Thursday, September 30, 2004

On sale: skulls, jaws and bones

On sale: skulls, jaws and bones
Body Parts Available At Bangalore’s Graveyards
Take a look at the other side of IT City. Everything is for sale here, even the dead are not spared. Visit any graveyard, and you can buy anything from skulls to bones to teeth to limbs. Best bargains, best discounts, best choices. The Times Team comprising Bansy Kalappa, Ashwin Raj and Hemali Chhapia went on this grave mission and bought a skull, teeth and a thigh bone.

Bangalore: Want a skull? Just pay Rs 150. How about a corpse? Will cost you Rs 300 upwards. Welcome to Bangalore’s big bazar: The Human Market. This team of reporters went on a shopping spree buying teeth, skull and thigh bones from graveyards,in Rajajinagar’s Harishchandra Ghat, Mysore Road, Wilson Garden and Kalpalli. The selling is brisk, with grave attenders
willing to sell just about any part — no questions asked. Mention your request, and the attender ventures into the burial area to dig out your ‘order’. But who are their regular customers? “Medical students and some others,’’ say the attenders. But students say they borrow it from their seniors or buy from medical stores. One student, however, said: “I know of a few people who go in for the cheapest deal and buy bones and other things, required from the burial grounds.’’ But medical college principals beg to differ. They say they don’t expect their students to get corpses or human parts. But sales do go on. On Mysore Road, for instance, a bunch of teenagers take the order and haggle over the price while a kid rushes into the graves and digs out what you want. But then the demand for a few parts is more than others. Ask for a set of jaws, and you will have to come back the next day. Economics works here too. A pair of lower and upper jaw is priced at Rs 150. Further, with discounts being offered, the sellers ask if you need any more and whether you will come back. “Full body ethiduthivi;
Shukrawara banni.’’ (We will have the body ready; come back on Friday.) When asked how to ferry the whole body on a scooter, the grave attenders suggested: “Sir, naave pack mad koduthive.’’ (We will pack it up for you in gunny sacks.) “Jana autol
thogond hogthare.’’ (People regularly come here and take them in autorickshaws.) The irony is that at each burial ground we went, on the one hand we saw people mourning their lost ones, and on the other hand, graves were being dug and trade was flourishing. When contacted, both Police commissioner S. Mariswamy and mayor P.R. Ramesh came out with stock replies: “We’ll look into the matter.’’

Rate Card

l Dead body: Rs 300 upwards
l Skull with mandibles intact: Rs 150
l Tooth: Rs 10
l Thigh (femural) bone: Rs 20
l Feet bones: Rs 20
l Pair of upper and lower jaws: Rs 150

Highway & nightmare: Welcome to Mysore Road

Times of India

The danger of accidents on the Bangalore-Mysore highway has been accentuated due to commencement of work to make it a four-way. The lack of proper road signage and safety measures on the highway during the four-laning work has made the road a potential death trap. Always a treacherous road, due to the heavy traffic flow, the highway has now become an even worse nightmare, especially at night. Motorists’ nightmare begins at Kengeri. The road has been cut on one track for widening and relaying, which leaves huge ditches all along the road, till Mandya. Danger lurks every inch of the treacherous stretch with no reflectors or signboards to indicate the width of the road. While trucks and buses speed on the narrow stretch, two-wheelers and cars are forced to make way. They run the risk of being pushed into the roadside ditches, which are over five feet deep in some places. “

Our misery increases when it rains and there is slush on the road. We have to make dangerous manoeuvres to avoid skidding and falling under a truck’s wheels. One mistake and we could plunge into a ditch several feet deep,’’ says a biker, Sanjay, riding through Ramnagar. At night, it’s a more harrowing experience since motorists are left at the mercy of their headlights. At many places, there are no signs to indicate the road has been dug up and there are a few makeshift retaining walls which are less than six inches high. The only signs alerting motorists about the road work are sandbags placed haphazardly along the narrow road and strips of red tape drawn on poles, along some stretches. There are hardly any reflectors and signboards to warn motorists of danger all along the stretch. In some places, the road narrows into a rubble stretch and can accommodate only one bus or truck at a time. There are no signboards to indicate such spots. Even before the four-laning was taken up in December, 2003, the 139- km highway was treacherous claiming over 350 lives and injuring nearly 1,500 since 2002. The current four-laning work is expected to be completed by June 2005. It’s going to be a bumpy ride till then, right through Dasara too. A Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDC) official admits that the safety precautions are not adequate. At a recent meeting with the engineering consultant and contracting agency, directions were given to appoint safety officers to take necessary measures. “Some signboards were put up during the ongoing work. But they were also stolen at night by miscreants,’’ he added.

The 139-km Bangalore-Mysore highway being paved is a death trap with lack of safety measures Motorists have a harrowing experience at night and especially when it rains Sandbags placed haphazardly and a red-colour tape drawn along a few stretches are the only hazard signs Travel time has increased to over four hours, especially at night and on weekends. Work on the Rs 300-crore fourlaning project began in December 2003 and is expected to be completed by June 2005. Till then, it’s a bumpy ride.

BCC song: yehi hai potholes, aha!

Times of India

One, two, three, four ...200. Counting potholes on Bangalore’s roads is a back-breaking job. Perhaps, the BCC engineers will
find it simpler and easier to pay the penalty than go potholing! Imagine 200 potholes in a 10-km radius. Which means the BCC engineers will have to cough up Rs 2 lakh if mayor Ramesh sticks to his threat of imposing a Rs 1,000-fine for every unfilled pothole in Bangalore.

There are no smooth rides in Bangalore at all — despite pothole deadlines imposed by the mayor, the BCC commissioner and even the chief minister. The Times of India team took a pothole count on some of Bangalore’s main roads and ended up having a bonerattling ride. From craters that could put the moon to shame to smaller ones that can send a shudder through motorists bones, many of Bangalore ’s potholes remain intact. By the way,

The Times of India team ventured only on to roads considered the pride of the City — what lies in store on bustling inner roads could well be another story. Here’s a sample of the pothole count on some key roads: Raj Bhavan-Bellary Road and back: There are 32 potholes in this nearly 20-km stretch. That’s one and a half potholes per kilometre. They pockmark the road up to the Hebbal flyover. At Mehkri Circle alone there are three big potholes, but commuters are so used to them they ride around it almost instinctively. Near the Cauvery theatre, in a stretch of less than 100 yards, there are three more. Kensington Road- Old Madras Road: Along this stretch, till the Isolation Hospital, there are 19 large and small potholes. Kensington Road has a dug up portion measuring about 4 ft by 3 ft left untarred that is a major hurdle. CMH Road-Old Madras Road- M.G. Road: A cool Rs 29,000 is what the Mayor can net if he taxes his engineers Rs 1,000 per pothole on this 29-pothole stretch. The Ulsoor bus stop itself has a major laceration measuring about 10 ft by 4 ft.

The stretch opposite the BSNL’s Telephone House. The Press Club is located just beside it. This stretch is in need of a road! Vittal Mallya Road: It might be a short stretch, but the potholes on this road are countless. The entrance to the road from the Cubbon Park side is just one big pothole for nearly 100 metres.St Mark’s Road : Bothsides of the road are a nightmare. Potholes dot the stretch all along. Part of the road may be aa one-way but not the potholes. A couple of potholes are real nasty too. Hayes Road: This smaller stretch of road has four conspicuous potholes. The last portion of the road - as it joins Richmond Road - is a complete mess. Stagnant water from an overflowing drain collects here hiding the pothole. Lavelle Road: A quarter of Lavelle Road is dug up and the portion remains un-asphalted. Engineers must be wishing ‘holeheartedly’ that the potholes disappear overnight. What will the mayor do then?

From marshlands to suburb of the future

Times of India

A flyover, possibly the biggest in South Asia, a beautified lake acclaimed for its aqualife, an international airport at Devanahalli on the anvil, the Golden Quadrilateral highway. Just a few jewels in the crown of Hebbal, which even five years ago was considered the end of Bangalore. The transition from a nondescript, marshy area to a suburb of the future is thanks, mostly, to the flyover.

The two-and-ahalf years of havoc wreaked on commuters during construction and money to the tune of over Rs 50 crore have paid rich dividends. For, it has opened up Bangalore’s landscape to national highways — National Highways 4 and 7 — which connect to other southern metros,Hyderabad and Chennai. As soon as the proposal for the long-pending Devanahalli airport was given the green signal, landsharks and builders have been setting shop by the droves.Incidentally, it is believed that Bangalore architect Kempegowda’s wife and mother belonged to this region, then known as Hiriya Balal (big town). Explains noted historian Suryanath Kamath, “Though there are no inscriptions, it is believed that old Bangalore originates in the Hebbala region which was a big town some 1,000 years ago.

The first activity in the area was by an agricultural chemist who established an experimental farm. The area came into prominence after the University of Agricultural Sciences came into being in 1913. It was then a school with admissions open only for farmers’ children.’’ Of course, the school graduated to a college and now a reputed university. A resident of Hebbal for 14 years, M.N. Rao records with wonder how he had to “come down to the city’’ for provisions not so long ago. Just after the flyover, 33 acres to the right, tech parks and multiplexes have been planned.

