Sights, sounds and smells from Bangalore
The Bangalore Blog: Boom or Doom? Tracking India's Silicon City's growth pangs.
Saturday, July 31, 2004
TOI campaign: Day 5
Water at the click of a mouse
TOI reports on a high-tech irrigation system for Lalbagh.
Friday, July 30, 2004
Surprise! CM seeks Centre's support for Hardware Park
Dharam seeks Centre's support for proposed hardware park
BANGALORE: Reiterating his government's commitment to IT in Karnataka, Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh requested the Centre to support the State in its various projects.
He was speaking at the launch of Bangalore IT.com 2004 here on Thursday. In the presence of Union Communication and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran, he said: ''I request the Union Minister to provide financial support for the proposed hardware park in Bangalore and also recognise it as a special economic zone. A special economic package should be given for the BPO sector in the city too.''
The CM also asked the Centre to consider setting up of earth stations and incubation centres in Belgaum and Gulbarga as this would help taking IT to the secondary cities. He added that his government would provide Rs. 100 lakh and 5 acre of land each in the two cities for this.
Meanwhile, the top IT exporters from the State were presented awards from the STPI by Maran and Dharam Singh.
S.N. Zindal, director general STPI, said, "Right now, India has IT exports of $12 billion. Our target is to go beyond $ 50 billion in five years. "
He also said that there were 40 STPIs in India and 25 of them had come up in secondary cities.
"This is to ensure that the rural youth learn and participate in the IT industry. With competition hotting up in the world, it will be a natural course for BPO companies to move to these secondary cities," he added.
The Hindu recounts Jayakar Jerome's legacy
The BDA saga of the past four years
By K. Satyamurty
BANGALORE, JULY 29. Jayakar Jerome would have completed four years as Commissioner of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in October. During his time, BDA transformed itself to become one of the most efficient and respected agencies of the State Government.
The remarkable changes in BDA began with a project that seemed endless but was given high priority: the decades-old Outer Ring Road project was completed within eight months, costing Rs. 182 crores. It covers 62 km and connects all major roads and highways in and around Bangalore.
The next major project completed was the Whitefield flyover near Krishnarajapuram. Built on the Outer Ring Road, it cost BDA Rs. 6 crores and is 478 metres long.
A bigger challenge was the Benniganahalli flyover, built on 477 pile foundations over a lake; the deepest pile is anchored 30 metres down.
This 2-km-long flyover, spanning six lanes, connects the ORR and Old Madras Road and cost Rs. 35 crores.
The third mammoth project was the Central Silk Board flyover that has made commuting to the Electronics City and Hosur Road less of a hassle. Keeping in mind the heavy vehicular traffic, it has an anti-skid surface and Rs. 23.50 crores was spent on it.
Environmental protection matched with traffic needs when the BDA took up and completed the Hebbal flyover, keeping intact the nearby lake.
The longest of its kind in the region, it is 5.35 km long with six lanes and six loops and has helped ease traffic congestion on National Highway 7. It will also become the gateway to the proposed international airport at Devanahalli.
The Government on Wednesday shifted Mr. Jerome from the BDA and posted the Chairman of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), M.N. Vidyashankar, in his place. Mr. Vidyashankar assumed charge of his post on Thursday.
Mr. Jerome has been made Secretary, Department of Minorities Welfare, a newly created post. Mr. Jerome was given a farewell by the employees of the BDA today.
Horticulture department pooh-poohs Mayor's idea
Mayor's Lalbagh fence idea is no hit with Horticulture Dept
Thursday July 29 2004 New Indian Express
BANGALORE: Lalbagh has been in the news again with Mayor P.R. Ramesh proposing to remove the high masonry walls and replacing it with a see-through fence half its height.
His contention is that the 240 acre lung space in Bangalore south is unnecessarily hidden from the public eye by the high-walled compound. A wire fence would make the green garden more visible, thus increasing its aesthetic appeal.
But the State Horticulture Department is seeing red over the proposal. Horticulture Director G.K. Vasanth Kumar told this website’s newspaper that such an idea just does not hold water.
''Lalbagh is a botanical garden, which houses thousands of rare species of plants and removing the existing wall would jeopardise their safety. Unlike a public park, Lalbagh is not meant to provide only recreation. It is similar to a bird sanctuary or a reserve forest area,'' he said.
The director said that the casual attitude of visitors had already cost the garden a lot of damage. ''Many indulge in disfiguring trees and even steal precious plants. If the wall is broken down and a fence put in its place, it would add to the problems,'' he added. ''On an average, 5000 walkers and visitors saunter around Lalbagh everyday and on holidays, the crowd swells. The fence idea is a personal opinion of the honourable Mayor and my department does not endorse it,'' Vasanth Kumar affirmed.
As for the controversy over continuing the biennial flower show, he said the flower exhibitions would be held as usual.
State of our roads: Kanakapura and Cunningham Roads
Kolkata out to steal Bangalore's thunder
Bangalore blight brightens up Bengal
DEVADEEP PUROHIT, The Telegraph
Calcutta, July 29: When Bangalore takes a beating, it’s time for Bengal to beat its drum.
With Wipro chief Azim Premji hauling up Bangalore for “poor infrastructure” and threatening to make fresh investments in cities like Calcutta, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government is making a sales pitch in the country’s technology capital.
On August 16, information technology minister Manab Mukherjee, accompanied by IT secretary G.D. Gautama, will set off for Bangalore for a two-day roadshow. The duo will meet the heads of 15 top IT companies and showcase the state’s “intrinsic strengths”. The list includes Intel, SAP Labs, Mphasis, Texas Instruments and Max Healthscribe.
“We are closely tracking the developments in Bangalore and the recent statements made by Premji. We are even trying to get a recorded version of his statements,” said Mukherjee.
On Friday, Premji announced that Wipro’s future investments would be made outside Bangalore for “there are opportunities outside Karnataka where talent is available, infrastructure is better and wages are lower”.
Mukherjee said the IT department has requested the chief minister to make a trip to Bangalore. “Let me go there and do the groundwork, the chief minister will go later,” he said.
Premji’s words are music to the ears of Mukherjee and his team. Much to the liking of the Left government, the richest Indian talked about Calcutta, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai in the same breath naming cities where Wipro plans to invest.
“But during this trip, we will not be meeting Premji. He is scheduled to be in Calcutta in September for the formal inauguration of Wipro’s operations in the city and we have plans to hold discussions with him then,” added Mukherjee.
Wipro has started working from a facility in the Salt Lake Electronics Complex and Premji — during his last meeting with the chief minister — indicated that he was keen to expand operations in Calcutta. He told Bhattacharjee that he was looking for a big plot of land in Rajarhat to set up a campus.
“Following the discussions, we got in touch with senior officials of Wipro and requested them to inform us about their exact demand. Once we get a response, we will initiate the process of land allotment without delay,” explained Mukherjee.
PVR Forum to slow down traffic by half
Bangalore's first full-fledged multiplex, PVR Forum with 11 screens, slated to open at the Forum Mall next week is expected to create chaos around the area and slow traffic by half, a fallout I have ranted about in my previous posts. TOI has this report.
Need a nodal body to co-ordinate the city's development
The Times of India on the need for a nodal body that will co-ordinate infrastructure development across the city.
Improving quality of air in the city
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board on measures to improve quality of air in the city.
Improving our storm water drains
TOI's interview with BMP Commissioner Jothiramalingam.
More parks on the anvil
The BCC plans to develop several more parks in the city this year.
IT honchos plead IT minister for help
IT honchos requested Dayanidhi Maran, IT and Telecom minister to help them with better infrastructure, on his visit to Bangalore.
IT minister gets taste of city's traffic jams
Bangalore: On Thursday, Union IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran had lunch with Wipro group Chairman Azim Premji and tea with Infosys Chief Nandan M Nilekani. He also had his share of woes while commuting to the Electronics City to visit these firms as also Software Technology Park.
Talking to newsmen, he said in a lighter vein, ‘‘like Narayana Murthy and Premji, I was also caught in a traffic jam.’’
‘‘But this is a problem of any developing city. If you say that infrastructure is crumbling in Bangalore, it shows that the city is progressing. We will make sure that as a facilitator we will provide what the industry wants. The IT industry has grown to this level due to superior infrastructure provided by the state government. We have to make sure that it continues,’’ he added.
Praising the IT industry for putting Bangalore on the global map, he said ‘‘Bangalore’s success story should be replicated throughout the country.’’
Valley's response to Alley's claim
Thursday, July 29, 2004
TOI campaign: Day 3
Mall to build own flyover
Prestige's Forum Mall wants to build a flyover so that its patrons can drive right into the mall.
Steep salaries hurting IT firms
From the TOI
Final nail in Jerome's coffin
The government today drove the final nail into Jayakar Jerome's coffin by officially transferring him to an obscure post. Weep, Bangalore!
Infy set to follow Wipro
TOI reports on how the state government's indifference caused Infosys to take its investments outside Bangalore.
Is Bangalore bigger than Silicon Valley?
A pompous comment from Karnataka IT secretary Shankaralinge Gowda that Bangalore had more techies than Silicon Valley seems to have caught the eye of CNET
If Gowda's masters don't change tack soon, Bangalore won't even remain Silicon Alley for long.
