Thursday, March 31, 2005

A picture of UB City under construction

An aerial view of downtown Bangalore showing the construction of UB City (look for two towers on the left side of the picture)

Click to see larger view.

More photos on the UB website.

I found this photo on a forum. No credits are available.

Bangalore Metro takes the first formal step for its dream plan

Bangalore Metro takes the first formal step for its dream plan
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The much-awaited Bangalore metro rail project has finally got off the ground. Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Limited (BMRTL) has begun the tendering process thus taking the first formal step towards making the project a reality.

The national pre-qualification bid for civil works and a global bid for the appointment of general consultant for the project have been floated, BMRTL Managing director K.N. Srivastava said.

The civil works tender for the seven kilometer stretch between M. Chinnaswamy Stadium and Byappanahalli, was floated a few days ago. The last date for participating is April 15, he added. The global general consultant tender was floated on Monday.

The metro rail project was cleared by the State Government recently and has been granted pre-project clearances by the Centre. The pending Central clearances are expected to be discussed at the Project Investment Board meeting that is likely to be slated for the second week of April. Financial closure is slated for May 2005 and works will begin soon after.

BMRTL has identified 13.55 hectares of the Government land, 34.30 hectares of private land and 41.15 hectares of Defence land for acquisition, which will cost Rs. 600 crore. The total land area also includes 26.7 hectares of built-up area and 732 properties. Besides obvious benefits such as providing an efficient, safe and convenient means of transport in all four directions to 8.20 lakh commuters per day, metro will connect 32 stations in the city. The rail promises to take no longer than 33-45 minutes to travel from end-to-end, thereby reducing the current commuting time by almost half.

BCC drafts rules to rid city of visual pollution

BCC drafts rules to rid city of visual pollution
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: In an attempt to curb the rampant violations by advertisers and evasion of tax, Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) has revised its outdoor advertisement rules. The revised rules has options for no-ad zones, allots hoarding heights to each area as per vehicular traffic and bans posters.

The draft rules, awaiting government approval, seeks to keep VIP areas – Kumara Krupa Road, Rajbhavan Road, Ambedkar Veedhi, Post Office Road, Chalukya Circle, Maharani College Road, K R Circle, Nrupatunga Road, Palace Road, Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh environs – free from any advertisement display. No advertisements would be allowed in BCC parks and play grounds either.

The rest of the city is classified into zone A, B, C and D. The maximum height of hoarding is restricted in each zone depending on the intensity of traffic. For instance, the maximum height of hoarding in zone B would be 30 feet and 40 feet in zone C. The billboards on rooftops will be 40 feet and 50 feet respectively. However, there will be no height restrictions in zone D. BCC would account for the hoardings licensed by other agencies like Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited by asking them to submit a list of hoardings inside their premises and on their buses.

The commercial establishments carrying display other than their ownadvertisements will be taxed.

Similarly, ad slides on cinema screens and cable TV scrolls are taxable and cinema owners would have to register as advertising agencies with BCC. No posters will be permitted.

The president of Outdoor Advertising Association, S.M. Jawad demanded that the BCC advertisement bye-laws which were framed in 1956, be revised. He also said that the association had conducted a video survey of the hoardings in the city in 2004 and recorded 1,600 hoardings in the city including the ones in the premises of government agencies. He denied there were 10,000 unauthorised hoardings.

The End: Old cinema halls turn shopping malls

The End: Old cinema halls turn shopping malls
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Many youngsters might have not been aware that the most crowded Alankar Plaza at Majestic Circle on Kempegowda Road used to be a cinema hall once. This was among the first theatres in the city to be demolished to build a shopping complex.

The latest to close down is Plaza on MG Road. Blame it on the advent of multiplexes or a dip in the movie culture, its curtains for more than 20 cinema halls in the city. While many have already been converted into shopping malls, a few are witnessing hectic construction activity in boom-time Bangalore.

The film industry says that lack of good cinema has made these cinemas shut down. Converting a theatre into a shopping mall or a hotel is more fetching as most of the cinemas are centrally situated, they admit.

A shopkeeper at Alankar Plaza says the shopping complex has given many people a source of living. Earlier, people used to come only to watch movies, but now it is more famous as a busy shopping mall in the city centre.

‘‘The changed attitude of movie buffs might have forced cinema owners to convert these cinema halls into shopping malls,’’ says Oven, a film buff who has watched several movies in those halls.

Already, the city has got two multiplexes and more than 15 multiplex theatres are in the pipeline, which also includes an I-Max theatre on Brigade Road. Only time will tell how many more cinemas will be converted into malls.

Retailers queue up to IT City as base

Retailers queue up to IT City as base
The Times of India

Bangalore: Chennai may not like this. But fact is, in the south, retailers prefer to work out of Bangalore.

The Lifestyle departmental store chain, which has been based in Chennai ever since it entered India, is shifting its headquarters to Bangalore. Pizza Corner, which started out of Chennai in 1996, moved to Delhi in 2000, but decided last year that there’s no place like Bangalore to base its business in.

“It is easier to attract retail talent if you are in Bangalore. We also feel we can create a better brand image for ourselves if we are here,” says Sankar G., managing director of Lifestyle International, the Dubai-based Landmark Group company which is also now planning to launch its Max value fashion retail chain and a hypermarket venture in India.

Most others in the retail business agree. “Bangalore is a more cosmopolitan city, so people in mid and senior management levels may prefer to be based here,” says Sunil Chandran, vice president in Foodworld Supermarkets.

“You attract talent typically through networking. Since you have a number of apparel brands and other retailers based in Bangalore, reference talent in retail is easier to get here,” says K. Vaitheeswaran, COO of He notes that extensive presence of garment exporters in Bangalore helps too. “Many in these companies want to move to other functions in the garment chain like branding and retailing. And so you have a ready resource pool,” he says.

An important reason for Pizza Corner making the shift was the growth in Bangalore’s foods business, which it felt was the fastest in the country.

However, experts also note that this Bangalore appeal could well reverse itself if the city does not address emerging issues like infrastructure and manpower costs. Sunil Chandran says it is already difficult to get front end retail staff because there are other attractive options like call centres for such people. “The way things are going, at some point the city will reach a tipping point, when people will ask themselves whether it’s working well for them in Bangalore,” says Vaitheeswaran.

Then or now, day or night, nothing changes here

Then or now, day or night, nothing changes here
The Times of India

Bangalore: Welcome to Shivajinagar. It is one of the areas that has insulated itself against the transformation of Bangalore. Congested bylanes, match-box buildings, clogged pavements, stinking meat markets, unhygienic biriyani joints, open drains, a scrap yard and a badly maintained Russell Market give a feel of stagnation.

“What a contrast it is — take a look at Shivajinagar and the upscale Commercial Street area which is located just a stone’s throw away. There is no road sense among the people who live here or among visitors; cleanliness was forgotten long back,’’ an old-timer says.

Despite so many negative factors, Shivajinagar is still famous for shopping among Bangaloreans living in the eastern and central parts. Most of the five-star hotels and eateries get their poultry, vegetable and grocery stocks from Russell Market and other shops located in Shivajinagar.

Shopping in this area is still fun, says a senior IAS officer who visits the area every Sunday. “You can handpick vegetables, fruits, foodgrains and meat of your choice and bargain the price; this experience you will not get in any of the air-conditioned malls,’’ he adds.

This area is awake when the entire city sleeps. Go to Russell Market Chowk, you will get food at any point of time in the night and the price is affordable. It is a paradise for labour class who can fill their stomach with just Rs 10. Autorickshaw service is also available the whole night.

Though it is described as a communally sensitive place in police records, Shivajinagar has not witnessed any serious situation in the recent past. It has a good number of mosques, temples and the wellknown St Mary’s Basilica.

Another thing which comes to mind is rowdyism. “Those days are gone, crime rate in this area is lower compared to the kind of image it had. After Koli Fayaz’s murder a decade ago, there is no rowdy who commands fear in this area. Tanveer is behind bars and Ishthiaq is on the run,’’ a senior police officer says. Shivajinagar is dogged by civic and traffic problems, not crime.

In other areas, old buildings have been replaced with glass facades and designer dwellings. Neglected grounds and open fields have been turned into beautiful gardens. Shopkeepers have renovated their premises, roads have been widened, pavements are cleared for pedestrians.

But nothing has changed in Shivajinagar. There are no parks here.

Retailers queue up to IT City as base

Retailers queue up to IT City as base
The Times of India

Bangalore: Chennai may not like this. But fact is, in the south, retailers prefer to work out of Bangalore.

The Lifestyle departmental store chain, which has been based in Chennai ever since it entered India, is shifting its headquarters to Bangalore. Pizza Corner, which started out of Chennai in 1996, moved to Delhi in 2000, but decided last year that there’s no place like Bangalore to base its business in.

“It is easier to attract retail talent if you are in Bangalore. We also feel we can create a better brand image for ourselves if we are here,” says Sankar G., managing director of Lifestyle International, the Dubai-based Landmark Group company which is also now planning to launch its Max value fashion retail chain and a hypermarket venture in India.

Most others in the retail business agree. “Bangalore is a more cosmopolitan city, so people in mid and senior management levels may prefer to be based here,” says Sunil Chandran, vice president in Foodworld Supermarkets.

“You attract talent typically through networking. Since you have a number of apparel brands and other retailers based in Bangalore, reference talent in retail is easier to get here,” says K. Vaitheeswaran, COO of He notes that extensive presence of garment exporters in Bangalore helps too. “Many in these companies want to move to other functions in the garment chain like branding and retailing. And so you have a ready resource pool,” he says.

An important reason for Pizza Corner making the shift was the growth in Bangalore’s foods business, which it felt was the fastest in the country.

However, experts also note that this Bangalore appeal could well reverse itself if the city does not address emerging issues like infrastructure and manpower costs. Sunil Chandran says it is already difficult to get front end retail staff because there are other attractive options like call centres for such people. “The way things are going, at some point the city will reach a tipping point, when people will ask themselves whether it’s working well for them in Bangalore,” says Vaitheeswaran.