An aqua-tech park spread over 20 acres is being set up at the UAS. Christened the Aquaculture Research and Extension Centre, it will demonstrate fish and fresh water prawn farming to enable transfer of expertise of 20 years. Importing and farming small and rare deadly piranhas are other planned overtures. Aerosports like parasailing and microlight flying is the area’s oeuvre by the Hebbal lake set on 1 km of tall wild grass. Hebbal lake, a vital habitat for migratory birds, was once under strain due to continuous inflow of untreated sewage and effluent. Therestoration, by the Lake Development Authority with helping hands from Indo-Norwegian funds, has helped breathe life back where it belonged. One thing some residents are peeved with is the step-motherly treatment dished out to residential areas proper. An urban R.T. Nagar- Sanjaynagar with its lure of independent homes, has stolen the thunder from us,is a petulant complaint.

Civic agencies protest against slow progress of development works

Civic agencies protest against slow progress of development works
The protesters wanted the BMP and BWSSB to complete the works.
Deccan Herald

Members of various civic agencies staged protest and raised slogans against the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) for the slow progress of development works in their respective areas.

About 100 residents and members of Jagrutha Nagarikara Sanghatane staged a protest in front of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike office in Mathikere in Bangalore on Wednesday.

‘Park work neglected’

According Zaheeda She-reen, a member of the Sanghatane, the Jayaprakash Nara-yan Park, built in 1987, is in a bad shape. The park is only half built and the project to build benches and lay pathways remains only on paper. The railway crossing at Gokul extension is a virtual death trap. The road near Mathikere extension, near the Karnataka Electricity Board office is congested because of encroachments leading to excess traffic, she alleged.

In a written memorandum to the Additional Commissioner of Finance Mr Srihari, the members of the Sanghatane demanded that the park be rejuvenated at the earliest, an overbridge be built at the level crossing near Gokul extension and the road near the KEB office in Mathikere be widened.

In Koramangala

Traffic snarls, uneven and bumpy roads and pollution have made life miserable for the residents of Koramangala. Fed up with repeated requests made to the BWSSB and the BMP to repair roads, the members of the Koramangala Residents Civic Group staged a protest against BWSSB’s rampant road cutting.

The members protested the delay by the BWSSB in completing the sewage pipe laying work on 80 ft road of Koramangala. “Because the roads have been dug up, traffic has been diverted into the inner roads causing heavy congestion, noise and dust pollution. This is disturbing,” said Secretary of the Group R Ram Murthi.

Rasta roko warned

The members of the Group also demanded that the work on 80 ft road be completed with immediate effect failing which they will go on a rasta roko.

Corporators protest against BMP's demolition drive

Where else in the world would you see elected representatives who demand the head of conscientious officials who act against violators of the law rather than uphold the law of the land? Our Corporators have never contributed anything positive to the city except for making themselves wealthy and strengthening the hold of their goons on whatever rackets they are running.

BMP corporators fume over demolition drive
Members cutting across party lines demanded the suspension of engineer Devraj and said they were ‘kept in the dark’ about the drive.
Deccan Herald

Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Corporators on Wednesday took exception to being kept in the dark by their officials while undertaking a drive against encroachments in their respective wards. Noisy moments prevailed at the BMP meeting with members cutting across party lines demanding the suspension of its Central Enforcement Division Executive Engineer Devraj.

The case causing the Corporators’ ire was the demolition and clearance drive on footpath encroachments undertaken along OPH Road in Shivajinagar, last Saturday, reportedly without informing the area corporator Mumtaz Begum.

Noting that structures from the British days that were not encroachments, were also damaged by the demolition team, Ms Begum demanded that the owners of these structures be compensated. Supporting her, many corporators noted that people can be better convinced to move out from encroached areas when the elected representatives are involved.

But Commissioner Jyothiramaligam explained that the drive per se was not a violation by the BMP. Both the Police and Lokayukta had written to BMP about these encroachments and the latter was bound by law to co-operate he said.

Of bad roads, traffic gridlock and kamikaze drivers

Of bad roads, traffic gridlock and kamikaze drivers

Vijay Times

The road infrastructure in Bangalore is so woefully inadequate that chaos and mayhem are some of the words that are often used to describe traffic in the City. But what is the cause for such chaos and what are the solutions?

Ask any auto dealer and he will say that Bangalore is one of the fastest growing markets for automobiles. To see how fast the market is growing chew on these facts. The RTO says that on an average 500 new two-wheelers, 100 cars and 20 assorted vehicles are registered in Bangalore daily. Add another 25 other state vehicles that convert their papers everyday and whopping 625 vehicles are officially added daily to the city’s roads. But officials say that the figure is much higher as many vehicle owners don’t register their vehicles in Bangalore.

Bangalore is now infamous for its roads. “There are 4.850 kms of roads in Bangalore. The average road is 2-3 lanes wide with each lane being 3.5 mts in width,” says Prof MN Sreehari, Traffic Advisor to the Karnataka Government.
“The ideal volume by capacity for a road is 0.6 to 0.8, but city roads average 2 and above. This renders the road un-motorable. Add to this the pathetic state of the roads and you get a heady cocktail,” he says.

Lack of discipline
Drivers in the city often gloat about being able drive anywhere in the world if they have driven in Bangalore. “Motorists in the City lack lane discipline. They feel free to weave across any part of the road they want. Lane disciple is absolutely essential for smooth flow of traffic,” says G Govardhan of the Bangalore Environment Trust.
“When you look at vehicle movement in the city from an elevation, they look as if they are crawling like snakes,” concurs Sreehari.

Traffic management
“The volume of traffic is growing too fast for short term plans like flyovers and one ways to be effective. They merely shift the bottleneck from one place to another. What is sorely needed now is to move growth away from Bangalore, as the infrastructure here is already stretched,” says Sreehari. “We have tried everything from flyovers to one-ways and even experimented with synchronized traffic signals, but the traffic volume is just too much,” he adds.

“People must discipline themselves, as there is only so much that we can do. We are stepping up enforcement and cracking down especially hard on government vehicles and BMTC buses,” says Lakshman Singh, ACP Traffic Central. But traffic expert Sreehari disagrees. “Nowadays anybody can pay the fine. But offenders must be fined and then detained for some time,” he says.

So, what is the way out? “We need a long term plan – a vision. This will require political will, as some hard decisions will have to be taken. Traffic is a problem which every citizen faces and any solution must involve the people,” says Govardhan.

Sales tax increase boomerangs

Sales Tax Hike Hits Karnataka Hard
Financial Express

The Karnataka government lost almost Rs 6.5 crore in sales tax revenues for the month of August this year, because of the increase in the sales tax slab on PCs - from 5.75 per cent to 13.8 per cent in the state, according to a study conducted by the Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (Mait).

Based on inputs from the leading 10 national and regional distributors and vendors like Ingram Micro, Tech Pacific, Redington in July, Mait has calculated that the state government collections from the hardware industry would have amounted to Rs 2.98 crore at a rate of 5.75 per cent.

Based on the July 2004 sales, Mait projected that the state government would collect Rs 7.48 crore sales tax revenues from the hardware industry. Instead, the state could only manage to collect Rs 98 lakh. “If this trend continues, Karnataka would lose over Rs 50 crore in the next eight months (till March 2005),” warned director, Mait, Bangalore region, K S Nanda Kumar.

The discrepancy is occurring because companies instead of billing directly from Karnataka, are doing so from nearby Hosur in Tamil Nadu, which is just 30 km away from Bangalore city.

“Imposing a higher tax on hardware is burdening the common man. Today, a lot of PC buyers are home users. With an increase in the sales tax, retail sales have declined,” said general manager, Acer India, Arun Bhagat.

“The number of PCs sold in the state has come down by more than 50 per cent in the last 40-60 days. We are in the process of collecting information on the exact number of PCs sold in the state during August,” said secretary of the Association of Information Technology, R Sridhar.

“We have been urging the government to decrease the sales tax, but have had no response,” he said. Interestingly, it is not IT companies who pay sales tax on the purchase of computers. Most of them being EOUs, they import PCs duty free for their operations.

When contacted, the state IT secretary, Shankaralinge Gowda, maintained that it was “very difficult to say whether the state has lost sales tax revenues from hardware.” Each associ-ation had different numbers on the PC sales in the state, he said.

Sales Tax Forces WeP To Look Outside For New Facility

WeP Peripherals Ltd, formerly Wipro e-Peripherals Ltd is looking at locations outside Karnataka to set up its central warehouse facility.

According to the company, the decision was driven by the state government’s move to increase sales tax on the hardware industry from 5.75 per cent to 13.8 per cent.

WeP Peripherals CEO Ram Agarwal said that the company had seen over 50 per cent dip in its peripherals business in the last two months. “We are looking at expanding out of Karnataka for our business, if government doesn’t listen to us,” he said. “We have requested the government to reduce the sales tax on hardware in the state to support the industry. But nothing has come out of it so far,” Mr Agarwal said.

WeP Peripherals has two manufacturing facilities; one at Mysore producing dot matrix printers, line matrix printers and printer heads. The second plant in Hyderabad producing dot matrix printers for exports, and UPS products. Both factories have a combined capacity to manufacture 2,00,000 printers and 1,00,000 UPS per year. “Apart from this, we have central warehousing facility in Bangalore,” he said.

WeP Peripherals is one of the largest employee owned company in the country, providing IT peripherals products, IT peripherals solutions and printing services.

