On the evening of May 15, the residents of the Tulip apartment building in Bengaluruâ€™s Mahadevapura zone were caught off guard when civic marshals of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) visited the complex. Civic marshals in the Mahadevapura zone have been visiting apartment complexes that report more than 10 COVID-19 cases to ensure that all safety protocols are being followed, including shutting down swimming pools and gyms within the community. At Tulip apartments, which allegedly reported more than 100 COVID-19 cases, the marshals found that an outdoor tennis court was functioning. They later closed the facility.
Incidentally, only the BBMP marshals under the Mahadevapura zone have been following this measure as of now. When TNM contacted health officials of other BBMP zones, they said they were unaware of the practice. In March this year, BBMP deployed more civic marshals as residents were testing positive for the coronavirus in clusters. These are marshals who were earlier engaged in implementing solid waste management measures. As part of their new roles, the marshals are to monitor public spaces to ensure citizens follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance. They were also asked to levy fines on non-complying entities.
A member of the COVID-19 task force for the Mahadevapura Zone, Clement Jayakumar, said that the marshals have been visiting apartments that report more COVID-19 cases. â€śThe marshals are authorised to ensure that residents within the BBMP limits, which includes residential complexes, are following all safety norms. The marshals visited another complex last week. These are residential complexes where over 10 persons have tested positive for the coronavirus,â€ť said Jayakumar.
The chief of the BBMP marshals told TNM that powers have been vested in them to ensure the residents in Bengaluru maintain protocols within the city, including apartments. â€śIt is their responsibility too, to contain the transmission,â€ť he added. He further stated that if someone from the residential complex raises an issue, the marshals may visit the location.
Meanwhile, a health official for another zone said that they were not aware of such a practice and denied having received similar orders.
In a recent meeting with the Bengaluru Apartmentsâ€™ Federation, a citizen organisation of different Residentsâ€™ Welfare Associations (RWAs) of the Mahadevapura zone, BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta advised that the residents comply with the COVID-19 protocols even within the premises and asked for the assistance of RWAs and individuals.
â€śThe lockdown has been put in place to cut the transmission of the coronavirus, which can be ensured if all individuals isolate themselves in the residential complexes. Moreover, it is necessary to wear masks,â€ť the commissioner said. He asked the RWAs to reach out to the members of the community and create awareness among the residents.
The move comes when the city is under a lockdown due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. On May 15, Bengaluru reported 8,344 new cases, taking its tally of active cases to 3.61 lakh.