Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mayor paints future green

Mayor paints future green
Five lakh saplings in a year, lesser garbage, free parking

Geographic Information System will be used in streamlining property tax collection, so that the cash-strapped BBMP can raise resources, Bangalore's new mayor tells Srikanth Hunasavadi

Srikanth Hunasavadi

SK Nataraj, elected mayor of Bangalore on Friday, listed all his priority concerns on the very day of his election as the city's 44th mayor. Top of his agenda is making the city a real garden city, one worth that tag. He wants Bangalore to become a zero-garbage city, one that sees more disciplined and smooth traffic flow. Nataraj, third-time corporator from Sarakki ward, spoke at length to DNA about his vision for the development of the city.
"My first priority is to plant five lakh trees in one year, so the city is truly a Garden City. Bangalore has seen a rapid loss of green cover in recent years, and we will be launching a drive to plant trees in all 198 wards. I will start this 'green revolution' from today itself, planting five trees in front of our party office. We will not cut trees unnecessarily. And we will receive reports in these matters from officers daily. We will carefully choose the varieties of trees we plant, so that in the long term, we will be able to restore the city's cool and shade," Nataraj said.
Practical and commonsensical, Nataraj said, "Plastic waste is a big menace in the city, and to save the environment, we will need the active support of citizens. We will begin by banning plastic within the BBMP premises first, and then take the ban to the Vidhana Soudha next. In time, the entire city will be made plastic-free."
Speaking of the challenges of dealing with enormous mounds of garbage, the mayor said, "We will call fresh tenders and take steps for scientific disposal of solid waste. We will identify more lands for dumping garbage, and try to make the city a zero-garbage one. If we can deal with the garbage problem, we will also find the stray dog trouble easing," he said.
Another initiative that the mayor sees as urgent and important is making Bangalore slum-free. He hopes to improve the quality of life of Bangaloreans by providing access to non-conventional sources of energy, and making space for playgrounds for children in every layout. He underlines the need to improve medical services in BBMP hospitals; the quality of education in corporation schools also needs attention, Nataraj said. He promised to attend to the parking problems. Day-to-day administration of the BBMP would be made transparent, Nataraj said.
Speaking of the concerns of vehicle-users in the city, the new mayor said that the BBMP would implement free parking in the city. "We had fought for removing the parking fee. We will put an end to the parking mafia," Nataraj said, adding, "We will build eight multi-level parking complexes. In most of the areas, the corporation has land which it could put to good use for this purpose."
Quoting from the BJP manifesto, Nataraj said, "We will construct more flyovers and underpasses, and road-widening projects will be undertaken. We will implement the suggestions of ABIDe to streamline traffic. In the first stage, 12 signal-free corridors will be developed."
Nataraj has served as a corporator twice, and he recognises the challenges ahead: "The BBMP's financial condition is not good. We will take up the issue of property tax collection very seriously by using satellite-based Geographic Information System (GIS). Apart from this, since the BJP is ruling in the state, we will approach chief minister BS Yeddyurappa for more funds to take up developmental work."
Nataraj is also passionate about Kannada: "Officers must use the local language in every stage of administration. If any officer shows negligence towards Kannada, he or she will face action." Nataraj is also keen on making optimum use of unconventional energy sources. Wind and solar energy will be harnessed, and used to light up the streets, he said.
And if you need to meet your first citizen, he'll be there for you: "People can meet me at any time and discuss their problems. From morning 8am to 10am I will conduct Janata Darshan at my residence and by 10.30am I will reach the corporation and afterwards people can meet me till evening."


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