Sunday, May 28, 2006

Despite SC rap, why doesn’t govt let BMIC get on with NICE job?

Despite SC rap, why doesn’t govt let BMIC get on with NICE job?
H S Balram
The Times of India

Why is Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), builders of the muchneeded Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC), which includes an expressway and townships en route, not being allowed to expedite the project? What is stopping the government from handing over to NICE about 2,450 acres of land, even after the Supreme Court struck down all objections? Have officials concerned been told by their political bosses to drag their feet, just to harass the company?

For years, Ashok Kheny, MD of the company, has been running from pillar to post to get his project going. To date, he has dealt with five governments, scores of politicians and hundreds of officials. He sought intervention of the courts at every step. Even as he emerged triumphant in every court, he was dragged to a higher court. Finally, the Supreme Court came to his rescue. It reprimanded the government in the strongest terms, directed it to clear all hurdles and even imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh. In keeping with his agenda to speed up all infrastructure projects which had come to a standstill during the Dharam Singh regime, CM Kumaraswamy decided against filing a review petition and asked NICE to go ahead with the project. Yet, not an inch of the required land has been given to NICE.

Where lies the problem? Officials say they are in the process of handing over the land, but they hesitate to give a time frame. The obvious inference is they have been asked to go slow. The needle of suspicion points towards Deve Gowda, who had encouraged his supporters to move the courts against the builder. Why is the CM keeping quiet? Time and again he has said that his decisions are not influenced by his father. Why isn’t he asking officials to speed up the exercise?

So frustrated is Kheny that he says he will put up billboards all over Bangalore explaining the reasons for the delay and naming all those stalling the project. Maybe he is joking. But he is certainly contemplating contempt of court proceedings against the government. If he does, Kumaraswamy will face the music. He must act before it is too late. He should know that all arguments against NICE have fallen flat. The apex court has already given a mouthful to the state.

The expressway is a necessity, particularly with Mysore growing into a second IT city, after Bangalore. And the townships that will sprout along the route will help improve the economy of surrounding areas. NICE also has plans to put up a mono rail in the median that can quickly transport people to and fro Mysore. The government, in fact, should encourage construction of expressways to Mangalore, Hubli and other growing cities. The benefits will be threefold. One, better connectivity with Bangalore will help these Tier II cities to prosper. Two, top companies, particularly IT, will look beyond Bangalore for future investment and expansion. Three, Bangalore, which is bursting at the seams, will be decongested. Kumaraswamy must move fast, clear the last hurdle, get out of NICE’s path and let the corridor take shape. Other infrastructure projects, like the Metro and Mono Rail for Bangalore, are demanding his attention. Can he afford a rap from the Supreme Court at this stage in his political career? He has a little over 16 months now to prove his worth.

Pull up your socks,
Are roads in your area in bad shape? Are civic amenities inadequate? Then blame the local corporator. He never sits in the office allotted to him. Ward engineers spend most of their time at his residence. Files keep piling up. Projects get delayed. This is the finding of the committee on roads appointed by the high court. While making over 80 observations and recommendations on speeding up civic works, the committee has reprimanded corporators for not being proactive. Shame on these worthies who come to us, honest tax-paying citizens, seeking votes during elections, only to ignore us later. It’s time resident associations take on the elected representatives.


Post a Comment

<< Home