IT pilgrim fathers renounce religion

IT pilgrim fathers renounce religion
Prime land allotment in Bangalore: IT sector no longer stands tall

The Financial Express

A few weeks ago, what seemed like just another land allotment announcement in Bangalore marked possibly the end of an era: the lily-white image of the IT sector. A clutch of the country's premier IT services companies are being allotted land—hundreds of acres— near the upcoming Devanahalli airport. There are many things that are wrong with this. For one, such decisions are being taken in a unilateral manner, without any consultation with the affected farmers or local governments concerned. Second, these land parcels are not being acquired through open-market transactions, at a fair price, but at artificially depressed prices because the government is using its right of eminent domain; this is regulatory arbitrage, a transfer of wealth from the farmer to the corporate. Third, decisions today are invariably ad-hoc, knee-jerk responses to specific situations when what is needed is a revamp of our planning processes.

Without sounding blithely prescriptive, a broad outline for such planning would have three components. At the most basic level, it must begin with timely and accurate data about a region’s demographics, employment and quality-of-life. No city in India currently provides real-time data on its employment profile by job-type, or housing starts, or cost-of-living indices. Beyond the data is the second issue: the purpose of data is to inform the decision-makers on the various choices facing the city; this requires analytical skills that are sorely lacking. Which leads to the third point: who are the decision-makers? In land itself, there are multiple players: the local governments, a metropolitan planning authority, an industrial development board, and the state government. This institutional maze leaves out the most important stakeholders: the occupants of the region themselves, from the citizens—across all spectrums, to business and trade, to technical experts and academics. Consultative processes for decision-making have been established in almost every major city in the world and examples abound. Unfortunately, no such institutionalised processes exist in India today. So, even in this one limited issue, we are hobbled.

The land deals cannot be seen in isolation; they are part of a larger tapestry of issues that plague local governance. And, there is no political will for change. In fact, the resulting murkiness suits politics just fine: in this case, it provided the opportunity to muzzle the doyens of the middle-class and the media.

A corporate CEO would throw up her hands and say, I just want to run my business. Tell me how I can get clear land title in a transparent manner, and I am ready to do it. Unfortunately, expediency cannot replace due process. Reforms are not plug-and-play. They require debate, agreement on principles, definition of specific outcomes, formation of coalitions, and relentless leadership to effect change. In a country like India, engaging in such processes must be demanded at least of some, if not all, corporate leaders. The land deals reflect the deeper links of globalisation to urbanisation. Saskia Sassen, the noted sociologist, talks of this geography of globalisation when she says, “Information industries require a vast physical infrastructure.” Globalisation can be deconstructed in terms of the strategic sites where global processes materialise: export processing zones, off-shore banking centres, and, on a far more complex level, global cities.

There is no denying the benefits of globalisation; however, there are also challenges. City economies are being dramatically altered within a matter of years, with old jobs giving way to new sectors. A study by the World Bank showed that London replaced 800,000 manufacturing job losses during the 70s and 80s with finance and business services. Similarly, 50% of the jobs in Buenos Aires changed from one sector to another within a single decade. What these cities have done is to build the mechanisms to respond: the availability of relevant data, the analysis to provide meaningful options, and the creation of participatory processes to direct change. Local stakeholders there may flinch at our praise, but their frame of reference is built on vastly greater expectations than our own.

For India, the waves of globalisation are hitting us where we are least prepared, at the local level. This is the ground-reality of globalisation, where issues are most troublingly detailed: this is not about WTO or fiscal management or defense policy, this is about land-use and zoning, public works and environmental management, infrastructure and solid waste. This is not an intellectual exercise, it is a hands-on implementation challenge. And there is no pause button on the real-video stream of globalisation. The pace is relentless. If we don't fix our local governance problems soon, we risk creating a host of aberrations. Mila Friere notes, “The consequences of globalisation on city management, especially in conditions of weak public institutions and poor governance, have sometimes been dramatic.” In several cases, the worsening of urban poverty and urban income inequality has been aggravated by the skewed allocation of resources in urban public investment.

Knowing what needs to be done is only half the problem. The question is, who will bell the cat? Where will the momentum for change come from? With the recent land deals in Bangalore, many of the IT giants have lost their moral currency. Here was a generation of business leaders who supposedly didn’t need anything from the political system: their customers were overseas, their raw material could not be held up at the checkpost. These business icons held in the palm of their hands the hopes of millions of ordinary citizens: a goodwill that, if they wanted to, could have been harnessed to create larger public good by pressing for reforms to create a more equitable, transparent and progressive public governance climate. Rather—individual exceptions apart—they have chosen to look out for themselves. This is tragic. And, this is why it marks the end of an era.

The writer is Campaign Coordinator of Janaagraha, a citizen’s platform for participatory democracy. He can be reached at

More flyovers: boon or bane

The BCC plans more flyovers for the city.
Experts feel it’s not going to improve our deteriorating traffic situation
The Times of India

EIGHT flyovers and six grade separators later, Bangalore traffic is still chaotic. Now, the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) has proposed to construct four new flyovers, eight grade separators, 11 road overbridges and underbridges and 13 skywalks and subways in the city. These are being touted as part of a long-term plan to decongest city roads. It’s not just the BCC, various other government agencies have also announced flyover and grade separator plans from time to time. Will more of them actually ease congestion or will they add to the chaos? BT asks the experts...

Where’s the space?
Traffic expert and government traffic advisor MN Sreehari says city roads are far too choked to accommodate extra flyovers. “I don’t recommend any more, especially inside the city. We have also advised the government that flyovers, underpasses and grade separators are only required on highways and ring roads. The existing in-city roads are far too narrow and if we do fit flyovers into the areas we have, we will only use up more space and traffic will not move smoothly, so it will be counter productive.”

Increased vehicle influx:
More flyovers and more grade separators will only mean more vehicles on the roads. Says civic activist, Swati Ramanathan, “It’s a misconception that adding more flyovers or grade separators are the answers to what ails the city in terms of traffic. Once such construction comes up, there will be more vehicles on the roads and then what will the authorities do to control the influx of vehicles that come in? It’s like trying to cram as much as possible in a small space. Plus these additions, especially if done in an unscientific manner, will interfere with the existing geographic space like houses, shops, buildings, trees. Plus, they must look more into providing space for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Think out of the box:
Motorists feel that several of the in-city flyovers are not serving the purpose they were built for. Businessman V Prasanna says that instead of easing traffic bottlenecks, some flyovers just add to them. “A case in point is the Richmond Circle flyover. In-city flyovers are an outdated concept in many western countries. Authorities abroad are increasingly opting for road tunnels. Instead of making arterial roads run through the heart of the city, they are choosing systems where larger roads service the city periphery and the city centre is largely pedestrianised. Road overbridges and underbridges, skyways and walkways are welcome, but people must be educated on their use. You still see people cross the road in the middle of traffic, though there is a skyway or a subway for them.”

Heed the experts:
Some years ago, the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation commissioned a study, which was carried out by the Central Road Research Institute, on Traffic and transportation priorities for road corridors in Bangalore. Traffic expert CEG Justo says, “Based on that report and from the list of priority tasks the experts had identified, government agencies constructed some flyovers. If the work for the proposed flyovers is being done according to the list drawn up by the study, it is okay because those locations have been examined in detail.”

What else could work:
“Public transport is one solution that everyone seems to agree is the best, so the government must work on an effective mass transport option,” says Swati. “The existing public transport system must be improved and updated, only then will people use public transport more often.” Sreehari adds, “There is also a proposal to widen 45 roads. That would work better. Government agencies can look at roadwidening models that have been successful in other cities and implement them here. We discussed the problems that more flyovers could throw up and the government has promised to look into the matter.” Motorist Deepti Kishore says, “More skywalks and subways are welcome. Crossing some roads is a nightmare. But no more flyovers please. If we have an efficient bus system, I would be more than happy to take a bus to work every day.”

Mayor: naive or plain stupid?

Mayor's appeal to vehicle owners

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 30. The Mayor, R. Narayanaswamy, and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) Commissioner, K. Jothiramalingam, have appealed to vehicle owners in the city to comply with traffic rules and park their vehicles in an orderly manner in parking zones after the free parking regime comes into force from April 1.

In a press release, the Mayor and Commissioner said that "the success of the new system is in the hands of vehicle owners."

"We appeal to vehicle owners to cooperate with the BMP in making free parking system a success. We want them to ensure safe parking without causing any hindrance to the smooth movement of traffic," the release said.

"As decided by the BMP Council, the pay-and-park system will end from April 1. Free parking will be available for citizens on the existing designated `pay-and-park' lots. However, the pay-and-park system will continue in parking lots on Brigade Road, Commercial Street, BMP complexes and multi-level parking lots," the release added.

An end to queues for paying bills

An end to queues for paying bills
Deccan Herald

After shopping malls, here comes your friendly neighbourhood ‘public service’ malls. Bangalore One, the one-stop shop for all public services is due to be launched on April 2 at 14 locations in the City.

If Bangalore One works, you may not have to stand in long queue anymore. Neither dash around from pillar to post paying your bills. Thanks to the latest e-Governance project, you will be able to pay your telephone and mobile bills, electricity charges, submit passport applications, road tax payment or renew your driving licence, all under one roof, within a matter of minutes. But if you are too lazy to venture out, there is Bangalore One’s internet services too. Just register with Bangalore One, log on to, and make your payments. The services of five departments - BMP, BSNL, BWSSB, RTO and Passport Office - can be availed of at these centres and the website. All the services will be free of cost for customers.

In all, 14 centres are being launched on April 2 and another 36 are in the pipeline. “We have set a target of 50 centres in Bangalore within the next two years,” informed a senior official of the e-Governance department.

