Saturday, December 26, 2009

A year of controversies for BBMP

A year of controversies for BBMP
Sandeep Moudgal

The year 2009 has turned out to be a mixed bag for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). There were some gains and some losses. But controversies kept the Palike without an elected body, in the limelight. From infrastructure projects to health issues, sanitation to regime change, it was caught in its own problems.

The year saw two commissioners and tens of other replacements. But perhaps the most notable was the disputed “resignation” of the BBMP Commissioner, Dr Subramanya. His ouster was attributed to drowning of 8-year-old Abhishek in a storm water drain, in May.

Subramanaya’s tenure saw the city transform from a green city into a more hit-tech and infrastructure-driven metropolis. But his legacy had its imprint on the more disputed K R Circle and Windsor Manor rotaries and the introduction of magic boxes.

The Palike had a major shift in its approach towards infrastructure projects once Bharath Lal Meena took over as commissioner.

Storm water drains came into focus as a knee-jerk reaction to drowning of two children in a span of three months. His tenure has stood out for the calculated investment in maintenance drives and commissioning of works.

Transformation

More notable is the introduction of the “Zero Garbage” policy that has transformed certain parts of the Central Business District (CBD). Besides, property tax collection saw an upsurge.

For the year 2008-09, the BBMP collected revenue of nearly Rs 728 crore with another Rs 600 crore already in its kitty for the year 2009-10.

But controversies don’t seem to leave the Palike. Its Tagore Circle Underpass invited the wrath of the public, who opposed the unilateral decision to revive a project two years after it was commissioned. Irked by the cost escalation and the loss of green cover in Basavangudi the citizens staged demonstrations against the Palike.

In 2010, the ambitious Rs 22,000-crore mega project for the City should see the Palike switch gears.

Projects worth Rs 2,400 crore have already been approved while works of Rs 3,500 crore under government scrutiny.

Budgetary allocation for infrastructure projects will pose fresh problems for the Palike in the next year. However, that would depend a lot on the poll outcome.

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