Meeting Bangalore's future water needs

Navigating Complex Water Currents
Financial Express

Greater Bangalore is approximately 500 sq km, jurisdictionally composed of the central city, surrounded by a constellation of eight smaller municipalities where much of Bangalore’s residential and IT-led business growth is coming from. A quick drive through these outer neighbourhoods is all it takes to see that all is not well with IT city: the roads are barely discernable and garbage dumps pepper the landscape. But the critical gaps are invisible: most of these municipalities do not have piped water and sanitation facilities.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has an ambitious Rs 700-crore infrastructure plan, of which it expects Rs 120 crore from the users themselves. Unfortu-nately, citizens are turning their thumbs down, despite the crying need for water.

The government is now attempting to give citizens a formal role in the design, implementation and subsequent service delivery. At grassroot meetings to discuss these ideas, the questions fly thick and fast: will the project be done on-time, why do citizens have to pay, where will the water come from, where will the sewage treatment plants be located, when will the roads be resurfaced, what role does the local municipality have in all this, and so on. The authorities cannot have all the answers, because the delivery of water and sanitation is caught in the complex web of inter-institutional jurisdictions, federalist democracy, and sustainable development debates.

It is too early to predict how the Bangalore project will turn out, but this same script is playing across the length and breadth of the country. Urban India alone needs more than Rs 60,000 crore of water and sanitation infrastructure, and barely 15% of this can come from government sources. India’s sanitation coverage is currently only 30%, placing it close to the bottom of the global pile, along with Angola and Yemen in the list of countries with the least sanitation coverage. Over the past 20 years, the evidence of the centrality of water in human development and poverty alleviation has grown more compelling, resulting in the 2000 UN resolution to halve the population without access to drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015, among the eight goals in the UN Millenium Declaration.

However, delivering on these goals has meant that a hitherto antagonistic group of stakeholders make peace with each other because water represents among the most complex issues facing the global community today. For one, despite its abundance, only 2.5% of the world’s water is freshwater and 70% of this is in the polar icecaps and glaciers. Second, the emergence of new political arrangements has resulted in new ownership claims over water resources within and across countries. Third, there is a symbiotic interdependence between water and power - power generation needs water, and water supply needs power - that connects water to many of the challenges related to power. Fourth, urbanisation and globalisation are increasing the pace of demand on water supply and sanitation, as well as the distortions in availability to the poor. Finally, delivering on the Millenium goals will require a level of investment that is estimated to be anywhere between $110 billion and $180 billion a year over the next 15 years.

And this last factor is the one that is making strange bedfellows under the big water tent. Given that much of the investment requirements are in developing countries, these governments simply cannot finance, produce and manage water and sanitation services.

New models of Private Sector Participation (PSP) are therefore being tried. The record on PSPs, however, is less than stellar. In April 2004, a Working Group to assess PSPs wrote, “In the past two decades of expansion of PSP in water, there have been many public scandals and claims of corruption, rapid increases in tariff, lack of promised private capital investments, decline in quality of services, and a continued failure to increase adequately services to poor communities.” However, it went to add, “ At the same time, there are criticisms that the public water sector has failed to reform, improve efficiency and financial sustainability, curtail political patronage, or expand access to or quality of services.” Both kettle and pot are black.

Hence, the only realistic options available are to modify the existing PSP arrangements to make them more transparent, participatory and responsive to the poor. Accepting this reality has meant re-examining some basic aspects about water being a common good and a basic right; about when it is appropriate to ask people to pay for water; about allowing for cost-recovery in pricing, but not for excessive profits.

And profits there are. Already, the water business is dominated by three European giants that have combined sales of over $40 bn, employ over 250,000 people and serve 250 mn customers globally.

This is tricky new territory, and the playing field is not level. Especially for the local community - widely acknowledged to play a central role - which often functions with little visibility into the project details, and less skills to manoever the tricky terrain.

The bad news for India is that this pressure to improve our water and sanitation coverage is happening when our institutional structures are still not untangled; our people not fully equipped with the capacity to engage; water politics is ripe with power, patronage and pilferage; and our public finance coffers are being pressed for other important expenditures in education and healthcare. Given the capital-intensive nature of the requirements, we cannot simply ‘adjust’ our way here.

There are no silver linings in these clouds, only ominous sounds of rumbling thunder. And - despite the metaphorical appropriateness - these are storms we would rather not be hit by.

The writer is campaign coordinator of Janaagraha, a citizens’ platform for participatory democracy. He can be reached at

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

BMTC schedules on cell phones

BMTC schedules made available on cell phones
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Schedules of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses are available online on Reliance mobile phones as part of R-World service offered by the cellphone service provider.

Speaking at the launch of the service on Tuesday, Mahesh Prasad, president, Applications and Solutions Group, Reliance Infocomm, said the service would provide information of over 900 bus stops and 400 routes covering 9,000 sectors. Details of suburban routes would soon be added, he added.

The company has tied up with BMTC to offer the R-World service wherein the commuter chooses the starting area and destination of his journey and is presented with different options of routes available along the entire map. After selecting the route number, the user gets end-to-end information of the area from where the bus starts, frequency, names of stops and where the commuter has to board, name of the destination stop, first bus and last bus timings. A stop-to-stop search is also offered along with an indirect search for commuters with a break journey. The selected route and full route of a bus are available at finger tips.

BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathi said the Corporation would add 200 buses to its fleet by October end.

Since Honge oil, the 10 per cent mixture being used as bio-fuel for the buses, now costs less than diesel, BMTC plans to use it for its entire fleet.

Tripathi said BMTC Board had approved the installation of Global Positioning System (GPS) in 700 buses in the first phase, to be expanded to its entire fleet gradually. GPS would enable online access to 16 variables about the bus, including its location and speed at any given time and LCD monitors within the bus would provide passengers the location and other valuable information. Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) MD Sreenivas Murthy also spoke.

Techies fear traffic mayhem on Hosur Road

Wipro Mulls Changing Work Timings; Nilekani Moots Upgradation Of Roads

Times of India

The government's proposals for the elevated expressway on Hosur Road from the Silk Board to the Electronic City has opened up a Pandora's box, even before the ink has dried on the paper. The biggest worry for the techies is the chaos the project would create during its execution. The Wipro employees, who will be the most affected because of the diversion of the traffic, have got together and have shot off mails to Tamal Dasgupta, president and CIO, Wipro Technologies, highlighting their concerns.

"Already travel is tough for us and this proposal promises to really mess up an already messy situation for 24 to 36 months," they said. Concurring this, Infosys' CEO, Nandan Nilekani, categorically says that unless the by-pass road connecting Hosur Road to Sarjapur Road, NH 207 and the existing roads on either side are upgraded before the work on the elevated highway begins, there will be mayhem. "You have to create a a good alternative route to reach the Electronic City —this is a prerequisite," he says. One of the suggestions that the Wiproites have come up with is that truck traffic should be stopped on Hosur Road from 7-10 am and 5-8 pm. "This has been implemented in other cities. Moreover, during the truckers strike, Hosur Road was totally decongested,"they say. To avoid traffic rush, Wipro is debating the idea of beginning work at 7.30 am instead of 8.30 am and end the day also early. Infosys starts work at 8 am.

According to the former professor of Bangalore University, C.E.G. Justo who has specialised in highway engineering, the project is likely to take 30 months. "You need at least 6-8 months to come up with a design and planning and if the whole project if executed properly, you can complete it within two years. But, the point here is, commitment."And, most important is the fact that there have to be no exits leading off from the elevated highway. "Only then it could be called an expressway. You can have an exit midway between the Electronic City and Hosur," says Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw. Dasgupta says the upside is there will be no villagers crossing the roads. "On either side of Hosur Road, there are a number of villages and there is no way you can keep them off the road." And he says, "the techies can reach Electronic City in 30 minutes."

Media Reports To Make Engineers Liable For Penalties

Times of India

Engineers working with Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) beware. Mayor P.R. Ramesh will not spare you if newspapers publish pictures of potholes in your area. Though the mode of punishment is yet to be finalised (Transfer? Salary cut? Duty without offs? No perks?), we are told that it is going to be very very tough. “The concerned area engineer will be penalised if reports or photographs in the newspapers are published,’’ Ramesh said on Tuesday. The mayor’s threat comes hours after the 27/9 deadline set by himself to fill potholes in the city ended with the BCC claiming all the potholes barring a few here and there have been filled.

This is the third deadline set in the last one month — first was chief minister’s deadline of three days, next was BCC commissioner K. Jothiramalingam’s 19/9 deadline and the last one by the mayor himself. Ramesh’s predecessor C.M. Nagaraj too was an expert in issuing fancy warnings to engineers. He even had announced a helpline for the public to register their complaints about potholes and inactive engineers. However, this remained as a naam ke wasthe warning! Potholes sprang making the life to motorists miserable. “We have filled all the potholes that were identified on September 8 after CM’s meeting. However, due to rains, new potholes might come up which will be filled at the earliest." promises engineer-in-chief Rame Gowda. Look out for potholes and if you find one, alert us now.

Traffic planning unit mooted
From potholes to traffic. Looks like mayor Ramesh is serious to make Bangalore better. He has written to chief minister Dharam Singh to form a traffic planning unit in view of the increase in vehicular population. He has has suggested that the unit be headed by an IPS officer and comprise town planners who can moot long-term and permanent solution to the traffic problems. Over to Dharamji.

Neighbourhood watch to protect the elderly

Neighbourhood watch to protect the elderly

The Hindu

To provide protection and security to elders, the Bangalore police, in association with Nightingale's Medical Trust, will launch a neighbourhood watch programme on Friday. Residents are being invited to register with mobile squads that will visit city areas till October 8.