A feeling of Deja Vu
Why am I getting this strong feeling of deja vu about the state of affairs in Bangalore today. Back in 1997 when M/s J H Patel and Siddaramaiah took over the reins of the state, the city's fortunes began sliding rapidly. Chandrababu Naidu ensured he made the most of it and snatched some key investments from the city, notably Microsoft's India Development Centre and the McKinsey-promoted Indian School of Business. Now, in 2004, the scenario repeats itself. Siddaramaiah is back at the helm of affairs. The city is out of focus, infrastructure is crumbling. Industry-unfriendly policies and levies are back in vogue and industry is looking for greener pastures. Tamil Nadu has promptly reduced stamp duty for IT and ITeS companies by half in a bid to woo IT companies discontent with the scene in Bangalore. Atleast in J H Patel's case it was sheer indifference that brought the misery. In the case of Dharam Singh and co. it seems to be some grossly misguided belief that ignoring Bangalore means automatic development for the rest of the state.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
From Singapore to Kalasipalyam
Will Singapore dream revert to Kalasipalya?
Bangalore: The City may not have become Singapore during former Chief Minister S M Krishna's regime and still has a long way to go to establish decent standards of urban infrastructure. But thanks to his efforts and that of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force which he created, there were visible improvements in many areas.
But the sad news is that the pioneering effort of the BATF through the involvement of all the ‘‘stake-holders’’ in giving a much-needed boost to the City's infrastructural facilities, is in danger of being completely negated as the Dharam Singh government has shown no inclination in continuing with it.
BATF, the brain-child of S M Krishna, which emerged as one of the better models of Public, Private Participation in the country and its achievements in a short span of four years were hailed by various international bodies including the World Bank, has apparently become an ‘unwanted child’ for the new government.
Even two months after the coalition government came to power, there has been no effort to interact with BATF, though Dharam Singh claimed that all the good initiatives of the Krishna government would be continued.
‘‘We did a lot of work to improve the infrastructure in the city. But there has been no contact (with the new government). Perhaps, they need new energies, new policies and programmes and new faces,’’ said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Infosys, who played an active role as chairman of BATF.
The development of Bangalore city is perhaps low on the agenda for the ‘‘pro-farmer’’, ‘‘pro-poor’’ government as there was not a single announcement regarding Bangalore in finance minister Siddaramaiah's recent Budget. But observers say that neglecting the problems of a growing metropolis will definitely hurt the investment potential of the State, as evident from the decision of Wipro and other companies to move to greener pastures.
The BATF brought the heads of civic authorities including the city corporation, the water and electricity and pollution control boards and the telephone department under one roof and through frequent interactions, they were able to solve many problems, say officials.
Kalpana Kar, a critical member of the BATF, says, "Our job was to provide the scientific tools and inputs for the stakeholders to take better informed decisions. We were more than careful not to step into executive role."
Health and sanitation was one of the early priorities with BATF and it was able to introduce a new system of city cleaning under Swachcha Bangalore, train pourakarmikas and health inspectors, motivate citizen volunteers to actively participate in the programme and introduce helpline for meeting any emergencies.
The BATF provided inputs to the traffic police for better traffic management, including improvement of road junctions, construction of over 540 attractively designed bus shelters and nearly a dozen police stations. Thanks to the intiative of Mrs Sudha Narayana Murthy, over 30 spankingly clean public toilets have come up in different parts of the City and 70 more are in the offing.
‘‘Mrs Murthy contributed Rs 8 crore for the project and Mr Nilekani provided Rs5.1 crore of his personal wealth for the actiivties of BATF and we have raised over Rs 40 crore from various corporate sponsors. The government did not have to spend a single pie,’’ says Kalpana Kar.
And yet, the new government has shown no interest to continue with the activities of BATF or a modified version of it, if it so desires. Meanwhile, Kalpana has been asked by the Delhi government to work out a model for the national capital.
‘‘We have done whatever best we could. If the government wants a different model, we won’t come in the way,’’ says Kalpana. But does the Chief Minister really have any other model or is he simply sleeping over it, is the question bothering citizens.
Build road on road suggests NRN
‘Roads on Stilts’ will ease traffic: Infy chief
Mr Narayana Murthy said the elevated roads wiould considerably reduce commuting time for those working in Electronic City.
In a bid to ease traffic congestion in Bangalore, particularly on Hosur Road that leads to Electronics City, Infosys Technologies Chairman N R Narayana Murthy has suggested construction of “roads on stilts.”
Talking to mediapersons on sidelines of “Campus Connect”, an industry-academia partnership here on Tuesday, Mr Murthy said “roads on stilts” were nothing but elevated roads. He said the elevated roads could considerably reduce the commuting times for those working in Electronics City.
“An elevated four-lane highway would cost Rs 12 crore per kilometre and an eight-lane highway an additional Rs four crore. If one collected just Rs ten per month from each of the 40,000 employees working in the Electronic City, at the end of the year it will be a major contribution. But this small amount will help in saving one hour per day, thereby paving the way for increase in production,'' he said.
Besides this, Mr Murthy suggested that the government would raise loans for construction of these roads.
Electronics City is home to several software biggies including Infosys, Wipro and Siemens.
On Monday, Mr Murthy had expressed hope that the industry and government could iron out all the problems through discussions and offered Infosys’ help if the Government pronounced its requirements.
Indian IT Cos Look Beyond Bangalore
City’s poor infrastructure, increasing wage pressure raise concern
Indian IT Cos Look Beyond Bangalore
BANGALORE: With MNC IT companies still pouring into Bangalore, their Indian counterparts have started talking of moving out. Bangalore-based software companies including Wipro, iGate and MphasiS are looking towards cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and even Hubli, to expand operations.
Wipro chairman Azim Premji recently blamed the city’s infrastructure as well as the increasing wage pressure and for this trend. He said, “Bangalore has become high on attrition; wage pressure is more compared to other cities. The city’s infrastructure has not improved in the last five years and we are not sure about next five years either.”
Making it very clear that Wipro would look elsewhere for future expansion, he said “We will grow in other cities of India, where quality engineers are available, attrition rate is lower and the places are less polluted than Bangalore.”
However, industry sources point out that the bigger reason for companies to move to other destinations is competition - for talent - from the over 200 MNCs present in Bangalore who lure away people with higher salaries.
“Wage pressure in Bangalore is high, compared to other cities. It is easily 25 per cent higher and is growing,” said TG Ramesh, head - BPO operations, iGate. “As far as iGate is concerned, we are looking at expanding our operations in Chennai and Hyderabad,” he said.
Agreeing with him is Mphasis president, Anant R Koppar, who said, “Bangalore is attracting a lot of MNCs. It is difficult for Indian companies to match the salaries that the MNCs offer.”
Some MNCs have been recruiting in large numbers, offering 150 per cent jump in salaries at the junior and middle levels and up to 300 per cent hikes at senior levels.
To add to the woes of smaller Indian companies, the first quarter has seen 34 new foriegn equity companies setting up operations in Bangalore, according to STPI-Director, BV Naidu.
VCs too insist on a Bangalore office. “Most Silicon valley companies are funded by VCs. One pre-condition that the VCs insist is to have a development centre in Bangalore because of the availability of skills,” said Mr Naidu. “Over a decade, Bangalore has formed a cluster of skills. If a company is working on VLSI design, enterprise application, embedded systems, communications software, etc, you will find the skills easily in one place. This is not true with other cities,” he said.
While Indian IT service companies do their core operations from Bangalore, MNCs present in Bangalore are those which outsource development activity to get a cost advantage. “These companies pay more in order to attract the talent. Unlike Indian companies, they don’t give stock options,” said Anand Sudarshan, CEO, NetKraft. “Compared to cities like Chennai or Hyderabad attrition is easily 20 per cent higher in Bangalore,” he said.
For the time being, it looks as if Bangalore’s loss would be a gain for destinations like Chen-nai, Pune or Hyderabad.
Lets work together says N R Murthy
|Murthy says industry, govt can together solve Bangalore hiccups|
|Business Standard / Bangalore July 28,2004|
|After all the outburst at the Nasscom Summit on Bangalore's poor infrastructure and most recent opinion expressed by Azim Premji to expand Wipro's operations in other cities, Infosys Technologies Chairman and chief mentor N R Narayan Murthy has said that the industry and the government could come together to solve the problem of poor infrastructure problem.|
|Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of an inauguration of a computer training course for members of the Legislative Council, Murthy said, "There is no need to get agitated. I'm confident that all problems can be solved through discussions. Industry and the government can work together for better Bangalore."|
|Murthy admitted that the Bangalore has been facing with this problems in the recent past and that it required immediate attention.|
|Replying to a query on whether poor infrastructure had been affecting the growth of the IT sector in the city, Murthy said, "A couple of years ago, it took us three hours to reach Electronics City (where Infosys headquarters is located) from Bangalore. But the government and industry came together to solve the problem. We can overcome all the current infrastructure issues by working on the same lines."|
|While putting forth the industry's stand on this issue, the chief mentor of Infosys went on to state that Infosys would come forward to help the state government if its role is specified. "If the government specifies what it wants from the industry, Infosys will be the first to do it," he added.|
|It may be recalled that during the recent announcement Wipro's quarterly results, chairman Azim Premji had expressed his stand on the infrastructure bottlenecks, higher attrition levels, wage pressures and most importantly, the ever-increasing commuting time for its employees. In fact, Premji also stated that his company was considering expansion of its operations beyond Bangalore.|
Lane discipline project on J C Road
The ‘Lane Discipline Project’ will be first implemented on J C Road where violating lane discipline will cost you Rs 100.
