Friday, March 31, 2006

CCEA meeting skips Bangalore Metro Rail

CCEA meeting skips Bangalore Metro Rail

The Hindu

BANGALORE: The meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) held on Thursday in New Delhi did not take up the Bangalore Metro Rail, according to reports reaching here.

The project has been pending for over three weeks before the CCEA after the Group of Ministers (GoM) approved the Rs. 6,300-crore project earlier this month.

Final step

The CCEA clearance is the final step before the project can be implemented. Without this approval, the Government of India cannot sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Japan for the Rs. 1,800-crore loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

The Union Government, which is the borrower of the loan on behalf of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRC), can go through the loan agreement with JBIC only after the two governments sign the MoU.


Sources at JBIC have clarified that the Government of Japan is keen to advance Official Development Assistance (ODA) at an interest rate of 1.3 per cent.

Barclay's Capital, an international bank, absorbs the currency fluctuations of the loan given in the Japanese currency, the Yen. Barclay's charges 2.3 per cent.

Thus, the metro rail project is expected to get the loan at the rate of 3.6 per cent.

The project is expected to get a moratorium of 10 years. The loan is repayable over 37 years.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bangalore: A city united in its woes

Bangalore: A city united in its woes

Bangalore: If Delhi is considered a city of great social divides, Bangalore is united.

Well, it's united in its woes. There's just one factor that unites the city's rural and urban population – the sagging infrastructure.

Koramangala is one of Bangalore's posh residential colonies. It’s also a mini Information Technology colony of sorts and is considered one of the most ‘happening’ places in the city.

At least, that's what a website proclaims. The website, a citizen’s initiative, was started by a Koramangala couple - Balbir Singh and his wife Amrita - nearly eight years back.

The couple has been living in the locality for the past 16 years and just like a lot of their neighbours, is disappointed about the poor infrstructure facilities in their colony.

This, despite the fact that the colony is home to some of the biggest IT names of the world including Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani and Biocon baroness Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

"It makes no difference. Politicians are never interested in getting things done. All that they are interested in is their personal gain. Would they not have fixed things by now?" Balbir Singh says.

Potholed roads, rising pollution and endless traffic jams have added to the woes to the city’s residents. Bangaloreans are truly fed up with the state of affairs.

"I am a regular traveller on the Hosur road. The stretch take took 15 minutes to cover now takes 45 minutes due to half-made flyover, and it's really frustrating," a commuter says.

The story of Koramangala is being echoed across Bangalore. Away from the IT hotspot, Marthahalli is a colony of the not-so-privileged. Jayram, a transporter has been staying in the area more than two decades with his family of six.

Ironically, though Jayram and Balbir are at the two ends of the social spectrum, their problems are the same – poor infrastructure.

"There's no point. Look, we don't have proper roads, drinking water or electricity in our village. Do you think they care?" Jayram asks.

But a lot of people also blame the IT boom for the state of Bangalore today. According to them, the scales are definitely tilted in favour of the IT sector.

"Yes, if infrastructure is a problem, IT industry is to be blamed for it," a resident says.

It's amply clear that when it comes to the city's sagging infrastructure problems, there is no divide between IT and non-IT or even rural and urban.

Road woes for citizens to continue

Road woes for citizens to continue
City Corporation belies Chief Minister s promise

Bangalore: Will the horrible condition of the Bangalore roads get a face lift soon, as promised by Chief Minister H D K umaraswamy or is it one of those empty promises that the politicians are prone to make? It may be recalled that the CM who recently conducted inspection of some areas which were affected by the monsoon last year , had said in the assembly that the road works in the entire City would be completed before the onset of the monsoon.

However, the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) engineer-in-chief Ramegowda on W ednesday , contradicting the CM’s statement said that asphalting of road works taken up under the second package would be completed only after March 2007.

H e expressed his apprehension that the tender process may consume majority of time and works may get delayed.

With regard to second package works, he said that the tender process for 124 packages costing Rs 111 crore under the second package have been completed and sent to the BCC Standing Committee on W orks for appro val.

T ender process for the remaining packages would be completed by April 10 and would be sent to the standing committee for approval, he added.

Replying to the delay in executing asphalting works under the first package, Ramegowda said, the contractors cannot be blacklisted.

At the most, the Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) made by the contractors would be forfeited. If at all their names are blacklisted, works being executed by the contractors concerned would be affected, Ramegowda said.

BMP says it needs one year to finish roadworks

BMP says it needs one year to finish roadworks

The Hindu

Engineer-in-Chief's statement creates furore in Council

# Chief Minister had said that all works will be completed in six months
# Tender process for 67 works complete
# BMP Commissioner pleads ignorance about Chief Minister's statement
# Says upgradation of 300 km of roads will be completed

BANGALORE: Even as Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said on Tuesday that all roadworks in the city will be completed within the next six months, Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) officials on Wednesday said it is difficult to achieve the task.

Replying to members at BMP Council meeting here, BMP Engineer-in-Chief Ramegowda said all roadworks will be completed only by March 2007.

This statement, which has come two days after the Chief Minister setting the deadline, created a furore in the Council with the opposition Janata Dal (Secular) members questioning whether the officials had misled the Chief Minister to make that announcement.

"Does this mean that you do not respect the Chief Minister's announcement or have you false information on the progress of roadworks?," Leader of the Opposition B.R. Nanjundappa and Kacharakanahalli corporator Padmanabha Reddy said.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader A.H. Basvaraju, who raised the issue, sought to know the progress of road upgradation.

"With work on most of the roads taken up under the first package of the `complete blacktop asphalting' project in 2003 yet to be completed, I wonder how you will start the second package," Kempegowdanagar corporator B.S. Satyanarayana said.

While the former Mayor P.R. Ramesh ridiculed that at this rate the BMP may require four years to upgrade 1,000 km of roads, the BJP members demanded that the BMP float global tenders for road upgradation.

When Mr. Ramegowda was asked to give details on the progress of work, he said works under the second package have been divided into 124 components to be taken up at a cost of Rs. 218 crores.

"While the tender process for 67 works at a cost of Rs. 111 crores has been completed and the file has been submitted to the Standing Committee on Works, we have called re-tenders for 30 works because of poor response from contractors. The remaining works will be entrusted to the Karnataka Land Army Corporation (KLAC) and we are hopeful of completing this process by April 10. But it is difficult to complete the works before the onset of monsoon," he said.

Commissioner unaware

Later, Commissioner K. Jothiramalingam, when reminded of the Chief Minister's deadline, told presspersons that he did not know what Mr. Kumaraswamy had said on roadworks.

"You must ask the Chief Minister about that. I can only say that we will be able to complete ongoing roadworks before the rains.

"We are hopeful of completing work on 300 km of roads taken up in the past," he said.

Pointing out that the officials had managed to negotiate with the asphalt contractors, who were reluctant to take up work after the High Court committee's recommendations on roadworks and increase in prices of raw material, the Commissioner said: "It is good that there is response from the contractors now."

BDA proposes change in land acquisition policy

BDA proposes change in land acquisition policy
Vijay Times

Bangalore: In what is being seen as a significant shift in its land acquisition process for new layouts, the Bangalore Development A uthority (BDA) is planning to do away with its existing land acquisition policy and adopt a new one on the lines of the Ahmedabad U rban Development A uthority (A UDA).

U nder the new policy , the farmer and the A uthority will become partners in the infrastructure development of the City .

The BDA Board, which met on March 24, has agreed to the proposal and the same has been sent to the go vernment for appro val. The present land acquisition policy is o ver a century old.

The A UDA’s land acquisition policy has helped it successfully acquire land from farmers in Gujarat with no litigations at all, a senior BDA official told Vijay T imes.

While reviewing the BDA’s works, Chief Minister H D K umaraswamy had appreciated the BDA’s proposal to change the land acquisition policy . As per the land acquisition policy in existence no w , the lands are acquired b y notifying the lands and issuing the preliminary and final notifications to land o wners. The recent Arkavathi episode, where many villagers and land owners filed objections to the acquisition proceedings citing various reasons, stands testimony to the problems caused by the existing policy to the Authority as well as the land o wners. As per rules under the present policy , whenever a piece of land is acquired b y the BDA, compensation is paid to the land o wner and a compensatory site is offered in its layout.

The funds paid as compensation are soon spent. This forces farmers to life of uncertainty and pushes their families into penury , he said.

U nder the new policy , the land o wner will have a stake of 10,000 sq.ft per acre of land within the same layout. Once the areas are developed by the BDA, the land o wner will have the right of place. Presently , the BDA compensates land o wners with 2,400 sq.ft (40x60 site) for every acre of land acquired from them. U nder the new policy , this will be increased to 10,000 sq.ft," the official explained.

"The change in policy will ensure that there are no inordinate delays and cost o verruns. The projects will be completed on time," the official said.

"There will be no shortcomings and bottlenecks and there will be no haphazard development of the place. The new policy will be applicable to acquisitions for formation of new layouts only ," he added.

Existing policy of notifying & acquiring is over 1 New policy to be based on AUDA format Farmer/land owner to get 10,000 sq foot for every The land will be developed and given to owner Presently only 2,400 sq ft/acre is given to farmer Farmer thus becomes part of development process

B’lore Metro: the train to nowhere?

B’lore Metro: the train to nowhere?
Deccan Herald

With just two days remaining before the current financial year comes to a close, the Bangalore Metro will miss the last available opportunity to get the go-ahead from the Centre this fiscal.

With just two days remaining before the current financial year comes to a close, the Bangalore Metro will miss the last available opportunity to get the go-ahead from the Centre this fiscal.

Well placed sources said late on Wednesday that the issue of final clearance for the much delayed project was unlikely to figure on the agenda at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) scheduled for Thursday. As such, Thursday’s meeting will be the last meeting of the CCEA this fiscal that ends on March 31.

The Central final clearance, including its financial participation to the tune of Rs 1,650 crore in the metro project, is considered necessary for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) proposed Rs 1,800 crore soft loan for the project. The availability of the JBIC loan during the next financial year is said to be contingent upon the Union Government’s clearance for the project by the end of this financial year since the JBIC board takes decisions on extending loans on the basis for prior clearance for the project.

