Monday, November 28, 2005

This road points to BMP apathy

This road points to BMP apathy

The Hindu

The small stretch is waiting for months for `sanction, estimate and approval'

BANGALORE: There is enough tar in the city to blacken the face of the former Mayor of Belgaum, Vijay Pandurang More, but not for repairing a much used stretch of road. No doubt it is for the police investigators to find out whether it was tar, boot polish or black paint that was used to sully the face of Mr. More and some others.

The small stretch connecting what was earlier being called the Tasker Avenue with Queen's Road at the S.G. Balekundry Circle is waiting for months for the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP)'s "sanction, estimate and approval", which are the buzzwords in the BMP Engineering Department.

This particular stretch was laid only last year to enable vehicles to pass through without having to wait at the traffic lights at the Parsee Fire Temple or Balekundry Circle. It was done by destroying a park, which existed for ages, though it carried a misleading tablet bearing the name of a former Mayor T.K. Thimmarayi Gowda as having inaugurated it in 1966.

This patch of road, which mirrors the state of roads (call it infrastructure as it is more in currency especially after the business and industry leaders discovered the city) carries a heavy volume of traffic, especially that of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses.

In fact, the footpath in front of the Parsee agiary has become the "second Shivajinagar bus station" and one or two entrepreneurs have put up illegal shops invading the footpath and also at times, make use of the bus shelter.

This is not to suggest that the BMP engineers are unaware of the travails of those passing through the treacherous stretch. Interesting facts emerged as this correspondent began "digging up the surface" of this road, which has disintegrated within one year of its laying because of poor quality of work. The hardcore among the BMP engineers, forming about 25 per cent of the whole, have "dedicated their career to serving" the people of Bangalore, as they are immune from transfer because of a stay order issued by the Karnataka High Court in 1976. No one has cared to get that order vacated and transfer the BMP employees to other municipal areas. It is part of legal history and is, perhaps, the oldest stay order in force at least in the State.

The BMP officials of those days approached the High Court even as the State Government enacted the Common Municipalities Act that year (1976). Among the hardcore BMP engineers are cases of those who have risen from the lowest to the highest. Some of them began their careers as gangmen or work inspectors and rose to be chief engineers unthinkable in State or Union Government services!

As regards the 75 per cent of the BMP engineers, they are on deputation from the Public Works Department and those in authority in the BMP argue that those engineers are outside their pale in the matter of enforcing discipline. It is no wonder the BMP engineers are a law unto themselves, and Koramangala is only one among the many examples of flagrant violation of the municipal laws allowed by the BMP Engineering Department. In recent years, a former BMP Commissioner, K. Jairaj, tried to improve the standard of engineering personnel in the civic body by bringing in better qualified officials from the Karnataka Power Corporation. It met with stiff opposition from the homebred.

The BMP offices on the Queen's Road are within a kilometre from the stretch in question and yet everyone connected with it has winked at it. The recent spell of rain has aggravated the condition of the stretch. The bust of Balekundry, the Parsee agiary and the venerable Lady Jehangir Kothari Hall with its Hellenic architecture and Corinthian pillars are mute witnesses to BMP apathy in this part of the city.


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