Under the programme, a group of residents from each locality will keep a close watch on the houses of elderly persons. Alarm systems will be installed in these houses to alert other residents of the area in an emergency.

"It is always good for the elderly to have a sympathetic person staying close to them. They would feel much safer," S. Mariswamy, Police Commissioner, says.

Security schemes for the elderly were essential, he said, "because they are a vulnerable community which needs to be protected."

Poor response

Last month, the city police launched a security scheme for the elderly. As part of this scheme, elders need to register their names and telephone numbers with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and the city police. In an emergency, all they need to do is pick up the receiver and hold it for 20 seconds. An alert will immediately be sounded at the nearest police station.

However, because of lack of publicity, the response to the scheme is poor, Mr. Mariswamy says. A month after the scheme was launched, not one person has registered for it.

That is why the Elders' Helpline (1090) is planning to help promote the scheme. It is considering making it possible for elderly persons to register for these security schemes through the Helpline. "It would make it much simpler for elder citizens," says Radha S. Murthy, Managing Trustee of Nightingale's Medical Trust, which operates the Helpline in association with the city police.

Last month, the Helpline received 577 calls of which 55 were complaints of abuse, neglect and harassment. An analysis of the cases found that 16 people complained of harassment by family members, 15 said they had been cheated and 14 others complained of emotional and physical abuse.

Missing persons

The number of senior citizens in their late 60s or 70s reported missing and later found wandering, unable to remember their addresses or phone numbers, is increasing. Ten cases were reported last month. "Most of them come from respectable middle-class families and they suddenly find themselves lost. Memory loss from dementia is the reason in most cases,'' Ms. Murthy says.

She adds that it becomes a problem when an elderly person who is lost is unable to give details of his or her home. This is why the Elders' Helpline is appealing to families with aged persons to make sure the elders carry an ID card with name, address and phone number.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Infy, Wipro to part-fund Bangalore expressway

Infy, Wipro to part-fund Bangalore expressway
Business Standard/Rediff

The state and the central governments have finally responded to the persistent criticism of the terrible infrastructure in and around Bangalore.

Bangalore will soon get a Rs 360-crore four-lane elevated toll expressway to link it with a key job-spinning suburb as it moves to tackle traffic woes stemming from high growth, officials said on Monday.

The 9-km expressway from Bangalore to Electronics City will be partly funded by the association of its occupants, including software giants like Infosys Technologies and Wipro, besides units of Siemens and Hewlett-Packard.

In a bid to ease the burden on the existing Bangalore-Hosur Road which passes by Electronics City on the National Highway 7, the Union ministry of shipping, road transport and highways has also commissioned a feasibility study for widening the 25 km route to 6-8 lane in a three-year timeframe from zero date.

"The entire project will be executed in two phases from the 8th mile through the 33 km stretch connecting Bangalore to Hosur in Tamil Nadu at an estimated cost of Rs 625 crore. From the outskirts of Bangalore (8th mile) to the Electronics City, an elevated 10 km four-lane highway will be built at a cost of Rs 360 crore. It will come up over the existing four-lane highway to facilitate thousands of IT professionals to drive on a fast lane," Transport Minister T R Baalu said.

While the Karnataka government and the National Highways Authority of India will hold 33.33 per cent stake each, the Electronics City Industry Association, consisting of companies like Infosys and Wipro, will participate in the BOT (build-operate and transfer) project with 33.33 per cent equity stake.

A tripartite agreement will be signed for executing the project and operating the fast-lane highway. Toll will be levied on user vehicles.

"As part of the National Highways Development Project, the 25 km road on NH-7 will be widened to six lanes up to 18th km and into 8 lanes from the Electronics City to Hosur for fast movement of heavy duty trucks and high volume traffic between Bangalore and Chennai," Baalu added.

After spot inspection of various projects in Karnataka by the NHAI in association with the state PWD (public works department), Baalu declared the 625 km portion of the Golden Quadrilateral across Karnataka will be completed by mid-2005 at a cost of Rs 1,569 crore.

"There have been some delays in completing certain sections of the quadrilateral project in the state for want of land and awarding the contracts through an elaborate tender process. Though the projects were earlier scheduled to be completed by December-end, we are extending the deadline by another six months," he said.

According to Union Minister of State for Road Transport and National Highways K H Muniyappa, the NHAI would take up four other projects in the state at an estimated cost of Rs 2,545 crore for completion in the next 2-4 years.

"To strengthen the road infrastructure in Karnataka, our ministry will take up widening and upgrading of the 85 km Bangalore (K R Puram)-Kolar-Mulbagal National Highway (NH-4) at a cost of Rs 400 crore, the 19.5 km Bangalore-Nelamangala on NH-4 at a cost of Rs 400 crore and the 157 km Nelamangala-Hassan National Highway (NH-48) at a cost of Rs 620 crore. The NHAI will also take up the 74 km Kundapur-Surathkal National Highway (NH-17) at a cost of Rs 500 crore," Muniyappa announced.

Muniyappa admitted that Bangalore had witnessed rapid growth in the last five years leading to severe stress on road and support infrastructure.

In order to support this growth with suitable infrastructure, Muniyappa said the various projects would be taken up after a detailed feasibility study for developing the existing highways into 6-8 lanes with 4-lane elevated expressways in select places.

‘Hate BCC campaign’ spreads to DJ Halli

‘Hate BCC campaign’ spreads to DJ Halli
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Hundreds of residents from D J Halli Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) ward took to the streets on Monday, demanding repair of Tannery Road and civic amenities in the surrounding areas.

The protest was led by the Citizens Rights Protection Council (CRPC) and was staged before Dr. Ambedkar Circle on Tannery Road. It effectively blocked traffic for hours.

The two km stretch of the road has been in pathetic condition for over a year, creating problems for commuters and locals everyday. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has abandoned the road work after digging it up for laying pipes. Apart from the roads, the area also faced problems of disposal of wastes, leading to health problems.

Senior police officers rushed to the area in the morning to pacify the crowd and convinced them to allow traffic movement. However, when the BCC commissioner failed to arrive as demanded, an irate crowd again blocked the traffic till late afternoon.

Former MP Jaffer Sheriff heard the demands and directed the BCC deputy commissioner — East, Jayram, who arrived late in the afternoon, to take up works within seven days. However, speaking to this website's newspaper, Jayram said that BCC could start only after the BWSSB finishes work on UGD and drinking water in the locality.

The BWSSB would wrap up in one month. The BCC would take another three months to finish the road repair among other works in the area. A Rs. 80 lakh package for the DJ Halli ward was being processed, he assured.

Mayor P R Ramesh said that water works in the locality, which started nearly a year ago, suffered due to the code of conduct imposed during elections.

The budget allocation for the road works was arrived at after the elections and was planned to be taken up after the monsoon season.

Is there a Government in Karnataka?

Ineptness at its worst
The Statesman

From l’affaire Uma Bharati to the fracas over IT, the Kannada film industry and the Common Entrance Test, the Dharam Singh government has come a cropper. TYAGRAJ SHARMA reports

The word inept, according to Roget’s Thesaurus, means clumsy, artless, awkward, bungling, inadept, inefficient, unskillful, ham-handed and incapable. And in Karnataka, it has also come to mean the 100-day-old government of Dharam Singh. Literally.

Although he has repeatedly faulted the media and cited the “accompanying difficulties” of heading a coalition to hide his government’s ineffectiveness, Singh knows he has bungled. Time and again, the Congress-led coalition has proved its ineptness, be it the Common Entrance Test controversy, the Uma Bharati episode, the crisis in the Kannada film industry or the anguish of the IT industry over the neglect of Bangalore’s infrastructure.

On each of these issues, the Singh government allowed itself to drift, its actions unconvincing and half-hearted. This, despite the fact that Singh is not new to politics or power; he has been in the business for over three decades, holding important portfolios.

Take the case of the latest controversy, one relating to the Kannada film industry. A section of producers and distributors has decided that Kannada films need to be screened in the state’s theatres, prominently and regularly, if they are to recover their money. They also want the recent government decision of reducing entertainment tax on non-Kannada films from 70 to 40 per cent revoked. This, when the Kannada film industry is exempt from any such tax. The influential section has also enforced a ban which prevents theatre owners and exhibitors from screening new non-Kannada films not until seven weeks after release elsewhere.

The industry’s decision has provoked its counterparts in other states to retaliate accordingly; the latter have launched a non-cooperation movement against the Kannada film industry. Artistes from the Kannada film industry would not be accepted elsewhere, and those from other parts of the country would not be allowed in Kannada cinema.
What is more shocking, however, is that a government-appointed committee has backed the decision of the film producers and distributors. Predictably, since the ban came into force over a month ago, the government has not done anything to retrieve the situation.

Even more appalling was a remark by the chief minister. When asked what he intended to do, his reply was: “I will be going to meet them for discussion” and not “I will be calling them for discussions,” as would have been the befitting response. This has prompted people to wonder whether the UPA government would have kept quiet if such a situation had developed in a non Congress-led government. “How can any government allow a few to dictate as to what the people should see in cinema halls? It is a violation of Fundamental Rights,” is the refrain.

