Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bangalore is a national calamity: Azim Premji

Bangalore is a national calamity: Azim Premji
The Financial Express

NEW DELHI, AUG 30: Bangalore is a “national calamity” in terms of infrastructure, said Wipro chairman Azim Premji on Tuesday. “When a client is in India, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai are the three key cities he visits. It gives a very bad impression to the client. I urge the media to please write about it,” he told reporters here.

Wipro BPO chairman T Kurien told FE, “From bad roads and irregular power to mismanaged transport, the infrastructure of Bagalore is crumbling. Ten years ago, if it took twenty minutes to reach a place, now it takes at least an hour. It is putting huge pressure on costs.”

As a result, Wipro is exploring tier II cities like Coimbatore, Goa, Madurai, Vizag, Mohali and Guwahati. “We are exploring Mohali as an attractive option. North India is surely on our radar with places like Noida and Gurgaon. We would also be opening a BPO centre in Guwahati in the near future,” added Mr Kurien.

Mr Premji’s remark comes a day after Nasscom, President Kiran Karnik issued a statement in favour of IT companies who have boycotted to participate in 2005. Mr Karnik said:”Concerns of IT companies are justified. Some of them are very vocal. But, it’s good. Both the government and industry should partner to remove this problem.”

Traffic snarls and congestion has become a major problem in Bangalore. Construction of fly-overs hasn’t kept pace with the development of the city.

Right to Information Act: Citizens dig up swindlers’ list

Right to Information Act: Citizens dig up swindlers’ list
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Citizens used the Right to Information Act to discover that the Byatarayanapura municipal authorities have cheated them of over Rs 27 crore. They took to the streets on Tuesday to protest.

The CMC books say several crores have been spent on civic amenities. But the sites show no evidence of any work.

Frustrated by the corruption and official indifference to complaints, residents of Ward 14 and 15, led by Nagarika Hitarakshana Samiti decided to do their own digging. They got details of projects by applying for them through the Right of Information Act.

They found that the CMC’s scam runs to over Rs 27 crore. “The books maintain details of contractors with cheque numbers. But none of the projects have been taken up,” says Ashwathnarayan Gowda.

The residents have details of three years. The CMC has not provided borewells or water supply, but has been collecting water fees from households. They have even collected Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 for new connections, which were never given. Suprisingly the accounts show that no such money was collected.

When citizens asked for receipts, they were abused.

Tatanagar Residents’ Association has been urging the CMC to take up asphalting of roads and lay stormwater drains. But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Shockingly, the CMC has claimed over Rs 15 lakh for the work!

The IISc Housing Society dug its own borewells and Tatanagar residents got water from the BWSSB. But the CMC has taken the credit and taken the money too.

The residents also allege that the CMC has pocketed over Rs 25 crore collected as road cutting charge from broadband companies laying optical fibre networks.

“The councillors of the two wards have shared the spoils among themselves and with other politicians. JD (S) worker K N Chakrapani is the hand behind all this,” Gowda said.

K N Jagadish said that whatever work was done was also sub-standard. The residents have submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister. “We have only received a letter of assurance but no action has been taken yet,” he said.

BMRCL begins land acquisition

BMRCL begins land acquisition
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is taking speedy measures to acquire land from Central and State Government besides Public Sector Undertakings.

Chief Secretary B.K. Das at a meeting held on Monday instructed the Government officers to surrender the required land for the metro.

The Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) has also initiated action to acquire 27.705 acres of land belonging to private parties. They have identified 445 commercial buildings and 233 residential buildings have on these lands.

“The land owners will be paid suitable compensation apart from the compensation for the structure if any there on,” a release stated.

The total requirement of land for the project is 217.345 acres. Of this 101.75 acres have already been given by the Defence Ministry.

Apart from this 34.42 acres of land will be procured shortly from Central Government Departments and its undertakings such as Nuclear Power Corporation of India, HAL, BSNL, BHEL, HAL, Central Silk Board and Railway department.

The state government departments such as education, medical services, police, horticulture, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, NGEF and Bangalore Civic Authorities have agreed to give 53.466 acres of land.

Discussions have been held with the offices of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to immediately acquire 26.637 acres at Byappanahalli.

BMRCL, Managing Director K.N. Shrivastava visited the Leprosy hospital at Magadi road along with the Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Health and made a spot visit.

‘Wipro, Infosys may face serious crisis’

‘Wipro, Infosys may face serious crisis’


Mumbai: Indian IT majors Wipro and Infosys could be heading for a serious crisis if they continue to divert their reserve funds from the core IT business to setting up in-house utility services such as power generation and hospitality services, according to Gartner's research analyst Paratha Iyengar.

The international consultancy firm's analyst said shortage of power and availability of quality hotel rooms in Bangalore have forced Infosys and Wipro in investing large sums of their surplus cash for generating power and constructing hotel rooms instead of utilising it for their core business of information technology.

''Such diversification of funds from the core business would ultimately impact on their businesses in longer term'', Iyengar observed.

The IT majors in Bangalore, he said, are facing shortage of power and hotel rooms because State government failed to upgrade these basics to fulfill needs of fast-developing IT sector.'' You need to book hotel rooms four to six months in advance in Bangalore'', he added.

Infosys, which already has its in-house power units for uninterrupted supply to its world class campus, has now started constructing hotels and entertainment facilities within its complex to provide world class comfort to its visiting foreign clients and delegations.

Wipro, too, is following the same path to reduce its dependence on the services provided by the State utilities in Bangalore, he said.

Iyengar said a similar situation is emerging in other major IT centres like Hyderabad and Mumbai. The collapse of infrastructure in Mumbai, the business capital of India, due to heavy rains on July 26 thoroughly exposed poor planning, development and maintenance by State and local authorities. Even Reserve Bank of India, in its latest annual report, has criticised governments for their failure in developing commercially-viable infrastructure projects. RBI report said investment in urban infrastructure is hampered by the fact that local governments are not credit-worthy and urban projects are not found to be commercially viable.

''Limitations of urban infrastructure were evident during the recent heavy rains in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra in the last week of July,'' the Central Bank said in its report.

While stating that weak infrastructure impeded economic activities in large cities, RBI said it is imperative for state authorities to upgrade infrastructure to boost economic activities.

''It is essential that all aspects of city management including fostering of a professional workforce are strengthened which in turn would improve the credit worthiness of city Governments and help attracting the necessary investment for vital infrastructure projects'', it added.

Airport work on track, fears of delay baseless: BIAL

Airport work on track, fears of delay baseless: BIAL
Deccan Herald

Mr Brunner strongly advocated setting up a rail link to the airport as the highways would prove inadequate to handle the traffic.

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) CEO Albert Brunner on Tuesday asserted that transparency was maintained in awarding Engineering Procurement Contracts (EPCs) for the airport project and dispelled apprehensions that a recent report by a Parliamentary Standing Committee on the contracts could hinder work on the airport.

After delivering a talk on the BIAL project at a joint meeting by Rotary Orchard and Rotary Brigades in Bangalore, Mr Brunner said the report could have been tabled in Parliament after a possible “misunderstanding”.

“Even when the criteria for the consortium were being selected, it was made as a pre-condition that a party in the consortium should have experience in airport construction following which Unique, which runs the Zurich Airport, joined the consortium. Further, an independent consultant group had scrutinised the contracts and their competitiveness,” said Mr Brunner.

He added that at later stages of the project, a board committee and an independent agency appointed by the lender bank had also perused details of the contracts.

Rail link

Talking about infrastructure development around the airport, Mr Brunner said a rail link was imperative for the airport’s success. “The highways would sooner or later prove to have limited capacity. Even on an environmental perspective, a rail link becomes a must,” he said.

‘Will meet deadline’

Expressing confidence that BIAL would meet the April 2, 2008 deadline for the airport, Mr Brunner said the company would also focus on non-aviation related revenues to make the airport more economical. “We will be targeting concessionaires for commercial activities like cargo handling, fuel agents and shops in the airport. Partners for these deals will be selected in an open process,” he said.

The company is awaiting a new set of guidelines from the Ministry of Civil Aviation on selection of such partners, he said. Calling the long-winding negotiations over the past three years “painful”, Mr Brunner however said the project was right on course. The Rs 1412 crore airport is expected to take off with around 6.8 million passengers per year and has a potential to go up to 40 million passengers per year, he said.

Metro: Prakash, Kharge sing different tunes

Metro: Prakash, Kharge sing different tunes
Deccan Herald

Contradictory views were expressed on the proposed Metro rail project in City on Tuesday by two senior Cabinet ministers.

Deputy Chief Minister and JD (S) leader M P Prakash said that the State government should seriously consider the “concerns” raised by JD(S) National President H D Deve Gowda before implementing the Metro rail project in the City.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating a photo exhibition, he said that Mr Gowda’s concern regarding huge investments on the project and consequent displacement “could not be brushed aside”.

At a separate function, Water Resources Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said that Metro rail was not a matter of individual opinion, but how it was going to benefit the people of the City.

The Cabinet has already taken a decision in favour of the metro rail and there was no proposal to withdraw the project. “The decision has been taken by the coalition government which has ministers of both the parties”, Mr Kharge added.


Meanwhile, expediting the process of land acquisition, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation held discussions with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to acquire 26.63 acres at Byappanahalli, on Tuesday.

Shortly 34.42 acres of land will be procured from other Union government agencies and its undertakings such as HAL, BSNL, BHEL, Central Silk Board and the Railways, BMRC Managing Director K N Srivastava said in a press release on Tuesday.

The State government departments and agencies such as Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, Horticulture, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited and NGEF have agreed to give 53.466 acres of land, the release said.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary B K Das held a meeting with the officers of the State and Union government on Monday and directed them to hand over the land required for the metro project at the earliest, the release added.

