Wednesday, July 28, 2004

From Singapore to Kalasipalyam

Will Singapore dream revert to Kalasipalya?

Vijay Times

Bangalore: The City may not have become Singapore during former Chief Minister S M Krishna's regime and still has a long way to go to establish decent standards of urban infrastructure. But thanks to his efforts and that of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force which he created, there were visible improvements in many areas.

But the sad news is that the pioneering effort of the BATF through the involvement of all the ‘‘stake-holders’’ in giving a much-needed boost to the City's infrastructural facilities, is in danger of being completely negated as the Dharam Singh government has shown no inclination in continuing with it.

BATF, the brain-child of S M Krishna, which emerged as one of the better models of Public, Private Participation in the country and its achievements in a short span of four years were hailed by various international bodies including the World Bank, has apparently become an ‘unwanted child’ for the new government.

Even two months after the coalition government came to power, there has been no effort to interact with BATF, though Dharam Singh claimed that all the good initiatives of the Krishna government would be continued.

‘‘We did a lot of work to improve the infrastructure in the city. But there has been no contact (with the new government). Perhaps, they need new energies, new policies and programmes and new faces,’’ said Nandan Nilekani, chairman of Infosys, who played an active role as chairman of BATF.

The development of Bangalore city is perhaps low on the agenda for the ‘‘pro-farmer’’, ‘‘pro-poor’’ government as there was not a single announcement regarding Bangalore in finance minister Siddaramaiah's recent Budget. But observers say that neglecting the problems of a growing metropolis will definitely hurt the investment potential of the State, as evident from the decision of Wipro and other companies to move to greener pastures.

The BATF brought the heads of civic authorities including the city corporation, the water and electricity and pollution control boards and the telephone department under one roof and through frequent interactions, they were able to solve many problems, say officials.

Kalpana Kar, a critical member of the BATF, says, "Our job was to provide the scientific tools and inputs for the stakeholders to take better informed decisions. We were more than careful not to step into executive role."
Health and sanitation was one of the early priorities with BATF and it was able to introduce a new system of city cleaning under Swachcha Bangalore, train pourakarmikas and health inspectors, motivate citizen volunteers to actively participate in the programme and introduce helpline for meeting any emergencies.

The BATF provided inputs to the traffic police for better traffic management, including improvement of road junctions, construction of over 540 attractively designed bus shelters and nearly a dozen police stations. Thanks to the intiative of Mrs Sudha Narayana Murthy, over 30 spankingly clean public toilets have come up in different parts of the City and 70 more are in the offing.

‘‘Mrs Murthy contributed Rs 8 crore for the project and Mr Nilekani provided Rs5.1 crore of his personal wealth for the actiivties of BATF and we have raised over Rs 40 crore from various corporate sponsors. The government did not have to spend a single pie,’’ says Kalpana Kar.

And yet, the new government has shown no interest to continue with the activities of BATF or a modified version of it, if it so desires. Meanwhile, Kalpana has been asked by the Delhi government to work out a model for the national capital.

‘‘We have done whatever best we could. If the government wants a different model, we won’t come in the way,’’ says Kalpana. But does the Chief Minister really have any other model or is he simply sleeping over it, is the question bothering citizens.


At Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 5:29:00 AM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its a classic case of dumbing down the quality of life and take it back to dirty stone age, so even basic necessities will feel like a dream come true... The people in charge are unable to deal with planning and managing a city... the administrators are uneducated, incapable and underqualified people who only know how to swindle money in every project... administrators who raise the bar on quality like Jaykar Jerome are shunted out... Bangalore is going to go to dogs if the citizens dont strike out against the govt now!!!


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