As if this wasn’t enough, the government’s handling of the Uma Bharati episode and the chief minister’s contradictory stand on the same, did not go down well even within the Congress leadership in Delhi. Ridiculed for his conflicting stand regarding the 10-year-old Hubli case against Bharati, the chief minister came out a confused man. His frustration was obvious when he told newsmen: “Ek taraf BJP mere pichhe padi hai, doosri taraf aap log (The BJP has made my life miserable, and now you people are also troubling me).”

Equally disappointing has been the manner in which the government sought to tackle the controversial and sensitive issue of students’ admission to professional colleges. First, it failed to force private colleges to accept the state demand for providing 75 per cent of their seats under government quota (where comparatively low fee is charged). Frustrated, it decided to deny outstation students the right to appear for Common Entrance Test.

CET is held to select meritorious students for seats in private professional colleges on fees regulated by the government. Under what authority this facility was sought to be denied to non-Karnataka students, after encouraging them to spend huge sums on buying the necessary forms, is something the government could not explain. It did make a feeble attempt to seek refuge behind an earlier Supreme Court order. Later, following court intervention and a patch up between the government and the managements of private colleges, the outstation students did get some reprieve, though not without suffering a harrowing time.

The Karnataka government’s inept handling of these issues clearly indicates its paucity of ideas and will to tackle pressing problems. The fact became obvious immediately after the coalition came to power – within a few days, it had made it clear Bangalore would not be a priority area and that the government’s emphasis would be elsewhere. The resultant outcry by the Bangalore-based IT industry, which was losing valuable man hours because of deteriorating infrastructure and poor road condition, was enough to jolt the government; it woke up to promise corrective action.

Unfortunately, such assurances haven’t yet been translated into action, going by the state of Bannerghatta Road, for example. One of the main arteries of the city, it houses offices of leading IT, banking and BPO companies including Honeywell, Progeon, Oracle, IBM, Infosys, HSBC and Accenture. Yet, the road is dotted by several hundred potholes in a small stretch of just two kilometres. And the monsoons have only made things worse.

The condition of roads leading to Electronics City, where most of the company headquarters are located, is equally abysmal with traffic snarls being the order of the day. This being the situation in the capital, one can well imagine the plight in other parts of the state. No wonder then, when states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal came to woo the IT sector, the response was more than encouraging. Only a few days ago, Amar Singh, chairman of UP Development Council and a shrewd politician to boot, told newsmen in Bangalore that he was confident of getting Infosys to make a major investment in Noida.

Nandan Nilekeni, CEO, Infosys, is already in the process of preparing the IT policy of the UP government, in addition to doing a pilot project in that state on e-learning. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, is unabashedly courting companies like Infosys and Wipro to add to its existing facilities. West Bengal has also experienced some success with Wipro.

In sum, the Karnataka government has left both the common man and the industry doubtful about its ability to administer. And with each passing day, the attrition in belief is only increasing pace. Which also explains the growing speculation that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is planning a change in the Karnataka government leadership.

(The author is the Bangalore-based Special Representative of The Statesman.)

Cariappa Park falls on bad times

Cariappa Park no joggers’ park now
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Field Marshal Cariappa Park in the heart of the city has lost its charm. Thanks to an indifferent Army sub-area, the lovely park is in ruins. It no longer attracts any birds, nor the humans.

Right next to the Parade Grounds, the park has developed scrub. A huge man-made waterfall, laid out in 1996, has dried up too. Weeds have grown in most parts of the park, spread over 22 acre.

Apart from failing to maintain the park, the Army has also not paid bills to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) for providing water to the waterfall. ‘‘A notice has been served asking the Army pay up Rs. 8.09 lakh towards the water bill,’’ a senior BWSSB official told this website's newspaper.

The BWSSB officer, however, stated that they have only asked the army to pay the dues and have not yet disconnected supply. But despite water being available over the years, the army has not been able to start the Rs. 25 lakh waterfall.

The number of children playing at the military-style play area inside the park, has also come down considerably. The park has sand pits, tarzan-swing, spider web, Burma bridge, zig-zag tunnels and balance bars, now mostly overgrown with weeds that sting. The jogger’s track lie deserted too.

When contacted, a senior Army officer at the Sub-Area here said they are trying to start the waterfall again. The park is open for public everyday between 6.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., he added.

IT’s happening: 9 km flyover to E-City

IT’s happening: 9 km flyover to E-City
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The Union government on Monday announced a dedicated and tolled nine km flyover along the Hosur road leading to the IT hub — Electronic City.

Union Minister for Surface Transport and Shipping T R Baalu, who held a review meeting to discuss various road projects in the State, said a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be floated for this purpose.

The decision to construct a tolled flyover comes a day after a meet held with representatives of the Electronic City Industries Association (ECIA) and a few weeks after IT companies raised a hue and cry over traffic snarls in the area.

The SPV comprising ECIA, Centre and the State government would share the project cost. While ECIA will hold 33.3 per cent stake in the Rs. 400 crore project, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the State government will share the rest 66.6 per cent .

The four-lane flyover will be a dedicated route to the Electronic City sans deviations — once a vehicle hits the flyover on Hosur Road, it can only reach the Electronic City. The minister said a detailed project report would be ready at by March next year and the foundation will be laid in the second week of April 2005. The project is likely to be completed in about 30 months from the day of start.

Chief Minister N Dharam Singh said the existing four-lane Hosur Road will be upgraded into six lane at a cost of Rs. 65 crore. Commuters need not pay any toll for using this road.

Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Water Resources Minister Mallikharjun Kharge and Union Minister of State for National Highways K.H. Muniyappa were present at the review meet.

Richmond and Residency Road to be one-ways

Richmond, Residency will be one-ways
New Indian Express

The Traffic police is seriously considering converting Residency and Richmond Roads into one-ways as congestion on these roads has reached its peak.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Chandrashekhar told this website’s newspaper that modalities of introducing the one-way system on these roads were being worked out. Traffic, on both these roads, has increased exponentially in recent years.

Most of the Residency Road traffic jams are caused during school timings when parents, guardians and drivers who come to either pick up or drop their wards to school, park their vehicles on the road in front of the two Bishop Cotton schools. On Richmond Road, the bottleneck is before the Baldwin Girls’ School.

That apart, these roads are too narrow to support two-way traffic, given the present volume. While movement of traffic would be allowed from Richmond Circle towards Opera Junction on Residency Road, vehicles on Richmond Road would be allowed only from Vallera Junction towards Richmond Circle. As a result, traffic would be realigned atop the Richmond Circle flyover, which will be two-way.

While movement of traffic would remain unchanged from the approach ramps on K.H. Road and Mission Road, there will be changes in the flow on the down ramp. Flow in the direction of Residency Road will remain unchanged, the down ramp on Richmond Road will be reversed to accommodate the new one-way.

It may be recalled that former city police commissioner H T Sangliana had recommended that the Richmond Circle flyover be made two-way. However, the police are still working on ironing out the new system.

Techies will drive on fast lane to Electronics City

Techies will drive on fast lane to Electronics City
India Abroad News Service

Stung by criticisms of Bangalore's crumbling infrastructure, the Karnataka government has swung into action to build an elevated four-lane highway to the Electronics City.

The Union ministry of shipping, road transport and highways, in association with the state government, has commissioned a feasibility study for widening the 25 km busy Bangalore-Hosur road to six-eight lanes in three years' timeframe.

Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu told media persons here Monday the project would be taken up from April next year after completing and evaluating the feasibility report by March 2005.

"The entire project will be executed in two phases from the Eighth Mile to 33 km connecting Bangalore to Hosur in Tamil Nadu at an estimated cost of Rs.6.25 billion," he said.

"From the outskirts of Bangalore to the Electronics City, an elevated 10 km four-lane highway will be built at a cost of Rs.3.6 billion.

"It will come up over the existing four-lane highway to facilitate thousands of IT professionals drive on a fast lane."

The Electronics City Industry Association, consisting of India's IT bellwethers Infosys and Wipro, will participate in the BOT (build-operate and transfer) project with a combined 33.33 percent equity stake.

The Karnataka government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will be the other two stakeholders in the project with each holding 33.33 percent stake.

A tripartite agreement will be signed for executing the project and operating the fast lane highway. Toll will be levied on user vehicles.

"The 25 km road on NH-7 will be widened to six lanes up to 18th km and into eight lanes from the Electronics City to Hosur for fast movement of heavy duty trucks and high volume traffic between Bangalore and Chennai," Baalu disclosed.

The minister declared the 625 km portion of the golden quadrilateral project across Karnataka would be completed by mid-2005 at a cost of Rs.15.69 billion.

"There have been some delays in completing certain sections of the quadrilateral project in the state for want of land acquisition and awarding the contracts through an elaborate tender process.

"Though the projects were earlier scheduled to be completed by December-end, we are extending the deadline by another six months," he added.

Minister of State for Road Transport and National Highways K.H. Muniyappa said the NHAI would take up four other projects in the state at an estimated cost of Rs.25.45 billion for completion in the next two-four years.

"To strengthen the road infrastructure in Karnataka, our ministry will take up widening and upgrading of the 85 km Bangalore (KR Puram)-Kolar-Mulbagal National Highway (NH-4) at a cost of Rs.4 billion," he said.

"The 19.5 km Bangalore-Nelamangala on NH-4 at a cost of Rs.4 billion and the 157 km Nelamangala-Hassan National Highway (NH-48) at a cost of Rs.6.2 billion," said Muniyappa.

"The NHAI will also take up the 74 km Kundapur-Surathkal National Highway (NH-17) at a cost of Rs.5 billion."

