Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Three years of not building a Greater Bangalore

Three years of not building a Greater Bangalore



Kavitha KushalappaFirst Published : 23 Nov 2009 03:58:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 23 Nov 2009 08:17:15 AM IST
BANGALORE: Bangaloreans may like to mark this Monday. In a country that boasts of a thriving democracy, laws on decentralisation, local self governance and so and so — its showcase city has gone without an elected body for three long years.
It was on November 23, 2006 that the 100-member elected council of the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) bowed out of office after completing its five-year term and Bangalore came under the prolonged administrator term.
The stretch has been a case of taking in the odds: Bengaluru International Airport got going (May 2008); the annual Bangalore IT.biz moved out of the front pages; two editions of the biennial Aero India shows kept their date with the city (2007 and 2009).
And in the signal-free stretch leading to the Bangalore International Airport or Aero India, Bangaloreans came to contend with apologies like the Cauvery theatre underpass or magic box.
Of good intentions
The good-intentioned excuse for an administrator tenure had come 21 days before November 23, 2006. On November 2, a day after the grand Suvarna Karnataka celebrations the then Kumaraswamy- led JD(S)-BJP coalition had issued the draft notification on Greater Bangalore — the merger of the city’s administrative unit with its surrounding local bodies — seven City Municipal Councils, a Town Municipal Council (Kengeri) and 111 villages.
It was the culmination of the deliberations that were initiated during the previous Congress-JD(S) coalition led by Dharam Singh.
Greater Bangalore was to a be a one-stop solution to managing the city.
As the council exited, Dilip Rau took charge as administrator and K Jairaj, who continued as commissioner, became the first commissioner of Greater Bangalore (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike).
The administrator’s rule would pave way for “quick decisions” in the city’s administration, Jairaj had said.
On the immediate priority list were road widening works, infrastructure projects like automated and multi-level car parking lots, inner core ring road and rejuvenation of the Malleshwaram market.
Since then Jairaj has moved on, S Subramanya has left and the incumbent Bharatlal Meena is the third commissioner since. Dilip Rau too has moved on; K M Shivakumar is the administrator now.
On the political side, in the run between 2006 and 2009 there was also the assembly elections and general elections.
The 2008 assembly polls was so much a battle for Bangalore itself.
Did things change?
Between the neta and the babu here are a pick of some quick facts:
POOR CASE
On September 27, 2006 the then BMP council gave its nod for receiving nearly Rs 8,000 crore as Central assistance under JNNURM.
About Rs 2,000 crore of the same was listed under the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) component of JNNURM.
The Kalyaninagar slum in Sampangiramnagar was the first project to be taken up under BSUP. Officials in the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation — the state nodal agency for JNNURM — note that the work on the Kalyaninagar slum was completed almost a year ago, but it is yet to be allotted to the beneficiaries. The CM is yet to give a date for the formal inauguration of the project, BBMP sources said.
PARKING FEE
In April 2005, Narayanaswamy, the first-time corporator who went on to become mayor, indulged in some populism. Vehicle parking was made free in the city.
The traffic police saw hell.
The Cong-JD(S) combine of Dharam Singh in the state did not mind expressing reservations on the Congressled BMP’s move. BMP and the traffic police seemed to be working out some kind of a rectification. When exit time came in November 2006, it was JD(S)-BJP in the state; no party wanted to risk a reversal.
INNER CORE RING RD
With Metrorail in progress things had to obviously change for the inner core ring road which was meant to regulate the traffic flow into the city’s central business district. The project is now merged in the 12 signalfree corridors mentioned in the recently announced Rs 22,000-crore infrastructure plan.
What the HC says
Following an interlocutory application by the State Election Commission, the High Court recently directed the state to finalise the wardwise reservation by November 30 and make way for the SEC to notify the BBMP election by December 7.
WHAT THEY SAID
Express recalls some voices on Greater Bangalore heard in one of BMP council’s penultimate sittings on September 28, 2006 “If we are making a concrete jungle of our CMC areas too, from where will the city’s daily needs like vegetables come from? Bangalore’s drinking water is sourced from 100 km afar — will GB have enough water? Our city will become a dead city.” Kupparaju, a four-time corporator; he belonged to the BMP’s main Opposition JD(S) “The state government is upto nothing but a political game. Only politicians, land developers and MNCs will be served by GB, not the common people. The government should seek to start special economic zones in the city’s periphery.” Corporator and former mayor P R Ramesh; the Congressman, was the first person to petition the HC on delay in polls.

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