Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It is time to call in traffic engineers

It is time to call in traffic engineers
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: While the conversion of 45 roads in the city into one-ways to streamline traffic in the city comes as cold comfort to motorists, it is time the police and other civic administrators acknowledge the fact that a scientific approach is required to find a way out of the chaos on the roads on Monday.

The city suffers losses of about Rs. 1,500 crore a year due to bad traffic management. Over about 1,000 lives are lost in about 7,000 accidents. It is time the experts are called in to take a look and suggest measures.

Traffic engineering, a highly specialised field, is probably alien to most city planners here. For several years, traffic has been managed more by the rule of the thumb rather than the laws of science.

With cosmetic changes like one-ways and expensive but under-utilised flyovers, grade separators and underpasses, the trial-and-error approach has proved very costly. It is time to dispense with these “swalpa adjust madi” methods and opt for a paradigm shift in the thinking behind traffic management in Bangalore.

While all civic planners complain about the lack of infrastructure and limited real estate in the city available for road expansion, one needs to look at optimising the existing infrastructure.

The Vehicle Operating Cost and driving the vehicle at a desired speed are the main factors affected by the road surface characteristics. It is necessary to evaluate the road surface periodically to achieve the desired speed at reasonable Vehicle Operating Cost.

The dynamic nature of traffic flow in the city is a challenge to traffic planners every day. Systems designed and implemented need to be upgraded within a short span of time. Flow characteristics like volume, speed, density and their overall traffic needs are to be studied in detail before grandiose projects are commissioned lest they remain under-utilised.

Traffic operation, management and control are complex subjects that need to be researched to avoid throwing up one’s hands in despair.

Ironically, the use of information technology in traffic management is non-existent in the IT hub of India. IT can have enormous application in this field. Foremost, with data mining, flow and density patterns of two million vehicles plying on 4,000 km of city roads and halting at 35,000 junctions can be studied with ease with aid of technology by analysts.

This is something that a few hundred traffic constables and a handful of their superiors are unable to do.

This does not however mean that the city police’s traffic department is redundant. On the contrary, their role as enforcers of traffic rules will increase when their burden as traffic managers lightens. Besides traffic engineers will find their feedback too valuable to ignore.

Science City project in limbo for want of land

Science City project in limbo for want of land
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The ambitious Science City project and Space Museum for India’s Silicon Valley remains a distant dream. The idea may have taken wing but is looking for space to land. Space of 100 acres of land around the city.

Though the government has identified the land near Hesarghatta, the final decision in this regard is yet to be taken. Earlier, the Government had proposed to set up the Science City near Bannerghatta and had earmarked land for it. It later decided to locate it near Hesaraghatta on land meant for a Film City.

Following this, the Science and Technology Department had sent a proposal to the Karnataka Film Development Board asking it to hand over the land. Since the board is on the verge of closure, it is left for the Government to take a decision in this regard.

Information Technology & Biotech Secretary Shankaralinge Gowda said once the land is given, the Science City project would take off.

It would be a joint venture between the centre and state governments costing Rs. 70 crore. The project envisages an exhibition of latest developments in science and technology, he said.

Of the Rs. 70 crore, the centre will contribute 13 percent of the project cost. For 2003-04, Rs. 10 lakh has been earmarked. The department has sent a proposal to the Information Department for the land, he added.

When contacted, Kanteerava Studios managing director N.R. Vishukumar said the Karnataka Film Development Board had shut down and the land sanctioned for Film City had been returned to the government. Now, it is left to the government to sanction the land to the Science and Technology Department, he added.

There is hope for city but concepts must turn concrete

There is hope for city but concepts must turn concrete
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: If things move in the right direction, Bangalore 2010 will be truly a city of the future where everyone wants to live. And life will be more comfortable, at least in terms of transport. But if infrastructure projects continue to become victims of political bickering, the Silicon City is sure to be more chaotic.

Metro Rail, the international airport at Devanhalli, four-laning of Bangalore-Mysore Road, Bangalore-Mysore Express Corridor, improvement in BMTC services, more flyovers and underpasses are expected to make travelling both within the city and from outside more comfortable.

But for political bickering and red-tapeism, work on these projects would have started by now. But since the present Government has committed itself to go ahead with the Rs. 5,000-crore Metro Rail project and the Rs. 1,200-crore airport project, work is expected to start soon.

For the city with 18 lakh vehicles and chaotic roads, Metro Rail brings a ray of hope. It is expected to bring down travelling time and vehicular pollution considerably.

Once it is ready, commuters can reach one end of the city from another in less then 30 minutes. It is expected to ferry around 8.2 lakh commuters back and forth each day, reducing the burden on surface transport. BMTC is also adding 1,000 more buses to its fleet to enable more people to access their services.

Apart from that, the Bangalore-Mysore Express Corridor project being implemented by the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) will make the journey between two busy cities more comfortable. More flyovers and grade separators are also expected to ease traffic congestion.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that despite all the projects, the city’s roads may continue to be chaotic unless authorities check explosion of vehicle population and widen roads.

On an average, 700 new vehicles hit the roads everyday and the number is expected to increase in coming years. Flyovers, grade separators and one-ways may not help unless some drastic steps are taken to check explosion of vehicle population.

That apart, political vision is also needed to get the projects going to improve infrastructure in the city. Otherwise, the situation will worsen.

One-way norm put off till December 11

One-way norm put off till December 11
Times of India

Bangalore: The two-way traffic norm being introduced on the narrow Double Road ramp of the Richmond Circle flyover may turn out to be a major bottleneck.

The one-ways being introduced on Richmond Road, Residency Road and surrounding roads, which was earlier scheduled to be implemented from Wednesday, has been postponed to December 11.

Since the civil works, including reworking medians and setting up signages, are not completed, the new system will be introduced from December 11 (second Saturday), traffic police officials said.

Although buses will not be allowed to ply on the ramp, the huge volume of traffic, including two-wheelers (70 per cent) and cars, may lead to clogging.

According to traffic expert Prof M.N. Sreehari, the ramp is 7.5 metres wide and has a capacity of 3,000-4,000 passenger car units (PCU) per hour. However, during peak hours, the volume of traffic exceeds 4,000 PCUs on the stretch, of which 70 per cent comprises two-wheelers.

“If buses are allowed on the stretch, it will lead to chaos. However, there is a lack of a scientific study for traffic flow pattern which has been reversed,’’ he added.

DCP Traffic (East) M.A. Saleem said that an extensive study has been made with a survey of traffic movement and also a vehicle count for the planned one-way. The ramp is 24 feet wide and is a short stretch of 60 feet. It can accommodate the two-way traffic.

“If it is not feasible after introduction, we will work out on alternative plan,’’ he added.

CM plans civic umbrella

CM plans civic umbrella
The goal: to make agencies coordinate
Times of India

Bangalore: The government is mooting an umbrella organisation, Bangalore Metropolitan Authority to achieve coordination among all civic agencies.

Inaugurating a park at RMV Extension developed by the BWSSB here on Monday, chief minister N. Dharam Singh said government has written to the Centre about the formation of the centralised metropolitan authority.

The chief minister said the government will seek a loan of Rs 3,000 crore from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation for implementing the Cauvery water supply scheme, IV Stage, II Phase and that the proposal is waiting for the cabinet’s approval.

State Govt. relents on airport approval?

Final approval for airport soon
Times of India

New Delhi: Nearly five months after the Centre gave its go-ahead to start construction of the greenfield international airport at Bangalore, the Rs 1,300-crore project seems to be finally inching towards takeoff.

Government officials pointed out that the state government, under chief minister Dharam Singh, has finally decided to ink the much-awaited land lease agreement which will help the project’s promoters move on financial closure.

“Most of the issues have been resolved and the state government has decided to take the project to the Cabinet for final clearance shortly,” civil aviation secretary Ajay Prasad said.

The project, despite the Centre’s nod, was caught in bureaucratic hurdles at the state level with the state government deciding to review all proposals cleared by his predecessor S.M. Krishna. This included the Rs 350-crore state support and the 30-year land lease pact.

Finally, it took a letter from Infosys chief N.R. Narayana Murthy to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get the Centre and PMO moving on the project. “We have since been interacting with the state government on the matter and have been assured that the project and its various agreements will soon be taken up by the (Karnataka) Cabinet,” Prasad said.

But the delay is already taking a toll on the project’s promoters, the Siemensled consortium (including Unique Zurich of Switzerland and Larsen & Toubro). With the engineering contract between L&T and Siemens expiring in September, a revalidation would mean escalation in the project cost.

CM inaugurates new park in RMV Layout

Click on image for larger view.

A view of the BWSSB park next to Ramana Maharshi ashram which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Dharam Singh in Bangalore on Monday.

Deccan Herald

New Mayor is SSLC pass

Better roads, Mayor's priority

The Hindu

BANGALORE, NOV. 29. Better roads, cleanliness, coordination between service providers and more welfare programmes for the backward classes and minorities are the priorities of the new Mayor, R. Narayanswamy.

Addressing presspersons for the first time after assuming charge here today, Mr. Narayanswamy said traffic decongestion and upgrading roads and footpaths topped his agenda. "I will hold monthly review meetings and ensure that the targeted work is completed on time," he said.

To queries, he said he would immediately discuss the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike's (BMP's) financial situation with its Commissioner, K. Jothiramalingam, and work out modalities to plug loopholes in the collection of property tax.

On infrastructure projects, Mr. Narayanswamy said he would hold meetings with the officials concerned and ensure that work on the projects was expedited.

On foreign tours, he said : "I am not interested in going on foreign jaunts unless I am convinced that the visit will be of help to our city."

He said he could not speak much on the BMP's affairs as he was yet to get acquainted with the system.

The Deputy Mayor, N. Shantakumari, said she would work in coordination with the Mayor and BMP officials for a better city.