JBIC has before it 10 project proposals from India for loan approvals in the next financial year. The proposal for funding Bangalore Metro to the tune of Rs 1,800 crore is one of them. The fact that the CCEA is most unlikely to take up for approval the Bangalore Metro project at its Thursday meeting is bound to cast a shadow over the H D Kumaraswamy-led Karnataka government’s enthusiasm to start work on the project.

Govt optimistic

However, sources in the Manmohan Singh government continued to maintain an air of optimism. “Some way out could be found to ensure that the JBIC proposal is kept alive so that the funding is available as soon as the project is cleared,” the sources said.

Apparently, the Union Finance Ministry could step in to see that the availability of JBIC funding for the metro project in the new financial year will not lapse. It was not clear what arrangement the Finance Ministry could work out to meet JBIC requirements.

Significantly, Bangalore Metro’s new managing director V Madhu was in the Capital during the day. He met the Union Urban Development Ministry secretary in the afternoon for consultations on the issue. Mr Madhu, who had come here Tuesday evening, is also believed to have got in touch with JBIC officials in the capital. Asked about his Delhi mission, Mr Madhu pleaded his inability to share contents of his discussions.

“Things are moving in the right direction. But at this stage I can’t share anything. I will come back here next Wednesday. A clear picture will emerge by that time,” Mr Madhu said before his departure for state capital late in the evening.

When contacted, JBIC officials too refused to speak on the subject. “We would not like to say anything now. Maybe next Monday we may be able to speak about it,” said an unnamed JBIC official in the capital.

Heat fails to sear Ugadi spirit

Heat fails to sear Ugadi spirit
Deccan Herald

In market areas like Malleswaram, Gandhi Bazaar, Srirampuram, Jayanagar 4th and 9th Blocks, Ulsoor and Madivala, people thronged to buy the traditional bevu (neem) and mavu (mango) leaves for Rs 5 a bunch and bella (jaggery).

Bangaloreans beat the March heat to shop for Ugadi goodies on Wednesday.

In market areas like Malleswaram, Gandhi Bazaar, Srirampuram, Jayanagar 4th and 9th Blocks, Ulsoor and Madivala, people thronged to buy the traditional bevu (neem) and mavu (mango) leaves for Rs 5 a bunch and bella (jaggery). Shoppers complained about the rise in the price of flowers, a typical feature on the eve of Hindu festivals. One hand span of jasmine cost Rs 15. Raw mangoes were fresh arrivals on market shelves.

Garment and jewellery shops were overflowing with women customers, particularly because of the belief that new clothes and jewellery mark the start of a new year. Even houses are cleaned up for a fresh start. The festivities also mean family reunion and traditional Kannadiga families start celebrations with an oil bath at dawn.

Political banners in which the State’s new coalition wishes Bangaloreans a happy Ugadi are adorned with message of novae bevu, nalivae bella (neem for pain, jaggery for happiness), set in the meaningful backdrop of leaves symbolising the green of JD(S) and the orange lotus symbolising the BJP.

The copper coloured neem leaves that sprout during this season in abundance in the garden city are considered a good antidote for skin ailments, particularly to wipe out the marks left on the body by chicken pox and measles.

A large number of foreign tourists also land at Puttaparthi to wish Sri Satya Sai Baba in an effort to welcome the adi (beginning) of the yuga (period). In keeping with the tales from mythology, the devout throng temples of Krishna and make a fresh start in new business ventures.

While most of Bengaluru takes a holige break, those in the service industry like nurses, policemen, the hospitality sector and doctors have to continue with their daily routine. Roads, however, can breathe easy and deep on Thursday, as traffic takes a break until dusk, when the holiday and festive mood converts into a shopping spree.

Thumbs up for IT

Party-poopers want closing time to stay
Thumbs up for IT
Deccan Herald

State of Bangalore, an AC Nielsen survey initiated by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald revealed that while most Bangaloreans acknowledge the IT industry’s contributions to the City’s development, an overwhelming majority wanted a check on the City’s party culture.

The present deadline of 11:30 pm is not practical in a cosmopolitan culture like ours. They should at least extend the deadline to midnight.

- Yusuf Arakkal, Sculptor

IT City, Pub Capital. In Bangalore, sobriquets could be apt and amusing at the same time. This could be an endorsement of the theory of many Bangalores within one Bangalore.

State of Bangalore, an AC Nielsen survey initiated by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald revealed that while most Bangaloreans acknowledge the IT industry’s contributions to the City’s development, an overwhelming majority wanted a check on the City’s party culture.

To the question “Do you feel that the IT community has done enough for the City’s development?”, 58 per cent of the respondents replied in the affirmative. While 37 per cent said the sector had not contributed enough to the City, five per cent remained indecisive.

According to Sumati, Communications Manager in an IT firm, an ambiguity concerning its role in the development process is holding the IT industry back from taking the initiative. “The IT industry wants to help, but they don’t know how. There is no roadmap made available to them, on where and how to invest in infrastructure projects,” she says.

“The IT community is only shouting itself hoarse, but doing nothing about the City’s development. If they feel Bangalore is not livable, why don’t they shift out of here instead of just threaten to do so?” wonders Anasuya Misra, a housewife. She feels that the IT industry should show more initiative, and participate in development projects rather than be armchair critics.

How late is late?

This one might come across as a twist. Figure this out. The Pub Capital doesn’t want the party to spill over into midnight, according to the survey.

The question: “Is it right to close down pubs/discos and restaurants at 11:30 pm?” The answer: An overwhelming yes, with 79 per cent of the respondents approving of the deadline. Nineteen per cent said no, while two per cent were undecided on the issue.

“Time limits should not be set by coercion. If the police fears that there will be more accidents due to drunken driving, they should ban the sale of alcohol after a particular time,” says Ramu Aravindan, a Communications Designer.

He, however, feels that food joints should be allowed to remain open, for those working odd shifts.

“Keeping deadlines for pubs and clubs is an outdated idea. We must come to terms with the fact that times have changed and adjust to it. Those working in call centres, IT companies and hotels keep late hours and even they are entitled to entertainment and social life after work,” says Abe Gowda, a cartoonist. He feels that if the police see law and order problems from keeping pubs open late, it reflects their own inadequacy. “Isn’t Mumbai, which has such a rocking nightlife, safe?” he asks.

BMP differs with CM on deadline

BMP differs with CM on deadline
The Times of India

Bangalore: The BMP does not seem to have taken a tip or two from last year’s deluge. On Wednesday, BMP engineer-in-chief Rame Gowda declared unabashedly, “It is not possible to finish road works before the onset of monsoon.’’

This when CM Kumaraswamy had assured on Tuesday in the Legislative Assembly that asphalting and road-related works would be completed before the rain.

Rame Gowda even added that it could be completed only be next year’s monsoon. Commissioner K Jothiramalingam defended this by explaining that there was a practical problem that the BMP faced, of unhelpful contractors. “For some works, the BDA had not even received tenders, at least we receive responses. Someone suggested that we blacklist the contractors who have not delivered. But corporators told me that if we blacklist them at this juncture, the ward works will get affected. ‘’

For the record, of the 1000 km of arterial roads which were supposed to have been done up, only 300 kms has seen work so far.

Lock and key for wedding halls: Replying to a query raised by Azadnagar corporator B T Srinivas Murthy on unauthorised wedding halls, commissioner Jothiramalingam said that five halls in each zone would be locked up by April end.

The case in point were the numerous wedding halls which were functioning in blatant violation of bylaws and deviation from original plan. After explaining the nuances of deviations, Jothiramalingam said with support from corproators, they could lock up at least 15 wedding halls totally which would serve as a warning to other buildings as well.

For the first time in the history of the BMP, a resolution was passed in the Council enabling it to spend budgetary allocation up to 30 per cent with pending approval for both administration and works expenses. Hitherto, 20 per cent of the total allocation of the Budget were used as pending approval for administrative works.

Bangalore to have more Malls

Bangalore to have more Malls
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: As the city's malls are becoming hotspots for Bangalore's cool crowd, the managements of these mega one-stop arcades are in expansion mode and are planning big.

Rohit Saxena, assistant manager of IDEB Group, which owns Sigma Mall on Cunningham Road, says the company plans to open a mall on the outer ring road, near Marathahalli.

The new mall, to be appropriately christened Grand is due to come up by mid-2008, and will have a five star hotel and a software park.

Guruda Mall is not to be left behind. Says Chief Administrative officer I S K Pillai a second mall, Garuda Swagath Mall, will take shape in Jayanagar, with the hope of luring the residents of Jayanagar, JP Nagar and BTM Layout. The new Garuda project is expected to be open to the public by the end of 2007.

Lido is also coming up with a mall shortly. The UB Group is also planning a foray into the mall business with a venture in UB City near Mallya Road.

Forum has expansion plans and hopes to open two more malls in Whitefield, both expected to be ready by 2008.

One will be lcoated in Shantiniketan on Whitefield Road and the other will be mainly a factory outlet on Varthur Main Road.

The two new malls will have hyper markets and multiplexes too, says Mohammed Ali, Manager Mall Leasing and Tenant Relations, Forum.

With malls multiplying in the city and competition taking a steep climb, managements are also studying visitors and planning innovative features to attract people.

Visit the city's malls and you will notice that the food outlets and the multiplexes are the most popular. Because of this, malls are concentrating on these areas.

While Sigma Mall is considering the incorporation of its own multiplex Xenon Screens, Garuda Mall will open an outlet of the Mumbai-based Kobe restaurant, which is known for the use of special sauces in its dishes.

Those wishing to dine in this restaurant will have to make reservations three days in advance.

Talking of another exclusive feature, Pillai says Garuda Mall will soon have a three star hotel in its building.

The property will be opened in about 6 months and will specially cater to the business class.

Eva on the other hand stands out from other malls as it is exclusively for women and children, says Praveen, Group manager for crisis handling.

If Eva goes on to add a cinema it will bring in more people and the mall would lose its uniqueness.

As such Eva, which has a number of games for children, would rather concentrate on adding more recreation for children.

