INTERVIEW | Next 15 days crucial, citizens’ involvement needed, says Bengaluru civic body chief on COVID-19 situation

It is now up to citizens how they join hands with the government to break the pandemic chain and control its spread, he said.

Published: 04th April 2021 06:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th April 2021 11:28 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: The next 10- 15 days will be crucial in controlling the Covid-19 situation and citizens’ involvement is a must.

Citizens must follow Covid-Appropriate Behaviour to control the spread, or else the situation may get worse, warns Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta.

It is now up to citizens how they join hands with the government to break the pandemic chain and control its spread, he said.

You have taken over as Chief Commissioner at a time when Covid cases are surging. How do you intend to tackle the situation and what, according to you, is the reason for the rise?

We have seen a spurt in cases in the last two weeks and we need to contain further spread of the virus. For this, Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) is very important.

The mantra should be wearing mask, maintaining social distance and sanitisation. People should minimise their interactions and avoid going to crowded places.

If we are able to control the situation in the next 10-15 days, it will be a major victory, otherwise the situation is likely to go out of hand.

We are not talking of increasing penalty or bringing in stricter enforcement, but citizens should be aware. I am not saying travel should be avoided totally, but put it off for the next 10- 15 days, as they are crucial. People aged between 20-45 years who are asymptomatic carriers should get themselves tested.

The reason for the rise, I am given to understand, is because of the many events being held, like weddings, parties, rallies and protests.

Also, people travelled thinking that everything was getting normal, but there was a sudden rise in cases from mid-March.

We hope and request the same strictness which  people followed last March, are followed now also. It has to become a people’s movement.

Experts say the second wave is more dangerous. What are the lessons learnt from the past and how well prepared is the BBMP and government to tackle the situation? 

We have already increased the bed capacity. The trend is that around 10 per cent of Covid-positive patients prefer home isolation.

As of now, the number of beds in private and government hospitals is adequate. Now we are gearing ourselves to have more beds in private hospitals if the cases rise even further.

Discussions have also been held with enforcement agencies to ensure that all Covid guidelines are followed. 

Home isolation, contact tracing and quarantine are non-medical interventions, but very important from the point of view of controlling the virus spread.

Non-BBMP staff who were earlier deputed for Covid duty are now being brought back as cases are rising.

Meetings are being held with zonal coordinators and special officers are appointed in each zone to look into contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

If this is rightly addressed, then there will be lesser rush in hospitals and the situation can be controlled. 

You’re the first chief commissioner of Bengaluru and the state government has made city’s improvement its agenda. It has also set 6-7 months deadline to bring in changes. What are the priority works and do you think can be completed in the given time frame?

The priority works are those listed out by the Chief Minister in Mission 2022 clean Bengaluru, green Bengaluru, easy and faster commute and connecting citizens to the city.

We are working to upgrade all arterial roads to National Highway standards and deadlines have been set. Substantial part of the works will be completed in 6-10 months.

Smart City road works will be copmleted in 4-6 months and May-end is the deadline for ongoing works. Works taken up by KRDCL will be completed in 10-12 months and creation of neighbourhood lakes will be done by February, 2022.

Deadline for development of parks and forests is 3-4 months.

We are creating a unified digital platform where all citizen services can be availed. We are also working on reducing the time taken for approvals and plan sanctions to 15 days wherever right of way is not needed. 

Bengaluru is a global City, what changes would you like to bring?

Bengaluru is a global economic cluster and the IT City of the world. From the investment perspective, one of the constraints has been in fiscal capacity and infrastructure. We hope to make some improvements and changes here.

The BBMP is a nodal agency and there are other parastatials which are working in conjunction and coordination. So what we need is a smooth functioning and this is what we want to achieve.

As a citizen, as a commoner, what you think needs to be done to improve Bengaluru? Can you list some top priority issues?

Improving footpaths, make them better for pedestrians; having better walkways and more public toilets. Works taken up should be completed in time. Another priority is lasting infrastructure.


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