Monday, September 27, 2004

New expressway to city?

The BBC is reporting that the Union Surface Transport Minister T R Baalu has cleared a new expressway to ease traffic congestion in the city. I couldn't find similar reports in the Indian media and the BBC doesn't say where in Bangalore this road is going to be built. And would someone explain how a expressway linking the city to some place else ease the horrendous traffic congestion in the central business district of the city?

New Bangalore road to beat jams
India's technology capital Bangalore is to get an $87m (£48m) toll motorway in order to tackle the city's growing congestion problem.

With the city established as India's main centre for outsourced Western businesses, jobs are now as plentiful as the traffic jams on its roads. The new road into a business zone is being partly paid for by its US and European tenants, including Siemens. They have long complained that traffic problems were harming business growth.

Boom city

India's federal minister for road transport, highways and shipping, TR Baalu, said the new 9km (5.5 mile) road, and a number of separate carriageway-widening projects, would go a long way to resolving the transport infrastructure grievances.

The new expressway will open in April 2007, Mr Baalu said, and will be 33% paid for by the business tenants. "These projects will ease congestion and support the growth of the industry," he said. Many US and European corporate giants, including Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Tesco, have in recent years exported operations such as software development and customer support to Bangalore, attracted by low wage costs and cheap property prices.

The city, capital of the southern state of Karnataka, now accounts for some 32% of India's $12.5bn annual revenues from overseas outsourcing. After years of rapid growth Bangalore has a population of 6.5 million and 1.95 million cars.

BDA to ease access to information

BDA to install kiosks across city
Know If Your Neighbour Has Violated Norms
Times of India

Bangalore: The huge multistoried commercial complexes in residential areas snatching away the peace of residents is the norm of the day. Official apathy, involvement of elected representatives coupled with palmgreasing tactics ensures that a building plan is sanctioned just anywhere notwithstanding the land use sanctions.Though much has been talked about the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP),the concept has not reached the common man. Now, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is venturing into a project to make the city maps, area maps available to every citizen.

If you think your neighbour is violating the land use permission and want to know the land use pattern or if you want to know what the vacant site near your is house is meant for,just try your hand at the information kiosk that the BDA is all set to unveil.Apart from giving information about the services and selling applications, the kiosk is also Geographical Information Systems (GIS) compatible which will give printed copies of the area maps,identifying the open spaces, civic amenity sites, parks and playgrounds,roads and drains in the area.

The BDA is the third organisation after BCC and BWSSB to set up customerfriendly information kiosks to cut down citizens’ visit to the BDA office. BDA commissioner M.N. Vidyashankar told The Times of India that initially, 25 kiosks will be installed at strategic locations and the number will be gradually increased. The kiosks can be used to pay property tax, download site applications, khata applications, get information about sale deeds, auctionable sites, status of layout approval, authorised layouts, civic amenity sites and will give printouts of the city map. A nominal charge for these services will be charged.

Each kiosk will cost between Rs 8-9 lakh and the first machine will be installed by December. Our kiosks will have printers attached to print applications and maps. We want our customers to reduce their visits to BDA office so that allthe necessary details are obtained from the kiosks. These machines will be ergonomically perfect with least complexity in operations", Vidyashankar explained. The kiosk culture was introduced in the city by BWSSB which has over 50 KaverEcom kiosks functioning round the clock. The BCC has also introduced four kiosks which is being used to download various applicationsand the machines are stationed at its central office and three zonal offices.

Mega township with US$ 3 bn FDI

So, is this going to help decongest the city? Hardly, it will be an ivory tower affordable only to money bags returning from wherever they have made their fortune.

Bangalore suburb to be $2.9 bn smart city
Canadian firm bringing in largest FDI slice in real estate.
Business Standard

It is the biggest foreign direct investment in India’s real estate sector. Vancouver-based Royal Indian Raj International Corporation (RIRIC) will invest a staggering $2.9 billion in a single real-estate project named Royal Garden City in Bangalore over a period of 10 years. The retail value of the project is estimated at $8.9 billion (Rs 41,000 crore).

The country’s first web-enabled “smart city” will be spread over 3,000-5,000 acres and will be located 20 km from Bangalore city near the new international airport.

The project is expected to build 35,000-50,000 houses, a business district and educational facilities, apart from state-of-the-art medical, shopping and entertainment infrastructure.

It will also house an aquarium, golf courses, botanical parks, stadiums and multiplexes and an estimated 300,000- 500,000 people are expected to live, work and play within the city daily. Last month, the company received the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s clearance for the first tranche of investment of Rs 179 crore.

Billing it as the largest building project in Asia, Manoj C Benjamin, CEO and chairman of RIRIC, told

Business Standard from Dubai: “We will be exporting modern technology to develop a New India. Unlike Taiwan, Hong Kong or Dubai, India does not have a modern city enclave. What we want to do is to bring in the most advanced urban infrastructure and modern amenities to the Indian market.”

Construction is expected to commence early next year and will be completed within 10 years.

That is just for a start. The Bangalore project is the first of four Royal Garden Cities that RIRIC plans to build in India. The three others are expected to come up in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

The Mumbai project would be launched in the beginning of 2006 over 5,000 acres of land across the harbour from the Gateway of India, Benjamin said. Most of the activities will be undertaken by Royal Indian Raj India Enterprises, its 100 per cent Indian subsidiary.

While Jones Lang LaSalle has been selected to manage transactional services and market the product globally, the master plan and the urban design for the Bangalore project will be executed by CPG Corporation. Previously called the Singapore Public Works Department, CPG Corporation had built the ‘Singapore City’ and is keenly looking at India to expand its business.

In what he described as an “East-West economic fusion”, Benjamin, who is based in Canada, said: “While the majority stake in RIRIC is with the family, we have a global consortium of world class builders and developers. We have credit and equities with large international finance institutions.’’

The bidding process for the developers will be finalised in January nest year. Benjamin’s father, Collin Benjamin, left India in 1962 and went on to found several real estate brokering and finance mortgaging companies like Colben Real Estate and Shammah Investment in Canada.

The company has expertise in building apartment buildings, shopping malls and office complexes. RIRC was incorporated in Nevada, US, in 1999 and has offices in London and Vancouver.

Benjamin said presale interests for the Bangalore project had already started pouring in. “We are currently reviewing these enquiries. Most of them are from NRIs all over the world who want to come back to their homeland.”

Describing the project as a “labour of love”, Benjamin said: “This is one way to enable the Indian inhabitants to be globally competitive.” Benjamin also said about 50,000 people would be employed in each city with forward linkages with 269 companies that will form part in building the country’s first compact sub-city within a city.

BDA plans eco-friendly mega layout

Mega layout to be eco-friendly

The Hindu

India's first ever eco-friendly residential layout will be formed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and it will also be the largest housing layout in the country.

It was the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, who mooted the idea of forming a mega residential layout to ease the housing problem in Bangalore, has also been closely coordinating with the BDA to ensure that the new layout has some unique features. The complaints over the Arkavathi Layout soon after the coalition Government took charge apparently prompted the Chief Minister to think of a mega layout that could eclipse all other housing layouts in the country.

The Chief Minister told The Hindu that solving the housing problem in the State in general and Bangalore in particular would be an important task of the coalition Government. While the stress would be on providing shelter to the economically weaker sections and the oppressed classes, formation of well-planned layouts for all sections of people was also a priority. The emphasis would also be on horizontal growth rather than vertical growth which led to congestion and gave rise to problems in sewerage and garbage disposal.

Location kept secret

The Government has issued strict instructions to the BDA not to reveal the location of the mega layout as it could have a cascading effect on land prices in and around Bangalore. The real estate market is once again witnessing a boom over the past few months with land prices increasing by over Rs. 500 or more a square foot in some parts of Bangalore. It had touched a low in 2002 when the prices dropped by over Rs. 750 a square foot in certain areas.

The BDA Commissioner, M.N. Vidyashankar, told The Hindu that the BDA had entered into an agreement with a renowned environmental expert to form the first ever eco-friendly layout. The environmental expert has also worked for the governments of Punjab, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Vidyashankar said the main features of the mega layout would include installation of an in-house (in the layout) tertiary sewage treatment plant. Each house in the layout would be connected with two water supply lines — one carrying potable water and another non-potable water. Further, while each house in the layout would have to compulsorily harvest rainwater, the excess rainwater would be collected by the authorities and treated at the sewerage plant and recycled.

Mr. Vidyashankar said the water supply tariff would be such that the people in the layout did not overuse the potable water. In other words, up to a certain limit, the tariff for potable water would be reasonable and for any excess consumption it would be much higher thus compelling the residents to use non-potable water for gardening, cleaning and so on. The estimation was that an individual would require not more than 150 litres of potable water a day.

Unique feature

Even in the Arkavathi Layout, which is under formation, rainwater harvesting would be compulsory and each house would have two water supply lines — potable and non-potable. The unique feature in the mega layout was that the sewage treatment plant would be located within the layout while in the case of the Arkavathi Layout, the water in the nearby Hebbal sewage plant would be recycled. The BDA was going ahead with the formation of the Arkavathi Layout and the tendering for civil works would be announced on September 27, Mr. Vidyashankar said. The formation of the layout would commence in November and the allotment of sites commenced from January 16.