Another effort to attract people to the malls has been brand promotions, music programmes and shopping contests and shopping festivals.

According to Veena, Forum's Marketing Executive, the mall organises many a live band show and uses its promotional space for product launches, product promotions and awareness programmes.

Forum also organises The Forum festival during its lean season. Pillai talks of the promos they organise on weekends and the Garuda fest that began on Ayudha Pooja and went on till New Year.

Officials ‘cheat’ BTM residents of meeting

Officials ‘cheat’ BTM residents of meeting
The Times of India

Bangalore: The civic officials by not turning up for a meeting promised on Wednesday to the 500 residents of the BTM 29th Main who are protesting against the Heavy Transport Vehicle (HTV) plying in their colony roads have disappointed the residents.
“We had been asked to disperse the dharna of 500 residents, solely on the promise that we will be allowed to meet the concerned officials to solve our problems. No official turned up at the BMP office except our corporator,’’ said Shaan Ahhat one of the residents of the area who was also there for the meeting.
“We were told that the officials were busy and that they will have to wait till 4 pm for the concerned officials to be free for the promised appointment. We felt like being treated a kids who can be fooled by giving lollipop to calm down on an issue,’’ she added.
After two hours of wait, the police representative who turned up was hell bent on not changing the route of the HTV without giving any substantial reason to the residents.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


City transport gets a smart image with the BMTC and KSRTC going in for design inputs
The Times of India

STAND and stare, by all means. That’s what you’ll be doing anyway when the new blue buses with stylish swirls and flourishes on their sides take off on the grid routes next month. Leave alone buses, even bus stations will look spiffy with organisations like the BMTC and the KSRTC seeking inputs from architects, and designers from NID, to make buses and stands look inviting.

Says a senior officer from BMTC, “All these efforts are expected to strengthen the brand.” Alongside, the NID design team has suggested that the signage and the roofs of the stops at the Kempe Gowda bus station also be colour-coded. The roofs are all in a continuous semicircle, so if you stand up on the walkway and look beneath, you’ll see pink, red, yellow rings enveloping the bus bays in a few weeks. The colourisation process will be under way soon, says the officer.
And the flourishes? “They can mean ‘seamless continuity,’ which is what commuters can expect from travelling by the grid buses,” says the officer. They could also stand for speed.

The logo? That will not undergo any change, though the designers came up with some very stylish interpretations of the gandaberunda, the twoheaded eagle logo, originally the insignia of the Mysore, Hoysala and Vijayanagar kingdoms.
A swanky bus stand that’s already in operation is the satellite bus station on Mysore Road. The aesthetics stand out. But why make a bus stand attractive? Says MR Srinivasamurthy, MD,

KSRTC, “We want commuters to feel good that they are in such an environment, we want them to feel good while they wait for a bus. We want to maximise their comfort, and also allow for commercial exploitation of such properties. Also, there’s been a lot of advance in transport engineering — how people get in, where they take their luggage, how to streamline movement, how to minimise fatigue and so on.” These inputs have been considered too.

Says Sagar Shetty, architect, whose team designed the bus station, “The land has high value, being on Mysore Road. So, we designed a trendy commercial building in front that can house a car showroom or an IT company. However, the chief aspect of the bus station is that human traffic and vehicular traffic do not criss-cross at all.” The curved building is shaped like a fan, keeping in mind vehicular movement. Because of this structure, the buses don’t need to reverse at all.

But should aesthetics matter so much in a bus stand? Product designer Neil Foley says they must. “Design is always related to quality of life. It’s also a tool for focussing on social issues. The BMTC and the KSRTC probably want to project a more professional image, that they are more concerned about the people they serve. A bus station is a like an airport at a micro level, so the comfort factor is important.”

And colour? “Colour adds to the brand identity. Colour also plays with the emotions of the onlooker or the user. The commuter must be made to get excited about getting into the bus,” says Foley.
Going by the blue buses, that should not be difficult. But, after that? That’s the test

Metro Rail huffs and puffs as procedures take toll

Metro Rail huffs and puffs as procedures take toll
The Times of India

Bangalore: The Bangalore Metro Rail project is slowly puffing to its last destination, but procedures are taking its toll before it goes to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Aff a i r s (CCEA).

The note which was circulated to various departments of the Government of India is expected to come back before Thursday when the CCEA meets in Delhi. Meanwhile, the Group of Ministers’ (GoM) note which has agreed to the Karnataka government’s proposal to have a standard gauge for the Bangalore Metro is going to the full Cabinet on Thursday for approval.

BMRC sources told TOI that getting the crucial Cabinet clearance on the GoM note is very important. “Once we get the nod, it will be a big step forward.’’

While the BMRC officials are hoping to get the CCEA clearance by Thursday, BMRC managing director V Madhu left for Delhi on Tuesday to keep a tab on the issue with the Union Urban Development Ministry and departments, who are yet to give their comments. The BMRC officials are meeting with Union Cabinet officials on Wednesday to press the matter.
Meanwhile, Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) loan in Tokyo was to be signed on Tuesday. JBIC was expected to offer Rs 1,800 crore loan, which was being offered at 1.3 per cent and after hedging the interest rate (for exchanged rate fluctuation) was to be around 3.6 per cent. Against that, banks in India are offering loans at 8 to 8.5 per cent.

It is clear that if the JBIC loan has to be obtained now, it would require intervention from the highest quarters of the Government of India.

Before leaving for Delhi, Madhu and other BMRC officials inspected the proposed alignment along the CMH Road.
Traders and residents of CMH Road have been demanding that the alignment be changed to go along Old Madras Road. The Justice Shivshankar Bhat Committee which resigned last week was supposed to have submitted its report on whether the alignment should be along CMH Road or Old Madras Road. The committee had done a lot of work, but its resignation has left the BMRC officials high and dry.

Govt asks panel for report
The Karnataka government has asked the Justice Shivshankar Bhat committee to submit its report. The committee is looking into the issue of alignment along CMH Road, which the traders and residents are demanding be changed to Old Madras Road. The committee has already met residents and traders of both segments and elicited their views.

The committee which had submitted its resignation last week after the government did not give it the necessary clarifications it had sought, has been urged to continue its work, sources told TOI. The CM had stated that the Metro Rail will be built only on government land and not private after shop owners at Kuvempu Road in Rajaji Nagar urged him to stop the acquisition of 150 properties for the project. The committee felt that if private properties cannot be acquired, then it had no role as both the CMH Road and Old Madras Road are on private land.

Corporators: elicit public opinion, then decide

Corporators: elicit public opinion, then decide
The Times of India

Bangalore: The tussle over reintroduction of pay-andpark system continued on Tuesday with JD(S) corporator Padmanab Reddy seeking to set up a committee to gather public opinion on the issue.

When the discussion over the BMP budget resumed on Tuesday, Reddy asked the BMP to collect public opinion over reintroduction of the system at least for fourwheelers. “A committee should be set up to get public opinion so that the pay-andpark system can be reintroduced at least for four-wheelers,’’ Reddy said. On Monday, ruling Congress leader in the BMP council H Ravindra had said the BMP should stick to its decision of scrapping the system.

Alleging that the budget was a bundle of lies, Reddy said it should be reviewed and re-presented. BMP, in the budget, had claimed Rs 10 crore revenue from violation of building by-laws, but the amount had not been recovered from violators even in the past, Reddy said.

Reddy also sought a white paper on BMP’s financial condition and details of how it would repay the loans borrowed from various financial institutions.

Corporator Mangala, who also sought clarification on repayment of loans suggested the BMP take the assistance of the BDA which has done a property survey. Stating that the budgetary allocation of Rs 18 lakh for education was not sufficient, she asked the BMP to look into appointment of teachers.

Hanumanthnagar corporator and former mayor Chandrashekar came down heavily on the budget and said corporators were not consulted while drawing up detailed reports for World Bank and JNNURM plans.

Pay ’n’ park? Some ayes and some nays

Pay ’n’ park? Some ayes and some nays
The Times of India

Bangalore: It’s been a year since the city was freed of the pay-and-park scheme. Many motorists especially women heaved a sigh of relief when it was scrapped. The sentiments echoed were so strong that the BJP who campaigned for its scrapping celebrated when it came to pass.

However, with BMP’s plans to reintroduce the scheme, motorists are a worried lot. To begin with, some of the apprehensions expressed by those who supported the system such as haphazard parking leading to blocked roads, thefts and even vandalism did not come true. Bangaloreans backed former mayor R Narayanaswamy’s call to use the parking spaces judiciously though unmonitored. Narayanaswamy, who spearheaded the move, says, “I used to receive hordes of complaints daily. People who needed to move around the city and park at different places found it too expensive. It’s not a people-friendly measure and that too for a meagre sum of Rs 4 crore.”

There were thoughts of bartering billboard space for parking management where billboard companies were to be given space to put up billboards in return for attendants to regulate parking at designated spots and the company would generate revenue from the billboards.

Those who are for pay-andpark feel it is needed to ensure orderly parking. Also, it is supposed to be a measure to discourage use of private vehicles and encourage use of public transport. Besides, it is supposed to ensure the safety of vehicles. But the fact remains there is no efficient public transport network in place. Moreover, parking tickets clearly state that the BMP is not responsible for the vehicle’s safety. This issue is more than just a financial matter. With a large number of people against it, political parties are wary of going against their sentiment. “People of Bangalore welcomed the move to scrap it. We will not allow it to come back,” says S Prakash, the city’s BJP spokesperson. “We will definitely oppose it. There are many ways to regulate parking without taxing the common man,” says M R Seetharam, MLA.

“Paid parking was an unpleasant experience. I don’t think Rs 4 crore is worth putting women motorists through such harassment,” says Divya Muthanna, an electronics engineer. Most believe that pay-and-park creates more problems than solutions. The issue can be resolved only by the introduction of the metro and planned parking complexes. Till then, it’s musical chairs in the city’s parking spaces.

Will Metro Rail project receive Rs. 1,800-crore loan from JBIC?

Will Metro Rail project receive Rs. 1,800-crore loan from JBIC?