If you are one of those who jumps lanes on J C Road to pick up speed, think twice.
If you do, you will be fined Rs 100 for violating lane discipline. The move comes in the backdrop of the ‘Lane Discipline Project’ jointly launched by the Bangalore City Traffic Police and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Bangalore on Monday.
Lane disciplining on J C Road (which is a one-way) is being viewed by the corporate world and the police as a step forward in arresting traffic violations and in reducing fatalities on the roads of Bangalore. “About 12-13 lakh traffic violations are recorded in Bangalore City every year and traffic lane indiscipline on the road has been identified as one of the top five violations,” social activist Kalpana Kar said on the occasion.
She added, “The lane discipline project is being implemented on J C Road with a view to bring about an attitudinal change in motorists towards road rage, which is becoming common in Bangalore City.” Quoting statistics furnished by the police on the rising vehicular population vis-a-vis road accident deaths, Ms Kar said, “ about 720 vehicles get registered in Bangalore City every day and the number of people who get killed on the roads is around 820. In fact, road accident deaths have increased from 659 in 2000 to 883 in 2003.” She added that a majority of the accidents was caused due to road indiscipline.
On the implementation of the J C Road project, Ms Kar said gantries and signage installations would be put up by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike in a fortnight’s time. This apart, distribution of lane discipline books will be taken up in the corporate sector and educational institutions, she said.
CII’s former chairman M Lakshminarayan said there would be automated enforcement on J C Road with the help of simputers given by Encore Software. “Each traffic police officer will be equipped with a printer-attached simputer by which he can penalise the offender on the spot,” Mr Lakshminarayan said.
City Police Commissioner S Mariswamy said traffic policemen have been trained on technical and on ground application of simputers to book traffic violations. “We had tried out a similar disciplining programme on M G Road some time ago, we will also implement the lane disciplining project on Cubbon Road,” he said.
The project has been sponsored by ITC, Mico, Titan, Toyota Kirloskar Motors, Infosys Technologies and Praxair. Minister for Water Resources and Transport Mallikarjuna Kharge was present on the occasion.
Mayor's foolhardy move
A couple of weeks ago, Mayor P R Ramesh announced the setting up of a Kempegowda Tower at N R Square, in front of the Corporation Offices. Now he plans to pull down the walls surrounding Lalbagh and replace it with grills. The one reason Lalbagh remains relatively unspoilt is because of the walls. Why can't he spend these crores on improving roads and the drainage system?
Bangalore Mahanagara Palike will soon replace concrete walls around Lalbagh with ornamental grills to enhance the beauty of the botanical garden, Mayor P R Ramesh said on Monday.
“The proposed grills will be on the lines of one erected around Vidhana Soudha and the project is estimated to cost Rs 1 crore, which will be taken up soon,” Mr Ramesh said while inspecting civic amenities in Tavarekere area in Bangalore.
Presently, the garden is visible from outside as concrete walls obstruct the view. “Ornamental grills will not only enhance beauty of the garden but give an opportunity for commuters to have a look into the garden,” he added.
Besides, BMP will shortly take up a project on developing a park and a playground on Lakkasandra quarry pit at the cost of Rs 1.4 crore. The 9 acre quarry pit will be closed for this purpose, Mayor said.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Learn from Kolkata's decline, say TOI readers
With big IT companies thinking about relocating away from Bangalore because of poor infrastructure, the government is in effect killing the goose that lays the golden egg. The fate of Bangalore is quickly going the Kolkata way, where travel by road became so bad that companies moved out and airlines stopped flying to that destination. The CM can ignore the development of Bangalore but at a great cost. The loss of productivity when commuting from place to place on our roads is huge and will only get bigger unless we do something soon.
Leslie Pinto, Bangalore
The point our deputy chief minister has overlooked is not ‘Who has gone out of Karnataka?’ but ‘Who will invest further in Karnataka?’. This is the lesson West Bengal learnt at its cost and is now striving to rectify. If we are not to go down that state’s disastrous road, let us hope the CM will heed H.S. Balram’s Parting Shot — ‘Action plan, please’ — in To The Point (July 25). A lopsided emphasis on agriculture-for-votes at the cost of industry will prove disastrous for the state.
J.K. Jacob, Bangalore
TOI launches campaign to save city
In the wake of the new state government putting an end to all development initiatives in the city and industry threatening a walk out , the Times of India has launched a campaign to put, as it says, "the bang back in Bangalore". The effort is welcomed and if it can provide a platform for all stake holders to place their viewpoints and get the city's crumbling infrastructure back on track, its service will be remembered forever.
Narayanamurthy says, "Let's talk it out".
What makes up the 20 lakh strong vehicle population in the city
BATF help sought by other cities
With its home town forsaking it, BATF is being wooed by other cities to help them manage growth.
Monday, July 26, 2004
City draws international job seekers
From the Times of India
Reactions to Premji's outburst
Responses to Premji's outburst
Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah
Photo of Hosur Road
Former PM Deve Gowda:
Bear with us: Gowda to IT czars
Bangalore: With the IT s e c t o r threatening to shift operations o u t s i d e Karnataka due to lack of infrastructure in Bangalore, former Prime Minister H.D. Gowda on Sunday urged its captains to “cooperate with the government for the time being’’.
“I want to reassure the IT sector that we are not against them. The state’s finances are poor. Consecutive droughts ravaged farmers and the latter resorted to suicide. The enhancement of tax on IT is to overcome the hurdles faced by the state as a whole,’’ he told reporters here after the JD(S) state office-bearers’ meeting.
He contended that the erstwhile JD promoted the IT industry. “In fact, ITPL project was cleared by the JD government. Tax holiday was also declared for the project. We will continue to extend our support to the IT industry.’’
Gowda pointed out that the Congress-JD(S) coalition had to function under certain compulsions. “This is a new experiment. It is difficult to satisfy every sector. Neither party was able to implement every programme mentioned in the poll manifesto owing to the fractured verdict. I hope the IT industry will understand the government’s position.’’
Exploring solutions to the traffic problem
A Professor explores possible solutions to the traffic problem plaguing Bangalore.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Premji slams Bangalore infrastructure
Its on the front page of virtually every newspaper today. He did it last year too and he's done it again and this time there might be economic consequences. Azim Premji, Chairman of WIPRO, one of the first people to realize Bangalore's potential now says that the city is past its prime. Wipro has announced that, apart from a few other things, the city's ramshackle infrastructure is hurting its business and that it will no longer invest in Bangalore and all its future investments will be in other cities. There is a possibility that operations in Bangalore might be scaled back as well.
"The key reasons include increased commuting time and high attrition.... The reality is that there is opportunity outside Karnataka and outside Bangalore. We have to be present where talent is available and infrastructure is superior.”
Vivek Paul, Vice-Chairman, WIPRO:
"Bangalore is a zero-sum game. In terms of infrastructure, there has not been any material improvement in the last five years. As a result, it is becoming difficult to sustain growth here...... <>We believe the problem is serious. We have not seen any material change in the last five years and we do not see a declared intent in the next five years. If Wipro needs to park buses that ferries 60 per cent of its workforce to its Electronics City campus on the outskirts of Bangalore, it will be a train eight kilometre long.
The other IT major Infosys, which had plans to set up its largest campus in Sarjapur in Bangalore has already reversed that decision and is setting up a new campus capable of accomodating 25000 workers in Chennai.
Those who argue that there is nothing to lose if an WIPRO or Infosys move out and its a natural economic evolution for Bangalore as grunt work heads to other places and Bangalore moves up the value chain are missing the point. Bangalore's infrastructure is on the brink. If it tips over there is no return.
The Times of India
The Economic Times
A mall for women
After The Forum and The Forum Retail Park, the Prestige Group now embarks on a project to build a mall exclusively for women, called Prestige Eva.
Is Bangalore now a verb?
To be Bangalored means to have your job outsourced to an offshore location.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Height of civic irresponsibility
It is bad enough that most retail outlets and restaurants in town violate every building bye-law, never provide adequate parking space for their patrons and become a burden on public space. In a brazen display of civic irresponsiblity, Pizza Corner, in this ad actually takes pride in creating a traffic jam. Shame!
BDA and KIADB throw away residential land for a pittance
Exposing BMP's claims on road quality
Anyone who's driven on Bangalore's roads knows that BMP's claims about the quality of the city's roads are bogus but here's some endorsement of that.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Killing the goose that lays the golden egg
No one can do this better than the new state government in Karnataka. No one grudges development of the interiors and the villages or prosperity for the entire state. But the state government should not lose sight of the fact that over 50% of its revenues comes from one place - Bangalore. And if you don't reinvest in the development of this golden goose there are going to be no funds for investing in the development of the other parts. Today Bangalore lies in shambles. The whole city is overrun by storm water, roads have fallen apart, there is no space for another vehicle on the roads, chronic power and water shortage. All that is asked for is minimal funds for the basic upkeep of the city so that investors don't exit in a drove. And what does the Government give? Not a penny allocated in the year's budget. Not even the promised Rs. 320 crores for the International Airport. Forget any support for a Mass Rapid Transit System. And a 140% hike in tax on sale of all computer software and hardware which has high negative symbolism in India's Silicon Valley, make that alley. And noble samaritans like Sudha Murthy, Ramesh Ramanathan and Nandan Nilekani who were contributing to the city's infrastructure with their personal money through forums such as BATF and Janaagraha have been asked to take a hike. Nothing more remains to be said. Disaster awaits around the corner.