Where dreams drown every time it rains!

Where dreams drown every time it rains!
Deccan Herald

It was a dream come true when Ramesh and Jayashree bought a villa at a private layout off Bannerghatta Road a few years ago. However, their fairy tale seems to have turned into a nightmare.

Everytime there is a downpour, or even a drizzle, water floods their villa. Monday morning, the couple woke up to find a water-logged drawing room after a heavy downpour the previous night.

Ramesh wryly comments, “Irrespective of whether it rains in other places or not, this place gets flooded nonetheless.” Monday’s was the third such “flash-flood” in the area in the last one month.

Even as residents of Ranka Colony, Pride Apartments, Purva Heights, Oasis Apartments, Surabhi Apartments and Mantri Terraces on Bannerghatta Road busy themselves in the clean-up job, the blame game has begun, as the builders, residents and authorities toss the buck around.

The Bommanahalli City Municipal Council claimed that it is in no way responsible for the present situation. “All approvals were issued by the BDA, but we are being blamed for all the problems,” said Bommanahalli CMC Commissioner Uday Shankar.

However, residents argued that CMC engineers have to be blamed for the present mess. “The engineers had opened a covered drain through which water now gushes out and floods the colonies,” Ranka Villas’ Association Secretary Revathi Hegde said.

However, the authorities had a ray of hope for the frazzled residents. Following an inspection, CMC Commissioner Uday Shankar promised the residents that drains would be desilted linked to Madiwala lake.

Residents’ protest against CMC irregularities

Residents’ protest against CMC irregularities
Deccan Herald

Members of 15 to 20 residents’ associations from Ward 14 and 15 of Byatrayanapura City Municipal Council locked up the CMC office and blocked the road on the busy Bellary Road on Tuesday for some time to protest against alleged irregularities in the CMC.

They withdrew the protest after Commissioner C K Daswanth assured them of action against the guilty. Earlier, they took out a protest march from Kodigehalli bus stop via Sahakarnagar to Byatarayanapura CMC.

The protesters alleged that large-scale irregularities had taken place in the implementation of solid waste management project and asphaltation of roads in Ward 14 and 15 comprising Sahakarnagar, Kodigehalli, Tatanagar, Virupakshapura, Balaji Layout among others.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, the protesters Ashwathanarayan Gowda and K N Jagdish Kumar, said that the civic body had permitted digging of roads to lay optic fibre cables. Though the digging was over, crores of rupees, which should have been paid by the OFC companies to the City Municipal Council, appears to have been swallowed, they alleged.

Traffic police plan to decongest central business district

Traffic police plan to decongest central business district

The Hindu

Curbs likely to be enforced on private vehicles not bound for commercial establishments

# `Core road' around Central business district planned
# Lanes to be marked with thermo paint
# BMP to widen stretches of Hosur Road and Bellary Road within city limits
# Report on `intelligent traffic systems' being prepared
# Government urged to revert to paid parking

BANGALORE: The Traffic Police have suggested to the Task Force on Bangalore Traffic Management that restrictions be placed on the movement of private vehicles into the Central Business District (CBD) around Mahatma Gandhi Road.

According to Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) K.V.R. Tagore, this was a broad suggestion and specialists have to study its feasibility. "The idea is to limit the entry of vehicles which are in transit and not bound for commercial establishments on M.G. Road, Brigade Road, Residency Road or St Mark's Road, but going elsewhere, to reduce congestion on these already overcrowded roads," he said.


The traffic police want to draw a limit called "core road" around the CBD, to be widened into six or eight lanes, starting from Trinity Circle and passing close to Ulsoor Lake, Fraser Town, Railway underbridge (near Cantonment Station) and Jayamahal Main Road, Mekhri Circle, C.V. Raman Road, Dr. Rajkumar Road and joining Krishnarajendra Road. It will also link Bangalore Dairy Circle and Richmond Road and back to Trinity Circle as a circular route.

"A car going towards Yeshwantpur or Banaswadi can avoid the CBD and use the Core Road and take a turn towards their destination; this is almost the same as what metro rail authorities proposed last week with some minor changes," Mr. Tagore said.

Lane discipline

The traffic police also plan to curb "land jumping" by drivers suddenly swerving near traffic signals and intersections.

The left and right lanes will be marked with "thermo paints" which last up to four years indicating that vehicles which need to take a turn at the next intersection take these lanes. This will be done by September first week as soon as the rains stop.

The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike has taken up the responsibility of widening stretches of Hosur Road and Bellary Road within the city limits under the Transferable Development Rights scheme whereby owners surrender a strip of land for road widening, Mr. Tagore said.

Felling of trees

The Traffic Task Force also discussed the trimming or cutting of trees on roads. The BMP which took up the job of trimming and felling 786 trees on roadsides, stopped the work after stiff opposition from residents and environmental groups. The Forest Department has now offered to appoint a "tree officer" who will take a decision of which trees actually need trimming or felling.

A private agency has been asked to prepare a report on the feasibility of having "intelligent traffic systems" which involve traffic signals which respond to the volume of traffic and automatically switch on a red or green light. With the help of electronic chips, signals along the same road can also be synchronised. The agency is to submit a report within three months after studying the traffic control needs of specific areas.

The traffic police have sent a proposal to the government to revert to paid parking in most places in the city except Commercial Street and Brigade Road where parking metres are being used.

City infrastructure top on agenda: Dharam Singh

City infrastructure top on agenda: Dharam Singh

The Hindu

Fifteen more flyovers to be constructed in Bangalore

# Foundation stones for 39 development works laid
# Government to go ahead with metro rail project
# Possession certificates given to slum-dwellers
# IT, BT firms not leaving city, says Chief Minister

BANGALORE: Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh said on Tuesday that tackling infrastructure problems of Bangalore tops the Government's agenda.

Mr. Singh, who laid the foundation stones for 39 development works estimated at Rs. 118 crores in the Binnypet Assembly constituency, said 15 more flyovers will be constructed to decongest the traffic in the city.

The Government is committed to tackling all infrastructure problems and all road and flyover works are being expedited, he said.

Work on the international airport project has already begun and the Government has decided to go ahead with the metro rail project. There is no truth in the allegations made by some leaders against the metro rail project, he said. The survey of the project was done in 1983 and its execution was delayed owing to several reasons, he said.

The Chief Minister distributed possession certificates to slum-dwellers of Binnypet constituency and said the Government issued a notification on October 18, 2004 to give possession certificates to two lakh people living in slums.

Claiming that information technology (IT) and biotechnology (BT) companies are not leaving Bangalore, the Chief Minister said many multinational IT and BT companies have shown interest to invest in the State.

Minister for Water Resources and Transport M. Mallikarjun Kharge said the slum-dwellers should get blessings of "Satyanarayana" and not "Daridranarayana."

‘Bidders knew winner would bag BAIL works contract too’

‘Bidders knew winner would bag BAIL works contract too’
Deccan Herald

The Civil Aviation Ministry on Tuesday said that all bidders of the Bangalore international airport project knew that the consortium which bagged the project would get the construction contract too. Speaking to Deccan Herald about the recommendation of a parliamentary standing committee that there should be an inquiry by an independent agency into the award of engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to the consortium partners themselves, Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Ajai Prasad said it had been decided at the beginning that the successful bidders would get the EPC works too.

“I had appeared before the committee. We had put forward these facts before the panel. The companies like Siemens and Larsen and Toubro (and also Zurich Unique) have been awarded the EPC contract. This was done after a conscious decision by the Karnataka government,” he said.

He added: “We put forward the facts before the committee. The Bangalore project was the first of its kind. This (awarding of the EPC contract to the eventual winners of tender) was the demand raised by all the bidders at the beginning and decision was known to all bidders.”

Asked whether the ministry had formed any opinion on the committee report, Prasad said: “We are studying the committee report. We have to give an answer within three months through the action taken report (ATR). We will be doing so.”

The committee, in its report last week, had criticised the award of EPC contract to the consortium partners, saying the exercise was not transparent. It had called for an inquiry by an independent agency.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Check-in for international airport at Cantt station

Check-in for international airport at Cantt station
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Soon, passengers to the international airport may not need to drive to Devanahalli to check-in. Instead, they would do so at the Cantonment railway station. An express rail link to the international airport from Cantonment station is on the cards.

The proposal is expected to be taken up by the Cabinet, this week.

As per the proposal, passengers hopping into the train can directly board planes at the airport. “They will not have to lug the baggage along,” sources said.

According to sources, the train will begin from Cantonment station and pass through Bypanahalli, terminating at the international airport. “It will be on international standards. Abroad, one can come by coach or rail that is terminated at the airport. This plan is also on the same lines,” sources said.

It will be a double line and will run parallel to the existing railway lines. It will cover a distance of about 35 kilometres and the train timings will match the frequency and timings of flights.

IDecK has been selected for this project, while the South-Western railway has completed a preliminary feasibility study to determine if the link should originate from Cantonment, Byappanahalli or Bangalore East stations. It has now zeroed on Cantonment station.

The Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been submitted by RITES, the same Government agency that prepared the DPR for the metro rail project.

Sources say that the financial packaging will be shared by Infrastructure department, South-Western railway and another third party. The plan looks ambitious and is believed to be moving swiftly too.

'Bangalore city gasping for fresh air'

'Bangalore city gasping for fresh air'
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The 79th birth anniversary of Ramakrishna Hegde witnessed an in-depth discussion on Bangalore’s deteriorating environment.

