Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hawkers set to lose only haven

Hawkers set to lose only haven
Deccan Herald

BMP’s logic is that roadside vendors hurt shopowners and cause inconvenience to the public. Above all, streets are BMP’s property.

The dramatic eviction of vendors at Jayanagar shopping complex could be a mere trailer once the clean-up plans of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) goes into full-throttle mode.

The scene at the Jayanagar complex, is all set to be repeated in K R Market. Areas like Gandhinagar and Gandhibazar are also expected to make an appearance as the episodes get rolling.

The BMP’s latest clean-up act may have been a blockbuster for shopkeepers and a tearjerker for hawkers, but the moral of the story, according to BMP, remains the same: “Whenever the public is inconvenienced within BMP limits, the Palike will take strict action independently, without seeking permission from any other party.”

Armed with its motto of “Public first”, the BMP’s anti-encroachment crackdown makes it clear that the Palike is committing itself to the cause of the “shopkeepers who are affected adversely due to encroached vendors, and pedestrians who are inconvenienced by footpath sellers”.

The Jayanagar anti-encroachment drive, that saw the eviction of over 600 vendors on Thursday, is part of the “comprehensive development programme” charted out by BMP for the Palike-owned Jayanagar complex. BMP’s next step would be improvement of infrastructure, including renovation of toilets, installation of generators and wiring of the building, along with allocation of space for fish vendors.

BMP responded to the complaint filed by the Shopowners’ Association with the Legislature Petition Committee, said BMP Commissioner K Jothiramalingam.

According to the shopowners’ complaint, the hawkers were blocking passages and occupying space without paying any rent, while the owners who paid monthly rents to BMP were being adversely affected by these unauthorised vendors.

“We are giving first priority to this logic,” said the Commissioner.

BMP is also noting the inconvenience caused by footpath sellers, said Jothiramalingam. “If footpath hawkers are doing business detrimental to pedestrians, we will not hesitate to take action. We will continue to evict and confiscate goods of these sellers till they realise they cannot do business unlawfully on BMP’s property,” he said.

JD(S) rally on Saturday: Recipe for a jam

JD(S) rally on Saturday: Recipe for a jam
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The Janata Dal (Secular) rally scheduled for Saturday at the Palace Grounds has all the makings of another maddening morning for the city’s motorists. At 11.30 a.m, when it is scheduled, people will still be trying to wriggle out of peak hour traffic.

Though the city police claim to have made adequate arrangements to ensure that traffic is not held up for more than 10 minutes at any point, history has proved that such tamashas last much longer and block several roads, triggering a cascading effect.

JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, clarifying on traffic disruptions, said the proposed rally on Saturday will not disturb normal life in Bangalore. But he surely must know that cavalcades of buses, tempos and autorickshaws carrying JD(S) supporters in and around Bangalore, passing through busy roads, markets and intersections are all a recipe for a jam.

According to sources, JD(S) supporters will descend on the venue in 24 vehicles from Bangalore outskirts to join the rally. These vehicles will enter the ground through the Mekhri Circle entrance. And another cavalcade of at least 15 vehicles of local JD(S) supporters will join them through Sankey Road entrance.

“Traffic will have to be stopped at Mekhri Circle entrance and Vasanthnagar to let the supporters pass. A massive traffic snarl is possible at these entrances especially in Mekhri Circle as vehicles on all four sides will have to be held up,” a senior police officer said.

The rally is scheduled to end around 3 p.m., JD(S) sources said. And after the rally, the vehicles will head towards the city bus stand, Chikkalasandra, Okalipuram and other areas where the supporters will be dropped.

Meanwhile, additional commissioner of police K.V.R. Tagore assured fool-proof security and said no other protests will be allowed from other groups near the grounds. More than 100 policemen have been deployed in and around the ground on Saturday.

National Interest: Maximum city, minimum programme

Maximum city, minimum programme
From Mumbai to Gurgaon, Delhi to Bangalore, Cong has the keys to our key urban engines. Look how it’s switching them off, one by one
SHEKHAR GUPTA, The Indian Express

Shekhar Gupta In the middle of the commotion in Parliament over the past two weeks Sonia Gandhi may have noted, probably with a bit of concern, the diminishing of two of her more important chief ministers. Vilasrao Deshmukh, mostly has himself to blame for his humiliation. What else can you say for the chief minister of India’s second largest, and second richest, state if he has to present himself in Delhi to explain to his party president his policy over an issue of such urgent national importance as a ban on Mumbai’s dance bars. This, when his state is facing its starkest power crisis in a decade, with public protests, if not power riots yet, in a dozen cities.

To be fair to Deshmukh, however, both he and his party can claim that he is also a victim of the stupidity of their coalition partners. The Talibanesque morality campaign is the obsession of his NCP home minister, R.R. Patil. His fault, if anything, is pusillanimity of a kind that is alarmingly becoming the hallmark of Congress chief ministers.

The other Congress chief minister cannot be described as pusillanimous by any stretch of imagination. Sheila Dikshit is hard as nails. She is also the Congress party’s most popular chief minister (in her domain), and also the most successful, being the only chief minister to be re-elected in a very long time and then capping it with a near clean sweep in Lok Sabha in Delhi, which was always considered a BJP territory. But, just as Deshmukh has had to pay for his spinelessness, Sheila is being punished for daring to have an identity of her own. And punished by whom? By complete nonentities like Jagdish Tytler, who can barely hang on to that most pitiable wooden spoon, the ministry of NRI affairs, and by a gentleman called Ram Babu sharma. Now who’s that, you might ask me. Let me suggest you stand on any street-corner and ask a hundred people who pass by that question. If more than a couple can answer that correctly, I am happy to go back to journalism school. But it is these people, encouraged by a whole gang of state, and stateless, plotters in the party who have made a public spectacle of their most important chief minister, hauling her up in public like an errant schoolchild, planting stories against her in the media, extorting (in terms of enhanced constituency funds) and other favours from her, and generally diminishing her status.

The political message in this is that the party has learnt nothing from past experience. Whenever it has humiliated or removed an incumbent chief minister, it has paid heavily for it. This goes back to Indira Gandhi and T. Anjaiah, without which the NTR phenomenon would never have happened. But of more immediate concern is what it means to Delhi and Mumbai, the two engines that drive India and which the Congress party controls. Of great consequence, similarly, is what this means to Manmohan Singh’s and the CMP’s great promise of urban renewal, of building Mumbai into another Shanghai and of making Delhi India’s most sparkling city in the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

For any of those promises to be kept, the Congress needs chief ministers in Maharashtra and Delhi who can cut red tape, canvass for resources and drive change. What they have got, instead, is one that is entirely short of ideas and focus, and politically knee-capped. And another who is punch-drunk and angry, not knowing what she has done wrong except perhaps a slightly petulant public display of anger at dissidence by people who mostly owe their elected offices to her.

If things look bad in Delhi and Mumbai, turn your attention to Bangalore. Dharam Singh, the chief minister of the Congress-led coalition there, has been a lame-duck from Day One, not taken seriously by his own partymen and pushed around by H.D. Deve Gowda. He now leads the most fragile state government in the country and it would be a real surprise if it doesn’t fall within this year, leading to fresh elections in Karnataka. Sheila Dikshit still has the spine and the savvy to recover. Maharashtra can see the return of some sanity if Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar both focus on it. But Karnataka looks like a lost cause altogether.

The overall effect, however, is that there is now a shadow on the future of India’s three most important urban centres, its political capital, financial heartland and new economy showpiece.

We have heard a lot of talk of villages in the past year. But the truth is, if our major urban centres rot and decay, so will the rest of the country. Like all rapidly developing countries, India is urbanising at a fast pace. Some of its more developed states — Kerala, Gujarat — are already ‘‘reurbanised’’. Big cities are both cradles and magnets for enterprise and creativity. India cannot grow if its major urban centres are allowed to decay and die.

Sonia Gandhi, therefore, has a special responsibility. Her party controls not just Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, but also other upcoming modern urban centres, from Hyderabad to Pune, from Chandigarh to Gurgaon. India cannot grow if these urban centres are trapped in assorted crises like power cuts (Pune), political indiscipline (Delhi), an infrastructure freeze (Bangalore), a water shortage (Gurgaon) and that most ridiculous man-made calamity of all, the wave of Talibanesque conservatism in Mumbai, the lure of which cuts across party lines, with one side working full time to fight that menace for national security and family values called bar girls, and the other telling women that if they wear low-waist jeans they should expect to be raped.

You do not compensate the villages for any neglect by letting the cities go to the dogs now. As the history of modern development has shown elsewhere, particularly in China, economic growth is invariably linked to rapid urbanisation. That is already happening in India, and the process will only hasten with the national highway development programme. It is now for our political leadership, particularly Sonia, Manmohan Singh and the Congress, to decide what kind of cities we will leave behind for our future generations, like a modernising Delhi with its improving traffic, air quality, power and water, or a decaying Mumbai that will soon be so choked, so eaten up by slums and with such a decline in the quality of life that, forget becoming the financial capital of Asia, it may indeed see a flight of capital to rival Kolkata’s in its darkest decades.

Crime city: techie found murdered

Crime city: techie found murdered
Bangalore’s crime graph is on the rise, says National Crime Records Bureau. But the city is safe, claim police. From muggings to murders, recent crime patterns show citizens returning home from office or an outing late in the night have become soft targets of the men on prowl.
The Times of India

Body Found 8 Km From Where He Made Last Call
Bangalore: A software engineer from Ranchi, working with Tayana Software Solutions in the city, was found murdered in Doddakannelli, Sarjapur Road, on Thursday evening. He was missing since Tuesday.

“He could be a victim of robbery. His cellphone is missing. The postmortem shows two injuries,” said the Koramangala police.

The deceased, Rakesh Kumar (22), was staying with a friend at Chinnappa Garden in Mahadevapura. Around 10 pm on Tuesday, Rakesh called his friends from his mobile, saying he was stuck in the rain near K.R. Puram’s Tin Factory and would reach home late. When he did not return the next day, his friends filed a complaint with the Mahadevapura police and inserted advertisements in newspapers, trying to trace him.

