Monday, October 31, 2005

British Airways flies London-Bangalore

British Airways flies London-Bangalore


British Airways became the first global carrier to provide a direct connectivity between London and Bangalore when is first flight touched down at the IT city this morning.

The premier British airline also claimed to have become the first to offer direct connectivity between London Heathrow and five Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, the airline said in a release.

BA has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Air Sahara making it a preferred partner and to leverage its extensive domestic network.

Following the bilateral air traffic talks between UK and India, BA has doubled its flights between London and Mumbai from one to two per day and from two to six per week from Chennai.

From summer next year, it would double the number of flights between Delhi and Heathrow from one to two a day. BA currently operates 19 flights a week to the four Indian metros.

Wrath of the lakes

Wrath of the lakes
New Indian Express

Will someone be found guilty and punished for mauling the city’s soul?

A week before the 50th anniversary of the Karnataka State formation, the rightful ‘owners’ of Bangalore surfaced demanding their pound of flesh, rather bed. Nature put a grim signboard, reminding Bangaloreans that long before the City got rechristened as India’s Silicon Plateau, it was a paradise of lakes and gardens.

When the ‘plateau’ went down nose-deep in water, all that could be done was pray.

Was it just the record of 580 mm October fest of rain that was responsible for Bangalore logging out?

That’s just the small part of the story. Just reboot and the bigger and tragic picture would emerge: that of 200 lakes in the City vanishing, nay getting killed.

Bangalore has blood on its hands and the recent floods is hard evidence. Many lakes were killed in the name of development and many more succumbed to land-grabbers and real estate mafia.

Of course, while the lakes were being systematically killed, authorities looked the other way. You and I know why and how, so no debate needed.

Old timers fondly say that 20 years ago, the City had 267 tanks. Today it is a measly 74. Most of them have been filled, shut and levelled as plots and sold to the IT crowd or the new crop of dream merchants.

And as the info-tech fever started peaking, more lakes vanished.

When there is a boom, can real estate lobby be far behind? The real estate lobby converted tanks and landscaped them into plush office-cum-residential complexes.

In the rush to nut-bolt new and swanky workstations and homes, scant attention was paid to effective drainage.

If you thought that it was just the lobby and mafia at work in connivance with officials, you are wrong. In the name of development even the Government swallowed a few lakes.

For example, what was once Dharmambudhi Kere in Subhashnagar is today the BMTC bus terminal; Schuele lake is today a football stadium, Koramangala lake a sports village, Siddhikatte lake is a market and Chellaghatta lake a golf course!

Water obviously cannot use or does not want a bus station, shop or a stadium. It neither plays golf. So it did what best it can: flood these areas and play merry with the fear factor of citizens.

If the city’s gardens and tree cover were the lungs of Bangalore, the inter-connected lakes played the role of the kidneys, flushing out excess water when the city gets soaked to the bones.

The city had umpteen streams (nallas) leading to the outskirts. This is how Thippagondanahalli lake became a main source of drinking water for Bangalore.

While the violators have all made money and are home and dry, it is the gullible public who are paying the price and trying to dry clean their dwellings. Will people do a Koramangala to these land-grabbers and real estate lobby?

Concerned citizens of Koramangala recently approached the High Court pointing out that scores of storm water drains have been filled up to make room for car parks.

If lake-lovers do a similar act of knocking at the doors of justice, the culprits may have to own-up. It is time to identify each violation and take action against the builder, developer and the government officials who either granted permission to lake-bed real estate conversion or did not take action on encroachers.

And the guilty must be punished because they have played with the lives of the people and mauled a city’s soul.

It is easy to print glossy brochures, claim to take leaf out of nature and build a cluster of flats or spread a lay-out.

But can anyone build a lake? Rulers of Bangalore like Kempe Gowda built tanks like Kempambudhi Kere. Can today’s rulers - either Singh or Gowda - do the same?

Amidst all this flood of gloom, the good tiding is that work on restoring Venkaiahana kere and Nagavara lakes on the city outskirts has begun.

The State government has allocated Rs. 50 lakh in the budget for lake restoration and Central assistance of Rs. 12.72 crore has come in.

Several corporates are known to have responded positively to requests for sponsoring lake restoration works.

The Government of India recently set up National Disaster Management Authority. Karnataka Chief Minister must take advantage of it and seek their help to formulate a comprehensive policy for the city. Karnataka will then be the first State to do so.

Apart from punishing the people who killed the lakes, there is a dire need to either restore or build tanks and lakes - just as Gowda, oops, Kempe Gowda, did.

Towards a greener, cleaner world

Towards a greener, cleaner world
Aruna Chandaraju talks to Suresh Heblikar who feels that to be eco-friendly, one needs to show respect towards nature by protecting it.
Deccan Herald

Why can’t Indian men and children wear shorts, lungis or half-sleeve shirts in summer? - is a question, we least expect from an environmentalist. But for someone like Suresh Heblikar, concern for environment begins with things, we normally consider trivial. “You spend twice as much water to rinse long trousers, shirts and three-piece suits. You know, we will have lesser of these precious resources in future and should think of using it sensibly.”

Obviously, Heblikar’s interest does not end with water. Among the wider environmental issues, he feels that there is a pressing need for afforestation.

He is currently working on his third urban afforestation project in the police lands at Koodlu. With full cooperation from the community, the 70 acres will soon be filled with trees. The three year-old Senaranya project in Koramangala and Airport Ring road, a 200 acre land owned by the army, with 40,000 trees was carried out with help from the Indo-Norwegian Environmental Programme. “It is one of Asia’s biggest lung spaces and will bring about a micro-climatic change,” Heblikar says.

The other project was near Bannerghatta, where 8,000 trees were planted. Heblikar’s own home is full of greenery and he has even planted 300 now-flourishing trees in his neighbourhood.

E-waste is also something that disturbs Heblikar, as unused mobile phones, PCs and other e-gadgets are piling up. As they are non bio-degradable, they are posing the biggest threat to environment. He feels it is time for us to follow the West, where they break, shred and degrade them.

Heblikar is also working on coastal ecology - an area which is being looked at with keen interest after the recent tsunami. He contends that building a stone wall along the coastline will cause disaster on a large scale. “Stone walls will kill coastal ecology. It’s aesthetically ruinous and can never be an effective natural barrier,” he says.

He suggests a bio-shield in the form of coastal vegetation, the depletion of which, has aggravated the situation in coastal areas. Mangroves do a great job - a storm or a huge wave only causes trees to sway and bend, but they return to their original position, albeit a little battered.

He cites Chennai’s example where sandbinders and casuarinas have gradually disappeared along the coast, destroying the rich coastal ecology. Unfortunately most of these natural barriers across India’s coasts have been lost to development.

With little hesitation, Heblikar points at big corporations, governments and the educated as the biggest causes of pollution. He elaborates that tribal and traditional communities leave nature undisturbed. Fishing communities for instance, used simple boats, not the mechanised ones, as it would disturb fish in the breeding season. They never do deep-sea fishing or destroy sand dunes - the home to rich vegetation and marine life, he says.

He defines environmental activism as one which stems from respect towards nature, something that even religions and philosophies advocate. Rainwater harvesting is imperative and protecting bio-diversity hotspots on the Western Ghats, he says, will be the next areas of focus for his organisation - Eco-Watch.


Plant as many trees in your house and around it too.

If you don’t have that kind of space grow indoor plants and potted plants on your terrace, verandahs, and any available niches at home, they will provide an oxygen-rich atmosphere and combat indoor air pollution.

If you have a car or a bike, minimise its use. Don’t use it for short distances, walk instead. This saves your petrol bills, reduces pollution, gives you healthy exercise and saves valuable foreign exchange for the nation (India’s import bills are about 80,000 crore).

Children, youngsters and workmen must use cycles as far as possible. Of course, for this, we need cycle tracks (common in the West, but rare in India).

Use water judiciously and recycle it as much as possible. Water, which is not dirty,which is used for rinsing clothes, utensils or the car, can be re-used for gardening.

Practice rainwater harvesting at home.

Train children to bathe in cold water as far as possible.

Control e-waste - Changing your PC, mobile phone, digital products frequently - discarding and dumping the old ones increases environmentally harmful e-waste.

Roads crumble like soggy dosas

Roads crumble like soggy dosas
Wait Till Monsoon Goes To Set Things Right
The Times of India

Bangalore: Roads in Bangalore have crumbled like sand-paper, even those that were laid just 20 days ago. Of the 3,800 km of roads that fall under Bangalore City Corporation limits, 90 per cent of them have deteriorated. More so in the last week, aided by incessant rains. Just why should layers of bitumen, macadam, slurry seal and asphalt crumble to water?

On Race Course Road, near Anand Rao junction and adjacent to the JD(S) office, there are more potholes than there is space for. At the Rajajinagar Entrance road, danger lurks, as it has for over two months now. The 80 mm of rain has only aggravated the situation.

The perennial problem for commuters on the potholed Bannerghatta Road near the Indian Institute of Management is a ride from hell. Residents complain that the public works department steps in once the potholed surface disintegrates in no time.

Double Road has been dug up so badly that on Sunday only one lane was accessible. St Marks Road, dug up by the BWSSB to fix an antiquated underground pipe, has been botched up with sand.

On Hosur Road, one of the worst-affected by the rain, workers were filling potholes and craters with quarry dust or just crushed jelly stones. The exercise had to be repeated everyday because the road otherwise couldn’t possibly take vehicular density of 17,000 PCU per hour.

Reasons an official with the BCC’s engineering department: “The first enemy for asphalting is water, so we can’t take up laying of roads or asphalting till the monsoon is over.’’

Till then, rustle up those insurance claims.

Road samples in lab
The high court-appointed panel on roads has been inspecting roads in different wards across the city. On Saturday, the panel checked out roads in Sudhamanagar and Mission Compound. The panel has, so far, sent 60 samples to a lab at Whitefield.

Explains chairperson of the panel Capt Raja Rao:“Laying and asphalting a road are just the beginning. What is needed is regular maintenance, which is never done.’’