At the symposium, ‘Bangalore and its Environment’, environmentalists Yellappa Reddy, Suresh Heblikar and freedom fighter H S Doreswamy stressed on the urgent need for planning in Bangalore as it could well become a ‘dead’ city if the authorities did not take steps to improve the quality of the environment.

Yellapa Reddy, former chief secretary in the Forest Department, spoke on the importance of ‘cosmic religion’ as propounded by Einstein.

“The need for conserving our environment has become the most addressable issue in today’s scenario. We are emitting large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Nearly 56 percent of the children in Bangalore suffer from lung-related diseases.

“To help them recover quickly, doctors are prescribing steroids to young children which would have an adverse impact on them in the long run,” he said.

“Water is the another problem facing Bangaloreans. Bangalore had 500 lakes and more than 3,000 perforation tanks (gunte) which provided drinking water. But this is history now.

“We need to spend more than Rs. 1,000 crores to pump Cauvery water to Bangalore. We are drinking virtual poison in the form of water. Our cattle also consume the same water and we drink their milk,” he said, adding that planning was required to put an end to further damage.

Sarvodaya leader H S Doresway said mining and quarrying had caused the greatest damage to the environment.

“The authorities are rolling out the red carpet for hazardous industries coming up in Bangalore. The ground water is now 1000 feet deeper and air pollution has caused diseases. There is no control over pollution. Something needs to be done urgently,” he said.

The Government should provide basic facilities to rural folk. More than 30 per cent of them do not have sanitation. The authorities should think in terms of sustainable development in the country, he pointed out.

Founder of Eco-Watch Suresh Heblikar said that the environment should not be neglected for the sake of comfort.

“What economic development are we talking about when over 30 per cent of our people have not seen electricity? Nobody wants to live in rural India. The effect of globalisation and the increasing literacy levels in rural areas, has made rural youth migrate to Bangalore.

“An increase in population will lead to an increase in pollution. We need to develop green belts around the city to contain pollution levels,” he said.

As ‘carbon sinks’ (urban forests) have become popular in European countries similar sinks should be developed in and around Bangalore and ground water should be recharged. Countries like China have more groundwater fertility than India, he said.

Former railways minister Jaffer Sharief said development was of equal importance.

“When industrialists from other states come to Bangalore they look for the availability of power, water and land. If we cannot provide these, industries will not establish plants here. This will hit employment opportunities. But, the conservation of the environment is also necessary,” he added.

Banners a blot on Bangalore cityscape

Banners a blot on Bangalore cityscape
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Banners put up by political parties and other organisations have become a nuisance and authorities have been turning a blind eye to the menace. The culprits conveniently forget to remove the banners even after their ‘purpose’ is served.

No political party can escape blame for defacing Bangalore by splattering the banners and posters all over. They spare no occasion to show their sycophancy. Birthdays of politicians and MLAs, MPs or Ministers provide ample opportunities to mar the cityscape with banners and posters.

For example, former Minister Alexander’s birthday was celebrated recently. His staunch supporters and aspirants for political postings took the opportunity to “impress” him with wall-posters conveying birthday greetings two to three days in advance. The posters remained for days after Alexander celebrated his birthday.

Some of the posters of Katta Foundation belonging to BJP MLA Katta Subramanya Naidu still exist at important junctions of Shivajinagar and Vasanthnagar. The function was over on August 7 but neither the BCC nor the MLA’s followers have the time to remove these posters.

Similarly Congress party workers put up vinyl posters of a Congress leader and his followers wishing Bangaloreans on the occasion of 58th Independence Day. These posters still “adore” many building walls.

Many prospective and former politicians spend huge amount of money whenever there is a chance to “wish” Bangaloreans. Let it be a Hindu, Muslim or Christian festival, these leaders vie with each other in putting up banners at important junctions in the city.

Some organisations like DSS and Karunada Sene also join in frequently. If a poster at Kamala Balekundri circle is any indication, these people do not know even where to paste the posters.

“It is very unfortunate that we have to have darshan of these posters and cut-outs first thing in the morning. It will be pleasant to see photos of freedom fighters, social workers, gods and goddesses but not these photographs of politicians,” complains a resident of Jayanagar.

Earlier the Bangalore City Corporation has made it mandatory for political party or social organisations to avail its permission to put up banners or wall-posters. But now it seems that no one is bothered to get BCC permission.

Divorced from reality: Police propose impractical plan

Drive away traffic hitch soon
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: If the claims of the Bangalore City Traffic Task Force are to be believed, then travelling through the city’s heart will be a lot less horrendous that it now is. This may sound too good to be true, but motorists can look forward to a smooth, uninterrupted drive without the hassles of traffic signals and junctions, to get from one end of the city to the other - simply by using the Core Ring Road (CRR).

The ambitious plan is listed as a ‘mid-term’ measure to be achieved within 12 months. According to officials, once the CRR is developed, motorists need not enter the Central Business District (CBD) at all as they can skirt around and get to their destinations.

What’s more, the four-lane, 25-km road will have no junctions and stops, only mini-flyovers and subways. The plan is to bypass all 53 junctions, including 23 major ones.

At a meeting of the Task Force on Monday, officials explained that the Core Ring Road will make it possible to restrict private vehicles in the core area.

For instance, if you are travelling from Jayanagar to Malleshwaram, you do not need to go through Hudson Circle.

Bangalore City Corporation Commissioner K Jyothiramalingam said they are hopeful of executing the project under the National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM) which has been mooted by the Centre.

“This could qualify. Though we have not yet got the official guidelines from NURM, we have appointed a consultant to draw up the project,” Jyothiramalingam said. Earlier this year, the Centre had prepared the NURM scheme, planned with an outlay of Rs 5,500 crore, which will cover seven mega cities of which Bangalore is one.

According to officials, more than 25 per cent of the traffic in the central area is headed elsewhere, but has to pass that way.

To be developed by the BCC, the Core Ring Road will connect main arterial roads. It will connect Mekhri Circle, Yeshwanthpura Circle, Dr.Raj Kumar Road, Sirsi Circle, Minerva Circle, Lalbagh main gate, Diary Circle, Richmond Road, Trinity Circle, Ulsoor Lake, Cantonment railway station and back to Mekhri Circle.

Earlier, speaking at the meeting, Home Secretary Brahm Dutt admitted that the traffic problem was very serious and it continues to be so.

The Task Force has the principal secretary (Home) as its chairperson and comprises principal secretaries, finance and urban development, commissioners of the BDA, BCC and the police, managing directors of the BMTC, BWSSB, BESCOM, transport commissioner and IGP, fire services.

Advanced baggage check for Bangalore airport soon

Advanced baggage check for Bangalore airport soon
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: With nearly 7500 passengers and 12,000 visitors a day, Bangalore Airport is a logistical nightmare for Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that oversees airport security.

While all the airlines expect the agency to expedite scanning of passengers and their baggage before they are allowed onto the aircraft, the increase in flights over the next few months will definitely test the agency to its limits.

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commandant Udayan Banerjee told this paper that there was increasing demand to clear passengers and their baggage faster. “We need more systems to clear passengers faster.

Advanced baggage clearing systems are being installed at other airports and with Bangalore being a fast-growing centre, it will come here too soon,” he said.

The advanced baggage clearance systems include vapour tracers, which can sniff out explosives and computers that can slice images of any suspicious object. The images can also be enhanced multi-fold so that there is no doubt as to what they are.

If it is still not deciphered, such baggage will not be cleared and will come back to the airline concerned, which will have to then page for the passenger and ask them to unlock the bag.

But what concerns the CISF most is the occasional passenger with a live bullet in the hand baggage. “There have been at least six such cases in the last one and a half years that I have been here,” an officer said.

“Carrying a live bullet is an offence, but as they have valid licences, we advise such passengers to keep them in the checked-in baggage. But no one listens,” the officer lamented.

Eat ‘n’ enjoy

Eat ‘n’ enjoy
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Breakfast? Idly or dosa. Lunch and dinner? Rice and sambar. This was the menu every Bangalorean looked into just a few years ago. A feast either meant a festive offering or an occasional pizza.

Today, the delicacies that are laid out on the tables of a city restaurant, are not just brought down from all over the country, but from across the globe. Chinese, Italian, Indonesian, Lebanese, Persian, Sri Lankan - you name it and you can taste it.

Bangalore has turned into an international food centre. Call it the IT boom or the increased awareness among people about the global cuisines you don’t need to go to Italy to have a yummy pasta.

People, who have travelled all the way from across India and the world to settle down in Bangalore, have more than the pleasant climate to give as reason. Sam and Mary, law students from Kenya, say, “We can enjoy our own tastes here. We do try out the variety of Indian dishes, but it gets very spicy.”

Every year many food festivals are organised in the city. Ranging from Italian, Continental, Mughalai, Thai, Chinese, Arabian including the desi cuisines like Kashmiri, Gujarati, Punjabi, et al.

“We organise new promotions according to the likes and dislikes of the consumers,” says Suren, restaurant manager of the Taj Group of Hotels. He explains, “People like Lebanese food as dinner and for buffets we serve Italian dishes. During weekends the crowd is much larger compared to week days.”

While the upper middle-class is busy with this food culture, the lower middle class too is fast catching up in terms of their habits. A few of them visit the food carnivals as it works out cheaper, while they feel the festivals are for the elite.

The concept of vegetarianism and home-made food is, however, still popular among some people.

“I prefer variety in my food, but it should be pure vegetarian,” says Govinda Pai, a retired army personal. He strongly believes that home-made food is not boring at all, instead it “carries love and care that is not available outside”.

H.K. Swami, a lecturer in a city college, prefers food that has a homely taste and is served amidst a homely ambience. “Home is the best place to have my kind of food,” he says, “So, if any restaurant, no matter which cuisine they serve, has that authentic touch and feel, then I don’t mind trying it out.”