The body, found in Doddakannelli, matched the description given in the complaint, confirming that the deceased was Rakesh. “Rakesh’s family is expected here by Saturday. We are enquiring with his friends and colleagues to know whether he had any enmity or affair,” the police said.

The police are baffled how Rakesh, stuck in K.R. Puram on Tuesday night, was found dead in Doddakannelli, about 8 km away. “Our probe is based on this,” a police officer said. The police are verifying calls made and received on Rakesh’s mobile.

Crimes in April

A mobike-borne duo went on robbing spree targeting techies in night in Jayanagar, Basavanagudi, Tilaknagar 15 days ago.
Two software engineers, waiting for a pick-up, robbed on Hosur Road near Madiwala
A BPO staffer robbed near HRBR Layout on Ring Road.
A 31-year-old woman was gang-raped by City Taxi drivers in front of her two children in Jnanabharathi campus.

Three Shangri-La hotels to come up in city

Shangri-La continues in India.

Management contracts signed to operate three new hotels in Bangalore, India starting August 2007. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Asia Pacific's leading luxury hotel group, announced that the group has signed contracts with India's Adarsh Group, adding a total of more than 1,000 rooms to the group's inventory in India.

Strategically located in the central business district of Bangalore, a Shangri-La hotel will open in August 2007. The hotel has named Singapore-based CPG Corporation its architect and Hirsch Bedner Associates Design Consultants its interior designer.

Guest rooms are designed to be modern and will reflect a classic yet contemporary style combined with local cultural influences.Wireless and broadband internet access will be available in each room to meet the needs of business travellers. The hotel will feature CHI spa, Shangri-La's signature spa brand with its treatments based on Chinese and Himalayan healing concepts. The hotel will also provide dining and entertainment outlets, as well as meeting and banqueting facilities including a grand ballroom of 500 square metres.

A Traders hotel will also open in August 2007 with 250 rooms near International Tech Park situated at Whitefield, Bangalore about seven kilometres from the Bangalore airport. With spacious guestrooms and various dining and entertainment options, as well as business facilities including broadband and wireless internet access, the hotel will cater to the needs of mid-market travellers.

Opening December 2008, Shangri-La will also operate a 330 -room business retreat and spa located at outer ring road in the IT corridor, about six kilometres from the Bangalore airport. A second phase will include 200 additional rooms and 200 serviced apartments. The property will be designed with lush landscaping and recreation facilities such as tennis, squash, putting golf and health club. Shangri-La's exclusive CHI will be a separate spa village complex designed as a sanctuary within the hotel. The hotel will also feature extensive meeting and convention facilities, with a total space of over 1,000 square metres.

All rooms in the hotels will offer a host of Shangri-La's amenities and services, such as 24-hour room service, same day laundry and valet service, coffee and tea making facilities, data ports and satellite TV. The Horizon Club at Shangri-La Hotels and Traders Club at Traders Hotel will provide an exclusive retreat with express check-in and check-out and a club lounge for daily complimentary breakfast and cocktails.

Established more than 200 years ago, Bangalore is located on the southern Deccan Plateau and is the capital of the State of Karnataka, India. Home to over seven million people, it is one of the fastest growing cities in India.It is aptly called the "Garden City" owing to its large number of lakes and parks.Bangalore is also known as "Silicon Valley of India," with its focus on information technology and concentration on software technology-related activities.Most recently, it has also become known as India's bio science capital.

"These excellent new additions of Shangri-La will reinforce our presence in India and will complement the Traders Hotel, Chennai and the Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi which will open in the second and third quarter of 2005 respectively," said Giovanni Angelini, Shangri-La's chief executive officer and managing director. "No matter which Shangri-La property our guests opt for, we look forward to providing them with our unique Shangri-La hospitality and a most enjoyable stay in Bangalore."

"We are delighted to be associated with Shangri-La, Asia Pacific's premier luxury hotel group, which will redefine hospitality standards for the modern millennium traveller and set new definitions of excellence in culinary concepts and service in Bangalore," said B. M. Jayeshankar, chairman and managing director of Adarsh Group.

"Bangalore will soon enjoy a new breed of hotels with Shangri-La's world-class hospitality and services, setting a new benchmark in the India hospitality industry," said Shashi Vagale, CEO hospitality, Adrash group. Since its inception in 1988, the Adarsh Group has been developing residential and commercial properties in Bangalore, offering apartments, independent villas, office and retail spaces, and software technology parks. The group is incorporated with a vision and commitment to develop projects par excellence in India.

Friday, April 29, 2005

BMP task force swoops down on Jayanagar 4th Block vendors

BMP task force swoops down on Jayanagar 4th Block vendors
Deccan Herald

The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) Task Force swooped down on hawkers and vendors around the passages and footpath, surrounding Jayanagar 4th Block Complex on Thursday at 6.30 pm. The task force personnel, in an operation that lasted more than two hours, also cleared shops encroaching on the passages in the complex.

More than 600 vendors and hawkers selling with vegetables, fruits, flowers, garments, footware, household products and other goods tried to resist the BMP personnel but police bandobast was tight around the area.

Some fruit vendors said that they have been doing business for more than three decades here and had valid licences issued by the BMP in 2000. Loans were taken from the local branch of Canara Bank, they said.

The BMP had not given them any notice, complained the affected people. But BMP officers said that public announcements were made in the area for the last three days.

Even the Janatha Bazaar had jutted on the road, sighed a BMP official. The hawkers and vendors were all doing unauthorised business, they were obstructing the passage ways meant for loading and unloading of goods by the traders in the complex, said BMP Chief Engineer Rame Gowda who was on site during the operation. The shop owners association of the complex have themselves filed a complaint before the Legislature Petition Committee, he said.

Shop owners objected to clearance of their shop fronts protruding on to the passage ways within the complex. Venting their ire, they noted that the BMP has till date not acted on their petition to clear the fresh fish stalls (four in number) that are within the complex on the first floor. Sought his response, Mr Rame Gowda said that it has been decided to put up a floor above the toilet block of the complex and relocate the fish stalls over there. It will keep the fish stalls independent of the other shops in the complex, he said.

250 BMP task force personnel approached the complex from its four different sides giving little time for the vendors and shopkeepers to put a resistance. Two excavators and 10 lorries were used to clear and cart the debris.

Will Bescom lead IT city out of the Dark Ages?

Will Bescom lead IT city out of the Dark Ages?
The Times of India

Bangalore: During every rainy season, at least one part of the city is plunged into darkness. Indeed, the slogan of the powers-that-be seems to be: “Every rain, no shine.’’

On Wednesday night, it was back into the Dark Ages for residents of Bangalore North and East. Not one, but two lines supplying power to these regions snapped due to rain-related high velocity winds.

Power officials maintained that they braved the dark, rain and slushy ground to track the problem and fix it. “Supply was restored by 1.30 am to all areas,’’ they said. But no one has the answer to the basic problem: Why is it that preventive measures cannot be taken? Why should rain automatically mean no power?

The problem identified by power officials is an innocuous piece of equipment called the jumper, which is the conductor on transmission towers. The jumper bypasses the insulation fixed to the tower and ensures continuity of current in the line.

“Clamps holding these jumpers become weak due to wind and rain. This causes arcing and the jumpers melt,’’ officials explained.

Power utilities are now trying to replace the old bolt-nut clamps with high quality ‘wedge’ ones, but these are very costly. “As per estimates, there are over three lakh jumpers in the state on 66 KV lines. The cost of replacing all these with wedge clamps will be well over Rs 100 crore,’’ a top official said.

All distribution companies have maintenance budgets. Bescom alone is expecting a revenue of Rs 4,000 crore this year. So, what is preventing the utilities from using a mere 0.025 per cent — Rs 100 crore — of Bescom’s revenue to fix these jumpers?

No one has an answer to that. But, everyone hastens to claim that “preventive measures’’ are being taken.

Taxi, auto drivers under scanner

Taxi, auto drivers under scanner
Must Display Their Photo, Info Inside Vehicle: Police Chief
The Times of India

Bangalore: Taxi and autorickshaw drivers will have to display the name of the vehicle owner, name of the driver, driver’s photograph and vehicle’s registration number inside the vehicle prominently, so that it is visible to the passenger, said Bangalore police commissioner S. Mariswamy.

The gang rape of a 31-year-old woman by City Taxi drivers in the wooded Bangalore University campus in Jnananabharati on Sunday night has prompted the police and road transport office to take action.

“We have taken the incident seriously. We have requested the RTO authorities to make it mandatory for taxi and auto drivers to display this information. Any violation will attract Rs 2,000 fine,” Mariswamy said.

“We will also prepare a list of auto and taxi drivers wherever required. We will check autos and taxis randomly near airports, railway stations and isolated stretches on Ring Road and other areas, particularly during evening hours, to prevent crimes,” he said.

Members of the taxi drivers’ union admitted that the incident has brought them under the scanner, and said they are willing to take corrective measures.

Union members said the rape victim made a mistake in not calling the taxi control room before boarding the City Taxi. Luckily, her two children remembered the phone number behind the taxi, which ended with 4444. Policemen who were on night rounds nabbed two persons, while others are still absconding.

A drivers’ union leader said, “When somebody makes a call to the City or Radio Taxi operator seeking a vehicle, the call is registered and the taxi is sent. It is completely safe to travel by those vehicles and no incidents of crime have taken place so far in such cases. If something goes wrong, the operator is accountable for it.”

“In Sunday’s incident, some rogues in the garb of taxi drivers have raped the woman. It is shameful. The taxi operator was ignorant of the incident,” Ramanna, an operator, said.

“There are around 80,000 autorickshaws and over 10,000 taxis in the city and it is difficult to keep tab on each one of them. We regularly conduct classes to auto and taxi drivers on how to behave with commuters and enhance their image,” RTO (Central) Syed Shafi Ahmed said.

Can Bangalore do a Hong Kong?

