Tuesday, March 02, 2010

THE GREAT BUS SHELTER SCAM

THE GREAT BUS SHELTER SCAM
The BBMP is knocking down world-class bus shelters and leaving commuters in the scorching heat. Someone somewhere is making a fortune from your misery ...
MANASI PARESH KUMAR & SHASHWATHI BHANUKUMAR

Kids and the elderly are fainting Bus drivers stop wherever they please No temporary shelters Heat, grime, and chaos at bus stops across Bangalore
The BBMP is pulling down perfectly good bus shelters, with no concern for commuters who now have to stand waiting in the sun. After Transport Minister R Ashok announced that bus stands would be the responsibility of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) last week, the BBMP began demolition in full earnest.
“The BMTC will build bus stands that offer drinking water, toilets, bus pass counters and canteens every 5 km,” he had said. Within hours, many bus stands vanished.
The official reason is that these bus stands will be rebuilt before summer. “The real reason is that someone at the top wants to earn kickbacks before the responsibility is taken away from BBMP and handed to the BMTC,” said a source. "What is the need to redo something you are handing over to another department?"
MINISTER'S TAKE
"I've asked them to demolish one shelter where there are two," said Ashok. When BM told him that was not true, and commuters had no protection from the sun at several bus stops, he said he would find out details. Most bus stands are about five years old, and it took the BBMP about Rs 5 lakh to build each. The new bus stands are going to cost about Rs 10.75 lakh each, and 450 will be done in Phase I. "Even if we stop after that, enough money will have gone down the drain,” the official said. The bus stop in front of the BBMP headquarters near Hudson Circle and on opposite KSRTC head office on K H Road (Double Road). Even in Jayanagar, bus-stops that were in good condition have been pulled down.


MINISTER R ASHOK SAYS
I’VE ASKED BBMP TO DEMOLISH ONE SHELTER WHEREVER THERE ARE TWO



Bangalore Mirror says
Get real, Mr Minister. Your men have pulled down single shelters at several places



HOT! Bus stop at Hudson Circle, in the heart of Bangalore. The shelter as it was (below), and now



AT DOUBLE ROAD



AT JAYANAGAR
Abus shelter in Jayanagar 3rd Block, near Pai Viceroy, was removed a month ago. Now, commuters stand in the blazing heat. The BBMP earns a lot of money from advertising at the shelters. “Advertisers pay us taxes and ground rent,” said an official in the BBMP.
Every time a bus shelter is rebuilt, tax and ground rent have to be paid again. The tax was recently hiked from Rs 89.50 a square feet to Rs 120.50. The amount paid by advertisers to build a shelter could go up to Rs 5 lakh. The BBMP had no idea why these two shelters were pulled down. "We give each advertiser a package of 50 to 60 bus shelters. We will have to go to the spot only and investigate," said an official in the ad department. "This might take a couple of days," he said. It is only when we get complaints that we inspect them," he explained. It's chaos and frustration at the bus stands. Children faint waiting for buses. They sometimes sit on the footpath.
The buses do not even stop at a common point. They stop either a little ahead or a little behind. Elders and children become restless and tired.



NO IDEA WHO’S DOING IT: MLA
Jayanagar MLA Vijay Kumar says he does not know anything about the mess-up. “We have no idea who is responsible.This is a very bad precedent,” he told Bangalore Mirror. At the South End Circle bus stand, dust and grime of the Metro work make it even more difficult for commuters. Govindaraju, BBMP Joint Commissioner, said, “We handed over the bus stands soon after the minister made his announcement.”The BMTC says this is rubbish. "We haven't got charge yet," an official said.



AT SANKEY ROAD WHY WORLD-CLASS?
The stylish bus shelters (see pic inset on Page 1) have came about thanks to the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), which existed till 2004.
V. Ravichandar, BATF member, said, "We wanted to build aesthetic bus shelters with no expense to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike."
The BATF created bus shelters and invited outdoor agencies to bid for them. "Once an agency won the bid, they would build the shelter and retain advertising rights for five years."
After that, they had to hand it over to the BBMP. The incentives advertisers got from bus shelters were used for their maintenance. Ravichandar was not aware of the demolished shelters. But he said, "The BATF model should be retained. Those bus shelters give you a sense of security even at night."



AT PALACE ORCHARDS...
The Palace Orchards bus shelter was crushed when a century-old mango fell on it as it was being chopped down. It was rebuilt last month.
Today, its roof is missing, and so are the seats.The BBMP is pulling it down. Officials told Chandrika J, whose house lines the petrol bunk near the shelter, that the stop would be moved.The BMTC says it has no such intention.
Incredibly, the BBMP blames citizens for pulling down the bus shelter. “They protested against the felling of the mango tree... and they must have pulled the shelter down because it obstructs their view. We have already called tenders to redo the shelter,” an official told
Bangalore Mirror.

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