Even Lt. Anandapa’s food concept is vegetarian. But he is calorie and health conscious as well. The management at Pizza Hut and Chung’s claims that they get a good mix of veg and non-veg crowd.

Youngsters like Mitra and Shruti believe in good presentation. “I cannot have food that does not appeal to the eye and tongue,” says Shruthi. Mitra adds that junk food is an outdated trend today. “People are becoming more health and figure conscious. Hygiene and health comes first before anything else,” Mitra clarifies.

Not to forget, brand identity is a concept that is not restricted to apparel and accessories alone. These days, youngsters prefer branded food like Mc Donalds, KFC, among others.

“I spent my childhood with typical South Indian food but my son is growing up with a Mc Donald’s burger,” says Harish, a businessman about his 10-year-old son. Biotech student, Krishna, has faith on branded food as he thinks, “Here, I can trust the quality with my eyes closed.”

Though different people think and eat differently, most admit that it’s health quotient and willingness to experiment with your tastebuds has contributed to the change in food habits for Bangaloreans.

Huawei says Bangalore manufacturing base is on track

Huawei says Bangalore manufacturing base is on track: report
China News

Huawei Technologies said its first US$60 million manufacturing base in Bangalore was going ahead, denying the expansion plan could be derailed due to Indian government security concerns.

Huawei Telecommunications India Corp spokesman Gong Wenhe rejected media reports that the company's plan to build the plant had worried Indian authorities because of purported links with the Chinese military and business ties with Pakistan. He said there had been
misunderstandings by the media.

What is being considered by the Indian government is a trading licence, not the Bangalore manufacturing centre, he said. A trading licence would allow foreign investors such as Huawei to directly supply its
telecommunications equipment products to local operators.

Bangalore airport promoters refute MP's charges

Bangalore airport promoters refute MP's charges
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The promoters of a new international airport some 30 km from here have expressed strong reservations over a parliamentary panel's report that faults their act of awarding some civil contracts to themselves.

The public-private consortium set up to build the Rs.14-billion ($320 million) airport at Devenahalli justified the award of contracts to four of the five promoters as they had a long standing in the aviation business.

Besides the Karnataka government, the four private sector promoters are Siemens AG of Germany, Zurich Airport Authority, Mumbai-based Larson and Toubro and the state-run Airport Authority of India (AAI).

"The contracts were awarded in conformity to the terms and conditions laid down in the global bid for the airport project floated by the Karnataka government," said Albert Brunner, chief executive of Bangalore International Airport.

"One of the criteria in the tendering process was that the consortium promoters should have wide experience in the construction, maintenance and operation of infrastructure projects, including airports, as in this case," Brunner told IANS.

But in a report tabled earlier this week, the parliamentary panel on aviation chaired by Nilotpal Basu of the Communist Party of India-Marxist sought a probe into the award of contracts at the Bangalore airport.

"Since the equity holders are themselves the service providers, there is certainly a conflict of interest," the panel observed.

Contracts worth Rs 8.86 billion ($200 million) have been awarded to Larsen and Toubro that accounts for Rs 5.5 billion ($125 million) and Siemens, which has a share of Rs 3.26 billion ($75 million) for executing the project.

While the Zurich Airport Authority will maintain and operate the project, the AAI will provide air traffic management, including air traffic control and allied services.

"The board was aware of the conflict of interest in awarding the contracts to the bidders, which also happen to be the shareholders of the project," Brunner said, of the project that is to be completed in 30 months.

"That is why we involved the independent consultants and the expert committee to ensure transparency in finalising the deals and the contractors," he said, adding that the contracts were vetted by the consultants.

The consultants were: Dorsch Consult of Germany for Siemens, C.R. Narayana and Company of Chennai for Larsen and Toubro, MOGT McDonald of Britain for Zurich Airport Authority and Scott Wilson for the ICICI, the lead commercial bank.

Brunner said when the parliamentary standing committee sought clarifications in June 2005, the consortium had submitted all information, including the documents pertaining to the contracts and explained the process of firming up the deals.

"We are open to any inquiry and ready to clarify our position. We will reiterate our stand once again and convince the committee on the transparency that was ensured in arriving at the decisions taken in fair and objective manner."

He said while the parliamentary committee had made some observations in its interim report, the consortium has not been officially informed of its content as yet. But the consortium was willing to clarify its position again.

Of the Rs 3.27 billion equity in the project, the Central and the government of Karnataka hold a 13-percent stake each, Siemens has a 40-percent stake, while Larsen and Toubro and the Zurich Airport Authority have a 17-percent share each.

The debt portion of Rs 7.35 billion - which constitutes about 60 percent of the project cost - is being financed by ICICI Bank. In addition, Karnataka has also extended a long-term interest free loan of Rs 3.5 billion, officials said.

The airport's chief executive has ruled out any impact of the parliamentary panel's findings on the project work since the construction had commenced in June and added that the airport will start operations from early-2008.

In Bangalore, India, a Cuddle With Your Baby Requires a Bribe

In Bangalore, India, a Cuddle With Your Baby Requires a Bribe
The New York Times

BANGALORE, India - Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital's ritual of extortion began.

Nesam Velankanni had to pay to see her daughter, Arokya, at her birth 16 months ago in Bangalore, India. She has an older daughter, Ruby, 6.

At the Austin Town Maternity Home in Bangalore, it is common for nurses to demand bribes to bring newborns to their mothers.

Before she even glimpsed her baby, she said, a nurse whisked the infant away and an attendant demanded a bribe. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day. The practice is common here in the city, surveys confirm.

Mrs. Velankanni was penniless, and her mother-in-law had to pawn gold earrings that had been a precious marriage gift so she could give the money to the attendant, or ayah. Mrs. Velankanni, a migrant to Bangalore who had been unprepared for the demand, wept in frustration.

"The ayah told my mother-in-law to pay up fast because the night duty doctor was leaving at 8 a.m. and wanted a share," she recalled.

The grand thefts of rulers may be more infamous, but the bitter experience of petty corruption, less apparent but no less invidious, is an everyday trial for millions of poor people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Increasingly, it is being recognized as a major obstacle to economic development, robbing the impoverished of already measly incomes and corroding the public services they desperately need.

The bribes vary from place to place and in the services affected, but stretch from cradle to grave, according to surveys and anticorruption investigators. People pay to give birth, and to collect their loved ones' bodies from mortuaries, and for everything in between: garbage collection, clean water, medicines, admission to public schools. Even policemen double as shakedown artists.

Such petty bribery acts as a hidden regressive tax, according to research financed by the World Bank Institute, the bank's educational and research arm. In Zambia, for example, poor people paid 17 percent of their incomes in bribes for medical care, while the middle class paid only 3 percent. The comparable figures for Paraguay were 7 percent for the poor and only 1 percent for the middle class.

"The poor not only are paying much more of their incomes to get the same medical services as the middle and richer classes, but they are also discouraged from seeking basic medical care because they can't afford it," said Daniel Kaufmann, director of global programs at the institute.

When low-level officials pick the pockets of the poor, it is also often a reliable indicator of greater corruption higher up the bureaucratic and political hierarchy.

Here in Bangalore, a city of 6.5 million known for its booming high-technology industry, pleasant climate and good private schools, local health managers commonly pay bribes to senior bureaucrats or elected officials to get good jobs, say investigators, civic leaders and senior civil servants. The health professionals then exact payments from subordinates and patients, emulating their bosses.

"Most of the district health officers have to pay bribes to get promotions and postings, and they in turn collect bribes from their staff and patients," said Hanumappa Sudarshan, the vigilance director for health and education in Karnataka State's anticorruption agency. "It's a vicious cycle."

Mr. Sudarshan's boss, Nanjegowda Venkatachala, a retired Indian Supreme Court justice who heads the agency, put it even more bluntly: "The greed of politicians is ruining the country. There's nothing to mince in this regard."

No matter where the corruption starts, it moves down through the ranks and finally to the poor, for whom it is an inescapable burden.

Though Bangalore has made progress in fighting corruption, it persists in the hospitals. In the narrow lanes of the slums and working-class neighborhoods around the 30-bed Austin Town maternity hospital, families with babies and toddlers described their personal experiences of bribery.

Shobha Rani, the doctor in charge, emphatically disputed such accounts in an interview earlier this year. "I've not come across even one patient who's come here and said I've been charged for anything," she said. "So many times, I've spoken to patients without the knowledge of my staff. I say: 'Tell me the truth. What did you face?' They always give me a good report."

But people who have used the hospital tell a different story. Nagaratna Hanumanthu, 23, and her husband, Hanumanthu, 28, a sugar-cane-juice vendor with a single name, lost their first baby to a raging fever just two days after he was born. Their anxieties were high last November when their daughter was born at Austin Town.

The moment the baby emerged, the nurses took her away and demanded $7, the parents said. But Mr. Hanumanthu, a tall, imposing man, said he pretended he knew important people and threatened to complain. The nurses backed down, he said.

But then his fears grew that the staff might hurt the baby. "We had already lost one child, and we were worried we would lose this child, too," he said.

Mr. Hanumanthu, who earns about $1 a day, turned to his mother, who makes $11 a month sweeping floors and washing dishes. She gave him money for the bribe.

As he described his ordeal, his glowering presence seemed to fill a dark, cramped room of their home in the slums, where his wife rocked the sleeping baby, Sujata, in a cradle.

It was far from the first bribe he had paid, he said, and certainly not the last.

Every month, he said, he must pay off city workers who threaten to confiscate his pushcart. He has no choice, he said. How else would he make a living? Last summer, he saw what happened to a vendor who refused to move when the city workers told him to. They overturned the man's cart, cracking the motor. He was out of work for three months.