Can Bangalore do a Hong Kong?
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Will the new international airport to come up in Bangalore by 2008 be able to take flight to the top slot?

What is it that can set this airport apart, and make it match the standards of the best international airports and lounges, and make it attract tourists over and over again?

Perhaps it needs to study the world's top five airports at Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Munich and Japan - rated the best in a survey by Skytrax, a London-based airline and airport research firm.

Bangalore will have to study their public transit, Internet and terminal signage systems, and communication skills of the staff.

It will also have to study their ambience, cleanliness, and entertainment, shopping and dining options.

However, some things that Indian authorities do plan include upmarket shopping areas, multi-cuisine restaurants, play areas, daycare centres, expressways and linking roads.

The airport will cover an area of 4,050 acres in Devanahalli, about 34 kms from Bangalore, and handle 4.5 million passengers and 1.4 lakh tones of cargo each year.

Bangalore’s Dharavi is a stretch of squalor

Bangalore’s Dharavi is a stretch of squalor
The Times of India

Bangalore: In local NGO terminology, Bagalur is Bangalore’s Dharavi, though not its largest slum.

Be it AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, whooping cough or cardiac problems, Bagalur has all this and more. A typical situation at Bagalur is: dogs, flies, people on last legs of life, little green kids all shove and jostle for food, their 10x10 feet tenement and even recreation, leading to endless brawls. But, for the 24,000 strong populace of this sprawling slum, brawls are the last and indeed the least of their concerns.

A gaunt 56-year-old Mariappa Yesu ambles towards a sickly pomeranian and kicks it away. He’s sick, he says, with “AIDS.’’

The area is teeming with Yesus. The rarely open local health department, the only one in the 3-km stretch of stench, gets cases every day and these people are almost always diagnosed with debilitating illnesses. Quite a corollary because 95% of Bagalur’s population comprises labourers, the young and the aged. Mary, 21, a mother of three toddlers, one at her bosom, is now four months pregnant, toils at the construction site all day.

“Deve Gowda, who’s that, amma?’’ asks 65-year old Vaniamma. The local JD(S) corporator Marimuthu reprimands her, “Don’t you remember the man who had come here on Sunday? You will again be taken for his rally on Saturday.’’ Another bunch of women with varied health complaints say they are geared up to “go to the city on Saturday’’ because last week “many people came here, people were clicking photos of our houses, our children and enquiring about our problems.’’

Lack of water has been a perennial peeve. Corporator Marimuthu says her daughter broke her ankle while balancing pots of water on her hip. She talks of official apathy when she says nobody from the BCC comes to give sale deeds and documents, and nobody comes for tax collection. In all, 1400 sale deeds apparently, have not been done at all.

To bring in a breather, the corporator put up a park in the midst of the slum. But people use these green lawns for defecating.
The squalour, meanwhile, is all-inclusive.

Bannerghatta beckons kids for some wild fun

Bannerghatta beckons kids for some wild fun
Deccan Herald

Eco club hopes to satisfy the urge among children to learn more about the animals they come across during the safari.

Bannerghatta National Park is all set to turn visitor friendly. The Park, that inaugurated its two touch screen kiosks on its premises recently, is now planning to start an eco club for young students to improve awareness about wildlife.

The club will conduct weekly eco conservation classes for students from across Bangalore schools, which will include a tour of the park, followed up with an interactive session with wildlife experts in the national park’s auditorium.

“It is found that there is an urge among children both from urban as well as rural schools to learn more about the animals and birds found at the zoo. We will take up the role of information providers,” said Mr Markandaiah, director of Bannerghatta National Park.

The two information kiosks, which were launched on Wednesday, was sponsored by Intel and its content, both in Kannada and English, was prepared by Bannerghatta National Park and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-India).

The touch screen facilities will help disseminate information to visitors about the Bannerghatta National Park, the zoo area, safari and information on various species of birds, mammals and other reptiles that might interest visitors.

Gowda set to bring city to a halt

The Times of India

Suddenly, Daridra Narayanas or slum-dwellers, are the darlings of political parties. JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda is ahead in this love-for-slums race. In focus is his mega rally in the city on Saturday. Not to be outdone, JD(S) coalition partner, Congress, says only it has the right to stake claim for slum improvement.And opposition BJP maintains that it was the NDA government which released Rs 100 crore for slum housing schemes.

We’ll not disturb public: Gowda

Bangalore: JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda on Thursday assured Bangaloreans that no public inconvenience will be caused on Saturday during the rally.

“We will not cancel the rally. We will go ahead with it, but will ensure that it does not cause any public inconvenience,’’ Gowda said at a press meet here which he convened after a high court Bench issued notices to him and others regarding the rally.

The rally, to be held at the Palace Grounds where the Grameeena Janothsava convention of the JD(S) was held on April 13, is likely to witness the participation of nearly 50,000 people. However, Gowda maintained that there will be no traffic jam in and around the venue.

“During the Grameena Janothsava programme, about 35,000 gram panchayat members had come from different parts of the state in thousands of vehicles, yet there were no major traffic jam.

In this rally, only a section of Bangaloreans will participate. As they happen to be the downtrodden the number of vehicles reaching the venue will be less,’’ Gowda justified.

It’s opportunism: BJP

Bangalore: For the BJP, the JD(S) rally is nothing but “sheer opportunism’’.

BJP national slum morcha convener Katta Subramanya Naidu and Uttarahalli MLA R. Ashok said: “The JD(S) people are all Lakshmi Narayanas (wealthy). Why are they talking about Daridra Narayana (the poor)?’’

Contending that Gowda’s “sudden’’ concern for the slum-dwellers was mainly due to the Chamarajpet bypoll expected by June, the duo on Thursday reeled out statistics on how much money was released for slum development during the Janata Dal regime (1994-99).

“For Bangalore’s 473 slums, the JD government released Rs 6 crore over five years. This works out to Rs 1.2 crore a year, Rs 25,000 per slum! This was when Gowda was the CM, followed by his son Revanna as housing minister,’’ they said.

Naidu said Gowda had released hardly Rs 16 crore for slum development as PM, against his claim of having given Rs 500 crore. In contrast, the NDA government had released Rs 100 crore for housing under VAMBAY and Rs 274 crore for Nirmala Jyothi toilets in slums in 2002-03. Besides this, Bangalore South MP Ananth Kumar, in his stint as Union urban development minister, had sanctioned 30,000 houses for urban slums in two years against the 21,000 houses built by the Slum Clearance Board. Ashok said the BJP would take up a counter slum rally on May 25. “We also demand a CBI inquiry or one by a sitting Supreme Court judge, into the land grabbing allegations made by Gowda,’’ he added. Some facts about slums

Bangalore has 473 slums, of which 106 are in seven CMCs, 367 come under BCC and BDA jurisdiction. Of the 367 slums, 219 are ‘declared’ — looked after by the Slum Clearance Board.

Population in slums is 9.91 lakh with 1,98,600 families. There are 44 rehabilitated slums like at Cantonment, Tank Mohalla, M.V. Garden. Laggere slum was recently rehabilitated.

There are several parameters to declare a slum. As per a government order, a slum should existing since 1994 and should have typical characteristics like lack of basic amenities, huts and unhygienic environs. The Slum Clearance Board takes up a survey, lists the number of houses and sends a proposal to the deputy commissioner to declare a slum.
Unauthorised slums keep mushrooming and authorities take up clearance operations. Undeclared slums are those that are mired in litigation. For instance, slums would have sprung up on a private land and the owner would have approached court and sent his objections to the DC.

Oldest and biggest slum is Lakshmanraunagar in Koramangala which has nearly 10,000 households and a lakh population.

Houses are built in declared slums under VAMBAY scheme at Rs 60,000 per unit. Union government gives 50 per cent subsidy and remaining amount is collected from beneficiaries through EMIs.

Projects in the pipeline

Bangalore slums will soon have a Japanese connection, courtesy BWSSB.

The board is set to provide water supply lines to slums with funds from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Under this, JBIC funds will be used to lay water lines up to the slums. “From the slums to each hutment, the individual applicant will have to pay,’’ sources say.

BWSSB already works with slum dwellers through its Social Development Cell, opened in 2000.The unit began with help from Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) when it came to Bangalore to develop a masterplan for the board.

The cell works with 50-odd slums in the city. As part of the JBIC funding, a baseline survey will be done on the number of slums and number of people living in them.

The BWSSB cell encourages slum dwellers to go in for individual or group water connections. For instance, in March this year, the board revised water tariffs and introduced a new slab directed at slum dwellers.Earlier,under its 0-15,000 litres slab,people paid Rs 115 a month, now the slab is 0-8,000 litres and the tariff is Rs 73. The Slum Clearance Board has two major projects in the pipeline: An integrated slum development project has been drawn up for all 473 slums at a cost of Rs 508.88 crore under which roads, drains, community toilets and bathrooms, UGD, lighting and water supply will be provided. The project has been sent to the Union ministry for approval. The World Bank, ADB, SIDA and governments of Middle East countries have evinced interest in funding several schemes and has asked the board to prepare projects.

HC issues notices to JD(S), police

Bangalore: A division Bench of the high court on Thursday issued notices to the Janata Dal (S), the state home secretary, the commissioner of police and the state employees federation following a writ petition against the legality of the rally to be held by the JD(S) on April 30.

The notices were issued following a petition by social worker B. Krishna Bhat. In his plea, Bhat has contended that the JD(S) has called for the rally of thousands of Daridra Narayanas (the poor).

He said the rally will disrupt the life of ordinary citizens, throw traffic out of gear and cause a possible threat to public peace.

He contended that the Supreme Court had clearly indicated that political parties have no right to hold such rallies and disrupt the life of ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The state machinery had not taken any action to prevent the rally being held by one of the political parties despite the Supreme Court ruling, he claimed.
The HC issued notices but did not impose an interim stay order.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Bangalore IT exports top USD 6 billion

India IT hub exports up 52%
Software and back-office service exports from Indian technology hub Bangalore grew by half to more than $6 billion in the year to March despite lingering worries about its overloaded transport system.