Dharam Singh congratulates Mayor

The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, has congratulated Mr. Narayanswamy and Ms. Shantakumari on being elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor, respectively.

Actors wrote misery script of film industry

Actors wrote misery script of film industry: Kumaraswamy

Film exhibitors, producers and distributors should hold discussions and strive sincerely for the growth of the industry, says film producer and JD(S) Working President H D Kumaraswamy.

Deccan Herald

Film producer and JD(S) Working President H D Kumaraswamy said on Monday that it was not appropriate to impose a three-week ban on other language films.

Speaking to presspersons while on a visit here, Mr Kumaraswamy said the problem would not be resolved by completely stopping the functioning of Kannada film industry and staging a bundh. He opined that actors were fighting for their selfish gains.

Mr Kumaraswamy said actors themselves were responsible for the industry’s misery. “In case a producer suffers loss, no actor will come to his rescue. Therefore, they should call off the bundh and try to resolve the issue,” he opined.
Mr Kumaraswamy also felt that exhibitors, producers and distributors should hold discussions and strive sincerely for the growth of the industry. “Agitation will take Kannada film industry backwards,” he added.

Elaborating that there was no need for an agitation, he said: “To begin with, they focussed on Kannada language, land, Mahajan report, Sarojini Mahishi report and Nanjundappa report. In case, the exhibitors agree to their condition against screening of other language films for three-weeks, will the actors continue agitation for the issues on which they took off, he questioned.

Mr Kumaraswamy further said that it would not be possible to preserve language through film industry as the latter had commercial interest and actors were working for their profession and not for the language.

Pointing out that closure of film industry during matinee idol Dr Rajkumar’s kidnap had resulted in heavy financial loss, he said people may lose interest in films if the same thing happened. He also criticised divisions within the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce.

‘Nobody is above law’
Meanwhile, Dr Patil Puttappa, a veteran journalist and president, Forum for Karnataka Development on Monday in Hubli expressed his severe dissatisfaction over the indefinite Kannada film industry bundh protesting against the attitude of film exhibitors with regard to the screening of non-Kannada films.

Addressing a news conference, he said nobody (including actors, directors and producers) is above law. Leading cine-artistes like Dr Rajkumar and Mr Vishnuvardhan should reconsider their decision keeping in view the interest of thousands of poor workers, technicians and supporting artistes.

Kannada film industry does not mean Kannada land, language and water alone. All those who love Kannada should actively participate in the proposed ‘rail bundh’ on December 1. The present imbroglio between the exhibitors and artistes, producers and directors should be sorted out amicably within the legal frame. Thousands of poor workers would have to starve because of the indefinite Kannada film industry bundh. Any decision taken by certain people without participating in the meeting convened by the government will not be complete.

The Kannada cine-artistes should involve themselves in welfare programmes as is being done by Tamil cine- artiste Rajnikanth. Besides, they should actively involve themselves in agitations for protection and preservation of Kannada language.

“Let the producers make quality films which can be watched by the entire family but let them not force viewers to watch films of any particular language. First, hold talks without taking the decision of slapping seven weeks ban on non-Kannada films or else this matter will become more complicated.”

Arkavathy layout site allotment in January: CM

Arkavathy layout site allotment in January: CM

The BDA officials are working double time to meet the deadline, the CM assured.

Deccan Herald

Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Monday said the government will keep its promise of commencing the Arkavathy Layout site allotment process to applicants from January next year.

Speaking after inaugurating a park built by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) at Rajmahal Vilas Extension in Bangalore, Mr Singh said BDA officials were working on a warfooting to meet the deadline.

The government had stalled the tendering process of Arkavathy Layout development work in July this year, bringing the project to a grinding halt and creating anxiety among applicants. The BDA has received Rs 690 crore in deposits from the applicants. “The applicants need not worry.

The government is committed to start the site allotment process in January,” the chief minister said.

He said the state cabinet will soon take a decision on the Rs 3,000 crore project to augment water supply to Bangalore city proposed to be taken up with assistance from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. He urged BWSSB officials to plug distribution losses and said Rs 50 crore would be earmarked for the purpose.

The chief minister reiterated that a Bangalore Metropolitan Authority would be set up soon to enure proper co-ordination between the stake holders of civic amenities like BMP, BDA and BWSSB.

Click to complain online

Click to complain online

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board in association with Janaagraha has launched “Online Complaint Management System” (OCMS)
Deccan Herald

OCMS is an ‘always on’ - internet based system of addressing and managing citizen grievances. It is designed to enable customers of the BWSSB to register their complaints online and receive an instant acknowledgement in the form of a Complaint Tracking Number (CTN). Hence, the complainants need not visit or call the BWSSB, according to a press note from the Janaagraha.

OCMS can be accessed at www.bwssb.org or at www.janaagraha.org
The citizens can either register his or her complaint for the BWSSB or check the status of previously registered complaint by quoting the CTN. The citizens can also provide feedback on the action taken for his or her complaint. However, all the existing channels of customer interaction with the BWSSB for grievances redressal like the interactive voice response at 1916, email, telephone, water adalats etc., will continue. OCMS will give the complainant the added functionality. In fact, the system has been in operation from last four months. However, it was officially launched on Monday by Chief Minister N Dharam Singh.

OCMS has been developed by Praja, a Mumbai-based NGO for the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation in association with Nixel Technology. Janaagraha has entered into an agreement with Praja and Nixel to bring the facility to Bangalore.

BMTC buses now more eco-friendly

BMTC buses now more eco-friendly, claims transport secy

BMTC buses are not emitting noxious fumes anymore, he says.

Deccan Herald

Sometime back, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) had put forward a sort of challenge to the public: those who spotted any BMTC bus emitting smoke could call in and collect a cash prize. What appears to be a lucrative offer apparently had surprisingly few takers – no one, it seems, called in.

Mr B L Sridhar, principal secretary for transport, the government of Karnataka, says that the reason for this is simply that BMTC buses are not emitting noxious fumes any more. With their compliancy with Bharat II emission norms (only the new ones, of course) the buses are more eco-friendly than ever before.

Mr Sridhar was speaking at a workshop titled ‘Towards air-pollution free Bangalore roads’ held at the Brigittine Welfare Centre in Bangalore on Monday.

He remarked that the Ring Road bus service, which looked worryingly unviable at first, was fast picking up, and would take a lot of pressure off the City’s roads. He also said that a plan to fit global positioning systems and electronic ticketing on many buses was in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, an electric scooter was also on display at the venue, the parts of which are manufactured by Ekovehicles Private Limited in China before being brought to India to be assembled.

The vehicle will soon hit the roads. It comes at a cost of around Rs 25,000, and can go up to 40 kmph. The battery, which is to be charged overnight, can cover a distance of 50 km for each charge.

CM promises to beautify City for Habba

CM promises to beautify City for Habba

Deccan Herald

Chief Minister N Dharam Singh has pledged all government help and support, in terms of infrastructure, for the forthcoming Bangalore Habba scheduled to be held in different parts of Bangalore between December 5 and 12.
At a meeting with a delegation of the Bangalore Habba, comprising film maker Prakash Belwadi, Director Bangalore School of Music Mr Aruna Sunderlal and managing trustee of the Artistes’ Foundation Ms Padmini Ravi, Mr Dharam Singh assured them that Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), Bangalore Development Authority, Department of Tourism and the Bangalore City Police would be roped in to provide the required assistance during Bangalore Habba. “The Chief Minister said the government would take the lead in beautifying the City and giving it a festive look during the Habba. While, the BMP will decorate and ready 10 parks during that time, the light, sound and the artistes for the park will be provided by us,” said Ms Ravi and added that Government buildings such as the Unity and Utility buildings will be lit. “The Habba is just an excuse to get the government to participate. We don’t want this Habba to be another private effort, we want the government to endorse it,” said Ms Ravi.

Ms Ravi said the government had given the go ahead for the deployment of additional police forces at all the locations where the Habba is scheduled to take place. “It will be too expensive if we ourselves were to make arrangement for additional security,” said Ms Ravi.

The Department of Tourism and Department of Information and Publicity has taken on the task of promoting the ‘Bangalore Habba’ as the ‘Festival of the City.’ Additional buses will be pressed into service by the Department of Transport to ferry the participants and the visitors to the different locations of the festival.

Stir in front of ‘errant’ theatres planned

Stir in front of ‘errant’ theatres planned

The film artistes and Kannada activists will stage a hunger strike before 6 city theatres where Veer-Zaara is being screened.
Deccan Herald

The Kannada filmdom on Monday decided to stage a hunger strike in front of all theatres screening new non-Kannada films in contravention of the three-week moratorium from Wednesday.

Besides, the Kannada film producers have decided to set up a legal cell to fight its case in the Supreme Court against an apex court ruling on the moratorium. The decision to this effect was taken at a State-level convention of various Kannada organisations, farmers and various employees’ associations, besides representatives of all sectors of the film industry in Bangalore.

The film artistes and Kannada activists will stage a hunger strike before six city theatres where new Hindi film Veer-Zaara is being screened. The protesters will participate in the strike in turns, demanding immediate withdrawal of the film screening, Kannada film producer S V Rajendra Singh Babu told reporters.

The entire film industry barring those screening non-Kannada films, will remain shutdown indefinitely. All production activities like shooting, recording, editing and related work will remain suspended. This will affect the life of over 10,000 people working as extras, light boys, camera assistants, makeup artistes, costume designers etc.

It was also decided against releasing new Kannada films till the issue is resolved. This, in other words, means that a host of new Kannada films - Shivarajkumar-starrer Rakshasa and Kanchanaganga, Ajay’s Surya The Great, Ramesh’s Joke falls, Darshan’s Sardara, Vishnuvardhan’s Jyeshta - that are ready to hit screens are unlikely to be released soon. Exhibitors will continue to screen Veer-Zaara and four theatres are planning to release the new Hindi film Hulchul.

