Monday, January 30, 2006

Developers feel policy has not kept pace in Karnataka

Developers feel policy has not kept pace in Karnataka
FInancial Express

BANGALORE: Inadequate planning, monitoring and non-adherence to technical requirements have spelled ruin for the roads in Karnataka. “Compared to neighbouring states, the roads in Karnataka fare the worst,” a Bangalore-based infrastructure developer says. He adds “We are at least 40 years behind the western countries.”

In Bangalore, over 700 people lose their lives every year in road accidents. The number of vehicles on the roads far exceeds the capacity. This is likely to worsen further, given that on an average, 750 two-wheelers and 400 four-wheelers are registered in the city daily. “Bangalore being the IT hub of the country, the pressure on roads is more compared to other parts of the state. This has worsened road conditions,” says a top official with Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), dealing with the development of the infrastructure corridor between Bangalore and Mysore.

Co-founder of the citizen’s movement Janaagraha, Swati Ramanathan says, “Our tender processes do not focus on the quality, and contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder. Besides, payment of contractors do not happen in time and most often, they are not paid at all,” she said.

Adds an infrastructure developer, “The government is increasingly publicising public-private partnership but policy has not kept pace. The processes of getting approvals are lengthy and lack accountability at lower levels.”

Karnataka has 1,31,592 km of roads, including 3,728 km of national highways, 9,829 km of state highways, 28,247 km of major district roads and 88,154 km of village and other roads.

Projects currently undertaken by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL) include the 120 km Bangalore-Mysore road, upgrade of Bilikere-Bellur road, Gulbarga-Ring road project, and the Jeewargi-Bijapur road. The corporation has taken up reconstruction and rehabilitation of 147 old, distressed and narrow bridges all over Karnataka. The project costing Rs 110 crore has been entrusted to Mecon Limited. The state also sought World Bank’s assistance for improvement of state highways for 2268.48 km.

According to official estimates, Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) handles around 4,000 km of roads, apart from 1,000 km of arterial roads.

Experts suggest measures such as introducing under-passes and grade separation on roads in rural areas, active participation from citizens in monitoring road construction, multi storied parking spaces in major cities among others.

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