Democracy takes a new turn
Democracy finally reaches the grassroots. In a landmark move, citizens voted in a referendum to choose a new design for the refurbishment of the Cox Town market.
Read the report in the TOI
Flyovers turn dime-a-dozen
There must be lots of money to be made on the side for government officials in flyover construction. How else does one justify the powers-that-be's new found penchant for putting up a flyover across every intersection in town? The latest, to come up on Seshadri Road threatens one of the city's greenest roads.
Read this report from the TOI
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Lack of mass transit system worrying
Increase of vehicle population may lead to chaos on road by 2014
Wednesday July 21 2004 The New Indian Express
BANGALORE: Bangalore’s roads are bursting at the seams. The already choked roads will, a decade from now, have no space for new vehicles. Thanks to the easy loans and lack of an efficient public transport system, the increase in the vehicle population has been alarming.
Over 700 new vehicles are being registered at five Regional Transport Offices (RTO) in the city everyday. Extrapolate this and it is a staggering 25 lakh vehicles in the next 10 years. Currently, there are 18 lakh vehicles in the city.
The explosion in number of vehicles will not only increase the congestion, but also the pollution levels and accident rate. ‘‘The situation is alarming,’’ transport commissioner I.M. Vittal Murthy told this website’s newspaper.
The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is opening a Pandora’s Box by aggressively expanding its fleet by another 1,000 buses.
The result will be chaos on the roads. ‘‘Where is the space for new buses? As it is, the roads are not capable of handling the existing vehicles,’’ gasped one transport department official.
The government, which is focused solely on increasing its revenues from the registration of vehicles, is yet to take a serious note of the situation. The Congress-JD (S) government’s first budget presented on Monday has increased lifetime tax on vehicles, but said nothing about improving public transport.
‘‘Absence of an efficient public transport is the reason behind increase in vehicles, specially two-wheelers,’’ sources said. ‘‘Aggressive marketing strategies adopted by the vehicle manufacturers and attractive loan schemes offered by financial institutions also lure people to buy new vehicles,’’ sources added.
Add to this the delay in execution of the proposed Bangalore Metro Rail project. Touted as the best alternative to private vehicles, this project is expected to clear the clogged roads by offering citizens a faster, cheaper and more comfortable means of city travel.
The short-term measures to decongest roads have failed, as the growth rate is several times higher than the road capacity expansion. New flyovers, grade separators and one-way systems are all short-term decongestion measures.
But for now, there is abundant confusion among government departments, which are yet to take the problem seriously.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Jam, jam everywhere....
From The Hindu
Sunday, July 18, 2004
BDA may change design of flyover on Seshadri Road
BDA may change design of flyover on Seshadri Road
The Hindu BANGALORE, JULY 17.
The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is tryingto change the design of its proposed flyover on Seshadri Road (Anand RaoCircle) following objections by people and the Bangalore Turf Club(BTC). Some people led by Suresh Heblikar, environmentalist, have opposed theflyover proposal as it will require the felling of over 40 trees thatgive an "umbrella-like" shade to the road.
The BTC said that hundreds of its stables would have to be demolished toaccommodate the 800-metre flyover from Khodays Circle to Vasavi Bhavan.The flyover will have a loop from Anand Rao Circle towards the JanataDal office. "We want to save as many trees as possible and take minimum space of theBTC," C.R. Ramesh, engineer-member of the BDA, told The Hindu on Friday.
The BDA wanted the main bridge of the proposed Rs. 27.6-crore flyover -awarded to Delhi-based Simplex Concrete Piles (India) Ltd. - to beerected on the centre of the road. Now, it has proposed to push it to aside, towards the racecourse. Under the original plan, there was provision for roads on either side ofthe flyover with a two-metre-wide footpath. Under the proposed changes,there will be a road only on the Gandhinagar side. The changes would save a lot of space, Mr. Ramesh said. Instead ofacquiring about 3,000 square metres of BTC land, the BDA might need onlyabout 1,900 square metres, he added. It would need about 150 squaremetres of the land on which the fire station is located instead of 450square metres as proposed earlier, he said. The BDA hopes to spare the trees on the Gandhinagar side.
But thesemodifications are only a proposal now. A decision will be taken soon. The demand of the people was that the racecourse should not be disturbedas it was one of the few lung spaces that have survived in the heart ofthe city. Besides, felling many trees would affect the environment, theysaid. Chandrashekhar, BTC steward, who has questioned the need for theflyover, said about 150 stables would be dislocated by the flyover. Hewas referring to the original plan to acquire 3,000 square metres the ofBTC land.
The proposed flyover, for which the work order has been issuedto the construction company, is expected to come up in 16 months. The five-lane main bridge from Khodays Circle to Anand Rao Circle willbe 18.5 metres wide. Beyond this point, it will be a four-lane one. Theloop towards the Janata Dal office will be a two-lane one. The bridgewill be placed on 13 pillars and the loop on two. The turnkey contract amount of Rs. 27.6 crore included charges forshifting electricity, sanitary, and water lines, Mr. Ramesh said.
Friday, July 16, 2004
Rains fill up restored lakes
From the TOI
Civic authorities encroach on lakes too
From the Times of India
Environmentalists oppose Seshadri Road flyover
Seshadri Road flyover opposed
BANGALORE, JULY 15. Let flyovers come where they are really necessary but certainly not on Seshadri Road, Suresh Heblikar, Chairman of Eco-Watch, the Centre for Promotion of Environment and Research, Bangalore, said here on Thursday.
"The proposed flyover is also going to cut into the city's 100-year-old racecourse which is both a heritage and a precious lung space. The flyover will not ease traffic congestion but will only shift the bottleneck to the next traffic junction at Maharani's College. The same thing will happen at the National College flyover in Basanavagudi. These two flyovers are superfluous and will cause heavy damage to the environment and heritage created so assiduously by erstwhile administrators," Mr. Heblikar said.
The contributions of horticulturists such as John Cameron, G.H. Krumbiegal, H.C. Javaraya and M.H. Marigowda had elevated the status of Bangalore as the most beautiful garden city in the country. They chose certain areas to convert them into tree-lined avenues and Seshadri Road was one of them, he said. "The oxygen generating lung spaces sparkling lakes and carbon sequestering trees are our assets,'' he remarked. Mr. Heblikar expressed concern at the way the once most salubrious climate of Bangalore and its environs was deteriorating. The way the water bodies and trees, which helped create this climate, were disappearing was a cause for alarm. "It is this growth and so called development which have taken a heavy toll of Bangalore's
environment. Now, one more flyover is going to strangulate and uproot the stretch of full grown, healthy trees on Seshadri Road, adding to the woes of the citizens suffering from increasing air pollution,'' Mr. Heblikar said.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Do you know who Kempegowda is?
The Hindu takes a tour of Bangalore to check out how many do.
Govt. plays merry-go-round with BMP Comissioners
Lawyers petition HC for reopening Devaraj Urs Road
The All India Lawyers federation has petitioned the Karnataka High Court to order the Government to reopen the Devaraj Urs Road which links Gopala Gowda Circle and Basaweshwara Circle. This arterial road was closed to lay a garden between Vikasa Soudha and Vidhana Soudha. Though the lawyers' move appears motivated by selfish reasons, given that they have to take several detours to reach the High Court, this move will benefit the larger public if the court rules favourably.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Update on campaign to save Sankey Lake
BCC to Sankey’s rescue after firm strongarms locals
Wednesday July 14 2004 New Indian Express
BANGALORE: Presidents of Malle-swaram and other nearby areas are up in arms against the construction of a residential complex on the periphery of the Sankey tank.
They have launched an agitation under the aegis of the Malleswaram Swabhimana Initiative and Grahak Shakti to save the aquifer.
The citizens groups are demanding that the authorities take stern action against Mantri Builders, who have already erected a delineation wall, and that the construction be stopped forwith.
The builder has proposed to construct five 18-storeyed blocks in the area as part of a housing project.
The Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) had recently rejuvenated the tank at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore.
If the proposed project were to come through, it would lead to severe environmental degradation, protesters said drawing attention to the large number of trees that had been chopped without obtaining permission from authorities for taking up construction work.
The project would deliver a severe blow to the well-being of the tank since rainwater, its only source, would be blocked, residents said.
Contamination that could throw up health hazards was also on their mind.
They also alleged that the developers had started accepting bookings without obtaining permission from the authorities concerned.
The protesters are now planning to launch a signature campaign, including letters to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister, Governor and also to the President of India, said Somasekhar, managing trustee, Grahak Shakti.
Meanwhile, the BCC is contemplating stern action against the builder for violating norms.