The industry has also decided that film stars along with Kannada activists will mobilise support in the districts, beginning with the Rajkumar-led jatha to be held in Mysore shortly.

Bangalore-Chennai ‘bullet’ train

Bangalore-Chennai ‘bullet’ train
Deccan Herald

The bullet train project is in tune with the UPA’s policy of modernising the Indian railways by introducing high-speed rail technology.

A bullet train that runs at an average speed of 250 km per hour, may hit the Bangalore-Chennai track in the near future, reports DHNS from Bangalore.

Hinting this at a press conference in Bangalore on Monday, Minister of State for Railways R Velu said a proposal to convert the existing Bangalore-Chennai line into a high-speed corridor was on the anvil. When the project becomes operational, the travel time between Bangalore and Chennai will be reduced by at least two hours.

The bullet train project, that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has shown keen interest in, is being billed as the United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) answer to the previous NDA government’s much commended national highway development project.

The bullet train project is in tune with the UPA’s policy of modernising the Indian railways by introducing high-speed rail technology.

But before the project is introduced in the Bangalore-Chennai sector, it will be phased in on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad line, covering a distance of about 500 kms.
When it actually starts running, the commercial capitals of Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be connected with each other in less than two hours as against five to six hours by the existing fastest train, the Shatabdi Express. The Mumbai-Ahmedabad project is likely to cost Rs 8,000 crore and is to be executed by 2010. Mr Velu said two Japanese companies have been commissioned to study the projects' feasibility.

Mr Velu said the survey for the much anticipated Bangalore-Sathyamangalam railway line will be completed within six months. The survey up to Talawadi has been completed, he said.

The young, the old and the insensitive lot

The young, the old and the insensitive lot
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Are Bangaloreans going a little off-track? Yes, says the older generation. The cause of concern is the youth. And it is not the dangling boot-cut, or the over-exposed midriff that’s bothering them. It’s the growing insensitivity.

Says the senior citizens, “The young have become materialistic, with an unabashed and blind admiration for the West.” With absolutely nothing to brood over and an on call ATM at home, these teenyboppers, meanwhile, are shooing off these concerns as baseless.

Is there any base in such apprehensions or is it just an antediluvian mode of viewing a progressive society? The senior citizens have lot to complain.

Rama, a housewife has a list of complaints about her neighbour’s son. “Raja’s son grew up in my hands. But now look at him. He would not even bother to greet me,” says Rama.

Not all are in a mood for youth-bashing. Sixty-one-year-old Jayalakshmi sings praises for the younger generation. “Hardworking and open minded,” that is what they are, she says. “When we were young we were scared to be in the presence of our father and uncles.

Children are very smart these days and wouldn’t think twice before voicing their opinion,” she adds.

However she adds “I feel odd watching movies and TV commercials with my family. The new-age men and women would do anything for money. This is not how we want our future generation to be,” she says in disgust.

Chinnappa, who spent his formative years in Canada, partially agrees with Jayalakshmi. “They are very hardworking, ambitious and exposed to a lot of information,” says Chinnappa.

“But it’s sad to see some of them getting carried away by the West. Our culture is very different and this kind of change is very hard to sink in. But it’s also true that this is happening all over the world and there is nothing you can do about it,” says Chinnappa.

Rigo, in her late 60s, brushes these concerns aside. She believes in “swimming with the tide.” “I don’t believe in generation gaps. I am young at heart and would like to be so,” says Rigo untangling her salt and peppered locks.

These worries do not seem to jam the spirits of the teenagers. They swear by their attitude and the outfits they are comfortable in. Preksha has her parents to support her disposition.

“I would wear any kind of dress I am comfortable in. I like to party and I don’t have to seek society’s will to do things I like to. Moreover I have understanding parents to support my attitude,” says Preksha, who, her friends say, would try out any attire that is selling hot in the fashion industry.

Twenty-year-old Pratiksha would not hurt her parents to satisfy her style-equations. She says she has come to a consensus with her parents on these matters. “I would not go to that extend as to offend them and they have agreed upon not restricting me too much,” says she.

But when it comes to late night parties, Pratibha says it’s still a firm ‘no’ from her parents.

Just a handful may think like Pratibha but the majority prefers to send shock waves to a generation that is still stuck in the mud. Like a young hopeful puts it, “It is this ‘do or die’ attitude that gets us going in an aggressive society like this.”

Monday, November 29, 2004

Just a dream and no more?

Just a dream and no more?

Deccan Herald

Chief Minister Dharam Singh said last week, that Bangalore could not become another Singapore. This was in answer to reporters’ queries whether Bangalore would be developed on the lines of Singapore. It was the previous chief minister S M Krishna’s dream of replicating the hi-tech city state of Singpore at Banglaore and Mr Singh’s statement might well disappoint many Bangaloreans.

But whether Mr Dharam Singh likes it or not, Bangalore is well on its way to becoming another Singapore, what with all the heritage buildings and traditional homes being replaced by high rise buildings. Look around the business district of MG Road/ Residency Road/ Richmond Road where plexiglas structures have replaced old colonial single-storey buildings. The business district is our very own Suntec City. And Brigade Road and MG Road lighted up for Deepavali/ Christmas and New Year is like Orchard Road lit up for Christmas.

Not convinced? Then take a drive down Hosur Road and look up at the high rise apartment monstrosities. They are as ugly as the high rise apartment blocks dotting the skyline of Singapore!

While on comparisons, the entertainment available in our city, is nearly as good or even better than that available in Singapore. The number of pubs closing, opening, closing, opening here are countless, better than a Zouk or an Equinox at Singapore. Then there is theatre and music of all styles available to us here. Whether it be rock, or pop or classical or Hindustani or Carnatic, we have it all.

Okay, so what if we don’t have as many malls as they have in Singapore? The malls in Singapore are countless. But we do have two malls of international standards, don’t we? As for Mustafa, the famous Indian mall, where every Indian wants to shop once s/he lands in Singapore, we have our own Avenue Road, that is narrower and more crowded than Mustafa. And both places only brave Indians will venture!

As for the people who really contribute to the personality of the city, with seven per cent of Singporeans being of Indian origin, Singapore is partially Indian anyway. And Bangalore being cosmopolitan has so many Europeans, Americans and Chinese living here that we compare in that count too.

And most important of all, Singapore is a land of the rich and the Singaporeans work hard and play equally hard. They dress well and it is obvious that clothes and shoes and looking good is paramount to the Singaporeans.

We are not far behind are we, with the kind of wealth the IT professionals are creating for themselves. They like to dress well too and look good too. And of course they too work hard and play equally hard.

Then again Singapore is a very clean city and Bangalore, as India’s cleanest city, is not bad either. Although the garbage lying around street corners need to be addressed, of course.

And once we get down to improving our infrastructure, which includes good roads, uninterrupted power supply, a good international airport, which is going to happen one fine day, then we can say we are nearly there.
Another Singapore, whether Mr Dharam Singh likes it or not.

Of hanging projects and growing impatience

Of hanging projects and growing impatience
Times of India

Bangalore: Siemens India managing director Juergen Schubert’s outburst raised the red flag in the Indian silicon valley over its infrastructure projects. “Slowly and surely, our patience is going down,” Schubert said during a media briefing in Bangalore in October with reference to the proposed Bangalore international airport, a project in which Siemens has a 40% stake.

The cat was out of the bag. All was not well with the airport project. Since then, the Karnataka government’s intention to re-look at the financial support has become known. The state government wants to pare down its contribution to Rs 75 crore from an earlier commitment of Rs 350 crore. Couple of more months and the idea of an international airport steps into its fourteenth year.

Meanwhile, another project which has had a longer history than that of the airport’s is running aground. The Bangalore-Mysore expressway, mooted in 1983, has taken a controversial turn with the state government constituting a review committee. The issue has come to a head with the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) threatening to drag the state government into an arbitration settlement unless the review committee is recalled. BMIC (Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor) too completes 10 years without progress.

The third mega project that is hanging is the Rs 13,800 crore Royal Garden City (NRI City) near Bangalore promoted by the Royal Indian Raj International Corporation of Canada. Mooted in 2000 during the Global Investors’ Meet in Bangalore, the project is yet to get any clearances from the state government.

Mega projects in Karnataka somehow have managed to land in controversies and eventually vanish. A case in point is the ambitious power project by Cogentrix and China Light and Power in Mangalore which was caught in a legal battle and the venture called off. ONGC’s proposed Rs 25,000 crore petroleum complex near Mangalore appears to be jinxed.

Many investors who are at their wits end today are those who came for the Global Investors’ Meet in 2000 at the invitation of the Karnataka government. They came. They showed their willingness and capacity to bring in substantial money. They showed evidence of their experience in the areas they planned to invest. Yet, over four years since then, many are still running from one department to another.

“What’s the point of having tamashas like Global Investors’ Meet when there is actually no seriousness. Elsewhere in the world, I could sue them for misrepresentation of facts,” says an investor. Some of the investors are NRIs who have made their money overseas and whose primary interest is to see Karnataka develop. NICE chief Ashok Kheny was in the US for over 30 years and came to Karnataka only to give something back to his state with the experience he had gained overseas. Ditto with the Benjamins of Royal Indian Raj. Collins Benjamin, who went to Canada in 1969, is today a Canadian citizen, but is here in India now because he thinks he could do some world-class projects for his home country.

Royal Indian Raj has secured a 300 million pounds equity line of credit through UKbased GEM Global Emerging Markets’ Global Yield Fund. Pre-sales, debt finance and an IPO are the other proposed sources of funds. On the land front, it has obtained agreements from owners of some 3,000 acres of land near the proposed international airport.

The exasperation is evident. “Our people are getting fed up. Our investors are getting impatient. Money can’t wait,” says an investor who has lined up commitments for funding from varied sources.

