COVID cases spike
After the relaxations made to inter-state and inter-district travel, 79 positive COVID cases were reported among returnees to Bengaluru between May 18 and June 3. Among them, 40 individuals were from Maharashtra, 12 from Delhi, eight from Tamil Nadu, two from Rajasthan and one from Andhra Pradesh. The remaining 16 cases are from other places, including other districts of Karnataka.
A senior BBMP official said it is challenging to keep road travellers under check, as border controls were being ignored in many areas especially along Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh borders. While the BBMP has jurisdiction over railway and airport entry points, the district administration monitors road entry points. Lack of coordination between different departments is another issue.
BMTC is running special buses to ferry inter-state passengers from railway stations and airports to quarantine centres. The bus fares continue to be a problem for migrants returning to Bengaluru, especially the poor who opt for free quarantine. Those travelling to areas within the city are charged Rs 50 while those going to the outskirts have to pay Rs 100.
Meanwhile, BBMP has set up help desks for migrant workers who wish to leave, at all its citizen service centres, according to a circular by BBMP Commissioner B H Anil Kumar. These will be manned by the jurisdictional Assistant Revenue Officers and will help migrant workers register at the Seva Sindhu portal.
Source: Deccan Herald | The Hindu
Retail prices remain high
The prices of most food grains and pulses, such as rice, wheat and ragi, have reduced in the wholesale market, but not in retail. During the lockdown, wholesale prices had reduced due to a drop in demand. But consumers aren’t gaining from this as retail prices remain high. Retailers defend their decision to not reduce prices on grounds that sales is lower now.
Meanwhile, dentists and general practitioners have restarted practice in standalone clinics for a few hours per day, but have increased consultation fees. Some standalone clinics have raised their rates by as much as 30%. Medical professionals explain that the hike in fees is because they are more vulnerable to exposure to the coronavirus, and also have to invest in more safety measures such as face shields, gloves, masks, or even Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Source: The Hindu
City’s air quality dropping again
Though Bengaluru’s air quality had improved during lockdown, it has started dropping again. The Air Quality Index (AQI) went from 100 before the lockdown (March 1 to 21) to 61 during the lockdown (March 21 to May 3). After May 3, it rose to 71, according to Ambee, an eco-intelligence startup. Akshay Joshi, CEO of Ambee, said that the major reason for clean air during lockdown was the absence of vehicular pollution and construction activities.
The pandemic has also undone years of awareness campaigns on the need to use more eco-friendly options such as steel, cutlery and crockery. In the last two months, there has been a shift to disposable items such as paper cups, plastic containers and spoons.
In the case of parcel packaging, multi-layered aluminium foil and plastic are making a comeback. Several supermarkets are now wrapping vegetables in plastic, to make products ‘contact free’.
Source: The Hindu
Bus, cab services now allowed at night
Karnataka government now allows bus services, autos and cabs to ply during the night curfew, to pick up commuters from pickup points or bus stands. Earlier, the movement of individuals was strictly prohibited between 9 pm and 5 am, except for essential activities.
BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) has resumed its AC bus operations to KIA from Wednesday. BMTC will operate 23 Vayu Vajra (AC Volvo buses) buses to KIA from Kempegowda Bus Stand, Satellite Bus Stand, Banashankari Bus Stop, Electronic City and BTM Layout.
Source: The Hindu | Deccan Herald
Airport terminal construction delayed
The pandemic and lockdown have delayed the construction of Terminal II at the Kempegowda International Airport. The work won’t be completed by April 2021 as planned, and could be delayed by 6-12 months, said Hari Marar, MD and CEO of BIAL (Bangalore International Airport Ltd). However, rehabilitation of the old runway is expected to be completed before end of this year, as planned.
BIAL’s road works too will get “progressively delayed”. Work had begun last year to widen the 1.4-km main access road from Trumpet Interchange to the airport. BIAL officials said that KIA is now handling 65 arrivals and departures a day as against the usual 350 arrivals and departures.
Source: The Hindu
Personnel at police HQ quarantined
As many as 28 security personnel at the police headquarters have been quarantined. The whole area was sanitised after a constable tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken to Victoria Hospital for treatment.
All senior officers, including DG&IGP Praveen Sood, work at the headquarters. The entire building has been sanitised as a precautionary measure, a senior police officer said.
Meanwhile, the South division police has introduced specially made overcoats, gloves and visors for personnel, just like the safety gear used by medical professionals. Additionally, glass enclosures have been built at the entrance of each police station so that visitors can maintain social distance. Each enclosure will have a mike and loudspeaker, enabling the personnel manning it to take queries from visitors and remain protected, said senior officials.
Source: The Hindu
[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]