Illegal structures on outskirts to be razed

Illegal structures on outskirts to be razed
Deccan Herald

All illegal constructions, without proper civic amenities, which have come up on the outskirts of Bangalore City will be demolished soon, Minister for Municipal Administration S R Morey said on Sunday.

The chief minister during his recent visit to rain-affected areas noticed that many layouts had come up without proper stormwater drainage facilities on the outskirts , the minister said. “Many buildings and layouts, which were constructed by flouting the norms were spotted. Some of them are built on the banks of natural drains as well. These constructions have led to flooding in these areas,” said Morey.

The minister said the government would first examine the way such constructions had been sanctioned. “Officials could have joined hands with builders to bend the law in their favour. We need to analyse the causes, before forming a team to track down the culprits and keep a check on future sanctioning of constructions,” he said and added that once the defaulters were traced, orders would be issued to demolish their constructions.

Morey admitted that the work was enormous, but said the department was ready to take up the task. “The masterplan to merge all CMCs under the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) will also help us in this initiative,” the Minister said.

Pothole-marked roads to be fixed

Pothole-marked roads to be fixed
Deccan Herald

The top priority for the authorities right now is to drain out the water. Then the roads have to dry out. Repair work can follow only later.

Nearly 700 km long stretches of rain-battered roads in Bangalore City are in for upgradation. But first the sun must shine. “It has to get a little sunny,” is how a civic official put it.

The top priority for the authorities right now is to drain out the water. Then the roads have to dry out. Repair work can follow only later. It will begin with patch work, followed by resurfacing and so on, highly placed officials in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) explained on Sunday.

It will be two more days before water is drained out, the officials said, reiterating that the problem lies not with drains within BMP limits but those under CMCs.

A report on the damages suffered and the order of priority in the works to be taken up immediately has been submitted by the BMP to the Urban Development Department.

“Inspection of the damage wreaked by the rain was carried out jointly with Urban Development Department officials,” sources said.

A special package is slated for roads identified as “falling under the high density corridor”. Roads in parts of Koramangala and industrial areas of Yeshwanthpur, Peenya, Timber Yard etc, figure in it, the sources said.

The nearly 700-km stretches of roads identified include the 140-km-stretche to be improved with World Bank aid, 250-kms of arterial roads and 300-kms of local or feeder roads. In the local roads category, all roads measuring 4 metres and less in width shall be cemented.

Meanwhile, the immediate repair work is likely to further delay the total asphalting work that was pending in parts of the 27 wards which are referred as new wards.

The pending work reportedly amounts to 20 per cent of the over Rs 50 crore project. Civil works by BWSSB and others had delayed the repair work and the BMP had only recently a related complaint of cost escalation by contractors.


Airport Road, Sheshadri Road, Thimmaiah Road, Kamaraj Road, Cubbon Road, Jayamahal Road, Rajaram Mohan Roy Road, Margosa Road, Sampige Road, Hosur Road, Bellary Road and Ring Road in Bangalore South.

Hard times ahead for city airport authorities

Hard times ahead for city airport authorities

The Hindu

From early Monday morning, the airport will have to accommodate 17 additional flights

Bangalore: The HAL Bangalore airport is bursting at its seams. More so now with several international carriers operating flights from and to the city.

There has been a rapid increase in domestic and international air traffic to Bangalore with the airport now handling 4.5 million passengers a year. There was a 26 per cent growth in traffic within one year, according to airport officials.

From early Monday morning, Bangalore airport will have to accommodate 17 additional flights each week with Air France, British Airways and North West-KLM flying in here. The airport has geared itself to deal with the influx starting Sunday night itself, though it may find it quite difficult if more than two flights land around the same time. Baggage clearance, customs and immigration check will test the available human resources and equipment to the maximum.


Airport authorities say that while there may be crowding in the international terminal and baggage handling areas, they expect to cope with the rush as there will be around an hour's time between various international flights. But the terminal is quite small and passengers may have to be prepared for long queues.

Expansion impossible

The problem is that the international terminal cannot be expanded any more as there is no space.

The airport apron is cramped and cannot accommodate more than six aircraft of different configurations at any given time. The domestic terminal is also crowded because of additional flights and earlier this week, when flights were rescheduled due to bad weather, many passengers had to wait outside.

Air France has planned five flights a week between Bangalore and Paris with Airbus A-330. British Airways has scheduled five flights a week from Bangalore to London using Boeing 777.

International carriers

The number of international carriers using Bangalore airport has increased to 10 with Malaysian, Singapore, Thai, SriLankan, Royal Nepal, Gulf and Lufthansa airlines operating flights.

Air India and Indian Airlines also operate international flights from here and now Jet Airways and Air Sahara operate flights to Colombo through Chennai.

Third busiest

According to airport authorities here, Bangalore is the third busiest airport in the country after Mumbai and Delhi. The HAL airport has to handle about 220 flight movements a day, of both civil and military aircraft.

They are hoping for the best and the completion of the new international airport at Devanahalli within three years as scheduled.

Self-styled decongestion!

Self-styled decongestion!

Vijay Times

Bangalore: Of late, BMTC bus conductors and drivers have taken it upon themselves to help decongest traffic by using mobile phones.

They inform their counterparts to take a different route in case of a traffic jam, that would take a couple of hours to clear . But BMTC officials are not amused.

They say it is a violation of the law and erring drivers and conductors will be booked and fined. This bus networking started soon after City traffic police started smsing mobile users informing them about the traffic movement in the city , owing to the rain fury recently .

Ironically , BMTC buses display stickers saying mobile usage is prohibited and can attract a fine of Rs 100. The traffic police booked 24 BMTC drivers in the first half of 2005 for using mobile phones while driving, and each driver had to cough-up Rs 300 in fine.

The decision of the BMTC to ban the use of cellphones by commuters seems to have no takers Introduced to prevent possible distractions to the driver , the move has had little impact on cellphone usage in the buses.

BMTC officials say the ban is difficult to enforce W e cannot ask commuters to stop using their mobiles. The driver has been instructed to commuters seated in the vicinity of the driver's cabin to switch off their mobiles, only if it distracts him, explained Dastagir Sherieff, Chief Traffic Manager (Operations).

Some instances of drivers using the cellphones while driving, have been reported, Sherieff stringent action will be taken if such inst brought to the notice of the control room.

Apart from seizing the phones from such drivers, a strict warning will be issued. Under no circumstances should drivers use mobiles while driving the bus," he said.

Commuters can bring instances of drivers using cellphones to the notice of the BMTC control room at 25550565.

Some commuters suggest that the control room number be displayed inside the bus also .

The traffic police, who have been braving t torrential rain while regulating the erratic movement this monsoon will now find some solace as a Malleswaram-based businessman is donating 300 umbrellas to the Malleswaram traffic police.

Recently , V Gurunath and Sons Jewellery , handed over the umbrellas to the Malleswaram T raffic police in the presence of DCP - T W est, Basavaraj Y Malaghati and ACP-T raffic North, Lakshman Singh and Malleswaram T raffic Inspector , Vishwanath Singh.

With Diwali holidays round the corner , traf movemement around the Majestic area has slowed down considerably .

Sources in the traffic department says the traffic jams are common during festive season a there is a huge rush of out-bound passenger And for the last two days, the vehicular traffic o Kempe Gowda road from Hudson Circle junction to Majestic bus stand has come to a grindling halt and the passengers were seen getting off the road and walking briskly to reach the bus stand.

Karnataka Road T ransport Corporation, general manager ( T raffic) Rajakumar admitted tha there is a huge rush at the bus stand. So , the pa sengers are suggested to leave their homes to avoid being stuck in a traffic jam.

IT industry questions future role of

IT industry questions future role of
Business Standard

Bad luck (the rains), bad leadership (Gowda’s outbursts) combined to virtually kill Other than this, over the last couple of years the meet was growing in size and the participation all but losing focus. That longer trend and the latest mishap combined to pose an existential question over the future of

Even as the eighth edition of Bangalore 2005 came to a tame end, industry observers are starting to question how effective the event will be over the years.

“This time around rain was an excuse but it will be tough for the IT department to continue with the annual event if things do not improve. There should be a complete rethink on how this will be leveraged further to generate business interest over the next few years,? the CEO of a software services firm said.

This is a suggestion the IT department will have to look into as curtains fell on the washed out Bangalore 2005.

After a thundering start provided by Deve Gowda to the Bangalore 2005, it was left to the state IT secretary Shankaralinge Gowda to save the fading halo of this much-touted event. Nothing much he could do though.

The facts were against him. The lack of infrastructure is still looming large and the spat between Deve Gowda and Infosys’ chairman and mentor Narayana Murthy is still simmering. Rains did not spare the event either. Around 12,000 business visitors came, 15,000 general visitors trooped in to take stock of the mela as against 25,000 and 40,000 respectively last year.

IT secretary and STPI director B V Naidu put up a brave face though. “The 150 Indian and 120 overseas firms who were part of the event are satisfied with the response and they are sure to benefit from the event. The large overseas delegations made effective networking efforts and business will start to flow,” said Naidu.

Another view of the Murthy-Gowda slugfest

Another view of the Murthy-Gowda slugfest
What’s interesting is the silence of other businessmen on the ongoing controversy

The Indian Express

The war of words between HD Deve Gowda and NR Narayana Murthy has all the ingredients necessary to capture the imagination of the intelligentsia, as well as the chattering classes.

Consider the dramatis personae: one is the archetypal politician, manipulating his so-called populist concerns to further his political ends. His target is a man who symbolises the new Indian dream—educated, intelligent and middle-class, who acquired fame and riches without compromising on honesty and good governance; and proved that world class businesses can be built ethically. Murthy’s Infosys Technologies also captured public imagination because it is a wealth creation machine that benefited millions of employees and shareholders. Its top brass, unlike grasping politicians, also set an example through generous personal donations to various causes.

