Sunday, January 29, 2006

City plans: Challenges before new government

City plans: Challenges before new government
New INdian Express

BANGALORE: Running a coalition government would be the toughest challenge for the JD(S)-BJP combine, but it will not be an easy task for it to ensure that ‘‘Brand Bangalore’’ does not take a beating.

It remains to be seen how the new government, headed by JD(S), a party known for its anti-urban, especially anti-IT image, will be able to strike a balance between rural and urban development. The combine lacks the experience in running a government, while the tasks before it are challenging.

The new dispensation also needs to show that it is committed to improve infrastructure in the City and ensure growth of IT, BT and other sectors. The State is expected to export $20 billion in the software sector in 2010 and that will also create a huge number of job opportunities.

To ensure the City’s development, the new government needs to improve basic infrastructure like roads, public transportation and have policies that encourage investment and public-private partnerships.

Some drastic measures are needed to put the roads in order, for the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) has done little to rid the roads of potholes.

In next few days, or perhaps weeks, the new government will face its first test: putting the much-needed and much-delayed Metrorail project on track. The Centre is expected to soon show the green signal to the project, which JD(S) leader and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had been trying to derail.

Now, it is up to his party’s government to take the project to a logical end. Bangalore needs the project and it is up to the new dispensation to clear all hurdles, both political and bureaucratic.

In case the new government decides to toe Gowda’s line, the Metro will be delayed further, or maybe never see the light of day.

The new regime should also make sure that the international airport at Devanahalli takes off smoothly and becomes operational on schedule, by April 2008.

But it has to first find a new chairman to head Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), a post which fell vacant when Infosys Chief Mentor N R Narayana Murthy resigned after Deve Gowda made allegations of land grabbing against the IT firm.

Arkavathy Layout will be another big challenge for the JD(S)-led government. After the High Court order, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is now busy developing the layout and allotting sites. Interestingly, the JD(S) had opposed the project.

Implementation of several projects like Peripheral Ring Road, Inner Ring Road, which were proposed by BMP, and improving the efficiency of the urban local bodies, including BMP, will be the challenges before the government.

The controversial Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, being implemented by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), will continue to haunt the new regime, as it had previous ones.

Meanwhile, strengthening the police force and its intelligence gathering network should also be its priority. The recent terror attack on Indian Institute of Science (IISc) had proved that Bangalore is no longer safe and the government needs to ensure that the police force is capable of counter-terrorist operations and, as far as possible, provide fail-safe security.

That apart, the larger issues of corruption, improving health facilities, recruiting teachers at the government schools and creating employment opportunities would continue to be a daunting task for the government.

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