The Hindu

The deadline for signing loan agreement expired on Tuesday

# The agreement was to have been signed by the Indian and Japanese governments
# It could have been signed only if the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the project
# The next meeting of the committee can take place only on March 30
# It is not clear whether the JBIC will extend the deadline

BANGALORE: Has the Rs. 6,300-crore Metro Rail missed the JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation) bus? This is the question being asked by all those who have been keenly watching the developments relating to the mega project for Bangalore city.

Tuesday (March 28) was the deadline set by the JBIC for signing the Rs. 1,800-crore loan agreement between the Union Government and the Government of Japan.

For the agreement to be signed, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) should have approved the project. That has not happened. The CCEA, which meets on Thursdays, did not approve it even by March 23.

The next meeting can take place only on March 30, past the JBIC deadline.

V. Madhu, Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL), has gone on record saying that the Union Government is seized of the matter and that he will make efforts to secure the loan. He has said that he will take it up with the authorities concerned during his visit to New Delhi.

Metro was one of the 20 projects short-listed for JBIC loan. JBIC representatives had visited the city for an assessment of the project before short-listing it. Hence, it is argued that the bank has several other avenues to invest and is not particularly keen on investing only in the Metro.

But sources point out that the bank's representatives have visited the city at least four times and have found it creditworthy. "They are likely to give the loan," the sources said.

The sources said the loan is crucial for the Metro because it is the cheapest.

While the bank charged an interest of 1.3 per cent per annum, loan for the Metro could have been obtained at 3.6 per cent.

JBIC gives loans at low rates for such projects in developing countries in its effort to promote international peace and security. JBIC has said: "Japan is dependent on foreign countries for resources, energy, foods, etc. Stability of an international community and its sustained growth are thus important for the nation to ensure its own security and prosperity."

India has taken a loan from JBIC for rebuilding the areas affected by the tsunami.

He picks holes in BMP roads

He picks holes in BMP roads
Deccan Herald

He is no executive engineer or quality controller with the BMP. Far from it. Wing Commander Mohamed Raza Shirazi sounds like just another resident, complaining about bad roads, potholes and run-down pavements.

He knows when the bituminous tack coat on the road is not properly layered on the newly-widened road. He knows when specifications are skipped during road-asphalting or when the pavement slabs are not firmly joined.

He is no executive engineer or quality controller with the BMP. Far from it. Wing Commander Mohamed Raza Shirazi sounds like just another resident, complaining about bad roads, potholes and run-down pavements. However, this fifth generation Bangalorean does not stop at that.

Shirazi, an executive committee member of the Citizens’ Welfare Association of Langford Town and Richmond Town, stays awake all night overseeing the BMP’s road-widening work in his locality.

He has taken an average of 15 photographs a day for the past four years to show where civic agencies have erred. He uses the Right to Information Act to get details on road works in his area, and then knocks on the BMP commissioner’s door to point out irregularities which even the bureaucrat is unaware of.

His efforts have won him a special mention in the third bi-annual report prepared by the Captain Raja Rao Committee on the quality of road works.

“We are working like woodpeckers, we will keep at it till the BMP learns how to go about its business,” says Shirazi, as he sifts through a pile of photographs on his table. A framed poster in the background perhaps states the ground rule: ‘Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’

Garbage piled up at junctions, lorries and cars parked on pavements, rubbish burnt inside litigated property, street dog menace, traffic chaos, sidewalks being built, demolished and rebuilt… pictures of the apathy of the authorities find space in his family albums.

“No one can question what a photograph reveals. I challenge officials with photographic evidence, so that they don’t have an escape route,” Shirazi says.

Being an Indian Air Force man helps, believes Shirazi, who has spent nearly four decades in the IAF. “I don’t fear the authorities and interact with officials at the highest rung, unlike others who chicken out or give up,” says Shirazi, a recipient of the Vayu Sena Medal and Shourya Chakra.

Shirazi’s latest project is to bring the irregularities in the World Bank-funded road rehabilitation work on the stretch between N R Square and Hosur Road via Langford Road, to the notice of the BMP.

According to him, the first five technical specifications — pavement and camber correction, desilting of side drains, potholes and depression filling — have been given a miss.

“They moved straightaway on to applying the bituminous tack coat. During the first two days, they applied it using tow trucks, but later resumed the old manual method of spraying it using perforated tin cans. I took photographs and sent them to BMP,” he says.

Job well done. Trust him to follow it up too.

Myopic civic vision is the blight on Bangalore

Myopic civic vision is the blight on Bangalore
Deccan Herald

State of Bangalore, an AC Nielsen survey initiated by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald with Radio City as a partner, saw Bangaloreans slamming the inept municipal administration for the City’s infrastructure woes.

The causes of Bangalore’s crumbling infrastructure are not limited to bad governance or lack of planning. There’s a lack of civic sense... and violations of laws contribute to the problem.

- Samuel Paul

Chairman, Public Affairs Centre

Weighed down by bad roads and surging traffic, Bangalore is increasingly being identified with that 14-letter word – infrastructure. Or rather, two words – bad infrastructure.

The blame game could still be on at the official level, but Bangaloreans seem to be sure where the buck stops.

State of Bangalore, an AC Nielsen survey initiated by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald with Radio City as a partner, saw Bangaloreans slamming the inept municipal administration for the City’s infrastructure woes.

To the question “What do you think is the biggest reason for all of Bangalore’s infrastructure problems?” 59 per cent of the respondents blamed unplanned development by the municipal authorities.

While 21 per cent found the boom in IT sector responsible for the problems, 20 per cent pointed at incompetent governance.

“Lack of planning by municipal authorities is the main reason for Bangalore’s infrastructure problems. The unexpected boom in the IT sector and incompetent governance are only contributing factors,” says advocate C K Nandakumar.

The argument that the City was not ready for such development doesn’t hold good, he says. “There are cities abroad that shoulder populations several folds larger than that of Bangalore, and still provide good infrastructure,” he points out

“There is no action, foresight or political will to improve the situation. While more buildings are being constructed, the roads have been sidelined,” says V Balaji, a chartered accountant. He points out that pavements in the City are also in a bad shape.

“It is the government’s responsibility to focus on all these issues, but they are failing to deliver,” he says.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cong pulls out all stops for free parking

Cong pulls out all stops for free parking
The Times of India

Bangalore: If the ruling Congress in the BMP Council has its way, free parking on city roads will continue. Ruling Congress leader H Ravindra on Monday said they will stick to the decision of scrapping the pay-and-park system. The BMP top brass, however, is yet to take a decision whether to reintroduce the system.

“We will stick to the ban on pay-andpark system. The BMP can hold a dialogue with the state in this regard,’’
Ravindra said while addressing the council during the discussion on Friday’s BMP budget. He said some groups had monopoly over contracts and were involved in largescale fraud. “Some of them who monopolise get permission for one road and use the same tickets for several roads. There is nobody to check the system,’’ he added.

While calling for a need to revamp BMP’s legal department, which Ravindra said was not working in BMP’s interest, he said the department plays an important role in checking illegal hoardings, fraud in the pay-and-park system and also in recovery of taxes. While also charging revenue officers with blatant violations, he sought to set revenue targets for their respective jurisdictions. “Property worth lakhs is in BMP’s jurisdiction. Property tax and fines for various violations can be recovered only if the legal department is efficient,’’ Ravindra added.

On the proposal to set up a slaughter house with an allocation of Rs 10 crore, Ravindra asked authorities to work out the logistics including transport of the produce for nearly 30 km into the city.

While welcoming most of the initiatives in the budget, the Congress leader also sought better monitoring of salary disbursement to pourakarmikas, digging of roads by other civic agencies and to draw up a ward-wise development review report every fortnight.

The opposition leaders however said the BMP budget lacked new ideas and termed it old wine in a new cask. He also said that appointment of deputy commissioners had been delayed. He demanded that a ward-wise property list be prepared. Nanjundappa sought a clarification from the BMP commissioner on loans availed for various projects and also suggested that the BMP take over slums from the Slum Board.

Discussion on budget will continue.


Metro Rail infrastructure: Opposition BJP leader in the BMP council, A H Basavaraj, sought to know if BMP was working in tandem with BMRC with regard to service roads and other infrastructure alongside the Metro Rail.

While stating there was no budgetary allocation for any infrastructure in connection with the Metro Rail, Basavaraj sought to know if BMP had held a meeting with BMRC officials. “Service roads and other infrastructure is needed along the Metro Rail route. There has been no mention of it in the budget,’’ Basavaraj said. He also sought a list of loans availed by BMP and details on how feasible it was to take up projects along with revenue earned by BMP.

More promises: CM speaks of global Bangalore

More promises: CM speaks of global Bangalore
The Times of India

Bangalore: Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy dished out a virtual basket of promises for Bangalore city in the legislative assembly on Monday.

Though a few of his assurances, to date, have got off the paper, the assembly turned into yet another platform for him to announce his commitment towards ‘global’ Bangalore. He even opted to use corporate language like “local area traffic management plan’’ and “intelligent traffic management’’ through the newly announced B-trac project.

Affirming K Chandrashekar’s (Cong) contention that traffic in Bangalore was a crawling nightmare, Kumaraswamy said the proposed Rs 30 crore inner core Ring Road, widening of 45 major roads and new flyovers would go some way in easing “traffic stress.’’

“About 85 road asphalting packages are being tendered for the major arterial roads, which will be implemented over 400 km in Bangalore. Under the World Bank loan, 41 roads are being taken up. 29 IT/BT roads, major commercial roads, all major junctions are being reviewed and taken up to reduce traffic intensity,’’ the CM said.

If that is not enough, Kumaraswamy made some more positive noises: “All programmes to ease traffic congestion will be timebound.’’
He announced a 10-focal point ‘short-term’ programme: roads, public transport, vehicle stands, footpaths, traffic control and implementation, traffic education and awareness, the role of the public, road safety. These, he said, would be followed by the medium and long-term programmes.