“They will be asked to stop the construction work, which cannot be taken up without obtaining environment clearance from the centre,” a BCC official said.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Rain induced misery continues
Monday, July 12, 2004
UR Rao calls for steps to save the city
Call for integrated approach to solve Bangalore's problems
BANGALORE, JULY 10. The well-known space scientist and former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), U.R. Rao, today called for immediate
steps to tackle the problems of Bangalore. Speaking a seminar as part of the celebration of the Kempe Gowda Day here, Dr. Rao said the planners had failed the city. Blaming politicians and the bureaucracy, he said the city faced a bleak future because of lack of proper planning.
It faced problems on all fronts such as roads, pollution, slums, inundation of low-lying areas during rain, and lawlessness. He sought to know why the Government passed
laws that it could not enforce. He said if these issues were not addressed immediately, the situation would go out of control. However, "the future of Bangalore is still in our hands" he said and added that it was time to evolve an integrated approach to find solutions to the problems facing the city.
The Mayor, P.R. Ramesh, who inaugurated the seminar, said the weather of the city had attracted people and investment. This had led to problems of urbanisation. Experts should throw light on how these problems could be tackled. Since Kempe Gowda, the city's founder, had brought professionals of different castes and creed to it from other places, Bangalore had a secular outlook, he said. The people of the city loved peace and maintained it.
S. Chandrashekar, geologist, regretted that the excellent lake system of the city had been spoiled. He called for steps to restore it. The Shivajinagar MLA, Katta Subramanya Naidu, who presided over the function, said the people should participate in the development of the city wholeheartedly. A. Ravindra, former Chief Secretary, and H.P. Shashidar, Retired Deputy Director, Karnataka Archives, traced history of Bangalore. Suryanath Kamath, historian, spoke on how the city had attracted global attention. Jyothi Bai, Professor, Maharani's College, spoke on Bangalore during the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
CityScapes: Mayo Hall
Mayo Hall: Still a picture of elegance
The walls of Mayo Hall, which earlier housed the offices of the Rent Controller and Registrar of Marriages, have many interesting tales to tell.
JANARDHAN ROYE , DECCAN HERALD
In the 1950s, for many Bangaloreans, Mayo Hall came to represent the Rent Controller's office. "Typically you read the notice board there listing houses available for rent and applied for one. And without much ado you'd be allotted a huge bungalow for rents as low as Rs 140 per month." laughs Dr T R G Anand, a Cantonment old-timer and well-known homoeopath physician. In short, for renting or letting out a house, the place to go was Mayo Hall - near Dozey's Garage on South Parade.
To be sure there were other offices in this magnificent building. Black coated lawyers, typists, stamp vendors and such personae were testimony to that. Civil cases from minor traffic offences such as 'double-riding' on bicycles to the more serious ones were tried here. It was also the place for 'registered marriages'.
When originally built, the ground floor had the the Municipal Office for the Cantonment, several public offices and law courts. The upper floor was designed for important 'Public meetings and Exhibitions'.
Going back to its very beginning, Mayo Hall became a part of a larger design to develop the cantonment into an integrated Bangalore Civil & Military station.
Accordingly, around the mid-1800s, began a series of developmental activity.
The army that defeated Tipu Sultan in the 4th Mysore War was shifted from the swampy environs of Srirangapatana to the more salubrious Bangalore. It was 1809 and the new garrison town began to grow. The crown's administrative staff and the army's families began arriving in droves, taking the arduous sailing route around the Cape of Good Hope. Sensing the business opportunities tradesmen also took the boat. Soon items never before seen in Bangalore started arriving, for, it was a century of dramatic happenings. The world saw many firsts: postage stamps, automobiles, electric light bulbs, motion pictures, phonographs, photography, repetition rifles, railroad locomotives, steamships, telegraphs and telephones.
With this revolution began the 'westernisation' of Bangalore. "Roads, parks, promenades, churches, schools, hospitals, shopping centres, dance halls, pubs, clubs, cricket, golf range, and a race course came up where there were none," says Major-General (retd.) John Verghese, the widely read raconteur extra-ordinary, "Everything in Britain was brought here. Well, almost everything. Houses with fountains, tennis courts, and gardens came up in areas such as Richmond Town, South Parade, and St John's Church Road. Even flowers - phlox, zinnias, dahlias, and so on - and veggies such as cauliflower, cabbage, carrots and beetroot were brought from good ol' Blighty!"
In this period of rapid change, Lord Mayo (christened Richard Southwell Bourke) was appointed the Viceroy and Governor General of India, who hastened the development process. In the short 1869-72 period he was in India, this Trinity College, Dublin graduate travelled extensively, was greatly impressed with the people and the land, and said that Britain should hold India "as long as the sun shines in heaven". This sentiment was widely and enthusiastically shared in the Empire.
However on a visit to Port Blair's prison, Lord Mayo's life was cut short. He was assassinated, stabbed to death by Sher Ali, a Pathan life convict, the only Indian Viceroy to be murdered in office. His murder was an act of vendetta. The convict who killed him did so to avenge his father's death in the Anglo-Afghan War.
As a tribute to this administrator a commemorative building was erected on South Parade, on a flat ground with trees, flowering bushes and a low wall on the south side. Terraced lawns surrounded the two-story building. It cost about Rs 40,000, a sum largely raised through public subscription.
The Mayo Hall was inaugurated by the British Resident on June 6th, 1883 - with considerable pomp and pageantry. Inside the building had a number of exquisitely framed pictures of the British nobility and outstanding citizens in the hall. In the first floor there were Italian chandeliers, ornate furniture and exquisite furnishings.
Being on a hill, Mayo Hall offered a panoramic view of the Parade grounds and Ulsoor Lake on the one side and the Shoolay Lake, Race Course and Brigade Grounds in the south.
The late Kora Chandy described the Mayo Hall as 'one of the most elegant public buildings of the era in Southern India.' Several Greco-Roman elements and influences are apparent in the building: architrave and pediment windows, key-stoned arches, balustrade ledges, beautiful consoles, Greek cornices, Tuscan columns, and wooden floors.
Today Mayo Hall stands shorn of its greenery and breathing space. Tall buildings form its neighbours. The snarl of heavy traffic can be heard non-stop. So what is the future of this magnificent building?
As old buildings bite the dust one by one, there is an apprehension a similar fate awaits many of Bangalore's landmarks. In the Western world we see the community take pride and interest in history and heritage. Many a philanthrophist and the local government collobrate to support efforts that preserve and promote heritage and culture.
Mayo Hall is a case in point in history-rich Bangalore that deserves such suppport
Reminiscences of a Bangalore gone-by
They have all watched the world go by
Many of central Bangalore’s well known landmarks are vanishing. The ones still around evoke many fond memories for old timers.
JANAKI MURALI, DECCAN HERALD
Coffee house in MG Road will no longer be around, so won’t Madhu Sweets. Victoria is gone and has been replaced by Bangalore Central and Tiffany’s has been razed to the ground.
All these landmarks were a throwback to the laidback Bangalore of the pensioners, who had made it a home to retire in, when long walks amidst tree lined boulevards, listening to the birds instead of the noisy traffic was what mornings were made of. This was often followed by a relaxed breakfast of puttu kadalai at
Victoria sitting in the verandah overlooking the road.
The waiters took their own time to serve you, so you sat there reading your morning newspapers, in no hurry to go anywhere. Nobody asked you to leave and you could sit there until you found something else to do.
It was no different at Tiffanys, where sometimes it seemed as though there were four waiters to a customer, hanging around chatting in corners, until somebody waved out to them to catch their attention.
Driving past Vittal Mallya Road now, all you see in the place where Tiffany’s stood is rubble and debris.
The Coffee House on MG Road is another icon from the past, that along with Victoria and Tiffany’s gave central Bangalore its identity, its old world colonial hangover. The waiters in their white and red uniform are probably as old the Coffee House itself. They know most of their customers and stop by for a chat.
The coffee costs only Rs 5 and the masala dosa, like the way mom makes at home, is only Rs 13. You can sit over your coffee and watch life hurrying past on MG Road outside.
At the other coffee house outlet in the Coffee Board premises, they even serve crunchy onion pakodas, along with the usual sandwiches, the cutlets and the scrambled eggs -- all specialities of the two Coffee House outlets. Government officials, NGOs, journalists, high court advocates and pensioners have over the years made the Coffee House their adda. The conversation here rises and ebbs with politics, court cases, government policies and politicians’ nakras.
Whether this Coffee House outlet too will disappear in deference to the new market economics only time will tell.
As old landmarks give way to the new, as a city’s culture evolves and changes to accommodate new ideas and new thinking, it is surprising that a place like Koshy’s is still standing proudly. The waiters here are as old as the restaurant and the tables old and rickety too. Yet Koshy’s has managed to retain its old world charm, keep its old clientele, while ringing in the new. Generations of Bangaloreans have gone through the Koshy’s doors -- actors, musicians, painters and out of work accountants and students - who frequent Koshy’s for its Smileys, its stew and appams, its sandwiches and its coffee pot.
Koshy’s is as much an adda for the 70-year-old who sips his coffee, as he reads his morning newspapers at a table tucked away in the interior, just as it is a hangout for the 17-year-old SMSing her friends at another table nearby. “Let’s meet at Koshy’s over coffee,” is a common phrase I have used over the years, and have often found that my children and their friends had the same idea.
