Bengaluru Buzz: 10 new Omicron cases | 577 trees to be axed for Metro…and more

As Omicron cases are rising in Bengaluru, government has ordered stricter surveillance. Read more in our weekly news roundup.

10 new Omicron cases

With 10 new Omicron cases from Bengaluru, the State’s tally of the variant has come up to 31. Among the Bengaluru patients, five had travel history to the United Kingdom, one had returned from Denmark, and another person from Nigeria. The three others from Bengaluru did not have a travel history, and their contact with an international traveller is being looked into. On Thursday, Bengaluru Urban reported 210 COVID cases and one death.

On Wednesday, the government directed health officials, deputy commissioners and district surveillance officials to track, trace and quarantine primary and secondary contacts of COVID patients. About 300 COVID cases are reported every day in the state and the TPR (Test Positivity Rate) is now between 0.25% and 0.3%. 

Source: The Hindu, The Indian Express

100% vaccination in Bengaluru Urban district, excluding BBMP

Benglauru Urban district has achieved 129% first dose coverage and 100% second dose vaccination, tweeted Health Minister K Sudhakar. However, this is excluding BBMP limits where only 74% of the population have been covered by the second dose so far.

Sudhakar said that Bengaluru Urban, excluding BBMP, is the first district in Karnataka to achieve 100% vaccination (covering 10.3 lakh people). He congratulated health workers and the district administration.

Meanwhile, Azim Premji Foundation and Salesforce, a customer relationship management company, have collaborated to launch VaxIT, an app to help accelerate vaccination. It would capture vaccination status to help individuals plan and stay updated on their progress.

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

Read More: Fastest-finger-first Vs digital handicap – Part 1

Muted New Year celebrations

The police are likely to ask restaurants, pubs and other commercial establishments to take in only fully vaccinated customers on New Year’s Eve and to close before 11 pm. Restaurants and pubs fear losing 70% of their business due to the restrictions on parties. The government has banned DJ parties and playing live music, and will likely put a cap on occupancy too. No New Year celebrations will be allowed on public streets after 11 pm; violators will be asked for an explanation.

A meeting between the police, chief minister and home minister are ongoing to finalise the decision which will be announced in a day or two.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Protest against anti-conversion Bill

A coalition of 40 organisations marched in protest against the Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, known better as the anti-conversion Bill, from Mysore Bank Circle to Freedom Park on Wednesday. At the protest, Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado said the Bill affects not only Christians, but also the larger society. It is a question of privacy, of marriage, and of women, Dalits and Muslims, he said. Gowramma of the Janwadi Mahila Sanghatana said the Bill presumes that women and individuals from the Dalit and SC communities do not have the agency to decide their religion.

The Bill was passed by the Karnataka Legislative Assembly on Thursday, and will go to the Legislative Council next.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

BMTC: Clean, green fuel by 2025

The BMTC (Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation) has committed to switching over to clean and green fuel by 2025, by scrapping 2,715 buses belonging to Bharat Stage-II and III which are said to be 10 times more polluting than BS-VI buses. In an affidavit before the National Green Tribunal, BMTC said it would replace 1,033 BS-III buses by the end of March with BS-VI or electric vehicles. It also committed to replacing 550 BS-II buses by March 2023, 650 by March 2024 and 482 by March 2025.

BMTC commits to shift to clean fuel. Pic: Hayathkhan H, Wikipedia

Also, 3,797 BS-VI vehicles older than 11 years will be replaced. BMTC removed a line from the affidavit that said the transition can happen only if funds are provided by the government to buy new buses.

The petition to the NGT for eco-friendly CNG buses was filed by one Vinay Shivananda Naik.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: Church Street pedestrianisation reduced air pollution, improved quality of life: IISc study

Fresh tenders for high-density corridor projects

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday told the Legislative Council that fresh tenders would be floated for the improvement and maintenance of 12 high-traffic density corridors. These include Ballari Road, Old Madras Road, Old Airport Road, Sarjapur Road, Mysuru Road, Tumakuru Road and West of Chord Road. The KRDCL (Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited) has been asked to call short-term tenders afresh after ‘errors’ in the finalisation of four packages of works were discovered, Bommai said.

A total of Rs 1,120.5 crore had been approved, including Rs 335 crore for initial development of the stretches totalling 65.85 km. High maintenance costs had been approved unnecessarily for white-topped roads, and a blacklisted contractor had been included in the tender process, Bommai explained.

Source: Deccan Herald

HC okays axing of 577 trees for Metro

Karnataka High Court on Thursday permitted the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) to cut 577 trees along the Nagawara-Gottigere Metro alignment. The axing follows a report of the tree expert committee (TEC). According to the November 18 report, the TEC had examined 833 trees along the alignment, of which it recommended 44 to be retained, 212 to be translocated, and 577 to be felled.

Counsel for the BMRCL had said in court that the agency is incurring loss/cost escalation of Rs 2 crore per day due to the lack of clearances for tree felling.

Source: Deccan Herald, The Times of India

COVID hit operations of social organisations: Study

A study by Azim Premji University found that the operations of social sector organisations that did humanitarian work during COVID, were affected by various disruptions due to the pandemic. Of the organisations surveyed, 92% had been involved in various emergency and relief measures, but 68% of the organisations reported that it was a challenge to mobilise funds to support the existing programmes, while 64% said restrictions imposed by physical-distancing norms also affected operations.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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