BANGALORE: Software and back-office service exports from Indian technology hub Bangalore grew by half to more than $6 billion in the year to March despite lingering worries about its overloaded transport system.

The region, weathering last year's U.S. election rhetoric against outsourcing, also added 198 new service firms, taking the total number of exporters to 1,520, officials said on Thursday.

Bangalore made up for 97 percent of the southern state of Karnataka's information technology and allied service exports, which grew to Rs 276 billion ($6.3 billion) in 2004/05, up from Rs 181 billion a year earlier.

"The campaign against Bangalore has fallen flat. The infrastructure of the city, though it is under stress, is being developed continuously," Jawaid Akhtar, IT director for the state dubbed India's Silicon Valley, told a news conference.

The city of 6.5 million people, bursting with new vehicles and immigrants, is set to start building an underground railway system and an international airport this year.

Bangalore has the biggest share of India's IT and back-office service exports, which are estimated to have grown 35 percent to $17.3 billion in the year to March.

The industry, fed by a huge low-cost, English-speaking workforce, employs more than 1 million people. Karnataka is home to 300,000 of them, and companies starting last year planned some 50,000 new jobs, officials said.

Among them were Internet firms Google and Amazon and consulting firm Capgemini.

IT secretary Shankaralinge Gowda expected Karnataka's exports to touch $8 billion in 2005/06, representing 27 percent growth.

"We were surprised by 52 percent. Talent pool availability is the key driver of growth," Gowda said.

Karnataka is promoting the palace town of Mysore and the port city of Mangalore as new IT centres. The two now make up for the remaining 3 percent of the state's service exports.

B.V. Naidu, Bangalore director of Software Technology Parks of India, saw increased numbers of foreign companies signing up with it after a slowdown during the U.S. presidential election.

Some 206 IT firms, 129 of them foreign, registered with STPI in 2004/05. Among them were eight hardware companies, including Elcoteq, Europe's top contract manufacturer. The 206 companies plan to invest 27.8 billion rupees, officials said.

Bangalore Remains The Outsourcing Capital Of The World

Bangalore Remains The Outsourcing Capital Of The World

Bangalore is infamous for its crumbling infrastructure, but so far it has retained its reputation as the outsourcing capital of the world for software development.

Information Week

BANGALORE, India — This city is infamous for its crumbling infrastructure, but so far it has retained its reputation as the outsourcing capital of the world for software development.

Multinational companies continue to flock here despite the general consensus that Bangalore is becoming less hospitable with each passing day. Congestion, soaring livings costs, pockmarked roads and an unreliable power grid plague this city of 6.5 million inhabitants. And all are getting worse despite the public outcry.

The local government's unwillingness or inability to act is adding to the frustration. Still, Bangalore's attractions apparently continue to outnumber its problems.

"Bangalore is a complete brand by itself when it comes to outsourcing," said Gautam Sinha, CEO of TVA Infotech Pvt. Ltd., a search firm here. "Most decision makers in U.S. firms are likely to know of Bangalore only as a possible location in India for outsourcing and offshoring."

Compared to other Indian cities which compete with Bangalore for software development work, salaries here average 15 percent higher, Sinha said. "No matter how bad the infrastructure is here, salaries are the highest in India," he added. He estimated that 175,000 of India's 500,000 software engineers work here, giving overseas companies the chance to quickly ramp up operations.

Indian companies like Wipro Technologies and Infosys Technologies, which have been complaining about Bangalore's sagging infrastructure, nevertheless continue to seek more land for expansion. Still, some feel more comfortable elsewhere.

"It was a pleasant city in the past. Now the infrastructure, traffic and dusty conditions are problems," said Vic Kulkarni, president and CEO of EDA vendor Sequence Design Inc. The company has a development center near more livable New Delhi, where he said staff attrition rates are lower.

Intellectual property provider Hellosoft Inc. has a development center in Hyderabad, selecting that city over Bangalore because it felt it could retain staff longer, said Rama Rao Sreeramaneni, general manager of Hellosoft's Indian operations.

Similarly, Pune in west central India is also in the outsourcing race, but Bangalore executives said Hyderabad and Pune are viable alternatives only if the staff requirements are small.

By default, then, Bangalore remains the outsourcing capital of the software world. Given the steady flow of overseas technology companies here, it won't relinguish that title anytime soon.

Officials criticised for slow pace of work

Officials criticised for slow pace of work

The Hindu

400 km of roads asphalted, 300 km metalled: official

BANGALORE: The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) engineering officials came under fire at the BMP Council meeting on Wednesday for the slow pace of road asphalting works in the city.

Members from all parties pointed out that the civic body's ambitious project to asphalt 1,000 km of roads at a cost of Rs. 130 crores by the end of April has come to a standstill.

Seeking reason for the delay in the completion of works, the members said that the roads in their areas had become unusable after the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) dug them to change the underground drainage lines.

"Though we had announced an April end deadline for asphalting of roads under the `complete blacktop' project, there is no sign of work going on. Monsoon is approaching and we are sure work will spill over to the next year. We are answerable to the people," the BJP floor leader, B.M. Mangala, said.

The ruling party leader, B.T. Sreenivas Murthy, the Opposition leader, B.R. Nanjundappa, the Janata Dal (U) leader, Padmanabha Reddy, the BJP member, B.S. Satyanarayana, and others joined her.

The BMP Commissioner, K. Jothiramalingam, admitted that work was delayed. He directed the Engineer-in-Chief, Ramegowda, to give a detailed explanation.

Mr. Ramegowda said over 400 km of the 1,000 km had been asphalted and over 300 km had been metalled. "We have completed 60 per cent of the work and the remaining work will be completed by the end of May," he said.

The members, who said they were not satisfied with the reply, sought to know how the remaining work could be completed within a month. "Roads in my ward have not even been metalled. How can you complete asphalting by the end of May? This is only an assurance," Mr. Nanjundappa said.

On the outsourcing of maintenance of 1,225 km of roads, Mr. Ramegowda admitted that the contractors had failed to adhere to the specifications. "We have observed that their work is not satisfactory. So we have withheld payments," he added.

Suspension of tree felling hits launch of lane system

Suspension of tree felling hits launch of lane system

The Hindu

BANGALORE: The city police, who were keen on implementing the lane system on certain roads, seem to be keeping their fingers crossed with environmentalists opposing the felling and pruning of 702 trees in the city.

Environmentalists seem to have scored an initial victory in their efforts to stop the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) from felling or pruning trees. Following protests, it has suspended the work.

The police are under pressure from vehicle users and the high-powered task force on traffic management to provide lanes for different types of vehicles. Environmentalists argue that tree felling will result in the city losing more greenery.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-East), M.A. Saleem, told The Hindu the suspension of tree felling will affect widening of roads and the implementation of the lane system.

He said it is not possible to widen roads without felling of pruning trees in some places.

A case in point is Residency Road and M.G. Road. Mr. Saleem points out that unless trees, which are "eating up" a large spaces — near Bishop Cotton School on Residency Road and Hotel Oberoi on M.G. Road — are cut, the lane system cannot be implemented effectively.

Once trees are felled and parking of vehicles is banned on these roads, the space can be utilised for better traffic management, he said.

Mr. Saleem said it is necessary to widen roads to ensure smooth traffic. Other measures needed include effective implementation of ban on right/ left turns and introduction of the one-way rule on more roads. "Only then (after streamlining traffic) can we think of exclusive lanes," he said.

He hoped that the problems may be solved and the system will be in place in about six months.

What is lane system?

The proposed system provides for exclusive lanes for two-wheelers, three wheelers, cars and buses on Residency Road, Richmond Road and Cubbon Road, to begin with.

Once the system in place, the fastest-moving vehicles will take lane closest to the footpath or kerbstones on the left.

This is to be called lane one. Buses will ply in lane two, and two-wheelers/three-wheelers in lane three. Demarcation of lanes is part of the Rs. 1-crore project approved recently by the task force.

The project is to be financed by the Bangalore Development Authority, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC). The BMTC has given its share of Rs. 25 lakhs to the city police.

Pollution level exceeds limit on many city roads with high vehicle density

Pollution level exceeds limit on many city roads with high vehicle density

The Hindu

BANGALORE: Though the city police have introduced the one-way system on several roads saying that it would ease traffic congestion and ensure smoother flow of traffic, the system seems to have not made much of a difference to the city's traffic flow and vehicle density on some of the major roads and intersections.

While the traffic flow pattern and vehicle density on Ring Road, West of Chord Road and Hosur Road have not exceeded the capacity, it has exceeded at nine traffic circles and on roads, including Ananda Rao Circle, Mehkri Circle, Magadi Road, Avenue Road, Kempe Gowda Road, Cunningham Road, National Highway No. 4, Mysore Road and J.C. Road.

Mahatma Gandhi Road

In the case of Mahatma Gandhi Road and Airport Road, the traffic flow pattern and vehicle carrying capacity exceeds limits between 9 a.m. and noon and between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

On Nruputunga Road, the carrying capacity exceeds limits between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

These roads and circles also report the highest pollution levels in Bangalore.

If Mysore Road reports the highest level of suspended particulate matter (SPM) of 1562.51 mog/m3 and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) of 92.56 mog/m, Nruputunga Road reports the lowest SPM and SO2 levels.

Avenue Road reports the second highest levels of SPM and SO2 levels with 465.29 and 66.33 mog/m, respectively. Studies have indicated that SPM levels are high in areas around Victoria Hospital, Bharat Scouts and Guides, opposite Bishop Cotton Girls' High School, Jayadeva Hospital, Bowring Hospital, Tumkur Road, KIMCO Circle and K.R. Market.

The high levels of pollution, particularly Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide, have resulted in increased respiratory diseases and this is shown by studies by different organisations, including the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), and a book recently written by Ameer Ahmed, an environmental engineer.

Titled "Urban Vehicular Pollution Control-Focus Bangalore", the book comprehensively brings out the alarming pollution levels in Bangalore and the need to bring them down to safer limits.

Poor road network

It also brings out eloquently the poor road network in Bangalore and the city's inability to handle the vehicle traffic.