"I've studied up to 10th grade and passed," he said bitterly. "I try to earn a decent living, but because of all the demands, I'm tempted to rob and steal to make money fast. I'm fed up with life."

A growing number of surveys of poor households, commissioned by nonprofit groups like the Public Affairs Center here in India, are documenting the problems of corruption and poor public services, arming advocates who are fighting corruption with useful information and providing voters with data that helps them hold elected officials accountable.

The center pioneered the use of consumer surveys here in Bangalore to measure the extent and effects of bribery and to give citizens a collective, credible voice about their experience of public services. The approach was the brainstorm of Samuel Paul, who formerly led one of India's premier business schools.

During the past decade, the center has released report cards that that have generated splashy coverage in local newspapers. "There was power in the information," Mr. Paul said.

The idea has been widely copied. Today report cards are used in Ethiopia, Uganda and Zanzibar, in Ukraine, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Bangalore's success in fighting corruption, under the leadership of a reform-minded government that took office in 1999, has enhanced the appeal of report cards. The center's latest survey, done in 2003, found that bribery had fallen sharply since 1999 and satisfaction with public services had risen, though bribes persisted at shockingly high levels in maternity hospitals.

One necessary step was removing bureaucratic middlemen. Bangalore substantially reduced corruption in property tax assessments by setting simple rules so citizens could estimate their own property values, cutting out inspectors who had demanded payoffs. Property tax collections rose sharply.

Cleaning up the city's 30 maternity homes, which mainly serve the poor, has proved tougher, however.

A 1999 survey by the center found that 9 of 10 families whose relatives gave birth in the hospitals reported paying a bribe, usually to see the baby. The average amount paid has since dropped to $7 from about $16. But 8 in 10 women still reported paying bribes in 2003 - to have their baby delivered, to see the child after birth, to get their newborn immunized or to obtain medicines that were supposed to be free.

K. Jairaj, who became city commissioner in 1999, said he was appalled when Mr. Paul handed him the original maternity hospital findings six years ago. "It was the trigger to move the politicians and bureaucrats forward," he said.

At the center's urging, the city set up boards of volunteers to monitor hospitals. It also posted citizens' charters in maternity hospitals stating that bribery was prohibited and listing phone numbers for complaints. But the boards were often toothless, and many patients already knew bribes were illegal.

The city's current commissioner, Karuppiah Jothiramalingam, who took office last year with a new government, said he would retrain hospital workers and punish those who solicited bribes. He added, "This type of action can only be taken on specific complaints."

But the ingrained habits of bribery persist in part because the poor, powerless in so many aspects of their lives, are afraid to object. They worry that their newborns will get bad medical care from angry health workers. They dread retribution when they return for subsequent births.

Shireen Taj, a car mechanic's wife, had her first baby at Austin Town on Jan. 21. The family said they paid the going rate - $12 - to see the boy.

Razia Begum, Mrs. Taj's mother, said that even when Shireen was born at Austin Town 18 years ago, the family paid a bribe to see her, though the price then was the same for boys and girls. "Now boys cost more, girls less," she said, describing the devaluing of females in a society where the male child is often more desired. Sometimes the very poorest people are charged less, she and others said.

"It's a practice there," she said. "My older daughter also paid. So I brought money." The nurses and attendants are the ones who ask for the money, while the doctor is never present, families say.

As Razia Begum spoke, an elderly neighbor came to the door. "If you write about it," she said to a reporter, "they will chase us out of the hospital. Where will we go?"

Several women who had just given birth and their families, interviewed on an open ward at the hospital and shortly after the mothers were discharged, also said they had been asked to pay bribes.

Margaret, a 50-year-old grandmother who uses only one name, said she paid to see her 19-year-old daughter's baby the day he was born, Feb. 16. She earns only $10 a month as a maid and said that she was determined to pay no more than $7 - and that she did not.

"Though I felt bad and a little angry, a private hospital would have cost at least 2,500 rupees," or about $60, she said. The bribe was still costly but, by the calculus of poverty, a relative bargain.

B for Bangalored

B for Bangalored

By Dr Bob Hoekstra
The Week

All southern states have great education environments, with Kerala having one of the highest literacy rates in the country, but being communist it has a hard time attracting free enterprise. So, well educated people exercise the option to come to Karnataka. Bangalore's population is a rich mix of people from all southern states, enriched with a significant percentage from the north as well. Hyderabad and Chennai are secondary magnets.

In 1996, the Philips R&D centre was created in Bangalore because it has a tradition of R&D. Research and development has a tendency of going to places where the quality of life is good. The reason is very simple: top R&D people are global who drift to places where they find a high quality of life and a great work environment. The best example is California's Silicon Valley, where you have Baywatch life daily and high tech conglomerates centered around some world class universities. So does Bangalore with IISc, National Law School, IIMB, National Institute of Advanced Studies and many engineering colleges.

When we started our operations in Bangalore, the largest companies were a few thousand people, when the real boom started around 1995. Then, campuses in Bangalore were only IIMB and IISc. Now there are software campuses everywhere, some close to the centre, but gradually moving to the outskirts and satellite towns. And the employees have progressed from two-wheelers to four-wheelers. The visitors who came to give the industries their tasks still do so but also come in flocks to learn. The hotels are overflowing and the strain on the infrastructure is obvious. Roads are congested, the airport halls, and tarmac are crowded, and the number of airlines in domestic and international routes are on the rise.

Bangalore still has the makings of a sleepy town, with little excitement once the rush hour is over. Once a pensioner's paradise and a garden city, such images linger on. But Elton John and the Rolling Stones have visited the city and high class shopping malls arise everywhere. The days of only having Grover red and white wine have disappeared with a variety of brands now available.

The power has been unleashed, it is obvious. The opening of the economy has allowed many industries to flourish. And an ecosystem has been formed which has great potential to really earn the name Silicon Valley of India. When academia are freed from their shackles and enter the world's top 100, when the education system changes from storing and reproducing knowledge to using knowledge to serve people's needs, when companies build on mutual expertise, by subcontracting and building partnerships, that is when the next wave of opportunities will arise.

And industries other than IT also derive confidence from the examples set, and rise to the occasion. Biotechnology, automobiles, textiles and pharmaceuticals are all on a growth path.

The materialisation of the opportunities is determined by the infrastructure. It is not a question if it happens in the south or in the north, it is a matter of India's competitiveness versus other countries. IT industry mainly needs infrastructure for its employees to commute and to live a high quality life. Other industries can be competitive within their gates, but lose it once they hit the road and the bureaucracy. After the IT jobs in the US have been Bangalored, our IT jobs too may be CapeTowned, Manillaed and Shanghaied. The rest of the industry may not see the growth needed to find jobs for the growing population if the ability to do business is not enabled with infrastructure.

At the same time, Naxalites are spreading from Andhra Pradesh into other states building on dissatisfaction in rural areas. Droughts, lack of power, poor roads, all spell misery for the agricultural community. The elections last year gave a clear indication of the level of dissatisfaction. The disparity between the poor and the rich continues to be a mystery for me as an expat. That I can keep my wallet in my backpocket when walking into any slum is pleasantly stunning. One does not do that in New York. But now the increasing disparity and the dissatisfaction are beginning to have their impact. Further development is only possible when it is balanced. Balancing by slowing down urban growth does not help, it should remain the engine of prosperity. But, structural improvements in the livelihood of urban poor as well as in rural India are a must. Healthcare, education, housing, agricultural productivity, connectivity, all require improvements.

The future looks bright for the south, the triangleó Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennaiócan be the engine. Secondary cities can take some of the growth. Infrastructure must come up, hopefully, to realise the great potential. Industry will insist on it.

The author is CEO of Philips Software Centre in Bangalore

Metro: PIB flashes green light; Gowda determined to scuttle it

Green signal despite hurdles
PIB Sends Minutes Of Meeting To Participants; Note To Go To CCEA
The Times of India

Bangalore: Bangalore Metro Rail will merrily chug along. It has got the green signal from the Public I nve s t m e n t Board (PIB) despite former PM H D Deve Gowda’s huffing and puffing. The PIB has sent the minutes of the meeting that cleared the Metro project to all the participants on Monday.

Sources said the PIB while sending the minutes observed that it had taken into account Gowda’s objections before deciding to go ahead with the project estimated to cost Rs 6,296 crore.

Now, the Union urban development ministry will prepare the Cabinet note and send it to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for its clearance. The CCEA is expected to meet shortly and give its approval.

The PIB had held back the minutes of the meeting following Gowda’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dated July 27, 2005, which was the second he had sent objecting to the high costs.

Meanwhile, chief secretary B K Das on Monday held a meeting in Bangalore with state and central government departments and government undertakings whose land is required for the project. All the departments have agreed to hand over land; appropriate compensation is being worked out. The Centre has to hand over 136.18 acres of land, out of which 101.75 acres have been already given by the defence ministry. Another 26 acres at Byapanahalli for the depot are being given by the NPCL.

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation managing director K N Shrivastava said some buildings and schools will be demolished and relocated. Joint inspection for relocation will be held and the entire plan will be worked out.

Gowda not convinced

Bangalore: Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda continued his tirade against Metro Rail and the inter national airport projects on Monday terming them a waste of public money.

At a function organised at Chamarajpet Idgah maidan here to distribute ‘title deeds’ to slum dwellers in the Chamarajpet assembly constituency, Gowda said: “We will not allow public money to be wasted in this manner,’’ he stressed. Referring to the programme of distributing title deeds to the slum-dwellers, he said the poor must be not be ignored in development programmes. According to him, Bangalore has nearly 470 slums. “Owning a house is everyone’s dream. We will not disappoint anyone,’’ he said.

