Monday, September 06, 2010

Paint peels off 'beautified' walls

Paint peels off 'beautified' walls

The wall painting work was done at a cost of Rs75 lakh; one year later, the BBMP mulls over shelling out Rs12 lakh to restore them

Bosky Khanna



It was a task undertaken on Independence Day, 2009, to leave city walls beautiful. A year later, the paint is peeling, and the walls need re-touching. The initial cost of painting up city walls was Rs75 lakh; the re-touching alone would cost about Rs12 lakh. But there is no agreement, even now, on whether the repair job on the wall paintings needs to be undertaken at all. Was painting up city walls the best way to beautify the city? And were those paintings so good that they should be maintained at public cost, with fresh re-touching each year?
Clean roads, natural greenery and properly managed solid wastes would go a far greater length in keeping the city clean, say some important opinion-makers in the city. There are even those who are peeved that the decision to paint walls was taken without any process of democratic consultation by the former commissioner of the BBMP, Bharat Lal Meena.
Admitting the need for touching up the paintings, Ramesh, chief engineer of the BBMP (West), who had also been in charge of the project to beautify city walls, said, "A survey of the areas where paint has peeled off will be started soon, and we have plans to re-paint the places where the paintings have frayed. Wherever possible, contractors responsible for the first round of painting will be engaged again."
BBMP commissioner Siddhaiah said that the paint has naturally withered off in some places and it must be repainted. He added that the quality of the paint used would be upgraded, so that it would stay on the walls longer. However, there are those in the city who contend that any more money spent on painting city walls would be money thrown down the drain. Deepak Srinivasan, member of the media collective Maraa, who has been studying the paintings on city walls, said, "It was a decision that the BBMP took in an undemocratic manner. Before the walls were painted up, there was a culture of sticking posters on city walls, and scores of people earned a livelihood putting up those posters. All those people were affected by this decision."
He added that there were instances where decisions were taken to put up pictures of Hindu gods, with scant regard for the principles of either secularism or democracy.

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