The big question is: can Karnataka pull off mega projects on its soil?

The Road to Nowhere?

1985 - GoK moots Bangalore-Mysore expressway
1988 - Attempts to bring in private participation falls through. GoK explores possibility of getting World Bank/Asian Development Bank assistance but backs out when it realises that the state exchequer will have to bear a huge burden.
February 1995 - GoK signs MoU with Kalyani Group led consortium. The consortium includes VHB International and SAB of US.
June 1995 - High-level committee submitted to study the project.
November 1995 - GoK accepts the project under BooT basis. Effects certain modification from the original proposal.
April 1997 - Frame Work Agreement executed between GoK and Nandi Infrastructure Corridor (NICE). Construction period is set as 10 years, toll franchise period as 30 years. After this period the road will be handed back to the state at no cost. A single empowered committee set up to monitor the project having jurisdiction throughout the project area.
December 1997 - GoK offers 100% stampduty exemption for registration of land from KIADB to NICE.As part of its infrastructure policy, offers government land at concessional rate. Directs KIADB to acquire land as per NICEs’ time-frame. FWA challenged in the Karnataka High Court calling for a CBI probe into the deal and subsequently dismissed.
1999 - Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the project subsequently dismissed.
March 2000 - Modifications to the FWA.
January 2001 - GoK fixes prices of government land.
March 2004 - NICE achieves financial closure for the first phase of the project. The road is re-aligned owing to environmental reasons.
November 2004 - GoK appoints a review committee to go into the land misuse allegations. NICE threatens to exercise its rights in the case of a governmental default which includes going for an arbitration.

Destination Brandalore — but how long?

Destination Brandalore — but how long?
Times of India

Bangalore: Shanti Ramaswamy came here two years ago. Lured by an MNC call centre, all set to feel the throbbing pulse of the city and later return home to Chennai. Changed her mind, settled here and now calls this city her home. Shekar Gowdar’s California-based IT firm, EBAS, sent him to Bangalore to check out if Indian operations were possible and later return to the US. He did not return. Moved his wife and kids here and now heads the expanding Indian operations. Franco runs a granite business in Italy, He came to India to source granite.Now he has bought a house in HSR Layout, plans to settle down here with his Spanish wife and twoyear old daughter. These are snapshots of people arriving in the 24/7 silicon capital, enticed by its siren-like vibrancy and opportunities. Unwilling to leave.

Million-dollar question

What is it that draws people here despite the constant litany of pathetic roads, sky rocketing real estate, shockingly high wages and frustratingly high attrition? Says Vivek Paul, CEO, Wipro, “Bangalore remains a beacon since the concentration of technical talent in Bangalore is like no where else in India or perhaps even in the world, and the climate continues to make it an attractive city for expatriates.” It has become quite fashionable for foreign CEOs at cocktail party chatter to say, “Last week I was in Beijing and Bangalore”, with the mandatory add-on “Don’t know how they can get away with such high hotel prices”.

Unrivalled brand

Home to over 300 MNCs among the 1200-odd IT companies, generating about $4 billion of software exports (about 30% of India’s IT exports), Bangalore is way ahead of other cities in the country. As the world’s fourth largest technology hub, it employs about 225,000 techies, including 70,000 people in the BPO/ITES segment.

An unrivalled brand Bangalore has become. Not ready yet to relinquish its hold on IT. “Roads and infrastructure can be built within 3-4 years but you have a brand here that has taken about 14 years to build. No city in India has been able to do that,” Kiran Karnik, Nasscom president, says. More important, the tech hub of India is tenaciously backed up by world leaders. Think of any IT company and you will find its logo on gleaming structures of tinted glass and hidden concrete.

Whether it is an Intel or Texas Instruments, Microsoft or HP, IBM or Sun, Motorola or Philips, Oracle or SAP, Cisco or Nortel, the Bangalore stamp is immutably plastered in the DNA of their products or services.

“When I was doing my MBA in Texas University, my first class on macroeconomics was on how co-location was the best strategy for success. I found that very hard to believe but it was true. There would be four gas stations at an intersection or three to four fast food joints like McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King or a designer jewellery cluster - all in one area. The reason - people would converge here, either fill the gas, grab a bite, or buy jewellery - in a short time and move on. Now, you see the same thing happening here in Bangalore. You get everything a tech company needs - you just have to come here and get your business needs filled, no waiting and you move on with your plans,” explains Bobby Mitra, managing director, Texas Instruments, India, one of the first IT MNCs to set up operations about 20 years back.

Talented manpower

Unquestionably, Bangalore’s economy has taken off during the last few years due to the quality of its workforce which has the right mix of skills and capabilities to provide world class products and services Says Shankarlinge Gowda, Karnataka IT Secretary, “Every year 30,000-35,000 engineers graduate in Karnataka. Moreover, we are also focused on quality and have set up an IT education standards board which decides the curriculum and sets it to industry standards.”

Unbeatable weather

And, the weather is equally seductive. No other city in India can beat the weather here. “When I came here with my family, we used to complain about the narrow roads but that used to pale into significance when we used to go back to Delhi’s extreme climate when the kids had holidays in summer and winter. We, along with the kids have become addicted to this weather,” says Kingshuk, a software engineer, originally from Delhi.

High-end tech charisma

But, when it comes to high end tech work, this is the place to be. For instance, last year, Intel’s Bangalore R&D centre filed 63 patents, and has emerged as the most important research base beating Israel and Malaysia. Similarly GE’s R&D center has 20% of its resources on 5-to-10-year fundamental research in areas such as nanotechnology, hydrogen energy, photonics, and advanced propulsion. TI and IBM too have one of the highest number of patents being filed from here. In the past 6-8 months this year, over 100 companies have set up shop here. Says B.V. Naidu, Software Technology Parks of India, Bangalore (STPI- B) director, “Majority are foreign equity companies while the rest are BPOs. Many are still coming.”

Sheen might fade

But one cannot merely wish the infrastructure woes away. Cautions Sridhar Mitta, co-founder, e4e Labs, a VC company, “ There is something called a delay factor. Most of the companies who are coming here are executing plans drawn up 12-18 months ago. New ones are going to look elsewhere. Undoubtedly, Bangalore’s brand has been built over the past decade, but over the last year or two it has begun to decay. However, it will take a long period of neglect for it to fade away. The tech hub Bangalore has definitely achieved a certain recognition. Visiting global CEOs do not see the infrastructure problems in their short visits, and so generally feel pretty good.

“However, no brand lasts forever without the requisite investment and there are always scrappier contenders wanting to usurp that position. As things stand today, Bangalore is depleting, not building upon, the capital it had already created,” warns Wipro’s Paul.

But hope lingers on

Rama Rao C, who heads Capgemini, a $6-billion provider of consulting and outsourcing services, which recently set up its development centre in Bangalore has the last word, “Some of our global customers told us that for offshore projects, it would have to be Bangalore.” And, for those like Philips, Texas Instruments and others who have invested heavily, there is no other place to expand. “We have recently increased our investment and we feel that this is the place for our kind of development work,” says Bob Hoekstra, CEO, Philips Software.

No wonder then the Shantis, Shekars and Francos are congregating to this city that never gives up on IT.


1700 IT firms 300 MNCs 2.25 lakh techies 75,000 call centre agents 92 companies set up in last 2 months


Real cosmopolitan flavour Great expats infrastructure Nail-biting shopping experience Hateful graffiti missing on walls Extensive foreign language skills Distinctive pub culture Hotels go houseful but service apartments make up for it.


Kerala CM, Oommen Chandy with his entourage came to Bangalore to meet industry players like Infosys, Wipro, Intel, Accenture and others, suggesting new investment in the God’s own country. Tamil Nadu is always nipping at Banglore’s heels.The Jayalalithaa government has announced several fiscal incentives for IT companies and in the past few months many Bangalore-based companies have indicated their willingness to set up new businesses in capital Chennai. Hyderabad is perpetually in the race, vying with Bangalore – giving the IT capital a run for its brand, making sure that its ‘Cyberabad’ revolution quietly continues CMs from Punjab, West Bengal, Goa and Chhattisgarh too had come calling - urging the Bangalore IT community to invest in their states.

BCC dumps residents in Jayanagar

Civic problem: BCC dumps residents in Jayanagar
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Jayanagar residents have found better ways of garbage disposal. Dump the garbage at the spot, which has a board that reads “Do not throw garbage here”. Do not blame them. The culprit - lack of dumbins, that is making their life miserable. At present, residents here have no access to the door-to-door garbage collection scheme started by Bangalore City Corporation (BCC). Instead, they are used to “vacant spaces”.

Sri Lakshmi, a resident of Jayanagar III Block says, “Since there are no dustbins, we throw garbage behind the board as there is no other option. I hate doing this but that it is better than throwing it on the main road.”

She added that “during S.M. Krishna’s regime we had no problems as BCC workers collected garbage from the door step. But now this is not happening.”

Another resident, Jagadeesh says: “We throw garbage either after 11 in the night or early in the morning because of the board there. We will follow the instructions on the board, provided BCC places a few dustbins in our area”.

“A BCC lorry arrives at 7 am to collect garbage lying around the board. Instead, if they provide us with bins, the driver can collect it directly from there,” says Arti, a resident.

PM tries to save airport project

PM steps in to spur International Airport project
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: After a decade of hiccups, of waiting for clearances, of overcoming hurdles, including political ones, Bangalore’s international airport is set to become a reality. And if it does, the City will have to doff its cap to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh’s intervention in the project followed after a letter from Infosys Chairman N.R. Narayan Murthy, expressing concern over the delay. Singh has decided to personally monitor the project’s progress, so that ‘individual interests’ do not hamper the project implementation.

There will be a high-level review meeting to discuss the project in New Delhi on Monday. Senior IAS officer and Karnataka Infrastructure Secretary Vinay Kumar will attend.