Along with the ‘title deeds’, each beneficiary will get a ration card, a health card and a prescribed quantity of foodgrains.

The function saw the residents from 23 slums coming under MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan constituency turn up.

But no rethinking, says CM

Hubli/Bangalore: The Metro Rail is on track and there was no rethinking at this stage, chief minister N Dharam Singh said in Hubli on Monday despite reservations expressed by JD(S) national president H D Deve Gowda on the issue.

“The state is pursuing the mass rapid transport project for Bangalore since 1992. Everything has been finalised by the cabinet. The state is going ahead with its decision,’’ Singh told reporters.

The CM sought to clarify that Gowda was not opposing the Metro Rail project. Singh said Gowda was told about a monorail project study for Bangalore done by some agency and he forwarded it to the PM. The state government had also considered the monorail option before deciding in favour of Metro Rail, he added. On the IT sector’s perception about lack of infrastructure in Bangalore to attract fresh investment, the CM said: “Work on the airport project has begun. BDA is spending Rs 491 crore on the hi-tech city. Metro project is on the way.”

On Nasscom president Kiran Karnik and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s comments on Bangalore’s crumbling infrastructure, Singh told The Times of India that all major flyovers had been completed or were underway. Singh said he will ask BCC to take up works once the rains stop.

Only action plans, no action

Only action plans, no action
The Times of India

Lots of plans, very little action. That about sums up the progress towards laying a comprehensive underground drainage (UGD) network in the outlying urban local bodies.

That these bodies — the seven city municipal councils (CMCs) and one town municipal council (TMC) — lack a proper UGD system is a known fact. But, is anything being done about it? Ask the CMCs/TMC and they say the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is responsible. The latter, in turn, maintains that plans are being readied and that money needs to be sanctioned.

The Board plans to lay a UGD and road network in the 240-250 sq km CMC/TMC area as part of its nearly Rs 1,000 crore greater Bangalore water supply and sanitation project (GBWASP).

Work on laying water supply lines under a Rs 340.55-crore water supply package has begun. According to BWSSB chief engineer (projects) S.M. Basavaraju, the Board has now submitted the designs and project appraisal for the UGD component to the World Bank for approval. The total cost comes to Rs 600 crore for this alone as it involves upgrading roads in the CMCs/TMC too.”A memorandum of understanding will be signed with the World Bank in September. After that, estimates will be ready by December-2005,’’ Basavaraju said.

Actual work on the UGD will begin in March 2006, and that too, only if approval comes through on time. The project will then take two and a half to three years, that is, it may drag on till 2008-09.

Till then nothing happens. The CMCs/TMC will continue to let out untreated sewage into whatever outlet they find (including surrounding lakes/tanks).

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) knows that this dangerous practice endangers the lakes. Already there have been fish deaths in some of the affected tanks. The Board has, in fact, issued notices to all the CMCs on this. “After we did that, the CMCs replied that the BWSSB is laying the underground drainage system,’’ a senior KSPCB official explained.

The Board has the option of utilising penal provisions under its Water Act and file a criminal case against the CMCs but it needs government permission to do so. And getting permission is a hassle. “It is better to ask the BWSSB and the CMCs for their plan of action,’’ the official added.

So, another ‘action plan’ will be prepared!


Lack of infrastructure - roads, drainage and water supply. BWSSB’s much-hyped Rs 900 crore-odd crore water supply and drainage project is moving at snail’s pace. And till the project is not completed, the CMCs have been asked not to take up road work.

CMCs have to fend for themselves. After Lok Ayukta unearthed a huge scam in 2002, the government has stopped even stamp duty. Property tax and trade licence are the main sources of revenue.

Government apathy — lack of political will to develop CMCs on par with the city. There is no masterplan for development of urban local bodies, while dozens of masterplans for Bangalore are gathering dust.


Proposed amalgamation of all the seven CMCs and one TMC with the BCC. But this proposal has not moved an inch. Formation of a centralised agency — Bangalore Metropolitan Authority (BMA), to bring civic bodies under one umbrella. Status: Guidelines for the formation of BMA are being chalked out. Release grants from the BCC to develop connecting roads. This too has been dumped.


While the 220 urban local bodies (ULB) come under the purview of municipal administration department, the ULBs around Bangalore have been retained by the chief minister as he holds Bangalore city development portfolio. Consequently, they neither get funds from the urban development department nor from municipal administration department. While the ULBs in state have got a lot of projects implemented with financial support from the Asian Development Bank and KUIDFC, their counterparts in Bangalore are the losers.


To treat all sewage produced in the city in the next 5-10 years, BWSSB has to link existing sewerage network in the city with that in newly added areas and in the CMCs/TMC. There are 10 sewage treatment plants (STPs) at present (including two tertiary treatment plants — at Yelahanka and Vrishabavathi Valley.) BWSSB plans to build 12 more STPs: seven under Cauvery stage 4, phase 2 project and five under GBWASP. Now, city gets 860 million litres per day (MLD). With Cauvery stage 4, phase 2, 500 MLD more will start flowing. Building new STPs will take a couple of years.

CMCs are choking. Any suggestions?

CMCs are choking. Any suggestions?
The Times of India

Encroachments. Right where (un)quiet flows the drain. Even a casual look shows that constructions have sprung up below the drain level at most CMC areas.

Rapid urbanisation, development of new areas alongside the main drains and tank beds, unchecked growth on water bodies — all have led to flooding of many low-lying areas in different parts of the city.

The BCC has statistics on storm water drains in the city limits — 93.56 km of primary drains and 129.40 km of secondary drains — all of which converge at the four major valleys. The CMC areas have no such details. No one knows just where the water is supposed to flow!
“Our drains don’t have the capacity to withstand heavy rain. The underground drainage system being planned will take time to come up. There is no gradient system,’’ admits Bommanahalli commissioner Uday Shankar. He does not have suggestions either for modelling the area.

Rajarajeshwarinagar is an undulating and hilly area. Result: whenever it rains, residents have to contend with a stink. In Yelahanka, the scene is no better.

At Dr Ambedkar Housing Colony, 17 houses were damaged and six people have been taken up by the BCC; the valley has the highest fall and drop level of 104 mts. Similar operations have started at the Koramangala and Challaghatta valleys which, say authorities, would benefit low-lying areas in south Bangalore.


The BCC control room has no reported complaints from waterlogged areas, except for basements and houses in low-lying areas being flooded. However, residents called up The Times of India with their woes: injured. While the injured have been hospitalised, the CMC commissioner announced a compensation of Rs 500 for each.

Even at Surbhi Layout there, water flowed into houses, forcing residents to pump out water for hours together on Monday morning. “The drain at Alansandra started overflowing on Sunday and the stormwater drain was also choked,’’ commissioner Mohammed Kaleemulla said.
Desilting, unclogging and remodelling the valley over 100 layouts were flooded at the Kalappa Extension in Basavanagar near Airport Road. The control room said 35 trees were uprooted in different parts of the city.

Says R R Lokeshwar, resident of Nandi Enclave at Banashankari III Stage, “The basement was flooded; pumps were put to use. We were wading in knee-deep water.’’

More flights of fancy

Traffic task force plans inner core Ring road
Deccan Herald

A ‘fast track’ project for an inner core ring road bordering the central business district of Bangalore figures prominently among the mid-term measures identified by the eight-month old Bangalore City Traffic Task Force headed by Principal Secretary Home Department Brahm Dutt.

The road measuring 25 kms in length will pass through Mekri Circle, Yeshwanthpur Circle, Dr Rajkumar Road, Sirsi Circle, KIMS junction, Lalbagh main gate point, Bangalore Diary Circle, Richmond Circle, Trinity Circle and so on. The estimated Rs 100 crore project will be handled by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

Speaking after a review meeting of the task force on Monday, IGP and Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) K V R Tagore said that the entry of private vehicles will be ‘strictly regulated or prohibited’ within the said core ring road.

Many ‘mini flyovers’ and ‘vehicle sub ways’, and ‘left turns only’ will be the prominent features of the project, he said.

BMP Commissioner Jothi-ramalingam said that the detailed project report on the work is being prepared. Central assistance will be taken as feasible under the National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM), he added.

As the National Urban Renewal Mission is pending the nod of the Union Cabinet, the State or the BMP is yet to receive the official guidelines to avail the assistance, he noted and added that the BMP, however, is in the process of identifying the projects for which the assistance may be sought.

The BMP has already commissioned the consultants Urban First to prepare the Comprehensive Draft Strategy Plan, Mr Jothiramalingamobserved.

Adrift on Bannerghatta Road

Adrift on Bannerghatta Road
Deccan Herald

Rains have once again exposed the gross inefficiency of the authorities. Angry residents blocked traffic on Bannerghatta Road for nearly two hours.

Bannerghatta Road is in the news again. For all the wrong reasons, as usual.

Slammed by the downpour on Sunday evening, hundreds of residents of apartments along Bannerghatta Road took to the streets on Monday, protesting the “pathetic” state of civic amenities, which according to them, caused the flooding.

The angry residents — including those from the prestigious Mantri, Ranka, Oasis and Surabhi apartments — staged a road blockade near the Ring Road-JP Nagar junction in the morning and blocked traffic on Bannerghatta Road for nearly two hours.

They wanted the Bommanahalli City Municipal Council (CMC) to immediately desilt the choked drains and upgrade civic amenities in the area.

The residents were literally held hostage for several hours on Monday morning as overflowing water from a nearby storm water drain gushed into their apartment blocks. The basement areas of the apartments were flooded with water and filth, damaging several two-wheelers and four-wheelers parked there.