He released breath-taking statistics: Bangalore’s vehicle population in 1996 was 10 lakh against 23 lakh in 2006; 900 new vehicles registered per day in Bangalore; major roads like Hosur road, Airport road, Bellary road, Mysore Road, Kanakapura Road, Old Madras Road and Tumkur Road are handling almost twice their designed capacity.

How to tackle these? More promises:

Flyovers at Jayadeva Hospital and Airport Road junctions will be completed on time; new flyovers at Tagore Circle, R V Teachers College and Yeshwantpur; Ramakrishna ashram flyover, once the locals are convinced on the need for it.
Metro Rail
Peripheral Outer Ring Road.
Repair of all major roads and drains.
992 new traffic policemen for better traffic management; if more needed, will be hired.
Strict traffic policing and fines; fines from 17 lakh cases in 2005 — Rs 20 crore — will be ploughed back into traffic management.
Traffic awareness camps.
Major roads made one-ways.
Road accidents down from 9,101 in 2004 to 7,575 in 2006.
Local area committees to implement local area traffic management plan.
7 pre-paid autorickshaw stands, more on the anvil.

No yarning gap: apparel, textile SEZ for city

No yarning gap: apparel, textile SEZ for city
To Be Ready In Two Years Jobs For 50,000 Workers
The Times of India

Bangalore: Bangalore’s position as one of India’s biggest apparel and textile hubs just got a further boost. The Karnataka government’s high level clearance committee has approved an exclusive SEZ (special economic zone) for apparel and textile to be set up on the Kanakapura Road (6 km before Harohalli) with an investment of Rs 1,250 crore.

The 400-acre SEZ, the first in Karnataka for this industry, is expected to house 50 factories with a total employment of 50,000 workers. It is being promoted by Gokaldas Exports, India’s biggest garment exporter, who will spend Rs 100 crore to acquire the land and set up the basic infrastructure. The remaining investment amount will come from other companies that set up factories in the SEZ.

Gokaldas Exports director Rajendra Hinduja said the SEZ will be ready in two years. The SEZ will consist of spinning, weaving, dyeing and garmenting units, as also accessories’ manufacturers to supply all textile-related requirements such as threads, buttons, fasteners, labels and corrugated boxes.

The park will have a customs office, banks, effluent treatment plant, dispensaries, shopping area, restaurants, container freight station and truck yard. It will have an independent apparel training centre, and also a laboratory for testing of fabrics and raw materials.

The state government has also been promoting an apparel park in Doddaballapur. The SEZ status for the Kanakapura park means that customs duties and other taxes will be waived for all inputs being used in the park to manufacture products for export. Such waivers make products from SEZs more competitive in global markets.

Weaving dreams
Total export revenue expected from SEZ is about Rs 2,500 crore.
Bangalore currently exports about Rs 5,000 cr worth of apparel.
City has some 3.5 lakh workers in apparel sector.
Another 20,000 in textiles.

A disturbing trend in traffic violations

A disturbing trend in traffic violations
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The recklessness, which led to the death of two policemen in separate road accidents last week, has shocked people, but the incidents do not come as a surprise.

Bangalore is second only to Delhi in the number of fatal road accidents and vehicle population. But what is surprising is the nature of the city’s traffic. Commonsense would say that rigorous enforcement of traffic rules would keep a check on violations. But the traffic statistics seem to defy this.

Last year, the traffic police booked over 15 lakh cases under the Indian Motor Vehicle Act, compared to 10 lakh the year before. The offence under which the maximum number of cases was booked was jumping traffic signals (1.86 lakh).

Violating one - ways came second with 1.06 lakh cases. In 2004, the police had booked 1.15 lakh cases and 95,916 cases under these two heads respectively. Yet, offences are still being committed every minute and with impunity.

The apparent reasons for motorists violating rules are indeed disturbing. For, even though motorists are aware of the rules and keep an eye out for enforcement squads lurking on road corners, many prefer to break a rule if a policeman is not around.

Incidentally, even as Bangalore has a high number of accidents, the city’s traffic police force comprises a mere 1,871 personnel. The police had initiated several measures for prevention of accidents like reducing junction conflicts by introducing one-ways and equipping squads with alcometers.

The police had also found that software employees were more vulnerable due to work timings and around 3,500 people were given training in traffic discipline and road safety.

Raised zebra crossings have been installed in many places because nearly 40 percent of casualties were pedestrians. Many of these measures have paid off and the number of accidents had come down marginally in 2005.

But on the other hand, midnight racers continued cock - a - snook at policemen by holding ‘drag races’ on M G Road, a Zero Tolerance Zone. This menace had continued till the police launched a special drive around two weeks ago.

Ironically, sub - inspector Arun Kumar was checking vehicles on the racing circuit (M G Road to Cubbon Road) when he was mowed down by a reckless driver on March 18.

Senior officers say the number of violations is also due to the phenomenal increase in vehicle population and an influx of people to the city. In fact, the future plans for traffic decongestion in the city includes setting up of traffic help desks and more public interaction.

The right drive

The right drive

Before all the fancy transport innovations, BMTC ought to clean up its act
The Hindu

There has been plenty of talk of late about modernising the public transport system in Bangalore with the hope that it will reduce the ever-increasing number of vehicles. Skybus, monorail, and now of course the almost-launched metro, are on everyone's lips. Wouldn't it be nice if authorities were to pay attention to the here and now BMTC?

A few months ago, I spent some time in Birmingham, U.K. It has an excellent and user-friendly bus system and I was able to visit almost every place of interest on my own. Before I chalked out my programme for the day, I could get all the details such as route numbers, the time the bus would be reaching a certain point, fare to be paid and so on from the Internet. The timings were rarely out by more than three minutes either way. While clockwork precision is a long way off, am I expecting too much when I ask the BMTC to publish a timetable once a year? In sufficient numbers so it doesn't get exhausted on the second day of its appearance?

If the BMTC would not like to be tied down to timings, it could at least issue pamphlets detailing the routes, route numbers, earliest starting time, last bus — the minimum information needed to plan a trip. When a bus arrives, by the time I try to squint through the dirty glass covering the route board to decipher where it is going and make sense of the small Kannada lettering, the bus is gone!

While everyone talks of eradicating corruption, some simple things BMTC can surely implement if they are interested. I am referring to the undignified spectacle of well-built young men sitting in seats reserved for women while long-suffering women, some carrying babies, hang on to the straps. A firm diktat to the crew that they would be punished if they condoned this should do the trick. But then who can help if women themselves, who vociferously demand reservation in Legislature, don't ask men to vacate the seats in the bus? I have rarely seen them do so.

Gokaldas to set up textile SEZ in B’lore

Gokaldas to set up textile SEZ in B’lore
Deccan Herald

Gokaldas Exports Limited is setting up an exclusive special economic zone (SEZ) for Apparel and Textile at an investment of Rs 1,250 crore.

The SEZ would be located on Kanakapura Road and would be spread out in 400 acres to house 50 factories with a total employment of 50,000 workmen.

Besides an independent Apparel Training Centre it will also have a laboratory for testing of fabrics and raw materials.

Apart from accessories manufacturers the park will comprise of spinning and weaving units, dyeing units, garmenting units, and other allied manufacturing activities. The total export revenue from the proposed SEZ is expected to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore, a company release said.

Govt plans Rs 350-cr traffic improvement

Govt plans Rs 350-cr traffic improvement
Deccan Herald

A 10-point programme will be prepared jointly by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the Police Department that will address issues related to roads, traffic management, parking and road safety, he said.

The State Government is planning to implement a Rs 350-crore Bangalore Traffic Improvement Project to tackle traffic problems in the City, Chief Minister H D Kumaaraswamy informed the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Replying to a call attention notice from N L Narendra Babu and K Chandrashekar (both Congress) Mr Kumaaraswamy said the proposed project would be implemented during the next five years. The Chief Minister said Rs 44 crore had already been earmarked in the 2006-07 budget.

A 10-point programme will be prepared jointly by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and the Police Department that will address issues related to roads, traffic management, parking and road safety, he said.

Pointing out that as many as 900 vehicles were being registered in Bangalore every day, Mr Kumaaraswamy said the number of vehicles had increased from 10 lakh in 1996 to 23 lakh in 2006. The vehicle load was particularly dense on Hosur, Airport, Bellary, Mysore, Kanakapura, Old Madras and Tumkur roads. Several new flyovers and a core ring road has been planned to decongest the city’s traffic, he said.

Road repairs

Mr Kumaaraswamy said the BMP had set aside adequate funds for road repairs in all wards. The government has already taken a decision to recruit 992 traffic constables, he said and added that local area committees had been formed for management of traffic at different junctions.

Congress reiterates stand on parking fee issue in city

Congress reiterates stand on parking fee issue in city
Deccan Herald

The ruling Congress in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike continues to reiterate that vehicle parking fee will not be re-introduced in the City despite the official machinery’s repeated sta-tements to the contrary, in the recent past.

The ruling party’s leader in the Mahangara Palike Council H Ravindra on Monday said that it did not matter what the government had already said on the issue; if need be the Mahanagara Palike would appeal to the government again.

Political hue

Speaking to reporters later, Ravindra also gave a political colour to the issue.

“Parking fee won’t be back at least till our term ends”, he said referring to the year end elections due in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

Shot down

Mahanagara Palike Co-mmissioner K Jothiramalingam had only last week noted that parking fee will be back in the month of April.

The State government has shot down the Mahanagara Palike’s proposal on free parking and the City police are in the process of identifying the roads where it wants the system to be re-introduced, Jothi-ramalingam had said.

BJP unhappy over BMP’s attitude on Metro Rail project

BJP unhappy over BMP’s attitude on Metro Rail project
Deccan Herald

Speaking on the budget proposals presented on Friday, BJP leader H Basavaraj asked shouldn’t the BMP play a facilitator role by making allocations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday took strong exception to Bangalore Mahanagara Palike not allocating budget for the Metro Rail project and alleged that the civic body lacked foresight.

Speaking on the budget proposals presented on Friday, BJP leader H Basavaraj asked shouldn’t the BMP play a facilitator role by making allocations. The spin off of Metro Rail would have a bearing on the developments. The civic body should gear up to meet the responsibilities. BMP officials should hold discussions with Bangalore Metrorail project promoters.