So what is it that translates four walls and an eatery into an icon, an adda or a hangout? Just like no one knows what makes a book or a film or a painting a hit, I am sure nobody has yet been able to find out what makes one restaurant click in the customer’s mind while some others shine briefly and fade away.
BIAL set to take off
aviation BANGALORE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
On the Runway
With the signing of the concession agreement on July 5, the last hurdle in the way of India's first private sector-led international airport project at Devanahalli in Karnataka has been cleared
By Stephen David in Devanahalli, INDIA TODAY
For frequent flyers in Bangalore, like software hot shop Manthan Systems' Managing Director Atul Jalan, 34, business trips are a pain. Just back from a week-long visit to Spain and the UK, Jalan, who logs about 25,000 miles every month, says, "It is a shame that India's infotech capital does not have direct connectivity to cities around the world." He ruefully adds, "We waste a lot of time and pay nearly 30 per cent extra on connecting flights out of Mumbai or Delhi for our foreign travels."
The plaints of Jalan and the 12,50,000 software professionals in Bangalore might just come to an end. A 4,300 acre brown patch of land at Devanahalli, 35 km north of Bangalore, once marked for one of India's largest golf courses, will now be home to the first international airport in Karnataka. On July 5, a concession agreement was signed by K. Krishna Kumar, additional chief secretary, Karnataka, Ajay Prasad, secretary, Civil Aviation, and W. Bischoff of the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) for the runways to come up at Devanahalli in around 33 months. The airport will be constructed through private-public partnership, with BIAL being the joint-venture of the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation Ltd (KSIIDS), the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and a consortium of Siemens (Germany), Unique Zurich (Switzerland) and Larsen & Toubro (India).
While KSIIDC and AAI will hold 26 per cent equity in BIAL, the private consortium will hold the remaining 74 per cent. The total cost of building the plush airport is estimated at Rs 1,300 crore. The Karnataka Government has provided a Rs 350 crore soft loan to BIAL and has pledged a budgetary support of Rs 400 crore.
The old Bangalore airport, operated by the Indian Air Force and the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, will be closed to civilian traffic after the completion of the new airport. The international airport will accommodate a minimum of 20 aircraft of different types and have an ultimate capacity of catering to 40 million passengers in a year, with the initial phase planned for a capacity to handle five million passengers and 1.4 lakh tonnes of cargo. Bangalore's current airport can handle only two million passengers and 30,000 tonnes of cargo a year.
Rs 1,300 CRORE: The total estimated cost of building the airport.
Rs 350 CRORE: Soft loan provided by the Karnataka Government.
Rs 400 CRORE: Budgetary support to be pledged by the state Government.
Rs 460 CRORE: The Karnataka Government and the AAI have signed a memorandum of understanding with ICICI Bank for a $100 million debt.
One of the priorities of the Congress-JD(S) Karnataka Government after Dharam Singh took over as the chief minister in May 2004 was to push for the Devanahalli project. Singh, seen as a rural-centric politician, wants to dilute that image a bit and project himself as an industry-friendly, progressive politician with this project. "With the signing of the agreement, more than 10 years of efforts by the state government have fructified," says Singh.
Infosys Chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, who served as non-executive chairman of the Bangalore International Airport project, used his clout to push the plan with the Centre and even spent his company's money to tone up the immigration counter at the existing airport.
Al Brunner, chief executive officer of BIAL, says the Devanahalli airport will be built to world-class standards and will sport among other impressive features, a 4 km runway to accommodate big planes like the Boeing 747 and an apron wide enough for 20 different types of aircraft. The airport, to be ready by mid-2007, will be connected by a six-lane national highway. Ashok Soota, chairman of the CII and managing director of MindTree Consulting, says it will spur the development of the area around the airport.
However, hamstrung by red tape, Brunner now wants the Centre to give him a "comfort letter" assuring that there will be no delays in obtaining operational clearances in the future, especially those relating to aerodrome licence and its subsequent renewals. BIAL has sought the licence for two years as against the current validity for a year. The Centre is likely to accept this request. The private airport project company also wants the height of the air traffic control tower at Devanahalli to be 60 m as against the existing stipulation that it be 45 m. A team of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has agreed to the request.
An airport for Bangalore, which was first conceived in 1994, ran into rough weather when the Tata Group and Singapore Airlines walked out of the project citing governmental delays. The Tatas had spent around Rs 5 crore on initial surveys. After the state government revived the plan in 1995, the AAI brought it to a halt saying that a private company could not be allowed to build an airport. The decision was later reversed. Problems then cropped up over financing until last year ICICI Bank agreed to underwrite the airport.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel says the clearance for the airport took longer than it should have because it was a new concept. "We have now paved the way for similar projects in other cities," he says. The last word is, however, reserved for Captain Gorur Gopinath, managing director of Air Deccan, India's first low-cost, no-frills airline: "This will definitely not only boost air traffic but also help in the growth of the helicopter and air charter services in the country." Better late than never.
Traffic woes take lives
TRAFFIC JAMS STALL AMBULANCES
The city’s traffic situation is now costing precious lives
GEETHA RAO Times News Network
Fifteen days ago, a man died near Kudlu gate and the ambulance couldn’t reach him on time. Reason: traffic jam On June 7, it took the ambulance 45 minutes to travel between Ulsoor and Manipal Hospital. Reason: traffic jam. On June 9, the victim expired on the spot at Electronic City phase II. The ambulance took 33 minutes to reach there from Airport Road. Reason: traffic jam. In June 2004 alone, the Comprehensive Trauma Consortium (CTC) control room recorded 17 misses.
In the last six months, ambulances operating under the Operation Sanjeevini co-ordinated by the CTC have missed many emergency calls caught as they were in traffic jams. In the process, sometimes, precious lives have been lost. “We have had problems reaching patients, because of traffic jams. This is in spite of one-ways. It’s specially bad during peak hours (5pm-8.30pm),” says Dr NK Venkatramana, project co-ordinator, CTC.
“Of the 125 missed calls in the past six months, 20 per cent were missed because of traffic jams,” says V Madhusudhana, manager, operations, CTC.
“We have have been caught in traffic jams on both sides of Hosur Road near the Forum mall. The traffic w a s j a m m e d all the way from Dairy C i rcl e. A t B i s h o p C o t t o n Boys School Circle, there are two-three misses every month because of traffic jams. The Bellary Road from Yelahanka to Hebbal is an accident-prone area, and there is at least one call a day for help here.”
Dr Venkataramana has approached the police commissioner, S Mariswamy, and requested for certain ambulance privileges. “These are internationally accepted privileges for ambulances; not all may be applicable here, but those which can be, should be provided,” says Madhusudhana.
The main traffic jam spots are MG Road (Trinity Circle onwards); Mekhri Circle, Yeshwantpur Circle, near Kendriya Bhavan in Koramangala. Ironically, many of the missed calls happen in areas where the CTC has a network with hospitals.
Next time around, when you want to jump lanes and add to the traffic chaos, think twice —you might be preventing that ambulance from reaching the victim in time. Bangalore Times requests its readers to follow traffic rules and maintain lane discipline. Your action might save some lives.
THE MUCH NEEDED AMBULANCE PRIVILEGES:
To park at strategic locations in the city to be available readily for emergency.
To cautiously proceed through the red light signal, pass other vehicles in no passing zones.
To exceed the speed limit posted over the area as long as it does not endanger lives or property.
To drive ambulances on the wrong way down a one way street or driving down the opposite side of the street.
To turn in any direction at any intersection.
To park anywhere as long as it does not endanger lives or property to rescue individuals.
To leave the ambulance in the middle of the street or intersection if necessary.
TOI takes a peek into upcoming Vikasa Soudha
Vikasa Soudha stands tall
By Sowmya Aji Mehu/TNN
Bangalore: In a brand makeover for Karnataka, come September, the chunk of government business will move to a hi-tech, stateof-the-art building ‘Vikasa Soudha’, boasted as a ‘model’ office for the whole country.
Former chief minister S.M. Krishna had inaugurated it prior before the elections and spent some time in the CM’s chamber. But now it will be his successor N. Dharam Singh who will have the privilege of using the swanky office.
The building is breezy with light, space and air-movement getting the top billing. And it is truly Vikasa (developed) and handicappedfriendly with ramps and special toilets. Solar lighting, rainwater harvesting, glass capsule lifts, hydropneumatic water systems, hi-tech surveillance units biometric attendance register... you name it — Vikasa Soudha has it all.
Constructed by more than 1,200 workers over a period of three years, the building belies all notions of a government office. The exterior is a mirror image of Vidhana Soudha, but the interiors, designed by the NID, Ahmedabad, is a dramatic shift from all known ‘looks’ of a government building. The drab grey of a typical office has vanished, no more fileheaped and scarred wood tables, all you could see is gleaming floors, swanky, post-modern furniture and ‘workstations’ with sleek PCs.
PWD engineers sprout unfamiliar language: “Everything’s colour-coordinated, spaces flow in modular units. Lighting is based on measured lux levels (luminous intensity) ...’’
