Sunday, July 31, 2005

Karnataka's Kingmaker or Bangalore-buster?

Karnataka's Kingmaker or Bangalore-buster?
Business Today

Fomer PM HD Deve Gowda is the man who calls the shots in Bangalore

Bangalore's descent into darkness has been well chronicled. Half-built flyovers, potholed roads, frequent power cuts, water shortages, choked lanes and by-ways, and unplanned growth are only some of its obvious manifestations. But an airport that is yet to take off 20 years after it was originally mooted, a highway connecting two major cities of Bangalore and Mysore in the works for more than a decade, and a mass transport rail system that has been in suspended animation for 17 years are all symptoms of a deeper malaise made worse by a government that has been ranked the fourth-most corrupt in India by Transparency International.

To be fair, most of the problems were inherited by the Dharam Singh government. But what Bangaloreans find inexplicable is that while the previous Congress government, led by SM Krishna, seemed willing to address these problems, the present coalition between Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) seems indifferent to the city's plight. And increasingly, Janata Dal (Secular) leader and former Prime Minister Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda is seen as the man driving Karnataka's rural bias - at the cost of urban development.

It's easy to see why the self-proclaimed "son of the soil" has his heart in rural Karnataka. His regional party, which was written off until early last year, made a surprisingly strong comeback in last year's elections, winning 58 of the 224 seats, mainly with support from the rural electorate. Gowda, shrewd enough to see a clear message in Krishna's election loss, came in third in a hung assembly, and joined hands with the Congress to form the Government. Incidentally, Gowda's party failed to win even one seat in Bangalore and only recently did it score a victory in the bye-election.

With his party power base set in rural Karnataka, Deve Gowda sees no reason to pay attention to Bangalore. Only after years of tortorous negotiations has work on the Bangalore International Airport finally begun. "We managed to recover 400 acres of excess land given to the airport and cut the state government's monetary outgo by Rs. 30 crore. Isn't that an achievement? What if its leads to a bit of delay?", asks a combative Gowda.

Query him on the stalled Bangalore-Mysore expressway that has been mired in litigation, and the former PM comes in with all his guns blazing. "How much has the private company brought in as equity investment from their part? Rs. 70, that's all. The previous state government headed by the "best CM" gave them 2000 acres of excess land for a lease of Rs. 10, which the company has pledged with ICICI and raised Rs. 150 crore and now say it is their investment. Deve Gowda is the only one trying to safeguard the interests of the poor and for that, if I am blamed as stalling the progress of Bangalore, so be it", he says rhetorically.

What about the choked roads, half-built flyovers and threats by IT players, that they will move elsewhere if Bangalore's problems are not solved? "Let them go", is his nonchalant answer. "Why was one company (read: Infosys) alone favoured with so much land? All the visiting dignitaries go only there. Isn't WIPRO doing well?" asks Gowda. Land is a recurring theme in all coversations of Gowda. "Land is a scarce commodity and some of these companies have been enhancing their assets by grabbing real estate," he fumes.

Yet, Gowda says he is not against Bangalore's development. It's just that "Bangalore has only 7 million of Karnataka's 55 million people. My attention is towards serving those poor people". At 72, age has not dimmed Gowda's combativeness or his ability to bounce back from setbacks. Bangalore, however, may never recover from the setbacks its now facing.

A piece of history slowly falling apart

A piece of history slowly falling apart
The Times of India

Bangalore: From afar, it is splendidly old Bangalorean, all rafters and tiles and gentle terrace. A step closer and it is clear that the passage of time has been unkind.

But age is not the only worry for the office of the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices (SSPO) on Museum Road. B a n g a l o re ’s weather has taken its toll too. Today, the over 150-year-old building stands proudly but rain havoc has left crying evidence of the careful restoration it really needs.

For heritage buffs, the building is a fund of old Bangalore lore. For instance, it is the reason how Museum Road got its name.
Residency: So why was it ever a museum and when did it become a post office? The tale begins in colonial times. According to assistant post master general K.S.R. Sastry, the building was initially the residence of the British Resident. The first commissioner of Bangalore, Sir Mark Cubbon, occupied it and it was known as the Old Residency then. When he left in 1855, the building was given to Madras Bank, which has now become State Bank of India. The road next to the bank became Madras Bank Road.

But just a portion of the Residency became a bank. The other half on the other side of the road became a jail and housed the jail superintendent from 1835 to 1866. A amateur historian has noted that thugs from North India used to be housed there.
Museum: When the superintendent vacated the place, it became the government museum until all the antiques were shifted to the museum’s present location (on Kasturba Road). But the road continued to be called Museum Road. After that, the building became the office of the SSPO.

According to Sastry, the building is in Dravidian style and has Mangalore tiles. Postal services came to Bangalore with the passing of the Indian Post Office Act of 1854. “At one time, this building used to control all the post offices in Bangalore,’’ says Sastry. The present Museum Road post office (a modern building) is located right next to it.

The Department of Posts has other old buildings — a couple in North Karnataka (Belgaum and Bijapur) — but this one is the oldest. Today, this SSPO controls all post offices in East division — 95 post offices including 36 delivery offices.

The beautiful old building has received a mention in the late chief secretary T.P. Issar’s book ‘Bangalore: The City Beautiful,’ but only the postal staff know that the glory is purely external. Inside, leaking roofs abound. In fact, the room occupied by the SSPO now has a false ceiling and to prevent the rafters from collapsing, waterproof sheets were laid just last month.

The department of posts does provide funds for maintaining heritage buildings, but careful restoration will take time and money.
Will Bangalore chip in to help preserve this part of its history?

Dharam from his ivory tower: "No problems in Bangalore"

Metro Rail on track, says Azad
Deccan Herald

Bangalore Metro Rail is on track and the crucial Public Investment Board meeting will be held on August 5, where the project is expected to get the green signal, Union Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Saturday.

Speaking at the inauguration of Cauvery IV Stage, II phase project in Bangalore, Mr Azad said: “Bangalore Metro Rail is in its advanced stage. PIB will examine all details and clarifications given by the State Government on the project before taking the decision.”

But he did not reveal whether the project will be cleared in the meeting or not.

IT happy

IT companies’ protest against crumbling infrastructure and their decision to keep out of the forthcoming IT.In, doesn’t seem to have had any effect, at least on the Chief Minister N Dharam Singh.

Interestingly, Mr Singh thinks that IT companies are “happy” with what the Government has been doing pertaining to infrastructure. “IT companies are now happy about initiatives taken by the Government. Words of appreciation came from IT czars when international airport work at Devanahalli began,” he added.

‘Spread out B’lore growth to other cities’

‘Spread out B’lore growth to other cities’
Deccan Herald

The Master Plan 2015 for Bangalore has failed to place the BDA area in the larger regional context, say town planning experts.

Master Plan 2015 for Bangalore, (the revised Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) prepared by Bangalore Development Authority) attracted severe criticism on Saturday, with town-planners and urban development experts pointing out lapses and violations in it.

The plan, currently on public display at Yavanika till September, has failed to place the BDA area in the larger regional context, Institute of Town Planners Karnataka chapter president S C Kari Gowda pointed out.

“There is no thought to disperse some future economic investments to other cities such as Hassan, Mysore and Gulbarga. Bangalore is under considerable stress, we need another metropolitan city in Karnataka,” he said.

Former town-planning advisor to the UN Prof L R Vagale, who participated in the half-day deliberations on the CDP, observed that though the population is growing at 5 per cent per year and vehicles at 9 per cent, the infrastructure was the same.

“Cities such as Hubli, Mysore, and Tumkur should be developed as supplementary metros. They are just growing at 2-3 per cent now. Whereas, nearly one lakh people from Tumkur travel to Bangalore everyday for work. Perhaps the plan should focus on getting the high-tech industries to Bangalore (as there is so much demand) and sending other industries to other cities,” he said.

Planner A S Kodandapani pointed out that if 3.75 lakh IT jobs are created as envisaged by the CDP, this would create ancillary jobs that are 1.5 times more -- taking the total population to a whopping 13.2 million by 2015, that the city certainly doesn’t have the infrastructure for.

Eco hazards

Environmental expert M C K Swamy felt that clubbing IT industries under ‘non-polluting industries’ was a misnomer. “Developing a high-tech zone with mixed land-use zoning (where residential and commercial complexes could both come up) based on ‘non-polluting’ IT sector is irrational. Every IT employee has a vehicle, leading to increased hydrocarbons and pollutants around companies. Further, air-conditioned offices lead to micro-climate changes,” he felt.

Mr Gowda felt that the CDP wrongly assesses the green belt area around the city. “Developments are naturally spreading towards the west and south, but the plan attempts to curtail this; instead, it opens up the green belt towards the north. It is easier to draw the Cauvery water from the south, but we want to take the pipelines north at huge cost,” he said.

He further said the BDA sent the CDP through the director of town planning for provisional approval, instead of through the Metropolitan Commissioner, as mandated by law.

“The provisional approval, hence, may not be legal,” he said.

Protest cripples city, several injured

Protest cripples city, several injured
Deccan Herald

With one hand placed on his son’s shoulder, the farmer from Andhra Pradesh limped the long walk from the Corporation Circle to the Kempegowda bus station on Saturday afternoon.

They were not alone in their pedestrian woes. Blind men, schoolchildren, a father laden with bags and child, working men and women, a physically challenged man, visitors to the city, and those who wanted to get out of it, all took the long walk.

The cause of their pedestrian woes was a protest by AITUC which left about five drivers injured and some 60 buses damaged.

The blind men were Vijaykumar and Netraraj, who work in a firm in Unity Building.

They explained that their usual routine was to board the bus to Majestic, and thence on separately to Yelahanka and Kengeri. On Saturday they had to walk to Majestic, with one leading the other.

Riot policemen were seen helping the two on to the pavement and on their way.

Policemen also came to the aid of a physically challenged man, for whom the bleak prospect of going down all the way down KG Road was unrelieved by the fact that no autodriver was willing to stop for him.

A constable persuaded one to stop and take the man on.