The new Bangalore One centres would be opened at Jayanagar II Block, Malleswaram, J P Nagar, Yeshwantpur, Rajajinagar, R T Nagar, HBR Layout, Airport Road, Cox Town, Tannery Road, Banashankari II Stage, Kalasipalyam, Shanthinagar and Vijaynagar.

Note: The website address is incorrect


*BMP: Property tax payment, issue of khata certificate and copies of birth and death certificates
*BWSSB: Bill payment, grievance redressal and applications for new connections
*BSNL: Payment of telephone bills and statement of accounts
*RTO: Learner’s Licence renewal, road tax payment and payment against challan
*Passport Office: Sale of passport forms, new application registration

BMIC: State not to give more land

BMIC: State not to give more land

The Cabinet has taken a tough stance against the project promoter, based on the recommendations by the K C Reddy Committee.

Deccan Herald

The state Cabinet on Wednesday decided not to hand over any additional land to the promoters of the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project in a bid to prevent unauthorised real estate business by the promoters.

The Cabinet is learnt to have directed Chief Secretary K K Misra to indicate such a stand in its affidavit to be filed before the Karnataka High Court on Thursday. According to sources, the Cabinet decided to approve the above stand taken by the Public Works department which is dealing with the BMIC project.

The decision of not handing over the additional land is based on the report of the K C Reddy committee that looked into the allegations of violation of norms by project promoter Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE).

The Cabinet also approved the final report of the Expert Committee, which has concluded that the total extent of land required for the entire project including the expressway and five townships would be only 17,809.36 acre as against the 29,258 acre of land notified for the project as per the request of NICE.

Land to be taken back
Interestingly, the committee has also recommended that the land, which has been allotted in excess of 17,809.36 acre, should be taken back from the company. It has asked the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) to identify the excess land acquired for the project.

The committee’s recommendation on the requirement of land is based on the technical report furnished by the company in 1995 as part of the Framework Agreement. The committee has also recommended that the land should be handed over to the company in phases as and when it starts the work on the project.
The committee has also suggested that the company should be asked to commence the project work immediately from the Mysore side also, and that the required land should be allocated to it.

The Cabinet decided to appoint PWD as nodal agency for monitoring the implementation of the committee’s recommendations.

The Cabinet observed that the framework agreement itself was questionable as the designated authorities had not signed it. Besides, it said, the company has cheated the government by making it to sign the agreement by giving false information.


* Total land to be given:
17,809.36 acre
* Excess land to be taken back
* Work should start from Mysore side too
* Arbitration to be held in Bangalore

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

JW Marriott to be part of concrete monstrosity

Marriott is to operate a new JW Marriott in Bangalore, the Garden City, India, under a management agreement with Gstaad Hotels. The 250-room property is scheduled to open in early 2007. The property will be the second JW Marriott in India.

The JW Marriott Hotel Bangalore will be part of a 14-acre development that will also include the new headquarters for United Breweries (UB) Group and UB City, a one million-square-foot mixed-use development offering prime office and retail space. The hotel will be situated on a three-acre site at the corner of Kasturba Road and Vittal Mallya Road, boasting sweeping views of UB City and overlooking the 350-acre Cubbon Park in the center of Bangalore.

The JW Marriott Hotel Bangalore will be located in close proximity to the heart of the city’s commercial center and high-end residential neighborhoods, Bangalore’s race course and golf course, and the Palace Gardens, in addition to the primary retail and entertainment areas of the city center. The airport is approximately a 25-minute drive away.

“We are thrilled by the continued growth of our portfolio in India and the addition of this second JW Marriott hotel,” said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott International. “Bangalore is one of India’s most important commercial centers, and we are confident that this stunning hotel in an excellent location in the heart of the city will be a welcomed addition to the city’s business and tourism infrastructure.”

For dining and entertainment, the JW Marriott Hotel Bangalore will have a 24-hour multi-cuisine brasserie; three specialty restaurants, one of which will offer al fresco poolside dining; and the Bangalore Baking Company, a 24-hour coffee shop. It will also feature a lobby lounge and bar, a pool bar and a night club. Recreational amenities will include a spa featuring five treatment rooms, a swimming pool, and a health and fitness center. Additionally, the hotel will have a 24-hour multi-purpose business center, an extensive executive level and retail shops.

For conferences and social events, the JW Marriott Hotel Bangalore will offer 1,140 square meters of space, including a 600-square-meter ballroom that will be divisible into three sections; three additional meeting rooms in varying configurations, one of which will be divisible into two sections, and one boardroom.

Asia Travel

Govt. yet to approve scrapping of pay-and-park scheme

Govt. yet to approve scrapping of pay-and-park scheme

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 29. As the State Government is yet to approve the proposal of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) to scrap the controversial pay-and-park scheme, the civic body is in a dilemma whether to continue the scheme or not.

Sources said that only two days are left for the proposal to come into effect, and the BMP is yet to terminate contracts and chalk out alternative measures.

But the Bangalore City Vehicle Parking Contractors' Association has decided to voluntarily stop collecting parking fee from April 1. The association secretary, B. Padmanabha, told The Hindu on Tuesday that the association members will stop collecting the fee from April 1 irrespective of whether the BMP terminates their contracts or not.

He said the BMP authorities have not called them for any discussions. "We have to get back our earnest money deposit (EMD) from them. But we do not want to go against the BMP Council's decision. Besides, we are already facing losses ever since the Mayor announced the proposal. If we do not stop collecting parking fee, we will have to face the people's wrath. We will stage a protest against the BMP on Friday," he said.

`For the people'

In January, the Mayor, R. Narayanaswamy, announced the scheme will be "scrapped from April 1 for the benefit of people who cannot afford to pay every time they park their vehicle in parking lots." Although the decision has been included in the BMP budget, which was presented on Monday, the BMP now appears to be confused.Sources said the Bangalore Police Commissioner, S. Mariswamy's objection to scrapping the scheme has complicated maters. Besides, the Principal Secretary (Home), Brahm Dutt, recently wrote to the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, that the pay-and-park scheme should be continued to facilitate smooth traffic.

Sources said the BMP will continue to collect parking fee in all its multi-storey parking complexes and commercial complexes and on Brigade Road and Commercial Street.

BCC asked to give report on complex

BCC asked to give report on complex
The TImes of India

Bangalore: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday directed the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) commissioner to inspect the commercial parking complex on K.G. Road-BVK Iyengar Road junction and submit a report to the court.

A petition filed by V.H. Veeresh of Bangalore, alleging irregularities in the construction of the complex, came up for hearing before a division bench comprising chief justice N.K. Sodhi and K.L. Manjunath. The petitioner contended that there were irregularities in the construction taken up by BCC and Maharaja Buildtech, a private firm, and that a footpath had been encroached upon, causing inconvenience to pedestrians. A transformer had been shifted on to the footpath in the process, the petitioner added.

Bangalore Will Have A Mall For Women

Ladies sure have deeper pockets
So Bangalore Will Have A Mall For Women
The Times of India

Bangalore: Call it the effect of women’s growing economic assertiveness. That women dominate consumer purchases is borne out by many studies. Cashing in on their shopping muscle, a slew of branded players — from those in apparel to footwear and watches — is setting up exclusive stores for women. And by May this year, Bangalore will also have its first women’s mall.

The mall on Brigade Road will be an 80,000 sq ft facility over five levels. It will have a number of leading brands (only their women’s lines), a few children’s stores, a salon, foodcourt, a cafe and an entertainment zone. More than 70 per cent of the staff will be women. Men can enter and shop, but if they are bringing their vehicle into the facility’s parking lot, they must be accompanied by a woman.

Suresh Singaravelu, the man behind the concept, bases his decision to set up a “gender un-neutral shopping facility” on the emergence of women as a great economic force. “In the US, 80 per cent of all household cheques are signed by women. In India too, they are coming into their own,” he says.

Brands also increasingly feel the need to ensure all their stores don’t have the same DNA. “Women want a different ambience, a more boutique-que set up. They want to take more time deciding, want to try out stuff, they like to shop in groups,” says Reebok India managing director Subinder Singh Prem.

Retailers’ desire to pamper women is easy to understand. Some estimates indicate 65 per cent of those working in BPOs and in retail are women. HR consultant Nobby Nazareth says there is no gender bias today in hiring for mid and top management positions, unlike earlier. “Many managements and CEOs actually look at having more women to bring gender balance,” he says.

And with increases in earning power, attitudes are also seen to be changing. “Women are becoming more assertive. So we need to give them concepts aligned to their needs,” says Prem.

What does the city need? Metro or Monorail?

What does the city need? Metro or Monorail?
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Just as the city is keenly awaiting the metro rail, Metrail India Private Limited is trying to convince the government that the monorail will suit the city environment better.

Metrail’s director Rehan Khan told this website’s newspaper that Metro rail will cover only two percent of the city and its construction will hamper business here.

‘‘If you notice, Indian cities have developed radially, they grow from a core and townships have come up in commercial areas too. Constructing a mass transport system within a commercial core will destroy shops and livelihoods of people,’’ he said. ‘‘There are more problems to it since Metro will not cover the entire city. It will only cover 20 wards,’’ he added.

On the other hand, the monorail, according to him, will have no shops will be brought down and will cater to all wards.

‘‘The construction time for Monorail is just 18 months. It is lesser because the materials used here are much lighter. Since it has a small turning radius it is ideal for busy locations,’’ he said. The ‘Monorail’ also runs on solar power, it is safer and we need no government funding, he added.

Bangalore Mass Transport Rapid Limited (BMTRL) officials disagree. Monorail, they said, could only be complimenting the Metro as a feeder service. BMTRL executive engineer M.N. Keshava Prakash said, ‘‘Bangalore requires a mass transport system. None can dispute this. The Metro carries more number of people but the monorail’ cannot. Its coaches are small,’’ he said.

