Bengaluru Buzz: Power tariff hike | License suspension for traffic violations | Ban on Diwali firecrackers…and more

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

Power tariff hiked, water tariff hike likely

The KERC (Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission) has approved an average increase in power tariff by 40 paise per unit. The new rates will come into effect from the first meter reading date falling on or after November 1.

The FKCCI (Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industries) warned that many industries would shut down due to the tariff hike. The Kassia (Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association) said the hike would be particularly disastrous for MSMEs as they struggle to revive operations amid the pandemic and a severe slowdown in the economy.

The power tariff hike is also expected to widen the losses of the BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board). According to a senior engineer in the BWSSB, the board pays Rs 46-55 crore in electricity bills each month for pumping water, and the power tariff hike would further increase costs. Soon after the power tariff hike was announced, BWSSB proposed increasing water tariffs by 12%.

Source: Deccan Herald

Driving License suspension for violations

The Transport Department will impose a minimum three-month suspension of motorists’ driving licences if they are caught driving without licenses, Pollution Under Control certificates or helmets. The department has formed 10 special squads in Bengaluru to enforce this.

The license suspension will also apply to those whose vehicles have loud horns, maxi cabs and contract carriages without permits or carrying excess goods. Autorickshaw drivers found overcharging customers too will have their DLs suspended.

To minimise fatal road accidents, the traffic police have unrolled a virtual simulator to “reform repeat offenders”. Repeated offenders will be called to the Traffic Training Institute at Thanisandra, where they will have to take a simulator test as well as a conventional outdoor driving test. They would have to score at least 60 out of 100 marks to pass.

Those who pass will be issued certificates to help them get back their seized vehicles and driving licence. If they fail, they will be asked to retake the tests. Those who fail the tests three times in a row will have a tough time getting their documents back. Since it was launched, as many as 108 repeat offenders have been identified and sent for training.

Source: New Indian Express | The Hindu

Rs 279-cr action plan to improve air quality

BBMP’s Action Plan Committee has drawn up an action plan for nine projects at Rs 279 crore, to reduce air pollution. These projects include improving pedestrian facilities, using water sprayers and mechanical street-sweeping machines to tackle dust pollution, making urban spaces greener, and checking open-air burning of municipal waste.

Traffic engineering interventions include creating bus bays, paving and maintenance of pedestrian pathways, etc. A central control and command centre will be set up for monitoring all data associated with air quality. This is likely to be implemented by the KSPCB (Karnataka State Pollution Control Board). Another major component is tackling the pollution from construction and demolition (C&D) waste.

The projects are expected to be executed over the next two years. They are being funded by the Centre under the Urban Local Body grant as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission. In the first installment of the grant, union government has released Rs 2,200 crore, of which Rs 139.5 crore has been sanctioned to Karnataka and transferred to BBMP.

Source: The Hindu

COVID cases rise in Mahadevapura

Mahadevapura zone, which had relatively fewer COVID cases until September, now has one of the highest numbers among the city’s eight zones. In the past 10 days, the zone’s share of positive cases has been 19%. Officials attribute the rise in cases to increased testing in the zone and resumption of economic activity.

Among districts, Bengaluru Urban continued to be the worst-hit, adding 1,568 infections and 12 deaths on Friday.

Source: The New Indian Express | The Times of India

Firecrackers banned during Diwali

Karnataka has become the sixth state in the country to ban firecrackers during Diwali on account of COVID, Chief minister BS Yediyurappa said. Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar had said that experts felt firecrackers could badly impact the health of COVID patients, survivors and even those who aren’t infected.

However, the ban has invited the wrath of several Hindu organisations including Sri Rama Sene.

Source: Bangalore Mirror

Govt hospitals to start post-COVID rehab centres

State government will start post-COVID-19 rehabilitation centres at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, Victoria, Bowring and Lady Curzon, and K C General hospitals in the first phase. In the second phase, such centres will be started in every district hospital. While some private hospitals have already started such centres, the government will direct all hospitals with 100 or more beds to set these up, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said.

These centres are being started since research shows that nearly 5% of COVID survivors report complications post recovery or show signs of reinfection. Post-recovery symptoms include breathlessness, fever, fatigue, neurological issues and mental health issues.

Source: The Hindu | The New Indian Express

Vehicle ban in Church Street on weekends

Traffic movement on Church Street had been banned on weekends for about three months – from November 7 to February 28, 2021. The vehicle ban is from 10 am on Saturdays till midnight on Sundays. This is to facilitate a study led by the DULT (Directorate of Urban Land Transport) under the clean air street project.

DULT is initiating the project to encourage people to walk or cycle on select roads, thereby improving air quality. DULT, along with other research institutions, will study air quality in different situations, and based on the outcome, will implement the project in other streets in the city. The initiative also aims to refine street designs and create a blueprint for other streets across Bengaluru and India as a whole.

Source: The Hindu | Indian Express

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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