Rajeev, who sells postpaid connections, lamented that he had not been able to get to work, because of which he had irate customers calling him repeatedly and demanding what he was upto.

Another wayfarer, Murali, was obviously miffed at having to cancel his trip to Tumkur. The tone of his remark about it being a “big problem for the public” revealed his annoyance.

Similar pedestrian feats were also witnessed on the stretch from Mysore Road to Minerva Circle.

The Left's sinister agenda spreads: AITUC rally cripples Bangalore

Buses bear brunt of B’lore rally
Deccan Herald

Scores of BMTC buses were damaged in various parts of the City and an initial estimate put the damage to the property at Rs 30 lakh.

Around 70 BMTC buses were damaged and three drivers were injured, when a protest rally under the aegis of All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) turned violent on Saturday afternoon, throwing traffic out of gear for over five hours in many parts of the City.

If it was frustrating for the commuters enjoying the weekend outing, it was tragic for Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), that suffered losses to the tune of Rs 30 lakh in one day. The protesters resorted to stone-pelting and damaged BMTC buses in various parts of the City, including Yelahanka, Peenya, Corporation Circle, Majestic, Anand Rao Circle, Kempe Gowda Road, Lingarajpuram and Bannerghatta Road.

Though the police had diverted the routes of the buses in certain areas, anticipating trouble, the protesters had spread out in different locations to disrupt the bus services.

According to eye-witnesses, the protesters arrived in Swaraj Mazdas to stop BMTC buses from plying, and resorted to stone-pelting in a desperate bid to stop the moving buses. There were no reports of passengers being injured.

Three BMTC drivers were rushed to hospitals when some glass splinters entered their eyes in the violence.

The incident resulted in traffic jams that lasted for nearly five hours on Magadi Road, Rajajinagar, Malles-waram, Sheshadri Road and Nrupatunga Road, J C Road and Town Hall.

Trouble erupted near Banappa Park on K G Road at around 12:45 pm when a police inspector nabbed a protester who was stoning a bus. Enraged by this, other protesters who were staging a dharna against the alleged anti-labour policies of the State government, tried to attack the police platoon which was stationed there.

Police resorted to lathi charge to scatter the mob. Six buses were damaged.

However, the exact extent of the damage to buses will be known only after reports are received from respective BMTC depots, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) H C Kishore Chandra said.

The police took into custody more than 10 protesters.

Centre may unveil urban transport policy soon

Centre may unveil urban transport policy soon

The Hindu

Ghulam Nabi Azad inaugurates state-of-the-art satellite bus terminal on Mysore Road

# Mysore Road bus terminal first of the four planned to decongest Kempe Gowda bus station
# Rs. 30-crore complex houses separate termini for KSRTC and BMTC buses, commercial complex and business centre
# It has 31 departure and alighting platforms and a 4,500 sq metre parking area

BANGALORE: Launching the state-of-the-art satellite bus terminal on Mysore Road here, the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said here on Saturday that the Centre proposed to unveil a national urban transport policy soon for a coordinated approach to develop urban infrastructure, involving various public utility agencies and the city corporations.

The policy, he said, would bring an end to the current practice where freshly asphalted roads were repeatedly dug up by various departments. To oversee the coordinated effort of these agencies, the policy proposed to appoint an authority in each city.

He said: "We have not been able to keep pace with the growing urban population, give the people safe passage on the roads and a safe transport system. We need to modernise the system and have better coordination."

The city roads, he said, did not have the carrying capacity to handle the rising vehicular traffic. Parking was another major problem. The policy, he said, would address all these issues.

On the international airport project, Mr. Azad recalled how, during his tenure as Union Civil Aviation Minister in 1994, international airports were cleared for Bangalore and Kochi. But while the Kochi airport became a reality five years later, the Bangalore project was yet to take off.

Mr. Azad hoped the Bangalore metro rail project would take off after the second meeting of the Public Investment Board on August 5. The matter had come up at the pre-PIB meeting in December and the first board meeting in June. "All the formalities have been completed," he said.

The Minister for Water Resources and Transport, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, said the Transport Department proposed to build 19 bus stations, five bus terminals soon. It also plans to build set up 48 bus stations and 29 bus depots in the State in the coming years. Besides, the mega project to upgrade the Subhashnagar bus stand by integrating the metro rail was in the pipeline. Global tenders had been called for this project.

The satellite bus terminal is the first of the four planned to decongest the Kempe Gowda bus station.

Built at a cost of Rs. 30 crores, the complex houses separate termini for KSRTC and BMTC buses, pedestrian subways to connect the two, a bus depot, a commercial complex, a business centre complete with Internet connectivity, and closed circuit television sets, among others.

The KSRTC terminus has 31 departure and alighting platforms, a 4,500 sq metre parking area for four-wheelers and two-wheelers, lodging (Yatri Nivas) and a 40-seat air-conditioned deluxe lounge.

The BMTC terminus has three bus bays, where 18 buses could be park at a time. This terminus will help in local networking, connecting different parts of the city to the KSRTC terminus.

The bus depot has a workshop, refuelling station, modern facilities to wash buses and an independent watchtower for bus monitoring.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

‘The city’s peripheral areas need attention’

‘The city’s peripheral areas need attention’
The Times of India

What does the proposal for a Greater Bangalore mean to a citizen?
It will mean a lot and affect day-to-day living. Problems emanating from the peripheral areas will ultimately start affecting the core of the city. The peripheral issues need to be addressed for holistic development, which is what the proposal aims for.

Does this mean that projects will witness better implementation?
Definitely. Eight CMCs will come under one body. This means more accountability and a situation where the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. There will be more coordination between them and their projects. It certainly will make a big difference to implementation.

Will more areas start looking and operating like BDA layouts in terms of planning and amenities?
If we are talking about amenities and facilities and if what is planned for gets implemented, it definitely means better peripheral layouts. This is most necessary as these problems have a way of reaching and affecting the inner parts of the city and thereby the whole of Bangalore.

What are the projects that need to be addressed immediately?
Drinking water and underground drainage. The projects have already begun and are sure to be a boon to these areas. Addressing these two issues will have a cascading effect on central Bangalore. Other developments are sure to follow and will witness coordinated implementation if the Greater Bangalore proposal comes through.

BDA Commissioner, speaking as a Bangalore citizen
On Greater Bangalore

London, Delhi spirit behind Greater Bangalore

London, Delhi spirit behind Greater Bangalore
Proposal On Drawing Board For Two Decades; BMRDA Was To Be Overseeing Body
The Times of India

Bangalore: The Greater Bangalore Authority (GBA), proposed to be set up by the state, has actually been in the making for nearly two decades.

This long-pending proposal is still being hotly debated, but there is no consensus even on the ‘name’ of the authority, sources said.
The concept was first proposed by former chief secretary A. Ravindra in the 1980s when he was the urban development secretary. It was meant to be an ‘apex’ agency for Bangalore metropolitan region and the eight surrounding municipalities.

“I did not mean to merge the CMCs and TMC with the BCC then,’’ Ravindra told The Times of India. He had wanted an “apex” body, with independent and strong civic agencies under it. Government sources said what is now proposed is to merge CMCs/TMC with the BCC to form GBA. But no one is clear what the merged entity will do, or what its framework will be.

What will GBA look like? Models being talked about include the National Capital Region of New Delhi — which covers neighbouring cities in the surrounding states under one head, mainly for planning purposes, and the Mumbai example, where the municipal corporation takes care of everything from sewerage and water supply to power, roads, traffic and gardens and zoos.

Another example being mooted is that of the Greater London Authority — which is overall in charge of the Corporation of London and the 32 Boroughs surrounding the capital city. Ravindra said he had proposed setting up of the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) to be the “apex” body. “I wanted it to take care of urban planning, resource mobilisation for major infrastructure projects, coordination and to direct growth. BMRDA did not fulfil that objective though,’’ he said.

Now, the BMRDA, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), BCC and CMCs/TMC are the stakeholders in GBA. These stakeholders will meet to discuss setting up of GBA, once the legislature session is over, sources said. “But there are differing views.’’

Ravindra is not the only one rooting for a unified body. D.K. Shivakumar, as urban development minister in the former Krishna government, too spoke about it. Ravindra said as per the 74th amendment of the Constitution, every large city with a population of over one million must mandatorily set up a metropolitan planning committee. “That has not happened in most cities.’’

Problems galore
If the CMCs/TMC get merged with the BCC, what happens to their existing framework? Moreover, will the BCC and corporators welcome the widening of jurisdiction. These are the issues to be worked out. Also, everyone agrees that the CMCs/ TMC are poorer cousins of Bangalore. But no one agrees on what to do about them.

Ring Road to become Local Road

135 bus stops along 64-km Ring Road on cards
The Times of India

Bangalore: Commuters on Ring Road will no longer have to wait for BMTC buses in rain and hot sun. BMTC will provide 135 bus-stops and bus-bays along the 64-km Ring Road.

S.M. Vishwanath, BMTC traffic controller, said, “We have identified the 135 places where we will put up hi-tech shelters. Wherever we have space, we will have a bus bay along the route. We have called for tenders and the project will be completed in three-months time once the work starts. Services routes will be upgraded on timely basis, he added.

Another good news for commuters is that the the BMTC has identified 48 junctions where hi-tech bus-shelters with road maps will be built.
Vishwanath said, “We surveyed 59 junctions along with the traffic police and have submitted a report to BCC for setting up bus stands at these junctions. However, the police found that only 48 junctions were feasible after taking into account traffic congestion at these places. BCC engineering department will build these shelters and hand it over to us.

We have identified junctions near Lido Talkies, Begaum Mahal, Lalbagh main gate, Madiwala check post, Audugodi bus stand, Vijaya College, Tata Institute, Chowdaiah Road, Cunnigahm Road, Vidhana Soudha, Benniganahalli, Yelhanka Circle, Hebbal bus stop, Bellary road (Canara Bank bus stop) and others. (for junctions on various roads see box).

Referring to traffic congestion because of BMTC bus stops, he said the BMTC has eliminated most of such bus stops in Bangalore. However, there could be traffic congestion if the road has a median.