However, the State Cabinet is also likely to discuss the issue of cost escalation in its next Cabinet meeting. The cost of the project has now reached Rs.1334 crore from the earlier estimated cost of Rs.1260 crore.

The International Airport project, after a series for roadblocks, was cleared by the UPA Government recently.

However, despite assurances by the State Government, the project was further delayed. According to sources, some top leaders in the coalition government were against the project being implemented through the present consortium.

During earlier meetings, cost comparisons were drawn between Kochi Airport, which was built at a cost of Rs.300 crore and the proposed airport’s cost (Rs.1260 crore).

However, officials had to explain that the Kochi Airport had a capacity of one million passengers per year, while the Bangalore Airport capacity was five times that, sources said.

On Saturday, a high-level meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Industries Minster P.G.R. Sindhia and senior officials reviewed the project.

It was decided that the next Cabinet would discuss the issue of about Rs.70 crore cost escalation, while rest of the issues would be addressed by the Prime Minister, sources added.

Gowda tries to mollify film activists

Gowda tries to mollify film activists
Times of India

Bangalore: Giving up hope of the state government intervening in the ongoing film controversy, a delegation of Kannada producers on Sunday met one of the coalition’s high commands — JD(S) chief H.D. Deve Gowda — seeking a solution.

Even as preparations are on for a full-fledged pan-Kannada agitation from Tuesday, Gowda’s intervention is being seen as a last-ditch attempt to prevent further embarrassment to the government. “He told us the government was very keen to help us and counselled us to be patient. He said he will advise the government to do whatever possible to help us,’’ producers’ association president Basant Kumar Patil told The Times of India.

Gowda’s intervention appears to have worked, for the industry has softened its militant stand against the government over its perceived “anti-Kannada industry’’ tilt. This led to unsavoury incidents of booing and hurling of footwear at chief minister N. Dharam Singh during the Vidhana Soudha dharna on November 25.

Patil said: “We’re aware the government is bound by the legal restrictions following the Supreme Court and High Court stays on the moratorium against otherlanguage films. We don’t expect them to intervene now, so we will discuss among ourselves and decide what to do next.’’ The situation is piquant as Gowda’s son, JD(S) state unit working president and film producer H.D. Kumaraswamy, has taken a strong stand against the ongoing agitation. But the issue reportedly did not come up in the meeting.

A meeting of the pan-Kannada umbrella has been called on Monday, where film stars, including Rajkumar, are to participate. Besides the Kannada and progressive organisations who joined hands with the film industry during the Vidhana Soudha dharna, TV artistes and technicians too are to attend.

A host of writers have been invited to the convention, including poets G.S. Shivarudrappa, K.S. Nisar Ahmed, Chandrashekara Kambara, Kannada Sahitya Parishat president Chandrashekar Patil and De Javare Gowda. With this, the agitation is being given the shape of a Kannada Jaagruthi Jatha (Kannada awareness movement).

“We’ll discuss all matters pertaining to Karnataka’s land, water, culture and language. We are making a commitment that even if our film industry issue is resolved, we’ll work for the cause of Kannada,’’ film industry action committee convener Nanjunde Gowda said.

Immediate action, however, will be on the film front. Karunadu Sene chief Sridhar said: “The plan is still on to picket theatres screening movies that violate the threeweek moratorium on non-Kannada films. Everything will be finalised at Monday’s convention.’’

Hulchul despite moratorium

Another Hindi film — Akshaye Khanna-Kareena Kapoor starrer Hulchul — is set to defy the three-week moratorium on otherlanguage films in the state. Exhibitors told The Times of India: “The film will be released in four theatres on Wednesday.’’

Hulchul was released nationwide on November 26, but was kept away from Bangalore theatres fearing protests from the Kannada activists. Exhibitors, however, said: “The issue of this moratorium against other-language films will figure in the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) beginning in Goa on Monday. It will embarrass the Kannada industry.’’

Double trouble in Bangalore

Double trouble in Bangalore

Deccan Herald

You could land up at the wrong place even if you have the right directions in Bangalore, because a number of places have the same name.

There are two places called Byatarayanapura, for instance, both located on the outskirts of the City. One is in North Bangalore on Bellary Road on the way to Yelahanka. The other is in South Bangalore on Mysore Road. Imagine somebody’s plight if he or she were to land at the wrong place. He would have to travel right across the city to arrive at the right place.

There are two Dasarahallis. One of them is situated on Tumkur Road, often called Peenya Dasarahalli to distinguish it from the other Dasarahalli, which is Agrahara Dasarahalli on Magadi Road.

There is a Kothnur in J P Nagar 9th phase, a Puttenahalli near Bommanahalli and a Hulimavu on Bannerghatta Road, all located in South Bangalore. Places with the same names - Kothnur, Puttenahalli and Hulimavu are also found around Hennur Main Road beyond Ring Road.

There are two places named Guttahalli. One is Palace Guttahalli opposite Palace Grounds and the other is Gavipuram Guttahalli, near the historical Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple.

There is one Begur on the way to Anekal on Hosur Road and another Begur (T Begur) after Nelamangala on Tumkur Road. There are two circles in the city with the same name - Bhashyam Circle. One is near the Corporation swimming pool at Sadashivanagar and the other is in Rajajinagar IV Block.

So the next time you go to a new place, make sure there is no other place with the same name. And if a place has more than one name, ensure that you are heading towards the right one.

A road in three different hues

A road in three different hues

From a sleepy, small town area, CMH Road has evolved into a road that has everything to offer for everyone, except perhaps a five-star hotel.

Deccan Herald

This is the tale of two ends of CMH Road that links Ulsoor, one of Bangalore’s oldest localities, with its relatively recent showpiece, Indiranagar. The road draws its name from the Chinmaya Mission Hospital located at the shiny end.

Beyond the hospital some 30 years ago was no-man’s land. “The hospital was the last point on the BTS bus route. There were only two or three trips in the morning and again in the early evening. For two rupees, an autorickshaw would bring us here,” remarks a man under an awning that I and another stranger share with him during heavy rain one afternoon at New Thippasandra. Buildings have replaced the wilderness. Numerous buses under the BMTC banner and not BTS, now rumble through the bustling Thippasandra main road towards densely populated destinations five kms beyond, but let’s return to CMH Road.

Its either end is dead-end and appropriately, the gate to a vast burial ground towards the Ulsoor (western) end remains always open. At this end rises the wall of a school football ground. At the eastern extremity lies a gate that remains shut to most citizens because it leads to the restricted area of the Aeronautical Development Establishment.

The road has three distinct sections – an upmarket section with MNC banks, fitness centres, beauty parlours and photography labs; a commoner’s section with small business places squeezed tightly together; and a moderate link section between the two.

The contrasts along the road have emerged naturally and avenue trees aptly reflect the character of the three sections. At its eastern end, large houses of the well-to-do and the CM Hospital itself lie discreetly behind rows of tall, close-set avenue trees with dense foliage. In the moderate mid-section, the trees are smaller and fewer. At the Ulsoor end of the road, the trees have either disappeared or remain as stunted vestiges.

Narrow lanes that take off from the road at this end are crammed with small dwellings of daily wage earners. A remodeled slum here is almost a benchmark for slum improvement. A little over a km long, the road offers everything from cheap footwear to the latest luxury goods, new motor-cycles and ‘pre-owned’ cars. All it lacks conspicuously is a multi-star hotel.

For most of us hotel spells food and where do you want to start? Did you say 'ham' just to trip me up? CMH Road has a shop vending the commodity. The ready-to-eat Kentucky variety of chicken has moved in lately. Little chaat counters and fashionable coffee joints dot the road.

From roadside tea stalls and darshinis to ‘Andhra style’ and Chinese cuisine restaurants cater to every class of diner, save the five-star brand of food lover. Bars abound too.

You could point out that the road has no petrol bunk, school or college, discotheque and auditorium. But it has the Arya Samaj which has built a large hall that meets at least the last need. A cinema house lies close to the Ulsoor end and wedged between that and the road corner is an arrack shop. From here till the burial ground corner, every petty trade is in evidence on either side, from mutton and chicken stalls, scrap dealers, lock and stove repairers and condiment vendors, as also business that is not quite petty, like granite, hardware and electrical appliances stores.

What about vegetables? True, CMH Road has no vegetable stall but three Hopcoms outlets are located within 50 metres to the right and left of the road in the better off sections. So are schools and at least one college.

The really rich arrive in cars to shop for vegetables at a supermarket in the midsection of the road.

Similarly, a good proportion of devotees come to the Chinmaya Mission’s Krishna temple in cars but the temple bears the name of ‘Deenabandhu Devasthanam’. Perhaps it wished to draw residents from the far end of the road.
The mission’s hospital opposite the temple is a practical alternative.

India's moon mission control station in Bangalore

India's moon mission control station in Karnataka:
Indo-Asian News Service

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is setting up an earth station for its first moon mission.

The Karnataka government had agreed to allot about 100 acres of land in Tavarakare in Bangalore south sub-district for the station to monitor Chandrayan-1 spacecraft that will orbit the moon, G. Madhavan Nair, the ISRO chairman, said here Sunday.

"We have identified and inspected the land for setting up the Rs.1-billion earth station. The station will exchange the voluminous data with the lunar orbiter at a distance of 400,000 km from the earth," Nair told IANS on the sidelines of a conference.

The land cost is estimated at about Rs.200 million. The total cost of the moon mission is projected to be Rs.3.9 billion ($87 million) as of now.

The deep space network with a 100-foot diameter antenna dish will have ground and surveillance systems to track the unmanned lunar probe and subsequent missions of the ISRO.

"The station will be ready and operational by mid-2007 for launching Chandrayan during late 2007 or early 2008. The 529-kg spacecraft will be positioned at an altitude of 100 km from the moon to conduct experiments on its surface, explore its origins and detect the presence of any form of life on it," Nair said.

