Monday, December 27, 2004

How many teeth will BATF have?

How many teeth will BATF have?
Will It Be Status Quo Or Status Low?
The Times of India

Bangalore: With chief minister N. Dharam Singh promising new life for the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), the issue now is: in what form will it be resurrected?

Many options are being considered, as reviving BATF is not just about reconstituting it. Apart from funding, various other aspects are being examined. Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy suggests that Bangalore’s administration be made statutory. In a variation, an option is being mooted by experts on Bangalore planning to accord “statutory’’ status to BATF, putting it among the ranks of several boards and corporations headed by a non-official person.

“Bangalore is currently being looked after by the CM himself. Earlier governments had ministers exclusively in charge of Bangalore development. The same can be done as the Congress has two more vacancies to fill in the Cabinet. Or the CM can retain it by appointing a non-official heading the BATF, who will be attached to him,’’ sources told The Times of India.

Giving statutory powers to BATF would envisage all the seven stake-holders — Bangalore City Corporation, city police, BDA, BMTC, BWSSB, BSNL and Bescom —- coming under it. This vesting of more powers to the BATF is expected to take place in January, when the CM will hold talks with the Congress high command regarding appointments of parliament secretaries and chairpersons to the statutory bodies.

The hitch is: The CM will have to get the concurrence of JD(S) national president H.D. Deve Gowda, who has publicly announced that enough is being done to better Bangalore’s infrastructure. Also, Gowda’s son and public works minister H.D. Revanna, responding to complaints on bad roads, charged the BATF with doing nothing to improve the city’s infrastructure in the last four years.

Presently, this brainchild of former CM S.M. Krishna, who wanted to bring in public-private partnership for urban governance, has closed down its operating office. The present government’s earlier reluctance to tap BATF’s potential also earned the ire of IT captains.

At the August 10 meeting, as an offshoot of mounting criticism over poor infrastructure by IT captains, Infosys Technologies CEO Nandan Nilekani had said: “The touchstone of the government’s sincerity would be speedy implementation of projects already committed by various stake-holders at the BATF summit in January 2004.’’

Now, with fresh life coming into the BATF, can citizens look forward to a better Bangalore?


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