On demarcation of bus stands on the lines of Mumbai model (where bus stops are demarcated according to destination) to avoid overcrowding, he said “At Ulsoor bus stand, we have followed this model. However, space is a major problem for us to demark such destination. We have also decided to increase night bus services after 8.30 pm.”

Police Take Precautionary Steps At IT, BT Firms For I-Day

Security alert in infotech zone
Police Take Precautionary Steps At IT, BT Firms For I-Day
The Times of India

Bangalore: It’s an Independence Day alert: Security measures are being taken up as a precaution at Bangalore’s ITPL and Electronic City, which house some of the global IT biggies.

This comes as part of a nationwide alert on increased terrorist attacks. But this has had ripples in the infotech corridor, sending a chain reaction among security agencies which have sought details on employees at ITPL and Electronic City. The Bangalore Rural police, under whose jurisdiction the IT and Biotech firms fall, have put their personnel on a special security exercise. However, the police are quick to add that these are only safeguards.

The measures include identifying heads of important firms staying in the area, seeking information from companies about number of employees, their nationality, and the number of years spent in their present job. SP (Rural) Prashanth Kumar Thakur said meetings have been held with some firms and security measures discussed. While security at the major companies is being screened thoroughly, smaller firms are advised to take adequate measures.

The police are also taking up vital issues of access control with the firms, advising them not “to compromise’’ whatsoever. A senior police officer said access control will be vital at the four entry/exit points at ITPL and six at Electronic City. “It is not possible to deploy personnel at all offices. Though skeletal staff can be provided, the companies’ security set-up will be instructed on adequate precautions,’’ he added.
City police commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh said: “We are aware of the situation and precautions are being taken.’’

An ITPL official confirmed that they had received communication from the police seeking information on employees as also the existing security set-up. Major IT and BT firms and multinational companies located in Bangalore Rural include Infosys, Wipro, Coke and Pepsi bottling plants, Biocon, Toyota and Honeywell.

City sightseeing? Take a walk

City sightseeing? Take a walk
Deccan Herald

Bangalore Walks, a new initiative modelled on the lines of London Walks, is set to begin next weekend. Arun Pai, the brainchild behind it, shares his ideas with Metrolife.

Accident or design? A concatenation of circumstances along with geographical location is what made Bangalore what it is today. Yes, Bangalore is considered to be the pub city but is that all there is to do here, as most tourists think?

Banish those complaints about nothing to do in Bangalore, which is a rich melting pot of diverse cultures, and get set to learn a slice of its history through Arun Pai’s Bangalore Walks.

“A colonial legacy, the thirst for learning is what makes most Indians students living on shoestring budgets and young working professionals opt for the famous London Walks for less than five dollars. My one year stint in London got me interested in them and when I returned, it got me thinking on starting something similar here, considering Bangalore’s eventful past.

“Being a student of IIT and armed with an MBA and also having been a successful venture capitalist, my friends think I’m crazy. This calls for a lot of work and there are bound to be clones in a while but I’m extremely passionate about my City,” he laughs.

In its introductory stage, the ‘Victorian Bangalore (1820s to 1900s) walk’ takes off from one end of MG Road at the beautiful Trinity Church with its breathtakingly stunning stained glass paintings, and covers the stretch of MG Road till the Cauvery Emporium junction where you turn into Brigade Road before branching into Rest House Road and eventually getting back to MG Road. You get to linger at beautiful buildings with different architectural influences nestled inside little lanes or behind huge walls that you normally overlook, not stopping to wonder about its past. “I take pictures of these buildings and sometimes ask people to recognise them. Nine out of 10 people say Rome or Vienna,” he says.

Little known jewels of wisdom on a range of subjects from where Churchill stayed in Bangalore, to the City’s influence in his formative years and the like that Arun reveals are lapped up eagerly. These in turn initiate discussions on a plethora of other topics, making the two-plus-hour walk encyclopedic with each individual contributing unique perspectives on the different facets of Bangalore.

“I have taken the help of historians to put together an extremely simple and easy-to-read map of the City created by well-known caricature artist Paul Fernandes, and will also provide participants with facts and authentic anecdotes,” he explains.

A peek into the City’s rich history and heritage, taking you back almost 200 years is what most people relish on these walks. You are almost transported back into the Victorian era and it is easy to imagine the clippety-clop of horse driven carriages, women in stiff gowns with parasols and garden parties being held on massive front lawns.

Being a Bangalorean by birth, I was quite taken aback and almost ashamed at my ignorance.What you learn on the walk is fascinating and will leave you thirsting for more. One another walk- End of Empire that covers the period between 1900 and 1956- takes up where Victorian Bangalore leaves off. It starts at the beginning of MG Road and ends at Vidhana Soudha. In the pipeline is also a pub crawl but not what people have in mind.

“I have no interest in getting people sloshed, it will be more to do with the history of the liquor business in Bangalore. I will also include pubs visited by famous personalities,” he confides. The other walks include Brunton Road, Primrose Road, Museum Road, Crescent Road, St Patrick’s Church area. They are, as his catchline goes, truly ‘History, culture and discovery’. For details and registration for the walk call 98455-23660 or visit

A cleaner city: BMP to take over KCDC

A cleaner city: BMP to take over KCDC
Deccan Herald

Commissioner Jothiramalingam sought co-operation from the councillors on waste dumping yards and the issue was discussed at length in the council.

In a bid to streamline and discipline Bangalore’s waste management system, the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike is seeking to take over the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation.

The BMP council on Friday resolved to approach the government on the issue. The BMP presently holds 26 per cent equity in the KCDC.

Raising the matter, Mr Keshavamurthy (Congress) noted that over the last few days KCDC has been picking hardly 5 to 6 tonnes of the city’s waste while it is expected to utilise as much as 600 tonnes of the daily waste collected in the City. Members cutting across party lines opined that the BMP can manage better independently.

Commissioner Jothiramalingam sought committed co-operation from the councillors on the issue.

Referring to the situation at Mavallipura under Yelahanka hobli where the BMP is seeking to set up a scientific landfill, the Commissioner said ‘We are facing a very hostile crowd (of local residents)’

A meeting with the elected representatives of Mavallipura is scheduled for Monday, it would help if the ruling and opposition leaders in the BMP council too attend the meeting along with the Mayor, he said.

He explained that should work start immediately, the landfill in Mavallipura can be readied by October. The government notification declaring a kilometre radius around the landfill as ‘no development zone’ is already issued, he observed.

The council was also informed that the BMP has sought from the State government a 178 acre plot in Kanakapura and another 2,00 0 acres in Ramanagaram to ready waste dumping yards that the city shall require 20 years hence.

Development work

Road development work worth over Rs 244 crore is in the offing in Bangalore City.

The tender process for it is billed for completion by September 15, Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Commissioner Jothiramalingam said on Friday.

The tender notification is likely to be out by August 5, he said.

The development of roads with median, foothpaths and ducts for OFC cables through a Rs 101 crore assistance from the World Bank, development of major roads through the Rs 50 crore provided in the BMP budget and Rs 30 crore worth ward-wise works on strengthening the roads prone to heavy traffic will figure prominently in the said tender process.

Public Investment Board meeting on metro rail project on August 5

Public Investment Board meeting on metro rail project on August 5

The Hindu

BMRTL says it has answers to all the 14 clarifications

BANGALORE: The meeting of the Public Investment Board (PIB) to decide on the Bangalore metro rail project did not take place in New Delhi on Friday. Instead it will be held on August 5 for which a notice has been issued.

Confident of approval from the PIB, the Managing Director of the Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Limited (BMRTL), K.N. Shrivastava, told The Hindu from Delhi that the BMRTL, the nodal agency to implement the project, had answers to all the 14 clarifications, sought by the PIB.

He clarified that it was for the promoters — Government of Karnataka and the Union Government — to address the issue of running costs. The project was expected to incur losses for the initial six years. As for the gauge issue the metro would be going in for the standard gauge as against broad gauge.

The Ministry of Law, he said, had expressed the opinion that it could come under the Tramways Act and not the Railways.

The Tramways Act, however, needed to be amended.

While the BMRTL was awaiting clearance from PIB, it had hit another roadblock with delays in land acquisition by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board for which it had deposited Rs. 20 crores.

The BMRTL requirement was 70 acres from the KIADB, while it had acquired 102 acres of defence land.

"I should have got the land yesterday," Mr. Shrivastava stated and added that it would adversely impact the project schedule.

The file was pending with the Minister for Industries, P.G.R. Sindhia, who was reported to have said that he would have a proper scrutiny of the land acquisition.

Select Book Shop turns 60 today

Select Book Shop turns 60 today

The Hindu

BANGALORE: Selling rare and unusual books collected carefully from different sources has been the business of K.K.S. Murthy, and this he does through Select Bookshop on Brigade Road Cross. The bookshop will turn 60 on July 30, a literary "shashtiabdhipoorthi" as their invitation announces.

The bookshop was started by his father, K.B.K. Rao, who got disillusioned with the world of law and turned his passion for collecting books into a business. He used to travel from Kurnool to Bangalore to pick up books at auctions and this caught the attention of E.J. Robertson who too frequented such auctions. Mr. Rao was offered a garage on Museum Road where he started his bookshop.

One of his sons, K.K.S. Murthy, turned out to be a book lover as well. Trained as an aeronautical engineer, he went to the U.S. to work for Lockheed where too he chased rare books. He spent vacations visiting bookstores all the way from the banks of the Seine in Paris to county libraries in the U.S. and collections sold near the British Museum in London. In the mid-1970s Mr. Murthy entered the business just before his father died, and he has been at it ever since.

Select's clientele over the years has included personalities such as the former Archbishop of Madurai, the young British intellectual connected with the Communist Party of India, Philip Spratt, and scientist C.V. Raman.

Frontline called his enterprise "one of the finest antiquarian bookshops in the country" and NDTV featured it on "Tonight." Customers frequenting it in recent times include Yusuf Arakal, Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha and N. Ram. Occasional visitors include author Ruskin Bond, who has been coming to the Select since the 1960s.