In the run up to its maiden launch on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, ISRO has started fabricating the spacecraft that will have 55-kg payload of on-board instruments.

"We have decided to carry a 20-kg impactor besides 25 kg of payload as piggyback in the spacecraft. The additional payload will be five foreign experimental instruments from the US, Britain, Germany, France, and the European Space Agency," Nair said.

Taking the cue from space-and-defence scientist-President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, ISRO has decided to drop the impactor on the moon to study the huge dust it is expected to kick up after hitting the lunar surface at a very high velocity, with its instruments intact.

"We want to see how a small prop can be dropped on the moon so that we can learn a lot of technologies and analyse the dust it will kick up after impacting the surface," Nair said.

The space agency has modified the design and fabrication of Chandrayan to integrate the impactor that will descend on the lunar surface on a hard-landing mode once the spacecraft is slotted in the lunar orbit at a distance of 100 km.

Though Chandrayan will eventually crash into the lunar surface after two years of orbiting, ISRO wants to make an early assessment of the moon and its features with the impactor's instruments.

"We want to collect the specific data of the lunar surface with the impactor in the earlier stages so as to make use of it (data) to design the spacecraft of future lunar missions," Nair pointed out.

The impactor's instruments will study the dust particles expected to remain suspended in the airless lunar atmosphere for sufficient time to analyse the chemical composition of its surface.

Asked whether ISRO plans to launch more unmanned lunar probes after Chandrayan, Nair said such missions would be a logical step.

"If the data from Chandrayan is promising and exciting, we will certainly go for more such missions in the next decade," he said.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Film issue: Nanje Gowda attacks ‘family interests’

Film issue: Nanje Gowda attacks ‘family interests’
The Economic Times

COMING out openly against Kannada thespian Rajkumar’s family, though without directly mentioning the actor’s name, senior politician H N Nanje Gowda on Saturday termed the ongoing agitation for a moratorium on the screening of non-Kannada films as “nothing but an attempt to safeguard family interests.” Mr Gowda, who had served as an irrigation minister under the Congress, also has the distinction of being an MP and legislator from both Congress as well as BJP, besides being a key fixture in the different avatars of Janata Dal.

He said that the recent protests by the Kannada film industry under Rajkumar’s leadership and hurling of chappals at Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh and his ministerial colleagues when they went to receive a memorandum and stone pelting at cars was a matter of shame for the people of the state. “The latest incident of forcibly removing the signboard of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce and replacing with another mentioning Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce is another incident of muscle-flexing by the (Rajkumar) family,” he said, referring to the leading role played by Mrs Parvathamma Rajkumar, the actor’s wife, and actor’s sons, in the whole episode.

Mrs Rajkumar even distributed sweets after replacing KFCC’s signboard and was declared president of the new body, when wiser counsel prevailed and the move dropped, Mr Gowda said, adding: “Today, they have removed the state’s name and substituted with Kannada. Tomorrow, they might resort to naming it after Parvathamma and even Puneeth Rajkumar (Rajkumar’s youngest son).” “Protecting the interests of one family seem to be their priority and not that of Kannada film industry,” he said, condemning the denigration of an elected president of KFCC, who was forced to stage a dharna in front of the building. “The candidates backed by this family had lost miserably in two consecutive elections and now they want to control the body through force,” he said. Pointing out that it would be naive to believe that they can browbeat a government through force, violence and coercion,

Mr Gowda said Kannadigas respected the Kannada film artistes but would not blindly worship them. “They will pay a heavy price if they thought that they can fool the people with glamour,” he said, demanding that the government should reconsider its policy of granting subsidy for making Kannada films as no other state government was offering similar largesse to their respective language films. Indirectly referring to the hue and cry and pressure mounted on the previous S M Krishna regime for the release of Rajkumar, when he was kidnapped by forest bandit Veerappan, even at the cost of “releasing Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu and recognising Tamil in Karnataka,” he said the Kannada film industry never bothered to respond to the plight of hundreds of farmers, who committed suicides due to three consecutive years of drought, and other problems faced by the state except during the Gokak agitation seeking primacy to Kannada. “The Kannada film industry behaved as if it was least concerned with all other problems of the state and its people,” he said explaining that they were now up in arms when their box-office collections fall despite getting hefty benefits like Rs 10-lakh subsidy for Kannada films since 1996, 100% entertainment tax exemption and grant of industry status to Kannada films to avail of easy finance for film making forgetting the fact that their contribution to the development of language or its culture was negligible.

Make it metro

CM Dharam Singh has demanded metropolis status for Bangalore. Do we have what it takes? BT asks those in the know
The Bangalore Times

MAHENDRA JAIN, commissioner, tourism On Bangalore’s population

• Bangalore qualifies eminently. The cosmopolitan culture of the city, the profile of visitors it draws from within and outside the country and the profile of the city itself, makes it so. We have everything from high tech institutions to academic institutions — this has created a unique city.

The population is increasing. The expats in the city number about 35,000, I believe, and visitors from overseas are around 300,000. Bangalore has different industries — biotech, conventional, software, manufacturing, garments, aeronautics and space research. We have a cosmopolitan and mixed workforce. Bangalore is ideally suited for the label of metropolitan city.

On interconnectivity

• We have the potential to be a metropolitan city. We are no longer the Bangalore of years ago. We have branched into the city’s outskirts which aren’t outskirts anymore.

Bangalore has everything one can ask for in a city — we have 80 per cent of facilities but not the bureaucratic setup or the political will. Florence, for instance is a large city with narrow roads and huge tourist traffic. But it’s all beautifully streamlined. If Bangalore is guided and controlled according to law, then many problems will be solved. But we just don’t have the infrastructure to be a metropolis — a multifaceted city with all facillities existing even in the outskirts. Look at New York — Rochester is outside the city but you can be in New York in one hour.

Do we have it? No. Unless we do, there’s no point in being given the tag. I would love it if it did, but you have to live up to it.

MAHESH DATTANI, playwright and director
On the mindset required

• There are Bangaloreans who have been here over 10 years, but still see it as just a city, while the new lot want it to be a metropolis. Bangalore has no choice but to be metropolitan if you are looking at it as an IT and corporate hub. It’s now like a caterpillar — it needs to break through — that’s easier said than done.

Perhaps some of the newer crowd have a metropolitan mindset, but not the old Bangalorean, whether in lifestyle or get up and go attitude. The mindset has to be thrust upon them.

RINI KUMAR, placement consultant
On the city’s metro beat

• You can get the tag only if you have the infrastructure, and we don’t. The people are fine — most are cosmopolitan and broad minded, but the lack of a basic infrastructure holds everything back. Does it have a metro beat? No, it needs much, much more.

Bangalore is too small, it needs much more development and money pumped in. People in the cultural field have no money to stage plays or events. There are umpteen restaurants mushrooming, but of what quality? They open and soon close. Bangaloreans have an eating out culture, but not top level in taste and standards. Only a a handful of restaurants offer exquisite food — the rest are multicuisine.

Bangalore is by no means mega as yet. The people want it, but it needs more scope. Bangalore people travel out for that rocking time. But no one really comes here for it.

Metropolitan city: “A large population centre consisting of a large city and its adjacent zone of influence, or of several neighbouring cities or towns and adjoining areas with one or more large city serving as its hub.”

Walking with women through Koramangala

Walking with women through Koramangala
Times of India

We want roads, screamed one; No more potholes, squealed another. Down with the government, all chorused; and waved flags and banners, as we marched in twos and threes across broken pavements and potholed roads.

We live in a suburb of Bangalore called Koramangala. Some 25 years ago when we first visited this suburb, it was not even considered part of namma Bangalore. Koramangala and similar suburbs were creations of a government agency called the BDA, or Bangalore Development Corporation, an oxymoronic title. Most of the proceeds of BDA’s development went into the pockets of bureaucrats and politicians. When by grievous mistake an honest bureaucrat (since there are no species known as honest politicians) stumbled into BDA, he would be swiftly shunted to the Minorities Commission or some such posting in the boondocks.

In the distant past, soon after Kempe Gowda erected his four pillars marking the boundaries of namma Bangalore, a community called Reddys bought up all the land outside these pillars. They farmed, raised cattle and children, multiplied and flourished in the salubrious clime of this great city. Fast forward to modern times, a group of smart politicians and their bureaucratic nannies decided that there was good money to be had by taking away all the land held by these Reddys in the name of the people and their government.

This became the preserve of the BDA; to notify, grab, acquire and sell Reddys’ land so that corrupt government functionaries and their cohorts get wealthy.

This land shark scheme with minor and major modifications has now successfully operated for over five decades in Bangalore, and has been now extended to other schemes of building highways and flyovers.

Once the land was sold to the public, the BDA washed its hands of the whole affair. To maintain the new layouts, as these developments were called, was the responsibility of the Corporation, whose keepers were better known for flying off to distant lands at the least provocation or without, than any capability to maintain assets. The Corporation, in turn, passed the buck on to alphabetical agencies that were supposed to provide power, water, good roads and so on to the general public.

The net result was chaos, compounded by perennially dug-up roads, erupting pavements, clogged drains and roads which as a local wag put it, were holes in the ground connected by strips of tar.

The worm had finally turned. Citizens of this suburb, who had meekly put up with all the shenanigans of BDA, Corporation, KSEB, BWSSB and many other selfserving government outfits all these years, are now revolting. So far, there have been more of threats than any physical action, which however may not be far off.

So I marched with the crowd, mostly women, holding a banner that said ‘Save Koramangala’. A kind lady offered to carry my banner for a while when my arms ached, and another pointed out when I was holding it upside down.