When Deve Gowda chose Narayana Murthy for his unfair attack, it was obvious that right thinking individuals would be solidly ranged behind him. The media idolises Murthy and has been at the forefront in joining battle with him, as have a mass of activists and public spirited citizens. Middle class Indians believe that corrupt and self-centered politicians are preventing the country from taking its rightful place on the international stage. Many Indians are global toppers today because they are unencumbered by domestic restrictions. They are outraged that a politician has chosen to attack someone who succeeded while staying back in India.

Isn’t this the overwhelming view one has about the Deve Gowda-Narayana Murthy slugfest? Yes, it is. But I found that a cross-section of people who have nothing to do with politics are also gleeful. Let me clarify that I have ignored most of the ‘noise’ on the blogosphere and stuck to serious views in this column.

• IT sector is tasting the murky world in which other businesses operate
• Till now, the IT industry had by-passed this muck in the absence of laws
• Probably the reason why Indian industry has remained silent on the episode
The first quietly contrarian view is from industrialists in the traditional manufacturing sector. One of them pointed out that the debate over unionisation of IT workers and the Deve Gowda-Murthy controversy has, for the first time, forced the ‘pristine clean’ IT sector to taste the murky world in which others are forced to operate. From licenses and permissions at municipal levels to central clearances, such as environment and pollution, Indian industrialists have been forced to bend, crawl and grease the palms of netas and babus. Many hated doing it, but were forced to find ways to operate the ‘system’. The IT industry bypassed this muck and thrived in the absence of laws and regulations.

It’s probably why Indian industry associations, who otherwise compete to have Mr Murthy as a speaker, have maintained a thundering silence over the issue. As someone told me: “Infosys will soon realise that the world may be getting flatter, but the terrain remains rather bumpy in our little patch.” An obvious reference to Thomas Friedman’s glowing references to the Infosys gang in his bestseller.

Gowda’s deft manoeuvre of shifting the attack to Karnataka’s former chief minister SM Krishna has also neutralised the stridency of a few diehard Murthy backers. Without going into the merits of Gowda’s charges, their message to Murthy is: stay away from politics and politicians. Although a meaningful dialogue with the government is necessary to accelerate industrial development, Murthy’s supporters would rather he stayed away.

They offer a comparison with the more low profile Azim Premji of Wipro or the American multinationals who have set up large BPO operations in Bangalore. Here again, they seem to ignore the fact that unlike others, Murthy and Nandan Nilekani, as sons-of-the-soil, are in an advantageous position to push infrastructure development in Bangalore and Karnataka more meaningfully.

Gowda’s cunning message seems to have worked with the ‘humble farmer’, as well as the ignorant middle class. Murthy gave a detailed response to Gowda’s allegations, but populist rhetoric has greater recall than meticulous but indigestible facts. Even intelligent academics calculate the value of Infosys land not at the market price paid by the company, but the current market value after Infosys has established a major presence there. Similarly, there is a lot of sniping about the ‘five star’ hotel built by Infosys, ignoring the fact that finding hotel rooms for visitors is a business imperative in space-starved Bangalore.

Gowda’s crafty attack against Murthy is not surprising. It is the silent reaction of other businessmen that is the more interesting aspect of this episode.

Why Bangalore is not Silicon Valley

Why Bangalore is not Silicon Valley

P. V. Indiresan
The Hindu Business Line

While the government apparatus is to blame for the poor condition of many a city, in the case of Bangalore, to some extent, the IT industry is also responsible. Simply because it did not choose to imitate its model, the Silicon Valley, in civic sense — moving away from cities or building away from main roads. P. V. Indiresan says the salvation lies in businesses moving to the rural areas and developing the facilities they and their employees need.

The IT industry in Bangalore is itself partly responsible for the poor state of affairs in the city. If it is impossible for cities to expand further without breaking down, future business expansion should only be in villages. — K. Murali Kumar

IN THE ongoing dispute between the former Prime Minister, Mr Deve Gowda, and the Infosys Chief Mentor, Mr N. R. Narayanamurthy, an overwhelming majority will tend to the side with the latter. Yet, in a TV debate on the issue, the studio audience of Bangalore was more impressed by a Karnataka Minister and critical activists than by top IT managers.

The managers fared poorly because debating is not their profession, whereas for ministers it is a fulltime occupation. Activists too are past-masters in debate. To cite one example, the minister held the IT industry responsible for the poor state of affairs in Bangalore. The audience lapped it up. The IT managers should have come prepared for that line of attack but they had not. It did not occur to them to ask the Minister what he had done with all the taxes the industry had paid. Nor did they ask why the Government laid roads so narrow as to be useless in any modern town, let alone be worthy of a world-class city.

In another instance, the Minister scored points by pointing out how his Government had distributed free food to the poor. The IT managers missed a chance to counterattack: They should have taken the minister to task for keeping people so poor that they are forced to live on doles. The IT managers would not, or could not, carry the fight to the opponents' camp.

IT managers were so poorly prepared that they got their facts wrong. One said that for every job the IT industry creates, one more emerges elsewhere. That is a gross under-estimate. Each high wage job, like the ones in the IT industry, has the potential to generate seven to eight others. Due to administrative and political mismanagement, the figure in Bangalore is about three to four times.

Debating is not the core competence of IT managers; they should have hired a professional debater. At the same time, it must be said that the TV channel loaded the dice against the IT managers. Not many people realise that TV debates are organised the same way gladiators were thrown to hungry lions in Roman circuses. Both in the Roman circus and in the TV debate, the gorier the fight, sadder the death, the higher is the audience rating. Hence, TV channels lionise hungry critics who do nothing creative themselves but feed on other people's reputations. They then feed them with talented but defenceless gladiators like IT managers.

The IT industry came out in poor light also because it does have some weaknesses of its own. For instance, the TV audience lapped up the criticism that the IT industry was responsible for the mess in Bangalore. That criticism is true, even if only partially.

IT industry builds glamorous offices but expands without giving sufficient thought for the burden it places on infrastructure. That carelessness is the bane of Indian culture: Indians (and Indian businesses) are personally clean but dirty the surroundings; they have little civic sense.

The pioneers of the Silicon Valley were different; they were far sighted. They took care to construct their buildings 400 feet away from the main road. That simple precaution, one that cost comparatively little, made future expansion simple and (more important) feasible. In contrast, there is a seven-star hotel on the airport road in Bangalore that is built right up to the verge of the narrow road. That hotel's greed has made it impossible for the airport road to expand or carry more traffic.

Further, the semiconductor industry in the US did not locate itself close to San Francisco city but miles away in the Silicon Valley. Nearer the city, the explosive growth of the industry would have all but destroyed San Francisco. By moving away, the industry made San Francisco safe from unbridled expansion.

In India, industries crowd into already congested cities. They build right up to the very edge of highways and choke those arteries. It has been said that the Indian gene is peculiarly susceptible to heart attacks caused by fatty deposits in the arteries. Indian business suffers from an identical flaw; it deposits its fat by encroaching on busy roads, and by congregating in overcrowded cities.

Had Infosys and other IT businesses been located some 30-40 km from Bangalore (the way Hewlett Packard, the Silicon Valley pioneer, did), it could still have been no farther from the airport (at least in time) and would not be suffering from the atherosclerosis that afflicts its surroundings. The entire history of Bangalore would then have been different.

In the US (and in Europe too) those who can afford to do so live in villages (that is what suburbs are); only the poor live in cities. In India, it is the other way around; the rich crowd into cities, the poor live in villages. That is at the root of the contrast between the way Bangalore has developed and Silicon Valley did. That difference is not accidental; it is the result of the way governments operate in the two countries.

Village schools in India are of terrible quality; hospitals are non-existent; communications are terrible. As for power supply, the less said the better. However rich the villagers may be, they cannot get basic amenities of modern life. In the West, villages suffer from no such handicap.

The suburbs pride themselves on the quality of their schools. As a matter of fact, in American suburbs, the price of real-estate depends on the reputation of the local school. The power and telecommunication systems in the suburbs are as good as in cities. They are also well connected to cities by high quality roads. Because our villages offer no such amenities, even socially conscious entrepreneurs cling to cities, keeping away from villages.

In India, politicians win election after election, but where are the quality schools, hospitals, roads, telecommunications or reliable electricity?

With the help of such admirers as the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, Mr Narayanamurthy may win this battle, but, as matters stand, he cannot win the war. He cannot win because what Mr Deve Gowda is saying has a germ of truth: IT companies are rich but our villagers are poor. IT companies are aggravating and not alleviating that disparity. They are creating heartburn even within cities — by increasing the disparity between themselves and their neighbours.

As matters stand, Mr Deve Gowda will win both ways: He will make Mr Narayanamurthy the scapegoat if the IT industry prospers; if the IT industry gets hurt, he will claim credit for destroying an "usurper". Mr Narayanamurthy is caught in cleft stick. If he succeeds, he will be drawn into an increasingly bitter war. Other politicians may harass him. If he succumbs, his dreams will be shattered.

Vision 2020 is about solutions not complaints. In this case, Sherlock Holmes provides the cue: `Eliminate the impossible; what remains must be the truth however improbable that may be'. It is next to impossible for our governments to provide urban quality amenities in villages. It is impossible also for our overcrowded cities to expand anymore without inviting financial and ecological disaster.

If it is impossible for cities to expand further without breaking down, future business expansion should only be in villages. If it is impossible for governments to provide basic amenities in villages, only business can fill the breach. Both are improbable but not impossible. Hence, the solution for India's ills lies in businesses moving to the rural areas and developing on their own the facilities they and their employees need.

Let me repeat: Cities are impossible to expand without inviting disaster. Hence, villages are the only place to expand. It is impossible to expect politicians to modernise villages and destroy their vote banks. Hence, only businesses can modernise villages.

Industries developing villages is not as far fetched as it may appear. Not many people now remember a village called Sakchi. That village is now known as Jamshedpur. Without converting Sakchi into Jamshedpur, there would have been no steel industry in India. The government could not have built Jamshedpur. Even if it had tried, it would not have done an equally good job. It would not have done it as profitably either. Converting Sakchi into Jamshedpur was not altruistic but plain business sense.