Bond once wrote: "Booksellers should encourage browsers. Sooner or later most of them will become book buyers. And it was in Select that I became a collector of picture postcards."

YAY: Bangalore city's infrastructure needs to be fulfilled soon

Bangalore city's infrastructure needs to be fulfilled soon

The Hindu

Dharam Singh says international airport, Metro Rail, flyovers will all be in place

BANGALORE: In yet another effort to dispel the public perception that the Government has neglected Bangalore city, the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, reiterated in the Legislative Assembly on Friday that several infrastructure projects, including the Bangalore International Airport, the Metro Rail and flyovers, would soon be in place.

Replying to the debate on the demands of various departments, Mr. Dharam Singh said he is aware of the growth of the city and initiated measures to meet the requirements.

Assuring that the problem of traffic congestion would be addressed, Mr. Dharam Singh promised to make Bangalore a hi-tech city.

Acknowledging the favourable impact of Information Technology and Biotechnology companies, Mr. Dharam Singh mentioned that 37 Presidents and Prime Ministers have visited the Infosys campus and that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has inquired about the progress on the international airport.

Golden jubilee

To celebrate in 2006 the golden jubilee of the formation of Karnataka, the State Government has earmarked Rs. 10 crores this year to commence preparations.

A number of programmes have been planned, he said and added that efforts are on to get Kannada the status of classical language.

BMP to take up roadworks at a cost of Rs. 244 crores

BMP to take up roadworks at a cost of Rs. 244 crores

The Hindu

Tenders will be called within a week: Jothiramalingam

BANGALORE: The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) will soon start a massive road upgrading project at a cost of Rs. 244 crores, the BMP Commissioner, K. Jothiramalingam, said.

At the BMP Council meeting here, the commissioner said tenders for these works would be called within a week, evaluated and sent to the Standing Committee on Works by September 15.

"We can start work soon after the committee approves it," the commissioner said.

The works include those to be taken up under the World Bank project at a cost Rs. 140 crores.

Of this, tenders for works costing Rs. 39 crores had already been called and were placed before the council for approval.

Tenders for the remaining works costing Rs. 101 crores would be called by August 2, the commissioner said.

He said the project also included works under the civic body's budgetary allocation for upgrading major roads at a cost of Rs. 50 crores, ward grants of Rs. 30 crores and the second phase of "complete blacktop asphalting" of roads at a cost Rs. 63 crores.

Pavement upgrading

This apart, the BMP had also set aside Rs. 50 crores to take up the second phase of pavement upgrading this year, he said.

Under the World Bank project, the BMP would upgrade medians, pavements and also lay ducts to avoid road-cutting in the future. The area corporators had been asked to identify roads, which needed to be developed immediately, he said.

Pointing out that the roads would be identified based on the traffic flow, the commissioner said sidewalks would also be upgraded under the project.

He reiterated that the BMP was discussing with the Railways for construction of railway under bridges (RUB) and railway over bridges (ROB) at Mathikere, Byappanahalli, Bapujinagar and Ganagondanahalli. "I will meet the railway officials and request them to start work at the earliest," he said.


Replying to members, who complained about potholes being filled with sand and mud in their areas, the commissioner said he would initiate stringent action against the area engineers if they were allowing shoddy work.

"We have enough stocks of coal tar for filling potholes. If the engineers are using sand and mud instead of the coal tar, they will be sent home," he said.

BIAL gets down to business with new CFO

BIAL gets down to business with new CFO
The Hindu Business Line

BANGALORE International Airport Ltd, the company which is executing the new airport at Devanahalli, has kick-started its business activities with the posting of its Chief Commercial Officer.

Mr Stephan Widrig is the second top-ranking executive to be named nearly three years after the company was set up. He took over recently as the CCO/CFO even as the project formally took off early this month. Mr Widrig, like the CEO, Mr Albert Brunner - comes from Unique Zurich Airport, one of the promoters.

"We now have a CCO/CFO who will make recruitments for the marketing of the land side and air side and also interact with the airlines," Mr Brunner told Business Line.

As per the OMSA (operations & maintenance services agreement) it has signed with BIAL, Unique Zurich makes the top and other recruitments for the company. The chief operational officer would also be recruited in a few months, Mr Brunner said.

"From the second and third year onwards, we have to build up the operation of the airport. The COO will also be recruited before the end of this year."

According to the OMSA, Unique is entrusted with the building up of the future organisation, operations of the airport in the initial phase as well as the future operations. Thus, it has the right to nominate the CEO, CCO/CFO and the COO. "The rest we would recruit from the local market."

However, expatriates would initially hold the three top posts. Unique Zurich holds 17 per cent equity in the Siemens-Unique Zurich-L&T consortium. The combine, which won the 1999 bid to build the public-private venture, is the 74 per cent majority partner in the project which also has AAI and the state-owned KSIIDC as minority co-promoters.

BIAL plans to raise its staff size from the current 10-12 to around 40 by the end of this year, touch 80-100 by the second year, mainly for the marketing/financial and operational posts. "When we open the airport we will be some 300 people." All the technical positions have been filled to oversee the ongoing civil works at the site, 30 km from the city.

The CCO would start intensifying contacts with prospective partners on the aviation and non-aviation side. Because of the "long history" and uncertainties over the project, there were no firm business commitments and these contacts would be pursued, "now that everyone has realised that the project will happen."

On the airlines side, BIAL has been in touch with AI, Jet Airways and a host of domestic and foreign airlines. Starting this year-end, Bangalore is to have flights of Air France, British Airways and also the KLM/Northwest Airline partnership.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More parking spaces for city

More parking spaces for city
The BCC has plans to put up five more multi-storeyed car parks
The TImes of India

Now, it is four months since the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) lifted the pay-and-park scheme. Many Bangaloreans heaved a sigh of relief as they were a harassed lot by parking attendants. But the commuters are still hassled. Reason: no parking space. To mend this problem to a considerable level, the BCC will unveil a few more parking lots in the city.

It may be recalled here that recently the BCC inaugurated a multi-storeyed car parkingcum-commercial complex in a joint venture near K G Road at a cost of Rs 9 crores. With this the BCC has three multistoreyed car parks in the kitty that are operational, the other being J C Road complex and Magrath Road facility. This year the authority has planned five more across the city and funds for the project has already been earmarked under this year's annual budgetary allocations.

Speaking on the initiatives, Bangalore's Mayor R Narayanaswamy said, "the city is developing in all directions and we have witnessed an enormous increase in numbers of vehicles on the roads. This has led to a strain on road space and its utilisation. While the public transport vehicles have specified locations for short and long time stop overs, private vehicle owners park their vehicles on the roads. With the city becoming a paradise for shoppers, the demand for parking has increased. So, in the last couple of years we are adding multi-storeyed car parks in the city".

The J C Road complex with a capacity to park 400 cars was constructed at a cost of Rs 6 crores. Now, the authority has called for tenders to operate the parking complex. The official said the annual contract for this complex will be at least Rs 22 lakhs. The Magarath Road complex is fully automated, set up at a cost of Rs 40 crores with ground plus four floors, the first of its kind in Bangalore.

Speaking on the new complexes being planned, BCC's Technical Advisor Jaiprasad said, "the five new complexes will come up at Modern Workshop (City Shed), Broadway Road (Shivajinagar), Malleswaram Market, Lakkasandra, and Seshadripuram. Work on Malleswaram Market and Seshadripuram multi-storeyed car parks will begin first and the others will be taken up subsequently".

He said tenders for the multi-storeyed car park at Malleswaram Market (Sampige Road) have been called and it is in the process of finalisation. According to the plan, the existing market will be demolished and new shops will be provided on the ground floor. The parking will be provided on the first, second, and third floors. The final cost of the project is yet to be arrived at. In the case of Seshadripuram, the multi-storeyed car park will come up on the existing police station space. A new police station will be built on the plot and over that parking space will be provided.

Commercial complexes
The BCC has also planned commercial complexes under joint venture in various places in the city. Bakshi Garden, Davis Road, Gandhi Bazaar, Hombe Gowda Nagar, Kittur Rani Chennama Circle (Padmanabha Nagar), Pottery Town, Airport Road (Kodihalli), Seshadripuram, and Yediyur New Market are places where these complexes will come up. The authority will also renovate Cubbon Market and Johnson Market. Detailed reports for the projects have been prepared and the costing is being worked out.

Bangalore is still green

Bangalore is still green
Lata Srinivasan takes a look at the green cover drive being taken up by officials in the city
The Times of India

The Garden City. That's how Bangalore was referred to. Considered a pensioner's paradise, this fast-growing IT city seems to be losing its green cover to towering concrete and glass structures, and tar roads and flyovers crawling out in all directions. Has the massive real estate development and IT boom actually depleted the city of its greenery? No, say the Horticulture Department officials.
Green drive
The common perception is that there's been a great reduction in the number of trees and greenery across the city. But the officials don't agree. A senior horticulture officer of the BCC says, "there's an intense drive to increase the green cover in the city, especially in the new areas that are being added to the Corporation. This perception may exist among the public as the city is growing rapidly." Around 50,000 saplings are to be planted in the city this year, with 16,000 in South Bangalore alone. The planting of saplings in South Bangalore, for instance, was started aptly on World Environment Day, June 5, and so far 8,000 saplings have been planted. The remaining will be planted over the next two weeks.

While it cannot be disputed that trees have been felled for several reasons like road widening or because they are a danger, measures are being taken so that the reduction in trees is compensated for. When a complaint is made to the BCC about any tree, the Forest Department has to issue permission before it is felled. Subsequently, two saplings have to be planted. The number of trees being planted in the city each year is also increasing compared to the trees felled. Officials say that only 10 percent of the number of trees being planted is removed. While in 2003, 15,000 saplings were planted, in 2004 it was 20,000. And this year, the number is more than double. As the city expands, efforts are being made to plant saplings on each avenue in the new areas being added to the BCC.