He also countered the claims that businesses will be destroyed by the Metro. ‘‘We are compensating everybody at the present market value of their property. The rest is smooth sailing as girder construction is off-site and work will be done at night.’’

Executive Engineer B.L. Yashavanth Chavan added, ‘‘Commercial areas like Chickpet will not lose their shops. Metro will be underground from Magadi Road and construction is 15 metres below ground level. No foundation of a building will be affected, no business will collapse.’’

Solar powered batteries, he said, will not be cheaper and needs a constant sun to keep coaches running.

‘‘The only problem for the Metro will be the traffic on CMH Road at night. Power subsidy is necessary for us, we need it in the initial period of consolidation,’’ he added.

What time is the bus to office? Dial the BMTC call centre

What time is the bus to office? Dial the BMTC call centre
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Want to know what time 60A will arrive at the stop near your house? Have a grouse about an inconsiderate bus driver? How much a daily pass costs? No sweat. From April 1, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will introduce its call centre service in the city.

In a service befitting Bangalore’s tech-city tag, passengers can use the number to enquire about bus routes, arrivals and departures. They can also use it to make suggestions and complaints about BMTC facilities or violations.

The manned service has been outsourced to Spanco Telesystems, a city-based call centre company. The operators will work in two shifts of eight hours each, so the passengers can avail the facility from 8 a.m. till midnight.

‘‘It is meant as an information-cum-complaint lodging system. There were two reasons for outsourcing the service. One is that the operators are professionals at the job -- friendly and efficient. The second is that they are impartial when it comes to taking down complaints. Earlier, people had to call our control room, which did not work very well,’’ BMTC managing director Upendra Tripathy told this website’s newspaper.

At present, the call centre number is an 8-digit one, but the corporation has applied to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for a four-digit number, which will be easier to remember. ‘‘We are confident that we will get the four-digit number before we begin the service on April 1,’’ Tripathy said.

BMTC is also planning to start an Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) facility for passenger queries. Unlike the call centre, this computerised system will offer real-time data. For example, if a bus is scheduled to arrive at a stop at 11 a.m. but is delayed, the IVRS can alert you about the time of delay. This will be GPS-based.

The BMTC plans to fit 500 buses with GPS to enable the corporation to access real time data and transfer it to those seeking information.

‘Will the govt allow cabaret in Lalbagh?’

‘Will the govt allow cabaret in Lalbagh?’

There was furore in the House following the minister’s statement on allowing TV channels to conduct live programmes in Lalbagh.
Deccan Herald

The Opposition in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday took Horticulture Minister R Srinivas to task for allowing Star news channel to telecast a live programme at Lalbagh here recently, during the India-Pakistan cricket Test.

Raising the matter in the Assembly, Kannada Chalavali Vatal Paksha member Vatal Nagaraj sought to know the reason for according permission to the TV channel to telecast the programme. A Government Order prohibits private parties from conducting any programme in Lalbagh, he said. An inquiry should be held and action initiated against those responsible for according permission, he said. JD (U) member J C Madhuswamy also wanted the government to take action against those responsible for giving permission to the channel.

No more consent
Replying, Minister Srinivas said that though the Government had issued a GO barring private parties from conducting any programme in Lalbagh, it did not mean that any TV channel, including Star TV, should be prevented from conducting any programme. The minister’s remark created a furore in the House with the Opposition taking strong objection. Intervening, JD (U) member H Anjaneya sought to know if the Government would allow cabaret in Lalbagh. Admitting that Star news channel had been allowed to conduct a programme, the minister said that action would be initiated against those responsible for allowing the programme. Henceforth, no private parties, including TV channels, will be allowed to conduct any programme inside Lalbagh.

Ecological concerns now on BMP agenda

Ecological concerns now on BMP agenda

Deccan Herald

Desiltation work continued at the Yediyur lake a day after the skirmish between the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) and environmentalists, over the alleged destruction of several nests.

“Desilting will continue, as saving the lake from disappearing is BMP’s first priority,” said Additional Commissioner of BMP P K Srihari. However, as a response to environmentalists’ argument, Mr Srihari said the BMP will draw maintenance reports to identify ecological concerns before venturing into civic projects in future.

“Desilting has to be done now, or the lake will die. The lake was dangerously shallow, and encroachers were already living in some parts of it. The desilted lake will resettle the ecological balance in the lake,” the official said adding that the work will be completed before the monsoons arrive in May.

The desilting work taken up at Yediyur lake last summer was discontinued because of a fallout between the contractor and BMP. The completion work has now been taken up by a new contractor, he said.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have been given two days to rescue egrets, coots, cranes and its hatchlings stranded in the lake. Twelve volunteers from the People for Animals and Compassion Unlimited Plus Action are working at the site.

More than 30 eggs and 15 nests were rescued on Tuesday, and 35 hatchlings and juvenile birds were put on incubators. The affected birds will be released in Bannerghatta National Park. Over 15 hatchlings are yet to be rescued, informed activist Sharad of PFA, adding that nearly 40 hatchlings have already been devoured by bigger birds or stolen by locals.`

BMP driven into jam on free parking issue

BMP driven into jam on free parking issue

With no information forthcoming from the BMP over the issue, the Parking Contractors’ Association has decided to stage a protest on April 1.

Deccan Herald

With the government taking its time to give a go ahead to the free pay and park system in the City, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) is now in a muddle on whether to terminate the existing parking contract or continue with it.

Though BMP Commissioner Jothiramalingam and Mayor R Narayanaswamy have stated that parking fee will not be collected from April 1, no action has been taken on terminating the contracts, despite the fact that only two days are left for the free parking regime to come into effect.

According to sources, the BMP is still waiting for a final word from the government, especially in the wake of recommendations from Home Secretary Brahma Dutt to Chief Minister N Dharam Singh that the pay and park system should be retained in the interests of smooth traffic movement.

Though the BMP had initially promised to put in place an alternative system, it has now refused to do anything on the issue of regulating vehicle parking.

Bangalore City Vehicle Parking Contractors’ Association Secretary B Padmanabha told Deccan Herald that the BMP so far has not officially informed the contractors about terminating the contract. “The BMP has so far has not given us any information. Therefore, we have decided to stage a protest against the BMP on April 1,” he added.

However, parking fee will be collected at all BMP multi-storey parking complexes, commercial complexes and on Brigade Road and Commercial Street.

Public wrath’

Contractors to stop collection

BANGALORE, DHNS: The Parking Contractors’ Association has decided to voluntarily stop collecting parking fee from April 1, irrespective of whether the BMP terminates the contract or not, according to association secretary Mr Padmanabha.

“We do not want to go against the BMP Council’s decision. Moreover, we will have to face the people’s wrath if we continue to collect the fee,” he said.

Pay your bills, fines, buy movie tickets in airconditioned comfort

Pay your bills, fines, buy movie tickets in airconditioned comfort
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Name the service, and the 14 hi-tech citizen service centres that the City will have from April 2, will offer it.

From BCC, BESCOM, BSNL and BWSSB to commercial taxes, police, RTO, passport, stamps and registration, the services will come under one roof as part of Bangalore One project of the e-Governance department.

The e-governance department has set up 14 B1 centres in the city which will be launched on Saturday. Using these centres in the city, citizens can interact with BCC, BWSSB, BESCOM, BSNL, RTO and many other Government departments. In less than 15 minutes, one could apply for a new passport, pay utility bills, apply for new connections and even book cinema tickets! And all this for free.

Further, by registering with Bangalore One portal, transactions can be made from home. The government to citizen (G2C) and government to business (G2B) services will be implemented by the State Government in association with Hyderabad-based National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG).

``There were fears of duplication of investments under the project as most of the participating organisations have their own citizen service centres. The fears have been allayed as these organisations have agreed to close down their service centres if they fall within a two-km radius of Bangalore One centres,'' said Government's secretary for e-governance, Rajeev Chawla.

The Rs. 10-crore project will be taken up on a Build Operate Own and Transfer (BOOT) model which is a win-win for all stakeholders involved.

The Government pays Rs. 4.70 for each transaction while the service remains free to citizen. It is estimated that there will be 30 lakh transactions a month.


Bangalore One Centres by April 2 Jayanagar II Block Yeshwantpur RT Nagar Rajajinagar Banashankari Vijayanagar HBR Layout Airport Road JP Nagar Malleswaram Nagarbhavi Shantinagar Cox Town Kalasipalyam


Each centre will be housed in 2,000 sq. ft airconditioned office space. No visitor stands. You can browse the Net while you wait and watch TV or just sip coffee. Every centre will have an ATM.


BWSSB and BESCOM: Bill payment, grievance redressal, application for new connections and statement of accounts

BCC: Property tax payment, issue of khata certificate and extract, issue of copies of birth and death certificates and grievance redressal

RTO: Learner's licence renewal, road tax payment, issue of B-extract for vehicles and payments against challan

Stamps and registration: Providing market value assistance

Passport: Sale of application forms and new passport application registration

CTO: Collection of KST/CST and entry tax

Police: Payment of fines for traffic rules violations.

Others: Booking of cinema tickets, payment of bills of all cell phone operators

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Passage to Bangalore

Passage to India
By By Jack Boulware

Following the high-tech outsourcing boom, many American expatriates are making the move to Bangalore for work. Aside from steady employment, such relocation offers a variety of privileges — and the experience of a lifetime.

The Leela Palace hotel sprawls over nine acres of lush gardens, an extravagant structure of gold-leaf domes and ornate ceilings. On Sundays, the hotel’s Citrus restaurant serves its “Grand Sunday Brunch Buffet” smorgasbord of international cuisines and gourmet desserts. A feast fit for visiting royalty. Except the people waiting 30 minutes in line are definitely not royalty. They look more like high-tech workers. Which, in fact, they are.

