Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Making history

Making history
Deccan Herald

With the government keyed in on the process of the formation of Greater Bangalore, indications are that the outgoing corporators will be the last to represent the BMP in its present form.

The exit of the present Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Council on November 23, will in some ways be historic. With the government keyed in on the process of the formation of Greater Bangalore, indications are that the outgoing corporators will be the last to represent the BMP in its present form.

The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike came into being on December 8, 1949, as the amalgamation of the City Municipality and Cantonment Municipality. Including the outgoing one, the BMP has witnessed 11 councils of elected representatives, 43 mayors (four of them women) and 23 administrators.

Beginning with 53 members in 1949, the BMP council strength increased to 87 members in 1983 and to 100 members in 1996. Mr R Subbanna was the first Mayor. The 12th Mayor, B Indramma (in 1960) was the first woman mayor.

Mr H N Krishnappa a Class 4 Clerk in the BMP council section (due to retire in June, 2007) noted that prior to the KMC Act of 1976 the BMP council meetings were usually called to order in the afternoon - around 3 pm and the meetings would run on till the wee hours the next day; it was specially so when J Lingaiah and M V Tiwari were mayors. Now as per the rules council meetings should be held between morning 9 am and 7 pm.

Mr Krishnappa also recalled the civic reception BMP accorded to late prime minister Indira Gandhi at the Kanteerava Stadium. “Devaraj Urs was the chief minister and Ananthkrishna was the mayor, and we gave Mrs Gandhi a statue of Goddess Chamundeshwari,” he reminisced.

For former mayor G Narayana, the inauguration of the Cauvery drinking water supply scheme to Bangalore City by late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 is an occasion of note in the BMP diary.

The period between 1975 and 1983 saw the longest run; that of 13 administrators and is noted for the term of late N Lakshman Rau from January 9, 1975 to November 30, 1978. For old-time insiders of BMP, it was the “noble period” of the BMP. And to name some of Bangalore’s notable projects in this period: the Jayanagar and Vijayanagar boulevard, the shopping complexes in Jayanagar, Rajajinagar and Yeshwanthpur, the Kalasipalya wholesale market yard and the rise of the Public Utility Building (PUB) to its full height.

Mr H Aradhya who retired as DC Revenue a few years ago was also private secretary to Mr Rau. He noted that in1969 Mr Rau had been the chairman of the panel that chose the design for PUB. The panel had sifted through 40 designs in selecting one. When Mr Rau took charge as administrator in 1975, what was meant to be a 24-storeyed structure had been left at the four-storey level and the inauguration had been done too. Mr Rau’s first visit after taking charge was to the PUB; he revived the project and ensured that the structure came up to its full height.

It is a strange coincidence then that the outgoing BMP council in one of its last sittings approved a proposal on modernisation of what continues to be Bangalore’s tallest structure to date.

The process on Greater Bangalore means that the BMP is in for another stint under an administrator. But the last word may be in what former chief secretary Teresa Bhattacharya has to say.

Ms Bhattacharya is the only woman to hold the post of Commissioner BMP. She was there for a year (1981-82) during the long administrative period of the BMP. Speaking to Deccan Herald on Tuesday she said “...but it is definitely, healthier to have an elected body”.
I was the commissioner when there was no elected body in the BMP. It was a time when multi-storeyed structures were just coming up in the city. The corporation had already started issuing notices against violations particularly setback violations. We were very tough and demolished some of them too.

I worked with three administrators in one year. Mr Gundu Rao was the chief minister and he never interfered with the BMP administration. But it is definitely, healthier to have an elected body; in the absence of one, we held monthly meetings with the city MLAs and MLCs. Bangalore is a much more manageable city. Greater Bangalore is taking shape whether the BMP likes it or not. Administration-wise the move for the formation of Greater Bangalore is good.

Former chief secretary Teresa Bhattacharya , is the only lady to have held the post of Commissioner BMP.
She was commissioner from March 1981 to March 1982 during the long administrative period of the BMP (1975 to 1983)
A corporator should be like a watch dog keeping a tab on the best of the civic amenities that can be given to the people. While parks and lakes of the city have received due attention, road development in Bangalore has not progressed as it should have. The existing ones cannot take the traffic load of the day. Personally, being a corporator has been a great opportunity.

M K Kupparaju the senior most among outgoing corporators, was first elected in 1971
Bangalore's population was 12 lakh when I was mayor in 1964, Greater Bangalore will take it to 75 lakh and more. It is a big project and it is better to tread cautiously. Projects of such girth need political will, but we must be aware that changing political scenarios can mean collapse of the political will.

Former mayor G NarayanA
A corporator should have a sense of devotion or commitment to the city while the general public should be more aware of the issues concerning it. We are after all people’s representatives, utilising their own money for the progress of the city. It is therefore important for us to be encouraged by them. It was my pleasure to be a people’s representative and the first citizen of the city.”

Mumtaz Begum (three-time corporator and the outgoing Mayor)


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