Flaying some of the proposals like the increase in the Mayor’s grant from Rs 11 crore to Rs 20 crore and re-allocation of funds for the development of Sankey Tank and spill over works, the BJP leader termed the Rs 1,870.83-crore budget proposals of the poll year as “a disappointing document that reeks of greed”.

Earlier, leader of the main Opposition JD(S) B R Nanjundappa said the BMP was yet to ready a ward-wise list of taxable properties. Also, property tax collection targets were never ever met in the BMP. This year’s collection (Rs 240 crore) was over Rs 100 crore short of the target (Rs 350 crore), he observed.

Bengaluru is more bang for the buck

Bengaluru is more bang for the buck
Deccan Herald

"The real focus should be on improving the state of the City. Politicians might try gaining mileage from the whole controversy." - Shashi Deshpande, writer writer

All’s in the name, after all. Or at least, that’s what Bangaloreans seem to believe in. When it’s a question of choice – between Bangalore and Bengaluru – the City’s residents have an opinion, and a strong one at that.

State of Bangalore, an AC Nielsen survey initiated by CNN-IBN and Deccan Herald, revealed that a majority of the Bangaloreans want the City rechristened as Bengaluru.

To the question “Do you support the move to change the name of Bangalore to Bengaluru?” 55 per cent of the respondents said yes. While 42 per cent disapproved and a measly three per cent gave an indecisive verdict, reflecting the extreme views endorsed by the City’s residents on the issue.

The survey, which had Radio City as its radio partner, was conducted among a sample of Bangalore residents cutting across age and classes. “There is a contention that renaming the City as Bengaluru smacks of regionalism, which is incorrect for the simple reason that the very term ‘renaming’ is not accurate. Bengaluru was the real name of the City, before it was anglicised and made Bangalore,” says IT consultant Shyam.

“Changing the name of Bangalore to Bengaluru is purposeless, and even eccentric,” says Alexander, marketing manager with a City-based company. He believes that the Bangalore brand would be dented by the move, which involves extensive revamping of addresses, signboards, billboards and train numbers.

“It will be time-consuming and very expensive. We should give attention to civic issues, rather than haggling over a name,” he says.

“I can’t see the difference. The City is anyway called Bengaluru in Kannada. It is not like Madras changing to Chennai. I don’t think this issue is worth arguing on,” says Dinesh Kedlaya, an IT professional.

Road repair work haphazard in city

Road repair work haphazard in city
The Asian Age

Bangalore, March 26: As is well known just one sharp shower of rain is capable of throwing the city into disarray. It would be surprising if the new coalition government has not already set the wheels in motion to get things in order. As a visitor remarked with a measure of resignation, "Every time I visit the city I see new and impressive buildings, but the roads seem to be going from bad to worse." The person hit the nail on the head. He is a bureaucrat from Tamil Nadu.

He elaborated, "The state government there is very particular about the state of the roads, especially the chief minister. He has emphasised more than once to us, that it is the roads that must impress the visitor whether he or she is from another part of the country or from overseas."

The state’s chief minister, H.D. Kumaraswamy did go on a visit to see the state of the main arterial roads for himself. He was terribly annoyed with the condition as well as the lack of attention by the concerned authorities. In fact the officials who accompanied him were on the receiving end of severe censure and were asked to buck up.

A senior BDA official agreed to be quoted on a promise of confidentiality, "Every new government is aware of the sort of problems that the roads present. One of the reasons that the work does not get done is there are too many departments involved. It is a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing. Then there is a matter of proper distribution of funds. Basically all through the years the governments have been helpless given the city’s growth."

Almost 25 years ago a seasoned bureaucrat, Mani Narayanswamy, who was then the chairman of the KSRTC made it a point to warn the city fathers that the roads as they were then would not be able to take the burden of increased and heavy traffic. He said then, "One cannot forget that these roads were built for the occasional car, cycles and jhatkas (pony-drawn carts). As I was in charge of the KSRTC, I realised that the more number of buses put out would take severe toll of the roads. Ever since then there have been new roads, but the fact is the old ones are merely being patched up and that too without proper knowledge."

The warning has proved prophetic. Mr Narayanswamy, who has long retired, lives in this city. Maybe it would be sensible to invite him over and take his views. As things are going maintaining the existing roads is a matter of damage control rather than giving the public something comfortable and safe to use. As one motorist was heard to remark after went into a pot-hole, "The government should have a - count-the-pot-hole - contest and nobody will get the number right."

Monday, March 27, 2006

B'lore highway to success jammed

B'lore highway to success jammed

Bangalore: It's called India's Silicon Valley and is said to be the country's fastest growing city, with an IT sector that is well on the highway to global glory.

However, what's slowing down the hi-paced Garden City is its snail-paced traffic.

Bangalore's traffic nightmare can be well defined in a few lines.

Bangaloreans say that while in the rest of India drives on the left of the road; they drive on what's left of the road.

In the rest of India, there's no flyover with a traffic intersection; in Bangalore, they have a traffic signal and criss-crossing traffic atop a flyover.

In the rest of India, one-way roads mean traffic can only move one way; in Bangalore, there are two ways traffic can move on a one-way road.

Over the years, Bangalore has been criticised for its traffic.

The city that adds 600 to 800 vehicles to its girdle everyday, (that is, nearly two-and-a half lakh vehicles every year) has just 1,800 policemen manning it.

Obviously, something's just not right.

"There's nothing wrong with having vehicles; the only thing we ask is to put vehicles at home and come on public transport," Deputy Commssioner of Police, M A Saleem, says.

One of the most accident-prone roads in Bangalore, the National Highway no. 4, leads straight to Peenya circle – atraffic nightmare.

The Peenya-Jalahalli intersection is one of the reasons that Bangalore has earned another infamous tag.

It now ranks a notorious second in the country as far as road accidents go, just after Delhi.

"At the same time, 2005 accidents were reduced to a large extent and some areas are very congested and you know speed is so less that accidents are less, that's another way of seeing," Saleem says.

And as if traffic woes weren’t enough to slow the city to a grinding halt, pollution, too, is taking its toll. Vehicular emission, now, exceeds safety levels on most highways. So what went wrong?

"Bangalroe city is not planned for this amount of traffic. It's good for seven to eight lakh vehicles because roads remain the same – they are narrow and congested. Buildings and industries have grown," Advisor, Traffic and Transportation Engineering, Prof M N Sreehari, says.

"There is no single solution, we need different solutions. Widening roads, metro rail, goods roads, intelligent traffic control systems and at the same time, education is important. People must be continuously educated on need to follow road discipline, particularly lane discipline," Saleem says.

The situation is so grim that the Indian Institute of Management started a course on infrastructure this year with a hope that perhaps the B-School students will find a way out.

'Adopt a lake' in IT city

'Adopt a lake' in IT city

BBC News

Unplanned and unregulated development of residential and office buildings in the southern Indian city of Bangalore has created a problem - many of the city's lakes have disappeared.

Out of 300-odd lakes that once contributed to Bangalore's temperate climate, only about 35 are left today. And many of these are threatened by urban growth.

A deluge last October, when 117mm of rainfall flooded large parts of the city, brought home the deplorable state of urban planning in India's IT capital.

There was a realisation that saving the lakes should be a priority.

Since then one of Bangalore's lakes, Sheelavantharakere, spread over 20 acres, has been restored, thanks to a citizens' initiative.

What was until a few months ago a dumping ground for garbage and rubble from construction sites has come to life again.

The birds are back, fish are breeding again and the water-table is getting recharged.

'Joining hands'

The lake was "adopted" by the Palm Meadows Residents Association from an exclusive leafy suburb, which has many people who work the IT sector.

Lake Sheelavantharakere's restoration has "set an example" for Bangalore, says BK Singh, the head of the government's Lake Development Authority (LDA).

The government does not have the resources to restore the lakes, he says.

"Even when a government agency does take up the task of preserving a lake it runs out of money after some time and the lake falls prey to neglect," says Mr Singh.

And that problem gave rise to the "Adopt a lake" policy.

Under the scheme, a group of residents, builders, and educational institutions can decide to save a lake. The LDA screens the applications.

'Do our bit'

RK Misra, of the Palm Meadows Association, explains the basic problem with lake Sheelavantharakere: "A wall had been built right across the lake bed by a builder."

He says he met cynicism and scepticism among some other residents about his ideas for restoring the lake.

"We wanted to do our bit for our environment and joined hands to make it a success," Mr Misra says.

The cost of restoring the lake, including de-silting and beautification, came to some $200,000 (£115,000).

In the last decade, the IT boom has led Bangalore's population to grow beyond seven million.

This resulted in a construction boom, even on places as unsuitable as lake beds.

Ansar Pasha, a resident of a thriving middle class residential locality, had a rude shock last year when his house was flooded one morning.

"We were never told that we were living on a lake bed. We spent a lot of money to buy an apartment but last year's rains once again showed how the contractors and politicians joined hands to destroy the city's eco-system," Mr Pasha says.

It was discovered that natural outlets of many lakes were either blocked or had disappeared over the years. That led to the lakes spilling over and flooding many parts of the city.

'Lake view'

The lake authority says six more lakes will be handed over to private organisations and real estate companies for restoration.

Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar calls this a "step forward".

"If the government does not have funds then it makes sense to hand them over to private organisations and residents," Mr Heblikar says.

But he warns that the government will have to keep a close tab on those are given management of the lakes.

He cites an instance when a big lake close to the airport was encroached upon and a few multinationals built their offices, only to discover later that the builder had forged land documents.

The LDA argues that real estate developers also have an incentive to save the lakes. If they help restore the lakes, builders can market "lake view" apartments at a premium, says Mr Singh, the LDA chief.

IT executive Suhas Nerurkar, a resident of Palm Meadows, is happy to see a dirty landfill being revived into a thriving lake in his backyard. But, he wonders if the idea to save lakes can be replicated all over Bangalore.

"Saving the lakes requires both (finance) capacity and willingness. I do not think it is easy to do," he says.