Preferred species
Officials say that there are certain species of trees that are extremely susceptible to uprooting because of rains or other factors. Species like the Mayflower, spathodea, peltoforum, rain tree, and akashmalige, are more susceptible to uprooting. While the mayflower for instance, is quite pretty, it has shallow roots like the spathodea and hence can uproot easily. Now the Horticulture Department is planting trees that are not susceptible to weather changes and which have deep roots to ensure that uprooting doesn't occur.

Mahogany, lagestroemia, champige, pogonia, kadamba, bohemia, and thespia populnea are the species that are being currently planted in the city. The mahogany is suitable for wide roads, while the thespia populnea is suited for congested roads as it grows to only about 25-30 feet. The mahogany and pogonia are sturdy trees and according to officials, in the last two years not a single tree of these species has fallen. The species being planted is based on the type of environment and the planting is undertaken in a planned way across the city.

With Bangalore's population expected to touch 88 lakhs by 2015, it is indeed the fastest growing city in India. The new Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) ensures that an adequate area of green space is being provided and the 11.5 sqkm of natural valleys, forests, national parks and water bodies will also be protected. A comprehensive survey is also underway in the city where data is being collected on the number of trees on each road and also according to species.

Only after completion of the survey will the exact figures be available but so far, according to the estimates of officials, the green cover has only been increasing each year.

Is city tough enough to handle hard rain?

Is city tough enough to handle hard rain?
BCC Confident It Is Capable Bangalore Has Topographical Advantage Over Mumbai
The Times of India

Bangalore: The comparison between the two cities, commercial capital Mumbai and IT capital Bangalore, is like chalk and cheese, say people who’ve lived in both. But can the city fraught with infrastructure woes, take on rain beyond 178.9mm (heaviest recorded in the last decade), which is just a fraction of Mumbai’s 995mm...?

Should the city be battered with rain of the magnitude that is now deluging Mumbai, can namma Bengalooru cope?

“If there is a 5-inch rain tonight, we can handle it,” says BCC technical adviser (infrastructure) R. Jaiprasad. He attributes this to the massive desilting operations under way since early June this year. “Once the silt from drains is removed, rainwater discharge will be faster and capacity will be more. For instance, natural valleys in the city have a fall of 120 metre for 11 km. The key to prevent flooding is to clear drainage system... we are working at it,’’ he says. Only Koramangala valley has a fall of 30 mt for 13 km — which is why the area is flooded when there are minor downpours.

But how civic-wise is the city, insofar as infrastructure issues go? Explains the present BCC engineer-inchief P.K. Srihari, “We have equipment, manpower and new methods of motivation. Praharis, ambulances and other rain-related equipment comprise physical infrastructure. We have 75 personnel across four control rooms, any given day. And to avoid staff absence, everybody has to give out attendance over the wireless. But yes, critical roads in the city need to be attended to.’’

Bangalore also has a distinct topographical advantage over Mumbai, urban experts point out. Compared to a Mumbai which is at the sea level, Bangalore is 920 metre above it. Which means that rain water recedes faster, as opposed to tidal waves lashing back onto Mumbai’s coast.

Besides, Mumbai’s annual rainfall is massive 2,200 mm as compared to Bangalore’s 900 mm.
But urban planners agree that nothing can withstand a Nature in its ravaging fury.

The heaviest recorded rainfall in Bangalore in the last decade was on October 1, 1997 with an intensity of 178.9mm Heaviest ever rainfall was in August 1890. During heavy rain — 162mm — in August 2000, civic authorities had to pump out one crore litres of water, for 20 days from the City Market. By Bangalore’s standards, 125mm is ‘heavy rainfall’.

State govt moots Greater Bangalore

State govt moots Greater Bangalore
CMCs To Come Under City Governance
The Times of India

Bangalore: The state government is considering a proposal for a Greater Bangalore along the lines of Greater Mumbai, by including the seven city municipal councils (CMCs) within the city’s administrative area.

Replying to K.C. Kondaiah (Cong) on behalf of chief minister N. Dharam Singh, revenue minister M.P. Prakash said in the council on Thursday that at present, the issue is just at the proposal stage. “But the government is reviewing it. Administratively, it will be a good option,’’ he said.

Underlining the emphasis on Bangalore infrastructure, the chief minister, in his reply, outlined the amount of money released for the purpose. Under the Mega City Project, Bangalore has got Rs 36.92 crore in 2003-04, and Rs 5.64 crore in 2004-05 for infrastructure development.

Besides, under an MoU with the Bangalore City Corporation, the state government released Rs 24.13 crore in 2003-04, Rs 23 crore in 2004-05. In addition, under the state finance commission, the city got Rs 51.44 crore in 2003-04, Rs 67.33 crore in 2004-05 and Rs 14.87 crore in 2005-06.
In contrast, revenue from Bangalore in stamp duty and registration collection has dropped from Rs 50 crore to Rs 8 cr due to relaxations, he said. Crime rate: Prakash told K.B. Munivenkatareddy (Cong) that there had been seven cases of thefts against IT professionals travelling in the night in the last one month.

“Of these, one has been solved. In a city of 65-lakh population, the percentage of such crimes is not very high. Bangalore, in fact, compares more favourably than any other metro in the night crime rate,’’ he said.

Licence display in autos to ensure safer journey

Licence display in autos to ensure safer journey
Deccan Herald
The displayed information will encourage a harmonious relationship between the passengers and auto-drivers.

Finally, those who have long complained about the anarchy of Bangalore autorickshaw drivers have some good news. The system is turning transparent and this time, the initiative to solve commuters’ problems comes from the autorickshaw drivers themselves.

Auto drivers belonging to Adarsha Auto and Taxi Drivers’ Union, have adopted an ‘Auto driving license display system’ under which they will display their license, their photograph and their bio-data near the fare meter in a way clearly visible to passengers.

This system offers a win-win solution to both drivers and commuters. As for passengers, over-charging and incidents of misbehaviour can be prevented, as the identity of the driver will be clearly communicated. Also, the drivers will be made responsible for handing over articles that are left behind in the autos to the police or the passengers themselves. Apart from making travel safer, it will also help to get insurance if an accident occurs while travelling.

Meanwhile, the main advantage for auto drivers is that this system will prevent ‘duplicate auto drivers’ from plying autos without license. The displayed information can help in case of emergencies like accidents. Also, it will encourage a harmonious relationship between the passengers and auto-drivers.

Launching the auto driving license display system in 600 autorickshaws on Thursday, Police Commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh appreciated the initiative and hoped the system will check the anti-social activities of ‘duplicate’ auto drivers. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-East) M A Saleem said a special desk for auto drivers will be set up for receiving applications for the license display system card.

For obtaining this card, drivers have to make an application to the Police Department furnishing the details such as the name of the driver, father’s name, residential address, family details, blood group and three photographs. The heads of the Police and Transport Departments will sign on the card before it is issued.

Slower metro rail chugs, faster flows money down the drain!

Slower metro rail chugs, faster flows money down the drain!
Deccan Herald
Minister Sindhia is allegedly always ‘unavailable’ when officials tried to contact him.

The Bangalore Metro project is yet to take off, but it is already costing Rs 50 lakh for each day’s delay. And who’s to blame for the delay? The government.

The government, on one hand, has been renewing its vows of improving the city’s infrastructure, but on the other, has been sitting comfortably on the file that is supposed to begin BMRTL’s land acquisition process.

What should have taken less than a week, is now taking over a month, with no explanations given. The BMRTL had asked KIADB to acquire land for its project in April this year. After BMRTL deposited the property cost of Rs 20 crore with the Board, the latter sent the preliminary notification letter to the Infrastructure department on June 24. Officials reveal that the files had been forwarded by the Infrastructure Secretary to Minister P G R Sindhia 20 days ago, but he is yet to sign on the dotted line. As per the rules, once the preliminary notification is issued on the properties to be acquired, the affected parties will be given two months to submit objections, after which the final notification will be issued. Only then will the land acquisition process begin.

“We have made several calls, even wrote a formal letter to the Minister requesting a meeting, but he was always ‘unavailable’. As per our designed schedule, we were to commence our land acquisition and construction work by June, independent of the developments in the Public Investment Board front. But now we are sitting idle, thanks to the Government’s non-cooperation,” said a senior official.

P G R Sindhia reacts

When contacted, Infrastructure Minister P G R Sindhia told Deccan Herald that the document requires complete scrutiny before granting approval. “There have been public protests against some aspects of the Bangalore Metro related to routes and land acquisition. There is a huge investment involved, I cannot treat it casually,” Sindhia said. He refused to set any time frame for clearance of preliminary notification.


*Date of letter of request from BMRTL to KIADB: April 12

*Board Meeting of KIADB: June 6

*Date of letter of KIADB to BMRTL to deposit the property cost: June 16

*Date of deposit of Rs 20 crore by BMRTL: June 18

*Date of letter of KIADB to Government: June 24

*Approval of the Government: Awaited

‘Select’ celebrates festival of books

‘Select’ celebrates festival of books
Deccan Herald

The ‘Select’ bookshop in Bangalore has turned 60 and there’s a book fair to celebrate the occasion. Established in 1945, the Select Book Shop on Brigade Road Cross, is organising a week-long ‘Festival of Books and Arts’ at the Mythic Society Hall beginning Friday. Apart from books, talks and plays, the festival will also showcase paintings and photographs.

While the inauguration of the festival is slated for July 30 at 10.30 am, the book fair will be on from Friday. A book titled ‘Modern Reading — A Miscellany’ comprising 35 essays by eminent scholars and writers will be released on July 30.

A legacy of books built by Mr Kannim Bille Krishna (KBK) Rao from the pre-Independence days, Select had its initial moorings in Chennai and Kurnool before it docked at a small garage on Museum Road, just off the fashionable South Parade, as MG Road was called, in 1945.

The legacy was inherited by Mr K K S Murthy, an aeronautics engineer, during the mid 70s and the tradition has been carried forth with as much passion as was done by the founder. Says 70-year-old Mr Murthy, “My father’s collection was so famous that the first Indian Governor General of India C Rajagopalachari used to send a deputy to fetch some books from my father’s library. He even marked out my father during a visit to Kurnool for a function.”