Apart from the 15-lakh vehicles plying on the city roads, about two-lakh vehicles enter Bangalore from National Highway 4 and National Highway 7 (from Tumkur Road, Hosur Road, Old Madras Road and Bellary Road).

Ambient air quality

According to the study, the ambient air quality around hospitals, schools and colleges is deteriorating day by day and reports by KSPCB mobile laboratories show that pollution levels in these places are above standard values.

Prof. Ahmed has suggested several solutions to the pollution woes of Bangalore, including the use of bio fuels, curbing adulteration of fuel oils, using catalytic converters in automobiles to trap un-burnt fuel and encourage use of liquefied petroleum gas kits in autorickshaws and other vehicles of mass transport.

BMP to remodel drains

Work On Koramangala Valley Begins In Three Phases
The Times of India

Bangalore: While gearing up for the impending monsoon, the BCC plans to remodel stormwater drains across the four valleys in the city. While work on the Koramangala Valley, amounting to Rs 75 crore, has started in three phases — from National Games Village to Bellandur tank, Jayanagar stadium to Bellandur tank — work on the remaining, Challaghatta Valley (Rs 95 crore), Hebbal Valley (Rs 19 crore) and Vrishabavathi Valley is awaiting government nod.

Elaborating on the premonsoon progress of civic work, BCC engineer-in-chief Rame Gowda said that of the 1000 km of roads taken up for asphalting, 400 km was completely done. “Sixty per cent of the work has been done, the remaining would be completed by May 31.’’

Work on potholes has been completed in 10 wards across 146.15 km. And contractors who have not finished work would not be paid.

Pay-and-park: On the system of metered parking on Commercial Street, BCC commissioner Jothiramalingam said the stake of the local traders’ association and the BCC is 60:40. This was because the police had to maintain parking on both sides of the road on alternate days, entailing installing of parking meters on either side. The ratio wherein the traders’ association got a higher stake is based on investment, he said.

Kanagal theatre: The council has decided to renovate the famed Puttanna Kanagal theatre. The theatre was in danger of being converted to a police station. Tenders for the same would be called by May 30. Elsewhere at K.R.Market, a meeting between BCC commissioner and the traders and vendors will apparently result in supplying borewells and electricity to the market. The traders have been requested to remove unauthorised constructions on platforms.

Tree-felling: The commissioner said he would ask the government to depute an officer of the rank of IFS to guide the horticulture department. Maternity hospitals: BJP floor leader Mangala brought to the attention of the Council the pathetic state of BCCrun maternity hospitals. “There are no qualified gynaecologists in these hospitals, untrained staffers and nurses attend on pregnant women’’, she said. The commissioner said presently it was not possible to conduct surgeries in these hospitals.

BCC commissioner K. Jothiramalingam on Wednesday instructed officials to pull down all posters, buntings, banners and rub graffiti off walls.A resolution to this effect was approved at the Council. He said,“Our medical officer will be trained in punishing offenders according to the Disfigurement Act. A plaint will be registered when we notice posters disfiguring public places.” Another resolution empowering the commissioner to ban all forms of protests within the BCC premises was passed by the Council.

Airport gears up for plane boom

Airport gears up for plane boom
The Times of India

Bangalore: With many foreign and domestic airlines rushing in, the Bangalore airport is gearing up to handle this plane boom.

North West-KLM Airlines, British Airways and Air France will be starting their flights into Bangalore from Oct.end this year, joining the fleet of Lufthansa German Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, SriLankan Airlines, Air India, Indian Airlines, Royal Nepal Airlines, Gulf Air and Thai Airways, which are operating out of Bangalore.

The airport is in an expansion mode right now. The terminal building of the domestic and international airport will be expanded both on the city side and the air side, giving more movi n g space, and the number of counters will be increased to 21 from the present 11 at the international terminal. The terminal building will be expanded to over 1,000 square metres from the present 600 square metres.

A detailed proposal has been sent to the Airports Authority of India headquarters for approval last Friday and the renovation is estimated to cost Rs 15 crore, sources told The Times of India. As per the plan, the check-in counters will be shifted to the ground floor from the present first floor and passengers need not carry their luggage to the first floor.
An international flight normally requires about two-and-a-half to three hours to complete the check-in process as every airline has to use a particular check-in counter.

Common Users Terminal Equipment (CUTE) will now be installed, enabling any airline to use any terminal, thus speeding the process of checkin. The CUTE system is being introduced in about 16 airports in the country, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. The decision to include Bangalore was taken during the recent visit of Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel and AAI chairman K. Ramalingam.

Sources said the design for the proposal is also ready and tenders will be finalised in June this year. The work is targeted to be completed by Dec. 2005.

T he first floor will be completely earmarked for the Customs, Immigration and security hold area, thus creating more space for passenger movement. The expansion will create a near 40 per cent higher capacity. Markings have already been drawn to extend the terminal building on the city side by 12 metres up to the canopy area, and the AAI plans to put up glazing facade to make the airport look more swanky. The reservation office counters at the domestic terminal will be repositioned and the entrance to the terminal building will also be changed. International Airlines will be provided offices on the international side.

At the arrival hall, the plan is to have two conveyor belts enabling the airport to handle arrival of two international flights at a time. To avoid congestion, the new international operators flying into Bangalore have been advised to operate between 3 am and 6 am, sources said.

Prestige to develop luxury hotel for Hilton in Bangalore

Prestige to develop luxury hotel for Hilton in Bangalore
The Hindu Business Line

PRESTIGE Estates Projects, a property development company, has announced a tie-up with hospitality major Hilton International for developing a luxury hotel in Bangalore.

The hotel, to be promoted by Prestige at a cost of Rs 200 crore, will be managed by Hilton.

This is the second international brand to associate with a domestic player for a hotel project in Bangalore, after Marriot announced its intention to partner a Mumbai investor in managing the property in the city.

Announcing the details of the project at a joint news conference on Wednesday, Mr Irfan Razack, Chairman of the Prestige group, said that the proposed The Hilton Bangalore will have 300 rooms with modern facilities and is expected to be ready by mid-2007.

Mr Razack did not spell out the capital structure, which is still being worked out. The Prestige group has completed 120 projects in the residential and IT infrastructure sectors.

It recently announced the launch of a project called Shantiniketan, a 105-acre township containing about 3,000 apartments, a multiplex, a shopping mall, and a World Trade Centre.

Mr Koos Klein, President, Hilton International, said that The Hilton Bangalore would combine contemporary architecture with local culture. Since India is emerging as a fast growing economy, Hilton is planning five more ventures in the country, he added.

One of them will be a unique eco-resort with villas and facilities for health and wellness such as spa, yoga, and meditation.

He refused to give details about the projects, only indicating that the eco-resort would come up near Mumbai.

Hilton, which had unsuccessfully partnered a leading Delhi hotel chain and the Bangalore-based Golden Spa & Resorts, has also struck a co-branding tie-up with the Oberoi group for its Trident class of hotels.

High-rises to dot city

Kiss the skies: future looks large, grand & green
New Architectural Styles May Help Silicon City Sport Brand New Look
The Times of India

Bangalore: Bangalore’s skyline and architecture are changing in ways that could make this city unrecognisable in a few years. Highrises, massive residential and mixeduse projects with extensive open green spaces and exotic landscaping, and newer architectural styles are combining to give this Silicon city a brand new look.

The trend towards high-rises is striking, particularly in residential projects. The website of Emporis, a global provider of building-related data, lists 47 completed high-rises (12 floors or more) in Bangalore. A good number of these were completed in the past few years. As many as 18 more high-rises are stated to be under construction. And these are unlikely to include some of the projects more recently announced.

Burjor Kothawalla, associate in the architecture firm Venkataramanan Associates, says as space gets more valuable and the availability of land drops, there is a tendency to go high-rise. “This is an interesting trend for Bangalore which traditionally contented itself with low-rise structures, much like the city of London,” he says.

If the new comprehensive development plan for Bangalore raises floor space indices (FSI), as is expected, that would provide a further boost to highrises and encourage developers to challenge the 106-metre high Public Utility Building, the city’s tallest building even today.

Large, grand and green: The highrise phenomenon is being accompanied by horizontal expansion. Newer projects are typically large-scale projects on a minimum of 10-15 acres, some going up to 100 acres and more. In line with customer expectations of large open and green spaces, most new projects try to keep built-up area to a minimum. Some 75-80 per cent of land area is often devoted to landscaping.

“People today want lung spaces, open spaces, where grandparents, parents and children can move around,” says I. Zachariah of the architecture firm Zachariah Consultants. Even in landscaping, there is now growing levels of creativity. Puravankara’s Riviera tries to provide a resort-like feel with a stream running through and plenty of water bodies. Its Fountainsquare attempts to provide an European ambience through layered gardens, a grand central fountain, water cascades and cobble stone paths. Akme’s Ballet is attempting to recreate the grandeur of Renaissance architecture.
“Customers want unique offerings,” says Girish Puravankara, director in Puravankara Projects.

Arunjot Singh Bhalla, associate director in RSP Architects Planners & Enggs, says even in commercial projects people are conscious about integration of the landscape into the campuses. “People believe trees and greenery make a difference to their psyche, improve their efficiency. This is particularly evident among R&D companies, and now, the more conscientious BPO companies also want to provide such facilities,” he says. So if you are worried about Bangalore losing its Garden City status, the new developments should provide some comfort.

Newer materials and styles: There’s also comfort for those tiring of the glass and aluminium cladding look in commercial buildings, a trend started by ITPL. Corporate clients and architects too are beginning to tire of this look and are moving towards other materials. “There has been an indiscriminate use of glaze and alucobond,” says Kothawalla. “Many of these materials have been developed in the US and Europe, where the primary consideration is to keep the heat within the building. In our geographical context, where the primary consideration is to keep the heat out of the building, these materials must be used judiciously.”

Bhalla, who agrees with this, adds: “Clients now say they are sick of glass. In most of our projects, we’re shifting partially from glass to materials like sandstone, granite. We’re also trying to bring in elements of traditional Indian architecture like sandstone screens.”

