Snakes a new worry at BIEC Covid care centre

The novel coronavirus is not the only thing that’s dangerous at the Bengaluru International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) which has been converted into a covid care centre. The grounds around the building of the BIEC, has had snake sightings.
The covid care centre at BIEC started accepting asymptomatic and mild covid patients from Tuesday, July 28.
“The contractor found a snake inside hall number 5 on July 26 night. (The covid care centre was inaugurated the next day) People who were working in the night did not know whom to call to catch the snake. Later, the contractor told me that the snake slithered away into the night,” said a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) staff on condition of anonymity.
The BIEC is spread over 54 acres and the building is surrounded by vast, vacant space. The covid care centre can accommodate 5000 patients and has room for 1500 beds for doctors, nurses and other staff members.
“BIEC is on the outskirts of the city and snakes are bound to exist here since there is not much interference from people.
The BBMP authorities have forgotten to depute snake catchers to this place,” said the BBMP staffer.
There are nine snake catchers authorized by the BBMP to attend to rescue calls all over the city but so far none of them have been summoned to the BIEC while the covid care centre was being set up.
The other issue is the delay in clearing the arrears of honorarium for the snake catchers. “We are yet to receive honorarium for one year. The authorities concerned are not ready to release funds to pay the honorarium,’’ said a snake catcher, requesting anonymity.
Jayaraj S, a snake catcher said that he too had requested the BBMP Forest Department, three months ago, to convene a meeting to discuss rescuing snakes during covid but no meeting has been held till date.
“Though the BBMP Forest Department has been delaying to clear honorarium arrears for more than a year, I am ready to attend to rescue calls from the BIEC. My intention is not to earn money but to save snakes from being killed by the people. The BBMP authorities have not provided us PPE kits. I happened to rescue snakes from the covid care centre at GKVK without wearing the PPE kit,’’ said Jayaraj.
Meanwhile, BBMP Deputy Conservator of Forest Ranganatha Swamy said that he will depute snake catchers to the BIEC if the need arises. “I have taken measures to clear the dues to all snake catchers. I will look into the matter of honorarium,’’ said Ranganatha Swamy.

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