The eight-floor structure’s USPs are too many to count. Video-conferencing for e-governance? Waltz into the two ready-to-use halls. Meetings? What size you want — it has 15 air-conditioned halls for an intimate 15 to a full-scale 350.
All 120-odd rooms are e-linked through LAN and cable, electrical, telephone and computer wires come via pipes in the flooring.
And the fallout: no furniture can be moved. “No vaastu or other sentimental reasons. No furniture can be moved, be it the CM, ministers or officials,’’ an engineer said.
Going one-up on big brother Vidhana, the ornamental window sills (concrete in the old building) is of stone. Stone posts, carved a la Badami or Hampi, support streamlined pipes of staircases. With the water table buoyant under Vikasa Soudha, sub-surface drainage has been designed to let out excess groundwater to Cubbon Park.
14 ministers, 19 department secretaries.
Bringing all government offices under one roof and saving annual rent of Rs 5.5
crore for buildings spread all over the city.
Eight, three basements for parking 600 cars; parking for another 400 vehicles at the
Four, providing light to all rooms and corridors.
Grill compound around Vidhana Soudha will cover Vikasa Soudha as a single unit. Boom
barriers at all gates, CCTV and surveillance designed as per CISF recommendations.
72 meters connecting Vidhana and Vikasa Soudha to ensure confidential movement
of personnel and files.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Public reaction to Jerome's departure
Some public reactions to Jayakar Jermoe's departure published in TOI
This has been a black week for Bangalore city. A great organisation (BDA) has been dealt a near-fatal blow. Instead of encouraging and improving this ‘Infosys of Karnataka government’ (as it was once described), the Dharam Singh administration has delivered it a severe blow from which it may never recover. Its efficient and upright head Jayakar Jerome has gone on leave. Unfortunately, the response to these measures has been muted. Soon, it would be business as usual and a showpiece of excellence would be destroyed. The land sharks, corporator lobby, MLA lobby, illegal construction lobby, etc have successfully applied pressure on the government. For all his failings, S.M. Krishna should be credited with supporting the BDA. None of the lobbies could affect the organisation. Bangalore clocked major successes during this period. Will that golden era come back?
Bring Jerome Back
Bangalore has risen to an exalted position in the eyes of US presidential candidate John Kerry for its praiseworthy role in being India’s IT capital. Now it appears, Bangalore has been relegated to play second fiddle in developmental projects by an overtly pro-rural coalition state government. In the corridors of power, Bangalore is now a dirty word, responsible for the Krishna government’s loss during the elections. Having applied the brakes on the proactive BATF, the next casualty are BDA’s high-profile commissioner Jayakar Jerome and the Arkavathy Layout project. Applicants have been left in the lurch, much like the suffering CET applicants. The only silver lining is the international airport project.
Nagesh Kumar C.S,
Land sharks and the land mafia are probably celebrating Mr Jerome’s leave. Now, it is likely that the BDA will go back to its indisciplined ways. It also seems to be time for politically assisted, corrupt dealmakers to haunt the BDA.
T. Vidyadhar, Bangalore
Concrete jungle threatens more
Concrete jungle Vs reserve green
Saturday July 10 2004 10:30 New Indian Express
BANGALORE: The city’s explosive geographical expansion is threatening the reserve forests just outside the aglomeration area.
The Forest Department is fighting a hard and exhausting battle, trying to save the 3,086.42 hectares of reserve forestland that is home to several plant species and wildlife.
According to B.M. Parameshwara, deputy conservator of Forests, Bangalore (Urban), the department is faced with the challenge of protecting its patches of reserve forest that lie within 18-20 km from the aglomeration area.
These forests are spread over five ranges - Anekal, Kaggalipura, K.R. Puram, Bangalore North and Yelahanka and account for just 1.97 per cent of the total geographical area of the city.
But the exponential growth of the city and the consequent rise of new residential localities is threatening this tiny yet vital green cover.
Parameshwara said that in the recent past, the department had cleared over 106 hectares of encroachments, either through court cases or summary evictions.
However, real estate developers who buy privately owned land around these forest patches are aggressively forming layouts around these areas. ‘‘The sital value in these areas is higher because of the green cover and clean air. Some areas like Banashankari VI stage that is coming up around the Turalligudda reserve forest will eventually turn the forest into an island in the midst of a concrete jungle,’’ he added.
The concern is not just for the flora and fauna of these forests. But for their entire eco-system. Parameshwara said that some of these patches are rich in their biodiversity. They are home to many smaller wildlife like jackals, hares, snakes, wild boar, pangolin and countless species of birds.
Though most of the forest is scrub jungle, there is an elephant corridor around Bannerghatta and leopards have been regularly sighted in the Yelahanka range.
Parameshwara said that though the forestland in his jurisdiction remained untouched due to stringent Central legislation, the department was largely unsuccessful in controlling the urbanisation occurring in the vicinity of these forests.
Among the several ill effects that could result from such mindless growth is air pollution in these delicate eco-systems as a result of vehicular traffic on the periphery. Besides, all other forms of human intrusion into the habitat could cause imbalance.
But what is feared is that the groundwater and soil of these areas could get contaminated and depleted leaving the flora and fauna, the original inhabitants of these forests, nothing to survive on.
New Government in a limbo
Karnataka's 4-month history: From care-taker govt to care-faker govt
Saturday July 10 2004 00:00 New Indian Express
BANGALORE: Karnataka's IT industry may be on the fast track but when it comes to governance, the State seems to be logged on to a Pentium 2 that Intel did away with many years ago.
First, there was a caretaker government from March 11 till May 28. Having called for elections six months ahead of schedule, S M Krishna had hoped that his fairly stable rule would sweep him back to power. But that was to be his last major decision. As caretaker Chief Minister, the election code of conduct ensured that he could take no policy decision.
The situation continued well after the poll outcome on May 13. With no party securing a working majority, uncertainty prevailed and Krishna was asked to continue till the new government was formed.
The new coalition Government, headed by Dharam Singh, was patched together during the end of May. The caretaker government had given way to a government that did not care. And in those four months, administration stopped moving.
It took the Congress and the JD(S) an unprecedented two weeks to come together. That's not surprising considering that their ideologies are poles apart. The only common ground is to keep the BJP _ which emerged as the single largest party _ at bay. All for the sake of the people.
But even that moral clarity is beginning to go fuzzy at the edges. Where, for instance, is the coalition's Common Minimum Programme (CMP) to run the Government? The only CMP they seem to have is a Crude Manipulation Policy to stay in power. Survival depends on compromise formulae. And ad hocism seems to be the only policy prevalent.
Going by the election manifestos of the two parties _ bitter rivals before the polls _ a unanimous and workable CMP seems a chimera. The two parties did attempt to sit together and firm up the CMP. It should have been in place by June-end _ that's what the government promised _ but there's no sign of it yet. The ridiculous reason is that the government wants to study the impact of the Union Budget on the State Government and then announce it.
The CMP, or lack of it, is just one reason why the government hasn't been functioning the way it should. Another is that months after the present government was sworn in, it lacks a full-fledged ministry. The coalition government has only a 12-member ministry, including the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. As a result, many departments `function' without ministers.
According to convention, departments without a ministerial head should come under the Chief Minister through a government notification. But no such notification has been issued. And even senior bureaucrats are groping in the dark without political bosses.
The top bureaucracy is lethargic and restive _ it expects transfers and postings any minute now. And the mood in the administration shows in governance. Consider how the Government has been handling major issues, admissions to professional courses being one of them.
Even after 45 days of coming to power, the Government and professional college managements continue to spar on the seat-sharing formula. It has taken the Government 45 days to file an interlocutory application before the Supreme Court on the issue. A helpless student community just looks on.
Another retrograde step by the government is postponing elections to the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) for the third time and extending the arrack auction till August. In both cases, vested interests have come in the way _ both parties want to capture the APMC and corner all the arrack contracts.
But the worst setback, by far, was the Dharam Singh government's decision to stay the formation of Arkavathy Layout, putting on hold 20,000 sites and 2.5 lakh aspirants' dreams. With no convincing reason given, a miffed BDA Commissioner, Jayakar Jerome, has gone on two month's leave.
It's obvious that the action was taken under pressure from the JD(S) _ the party's statements against Jerome do the talking. They seem to be more interested in the welfare of some building contractors than of the people who applied for the sites. The Congress can only bend to the wishes JD(S). To stay on in power, there's no other way to go.
BIAL moves another step closer to take-off
Devanahalli airport: Crucial air space pact signed
INDULAL P M, Vijay Times
Bangalore: The Siemens-led private consortium, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), is one step closer to the realisation of the international airport for the City at Devanahalli with the signing of the agreement on the controversial issue of air safety and Air Space Management (ASM).
The agreement was signed by the IAF, Defence Research and Development Organisation, HAL and Airports Authority of India (AAI).
The precise date of the signing of the ASM pact was, however, not disclosed, but BIAL CEO Albert Brunner told Vijay Times from New Delhi that the copy of the agreement was received by him from the signatories on July 6 — a day after the signing of the concession agreement.
The signing of the ASM pact clearly divides the skies over Bangalore into distinctly demarcate air space for the Devanahalli airport, and the airfields at Yelahanka Air Force Station, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Kolar air base of the IAF.