Students and office-goers in the apartments, where an estimated 1,000 families dwell, were badly affected.

“I failed to go to work as I was stranded inside my flat... This is a pathetic state of affairs,” Subhashini, a school teacher, at Mantri apartments, told Deccan Herald over phone.

Civic amenities in the surrounding areas are in a poor state and need to be upgraded immediately. “We have made several representations in the past in this regard, but to no avail. Hence, we resorted to protest,” K S Pai, Ranka Colony Residents’ Association President, said. Mr Arun Kumar, a resident of Ranka Colony, said clogging of the huge storm water drain that passes by is the reason for the flooding. Some apartments also faced a blackout for the entire day on Monday as power lines snapped, he added.

Elsewhere in the City, hundreds of houses in low lying areas, including Ejipura, BTM Layout, Koramangala, Airport areas, Banaswadi and Amarjyothi Nagar, were affected due to water logging.

Besides, 20 trees were uprooted across the City, according to Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) officials.

In Yelahanka New Town, several houses either collapsed or were flooded, especially those in the catchment area of the Allalasandra lake. The nearby Arkavathy layout area witnessed heavy water-logging.

The heavy rain over the past weekend has turned into a ‘quality test’ of sorts for BMP’s road works. Newly-laid roads in places like Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Vijayanagar, Chamarajpet, Jayanagar, Koramangala, R T Nagar and Jayamahal have been washed away.

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s over-flowing manholes only worsened citizens’ woes.


The weather is likely to change as the week progresses and Bangalore City is not likely to receive rains associated with thunderstorm in the coming days, according to Met Department officials.

The rains that lashed the City during the past two days were due to a cyclonic circulation. Besides, moist atmospheric conditions only added to the ferocity of the rains, Met Department Director A L Koppar said. The City received 30.1 mm rainfall and the airport 17.7 mm rainfall till 8:30 am on Monday.

Bus terminal starts operations

Bus terminal starts operations

The Hindu

BANGALORE: The newly built satellite bus terminal of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation in Byatarayanapura started functioning from Monday.

According to a press release, interstate buses to Ooty, Kozhikode and Thiruvananathapuram and buses to Maddur, Mysore, Mandya, Hunsur, Virajapet, Kushalnagar, Madikeri, Somwarapet, Gundlupet, Kollegal, M.M. Hills, B.R. Hills, Malavalli and Chamarajanagar will leave from the new bus station. The terminal provides parking space for about 350 cars.

Ulsoor police station sports swanky interiors

Ulsoor police station sports swanky interiors

The Hindu

Work was initiated when S. Mariswamy was the city police chief

BANGALORE: The 31-year-old Ulsoor police station might look the same from outside. But step inside and be prepared for hi-tech interiors, complete with glistening tiles, spacious rooms, a big parking area and provision for data networking and voice cabling that would make computerisation easy. In three months, the old, dingy building has undergone a complete change.

Remodelled by Sasken Communication Technologies, the station was formally opened on Monday by Sasken chief executive officer Rajiv Mody and city Police Commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh. With a brand new station and an "inspiring" infrastructure in place, Mr. Singh hoped the Ulsoor police and the city police in general would now show a change in attitude towards the petitioners, complainants, visitors and even criminals. "We need to show a positive attitude," he said.

A public-private partnership project, the remodelling was initiated by the former city Police Commissioner, S. Mariswamy, who is now Director-General of Police (Fire Services). "Most of our police stations still feature dark corridors and have broken furniture. Part of the negative image of the police today is due to the buildings and infrastructure," felt Mr. Mariswamy, who was also present at the function. In all, 22 police stations were being remodelled across the city, he said.

He said a police station should be welcoming "like a plaza, where people are not deterred. We had placed double light structures in the Kengeri and Upparpet stations to make them more open. It is part of an open office concept with less walls and more transparency. It is high time, the Government realises this and changes the structure of buildings and other infrastructure," he said.

Mr. Mody said the remodelling project was part of Sasken's social responsibility initiatives. "We need to provide proper infrastructure for our people to perform better and efficiently. If we in the IT sector can work better with good infrastructure, the same can be expected from our police force too," he said.

The remodelled station has a spacious work area and a unique "skylight" structure on its first floor to enable efficient transmission of natural light. The station also features innovative retrofitting techniques and vitrified tile flooring. Fireproof doors and windows with noise and heat insulation properties add another dimension to the station building, which also has separate interrogation, armour, records and lock-up rooms.

Airport project: infrastructure plans get the nod

Airport project: infrastructure plans get the nod

The Hindu

Flyover and interchange planned on the Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway

BANGALORE: With work starting on the Rs. 1,200-crore international airport project at Devanahalli, plans have been cleared for supporting infrastructure.

One of these will be a flyover and interchange on the Bangalore-Hyderabad National Highway (NH 7) for smooth transit of vehicles to the airport terminal buildings.

Road widening

Bellary Road, as it is more commonly known, is being widened to have six lanes, three in either direction and the interchange will begin close to the railway line and pass over it, according to plans.

Only 60 acres of land will be required for this project which will also have an exit from the airport towards Bangalore, joining the main highway about three km beyond the airport.

Through traffic from Bangalore towards Hyderabad will proceed as usual without any pause on the highway.

Vehicles coming along the highway towards Bangalore too will not have any problems.

Vehicles from the city going to the airport will take a ramp to the left of the highway, go into one of the loops of the flyover and continue straight to the terminal and car park.

Those driving towards Hyderabad will go under this loop on the highway.

Vehicles coming out of the airport will join the highway a bit southwards, avoiding the flyover altogether.

Those who have to drive northwards from the airport will have another ramp to the flyover and an exit to the highway.

No traffic snarls

Highways department engineers call this interchange-flyover a "trumpet loop" because of its curved shape and say it may be the first of its size and shape in the country.

The estimated cost may touch Rs. 38 crores, which is considered good value since it can save a lot of traffic snarls, once the international airport becomes operational.

It may be contracted on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) basis for a period of 20 years to private developers. They will have to recover the cost through toll stations.

Plans for the interchanging-flyover were kept pending till the financial closure for the airport project which has now been completed.

Work progressing

Meanwhile, work is on at a brisk pace on the 1,650 hectares of land acquired and cleared for the airport project.

Work on the 4,000-metre runway and all buildings is expected to be completed by mid 2008 when the first flights are to land.

Government firm on metro rail, says Kharge

Government firm on metro rail, says Kharge

The Hindu

`The project will not be stopped just because of the opposition to it by some people'

BANGALORE: Minister for Water Resources and Transport M. Mallikarjun Kharge said on Monday that the State Government is firm on implementing the metro rail project here.

Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Kharge said that the metro rail project will not be stopped just because of opposition by some people, including President of the Janata Dal (Secular) H.D. Deve Gowda.

Mr. Kharge said that the Government is in favour of the project as it serves the people of Bangalore, who find it difficult to travel from one place to another.


"Though Mr. Deve Gowda has expressed his opposition to the project, his party members in the Ministry have given approval for the project. Our Government will go ahead with the project and there will be no change in its decision," the Minister said. Earlier, speaking after inaugurating the fourth regional transport office (RTO) at Yelahanka here, Mr. Kharge said that the metro rail project helps many people. Only around 1,000 property owners will be affected by it. "The Government cannot overlook the benefit against the problems caused to a few," he said. The Minister said that the Government will work out a proper rehabilitation plan for those who will be affected by the project.

`Think ahead'

Mr. Kharge asked the city municipal councils around Bangalore to think ahead while providing basic infrastructure to the people.

This is because of the fact that the city is becoming a much sought after destination for investment by multinational companies, which is adding to the pressure on infrastructure, Mr. Kharge said.

The city municipal councils around Bangalore should make good use of government funds while developing roads and other basic amenities for the people, he said.

The Minister directed the officials concerned to take stringent action against transporters who overload their vehicles, which leads to road damage. Mr. Kharge asked the Yelahanka City Municipal Council to make good use of the investment made in developing basic infrastructure in its limits.

Giving permanence to slums

Govt. acts on Gowda's diktat: Distributes possession certificates to slum people
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Nearly a month before the deadline set by former Prime Minister and JD (S) supremo, the coalition government led by Chief Minister Dharam Singh hasstarted distributing possession certificates to slum dwellers in Bangalore.

Gowda at Daridra Naryana rally organised by the JD (S) at the Palace Grounds a few months ago had set October 2 deadline to Dharam Singh government to issue possession certificates to slum dwellers in the city.

On Monday, Gowda distributed possession certificates to slum dwellers in Chamarajpet Assembly Constituency represented by JD (S) member B Z Zameer Ahamed Khan.

While thanking the Chief Minister for acting on his request, Gowda said that similar programmes will be organised in other Constituencies represented by other party members.

Gowda recalled that, he as a Chief Minister had given similar certificates to slum people in 1995. He asked the government not to demolish the slums or houses built on any government land. ``All houses built by the poor on a government should be regularised. Let the poor vote for the party of their choice. But the government should not displace them from their houses,'' he said.

Making an obvious reference to former Chief Minister by S M Krishna, Gowda said that nearly 140 families were forcibly vacated by the previous government.

``Nothing happened in the last five years. The poor were neglected and their houses demolished. To protect these poor families, the party was forced to organise Daridra Narayana rally,'' he said. Though the programme was organised by the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board, it was looking like a JD (S) party programme with banners and buntings of party leaders all around the venue at Idgah Maidan in Chamarajpet.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cutting the roots of right to information

Cutting the roots of right to information
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: It appears that the Government of Karnataka is not enthusiastic about giving the citizens’ right to access information. Despite the fact that Karnataka is the first state to appoint the Information Commissioner, the state government has tried to curtail the right to information through its ill-conceived rules.

