The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) reported earlier this week that there were 3,181 active containment zones in Bengaluru. But in a breach of the guidelines laid down by the Karnataka government, the civic body is yet to begin work on its promise of providing food packets for those in need, in these containment zones.
On Thursday, a counsel representing the BBMP in the Karnataka High Court admitted that food kits were not being supplied in containment zones. "We carried bonafide impression that supply is to the needy on a case to case basis...The exercise is not undertaken." the counsel said.
The counsel was appearing before a special division Bench of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar, which was hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) on issues related to COVID-19 restrictions.
The admission comes amid reports of people in containment zones struggling for basic essentials. In an email to the BBMP Commissioner last month, activists in Bengaluru highlighted the issue of the lack of ration or cooked food provided to residents of Shadab Nagar and Amra Layout in the city.
"I have been informed of 33 people from five families in Kaval Byrasandra (Shadab Nagar containment zone) and 10 people from one household in Devara Jeevanahalli, all of whom are in urgent need of ration. Most are migrants, but even those who are from Bangalore have not received any support from the government so far," the email by Appannna, an activist based in the city, stated.
TNM had also reported on how residents of the containment zone in Padarayanapura were struggling for basic amenities.
The Karnataka government in a notice dated April 17, stated that the BBMP is responsible for arranging ration and food packets to those in need in containment zones.
"The BBMP would be responsible to ensure house to house provisioning of essential supplies,services and water. Food packets and ration to the needy should also be undertaken by the BBMP as per the requirement," read the notice.
All essential shops are closed in containment zones and people's movements are restricted within the zone. Put simply, residents are barricaded from the outside world except in cases of medical complaints.
The number of containment zones shot up from 550 reported at the end of June to 3,181 on July 9 after a spike in COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru. The BBMP has not published the specific locations of the containment zones since June 27.
In another revelation, the counsel appearing for the BBMP in the High Court said that the rules laid down for containment zones have not been strictly enforced. Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka pulled up the counsel stating that this was a serious breach of the protocol laid down by the state government itself.
In mid-June, the BBMP changed its definition of containment zones and it is now decided on a case-by-case basis. Earlier, it was 100 metres around a positive case before the rule was modified to include the street where the positive case was detected.
The High Court is expected to hear the case again on Monday.