ON THE ANVIL Trend towards high-rises: Website of a global provider of building related data lists 47 completed high-rises (12 floors or more) in Bangalore. Not just tall: New projects are typically large-scale projects on a minimum of 10-15 acres, some going up to 100 acres and more. Creativity unbound: Resort-like feel with stream running through; European ambience through layered gardens,a grand central fountain,water cascades and cobble stone paths; grandeur of Renaissance architecture. Sick of glass: Most of the projects shift partially from glass to materials like sandstone, granite with elements of traditional Indian architecture like sandstone

Development dawns with a package of problems

Development dawns with a package of problems
The Times of India

Bangalore: BTM Layout is going the way of any other upmarket residential area in the city. And characteristic of the development is a fast diminishing green cover, chaotic traffic and mushrooming commercial establishments among others.

Development has not come without its share of problems. With the Ring Road cutting across the huge locality, commercial establishments and ap a r t m e n t blocks have mushroomed in the last few years. The 29th Main and 16th Main roads are two other prominent areas which are packed with offices, showrooms, restaurants, etc.

According to some residents, the area was fairly well-planned and was a quiet residential locality until a few years ago. A major portion of the area come under the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) limits and development has been largely unorganised.

“But now it cannot take the load and the main culprit is the flyover which is not completed. There is spillage of traffic on every bylane. Pollution levels are rising,’’ a resident said.

If residents of BTM III Stage are faced with frequent floods when the Madivala lake overflows, those near Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, where the flyover is coming up, have to put up with choking clouds of dust throughout the day.
With traffic diversions around the construction site, motorists have to manoeuvre through the maze of narrow bylanes in the area. “Due to the diversion, all kinds of vehicles including heavy motor vehicles ply on these stretches which is a nuisance to residents,” said S. Ahad, a resident of 29th Main.

Commercial complexes coming up in the area, specially on main roads, have brought with them a large floating population and also vehicles.

“BTM Layout is another Koramangala in the making with many commercial establishments coming up in a residential area. There are also a lot of encroachments. It is like any other developing part of the city,’’ said another resident, Arun S.

The area which has grown rapidly, now stretches upto Hulimavu off Bannerghatta Road which is BTM 6th stage. The area, which comes under a city municipal council (CMC), is under neglect and with a lack of any monitoring, several unauthorised constructions have come up. Development has also largely been unorganised. The area also contributes to violations from encroachments and flouting building by-laws.

Lalu Narayan of the NGO Kathalaya in BTM Layout says: “It’s a chaotic situation with lots of people, vehicles and pollution. Development has not been in an organised way. The area cannot take the load now.’’

All-night festival & concert

All-night festival & concert
Decccan Herald

An all-night experience, Bhoomi Jathre was not just a musical event but a show that focussed on the environmental awareness.

Bhoomi Jathre was not just an event, it was an experience for all of us who had the luck to go for it. The setting was amazing but to start from the beginning, the ride to the venue, either by bus, car or bike is on one endless stretch of road, snaking its way into the rural area of Kaggalipura was where it all began. Even the kacha road to the resort Fireflies or as the locals call it, Minchala was bearable.

Mind boggling music

The music was mind boggling and the variety and range enough to satiate any music lover. The Mysore Nagaraj and Dr Mysore Manjunath duo on the violin played Carnatic classical compositions to perfection. There were no abrupt endings to any line; the last notes lingered in the air for the audience to savour before disappearing altogether.

Konarak Reddy was accompanied by Roberto Narain, Prashanth David and Muthu Kumar in his performance. The repertoire between Reddy and Narain seemed made for the evening, each complementing the other's music. Narain's drum-set itself was striking and when the man played his ending solo, not a word was said. The entire audience watched in silence as the master's hands flew over the instrument, creating and experimenting with rhythms. When he stopped, it took almost five seconds for the awestruck audience to realise it. Then they broke into thundering applause.

Shiri Dance Company enacted a dance drama about the importance of trees in our lives, accompanied by appropriate music and engaging histrionics. Local bands Myndsnare and Yell-O performed in the genre of heavy metal.

Although Myndsnare seemed seasoned in belting out death metal tracks by Slayer and the like, Yell-O won the crowd with numbers from The Doors and Deep Purple

Unforgettable night

It was a night to remember and an experience one can never forget. Sitting cuddled up in a blanket, sipping tea and eating chilli bajjis, and sharing every awe-inspiring piece of music with your companions, leaves an indelible impression on you. The flea market, the Hasire Usiru stall and the handicrafts stalls were expensive but did quite well with the crowd. There were even little saplings that the audience could take home. However, one wonders how an event that roots for the cause of the environment year after year can serve so much non-vegetarian food like momos,chicken kababs, chicken frankies and so on.

In all, Bhoomi Jathre was not just a calendar event, but an adventure that left everyone feeling exhausted, yet happy at a night well spent.

The great run

The great run
Deccan Herald

The Lipton Bangalore International Marathon is hoping to draw a large crowd, including corporates and celebrities. According to the organisers, athletes like P T Usha, Milka Singh, Reeth Abraham, Arjun Devaiah, Ashwini Nachappa and actor Aravind Ramesh have already confirmed their participation.

Metrolife caught up with some Bangaloreans to find out how cool running is. Sports icon Ashwini Nachappa , says the trend of organising marathons is to attract people to make it a daily habit. “Marathon is a serious sports, which involves lots of patience and determination. Fitness freaks like us wouldn't be able to compete with serious runners. However, it is a good opportunity to run with international sportsmen and other important people of the society. We can witness a huge enthusiastic crowd. I wish Bangaloreans good time and health.”

Narayan Rajan, CEO iVista, digital solutions, says, “Participation for me would essentially mean being a part of the movement and staying fit. Now it is the youngsters who are more fitness cautious than the aged. There is nothing to win or lose here. Just participate and run. It is running for fun.

Naresh Shetty, medical director, MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital, says, “Running should be made a part of life, for fun, joy and good health. We normally have a starting problem in all walks of life, so just start and what better time than now.” Dr Shetty gives some tips for running the marathon: If you find yourself fit just start with a pair of good shoes; run for a short distance; extend the distance every day and then it is no big deal; if you doubt your fitness, check it out before you start.

Singer/actress Vasundhara Das, says it brings people together and it is a good exposure for Bangaloreans since it is happening for the first time in the City. I request all Bangaloreans to participate in the event.

BMP moots ban on hoardings

BMP moots ban on hoardings
Deccan Herald

The BMP Council on Wednesday called for a step up in the crackdown on graffiti, posters, illegal hoardings, banners, buntings and their ilk. Commissioner Jothiramalingam was told to fully utilise his powers as provided under the Public Places Disfigurement Act.

Mayor R Narayanaswamy, meanwhile, observed that the BMP has approached the government for a total ban on hoardings in Bangalore, like the case of Delhi.

Raising the issue, Jayamahal legislator Roshan Baig said that even though a drive against illegal hoardings was on, new hoardings are seen across city every day. Divisional BMP officials reportedly shrugged them off as those permitted by the government, he said.

Mr Roshan Baig’s particular concern were the hoardings on the Palace Grounds border between Mekhri Circle and BDA Junction on Bellary Road. Palace Grounds is a private property - eateries, marriage halls, entertainment centres also dot the said stretch, he observed.

Commissioner Jothiramalingam noted that since a dispute on Palace Grounds involving the State government is on in the Supreme Court, the Chief Secretary’s office was consulted before giving permission for adspace in Palace Grounds. Mr Wodeyar (scion of the Mysore Wodeyar family) had applied for permission as a private citizen, the commissioner explained.


With rains already making its presence felt in the city, Bangalore Mahanagara Palike councillors at their meeting on Wednesday discovered that they have no great forecast for the citizens.

According to BMP Chief Engineer Mr Rame Gowda, total asphalting of roads is complete on just 400 km of the1,000 km stretch identified for it; in case of pothole fillings, BMP hasn’t made the once-in-three-month payment to any of the contractors as the latter have not met the quality parameters; many of the packages on remodelling of stormwater drain valleys are still in the tendering process and work per se is on only in few packages related to Koramangala and Vrishabhavathi valleys.


Earlier, members cutting across party lines sought to know the status of the said works. Corporator Marimuthu, walking in late for the meeting, noted that she had been attending to people whose houses were flooded after the heavy rains on Tuesday. BMP Commissioner Jothiramalingam said that desilting of drains will be extended to areas a little beyond the BMP limits so that the low-lying areas of BMP are safeguarded against floods.

‘Backward’ areas may take a leap forward

‘Backward’ areas may take a leap forward
Deccan Herald

A 15-crore BMP project was in the cold storage till now because of reluctant contractors but the BMP has finally managed to convince them to take it up

The much-cherished dream of residents in the congested and “backward” areas along Tannery Road to have amenities on par with other decent localities in the city, may soon be a reality.

Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BMP) is set to finalise tenders for commencing work on the overall development of six “most backward” wards — D J Halli, K G Halli, Kavalbyrasandra, Lingarajpuram, Kacharakana Halli and Hebbal.

A Rs 15 crore project, which envisages to upgrade all civic amenities in these areas in the city’s eastern part, had been kept in the cold storage, due to “poor response” from contractors to undertake the work. All efforts by BMP to woo them in the past one year had been in vain as contractors not only found it tough to implement it but were also apprehensive about any cost escalation, BMP sources told Deccan Herald.

Official sources said there was no takers for BMP’s tender documents with respect to the project, while the concept plan was ready well in advance. Worried BMP officials had even contemplated to take it up as departmental work, after getting a special permission from the Government.

“It is only after BMP’s assurance to contractors on revision of the estimated cost, if at all necessary, the latter made up their mind. Around 30 contractors have participated now in the bidding and the work orders will be issued soon after finalising the tender,” sources said.

Of the 27 news wards that were merged with BMP in 1996, six wards were considered as “most backward” and no developmental projects were undertaken since then. The areas here lack motorable roads, decent footpaths, public urinals and toilets. In fact, some of these wards do not have primary health centres and ward offices too.


