Bengaluru Buzz: Trains restart for migrants | Rs 1160 cr relief package | Hotels, bars may sell liquor..and more

weekly news roundup from bengaluru

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State government has taken several U-turns on the matter of allowing migrant workers to return home. File Pic: Maraa

Train services for migrants restarted, KSRTC services stopped

On Thursday, state government gave directions to restart train services, following criticism of its earlier decision to cancel trains.

On Tuesday, after a meeting with the representatives of the CREDAI (Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India) Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said that the COVID situation was in control and hence economic activities had to be resumed. Trains were stopped to prevent migrant labourers from travelling back. With this, hundreds of migrant labourers from North Indian states began to walk towards their hometowns.

Following public outrage against this, government then decided to run 100-plus trains to nine states. N Manjunath Prasad, Nodal Officer for Migrants in Karnataka, said they had written to different states for their consent to receive the returning migrants. Bihar has given its consent to run two special trains every day from May 8 to May 15, but response from Jharkhand, Odisha, Manipur, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan is awaited.

However, KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) buses that ferried inter-district migrants to their hometowns, stopped operations on Thursday. The corporation has operated 2,288 buses from Bengaluru and transported 69,515 workers so far.

Source: Indian Express | Deccan Herald

Rs 1,610 cr relief package

State government announced an economic relief package of Rs 1,610 crore for farmers, MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), handloom weavers and others. A one-time relief of Rs 5,000 has been announced for washermen and barbers, autorickshaw and taxi drivers. Many benefits for electricity consumers have been announced.

Government has decided not to cut salaries of its employees for April and has directed departments to ensure there is no default on repayments. But it has also asked that no other expenditure should be incurred, and that no budgetary proposals be implemented. Government cancelled leave encashment for government staff for 2020, and said it would withhold dearness allowance payable in July and January 2021.

In the March budget presentation, Chief Minister had admitted to the poor condition of the state’s finances. He said the state was staring at a huge reduction of about ₹20,000 crore from its share in Central transfers, inclusive of GST compensation, while revenue expenditure had shot up. COVID-19 has further dented the State’s finances. For example, GST collection in March was just 20% of the normal amount, officials indicated. The collection in April would be far lesser as there was no economic activity at all.

State government has announced that it would raise about Rs 15,000 crore by monetising real estate, including auctioning 12,000 sites and through the regularisation of illegal constructions by levying penalties. On Wednesday, the government announced that excise duty on IML (Indian Made Liquor) would be increased to range between 17% and 25%.

Source: Indian Express | The Hindu

Restaurants, bars may sell alcohol

Since Monday, around 3,950 retail shops and 829 MSIL stores had been given permission to sell liquor. Now the permission may be expanded to include those who have CL-7 and CL-9 licences to sell liquor, including those with boarding and lodging facilities, as well as bars and restaurants. However, the permission may be temporary.

As per sources in the Excise Department, an official order that allows people to buy alcohol from their local bars and restaurants may be issued shortly. However, hotels will have to sell at MRP as the order is being issued to ensure that the stock is cleared, said an excise official. He added that they will only be allowed to sell existing liquor and not buy new stock.

Bar owners said they procure liquor from the government-run Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Ltd. As the government is not in a position to take back the stock, they told government officials that they wanted permission to sell only so that they do not incur losses, said a member of the Karnataka State Hotels’ Association.

Source: The Hindu

Chandni Chowk sealed after reported COVID case

BBMP sealed Chandni Chowk three days after a resident there, who was part of the housekeeping staff at Regent Place in Shivajinagar, tested positive for COVID-19.

Chandni Chowk is mainly a commercial area with just a few houses and about 100 residents, who have all been home quarantined. A senior health official said that 13 primary contacts and 61 secondary contacts of the patient have been shifted to quarantine centres. Swab tests were done for the 13 primary contacts, and they are being closely monitored.

Source: The Hindu

BMRCL app for migrants workers

An app developed by an IT deputy general manager of BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited), now handled by the Health Department, has a database of more than a lakh migrant workers. Called ‘Migrant Labour Health Management’, it has been used since the beginning of the lockdown and has so far monitored the health status of 1,12,897 workers in 3,552 camps.

The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) team that used to screen children in schools was roped in for the screening of migrant labourers. The screening team comprises RBSK, BBMP, District Heath Office, and mobile medical units, said Manjunath J, special officer for COVID-19 operations.

The teams record SARI (severe acute respiratory illness) and ILI (influenza-like illness) symptoms (fever, cough and difficulty in breathing). They record suspected COVID-19 cases, besides taking note of the worker’s labour ID and the camp name. So far, all identified ILI cases among the workers have turned out to be negative for COVID-19.

Source: Deccan Herald

Exempt farmers from toll on National Highways: HC

The High Court of Karnataka directed the union government to consider exemption from payment of toll for a limited period for farmers while they transport farm produce on national highways. The court was hearing PIL petitions, and told the Centre to place before it the decision in this regard by the next date of hearing.

Petitioners had pointed out to the Court that farmers are finding it difficult to get goods vehicles, and that toll is an additional burden on them. Farmers are forced to sell their produce at low rates now and are unable to recover even the cost of operations.

Source: The Hindu

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