Each Sunday, the Leela brunch attracts a crowd of expatriates from all over the world: America, Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, Japan, Germany, Brazil. Most have followed the high-tech outsourcing boom here, chasing jobs that are disappearing in their home countries. Aside from steady employment, such relocation has other privileges. An IT employee can’t begin to afford such luxuries back home. But in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, it’s perfectly normal to wake up after a night of discos and enjoy a four-hour feast at a five-star hotel. And that’s a typical weekend for Jeffrey Vanderwerf.

The 28-year-old American moved here last September to work for Microsoft as a communications trainer, helping call-center staff improve their English and phone skills. Call a customer-support line, and you’ll likely be speaking with one of his students. Vanderwerf knows outsourcing to India is a contentious subject, but it’s been directly beneficial to him and has given him his job. In a sense, he has outsourced himself.

“To be quite honest, my life here is quite comfortable, since the cost of living is substantially lower than in, say, Minneapolis,” he says. His annual salary: about $12,000.

Vanderwerf is not alone. Bangalore is said to grow by almost 4,000 residents every day, the majority working for multinational technology companies, from Infosys to Sun, IBM, and Google. Over the course of the next five years, U.S. businesses will relocate an estimated three million jobs to India.

The media is filled with cautionary news stories about outsourcing. Politicians berate each other over the sucking sound of jobs lost overseas. For Americans caught in this global economy crossfire, moving to Bangalore could be a bittersweet experience. But it’s not. Life in Bangalore is just different.

ON FIRST IMPRESSION, the city of more than seven million can be overwhelming. But for IT workers, this is the land of opportunity.

Cecilia Villalon works as a content production engineer for Intel Technology India Pvt. Ltd. Her first few months here were very different from her previous life in Portland, Oregon. “I was extremely nerv­ous and scared,” she recalls. “I remember my hand shaking as I reached to get breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I couldn’t believe that I was actually in India and this was to be my home for the next year.”

Electricity would go out at least once a week, and she spent the time sitting in her darkened apartment playing with her puppy. She eventually bought a power inverter to back up electrical devices,
and she learned to use VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) to make cheap phone calls to friends and family back in the U.S. Within a few months, she’d adjusted to her new life.

None of the Americans interviewed for this story know each other. Expats in Bangalore tend to meet and socialize most easily with expats from other countries. It takes longer to befriend Indian people, but the connections can eventually turn into solid relationships. And there is no language barrier: Thanks to the legacy of British colonization, everybody speaks English. The atmosphere is relaxed and polite, but assimilating into another culture is always an ongoing process.

“It’s very easy to make friends with foreigners,” Villalon says. “It’s a little different with the locals. Because I have very Asian features, at first they do not think I am an American. Until I start to speak and they hear my accent.”

“No matter how long I have been here, I will still appear to others as a foreigner,” says Susan Chopra, a software usability engineer from Michigan. “Some days, the endless stares get particularly frustrating, and I wonder if I will ever feel like I truly belong. I am optimistic, though, that having a job and networking with people in my field will change this.”

Chopra meets many locals through her husband, who is Indian. To connect with other expats, she attends weekly meetings of the Overseas Women’s Club Bangalore, which gathers for coffee every Thursday at The Leela Palace hotel.

“Most of the Americans I’ve met have been through the OWC,” she says. “This group has close to 400 members from all over the world. It’s a really great source for networking with others from overseas.”

Another frustrating adjustment is the local concept of time. In Bangalore, hours are fluid. “There is a completely different pace here,” says Vanderwerf. “When someone says they’ll meet you at 1 p.m., for example, they might show [up] anywhere between 1 and 3 p.m.”

Setting up one’s house is another shock to the system. Things taken for granted in the U.S. require more effort in Bangalore. When an apartment is advertised as “unfurnished,” that means no refrigerator, stove, or washing machine. Expats must either purchase or lease appliances, along with basics like chairs and beds. Preparing meals at home means that all food and dishes must be rinsed in bottled water. And despite the city’s reputation as a high-tech hub, Internet access is alarmingly slow.

“It may sound silly, but for two people in the software profession, having a good connection is pretty high on the priority list,” says Chopra. “In our first apartment, we had a broadband connection that, in actuality, gave us speeds less than that of a modem connection.”

Many of the high-tech jobs are concentrated in industrial parks like Electronics City or the International Tech Park Bangalore, both of which house more than 100 companies. Commuting to work means a daily journey through horrendous traffic. Some expats drive scooters or take taxis or public transit buses. Others, like Cecilia Villalon, take a three-wheeled auto rickshaw.

Those who can afford it will buy or rent a car, and then hire a driver to navigate the labyrinth of roads. Arman Zand, a vice president with Silicon Valley Bank India Advisors Pvt. Ltd., owns his own car and hires a driver for daily traffic, but he drives himself at nights and on weekends.

Formerly of San Jose, California, Zand sees the city as having some similarity to the Bay Area’s high-tech boom. “The level of energy and entrepreneurialism reminds me of Silicon Valley, 1999,” he says. “Venture capitalists, service providers, financial institutions, and young entrepreneurs are constantly roaming the coffee shops and hotel lobbies.”

In some districts, Bangalore eagerly embraces the tech generation in the manner of cities like San Francisco and Seattle. The air is rife with the chatter of cellphone conversations, and laptops fill the Café Coffee Day shops, India’s equivalent of Starbucks. Invitations for web design and programming classes flutter on bulletin boards. But outside the gates of the gleaming tech campuses, it’s back to India. “The obvious difference is the infrastructure,” says Zand. “It’s hard to ignore what goes on outside of the business climate.”

LIKE MUCH OF the rest of the world, Bangalore’s urban landscape adopts an increasingly American flavor. Expats who need a taste of home can stop for a quick meal at KFC, McDonald’s, or Pizza Hut, which serves a Chicken Tikka pizza. Modern shopping malls carry familiar Western brands like Lee, Van Heusen, and Louis Phillipe, as well as Indian goods and unmarked electronics products. An exchange rate of 43 rupees to one U.S. dollar guarantees Ameri­cans more spending power. Clubs play the latest hip-hop music, and a Hollywood film will open in a 1,000-seat theater the same week as in the States. Women now wear jeans and shirts on the streets, alongside the more traditional saris.

But it’s Bangalore’s boisterous nightlife that really gets the expats out on the weekends, particularly along dense arteries like Brigade Road and MG (Mahatma Ghandi) Road. While other major cities like Bombay and Delhi offer discos for drinks and dancing, only Bangalore features actual bars, earning it the title “Pub Capital of India.” Nearby universities feed a steady stream of local students to keep things lively. Locally based Kingfisher brewery keeps the city’s pubs well-stocked with Indian beers. Expats can slide into a bar to socialize and watch a World Cup cricket match. There are pubs devoted to Irish, Scottish, British, Egyptian, German, karaoke, and New Orleans jazz atmospheres. The NASA bar is shaped like a space shuttle, and the Underground borrows its ambience from London’s subway system. Western-style discos like Spinn, Club Inferno, and Club X are packed with dancing young people and may feature basketball courts, swimming pools, and artificial monsoons. Spinn even celebrates America’s Independence Day with an annual Stars-and-Stripes-themed party. And the next morning, there’s always brunch at The Leela Palace or Taj Residency Hotel.

During their free time, American expatriates explore the city and surrounding ­areas. Arman Zand plays tennis, goes to movies, and has visited the Taj Mahal. Cecilia Villalon says she likes to hit the shopping malls because “I feel like everything is on sale for me.” Susan Chopra takes cooking classes and is learning the Hindi language. And everyone keeps up with news in America through the Internet.

Joanna (last name withheld) has lived with her husband in Bangalore for eight years, raising their young daughter and helping run a content-development firm. She likes to get out of the city on the weekends, taking short trips to spas and the Bangalore Bannerghatta Zoo. However, her expatriate experience is somewhat different than most. She’s witnessed the city’s phenomenal growth over time, and notes that shopping malls and big grocery stores were virtually nonexistent four years ago. Her family loves living in India. But, she says, socializing with American expats doesn’t always depict the most flattering view of her homeland.

After having a recent lunch with four American expat families, she and her husband later realized how the conversation had turned into a “dump on India” session. “Complaints about the roads, the lack of planning, the lack of customer service, just dump, dump, dump,” Joanna says. “We both reflected [on] how, often, when we get together with Americans, it becomes a dumping session. But in our minds, and even in our hearts, we could only reflect on being thankful for the opportunities we have here.”

Like all expatriate tech workers, Americans will follow the jobs, which, for the moment, means they are happy to stay in Bangalore. The weather is always beautiful, hovering between 60 and 90 degrees year-round. And the experience of living in another country opens the eyes to other cultures, as well as allows for a more philosophical view of your home of origin. When asked if they would move here again if given the chance, a resounding yes was the answer.

“We are a product of our experiences, and this experience will definitely have a lasting impact on me,” says Chopra.

“I can’t even begin to spell out the crea­tivity that can come out of a developing country like India,” says Joanna. “The sky is the limit. It is a great place if you are a pioneer type.”

Regrets are few, says Zand of his time in Bangalore. “If I could do this again, I would drag one less suitcase to India. You can find everything you need in the local mall or ­supermarket.”

Budget disappoints, like our cricketers

Budget disappoints, like our cricketers
V. Ravichander
The Times of India

The citizen has simple expectations, be it cricket or the BCC budget. Our cricketers failed us on Monday. Our BCC budget too gives us cause for worry.

The news is that given around 57% achievement of Rs 729 crore in the revised estimates of 2004-05 (as against last year’s promise of Rs 1,265 crore), chances are that the promise of Rs 1,561 crore for 2005-06 will not be realised. Which is good news, incidentally. For, if the budget plan is to be realised, Bangaloreans will be burdened with an additional loan of Rs 545.53 crore.

The implication is an interest burden of around Rs 80 crore per year representing over 30% of annual property tax receipts. Such heavy borrowings without a citizen-consultative process by an agency with lowimplementation capability and revenue-realisation constraints does not augur well for Bangaloreans who will have to foot the bill.