Today, Select is one of few bookshops which has kept away from sale of pulp fiction and some of the latest best sellers doing the rounds. “We specialise in quaint collections — biographies and classics and the like,” says Mr Murthy. The ‘Festival of Books and Arts’ will go on till August 4, at the Mythic Society Hall on Nrupthunga Road. Ph: 25580770.

State might face heat to rope in private players

State might face heat to rope in private players
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The State government might come under pressure to go for a public-private partnership (PPP) to make the Bangalore Metro Rail project happen.

This comes in the wake of the clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on a scheme for funding mega projects, including urban transport projects, which have more than 51 percent partnership from private sector.

Though Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who made the announcement in this regard on Monday, did not make any specific mention about the Metro project, the move certainly has put pressure on the State to consider proposal offered by a Malaysian consortium, Kencana Kasifa Transit Systems (KKTS), sources said.

The State government and Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Limited (BMRTL) cannot ignore the CCEA, which has to clear the project, after it gets approval from the Project Investment Board (PIB). Besides, the Centre is also investing Rs 1,800 crore in the Rs 6,300-crore project.

Meanwhile, the KKTS has termed the CCEA scheme as welcome move that encourages private investment in the infrastructure projects. “Many cities in India are going in for PPP and on BOOT (Build Own Operate and Transfer) basis. Bangalore should also wake-up to the call,” KKTS managing director Sayed Saahil Saif told this website’s newspaper.

The KKTS chief said the company has stopped pursuing their proposal with the State government, which has not considered it so far. “However, if an opportunity is given we are more than willing to come and invest in Bangalore Metro Rail project,” he added.

The KKTS has offered 90 percent funding to the project. It has even agreed to follow the BMRTL alignment and abide by its time schedule to complete the project.

Meanwhile, the BMRTL is awaiting the PIB approval to start the work. The board is expected to meet in New Delhi on August 5 and will examine the clarifications, which it had sought from the BMRTL during its previous meeting held last month.

No wall posters, no wall paintings in the city

No wall posters, no wall paintings in the city
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The standing committee on taxation and finance of the City Corporation (BCC) has finally approved the total revamp of to the hoarding rules, which were originally formed in 1956.

The draft proposals, that were pending before the standing committee for about six months, were approved last month. These proposals would come up at the BCC Council meeting on Friday for its approval.

The new rules ban wall-posters and wall-paintings in the city and free the central parts of the city from any form of advertisements.

The civic body has brought in almost all modes of advertisement under its regulations including shop window advertisements, cinema hall slides and advertisements through cable TV networks.

The signboards on shops, which are technically called bulk advertisements, are expected to gain over Rs 16.28 crore with new rules, as against the current tax demand of Rs 10.86 crore at current tariff.

It is estimated that the city has over 1.81 lakh square feet of such signboards and over 2000 hoardings. The new rules have also revised the tax rates, and the revenue from hoardings alone is expected to go up to Rs 12.24 crore as against current collection of Rs 4.28 crore.

However, the applications to set up hoardings must be routed through one of the 50 registered trade associations of hoarding operators and Kannada must be used as the prominent language in advertisements.

Further, the rules require that all banner advertisements must have BCC stamp of approval and pay prescribed tax.

No hoardings shall be allowed around junctions and circles and abutting the parks.

AD-FREE ZONE Kumara Krupa Road: Windsor Manor - Shivananda Circle Raj Bhavan Road: High Grounds - Minsk Square Ambedkar Veedhi: K R Circle - Infantry Road Junction Post Office Road: K R Circle - SBM Circle Chalukya Circle Maharani College Road K R Circle Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh environs Nrupathunga Road: K R Circle - Police Corner Palace Road: SBM Circle - Chalukya Circle

New hoarding size specifications Zone A: No hoardings Zone B: Maximum size 24" X 12" on ground, 30"X15" on rooftops. (The height of hoarding structure should not exceed 40-ft) Zone C: Maximum size 40" X 20", height 80-ft for hoardings ground, 40-ft on rooftops. Minimum 1 metre distance between two hoardings Zone D: 40" X 20", No height restriction. No double-deckers on rooftop.

Bangalore Chosen as India Headquarters for UN Technology in Education Initiative

Bangalore Chosen as India Headquarters for UN Technology in Education Initiative

India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore, has been chosen as the India headquarters for the United Nations “Global e-school and Communities Initiative” (Gesci), a special campaign to promote the use of technology in education.

Under the Gesci programme, diverse educational and community development projects and best practices will be developed in Bangalore for the benefit of all countries. Working with the Indian Information Technology and Education ministries, Gesci will facilitate policy support, technical assistance and global resources for the initiative. Gesci is expected to assist India to achieve the goal of primary education for all by 2010, five years ahead of the UN deadline stated in the Millennium Development Goals.

The Gesci initiative was established by the UN ICT Task Force in 2003. It aims to be a member of a consortium of interested parties involved in ICT in education projects, including national governments, donor countries, the private sector, local communities and international organizations.

The role of ICT in education is limited by the absence of content development and means of taking advantage of the wide range of devices available. For example, while it is technically possible to combine satellite technology with memory and audio devices to create libraries containing relevant educational materials for rural areas in developing countries, such technology has not yet been utilized in the context of education. The Gesci initiative therefore seeks to build partnerships between the ICT, media, and entertainment industries in order to find ways to put existing technology to educational uses.

Gesci aims to encourage and support e-school initiatives under the leadership of local education and IT ministries, and to enable countries to plan and connect to global partners who can provide expertise or financial support. Currently conducting activities in Bolivia, Ghana, Namibia, and India, the Gesci initiative has drawn attention to the fact that ICT in schools has impacts that go beyond the classroom, yielding enormous benefits to local communities in the form of employment, adult education, health, business services, communication, and e-government.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Will we ever get succour from our politicians?

Rallies choke Bangalore roads, commuters fume-Rall
Vijay Times

Bangalore: Bangalore remained paralysed for several hours on Wednesday with several roads choking due to one of the worst traffic build-ups the City has seen in recent times.

The culprits were three rallies held in the heart of the City, the biggest by far being the Congress convention at Palace Grounds where Mallikarjuna Kharge took charge as KPCC chief, putting pedestrians and motorists through untold suffering. This has been allowed despite High Court's recent direction to the State Government to identify a separate place outside the City to hold rallies. The High Court had also said no vehicle involved with the rally should pass through the City.

The other two were the Madiga Reservation Action Committee protest near Seshadri Road junction demanding immediate appointment of a chairman to the one-man internal reservation commission, which affected traffic on Seshadri Road, and autorickshaw drivers' protest on Residency Road against shortage of LPG filling stations. The last rally crippled Brigade Road and Residency Road up to Trinity Circle and Richmond Junction for nearly two hours.

Traffic started building up in the morning when over 100 buses -- apart from other vehicles -- began arriving in the City carrying Congress workers from nearby towns and villages and choked Bangalore's major thoroughfares. The Yeshwantpur Circle-Mekhri Circle route (C V Raman Road) was the first to be affected, followed by Bellary Road and Old Madras Road. The unprecedented build-up had a ripple effect throughout the City, including the Airport Road.

The traffic jam crippled Jayamahal Road, Bellary Road, Mekhri Circle, Hebbal flyover, C V Raman Road, Ramana Maharshi Road, Kaveri junction, Sadashivanagar Main Road, Sankey Road and other connecting roads to Palace Grounds. The main roads in Malleswaram began clogging early in the day which affected roads in Rajajinagar, where the congestion continued till evening.

BWSSB set to provide water to CMCs, TMC and the international airport

BWSSB set to provide water to CMCs, TMC and the international airport
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is all geared up to supply Cauvery water to seven City Municipal Councils (CMC) and a Town Municipal Council (TMC) on the outskirts of the City.

The Board has also undertaken initial measures to supply water to the new international airport at Devanahalli, where the ground work for the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has begun.

“As part of the Greater Bangalore Water Supply Project, we will provide Cauvery water to 1.20 million people in the seven CMCs and a TMC,” BWSSB Chief Engineer (Projects) B M Basavaraju informedthis website’s newspaperon Tuesday.

The officer said the ground work had been started at all the local bodies except Mahadevapura.

“The Rs 340-crore project would be completed within a year and we will supply 135 MLD water every day,” he said.

Once operational, the project would be a great respite to people in Yelahanka, Mahadevapura, Bytarayanpura, K R Puram, Dasarahalli, Bommanhalli and Pattangere CMCs and Kengeri TMC. A majority of the people in these areas now depend either on surface water or borewell water.

The Greater Bangalore Water Supply Project, which is being implemented with financial assistance from the US Government and a number of local banks and corporate houses, is also expected to cover many new housing layouts that are coming up in the CMCs and TMC limits.

As for the new airport, the BWSSB has laid pipelines to carry four million litres a day (MLD) of water to the new international airport. The water will be supplied from the sewage treatment plant (STP) in Yelahanka.

As the airport authorities have asked for four MLD of water, the BWSSB has laid 300 mm pipes on a 18.6 km stretch. The work is behind completion by 600 metres.

The water supply will begin from this year and if required, the Board is prepared to supply Cauvery water to the airport

Bangalore One portal still suffering from birth pangs

Bangalore One portal still suffering from birth pangs
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: A study on the usage of Bangalore One centres reveals that the state government’s ambitious e-governance initiative is still suffering from birth pangs.

While only 2 per cent of the electricity bills are handled by these centres, about 4 per cent of the water bills of Bangalore city are respectively paid here, according to Bescom and BWSSB statistics. Besides, three months after the Bangalore One centres were launched in the city, half the services promised are yet to be introduced. At present the centres are mainly being used to pay electricity, water and phone bills.

According to the centres, citizens are also using them to pay property tax. The facilities of the RTO and the Stamps and Registration Office - two of the eight utilities that were to come together and offer their services under one roof - have not been rendered availability yet.