Jamshedpur, and not Bangalore, should be the model for the IT industry. However, the Jamshedpur model is a hundred years old; it was designed for a single large employer. It needs to be updated and made compatible for multiple enterprises, large and small.

(The author is a former Director of IIT Madras.

Civic bodies that work

Civic bodies that work
Business Standard

In the past week, both Chennai and Bangalore were affected by severe and incessant rain, but the way the two cities coped with the emergency provided a study in contrast. Chennai was up in less than a day, while Bangalore was struggling far longer.

Even more revealingly, it was some of the outer suburbs of Chennai, coming within the ambit of local panchayats, which took much longer to recover. Chennai has in place a “mayor in council” system with the mayor, along with the councillors, being directly elected every five years.

The mayor and his team run the civic administration pretty much the way a state or Union ministry does. They control finances, wield executive authority and shoulder responsibility.

In contrast, Bangalore’s civic operations are run by a municipal commissioner, but its finances are controlled by the state government and a plethora of councillors’ committees. When things go wrong, the responsibility usually falls on the shoulders of the state government, which is known to ultimately control things.

Also, in Bangalore the mayor is changed every year and is usually a political lightweight who is barely known to the citizenry. Incidentally, Mumbai’s civic administration, whose incompetence was so badly exposed a couple of months ago when the city almost drowned under incessant rain, has a civic structure which is like Bangalore’s and unlike Chennai’s.

The clear lesson from all this is that, if you want to have a civic administration that delivers and is able to cope with calamities, it is necessary in the first place to have a proper governance structure.

The latest spells of rain have at last made the Karnataka government wake up to the need to restructure the civic administration of Bangalore.

The state cabinet has debated and will hopefully take a decision soon to merge the seven satellite city corporations with the main Bangalore Mahanagara Palike so that a single authority supervises what has become a single, undifferentiated urban mass.

This wisdom has come rather late in the day. When, just a fortnight earlier, the Infosys chairman N R Narayana Murthy and the head of a local NGO, Janagraha (Ramesh Ramanathan), made a presentation on restructuring the civic administration to the Janata Dal (Secular) chief H D Deve Gowda and the chief minister, Dharam Singh, the former didn’t like it one bit.

He has since variously said that you cannot change systems in a day and accused Mr Murthy of not knowing the realities prevailing in the countryside.

To his credit, Mr Dharam Singh found the exercise informative but it is doubtful if he can do much on his own when his major coalition partner is not interested in serious change.

Constitutional amendments have succeeded in transferring a lot of powers to panchayats, and Karnataka is a leader in this, but the record of delegation of powers to urban bodies has been more varied.

Quite simply, state-level politicians have to give up the privilege of the state government exercising de facto control over urban bodies wherever they still do.

Otherwise, civic administrations like those in Bangalore and Mumbai will continue to make a mess of things. Bangalore currently presents a pathetic sight, with petty contractors, beholden to councillors, using antediluvian technology to execute civic works that do not deliver.

For things to improve, having one authority instead of many will have to be the first of many reforming steps. Decentralisation, delegation of powers and regional planning will have to follow.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Systems Failure?

A former Prime Minister takes on Bangalore’s foremost icon, even as the city crumbles. Is this the beginning of terminal decline for India’s Silicon Capital? Or can it find a killer app for the infrastructure bug?

The Times of India

It was a ‘bad weather' fortnight for Bangalore. It began with a lot of heat being generated over former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s remarks that Infosys chairman and Bangalore airport project chief N R Narayana Murthy had contributed little to the mega project. Murthy quit the project in protest, but Gowda went ahead and charged Infosys with landgrabbing and political interference. Then the city was lashed by heavy rain. Roads and colonies were inundated, lakes overflowed and our Silicon Valley's infrastructure collapsed, raising the question: As other major metros go all out to woo IT and FDI, why is the IT hub in a seeming state of collapse? Is the great Bangalore dream over?

Not if you believe the growth statistics. Texas Instruments made its bow in 1984. That grew to 13 companies and software exports worth Rs 5.6 crore in 1991 and 1,457 firms and Rs 18,100 crore in 2004. On a roll, still.

So what's the fuss about? Bangalore is creaking under the weight of its boom: the city's population has doubled in the last 18 years, the number of vehicles has spiralled, as has the cost of living, and the infrastructure simply hasn’t kept pace.


Traffic is a major bellyache. As Fortune magazine notes in its recent issue, “In Bangalore, executives visiting the immaculate campuses of software firms like Infosys and Wipro marvel that while their data can travel to- the other side of the earth at the speed of thought, they must crawl along in bumper-to-bumper traffic for more than an hour to get back to their hotels.”

Techie Manish Chok says when he came to Bangalore five years ago, it was a dream city but now the one-and-ahalf-hour commuting time to his workplace irritates him. And George Kuruvilla, urban planner, believes Bangalore still lives on past glory. “There will be first a decline and then demise, unless things turn around. You need proper traffic planning.”

It has indeed been a swift journey that Bangalore has made in just over a hundred years — from a small garrison town, which bored the young Winston Churchill enough to make him read books by the dozens and collect butterflies — to a city where Mamas serve breakfast to children in traffic jams on the way to school. The Rama Rajya, as Gandhi described Bangalore's advanced environs in the 1930s, is unable to cope with the Information Age. For a city with about 100 years of technical expertise, lodged in the state that was the first to get electric power in Asia, enterprise doesn't come at a premium. Unlike many other world cities, Bangalore grew not on the strength of traditional wealth, but its professional repertoire.

The key is in a business plan for the city. A killer application for the infrastructure bug. As James Heitzman, author of Network City: Planning the Information Society in Bangalore, puts it: “There is no upper limit on the population of the city in the 21st century, and we may reasonably expect the number of people living in Bangalore to double within the lifetimes of our children. This challenge may seem daunting to some long-time residents, who remember the good old days when traffic was less and face-to-face interactions were standard. In fact, for a nation the size of India, a population of 12-15 million in the largest metropolis in the southern Deccan would seem appropriate. So far, Bangalore has demonstrated the ability to attract and support large populations, even if the opportunities of many citizens remain limited. By the standards of the South Asian city, this is success.”

Dipti Nambiar, an IT professional who recently moved to Bangalore from Pune, gives Bangalore 7 points on a scale of 1 to 10. “I come from Pune, which is smaller and more manageable... But Bangalore is not all that bad as it sounds.” True, it isn't easy to do business in a city where the domestic airport is not of international class, as Kean Walmsley, senior manager, DevTech, Autodesk, points out. “It doesn't look good when CEOs and decision makers come here... I’m sure some companies are considering other places. It's difficult to buy a house and difficult to travel around the city....”

Yet the argument that major firms are packing up only because of Bangalore’s poor civic infrastructure, can only be half true. IT, after all, is business: if a particular design doesn't work, the manufacturing unit is shut down; if a product doesn’t do well in one sphere, other avenues are explored. And costs, benefits and concessions matter as much.

At the same time, there seems to be little response to frequent complaints by the IT industry about how the city’s infrastructural flaws create bottlenecks for it. That’s ironic because in many ways, the industry’s own rapid growth led to the boom that now has Bangalore bursting at the seams.
Infotech in Bangalore has transformed from an independent and selfsufficient enterprise to a giant industry that needs an efficient, well-run city. An industry that also needs a congenial environment for its practitioners to express themselves culturally.


But the political leadership — both local and national — has failed to come up with a compelling vision for Bangalore, or stay ahead of the curve.
Ramesh Ramanathan, campaign coordinator of Janaagraha, a people's movement for participatory budgeting in Bangalore, points out that knee-jerk and band-aid reactions won’t do. “Saying that we should build a flyover is solving yesterday's problem. It’s not planning for the future. We should get into a proactive, not reactive mode. Else Bangalore will go the Mumbai way in the next five years.”

From the administration’s point of view, the rubber has met the road — not only in catering to the IT sector but to Bangalore's seven million-odd citizens. The political class has rained on the parade with its blow-hot blowcold approach.

The fact is, IT will make inroads wherever its convenient. If Hyderabad, Chennai, Gurgaon and Pune are in line, it is a reflection of a global paradigm — anywhere is home.

But in terms of sheer volume of software exports, Bangalore still remain king. And Brand IT Bangalore will be a trademark hard to erase. Just as Bollywood is to Mumbai.

They created the mess, and now blame everyone but themselves

They created the mess, and now blame everyone but themselves
The Times of India

When sleepy Bangalore rose to become the hub of software technology, everyone basked in its glory. Successive chief ministers, from Deve Gowda to S M Krishna, claimed credit for putting the city on the world IT map. They invited MNCs and investors with open arms. The city flourished. Other cities looked at it with envy. Its share in the state GDP rose sharply. Now, when Bangalore is bursting at its seams, and its infrastructure crumbling, no one is coming to its rescue. And those who led the city to its present state are now blaming everyone but themselves.

The powers that be in the coalition government choose to blame the mess on the IT industry. They accuse it of congesting the city, grabbing land, and not contributing towards its upkeep. When the industry protests, they charge it with carrying on a whispering campaign to destabilise the government. They even play urban versus rural and language cards to divert the issue. When the industry offers to participate in public-private partnerships, they suspect motives. And when a well-meaning IT czar tries to bring about a rapprochement and makes suggestions to set things right in Bangalore, he is humiliated and forced to retreat.

It is sad that those who matter look at Bangalore with blinkered eyes. If Bangalore earns, the state progresses. Such is its status in the IT arena. The city’s contribution to the state exchequer is high. But it needs to be cared for. Its infrastructure has not kept pace with the city’s growth. The population has risen manifold. So too has the number of vehicles. Citizens go through a harrowing time everyday due to badly maintained roads, traffic jams, choked drains, waterlogging during rain, and erratic power and water supply. They do protest, but their voice is not heard. When the powerful IT sector protests, the authorities at least wake up and react, if not act.

