Bengaluru Buzz: 2,900 acres urban forest encroached| Rs 250-cr claims for Shakti… and more

Weekly news round-up from Bengaluru

A view of Thurahalli forest
Representative image. View of Thurahalli forest. Pic: Creative Commons/Shashank Bhagat

2,900 acres of urban forest land encroached

In the total 16,988 acres of forest land in Bengaluru Urban district, there are 1,051 cases of encroachment, violating 2,871.37 acres, said Environment and Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre. In the Bannerghatta National Park division alone, 587.15 acres of the forest have 347 cases of encroachment.

In Bengaluru South, 1,277.33 acres of forest land show 283 encroachments. Bengaluru East’s 570 acres have 250 encroachments, Yelahanka has 20 cases and Bengaluru North’s 45.01 acres have 65 encroachment cases. Encroachers have been charged under the Karnataka Forest Act, 1963 and clearances are being sought under Section 64 (A) of the Act.

But activists say that while some cases against forest land encroachments have been filed over the last 45 years, hardly any of these reach their logical end.

Source: Indian Express, Bangalore Mirror

Read more: Why has the ‘tree park’ plan in Turahalli forest irked Bengaluru?

Rs 250 cr sought by transport bodies for Shakti Scheme

As the Shakti scheme completes a month, four road transport corporations have submitted claims of Rs 250.96 crore to the finance department for the cost incurred between June 11th and June 30th. The Siddaramaiah government had earmarked Rs 2,800 crore in the current year. However, the government has now given a total annual outlay of Rs 4,000 crore. The transport corporations calculate the cost of the distance travelled by a woman on the basis of the zero-value ticket issued to her.

There are about 10.4 crore beneficiaries in this period, with a daily average of 52 lakh. The average cost incurred by all the four corporations in a day was over Rs 12 crore. They have also sought advance payment of roughly Rs 500 crore for July and August, as the monthly cost is Rs 250 crore.

However, the state government has not paid them the Rs 4,265 crore that is owed to them over concessions for various passenger categories between 2000-01 and 2020-21.

Source: Indian Express

Auto drivers threaten strike

Ruing that their businesses are hit by 50% due to the Shakti Scheme, the Karnataka Private Vehicles Owners have threatened to launch a state-wide strike on July 28th, unless they are reimbursed by the government like the transport corporations. However, due to a fiftyfold increase in daily trips this year, the auto-rickshaw drivers’ app, Namma Yatri, has been a huge success. To further boost last-mile connectivity to and from Metro stations, Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU), the driver of Namma Yatri app, is coming up with Metro Mitra app.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald

Activists slam eviction of street vendors

On July 10th, every one of 48 city police stations cleared one stretch of a footpath on the main roads, removing illegally parked vehicles and encroachments, including street vendors, in violation of the Street Vendors Act. Rangaswamy, Town Vending Committee member and KPCC street vendors committee state President, slammed the move to remove street vendors without consulting the vending committee.

A woman fruit seller
Representative image of street vendors in Bengaluru. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Vinay Sreenivasa, member of Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta, asked why it was done without a survey after 2017 or creation of vending zones.

Source: Deccan Herald

Read More: “Street vendors are claimants, not intruders”

QR code for police

The police has launched a QR code in all its 100+ police stations to gather feedback from visitors, seeking to address issues for public convenience. It enables people to voice their opinions and give ratings and complaints. So that the police can identify issues and hold officials accountable or bring about behavioural changes, explained Police Commissioner B Dayananda. But to ensure authenticity, only visitors with a unique ID from the station can give feedback.

A pilot initiative was introduced in November 2022 at 14 police stations in the South-East Division, leading to appreciation and 25,000 feedback submissions in eight months. It is expected to enhance transparency and improve efficiency among police personnel.

Source: Deccan Herald

10% water samples contaminated

About 59 or 10% of 592 water samples collected from public sources in a routine monthly surveillance by the BBMP seemed contaminated and non-potable. The highest number of samples (349) and so the highest number of non-potable samples (31) were from the South Zone. About 12 non-potable samples were collected from East Zone, five from West Zone, four each from RR Nagar and Yelahanka zones, and three from Mahadevapura Zone. About 50% are from public water sources identified to be at higher risk of contamination, such as public taps near drains, while the other 50% include hotels and RO water supply centres.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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The News Desk at Citizen Matters puts out Press Releases, notifications and curated information useful to the urban reader.