Bengaluru Buzz: Rs 8,409 cr State funds for city | Restriction on protest venues…and more

This year's State budget has set aside high amounts for development of Bengaluru. Read more of last week's news in our roundup.

High allocations for Bengaluru in State budget

Presenting the State budget 2022-23, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who also handles the finance portfolio, said that the State’s revenues have increased. He did not propose to impose any new tax. He announced allocation of Rs 3,661 crore to all 28 assembly segments in Bengaluru, up from allocation only for BJP MLAs’ constituencies earlier.

The CM also said that Rs 8,409 crore has been allocated for the comprehensive development of Bengaluru. Of this, Rs 1,500 crore has been earmarked to develop mega stormwater drains to prevent floods. An ‘Atal Bihari Vaypayee park’ of 350 acres will be developed in the Jarakanande area of Yelahanka, modelled after Lalbagh and Cubbon park.

The government has decided to develop a 37-km long Metro line to connect Sarjapura to Hebbal through Agara, Koramangala and Dairy Circle, at the cost of Rs 15,000 crore. Another 33 km of Metro lines will be added soon, Bommai said.

He said that autonomy will be given to temples under the purview of the Endowment Department, and legal action will be taken to delegate the discretion of developmental works to the temples. As per the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Department website, 34,558 temples in the state have been shown to fall under government regulation.

The government plans to set up ‘Namma Clinics’ in all Bengaluru wards to offer diagnosis and treatment for non-communicable diseases and refer patients to higher facilities. Twenty selected government schools will be developed as ‘Bengaluru Public Schools’ at Rs 89 crore as well.

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

ACB alleges corruption in BBMP

The ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) says it has found large-scale irregularities after raiding 33 offices of the BBMP. The irregularities detected ranged from fake compensation claims for road-widening projects, to sanctioning apartments on lake land. ACB officials estimate that BBMP has not collected Rs 300 crore towards advertisement revenue. Even BBMP’s internal vigilance section did not act on a report submitted to them on irregularities, said the ACB.

According to the ACB, Occupancy Certificates were “illegally” issued to a number of large establishments, and fake bills were created for works. Multiple bills were generated for a single work, or bills were paid for work that never took place. The fraud caused by irregularities in several departments of the BBMP could not even be quantified, said the ACB.

While the raids were going on, many private firms and individuals rushed to BBMP offices to pay their property tax dues. Officials claimed that in the last two days, Rs 15 crore has been paid towards taxes.

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

Read More: “BBMP is a den of corruption”

HC: Protests, rallies only at Freedom Park

Karnataka High Court directed the state government to not allow any protest, demonstration or rally by any group, organisation or political party at any venue except the designated place at Freedom Park, Gandhinagar. Even at Freedom Park, protests should be held in an organised manner without disrupting traffic or causing hardship to the public. If these directions are violated, the government should take action and fix responsibility on authorities, the court ordered.

Court’s order came in a PIL initiated based on a letter written to the Chief Justice by Justice Aravind Kumar, former Karnataka HC judge and presently the Chief Justice of Gujarat HC. He had written the letter after a day-long traffic jam on March 2, 2021, following a series of demonstrations and rallies.

Source: The Hindu

Greenpeace India to give 500 bicycles to labourers

The NGO Greenpeace India, through its ‘Power The Pedal’ campaign, plans to give 500 bicycles to low-wage women labourers in Bengaluru and Delhi. Their aim is to eventually create a community of 5,000 women cyclists. Greenpeace India had worked with a private cycle manufacturer to design the bicycles.

The message 'Cycle for Climate' put up by Greenpeace India at Kempegowda Tower, Hudson Circle.
The message ‘Cycle for Climate’ put up by Greenpeace India at Kempegowda Tower, Hudson Circle. Pic Credit:

According to the campaign manager at Greenpeace India, workers in cities are mostly dependent on motorised two-wheelers. India can save nearly Rs 27 billion in fuel and Rs 241 billion from reduced air pollution if 50% of motorised two-wheeler and four-wheeler trips are substituted by cycle journeys for short distances, they said, quoting a study.

Source: Indian Express

BNP: Builders dumping debris in Vrishabhavathi river

Bengaluru-based political party BNP (Bengaluru Navanirmana Party) accused real estate players of dumping debris illegally in the Vrishabhavathi river. Farmers have lost fertile land alongside the river owing to sewage flowing into their plots, the party said. They added that authorities have not taken any action on the issue despite being alerted repeatedly about it.

Source: Indian Express

Read More: Forget the Cauvery river for once, and think water!

Sewage entry kills fish in Horamavu-Agara Lake

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has sought explanation from the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) on why sewage has been entering the Horamavu-Agara lake, leading to the death of fish. A senior BBMP official said they found sewage entering the lake through a stormwater drain. The presence of sewage reduces the dissolved oxygen levels in the lake, causing the death of fish.

Source: Indian Express

Restrictions on road-cutting delay Bescom works

With the High Court’s criticism of the poor quality of roads, BBMP has become more cautious in giving permission for road-cutting. This has affected Bescom’s work to convert overhead cables into underground lines. The first two phases of the work was supposed to be completed last October, but officials said they may need another month’s time. They attributed the delay to pandemic restrictions too.

Bescom has also begun work on the third and fourth phases of the project, which it expects to complete by this August. Laying power cables underground is expected to cut down T&D (Transmission and Distribution) losses and ensure uninterrupted power supply.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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