Under the project, nearly 120 km of concrete road and around 130 km of asphalt road will be laid, covering all six wards. Secondary drains (small storm water drains and shoulder drains) in these wards will be desilted and remodelled. Sidewalks will be upgraded and 10 public toilets (two in each ward) will be constructed. It is also planned to construct PHCs and upgrade amenities at graveyards.

As per the tender conditions, contractors have to complete their work in nine months from the date of commencement of work. This also includes the monsoon months of June, July and August. “Rains will not hinder the project as major portion of it is civil work. Road asphalting is planned for only selected main roads and it can be done easily either before or after rains,” BMP Chief Engineer Rame Gowda said.


120 km of concrete roads.

130 km of asphalt roads.

Remodelling of secondary drains.

10 public toilets.

Two primary health centres.

Rs 15 crore total estimated cost.

Metro rail clearance soon

Metro rail clearance soon
Deccan Herald

The central Government clearance for the first phase of the Bangalore Metro Rail is accepted to be received by July 15, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ramalinga Reddy said in Bangalore on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting convened to allay apprehension expressed by the Opposition members recently, Mr Reddy, who is Bangalore district in-charge minister, said that work on the metro rail will begin soon after receiving the clearance.

He said that the first phase of the metro rail project will comprise of a length of 36.50 km. The first phase will have 35 stations and four main terminals including Peenya Terminal, Mysore Road Terminal, Byappanahalli Terminal and R V Road (Jayanagar) terminal.

Darkness envelops City

Darkness envelops City
DEccan Herald

Bangalore: Almost all areas in northern and western parts and some areas in the eastern part of Bangalore city were plunged into darkness for more than four hours on Wednesday night due to technical problems in the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited’s (KPTCL) Hoody power-line and Hebbal power station triggered by Tuesday’s rains.

The problem resulted in the snapping of the link between the Hoody power line, which provides power to most parts of the city, and other lines within the city. It also triggered problems in another 220-KV line in Hebbal, KPTCL officials told Deccan Herald.

As a result, there was no power supply in several areas including Hebbal, Sanjaynagar, R T Nagar, parts of Jayamahal, Peenya, Yashwanthpur, Malleshwaram, parts of Rajajinagar, Basaveshwarnagar, Manjunathnagar, Nandini Layout, Banaswadi, Cox Town, Frazer Town and surrounding areas.

The problem started at around 7 pm. Though engineers of KPTCL swung into action immediately, several areas were without power till 11:00 pm. Several residents called up this newspaper office and alleged that none of KPTCL or Bescom offices were answering their calls.

KPTCL officials suspected that the Hebbal line might have become weak as a result of heavy rains. They said they would get to the root of the problem after restoring power supply. A top-ranking official admitted that the Wednesday’s power problem, the worst of its kind in several years, has exposed the lack of preparedness on the part of KPTCL to face the rainy season.

In fact, the incident has even embarrassed Bescom officials as it is they who are at the receiving end since the residents call Bescom offices and make enquiries.

Green board shows red to Metro rail

Green board shows red to Metro rail
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: In the latest episode to the metro-monorail debate, Metrail Private Limited (MPL) has claimed that the monorail is cheaper and more environment-friendly compared to the metro project.

At a recent presentation to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), MPL seems to have convinced the board on this and the board has now even briefed the Government.

KSPCB chairman Bhoomanand Manay told this website’s newspaper that he had submitted a report to the Government suggesting that the solar-powered monorail system was more progressive than the metro. ‘‘I have observed that in Scandinavian countries, monorail has been a sound transport option. It is eco-friendly and if introduced in Bangalore it will be beneficial,’’ he said.

Manay said, ‘‘The metro is polluting because it runs on electricity and it is common knowledge that while producing electricity, there will be some form of pollution. But I have only made a recommendation about the advantages of the system to the Government.’’

Meanwhile, Bangalore Mass Rapid Transport Limited (BMRTL) officials were caught unawares on the turnaround and told this website’s newspaper that there could be no substitute to the metro when it came to mass transport.

‘‘The metro is far superior and can transport 8,000 people an hour. It is not a polluting system and we assure the public that there will be minor traffic problems during construction. But, I have received information that the Government is making a survey on the feasibility of the monorail and will get back with the findings very soon,’’ said managing director M.K. Srivastava.

MPL director Rehan Khan has declared an all out war on metro operations and is still promoting the monorail brand as the most effective service. ‘‘The tax payers of this city do not have to churn out their money for the monorail. For the metro they would be paying very dearly for a system that does not cover the city entirely. We are privately-aided and we will recover our money if allowed to operate in the city for 30 years. After which it is deemed public property.’’

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

KG Road parking lot to open soon

KG Road parking lot to open soon
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The city will have another multilevel complex soon with a capacity for parking 396 cars on the busy K.G. Road as the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) is expected to grant occupation certificate to the developer Maharaja Buildtech soon.

The building is complete and managing director of Maharaja Buildtech, Bhanwar Lal says the inauguration date would depend on the availability of Chief Minister and other dignitaries.

The joint venture project between BCC and Maharaja Buildtech, initiated in March 2002 gives 83 percent of commercial area to BCC while the developer gets 17 percent.

The salient feature of the project is that all parking spaces will be managed by BCC, unlike the other parking lot Garuda, which was inaugurated recently on Magarath Road.

The project is constructed on 4,450 square metres of BCC land opposite Kempegowda theatre on KG Road.

BCC engineer in chief Rame Gowda told this website’s newspaper the project would bring in over Rs. 70 lakh a year from the developer by way of non-tax revenues and through revenue from management of the parking and commercial area.

According to the joint venture agreement, the land would be given by the BCC while the developer makes all the investments. In return, the developer would be given 17 percent share of the commercial space, which can be sold or rented.

Also, the BCC’s share of 83 percent commercial space is given on a management contract to the developer for which the BCC gets over Rs. 50 lakh a year as management fees, said BCC sources.

B’lore-Mysore road by Oct, says Minister

B’lore-Mysore road by Oct, says Minister
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Work on the Bangalore- Mysore four- lane will be completed by this October, said PWD Minister H.D.Revanna.

‘‘Work on the 80-km stretch between Bangalore and Srirangapatna will be completed by July. Work on this stretch is almost complete barring the construction of some key bridges,’’ he told reporters on Tuesday.

Revanna said that the Government was yet to acquire lands for road construction between Srirangapatna- Mysore stretch, besides building a few bridges.

On the supply of drinking water to Mandya, Revanna said the Energy Department had installed a special power line to pump drinking water.

He also said that in the last 11 months, the Government had released around Rs. 29 crore to Mandya as part of the package announced by the previous government.

It’s rain havoc time in City all over again

It’s rain havoc time in City all over again
Deccan Herald

No sooner the rains began, traffic crawled, trees fell, power tripped and Bangaloreans waded home with a sense of deja vu.

Heavy rains that lashed the city on Tuesday evening caused blackouts in many areas, uprooted several trees and created traffic bottlenecks in many places.

No sooner the rains began, power supply went off in many areas including Shatinagar, Kempe Gowdanagar, Frazer Town, Cooke Town, Cox Town, R T Nagar, Sanjaynagar, Basavanagudi, parts of Chamarajpet, Vijayanagar, R P C layout, Basaveshwarnagar, parts of Rajajinagar and many other areas due to fuse trip, according to the Bescom complaint cell.

As many as five trees uprooted in areas like Rajajinagar 6th Block, near BEML gate in Benniganahalli, near NGF quarters in Indiranagar and other places due to rains. Bangalore Mahanagara Palike gangmen immediately cleared the fallen trees. The city received 7.0 mm rains, while the airport areas recorded 16.6 mm rainfall till 8.30 pm.

Traffic jams

The downpour resulted in traffic jams in different parts of the City due to water logging. Motorists had a tough time in wading through water in some of the roads. Inundation of water was also reported from low-lying areas of Ejipura, Banaswadi, Jogupalya, New Tippasandra and HAL.

Weather to continue

According to Met department officials, the rains were due to heavy thunder activities.

Moderate rains are expected during afternoon and evening hours on Wednesday.

Night travel getting murkier

Night travel getting murkier
Deccan Herald

Bangaloreans, from now on, travel at your own risk. A day after the gangrape of a 30-year-old woman labourer by two city taxi drivers at Jnanabharati campus, everybody, from the proprietor who hired the drivers, to the city taxi fraternity, to the police who are responsible for public safety, have dissociated themselves from the incident.

As the owner of the city taxi agency at Hanumanthnagar was unavailable for comment, questions like why the credentials of the two drivers was not checked before hiring, remains unanswered. Karnataka City Taxi Operators’ Association President T Prabhakar, on his part, admitted that “it is impossible to investigate into the criminal record of the drivers as we hire in large numbers.” Meanwhile, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) M C Narayan Gowda disavowed the police forces’ duty by saying, “we cannot ensure the safety of everybody.”

Shock waves

However, the shock of the incident is not easy to shake off. “This is the first time it has happened that a city taxi driver has been involved. It is a shameful incident for us. We will be more careful in future,” said Naresh Shetty of Canara City Taxi. His words hardly reassure 49-year-old Sudha Krishna of Victoria Layout, whose 23-year-old daughter, an IT professional, travels late at night from Airport Road using city taxis. “She feels safer in a taxi than an auto, as there are communication devices she can seek help from. With taxis too losing its credibility, I will always worry about her safety at night,” Sudha said.

“There is a marked increase in eve-teasing in the city in the last few months. When I walk back from the bus stop around 9 pm, I find even auto-rickshaw drivers whistling at me. How can we trust our lives to these drivers?” asks Sharmishtha, a media professional.

But this lackadaisical attitude of city taxi owners while hiring drivers can be explained by the huge gap between the demand and supply of taxi drivers in the city. “Driving for a city taxi company is stressful because one has to work odd hours. Therefore, not many come forward to work. Usually, companies only check for the badge issued by the RTO that permits the driver to drive public transport,” revealed Prabhakaran.

