Tuesday, August 30, 2005

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.


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