The project, modelled on the lines of Andhra Pradesh’s e-seva, was planned and implemented by the e-governance department. Fifteen of the 50 centres were launched on April 1.

The objective of the Rs 10-crore project was to bring under one roof, the services of the Bangalore City Corporation, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, BSNL, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, City Police, Regional Passport Office, Commercial Taxes Department, Stamps and Registration and Regional Transport Offices, so as to help citizens get information and pay their utility bills faster among other services.

The project was launched amidst doubts about the success of the single window concept as some of the utility agencies involved already had their own fully automated kiosks spread across the city as well as their services online.

An agreement was however eventually reached that these utilities will shut down their own centres which are within two kilometres of a B1 centre. As of now, all these kiosks continue to function.A senior official says about 4 per cent of the BWSSB bills are paid at the B1 centres.

According to Babu Rao, the financial advisor of Bescom, only 2 per cent of the electricity bills are paid at the B1 centres.

“It is a question of convenience. Our customers have become accustomed to paying their bills at our own kiosks which is closer to their homes,” he said adding that the B1 concept will slowly pick up.

But, the man behind the project, the Secretary of the e-governance department, Rajeev Chawla, says the existing problems were only initial hiccups.

“The project will be a success. We plan to introduce some of the remaining services on August 28. The rest of them will follow soon,” he brimmed with confidence.

Rain-drain: BCC begins its clean-up act

Rain-drain: BCC begins its clean-up act
The TImes of India

Bangalore: It’s rain and drain time again. And civic agencies say ‘clean Bangalore’ work is in full swing. By accounts of citizens themselves, the clean-up act is finally happening.

Covering drains for instance, which was the causal factor for problems aplenty, two months ago, is apparently under control.

Unclogging and clearing up choked drains are also being done consistently, say BCC officials. For instance, workers are dredging up the silt and slush as part of efforts to clear the drains near Ulsoor Lake. Forget the helldefying stink.

Near Sampige theatre, 10-footdeep pits have been dug up to clear pipes that have been blocked. Thankfully work happens in the night.
Says BCC Technical adviser (infrastructure) R. Jaiprasad: “The quantum of rain in the last two weeks has not been more than five inches which is not of high intensity. We have desilted almost all the drains. Clearing up the main valleys where the secondary and primary drains finally meet, is a laborious job and will take months.’’

In Shantinagar for instance, the uphill task BCC faced was — drains of width 3.3 mts were restricted to 1.4mts. On Church Street, as people in the BCC engineering department explain, they were able to desilt only a fourth of what actually needs to be done. This was because unclogging the entire length and breadth of secondary drains would take aeons and priority was given to immediate respite and preventing flooding in the aftermath of heavy rain. Yet another task, covering secondary drains is in full swing at areas like Gandhinagar, Hanumanthanagar, J.P. Nagar, Malleswaram.

But potholes still seem to plague the citizens. For two weeks now, the weather has been swinging between pleasant to spurts of intermittent rain to heavy rain enough to show up nasty potholes.

The BCC is quick to assert that “thousands of potholes are being filled up on an everyday basis in different zones.’’

Shantinagar, parts of Koramangala, Ejipura, Prakashnagar, Dommasandra, Jogupalya, Sagaipura, Mahalakshmi Layout, Vyalikaval, Domlur, B.T.M. Layout, among others

The 129.4 kms of secondary drains that were choked beyond capacity Primary drains, which are about 93.56 kms in length, in turn could not take the load let out by secondary drains, spewing onto major valleys in the city.

Much-debated Metro Rail trapped in cobwebs

Much-debated Metro Rail trapped in cobwebs
By D.M. Nanjundappa
The Times of india

Bangalore: Vital policy decisions are being debated in Karnataka in recent times. For want of a public debate, key projects are still hanging fire. Among the major projects, the Metro Rail is hotly debated. In most city centres in India, the surface and rail transport have to be adequate for the growing needs of urbanisation. We have ignored rural transport needs, apart from other infrastructure, and that is one cause of migration of labour from villages to cities in search of employment. Therefore, the Urban Development Project should not be construed as only an urban phenomenon.

Urban infrastructure should be taken to rural areas. This does not imply that a Metro system should be used only by urbanites of that area. These are large investments, which have to be visualised and funds mobilised and appropriate funding, including long-term borrowings, is to be used.

In the 1970s, Karnataka visualised the need for an integrated transport system, which would cover railway, sea, air and road transport. The government repeatedly wrote to the Centre for approval for the Metro Rail keeping in view the development of Bangalore and satellite cities. When the Centre did not agree for the Metro, the state requested it to at least provide for a circular/radial railway.

It is clear that Bangalore’s problem cannot be solved by confining ourselves to Bangalore alone. Satellite towns and bullet trains from neighbouring areas are a better strategy.

Karnataka pressed the Centre for the double-track rail line between Mysore and Bangalore and the electrification between the two stations. The cost would not be more than Rs 160 crore. A bullet train between Bangalore and Mysore could cover the distance in 40 or 50 minutes and most people with businesses in Bangalore would opt to stay in Mysore. We still have no idea as to when these plans will materialise.

The latest development on the Metro Rail is that senior leaders want it to be s c r ap p e d . Only the business community and a few political leaders are trying to organise groups to save it. The Metro can be sustained, by and large, with urban commuters. The Metro should not be used in isolation with a Light Mass Transport System running on elevated platforms for spatial movement. Unless there is a feeder Metro system covering all corners, there will not be enough traffic. There should be planning for the Metro as well as the Light Mass Transport System with the two complementing each other.

The government has been giving the lowest priority for implementation; its euphoria for making announcements without any conscience is deplorable. There is absolutely no sense of time, management and improved productivity, both through efficiency and also through cost inputs. Stricter adherence to targets, completion of projects and use of PERT (programme evaluation and review technique) should help in meeting stipulated targets.

Metro authorities must realise that there is no scope for widening roads or going in for flyovers everywhere. Instead, the Mysore-Bangalore corridor as a toll road was mooted. Any project which is conceived and the project report is not ready in about a year is a nonstarter. Some senior political leaders have now said that the Metro may be dropped because it does not cover rural Karnataka.

Unless the Metro is planned to be ready in about six or seven years, the cost and time components will create problems of funding and technology. The project should simply be started with project completion scheduled for 2013. This decision should not be revocable and the financing should be fully provided for to avoid either the Kolkata or Delhi experience.

(The writer is the former deputy chairman, state planning board, Government of Karnataka)

Bangalore private road network to open this year

Bangalore private road network to open this year
Bloomberg News/The International Herald Tribune

BANGALORE The Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor, India's largest private-sector road project, will be partly operational this year, easing congestion that has made companies like Biocon threaten to set up new operations elsewhere.

Sections of the 22.5 billion rupee, or $518 million, project will be open to traffic by December, Ashok Kheny, managing director of Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise, said.

India's Supreme Court last week ordered that construction should be allowed to continue despite opposition from the Karnataka state government, according to the court's Web site.

The planned network of roads and townships is designed to speed traffic flow around Bangalore, home to almost one-third of India's outsourcing and technology industry and host to companies including Intel and General Electric. The 10-year-old project has been delayed by opposition from landowners, environmental groups and the state government that was elected last year.

"This should have been done years ago," said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairwoman of Biocon, the biggest biotechnology company in India, which employs about 1,500 people in Bangalore. Biocon is considering expanding elsewhere because poor infrastructure "is suffocating and strangling business growth, especially in Bangalore," she said.

A final verdict in the dispute with the state government, which has accused Nandi of trying to acquire excess land, may be handed down by the Supreme Court in the second week of November, court documents said.

The office of Karnataka's chief minister, Dharam Singh, including his political secretary, could not be reached for comment.

Bangalore accounts for almost a third of India's $17 billion in software exports. The city's population is rising by 3.2 percent a year and may reach 10 million by 2021, according to the Bangalore Development Authority. The population was 5.68 million in a 2001 census.

Growth is putting pressure on infrastructure in the 468-year-old city, capital of Karnataka state. Rival cities are wooing away companies like Microsoft, which last year chose Hyderabad for its largest non-U.S. software center, and Dell, which in March decided to open its next call center in the city of Chandigarh.

The Nandi project's proposed roads would allow trucks to detour around the city center, and reduce travel time between Bangalore and Mysore by two hours to one and a half hours, Kheny said. The project also includes five townships able to house 100,000 people each to foster economic development outside Bangalore.

"Bangalore-Mysore will be one of the fastest-growing corridors in India," following the construction of the roads, the chief financial officer of Infosys Technologies, Mohandas Pai, said last week. Bangalore's largest software company is spending $119.3 million on a training facility in Mysore, Karnataka's second city.

The Supreme Court's order on July 18 that the state government should allow construction "removes the last hurdle," Kheny said.

The first phase of the project, about 62 kilometers, or 39 miles, of roadway in Bangalore and its outskirts, will be ready by the end of the year, he said.

The whole project, including a 111-kilometer toll road from Bangalore to Mysore, a 400-megawatt power plant and a sewage treatment facility, will be ready by August 2007, he said. The existing nontolled highway is being separately expanded to four lanes under a 1.16 billion rupee government contract, the Times of India reported on July 7.

Lack of infrastructure spending has curbed India's ability to compete with countries like China, analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a research note on July 8. More than 90 percent of India's 65,000 kilometers of national highways are single or two-lane roads, allowing an average speed of less than 50 kilometers an hour.

The country spends $2.5 billion to $3 billion each year on the development of roads, compared with $25 billion a year in China since the mid-1990s, the analysts said. China has an expressway network of almost 30,000 kilometers, 15 times larger than India's.

Red tape has slowed development. The Bangalore-Mysore project began in 1995, with the Nandi Group spending the first nine years pushing for legislative changes that would allow it to build, own and operate the roads and to levy tolls.

Devanahalli airport work speeded up

Devanahalli airport work speeded up
Vijay Times

Devanahalli: Construction work for the international airport here is going on in full swing. The Larsen and Tubro Co has been erecting the compound wall around the acquired land, while other companies associated with the project are geared up take up other tasks.