We felt uncomfortable most of the time, walking over pot holes and broken down pavements, and somewhat powerful when we blocked the traffic as we crossed the main roads. It was good activist fun that brought cheer to the soul.

I, for one, wanted to sit in the middle of the road and block the traffic, but the organiser said that I can only do that if Narayana Murthy joined us; since he was delivering a lecture in Tokyo he could not join our procession and help us sit in the middle of the road to block traffic as the IT guys do all the time. I have time on my hands; I shall wait and serve my turn.

Total shutdown of Kannada film industry from Nov. 30

Total shutdown of Kannada film industry from Nov. 30
Times of India

Bangalore: Activities in the Kannada film industry — shooting, production, editing and song recording — will come to a complete halt from November 30 to pressurise the theatres to implement the moratorium on the release of other language movies.

Producers, directors, artistes and technicians met here on Saturday to chalk out their next course of action. “Though the industry has been shut down partially since November 25, every activity will be stopped from November 30. Our final action plan will be evolved at a special meeting on November 29,’’ Kannada Film Producers’ Association president Basant Kumar Patil told the Sunday Times of India.

The meeting will be attended by KRRS activists, DSS representatives, litterateurs and pro-Kannada organisations. “We had set November 29 as the deadline to the state government to end the crisis. We want every theatre to implement the moratorium. If there is no favourable response from the government on Monday, we will go ahead with our agitation,’’ he added.

At the Saturday’s meeting, various plans were put forward to tackle the six theatres, which are screening the Hindi film Veer-Zaara in violation of the moratorium. According to sources, the film industry intends to “disrupt’’ the shows.

Our civic agencies should take a leaf out of NY book

Our civic agencies should take a leaf out of NY book
H.S. Balram , Times of India

A woman walking her dog on a New York street accidentally steps on a metal plate which has got electrified by a utility box wire not properly insulated, collapses and dies instantly. Her death sets off a firestorm of criticism. Guess what the company responsible for maintenance of electrical equipment pays her family as compensation. Over $6 million! Not just that. It sets up a $1 million scholarship fund in her name at Columbia University, where she studied. The company also launches citywide inspection of its equipment at locations where the public is exposed to stray voltage, and takes immediate corrective measures.

Compare this with a similar incident in Bangalore. A seven-year-old boy on his way home from a neighbourhood shop, accidentally touches a low-hanging cable television wire connected to a power line. In seconds, his life is snuffed out as the wire is electrified because of improper insulation. Shocked citizens raise a hue and cry. How do the authorities respond? They begin a blame game. Bescom, the agency that supplies power to Bangalore, accuses the cable operators of using their lines illegally. In turn, the cable operators say that they have been paying Bescom regularly for the purpose. The electrical inspectorate, responsible for policing power lines, says it is helpless as it is understaffed.

As everyone keeps passing the buck, the minister in charge of power visits the victim’s house, announces a compensation of Rs 1 lakh and orders an inquiry by the chief electrical inspector. The family rejects the compensation. It is then the turn of the CM to make a visit. He orders another inquiry by his principal secretary. But the bureaucrat says he has no time. Bescom orders its own inquiry. Nothing comes of these inquiries.

This is not the end. Bescom and cable operators get into a full-scale war. Officials go around snapping all cable wires with a vengeance. Cable operators go on a snap strike and cable TV channels are not available for days. For the harried citizens, it is like rubbing salt into the wound. As days pass, the brouhaha dies down. The issue is forgotten. No regrets. No heads roll. No one goes to jail. No compensation is paid. Cable channels can be seen again. Cable wires continue to run along power lines. The family of the boy is left to mourn in silence.

What a contrast in the respect given to human life. Not just hefty compensation and a scholarship fund, the US company also makes a statement to heal the wounds of the family: “The men and women of Con Edison (the electrical company) deeply regret the tragic death of Jodie S. Lane (the victim). The settlement allows us to demonstrate our continuing commitment to making New York a better place’’. Do we ever hear such consoling words from our civic agencies? No. Everyone keeps pointing a finger at others.

In paying compensation, the US company acknowledges its fault in the woman’s death, a conclusion its own investigators reach when they find that workers have improperly insulated a wire. The New York City Council then passes a law that requires the company to inspect all its equipment to protect them from stray voltage and publish the results of the inspection. And what does the father of the victim have to say? “The settlement will not take away my pain, but will give some hope that her death was not in vain. Hopefully it will help prevent the problem that caused our loss’’.

Can we ever expect such a response? Why are we like this? In the last two years, we have come across several cases of criminal negligence by Bangalore’s civic agencies. But no one has been held accountable. A couple and their two children in a car went down the drain literally and were washed away as they drove on mistaking it for a flooded road. An old lady taking her grandson for a walk slipped and fell into an open manhole and died of suffocation. A college student got off a bus onto a flooded road, walked a few steps, fell into a drain and was washed away. The latest of such incidents was the electrocution of the boy mentioned above.

One only hopes the civic agencies and the government learn a lesson from the New York incident. The tax-paying citizens have every right to demand action against irresponsible and insensitive civic agencies. They too must organise themselves to fight lethargy, negligence and insensitivity of the agencies’ staff.

Mayor blames BATF for non-performance

What were BATF, govt doing: mayor
Times of India

Bangalore: Piqued at criticism being directed at the Bangalore City Corporation by IT czars for the pathetic state of roads in the city, mayor P.R. Ramesh sought to know why the “government and the BATF had failed to offer suggestions when roads were being laid, instead of pointing fingers about the flaws now.”

Ramesh, addressing his last media conference as mayor on Saturday, blamed his predecessors for not ensuring a quality inspection of roads cut under the Municipal Bond scheme and sought the heads of erring officials and contractors.

The mayor, who will lay down office on Monday, came down heavily on shoddy road works carried out under the Bond scheme and admitted that the contractors had violated norms. “When the roads were being laid in 2000, why didn’t the BATF or the government intervene and point out the flaws? They could have told the BCC that the works executed were not as per the specifications. They chose to keep mum then and now are raising a furore over bad roads. I am not blaming anyone, I am just blaming the system.”

The project, which was initially pegged at Rs 125 crore ended up stretching the budget to Rs 235 crore but quality had still suffered, he said.

“There were a lot of specifications in the original contract — that the top layer had to be scrapped, milled and then be used for strengthening, but none of the norms have been adhered to. The result is for all of us to see today. When we paid a whopping sum of Rs 235 crore, at least the quality of roads should have been up to the mark,” he remarked.

Asked why he didn’t initiate any probe into the matter after assuming charge as mayor, Ramesh maintained that the contract maintenance period of three years had lapsed by the time he was elected to the post.
“Once the three year maintenance contract expires, we cannot hold the contractors responsible. My predecessors should have taken note of this lapse and initiated action against the erring officials and contractors,’’ he pointed out.

He maintained that it was during his tenure that 1,000 km of roads were taken up for asphalting.
“From next year, no roads will be taken up for asphalting unless the drainage system is put in place. The BCC will also strengthen the roads by scrapping out the surface layer, grinding it with fresh bitumen mixture and relaying it,’’ he said.

‘Drain harvesting project on’

Bangalore: On Monday, mayor P.R. Ramesh will step down from his chair. But whatever happened to the much hyped drain harvesting and drain transportation projects that he had announced?

Just when you thought that these projects had gone down the drain, here is a bit of information. The blue print is getting ready.

Addressing his last press conference as mayor, Ramesh, on Saturday, informed that as a first step towards drain transportation in the city, BCC will cover the storm water drain on Mysore Road and convert it into an alternative road. Stup Consultants has been entrusted with the task of preparing feasibility reports of the drain.

“Even experts from Institute of Town Planning, Delhi have come to Bangalore twice and inspected the drains. They are expected to give their opinion shortly,’’ Ramesh informed.

Terming his tenure as “satisfactory,” he said the implementation of GIS in eight wards has been one of his successful projects.

In a booklet brought out on his tenure, Ramesh has detailed the works taken up by him in his tenure of 151 working days:
Council approval to widen 47 roads, construction of three grade separators.
Tackling the mosquito menace.
Streamlining the Kempegowda awards.
Revenue augmentation through hoardings.
Installing rain harvesting techniques in parks and BCC hospitals.
MoU with ISKCON for midday meal scheme for BCC school students.

Land sharks target 600 acres of govt. land

Loophole In Repealed Urban Land Act; Officials Helpless
Times of India

Bangalore: A fresh land-grabbing scam around Bangalore, worth over Rs 300 crore, has come to light.

A loophole in a central law — the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act (1999) — has ensured this scam functions with impunity. State government employees express helplessness, though an estimated 600 acres, worth about Rs 50 lakh an acre, is up for grabs.

The repealed Act states that if the government has not taken physical possession of land “vested’’ with it under the original Urban Land Ceiling Act (1976), the land reverts to the owner. This has turned out to be a godsend for the grabbers.

The scam operates as follows:
Step I: grabbers identify ‘vested’ land.
Step II: They get documents stating this land was ‘sold’ to them.
Step III: They put up a structure there and claim physical possession.
Step IV: They demand it ‘reverts’ to the owner, that is themselves, as per provisions of the repealed Act.

Land value has shot up over 500 per cent around most of Bangalore in the last eight years. So, the scam result is: grabbers get government land for a pittance, carve it up into six-seven sites per acre and make a killing.
A top official told the Sunday Times of India that they were helpless to stop this, as the problem was procedural: “In revenue records, these lands — about 600 acres around Bangalore — belong to the government. But the grabbers, in cahoots with lower-level officials, prove the land is in their physical possession, not the government’s. We have no choice but to hand it over.’’

A judgment awarded by the Bangalore DC in June on a case in Bangalore South taluk blew the lid off the scam. The land in question as per revenue records belongs to the government, but the DC’s order says: “After spot investigation by the DC, it is stated that a godown exists on the land. It is found that the purchaser has taken physical possession, so as per the Repeal Act, the land reverts to him.’’