The essential issue is that BCC has a non-plan expenditure of around Rs 400 crore for salaries, pensions, administration expenses, SWM, repairs and maintenance. Of the Rs 729-crore receipts last year, about Rs 130 crore is transferable revenue to other government departments. Hence, the true budget size is around Rs 600 crore.

Given that non-plan expenses will happen, shortages in revenue realisations affects the plan expenditure, which are developmental in nature. The budget could have focus on maximising revenue-generating potential. The cricketers too could have believed in themselves!

There is an alternate way for BCC to break out of these annual promises to meet citizens’ aspirations. It should focus on financial disclosure, widen the tax base, be transparent in operations, encourage citizen participation and deliver visible, equitable outcomes. This done, citizens will come forward to pay their due share, building a positive virtuous cycle of trust between citizens and the system. Are we ready to chart an alternate path collectively?

Ravichander is a former member of the BATF

BCC Budget Highlights

The Times of India

This year’s allocation is Rs 141.47 crore as against last year’s estimate of Rs 37.44 crore. This includes roads, flyovers, road overbridges/ underbridges and subways. Envisaged corridor concepts and construction of 16 flyovers cost Rs 15.65 crore.

South Corridor: Flyovers at South End Circle, Minerva Circle and Kanakapura Road-Ring Road junction; Grade separators at Kittur Rani Chennamma Circle, R.V. Teachers’ College, Ramakrishna Ashrama, Tagore Circle and Mission Road. Project feasibility study for super-highway from Sirsi Circle to Bangalore University.

West Corridor: Flyovers on MES Road, Peenya Dasarahalli Aiyappa Temple and Yeshwantpur junction; Grade separators at Malleswaram Circle and Vijaynagar-Magadi Road.

East Corridor: Trinity Circle flyover and Balekundri Circle grade separator.

Subways/skywalks: Town Hall junction, Chord Road, BCC head office, K.R. Circle, City Market, Frazer Town police station, Palace Road, Vijayanagar bus stand; Rajijinagar Vidyavardhaka Sangha School, Iskcon Temple, Devaiah Park, Bapujinagar, RPC Layout, Govindarajnagar, Peenya IV Phase. Cost Rs 4.52 crore.

Road overbridge/underbridge: Bapujinagar, Byappanahalli, Gangondanahalli, Frazer Town II Phase, Khoday Circle, Mathikere, Srirampura, Swatantrapalya, Nagavara, Sampige Road, ITC Factory. Cost Rs 9.55 crore.

Rs 103 crore earmarked for development of roads as against last year’s revised estimates of Rs 8.45 crore. This includes asphalting of arterial and sub-arterial roads, concrete roads, motorable roads and development of roads from World Bank grants.

Rs 49.80 crore earmarked as against the last year’s revised estimates of Rs 2.50 crore. This includes remodelling of Hebbal, Vrishbhavathi, Chellaghatta and Koramangala valleys, desilting of drains and covering of identified ‘killer’ drains.

Rs 10.86 crore allotted as against last year’s revised estimates of Rs 4.28 crore. Projects include approach roads to dumping yards, development of sanitary fills, small and medium composting landfills.

Current estimate is Rs 290.27 crore, includes commercial complexes under joint venture basis, development of parks and lakes, construction of stadia and renovation of markets

Insane idea finds place in budget

Pay-and-park scheme scrapped

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 28. The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) has decided to do away with the pay-and-park scheme, which was in force on 142 roads. Parking on these roads will be free from April 1.

Speaking to presspersons after the presentation of the BMP budget, the Mayor, R. Narayanaswamy, said the BMP is firm on the decision to introduce free parking. Alternatives for regulating parking will be worked out after a meeting with the authorities concerned, which will be called shortly.

About the letter by the Commissioner of Police, S. Mariswamy, asking the BMP not to withdraw the pay-and-park scheme as it will lead to an increase in vehicle thefts, Mr. Narayanaswamy retorted: "What do you say about the 500-odd vehicle thefts reported this month, when the pay-and-park scheme is still in vogue?" The BMP Commissioner, Jothiramalingam, said parking on the 142 roads will be free as it has been on other 860 roads in the city.

Fee in some areas

But Mr. Jothiramalingam said parking fee will be collected in Jayanagar 2nd Block, Jayanagar Shopping Complex, Public Utility Building, Russel Market, Sri Krishnarajendra Market, Yeshwantpur Market and Rajajinagar Market. The BMP is expecting a revenue of Rs. 9.5 crores from these areas, he said.

He said parking fee will also be collected in the two multilevel parking complexes coming up in Magrath Road and K.G. Road. The facilities are nearing completion.

Public for secure parking lots

Public for secure parking lots

Deccan Herald

The public is of the opinion that there should be some security to guard the vehicles in parking lots in Bangalore, Home Secretary Brahma Dutt has said in his report on the pay-and-park system.

Mr Dutt, who submitted the report to Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Monday, told Deccan Herald that a decision in this regard would be taken soon. Mr Dutt said that the CM would decide whether to withdraw the pay-and-park system or to continue it in a modified form after studying the report. He said that the report contained views of the general public, Public Affairs Centre and recommendations of BATF which includes both the BMP and the Bangalore Police.

While Mayor R Narayanaswamy, has said the BMP was for withdrawal of pay-and-park system from April 1, the City Police Commissioner S Mariswamy, has written to the Government not to do away with it. He says that such a step would lead to an increase in vehicle theft and add to chaos on the roads.

Move to damage Lalbagh

Lalbagh may play host to events, meets

Deccan Herald

The Horticulture Department will shortly submit a proposal to the government, suggesting the kind of events that could be allowed to be held inside the famous Lalbagh Botanical Gardens.

Speaking to Deccan Herald on Monday, Horticulture Director G K Vasanth Kumar said details regarding the criteria that need to be followed before granting permission to the organisers — guidelines like the number of people to be allowed to participate during a programme and the security measures — will be included in the proposal.

“Educational programmes, musical concerts conducted on a small scale or interviews of eminent personalities with Lalbagh as the backdrop would be some of the suggestions. But, rock-shows and public events will be a strict no-no,” said Mr Kumar.

However, he was quick to add that the proposal would be submitted only after discussing the matter with Horticulture Minister R Srinivas and the Horticulture secretary.

The decision of submitting the proposal comes in the wake of the news channel, Star-TV, being granted permission to telecast a live programme at Lalbagh recently.
Asked whether the security of the flora and fauna would be placed at risk, Mr Kumar said that necessary security arrangements, like posting four to five security guards near the venue of the programme would be adopted.

Desilting of Yediyur lake badly timed: Activists

Desilting of Yediyur lake badly timed: Activists

Deccan Herald

“From the point of view of the birds,” says Leo Saldanha, “it was a disaster”.
The coordinator of the Environment Report Group was referring to the desilting of Yediyur lake that has been going on for the past week or so.

The work was stopped by officials on Monday, when it was pointed out that the work was being carried on without due concern for the birds, or due permission from the Forest Department.

Apparently it is a particularly bad time to desilt, since for most of the birds it is breeding time. The water that was drained off resulted in nests getting exposed, and chicks being devoured by passing hawks and stray dogs. People For Animals and Cupa rescued as many as 25 chicks and ‘a whole lot of eggs’.
Bhargavi S Rao, also from the ERG, is particularly miffed, since desilting was done in the lake ‘just last year’. What, she wonders, is the necessity of doing so, when crores of rupees were spent such a short while ago?

The egrets, coots, cranes and all the birds for whom Yediyur lake is home have been affected, as are a few transcontinental migratory birds. But, says Mr Saldanha, whether migratory or not, they are wild birds, and the authorities went ahead without consulting, or even thinking about them.

The Forest Department, said Mr Saldanha, has assured the environmental activists that they will send a circular to all departments concerned, to ensure something on these lines is not repeated.

BMP gift: More parks, citizen’s service centres

BMP gift: More parks, citizen’s service centres

Open space management, private public partnerships and health schemes are in offing.

Deccan Herald

What is in the BMP budget for the citizen? There are a few new ideas, and many more old ones.

Four more citizen’s service centres will be set up, in addition to four existing ones. This means that citizens can pay their property tax, get building plans sanctioned, get khathas issued and so on in these centres without much ado.
Those bad tempered personnel manning counters in the revenue offices will no longer be the bane of citizens’ existence. Rs 1 crore has been provided to set up these centres.

A topic that figures prominently in the budget is parks. The amount allocated to the “Janodhyanavana” scheme, which has the preservation and development of such lung spaces in mind, has been quadrupled to Rs 24 crore.

Parks to be developed
At least 200 parks will be developed in the coming year. Of the 491 small medium sized and big parks in Bangalore, the BMP has developed 252 so far. There is also a plan to plant saplings in all Central and State government office premises and open spaces belonging to the Corporation.

The Palike is somewhat keen on public private partnership for various environmental initiatives and Rs 50 lakh has been provided for this. Traffic islands, neighbourhood parks and so on will be entrusted to interested residents’ associations, and saplings of plants, as well as vegetable seeds, will be distributed at subsidised rates to the residents of the City. Women will be trained to maintain kitchen gardens.

Tailored Health
At least one-day care centre will be set up in each of the three zone. A proposal was also made to provide one healthy meal a day to senior citizens enrolled in the centres. The training activities for women will be expanded from tailoring to beautician training, and the repair of household articles.

The urban poor health programme has been expanded. Heart and diabetes patients with a below poverty line card, women holding Anthyodaya card and the families of pournamikas will be given free medical examinations for certain diseases.

BMP unveils bitter-sweet budget

BMP unveils bitter-sweet budget

While the civic body has mooted an infrastructure levy and solid waste management cess, it also plans more flyovers, subways and skywalks.

