Sunday, July 30, 2006

Let us join hands to save Bangalore from this mess

Let us join hands to save Bangalore from this mess
H S Balram
The Times of India

Happening city Bangalore is caught in a maze. It just doesn’t know how to get out of it. The coalition government is shaky, what with the partners at each other’s throat. Veteran Deve Gowda is on a letter-writing spree that does more harm than good. Crime is on the increase with women facing the brunt. Simple issues like helmets for two-wheeler riders are highly politicised. Roads continue to be in bad shape with contractors and government engineers doing a shoddy job and siphoning off tax-payers’ money. Traffic chaos continues.

Take crime. The city has a large number of BPOs dotting its length and breadth, providing employment and good salaries to thousands of young women and men. Every other family has someone working for a BPO. Living conditions have improved. The only drawback is long and odd working hours. Night shifts are regular. BPOs have taken adequate measures to pick them up from home and drop them back. Yet, these employees fall prey to criminals as some prefer to go on their own or some are lured into a trap. This is happening with alarming regularity.

A year ago, a woman employee was raped and killed by a driver who tricked her into going in his vehicle though it was not scheduled to pick her up. Two days ago, another woman refused the official vehicle and took a lift from her boyfriend. Her body with multiple stab wounds was found 100 km away from the city. A male colleague has confessed to the crime. Both the incidents sent shivers down the spines of Bangaloreans. Families of the victims as well as the killers were shattered. In the second case, the girl’s family suffered repeated tragedies. Her brother died in a road accident in Kolkata in 2003. The mother, who never got over the grief, succumbed to a heart attack the following year. The only surviving member of the family now is her father, a retired Railway Protection Force officer. And the killer is survived by his mother, who is already looking after her mother.

Instead of pointing fingers at each other, we need to put our heads together and find ways to curb crime. The police should intensify night patrolling. Whatever happened to the concept of beat policemen? Resident associations must alert the police of suspicious persons or activity. BPOs or any company where night duty is involved, must ensure that employees get adequate security. Women staff, in particular, must be advised to use official vehicles instead of going on their own or taking a lift. Every citizen must learn to take care of himself. Don’t invite trouble. And, of course, the government must strengthen and modernise the police force. Bangalore needs better policing.

Helmets: Why the confusion?

Along with crime, the accident rate is also increasing. Take the helmets issue. Though the police, on the directive of the high court, has fixed August 1 as the day for making helmets compulsory for two-wheeler riders and those on the pillion, the government is vacillating. Several reports, including that of NIMHANS, have recommended helmets to prevent head injuries during accidents. Yet, there have been protests. Politicians have chipped in — from CM to deputy CM to legislators. Everyone is speaking for and against the move. It is surprising. Why is an issue that concerns the lives (read heads) of people embroiled in such a debate? How come politicians take so much interest? Twowheeler riders are confused. They need a firm yes or no. Are those at the helm listening?
IT capital and its world-class roads!

Another area of concern is roads. A committee appointed by the high court has come down heavily on consultants, contractors, ward engineers and accounts staff for poor quality of road works. It says mismanagement of funds and administrative irregularities are the bane of Bangalore’s roads. The tests that need to be done to build world-class roads, as citizens were made to believe, are dismal and inadequate. Added to it is the poor drainage system. The panel has suggested that the accountant-general take over auditing work of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to put an end to bungling. It has also made several other recommendations. If implemented, driving on Bangalore’s roads will be heavenly. Only a stern order by the courts will break the official-contractor nexus in the BMP.


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