No more route confusion

No more route confusion
BMTC Displays Customised Maps At Three Bus Stations
The Times of India

Bangalore: You don’t have to ask around or wait for conductors at the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus stations to find out the bus routes.

The BMTC has displayed customised route maps in three stations — Kempegowda, Shivajinagar and Shanthi Nagar — based on Global Information System (GIS) for the benefit of its commuters. The map details the route of all the buses that leave or pass the station. The facility, officials say, will be extended to 10 more bus stations across the city. The idea stemmed from the official trip which Chief Traffic Manager K S Viswanath had taken to Europe along with the BMTC MD Upendra Tripathy. “We found similar maps displayed at various bus-stations there. We realised that commuters here were finding it difficult to reach their destination without proper guidance. We planned to implement it in Bangalore taking local needs into consideration.’’

The corporation now boasts of being the first in India to have such maps. Commuters have welcomed the initiative, and the World Bank team that visited the station told officials that they were impressed.

The map is displayed in both Kannada and English and covers routes including suburban areas and bus terminuses. It details the city’s topography including roads and areas along with respective route numbers.

“Surveys conducted for the BMTC by a private firm showed that commuters were prepared to take public transport, giving up their personal transport, if a proper system is evolved where the commuter is able to know the exact distance of his destination and change-over route,” says Ravi Kumar M R, MD, Integra Systems & Services, who designed the maps.


* These 10x15 ft maps are bi-lingual (Kannada and English). Gives complete geography of Bangalore.
* Customised for each bus terminus. * Respective route numbers are marked near arrival bus stations.
* Proposed bus-stops where these maps will be installed are RPC Layout, Nandini Layout, Domlur, Jeevanbhima Nagar, Chandra Layout, Banashankari, Yelahanka Satellite Town, Basaveswaranagar, BTM Layout, Kumaraswamy Layout and Malleswaram 18th Cross.

Decentralize now and save the city

Decentralize now and save the city
Vijay Times

Actor turned Environmentalist Suresh Heblikar , who is the Secretary of the Bharath Scouts and Guides (Karnataka Circle) is a person who loves this City . The man, who is also the founder-c convenor of Eco W atch, a centre for enviro and sustainable development, spoke on problems that he thought were of utmost importance. Not stopping with just discussing problems, the environmentalist also spoke on how these problems could be solved. The passion with which he discussed the issues made it obvious that his words were straight from the heart.

T oday , the poor here have helped the wealthy to grow richer and richer . Consider the hue and cry raised by IT - BT industries. The previous governments did so much just to appease the heads of a few IT companies.

Again, when there was a change in governmen we heard them crib about the lack of infrastructur And our administrators did everything possibl keep them happy .

But as a government, let them ask themselve they have exclusive ’poor friendly’ tasks on agenda . If so, how many such tasks were executed and how many stood to benefit from such tasks? The way innumerable apartments are cropping up everywhere drives you mad. Who are they? Not the poor at all. Not even the commoner . Wh the government been doing in these ten year allowing all this to happen under its nose ? Because of these structures, our lakes hav appeared thus devastating the water bodies. Percolation of water has stopped in these a The number of slums have gone up.

The vehicles in the City cause about 25 per cent of air pollution.

Even in the case of Metro , things are not ent. The survey speaks of the track passing throug Lalbagh.

Listen ! Queen Elizabeth had described it a miniature Holland in Bangalore, when she vis the place decades ago.

It looks like the Metro will be crushing d thousands of homes of the poor . I’m told comes before my house too that is situated cool bylanes of Jayanagar amidst the lush g locales of Lakshman Rao park. If it tantamounts to eliminating these parks and trees, then I will not keep quiet.

Look, we should have got the Metro 15 years ago when the City had not developed so much. T what we need is committed bus routes where frequency of the buses is one in two minutes. Smal buses, unlike the lengthy , tall buses sho operated on routes that pass through the Ci interiors. W e should know what we want . W e cannot go on squandering public funds by tryin adopt what other countries have.

W e, at Eco-W atch, have successfully planted 44,000 trees on the Airport Road. On Sarjapur Road we have planted 6,000 trees. Through an I Norwegian Environment programme (INEP), EcoW atch is enhancing good lung space in the City Now , the only mantra that can rescue Bangalore is decentralisation. W e need to stop the migrati of the rural youth to the Cities as the C the carrying capacity to sustain any further growt

Temperatures to soar above normal this summer

Temperatures to soar above normal this summer
Vijay Times

SUMMER has just begun, but Bangaloreans are already feeling the prickly heat. Though a good amount of unseasonal rains did welcome the summer this year , the rising temperature recordings indicate that the summer heat will be at its peak in April.

"It is difficult to predict the weather for the coming days, but keeping in mind the present temperature recordings, the City can expect an above normal summer . The temperature will rise and it will be hot in April as the intensity of the sun’s radiation will increase. It could go worse if there are climactic changes such as formation of a cloudy system," according to an official in the City Met department.

Increasing vehicles and development activities in the City are also to be blamed for the rising temperature in the City . "Discharge of carbon monoxide and construction of roads (cementing forest) is affecting the temperature in the sub urban areas," the official said.

Highest temperature ever recorded 37.3 C, March 27, 1996

Highest temperature recordings in March

2005 - 36. 4
2004 - 36.2
2003 - 35.4

Proposal to convert wetlands into bird conservation zones

Proposal to convert wetlands into bird conservation zones
Vijay Times

Bangalore: Bird lovers in the City will have much to cheer for if the idea envisaged by the F orest department fructifies.

In order to protect the water bird population in the city , the department has mooted an idea of declaring certain wetlands in the city as bird conservation zones.

The idea, a first of its kind, will not only help in improving the bird habitat in the City , but enable bird lovers to participate in conservation programmes.

"The City’s wetlands have a huge potential in sustaining the bird population, but no effort is made in conserving the wetlands. Now , under a new scheme of the Wildlife Act, there is a provision to declare some places outside national parks and sanctuaries as bird zones," A K V arma, Principal Chief Conservator of F orests told Vijay T imes.

The forest department has already begun work in this direction. Work on mapping of the wetlands where the birds arrive, has begun, while bird-rich areas like Madivala lake, Puttenhalli lake, Jakkur and Byramangala lake which attract thousands of birds are being monitored.

"W e will submit the proposal to the government regarding these zones shortly ," said V arma.

Once the water bodies are declared as conservation zones, they will be brought under legal pro visions and developed to protect the landscape and the flora and fauna of the lakes and surrounding areas.

A committee of volunteers comprising of the locals, non-government agencies and bird lovers will be roped in for the management.

The committee will be responsible for protecting, maintaining and managing these water bodies, with funding from the forest department. While the Lake Development Authority (LDA) will conduct the repair and restoration work of the lake, NGOs and bird watchers will monitor the birds, their arrival and return.

"Apart from conducting a census, we need to have a data on the birds for scientific study , " explained V arma.

He said the process does not involve much cost as the lakes are in a good shape due to the work already undertaken by the LDA. One hitch: the conservation programme requires a sum of Rs 5-10 lakh rupees annually .T ime for the government to respond.

Fighting for lung space

Fighting for lung space
Deccan Herald

When nearly all the world is out to bring down the trees and construct buildings, a section of residents in Bangalore are trying their best to save trees.

A group of residents, under the banner of the Kalyan Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, decided that the ‘Mini Forest’ in their area had to be retained so and since then, they have not given up the fight.

Allotment changed

According to a resident, B P Shah, the CA site No 4 in I Block Kalyan Nagar had been demarcated as a park in the 1995 City Development Plan (CDP) of the Bangalore Development Authority. But the same site has now been allotted to Bearys Welfare Association towards social and cultural activities, he said.

Records in the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) show that the land use was not changed by the Town Planning department too. Moreover, in 2006, the BDA affirmed that there was no need to change the land use of the ‘Mini Forest’ and in the proposed Revised Comprehensive Development Plan (RCDP) 2015, the same triangular CA site has been shown as a green area, Shah said.

Besides, a range forest officer who inspected the area confirmed that there were more than 500 fully grown trees on the site spanning around 2,700 sq mts and recommended that this be converted into a Mini Forest.

Despite all this, the BDA is yet to take action in cancelling the allotment to Bearys, Shahsaid.

Pleas made

“Our area has no lung space at all. We have made several appeals to the authorities concerned to see to it that the mini forest is saved so that there is some greenery. But there has been no response so far,” Shah claimed.

BMP officer speaks

However, a BDA official said that the entire layout had been transferred to the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, which in turn, has to take the decision in this regard.

But according to Mahanagagara Palike Tree Officer Krishna Udupidi, the BMP commissioner has already written to the BDA commissioner asking him to cancel the allotment made to Bearys and not permit land use conversion for any other purpose other than a park.

“Since they made the allotment, they have to cancel it. But we have already written to them,” he said and added that a tree census has been done in the area in question.

“Once the allotment is cancelled, we will initiate steps to create a park on the CA site”, Shah added.

NRN pats CM, says City will bounce back

NRN pats CM, says City will bounce back
Deccan Herald

The Indian Disabled League Blind regaled the audience with popular Kannada and Hindi film numbers like Baa re, baa re and Chalte, chalte.

“I am very impressed with the new chief minister. He is making the right moves and he is well intentioned. I have no doubt that he and his team will make Bangalore a better city and Karnataka, a better state,” Infosys Technologies’ Chief Mentor N R Narayana Murthy said here on Sunday.

“He (Chief Minister H D Kumaaraswamy) is proactive and interested in creating more job opportunities in IT sector. I am grateful to the government for approving the Infosys proposal to acquire land at Sarjapur. We will soon buy land through KIADB, at market rates. We are looking at around 845 acres,” he said after inaugurating e-Choice, a new optical and mobile showroom in Banashankari, Bangalore.

The government has reportedly given the green signal to the Infosys proposal to acquire around 845 acres of land to set up a Rs 1,500-crore software development park.

Regarding Bangalore’s infrastructure, he said, with the chief minister keen on solving the existing problems, things are bound to move in the positive direction.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Vanishing Blues

Vanishing Blues
Deccan Herald

The city has many faces. And if things continue the way they are, Bangalore will be left with only a grey silhouette bereft of its green and blue facets. In the first of our series on City Lights, Arun Prasad comments on what we did to Bangalore’s 400 lakes.