The contents of the rules, its timing and the way in which it is made public all goes to prove that the Government wants to suppress the citizens’ right to know.

The Draft Rules under the RTI has been issued on 11th August 2005 and published in the gazette on 12th August 2005. Fifteen days time has been give for the public to give comments.

But the Gazette was available with great difficulty only from 20th August 2005. As a result the public are unable to give their suggestions and comments within the time limit prescribed in the draft rules.

Normally the draft rules are given wide publicity and comments are invited from the public giving 30 days time. Rules are made available in the website. In this case nothing of that sort has been done.

One fails to understand why the bureaucrats did not think on these lines. If the Government is really interested in getting feedback from the public, another 15 days’ extension is to be given.

This was one of the recommendations of the workshop. Now about the contents. The draft rules say that each applicant has to pay a fee of Rs 100 along with the application for seeking any information or document under the Right to Information Act.

Nowhere in the country has this provision been made. In fact the fee of Rs. 5 per folio as prescribed in the rules is itself more than what the Government incurs to take a photocopy. In such a case the requirement to pay application fee needs to be deleted.

Secondly, it says that the rules will come into force from the day it is notified in the Gazette. This is contrary to the RTI Act.

Because some of the provisions of the Act has already come into force. For example the provision relating to pro-active disclosure. How can the rule specify a separate date for a provision which is supposed to be already in force?

The draft is too sketchy and appears to have been drafted in a hurry without professional inputs. For instance the rules do not prescribe a format for the application. There is a provision in the Act for drawing samples for verification.

But the rules conveniently ignore this important aspect. How can this provision be put into practice? What is the cut off date for asking for samples? In the last four years the general public and civil society organizations working on Karnataka Right to Information Act have gained sufficient experience in using the Act and in the way how the government machinery works in matters relating to sharing of information.

This vast experience needs to be tapped before the rules are finalised.

Contractors get away with delays, BCC takes no action

Contractors get away with delays, BCC takes no action
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Inordinate delays seem to have become quite routine for Bangalore City Corporation’s (BCC) projects and one wonders if the civic body has any legal control over the contractors.

The work on Rajajinagar Grade Separator began three years ago, but is still limping and it is not known if deadlines have any sanctity or legal binding on the contractor at all.

What is more outrageous is that no contractor in the BCC history was imposed any penalty for delay. While the BCC gives works to contractors at 30-40 percent higher than the estimated cost, it goes on granting escalation costs to contractors.

Though contractors are bound by a legal agreement with BCC to complete work on time, the agreement has no clause on penalty, said BCC Commissioner K. Jothiramalingam.

“I don’t know why the BCC contract agreements have no clause on bonus and penalty. All other government departments have these clauses,” he admits.

The contractors are not a happy lot either. Every infrastructure proposal passes through as many as 42 ‘tables’ and every table entails a ‘soft cost’ to get the file moving, said a contractor.

After this the proposal moves to the standing committees and the council before BCC sends it to the Urban Development Department.

This ‘soft cost’ and the delay at proposal stage make contractors bid 30-40 percent higher than the estimated cost of the work, sources in BCC engineering department told this website’s newspaper.

The ordeal of the civic work continues even after the proposal is sent to government after BCC selecting a contractor. Without the Government nod, the civic body can not enter into any agreement with the contractor though it has selected one.

Hence the BCC issues a Letter of Intent (LoI) to the contractor and asks him to start work. This throws the time estimate off the track as the time line of the project begins from the date of agreement.

Now the next bundle of troubles begin with contractor denying to start work as the cost he quoted in the original bid have escalated due to all this delay which would have run into an year. Now it is the turn of the escalation proposal to do all the rounds explained above.

By the way the no work on the ground begins as yet.

The commissioner wants to put an end to the pointless delay. “We will introduce penalty and bonus clause to the agreement. While the penalty would deter the contractor from delaying, incentive would encourage him to complete the project ahead of time,” said Jothiramalingam.

But that would necessitate an annual time audit alongside the current financial audit. Is the civic body prepared for it?

Park land 'vanishes' in CDP 2005

Park land 'vanishes' in CDP 2005
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Bangaloreans may now have to forget the dream of another Cubbon park or Lalbagh. While the citizens are urging for large parks and open spaces at the regional level to retain the glory of Bangalore as a garden city, the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) does not reflect it.

Instead, it has scrapped the idea of regional parks proposed in CDP-1995.

CDP 1995 had earmarked six locations of the city to an extent of 1,250 hectares for developing regional parks. But the CDP-2005 does not recognise them as parks and has marked them for other purposes.

Locations marked for regional parks were in Banashankari VI Stage, Hebbal, Yeshwantpur, Madivala, Whitefield (Doddenakundli) and Rajarajeshwarinagar. There is no trace of parks on these lands for the past ten years.

Instead they have been used for other purposes either by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) itself or by encroachers.

The land marked for a park in Banashankari VI Stage has been used for residential purpose by BDA.

“A part of the land in Hebbal near Hebbal tank has been used for the flyover. The downward strip is not developed,” a former town-planning official said.

The Doddenakundli area in Whitefield, is earmarked for residential purpose in the present CDP, according to him. In Yeshwantpur and Madivala areas only the tank bed is left and the surrounding areas are encroached upon.

“Even BWSSB has some construction,” the official said.

In Rajarajeshwarinagar or Ideal homes, the marked land is also used for purposes other than the development of a park.

“The new CDP may identify lands for residential or semi-public use, but certainly not for the development of a park,” the official said.

The parks were planned at regional levels to serve different parts of the city to meet the requirement of lung spaces. “Even some existing parks, which are shown in the existing land use maps, are changed to public and semi-public use,” the official said.

“The BDA has not taken adequate measures to freeze encroachments. Why should the public pay for their mistake? Let BDA identify some other location for parks if they have difficulties in developing the marked land into parks,” the official said.

Residents argue that Cubbon park and Lalbagh were built when the city had just a two lakh population. “Now it has crossed over 70 lakhs, and the two parks cannot meet the need,” Ramaksrishna, a resident says.

Airport to get trumpet junction flyover

Airport to get trumpet junction flyover
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: For the first time in India, a trumpet-like design flyover will be built. This interchange will be a part of the six-laning of the Bangalore-Hyderabad NH 7 (Bellary road) built by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). The interchange will fly over the rail crossing just before the international airport and deliver vehicles directly in front of the terminal.

The total land required for the project is 60 acres. “Preliminary notification has already been given and the final notification will be given soon,” Vinay Kumar, Principal Secretary, Infrastructure department said.

The cost estimated is 38 Crores. The Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) process is yet to be done. “It may be given to a private firm for a period of 20 years. They will be able to recover the amount through the toll,” he said.

“The international airport was itself cleared in March, so these plans were on a hold. Now the work will be speedy,” he said.

The trumpet-like flyover, which will take off from the Bangalore-Hyderabad highway, will pass the highway and the railway track, and descend to the International Airport.

Bangalore to Hyderabad traffic will continue without hindrance along the six-lane highway. Hyderabad to Bangalore-bound traffic will also continue without hindrance.

Commuters from Bangalore to international airport will take the left ramp, go into outer loop of trumpet and continue down ramp straight to terminal, while commuters from Hyderabad side of highway take the surface road into the airport.

Those coming out of international airport heading towards Bangalore city will take the surface road towards the city and those heading towards Hyderabad side will take the ramp from the airport to the inner loop of the trumpet and exit out on the National Highway.

The trumpet interchange is so called as the design of the ramps and the concentric loops resembles the spiralling design of the musical instrument. Such a flyover has not been built in India so far, though there is a plan for a trumpet exchange on NH 79, at Krishangarh-Nazirabad in Ajmer district of Rajasthan.

BMTC to collect Rs 11 crore to rev up technology

BMTC to collect Rs 11 crore to rev up technology
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: When you travel in a BMTC bus, you presume you are paying for the diesel and the salary of personnel. But the BMTC reveals 10 paise on each ticket is collected towards technology upgradation.

The BMTC expects to collect Rs 7.66 crore from the sale of tickets, Rs 30 lakh from student passes, Rs 2.09 crore from public passes, Rs 27.69 lakh from dedicated passes for factories and Rs 52.56 lakh from chartered services during 2005-06.

BMTC MD Upendra Tripathy said: “We want to use this fund for technology initiatives like the global positioning system (GPS), which facilitates tracking of our buses. Paying 10 paise may not be an additional burden for a commuter. Our objective is to make BTMC bus services more reliable through these technology initiatives.

“We are planning to introduce an interactive voice response system (IVRS) and a passenger information system (PIS) shortly,” he said.

BMTC has already appointed MobiApps and Arya Omnitech, a subsidiary of Arvind Mills, to implement its IT initiatives.

“It would be easy for the BMTC to avail a tracking summary of buses through the MobiApps m-Track Web based fleet management system. We get 140 accident cases against BMTC buses every year. Some of them are falsely foisted.

“Through the IT initiative, we can save around Rs 2.1 crore that would otherwise be paid as compensation. If we come to know about a bus being involved in a accident, we can be prepared to attend courts and pay compensation,” the managing director said.

He said the BMTC plans to fix an LED (light emitting diode) to each of its buses. “We have put in the LED system in 20 buses on a pilot basis. Each bus needs Rs 18,000 for this, and we have roped in Itramas, a Malaysian company, to implement the LED system,” he said.

BMTC is expected to receive Central assistance of around Rs 2 crore to support its IT initiatives. “The Centre has agreed to look into our proposal. If everything goes well, we will receive the amount for economic feasibility tests of new ideas,” he said.