The formation of the mega layout would commence by June next and the process would be gone through with transparency. The allotment of sites would be fully computerised without room for any irregularities, he said. However, with the demand for house sites increasing in Bangalore, the BDA still has a long way to go. Next year, the authority plans to allot a record 75,000 sites.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Immediate decongestion is the road ahead

Immediate decongestion is the road ahead
H.S. Balram , Editor, Times of India

Guess what hits a visitor to Bangalore first these days. No, not its Silicon City image. Not even its lovely weather. Not its cosmopolitan culture but its narrow and badly maintained roads choked with 24/7 chaotic traffic. Commuting has become a nightmare for the 70-lakh citizens of this once Pensioners’ Paradise. The IT boom has brought in its wake a large highsalaried community that can afford more than one vehicle — mostly cars — per family. Given the poor public transport system, two- and three-wheelers have also increased exponentially. But the roads haven’t increased proportionally.

Paucity of flyovers, underpasses and subways, a ring road that has too many intersections, lack of traffic awareness among road users, overworked and understaffed police and ill-equipped civic agencies have added to the mess.
So, what needs to be done? A metro rail is the answer. An efficient metro rail system will not only push the bulk of traffic underground, but also ensure that people use their vehicles sparingly. All big cities of the world, with much higher populations, have metro systems. The government says Bangalore will have it in three years. But the pace at which it is proceeding with the international airport project at Devanahalli, makes us sceptical about this promise. If it has the will, the dream will come true.

At least two more ring roads are needed. And the flow of traffic on these roads must be fast and smooth. For this, flyovers and underpasses must be built at all intersections. Delhi has done it. New companies which propose to start operations in Bangalore with a large number of employees must not be allowed set up shop in the heart of the city. They should be asked to move to the periphery which should be linked with good state-of-the-art roads.

Cities like Mangalore, Hubli and Mysore must be provided with good infrastructure and connected to Bangalore by four-lane expressways. Many companies will then like to locate their new operations there. The cost of living is comparatively cheaper. Investment is too Bangalore-centric at present. That is bad for the state. Indian companies must first move to the other cities. MNCs will then follow. With this, Bangalore will get decongested and other cities will flourish too.

A lane system must be introduced. For starters, users of the ring road and oneway roads must be forced to learn this habit. Big vehicles like buses and trucks must move into the extreme left lane. Pedestrians need special care. Good footpaths, zebra crossings, subways and footbridges must be built for them. Encroachers must be evicted and fined heavily. Private-public partnerships like the Bangalore Agenda Task Force must be given all support to improve civic services in the city. This is absolutely necessary to tackle the city’s problems. It’s high time persons in authority acted to decongest Bangalore and streamline traffic flow. And improve other cities to unburden the IT city. Mangalore, Hubli and Mysore are waiting to grow into Bangalores. They have the potential. What is needed is political will.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Broken Bones Award for Bangalore's Worst Roads

Lingarajapuram Road

Kammanahalli Main Road

Banaswadi Road

And, the award for Worst Road goes to...
We tried our best to confirm this bit of news. But couldn’t. A contest is on the cards for daredevil motorists who will be asked to drive on 10 most dreaded roads. Those who make it will qualify for the next 10 and then the next...
Times of India

The residents of Kammanahalli, Ramaswamypalya and other local groups led by MP Sangliana, on Thursday, had every reason to protest the state of roads, drains, potholes there.

On Friday, The Times of India team learnt it the hard way: that the roads in these areas are indeed bone-breakers. Especially after the rain that lashed the city, the roads leading to the Lingarajapuram flyover win hands down the award for the Worst Road of the City. As for the 1-km stretch under the flyover, look hard at the pictures. On a normal day, the crater-deep pothole roadless wonder is one hell of a journey. And on a rainy day, every nook holds promise of a watery grave.

The H.M. Road along the stretch of the flyover is bustling with shops, offices, petty businessmen, liquor shops... stagnant pools of slush and mosquitoes. These BCC-forsaken badlands have danger lurking just about everywhere. While vegetable vendors just curse the horrendous traffic, pedestrians jostle for space on the imaginary pavements with flower vendors and others. Casualties and accidents are very deja vu here; shopkeepers narrate tales of keeping logbooks of accidents a day.

Even as TOI was taking pictures, an aged woman slipped onto a huge muddy pit, she escaped with a few bruises. Not many do. Kammanahalli main road bustling with Foodworlds, Nilgiris, boutiques is just fine. The recent pothole deadline has ensured that some pits are filled up. The bylanes of residential areas are a living hell: The tar has come off at various places, there is no concept of a pavement, slippery stretches bang in the middle ...

Cut to the Banaswadi flyover. Conspicuous by their absence are streetlights and making their presence felt are massive killer-pits. Friday being a rainy day, you couldn’t differentiate where the surface was even and where slush filled-up pits and drains lurked. There is just one entry to the ITC Factory from here — a narrow pass by the grade separator. Buses, autos, two-wheelers, cars have to ply here only. Statutory warning: Travelling on these roads is injurious to life.

Terry Fox Run on Sunday

Terry Fox Run on Sunday

The theme at the Taj West End on Friday evening was ‘Best of Bangalore’s fashion’, and the message that came from the glitterati was awareness about the Terry Fox Run 2004 — for the crusade against cancer.

The annual Terry Fox Run will be held on Sunday. Richard Gall, president, Cranes Software International Ltd, will flag it off from Jawahar Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park, at 9 am. Cranes Software, a global scientific and engineering software products and solutions provider, has extended support for the noble cause.

The Terry Fox Run is a noncompetitive event and largest single-day fund-raiser for cancer research in the world. It is held every year in memory of Terry Fox, a man who died of cancer in 1981.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Yawn: Underpass in Malleswaram

Underpass at Malleswaram
The underpass here set to take off soon is expected to decongest traffic and help pedestrians

The Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) has planned an underpass at the Malleswaram Circle on the lines of Mekhri Circle grade separator at a cost of Rs 10 crores to decongest traffic in the locality.

Malleswaram, one of the oldest residential areas of Bangalore, has over the years developed as one of the commercial hubs of the city. From small shops to wholesale markets, from top educational institutions to MNC banks, you name it and the area has it. The result is high traffic volumes moving at a snail's pace in peak hours.

BCC's Technical Advisor Jaiprasad said: "Malleswaram Circle is one of the busiest junctions in the area with a typical four-legged intersection with Sampige Road on the north and south side of the junction, MKK Road on the west and Link Road on the east. The underpass will start at the foot of KC General Hospital and Malleswaram Grounds. We are yet to crystalise on the proposal and then approval would be sought from the council and the government".

The traffic volume here is 7,800 PCU/hour during peak hours with queuing of vehicles being 150 metres. With the travel speed through the day being 15 kmph and pedestrian flow during peak hours being 1,950, it is imperative to build a grade separator here.

The project

The grade separator will cost around Rs 10 crores including shifting of utilities, cost of land acquisition and miscellaneous expenses. While the underpass will start at the KC General Hospital it will emerge out at the Pioneer India Business on MKK Road with a total length of the underpass being 180 metres. The existing Sampige Road will act as the bridge above the underpass and will be widened.

In conversation with the new BDA Chief

'Jayadeva Circle flyover will be ready by Dec 14…'
Traffic snarls at busy junctions in peak hours are the bane of Bangaloreans. Flyovers and underpasses are much-needed. M N Vidyashankar shares his plans for civic infrastructure to ease the city's traffic congestion in a chat with the Times of India

What is the status on the Airport Road and Jayadeva Hospital Flyovers?
We had promised the people of Bangalore that we would be opening the Dairy Circle Flyover on September 15, 2004. We kept that promise and completed the work in 41 days time. Credibility is very important for BDA and we just can't afford to dilute our credibility. 29 percent of the flyover work in Dairy Circle was completed in just about 41 days. The underpass work will be completed by November 15, 2004. The Airport Road Flyover is scheduled for completion by March 15, 2005 and Jayadeva Circle Flyover is scheduled for completion by December 14, 2004.

Why do flyovers get delayed? How do you propose to avoid delays?
There is no particular reason for delays in completion of flyovers. In the conventional flyover, civil works take a lot of time depending on the length of the flyover. In addition, this also causes immeasurable inconvenience to the public. Shifting of utilities takes its toll in terms of time and money. To overcome these difficulties, BDA is toying with the idea of mobile flyovers. Mobile flyovers can be erected and opened for public within a matter of a few days and innumerable such examples are there in many European countries.

When do you expect to begin work on the first mo bile flyover and where will it be?
BDA to begin with, intends experimenting with stainless steel flyovers (mobile), currently in vogue in many European countries, on a pilot basis. The matter is before the Technical Advisory Committee and a decision on the first stainless steel (mobile) flyover including its use will be taken very shortly.

Is BDA planning more flyovers? Where?
BDA, with a view to decongest traffic in Bangalore, does intend going ahead with grade separators and flyovers depending on the necessity in any particular junction. In the immediate future, BDA is planning an underpass at MRCR Junction and one at Ramamurthy Nagar junction. The exact number and locations of new flyovers, and the timeframe for completing them is something that will be decided after the Technical Committee takes a decision on the first stainless steel (mobile) flyover.

Any plans to bring in technology that can make underpasses happen faster?
BDA is keeping itself abreast of all the recent developments and technological advancements taking place in the field. Except for mechanising the work of underpasses, there appears to be no other shortcutting to squeezing the time further.