Bangalore once boasted a water body population of over 400 lakes which was the primary, perhaps the only source of drinking water for the city habitants. It has now dwindled to just 64. And the ones that remain are being encroached upon with experts commenting that they too shall vanish from the map of the city.

No wonder when it rains, the drains overflow and the water has nowhere to go except to the city dwellings in the low-lying areas. The city’s biggest attractions are proving to be its worst undoing.

City of lakes

It was imperative for the founders of Bangalore to discover a source of water to fulfill the needs of the habitants inside the township they erected. There were no major rivers flowing through the district. While Cauvery flows 90 kms southeast of Bangalore, Vrishabhavati is only a minor river which takes its nativity near Basavangudi and joins the river Arkavati.

Besides, the district’s geography is such that it had no natural wet lands. Consequently, many kalyanis (square-shaped ponds with granite steps) were hoed and tanks were excavated. Some of them were meticulously erected with sculptured parapet walls with the royal insignias. Herculean efforts were taken by the rulers to provide adequate water supply to Bangalore from the days of its founding.

The Great Kempe Gowda, a local chieftain, who architectured a new flanked township called Bengaluru proved to be a master planner. He began his township by erecting lakes like the Ulsoor, Dharmambudhi (presently Magestic bus stand), Kempambudhi, Sampangi (where Kanterava Stadium stands now), Siddikatte (near City Market) and also a tank inside the Old Fort (now in ruins). All these tanks were the only source of drinking water.

Karanji system

In 1870s, Bangalore had to confront a severe water scarcity. The Karanji system of supplying water existed in the fort area by which unfiltered natural water was supplied from Dharmambudhi and Sampangi tanks supplemented by the water from ponds and wells. There existed ‘water-bearer’ with tanned skin-container swung around him with brimful of life-saving water, by and large drawn from kalyanis and tanks. Affluent families employed them on a regular basis.

Interlinking tanks

By 1873, a string of three tanks in a huge area known as ‘The Millers Tanks’ were erected, which was the primary source of water to the Cantonment area. The influx of people from various regions accelerated the ever-increasing demand for water and the authorities had to look for new source of water supply. Consequently, Sankey Tank was constructed in 1882. The tank located at Sadashivanagar was erected by the lone effort and endeavor of Col. Richard Sankey of the Madras Sappers and Miners to supply water to the Civil and Military Station in Bangalore. This was connected with Millers Tank and onwards to Dharmambudhi Tank through contour channels. When Sankey Tank overflowed, water would flow into Millers Tank and then to Dharmambudhi. This linking of lakes continued to save the city whenever there was a heavy downpour.

A proposal initiated by the then Dewan Seshadri Iyer was put forward to construct a tank across Arkavathi at Hessarghatta, 20 kms northwest of Bangalore, and with immediate effect a reservoir was built. Water was pumped into the city for the first time on June 23, 1896, and private taps with meters were laid for the first time.

By 1925, Hessarghatta reservoir dried up completely. Frantic efforts were made to restore water supply to the city from the Yelemallappa Chetty Tank, Byatha and Kakol Tanks. But still Bangalore’s thirst for water never quenched.

In 1933, yet another reservoir at Thippagondanahalli across Arkavathi about 28 kms from Bangalore was commissioned. By 1950s, the city began to grow industrially and there was a sudden influx of people from different parts of the country, which again caused water scarcity. It was only after the formation of BWSSB, that the Cauvery, a dependable source, was tapped. Bangalore got fresh Cauvery water from January 1974, which proved to be a new lifeline for the city.

However, the rapid development put a great toll on the lakes and tanks. In 1985, an expert committee headed by N Lakshman Rao was set up by the State Government to suggest ways to preserve and restore the pristine glory of the near extinct lakes of Bangalore. The committee recommended many steps and also suggested that the forest department, city corporation, BDA and the BWSSB be given an active role in restoring the deteriorating lakes.

The steady deteriroration of lakes continues in the city even today bringing the number down to 64 from 262 in 1960.

According to a study at the Indian Institute of Science, many dry tanks on the outskirts have been encroached for either real estate developments or for agriculture purposes.

The study also warns that due to conversion and encroachment of two major wetlands, connectivity between Yelchenahalli kere and Madivala Lake has been lost.

Bangalore seems to be loosing its soul. In another few years the ‘lakes of Bangalore’ may sound another cooked-up story for the next generation.

Red Alert

Dharmambudhi Tank

Once a significant tank, now extinct and transformed into the City Bus Station (Majestic). The ‘Big Tank of Vengaluru’ as mentioned in the Hoysala inscription dated 1247 AD was enlarged and renamed as Dharmambudhi by Kempe Gowda I in 16th century to provide water to the western part of the township inside the fort he erected. The tank extended till Subedar Chatram Road where Annamma temple was located on its bed. It irrigated the park and the fields of Thulasithota area.

Karanji Tank

Once a big tank existed attached to the Karanji Anjaneya temple. It covered parts of Chamrajapet and Gandhi Bazar areas of Basavanagudi. Decades ago the tank dried and new residential layouts sprang up on its bed. The National High School is also standing on its bed.

Sampangi Tank

Excavated by Kempe Gowda II during the latter part of 16th century to provide water to the northeastern part of the township inside the fort. The tank is also linked with the Karaga festival as the festival starts off from here. Few decades back it was just an idyllic marshland amidst a sylvan surrounding where boys brought their buffaloes for bathing. There was even a kind of bull fighting at the old tank bund. Today, the tank has been transformed into a magnificent sports stadium, the Kanteerava Stadium. A tiny puddle from where the karaga festival commences is all that remains of the original lake.

Millers Tank

The Millers Tank have been completely converted to layouts and now many sky-scrapers occupy the space. On its bund now stands the Ambedkar Bhavan, Jain Hospital, UNI office building, couple of marriage halls, and many other buildings, including few IT companies and other public organisations.


Flanked between the two forts once existed a trivial tank built at the disbursement of Siddi, a member of Kempe Gowda kindred. When the tank got withered in the latter part of 19th century, it was transformed to a well-organised market known as ‘Siddikatte Santhe’. The locale was once habited by many Brahmin officials and now a major part of the land is occupied by the new Krishnarajeendra Market (K R Market).

Mathikere Tank

A completely dried-up tank with its bed covering an area of 41 hectares. Work for a regional park has been started in the area under the comprehensive development plan.

Binnypet Tank

The lake behind old Binny Mills was once a big tank erected in 16th century by Gidde Gowda, the elder son of Kempe Gowda I. Now the southern part of the lake is getting filled up making way for highrises. On the eastern part stands an incomplete structure erected few years back surrounded by stagnant stinking water.

Govt okays 25 big projects

Govt okays 25 big projects
Deccan Herald

The high-level Clearance Committee on Industry headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaaraswamy on Friday cleared projects from an array of sectors, including IT, power, tourism, iron and steel, sugar and agriculture, with a potential to create employment opportunities to 7.37 lakh persons.

The state government has given an in-principle approval to 25 mega projects aimed at drawing investments to the tune of Rs 27,661 crore in the state.

The high-level Clearance Committee on Industry headed by Chief Minister H D Kumaaraswamy on Friday cleared projects from an array of sectors, including IT, power, tourism, iron and steel, sugar and agriculture, with a potential to create employment opportunities to 7.37 lakh persons.

The IT sector took the cake with the committee clearing as many as 10 projects with a total investment of Rs 21,844 crore, including a proposal to establish an IT hardware park by Shapoorji Pallonji Company Limited at Devanahalli in Bangalore rural district at a cost of Rs 8,820 crore.

The high-level committee also cleared a proposal by Adarsh Prime Projects Limited to establish an Information Technology/Information Technology Enabled Service (IT &ITES) Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with an investment of Rs 5,867 crore in 1,270 acres located in a site in Sarjapur.

The project proposes to provide employment to 1.35 lakh people.

Several proposals to set up IT & ITES SEZ in and around Bangalore were also cleared by the panel. These include a proposal by Bagamane Developers to establish IT & ITES SEZ at C V Raman Nagar and Doddanakunte in Bangalore with an investment of Rs 889.66 crore and Rs 670.3 crore, respectively.

A proposal by Sapphire Infrastructure Development Pvt Ltd to establish an SEZ with an investment of Rs 2,867 crore on 1,220 acres in Anekal was also cleared by the panel.

A proposal by Cessna Garden Developers to set up sector-specific IT & ITES SEZ with an investment of Rs 506 crore in 47.5 acres in Kadubeesanahalli in Varthur hobli was cleared. IT and ITES SEZ proposals by Tanglin Developments at Pattangere in Kengeri and Dynasty Developers in Varthur were also cleared.

Shapoorji Pallonji Company has proposed to establish an IT campus with an investment of Rs 1,132 crore for IT workplace and commercial and residential purposes in 150 acres in Srirangapatna in Mysore district. The project proposes to provide employment to about 99,000 people. Suzlon Infrastructure has proposed to establish an SEZ for hi-tech engineering products in Padubidri taluk at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore.

The other projects cleared include a proposal to set up a five-star deluxe hotel ‘ITC Gardenia’ by ITC Ltd on their own land at Residency Road, Bangalore (adjacent to Mallya Hospital) at a cost of Rs 300 crore.

The panel cleared a proposal by Gandhi City for Advanced R&D Ltd to establish SEZ infrastructure for R&D centre, university research centre, IT corporate park with residential township with an investment of Rs 2,683 crore in 1,000 acres between Ramanagaram and Channapatna in Bangalore rural district.

Other proposals include a sponge iron plant by Lakhani Belmarks Ispat Gadwal in Raichur at a cost of Rs 246 crore; 1500 TPD Cement plant at Ittina Properties at Gulbarga (Rs 195 crore); yarn processed fabric plant at Hassan by National Textiles Corporation (Rs 165 crore) and green leaf tobacco threshing by ITC at Mysore (Rs 150 crore).