Take the case of the downpour a few days ago that paralysed Bangalore. The entire city was waterlogged. Sewage and rain water entered houses. Buildings collapsed. Tanks and lakes breached. Roads were flooded causing traffic jams. Power and drinking water supply were badly affected. Many localities lay inundated for days. Civic agencies looked on helpless. The policemen did their best, but in vain, to streamline traffic. VIPs who visited the affected areas tried to derive political mileage by attacking their rivals, offered lip sympathy, made hollow promises, sought hefty compensation from the Centre, and disappeared.

Who then is to blame? Everyone. From political rulers, officials, builders, encroachers to citizens. Bangalore’s undulating topography prevents it from being flooded. But, the city was allowed to develop haphazardly, flouting all norms of proper infrastructure. Natural valleys and lakes, which took in excess rain water, were encroached upon. Most of the 2,789 lakes in and around Bangalore at one time were converted into stadia, commercial complexes, bus stations and layouts. Now, when Bangalore is in the pits, the very persons responsible for the mess are trying to pass the buck.

It is no use crying over spilt milk. We cannot turn the clock back. But we can certainly stop further deterioration, and make sincere efforts to improve infrastructure. Put politics on the backburner, identify problems, find solutions, fix deadlines and appoint go-getting officials to implement them. Encourage publicprivate partnership. Proceed fast on short- and long-term plans. Come down heavily on encroachers. Bangalore must be protected and developed at any cost for the good of the state.

‘Rain has evaluated entire cabinet’

‘Rain has evaluated entire cabinet’

The Times of India

Bangalore: It was an outpouring of appraisals of the Congress-JD(S) ministers’ performance. Akin to the rain which pounded Bangalore and other districts, people’s ire was equal in measure. ]

On the report card asked by the Sunday Times of India for 28 ministers in chief minister N Dharam Singh’s cabinet (34 is the stipulated strength — the Congress has to fill three vacancies while JD(S) sacked three), on parameters ranging from proactivity to performance, only a handful met the requirements. A common thread in some responses was that Congressmen were justified in complaining that their party ministers are not assertive, visible or active. The JD(S) ministers win hands down on this count for the right or wrong reasons.

An irate Aniruddha Sudhir of Palm Spring Layout on Kanakapura Road felt there was no need for CWC member A K Antony or JD(S) president H D Deve Gowda to appraise ministers of their respective parties. “The rain god has evaluated the cabinet’s performance in just three days. If one takes a look at the overflowing drains, mounting uncleared garbage and people dying, no further exercise in appraisals is needed. Singh is known for his aerial surveys. He spends more time appeasing his boss Gowda,’’ he wrote.

Perhaps, Gowda’s larger-than-life presence over the government prompted Ravi of Bangalore to make the former PM a minister in the cabinet. “Gowda is the most visible of all. Ministers of both parties are inert... I think the Election Commission should add one more choice on the ballot paper — ‘none of these candidates’.’’

Regarding the five-best performing ministers in both parties put together, none got a ranking. But the highest votes were polled by ministers Mallikarjun M Kharge, H K Patil and R Ramalinga Reddy of the Congress and Dy CM M P Prakash and senior minister P G R Sindhia from JD(S) as “passable’’ ones. There were stray mentions of Congress’ R V Deshpande and Tanveer Sait too. With Kharge holding dual responsibilities of minister and KPCC chief, readers felt he was visible more in the latter role. His colleague Patil’s work in the law department was appreciated while Reddy was given the tag of being a “proactive minister’’.

In sum, the readers’ report card did not recommend promotion for any minister. As Hema Patil put it: “Despite compulsions they keep making efforts to do something or the other. At least people know they are ministers.’’

‘None of the ministers is working’

Bangalore: Here are excerpts of some our readers’ comments:

* Water resources minister Mallikarjun M Kharge speaks sense, but public works minister H D Revanna makes statements like ‘I will make Bangalore roads similar to Detroit’. What has he done? The best example of his incapability is the Bannerghatta Road, which is no road now. Being the son of farmer, he has not done anything for this community. He should stop other activities and concentrate on his ministry. — Kishan, Bangalore.

* All ministers are visible for the wrong reasons and Revanna tops the list. They are visible at the opening of tea or jewellery shops. It’s meaningless to name the best ministers as nobody can be rated thus. — H R Raghavan, Bangalore

* Deputy CM M P Prakash, P G R Sindhia, Revanna, Kharge, R Ramalinga Reddy top the list in being visible by issuing political statements. Congress members are justified in c o m p l a i n i n g against their ministers. Sindhia, as FM, has not been able to get finance even for basic infrastructure. Prakash toes the line of Gowda. — H S Ranganath, Bangalore.

* The most invisible minister is agricultural marketing minister Prakash B Hukkeri. During the past 18 months, he has hardly visited any of the agricultural markets. If at all, it has been for merchants’ association meetings and functions. — Deepak S Londe, Hubli * Patil, Sindhia, Prakash and Basavaraj Horatti are the best ministers. Patil can be credited for getting two circuit Benches, bringing down pendency of files. — B S Patil chairman, Karnataka Khadi Gramod yog Samyukta Sangh

* JD(S) ministers are keen on doing some work. But they have a leader who makes them dance to his tunes. There is an element of truth in Congress members’ complaints that their cabinet colleagues are inactive. — Jagadish Kalmath, Yelahanka

* None of the ministers, including the CM, is working. There is no progress in any field. Perhaps if Deve Gowda retires from politics, things may improve to a certain extent. — Gurumurthy D, Bangalore * The complaints of Congress workers cannot be justified as it is a coalition government. Patil is visible on his files clearance, and Kharge as Pradesh Congress Committee president. — V Vijayakumar, registrar and professor of law, National Law School of India, University


n Name the ministers, who are visible. If so, have they been in news by issuing political statements or discharging responsibilities of their respective portfolios?
n Between the Congress and JD(S) ministers, which party’s cabinet members are active?
n Are Congress members justified in complaining that their party ministers are not active?
n In a performance appraisal of the ministers, assign ranks for the entire cabinet going by the work they have done so far.



n Mallikarjun M Kharge - Water resources and transport
n H K Patil - Law and parliamentary affairs.
n R Ramalinga Reddy - Primary and secondary education
(All Congress)
n M P Prakash - Deputy CM
n P G R Sindhia - Finance
(Both JDS)


n R V Deshpande - Cooperation.
n Tanveer Sait - Labour and Haj. (Both Congress)
n Basavaraj S Horatti - Small savings, lotteries, science and technology. (JDS)


n H D Revanna-Public works and power
n C Channigappa - Excise and serviculture. (Both Janata Dal - Secular)



n S R Morey - Municipal administration and KUIDFC
n K Srinivasa Gowda - Agriculture.
n Prakash B Hukkeri - Agricultural marketing.
n Gurupadappa Nagmarapalli - Forest, ecology and environment.
n Y Nagappa - Social welfare,
n Anjanamurthy - Housing.
n B Shivaram - Information.
n Jabbar Khan Honnali - Minority welfare, youth services and sports.
n T Bhagirathi Marulasiddanagouda - Women and child welfare.


n D Manjunath - Higher education.
n Merajuddin N Patel - Animal husbandry.
n D T Jayakumar - Tourism.
n H S Mahadeva Prasad - Food and civil supplies.
n Amaregouda Patil L Byyapur - Sugar and textiles.
n N Cheluvarayaswamy - Health and family welfare.
n Alangur Srinivas - Horticulture.
n Iqbal Ansari - Medical Education.
n B Satyanarayana - Rural water supply and sanitation.

Cisco pumps in $800 million for R&D centre

Cisco pumps in $800 million for R&D centre
Deccan Herald

Global networking major, Cisco, will invest US $800 million on setting up a research and development centre in Bangalore.

Announcing this to reporters on Saturday during the wrap-up session of the four-day international event Bangalore IT.In, IT and BT secretary M K Shankaralinge Gowda, said this was a part of US $1.1 billion investment in India already announced by Chief Executive Officer and President John Chambers a few days ago.

While US $750 million would be spent on R&D, the remaining $50 million would be used for development of the campus.

Rain damage minimal in Lalbagh

Rain damage minimal in Lalbagh
Deccan Herald

Only four trees fell this time, compared with 15 in the ’98 deluge. Fish too were contained in the lake thanks to the mesh around it.

The heavy downpour that Bangalore witnessed in the past five days may have wrecked havoc across the city and brought dozens of trees to the ground. But Lalbagh botanical gardens seems to have escaped relatively unscathed.

From a collection of more than 5,000 trees, only four of them fell due to the torrential rains. Of this, a 150-year-old Java Fig tree (Ficus Benzamina) that was uprooted on October 26 evening near the Lalbagh Main Gate was under the ‘loss’ category.

According to Deputy Director of Horticulture M Jagadeesh, the other three trees comprising of Blue Gulmohar (48-year-old), Ficus Elasticvgyha or rubber tree (58-year-old) and Cassia Javanica (65-year-old) had dozens of replicas in the premises.

“This year, has proved to be lucky for Lalbagh. In the heavy rains that lashed in 1998, we had lost more than 15 trees and the damage was more wide-spread,” he said.

Even the Lalbagh lake, that is filled to its brim, has mesh all around to prevent the fish from ending up in the drain. “On October 23, we were totally unprepared for the downpour. So a good number of fish were displaced.

However, the well-defined channels to Krumbigal Road and the mesh that were placed has helped in containing the problem,” he said. A sum of Rs 10,000 has been spent in clearing the trail of damage.

No joggers, visitors

But if the trail of destruction left behind by rains was limited, the dip in the joggers’ and visitors’ footfall was tremendous.

Horticultural Department Director G K Vasanth Kumar said a revenue-loss of Rs 25,000 on each day had occurred following the downpour.

“But we are thankful that people did not venture out in the rains as it could be dangerous,” said Vasanth Kumar.

Cubbon Park in mess

At the other end of the spectrum, Cubbon Park had the rain-ravaged stamp written all over it. Uncut grass, heaps of rubbish collected in corners and slushy areas marked the sprawling grounds.