Are you satisfied with the pace at which civic infrastructure such as flyovers and grade separators are coming up?
I am sure everyone will concur with me that the rate at which infrastructure growth is taking place is not in line with the requirements of the time. We in BDA are seriously thinking of bridging this gap and taking up of other projects including the Peripheral Ring Road, to be always ahead of the requirement.

How many flyovers in all do you think we need to solve the City's traffic problems?
It is difficult to estimate the number of flyovers required to tackle the city's traffic problems. We are looking at all the studies undertaken in this regard. We have many of them which provide solutions to the present and future traffic scenarios in the city. BDA will not be found wanting in this regard. We will not only match the aspirations of the people, but also the requirements of the situations in providing world class infrastructure to place Bangalore among the most sought-after metros in the country.

Another ‘uprising’ over (lack of) civic facilities

Another ‘uprising’ over civic facilities
The Mayor assured that the construction work would be speeded up.
Deccan Herald

Frustrated over bad roads and inconvenience caused due to delay in completion of the Lingarapuram Railway Under Bridge (RUB), more than 2,000 residents and shop owners in Kammanahalli, Sevanagar and Lingarajapuram took to streets and blocked traffic near Indian Oil Corporation on Thursday.

According to the police, shop owners downed their shutters in protest for more than four hours. Traffic in Lingarajapuram and surrounding areas was thrown out of gear between 7 am and 11 am due the protest.

The crowd was pacified and normalcy was restored only when Mayor P R Ramesh, Member of Parliment H T Sangliana and senior railway officials intervened and assured to speed up the construction work and asphalt the service roads.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Rajanna, an hardware shop owner said, “we made numerous representations to the authorities to speed up the construction work of RUB, but they never took it seriously.”

He said that the dust due to vehicular movement had caused a lot of inconvenience to the residents and shop owners in the area. The situation is even worse when it rains, the slush splashes right into our shops and houses when vehicles move on these roads, he added.

The RUB has not been completed even four years after the work started, Rajanna said. The authorities are unnecessarily prolonging the construction by doing the work in phases, he alleged.

P Naveen Kumar, a resident of Kammanahalli, said, “many heavy vehicles ply on the Lingarajapuram Road and added to it is the railway line which intersects the road.”

N Sridhar, another resident, who shared the same view, said school children have to face considerable hardships while going to school and back home.

Potholes shine as deadlines make hay

Pothole on Vidhana Veedhi

Potholes shine as deadlines make hay
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: With the deadlines for filling up of potholes being extended once every few days by the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC), the city roads are turning rough obstacle courses every passing day. Road repairs have been slow to start (BCC blames it on the rains) and excruciatingly tardy in their progress. Pothole-ridden Bangalore has much to cry for.

Roads that are gnashed by the heavy traffic load abound. There seems to be no redemption from backaches for two-wheeler riders and autorickshaw passengers on none other than VVIP Raj Bhavan Road (in front of Telephone House). Among the particularly distasteful stretches is Dickenson Road, with a pothole right in the middle of the junction. Bumpier still is Palace Guttahalli Road. The risky Malleswaram 8th Main (MD Block) road has the reputation of being a back breaker for several months now and is yet to get some of BCC’s attention.

The test of one’s riding abilities is Koramangala 80 ft road, which probably has the biggest potholes in the city. And of course Moodlapalya Road, which has no match for the number of potholes. While the BCC is busy fixing deadlines for itself, is any work getting done on the streets? One wonders.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Now its Palace Road trees' turn to face the axe

There was absolutely no need to close the Devaraja Urs Road. Having done that, they now want to reduce the tree laden Palace Road to a shambles.

With the Devaraj Urs Road stretch permanently closed for vehicular traffic, the government has asked the BCC to widen the nearby Palace Road to reduce congestion. Devaraj Urs Road was connecting Gopal Gowda Circle and Vidhana Soudha west entrance. It was closed after the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) recommended that movement of public vehicles be prohibited in a radius of 100 metres around the secretariat buildings. The CISF prepared the report on security for secretariat buildings following the attack on Parliament by terrorists. We had no option but to close the stretch of road.

Alternative arrangements have been made to ease traffic,public works and energy minister H.D. Revanna told reporters after inspecting work on the Vikas Soudha here on Wednesday. The BCC had been asked to widen the nearby Palace Road on a priority basis to ensure that there was no traffic congestion owing to the closure of Devaraj Urs Road. The minister pointed out that Vikas Soudha and the new building of the KPSC would be ready for occupation by November.

Times of India

7 foot overbridges planned

7 foot-over bridges to combat city traffic
The Asian Age

The subject meeting convened by the Bangalore City Corporation on Wednesday, unanimously cleared a proposal to construct foot over bridges in the city to tackle the increasing pressure from city traffic. Chairing the subject meeting, mayor P.R. Ramesh said that the Wantage Advertising Agency Private Company has come forward to construct seven foot-over bridges on BOT basis (build-operate-transfer) at critical traffic junctions in the city.

But, Opposition leader B.R. Nanjundappa asserted that there was no need for more foot-over bridges in the city as the one on KG Road has failed to attract pedestrians in the last 32 years. He demanded that the project be shelved.
Mr Ramesh replied that the BCC would not be investing in the construction of these over bridges as the proposal had come from an advertising company interested in constructing the bridges on a pilot basis. Later, Janata Dal(Secular) members held a protest demanding the immediate withdrawal of the plan to privatise the maintenance of 2,000 km of roads.

BCC engineer-in-chief Rame Gowda said that the BCC has called for tenders with norms similar to those of the National Highway Authority and the state public works department. The BCC would benefit from this scheme as it would save considerable money spent on road maintenance besides giving more time to BCC staff to supervise the maintenance work, he added.

Meanwhile, the BJP members objected to the works allotted by the BCC to blacklisted contractors. Mr Ramesh immediately directed the BCC officials to cancel all tender works allotted to blacklisted contractors.
When the BJP members persisted with their protest, the mayor said he had already issued directions to the officials concerned to cancel works allotted to these contractors. He sought the co-operation of the Oppositionbut they staged a walk out.

Luxury hotel room capacity to double

For you and me, that only means more concrete, more congestion...

Bangalore turning hospitality magnet
The Economic Times

The boom in the hi-profile hospitality business is drawing big ticket investments across India with Bangalore perhaps turning out to be one of the largest beneficiaries in the next three-four years.

Industry experts say 3,000 rooms in the four-five star category may get infused into the city inventory with a ball-park investment ranging from Rs 1,200-1,500 crore. It may well be one of the biggest chunks of rooms being added into any metro without the added impetus of a sporting event or international convention like the Asian Games and CHOGM in New Delhi.

It means Bangalore’s star room capacity is tipped to take a quantum 175% jump from a 1700 at present to around 4600-4700 rooms in the near future.

New hotels with sizes varying from a 120-130 room ITC Fortune Park to a 350-room Hyatt or a Hilton are said to be in the pipeline.

Though Bangalore has the smallest inventory of star rooms compared to Delhi (4800) and Mumbai (6100), it is the leader in average room rates by miles driven by a yet unsatiated demand from the IT and BPO sectors.

Among the more talked about projects are JW Marriott’s potential entry into the Bangalore market in an alliance with the UB Group. As it stands now, market sources say the liquor giant is out of the project.

The three-four acre plot, carved out of the 14 acre prime location housing the UB corporate headquarters in the past, has been sold to the Rahejas to develop the 265 room Marriott hotel.

Sources said the investment would typically be in the region of Rs 300 crore including the land cost.

The Prestige Group — in partnership with UB — will develop the rest of the space into office area, malls, about 150 luxury service apartments with the US based Oakwood company.

Another hotel venture which is brewing is a 350 room five star property behind the Golf Course on Airport Road. Promoted by the triumvirate of Coke bottler and investor in Deccan Aviation, S N Ladhani, Virwanis of Embassy Builders and Dubai based businessman and owner of Le Meridien in Bangalore, C B Pardhanani, the project may call for an investment of Rs 200 crore plus. The promoters are talking to several lead international brands for a tie-up.

Also noteworthy are projects by brands like ITC, Leela, Oberoi and Taj which already operate hotels in the city. ITC Hotels is said to be looking at a project which may have a 200-250 room ITC Sheraton and a 120-130 room Fortune Park on the same plot of land in the heart of town. Oberoi is considering a 200-250 room five star accompanied by 100-150 room service apartments enroute to the proposed international airport in Devanahalli.

The Leela Group is also talking to landowners in the same area for a luxury property. The two projects may involve investments of Rs 500-600 crore in the least. The Taj Westend is planning on 100 more rooms to its existing inventory.

Entertainer Sanjay Khan’s Golden Palm spa and resort may add another 100 rooms to the present set of 140, while Angasana Spa, promoted by Prestige Group, may double its inventory of 45 suites.

The Ramanashree Group is adding a three star hotel, Ramanashree Brunton while Chancery, a mid-size brand has constructed a four-five star hotel in the city centre. Atria Group, which already operates a 170 room property, has firmed up plans for a 100-120 room hotel in Whitefield, which houses the International Tech Park.

City based businessman DK Aadikeshavalu is said to be promoting a potential Radisson hotel with Unitec Builders of Delhi in Whitefield area. Also in the queue are the Taj Group which is likely to put up a 150 room Residency also near ITPL.

And if this is not enough, hospitality experts say Four Seasons and Shangrila are also looking for a 200-300 room hotel to establish their footprint in the city.

While still on the drawing board, the Mantri builders are also considering a hotel on Sarjapur Road as part of an integrated commercial and retail development project.