According to the ASM agreement, the south portion of Bangalore's air space will be controlled by HAL, while the west portion would be with Air Force Station, Yelahanka. The north-eastern air space will be controlled by BIAL.
The central air space will be controlled jointly by IAF and BIAL, with the former allowed to use up to 3,000 feet altitude, and the rest by the latter.
Further, the Air Space Management Committee recommended smooth and safe air travel through mutual interaction between the IAF, HAL, and BIAL ATCs, besides the DRDO centres at Kolar.
The ASM issue was solved after much haggling among various agencies involved, and the signing of the agreement is seen as a big relief in aviation circles.
"Yes, we have crossed a major hurdle," said Brunner, adding that they were now awaiting the land lease and support agreements from the State Government.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Work on BMIC underway quietly
BMIC expressway is underway
Niranjan Nikam, Vijay Times
Bangalore: Leaving behind the raging controversies surrounding land acquisition, the work on the ambitious Rs 2,200 crore Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMIC) has begun quietly, raising hopes of a world-class expressway between two major cities of the State. Brisk civil work has been taken up from Sompura near Banashankari 6th stage in the first phase.
The fact that the state government has also taken up windening of the Bangalore - Mysore road into a four-lane highway has not deterred BIMC.
"It is the best thing to happen. We also welcome the doubling of railway track between the two cities as both these projects bring economic development to the region," said managing director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Ltd (NICE) Ashok Kheny.
Recalling the hassles he had to go through before the government cleared the project, he said there were 17 major Acts both Central and State that needed to be changed. In the first phase of the project, NICE has acquired 950 acres of land spread out on Tumkur Road and Hosur Road where the peripheral road will pass. The total area of land that will be acquired for the whole project will be 20,193 acres out of which 15,000 acres will be private land and 5,000 acres of government land.
Kheny said that so much of land was required not only for the roads but also for the five townships that will come up which will include corporate, commercial, heritage, industrial and eco-tourism townships.
So far Rs 82.5 crore has been paid to KIADB and the cost paid per acre varied between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 20 lakh depending upon the location of the land.
However, there is some resistance in some of the villages which are affected by the project. "What guarantee is there that the villagers are going to be rehabilitated. We know from experience that these are just tall promises which will never be kept," said Major General S G Vombatkere (Retd) one of the most vocal opponents of the project.
M Venkataramappa, advisor to the project, however, claimed that for every acre of land acquired, one 60 x 40 site would be provided and this was a commitment made to the villagers.
According to Kheny, his company would not have been in business if they were not an infrastructure company. "we are not real estate agents whose sole aim is to loot and scoot," he said.
He says the company has so far raised Rs850 crore from banks for the project and already paid Rs82.5 crore to KIADB for the land acquired. He is confident that it will be a viable project as the 111 km distance can be covered in one hour and 15 minutes and there will be many takers.
The toll cost works out to Rs 100 per vehicle as the expressway will be free of cattle, bicycles and the minimum speed will be 50 Kms per hour.said Kheny, adding, that it was build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) project and they would hand over the expressway to the government at Re 1 after 30 years from the date of the completion of the project.
ICICI is the lead bank for the project and 13 other lead banks and financial institutions are funding this project. "If there is any cost over-run we have given guarantees that it will be met by us and we are confident as the project is backed by the Rs 1000 crore Kalyani Group, VHB International Ltd and SAB International Ltd," he said.
"However much we tried to begin work from the Mysore end, we have so far been unsuccessful because MUDA has still not handed over the land to us," said Venkataramappa. "We would not have filed writ petitions against the Government and the KIADB to acquire land if we were not serious about the project," said Kheny. He is confident that the project will be ready in four years.
TOI gives a glimpse into what the international airport at Devanahalli is going to look like.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Cubbon park to grow greener
Cubbon park to grow greener
Wednesday July 7 2004 10:03 IST
BANGALORE: The Bangalore City Corporation's Horticulture Department is busy reviving the Garden City’s pride — the Cubbon Park. It has been spreading fresh soil through out Rani park to prepare it for landscaping.
The Rani park, spread over one acre, is being landscaped at a cost of Rs. 1.5 lakh, drawn from the Garden Trust account. The BCC will also plant small shrubs that include both perennial and foliage plants. The flowering shrubs will be planted in areas where there is enough sunlight and in shady areas foliage will be planted.
The BCC is planning to do the same kind of work in other places too. "We are waiting for some basic soil work to be completed on the one acre terrace area, situated between the High Court and Band Stand, where we will undertake a similar activity," Horticulture deputy director, M. Venugopal said.
The taskless Force
The taskless Force
BATF, the unique experiment to improve civic life with private-sector participation, suffers a set back as the new Government's priorities shift from the urban to the rural
By Nirmala Ravindran, INDIA TODAY
Till a couple of months ago, to be precise till S.M. Krishna was the Karnataka chief minister dreaming of turning Bangalore into Singapore, development meant BATF in the city. It is not Kannada for modernisation, but the acronym for Bangalore Agenda Task Force almost became a byword for it. Thanks to the BATF plan of action the state capital became a model metro. In 2003, Newsweek named Bangalore among the 10 funkiest cities of the world. Now the Singapore dream has turned sour. With a new government in place and the priority changed from cyber to farmer, no one is sure of BATF's place in the scheme of things.
DEVELOPMENT DRIVE: BATF's efforts turned Bangalore into a model metro
That is a comedown for Bangalore's development portal which was headed by a core team of professionals and eminent citizens. Led by Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, they came together in 1999 to seek scientific solutions to civic problems and became a unique experiment in private-public partnership in governance. "It has been a successful experiment which every other metropolis in the country wants to emulate today," says Kalpana Kar, member, BATF. It addressed issues like traffic, solid-waste management, public health and sanitation and property taxes. From bus shelters to toilets to ring roads that connected the city, the BATF was involved in every urban project. It coordinated various development schemes and worked towards speedy implementation.
Now that is a thing of the past. Chief Minister Dharam Singh says that BATF "still exists". But it is evident that it is not very important on the Government's list. Though it has been in office for about a month, the Congress-JD(S) Government has not even convened a single meeting of the BATF members. With BATF on the backburner, development projects are stalled. Disaster is evident across the city. Potholes have resurfaced on the roads, traffic moves at a snail's pace and civic amenities have slipped from good to bad to worse. This unusual state of affairs is because the BATF was not formed by a legislation, only by a government order. In spite of its support to BATF, the Krishna government did not push for a law in the five years it was in power.
Bangalore's high-profile citizens came together and offered their time and money to clean up the city.
The S.M. Krishna government gave BATF its full backing.
BATF set about revamping the city's infrastructure and improving civic amenities.
WHAT IS HAPPENING
The priority of the Dharam Singh Government is farmer, not cyber, and BATF is on the backburner.
Not even one meeting of the BATF has been called by the new Government.
Bangalore's development projects are stalled.
"Krishna was voted out because he gave too much importance to technology and the corporates. We are not sure we want to do the same," says a member of the new coalition Government. The widespread feeling in the establishment is that BATF was formed for a specific purpose by the previous government: to study, analyse and create solutions to modernise Bangalore. With that accomplished, the Government should create some new institutions that would reflect its change in policies and take the movement forward.
What was singular about BATF was the way it managed to get together volunteers from different fields, most of them senior professionals who were willing to contribute to the cause of development. BATF worked in close collaboration with all the stakeholders-the Telecom Department, the Electricity Board, Bangalore Police, the Water Supply Department and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). A major achievement of its partnership with the BDA was the recovery of encroached land worth more than Rs 250 crore. The BATF and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palik (BMP) partnered with the Swachcha Bangalore to clean up the city and the Nirmala Bangalore to construct public toilets across the metro. BATF implemented self-assessment of taxes that saw the state revenue rise from Rs 89 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 225 crore in 2003-4. Along with the introduction of fund-based accounting, the task force helped the Krishna government go online and bring about functionality and transparency to the administrative system, the high point of the cyber era.
"Now every metropolis in the country wants to emulate BATF."
KALPANA KAR, MEMBER, BATF
What adds to the feel-good factor is the economic aspect-government funds have not been utilised for BATF activities. A trust to meet the administrative costs and help developmental activities was set up, and Nandan and Rohini Nilekani pitched in with Rs 5 crore. Others who partnered the BATF include N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys and his wife Sudha, Kiran Mazumdar of Biocon and even non-Bangalorean corporates like the Jindals. Beyond them are the numerous professionals who offered their services free.
Even bureaucrats, used to government sloth, agree that the authority of BATF comes from the standing of its members. Says an official: "The best thing about the BATF is its credibility, mainly because of people like Nilekani and Kar who are big names in their own right." An opinion poll conducted among Bangalore citizens in 2003, four years after the creation of BATF, found 94 per cent of them, a majority from the lower-middle class, agreeing that life in the city had improved remarkably in the past few years.
However, achievements and credibility aside, faith, as one of the members of BATF asserts, is a very fragile commodity. All it takes for the public to forget the good work done in the past years are a few dozen potholes and a week of continuous traffic snarls. And, with a passive coalition Government in the Vidhan Soudha, one that seems more interested in sorting out party squabbles on a daily basis, the infrastructure of the city and its modernisation drive might go down the drain.