Although the number of trees that were uprooted was not more than two, the weed growth resulting from heavy rains had increased considerably, said Vasanth Kumar.

Bramble and shrubs growing in all directions turning the landscape into a rather unappealing scene was another problem, he added.

Lalbagh may be closed

Plans are also on to shut the gates of Lalbagh to the public for a week, so that the officials would be able to take stock of the entire situation to bring back the gardens into perfect shape.

Even morning joggers and walkers will have to keep off from the gardens.

Bangalore to be cloudy for yet another day

Bangalore to be cloudy for yet another day
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Bangalore, which has been experiencing a cloudy weather for almost a week now interspersed with heavy rains on two days, will remain cloudy for another day, meteorological sources said.

The inclement weather is because of deep depression prevailing in Bay of Bengal off North Tamil Nadu coast, Dr A L Koppar, Director, Meteorological Centre here told PTI.

This weather system crossed the South Andhra coast by Saturday afternoon and is now over the Telangana region. Under its influence Northern districts of Karnataka, mainly Bidar, Gulbarga, Raichur, Bellary and Koppal are likely to receive widespread rains with isolated heavy falls in the coming days, he said.

The remaining regions of Karnataka are also expected to be cloudy with occasional light rains. This weather is expected to continue for another 24 hours, Koppar said.

However, the weather is expected to improve later over Southern parts of Karnataka, he said.

Rain: BMP estimates loss at Rs. 300 cr.

Rain: BMP estimates loss at Rs. 300 cr.

The Hindu

Affected persons to be given houses under the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Scheme

# 700 houses damaged in rain
# Commissioner lauds BMP staff engaged in relief work
# Government seeks report on remodelling drains

BANGALORE: The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) has informed the State Government that the loss on account of rain in the city is Rs. 300.85 crores.

This includes damage to private and BMP properties, bridges, culverts, drain walls and tanks, and the compensation given to families of people who lost their lives. BMP Commissioner K. Jothiramalingam said this at the BMP Council meeting here on Saturday.

The commissioner said the officials had submitted a memorandum to the Government, which gave details about the loss in the BMP limits.

"The Government had asked us to give details about the damage caused because of rain so that they can be included in the memorandum being submitted to the Centre on Monday," he said.

Giving a break-up of the damage, the commissioner said the loss in the east zone had been estimated at Rs. 100 crores, Rs. 92 crores in the west zone, and Rs. 94.36 crores in the south zone.

This is apart from the amount required to be spent on public health and rescue measures, he said.


Till Friday, the BMP had distributed compensation cheques totalling over Rs. 62.66 lakhs to 3,320 affected people. "We have identified more affected people and will disburse compensation to them soon, he said.

Pointing out that over 700 houses had been damaged during the rain, Mr. Jothiramalingam said that the BMP would allot houses to the affected people under the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Scheme.

Sharing the credit of providing timely relief measures with all his colleagues in the BMP, "including the Class IV employees," the commissioner said: "all this has been possible only because of team work. All my employees, including the Class IV workers have worked day and night to provide relief to the affected people. We have even gone to areas outside our purview to help the affected people."


The commissioner said the Government had written to the BMP to get a detailed project report prepared for remodelling drains that flow into the seven city municipal councils (CMCs) and also rejuvenate tanks there. "Our project to remodel the four valleys (Koramangala, Hebbal, Challaghatta and Vrishabhavathi) also includes stretches up to one km in the CMC limits. As per directions from the Government, we will now get a report prepared for remodelling the drains till the end points," the Mr. Jothiramalingam said.

He said Stup Consultants would be entrusted with the task of preparing a feasibility and detailed project report.

Following directions from the State Government, the commissioner instructed the BMP employees not to go out of the city for the next four days. "This is to ensure that the workforce is available to take up relief measures.

The commissioner will call them for work if necessary," an official issued by the Joint Commissioner (Administration) circular said.

People of rain-hit areas pour out their woes to Dharam Singh

People of rain-hit areas pour out their woes to Dharam Singh

The Hindu

BANGALORE: Having just recovered from the torrential rain, the residents of New Timber Yard Layout off Mysore Road and the Police Quarters in Rajajinagar now fear the collapse of their houses. This is because of the fact that the houses are damp and there are long cracks on the walls.

The residents expressed their apprehensions and also mentioned the civic problems to Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh during his visit to the rain-affected areas of the city on Saturday. This was the fifth day that Mr. Singh was going around the areas along with Minister for Primary and Secondary Education R. Ramalinga Reddy, MLAs, MPs, and officials.

Soon after the Chief Minister arrived in the New Timber Yard Layout, which is next to the Vrishabhavati valley, a woman started pouring out the problems of the people. Ms. Jayamma said that the breach in the valley inundated her house and those of several others in the layout.

"This is not the first time that the breach has occurred. Every time we complain the authorities carry out only temporary repairs. Even if the rain is not heavy we face the threat of inundation," she said.

Gouramma said they were drinking contaminated water.

Assuring the citizens, the Chief Minister said: "Do not worry. I have brought all the officials along with me. I will see that your problems are solved," and then inspected the houses that had collapsed in the layout.

When the Chief Minister went to Police Quarters in Rajajinagar, the women expressed anguish over the dilapidated state of the quarters which houses 800 people.

"This 20-year-old quarters has been neglected; no maintenance work has been carried out. Six of the houses here have been certified as not fit for living. We have frequent power cuts and disruption in water supply," said K.V. Chandrakala, a resident.

Turning to Bangalore Police Commissioner Ajai Kumar Singh, Mr. Dharam Singh wondered why was this not brought to his notice.

The Police Commissioner replied that he had sent a proposal for carrying out repairs at the quarters and at two other places at a cost of Rs. 45 lakhs and it was pending. Mr. Dharam Singh then promised the residents that the sum would be released.

He also directed Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Commissioner K. Jothiramalingam to solve the problems on water supply.

Lake maintenance may be handed over to BDA or BMP

Lake maintenance may be handed over to BDA or BMP

The Hindu

There is a plan to amend laws in this regard, says Chief Minister

BANGALORE: Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh on Saturday said the Government was planning to amend laws to hand over maintenance of lakes in and around the city from the Department of Forests to the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) or the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).

To a question on the action being taken on large-scale encroachment of lakes, Mr. Singh said there was a plan to bring the maintenance of lakes and the related development works under one authority. On encroachments, he said, the Cabinet would take a decision after holding discussions with officials, including Chief Secretary B.K. Das.

During his visit to the areas affected by torrential rain in the city, Mr. Singh said he had found encroachments near storm water drains and lakes.

He had directed the BMP to take steps to clear the encroachment on 28 acres of a lake at Uttarahalli. The Slum Clearance Board had been directed to relocate people of a slum in Rajajinagar, he said. The crisis management committee headed by Mr. Das was monitoring the relief operations.

On the absence of basic facilities in the relief camps, Mr. Singh said there were bound to be complaints in such situations.

"I have directed the commissioners of BMP and city municipal councils to provide facilities in the relief camps," Mr. Singh said.

Bangalore turns out to be a lacklustre affair

Bangalore turns out to be a lacklustre affair

The Hindu

Organisers blame rain, traffic snarls for poor show

# Fewer business visitors, deals struck this year
# Business visitors ranged between 10,000 and 12,000
# However, attendance of foreign delegates gladdens organisers
# 250 foreign delegates and 100 NRIs showed up

Bangalore: The eighth edition of the annual mega information technology event, Bangalore, which concluded here on Saturday, will go down in history as the most lacklustre of all so far.

In terms of the number of business visitors and the deals struck, this year's event was just a shadow of what it used to be in earlier years. The organisers — the State Government and the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) — are quick to blame the rain and the traffic snarls for the poor show.

"We hade to face huge natural occurrences during the event — the unprecedented rain during the last few days, flooding and disruption in traffic. The Palace Grounds, the main venue for the event, was slushy. The show was also not made easy by the events that took place prior to," said M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda, Secretary, Information Technology and Biotechnology, Karnataka, in a veiled reference to the spat between the Government and the IT industry over lack of infrastructure in Bangalore.

Dip in numbers

STPI Director in charge of Bangalore, B.V. Naidu, said the number of business visitors to the event had dipped this year compared to previous years. "This year the number of business visitors was in the range of 10,000 to 12,000. Last year, it was more. Heavy rain prevented people from coming to the event," he noted.

Despite this, the organisers said that the "unprecedented number of foreign delegates" to this year's event made it a "memorable one."

"In the past, the event did not attract international participation like it did this year. There were around 250 foreign delegates and about 100 NRIs who attended the event this year," he said. According to Mr. Gowda, the level of interest shown in Bangalore can be gauged from the fact that the 68-member contingent that came from Barcelona in Spain comprised mainly entrepreneurs. Bavaria also tested the waters this time and said that it would like to "come in a big way next year."

Fewer deals struck

The number of deals struck between domestic and foreign firms has also been reduced to a trickle.

But Mr. Naidu said it was "business as usual" in the stalls put up at the venue.

"About 80 to 90 per cent of the persons whom we met have given a positive indication of the business prospects that was generated out of the event," Mr. Naidu said.

Yet another feature of the event was the "amazing interest" shown by companies in starting operations in the secondary cities such as Mangalore, Mysore, Hubli and Gulbarga, among others.

Reinforcing the point that Bangalore continues to be the leader in attracting IT investments into India, Mr. Gowda said that Cisco Systems announced an investment of $800 million for setting up an R&D campus on 14 acres in Bangalore during the visit of its President and Chief Executive Officer, John Chambers, on October 21.

Karnataka rules out more sops for IT firms

Karnataka rules out more sops for IT firms

The Hindu

Bangalore: The Karnataka Government has ruled out providing extra sops to entice information technology (IT) investors in starting their operations in secondary cities, such as Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum and Gulbarga.

State Information and Biotechnology Secretary M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda told The Hindu that no State in the country offered the kind of incentives to the IT sector that Karnataka did, and the industry should expand operations to Tier 2 cities in the State where a vast talent pool and good infrastructure existed.