While complete statistics were not available, it has been estimated that city taxi companies receive around 40,000 calls a day, ferrying over one lakh passengers. One-third of the total trips are made during night, between 10 pm and 7 am.

Use your head before heading for that helmet

Use your head before heading for that helmet
Deccan Herald

Helmets might be cheaper on the roadside but it might not be such a great idea when it is likely to break into halves if dropped.

It’s time to think of your head, whether you like it or not! Following the Government’s decision to make helmet wearing mandatory from June, even for pillion riders, helmet sale has again boomed in Bangalore. But this has kicked off a new debate — on the safety standards of helmets.

It’s not only companies or branded sellers who offer the ISI (Bureau of Indian Standards) mark, vendors on footpaths, who have suddenly cropped up in large numbers, are also flaunting it. Result: Motorists, completely confused, end up buying sub-standard quality helmets at exorbitant prices.

But helmet manufacturers and shop owners now claim to have hit upon a solution. Serial numbers, along with a section of the ISI Act, is now inscribed on helmets, which they believe cannot be imitated. “Even if local or non-ISI helmets have the mark, it is just a sticker. But these vendors fool the customers by showing this mark,” Marketing Manager of Volga Helmets Sanjeev Naik pointed out.

Customers should, therefore, verify that the mark and serial numbers are inscribed on the helmet, and are not plain stickers (no matter where they buy it). “People are ignorant about the ISI mark, therefore they get cheated,” Naik added.

One may escape from the eyes of the police by wearing non-ISI helmets, which are available at a lower price, but be prepared for side-effects. It can cause neck pain and hair loss, as these helmets are made using cheap quality materials and are comparatively heavier than branded ones. “The minimum and maximum weight of an ISI helmet is 600 grams to 1,200 grams respectively,” informed Proprietor of Balaji Helmet Palace R Ramesh.

According to Mr Ramesh, wearing such helmets is useless as they easily break and cannot withstand any pressure. “Local helmets are made out of charcoal and sand so they weigh more. They break into two halves if dropped on the ground,” he added.

No ISI for minors

Though some companies are manufacturing “baby helmets” (of a smaller size), Section 4151 of ISI Act has no mention of it.

The Act approves helmets meant only for majors, and not minors. In other words, ISI mark can be used for helmets within the size range of 500 cms to 629 cms, a helmet dealer said.Joint Commissioner of Transport Department R V D’Souza stressed that as per the rules, only ISI marked helmets should be used by riders. “But we cannot take any action against those selling locally-made helmets, as it is not regarded illegal as yet,” he pointed out.

As for helmets meant for minors, he said a suitable decision will be taken once specifications are drawn under the new rule.

“If there is no provision for minors, appropriate action will be taken,” he added.


ISI mark, Section 4151 and serial number should be inscribed on helmet.

Should be light weight.

Lining material should be of good quality.

Avoid buying on footpaths.


Average weight : 600 to 1,200 grams.

Local helmets weigh even 2,000 grams.

Average price (ISI mark) : Rs 400 to 1,500.

Local helmets are priced between Rs 100 and Rs 300.

Full face helmets are safer.

Heavy weight does not mean it is safer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Register for the Bangalore marathon here

Hug 'n' save

Hug 'n' save
The Hindu

If you see trees being felled, don't just sit back; take the initiative. Here's the story of how citizens stalled the felling on Residency Road and how you can get involved

Bangalore's passive citizens have now become active, tree-hugging, protesting citizens. After over 700 trees were felled on Residency Road, ostensibly because they were impeding the flow of traffic, residents, students and environmental groups got together to make their voice heard. They circled trees, climbed on them and used them as a backdrop for street theatre — till finally the BMP Commissioner has agreed to withdraw the felling order.

The protest on Residency Road began when some passers-by saw trees being felled. Students from nearby colleges gathered the initiative to stop more felling gained momentum. Lending her voice to the protests was Nalini Ramanna, a concerned citizen who says she "has always been fighting to save the environment".

Despite not being an "environmentalist", Nalini is acutely aware of the impact cutting trees will have on the smog and the weather in the city. "Roadside trees are under the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) and any citizen has the right to find out whose permission has been taken to fell the trees," she says. "Even a house-owner has to have permission to prune trees above three metres in diameter, and if they don't have the permission letter, I can call and find out why the trees are being cut."

Making people responsible

Nalini also echoes a concern shared by well-known environmental groups such as the Environment Support Group (ESG) — why large schools in the city don't create a system which allows cars to enter the premises and drop off kids rather than park on the already congested roads, causing jams which lead civic authorities to broaden roads by cutting trees. "Basement parking should be made compulsory for schools as well," says Nalini. "If traffic is the main reason for targeting trees, well, surely there are alternatives? Why aren't people controlling the bad drivers who create chaos on the streets for example? If deserts across the world are being made green, why are we making Bangalore a desert?"

Trees are often compromised to make space for a construction and cut at night when there is least chance of concerned citizens protesting. "The felling order can only be given by the Tree Officer," explains Bhargavi S. Rao, Assistant Co-ordinator with ESG, "and he sends out RFOs (Range Forest Officers) to physically examine the trees before any action is taken." The BMP can act under the Municipal Act to prune trees and remove the dangerous ones, she states. The ESG has called RFOs even at 2 a.m. when they hear of a tree being cut and managed to avert illegal felling.

To involve citizens with issues concerning development (road widening, traffic congestion etc.), the ESG plans to work with the BMP to form task forces including concerned citizens who can lend their expertise and form a more active role in shaping decision-making processes.

# If you see a tree being felled you can ask to see the permission to do so

# If this is refused to you, contact the RFO (Range Forest Officer) in your area

# Unsafe trees can be inspected to ascertain their state; contact the Tree Officer at Aranya Bhavan. Ph: 23343464

# Contact the Environment Support Group for doubts or advice at


Ease congestion through mass transit system

Ease congestion through mass transit system’
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Relieving traffic congestion by setting up a reliable mass transit system in Bangalore would go a long way in reducing vehicular pollution in the city said Governor T.N. Chaturvedi here on Monday. He was speaking after releasing a book titled ‘Urban Vehicular Pollution Control-- Focus Bangalore’ authored by T.M. Ameer Ahmed.

‘‘I am often told by people that traffic congestion in the city is so bad that it takes them one-and-half hours to reach a destination that I as Governor take 30 minutes. Action follows awareness. All efforts to tackle environmental issues arising out of vehicular congestion and pollution should receive political and administrative support,’’ he said.

Former High Court Judge Justice M.F. Saldanha said that a paediatrician once told him that ‘air poisoning’ in the city had touched such alarming levels that 42 percent of all new-borns need to be kept on respirators for a day or two.

‘‘When I was a sitting judge I delivered a judgement ordering conversion of all autorickshaws to LPG. Adulteration of fuel in autorickshaws was destroying the air. I am now informed that 82 percent of Mumbai and 99 percent of Delhi buses run on LPG. Besides 68 percent of Mumbai and almost 100 percent of autos/taxis run on LPG,’’ he added.

Lamenting that the average cruising speed in the city was 6.4 kmph, he said that only a mass transit system could save the city from the horrors of traffic jams.

He added that monorail as an alternative to metro rail apart from electric scooters and cars need to be considered seriously.

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board chairman Bhoomanand Manay said that all autos in the city would be forced to convert to LPG by December 2005. ‘‘The current problem is the shortage of LPG vending stations. However, number of LPG stations in the city will be increased from the current 15 to 20 by December,’’ he assured. He too said that monorail was a cheaper and environment-friendly alternative to metro rail adding that Board had recommended the former to the government.

Chairman of Indian Society for Environmetal Studies and High Court Judge Justice A.J. Sadashiva said that Bangalore, a city with a capacity to support seven lakh vehicles had been burdened with 22 lakh. ‘‘Add to this the loss of lakhs of trees in the last two decades, vehicular pollution is bound to affect the city,’’ he added.

Bangalore among most polluted cities in India

Bangalore among most polluted cities in India
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Vehicular air pollution in Bangalore is in the spotlight once again. In his book titled ‘Urban Vehiclular Pollution Control - Focus Bangalore’, author T.M. Ameer Ahmed has categorised the city among the ‘‘most polluted’’ in India.

A study of Air Quality Indices for city roads by Ahmed show that Mysore Road, Avenue Road, Tumkur Road and KG Road are the most polluted and need immediate relief. At a lower level of pollution yet needing immediate attention are Anand Road Circle, Hosur Road, JC Road, Magadi Road and Bellary Road. Nrupatunga Road and Cunningham Road are also figure on the polluted list.

According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), a mild improvement in air quality has been observed in the city after the LPG conversion was enforced on autorickshaws, introduction of quality fuels and phasing out of old vehicles. The sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide levels seem to have fallen apart from suspended particulate matter and respirable suspended particulate matter.

However, this is no time to celebrate warns Ahmed. There is much to achieved as yet. Even today, a citizen here inhales as much air pollution as he would if he smoked 24 cigarettes.

‘‘Adulteration of fuel continues,’’ says Ahmed adding ‘‘No amount of policing can control this. The authorities are hoodwinked. Industrial units seek licenses for kerosene for own use power generation. But many of the tankers dispose the oil before entering the gates of the factory. Illegal diversion has become the norm. The monitoring must be tightened.’’

Ethanol, a clean, is a highly viable tool to control pollution. Now a mixture of five percent ethanol is permitted and the proportion is likely to double in coming years. Ahmed has recommended large-scale use of bio-ethanol produced as a by-product of sugar in cane mills.

Ahmed has actively promoted the use of hydrogen as a fuel leading to the reduction of fossil fuels like petrol and diesel. ‘‘Hydrogen has two clear advantages: It is non-polluting and is available in huge quantities (every molecule of water has hydrogen),’’ Ahmed points out.

Ahmed in his book, has championed the cause of electric vehicles -- cars and scooters -- besides the conversion of all BMTC and KSRTC buses to LPG or other bio-fuel mixtures like ‘honge’ oil.