Consequent to this, the Bangalore DC’s office has been flooded with similar petitions. But the office does not even have figures on how much land was vested with the government under the original Act!
Bangalore DC M.A. Sadiq, who took charge a month ago, said: “We have no consolidated figures. We will begin computerisation now and try to take preventive action on this scam.’’


* The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act (1976) was passed by the Centre and state legislatures with this objective: “A view to preventing concentration of urban land in the hands of a few persons and speculation and profiteering therein, and with a view to bringing about an equitable distribution of land in urban agglomerations to subserve the common good.’’

* The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act (1999) Section 3 (a) says: “Any land deemed to have vested in the State Government under the principal Act, but possession of which has not been taken over by the state government or any person duly authorised by the state government in this behalf or by the competent authority’’ will revert to the owner.

Kannada film industry shoots itself in the foot

Kannada film shoots itself in the foot
Finanical Express

BANGALORE, NOV 27: Money, politics, emotion and violence are the filmi potboiler ingredients in the Kannada film industry imbroglio which is now being termed a blot on the IT capital’s international image as a cosmopolitan city.

However, the nearly four-month-long drama being played out here is more like a television soap with no end in sight and new twists and turns every week. On Monday, November 29, a meeting of all parties concerned - producers, directors, distributors and exhibitors - is planned in the hope of a consensus.

So far, there is little evidence to prove that the three week moratorium (reduced from an earlier seven weeks) on the release of non-Kannada films has benefitted the Kannada industry: though the Kannada Directors Association president SC Prasad, who is firm on the moratorium stand declares that the Kannada ticket collection scene has been “a little better”.

But, “Even if you slap a year-long moratorium on non-Kannada films, I will not watch a Kannada film,” rages an irate Kannada working woman, voicing the feelings of a large majority.

Calling the moratorium “morally and legally worng”, Bollywood actor- director Sanjay Khan says “It will do more harm than good to Kannada films.” Instead, he says, what the government should do is provide incentives for the industry so that it can bloom, also urging the industry to be more competitive and “let the horizon be larger”. The incentive idea is supported by exhibitors who have suggested that the entertainment tax collected on non-Kannada movies be made available for the production of Kannada films.

But beneath the din is unnoticed poignancy. The Kannada film industry is in dire straits. Unlike other language films which find a large faithful following in their own states, Karnataka is in the unique position of being an amalgamation of languages, says well-known theatre/film actor Prakash Belavady whose father was a make-up artist for Kannada films.

“From a purely market logic, the protests look perverse, but the reason is emotional, since Kannada is spoken only in a small part of Karnataka and the market is too small, despite the talent available”, he adds.

Exhibitors who are afraid to defy the moratorium are losing a total of between Rs 25 to 60 lakh per day, according to differing figures.

Filmgoers declare that it is the poor quality of Kannada films that keeps people away. “In the 70s and 80s when we were young, we watched a lot of good Kannada cinema. Today’s films by their very nature exclude the urban and the educated, which shrinks the market for Kannada films,” notes film buff D Rao, an computer engineer. He feels, “It is the fear of change, like with public sector unions that opposed computerisation but have now adapted. Kannada film will also learn to survive once it accepts change.

Karnataka Vs Rest of India

• On August 13 all theatres in Karnataka are asked to observe a moratorium of seven weeks on the release of non-Kannada films. This is seen as a move to give a fillip to the struggling Kannada film industry.
• 1200 theatre owners in the state down shutters in protest. Most of them screen non-Kannada films and are worried that the moratorium will hurt revenues
• In response to a petition filed by the exhibitors, the Karnataka High Court rules that the moratorium has no legal standing.
• However fear of violence and damage to their theatres prevents exhibitors from defying it
• Some attempts are made at defying the ban and films such as Bride and Prejudice and Veer Zaara are heavily advertised. The Bride screening never happens. Veer Zaara is screened under heavy police protection only to be suspended later.
• Meanwhile other language film industries propose a ban on shooting Kannada films in their respective states
• Thespian Rajkumar, a champion of Kannada, leads a dharna at Vidhana Soudhaa and hands over memorandum to Chief Minister Dharam Singh. The 5000 strong rally turns unruly and chappals are flung around. Monday’s meeting will hopefully bring a resolution.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

11-screen delight for movie buffs

Click on image for larger view.

11-screen delight for movie buffs
India’s Largest Multiplex Opens In Bangalore

Times of India

Bangalore: One more first for Bangalore, the young city with a go-go crowd: an 11-screen multiplex, India’s largest, which opened on Friday at the Forum Mall in Koramangala.

It is no experiment — PVR Cinemas chose the city with great deliberation. Why Bangalore?
The 11 screens are reasonable considering Bangalore is cosmopolitan. It has the largest proportion of movie-going population. 3 million movie buffs visit theatres at an average 12 times a year.

Bangalore’s cineastes are by far the most passionate, with Hyderabad coming a close second, feels PVR Cinemas managing director Ajjay Bijli.

So PVR wants to redefine moviegoing here. While its 11 theatres will screen Kannada, regional, Hindi and global cinema — 18 movies every day — the viewer has a choice of auditoriums to suit budget and taste.

The Gold Class is a class apart. The two 32-seater auditoriums are lavish — plush reclining seats separated by tables for personalised service. Cost: Rs 500 per ticket, including Rs 150 for food and beverages.

The state-of-the-art multiplex was inaugurated by chief minister N. Dharam Singh. Despite the sticky problems faced by the Kannada film industry, the CM sounded upbeat. “I am happy that a multiplex of such a large proportion has come up in Bangalore, but give a fair amount of importance to screen Kannada movies,’’ he said, quick to add that the government would always stand by the Kannada film industry.

Which was seconded by Bijli, who said the multiplex would abide by the moratorium and support the state’s policy on films.

The multiplex opens to the public on Saturday.

Gold Class auditoriums a new concept.

Cinema Europa: 2 luxury auditoriums, seating capacity 372. Price: Rs 150 before 5 pm on weekdays, Rs 175 after 5 pm and on weekends. ‘Europa Lounge ’ includes bar and restaurant.

Classic: 7 auditoriums. Price: Rs 100 before 5 pm, Rs 130 after 5 pm and during weekends, Rs 60 for Kannada movies, Rs 80 for other regional movies.

Total seating capacity: 2,019

City pollution: SC panel gives state four months

City pollution: SC panel gives state four months
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The State Government has been given a four-month deadline to keep pollution in Bangalore city under check. A Supreme Court authorised committee, which was here in the city on Thursday, met all officials concerned and secured an undertaking to that effect.

Following the SC notice to the State on the alarming pollution levels in the city, an Environment Protection Committee took stock of the progress in the Action Plan for Bangalore which was drawn up last January. Committee chairman Bhure Lal and member Sunita Narayan, director, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) were briefed by officials at the meeting.

‘‘Monitoring of pollution in the city, implementing the Pollution Under Control (PCU) system with the inclusion of new norms set by the Union Government, upgrading public transport, LPG conversion and fuel adulteration were the core areas of discussion,’’ Narayan told this website’s newspaper.

‘‘Both the parties have agreed upon a deadline of March 31, 2005 for the final monitoring of pollution measures. The State Government has been asked to complete the upgradation and augmentation of the public transport system by then,’’ she said.

‘‘We have asked the Government to come up with a plan to increase dependence on the public transport system. It has also been asked to explore with manufacturers the implementation of LPG and Euro-III technology,’’ she said. ‘‘Oil companies have been advised to ensure adequate supply of LPG for autorickshaws to enhance fuel conversion programme.’’

Commenting on steps taken by Karnataka so far, Narayan said the committee was not satisfied. ‘‘But the city is heading in the right direction,’’ she felt.

‘‘The Government is making some efforts to control fuel adulteration. But we are keen to see that they are stepped up,’’ she said.

‘‘Though the police here are doing well, we feel that there should be a strict check on visible emission. We have recommended the spot cancellation of fitness certificate in case of public vehicles and a fine of Rs. 1,000 for private vehicles emitting high levels of smoke,’’ she added.

Principal Secretary, Ecology, Environment and Forest, Principal Secretary, Home and Transport, Transport Commissioner, Chairman, Pollution Control Board (PCB), Member Secretary, PCB, Secretary, Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Corporation and representatives of major oil companies took part in the meeting.

New one-ways may open Pandora’s box

New one-ways may open Pandora’s box
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The new traffic system making Richmond and Residency Roads one-ways from December 1 threatens to open up a Pandora’s Box of problems.

Earlier, all one had to do to reach Richmond Road from K.H. Road was to get onto the flyover. Now they have to take Residency Road and then go through Commissariat Road to reach D’Souza Circle.

Essentially, a lot of traffic that previously plied on Richmond Road unhindered will now be forced to take Residency Road. Another point of concern is the Bishop Cotton Boys School where traffic piles up every morning, afternoon and evening.

While Residency can handle heavy traffic, can the narrow Commissariat road bear the brunt? Another point is that traffic police have not specified which route KSRTC and private buses will take to go from Residency Road towards Airport Road.

From Commissariat Road, it is not clear if they will take a left at Shopper’s Stop junction or go down further and turn left at D’Souza Circle. This is a rather sharp turn and may lead to many accidents. Have precautions been taken to prevent this?

The Ashirvadam Circle is also a cause for concern as traffic from Residency Road as well as Museum Road meet at this point. The Residency Road stretch from Ashirvadam Circle to Mayo Hall junction promises plenty of scope for vehicular congestion, with traffic from Brigade Road also adding to the mess.

Heavy transport vehicles (HTV) on Hosur Road might be forced to go past Vellara junction and onto Residency Road to get to D’Souza Circle as Campbell Road will surely not be able to take that kind of traffic.

Good road engineering is required to make sure the one-way system works. Are the traffic police listening?