When told that the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh was offering additional incentives to the IT sector for promoting secondary cities such as Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Tirupati and Warangal, Mr. Gowda said that State did not grant concessions for Tier 2 locations.

What’s irritating the city’s IT industry

What’s irritating the city’s IT industry
The Indian Express

WHEN Philips Software’s Bangalore-based, Dutch-born CEO, Bob Hoekstra, invited heads of other IT companies in the city for a conference at his office in central Bangalore earlier this year, a common request from his would-be guests was: ‘‘Can you schedule my talk in the morning or late evening?’’

Given Bangalore’s daily traffic congestion, Hoekstra’s guests did not want to spend an entire day commuting 10-20 km distances between the conference and their offices. They wanted to be accommodated while they travelled to work or back home from work.

Every working day in Bangalore, nearly 200,000 IT sector employees from the estimated 1,560 IT companies in the city spend a minimum of three hours commuting 10-20 km distances to and fro work. On a Sunday, travelling these distances would take a bare 30-45 minutes.

It’s no small wonder that the Bangalore IT industry — which recorded exports worth Rs 27,000 crore in financial year 2004-05 — has been crying itself hoarse about the city’s infrastructure, even as politics has threatened to obliterate the industry’s concerns.

‘‘Bangalore’s civic agencies work in isolation of each other,’’ he mutters, ‘‘there is no system in place and no coordination. There is no governance at all.’’

WITH no proper transportation system and a vehicle ownership ratio of 36,571 per lakh population — the highest for the country — the pressure on Bangalore’s largely small-town roads is only mounting by the day.

‘‘It is not for want of plans that Bangalore is suffering. It is because these plans have come too late, after the government has slept for so long. So everything has collapsed now,’’ says R.K. Misra, vice-president, Flextronics India. Misra is also a member of the industry-government empowered committee for Bangalore’s infrastructure.

‘‘In the sadak-pani-bijli equation, sadak is Bangalore’s biggest requirement,’’ says Misra, ‘‘the Cauvery IV stage water supply plan can handle Bangalore’s water needs for a long time. Also, most IT companies are not dependent on external power generation.’’

Misra points to another, more recent cause for alarm. ‘‘Following heavy rains and the flooding of Bangalore,’’ he explains, ‘‘the management of lake beds has become a major concern. The catchment areas of most of Bangalore’s lakes have knowingly or unknowingly been lost to real estate. These catchment areas were connected to each other as a lake system that controlled flooding, we need to find a way to revive the drainage system.’’

WHILE politics does not feature as a direct concern when it comes to Bangalore’s infrastructure, every IT company head in the city appears to agree that Karnataka’s culture of political oneupmanship is the biggest roadblock to the city’s development.

‘‘There is no vision for the city,’’ says Kalpana Kar, ‘‘and there is a lack of leadership both on the private and public fronts. We need plans that are not questioned and changed with every change of bureaucrat or politician.’’

Kar has first-hand experience of such whimsy. She was once chairperson of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force — an agency disbanded when Dharam Singh (Congress) took over as chief minister in 2004, backed by H.D. Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular). The previous S.M. Krishna-led Congress government had backed the IT industry heavily, the new regime saw it as less important, articulating a somewhat vague ‘‘pro-rural’’ agenda.

‘‘Our vision for every infrastructure improvement effort keeps changing before the halfway mark,’’ says Kar, ‘‘it’s directionless, the development in Bangalore’’.

She cites the city’s half-a-dozen flyovers to illustrate the blind manner in which Bangalore is being driven: ‘‘The flyovers were built around a plan for an Elevated Light Rail Transit System. Now that the ELRTS plans have been abandoned, the flyovers have themselves become redundant.’’ Yet the one-way rules and traffic snarls the flyovers entailed remain, and now threaten to become permanent scars.

‘‘BANGALORE’S challenge is that it has grown at 11 per cent per annum over the past decade, and infrastructure has obviously not kept pace,’’ says Infosys’ CFO, T. Mohandas Pai. ‘‘The biggest problem is traffic. Industry has suggested a set of shortterm and longterm initiatives, all accepted by the government. These have to be implemented vigorously with the active participation of civil society.’’

There is a sense of unfairness to Bangalore’s neglect. ‘‘The state government derives 70 per cent of its revenues from Bangalore,’’ says Pai, ‘‘it needs to plough back a bit more.’’

HP Globalsoft CEO and Nasscom chairman Som Mittal stresses multi-layered priorities: ‘‘Just because a new international airport is being built in the longterm does not mean the existing airport is neglected in the short term. The pressure on the existing airport is constantly increasing ... Similarly, while bigger road projects are on the way, there is need to improve existing roads, footpaths.’’

FOR politicians and other decision-makers alike, much of what is happening is Bangalore is a product of complacency. The IT/BPO boom was seen as too much of a good thing to end. The infrastructure mess, the bad traffic could be surmounted, it was felt. Despite these, American companies would still save enormously by shipping work to Bangalore.

This may be yesterday’s story. At the recent, Bangalore’s flagship industry event, chief ministers and government delegations landed up to woo Bangalore’s orphans, selling Kochi and Kolkata, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad/Gandhinagar.

They had learnt from Bangalore’s mistakes. They told their potential investors that they had better roads, better infrastructure and better endowed IT parks or dedicated locations ready.

Of course, a Gujarat or a Kerala may not have Bangalore’s formidable mix of technical talent, but when other factors of production begin to migrate, some day, so will the man behind the machine.

After all, this has happened elsewhere. For a century, Detroit was America’s workshop, the automobile capital of the world. Today many of its once buzzing plants are museums, the city is itself is derelict, a hollow urbanscape that is the very prototype of the rust belt.

Of course, America still makes lots of cars and trucks and buses — even if many of the companies are Japanese owned — but the new factories are located elsewhere, in the South, as far away as California, not in Detroit.

Between Deve Gowda and Dharam Singh, they can take Bangalore forward — or drive it to Detroit.

A city and its hung program

•Bangalore has 36,571 cars per lakh population, the highest such figure in the country. But its roads are still, essentially, where they were 20 years ago. Traffic is a nightmare.
•Whether an elevated mass-transit system, on which some work was done before the scheme was abandoned, or a metro, Bangalore is crying out for commuter connectivity.
•The real estate juggernaut has played havoc with nature,in effect blocked the city’s lakes and their catchment areas. This has negated a traditional drainage system and, this week, led to floods.
•Karnataka’s government gets 70 per cent of its revenue from Bangalore but seems to be niggardly in giving back. It is in danger of losing investment in IT to cities as far apart as Kochi and Kolkata, which promise better infrastructure.
•Decongesting the city with suburban townships would be a good idea, but highway projectssuch as the one to Mysore are stuck too.
‘‘There has been no decisive action on our basic demand: just better roads and traffic management. We cannot fix lunch meetings with clients anymore in the central parts of Bangalore,’’ complains Hoekstra as he watches rainwater being pumped out of an inundated ground floor at his software centre.

Rural India has numerous problems. Don’t make IT the excuse

Silicon versus plain con
Rural India has numerous problems. Don’t make IT the excuse
Indian Express

The ‘‘either-or’’ paradigm that is dominating the headlines in Bangalore is completely off the mark. The correct approach I believe should be ‘‘and-and’’ and not ‘‘either-or’’. It is not one to the exclusion of the other, but in fact the fulfillment of both objectives, which are wrongly positioned as being in conflict.

In simplistic terms it is ‘‘rural versus urban’’ or ‘‘IT versus agriculture’’ or ‘‘India versus Bharat’’ and so on. In actual fact, there is very little to argue about. Nobody denies that we need to invest more in rural education. But to suggest that building a flyover in Bangalore will reduce resources for rural education is a monstrous joke and a lie. Believe it or not, we actually have enough money for both activities!

Merely increasing the ‘‘spending’’ on rural education does not mean that we have ‘‘invested’’ in it. If we double the salaries of unionised teachers who do not turn up in rural schools, we would not have ‘‘invested’’ one extra penny in rural education. We would have simply ‘‘spent’’ money that would make the Rural Absentee/Ghost Teachers Union happy, but done nothing to extend or improve education to the rural poor.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram understands this very well. That is why he has tried to focus the national debate on ‘‘outcomes’’ and not on ‘‘spending’’.

THE purpose of increased spending on education is not merely to ‘‘spend’’, but to ‘‘educate’’. Even a left-loving economist like Amartya Sen concedes in his book The Argumentative Indian that the unionised teachers in his home state of West Bengal systematically absent themselves from work while drawing salaries (we must call them ‘‘rents’’, not ‘‘wages’’) in excess of market levels and far more than that paid to diligent working teachers in his own NGO.

Similarly merely spending money on urban roads can make contractors richer. It need not and usually does not make roads better. Urban residents suffer not only from overspending which benefits contractors but from delays which benefit no one.

Quite frankly, if about a dozen flyovers were completed in the next three months, Bangaloreans will get disproportionate benefits even if the estimated project costs double. But of course what is likely to happen is that it will take three years and the total project costs will actually treble!

If our traffic nightmare is so bad, why don’t we work night and day? If floodlights can be used for cricket matches they can be used for construction sites. In Thailand they can complete pre-fab flyovers in a couple of weeks. Why should it take us years?

It is our tragedy that our agencies get trapped in litigation, disputes, stay orders and endless delay. The focus is on activity and spending, not on outcomes! This is the reason N.R. Narayana Murthy pleads for a ‘‘better urban governance model’’.

REFERRING to the English poet Shelley, the French biographer Andre Maurois had this to say: ‘‘He was a beautiful and ineffectual angel beating his wings in the void.’’

In India we are certainly ineffectual, if not beautiful and whether we are angelic or not, we do beat our wings in the void. We have endless discussions while the Koreas, Chinas, Malaysias and Thailands talk less and do more.

At the end of the day, both the city-dweller and the rural farmer in these countries are richer, healthier, more educated, more prosperous than their counterparts in India.