As the compound wall is coming up on a 25 km diameter, the road near Anneshwar will closed shortly and the new road, already laid between Anneshwar and airport will be thrown open to public.

Out of the acquired land of 4,300 acres, airport, runway and airt terminal will be constructed on 2000 acres, while the remaining land will be utilised for building air cargo station, hardware park, hotel and other installations for which the contracts are likely to be awarded soon. In the airport, each of the two runways will have 4 km length and 45 metre width.

The built up area of the airport terminal building will be 46,000 square ft, with 35 entry counters and 7 passengers entrances. The airport will have an 18-plane parking slot.

One Way Cess: BMTC collects an extra rupee from commuter

One Way Cess: BMTC collects an extra rupee from commuter
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: There is, at least, one beneficiary from the indiscriminate one-ways introduced by the Bangalore City Traffic Police. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is making some extra bucks by collecting, shall we say ‘one-way cess’, from commuters.

Already, the number of users of BMTC buses is fast diminishing if you factor in the population growth. Only those who cannot afford either a car or a bike, or those who advocate public transport, are using BMTC buses.

But even this stagnant section of commuters has come to be penalised by the authorities due to sheer non-application of mind.

In many places in Bangalore, BMTC buses collect two different fares for onward journey and return journey.

This is because of the Stage norm it follows to determine the fare a passenger is required to pay, and before which, the conductor must have completed issuing tickets.

Take for instance, the buses plying from Shivajinagar to different southern parts of Bangalore. They all pay up a rupee more.

For example, a commuter pays a fare of Rs 7 to Shivajinagar from Hanumanthanagar, and ends up paying Rs 8 on his return journey. The BMTC’s logic, in this case, is that the buses take a different route for the return journey and pass via the Parsi Temple (Queens Road).

This point has long been declared a Stage, and therefore, the commuters have no choice but pay up the extra rupee.

A section of users of BMTC services everyday complain that the by making BMTC buses travel the extra distance, authorities have not only wasted as much time of commuters, but have also penalised them for no fault of theirs.

A senior citizen who often commutes to Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology in Jayanagar from Srinagar says the conductor collects Rs 8 for the onward journey and Rs 9 during the return journey.

Since many commuters do not understand the BMTC's jargon of stage, often, conductors collecting the fare become the target of their ire and abuse.

“If the authorities correct this anomaly, it will save the conductors from everyday harassment,” a BMTC employee said.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bangalore, anyone?

Bangalore, anyone?
The Hindu

Even as thousands of new vehicles are registered every day, a mass rapid transit system continues to elude us

At the cost of being really tedious, let us put some things down, just for the record. Close to a thousand new vehicles are being registered every day, but the solution of a mass rapid transit system of Bangalore continues to elude us. The flyover projects are stuck with no sign of a resolution of whatever conflicts they are mired in. The BDA's massive Arkavathi layout project was shelved, at whatever cost of surveys, planning and publicity. Registration of properties on a certain category of land has been put on hold. Other promised infrastructure projects languish in courts and committees. Sorry, but nobody cares.

Creaking city

Nearly one in five people in Karnataka live in the city, which also generates the bulk of the State's income. Even if some political party did take note of and campaigned on city issues and the city voters elected such representatives, the issues need not be addressed in the government's agenda. Bangalore is just a couple of districts and a few MLAs, see.

Honestly, even if this were not about politics, the resolutions passed at Sunday's political rally in Hubli are remarkable for their complete indifference towards Bangalore, save two points to which we shall return later. Come to think of it, even previously, the rallies that have been held in the city have been about the state of the film industry, the situation of particular castes and communities and to celebrate the birthdays of venerable politicians. It is true that some people demonstrated over the miserable roads and all, but nobody really cares.

When the State's polity gets further divided into caste and community agendas and future coalitions are forged on slimier grounds — an eventuality all of us must face up to — it is inconceivable there will be a "Bangalore" political party. There is no likelihood of true political representation of this city. Every city councillor of the Mahanagara Palike probably represents a bigger wealth centre in his ward, sometimes a bigger population, than an MLA. But we could say the mayor of Bangalore is not exactly endowed with power like, for instance, the mayor of New York ("The second most powerful job in the U.S.A.!"), nor is the poor Palike allowed to raise resources like its counterpart in Mumbai.

Frustrated corporates who made a bid to frame and execute a Bangalore agenda want to go to China. The former elite of the city, who earned for us the reputation of being laidback, watch in horror as their neighbourhoods are taken over by a noisy consumerism so abruptly gross and callous. I had the stunning realisation of age and stupidity at once recently, when standing at the corner in front of the Basava Bhavan at peak hour. I, among a similar throng of formerly laidback people, just waited for nearly 17 minutes to cross the road. There is no signal for pedestrians to cross, stupid, do it when you can. Somebody said: "Dispaced elite!" Quite right.

There is nobody you can cry to. The city itself is sought to be divided between old Bangaloreans and "others," Kannadigas and "others," the old economy — public sector industries, government organisations and banks — and the new economy — IT, BT and BPOs. There is sudden culture of hurry, hurry. Call centre drivers terrorise us on their way to deadlines and targets. They are apparently fined if they don't deliver according to the punishing schedules. If you did call the numbers (listed beneath cute copy such as "How am I driving?") you reach an instrument that will record your complaint. Anyway, the driver has a wretched enough job.

How do we get anybody to listen? It's not that the big parties don't want what they can get out of the city. In the speeches reported from the rally at Hubli, the parties want to do their grand finale in a Bangalore rally. And, in the resolutions passed, they want jobs reserved in the IT and BT industries for the backward castes, dalit and minority communities. Funny, if anybody is inclined to laugh.

Wanted: leadership

The only way to get anybody to listen would be to be politically counted. The industry, services and trade in the city should have the gumption to gang up against the political parties. They need leadership, maybe, and they should find it. They talk about it enough, in any case. They should probably contribute their funds with more intelligence and care. Civic organisations could gang up and build a movement to funnel the frustrations of the city people. It's so cool to give advice. What should we do, really? Perhaps start by getting the Chief Minister go to the Basava Bhavan circle (not very far from his place of work) and get him to cross the road incognito.

Forget it.

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Anand Rao Circle to get a flyover on Nov 1

Anand Rao Circle to get a flyover on Nov 1
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Motorists will have to wait for three more months before they are spared of the ordeal of finding their way through the maze of the Anand Rao Circle flyover project.

The flyover is expected to be inaugurated on the Rajyotsava day.

The deadline for the project is November 14, but the Bangalore Development Authority is confident that the construction would be completed by November 1.

BDA Commissioner, M N Vidyashankar informed that the construction would have been completed much earlier if not for the truck owners’ 21-day strike. “We will anyway complete the project before the deadline,” he said.

The project which was envisaged to decongest one of the busiest junctions in the heart of the city, has made driving a nightmare near the junction owingto the construction process.

Anand Rao Circle is a major hub for vehicles coming from Platform Road to Vidhana Soudha, Corporation and MG Road. It is virtually a North-South Corridor because of the one-ways.

The road feeds traffic from Goods Shed Road, Majestic, Magadi Road, Rajajinagar, Chord Road, Basaveshwarnagar and Vijayanagar.

The traffic recorded at peak hours is 15,125 Passenger Car Units (PCU) per hour. The traffic on Subbanna Circle, where a superstructure of the project is being built, has a traffic of 9,669 PCU at peak hours.

The project has been entrusted to Simplex Concrete Piles Ltd at a contract value of Rs 2,760 lakh.

The work comprises a main flyover from Khoday’s Circle along Sheshadri Road for a total of 646 metres with a 14-metre wide unidirectional carriageway and a loop towards Race Course side for a length of 258 metres having a unidirectional 7.5-metre wide carriageway.

There are grade level service roads for free turns towards Seshadripuram.

Congress to cause huge traffic jam today

Jam-free roads for Cong show? Well...
The Times of India

Bangalore: If earlier political functions or rallies in Bangalore conjure up horrific experiences of traffic snarls, you can probably rest easy this time. For, Congress leaders have promised that their convention at the Bangalore Palace grounds on Wednesday, where KPCC’s new president Mallikarjun Kharge will take charge, will be free from all these hassles.

“There will be no traffic pile-up on any of the routes leading to Bangalore Palace. This, because workers have been asked to come directly to the venue,’’ KPCC president B. Janardhana Poojary, who has been overseeing the convention’s arrangements, told The Times of India on Tuesday.

According to KPCC general secretary Prakash K. Rathod, six entry points have been opened at the Palace. Workers coming from districts have been given instructions from which gate to enter.

The convention, which is a workers’ meeting where Poojary will hand over the baton to Kharge, is billed to be a show of strength and grandeur. Kharge will first garland Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on M.G. Road at 10.30 am; will drop by at Congress Bhavan before arriving at the convention to begin at 11 am.

The meet will adopt political and economic resolutions. CWC member and Karnataka in-charge A.K. Antony will be among the host of leaders present. Traffic arrangements: To make sure there’s no traffic pileup, police have made extensive parking arrangements for vehicles ferrying Congress party workers to the venue. Lorries, buses, Tempo travellers, Maxicabs and other vehicles will be allowed to park in the grounds. These vehicles should enter the ground from the Mango Mandi gate on Jayamahal Road, a note issued from the police commissioner’s office said.

Vehicles coming from Tumkur Road should take the Yeshwantpur Circle-Mehkri Circle route to reach Palace Grounds. Similarly, vehicles coming from Kolar and Hoskote have to take the K.R.Puram-Old Madras Road-Ulsoor Lake-St Johns Church Road-Jayamahal Road.

Party workers coming from Hosur Road have been asked to take the Silk Board Junction-Ring Road-Hebbal Flyover-Bellary Road-Mehkri Circle.

Traffic coming from Kanakapura Road and Bannerghatta Road should opt for the Ring Road-Silk Board junction, Hebbal Flyover and Mehkri Circle.

Vehicles coming from Mysore Road should take Outer Ring Road-Goragunte Palya-B.E.L. Circle-Hebbal Flyover-Mehkri Circle.