2023. Estimated to cost Rs 15,760 crore, the suburban rail project would connect surrounding towns to the Bengaluru airport.

The suburban railway project is ongoing in the Baiyappanalli-Hosur and Yeshwantpur-Channasandra routes, while extensions are proposed in Kengeri- Ramanagaram, Chikkabanavar-Tumakur, Whitefield- Bangarapet, Rajanakunte-Doddaballapur, and Heelalige-Devanahalli routes.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

4,500 acres of lake land lost

Bengaluru has lost more than 4,500 acres, or about 20%, of its lake area to encroachments. This is an understatement, according to a preliminary survey of 837 lakes by the district administration. The survey showed that only 91 lakes didn’t have encroachments, while officials could not find the caretaker-agencies for more than 125 lakes. A ground-truth survey will determine the extent of encroachment.

Aerial view of Nagvara Lake
Aerial view of Nagvara Lake. Pic credit: Wikipedia/KshitizBathwal

The encroachments are of three types – farmers cultivating on lake beds, the homeless erecting sheds, and builders of houses and other physical structures. The third kind of encroachers impacts lake land the most. The government said that a meeting would be held to decide on issues such as removing confusion over land ownership.

Source: Deccan Herald

BMRCL to plant compensatory saplings in city and outskirts

Recently, the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) had got permission to fell 604 trees to build its Kothanur depot. To plant 6,040 saplings as compensation, it has identified 96 acres within the Defence and Aerospace Park near international airport. It has also identified the BSF campus in Karahalli to plant another 3,150 saplings, as compensation for felling 276 trees for Langford underground station.

Within the city, BMRCL has received permission from defence authorities to plant more than 3,000 saplings in Domlur, Neelasandra, Iblur and other areas. This is compensation for felling trees in Kadugodi plantation and Benniganahalli tank bund areas, and for building an underground network from South Ramp (Jayanagar metro) to North Ramp (Nagawara).

Source: The Hindu

No COVID duty for Bengaluru teachers, orders State

The state government has directed the BBMP to relieve school teachers of COVID duties immediately, as teachers will be required for admissions processes and the SSLC exams scheduled next month. Teachers had complained that they are being put on COVID duty even as the academic year is about to start. The BBMP had ordered school teachers to work with ASHAs and BLOs (Booth Level Officers) to undertake a household COVID vaccination survey.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: COVID aftermath: Bengaluru sex workers suffer starvation, violence

Govt support for online education

The government rolled out initiatives costing about Rs 195 crore to promote digital learning and bridge the digital divide in higher education. The initiatives include distributing tablet PCs to 1.55 lakh students at the cost of Rs 163 crore, and creating 2,500 smart classrooms at Rs 27.8 crore. Classrooms in government higher education institutions are being upgraded to ICT smart classrooms. A learning management system (LMS) will also be developed at the cost of Rs 4.04 cr.

Source: Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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