Deccan Herald

The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s plans for 2005-06 appear to hold out a bitter-sweet promise to Bangaloreans. Bitter in the immediate, as the BMP budget 2005-06 unveiled on Monday has mooted an infrastructure levy and solid waste management cess. Sweet, the potential the future holds in terms of infrastructure, with more flyovers, subways, skywalks and the like proposed by the civic body for the City.

The BMP Budget 2005-06 has a total outlay of Rs 1,569.74 crore. Its proposed levy on infrastructure and the SWM cess are expected to mop up additional revenue of Rs 30 crore. A citizen owning a motor vehicle will pay between Rs 50 and Rs 300 under the infrastructure cess each year and between Rs 10 and Rs 50 (property owners only) under the SWM cess per annum, in addition to property tax. To address the need for better infrastructure, BMP Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance Chairman M K Gunashekar has allocated Rs 627.43 crore for the Project Division. The BMP has proposed to introduce the “corridor concept” and construct four new flyovers, eight grade separators, 13 subways and skywalks and 11 road over-bridges and road under-bridges across the city as part of a long-term plan to decongest the City’s roads. It will divide the city into three corridors — South, West and East — where these projects will be taken up. Though BMP has allocated funds, the funding appears to be meagre for individual projects, and it has not clearly spelt out how it will mobilise the required money if it has to take up the projects immediately. Under the corridor concept, the BMP plans to take up asphalting of busy main roads in the central parts of the City and roads that connect Bangalore with state and national highways at a cost of Rs 103 crore.

Besides, an allocation of Rs 35 crore has been made for desilting and remodelling of storm water drains connected to four major valleys — Rushabavathy, Koramangala, Chalaghatta and Hebbal. Also, Rs 100 crore has been allocated as ward grants for emergency works. The BMP has proposed to develop 200 more parks and has allocated Rs 24 crore for this. Besides, the civic body has proposed to implement the Dr Yellappa Reddy Committee report on protection of the environment. The proposed Freedom Park has an allocation of Rs 2 crore.

It will spend Rs 71.51 crore for the preservation and improvement of the City’s environment and ecology under the “Udhyana Bengaluru” programme. Under this, the BMP will tie up with NGOs to plant saplings. The BMP has set a revenue target of Rs 320 crore from property tax in the coming fiscal against the Rs 300 crore in 2004-05. It plans to conduct “tax adalats”. Steps to augment revenue, including a new database on financial leakage, a wider tax net and simplified payment, have also been proposed.

The BMP will distribute health cards for free medical examinations. Senior citizens enrolled in day care centres will be served free mid-day meals. Four more citizen service centres in each zone have been proposed. An allocation of Rs 1 crore has been made for this.


* Rs 627.43 crore for infrastructure
* 4 flyovers, 13 subways and skywalks
* Infrastructure and SWM cess
* CVS for property tax collection
* Development of 200 parks
* Tax Adalat
* New advertisement bye-laws
* 4 more citizen service centres
* 4 more day care centres
* Ward grants increased to Rs 1 crore


* Kanakpura Ring Road junction (South Corridor)
* MES Road junction (West)
* Mini flyover near Peenya Dasarahalli Iyappa Temple (West)
* Trinity Circle junction (East)

Schools roped in for civic action programme

Schools roped in for civic action programme

The Hindu Business Line

THE Bala Janaagraha programme in Bangalore has drawn4,000 children from 70 schools, over 200 teachers, and community members supported by corporate partners. The programme is meant to inculcate good citizenship among children through community actions. It also aims at increasing civic awareness and bringing together teachers, parents, corporates, colleges and other institutions to learn citizens' responsibilities in improving the environment.

Bala Janaagraha was started in 2002 by Ramesh and Swati Ramanathan with 170 children from five schools and other institutions. It was being run as a partnership between local communities, schools and Janaagraha, an NGO, and supported by many companies, institutions and volunteers.

Bala Janaagraha is a structured programme conducted over 15 sessions, with eight sessions held in classrooms during schools hours and is aimed at children from class six to eight.

Teachers participate in an initial training session on the content and methodologies of the programme. They, in turn, conduct the programme in the classrooms. Janaagraha is responsible for the programme design, overall planning and execution, while the partners sponsor various modules and conduct the programme.

The objective is to `Catch them young' to prepare them as responsible citizens by motivating them to participate in the civic issues, said Ms Sunita Nadhamuni, Coordinator of Bala Janaagraha.

"From reporting to authorities on a leaking pipe or a hanging electrical cable to taking community initiatives for crime watch, traffic patrol, maintaining clean sanitary neighbourhoods or in simply following the law scrupulously, we believe good citizenry is the key ingredient to healthy and vibrant cities," she said.

Bangalore invites bids for metro rail project

Bangalore invites bids for metro rail project

BANGALORE (Reuters) - The booming technology capital of Bangalore invited global applications on Monday from consultants to help implement a more than $900 million metro railway project to cater to the city's growing population.

State-run Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Ltd (BMRTL), which advertised for the tender, said it was looking for a consultant for planning, design, project management, supervision, testing and commissioning of the project.

It said the first phase covering 33 km (20.6 miles) would include 26 km elevated and 7 km underground, and would cost 40 billion rupees. It will take five years to build.

A BMRTL official told Reuters the total cost of the project, including land and other costs, would be 56 billion rupees.

Bangalore, a city of 6.5 million people, accounts for at least a third of India's $16 billion software and back-office service outsourcing industry, which employs more than 900,000 people.

Preliminary work including detailed design and formulation of land acquisition proposals have been completed,

BMRTL said on its Web site ( it hoped to achieve financial closure by the end of May 2005 and construction was likely to begin in June/July 2005.

However, India's federal authorities are yet to approve the project being set up by the government of the southern state of Karnataka, whose capital city is Bangalore.

Curtain call for Plaza

Curtain call for Plaza
The old theatre on M G Road was an ideal haunt for many a celluloid fantasies.

Deccan Herald

It was in the summer of 1959 that I saw Curtiz’ White Christmas at Plaza. My neighbours on Richmond Road - Paul, Stuart and Sylvia - took me there. As a little kid, I was dazzled by the colour and distracted by the popcorn and tomfoolery with the boys! Not the best way to see a musical comedy. But somehow the outing planted the seeds of a life-long fascination for cinema.

White Christmas was the first of many films I’d see at Plaza. The shows there had a set routine: Music for 15 minutes before the lights dimmed and the slide ads came on, followed by a boring B/W newsreel, trailers and then the main feature. In all, two-hours of movie excitement that had popcorn and other munchies, either brought to us by a vendor to our seats or from the kiosk outside.

Plaza had three shows daily. Most movies played from Friday to Thursday. Ticket prices ranged from annas eight for the front stalls to Rs 1 and annas 12 for the highest seat in the balcony, the Dress Circle. A time when Crown Café, Brigade Road, had ice cream for annas four! How did one know what was playing?

Primarily by word of mouth. Or by posters stuck on strategically placed boards – like the one on a tree in the Lopes’ compound on Richmond Road facing Wellington Street. Newspaper ads added to the excitement of going to the cinema. Earlier, brochures printed in America and overprinted locally, served as promo material.

In those movie-mad days, as kids and later, we’d make a beeline for Plaza as it had some of the finest cinema made. To give an idea of movies that delighted us then, and those that continue to do so even now, here is a list, starting with White Christmas.

Vidor’s Hans Christian Anderson (1952), Panama’s/Frank’s The Court Jester (’56), Tashlin’s Artists and Models (’55) and Wyler’s Roman Holiday among others.
DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (’56) starring Charlton Heston and the beautiful Yvonne de Carlo took Bangalore by storm. People stood in lines for hours to see it. Special screening for students was arranged.

Inside the theatre hall huge cutouts of Heston’s Moses added to the excitement. The long, 220-minutes movie created history by playing for more than 2 years, the longest running Hollywood film in Bangalore.

Plaza was special to many generations. Brig LERB Ferris AVSM (retd) remembers the Dress Circle, “You had to be well dressed to sit there. Young officers like me sat with our British seniors and watched the likes of glamorous Hedy Lamarr.” The lady was hot property and had a reputation for playing sultry roles.

“During the intermission”, remembers Pratap Chettur, “The Britishers had their personal bearers at the bar, waiting on cue, to serve scotch and soda or a gimlet.” The wooden dance floor saw a lot of action with officers boogying or doing a quickstep. No doubt inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to Porter’s Night and Day and The Continental. Youngsters can’t forget the adrenalin-rush seeing Ardolino’s Dirty Dancing (1987), and the Gen Next bunking classes to see Roach’s Meet the Fockers (2004).

Egged on by technical innovations, the movies gave birth to a theater-building boom. In an attempt to make going to the movies as memorable as the film itself, architects and engineers constructed buildings that stimulated the senses. From neon lights to the cushion seats of the balcony, no detail was overlooked.
In the West, instances abound where well-wishers bail out old movie theatres in distress by refurbishing them or in screening Classic Cinema. In Los Angeles, the New Beverly Cinema is a shining example of this movement -- where a revival house screens classics.

In Bangalore, things haven’t started working that way. Yet. So institutions such as Plaza despite their charm have to bow to the demolition ball, and make way for the multiplex!

For patrons, who have literally grown up watching movies there, Plaza theatre will be missed.

Monday, March 28, 2005

This cinema theatre has been turned into a police station

This cinema theatre has been turned into a police station
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: It happens only in Karnataka. While the entire Kannada film industry spilled out onto the streets to protest against non-Kannada films and complained against cinema owners, the industry has hardly taken any initiative to revive a cinema which had screened mostly Kannada movies for two decades.

Puttanna cinema in the Jayanagar Shopping Complex, named after a great director and visionary, Puttanna Kanagal, has now been turned into a traffic police station. The cinema used to screen Kannada movies to packed houses and was a popular entertainment destination for south Bangalore. In later years the attitude of the cinema staff and pathetic management by Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) meant that it was curtains for the hall. Neither the BCC nor the State Government has shown any interest in renovating and restarting it.