We need a strong IT industry. It is the one activity that has given us success and respect on the global arena that we can all be proud of. We also need a strong agriculture. Whoever suggested that there is anything win-lose about their relationship?

IT can help agriculture or it can be neutral. One does not in any way detract from the other. IT is non-polluting, not energy-intensive and is far less land-intensive than manufacturing or mining.

The ‘‘land’’ issue is in particular a completely irrelevant red herring. Obsolete and unimaginative laws regarding land classifications — for example, agricultural versus non-agricultural — and ceilings have rendered the smooth functioning of markets in land impossible.

Anyone, be he or she an Indonesian developer in West Bengal or the Indian Navy in Karwar or an IT company in Bangalore or a charitable hospital in Tamil Nadu or a chemical factory in Maharashtra, is simply unable to buy a large contiguous piece of land in the open market. You have to be dependent on the government acting as a middleman, acquiring it and turning around and selling it to you.

If the government does not wish to perform this function, why not deregulate the market in land? Instead of the government making profits as an intermediary, the owners — the rightful sons and daughters of the soil — will get the benefit of the price that a willing buyer is prepared to pay.

Till the laws are changed, any business that wishes to develop a reasonable-sized civil facility will have to buy from the government and later get pilloried for that.

There is another option. The business can decide to go to Guangzhou or Shanghai, which I am told are welcoming places!

WE are all in this together. Nobody in the IT sector is foolish enough to believe that longterm sustainable prosperity is possible for themselves without other sectors developing in tandem. But instead of getting into the ‘‘either-or’’ game, let’s just for a moment look at the ‘‘win-win’’ features.

The IT industry is responsible for 90 if not 100 per cent of Bangalore’s foreign tourist traffic. And guess what, one out of 10 of them does visit Belur, Halebid and Sravana Belagola. The IT industry is also responsible for the traffic congestion in Bangalore.

We can of course shut down the IT industry (something that would make the mayor of Guangzhou deliriously happy), reduce foreign tourists and solve the traffic problem.

Or we can build flyovers, roads and mass-transit systems (‘‘remember construction is labour-intensive’’), welcome foreign tourists (‘‘tourism is labour-intensive’’) and get on with building a prosperous state and country.

The author is chairman and CEO, MphasiS BFL Ltd, and a past chairman of Nasscom

Saturday, October 29, 2005

CMCs merger move draws cheers, flak

CMCs merger move draws cheers, flak
Can Corporation rise to the challenge?
VIjay Times

Bangalore: The State cabinet s decision on Friday to merge the seven City Municipal Councils (CMCs) and one T own Municipal Council ( TMC) around the City with the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) evoked a mixed response from officials and members of the public spoken to by Vijay Times.

Pointing out that the BCC was struggling to maintain the infrastructure in the 100 wards presently in its limits, a senior BCC official said: "Following the 1975 order to join 75 sq km to the BCC limits, it has been a big burden on the civic body to improve these areas. If the government thinks that the BCC has the inherent capacity to handle these areas around the City , we will take it up. If proper administration was in place, these CMC areas could have been developed well, better than areas in the BCC limits." B D A C o m m i s sioner MN V i d y a s h ankar: The g o v e r n ment s decision will help immensely in the development of CMC areas.

Improving 100 wards under the BCC s limits cannot be called development. Development, in the true sense, is required in the peripheral areas, which are ill-equipped and poorly regulated.

Shivabasappa, a resident of Bhadrappa Layout: A very good decision. With this merger, CMCs will get a helping hand, more muscle power.

Swati Ramanathan, founder of Janaagraha: While decentralisation is touted as the mantra for providing better administration and improvement, the City seems to be going in reverse gear. Already , each CMC has over 30 wards. This would mean bringing around 350 civic representatives under a single umbrella.

A CMC commissioner: If the government becomes liberal in releasing funds to the seven CMCs and one TMC on the lines of the BCC, we can provide the basic amenities without any hiccups. It ( the merger) is going to create confusion in terms of the boundary .

K R Puram
Y elahanka
Kengeri - TMC

Roads, traffic only matters of concern in Bangalore: Maran

Roads, traffic only matters of concern in Bangalore: Maran

Poor roads and traffic congestion are the only matters of concern for Bangalore, the IT capital if India and the fourth best technology hub in the world, Union Communication and Information Technology Minister Dayanidhi Maran has said.

In a letter to Rajya Sabha member B K Hariprasad in connection with the Special Mention made by him in Parliament in August this year, the Minister said Bangalore had plenty of IT infrastructure in terms of power, telecom connectivity, water and state-of-the-art IT parks, but road connectivity was a concern.

He said there were 23 lakh vehicles in the city with about 750 new ones everyday adding to the pressure on the existing traffic.

Mr Maran said the state government and civic agencies were taking action to broaden and resurface roads wherever possible and long-term projects like construction of road overbridges, flyovers and grade separators were in the pipeline.

On the infrastructure front, projects like the Bangalore International Airport, Bangalore Metro, Hi-tech city, Hardware Technology Park, the elevated four-lane expressway connecting the Electronics City-Peripheral ring road, and the Cauvery fourth state second-phase work to increase water supply by over 500 million litres a day had been taken up and would be in operation in the next 2-3 years' time.

He said Bangalore city had seen phenomenal growth of IT companies during the last 7-8 years. There were 680 IT companies in 1998 and the number had increased to 1,584 now, of which 622 were MNCs contributing to almost 25 per cent of the GDP of the state. The total export from Karnataka for 2004-05 was worth Rs 27,600 crore accounting for one third of the total IT exports from the country.

The IT sector had provided direct employment to 300,000 and indirect employment to over 10,00,000 people. The pay bill of these companies was over Rs 10,000 crore and the city was the fastest growing in Asia with a population of 65 lakh and a floating population of 15 lakh.

The National Informatics Centre of the Ministry of Communications and IT had been providing e-governance suppport and NICNET backbone to central government departments, states, union territories and district administrations in the country for internet, e-mail, file transfer, data base development, e-governance applications development and hosting and access.

Some of the major applicaions implemented by the NIC included a dedicated RF Link (11Mbps) connection had been installed to provide internet gateway to 1,600 nodes of the Karnataka government secretariat, direct way 4,020 VSATs have been installed in all the 27 districts of Karnataka.

The Centre had also taken number of steps to promote IT in the country including providing incentives to industries, Mr Maran said.

Two models mooted for city

Two models mooted for city
Rain Havoc Forces Ministers To Go Into A Huddle
The Times of India

Bangalore: Enlightenment has finally dawned on the state government. After numerous rainhavoc inspections by powers-thatbe, the state cabinet on Friday mooted a common development blueprint for Bangalore and the seven CMCs that surround it.

Details of the plan have not been finalised. But the cabinet discussed whether an overall Bangalore Metropolitan Authority should be set up or whether the city and its surrounding areas should be divided into Bangalore-1 and Bangalore-2, and developed accordingly.

After the cabinet meet to discuss the rain havoc, information minister B Shivaram said: “We all realise the extent of the problem in Bangalore now, after the rains. If drains in the Bangalore City Corporation area are of one size, drains in the CMCs are of a different size. There is no coordination or planning, while unauthorised constructions have caused a lot of havoc.’’

Merits of both suggestions were discussed. If a BMA is set up, it would administer the entire region as one. Or if the IT City is split into Bangalore-1 (BCC area) and Bangalore-2 (CMCs and suburbs), taxation would be different for the two regions, but infrastructure planned would be integrated.
Shivaram said these details are expected to be finalised at the next cabinet meet, following which an official notification would be issued. “But all of us have decided that unified planning is a must, whichever way it is done,’’ he added.

Besides, the cabinet has authorised a sub-committee headed by deputy chief minister and revenue minister M P Prakash to decide on what action should be taken against unauthorised constructions and layouts. The option of regularisation or demolition will be taken based on the report, to be submitted in about a fortnight, by this committee, Shivaram said. Special facilities are being proposed for JD(S) national president H D Deve Gowda’s latest passion — slums. Shivaram said slum development, rehabilitation of houses that have been built on lakebeds and the poorer areas of Bangalore will be the focus of future plans. “We will also build 1 lakh houses state-wide to help those who have lost their homes in the rain.’’

With rain sweeping the state, austerity measures have been imposed on ministers, officials.
All foreign trips cancelled for ministers and officials. CM-led delegation to seek rain relief in New Delhi will be limited to as few persons as possible. All ministers and officials will remain in headquarters for the next 10 days. Diwali holidays will be given, but everyone has to remain on call to deal with relief work. All extra expenditure will be cut down; everyone asked to trim benefits. Austerity measures imposed at all levels till rain calamity subsides. Rajyothsava celebrations to be subdued.

Permanent policy on lake encroachment soon: CM

Permanent policy on lake encroachment soon: CM
Deccan Herald

‘A permanent policy decision’ on the encroachment of lakes and lake beds in the City Municipal Council limits will be taken by the State government, Chief Minister Dharam Singh stated on Friday.

Addressing media persons after a visit to some of the rain affected places in Bommanahalli, KR Puram and Mahadevapura CMCs, the chief minister said that ‘in the larger interest of the public’, senior officers at the level of the Chief Secretary, Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore Urban district and the respective area commissioners will study the situation.

Having checked out for himself the situation on the now infamous stretch of Hosur Road - between the Central Silk Board Flyover junction and Garvebhavipalya (offices of Wipro and HTMT), -- Singh said, “the Rajakaluve connecting Begur and Agara lake has been encroached up to a length of 3 kms.” The state has appealed to the Centre for immediate interim relief of Rs 500 crore for rain relief.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been apprised that “our situation is similar to Mumbai,” the chief minister said.

The Urban development department has, meanwhile, directed the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) to chalk out a separate plan for the remodelling of storm water drains in the CMC areas.

It is apart from the Rs 660-crore project already initiated by the BMP in its limits and for a kilometre’s distance into the CMCs. Shameen Banu, principal secretary, Urban Development, said the new plan is likely to cost about Rs 200 crore.