Actors Vishanuvardhan and Ambarish raised their voices against BCC’s move to close the cinema. But their efforts have not opened the eyes of the system yet. ‘‘It’s an insult to our ‘Guru’ Puttanna Kanagal. If the Government is not interested in reopening the cinema, we shall take the initiative to start it,’’ Vishnuvardhan told this website’s newspaper. He also appealed to the Government to change the name of cinema, whose lobby and parking lots had turned into a police station. ‘‘Puttana had never asked the Government to name any cinema after him. When they (Government) do something in memory of a personality, they should maintain the cinema,’’ says Vishnu adding that only if citizens of Jayanagar came forward to restart the cinema will the old cinema regain it’s lost glory.

According to BCC officials, the cinema belongs to the Government and the first floor is under BCC’s control. Police are also not very keen on working in the lobby. A senior police officer said the cinema would be vacated within three months. But the reality is that movie lovers have to go through a much longer ‘‘intermission’’ before the BCC decides to revive it.

Wanted: Integrated transport to ease chaos in Bangalore

Wanted: Integrated transport to ease chaos in Bangalore
By Swati Ramanathan
The Times of India

Traffic conditions in recent times have dramatically altered Bangalore’s image from a dream city to a daytime nightmare. We’ve over 20 lakh vehicles, with 780 additions daily. Yet, over 60% of the population is dependent on the bus system. BMTC has 3,700 buses running on 400 routes and making 52,423 trips a day, and there is still more demand.

Putting in place an integrated public transport system is critical for Bangalore for three reasons:

First, public transport is the primary means of connectivity for 60% of the population. Lack of access cuts people from opportunities, services like education and health. Second, those who own private vehicles must have incentives to use public transport instead. Public transport is eco-friendly, energy-efficient and promotes a healthier urban lifestyle. Third, it replaces the current erroneous practices of focusing solely on flyovers and road widening. A traffic study by IIIE, along the Tumkur, Hosur, Bannerghetta and Mysore roads, shows that the traffic on these roads has doubled in the last five years and now exceeds road capacity.

In such a scenario, the Metro Rail proposal for Bangalore has found official sanction. Before we rush ahead, let’s examine public transport from an integrated perspective. What defines a successful integrated public transport system? Seven critical parameters are required: comprehensive connectivity; convenience; affordability; frequency; reliability; safety; and aesthetics. Bangalore’s Metro Rail proposal needs to be viewed through this framework. Let’s assume high-quality aesthetics, reliability, frequency and safety, and focus on the remaining three factors:

Metro Rail is planned to cover 36 km at Rs 6,000 crore, a 50% jump over the initial estimate of Rs 4,000 crore. BMRTL estimates 800 building demolitions to make way for the Metro. Some financial information: how will ticket fares be sufficient to repay loan, what happens if ridership volumes are not as per projections, or if project delays increase costs? The metro system in Beijing takes only 11% of public transport volume. Curitiba and Bogota are using rapid bus systems at a cost that is 5-10% that of the metro and provides greater connectivity around the city. Japan is investing in monorails at 25% cost compared to the metrorail.

Currently, the Metro Rail focuses on BCC areas alone. Much of Bangalore’s growth will be in the surrounding eight municipalities. How will Metro Rail connect these growth areas. Similarly, what is the rapid transit access to the international airport? Utilising existing rail network is logical and cost-saving. The Railways have infrastructure along five radials from the city centre. How has this been factored into the overall transport design? What about connection with the KSRTC/BMTC bus depot network?

The proposed route runs 36 km through 22 of the 100 wards. Hence, few homes and workplaces are going to be walking distance from the station. How will the metro overcome this disincentive for use? Are parking facilities for private vehicles planned at major stops?

A critical point is the revision to the Comprehensive Development Plan of Greater Bangalore. It is imperative that the revision integrates the plans for public transport, since it will dramatically define land use and zoning and issues of density.

Careful deliberation on an integrated public transport plan will save us possibly making a costly mistake. One that will inconvenience us intolerably in the present and haunt us permanently in the future.

(The author is co-founder of Janaagraha and is involved in issues of urban planning)

Airport Road: No right turn is wrong

No right turn is wrong: citizens
The Times of India

Bangalore: Traffic police have closed right turns at three junctions—Kodihalli, Murugesh Palya and Manipal Hospital—on Airport Road since Friday to facilitate faster movement of vehicles heading towards airport.

It will be an acid test for the police on Monday when normal traffic is back on the road after a long weekend. “We did not have much problems on Friday, Saturday and Sunday because of the holidays,” a police officer said.

However, people living in areas around Airport Road called The Times of India to lodge their protest against the closure of right turns.
One caller said: “We don’t understand the rationale behind closing down the right turn near Manipal Hospital and allowing U-turn 20 meters away from that junction.’’ Another caller said: “There is no right turn till 100 Ft Road-Koramangala Intermediate Ring Road junction if you are coming from the airport side. This leads to piling up of traffic at the busy junction which is already congested because of the flyover construction work. Let the police introduce traffic initiatives only after the completion of the flyover construction work.”

Meanwhile, some residents of Kodihalli and Murugesh Palya met the traffic police to complain about the inconvenience due to the new rules. “We have told them (residents) to bear with us for a week and see the progress. If the new rule does not help them commute faster on the road, we will take a relook. They have agreed to cooperate with the police,’’ DCP traffic (East), M.A. Saleem, said.

Saleem said: “Closing of right turn near Manipal Hospital will not cause any inconvenience to patients. We can’t wait for the completion of the flyover work, as it is going to take longer.”

BMP plans leave citizens worried

BMP plans leave citizens worried

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 27. G.Y. Amarnath, a resident of Amarjyothinagar, feels this year's Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) budget is likely to burn a hole in his pocket.

He is afraid the civic body's new schemes — levy of infrastructure cess and solid waste management cess, property tax collection based on the capital value of the building and road widening using `transferable development rights' (TDR) — will take away half of his monthly pension.

Mr. Amarnath, a retired primary school teacher, managed to get a house constructed with a bank loan. "Besides the loan instalment, I also have other commitments. Though I do not know whether the road where I live has been identified for widening, the new levies will definitely be a burden on me," he says.

His is not a unique case. With the BMP all set to introduce these schemes through its budget that will be presented on Monday, citizens, especially pensioners are worried about how to pay the additional expenses.

Though the BMP had announced these schemes two months ago, they will be enforced only after the budget is presented.

While BMP officials claim that the new levies are slated to be nominal, citizens feel that the new levies are an "additional expenditure." The BMP expects to earn over Rs. 40 crores through these levies.


This time the presentation of the budget has been delayed by a month.

It was presented on February 21 last year. Unlike in the previous years, the BMP has not taken suggestions from the citizens before finalising the budget.

Though the budget estimates book has to be printed and circulated among the BMP Council members seven days in advance (as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act), the books have not been printed till late on Sunday evening.

Sources in the BMP told The Hindu that the budget envisages construction of new flyovers, railway under passes, subways, smart health cards for 20,000 poor families ensuring them free medical facilities in hi-tech hospitals, an effective garbage clearance system and more parks.

The Mayor's discretionary quota of Rs. 11.37 crores will be merged with the Rs. 10 crores Central Reserve Fund (CRF) and each of the 100 corporators will be allotted Rs. 2 lakhs annually for immediate redressal of civic and medical grievances of the citizens in their wards.

However, the 34 women corporators stand to lose this time because the special ward grants of Rs. 5 lakhs that each of them got is likely to be cancelled, the sources added.

Parkers' problems continue

Parkers' problems continue

The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 27. The Home Secretary, Brahma Dutt, will submit a report on the pay-and-park system in the city to the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, on Monday.

Highly placed sources in the city police told The Hindu that the State Government will decide whether to withdraw the pay-and-park system or to continue it in a modified form after studying the report.

While the Mayor, R. Narayanaswamy, has said the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) will withdraw the pay-and-park system from April 1, the Banglalore Police Commissioner, S. Mariswamy, has written to the State Government not to do away with it.

He says that such a step will lead to an increase in vehicle theft and also chaos on the roads.

Elsewhere in the city, the parking space problem continues.

Narrow road

The eastern parts of the city, with relatively wider roads, are not exactly a `parking paradise.' The older part of Ulsoor, the Bazaar Street, is now one-way but the narrow road has been made narrower with two-wheeler parking allowed on fairly long stretches. With the pavements almost completely taken over by hawkers and displays by shopkeepers, pedestrians are forced to walk on the road.

The street is increasingly used by vehicles going towards Indiranagar as an alternative to Airport Road or Old Madras Road.

Cambridge Road with more than four schools in the vicinity has its share of problems; traffic has increased and the available parking space is occupied by two-wheelers.

The traffic police have their hands full regulating traffic during school hours and they are often helpless when parents in a hurry double-park cars.

Regulated parking

Indiranagar used to a bit better off but not any longer. CMH Road has become a busy shopping area with several restaurants and parking space is now confined to the streets off it. The 100 ft. road close by has regulated parking which may not suffice if the Metro Rail forces shifting of establishments there. Parking woes are not few in the upmarket Koramangala area.

Even though the area boasts of huge malls and shopping areas such as the Forum Mall, which have their paid parking spaces, a vehicle user invariably has to jostle for parking space.

Those who come to BDA Complex at Koramangala are perhaps the worst affected. "Parking is a big problem for those who visit the railway reservation counters inside the complex. Even though there is a parking area it is always filled to capacity.

"Moreover, a lot of people come to a restaurant in the ground floor of the complex and the problem gets worse," Vijay C., a resident of Viveknagar who often travels to Koramangala for work, laments.

The growing number of eating places, business establishments and lifestyle stores on Koramangala 80 ft. road, 100 ft. road and the adjacent lanes and bylanes have added to the misery of commuters.

"Even if you have to draw money from an ATM on these roads finding a parking space can be a big nuisance," says a resident.